The story of my own quest to align with my essence so that you can see how I have followed this route map throughout my life.
the route map
There is a path that we walk each time we encounter change, whether this is through loss, bereavement, or another ending. It’s an eternal cycle that gives us an opportunity to recognise who we are and to come face to face with our essential selves. We continue to repeat the same lessons until we finally learn them.
The route map shows the milestones along the way and what we can expect. Knowing this helps us understand the purpose of each stage.
The journey never ends. It’s a cycle that continues so that we can be who we were meant to be.
The saying goes that there are two certainties in life, death and taxes. I would add a third – change. It’s been a constant in my life and has taken many forms but each time I’ve been transformed in some way.
We are programmed to fear change but that’s where our greatest awakening takes place. I believe this is a pivotal moment of global change. The old is being slowly wiped away. The new has not yet formed.
We are all part of this change.
We experience change in different ways. Loss is a big one. It may be the end of a relationship, a bereavement, or the loss of a job. It can shake our very foundations.
As we revisit change throughout our lives, we begin to see that it can open doors, lead to new beginnings and can transform us in ways we might never have imagined.
Navigating change involves a lot of letting go and releasing what went before. The past is gone. An ending has taken place and there’s no going back. We have to make room for the new.
As I’ve lived through my own changes, I’ve come to welcome it as I know now that it heralds a different future and a whole new set of circumstances. Embracing change is much easier than waiting for the kick in the seat of our pants that will propel us forward whether we like it or not!
What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from ~ TS Eliot
There are two ways to have an ending – the easy and the hard way. Adapting to change comes with time and experience. Once you recognise an ending for what it is, the more equipped you are.
Endings are all about surrender, releasing the old and making room for the new to take its place.
The journey home always begins with an ending whatever form that might take. It usually involves loss of some sort.
As we all do, I’ve experienced many endings. This is the most recent and the one that has brought me to where I am today.
My Mum was diagnosed with a form of cancer called Multiple Myeloma in November 2011. It was the beginning of the end. It was also the catalyst for some far reaching changes in my life.
Two weeks after my Mum died in October 2013, my Dad and I bought a house together! I remember sitting there, rather incredulous, as I heard my Dad say to the property agent, yes, we’ll have it!
That Sunday in mid October we had driven over to Haworth for a walk around the village and some lunch. On the way back my Dad had suggested we check out some houses that he had seen online. A couple of hours later we had purchased one of them!
We then sold two houses, my Mum and Dad’s and mine. Four months later, after much decluttering, letting go of a lot of my Mum’s things, as well as many tears, we were packed and ready to go, and we relocated to a different county and a new area.
It was a big change for us both. In hindsight, I don’t think either of us appreciated the full impact of our bereavement.
Then, in March 2016, my Dad died.
I started decluttering all over again – we had barely finished unboxing everything.
Around the time my Dad died, I also met Chris who would later become my husband.
Looking back over the past 8 years, I can see now that there was a clear route map.
I found myself in the void on several occasions, eventually emerging with a new beginning. These were often unexpected and surprising.
My alignment with my essence came and went. Sometimes I was in flow, sometimes I wasn’t.
But, what was very clear, was that each ending catapulted me to a new place, somewhere I was clearly meant to be and set off a chain of events that have led me to where I am now.
Without all of these things happening, I wouldn’t be writing this today.
It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure ~ Joseph Campbell
We almost always enter the void after an ending. It’s a period of waiting for the new to make itself known. If we use this time wisely, we can start to heal from our loss and regroup.
When you emerge from the void, you are changed. Everything has shifted and you’re no longer the same.
A key element of the void is letting go. I call this bin bags at dawn! It’s often cathartic to declutter and clear your physical space, as well as your mental space.
I’ve been dabbling with the concept of essence for over ten years. I believe it’s a calling that I’ve denied for much of that time.
Connecting with our essence is the outcome of navigating change and transformation and a deep seated urge which leads us to experience fulfilment and a sense of purpose.
Our essence is our soul signature, as unique and as individual as we are. No-one else in the world shares the same essence. It’s what makes us who we are. It’s what we are here to uncover.
There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning ~ Louis L’Amour
Eventually we emerge from the void and recognise our new beginning. We are the same but different, forever altered by what has gone before.
We enter a period of renewal. The brakes are off and we can start to move forward again.
Change is the essence of life; be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become ~ Reinhold Niebuhr
Often, in the void, we are nudged to develop an outlet for our creativity. We may use that time to pursue interests such as art, making or photography.
Whatever our creative pursuit, it is here that we begin to experience flow, where nothing else exists apart from the act of creation.
It is in this state of flow that we begin to catch glimpses of our essence.
Many people will say that they are not creative. You don’t have to be a writer, a maker, or an artist. You could be a great baker. A fantastic DIY-er. Amazing at repairing cars. Everyone has some creative streak.
Being creative is where we experience flow. For me, this happened when I was outside, walking with my camera.
A little switch would flick in my head and I would be on autopilot. Magic seemed to happen in flow. A creative wave took me over and nothing else mattered.
Time stood still. I didn’t want to stop.
I didn’t really understand, initially, what was happening. Of course, as often is the case, I came across some books that talked about what I was experiencing.
The main one was The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer, and another was Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Through the creative pursuit of photography I was entering a state where my ego self took a step back and my essential self jumped into action.
It took some time but I started to contemplate the possibility that creativity was the key to the soul.
At this point, I should say that I believe we are much more than our human experience would suggest.
We have capabilities and abilities that are often deeply buried. Some are lucky enough to tap into these. Others are not and may die without ever discovering their gifts.
Whether your gift is to be an artist or a creator, or you use a creative pursuit to help you access your flow,
It’s where we find the magic.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy ~ William Shakespeare
Essence is our unique soul signature. We recognise the essence of others which leads us to understand how we are interconnected.
We originate from the same source. We are all one.
the cosmic self
Who we are extends beyond this planet but stretches out into the universe.
We do not exist in a void. Our actions on this planet impact the wider universe.
We are not alone.
the blind woodturner
Chris and I met in 2015 at a charity event. Chris is completely blind. His story is the archetypal hero’s journey.
The day of our first meeting I asked all sorts of questions about how he had lost his sight, how he sent text messages, used a computer. It was a bit like the Spanish Inquisition.
One day, in 2008, Chris had woken up with blurred vision. He expected it would clear up later in the day. It didn’t. A visit to the optician the next day confirmed that there was swelling at the back of his eyes and he needed to go straight to the eye hospital.
Four weeks later he was completely blind. (The end).
What followed was a period of rehabilitation – learning how to do the basics such as shaving, making a cup of tea or sandwich, all over again, and how to use a white cane.
Then the anxiety kicked in. (The void).
Over the next few years Chris experienced muscle spasms, panic attacks, nausea, insomnia and hallucinations. His life was forever changed.
He will tell you that he contemplated suicide too – the only thing that stopped him was his young son and family.
A series of sessions of bereavement counselling helped and eventually life improved.
One day, after being blind for 5 years, he decided to take up woodturning – because he wanted a vampire stake. (The beginning).
Chris spent around 600 hours listening to YouTube videos until he had created a picture in his head of what woodturning involved, and then he went out to buy a lathe. He turned his vampire stake!
Today, Chris has been blind for 11 years. He’s been woodturning for almost 6 years and is now a sought after professional woodturner who travels around the country giving public demonstrations, and is a keynote speaker. (Essence).
His mission is to inspire and motivate both disabled and able-bodied people to achieve their potential, whatever their circumstances.
What is remarkable is that Chris does not want his sight back.
He has faced change of the most traumatic kind but has been transformed by the experience. He believes that being a blind woodturner is who he was meant to be. (The source).
Listen to Chris tell his story.