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healing Archives - Kate Emmerson

THE HIGHLAND FLING: TOOLS TO EMBRACE THE TRUE POWER OF RITUAL

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Welcome to my November musings where once a month I offer up something highly personal from my life. I share lessons and ideas from my toolbox in the simple hope that they support you along your journey.

Let’s fling it …. Grab something to drink and enjoy this 7.3 minute read.

THE HIGHLAND FLING: TOOLS TO EMBRACE THE TRUE POWER OF RITUAL. 
Putting trust once again in closure, letting go and creating space.

For decades I have surrendered to the fact that my main modus operandi is embracing the premise of “letting go in order to make space.” Trusting in the honest and raw power of closure, forgiveness, releasing, honouring the past and putting things to bed. Giving them a rightful place. Creating space in my heart. It’s a huge part of the body of work I have brought to the world by inspiring you to #LiveLightLiveLarge and stop mucking about.

So recently it was my turn again….. to release AGAIN!

Here’s how we think it works:

When I have clinched my ideal job, I’ll resign.

When I’ve seen my dream house, I’ll sell this one.

When I know where I want to live, I’ll pack up life here.

When I know what my next ideal clients look like I’ll say no to the ones showing up.

The moment I have clarity about my future, I’ll close the door on my past. When all my ducks are in a row I’ll take the plunge to XYZ

NO!

It simply doesn’t work like this. That’s fear driving your thinking.

Learn to say goodbye before you say hello.

Say no more before you say yes please.

Say no longer before not yet.

Stand up for what is in your heart and energy field even when you don’t have the answers about what’s coming next. It requires your deepest trust and faith and a willingness for deeper self-love.

About 6 weeks ago, having just moved into my Edinburgh apartment for the next 3 months of life #LocationFree, I finally had all my stuff with me. I had collected stuff from mum in Uk and Greece and it was all finally in one place. For the first time in almost 6 years! Even though it’s not a lot of “stuff” (think just a couple of suitcases for Ms. minimalist here) it was a delight to finally see all my precious things together. Apart from my few artworks still in South Africa, every item I owned was with me. I got to see, touch and love them all again.

Which meant I came across a tiny, peach-coloured silken pouch that had been quietly bundled up for over 2 years. I had done a triple whammy – I left South Africa permanently more than 2 years ago, sold part of my business off at the same time and subsequently went through a break up with that partner. I had taken off and left my “commitment” ring with him, with the earnest request to come and give it back to me when he was ready. I had stopped wearing the other two items of jewelry (that had been birthday presents) and placed them in the pouch as I left his house that day and got on the plane. I had not looked at that little pouch again.

So of course, the day I moved into my apartment, I came across the silken pouch, checked out the contents inside and put it back with my jewelry stash. I hardly gave it more than a glance. But something had clearly been awoken again. A couple of days later a dear guy friend and I were chattering on the phone. I was expressing that I was questioning myself again, my abilities to really make a new life, to make Edinburgh and Iona work, to find my feet with work and my next chapter again, to be truly open to love and a partner again. Bla la bla.

WHY ARE YOU GIVING AWAY YOUR SELF-WORTH?
He knows pretty much everything about me – the good the bad and the ugly- knows my deepest fears and biggest dreams, and he simply said to me …..”Kate do you realize that every single time you question your real self worth, that this man’s name somehow comes up. You are still giving him so much power.” GULP. Grrrrrrrr

Gulp! Grrrrrrrr!

I was so flipping irritated like a hissing cat. Not with him for showing me that truth, but with myself for it being true.

REALLY KATE!

Still? After more than 2 years? Giving someone else power over MY self worth. For god’s sake surely you know better than that. What the F is wrong with you?! A couple of seconds of fast-self berating!

Slap, slap, slappety – slap.

I knew immediately what I had to do and responded to him saying something like “Oh my god… I’ve still got that ring he gave me! It’s going into the depths of the sea or off a mountain. Not sure which but I’ll know what to do when I do it.” Why had I not thought of that connection when I saw the items just a few days ago? It’s the power of being heard and seen by people who care about us – and my friend had given me that gift of kind yet necessary observation.

I woke up the next morning, 1st October. It was a freezing cold, sunny yet windy day. I wasn’t feeling the water vibe at all – this process definitely needed mountains. High ones! I popped upstairs to my local café, scoffed a solid breakfast and knew I was going up Arthur’s Seat. Armed with a Lorne sausage and egg roll and a triple caffeine shot coffee in my belly, I set off on a mighty mission.

The highland fling! A release mission to reclaim another part of myself I had lost along the way!

It was windy as heck, I huffed and puffed my way up the steep hill from the Meadowbank side. Although I’m pretty strong and fit, I do battle a bit with my lungs sometimes. Ever since first round of the dreaded C in March 2019, I can feel my lungs are just not as strong as they could be. The European cold after 6 years of summer, means I also use an asthma pump more often than I used to. I’ve been working hard on my fitness levels ….but phew, that was a tough walk up that historic hill! I had to stop several times en route up to catch my breath, appreciate the view and slowly keep ploughing onwards and upwards.

A mission burning inside my belly.

I had sunglasses on against the wintry glare and my brightest, reddest lipstick for a morale boost. By the time I got to the top after an amazing 2-hour walk from my home, it was so goddamn windy no one could stand up straight. Everyone, young and old was crawling along holding onto something or someone, trying not to get blown right off the summit. I literally could not stand up straight and felt drunk and daft shimmy-ing along with my butt against the rocks so as not to get knocked over. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to do what I needed to right at the top – so stumbled across to a more protected section just off to the side, a little below the summit or Arthurs seat.

I found a little heather enclosed mound. No one else was around – it was perfect! I lay on the ground on my jacket, with the ring and a pendant I’d worn for years in my hands and started sobbing. Thank goodness for sunglasses – even though no-one was around I felt protected from my own vulnerability ! Thank heavens it was secluded.

My self-annoyance and irritation peaked. I just let myself feel it deeply, again and again and again. I believe that NO ONE takes our power without us giving it away. I know this to be true.

I was having to breathe that deep knowing back into my body.I wasn’t angry with my ex. I was pissed at myself this time!

Taking control once again.

I had been holding myself hostage too long now. Enough Kate.

Stop the lip service and get real.

Come on – we can do this!

I even thought about making a live Instagram of me flinging them – as I was so emotional and was shouting at the howling wind just how much of myself and my self worth I had given away ……but I thought better of it. This felt too personal to share live with you all in that very moment. All at once I stood up, yelled and grunted and FLUNG them. The ring and the pendant! FLUNG them as as far and high as I could. The wind was so strong they didn’t fall straight to the ground – gusts of wind made them dance in the air momentarily ….until they finally dropped out of sight into the heather covered rocks below me.

Tears streaming, gulping while breathing, mascara running in black rivulets. Yet lipstick miraculously still intact I discovered later in the bathroom at the cafe. I started walking down the other side of the mountain where the steep steps are cut into the side of the hill. It started pouring with rain and I started laughing through the tears. I didn’t stop to put on my rain jacket – just carried on crying, laughing, getting wetter and wetter, wearing my sunglasses looking daft and walking carefully. Trying hard not to slip.

Feeling relief and energy started surging again.

I found my wet way to the café called Nicolson’s – where JK Rowling wrote many volumes of Harry Potter. I had been wanting to check it out for my community writing group here in the city, and had decided today was the day. I arrived at about noon – luckily it was not full. I was all Hollywood like and kept my big dark sunglasses on inside, tears streaming and proceeded to order the largest glass of red wine to both warm and cheer me up.

It was done. DONE. Not an ounce of regret. I did however sleep for most of the following 24 hours!

THE GIFT OF RELEASE: This last weekend, just 6 weeks after my heady highland fling, I realized with a grin on my face that I was hiking up a different mountain. A well-timed connection. Huffing and puffing up a new mountain with a fresh perspective and a different guy in front of me.


What’s the point of today’s sharing?

Ritual is the point. The mere fact that a spiritual connection happened after all this time, reminds me of the power of Ritual. Life can change in an instant! Possibility can show up in flash – WHEN YOU ARE READY! Are you ready? My heart feels truly open and ready for a courageous shared life. Why? Because I have rediscovered myself and my space, and am grateful for the deep work I have done the past couple of years.

Release is the gift that creates space.

If you’ve read this far I’m guessing there is resonance in my story for you, right?

WHAT’S YOUR VERSION OF THE HIGHLAND FLING?

What is showing up in a tangible way right now to finally be released? Scan your life, your body and your energy to see what is being put on notice and has reached its sell by date? If it sticks around any longer it might start to fester and poison you.

YOUR QUESTION:

What one thing do you need to release and heal today?
How is this specific issue represented / showing up (e.g. my ring) and what can you offer up as a ritual of release now. Hit reply to share with me and call up your best friend to commit to releasing it over the next couple of days. You know what is begging to be shifted – so it’s time to simply do it! That’s why you read this far, right?

I wish you deep healing and releasing and flinging
Kate

P.S. Some Ideas to ponder – especially before the end of the year:

Burning photographs / journals or an item of clothing
Flinging jewelry or re-modelling it at last
Passing on books you have outgrown
Re thinking a concept you’ve held on for too long
Signing those papers at last
Saying yes to selling your business
Cutting your hair / wardrobe / makeover
Entering that competition
Destroying those letters
Putting your home on the market
Having that courageous conversation
Initiating Divorce or asking for therapy together
Asking them on that date?
Decluttering some space representing the stuck part of you
Firing that member of staff
Saying no to your business partner
Tidying out your grocery / medicine cupboard for renewed health

Join Kate for a sacred IONA Island retreat – read more HERE

PLUG IN OR PUSH OFF – it’s all about RESPECT

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Plug in or Push off!

My October newsletter comes from Edinburgh and it’s a quick lesson from my recent life. I hope you find something in it for yourself today.

Grab your tea coffee, wine or juice and enjoy a 9 minute read.

Plug IN or push OFF
It was the joy of truth when we need it …and boy did I ever need it. Is there anyone out there telling you just how things are? My recent session went like this.

“Why are you there, what’s your connection to Scotland Kate?” he asked me.

“Well, I have always loved it from my first visit over 30 years ago. I feel spiritually connected to it, love the drama of the awesome landscape, have heritage here and my third name is Walker. I just love this country”

“Well… it doesn’t look like it. You are kind of being disrespectful to the Scots right now and you need to plugin. You have to match the energy of the country and what it epitomizes and then work outwards from there!”

Eeeck. Slap. Reality check …and so began the session with my healer. We used this insight as our starting point.

I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not FULLY plugged into where I currently am. I’m not in Greece where the sun and warm water surround me – I’m in Scotland. Plant myself there or leave. Simple.

Ouch.

Pathetic

I typically pride myself on being wherever I am, and living #LocationFree means I embrace and adapt to changes quite fast – USUALLY.

I have chosen Scotland for this winter 21/22.

Brrr!

Double Brrrrrrr!

Triple rain!

Quadruple grey!

I LOVE Scotland.

In my September newsletter I shared how I approach life using the 3m Principle. Readers LOVED it. I was quite taken aback by the overwhelming response. Oh yeah, baby – living it up in Edinburgh for this particular 3m and getting others to think about the 3m approach too. I even got clients coming to work with me on the 3m process.

Yet suddenly I wasn’t plugged in, tuned in or aligned. My entire body was reacting to it!

I was trying – doing my best. So I thought. But it had started…the familiar pull of the “hole” about a week after I moved into my gorgeous apartment. I think most of us have our own version of “the hole.” Whether it’s full-blown Black Dog, (aka depression) or anything on that spectrum where things are just totally out of whack and off-kilter. At some point the world tilts a degree too far and we can all lurch there.

The short and sweet lesson and reason for today’s sharing is simply:
BE WHERE YOU ARE AND PLUG IN … OR PUSH OFF!

If my story or the way I look at life helps YOU to do something differently in your life – how wonderful. Clients, colleagues and friends tell me that my musings help them! So I keep showing up and sharing.

Warning: Part of who I am is to share honestly. I always have. From the awesome highs to the awful lows. The good and the bad. Middle ground is challenging for me. Sometimes life is easy and sometimes it’s shite. I grapple hugely with self-worth, intermittent depression and sometimes totally lose my way. I also have huge dreams and ideals supported by courage, honesty and freedom as my top values. So I get up again and keep looking ahead to the light.

Charlie Mackesy is one of my go- to-reads to his enormous reminder of self-compassion!

Sharing my life helps me – and I know it helps others out there.

I also know being vulnerable makes me kinder, more real and ultimately better at helping/ coaching/ mentoring others. If you want to read more about what was going on and love hearing about how I handle stuff because you can translate it to something useful for yourself- then grab some tea or wine and walk a little further into the story with me.

THE PULL OF THE HOLE

Before my session with my trusted energetic healer, I could feel myself edging closer to the hole. It was leering at me from up ahead and I had a clear visual image. It was almost laughing at me. Challenging me. For a while thought I was on top of it all. I told myself I was managing to circumnavigate it this time.

A few factors had simultaneously prodded some deep patterns awake that ensure I question my self worth, ignite my imposter syndrome and make me question everything about life and my choices. I was veering off course and denial was kicking in.

I was feeling:

Little

Invisible

Tired

Lacking

Aching

Impatient

Uncertain

Hopeless

I had just made awesome yet mammoth decisions, implemented changes and was at a huge crossroads (like many folk in these times). I was aware of it and how these cycles have sneaked up on me and attacked me in the past. I reached out. First I got some body support. Remember that neighbourhood FB group I mentioned as a way of connecting in to a new area – well someone recommended an osteopath just two minutes walk away from my home.

He gently eased my body back into shape with a twist here and a prod there while asking me some tough questions to ponder. Grrrr. Don’t you both love and hate it when the right buttons are lovingly pushed?

He was suggesting my body pain had been “torqued” (more like tortured) by all the emotional stuff going on. Go figure.

Nothing was cogging together. No flow.
Muchos pain and muchos buckets of tears!
Copious wine!

I also booked a session with a homeopath for another layer of support, but had to wait three weeks to see her. “Oh I’ll be fine till then,” I thought delusionally and told those who asked.

I often wonder why humans tend to underestimate the gravity of change. Even when we have willingly put ourselves in the situation – all the other parts of our body, heart and soul still have to catch up and land in the same place. That can take some time to settle through all the different layers.

While part of me thought I was living the life in Edinburgh, embracing my latest 3m – a larger part of me was pretty much running away, staying home most of the time. Hiding out a bit. Being mean to myself and berating my choices when things weren’t shifting as fast as I had hoped.

My timing vs. diving timing.

Ego and impatience vs. source.

I had rented this gorgeous flat in the city centre and already started building a writing community. That should have been enough! Then I had booked a writing retreat to be run within a month of moving into my flat. And cold water swims, salsa, and attending other writing events. Meeting many new folk. Crazy right? But I wanted to connect and meet lots of people and live my very best 3m dammit.

I thought I had made peace with where I was.

But that hole was now becoming way more magnetic and it was swirling a devilish dance – beckoning me in just one more time. Maybe that hole is my version of crack or heroin? My own addiction. A way to pull me off course and keep me small?

But most people don’t share this stuff right? They only put out the brave and bold stuff to the world. OR the front of social media. Truth is, I didn’t want my people to worry. But people who care about you know when stuff isn’t right. Instinctively. I can’t get anything past my mum and close friends.

Even so, sometimes it just feels easier to retreat. I was getting dangerously close to succumbing to that hole.

And then I stumbled and fell in.

Splat.

I was feeling shocking at all levels. My moods were erratic, I was drinking tooooo much wine (and could no longer blame lockdown right) and spending too much time at home on my own in my lovely nest. Every night. I even slept and read for one whole day during the week – simply not able to face the world and canceled all appointments. My mental health was not coping. My emotional body was aching. Muscles and joints were sore. All too much. I kept seeing the osteopath as I knew it was helping.

A day or two after succumbing to the hole, the homeopath session finally arrived. I know that modality helps me at a cellular level to balance hormones and mood. Contrary to popular belief, homeopathy can work with both acute and chronic issues, and I needed some fast-dose remedies. I have not had a general GP for more than 30 years other than to get blood tests signed off or asthma pumps when needed. My go-to form of support is to treat “like with like”. I trust the field of homeopathy instinctively. You know what works for you too right?

It was Friday. After a morning session crying and wincing on the osteopath’s table, I then blabbed for 90 minutes to the homeopath. I didn’t care how crazy I sounded – I just purged it ALL out. I swear I went through a tube of mascara in one day.

What a relief to be heard and seen with zero judgment.

Like a giant hug from a teddy bear!

I was sent home with some acute remedy doses of GOLD – even just the thought of imbibing gold (known as Aurum) made me feel like anything was perhaps possible again. I had a ladder out the hole again. “Gold” was designed to pull all of me back together. That was the problem- I felt like I was totally split and none of me was in the same place. I could feel my energetic, physical, emotional and mental bodies were all swirling around and none of them were aligned IN my body.

Literally, the next morning I woke up feeling a slight shift in my energy. I had also gone to bed repeating gratitude and prayers. I got up and cleaned my flat from one end to the next. A deep clean. I tackled it with energy and the intention to literally shift the space. I even turned my mattress over. Swept, dusted, hoovered and mopped every nook and cranny. Washed, ironed and replaced bedding. I loved every single corner of my home knowing I was loving myself stronger too. Scrubbing clean and starting afresh. Then fell into a deep, therapeutic sleep for a few hours.

It was a small turning point and one step on the ladder.

Three days later was that healing session where I was told I am not plugged-in to where I am! It was all about timing as I was now in a place to hear it clearly. My body and emotional state was a lot better from three days of homeopathic treatments.

I GOT IT.

As he spoke those words to me, I could see how I had been saying one thing but feeling another. Longing for the warmth, longing for sunshine, longing for the Aegean and long days of light. Even thinking of how much I loved short, colourful linen dresses and flip flops, oversized sunglasses and a wide brim hat. Berry lipstick and lingering kisses. Longing for anywhere energetically that wasn’t Scotland.

So I simply wasn’t aligned in what I was saying, doing and believing. No wonder I was being tossed around in the washing machine of life.

Sometimes we just need to hear it like it is.

It was PLUG IN OR PUSH OFF time!

Align or release.

What’s it going to be?

Truth with compassion and understanding is a powerful trait.

Either be here fully or don’t. We can’t be here wishing we were somewhere else. Or with someone else. And that’s the truth of life. You have to fully embrace where you are – the job, relationship, country or any situation you find yourself in. RIGHT NOW.

The choice is to embrace it, make peace with it and love it to ensure you re-plug in or do something to change it or leave.

BE WHERE YOU ARE.

Simple but not always easy.

We need to know how to move between expansion and contraction. I had to remember to match the energy of Scotland and embrace it before I could ever hope to have an impact on it or be impacted by it.

Embrace then shift.

I have painstakingly climbed up all the rungs on the ladder out the hole, and I do feel a bit tender and vulnerable. I also feel it’s important to share. Sharing might help someone else. Maybe you? There is NO weakness in asking for help, and we might need it from a couple of sources.

Do you want a chuckle now?

As soon as I plugged in and embraced the shift internally, I was able to play it out externally. The ”girlie” reality is that I realized I needed some sassy clothing to embrace winter in Scotland in the city.

Not just gym gear, jeggings, trainers and bulky three layers to cold-proof myself.

I needed to have some clothing to help me feel sassy to entice me back out. To dare to venture out at night for a glass of wine or the local salsa classes.

I realised I had been dreading going out or felt kind of frumpy when I did. Yikes – no wonder I wasn’t plugged into and respecting Scotland.

So here is the trick – I had to get the internal ENERGETIC shift first, and then I could spiral it through to my outside world.

As a minimalist with a capsule wardrobe, I was taught by my stylist friends to be clever about mix ‘n matching. Everything works cohesively to ensure the minimum number of clothes that can be worn in several different ways.

I chose winter neutrals with a pop of colour. Black cream and silver with cerise.

Sexy Boots with a thin flash of Zebra pattern for attitude

Amazing leather biker jacket with a floaty dress

Sensual cream blouse that fits perfectly

A sexy skirt above the knee worn with stockings

Soft cuddly jumper (to emulate that kind hug)

Fluffy cashmere pompom hat and gloves.

Ooh la la I think I’m ready.

I have always heard the expression… “There is no such thing as bad weather in Scotland, just bad clothing.”

HELLO UNICORN ENERGY!

This morning I put on my short skirt and asymmetrically-cut fluffy jumper and literally pranced out the house. I even bought an umbrella so I don’t have to think about a clumpy raincoat all the time.

I strutted down the road and literally felt people respond to me. The Scottish national animal is the unicorn and I’m calling in that feeling of possibility, playfulness and magic. People respond to energy right – it’s not about what you look like but what you feel like. And boy do I feel some sense of swagger back in my step.

I might never fully know why this particular transition hit me so hard. So many complex factors came together all at once. But I do know that alignment is key. I have made new promise and commitment to my support team to have quarterly tune-ups or more where needed! Sessions booked in advance! The aim is to tweak ahead of time to help me walk around the hole and not fall IN it too often. And back on track with being mentored.

And now I’m going to pop on a lovely black wool coat, embrace the cold air and go out dancing.

Wishing you light at the end of your tunnel today
Love Kate


DO YOU NEED TO PLUG IN NOW?

Are you blessed with someone in your life that reflects yourself back to yourself, steering around your blind spots? A trusted advisor or wise mentor who has been where you are and who has skills and ability to get you to where you want to go?

Perhaps you know I’m the person who will get you! It would be an honour to help you through this chapter of transition in your life to find your sassy self again. If you happen to come work with me in either Edinburgh or Iona over the next few months, you might get to appreciate my capsule wardrobe with your own eyes! No there’s a thought.

Pop me a mail about exploring working with me on a personal retreat or a 3-month silo to embrace and implement changes in life and business.

Please mail me directly to set up a chat on kate@kate-emmerson.com

Honoring the Call of Closure

By Insights to help you #quickshift, Transformational Journeys, Transformational thoughts

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.

#My Travelling Altar

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.

#Carved Crosses Loom in the Landscape

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!

 

My watchful #AngelOwl 

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.

 

 

 

Consciously contract.
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.

 

#Prayer

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 …

I’m DONE!

 

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…

  1. I desperately needed to re-look my business and work passion
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

 

#Surreal Travel

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

  1. Set time aside and had a crystal clear intention.
  2. 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)
  3. Told my current coaching clients I was taking three weeks off. Eeek.
  4. 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.
  5. Stayed OFF email, Facebook and ALL other Social Media platforms for three weeks.
  6. 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.
  7. My phone lived on airplane mode 90% of the time.
  8. Interacted with locals when I felt drawn to – fascinating people live here!
  9. 90% of the time, I was however on my own, in silence.
  10. Every day I slept, walked, swam, ate, napped and read as I felt like.
  11. I never felt compelled to listen to any music, audiobooks or such like. Just nature, wind, waves and me.
  12. 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.
  13.  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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#Daily Swimming 

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.

 

H: Honour

E: Engage

A: Acknowledge

R: Recapitulate

T: Transform

 

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
Clients coached
Retreats hosted
Mastermind facilitated
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.

The sitting

Waiting

Wondering

Exploring

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.
Pema Chodron”

 

REACH OUT

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?

 

ABOUT KATE
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

 

Malaga Momentos – My City of Healing

By Insights to help you #quickshift, Transformational Journeys

This is my tribute to a city that held me tight while I grieved a part of my life no longer real or relevant, cried a whole river of tears, let the sun warm my bones and fell in love with me again. Like L’Oreal says …‘cos I’m worth it, baby!

I have lived my entire life believing that certain places call out to my soul. They whisper quietly and then if perhaps I don’t listen timeously, they yell a little louder. It always feels like threads of energy are attached to my heart and they start tugging gently at me. I have never been able to adequately explain it, suffice it to say that I am a gypsy-traveller-nomad at heart, and love to move. Often. I also understand the innate value of a home, a base, and roots, but I have danced and moved between these two extremes all my life.

The way it happens varies – it might be the first time someone utters the name of that place and it feels like the words leave their lips and send a cupid’s arrow straight to my heart; or an image lands on my retina for the first time, or the words jump off the page in a book and just…won’t… let…go…!

Sometimes it’s just a whispering deep inside…that inevitably becomes stronger and stronger. Having traveled alone on a plane at the tender age of 8, that bug bit early. Many times I have literally sold up everything I own in order to make a trip to follow the strings that are pulling the hardest. The yearning that will not quieten down. 4 years ago I even took it a bit further, and as a ‘late-in-my-40’s’ year old, packed up again and went #LocationFree with my business still intact and growing. I have just written about that journey for my 5th book, due for release later this year.

For 4 years I have had no fixed home of my own, simply following the strings pulling at my heart; combining retreats, talks and coaching work around the world – and LOTS of online work, along with many visits of the heart to South Africa. One suitcase and a large armful of dreams. But now, I am finally looking for my next home. A little place to call mine – a nest to return to. Roots to plant and lavender to pick. Listening once again to the stirrings in my heart. I’m also getting clear about where I DON’T want to be, which can pave the way for where I do. There is a very loooong back story as to how I landed up coming to Spain – my business partner Sarah walked a part of the Camino in 2018 and together we decided it would be a spectacular way to combine writing and walking. So we did. Another whole story layered on top of that was that in my personal relationship, Spain seemed like somewhere to explore as a potential home for us in the future.

But where to explore? And where to explore for my heart?

Choosing Malaga was easy. My mama-bear lives in a beautiful retirement village in the UK and I have gotten to know many of her lovely neighbors. Cue a wonderful couple who spends a LOT of time in Spain and own homes here. So I popped across for tea asking for some necessary advice. I was presented with a good old fashioned map and a destination. They know my age, my interests and I just said – “where do you think I should spend the winter to write my book?”
“MALAGA!”

“Where?”

“Malaga – you will LOVE it. Lots of culture, museums, history, art, expats, locals, awesome food, warm etc, etc.

“Where? Oh there, on the coast – I see it.”

“But not to the West Kate; Malaga or East.”

Got it. Done. That’s all it takes for me sometimes. A clear directive delivered at the right time. Apparently, many people I know have already been to Malaga, including my parents (and Hemingway of course); but I didn’t know that at the time (in my active brain). Go figure.

So I duly went into my trusted housesitters profile  (click link if you want a 25% discount) and started looking for a Malaga based house-sit for the winter. Mmmmalaga. A 2.5 month house-sit for one kitty popped onto my screen. Looks easy peasy. And warm – just like a Durban winter. If you are not from South Africa just think cozy, sunny and warm, a bit like Florida in the winter. Where all the human “swallows” might go in search of thawing out. You just need a light jacket in winter, no serious heating and can soak up plenty of vitamin D.

Well, yes, that beats the dreary UK over the winter, dunnit?

Fast forward – we facilitated the Walk ‘n Write Retreat in Northern Asturias region; my partner doesn’t join me as originally planned; Sarah and I visit Madrid for 4 nights; I plonk Sarah on the plane and then I head South. Alone. I like the way Malaga rolls off my tongue. Sounds exotic – I’m spending winter in Malaga. Tra la la – like I’m some millionairess with a house on the hill. Ha – If only I knew what was in store.

The potential house-sit didn’t pan out, after all, so while in Madrid I had booked 6 weeks in a glorious modern Air B‘nB New York type loft, thinking I could get writers to join me for a residency while I wrote over winter too. Or perhaps friends could pop over from the UK? It was gorgeous and trendy and just a short walk from everything. The morning after I arrived, I walked the 18 minutes across the “dry river” bridge into the historic city center to go and sign up for Spanish Classes. After all, I needed a total immersion if considering living in Spain. I thought it best I scrub up a bit and take the language plunge. Plus it would get me to meet people in a city where I knew literally no one and I could use it with my significant other.

I fell in love. INSTANTLY. Everywhere I looked made me beam from the inside out.

I have three innate questions when visiting a new place:
Do I love it?
Will I ever come back?
Could I live here?

It was an instant YES to all three. It took me by surprise actually. These questions get asked and answered internally for me, without having to actively process them the moment I arrive somewhere. Most places I visit I generally tend to really like, or even love. Some, I definitely know I’ll be back to visit again and then a few grab me and my heart almost instantly. Malaga was an instant cupid moment and it has stayed with me. Four months later, I still absolutely love this city, and I absolutely could live here – but I also have come to realize that Spain is somehow not my next home. It’s a hard one for anyone else to fathom what I am saying – but that is how it feels for ME. It’s been a really interesting concept for me to lean into. I could live in Malaga but not in Spain. Mmm ok – so it’s off the list as a permanent base then.

I am still on the hunt for my next country! How exciting!

Malaga will 100% be a place I return to. It feels like home even though it won’t be my permanent home. Does that make sense? The first Air BnB apartment turned out to be inappropriate ‘cos I couldn’t sleep, thanks to the neighbor’s TV on till 3 am. Thankfully I managed to cancel the rest of my booking and moved straight into the center of the historic town. There is a fabulous brand called ILOFTMALAGA – great curated apartments of very high standards. Funky, modern and minimalist – me to a T. My quiet apartment looked onto a bustling street in the heart of the olde town. Bliss.

I started looking for another house-sit. I also found the awesome website GUIDE TO MALAGA and reached out to it’s founder, Joanna Styles, and joined a networking session to meet like-minded business women. Bliss! Her guide really is the GO-TO for anything that you want to know about. Be sure to grab it when visiting Malaga.

“Why a house-sit Kate”, you may ask?

Mostly because I love to feel like I’m really IN a city, living there like a local, with animals to look after and using local transport – rather than being a visitor looking from the outside in. Can you believe that the same housesit from my initial search, was back in play on the membership site, as she had been seriously let down by anther house-sitter? Only this time I was already IN Malaga and could meet the “pussycat’s slave” in person. I got to visit the exquisite property just to the East of Malaga, and it instantly felt like Cape Town – Camp’s Bay to be precise. With a sweet black ’n white kitty to love and vice versa. I needed some animal love! It was a done deal. I had a winter home and a base from which to write my next book and heal my heart. The Cat slave, Melanie, is  helping shift people’s perceptions to become Vegan through her recipes and coaching.

This might be another whole blog post one day, but at a very personal level, suffice it to say I was walking into the “Devil’s Den” by wondering if I could actually LIVE in Spain. It was part of another story of my potential future that was rapidly changing before my eyes– a future that it seemed was sadly not coming to fruition. And yes, I am being a little cryptic on purpose. If you know me, pick up the phone and call to chat for a more personal update! But, sometimes we need to face the fire. Spain was that for me. Healing, writing, walking, crying, yelling at the universe, sleeping, laughing, walking, reading, writing, creating a new community. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Malaga Momentos.

After about 2 weeks of being in Malaga – already with some favorite spots under my belt, an innate understanding of all the cobbled streets, local coffee shops where locals hung out, many, many beach walks, clients taken care of, and my resonance with the city deepening, I realized I needed to really LIVE and CONNECT and be less of a hermit. I was spending too much time alone if this was going to be my home for a few months. Working mostly online can be deceptive that way. I am always connecting with coaching clients, mastermind folk, writer’s and my mentorship groups and always interacting with people, friends, and family. But I needed more connecting IN THE FLESH. I knew I was going to be staying for a minimum of 3 months and I thought I best get to work on building a community of people. Playmates, colleagues, connections to yackety-yack with. Solidarity and friendships. The best way I know how to do that is to do it via something I love. I looked at dance classes, but they started at my bedtime. So what about writing?

I had decided it was the time to start writing my 5th book and had lodged that in my heart as my “winter” project. It’s about the past 4 years of living location free. So I searched for and joined the local Facebook group for Expats, and put up a post about how I was writing a book and asked who fancied joining me for some writing sessions? A simple post. I often do these writing sessions with our writers in our mentorships and regularly sit in community with writers. I was bowled over by the responses, especially a lady from Scotland who lives here all winter who started pointing me to all sorts of people she instinctively thought I’d like to meet. Instant networks and threads for me to explore.

I wasn’t starting the Malaga group as a paid membership or community –simply more to meet people and anchor myself in front of my computer. In the first meeting, there were 5 of us – and in 2 short hours, I had planned my whole book in 13 pages of hand-written notes. I always have a rule that every time you sit to write you need a goal to aim for. I offered this one rule to the group to get everyone to set minimum word count/goals for the writing session. Very little talking – lots of writing and lots of coffee. Word quickly spread. This week, as I leave Malaga, two other writers have taken over the group to keep the energy going and to keep writers writing!  Thanks to a lovely young lad Matt from the USA and Marta from Scotland (a belt loving scriptwriter) who took over,  I somehow feel as if I have managed to leave a little piece of myself here in the form of a committed writing group. That makes me so happy! I had been shown a PERFECT writing spot by my house-sit host. La Galerna is right on the beach in Pedregalejo, and we sit upstairs looking over the Mediterranean. I gathered folk who wanted to write together, once or twice a week. Within just 11 such writing sessions I had finished the first draft of my book. FANBLOODYTASTIC! Thanks to the regular committed folk Marc, Ruth, Carolynne, Eunice, Gian, Jan, Matt, Caroline, Marta and Lina. My regular writing tribe!

I have a small community here now, favorite places that call out to my heart, little back streets I always walk, bus drivers I know to greet, the place I buy my breakfast, an awesome physiotherapist, a weekly co-working meet-up with the fabulous Victoria Watson, a brand & PR expert, my regular pit-stop to the El Haman Turkish hot baths that soothe my muscles as I let the stress slip onto slabs of heated marble. I literally used to pray onto the slabs of marble while pouring buckets of piping hot water over my soul. The power of rituals. Then there is the powerhouse that is the incredible Nathan Manzaneque who runs the BTB networking club. I was also bowled over by the powerhouse of heartfullness, Victoria Ahlen who runs The Vilostrada Foundation doing phenomenal work in Morocco, and she is based between Morocco and Malaga. Or how about early morning Pilates with Ruth on the beach watching the sunrise.

I found a funky hairdresser and the best nail technician I have ever found anywhere. She’s called Angelica – go figure- and she is like a little butterfly on my nails. Or for the gals who need Frida type eyebrows – visit these two gorgeous Polish sisters who make this an unforgettable experience. Lashes and brows with love. I also have many other local coffee shops. I even get to tell established residents where to eat a certain food or entice them to a piano concerto in the magnificent Art Deco Concert Hall. And a guy I make sure I go and visit every time I’m near Plaza Constitution with his puppy called Kitty to offer an ear as he battles the streets. It’s a community for me. I know I will entice you to come and visit and …I already have plans afoot to host a Writing Residency in November 2020. Hosted at a gorgeous, brand new Retreat Centre called VegaHouseSpain run by Ana Capucho Maybe you get to explore this city with me soon?

I walk through it like a local. Smiling!

For me, life is usually about going TO something rather than walking away FROM somewhere else. I know it’s still Europe / Uk that’s pulling me. That’s what I know for now.

But I needed a blank page in between the old and the new. Malaga was my place. Officially leaving South Africa after to-and fro-ing for 4 years, I am in the place of – oh hell – so where next? Where is the place I let myself “pot”. You know- when you POT A PLANT? I have picked up my roots from the 50 years of being in SA, but am now dancing in the air waiting for the drumroll of ….YES, IT’S HERE. To feel the resonance of “This place wants me to stay.”

Malaga offered me a precious place to pause. To regather me to myself. Process and ponder life and where I am going. How do I want to truly live going forward, and how do I want to show up for my work and purpose. Where do I wish to create a proper home and retreat center? What does this new chapter look like and who joins me on it? Do you know what I mean when I say certain cities have the ability to help you heal – from the inside out? Malaga just mostly made me smile – or when I was grieving I could still smile through the tears as I stared at the ocean. It is an outrageously wonderful city to be in over Christmas and New year – the shops and Christmas lights and concerts are simply magnificent.  I also had a dear friend and my mum come visit – and it was so easy to show them “my” city. Every time I spot the ‘Catedral’ I burst into a smile- she suddenly appears as you walk along a narrow street then BOOM – her majestic dome and “manquita arm” is right in front of you. Or walking past Octopus- the multi-million dollar yacht that was berthed in the Puerto all winter. I never did get an invite onto it. Rooftop terraces to bask in the sun sipping vino and tapas. Buskers playing everything from harps, to flutes to opera. A little Flamenco passion and “Naranja” lined streets. I also happened to have a fabulous Spanish teacher who lived in my complex – if ever you need a Spanish language immersion, she’s your teacher! I met many, many, amazing souls and you all know who you are, even if not mentioned in person here. Thank you for making my time in Malaga so precious.

I would really LOVE to know where you have ever found yourself doing some deep inner healing and re-assessment work? Or where you are right now? Was it a bustling city, a new country, or a wee village on a remote island? Was it summer and sun, or snow and shovels?

How long did it take you to come back to yourself – to find a sense of inner rhythm again? I feel like my winter sojourn to Malaga has revived me, and I know everything is gonna be just perfect, even though it’s totally different from what I had imagined unfolding these past few months. Life has a plan for us – we just have to show up and be present.

Drop me a line on kate@kate-emmerson.com to connect- or leave me a comment

If you feel like you need to take some time to gather yourself towards yourself, be sure to come and grab my latest series about THE STRATEGIC POWER OF DISCONNECTING

Love Kate xx

Processing Vs Stuck emotions – do you have the right tools?

By Coaching Tips 'n Tools, Insights to help you #quickshift, Transformational Journeys

Hello – this morning I made a quick video of my three favorite “GO TO” tools I use for processing emotions Vs. getting stuck this side of them, letting them trip me up and wreak havoc. I only ever coach clients on processes or tools that I personally use for myself as well! Ones that quite literally change my life!

We all have things we do when our back is against the wall – either by default or design. I know my less productive habits might be to drink too much coffee, get too busy, a few too many glasses of wine – but I also have essential healthy self-care practices and tools I use with clients. Tools that can quite literally perform miracles and astounding shifts.

What do YOU resort to when you need to address “issues,” challenging emotions and just generally make sense of all the  STUFF that is in your face begging for attention. In this video below, I share my 3 personal favorite tools. My tried and tested ones! Do you have healthy ways to get unstuck, process emotions and move through them?

Are you being called right now to face some sticky stuff in life? Do you need to dedicate some quiet time to get away from the hustle and bustle so that you can finally process your emotions through the medium of writing? Well, we are going on a retreat –  you may want to act fast and get on our WRITE YOUR STORY retreat, taking place in the beautiful area of Tulbach, on the most glorious farm. We are going to write, write, heal, rest, eat, play, walk, write, write and write. Definitely SOME wine along with healthy juices, foraging in the veggie garden and luxuriating for 5 nights in the most beautiful guesthouse!  Sarah and I will be sharing all things writing-related, and I will also be facilitating the other 2 techniques I talk about in this video on the retreat….designed to help you heal and shift your life.

These are just some of the reasons why YOU might want to write – whether for yourself or to be published. Writing is cathartic, healing and a powerful way to PROCESS EMOTIONS.

To find some meaning in your own life
You feel you have a compelling story to share
You are an authority in your field
You want credibility
To entertain people
To leave a legacy
You have no idea, just a calling
You are not sure you even want to write a book
You want to set the record straight
You enjoy a challenge
You find writing therapeutic
You just feel the need to tell your story
Discover what happened by looking back at your past
Re-witness the most critical times in your life
Work with or through guilt, fear, shame, anger
Preserve your family’s history
Improve your ability to communicate with others
Learn how to forgive yourself
Confess something
Record your life for your children
You have a cause
Write a speech for your own party
To ensure that your children and grandchildren know who you are
To inspire others to overcome a difficulty
To share a few tales your family love
To share an incredible life adventure
To shine a light on a problem or cause
To entertain readers with exciting/ dramatic/amusing episodes from your life
To teach a valuable lesson about your business, culture, religion, life
To capture a slice of history
To better understand yourself

PERHAPS IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO PROCESS YOUR LIFE THROUGH WRITING IN A SAFE, STRUCTURED  & HEALING SPACE

I wish you a day filled with understanding who you are and how you process YOUR emotions so that you can get on with living your amazing life.

With Lightness,
Kate