Dr. Liara Covert
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Entries in Chicken Soup for the Soul (2)

Wednesday
Feb202019

Interview with Kerrie Atherton

Meeting Kerrie Atherton and learning about her endeavours is heart-warming reminder that every moment is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and develop strength from adversity. I had the pleasure to meet her through Darron Eastwell whose inspirational story and self-healing show us the universe shakes us up to awaken us to see the world and our evolving purpose differently. 

Like many of us, Kerrie Atherton has faced physical and emotional trauma throughout her life.  Rather than allow adversity to define her, she has used the wisdom gained from her experience to create Empower Life Solutions and become the Founder of Stories of Hope Australia. She has been highlighted in recent editions of Profile Magazine , Sunshine Coast Daily and has been a guest on radio. I am grateful to Kerrie Atherton for creating space to connect and engage in this dialogue:

If you asked someone to describe you, what would they say?

These are some of the things people have said to me: That I am caring, compassionate, bright, bubbly, non-judgemental, creative, wise, resilient and empathetic.

How has your sense of purpose and life focus changed over time?

Once I was able to let go of shame for things that happened to me and for mistakes I had made, my whole perception changed.  I no longer felt like I had to put on a mask or pretend to be someone I was not just to be accepted.  I finally felt I could be my authentic self without concern or fear of judgement or what others thought of me.  And that was a very freeing thing.

Love that your evolving purpose involved getting more connected to community. The more we feace our fear of speaking our truth, the more we come into our personal power This is also a measure of the ability to focus our attention on soul-fulfilling activities.

Indeed. Many people imagine they need to reach for liberation. It is said the hardest prison to escape is our own mind. Your life experience and those stories you share remind us we can change our thoughts and change our life. 

What has been your greatest life challenge? 

My greatest life challenge was when I hit total rock bottom where I planned to take my life as a result of much trauma due to alcoholism and a pill addiction.  

That is a huge thing to acknowledge.  How did you overcome or get through this?

I overcame this through reconnecting with my faith In God that day and through walking into the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Details of your story that you share with people include the internal shift you have experienced to transform your life. It is akin to what we hear about celebrities who beat addiction.  Australian singer- Songwriter Keith Urban speaks about his own addiction and sobriety. He came to recognize that he wasn’t living to his full potential.  Although he wishes he got sober earlier, It seems like you resonate with Jamie Lee Curtis who said on the Today Show, “My recovery is the single greatest accomplishment of my life. Without that, the rest of my life would have fallen apart... Recovery is an acceptance that your life is in a shambles and you have to change it.”

Tell us about Empowered Life Solutions.

EMPOWERED Life Solutions is a business I formed around 5 years ago.

So, your choice to shift your attitude in your life guides you to help others take their lemons and make their own refreshing lemonade. Cool! What fulfils you about mentoring roles taking shape?

After working with many people suffering with addictions and after working with troubled youth in schools for over 11 years, I wanted to devote my time to counselling, coaching, mentoring and running programs to help EMPOWER people who were struggling with different issues in life and to help prevent those people from going through them in the first place. 

What does empowerment process entail? 

To sit with an individual or family after the trauma has happened in their lives, especially due to drug addictions.  This is very devastating at times to see and to help them. That journey of recovery can be a lengthy process.  Prevention or early intervention programs can save so much heartache. Prevention really is better than cure.  Having said that, being trusted by someone with the opportunity to counsel and help them through their hard times is something I consider to be a huge privilege.

Something touches my soul as you describe creating a welcoming space where your clients feel safe to share stories of self-rejection and vulnerability.  Such an environment of unconditional acceptance would benefit many. 

When do you feel most alive? 

I feel most alive when I am sharing my own story or testimony to others about how I have come out the other side of hard times, so I can bring others HOPE.

How does instilling hope make you feel?

I feel most alive when I am playing a part in helping make a positive difference in the life of someone who has lost HOPE.  When I am at my Stories of HOPE events and I see all the faces in the audience this really causes me to know I am fulfilling my greatest purpose and being part of the process of changing someone’s life brings me the greatest JOY.  Especially helping someone who was about to give up on life discover that they really have a reason and a purpose for living.

Tell us about the Stories of Hope Australia initiative. (Some people get a taste via your Linked In)

I got the inspiration for this after I hit rock bottom for a second time in August 2016.  My father had just died, and my husband became very ill.  These things happened on the back of other trauma and grief I had experienced over the past few years.  I just felt like I could barely  go on.  I felt very alone and with little support. 

When did you get the inspiration?

After pulling out of all regular activities and spending much time alone for a few weeks trying to heal and regain my strength, I attended a women’s conference.  There I had a light bulb moment after hearing a couple of other people share about how they had come out the other side of their very hard times.  I knew right there and then that I had so much to share with the world.  That I had not been through all this pain for nothing, that it wouldn’t be in vain, and that I would use my pain for others gain, through sharing my stories of how I had come out the other side of the circumstances which could have easily destroyed me.  I also knew that I had to gather together all the other inspirational people I knew who had also triumphed over adversity and I thought ‘together we can literally change the world’. 

Eureka moments are like what you describe, instances which change each of our lives for the better. Like intuition in action, they prompt us to listen or pay attention to how we feel.  As you imply, we are triggering our own inner shifts in energy, attention and transforming purpose. 

How do you see this brain child unfolding? (and expanding)

I see myself taking my events into different states with some of my team members, and I am now working on my second Stories of HOPE Australia book. We will continue our regular free monthly events where we started two years ago at the Sands Tavern Maroochydore and will also be working on more ‘Men’s Only Mental Health’ nights and separate women’s nights targeting sensitive topics.

Meeting you echoes Pay it Forward movie message. You may be familiar with this flick. Who inspired/inspires you to empower and help others as you do?

There are so many people who have inspired me with both my parents who are no longer here being two of them.  My dad in particular who I witnessed over his many years also in AA, he was 60 years sober to be exact, pouring his life out to help others recover. Other than them, there is no one person more than another.  I guess the thousands of people that I have met in the rooms of alcoholics anonymous who are walking miracles, and all the people I have met through Stories of HOPE Australia.  Some of those people are my closest friends today and they continue to inspire me on a daily basis.  When you go through extensive pain and trauma, it doesn’t just disappear overnight.  It is a slow consistent journey of recovery.  Watching the progress of recovery in anyone who I have seen at the beginning of their journey and who is moving forward through it, inspires me beyond belief.

You have a book coming out soon. Share a bit about your process. Many people dream of writing a book. What is your own motivation? Why now?

The motivation behind me writing a book has always been there.  I have had my story sitting partially written for a few years, but got stuck.  I just really wanted to share a glimpse of the SOH journey and some of the stories to all the people out there who for different reasons, can’t make the events or they live in different states or countries.  I wanted,to take a glimpse of the SOH events and experience out to the big wide world, so I could exponentially share the experience with the masses of people out there, so they too could find the same kind of HOPE  that we have found through the sharing of all these inspirational stories.

This reminds me a  bit of a rendition of Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor HansenYou may know that Chicken Soup for the Soul book series of over 250 titles has sold more than 110 million copies in the U.S. and Canada. Chicken Soup for the Soul books have been translated into 43 languages, have been published in over 100 countries, and have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide. What a backdrop for your inspirational endeavours!

At what stage did you awaken to the importance of feeling the way through life to grow and heal?

At 18 when I was about to commit suicide, I heard a voice I believed to be that of God.  He said  ‘Don’t do it.  If you hang on a bit longer you will find happiness one day.’  And I am so glad I did hang on. Since that day when I walked into AA I have dedicated my life to helping others heal also.  To try and help prevent anyone especially young people going through and experiencing the pain and trauma that I did became like a mission for me.  I never want anyone to get to that point like I did where they feel like they are all alone and that they have absolutely no HOPE.  If I can help provide that HOPE I will.

That is an inspiring wake-up call. It reminds me a bit of an experience of a man who was intent on committing suicide and the touching story of his Golden Gate Bridge Survival.  His will to live sent out a vibration that brought the aid of a sea lion.

If you could share a single message with the world, what would it be?  

When you are able to be your authentic self, you unlock the door to freedom.  When you have Freedom to truly be yourself without fear of judgement, that opens the door to true connection with others, which is something we all need and have a deep longing for.  My mantras of Don’t do life alone and together is better ring loud in everything I do.  Also to believe that there is always HOPE.

Based on many shared stories, hope feels like a stepping stone to trusting ourselves more.

If you could share a meal with 5-10 people, who would they be? 

Jimmy Barnes, Mother Theresa, my grandfather Bert Fisher (who was the Tivoli Conductor/ composer and violinist who I never got the chance to meet), Brett Whitely, and the queen.

An intriguing combination of individuals would be sitting at your table...why them?

The reason I would pick all these people, is because they have all experienced deep trauma and lived both complicated and exciting lives.  They have all been through extremely sad and hard times and all reveal depth and great talent.  They all show resilience in the face of hard times.  All these people would have the most amazing stories to tell.

Love your choices! What the public hears about famous people is often only a glimpse of the truth or tip of the iceberg of deeper truths. It is also interesting that everyone we draw to us is revealing things about us we may not yet know. It is said we are drawn to or inspired by people who’s admirable traits we are in the process of recognizing, loving and accepting within ourselves. In a similar line, we can also imagine which fictional characters we would invite to dinner and the underlying reasons for doing so. In addition, it has also been said that anyone who is born into this world experiences birth and/or pre-birth related trauma and this is another possible avenue for investigation and healing.

Please share anything else you wish to add:

Our book launch is on the 28th of Feb at Venue 114 Lake Kawana.  Tickets must be purchased by next Tuesday 26th and are available via our Stories of HOPE Facebook page.  For anyone who would like to purchase a copy of my book  Stories of HOPE Australia ‘Everyday People, Extraordinary Stories’ which will be sure to change the way you look at life forever, you can do so via my website www.storiesofhope.com.au

If you are someone who feels you have a story of HOPE that you would like to share to help change lives for good, I would love to hear from you.  Until then,  ‘don’t do life alone, together is better’.

Thanks Kerrie, for creating the Stories of Hope initiative and inviting people to come together to reassure, empathize and support others.  I certainly look forward to taking in more of the events. You set an example to us all that we are not the body, not the mind, but the Soul in the process of experiencing different facits of life necessary to become a butterfly. Highly recommend people come attend one or more of the monthly events to get a taste of speakers who regain their personal power by sharing their stories, shifting their attitude and direct experience of what is possible in a group setting. Contact Kerrie Atherton for more details and visit the FB pages.

Leave people with a story:

Moving Mind from 10 Zen Stories 

Two men were arguing about a flag flapping in the wind.

“It’s the wind that is really moving,” stated the first one. “No, it is the flag that is moving,” contended the second.

A Zen master, who happened to be walking by, overheard the debate and interrupted them. “Neither the flag nor the wind is moving,” he said, “It is MIND that moves.”

Meeting Kerrie Atherton and learning about her endeavours is heart-warming reminder that every moment can be understood as an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and the strength we can develop through adversity.

 

Saturday
Dec082018

Interview with Renee McDuffie

I am repeatedly surprised by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of people I encounter.  Delighted to share this dialogue with entrepreneur and supermom Renee McDuffie.  Thanks Renee, for being open to sharing how you feel and adapt through different waves of change in your life.  

How we view ourselves shapes our experience.  How do you see you?

I am firstly a Mother to 3 beautiful children; Tayla, Blake and Jayda, a wife to Shane and an Online business owner/Regional Vice President with Arbonne International. I view myself as a social butterfly, always busy always on the go. I like to think of myself as a self-driven motivated outgoing personality who loves to dream and go big! 

We each know what 'wake up calls' feel like. Sometimes its a dream, an intuition, a deja-vu or another experience. What prompts you to move to the Sunshine Coast?

Lifestyle. You might say I am ready and eager for bigger changes. I am also listening to my heart.

It is said that when you go with the natural flow, you sense synchronicity, suddenly consider new choices and opportunities.  Share some milestones in your life that lead you to where you are.

I suppose graduating with my diploma in Children’s Services (2004), after a debilitating back injury surgery going wrong.  In 2007, I had to learn how to walk again.  I became a very strong-minded, determined person because of this, and shifted my priorities. 

Sounds like your sense of wellness shifted. Health challenges certainly do have a way of shaking us up and guiding us to see what matters You are not alone when you imply your own health scare gave you a deeper appreciation for life. Chicken Soup for the Soul books are well-known.  Invite you and readers to check out the Interview with Darron Eastwell. 

Will do. I know forst hand that if I do not have my health, I cannot care for others or do my best work.

Other milestones include; falling pregnant with my first-born Tayla in 2008, marrying my best friend Shane in 2010, having my son Blake in 2011.  In addition, I took a Career change course to study in personal training ( never completed it), had my gorgeous little Jayda in 2014. Starting my new Career path becoming a business owner in 2015 which I am still so passionate about with Arbonne.

Your story echoes we gain access to different kinds of wisdom at different life stages. What specifically prompted you to get involved in Arbonne?  

I discovered Arbonne in 2014 and didn’t give it much of a thought.  Yet, then was re- introduced by a very close friend in 2015 and I loved the whole concept, mainly of helping others and the whole ethics of the company. I have continued to grow and love the business even more and love my team so much. I have continued on this journey and plan to for a very long time to come. This entrepreneurial role allows me to be present for my family, and the important things.  It has also allowed me many travel opportunities which I don’t think I would have had in other industries. I have done many other jobs but this one has always ticked all the boxes for me as I’m passionate about the health and wellness industry and personal development.

Well, it is said we invite into our lives only what we can handle, though not everyone listens to their passions. Opportunities feel more like synchronicity when we are in touch with our feelings. Working from home has growing appeal.  No wonder you are happy with what you are creating. 

Share some of your strengths and weaknesses and how you use these to your advantage.

Some of my strengths are: I am strong-willed and determined- once I set my mind on something, I get it done. I have learned to be a good listener and love to help others, and am very trustworthy. I also feel another strength is that I’m non- judgemental but this has also worked against me. Weaknesses: I am a massive people-pleaser so am not always as direct and honest as I would like to be. I don’t like to upset others so don’t say some things I probably should. I do sometimes get overwhelmed when situations aren’t within my control, which brings me to the next thing: I can be a control freak! (something I am working on!) To my advantage, when I get an idea on my head, I just go for it and always find a way to make a situation work. My wish to help others can work against me as I want to help/fix everyone’s problems.

Being brutally honest with ourselves is one of the hardest things to do. Kudos to you for being self-aware and taking steps to work on those behaviours that you realize can limit you.

Describe the biggest challenge you have experienced. How do you handle it?

The biggest challenge in my life would have to be when my spinal injury caused me to have surgery which didn’t go well in 2007 (I was age 23). And after a follow up emergency surgery of a blood clot forming on my spine, waking up with no feeling from the waist down, being told I may never walk again was definitelythe biggest life-changing event in my kufe so far. I handled it quite well until I hit a point when I had a breakdown.

Author Brene Brown reminds us nervous breakdowns can be key turning points in our lives. How did yours affect you?

That’s when the determination kicked in. I worked so hard for 2 years to do all I could in rehab to re-generate the nerves and build up my muscle and strength again. Surprisingly, I wouldn’t change this moment in my life.  I i made me appreciate the things we take for granted like walking, toileting etc. Overcoming struggle has also made Me who I am today. And I was lucky enough to be one of the ones to get most of the feeling back. This also lead me into the passion I have for exercise and training.

Its easy to forget we each create our own luck.  We shift from believing in coincidence to seeing synchronicity, to recognizing we create and respond to all that happens. Taking full personal responsibility can seem like a big leap, but it enables us to see blessings, come what may, is that not so?

Absolutely! 

Similar to Joyce Meyer, Jack Ma, Donald Trump, Gerry Adams, Jason Navallo, John Mason, Tedy Bruschi, and others who wrote books called Never Give up, your resilience adn relentless determination take you far. Your story is inspirational in that it encourages people to learn a lesson wherever they are and stretch themselves to reach the next level.

That ordeal definitely taught me a lot about confidence and character-building!

What is the most spontaneous thing you have ever done?

I am spontaneous by nature...

Aren't we all, yet, sometimes adults forget!

Well, yes.  My most spontaneous adult acts are doing the world’s highest cliff jump in Queenstown, N.Z. during a Arbonne trip, and jumping out of a plane! I am an adrenaline junky.

A woman who pushes boundaries... I love your style! We each create a sense of awe and wonder in our life choices.  Let us in on three things very few people know about you.

There’s not a lot that people don’t know about me as I’m an open book. I am definitely an over-thinker and over-dramatize situations in my head. I do a lot of self-talk.  As much as I love a social life, I also love me-time, sitting, watching mind-numbing trash t.v. and documentaries, I also love the beach (my happy place).

Tell us about a time when you did or said something that had a positive impact on an employee, co-worker, or customer. How did it make you feel?

I think in the role I play within my business and team I’m lucky enough to be able to pep my team up and try to help them break through a block in work/ life. I can think if times I’ve cried with some of the girls in my team when I can see a breakthrough in their personal development, within themselves and making them know that they are worthy of everything that they want and more. This always fills my cup up seeing them achieve great things or stepping out of their comfort zones. 

As you imply, stepping out of comfort zones does not come easily to everyone, but it pays off.   If your peers and team had to describe you in three to five words, what would they say?

If my peers and team had to describe me in 3-5 words : loud, chatty, fun, positive, driven, and determined.

What people reflect back tells us a lot about our level of authenticity. Speaking of this, tell us about a dream you have yet to realize. What are you doing to progress further to make it real?

My dream is to build my business up so strong that my husband can travel less with his work and be around more and be able to be more present with me and the kids. He is when he can but is also away a bit interstate and does miss some important things. I am working my tail off to hit that goal so we can then choose to be together more as a family.

Describe a time when a colleague came to you with a problem. How did you respond?

There are a fair few times a colleague has come to me with a problem I won’t specifically name any due to privacy.  Each time, listened with 2 ears and waited to respond. Sometimes people just want to be heard.

So right! Empathy and compassion can be conveyed in silence as well as through words.   We each have the power to give something of ourselves to enrich the world. We do this with time, money or other gestures. Tell us about a time when understanding something differently shifted your perception and priorities.

I’ve had a few situations in life that I have learnt from when I’ve had to step back and put myself in someone else’s shoes to see why they may be saying or doing something that has upset me. I’ve learnt that there is always a reason why someone is doing what they do. I’ve also learned to to as well and I can check my Ego at the door!

Why is it important to develop connection? How do you build a rapport?

I love connecting and building a report with people I meet in life. I’m always fascinated by others and their stories and think it’s so important to build that trust with new people. I guess I listen and if I can relate to something they are saying I let them know that I understand.

Indeed. Sometimes what is left unspoken is very powerful and leaves a huge impact.

If you could write yourself a letter before leaving this world that would be received by your reincarnation, what would the letter say?

Oh gosh! If I could write myself a letter from the future and read it today- wow 😮. It would probably say live life to the full, follow your dreams and don’t let others steal them, always have fun, always laugh even at yourself and love without judgement

Add anything else you wish to say...

My website is http://www.reneemcduffie.arbonne.com   

email: reneearbonne@hotmail.com phone: 0409338774

Much gratitude Renee for all you share.  This is a fabulous example of how shifts in priorities happen in our lives when we least expect it. Renee, like each of us in our own way, is a true gift to this world.  She shows us that once we get in touch with what matters and identify our priorities, we can create a more fulfilling life and be happier people.  Yet, a big message that stands out is before we can truly love others, and make a real difference, we must learn how it feels and what it involves to truly love ourselves. This is a unique journey for each of us. And the Soul learns and unlearns at its own pace.

As Arianna Huffington echoes in her best-selling book Thrive, its up to each of us to uncover and experience directly the meaning of well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving, during our lifetime. This is what gives our lives deeper meaning and us a sense of unique purpose. Check out Thrive Global for hints.