037: Loving who I’ve become – Karen Chaston

the-fearless-females-podcast-guest-karen-chaston

In this episode:

In this episode of The Fearless Females Podcast your host Tegan Mathews interviews Karen Chaston who shares:

  • How the sudden passing of her son began a journey of self-discovery
  • About listening and receiving the lessons in life
  • How the answers we search for are hidden in the words we use
  • How perfectly imperfect we all are
  • And finally, loving the woman she has become

Tegan's Take Aways from talking with Karen Chaston:

  1. If you aren’t feeling uncomfortable then you aren’t on purpose because our purpose is designed to stretch and grow us.
  2. If you are living in the present then there is no fear. It’s only when you are worrying about the past or trying to predict the future that fear shows up.
  3. The sooner you look for the lesson in each challenging experience, the less – on - you.
  4. You chose to be you so when would now be a good time to start honouring that decision.
  5. What things can I take off my to do list and surrender to the universe to do today?

About Karen Chaston

Karen Chaston - Expert on: Personal development, mentor, author, trainer, and speaker
Karen ran on the corporate treadmill until the day the world came tumbling down on her head. The constant effort of juggling work, family, the big house and cars, and the stress created by all that was taking its toll on her even before tragedy struck when her son suddenly died at 27.
We can’t control our lives any more than we can control the heavy road traffic.
When we experience anxieties, depression and anger, it’s because our real lives don’t match up with the mental picture we created about how our lives should be.
Her suffering and disappointments became the catalyst for personal and spiritual growth. She recognised that they were given to her to serve her and she took the next step to examine her life and accept its imperfections and learn from them.
Karen has developed some extraordinary programs to help you begin your search for a better you and a more fulfilling life.
As a former corporate Chief Financial Officer, Karen brings a unique perspective that she wished were available to her.

A Gift for Listeners From Karen Chaston

karen-chaston-beyond-your-worst-nightmare-ebook-v06-image-page-01_1

A downloadable copy of Karen Chaston’s book Beyond Your Worst Nightmare. This book is about overcoming what you currently perceive would be your worst nightmare and how to come back to love and gratitude from any tragedy.

Show Notes: 037: Loving who I’ve become – Karen Chaston

Karen Chaston’s Fearless Story

I’m in my late fifties and I’ve always been the sort of person who did everything differently. I grew up in a large family. I am one of seven children, six girls and a boy. I guess in hindsight as I look back I was always looking for attention. As you can imagine in a big family you do get a bit lost and I am the smallest of them all.

At sixteen I found myself pregnant and I chose to adopt my daughter out. That was in the early seventies and one thing, in hindsight I have found is that it gave me my strength. If you can give birth alone, my mother wasn’t allowed to be there because we probably would have kept her.

It was a difficult birth and I really should have had a caesarean but the doctor decided that because I was so young I shouldn’t have those type of scars so we went ahead and it was a long labour and forceps had to be used. When you go through something like that you find your strength and you realise that whatever comes at you, you will survive it.

Even though I am just over five-foot tall I have always had a voice and been very strong in my opinions, sometimes to my detriment. Anyway, I did go on and marry my husband and we have been married for thirty-eight years and had three lovely boys.

My eldest is Ben and then I had twin boys, Josh and Dan. I always believed that I had twins because I did the right thing by my daughter. I always saw them as a gift even though we do have twins in our family.

Then at thirty-eight I decided to study. We were living on the Gold Coast (Australia) and I went to Bond University. The good thing about it was I ended up with a Masters degree even though I didn’t have an undergrad because my life experience had been my undergrad.

So I found myself with a Masters Degree, the kids were teenagers by then and after I did my CPA we decided to move back to Sydney which had better job prospects with more money. I rose very quickly and became a CFO of a publicly listed company (a pub group).

I was working way too many hours, eating too much, drinking too much and basically living the high life. Anyone looking at me would have thought, “Wow, she’s successful” because I had the house, the car, the family, the holidays and all of those sorts of things.

In hind sight though, what I was living was what I call ‘Ground Hog Day’ days. Not realising how unconscious I was, how unhealthy I was and how over adrenalized and stressed I was.

What a lot of people don’t realise is that when you are stressed out to the maximum, you produce cortisol and cortisol produces acid within your body and I was certainly full of acid. I was always angry, always ready for a fight and not really understanding how bad all the cortisol was in any body but especially in a woman’s body. These are all the things I now know and as an accountant I often surprise myself these days with what comes out of my mouth and just what I know.

What was the event that changed everything for you?

Just over five years ago in July my husband and I woke up to find Dan, one of our twins, dead at our back door. We honestly thought he had just passed out. But unfortunately he had passed away probably about four hours earlier.

He had come home, fallen over and just couldn’t catch his breath. He had really bad lungs which we didn’t know about. He also had a brain tumour which was benign and we didn’t know about either and was discovered during his autopsy.

After the funeral, I just didn’t have enough time to a grieving mother. I was too busy in my ‘very important’ job so I more or less went straight back to work. But as the universe likes to let you know if that isn’t part of your plan, about eighteen months later I was made redundant and it was the best thing to ever happen to me.

If I had been made redundant before Dan passed I just wouldn’t have been able to cope. I just wouldn’t have been able to accept it because I thought I was the best worker. I was always first in and last out. I’m always there and I work on weekends, and I do this and I do that and how could they cope without me.

After taking, what I now like to call, a conscious loving breath. You know the sort of breath where you breathe in deep into your body and you actually feel relief and you feel at ease. I honestly believe that was the first breath I had taken in about twenty years.

After studying and working and all of that sort of stuff. When I was studying at Bond University I was working at Dreamworld and was still expected to do my sixty hours as well as my study. So, it was probably my first breath for twenty years where I stopped and thought, this is going to be good.

This is probably going to be something that will lead me down a completely different path but everything is going to be ok.

In this day and age we are always ‘plugged in’ and if we aren’t we are worried that something is wrong. We don’t stop to smell the roses we just keep go, go, going.

A great thing to do is to stop and sit in silence and ask the question, “Who am I” and then “Who’s asking?” You would not believe the answers that come to you if you choose to sit and listen. It might not be then that the answers come to you, it might be later in the day through something you see and you realise, “That’s my answer”.

It’s important to listen for the answers and be willing to receive the answers and not just be asking the questions for the sake of asking. A really good saying I like is, “Ask, believe, receive”. You need to believe it to receive it and trust comes in there as well. Sometimes we get an answer that we don’t want and we want to put it back and get another one. Not realising that answer is actually perfect for you.

People often ask, what is my purpose. It’s that thing that stretches you, fills you with fear and excites you all at the same time. It’s that thing that you know you should be doing but it makes you feel uncomfortable. If you aren’t uncomfortable then you aren’t on purpose.

It’s all about growing and stretching and doing all of those beautiful things and being of service. If we aren’t looking for the signs and aren’t hearing the lessons, then the messages get stronger and stronger. I’m guessing there were signals during your busy career when the universe was trying to tell you.

Absolutely. I was eating and drinking too much. I was very unhealthy and always thinking, “Surely there’s got to be an easier way than this” but I would look around and all of my peers were exactly the same. Corporate life is a dark place and it doesn’t have to be.

Everyone is in this ‘survival mode’. They are in a lack mindset and they don’t understand there is enough for everyone. They are thinking that if I have ‘it’ then you can’t so I have to make sure I get it before you do. They’re living in fear. Totally living in fear.

I love fear as a word. I remember years ago an analogy for it was, “False evidence appearing real.” And if you live in the present there’s no such thing as fear. It’s only when you are remembering the past or predicting the future that you are in fear.

When you are in the corporate world you are afraid of being made redundant so you work harder. Losing your job, someone being promoted above you, making a mistake, not being able to cope. There are just so many fears. But most of them aren’t real.

An interesting fear that a lot of women have is, when they do get to a certain level, they have a fear that, “They are going to find out I’m not as good as they think I am.” This is because they don’t think they’re ‘that good’. And it’s all crap because we are so much better than we ever think we are.

Everyone else thinks we should be doing that job but we live our lives around our limiting beliefs. It’s just your fear monkey on your shoulder that’s telling you differently. If you choose to feed that fear monkey then it will grow and control you but if you take it off your shoulder and let it go find it’s way elsewhere then you are choosing not to let your limiting beliefs control you.

Everything in life is a choice and that’s something that most people don’t understand. Steve Jobs, one of his quotes I love is, “If you wake up in the morning and look at what you have to do and this is your last day and you aren’t happy about it then why are you doing it?” It’s a choice.

We often get wrapped in the doing things for everyone else except for ourselves. Fear has us convinced that we have to do all of these things and if we don’t then the world is going to end for us. But if we just take a moment to check in with what we are supposed to be doing, there you will find your happiness.

How was your son’s passing a gift?

How it’s a gift is in the person I have become because of him passing. I would never have changed. I would never have woken up from my Groundhog Day days. I would have still been in that environment and probably having a heart attack or something tragic like that would have had to have happened for me to wake up.

So through my sons passing, even though it took me eighteen months to move on, when I was made redundant I knew something different was going to happen. Then I went on this journey of self-discovery, of understanding who I am, and I just love the person I have become. I love everything I do now. I have done things I thought I would never do.

I was always a good 2IC (second in charge) and I thought I was happy for them to be out in front because I thought I couldn’t do that. I am now a speaker, I’m a trainer, I’ve written books. In fact, I wrote two books in thirteen weeks because I have my son, on the other side, literally feeding it to me.

I totally believe we are vessels. Everything we need just comes to us. I have created my elements collection gratitude journals because gratitude was one of the processes that I really embraced about two years after Dan passed. Someone said to me to start writing in a gratitude journal.

We always focus on the negative instead of focusing on the positive. Living in a first world country. What on earth do we have to complain about! Yeah the traffic might be bad but at the end of the day, does it really matter? We have nothing to complain about.

If we really get into gratitude we can actually come to understand that we have a life that most people in the world can’t even contemplate. It’s way beyond their dreams and desires on how lucky our lives are.

I’m extremely passionate about gratitudes because when I started my fearless journey I read Living Fearlessly by Rhonda Britten and she says, “If you get nothing else out of this book, you must get gratitudes and do ten gratitudes a day and it will change your life.” And it does! It totally does.

You start to live more in the present. You will stop and smell the roses. You will actually just be grateful for waking up more than anything else and you do start to see a different perspective in the whole world. You will actually start to talk to people you don’t even know.

I can remember I was sitting in a café with a friend and I excused myself to go up to a lady and tell her, “You look amazing today, you look really great.” And the lady turned around and she said, “Thank you! I have had the worst day on earth and you have now, just flipped my day around. Thank you.”

It’s just about giving. I didn’t know she was having a terrible day. She looked like she was so well put together and she obviously didn’t even know she looked great. She was probably inside her head saying, “What else can happen?” and probably when I said, “Excuse me” she thought, “Please do not abuse me.”

So when you are in gratitude you can then give because you aren’t in the ‘lack mindset’. Instead, you are feeling great and you’ve done your work on yourself already that morning and now I’m in overflow so now I’m going to give to people.

That’s the problem with a lot of people is they aren’t putting themselves first and so they are in depletion. They are in resentment and all of those negative feelings and they want to go to joy but it’s too big a gap.

But if you start with gratitude, even if you are feeling a little bit down, you can still find one thing to be grateful for. Even if it’s just, “I have something in the fridge” or “I have a plate to wash up”. I don’t want to wash up but at least I have a plate and I have food.

The more you invoke your senses into the way you write your gratitude’s, the more it comes into every single cell of your body. Which then starts to replenish your cells in a positive way so it starts to go all through your body. It’s no longer just in your head, you start to embrace what you are grateful for with all of your senses.

If you don’t have an ocean or a tree to appreciate and connect to then stand and feel the breath as you breath it in. Stand on the cement and feel the coolness on your feet or the furriness of the carpet. There is always something you can connect to.

Going back to my sons passing and why I am in love and gratitude. He shows me every single day, that he is with me. This may evoke fear in people as human beings we are afraid of passing to the other side. But we are all here living in a movie, which we chose.

I love to ask when I am talking to a group, women especially, “If you could be anyone you want to be, get a picture in your mind, how tall you are, what you look like, what your skin colour is, your hair colour, the size of your body, the whole lot.” Get that image in your mind and then I ask, “If anyone has pictured who they are now, please stand up.”

As you can imagine, not many people stand up. I find it interesting, and I then share this, because before we all came down here, that’s exactly what we did. You chose to be you so why aren’t you honouring who you are? And why aren’t you loving who you are? And why are you fearful to be your authentic self?

Most women, if we are honest with ourselves, we are scared to be who we are. We aren’t scared of being too small we are scared that we are going to be so powerful. That we are going to shine our light so brightly that other people are going to try and bring us down.

It can be scary to look at who you are because that woman you chose to be, she is so amazing, so powerful and so centred. She is so unique. When would now be a good time to honour who you are? All we have is the present. Now is the only guaranteed thing.

My son, when he went out drinking that night, he certainly thought he was going to wake up in his own bed in the morning. We just don’t know what the future holds.

I went to see Dream Lover on the weekend which is the story of Bobby Darren. A really great show, an amazing show actually. It’s got David Campbell in it and he was very brilliant in it. But he was a very sick child and he passed away at 37yo. But he was told that he wouldn’t reach ten so he lived his life, like there was no tomorrow which was why he achieved so much.

When we came out I thought it was interesting that when you think you don’t have time you live your life. Where as when we don’t have an expiry date on our birth certificate we choose to put things off.

How long ago was this transformation?

Four years ago was the start of it where I said, “No, this is my new journey.” And the journey I thought I was going to have is certainly nothing like the journey that it has been. And, isn’t that great because we don’t know what we don’t know.

So we have our dreams and desires based on what we know now and what we think we want but the universe always has a bigger and better plan for us. Who would have thought that I would be speaking from stage and who would have thought that I would be writing these books and creating these amazing programs and all of this sort of stuff.

I certainly didn’t think I was going to be doing that. I thought I was going to go down a different route but it’s so much bigger and better than I thought it could be and I really love the person I have become. I love that I am so much more aware. I was totally unconscious before.

I love that I now believe in myself. I talk to myself. I listen to myself. Where as before I was just rolling along and letting life put me wherever. One of the sayings that I say all the time is, “I am guided and protected and everything always works out for me.” And we all are.

So when things don’t go the way you plan just keep saying that to yourself because if it hasn’t worked out yet, then it just hasn’t finished yet.

Memorable Moments

There have been many! One of them was speaking on a stage to twelve hundred women in America at a conference I was at.

Another one was just I have met so many amazing people. So many intuitive people that have come into my life. One lady I met has become one of my closest friends and she is very intuitive. She talks to Dan all the time and gives me advice.

I have Dragon Flies all over my house, as in pictures or little statues and so on. She gave me this little heart and she told me that every time I see a Dragon Fly, it’s Dan. And I see them all the time.  Just this afternoon I was visiting a lady to help her put the goodie bags together for an event tomorrow.

As I walked into her house a Dragon Fly followed me in and touched me on the head and then flew away. She asked, “Why aren’t you afraid of it” and I explained that it was OK because it was just Dan letting me know he was there with me. She said, “That’s so beautiful”.

It’s just an awareness. Something as simple as that. I’m actually in the process of creating this thirteen-week online program called less of you and more of yourself. The logo for that is a Dragon Fly with a green background because green is all about love and Dragon fly’s are all about transformation but from a self-realisation perspective which is exactly what the program is all about.

What are the lessons you have received from your experience?

Let’s look at the words and the word ‘Lesson’. If you break it down, there are always going to be positives and negatives. You are going to grow more from a perceived negative than you ever will from a positive. So the sooner you look for the lesson, the less on you!

So the sooner you look for the lesson in anything that happens to you, the less-on-you. Our language tells us how to live. We should live our life in ease and if we’re not then we are in dis-ease. Our language tells us all the time, how to live. Instead of saying impossible, say I’m possible. It’s amazing, I love our language.

I would never, having been an accountant and a numbers person, which I do still love the energy of numbers, but looking at our language, and breaking it down, there are so many ways that we can look on how to live.

Words are so very powerful. They can be used to give compliments and used in kindness. The power of the words you tell yourself are also important. Words can be used for so many good things.

This was something else that came to me a while ago. We are the only person we are going to spend every moment with so why are we so mean to ourselves? Why do we bring ourselves down? Why aren’t we loving and kind as we are to everyone else?

We are going to be with ourselves, twenty-four-seven so looking after ourselves in all areas of our lives just makes so much more sense. Be kind to yourself!

What is something in your future plan that scares you?

I can’t think of anything that I’m really scared of. I guess I procrastinate about things. My third book which is a passion book called ‘Teenagers Playing Grownups’ I really want to turn that into a four-week mini-series. I have looked at how to do it but I keep procrastinating so I guess there’s some fear there that’s stopping me from getting it going. But I do believe that my sub-conscious is doing it.

Have you heard of Esther and Abraham Hicks Placemat process? So we all have to do lists and we write our to-do lists and often we look at them and we go into overwhelm. Often we end up doing nothing because we are in so much overwhelm.

How her placemat process works is you have your to-do list and you get a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. At the top of the left-hand column you write, “Things I will do Today” and on the right-hand column you write, “Things I will get the Universe to do today”.

Then you divide your list into the two columns so that only the things that absolutely have to be done today goes onto the left-hand side. Then you take the time to write the rest of your to-do list out into the right-hand column and as you write each item you also write, “And I release this to the universe to do today”.

What she discovered over time was the universe was getting its stuff done quicker than she was getting her stuff done. When she moved things over to the universe side they would get done in five minutes instead of potentially an hour. So the writing of my course is one of the things I have placed on the universe side of my to do list. So when I do get to do it, I know it will take a lot less time to complete.

So I guess I can’t really say that I am in fear of anything because I try to do most things. I may not do them perfectly but I know we are all perfectly imperfect so that’s ok. I don’t like heights but I’ve still done the harbour bridge walk. Fear may put me into procrastination for a little while but I do go through it.

I have angel cards all over the house, all different types of packs, and I will ask my angel cards about why I am procrastinating about something and what is it and what else do I need to move me along.

Five Fast Fun Fearless Facts about Karen Chaston

  1. Who inspires you? Yesterday me! But if I had to pick one person it would be Tina Turner.
  2. Favourite thing to do each day? I have rituals I do in the morning. I like to spend the first hour on myself. One of my favourite things to do is to put a love song on and stare into my eyes listening to the love song. So singing it to myself. My favourite one is “I wont give up” by Jason Mraz.  It even starts off with, “As I look into your eyes”.
  3. What does being fearless mean to you? Having the courage to do everything, in spite of your fear.
  4. Favourite technique or app or book? There are so many things but I just love to dance and to laugh. If you’re feeling really down, just start laughing and sure it might be fake at first but once you seriously start laughing, you can’t stop and you’re going to feel great. It’s going to get you out of being down so just start dancing and start laughing.
  5. If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing in the world right now, what would it be and why? For women to love themselves. Who they are. And to actually find their voice.

Final Question for Karen Chaston

If you could turn back time what's the one piece of advice you wish you could give your fourteen-year-old self?

Love yourself unconditionally and stop trying to be like everyone else. Don’t listen to anyone else except the little positive voice inside of you.

Where can people reach out to you? www.karenchaston.com.au

Facebook – Karen Chaston

 

A Gift for Listeners From Karen Chaston

karen-chaston-beyond-your-worst-nightmare-ebook-v06-image-page-01_1

A downloadable copy of Karen Chaston’s book Beyond Your Worst Nightmare. This book is about overcoming what you currently perceive would be your worst nightmare and how to come back to love and gratitude from any tragedy.

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