What does it feel like to brave the wild? To just step out there and walk a path into the unknown. To stand alone, struggle and trust that inner voice – whilst opening yourself up to allow the authentic self to emerge.
To leap from that fast moving train that won’t slow down and reconnect fully with yourself. To stop chasing that soulless ghost and revise the template of your life.
A template that represents a rich tapestry of many bright colours weaved throughout it – held tightly with a bold gold border. To fully express your passions and gifts to the world on your own terms and participate in a way that makes your heart beat just that little bit faster – lighting that fire in your belly – and feeling those goosebumps prickle on your skin.
Braving the wilderness is a call to courage…seeking a deeper connection with yourself…owning your story…showing up…being seen….and taking chances in life.
In my August post, How a cancer diagnosis changed the course of my life, I wrote about how I had felt a significant emotional shift after my diagnosis of thyroid cancer. And from that life-changing moment, and over time, I made the decision to ‘burn the boats’, resign from my job and take a sabbatical. Jumping off that burning boat into the cold water with no fall back plan and no definitive path ahead.
My quest was to psychologically push myself to discover the real me and design a life that matters. To deliberately choose not to be protected from pain. To feel the struggle. To be ‘all in’ – focused and committed.
I wanted to get off that fast moving train of work and life. To respond to my inner sense of unease of knowing that I didn’t feel right about the state and direction of my life anymore. To rest, rejuvenate and heal my mind and body. To think deeply about what is important to me and how I want to live my life in the future.
I wanted to peel back the layers bit by bit, think deeply about what I wanted my life to look like and reconnect with the world around me. Whilst living life to the fullest – have fun – travel – spend time with my family and friends – try new things and explore my true passions and talents.
Endings open the gate to our own transformation….the old must be cleared away before the new can grow.
It has now been almost 12 months since that journey began and I can honestly say that it was one of the hardest years of my life – and paradoxically – the most fulfilling and exhilarating.
The personal growth was immense and the inner fulfillment was a new feeling for me – and helped me uncover quite deeply my desires and passions.
I knew that it was going to be a tough journey. But you don’t realise how difficult that tough journey is until you leap into the unknown and shut the door behind you. The struggle was real. It was uncomfortable. I had to find the courage and bravery to move forward every single day. Dig deep. It was hard.
In the beginning, there were strong feelings of vulnerability with the lack of direction and validation. Getting unplugged and being comfortable with a temporary state of no identity was anxiety provoking.
There were intense moments where I would wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to breath. There was grieving and denial. There was rumination of past doings and decisions. It all came to the surface as my former life morphed into my transition of sitting through a period of feeling so lost and confused that it become disorienting.
You need to be lost enough to find yourself. It is a time of confusion and emptiness. We feel dead, stuck, lost in some great dark world…feeling this way is meaningful…but it isn’t enjoyable.
There were days where I would climb those 1000 steps in the Dandenongs to feel the crisp fresh air on my face and get some strength back into my body. Days where I would walk for hours and listen to inspirational speeches and podcasts to help me push forward in those trying times.
Days where I would just sit and stare into the distance – listen to the birds chirping – watch the waves crashing – feel the soft grass under my bare feet – potter around in the garden and tend to my bright green baby tears in the beautiful mosaic pot that was lovingly hand-made as gift for our wedding.
Days where I would crotchet many baskets mindlessly. And hours of reading books as a source of learning, intellectual stimulation and relaxation.
It was a nourishing time of doing things that were deserving of me through establishing a rhythm of self-care, nesting, cleansing and creating. Every day I woke up early. I embraced my family and hugged them. I exercised. I cleaned out the entire house bit-by-bit and shed possessions that no longer served me. I cooked nourishing wholesome food.
I created a special place in the front room of my house where the sun shone through the stained glass window to day-dream, write and be creative.
In the early days, I didn’t want to be around too many people. I kept the interactions minimal. I declined invitations for social events and catch ups. It was a time to rest. To heal. To be inside my own mind and body with minimal distraction.
There were many moments where I had to mentally deflect the jokes and comments from people who would ask me in a sarcastic tone…’How is the lady of leisure going today?’.
Little did they know that I had an imaginary towel draped around my neck to collect the emotional sweat dripping from my brow.
Little did they truly understand why I was doing it and what I was going through. I did not expect them to. But the back chatter, jokes and comments didn’t help. And I wondered whether it was more about them than me. I’m not sure. I tried not to judge.
One of my trusted mentors said to me…
Keep looking down Silvia…down at your feet…don’t look too far ahead for the answers….trust that it will reveal itself over time. And remember…that people will come into your life at the moment you need it most and hold your hand…..I can’t explain it…but that’s what happens.
And she was right. They did.
I can count them on one hand. They never left me. They never judged in my moments of vulnerability. They proactively called to check in. Always made time when I asked. Never said no. They brainstormed ideas with me. Opened doors for me. Walked and listened. Catched me through those tough moments. Holding my hand and pushing me forward. I was never alone. Words can not express my deep gratitude.
Fortunately, this temporary state of unease didn’t last forever. And I learned that you can’t move forward until your mind and body is at complete rest. That took many months.
Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
One day I woke up and felt a sense of calm. My body was strong. My mind was completely clear. My skin was glowing. I had slept well that night and felt ready for something more. A new inner energy had formed.
It was time to explore and be creative. Explore my passions and document
them. Visit places that inspire me and spend time there. Take photos. Pick up interesting artefacts through my daily moment by moment experiences – collect them – bring them home.
Play with my children. Laugh and roll on the floor with them to tap into my inner child. To go back to the beginning and feel young again where I was free – free to play, explore and discover my natural being. Connect with life and live it.
It was the first time in my life where I was able to really see and feel each season. I treasured every unfolding moment. I watched the trees change colour in autumn and saw the leaves slowly drop to the ground.
I felt the crisp cold air on a winters morning and got sprayed by the crashing waves whilst walking on the beach.
I witnessed the beautiful spring blooms awaken and the roses opening up as I walked the children to school.
I saw the sky go orange on a hot summers day.
I visited farmers markets and cooked wholesome food with seasonal produce. The quality. The taste. It made me feel so connected to the farmers and our land. Such a special and nurturing time.
Through this time of exploration and connection I felt complete freedom and daily joy. And as I peeled back the layers – what revealed didn’t surprise me. What I loved as a child – what I naturally gravitated toward in my younger years – are pretty much the same today.
The revelation was wonderful. But I also felt sad. Because what I realised was that I had been suppressing the full expression of me for many years. Life got filled with activities that no longer served me and were being chosen for all the wrong reasons. This was no longer sustainable. The truth is that it never was. I was chasing a soulless ghost.
Allowing work to be one sole measure of self worth can be a burden. And when you participate and nurture other parts of your life you start to realise what you have been missing out on and what you really love. You begin to feel a deep connection within yourself and others. In that moment it was time to forgive and move forward.
It gave me strength. There was no hiding anymore. No pretending to be anything other than myself. The real me. The authentic me.
That full expression. We want it. And sometimes we find it. And sometimes we lose it for a while. Push it away and replace it with something else. When we feel it – we are fulfilled. When we don’t our lives seem empty, lonely – we sometimes search for it with no end in sight.
We are sometimes disconnected as a society from what really nourishes us. We think it’s money, possessions and external success, but it’s not….it’s something much closer to home.
So, as I follow the advice to ‘keep looking down’ and ‘not too far ahead’, I could see the answers right in front of my eyes. They were always there. This gave me renewed energy to push forward. It was time to design the template of my life! And I knew at that point – that it was my life to choose.
So I ventured out. I met new and interesting people. I joined a choir. I cycled. Learned to crotchet. Visited beautiful gardens. Became a netball coach. And explored the world through many local holidays and trips.
I attended conferences, inspiring presentations and networking events. I tried and tested various professional avenues. Enjoyed dinners, social events and shows with family and friends. I probably did too much – but it was exciting and fun!
The design of the template of my life is now starting to unfold. It is only just the beginning. I am now pursuing the many bright colours that I have chosen to explore this year. It doesn’t yet have the bold gold border tightly wrapped around it – that bit will take time.
And I am ok with that. There is no rush. It is not meant to be perfect. I am not competing with anyone. I want to enjoy this journey of exploration. And just be me through that process to see how I feel.
In closing, it would be remiss of me to say that the biggest gift that I have received of late is the deep connection that I am feeling with my beautiful husband and children.
This morning I woke up and walked out of my bedroom to see my children running down the corridor to say good morning to me. They both kissed me and draped their bodies over mine to the point that I lost my balance! Their hugs were tight and went on for quite some time. They felt happy and safe in my arms.
I walked into the kitchen and put my favourite Italian Limoncello apron on to prepare breakfast for Chloe and Thomas. Their weekend treat of Silvia’s Sicilian eggs topped with grated pecorino pepato cheese and served with crusty bread drizzled with the finest olive oil. Just like I had enjoyed as child and will share you today.
This dish represents the full of expression of me – my passions, my talents, my rich Italian heritage. My love of cooking for others. My deep desire to nurture and nourish through the food that I prepare and share.
Their mother has returned back home – fully connected within herself, with her family and with the world around her. It is where she chooses to be. And you can’t put a price on that.
Until next time.
Silvia’s Sicilian Eggs
1. Heat 1 cup of cooked tomato passata in a frying pan until slightly sizzling
2. Make a small well in the middle of the sauce and crack one egg in
3. Season with salt, pepper and a hint of chili flakes
4. Put the lid on and cook until the egg yolk is warmed through (but not hard)
5. Gently remove the egg and sauce into a bowl and grate some pecorino pepato cheese over the top
6. Serve with a piece of Italian crusty bread drizzled lightly with the finest olive oil