I’m Craving the Real Story Tellers.

I woke  this morning to an email written by someone who attended the last Inspire Collective.

She was thanking me for going ahead and doing it.

Her story though.

By the time I finished reading I was a mess.

I come across stories of women who have been through all sorts of genuine messes, heartbreaks, loss, trial, betrayal, wounding, accidental happenings, pear shaped life experiences….

They are everywhere and they’re not the glossy, happily ever after stories.

They’re the ‘I’ve survived and lived to tell the tale stories.’

Everyone has a story.

The healing lies in being able to have your story genuinely heard by others.

My grandma used to say, “A problem shared is a problem halved.”

Perhaps that’s a bit shallow.

But I am beginning to experience daily how the power of story sharing is actually one of the greatest acts of courage we can participate in.

Stories are messy.

Most, in real life, don’t have neat and tidy edges and endings.

They’re the stories I find are the greatest.

Not the stories of happy endings, but those of falling and failing,

And of trying to get back up again.

The stories of having lost but still fighting even when there’s nothing to fight for.

The stories of weakness.

Of imperfection.

Of trying to find clarity.

Of being having risked and having fallen short.

Sometimes we’re not living the dream.

In fact, much of the time, it’s the opposite.

We all have a story and I believe it’s in the sharing of our stories when victory can come.

Not just for the speaker but equally for the hearer.

I’d be a rich woman if I got a dollar every time I heard a woman say,

‘Who’d want to hear my story?’

Or, ‘What do I have to offer?’

Your story is unique.

Your story is powerful.

Your story is beautiful.

It’s exquisite in its complexity.

It’s not to be played down in its detail.

It is yours.

If spoken it can heal and restore, give hope to others who are looking for it and make meaning out of situations that are hard to understand.

It has a place.

You have a voice.

We need to be bold enough to share the stories of our lives.

It is then that we will find healing and hope, life and abundance, redemption and grace.

Give me those ones.

 

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Enjoy your week and find the courage to share something of your story.

You really don’t know who needs to hear it today.

 

Cate x

 

 

 

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When my baby laughed

I remember vividly the first time my baby boy laughed.

He was 6 months old and as I reached in to pick him up from his cot,

He made me chase him and his giggle,

This new, beautiful and rare sound,

Washed over me the coolest, most soothing water I had ever felt.

Instantly, it turned my heavy, burdened soul into a well spring of hope and joy.

The sound of his laugh broke one of the most intense seasons of grief and hopelessness I had ever experienced.

Kristian means ‘light of Christ.’

Babies are meant to be all smooth sailing and goos and gahs and dressing up nurseries and talcum powder smells….

No, it wasn’t like that for me.

I plummeted into a fairly scary bout of post natal depression straight after he was born.

He wouldn’t stop crying.

From the moment he was born,

He screamed.

And not cried, like little weak cries,

He had a cry that sounded panicked,

Tears would literally stream down his face.

And there was nothing I could do to console him.

The nurses would come in at the hospital and ask me if I’d fed him,

If I’d changed his nappy,

If there was something hurting him,

Maybe it was a nappy on too tight,

Maybe, something…

But no.

From the moment he was born his cry would pierce my day around 12 times,

For the next 6 months.

And there was nothing I could do.

I remember the car rides.

He would scream every time I put him in his car seat.

A familiar dread would come over me when I would get in the car to go anywhere.

But particularly when I had to go to church,

As it was a gruelling 45 minute drive.

I would drive myself, my 2 year old toddler and my baby,

And I still remember the surge of panic and helplessness that came when he started crying,

Because he wouldn’t stop.

He would cry and cry and scream and scream,

For almost an hour there,

And almost an hour back.

I remember getting very little sleep,

Not going anywhere,

And trying to look after my 2 year old toddler at the same time.

I had done this before,

Quite successfully I thought.

My other boy was a breeze and did all the right things.

This little light, did not.

He didn’t fit my boxes of what Babywise told me he had to fit.

He was in a category all of his own.

And for someone who liked to know what I was doing and how it was supposed to be done,

My life went into a dark, steady, downward spiral for close to a year.

I remember those days so clearly,

Lying exhausted on the rug on the floor,

Trying to catch a few moments sleep before he woke.

On edge, waiting for his frantic little cry to pierce the stillness.

Well meaning friends would come and try to find out what I was doing wrong,

Offering me their sympathies,

I remember those looks of pity…

But sometimes you aren’t doing anything wrong.

Sometimes things just don’t go the way you want them to,

And it’s painful and isolating and dark.

What do you do in your darkness?

Very often we just survive the dark,

Waiting for the light to break.

My little light.

Kristian.

What did I learn?

I learned not to judge.

You don’t get to be the person who has opinions to offer anyone when they are in their darkness.

You get to be the listener and the quiet strength, but never the judge.

I learned that sometimes there are patches in life where you simply need to tread water.

You’re not going to get your head above the waves until the time is up.

So whilst there,

You do your best to keep swimming,

Against the tide,

Against the relentless smash of the waves over your head.

You do your best to keep going.

Sometimes that’s all you can do.

Just survive.

Take the short naps on the rug on the floor.

Take the car rides whilst holding your breath and then congratulate yourself that you got to the other side without having an accident.

You don’t have to be strong for anyone else but yourself in those times.

I learned to be kind,

To myself and to others.

I became aware of how easy it is to reach a depth you never knew you were capable of,

And this holds me in good stead today.

I never judge anyone else in their darkness,

Because I know how easy it is to get there.

That was 9 years ago now.

Today, I have one of the most beautiful boys I believe to be alive.

His laugh broke my desperation and caused hope to come alive in me.

In an instant, I went from a depressed, hopeless woman,

Desperate, alone and grieving,

To a young mother, in love with her gift,

Thriving in my environment with a renewed sense of calm and peace.

Versed in the depths that depression can wreak,

Never a judge because of the compassion I learned,

Aware of my own frailty as a human, mother and woman,

And having learned that I am utterly dependent on the grace of God in every waking moment.

 

Cate x

Cate is a mum, wife, singer, song writer, pastor, teacher and blogger.  She is the Founder of The Inspire Collective – a creative network for women in Perth and is one of the writers for Kinwomen and 98five Sonshine FM.

Cate singing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What being brave will cost you.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’ Speech (from Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown)

Brene Brown.

Her words continue to forge and shape my ideologies, my thinking,

My life.

I’m currently enrolled in her Living Brave Semester.

From the minute the first video started playing of her in the classroom,

I found myself holding back tears.

I had to step back from it and ask myself why I was connecting with her words so deeply.

And I figured that it was because she was talking about something that no one really talks about.

Like how if you’re going to live a brave life,

And actually get into the Arena,

You’re going to get your ass kicked. (her words)

Every woman,

Reaches a juncture in their life where they have to make the decision to take the route of comfort or courage.

The road less travelled,

Quoting Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

There is going to be a point in your life where you have to decide,

Am I going to play it safe,

Or am I going to navigate new territories,

And become a Brave One.

The catch for these Brave Ones,

Is that there is NO guarantee that their risking or their courage is going to pay off.

But that’s the point.

That’s what living a brave life is all about.

It takes guts and fortitude,

It takes not caring about the masses’ opinions,

But only those that are close to you and that know you well and have your back.

There are a multitude of moments where I have to choose between courage or comfort.

I made a decision a number of years ago now,

That if nothing else, I was going to be brave with my life,

For my sake and the sake of those in my care,

Family, friends and beyond.

It was tied in with three values that I hold at my core.

Stewardship,

Faith

And Hope.

I remember deciding that I was going to suck every bit out of the life that I had been given by God to use.

I have a small window of time on this earth and the urgency to use it to His glory was overwhelming.

At the time, in many ways I felt like I was living a half life.

I was sick of knowing there was stuff in me that needed expression but I didn’t know how to get to it or get it out.

I felt stuck and small and insignificant.

All feelings that I now know are not how I or anyone should ever feel.

So back to my values.

Stewardship.

Stewarding my life so that I could become my best self,

For God’s glory,

Was where it was at for me.

I began throwing all I had into the Arena.

My music, my family, my church, my creativity, my fears, my aspirations, my hopes and dreams.

And I continue to live life through the lense of that value.

I’ve been fighting in the Arena of Stewardship for a while now,

And what I’ve loved seeing start to happen in the last few years is that it has begun having a spill off effect and is washing over others around me,

Who are now finding that they have enough courage to step into that same Arena.

It has become one of my greatest joys.

Seeing others reach their full potential.

Hope.

Hope that what I have gone through can release another into freedom, God’s abundant life and self expression.

Hope that has only come through being very familiar with hopelessness,

But because this has been my foe in the Arena,

I now know how to kick it right back so that I can give others Hope.

Faith.

Without God, I have nothing and am not empowered to do any of this.

Jesus gives me the strength to get into the Arena in the first place,

And I owe Him my life.

In fact, for years I have sown and ploughed into Arenas that have given nothing back.

And I wasn’t looking for a return,

But now I am.

You see, going into the Arena time and time again,

Gives you THE RIGHT to start expecting that it’s going to pay off.

You’ve earned your stripes.

You’ve got your battle scars.

You’ve done your time.

But without having entered the Arena in the first place,

You don’t get that right.

What Arenas have you battled in and now have the authority to throw your weight around in?

We were born to live brave lives girls.

What’s a brave life?

A brave life is where you give yourself permission to risk and to go where you need to.

A brave life requires immense courage.

It requires an all in mentality.

It means you enter the Arena not knowing if you’re going to succeed or lose,

Not knowing if you’re going to get criticism or if you’re going to receive accolades.

But that you are going in regardless,

Because your values are driving you.

It means you have to be vulnerable.

It means you have nothing to hide behind.

Your Arena could be coming face to face with thoughts that you’re not good enough.

Your Arena could be releasing that book that is in you.

Your Arena could be trying again for a baby when you’ve had a miscarriage.

Asking for forgiveness.

Starting your own business.

Having faith.

Exercising in public,

Wearing that bike helmet and getting on the pushbike when you know you look ridiculous! (Cate self talking…)

Putting yourself out there…

Having courage in something.

There are so many Arenas as diverse as you.

What is yours?

And are you going to get into it this year and fight?

Or are you going to stand back and watch while others do it, wishing you had their courage.

If you want to become an inspiration to others, simply get in your Arena.

When others watch you getting your face and hands dirty,

They can’t help but want to do the same,

Heck, even fight with you.

Cos at least you’ve tried with this life you’ve been given.

At least you gave it everything you’ve got.

 

Cate x

Image credit: http://www.fashionoverreason.com/2012/06/warrior-princess.html

 

 

 

If you’re not hurting, you’re not leading

I’m reading a great book right now.

Sam Chand’s book Leadership Pain.

The premise behind it is that you’ll only grow as a leader to the threshold of your pain.

Pain is defined as life’s trials.

Betrayal, disappointment, heartache, financial and emotional strain,

Failure, stress, difficulties, change and a whole host more, fall into this category.

Chand argues that leadership,

Particularly as a pastor in a christian context,

Is not only damn hard,

But is something that you can’t succeed in if you don’t know how to increase your pain threshold.

In order to advance in your capacity and growth as a leader,

You need to embrace the reality that pain is there to advance you,

Not impede you.

It’s all about the attitude you adopt toward it.

80% of pastors leave the ministry within five years.

Personally, I don’t know of any minister who hasn’t contemplated at one time or another, of leaving the ministry.

And I know a lot of pastors.

I am one of them.

Pain is a given in life.

We all experience it,

We are all faced with challenges and dark moments,

Whether you’re a pastor or not.

Chand says that when we accept that pain is a part of our lives,

And when we let it instruct, mould and teach us,

We are then better able to mature into the leaders we were meant to be.

So what is so good about pain?

And especially in a culture that says if your life isn’t glossy and perfect,

Then there’s something wrong with you?

Well, pain breeds compassion, tenacity and many other things,

But one thing it fosters so beautifully is resilience.

I know this to be true.

Some of the things I used to struggle with as a leader,

I now let slide like water off a duck’s back.

You become impervious,

Not cold or calloused,

But more resilient when you learn how to endure pain and work it to your end,

Rather than letting it control and own you.

Resilience is:

The ability of a substance to spring back into shape; elasticity, after encountering difficulties.

In Chand’s book, Bob Gass says that there are four primary traits of resilient people.

The first is that they take control of their lives instead of spending energy trying to blame others or waiting for them to bail them out.

They don’t quit even when they want to.

They look at the past and think about how they’ve handled adversity before,

And they look at the present with clear eyes and as problem solvers.

The second thing resilient people do,

Is that they surround themselves with the right people.

They may have grown up in an addicted, abusive, or abandoning family,

But they make choices today to spend time with people who live in truth and have hope for tomorrow.

Thirdly, they allow their pain to spur growth instead of collapsing in self pity.

Even when a life goal is completely blocked by disease or any other cause,

Resilient people find an open door when others only see the one that’s closed.

They creatively invest themselves in a new venture, often one that focuses on helping others who are experiencing pain from similar physical, emotional, or relational heartaches – and they make a difference.

Fourthly, resilient, pain-embracers,

Insist on changing what they can and not worry about the rest.

For resilient people,

Encounters with pain enable them to sift through their responsibilities and priorities.

Suddenly, many things that seemed important are no longer on the top of the to-do list.

But other things,

Such as people they love and a cause they can champion, are now on top.

(See Sam Chand’s Leadership Pain pp 194-195)

We are all human.

Pain is an inevitable part of life.

Any friend you have who tells you otherwise is living in denial or is faking it.

And I’d recommend finding a new friend who you can be real with.

Just a tip 😉

When pain comes,

Realise that it can be a master teacher.

That it can make you or if you let it,

Or if you choose, it can most definitely break you.

Don’t let it win.

Use it to make you an amazing leader,

A leader who others want to emulate.

Someone with courage and tenacity,

Someone who has stuck it out when everything has shouted to give up.

When the light comes after the dark,

And it will,

You will shine even more brightly and with such luminosity,

That people will ask you what your secret is.

And you will simply say,

I have learnt to grow through my pain.

Pain is meant to wake up.  People try to hide their pain.  But they’re wrong.  Pain is something to carry, like a radio.  You feel your strength in the experience of pain.  It’s all in how you carry it.  That’s what matters.  Pain is a feeling.  Your feelings are a part of you.  Your own reality.  If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality.  You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.

Jim Morrison.

 

Cate x

When it Rains in my House

When It Rains in My House https://cateywilliams.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/beautiful-rain-flowers-girl-storm-umbrella.jpg?w=300

I used to love the sound of rain.

It would rain and the soft pad of it hitting the leaves in the garden outside my window would soothe and heal the day’s stresses and woes.

But when it rained hard,

That’s when my body would tense up and hope that it would end quickly,

Because the rain would come through my windows and into my living area.

I remember the first time it happened.

I was counselling a girl in my lounge room about some of the choices she was making,

It was getting pretty serious.

Then bang,

The rain stormed through the tops of my living room windows,

And the conversation was over,

Suddenly and without any warning.

And all we could do was race and grab towels and mop puddles of water and wonder at what had just happened.

I remember that my face was flushed red and hot,

Awash with feelings of shock and vulnerability and disbelief.

It had rained inside my house.

I wasn’t prepared for this,

Nor had I invited or solicited it in any way…

When the rain subsided,

I distinctly remember feeling like I had been assaulted.

Much like a victim,

I felt open and exposed

And I questioned my safety

And I wondered if I would ever be able to feel the beauty of rain again in the same way.

This shouldn’t have happened, I remember thinking to myself.

This is wrong.

I didn’t ask for this,

Nor have I done anything to deserve having ‘the house that gets the rain inside it!’

I’ve ended up on the wrong side of justice, I thought.

And of safety and peace.

While rain belting down on my roof may not sound too bad,

It has now become the sound of intrusion and invasion,

No longer serenity and soothing.

My once familiar, calming soundscape has changed forever,

Well, for as long as I live in this house.

I had to grapple with the newness of rain suddenly becoming a threat.

My gut reaction,

After shock,

Was anger.

I got angry every time it rained,

Because I knew that it was unsettling the equilibrium of my home.

It was an unwelcome foe.

The rain was no longer my companion.

You see, my roof is so large that the gutters can’t contain it on this particular side of the house,

So it has nowhere else to go but inside.

After countless visits from roof carpenters etc

There were temporary fixes but nothing substantial,

I realised that I would have to live with this problem,

And that made me mad.

I didn’t want to.

I got angry.

I started blaming.

Roof carpenters, builders, the previous owners,

Anyone I could for my problem.

I wanted to sell up and run away.

Buy another house.

I got scared.

Scared every time it would rain that it would cause chaos.

I felt ripped off,

Because my ability to enjoy what was once one of my favourite things had been stripped away.

Now, it was a burden and had become nightmarish,

Associated with fear and annoyance, sadness and inconvenience.

When we are forced to live with problems out of our control,

Like our rebellious teen,

Like infertility,

Miscarriage,

Like rheumatoid arthritis,

Or the refugee crisis,

Like alzheimers

Or spouses who have found another one,

Other than you,

Like a faulty roof,

Like all the things we can’t get a quick fix for,

Or any fix for that matter,

We learn to develop strategies that lessen the impact of the problem.

We also learn to embrace the rain, and realise that even if it is falling inside your house, rather than outside,

It’s ok.

You have grown because of it,

You have overcome because of it,

You have developed resilience,

Courage.

Having lived with this issue for the most part of 7 years,

I now have a strategy.

As soon as I hear the rain start to pour that bit harder,

I run to the linen cupboard,

Gather about 6 towels and toss them at the base of where the rain comes in.

I leave them there and let them soak up the puddles.

When its done, I put them in the wash.

And its over.

I know, I’d rather I didn’t have to do this,

But really, it’s ok.

It could be worse.

Much worse.

It’s an inconvenience that I have had to learn to manage.

No I don’t like it,

But there are many things in our lives that we don’t like,

But have no power over.

The best we can do is be resourceful,

Embrace the journey,

Not let it overwhelm us or control us,

Or most importantly,

Steal our joy.

We must understand that the intrusion of rain on our roof from time to time,

Will happen,

But it doesn’t constitute anything more than that.

It is something that will come,

And go,

And being the incredible women we are,

We will manage it.

Tomorrow, I have another roof carpenter coming to look at my roof.

I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

Peace x

Cate x