Dyana Griggs Photo

SUICIDE – THE 7 GIFTS IT GAVE ME

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Suicide, for many people, is a dirty word. It brings a plethora of discomfort along with it. It’s tragic. It’s shocking. It’s confronting. It’s extreme. It’s controversial. It’s one of the most desolate acts driven by the depths of despair. It’s surrounded with pain, shame and suffering.

I’m all too familiar with this word. It distinctly marks the time-line of my life. Sunday the 15th of May, 2005, was the day that my beloved sister killed herself. A day that played out like an unstoppable, blood chilling nightmare that gave no morning-after reprieve or relief.

I recall being with my sister for a short while that day, after she had died, surrounded by my 3 other siblings and my parents.  As her lifeless body lay peacefully before me, my small mind tried to grasp the enormity of the concept that she was now in a self-inflicted eternal slumber. Her irreplaceable soul had moved on and was never coming back. In that moment, life changed irrevocably.

We often try to search for the meaning of these events. We ask ourselves – why did this have to happen? Why couldn’t I stop this? Why is this pain part of my journey? What is the reason behind it all? We can tie ourselves up in a complex web of questioning and challenging. We can be overcome with rage, anger and rebellion at the unfairness of life.

It’s in the aftermath of these major life traumas that we’re presented with the greatest potential for personal growth. We’re faced with a life-changing choice about which direction to take. Do we indulge the dark destructive side of our ego and self pity, or do we accept the silent cosmic invitation to search for divine grace?

If we choose the pursuit of grace, we soon realise that we cannot find it through reason, or logic. We cannot find it in our chattering minds or our turbulent emotions. No. Grace rests quietly within the depths of our soul. We find it in the strength of our own spirit.

My sister’s suicide marked the beginning of my pilgrimage towards that inner state of grace. I’m grateful to her for the gifts of colourful illumination and clarity that I have received along the journey, which I’ve shared below.

They are aligned to each of the seven chakras; essentially the anatomy of our spirits, our centres of spiritual power within our physical bodies.

1. Base Chakra: GET CONNECTED.

Be sure you tend to your tribe. Take time to nurture the people you love; friends and family, your chosen soul group who nourish and support you. Build the bonds with those who assure your sense of safety and belonging, and lovingly release those who don’t.

Trust and honor Mother Earth. Find security in her as a boundless source of energetic revival. Go barefoot on the grass. Enjoy the grounding effects of connecting with nature. Be amazed by its beauty. Every single day.

2. Sacral Chakra: PURSUE YOUR PASSIONS.

Access your creative centre. Be creative purely for the joy it brings you, and forego the need for external validation.

Sing, write, dance, cook, paint, draw, take photographs, whatever floats your creative boat. Just do it, regularly.

The photo above is courtesy of a lady named Dyana Griggs. This is a woman who clearly pursues her creative passion. The beauty and lifeforce she captures in her photos is breathtaking.

Your undiscovered creative passion may eventuate to be a beautiful gift to the world. Thank you, Dyana, for pursuing yours.

3. Solar Plexus: OWN YOUR POWER.

Make life giving choices and decisions that empower you and set you up for success. Talk to yourself kindly. Recognise and value your own worth. Love and accept who you are and what you can contribute to the world.

Acknowledge your own power. YOU are at the control centre of your life, no one else. Life may sometimes throw things at you that you didn’t ask for, but YOU choose how to respond. Make powerful, positive choices.

4. Heart Chakra: BE COMPASSIONATE.

A broken heart is an open heart. Many who have experienced deep loss and pain have the capacity for immense compassion. Be generous in your expression of compassion. Refrain from judging the journeys that others are on. None of us can even begin to comprehend the universal force at play in people’s lives. Give where you can, and even more where you think you can’t. It may simply be a smile, a donation, a compliment, an assurance, or it may be a lifetime of devotion. Just give, that’s how you’ll get.

5. Throat Chakra: SPEAK YOUR TRUTH.

It takes courage to be your authentic self. But remember that fortune favours the brave! A life of infinite possibility starts with the courage to recognise and pursue your own creative potential.

Be true to yourself, not to the expectations of others. Release your fear and express how you feel. Live with integrity and alignment to your core values.

6. Third Eye: BE AWARE.

Recognise that there is a higher state of consciousness where illusion falls away and recognition of real truth, beyond the mind, is accessible. When the struggle of life becomes overbearing, give over the struggle to this higher knowledge and wisdom. Trust your awareness that there is a deeper truth woven through the fabric of your life, and it is supporting you. Always.

7. Crown Chakra: SEEK & SHARE THE LIGHT. 

The highest vibration of our spirituality extends beyond the intellect and permeates a universal connection. It is that which cannot be named or described. The pursuit of cosmic consciousness and being an instrument of divine light is the greatest gift that every being on this planet has the potential to experience. It is not restricted to one religion. There is no monopoly on divine love.

_____________________

Just like suicide, every trauma and suffering in life presents us with the potential gift of growth. The dark night of the soul is the catalyst to search for the beauty of the cosmic light.

I’m grateful for the spiritual evolution that my dearest sister’s suicide bestowed upon me. It has undeniably made me a better woman; a stronger woman, a more compassionate and loving woman, a more conscious woman making conscious choices about how I want to live.

Am I done on my path of growth? Hell no! Do I ever deviate and head off in the wrong direction? Hell yes! But I’m committed to the path and that’s enough.

For all of you travelling this very same journey towards higher consciousness and divine grace, may the light always shine upon you.

Namaste.

Anna

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of Dyana Griggs, Copyright 2015.

lucy perry

1 IMPORTANT TRAIT EVERY WOMAN CAN BENEFIT FROM

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Have you ever felt like you’ve needed to turn down the dial on your personality?

Have you ever been been told…

you’re too outspoken?

too noisy?

too “O.T.T” – OVER.THE.TOP!!?

your liptstick is too bright?

your printed pants are too garish?

you’re too opinionated?

too relaxed?

too silly?

too cheery?

too much of a “Pollyanna”?

you’re hair colour is too intense?

you’re too emotional or an “over-sharer” in a world that prefers to keep anything “too emotional” locked away in the cupboard where it can’t make anyone feel uneasy or confront their own human fragility?

The list of criticism is endless, and no doubt many of you will have answered yes to one or more of the above questions.

As women we are held up to even more scrutiny than men in the public and private arenas, for both our appearance and our behaviour, particularly if it defies gender stereotypes. Carl Stefanovic’s “Same suit for a year” sexism experiment was the perfect example of the double standards that exist.

I’ve always had a penchant for fashion that makes a statement (including big bright earrings!) and have been told numerous times that my personality and my appearance can be “over the top”. Whilst I continued to express myself authentically and in alignment with my own truth, I had always felt a touch of shame at being “over the top” and for being a bit “different”.

I’ve been colourful in my personality, my dress sense, and at times, my language. I remember being told once that “for a little woman you have a very big personality”. (I think there was a subliminal slap in there somewhere). Now that I’m in my early 40s I’ve learnt to courageously embrace who I am and let go of the labels others place on me.

I am what I am. I make no apologies any more, and no excuses. And I encourage you to do the same.

Who set the rules on how a woman “should” look, behave, speak, and live? Make your own rules and abide by your own choices.

Be true to who you are and refrain from judging other women who are walking their own paths. 

Earlier this year I was at a seminar on Women Leading Change where Lucy Perry (featured above) was one of the presenters, and I was fortunate enough to meet her. Lucy had just moved on from being CEO for Hamlin Fistula and had raised over $6 million for the organisation where she used her communication and creative skills to help “save the world one vagina at a time”*.

Lucy was funny, irreverent and completely confident in her own skin. With her hot pink hair and big earrings she defied the stereotypical CEO image (and I loved her all the more for it!). She spoke humbly, with honesty and authenticity as she shared how fun, forgiveness and fearlessness can change the world. 

A big part of Lucy’s message was courage. Courage to embrace who you are as a woman.

And Lucy herself was undeniably courageous. Lucy shared that “even as an ordinary woman, you can do the extraordinary”. Just like she did with her fundraising efforts as CEO which has made an outstanding contribution to the prevention of obstetric fistula in Ethiopia*.

Lucy taught all of us how to “Ululate” (singing “la, la, la, la” using a high-pitch voice, fast and loudly). Ululating can be used as an expression of strong emotion, sometimes grief and often joy. It’s also used by the women in Ethiopia to show support for one another. When Lucy orchestrated all 500 or so of us women in the room to ululate it was a powerful energy. It’s an ancient sound. I would love to encourage all of the women who read this with a virtual ululation! Feel the power of who you are and amplify it!  :-)

Seek out the courage that exists within you. It is the one characteristic that ALL women can benefit from if they choose to access it. 

Don’t modify the woman you are to make others feel “comfortable” or so people will like you. Have the COURAGE to be your most unique, authentic, irreverent self and then the right people, your people, will love you.

Turn up the dial on your own bravery and along with it, the dial on your own level of uniqueness.

Women who live life on their terms, who are “successful” by their own measure of success, all possess the courage to be true to themselves.

If you are not living authentically in alignment with who you are as a woman and your own creativity, you are limiting your own potential for joy and expansion.

You restrict the flow of your own feminine energy and your connection to your own soul.

Let go of the need for the approval of others and revel in the freedom to be YOU.

Embrace who you are. All the big and the little nuances that make you unique!

Anna x

courage

*Obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder that’s caused by prolonged obstructed labor which can last up to 7 days. It leaves women incontinent of urine or feces or both and in Ethiopia they are outcast by their community because of their stench. Access to medical care had been very limited and they often had to walk days to access it. The suffering caused by this in Ethiopia was extreme and the Hamlin Fistula Foundation has made incredible progress to correct it. Read more at http://hamlin.org.au/

 

leadershipimage

6 TIPS FOR WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP

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Being a woman in the workforce continues to present it’s own unique challenges and gender biases, particularly in management and leadership. Entire books are written on the topic and an abundance of statistical data continues support this.

There are two types of barriers to women’s advancement. The first are the internal emotional barriers that we ourselves have created. Although I must note that these barriers are significantly driven by our socialisation and culture. The second are the external workplace barriers and gender biases. We need to address both in order to reduce the equality issue that currently exists.

I believe there is a wonderful opportunity for women in leadership to break down some of their own internal impediments to success, and to  embrace wholeheartedly who they are, and their own uniqueness in their role as leaders. Here I share some of my more personal tips for women in leadership, some of which address several of those internal barriers.

1.Be Authentic.

Women in leadership can often be criticised for being “too aggressive”, for “behaving like men” or for “being too soft”, for “apologising too often”, or for “not being tough enough”. It’s a double edged sword.

Insecurity is often what drives both aggression and the other extreme – the “disease to please”. Rather than trying to be something you are not, simply be the BEST version of you. Communication will take care of itself if you are in flow with who you are as a woman. Bring all of yourself to your work. People are inspired most by those who connect with them not just on an intellectual level, but on a heart level, with genuine passion and authenticity.

2. Let go of perfectionism.

Many women struggle with perfectionism. (My own hand is up here). We can be incredibly tough on ourselves and think our work or product must be perfect before we share it with the world. We constantly underestimate our ability. Various research shows that women will judge their own performance as worse than it actually is, while men judge their own performance as better than it actually is. So women hold back rather than moving forward. Don’t hold back.  Perfection is an impossible standard. You are good enough. And your work is good enough. Just do it!

3. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Fear of failure is one of the major barriers to women’s progression. Fear of not being liked. Fear of making incorrect decisions. Fear of being judged. Fear that you may not be qualified enough. Fear that you’re not smart enough. Fear that you’re not capable enough. And, in the words of Sheryl Sandberg, “the holy trinity of fear” which is the fear of being a bad mother/wife/daughter. Whenever you are pushing yourself to grow as a professional or a person, you will feel fear. The key is to embrace it. Fortune favours the brave! Do not be a slave to the fear that resides in your mind. Trust your heart that you have something of value to offer.

4. Mentor & support other women

Men are extremely good at finding mentors and sponsors to advance their careers (funny how MENtor starts with men and incidentally so does MANager – in the singular). Many women are still learning how to leverage their networks. Don’t be afraid to reach out to women who you admire who you would like to model. And in return, be supportive of other women who can learn from you. Utilise digital connection platforms such as LinkedIn, identify strategic connections and seek them out. Join networking groups and build your connection base.

5. Be kind

Kindness is incredibly underrated in the work force. People will forget what a leader says, but they will never forget how a leader made them feel. People want to feel valued. Connection is a core human need. Leaders who can connect with their teams through genuine care and kindness will inspire their teams to go the extra mile when it’s required. Kindness is simply part of being an outstanding, professional human being. It doesn’t mean a woman or a man is weak, or “too feminine”, it demonstrates emotional intelligence. So…be kind to yourself and to others whenever possible.

6. Be a continuous learner

Unlike men, many women will not put their hands up for a job because they don’t believe they have the experience or skills to do it.  (Various studies support this). Be willing to learn on the job. Put yourself forward for that role. You can do it!

Anna x

marianne

8 TRUTHS ON LOVE, LIFE & RELATIONSHIPS EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW

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I was recently fortunate enough to be up close and personal with internationally acclaimed spiritual author and lecturer; Marianne Williamson, as she spoke about love and relationships at a Wake Up Project event.

Marianne has been seen on Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America and Charlie Rose. Six of her eleven published books have been New York Times Best Sellers, and four of these have been #1 New York Times Best Sellers. Marianne also recently ran for Congress in the US. Her book A Return to Love is on the bookshelf of many modern day spiritual seekers. A quote from that book (featured above) “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” is one that has inspired many women to connect with their own personal power and has become their mantra.

Here’s my edit on the top 8 spiritual truths that were shared by Marianne. If you’re new to the self development and spiritual journey, some of this content may require some expansive thinking. Trust that you will take from it what you need to.

1. EVERYTHING in life is a relationship.

If our primary relationship with ourselves and our own truth is out of alignment, then it is reflected in all other relationships – personal and professional, fleeting and long term, casual and intimate.

When we are out of alignment, and at the effect of fear in our lives, we bring it to every aspect of our lives and our relationships. When we master that fear, and operate from our heart centre of love, then we begin to truly master our own destinies and elevate our relationships to a new level.

2. There are only 2 emotions in life – love and fear. We choose which one to act from.

These 2 emotions of love and fear are essentially the core drivers, or foundation, of all other emotions. All that is positive stems from love. All that is negative stems from fear. Behaviour that is driven by fear is merely a call for love. Our fear originates from our deepest wounds. An invocation to assist us in moving beyond these old wounds is “May I not perceive and act from my wounds today”. To allow the love to enter our hearts we must find and surrender those walls we have built within ourselves against love’s arrival.

3.  Ego is the false belief that we are separate from one another.

If we think of ourselves alone as one singular wave in the ocean, the storms and disturbance can be frightening. If we think of ourselves as a wave that is part of the ocean, connected to all, we feel safe and able to weather those storms.  We are all connected. We are all from the same source energy. Ego is constantly in judgement of others, particularly in relationships. It’s like a “scavenger looking for evidence of the other’s guilt”. Beware of the tricks your ego can play on you and be even more wary of it’s judgement of others.

4. Enlightenment is when we manifest our own highest creative intention.

Just as the embryo is transformed into the baby, the acorn into the oak tree and the bud into the flower, there is a natural intelligence that lifts them to the highest level of possibility. This intelligence resides with in us all. If we create the space to hear it, it will provide us with the answers to our most challenging questions in life.

5. The answer to every challenging question or situation can be heard through meditation.

It’s only when we purify our minds of the illusions of the world that we can connect to real truth and wisdom. Find time daily to sit quietly and connect with your own highest intentions. “All of humanity’s problems stem from people’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”  (by Blaise Pascal, Pensees, edited).

6. Our primary love relationship is a “hospital for the soul” and presents the opportunity for soul growth.

The reason we come together in relationships is for healing each other. When we are experiencing disturbance with our relationships we need to ask

– “What am I not giving?”

– “Where is my judgement?”

Marianne says “only what you are not giving can be lacking here”. (That one’s a tough pill to swallow, is it not? :-) )

7. An idea or feeling doesn’t leave its source.

If an idea or feeling doesn’t leave it source, then even if we share our anger or resentment, part of it remains within  us.  Use the affirmation “I am willing to see this differently” to help shift the perspective and the negative emotion. Contemplate this before you communicate your anger, frustrations, and resentment. Your communication has the capacity for significant destruction if it is driven by the ego.

8. When looking for a partner, seek to give not to get.

So many women and men have a checklist for a future partner. The key is to BE the person you seek. The world is our mirror. We will only attract what we ourselves are being. Judgement is not an endearing trait in a partner.

Marianne was a true delight to be in the presence of and I trust you have gained some valuable insight from some of the content she presented above. If you wish to learn more about Marianne or her books, you can visit http://marianne.com/

Anna x

marianne5

 

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

10 WAYS FOR WOMEN TO INCREASE SELF LOVE

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Today I was honoured to be given the trust of an incredibly brave client who explored intense vulnerability. Our session reminded me that unconditional love is the light that can overcome any darkness. Unconditional love – first and foremost – for ourselves. Many women struggle with this, as do men. However women have a greater tendency than men to be perfectionists. We’re extremely tough on ourselves. It’s only when we can truly give unconditional love and kindness to ourselves that we can give it to others.

Make it #1 on your daily agenda to connect with self nurturing love so you can make each day one of your best. 

Whatever it is that brings you comfort and joy, make the time for it. Make the time for yourself and your own heart.

A few simple suggestions below to get you started…

1. Speak kindly to yourself. The quality of our language determines the quality of our life. Do you talk to yourself like you would your best friend or your worst enemy? Practice affirming yourself for what you managed to achieve each day.

2. Allow yourself the time and space to breathe. Deeply.

Often when we are stressed our breath becomes very shallow and short. Give yourself the gift of 10 deep breaths whenever you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. You will be surprised the difference it makes.

3. Be present to each and every moment in your life.

“There are no mundane moments, only mundane states of mind”.  (Anon)

The human attention span is reducing almost to that of a gold fish. Multi-tasking is not conducive to being present and focused. Do one thing at a time and do it well. Allow yourself to enjoy and be present to each moment.

4. When you look in the mirror each morning, see the amazing woman that you are, without the physical critique.

Be grateful for that body that stands before you and all its perfect imperfections. It has carried you this far in life, it may have borne your children, it may have endured suffering, your body has served you well. Treasure it.

5. Treat yourself to a bath.

Indulge in an activity that delights your senses.

6. Take time to enjoy your meals.

So often we rush through our daily lives, including meal times. Eating is one of the great sensory pleasures of life. Take time to savor your meals. The brain takes 20 minutes to register it’s full. Practicing mindful eating has the added health benefit that it can prevent over eating.

7. Read some of your book or expose yourself to the creative arts.

Whether it’s a novel or a self development book, feed your imagination, feed your soul.   Go to a gallery, see some live music, relish experiences that inspire you and encourage your personal growth.

8. Write for 5 minutes in your journal.

Connect with your own ideas, hopes, dreams and desires. Writing can provide powerful insights and is a cathartic way to process life’s events.  A gratitude journal is also a wonderful way to finish the day.

9. Move your body.

Exercise is a natural anti-depressant. Find the time to get your body moving. It might be 10 minutes of yoga each morning in your bedroom. You don’t have to be an iron-woman. Start small. Move your body.

10. Relish the daily sunrise and sunset, they can perform little miracles. 

When self love seems to elude you, take a step into nature, feel the warmth of the sun on your face, breathe deeply and bask in the literal light of the world. A small ray will find its way into your heart. I promise.

Wishing you all an abundance of love.

Anna x

WHY AM I HERE?

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Ever asked yourself …Why am I here? What’s the point of this life I’m living? Am I living out my purpose in life?

You’re not alone. Many of us question what it’s all for. It’s the quality of our questions that determine the quality of our life. The more you search for meaning, the more you open yourself up to growth and understanding.

To help in answering these questions, I want to share with you a video from Tina Turner.

Her clip for Beyond “Love Within” (featured below) shows with sensitivity, eloquence and beauty the WHY behind The Female Future Institute’s foundation. It provides a beautiful answer to the question about why we are all here.

It is in giving that we receive.

The meaning of life is about love in action.

We are here to love and learn, to grow and to give. 

The Female Future Institute was founded with the intention to give women the tools to reconnect with their most magnificent selves and to facilitate their growth and personal transformation. 

As Tina Turner states in this clip “Unconditional love is so powerful, shown in the symbols of  Divine Mother of all faiths and cultures”The-Female-Future-Institute_Logo_MarkThe Female Future Institute’s symbol is indeed a symbol of universal femininity and empowerment. The 3 circles represent the threefold nature of the Goddess; the balance of the Mind, Body and Spirit. It symbolises the 3 faces of the Goddess; as young woman, mother and wise elder. The outer circle signifies the ever-turning cycle of life, death and rebirth.

I look forward to seeing many more women reclaiming and celebrating their own personal power and unique femininity with The Female Future Institute. Contact me at anna@thefemalefutureinstitute.com to take the first steps  towards saying yes to you!

Anna xx