One insight and every part of my life changed without effort.

What appeared a complete disaster in my sporting life, one moment of profound realisation and a more hopeful path, was illuminated.

In 2013, I did not complete a six-year project and role of National Coach for Scotland (Netball) for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014. Four and a half years into the journey, and with mutual respect, we agreed to part company.

Driving home from Scotland, I feel exhausted and disorientated, not sure what just happened. It’s usual for a national coach involved in the cycles of elite performance to remain so utterly focussed that they barely recognise the world around them; that’s what happened to me! I became utterly absorbed in laying a solid foundation and elite training environment on which Scottish Netball would thrive and flourish.

I decided to break on the M6 services and browse the shops. Looking up at the books, I hold both hands up to God and say, “please give me something to keep me occupied for the next six months because this feels horrible”. My eye catches a black-covered book called “Clarity – clear mind, better performance, bigger results by Jamie Smart. I don’t hesitate, “OK”, I answer, “this one, thank you”.

The next four weeks were a bit of a blur; the mere thought of the CWG’s brought a punch to my stomach and a dreadful feeling of loss!  Each time the CWG’s 2014 was mentioned on the news, sadness filled me up, as never again would I sing my favourite national anthems, ‘O Flower of Scotland’, with pride alongside my team.

The Inside Out-book

Early February, I had almost finished Jamie Smart’s book, Clarity and became very reflective and philosophical; something was stirring inside of me. Soon I discovered another book called The Inside Out Revolution by Michael Neill – if you haven’t read it, you must!

The children were at their Dads. I sat in my bedroom, staring into the mirror, attempting to get ready for the day, when something hit me, not physically, but consciously. Out of nowhere, I had the thought of “oh my word, am I really making this all up?” It was profound, a deep knowing, not just a passing thought like what shall I get for breakfast? It came from deep within and touched me at my core.

“You are kidding me, really”, I shouted.

My heart started to beat faster, and I became hot and clammy as if about to faint, but then I began to cry. “You are kidding me, really”, I shouted. Who was I speaking to? I felt so strange, and for a few moments, I was spinning walking in circles around my bedroom in utter amazement about what life had just told me; I mean, who says that life talking to you, but there it was, a moment of stillness and truth, touched by life and the gift of insight. I could hardly believe my ears; I felt tickled by God (the source of all creation) the practical life joke just revealed. The laughter came, followed by more tears; for the entire weekend, it felt like I had a huge secret, and as a child, I didn’t know what to do with it.

The weeks that followed, what felt like an epiphany, were surreal; life appeared to go into slow motion. I remember saying that it seems like I get forty-eight hours in a day and everyone else has twenty-four. There was a dramatic change in my psychological and emotional landscape, a new life dawning on so many levels.

Sharing now with you is tricky, as words are all I have, and the written language is inadequate when conveying what I believe is a paradigm shift in my understanding of how life works. However, let’s give it a go!

‘Do I have this amount of freedom over my experience’, I remember asking?

I noticed that my old reality, frustrated with what happened to me, ceased to exist almost overnight. No need to work on me; it seemed that my anxiety melted away without effort. If I am making it all up, there would be no point in creating a world wherein I am the victim and the person who suffers.  Instead, I could feel absolutely anything about the situation, including acceptance and possibility, which is enormous! ‘Do I have this amount of freedom over my experience’ I remember asking?  What a relief that I didn’t need to put up or cope with disappointment for the entire eighteen months to the CWG’s; I recognised I have the power inside to create a new hopeful story without judgment of myself or others.

My profound insight that whatever I am feeling isn’t being inflicted upon me by the circumstances; it’s a product of my mind completely blew me away. It instantly gave me a new perspective, like switching between your readers and long-distance glasses; everything is entirely different in a second.

Together with former Scotland National squad management team members, we attended the CWG’s Glasgow 2014 and had so much fun. I felt nothing but love and respect for the incoming National Coach and loved watching the team take their performance to a whole new level. It was truly unique; the joy I felt for what we had all achieved genuinely memorable. The Scottish Thistles’ journey to the CWG’s played out perfectly; I had no regrets and held no prejudice; my mind and heart were free.  We enjoyed watching the fruits of our labour, with the utmost gratitude and respect for the hard work and organisation involved in the final pieces of the jigsaw, which the team did without us!

I could never have imagined such a rich and rewarding ending to my Scotland journey when I was devasted and confused by what had transpired eighteen-month earlier. Still, I wouldn’t trade anything for what I discovered about human life; it’s experienced, from in to out – priceless! Gratitude and resilience filled me up for weeks after my insight. At times, it was overwhelming; I could have wasted months, even years grieving over the lost opportunity to finish the job I had started, yet life spared me all that pain and suffering.

My insight continues to expand and impact other areas of my life; my parenting is much easier. I no longer believe that the way my children ‘turn out’ is my domain, nor does it say anything about me as a human being. I have become a writer there; I’ve just said it! Until now, I had all sorts of thinking around what being a writer meant, highly educated, and intellectual, qualities I would assume didn’t apply to me, given my secondary education and from a working-class background.

I said to Mum, ‘we will do this together’.

The most significant change that I must share is that in September 2019, my dear Mum Shirley got sick, and it was 50/50 that she would recover from an operation. The first few weeks were fantastic; she responded well and came home, yet back in the hospital three days later, and we feared the worst. Somewhere and somehow, I said to Mum, “we will do this together”.  I knew I didn’t need to go with my fearful experience.  It gave her comfort. I would help Mum to die with grace and ease. In November 2019, Mum passed, and I feel closer to her now than I have ever known. Seeing and feeling that we are not our thinking, that we are the essence of life, the lines between the form and formless, life and death are now feint. Mum may have left her earthly body; however, her essence remains and can never die – it’s who and what we all are at our core.

Many people get wake-up calls and completely transform their lives, yet millions of people are not so fortunate and drift through life, seeking or feeling something is missing; which will you be?

Drop me a line if you inspired by my transformational story and ready to make a change in your life.

Warm wishes

Denise Holland