I went for a beautiful nature walk yesterday with my dear friend Charlotte. We were wandering through the dappled, sunlit woodland behind her land, meandering over bluebell laden pathways, stopping to pick wild garlic and swapping our recent news. I was telling this divine sister how Bali had been for me, what I had learnt about myself and how it had changed me, and she commented “you need to write about this Steph – it’s important because so many of us feel this way!” So in honour of her request, here it is!
The quote above by Neale Donald Walsh – I’ve heard it so many times in my life and whilst I understand it of course, I got lazy within it. I got lazy mainly because I’m quite familiar with stepping outside of my comfort zones in life, going for my dreams, being bold and believing, and yet here I was in Bali recognising that this in itself had become my comfort zone if you get what I mean? Let me expand – the ‘going beyond’ had become comfortable, but the true challenges to my ego and my sense of self were still lurking in the background, and this I discovered when it came to an invitation from another dear sister to host one of my workshops whilst in Bali.
Now this is a workshop I know very well and have taught every year for the last 6 years in the UK, so of course I happily agreed. I was honoured to have been invited. In the run up to actually hosting it though, boy did my self sabotage kick in and it wasn’t straight forward either, it was sneaky! “Oh there aren’t enough bookings, let’s cancel” – “it’s not really what people will want here in Bali is it?” “there’s an abundance of this stuff in Ubud, who am I to think this is good enough?” etc etc.
I actually tried to cancel it once or twice but fortunately my host, a warrior of a woman, said “I have a strong yes for this Steph, let’s do it”, and I just couldn’t wriggle out. I had to face my fears and present myself with all of my assumptions and projections about what I presumed the Balinese ‘high vibe’ women would want from, or think about my work. I had to take my workshop to this wonderful woman’s home, show up and be seen. I’d become comfortable in my comfort zone. Now I was uncomfortable in it.
I put this collage of Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’ together when I was an art student many years ago. At the time I related to the panic, the sense of isolation, the claustrophobic strangling of life and the paranoia, now here it was presenting itself again to me only for very different reasons; can I do this? Am I good enough? Am I a fake? What can people possibly have to learn from me? All of these questions arising, biting at my psyche in as real a way as the mosquitoes were in that muggy climate.
But I showed up to honour myself and to honour my word.
Right before starting (it ended up a full workshop) I picked a couple of angel cards from my friend’s pack on her altar and I received the messages “you are lovingly supported” and “divine guidance” – pretty good right? I released a huge outbreath and went for it.
I delivered a strong workshop – I received great feedback and people went into process, which is why I do what I do. I work to take others outside of their comfort zones too, and how the hell can I do that if I’m staying within mine! I’m not going to lie – by the time I had finished I felt relieved, but I also felt accomplished and really proud of myself. I had gone beyond my self imposed limitations, ignored the self sabotage, and been present to my thoughts and feelings throughout the process; all of them.
Doing this work changed me; I lost my fear of being seen. It expanded me; I now believe I can offer this work anywhere in the world with confidence and curiosity rather than fear and self doubt. It taught me; I know my voice, I know my worth, I know my unique medicine here in this world. It humbled me; I am no different to anyone else when it comes to the power of ego in keeping me small.
I stepped the one step beyond my comfort zone, and from this I grew exponentially and I’m super grateful for that lesson. Please please please everyone, if you doubt yourself, feel the fear and do it anyway, because without that willingness, one thing is certain – “keep on doing what you’ve always done and you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” but change the parameters and watch yourself grow, witness yourself as you fly and bathe in that sense of achievement. Why? Well the image below says it all really…