And the shifts this time have just kept on coming. One after another - sometimes a bunch at a time. It continues to be an intriguing process and as I just said, it also means that I'm really no longer sure who I am.... and I reckon that's a good thing. Because surely that indicates real, profound growth?
I know for sure that in more ways than I can count I am no longer who I was. Whilst I do believe that I am still the same essence and soul I have always been, I know for certain that my behaviours and responses are wildly different from even just a couple of years ago. In fact, even from a few months ago when I stop to think about it. These shifts started as a conscious leap - of that there is no doubt. It's been my soul stretching and releasing itself in ways I didn't know were possible before... hang on though.... before what...? Hmmm... I suppose, before I learned how to truly and fully connect with who I really am - which arguably makes my title question appear a little contradictory to say the least! Ha ha, so please bear with me... I find that writing stuff out helps me to gain clarity. That's of course why I started this blog in the first place - as a diary for me to make sense of the nightmare at the time. And it worked. It did the job and it appeared to help others as well along the way. It's helping again now, so I'll continue...
You know what? When on the odd occasions I choose to look back on those early days of 2009 - seeing photos, reading through old personal and business emails, I can hardly recognise myself. So much has changed since then - both externally and internally. And now... well it appears that the process is speeding up again. This time though, these particular shifts are entirely 100% positive; no 'bad stuff' to deal with, just growth. So how come it still feels peculiar and somewhat frightening...? This is where teacher becomes student, and I remind myself of the many times I've explained to people that the physical sensation of being frightened and being excited are practically identical - it just the label we choose to give it ( a 'good' or a 'bad' experience) that determines how we then respond.
I know this stuff, of course I do - and each time I remind myself of something that's so fundamentally a part of me, it makes me laugh. Sometimes a quiet inside giggle, and sometimes a loud guffaw, which can be somewhat embarrassing when it happens in public - ask the shoppers at my local supermarket who were party to a particularly unexpected and noisy snort and splutter just a couple of days ago! I could have passed it off as a joke between friends had I been with anyone else - but nope, there I was all alone looking at the fruit and vegetables. So instead I raised my head, smiled and nodded directly at the people who'd turned around to stare, and walked off to the cheese counter before another serious fit of giggles took over. No wonder the French think we English are all somewhat weird!
At the end of last year things were very different. I was running my coaching and training as before, and life was ticking along very nicely. My son had just left for university (that was a darned tricky shift to make - one I've only just started getting used to!) and things were stable. I was in the process of finalising the publication of the book and I'd just got myself a base in the UK so that I no longer had to live in hotels during my frequent visits. I was feeling happy, settled, and also ready for much bigger things.
But I hadn't expected this..! Over the space of just a few months I've published my book so that my story is out there warts and all, I've completely re-branded my business, I've been interviewed for radio, newspapers and magazines, I've been contacted by people from all over the world thanking me for sharing my story, I've just agreed a new partnership to launch my new training programme to corporate and to wider audiences, oh - and of course I've signed a contract to appear in a movie. WOW! As if all that wasn't enough? Over recent weeks I've finally started feeling comfortable in my physical skin. I'm finally finding out 'who I am' not just inside, but outside as well...
I've finally learned to let my hair fall in to it's natural place (largely due to my sister's recommendation and cajoling - thank you!) Clothes-wise, I've stopped worrying about what might or might not 'look right' and instead have decided to brave my own choices in style, and live with the consequences. Oh, and my smile. That seems to have shifted as well. Again, something I hadn't really appreciated until just now when I had a look back at some old photos on Facebook (hmmm... I'd forgotten about some of those!) and I can see that I now smile with my eyes, not just with the rest of my face. For me, that's a sign that I really am finally free from 'the bad stuff' and from 'fighting'. Perhaps that's why it all feels so strange. Learning to embrace life for all the good that it really is, with no need to battle for survival... well, I tell you what.. it feels absolutely amazing!
I'm also continuing to honour who I am on the inside... I'm finding it even easier to pay attention to and act on my instinct (including politely declining a sizeable business proposal last week because it just didn't 'sit right' inside) and am also trusting my instinct when new people turn up - which they are continuing to do at an amazing rate. A few weeks ago I had a chance meeting with a lady in a bar - for some reason we locked eyes across the room, and for no logical reason we both just knew it was a 'meant to be' meeting. Since then that lovely lady has become my friend and my PA... we share so much in common in the way we have had to deal with things growing up, and I am absolutely delighted that we've connected and are now working together. Talk about haphazard and trusting gut feelings!
Speaking of which, a couple of weeks ago I had a completely different experience of trusting my gut. I'd arranged a meeting with a senior executive in the City. I had been very excited to meet this person, so it was somewhat of a surprise to me when my instincts went on high alert just a few minutes after we started talking. As the conversation continued, I paid even more attention to my feelings and suddenly was able to see through the polished mask that was being presented to me. With very little specifically 'logical' evidence to speak of, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was face to face with a disordered person. Someone who certainly didn't expect to be sitting opposite a person who would be able to see the truth! You know what though? Despite the fact I realised early on exactly what I was dealing with, it was still an unnerving and unpleasant experience. I recognised the attempts to charm and beguile, and I felt the body blows when this particular individual did their level best to rattle me. But I kept my guard high and maintained my position. When the meeting was over it took me a while to steady myself and regain my composure. And then I felt glad, proud and free. Because maybe I won't be able to spot every sociopath, narcissist, psychopath or any other number of disordered people who might cross my path in the future - but I sure as heck spotted that one. I got the signals loud and clear... and that has added to my confidence that I can not be duped again.
All of this also adds to my conviction that the training programme we're in the process of launching is going to have a massive impact on the way we do things - in business and in our personal life. Because it teaches people in a very short space of time how to connect with and trust their instincts, and how to communicate with confidence and authenticity. The more people learn how to behave in that way, the less the manipulators can continue twisting values and dimming lives.
So yes... it's continuing to be exciting as my life path is quite literally developing in front of me... and yes, shift does indeed happen. I'm as certain as I can be that this is far from the end, and each time more shift comes along - the more comfortable I become with the process. New? Yes. Scary? Sometimes. Exciting? Most of the time. Growing as a result...? Oh yes indeed my friends... and I'm loving it.
"Another sack of shift, Madam?" "Yes, thank you - don't mind if I do. Bring it on!"