Honoring the Call of Closure
A pilgrimage to the heart of the lonely gap that exists between
NO LONGER … and … NOT YET.
If you find yourself reading this post, then you probably already know me and my work and want to know what I have been up to, or someone has suggested you come and read it. Don’t curse them when you see the length – they have their reason and must love you enough to give you this nudge along your path. If you want the shortened Haiku (5-7-5) version so you can get the gist and move on with your day – here goes:
Pause and honor life
Connect to the sacred pulse
Embrace threads of love
This blog is a bit (well um, a lot) longer than normal, so grab a cuppa’ or a tall glass of something delicious to drink, and come walk with me for a wee while.
We are off to a remote island…on a pilgrimage. Not an island holiday – but a deep immersion to challenge life head-on, and to be curious about what I might find there. Scary as hell, but exciting as heck.
I would like to mention right up front that this feels like a deeply personal sharing. I feel called to document and attempt to do justice to the mammoth journey I have recently immersed in. While I tackle everything I embark on in life with mindful awareness, (along with a massive dose of salt and humor), this one has been exceptionally profound. Trust your gut whether to read on or not…
I guess it’s the layered convergence of a few things: the location I journeyed to for my pilgrimage, what I came to do and why, and the timing of it. I’m not simply referring to July 2020, stuck with the rest of the world before, during and after the ‘easing up” of restrictions, but more so from a personal juncture in my life and all the threads that were weaving together at this time. Or more accurately the threads that were “un-raveling and un-weaving simultaneously” at 52 years old.
There are two forms of courage in this world. One that demands we jump into action with our armor on. The other demands that we strip ourselves bare-naked and surrender. Bravery is a curious thing. Jeff Brown
#The Quiet Beckons
Are you perhaps there right now and also needing to stop a while to sit with the un-weavings in your life?
These moments in time are what many traditions call ‘initiations’. A time to walk through the doorway of personal transformation. A new chapter. To re-evaluate. Reset. To go into the cave no matter what you find there. Many loosely refer to this a time of retreat (but some folk think that a retreat is simply a time of rest in a lovely setting – that is a holiday). When these particular times beckon us, we have to go directly INTO the fire in order to be transformed. There is no walking around it. No pussyfooting or side-stepping. Perhaps for a while, you can ignore or pause it. But not indefinitely, as the rumble and rattle of the call will inch deeper and deeper into your cells, relentlessly. If repeatedly put off, then life will figure a way to throw you down in your own tracks in order to get your attention. It could be in the way of illness, death, divorce, financial ruin, being retrenched, or global scale disasters – hello virus. A lot of the time it just feels overwhelmingly scary, inappropriately timed and miraculously something else will just win the battle for priority. For now!
Lack of money, time-poor, kids’ demands, partner’s needs, work obligations and our inner voice protesting that we cannot possibly indulge in and follow the call to ”take time out”. I have often looked on enviously at those who live more within the tradition of wise cultures, where ceremony and ritual is embedded into their lives and they follow the rhythm of nature, seasons and sun, moon cycles every day. I have tried, somewhat unsuccessfully I might add, to create that for myself over the years. To carve out time to immerse in things that matter to me. To live closer to the rhythm of life. To create a little “altar” of things that matter to me when I travel. To wake up with the sun in my room and sleep early. But I have also spent five years of summers in a row, never getting the quieter rest time of winter, which can play havoc with circadian cycles. Sometimes I try and follow daily rhythm because it’s the only thing I know how to do. At other times I have been led into that journey of remembering by someone else on my path – be it partner, friend or teacher.
I know this for sure, we are all here to evolve, expand, learn and transform. The flip side means that it also requires the polar opposite to close out, let go, contract and move on. We need both these sides of the spectrum to fully embrace and live our highest life.
I heeded the call.
I embarked on a solo pilgrimage to a minute, remote island called Iona. It’s really a wee rock at just 1.5 miles by 3 miles where only residents are allowed cars. You can’t even walk all the circumference of the island, as it is so wild, craggy and difficult in places. With only 120 or so permanent residents who brave life all year round, this swells massively to about 175 000 pilgrims and visitors annually (not in Covid times of course). Some visit for just a few hours between ferry crossings from Mull, just time enough to walk the ancient path from pier to the Abbey that dominates the landscape – to taste the wild isle and stand awestruck in front of the carved Celtic crosses or visit King’s graves. Perhaps be lucky enough to grab the famous cream tea at the Argyll Hotel, or stare at the Sound of Iona scanning for dolphins and seals from the St Columba’s garden tables, munching an organic salad and local “hogget” burger. Nowadays you can even rent a lovely bike. Ha-ha – be warned – they have no gears and you have to backpedal to break, but you get the hang of it pretty fast and it’s a total delight to wheel past the shore and explore the island.
But for these day-trippers it’s more of a fleeting visit to tick off the bucket list. It may plant the seed to promise to return … one day. But it in no ways allows you to soak up the healing energy here. One of my favorite times of day is when the last ferry has backed off the pier and you can feel the island exhale and settle into its silent womb again. Everyone you see from then on has the privilege of staying put for the night.
A warm envelope of quiet love and immense possibility descends.
Such is the lure of this sacred isle. A wee isle with monumental power. Within the wild elementals of this ancient Celtic land with deep Christian roots, it is said that the “veil between the two worlds is very thin”. Meaning you always feel more closely connected to the spiritual world here. It feels more accessible no matter how disconnected you are when you arrive. If you have never heard of Iona, I lovingly laugh and mean no disrespect when I say it’s the “ass-end of nowhere”, whereas in actual fact it feels like the center of the universe to those of us who venture here. You usually feel “called” to visit to be honest, as you don’t just happen upon this island one day. Getting here is somewhat of a mammoth pilgrimage all in itself. Part of the shedding process of the external skin.
When the ancient mystery of Iona has beckoned, the journey starts the moment you make the decision to answer that call. The energy starts weaving from that point on. But when you first set physical eyes upon it from the pier at Fionnphort on the Ross of Mull – it’s easy to feel a bit let down and disappointed. SO SMALL? That’s it? This is what I traveled all this way for? Mmm – don’t be so easily fooled by appearances.
When you have rested your weary head under these stars, it’s impossible to leave as the
same person that arrived. Ever!
So I have penned this blog for heartfelt personal reasons, as a way to capture some essence of this recent experience for myself. Firstly to inform myself by writing it down, which creates another layer of processing it all and living it again. And secondly, if by reading it, you too happen to be inspired to embark on a similar kind of pilgrimage or retreat process one day, or this becomes your beckoning call to Iona– then how lovely will that be for both of us?
To put my experience bluntly – I feel like a snake that has shed a few skins.
I think I look the same, sound the same, walk the same, laugh the same and eat and drink just as much as ever, but I FEEL different. The old adage of “pull yourself towards yourself lass” rings in my ears and my heart. That was the point after all. I have not been on some massive diet, makeover or had a new photoshoot. Quite the opposite to be honest as it’s been a deep-dive journey into the cave of CLOSURE. Wild, windswept hair, zero make-up most days, crying, laughing, dancing, singing to recently shawn sheep and mostly sitting, staring at the splendid views and …being. Finding a spot to plonk down and do what I came to do. The inner work. Usually clad with about 5 layers of clothes on for all sorts of rapidly changing weather. A vest, gym top, jacket, gilet-puffer and a supposedly waterproof outer later. (Yes mum, it isn’t quite doing its job and I’m often a cold, wet mess). The next minute I’ll be stripped down to my vest only, and then it’s all piled back on again in a flash. Plenty of workouts in that process, at least ten times day!
I had one directive – do the inner work in rain, gales or shine. A three-week gap. I needed to get away with myself, to be by myself, to fall in love with myself again. There was a much deeper purpose to this specific retreat.
I had found myself in the challenging place of NO LONGER …but…NOT YET!
What do you say when someone asks you what you “do”, and you no longer love most of what once brought you deep joy, satisfaction and energy? When you feel that even as the words come out your mouth it’s confusing because there are so many facets to what you do? I was watching and witnessing words come out my mouth that simply didn’t resonate with me anymore. Over the years, my business has at different times been very niched, then morphed and generalized, only to be re-niched and rebranded again, then generalized ad Infinitum. I understand that the natural expansion and contraction of business emulates nature. And here I was at the point of needing to contract once again.
The bigger the expansion, the bigger the contraction, right?
I was starting to feel increasingly confused by myself; too fragmented, disjointed and discombobulated. Honestly, a bit bored of my work, myself and a little disinterested in life. It’s a real killer for me to confess that. I was all over the place both literally and figuratively and just way too busy. But busy with what exactly? There were immense pockets of joy and delight too – don’t get me wrong. It was just that whenever I “hovered” over my life and looked in from the outside, I knew that it was NOT what I wanted to be feeling, doing or living into anymore. Something was shifting but I hadn’t caught up with myself yet.
I truly believe that just because you ONCE loved doing something, loved your work/career/business, loved a home, or your country, loved another person, etc., that it doesn’t mean you still do love it. Or even if you do still love it now, it doesn’t automatically mean that you always will feel the same way in the future. Yet we want to hold onto that idea for some reason.
Never letting go.
Fear of moving on.
Hold on tight now.
That realization that you once DID love it in past tense doesn’t make it wrong that you no longer do love it. Or that it was a waste of time or a bad decision.
What if it simply means you no longer love what you once did? Just because you are brilliant at something doesn’t mean you still love to do it. What if that “thing” has just run its course, had its time, done its job and now it’s an opportunity to move on. Can it hold the space of both – you used to love it and simply no longer do. Except it never feels that simple as we have to dismantle it all somehow. Piece by piece.
It’s time to embrace the gap that exists after “no longer?” And the only way we finally reach the
gap is to honor the parts that are no longer.
But that’s quite difficult to explain to other folk. Even more so at this specific time in our collective, worldwide experience of the pandemic. Such horrid pain, brutal economic crisis, people’s lives falling apart or lives ending in greater numbers right now. Where the current feeling and directive is that we should be bloody grateful for any work we have and do what we can to keep it, right?
Definitely NOT a time to be choosing, re-evaluating, assessing life and not working as much. It’s the time to HOLD ON and sit tight. Or what if this is THE PERFECT TIME because of it?
More so than ever I feel we are being called to live into our truth, our dreams, our yearnings and what makes our hearts sing. To do what we can to pursue our passions and find a way to need less stuff along the way. You got that lesson from Covid right? How much of the nonsense we consume and buy has not much meaning after all –and in fact family, health, connection, and heart stuff is what really matters? Can we finally need less stuff, but choose to experience life more?
I appreciate that right now many folk are up against the wall trying to make ends meet, or fight for their lives. Do more, earn more, feed families, and handle heartache of separation and losing jobs.
We are holding on, digging deep, and sitting tight. Panicking. Feeling deep pain and loss.
But I often choose to go against the grain – or let’s rather say that it chooses me. As much as I feel I too should be “panicking” or anxious about what is next, what is my work going to look like, where in the world is next, will a partner come along, will I ever afford to buy a home in a Euro-based economy after South Africa and how am I going to survive if I am walking away from so much I have done for the past 17 years. Those are real fears to face head-on. But still, this nagging idea of just taking time to do the work would not leave me alone.
After being in lockdown for four months (and dealing with testing positive for Covid where I got off lightly to be honest, with just a few days of symptoms) it was time to follow this call as soon as the opportunity arose. So although I had been on forced pause along with the rest of the world, I needed a more intentional pause. I just needed to go into the cave and immerse.
I am acutely aware that the idea of taking time off might seem very self-indulgent to you – but to me it was actually a matter of sanity. Because doing this retreat and pilgrimage was not the easy option! The easy option would have been to stay hunkered down with my mum, eat delicious food and quaff vino, kick back into gear and start a new project, coaching clients, launch the next online mentorship and get cracking with booking people on our retreats for 2021. I can manufacture energy and enthusiasm to get back up, get busy and soldier on the same as always. To keep at it, be productive and out there. That’s the easier, more common choice. It always has been for me. So that left me in a quandary as over the past few years it has left me feeling flatter and flatter every time. My nickname has been KickassKate for many years – but I no longer felt like kicking my own ass into gear, or anyone else’s for that matter.
Where does that leave me, or you?
I wanted to feel the JOY and energy and be IN LOVE with all of my life again. To feel the sparkle in my eyes burst out of my body – when the truth was that was NOT how I was feeling. I was wading through sludge. A personal bog like the peaty ones here on the island. The words that were coming to me more and more, in sleep and wake, were simply …
KickassKate – NOT. Kate was tired and burnt out. No more to give to clients – what used to be my soothing balm (aka work) was just not soothing for me anymore. Dammit. I knew in my soul that I was no longer in love with all I had created, but I wanted to find a way to honor it all and take with me the parts and aspects that I DO still love.
I didn’t want to throw the proverbial baby out with the murky bathwater.
That’s why most folk don’t do it. In fact, for about three years on and off I hadn’t been doing it. I’d been tinkering with it – but not immersing. I had been feeling it, needing it, yearning for it, but not quite yet doing it all. I activated some aspects of contracting (vs. expanding) and saying NO – like selling off one part of my business to a beautiful client who is loving it all into better existence again. Or by deciding not to re-certify with an international organization to deliver their material. A tough one, as I love the organization and it had afforded me some incredible experiences around the world by running high-end retreats for their forums, or doing 5-star events with them. I was also “contracting” by not taking on as many coaching clients and referring them out to trusted colleagues. But it didn’t feel drastic enough and I didn’t love enough of the elements I was still choosing to keep in my busy work bundle. And there was the other stuff going on for me too… that’s life!
MY LIFE WAS COLLIDING…
- I desperately needed to re-look my business and work passion
- It was time to embrace no longer being part of a “we” and facing life in a new country as an “I” – a real rift in identity.
- I was bidding farewell to the Rainbow Nation country that gifted me a beautiful home since the age of 3.
#Double Rainbow Prayer
In other words, I needed to shed a few different skins all at once. A somewhat daunting triangle.
My PURPOSE for returning to this sacred isle of Iona on pilgrimage was to close out and honor this complex triangle. To disentangle and disconnect from these three aspects of life. To find a way to say goodbye to and appreciate what was no longer, so I can finally sit in that GAP that exits before what comes next. That place we often gloss over.
We don’t really get taught how to dismantle and deconstruct our life, do we?
So I came to Iona exactly one month ago today, with bravery and daftness in my wee heart, resigned to sitting on my butt no matter where I found myself on the island and DOING THE WORK.
THE PRACTICAL SIDE:
I couldn’t believe my “luck”.
Back in the UK Midlands where my Mum lives, I noticed a three-week GAP where I could take off from work without any obligations. Whoa – no obligations – what’s that? No mentorships, boot camps, coaching clients that could go on momentary pause, a new writer’s contract was all signed and sealed and thanks to Covid, no upcoming retreats to dash off to host in a far off land. The hardest part of the decision was not so much around post-Covid safety of travel to be honest – as things were easing up and opening again. The challenge was the reality of “taking time off.”Just because the gap shows itself, doesn’t mean I usually take it. I normally fill it with work, of course! You too?
It was challenging to decide to ignore emails and daring to tell/ask/beg my business partner I needed and wanted three weeks offline. We had no writing challenges, no Feedback Fridays – nobody really needed me for ANYTHING! Bliss.
As an entrepreneur, all my life, one of the hardest ideas is to take sufficient time off. Over the last five years or so, I have learned to work fewer weekends and take a bit of a break either side of big work projects, perhaps a few days here and there. But to be honest over the past 17 years, I could never go more than 3 days without looking at my computer, phone, mail or FB. And when you do what you love it’s also much easier to be ON all the time.
You can bet the fears still rushed right at me in all forms:
Is it really, really safe to travel so soon?
I’m eating into my money fast at the poor ZAR currency conversion.
Who the hell am I to do this?
What if someone needs me? (Oh please need me)
What will others think blab la bla?
Will mum be ok on her own – I can’t just pop back if I leave
But I started dreaming about this wee island every night and it started weaving its spell again from the moment I gave it a glance in the realm of possibility. It had been 17 years since I last set foot upon Iona!
I had no idea if or when we would really be able to travel from UK to Scotland, but I started making tentative plans. The UK and Scottish Government announced new measures, and I had to heed both restrictions. Fast forward a few weeks and I was on a train, masked up and double sanitizer on hand.
It was all a bit surreal. Only two other people on the train platform. Only 4 in the carriage to Glasgow. The first stop was a legally operating hotel in Oban, then the ferry to Mull, and next a bus across Mull where I was the ONLY passenger. I got to natter all the way to the driver. From 3 meters away of course. The poor lad had spent four months driving his bus back and forth twice every day for a 70 minute trip with no passengers: just parcels, shopping, wool and supplies for the house-bound locals. Talk about a driving meditation with no cars and just a few sheep and highland cattle to look out for on the single lane track. Suddenly having a real person to carry was such a novelty – so much so that he forgot to open the hold for my suitcase when we arrived in Fionnphort and was about to turn around and drive merrily off. Hey, wait up there Steve.
And then there is the final Calmac ferry before you can set foot on Iona.
The power of showing up somewhere always amazes me. The initial cottage I had secured for 6 weeks had fallen through a few days before traveling. Covid measures meant they needed it back to isolate guests. I was planning 3 weeks of intense retreat and an extra 3 weeks to start writing again. So my wonderful friend, DF, back from when I worked on the island 18 years ago in the summer of 2002, kindly helped secure me a new spot. But for 2 weeks only. I knew I had to let go of all plans, anticipated outcomes and just BE THERE to allow the magic of Iona to find me – I hoped. My life motto, and specifically living location free for almost 4.5 years, is that you can’t know everything before you go.
I am now in my third accommodation and have been here for a month today!
THE PROCESS TO FREEDOM – WHAT I DID
- Set time aside and had a crystal clear intention.
- Told my patient business partner I was going offline and to please NOT bug me for work for three weeks (we had one wee emergency that took all of three minutes, and even did an interview as it was pure fun and delight)
- Told my current coaching clients I was taking three weeks off. Eeek.
- Just disappeared off FB. No big song and dance announcing what I was up to. I just did it and went offline. Biggest relief of all.
- Stayed OFF email, Facebook and ALL other Social Media platforms for three weeks.
- Reached out to friends and family as and when needed. I wasn’t doing a full silent retreat so was happy to interact a bit when needed. Just not with clients or work.
- My phone lived on airplane mode 90% of the time.
- Interacted with locals when I felt drawn to – fascinating people live here!
- 90% of the time, I was however on my own, in silence.
- Every day I slept, walked, swam, ate, napped and read as I felt like.
- I never felt compelled to listen to any music, audiobooks or such like. Just nature, wind, waves and me.
- Devoured 10 books that I found in the cottage – good rollicking Scottish romances, moving memoirs, deeply powerful Shamanic books – all sorts to immerse in when I needed a break to let my process stew.
- 8-10 hours daily I DID MY PROCESS. And it continued in my sleep. Letting it all seep slowly into my soul.
Mostly, I reveled and rejoiced in the depths of NOT doing anything or needing to BE anywhere at any given time. No one needed anything from me. That’s pure bliss. My modus operandi was to do what I wanted when I wanted. For the first three days I also made things a bit more intense for myself. Ha – of course we have to push a bit to get results.
On the day I arrived, I shared dinner and some vino to reconnect with my friend and her partner. Armed with delicious Italian pasta and lamb ragu in my tummy, the next morning I started a rigorous 3-day water fast to kick start my body and soul. That means ONLY WATER mixed with a bit of lemon, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup (for the blood-brain barrier). I’m pretty used to some shorter fasting so it wasn’t tooooo much of a shock to my system. I was a determined little beast on a mission. After my initial water fast, I kept up intermittent fasting for about 16 hours every day to help support the inner work I was doing. And ate what I felt like for the rest of the time. No booze for the first 10 days to up the ante.
I went swimming EVERY DAY. No matter the weather!
You might think Scotland sounds drab, cold and dreary – but oh my – the color of the water up here. The astounding beauty that is the Hebridean islands. A photographer’s delight! Think intense azure blue and liquid aqua with the shimmering Iona light that bounces through it. The sound of Iona can look like sheets of silver glass, punctuated with a dolphin fin or a sailboat, or it can rage wild and thrash on the rocks, hiding the pure white sand or the craggy rocks at high tide.
But by swimming, I really just mean that I got wet in the freezing Atlantic or the Sound of Iona. Wim Hof and his cold-water therapy principles inspired me, but deep inside I am really the gal that grew up swimming in the warm Indian Ocean with the Benguela current. Toasty warm. The mild Mediterranean is my other favorite swim spot thanks to our annual Greek writing retreats. When I lived in Cape Town, I never did quite cotton on to swimming, as it was mind-numbingly cold for me. I’m just not a cold-water salmon kind of gal.
On day one, my version of swimming involved running in, plunging my body in the water, squealing and shrieking loudly and running out gasping. Probably wet for less than 3 seconds, to be honest. I thought – come on you sissy – this is a great cleansing practice. A ritual. Why don’t we try to double it every day till you get to ten minutes? Are you mad? Because now I am talking to myself out loud. Shivering. Come on – we can use the power of the water to enhance what we are trying to do here with our spirit Kate. Aaaargh ok dammit, you win, you damn voice in my head.
So the game was on, and the next day I ran in and while gasping ridiculously, I counted to 10 seconds. FAST. Day 3 – 30 seconds later made me feel like I had just run a 5 km race. The next day 4 was a big jump to 2 minutes. Then 5, 8, and 10 minutes day-by-day. In just one week I reached my 10-minute hurdle. Now I’m up to 15 minutes. It’s just about the BREATHING (ok, I still mean gasping) and counting, breath by breath. The body is incredibly resilient and adaptable. I am not in the running for any frozen lake swimming or artic jaunts, but I feel so invigorated by it. Like a little personal challenge. We won this one.
On day 4, I was looking into the mirror after thawing out in the warm shower, and SAW myself looking back at me for the first time in a very long time! Rather than simply looking in the mirror while usually putting on some mascara, moisturizer or lipstick, I was suddenly aware of ME. I truly saw ME in the reflection. I peered deeply into my own eyes (sounds so cliché) and said hello to myself at last. I had been missing for a while. Missing from myself. Missing from life.
It was like a little jolt of reality and I felt I was back IN my body again.
I went back and looked at the Wim Hof shower challenge where they ask you to get up to 1 minute in a cold shower by the end of a MONTH. Pah – what a lark. I was officially a hard-core cold-water swimmer compared to that standard. And again when I say swim, this is not what I do in Greece when swimming 400 meters to my “rock”. Here I just dunk my body in the shallows and wallow there, head out, gasping and trying to calm my breath while staring at the view, going tingly numb. Mad huh?
I also have to confess that I swim in the nick – again purely for practical reasons. It’s not one of my fantasies playing out in any way – it’s purely because I don’t want to trudge back to my wee cottage with a dripping costume. That feels too much of a stretch in the cold, rainy, misty and wild 12-degree weather in summer. I know my limits – so I am basking in the idea of being a Scottish seal for a while, cavorting in the shallow water when no one is around 🙂
But for the most part, I was really living by the rhythm of my body’s needs. Or collecting beautiful rock and stones 🙂
I also walked and hiked every day – no matter the weather! Usually 6 kinds of weather on one day! My body just got outside and did it. I did my work as I walked. Glorious long meanders on the pathways hugging the shore. Sometimes a quick chat with a local, or a wave from afar. I walked the land from the North End (always my favorite) to the pebbled beaches of St Columba’s bay with its beautiful meditational Labyrinth (annual upkeep done with love by my same friend) as a reward after the trek. It is in this bay that you might catch a lucky glimpse of the Iona Marble or green Serpentine. I found myself watching sheep graze the “machair” golf course or merrily much on seaweed gazing out over the Atlantic en route to Port Ban, or heading up to the highest point, Dun-I.
#St Columba’s Bay – the pebbled beach to search for Iona Marble
Purple hues, electric greens and mesmerizing blues alongside dramatic greys. An artist’s dream palette. Spellbinding sunsets and days upon day of grey. Except that grey here is charcoal, black, white and silver – misty and wild. Not the soul-killing city-grey. Electrically alive grey!
Walking shifts the body and moves the soul. Padam Padam! Swimming cleanses the body and refreshes your mind – Great combo! There were so few people on the island as it was just starting to re-open post lockdown that I felt truly grateful to be here at this time.
Layered on top of the above practical aspects was the inner work. The real reason I was here after all. I was definitely not on “holiday” trying to escape post-lockdown with mum. So although I was in the most ridiculously splendid scenery possible, I was here to do my “close –out” work and heed the call for my personal pilgrimage. I had a crystal clear intention to plunge deep into my HEART.
I think of life unfolding in chapters and books. It felt like I needed to close out a few open chapters in a few different books.
In the Nagual tradition (check out Carlos Castaneda’s books) they talk about a process known as “Recapitulation”. I understand this to be a profound spiritual practice to retrieve all of your energy from the past – to help you live in this moment as a warrior of light. To be “at the ready” for whatever comes your way. To not be stuck in the past. Living lighter I guess.
You might understand this as a process commonly known as “cutting the ties that bind”. It is quite simply about finding all the aspects of yourself, your spirit, your energy, your memories that you may have left floating around the world and do some work at many levels to gather that energy back to yourself. In practical terms, this means being present, clear, at peace and un-hooked. It doesn’t mean you wish things hadn’t happened, but more that you are no longer controlled by them. You find a way to release that which is not yours and no longer serves you and wrap up all the good stuff in your heart. Very liberating. It is a long-standing practice in my life and one way I have been able to live a little lighter on the planet.
Everything we do, eat, touch, smell, experience, get hurt by, affected by, every place we visit, everything we love or hate – leaves a footprint. Stays connected to us. Some of that is good for us and some of it weighs us down. If you have ever read my CLEAR YOUR CLUTTER book, it’s all about releasing the sticky energetic connection from a place, person or object. Removing the dirt, the dross and the debris and then truly loving what you choose to keep in your home and life.
My aim was to actively look back at the last 17 years since becoming a professional life coach in the UK. That was the last time I visited Iona, so it was a full circle for me! In 2003 I went from Iona to chef in Provence, France for 3 months (yes even as a non-qualified chef!) and that summer job financed my coaching studies. I qualified as a Master Life Coach – and was one of the first Life Coaches in South Africa. I have had the most beautiful, BUSY career and business and now, in 2020, I wanted to do a massive honoring of that time.
Closure is about looking back with reflection, honor, openness and curiosity. Being willing to go deep into the cave, but not necessarily falling into a hole that is too hard to get out. It felt like a deeply profound way to cherish it all. It felt necessary yet somewhat daunting. But I was determined and resolute in my heart.
It was about RETRIEVING myself back to myself, finding all the parts of me that felt scattered, hurt, tired, depleted and heartbroken. I wanted to find a way to stop feeling so thin, torn apart, burnt out, irritated and with nothing to give anyone anymore. I had gotten to the point where I was feeling anxious and stressed about anything I was doing for work – suffering from performance anxiety, often depressed, tearful or downright sobbing, wanting to shut it all down and run away. I also wanted to go searching for and honoring the delights, the magic, and the incredible opportunities that have crossed my path. I guess it’s a bit like when an actor receives a lifetime award and everyone acknowledges what he or she has accomplished, only I came to do that for myself.
Because the truth is that I had started really questioning my ability, my self-worth, my passion. So it was time to stop, gather and sit IN IT and face it all head-on.
Even as I write this down, I know I am not doing full justice to my experience. I’m not sure words can convey the depth of my exploration – deep into my heart and recesses of my mind. Waking, sleeping, walking, swimming, resting, dreaming, walking over and over and over again with it all brimming and swirling through me. I would sit for hours in one spot staring at the ocean and just do “the process”.
I worked quite systematically in some ways through each year, from 2003 all the way up to 2020, gathering back all the threads of energy, pulling back my strength, increasing my vitality and expanding my heart. At the end of each cycle, I did some powerful writing processes to capture the essence of that time. I also re-looked areas of work over and above each year, to redo them and relook. I didn’t want to miss anything out.
Many years ago I created an “online course called Close Out Strong” which supports you to honor the year gone by in order to move in the New Year feeling lighter – well imagine that process times 17!
At the end of 12 days, I had brought myself up to present time. I had walked back and revisited every single:
Home and office de-cluttered
Workshops or trainings delivered
Online courses written and run
Interviews given and articles penned
Stood back on the stages of every talk I ever shared
Re-connected with each of my books written and movie I starred in
Every partner I had shared life with, but more emphasis on my recent relationship
Every home I have lived in
Every country visited
…and every single experience I could find for the past 17 years.
The highs and the lows!
Layer after layer after layer.
#layers of colour with grey
Stripping away the ‘krap’, the gunge, the lack, and the ego. Relishing in the delights. Pulling my energy back to me. Releasing what wasn’t mine back to where it came from. Release. Put the final full stop on that chapter. Close the book.
This process is hard, it’s deep and it requires courage. Are you being called to do it at this time in your life? Could you give it to yourself – the permission, space, the time, and let yourself do the work?
From day 4 onwards I started to feel awareness rise like sap in my veins. I felt inspiration, vitality and sparkle flood back through my cells.
If I can convey anything at all to you – it is the tangibility of the energy that I feel now. I am able to say with my head held high and my heart ticking strong, that I am so deeply in awe of what I have created, done, experienced and explored in my business and life. Because I hadn’t been feeling like that – I was feeling useless, bored, questioning what I had accomplished, wondering if I had made any real difference in the world, wondering what I had contributed. I had no real energy, no spark, no sustainable vitality and I had to muster up motivation rather than feel inspired. Whilst I wasn’t exactly ill, I felt like my spirit had become weary and heavy. Other than some aches and pain, old injuries, the coming and going of depression and menopause thrown into the mix, I was still reasonably healthy, resilient and strong. But not being ill is definitely not the same thing as being truly healthy, vitally alive, awake and in love with it all.
I felt zinging and pulsating again – I could hear differently. I had more energy again and was getting better sleep. I felt proud, alive, awake, accomplished, in awe. I also got the closure I was desperately seeking.
From work, my ex-life-partner, and South Africa.
My gigantic triangle.
EMBRACE THE GAP
On day 12, I released that my closure initial process was done. Now that the closure felt complete – I took myself off for a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a sandwich in the glorious sun, to watch the ferry boat come and go.
I was now facing the unknown of the gap.
Following threads as they appear
Still reading, swimming, walking, sleeping, eating, and do them over and over again.
Trying desperately not to fill the gap too soon. To not push forward. To not start mind mapping the future – as that is such an exciting process to engage with. It’s one I have helped 1000’s of clients do. But the trick was to wait. To be. To still NOT do.
I had glimpses of the elements of my work I still love. Writing. Retreats. Then a wee flicker of possibility somehow found its way into my heart – a tiny glimmering thread I am now following both literally and metaphorically. But not forcing or controlling it. Just being delighted by its welcome presence more than anything. My friend simply mentioned a local woman who does something extraordinary. The moment she mentioned it, my whole being resonated when the words came out of her mouth. I didn’t even know exactly what it was that this local did. I just loved the “sound” of it. My heart sat up and paid attention and I felt a little smitten by the idea of it. Weird? I had been seeking something creative to fall in love with – a hobby of sorts. It’s been all work and travel for so many years and I have wanted something to DO with my hands. Something to bring me to life again. I always feel envious of people with hobbies. Creative pursuits.
Sorry to leave you in the lurch here– but there is no more to say about it on this blog – we have been at this one long enough today. Are you really still here? I just know that something is unfolding inside me on the island that feels juicy and full of life. I’ll write about it next time – when I know more.
But for now, I embrace the GAP.
This space of being complete, closed out, full of awe and proud of it all.
Happy and content with the NO LONGER, but not yet knowing what will come in the NOT YET.
Not sure where “home” or nest will be.
Not sure what all the facets of work will look like. Being an author and running retreats are still sticking like glitter glue
Not sure who is going to come bounding into my life and heart
Sit here and be still, be patient Kate.
Just do what needs to be done for now. Today.
Stop trying to shift gears too soon.
Don’t start too many things as default from the old.
Don’t gloss over the gap.
“It is a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up space.
I wish you well on your chosen journey! I’d honestly LOVE to hear from you as I emerge slowly back into the world again – pop a comment or drop me a mail. It might take me longer to reply as the connection is a bit dodgy on the island, and I am not spending much time “working”. Are you in this phase of needing to get closure and embrace the gap? It’s really hard, isn’t it? I do hope that if you stayed reading with me till the end, that you have taken away something from my experience that can support your journey. It was just really important for me to pen it.
You could also go and check out “THE STRATEGIC POWER OF DISCONNECTING”. It was written a while ago, and I’ll update it again soon, but it might help you along your path right now?
As you gather from this post, Kate is busy re-jigging her life as she embraces the gap. She is an international, location free author who leads immersive and experiential retreats in her favorite power spots – ludicrously idyllic locations around the world. She has become intrigued by the notion of regularly taking time out to restore and rejuvenate the spirits and find that sense of joie de vivre. She still loves helping you to understand the power of slowing down and saying hello to yourself and your dreams! And it seems that being an author and running retreats are the pieces that will stick going forward.
#seaweed munching sheep