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Home Truth: Abby Kerr

Wise Woman Q&A

Abby Kerr

‘Home Truths’ are an introspective conversation with a woman I deeply admire. From writers to coaches, artists to thoughts leaders, these women have wise words to share with you on coming home to yourself. I hope you enjoy.

Today I feel blessed to share with you wonderful words of wisdom from Abby Kerr. Abby has been on my radar for a few years in her capacity as the Founder and Creative Director of The Voice Bureau. I have always been memorised by her gifted and soulful way with words and ability to articulate what so many of us feel. After working with Abby on the copy for my website, I feel honoured to call her my friend. She has so much to offer this world by being her true self. Thank you Abby for all that you are and all that you do.

 

 

What does living a life from home mean to you?

At 37, I am still figuring this out for myself. This will come as no surprise to women my age and older, but I always thought that ‘by this age’ I would have myself and my life all figured out, on-track, and I’d feel perfectly satisfied with it all. The cool thing is, I am more aware than ever of who I am, who I’ve been, and who I’m coming to be — my growing edge. But there is so much more to explore! I now know for sure that I will be invested in a personal growth process my whole life long. I love that about life and appreciate that about myself — my willingness to change, to stretch, to grow.

For me, living a life from home means to keep returning to myself. To not leave myself. When I’m stressed or overwhelmed, my first impulse is to leave my body and to get hyper vigilant in my mind — surveying, assessing, judging, predicting. I get overly watchful and in some cases, overly involved, even energetically.

So to come home to myself means to me to stay right here. To tend to my boundaries, to not allow my energetic membrane to be so permeable. To recognize and name where I leave off and where others begin. To feel a sense of oneness and connection with others (which is actually quite difficult for me; I resist it), while at the same time sensing where my center is. To tell what is mine to tell and let others tell what is theirs, as writer Margaret Atwood says.

What path has your journey home taken? Was there a trigger that started the journey?

One of my big teachers has been self-employment, cultivating my own work in the world. If you want to fast track your personal growth, start a business, especially a business with a personal element to it. Because I have a very high input strength — meaning, I can absorb a lot of information very quickly, make sense of it, and extract it efficiently and expertly when needed — I was a ‘natural’ at making online connections that led to results and opportunities in my business. My first business was a brick and mortar retail boutique. While it was neat to be able to work inside that rarified world of mid- to high-end finds and furnishings, I paid a high price personally, as an introvert. So much face-time with people! In my current business, a virtual agency specializing in brand voice development and copywriting, I’m able to manage my workflow and my energy a lot more mindfully. But I still have to be very watchful about over-connecting online — too much social media time, too many Skype catch-up sessions, too many open-ended conversations across too many platforms. I’m learning to simplify, to cull, to say no more often, sometimes even just to resist the impulse to look or to join.

And most importantly, for the past few years, I have been on a journey home to myself in terms of my creativity, my writing. I’ve always identified as a writer but over the years I’d gotten away from writing purely for exploration and joy — writing fiction — and created a great writing-based business, writing web copy and content for small businesses. I love getting to write for pay, but my journey home is about writing that doesn’t imminently lead to pay. The journey of a fiction writer is typically long, non-linear/circuitous, and built for personal growth. Truly, solo business is this way, too, so I guess I’ve been practicing!

When you find yourself living your life from home, what does it feel like?

It feels grounded, expansive, lucid, vivid, and quiet. Like a silent picture show, with images both brilliant and gentle, with maybe some bird song, ocean tides, wind in the trees, and rainfall for accompaniment. Very easy on the nervous system.

How do you know when you’re not living your life from home?

I get sick — headaches, bodyaches, fatigue, tummy upset, and a tight feeling that I call a ‘sickening fist’ in my solar plexus. I get irritable, short with my partner, annoyed by lovely people, and I lose joy for the things I normally savor. Those are all cues for me to take a nap, take a bath, get on my yoga mat or down on the floor with my dogs, read a novel or a book of short stories (anything not business-related), or leave the computer and get outside in nature. I live near the beach, in the Pacific Northwest U.S.A., so there is plenty of natural healing to be had here.

What are the biggies that derail you from living from home?

I have become an expert in knowing the things that derail me, which just tells you I’ve allowed myself to be derailed a lot over the years. My derailment triggers include: starting the day with social media browsing, listening to back-to-back podcasts about business, saying yes to improptu social plans (I know — not very spontaneous), too much TV (any TV during daylight hours, really), going too many days without intentionally moving my body and watching my breath, and back to back Skype or phone consultations. Also, high-pressure fun, which to many people might be known as big parties, sporting events, or team leisure activities. Clearly, I’m an introvert.

What helps you to return to your journey home when you find yourself straying?

The first thing is noticing that I’m having a feeling I’ve felt before. The world is not coming to an end. I know this feeling. I have felt this before and have moved through it. I am likely to be able to move through it again.

The second thing is recognizing that all experiences only last for a finite time. The social event I’m attending will end. The sun will set and the day will be over. Time passes, sensations change.

The third thing is being as gentle on myself as possible, and giving myself silent encouragement to just do exactly as I like. I guess I’d call it ‘encouraging self-talk.’ And to remember that someone else probably feels the same way I do. I remind myself I’m not the only one not having the absolute best time of my life right now.

 I believe our journey home to ourselves never ends. What area(s) of your life are you working on coming home to at the moment? 

For me, that’s in my relationships with my fiction, with my family, with my finances, and with my body and health. So, pretty much all the major ones! I’m a work in progress.

Who or what inspires you to truly be you?

When I read women writers across the genres — from poetry to fiction to the essay to journalism — who are telling stories in their own distinctive way, about real people and fictional characters who may as well be real, I feel a sense of my lineage as an observer of all life, as a contemplative person, as a creative person. The more I read, the more I’m convinced that I, too, have something worth saying.

Why do you feel it is so hard for us to come home to ourselves in today’s world?

We are living in the first digital age. Future generations won’t be able to conceive of a life before all this virtual connectedness, but children today who have access to education and technology will never know what life was like before iPads, iPhones, and all the rest. Humanity has not been shaped, up to this point, for life as we know it today. I think we are obsessed with trying to figure out how to do this digital life in these organic bodies with these limitless (though essentially primitive) brains.

We are looking for models. We have a huge appetite for other people’s stories — how do you do your life? Figuring out how to live, work, love, and just be a person inside of this digital existence is a new life’s work. I’m not sure what that says about us. I’m not sure that’s good. But we are all just trying to figure it out. Many of us are trying to hold on to a sense of innate personhood without having to take ourselves completely out of the online conversation. Does that sound dramatic? It is dramatic.

What words would you share with people who yearn to come home to themselves?

Keep listening to your life. There is a part of yourself that knows how to be calmed, how to be refreshed, how to be inspired. This is the part of you that advocates for your welfare, your best interests, your life of joy and purpose. Listen to your life. It won’t lead you astray.

 

If you want to know more about Abby and the work that she does in the world visit The Voice Bureau.

 

 

 

 

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