Inspiring Journeys is an empowering interviews series with women who have overcome life’s adversities and turned their lives around, finding themselves along the way.
I have started this interview series because I believe that we all have the power to turn our lives around and find a new route, a route that is guided by our heart.
The universe has funny ways of shaking things up and making us wake up to what is really important in life and what we are here to do, embracing our challenges and growing from our experiences is a wonderful gift.
I have invited some beautiful and inspiring women to be a part of these series and I am so happy to share their journey, wisdom and heartfelt messages with you.
My wish for you is that you find hope, inspiration and courage to follow your heart and use your struggles as your own opportunity for growth and transformation.
Here is to the start of something beautiful!
To kick start this series, we have the amazing Melanie Van Kuyk (32) from The Change Effect in Melbourne Australia. She is a Change & Transformation Coach and she is here to empower women from all over Australia to live the life of their dreams by supporting them to find clarity, ignite their inner fire and unleash their true selves into the world. She is all about transformation, courage and living a life of freedom and happiness. And if you are astrology obsessed like me, she is a shining little Virgo!
Melanie is certainly an inspiring soul and a heroine to her own journey. I am sure many of us here, are mums ourselves and we know the true challenge of transitioning from your life as YOU into your life as a mum. It is a big enough shake up and journey on itself, but this beautiful mama, had to endure the difficult reality of being diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 31 with two children under the age of 3. Get ready to feel inspired by how Melanie used her experience as a fuel to turn her life around, change her perspective and find the strength to open up to her amazing gifts and power. She has a beautiful message of self compassion and kindness and I’m sure you will feel empowered by her journey, strength and passion for life.
What was your aha moment? What pushed you towards taking action and taking steps towards change?
I’ve had a few aha moments… Becoming a mum was a huge one. Suddenly you are responsible for caring for an amazing little human – It’s an insane reality to be met with and only intensified with the arrival of another! My children are a huge motivator for me; to be healthy, happy and as a positive role model.
My most recent and intense aha moment was being diagnosed with a brain tumour, aged 31 – with my babies being nearly 3 and 8 months old. My life changed in that split second… It was a surreal moment I will never forget. Shock was of course my first reaction – then in the weeks leading up to my surgery I experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine, sometimes all of them in the space of an hour! It was intense, by far my greatest challenge – but in hindsight my greatest period of personal growth. The fears that had limited me in my life leading up to this moment just dissolved. I had a new found respect for life and it’s ability to change in a split second. My new perspective has made me even more grateful for everything I have in my life, compassionate of others and their journey – but the biggest and most amazing shift has been my relationship with myself. I discovered so many things about myself that I already had within me – I had just awakened them.
Describe yourself before your journey of transformation/awakening.
Good question… I think I was a bit of a chameleon actually! I was very good at pleasing others, doing what I thought I should be doing and keeping myself pretty small. Inside I had big dreams, a voice that wanted to be heard and ideas to express. I knew I had more to give to the world – I just wasn’t sure how, mostly because I doubted what I was capable of and worried what others would think of me. I was slowly coming into my own – I was definitely on my journey prior to my blip (the name we soon gave my tumour – I wanted it to be a small ‘blip’ on a big radar!), I know I would have landed here eventually – but my challenges have fuelled me to make changes sooner and with more conviction; both of which I am grateful. I wouldn’t change it.
What has been the most significant change in your life?
Becoming a mummy, hands down. I met a kind of love I didn’t even know existed – everyone had tried to warn me, but nothing can prepare you for that moment you first hold your baby – everything I had ever known changed, everything I thought I knew about myself shifted… (and continues to with every new phase of my kiddies growing up) I had always been very driven by my profession – work was all I knew. Adjusting to motherhood was a huge transition for me – It’s 24/7. There is no time off, no pay bonuses and sometimes it can feel there is little appreciation for the hard yards- all while being severely sleep deprived! But out of the newborn fog comes a little person and a much stronger mumma. Everytime they smile, laugh or cry – and with every developmental stage my heart just swells further. It’s such a privilege to be a mummy to my two little souls… and for all the challenges parenthood throws us – There’s no where else I’d rather be.
Looking back, do you now understand that the difficulties you went through were a part of your journey? And if so, what have you discovered about yourself through going through your experiences? What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t change a single thing about my journey – I’m very happy with where I am now and also very excited about the possibilities that are ahead of me. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I am stronger and more resilient that I ever imagined I could be. I have a huge capacity to love, serve others and I continue to change and evolve. Learning is the best part!
I won’t ask you what advice you would like to have given your younger self because I know your younger self wouldn’t have listened. But what you wish you knew back then?
I was so cruel to myself in my formative years, it makes me cringe now. I didn’t like me very much; I didn’t appreciate all that I was or could be, I only focused on what I was not. I starved myself to be skinnier, pushed myself to be smarter, funnier, more popular – I fought so hard to be accepted by others and to be as ‘perfect’ as I could be, no matter how great my achievement, it was never enough. Oh how different my life would have been if I knew then what I know now… In short; I would want me to know how amazing I am. How many gifts I have and how much I have to offer the world – just by being brave enough to be myself.
What has been your most important life lesson?
I can sum it up in one quote (my absolute fave) ; “We all have two lives, the second begins when we realise we only have one”. – Tom Hiddleston.
What was the main belief you had to change in your life in order for you to be able to move forward?
That I am responsible for myself and my happiness. I no longer wanted to wait for ‘someday’ to change my life – ‘someday’ might just be today. Why not? I had an idea in my head that I had years and years ahead of my to shape my dream life – when I was confronted with the idea I may not have all those years I really challenged myself to question what I was waiting for – and why I wasn’t doing it now. I realised I didn’t have a reason – mostly fear. I was afraid of failure – I didn’t want to start my own business because I had this notion I would fail. So I picked the word ‘failure’ apart. What is success? What is failure? I wrote a list – and studied it objectively. I soon realised my ‘failures’ were a list of opportunities for growth and learning. I had given a dark shadow that hung over my head for years a face – I gave it a positive purpose and subsequently took all the negative power out of it.
How has this journey impacted on your life as a mother? How have your kids benefited from your transformation?
I am more at peace with myself – which is a powerful thing I hope to instil in my my children. I am more intuitive for my own needs – which gives me more energy to meet my children’s needs. I am more aware of their energy, their emotions and more present in my time with them. I cut myself a lot more slack than I used to. I don’t strive to be the perfect mum – I just strive to be the best mummy I can possibly be in any given moment. My recovery from my brain surgery is ongoing – it’s a long slow (and frustrating at times) road… I have bad days (like all mums do!) and on those days I am more self compassionate and remind myself that these days are very human. On these days I teach my children other things – like resilience, self compassion and that life isn’t always easy. Identifying emotions and expressing them in a healthy way is something I want my children to be able to do – It’s important I feel comfortable to lead by example.
If you were to give an advice to someone who is feeling lost, hopeless and struggling in life right now, what would it be?
Be kind to you. Truly – I can’t say that strongly enough. If you can’t do that, think of someone you love deeply – try and get out of your own head for a moment- and imagine them feeling the way you do right now, really imagine it; their expression. Feel the compassion you would have for them – and turn it inward. Treat yourself as you would your best friend. Support yourself unconditionally, know that this phase will pass – and that you are not alone. Find your lesson in your current circumstance, make it your edge – and your opportunity for growth.
Three words to describe yourself now?
Adventurous, Spirited and Kind.
What is your most heartfelt belief in life? Share your message with the world! What are you most passionate about?
Just one?! I have so many.. I’ll try! Everything begins and ends within us. If we don’t nurture ourselves first we can’t look after others. We have to trust and back ourselves to become what we are truly capable of being. Our own energy and wellbeing is our wealth – we have to guard, cultivate and use it fiercely so that we can put amazing energy back into the universe – ultimately creating a life of freedom and abundance for ourselves and those we love.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor” – I try not to swim against the current if I can help it, sometimes it can be as simple as one day at a time… but there’s great inspiration to be found looking back occasionally and seeing how far you’ve already come; You are pretty amazing.
You can read more about Mel’s story over at her beautiful blog The Change Effect.
Love Mel? There are a few ways to connect with her, here are some links…
+ These days I have a beautiful relationship with myself, I’m married to my best friend, we have two amazing little people that rock my world in every possible way, I love what I do and working for myself. Thankfully – my health prognosis is very positive and I am grateful for my outcome every hour of every single day, I plan to make the most of every moment I have.
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