On the morning after the latest royal wedding, I reflect. I reflect on a generation of new royals who have transformed the British Monarchy. I reflect on a serenely beautiful, independent woman who walked herself down the aisle, proud of her roots, her heritage, her story, in front of the watching world. I reflect on a service that was almost paradoxical in its nature, modern yet steeped in tradition, raising eyebrows as well as smiles.
I reflect on a scene that has shown that an institution, a nation, a society and a global community has more than reinvented itself, more than transformed its beliefs—it has transcended. The happiness of a young royal has risen above the ordinary and typical limitations. He married for love rather than convenience, status or power. As the passionate Bishop Michael pronounced during the service “There’s power in love to show us the way to live.”
With that, my reflection and thoughts turn to my own story of transformation and transcendence.
When we are honest with ourselves, our purpose in life is to be happy, and I believe that happiness stems with all things love. Put love at the heart of the change and you will find happiness. It took the death of a loved princess and beloved mother to trigger a change in the royal family, their love for two young men opened up their beliefs around tradition and a royal lifestyle. It took the death of my mother and of my first marriage to prompt a radical change in my life and in my beliefs. I had to lose love in order to love myself. To love myself, I had to understand and get to know the stranger I had become and ‘reinvent’ the new me.
At 18 or 21, we travel the world to ‘find ourselves.’ I ask, why not at any age, why not every decade? I had just turned 40 when I embarked on my transformation journey, a time that perhaps many would say they were most confident in themselves.
I see myself today and I am a stranger to past friends, but more authentic for having found myself again. I have been reborn a more joyful person; I am comfortable in my own skin, with my thoughts, my beliefs and excited for whatever lies ahead.
In the afterglow of transformation, it can be easy to forget that the journey can be a rocky, uphill road, fraught with challenges, stumbles, failures and even roadblocks.
It took nearly two decades for the public and the establishment to be comfortable with a wedding that would have once been seen as fraught with controversial rule breaking and it has taken me 18 months to be in a situation that I never thought would be possible and feel what I once believed would be impossible.
How do you overcome the hurdles, how do you see the roadblocks as useful diversions, how do you take the impossible leap to start your own reinvention at any age?
Even with love at the heart of any transformation, I strongly believe there needs to be elements of creativity and spirituality too. They are all interlinked: You can be creative with love and find spirituality in love. You can fall in love with creativity, and spirituality can lead you to be creative.
As the new Duke and Duchess have shown us, love is the only place to start. Love is at the heart of healing and health and it is the greatest form of nourishment when it comes to our well-being.
‘Do what brings you joy and you will bring joy to others.’ These words inspired me to write my ‘Joy List.’ I knew I didn’t want my pain, fear and sadness for the past to grow, but I did want my joy to grow. The first question to myself was, ‘what brings me joy?’ By focusing on what and who brought me joy, I could refocus my mind on those, rather than who and what brought me pain. I wrote a list of approximately 8 things I loved to do and pinned them by my mirror. At the beginning of each day, I would set my intention on doing at least one of the items on my joy list so that I knew by the end of the day, I would have spent some time focused on doing what I loved and enjoying precious moments of joy. What I focused on grew. Today, I still have my joy list, and I find at the end of the day, my time has been filled with the majority of items on that list.
I reinvented a life doing joyful activities and eventually, these activities formed a new purpose and a new career as a Holistic Health Coach.
I used to mistake, and therefore dismiss, this suggestion as vanity and arrogance. But in a time when I felt unloved and unloveable, I discovered the words ‘Love yourself so others may love you,’ and they shed light on the true meaning of self love. This self love became a form of self respect; I began to treat myself how I would wish others to treat me. Brene Brown talks about being in the Wilderness. When you are there, the only person you need in order to not feel alone is yourself.
In some ways, this part of my journey turned into a form of spiritual practice. To have self love, I needed to connect with my spirit and understand the purpose of my being, which really is the definition of spirituality.
To do this, I became clear on my personal values by completing an exercise in his book ‘Turning Point’ by Dr. Rohan Weerasinghe. With my values written down and pinned against my mirror, alongside my joy list, I could see the person I wanted to be for that day ahead. I knew I liked that version of me and she gave me a reason to get up and out of bed in the morning. I knew how to live, by my values, I knew who I was, what I stood for and I knew my purpose in life.
I reinvented myself by being who I really was, by listening to my heart and spirit.
Jim Rohn says that ‘you are the average of the five people you spend your time with.’ A reinvention of yourself can often cause ripples and rifts in your social life. With a new found self respect, armed with a Joy List and a Values List, sailing through this storm can be less turbulent. I found I was drawn to friends and people who shared common values and I no longer felt obliged to conform. I found myself choosing to be around people who wanted to see me happy and it became easier to politely decline invites that no longer aligned with my new attitude and approach to life. It became very clear that to love who I was becoming, I needed to be around people who loved that version of me too.
I reinvented a life where it was no longer just about loving myself on my own in the Wilderness but loving myself and who I was, whoever I was with and without having to change who I was to ‘fit in.’
With love at the heart of a reinvention, you can transform your life. Mixing the love with elements of creativity and spirituality, you can go beyond the limits of your imagination and in doing so, achieve transcendence.
Congratulations to the Harry & Meghan for showing the world how it can be done.