<![CDATA[Conversationswithabuttterfly - Blog]]>Tue, 05 Jan 2016 21:46:58 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Return to being Child-hearted]]>Sat, 11 Jul 2015 15:10:06 GMThttp://www.conversationswithabutterfly.com/blog/return-to-being-child-heartedPicture
When did you last allow your inner child out to play and feel the joy of that youthful freedom?  As adults we get caught up with the trials and tribulations of life that we believe requires us to stay in control, take a serious approach and focus on logical and ego-style solutions to survive.  Life's seemingly relentless onslaught of challenges drives us continually down the 'adult' pathway, not permitting ourselves to let go of our grown-up grip.

Children have a unique and primal ability to connect with their innocence, playfulness and vulnerabilities.  Free of the responsibilities that life often dictates, they have the space to express themselves from their hearts and not their heads.  They relish the very moment they are living and have little or no concept of resenting the past or fearing the future.  

They allow their imaginations and creativity to shape their experiences of life and their dreams are filled with an artist's palette of colour, textures of a fabric house and toffee-apple smells.  So vibrant and alive are their individual moments that they are free to enjoy each moment with heart-beating frivolity.  This is space we too can access if we can allow ourselves the permission to reconnect.  After all it's not as though this experience of being child-hearted is completely alien to us - just a distant memory.

Summertime is ripe for allowing ourselves a chance to relax in the warmth of the sun and summer's invitation to play outdoors with family and friends.  Light, long, balmy days are designed for us to be outside appreciating what the natural world has to offer and holidays create the space for us to let go of our hold on judgements, decisions and anxieties.  We learn to let go, have fun, play and engage with our child-innocence.  There's nothing like blue skies to feel the excitement of the moment.

So make this a time when you can temporarily suspend your adult mind and use the season to access your playful soul and to connect with your inner child.  Let go of your need to judge situations and people, to criticise, to compare, to fear, to worry.  See through eyes of wonder and awe, hear the orchestra of the world that gets hidden beneath the turmoil of life's busy motorway and feel the magic of being alive through a child-hearted connection.  

Joy of the moment can be relished by each and every adult and in the spirit of the child, we can learn so much from the innocent smiles that grace our complex and chaotic world.

Butterfly Blessings

Karen x

<![CDATA[Time to Take Your Life Back]]>Thu, 14 May 2015 11:15:14 GMThttp://www.conversationswithabutterfly.com/blog/time-to-take-your-life-backPicture
Who has claim on your life?  Family, friends, work, charity, the house, the dog?  When was the last time you wrote down what you wanted your life to be like?  Perhaps never, perhaps vaguely in January as we are traditionally encouraged to set New Year's Resolutions - which we all know vanish into the ether by February.  Our lives are so too often consumed by other people, events and situations and we have become conditioned to believe that this is the only way, that this is normal.  I'm here to impress upon you - this is not normal and it's time to take your life back.

Listening to one of the many amazing personal development speakers on this year's Hay House Summit - I've just tuned into Brendon Burchard.  I first came across this guy last year when I was exploring how to market my business and my products and he has a strong presence on Facebook with his enigmatic and high energy sales and motivation videos.  So I was intrigued to hear his message this week.

I will be honest with you, a lot that he offers feels kind of masculine and corporate, and yet hidden amongst his message is a pool of concealed gems, which have certainly inspired me and I thought I would share my perspective on it with you, as we begin to take our lives back from the cauldron.  Brendon positioned his talk around his newly launched book - The Motivation Manifesto - focusing on how to achieve more and feel motivated by writing a Personal Manifesto.  Now first off, motivation for me is most definitely an echo of past corporate days where superficial motivation incentives created a disingenuous culture amongst people.  Having shed that amour, I worried that his language and business-like philosophy would not give me anything.  How wrong I was, once I persevered with his talk and got beneath the vocabulary's disguise.

The first thing that struck me was an early phrase he used around 'How deeply do you believe in your inner song'.  Now I'm sure you will agree with me that this is not a business phrase and it would certainly get relegated to the bowels of the meeting room, should anyone utter such words, being labelled as 'fluffy' or 'woo-woo'.  So my ears pricked up at this point and persistence and curiosity became my friends.

How deeply do you believe in your inner song?  When you stop to explore what this question is really asking, it reveals a plethora of investigations; What song do I want to sing? What song am I singing now?  How does that song sound when I sing it and do I even have the confidence to give it a tune?  What is the quality of my self-belief that provides the fuel to this song's release?  Wow, what a lot of exploration is needed just with that one question alone.

Ok Brendon Burchard, you have my attention.

He continued to talk about the noise and speed of our daily lives in today's busy society and how we overcommit ourselves.  Whether that's with a work request, the needs of our family, a social engagement with friends after an intensive week or other activities that we believe we must complete to ensure our sanity and our goodness.  And notice, if you will, how no where on that list is an overcommitment to ourselves.  Where does the investment in ourselves appear on the agenda?  At the bottom, perhaps?  Not even on the list at all, perhaps?  This is a worrying trait that I have seen increase over the last 15 years in my work as a coach.  Particularly in the halls of commerce and more particularly in the gatherings of mum's at the school gates.  In so many walks of life, we give away our personal power, believing that to keep it is selfish and that it is our destiny to ensure the welfare of others before ourselves.

For those of you have have flown anywhere, you may have noticed how the safety briefing always states that, in the event of the cabin pressure collapsing, we must apply our own oxygen mask before assisting anyone else, even a child's.  That tells us something about the importance of what Brendon calls - Reclaiming Your Own Agenda.  The bottom line?  It's time to put more energy into our own needs, not at the exclusion of others, although to ensure that we are at least on the flipping list.

So how much of this is resonates with you?  Do you fall victim to the 'needs of others before self?'  I'm sure you do and I certainly have for much of my life, until recently.  Recently I realised that in order to fulfil my desires and dreams that I needed to not just reclaim my agenda, I needed to write one and ensure that I was at the top of the list.  Then and only then, could I recharge my batteries sufficiently to look after others and nurture my dreams more resolutely.

Two of the questions that Brendon posed in his talk was this; 'What strips you of your power?' And, 'How deeply committed are you to your dreams?'  'Dreams?' I hear you proclaim - 'Dreams, I don't have time to think about my dreams.'  And that is because we are so sucked into life's pessimism and madness, that we are distracted from thinking about our dreams, desires and creating more meaning in our lives. Often we will find things to submerge ourselves into as a distraction from thinking about this sort of stuff, because we don't believe that we deserve to focus on our dreams.

We all have a unique place in this world and when we can fill that place with meaning, value and purpose, our lives can become instantly happier, healthier and more impactful.  When this happens we then begin the ripple effect, where other's lives become affected by our energy and so their lives become better.  Does this thought excite, inspire or compel you to take action?  Leave the fears of selfishness behind and think about the bigger picture of your dreams and desires.  Imagine if you could achieve more meaningful results and feel more personally fulfilled.  Got the makings of a great movie - right?  

As we begin to think about the interesting possibility of 'taking back our lives' from life's treadmill and begin to rev up our internal fire and passion for life, Brendon talks about writing a Manifesto that states all the things that we desire.  Now my personal feeling is that the word manifesto is to structured, masculine and unfriendly.  So I looked the word up on Thesaurus and found Declaration.  This goes well beyond the bullet points that we begrudgingly write with a hangover on 1st January, when overindulgence drives us to make changes to our drinking, eating and exercise.  Why do they fade by February?  Because they are fuelled by the wrong intention and have little, real value and meaning to our lives - otherwise we would commit to them.  Instead, writing down a Personal Declaration any day - today - gives you a chance to think about how you could live your life with all your heart and feel happy whilst doing it.  Leaving the excuses behind that prevent us from having this life, writing with gay abandon, releasing all our internal desires through the pen and seeing our dreams suddenly coming to life on paper.

Here are a selection of questions, some from Brendon and some from me, that inspire change and awareness:

- From this point forward, what would your ideal life look, sound and feel like?
- What is important for you to achieve in life?
- What legacy do you want to leave, to the world and to your family?
- What would give you a real sense of satisfaction at the end of the day/month/year?
- What dreams will I chase today?
- How do I want to be treated?
- How will I treat others?
- What will I accomplish each day, no matter what?
- What must I say no or yes to today that will give me a happier day?
- Who will I give value, love or appreciation to today?
- What would I most like to experience today that I will be grateful for as I lay my head down to sleep tonight?
- How can I nurture myself more today in honour of my making a difference to others role in life?

Buddha was once quoted as saying, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  It is only when we reclaim our right to have a meaningful place in the world and become fired up to make that happen that our lives will improve.  And if the list of questions above scare you, then, perhaps this one simple question will be enough to create a shift:

'If there was one thing I could do today that would fill my heart with happiness, joy and love, what could that be?'

As we become increasingly consumed by reality TV shows and spend up to four hours a day consumed by other people's reality, imagine what a difference we could make to our lives and those around us that we love the most, if we invested that time in creating our own Personal Declaration and living out our own desired reality.  

And so with that loving thought, I will offer gratitude to Brendon for his inspiration and wish us all a more fulfilled and happy life - as this is our true destiny.

Butterfly Blessings

Karen xx

<![CDATA[Wave Goodbye to Another Year]]>Wed, 31 Dec 2014 15:50:54 GMThttp://www.conversationswithabutterfly.com/blog/wave-goodbye-to-another-yearPicture
As we edge towards yet another year's closing, it is time to take up the challenge of Soft Cell's 1981 song, 'Say hello, Wave goodbye', although not in the same old way.  Out with the old - New Year's Resolutions, Plans and monthly success journals and in with - well read on and nurture your soul.

However you celebrate the New Year, this festive period invites us to reflect back over the journey we've navigated for the past twelve months and look forward to the year ahead.  It can be such a powerful process as long as we do it with renewed spirit. So caste a brief glance behind and:
* Count our blessings
* Grieve over the sadness and sorrow that has visited our hearts  
* Recount the lessons and growth we've experienced
* Acknowledge the ups and downs
* Honour those who have left and those who have joined us 
* Celebrate the events that have brought us to this point.

All too often our first few days of a new year are geared towards recovering from the revelry, fretting about the results of our over-indulgence and what resolutions we must set to feel better, look better or be better.  This year, I invite you to throw off the old traditional shackles and  pull back the curtains to a new way of welcoming in 2015.  

Sparkle a little fairy dust this year and embrace the hope, anticipation, potential and, let's face it, a little of the unknown that lays just around the corner.  Here are some ideas for making this your best year yet:

* Find a jar and write little gratitude notes of things that bring a smile to your face, that you open in one year's time.  This will help you appreciate all the small things that so often go unnoticed.
* Instead of setting New Year's Resolutions, which we know rarely reach beyond the 31 January, do something more creative with your hopes and intentions.  Picture yourself writing Christmas cards next December that tell your friends about the year you've had and all the amazing things that you've experienced.  As you begin to imagine this future, you can then focus on the commitments that will help you travel towards that vision, making it a reality.  
* From these commitments you can then set a small handful of intentions (not goals, which are too restrictive and set us up for failure not success).
* Why not decorate an old shoe box, turning it into a secret store for a Bucket List of things you would like to achieve this year.
* To help you along with this, why not answer questions around what would you like to DO, BE or HAVE over the coming year.  This honours the physical, practical and spiritual parts of us, ensuring a balance for all things.
* Wake up each day and feel grateful for all that is and all that will be.  This will ensure that each day becomes a new opportunity for happiness, not just a new year.
* Start the year focusing on what happiness means to you instead of what success looks like.  Happiness is the new success and when we acknowledge that happiness is the source of all good things that come to us, our lives will become more joyful.
* Rather than focusing on putting rigid plans together for the year ahead, learn to let go and trust what emerges, knowing intuitively that what arrives is what you are meant to experience.  Notice how much freer your life is when you relinquish the tight hold that traditional New Year practices encourage.
* Talk with your family and friends about how you can bring nature and simplicity into your life more every day, how you can play more, laugh more - these things are all free and priceless.

So forget the old ways - welcome in the new year with a heart-centred and fun approach and start your year as you would any other day - because each day presents us with a miracle of newness, opportunity and hope.  May your year be blessed with happiness and each day with peace, health and joy.

Karen x

<![CDATA[Return of the Sun]]>Sat, 20 Dec 2014 20:35:31 GMThttp://www.conversationswithabutterfly.com/blog/return-of-the-sunPicture
Return of the Sun
21 December - what does this symbolise to you?  Is it four sleeps to Christmas, simply another day to endure or perhaps you recognise this day as the Solstice?  

However this day presents itself to you, astronomically this is more than just another day - it signals an important part of the calendar and presents a vital shift in energy.  Depending upon which part of the globe you live, you will experience either the summer or winter solstice; the longest or the shortest day.  Either way the sun's position with the earth remains static and its path then falls into decline. 

For those of us in the northern hemisphere that is a cause for celebration; and although we are still in the midst of winter, with some months of hibernation still ahead of us, 21 December heralds a really important, almost psychological shift.  We welcome back the sun and the days start to get longer and lighter - hurrah.

Winter is a surprisingly fabulous season that offers a magical permission for us to restore, hibernate and dream through a luxurious stillness, despite the madness of the festive season.  Yet winter so often feels like an endurance test, so any chance we have to welcome in the promise of spring must surely be taken.  

21 December creates a momentary still motion in the sun's path and enables us to celebrate the solar's return to the northern shores; warming up our skin, lighting up the darkness and presenting hope as it sits at the edge of the cliff waiting to take flight.

So as we embrace the shortest day, take time to think about how you could change your perspective of the months ahead.  Ignoring any financial constraints driven by the demands of Christmas, how could you celebrate the sun's return?  How can you begin to look forward to spring and start to give hope some space in your heart?  Now there is an extra moment each day of lightness in your life, what extra joy can you find within that celebrates the Kingdom of Sunshine?

This is not a day to mourn, it is a day to celebrate; know in your heart that the corner has been turned and that with the new year comes a new energy, a source of renewed spirit and, despite whatever cloud cover may shield its radiance, the sun is back.  Drink it in.  Absorb the positivity that it now offers us and leap into the new year with a spring in your step.

Make 21 December more than just another day to wrap presents or buy in last minute food supplies.  Make it a day to honour, celebrate and rejoice.  The return of the sun is upon us.

With festive blessings and wishes full of hope and happiness

Karen xx

<![CDATA[Lessons from a Butterfly]]>Fri, 04 Jul 2014 06:24:50 GMThttp://www.conversationswithabutterfly.com/blog/lessons-from-a-butterflyPicture
Have you ever pondered on the journey a butterfly goes on to fly free from its metamorphic cocoon?  Their free-spirit flight has us in awe, their colours so radiant, their elegance unquestionable. Yet their transformation brings with it the most incredible, respect-earning and miraculous evolution that nature offers.  And it all happens in ten days - now that's something for Darwin to marvel at!

Back in March, my gorgeous bestie bought me the most amazing Birthday present, a Butterfly Garden.  Knowing my love for butterflies and the connection to my new adVenture, it was a perfect gift.  I found myself giddy with excitement at being able to nurture and more importantly set free my own butterflies, offering a really sumptuous, symbolic loveliness to my personal transformational journey.  With child-like energy, I opened the box and read the instructions - I felt like the Butterfly Lady was about to be conceived.  How exciting and yet little did I know the magic and anguish that was in store.

Following the instructions, I eagerly purchased my five tiny caterpillars, which came in their own little aerated tub, complete with food and nutrients necessary for this phase of their development.  With fascination, I watched for any little movement to prove their alive-ness.  And to my joy within a couple of days after the trauma of their journey through our postal system, wriggles gave me the sign that I needed.  All five of my babies were alive!

Over the course of the next week, I watched their insatiable demands for food and their Everestonian efforts to climb the sides of the tub and hang clumsily from the top, as if in silent and unknowing preparation.  At times I wondered whether there was anything happening at all and felt so frustrated at their lack of 'doing anything'.  It took me right back to my childhood when I would be irritated by my rabbit's inaction and - at the ignorant age of three, felt compelled poke a stick through the cage for the rabbit to jump over, in mild entertainment.  Oh my, how I recoiled at the subtle reminder of the moment where my high expectations of others was conceived. So, I exercised patience and surrendered to the power of Mother Nature's unveiling, ensuring that my ego was kept firmly in its cage.  

And then all of a sudden, as if out of no where, the caterpillars burst - first a small spurt, then a doubling and then these chubby little creatures, nourished by their nibblings, almost overnight became 'proper' caterpillars.  I was so happy that these five little kids were not feeding on our cabbages!  From that moment on, they grew, created webs of silk-like nets that the greatest of spiders would have been proud of and began the next stage of their incredible metamorphosis.

Have you ever noticed how, the more you watch something, the slower it seems?  Well that was certainly true for me.  I found myself making excuses to go into the kitchen to see their progress and then suddenly, when my back was turned, boom - they'd done it!  Almost over night, the caterpillar's hanging from the lid became a practice run no more - and the chrysalide phase began.  One by one, they cocooned themselves in what seemed like the wave of a wand and I was so determined to see the last one make its journey to its transformation shell.  My patience paid off.  I was transfixed by its meticulous knitting of its metamorphic jumper and the dance that most surely entertained me, as it said its last goodbye to the caterpillar world.  30 minutes was all it took from the hanging to the bagging.  I felt so privileged to have watched this journey unfold before my very eyes and seeing something so small go through something so epic was inspirational.  

The box said I now had to wait up to ten days, which irritatingly happened to fall over a weekend I was away.  Traumatised that I might miss something and the responsibility of transferring the chrysalides to the 'garden', I felt like an expectant mother.  Now given that I have no chidden, believe me this was a slightly odd experience.  When I was sure that the chrysalides were hard enough and it was safe, I gently transferred them to their netted garden, which would soon become their nursery before their release into the world.  And much like the caterpillar phase, all of a sudden one of my babies had emerged - her empty case thrown to the floor like an unwanted jacket on a hot summer's day. How did I miss it?  I was so disappointed although I did have another four chances.  You can imagine that by the fifth one, having missed all four previous entrances, I was determined to catch it.  Sadly Mother Nature does not sing to our tune, although I was blessed with the sensational moment when the butterfly, hung from its resting point, gathered itself, unfurled its antennae and grew accustomed to its new environment.  It was a totally mesmerising process that had me more captivated than my seventh run of Top Gun and Dirty Dancing.  To see their damp, lifeless wings dry out, to watch the colour blossom like the brightness button on the laptop and to witness the life come into the butterfly's wings, was quite moving.  This magnificent insect hung there, proud, exhausted and yet alive.  Having come through a secret journey, that still remains so mysterious and to emerge in such magnificence had me speechless.

Now it was time for mother to kick in.  Armed with sugar water, flowers and orange slices, I began my nurturing role, hoping that I could competently fulfil my requirements and give them the right start in life. I had no idea if I was 'doing it right', whether they were feeding as they were meant to - oh the pressure.  What a difficult job it was. Imagine my horror, when one of the butterflies landed in the sugar water I had left for them.  His wings stuck together and became very wonky, although he was alive.  Oh the guilt, the pain and the sorrow at seeing the butterfly struggle to dry out his wings.  I helped as best I could, although his wings never quite recovered.  I guess this is the fragility of nature, although I felt so responsible.  Anyway after that trauma, it was time to release my babies into the wild and hope, beyond all hope that they could now be free to fulfil their potential, live out their purpose and be all that they were destined to be.  I felt a strange pang of excitement and sadness that this phase was now over, although proud that I had been part of something so extraordinary and witnessed the whole transformation - well almost.

After I set them free onto a near by bush, I watched them as they grew accustomed to their new habitat and they looked like nervous children going into their first day at school.  Although as I imagine any parent doing, I felt the need to move away, not look back and let go, enabling them to live out their lives as nature intends.  To this day I'm not sure whatever happened to wonky, although I have to trust that the magnificent cycle of life, had the right path for him.  I bow to the splendour and magnificence of a world that unfolds invisibly with an intelligence that is far superior to our existence.  

And so what lessons did the butterflies teach me, you may well ask? The key insight was the privilege of watching nature's private, evolutionary movie play out right before my eyes.  The symbolic transformation from one creature to another was intricate, instinctive and enchanting.  There were no 'rule books' for how to do it, they did what came naturally to them and the journey they went on to emerge, took time, patience, surrender and trust.  I became so attuned to the true elegance of Mother Nature's tapestry and it gave me a new-found respect for the intricacy of life beyond our human existence.  It put so many of my fears and anxieties into a different perspective.  It also taught me about my need for patience, detachment and the role of interference and how when left to their own devices, people, events and nature will find their own rhythm and dance to their own tune of life.  I also came to appreciate a minuscule amount of the pressure being a parent must bring to your life.  So to any parent this, I celebrate you.  

It was an honour to be part of the process and would I do it again?  Yes of course - it was a magical experience and to contribute positively to our natural world, rather than destroy it, felt a good thing to do.  Although I would do it differently next time and surrender to nature's alchemy.

With butterfly blessings
Karen x

<![CDATA[Today we remember]]>Fri, 06 Jun 2014 08:17:15 GMThttp://www.conversationswithabutterfly.com/blog/today-we-rememberPicture
We are encouraged to live our lives in the present moment and rejoice in the peace that this gives us, although in so doing, we must never forget the gift that the past has delivered in creating our present.

I'm sat here listening to the 70th Anniversary D-Day Celebrations on the radio and feel so unashamedly moved by the accounts, stories and echoes from the past, that I had to write this blog today.  

Although I didn't have family involved in the operation and am not an historian, today my heart goes out to the families that did, to the veterans still with us and the memories of those lost, who played such an important part in our liberation.  Their stories of fear, trauma, loss, injury and loyalty to the cause just serves as such a poignant reminder about what we worry about in today's modern world.  It has certainly made me stop in my tracks this morning.

We complain about so many things; our broadband not being fast enough or going down as mine just has, the price of fuel, Monsato's evil reign, GMO and politicians incompetence, although when we think about the hardships that troops from around the world endured and the sacrifice that so many gave up for our right to be free, it just puts so much into perspective.

I'm not, for one moment, suggesting that we must loose ourselves in the past.  Although showing respect and gratitude to those who have enabled us to live the lives we do today, is just one small thing we can do to honour those who played such an important role in the shape of our today.  A practice of gratitude for all things we have, is just a small offering.

So as you go about your daily routines today and this weekend, take some time to reflect back at those who willingly gave up their time to fight for our freedom and just offer up a gratitude to their heroic piece in history's jigsaw.  Let go of your anger in the traffic jam, release for a moment the annoyance someone being rude to you or the irritation of yet another day of rain.  Caste your mind back and shower it with love and gratitude, just for while and allow the echoes on our past heroes whistle within the wind and give them a moment of our time to hear their heart beats.

With gratitude........


<![CDATA[Defining happiness - Creating happiness]]>Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:16:02 GMThttp://www.conversationswithabutterfly.com/blog/defining-happiness-creating-happinessPicture
Have you ever stopped to consider what happiness really means to you?  It's not often we ask ourselves this question, we simply meander through life, accepting things as they are, feeling powerless to do anything to change it.

It is though a question I've been asking myself for many years, particularly over the last five years or so, because I was so incredibly unhappy.  I would hear myself say, 'If only things were different,' and 'I'll be happy when....'. I realise now that this was such disempowering language that held me captive in my prison of self-imposed suffering.  It is only in the last couple of years that I have put my energy and focus into defining what happiness looks, sounds and feels like to me.  The answers that came up for me from this exercise enabled me to actively and responsibly make changes to my life, many of which were life changing in size and importance.  The result is a whole heap more happiness and fulfilment, which I had the opportunity of reviewing recently on a Best Year Yet workshop I was running in my old stomping ground on Isle of Man.

It was so good to see how far I've come over the last two years after embarking on a new journey and it reinforced the importance of defining happiness so you can take hold of life's reigns and run your own race.  The tried and tested process I designed for my BYY programme is such a great way to structure your thoughts and create change that I wanted to share it with you, to help empower you to make changes to your happiness.

The first thing to acknowledge is that happiness has a different meaning to each and every one of us.  There is not one set of factors that we can use to measure everyone against.  I remember once inviting a big boss to one of my leadership workshops and he had the brief to talk to the group about what success looked like for him.  He used words like, achieving results, challenge, setting tough targets, being top of the 'best companies' list and others of a similar ilk.  I found myself thinking, 'Well if that what success looks like, that's not for me.'  Then we invited a second boss to a subsequent workshop and I was fascinated in her interpretation of the very same question of what success looked like to her - these were her words; teamwork, everyone is important, involvement, collaboration, development, reflection, celebration, rewards.  Now these spoke to me so much more, at the time.  It was then that I had a lightening bolt of realisation - happiness and success mean completely different things to each of us, depending on our values, our dreams and our experiences.  Common sense really, although the stark contrast in the two presentations just catapulted me into a world of awareness and, from that moment on, I started to think about happiness in a much more personal and individual way.

Thanks to both of their input, I regularly refine my happy factors because things are always changing and evolving.  My list now may be very different to a list in a couple of years time - life evolves and so too will our happiness factors.  My 'What makes me happy' list right now is:

Peace, Stillness, Nature, Security, Freedom, Choice, Grounded, Balanced, Making a Difference, Healthy, Compassion, Love, Gratitude and Letting go.

So here is the process I built that helps define what happiness means uniquely in our world, which gives us a really good start to attracting more in our lives, once we know where it is we are meant to be heading.

                                                 What does my 'happy' look like?

  • Create an abstract list of happiness factors.  If you think about people from the business, sporting and entertaining worlds, what would happiness look like to them?  List what they need to DO, BE and HAVE to achieve that happiness?    
  • Create a top 10 list.  Then come up with a list of the top 10 factors that defines happiness selected from across all three environments - what themes emerge that are common to all three?  Perhaps it would be money, achievement, power, winning, fame, accolades and awards.
  • Defining your list.  Using those words you can then explore what happiness means to you.  How many of those words sit well with you?  Which ones really work and don't work for you?  What words would you add that more accurately describe how happiness feels for you.  Are they are completely different set of words?
  • Explore some more.  If you are still unsure about this list, the following questions might be really helpful in getting closer to the words that are meaningful for you - here they are:
        - What makes me happy?  What makes me unhappy, sad and unwell?
        - I would know that I was happy, because X would be happening.
        - When I imagine myself being happy, what would I have, what would I be and what would I be doing?

  • Happiness MOT.  Now with these questions answered, you can begin to explore what factors make up happiness for you and using that list, assess where you are today.  You can use measures such as, I am close to this, I need to do a little more work on this and I am a long way from this.  For each happiness factor that suits your world, give it a mark using the three measures and get a real sense of how things are for you in the happiness stakes.  
  • Taking inspired action.  As I mentioned earlier, we want to empower ourselves to become happier and not leave it to other people or events to create our happiness for us.  Happiness is within our control and it's up to us to make it happen.  We have that ability, we just need to wake up to the possibility.  So now you need to get focused; firstly, celebrate where you are already experiencing some happiness.  This is really important to acknowledge.  Secondly, then identify what you may need to do more of to increase your happiness and finally what you may need to do less of to increase your happiness.
  • Commit to your inspired changes.  Once you've identified where you are right now, you can set yourself some goals and commitments for creating change.  Knowing that happiness is just around the corner, when you put your energy into making changes that are well within your control, you will immediately begin to feel better and different.  Ask for the help you need to make those changes and keep reviewing how well you are doing.  See if the measurement markers we used earlier have changed.  If they have celebrate - if they haven't keep going. 
This little exercise is super for getting to know what happiness means to you.  Once you are clear about its meaning, then you can become focused in making the changes that are needed to attract what you deserve in your life - no more leaving it to chance.

The beauty of this process is that it can be used to help you define well-being, professional success, personal success and so many more elements of our lives.  So have a play around with it and notice what happens when you start to get clearer about your dreams, desires and deservedness.

I hope sharing this with you gives you something real to work with and helps you move, at the very least, one step closer to happiness.

With Hope and Blessings
Karen x

<![CDATA[Inspirational Stories]]>Thu, 13 Mar 2014 15:02:27 GMThttp://www.conversationswithabutterfly.com/blog/inspirational-storiesPicture
Stories that Touch our Hearts and Move Us.

Have you ever been touched by someone's story and found real inspiration woven through their words?  I find telling stories moving, healing  and releasing both as the author and the reader.  I know when I wrote my Awakening at the Edge I thoroughly enjoyed the meandering journey I had to take to express my experiences.  People have since told me about the impact it has had on them when they jumped into its pages.

Conversations with a Butterfly is a huge supporter of healing stories, both in helping create them and the sharing of their inspirations.   So, when someone has the courage to write to me to share their experiences, their pain, their footsteps and their evolution, I feel so honoured. 

This week a lady I used to work with got in touch to tell me about her experiences over the last couple of years and I was so touched by her narrative, I asked if we could share it.  So, here it is.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did and can find some comfort in realising that wherever you are in your life's story, there is always new ending that you can create.

I resigned from a respectable Corporate job at the beginning of 2014, after scaling the shadowy heights and eventually getting to a management position in an extremely pressurised and fast growing business. A great salary, annual bonuses, pension,  status and respect (at last???!). Success!  

The middle of 2013 saw me drop to a deep low after six months of working 50-60 hours a week (rarely taking a lunch break), conducting two staff dismissals, having a grievance raised against me from a colleague (and friend) who didn't like her annual appraisal score at the end of 2012. This subsequently dragged on for five months and went all the way to the top tier of management  - the grievance was eventually proven unfounded but the damage caused to my psyche was immeasurable. I also held responsibility for twelve people and was working alongside a bullying, aggressive and unsupportive peer manager, whose main aim in life appeared to be to make my working life much more difficult than it needed to be.

I wasn't sleeping, it was affecting my relationship with my partner of three years, I wasn't exercising (didn't have time for that) and eating far too much, to comfort the pain I was in. I started to turn everything that was happening in on myself, clinging desperately to my beliefs that I could cope with anything and that the energy I was expending on both my work and trying to fix the poisonous peer manager relationship would not be wasted. I believed that it must have been me, I was not good enough and couldn't do the job. I had spent a lot of my life with the 'no talent police' knocking at my door and now I had finally had to let them in - the game was up and I would be found guilty of my crime - I surrender.  
I broke, one gloriously sunny morning in August 2013. I sunk into a deep crevice of tears, pain, self flagellation and total disappointment in myself and others. Like Karen's story, it took an amazing partner to say....."should you really be doing this?" as I tried to crawl out of bed ridiculously early that August morning, fighting back tears, vowing that I would not let 'this' beat me and that I wasn't giving in and that I WAS GOING TO WORK - how could I not - this is what we do? I cried, she cried and begged me to listen as she felt that I was not hearing her concerns for me,  as I was so hell bent on proving to myself that I could do it! What was 'it'; 'it' was a reality that had been created by my parents, society but most of all me.

But it wasn't the reality that I wanted or more importantly needed to help me be who I am meant to be.   So I looked over the edge (to quote Karen) and I jumped......so many fears, worries, excitement, anticipation. I started working a few hours a week again for a local charity (I had trained to be a bereavement counsellor in 2010) but this time instead of working with adults I got the opportunity to work weekly with a bunch of 5-10 year olds who had experienced the loss of a parent. So much sadness and pain for these kids and yet so much light, laughter and sheer joy emanating from them. I started to feed and water my confidence and realise an ambition I have had for over fifteen years - to work with 'troubled kids'. Week after week I reflected on what this felt like and what I had been holding on to all these years. Letting go! I couldn't let go, this was a pattern repeated time and time again in my life. Holding on to my last relationship two years too long, battling through the Corporate years........why?

Simple!  As a child, my parents had made my mistakes for me, stopped me taking risks, did my dirty work for me, let me give up on things at a whim in their efforts to love and protect. As an adult I used this (subliminally) to change the pattern I had been programmed with and took it to its extreme by NEVER giving up on situations or people. I was proud of this attitude and lived by it.....all the time ignoring me and giving up on what really made me happy.   In January 2013, I applied for and secured a role as a Cycling Safety Instructor with the primary schools, term time only. Ten Great British Pounds an hour, no pension, no sick pay. I get to wear a high visibility jacket, cargo pants and hang around with nine and ten year olds outside all day (and in all weathers I may add; this is, after all, the Isle of Man!)  And do you know - I would do it for a fiver an hour. One smile from one kid who gets an 'A' in his final assessment, one look of sheer achievement as a nervous kid gets her right turn manoeuvre correct for the first time, one high five from another kid who says that they never thought that they could balance on a bike as well as stick an arm out to indicate for three seconds. I don't need bi- annual appraisals, future potential positions or high salaries. This is the stuff dreams are made of for me - our future in the shape of younger children, eager, excited, trusting, honest (sometimes brutally) but most of all 'real'.  

For the first time in longer than I can remember, I don't have a plan, but I have another journey. Once I stopped fighting the universe, let go and surrendered, the things that are meant for me dropped right on my path, bang smack in front of me, pleading with me not to ignore them. I didn't.

I'm sure you will agree this is an inspirational and uplifting story that conveys the darkness of pain, how to tackle fears with courage and the inner strength to fulfil our biggest dreams.  However deep we fall there is always a path that we can follow out of the abyss that leads us towards our limitless potential, although it is only in that darkness that we find the light.  I hope that helps you along your path.

Butterfly Blessings
Karen x

<![CDATA[Living in Harmony with Mother Nature]]>Sat, 22 Feb 2014 09:54:56 GMThttp://www.conversationswithabutterfly.com/blog/living-in-harmony-with-mother-naturePicture
Many of us in the Northern Hemisphere have experienced a pretty extreme winter this year. It's been a consistent stream of hurricane-style storms in UK and northern Europe and snow storms in US, the like of which we've never seen before.  There have been many times I'm sure, where we have wondered when it would end.  It has certainly created a new respect for Mother Nature's power and influence over our lives and the earth's landscape.

Yet, despite these weather adversities and the hopelessness some people must feel who have been in the storms' midst, there are signs of spring's subtle emergence.  Flowers are beginning to push through the soil, winter wheat is surging, birds are tuning up their vocal chords and lambs have blessed our fields already.

It is possible that there is still a sting in winter's tail, although for the moment, embracing spring's early arrival is giving us just a little bit of hope.   Do you feel the delicate shift of seasons where you are?  What spring awakening signs are you seeing around you?  What gathering symbols is autumn offering right now?  Sometimes seasons transition so quietly that we simply adapt to the change without so much as a nod.  Unless we rely on the seasons for our livelihoods, then we tend not to really acknowledge the gentle shift in Mother Nature's energy.  I wonder what potential we are missing with this blindness?

In the last year I've been increasingly interested in the subtle vibrations that each season presents to us, given our recent exploits in our poly-tunnel.  There's nothing like taking up gardening to really tune into what influence air temperature, soil composition and insect lifecycles have on your prized vegetable crops.  I'm so grateful to the insights I've had over the year.  I must add that I've always been interested in nature as a child, although our transition this last year into working with the earth and the seasons has been enlightening and it has touched my life in a profound way.  So much so that it is shaping my heart-centred work.

Whichever side of the Equator you live, you will be moving into a very powerful season.  Spring and autumn are highly influential times of the year in Nature, centred around two strong energy surges with the March and September Equinox. Yet in our human realm, they seem to pass us by without too much bother.  So here's some interesting possibility for us to consider:

  • What if we could tune into the natural rhythms of Nature and thereby enhance our lives effortlessly?
  • What lessons could we learn from Mother Nature's subtle influence that could change how we do things?
  • How could we magically co-exist with the seasons such that it could bring a beautiful simplicity to our lives?

And so I leave you with these thoughts and where ever in the world you live, just take a moment to really listen to the vibrations of your season. 

If you are curious enough to think about this some more, then why not watch out for my Seasonal Healing Programme, which will be launching soon where I will tackling this very subject.  Learn how to live in harmony with Mother Nature's seasonal rhythms using my Butterfly Principle.  An on line healing programme that you can work through in the comfort of your own home, with beautiful exercises and meditations to stimulate a new way of thinking, feeling and being.

And so with the dawning of a new, blue sky day here in Somerset, England, I wish Butterfly Blessings to you all.
Karen xx

<![CDATA[Ready for the Ride of your Life?]]>Thu, 30 Jan 2014 17:22:46 GMThttp://www.conversationswithabutterfly.com/blog/ready-for-the-ride-of-your-lifePicture
Is it time to embrace a new 'take action' energy to make our dreams come true?  If this rings true for you, then let the huge energy shift in the Chinese Calendar propel you forward, starting this weekend.

Between January 31 and February 4 2014, according to Chinese Astrology we are moving into the year of the Wooden Horse.  This has a strong association with the Chinese Five Elements fire sign and together they symbolise drive, passion,  ambition, movement and galloping ahead.  This might be a somewhat welcome change in energy as we move from two unsettling years of water signs, that generate introspection, reflection, slow energy, shedding, letting go and sometimes stagnancy. 

Traditionally, I have not been a big fan of Astrology, unless you count the teenage years of seeing whether my stars indicated a romance with the latest hunk on the school bus.  That said, I am increasingly interested in energy, at a subtle and Universal level.  So, when I read about Chinese Philosophies offering energy predictions for 2014, I found my curiosity piqued and wanted to explore what this might mean for our health, happiness and healing. 

Now, I endeavour to lay down a caveat at this point, which is that we can make information fit anything that we want to hear.  My husband would call this Confirmation Bias, which is a tendency to interpret evidence that supports our existing beliefs or philosophies; or in my speak, we lean towards or attract that which we desire to be true, in order to feel comfortable.  I do acknowledge that such things as Astrology predictions can be interpreted to suit our needs.  Although with this caveat laid down firmly in our stable, I feel able to step back from the stable door, consider the racetrack in front of us and consider how we might apply horse energy to our year ahead.  I see this is an interesting possibility for our journeying through life and tapping into our limitless potential.  So if you're willing to stay open minded, please read on.

What does the Wooden Horse mean to us, practically?
If you think about horse images, it might bring up a race-horse or a working horse pulling a cart, as examples.  Either way they symbolise partnership, working in harmony with something or someone, creating movement, transportation, propulsion.  The theme, therefore, that the horse can offer us is movement, activation and purpose.  After two years of stillness, reflection and perhaps a sense of destabilisation in some areas of our lives, the horse's high energy gives us an opportunity to wake up and get going.  Here are some quick pointers that help us make the most of the shift and some thoughts about what to be mindful of as the horse trots into our awareness:

                                                                                How to have the ride of your life

1.  Purposeful action - time to turn dreams into reality
We may well have noticed how the last two years have been full of dreams, notions, ideas and that, for many of us, never quite the energy to bring them into being.  Lots of ideas, no action.  Well, this new, horse year is ripe for changing that energy.  It's time to dust off those dreams, inspirations and creative genius moments that you felt lethargic about last year.  Reignite them and use them as a way to create direction and purpose.  If you haven't got any dreams, then now is a great time to start a Vision Board and work with your loved ones to talk about what you would like to happen this time next year.  Get excited about the opportunities to do, be or have something different in your life.  Particularly if you have found yourself dissatisfied with your 'lot' recently.  Get clear on your desires, because this is the year to make them happen.  So as the Everley Brothers once sang, "All I have to do is dream."

2.  Trust your heart - do what you love
Start listening to your intuition and heart more.  Do more of what gets you excited, what makes your blood flow, as this is the best way to have a more fulfilling experience of life.  They might only be small things, although no one is about the judge the size or shape of your dreams and desires.  Just have some and get excited about them.  During the year of the horse, your intuition (that inner voice, that knowingness you get from your heart, not your head) will be strong and you will find yourself propelled by its guidance.  Look out and listen for opportunities, as they will be aplenty and follow their lead as this is the year for stepping out, stepping up and trusting what your heart is telling you.

3.  De-clutter - make space for the new
After two years of potential stagnancy, stillness and introspection, it is  time to clear out what is no longer serving a useful purpose for you.  That might be physical clutter in your house, office or outside space, or it might be a mental or emotional de-cluttering that you need to do.   Either way, getting rid of things that we've consciously or unconsciously horded over the last couple of years, we make room for this new, optimistic, high energy motion that will have us 'chomping at the bit'.  If we are to make the most of this year's energy, then we don't want to be held back by clutter that is undermining us or simply getting in the way, otherwise it will become a hurdle too high to jump over.

4.  Be inspired
This is a fabulous time to let our inspirations run free.  With the pessimism that has tainted our waters, the horse gives us permission to use our creativity, inspiration and spontaneous natures to create new, better and different.  Have the courage to take yourself out of the old, comfortable boundaries or rules that kept you imprisoned and feel what it's like to be set free in the field of possibilities.  See what comes up when you allow your mind the space to be adventurous, energised and uplifted.  
                                                                                       Caution - horses

1.  It's a big change - take care of you
Going from the sleepy hollows of the water snake to the high energy horse, can be a bit of a shock to the system.  So, be mindful of the shift in gear and look after yourself in the early months ahead of us.  It'll feel strange to feel so revitalised and to see that your 'get up and go' has already 'got up and gone'.  Whilst there's no doubt it will be lovely to not procrastinate, if you have a tendency for doing too much, then this year could be exhausting for you.  Be aware of your limitations and needs and inject plenty of self care.

2.  Keep hold of the reigns
We may run the risk of overdoing things; not just the activities to make our dreams reality, also overspending, overeating and stretching our general gluttony for the abundance on offer.  In our enthusiasm for running the race of our lives, we may forget to fuel up effectively, reset our fences and use our good old logical left brain to think things through.  If you are naturally rational and analytical, remind yourself to stay grounded and utilise your structured talents wisely, as they will help you stay reasoned and anchored rather than wild and impulsive.  Trust your intuition and keep hold of your reigns so that the direction you go in is purposeful and delivers the best and right results.  There could also be a danger that the spontaneity takes us wildly off course, creating unhealthy diversions unless we stay grounded.

3.  Fences need flexibility 
As you get ready for 'starter's orders', remember that if you are a structured, control and rule oriented person (like me to some extent), then this wild horse energy could feel a bit uncomfortable.  Almost like you're riding bare-backed with no reigns to hold onto.  Whilst you don't want too many rules in place to restrict the horse's energy, you do need to have some boundaries in place to help you feel safe and make the most of the opportunities.  This might simply be, have some 'How's it going?' chats with friends or family to review your new world.  It might be setting some time out where you rest and fuel up.  However your fences might look, make sure they have flexibility and are not too rigid in their structure.  Fences are important although watch out that they don't restrict your horse's expressive and creative energy.

So there is a quick canter through the potential that the year of the Wooden Horse offers us.  If we enter the year with optimism, awareness and wisdom then there is no reason why this year should be anything other than a blast.  If you're ready, take off your blinkers, stay alert and get ready to gallop off towards the inspirational horizon of dreams and fulfilment.

See you the other side and look forward to accompanying you on the adventure. 

Butterfly blessings
Karen x