Speech for Young & Inspired 2019
(June 18, 2019 - Amanda Sears)
Hi! I’m Amanda Sears (Connolly), an inspired entrepreneur and a puzzle in progress...
The Journey So Far
I was born in 1986 and turned 33 in April - When I was about 6 I fell out of a tall tree and hit every branch on the way down but didn’t cry because my sister asked me not to – that same sister led me to believe that I was the one who got tissue paper stuck in my ear when I was 6, only to tell me when I was 22 that it was her all along!
I enrolled for the army twice and the police, I’ve done automotive engineering, vet nursing, built fridges, electronic assembly work, worked at the SPCA in Auckland, Pak n Save, New World, a laundromat, Subway for 6hrs, garden centres, a service station, pet shop, cattery, newspaper, telemarketing, cleaning, car grooming, ran a video store and did work experience at an animal research facility. I have studied small business management and have a Diploma in Freelance Journalism, a National Certificate in Vet Nursing, a Diploma in Arts and Media and a Diploma in Social Media Marketing. I went to Otago University for 2 weeks to become the first NZ dedicated Animal Welfare Lawyer... then changed my mind, sold everything I owned for a few of hundred dollars and moved to Whangarei. I’ve worked for nice bosses and mean bosses and I’ve let people take advantage of me but I’ve also stood my ground alone against a gang of youth to protect my friend.
I’ve moved cities, towns and even islands on a whim. At one point everything I owned could fit into my car and now I own a whole house! I’ve lived in Dunedin, Christchurch, Auckland, Whangarei, Rotorua, Whitianga and Nelson. I experienced the 1st Christchurch earthquake... I went to Thailand by myself for a month for muay thai kickboxing and even potentially saved a guys’ life!
I was an alcoholic and a smoker, I fueled my body with Burger King and McDonalds and I partied hard and barely slept. I’ve had 9 surgeries, 8 pregnancy losses, 2 cancer scares, IBS, severe focal migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, metabolic acidosis, fibromyalgia and more... I’ve had a few nervous breakdowns, long term chronic stress and anxiety and questionable post-traumatic-stress-disorder just from being alive!
I’ve seen counselors, spiritual healers, doctors and specialists. I’ve read books, watched documentaries and movies about practically everything! I’ve changed my mind and my style and who I am depending on my mood, thoughts and ideas.
I’ve lived in a gypsy caravan at a holiday park, in a van, a garage, a motel, in a flat on a mattress found on the side of the road, a tent in a friend’s back yard, a cabin in the bush in Piha and even in a brand new apartment. I watched a giraffe get born and patted a zebra, snake and wombat and held a koala. I’ve personally had about 22 guinea pigs, 2 cats, 2 rabbits, a frog and a mouse. I’ve have 12 tattoos and have had 13 cars!
I’ve won the highest score for a first time shooter at small bore rifle club in 60 years and I’ve been deer hunting, rabbit hunting and fishing - now I officially hunt street art and I’m the project manager for an upcoming street art festival!
I’m an artist and designer and I’ve had exhibitions and won an art award, a cover design competition and self-published 3 books and a magazine and I’m launching a brand new free emagazine called The Inspired Guide in July!
I am now married, own a house, run my own business and manage multiple passion projects. I’ve worked on BIG events and with small businesses.
I’ve been alive when there was NO INTERNET or CELL PHONES and have watched technology advance rapidly and the entire world become connected and abundant knowledge become accessible to everyone...
Why did I tell you that?
The point of telling you all of that is not for you to judge me or form ideas about who I am based on your perceptions of my life in comparison to yours (but you can and that is ok). The point is to show you that I have truly lived, despite the MANY ‘setbacks’ and that I still continue to experience life to the best of my ability... which changes in capacity every day.
The point is to show you that I have had LOTS of choices and opportunities to go down different paths or let life get me down, and that all of those choices, made me who I am today and that all of your choices make you who you are and who you will become – and it is important to be conscious of that.
Your choices and experiences are the foundational stepping stones that build your future in every moment.
My choices made me adaptable, innovative, solutions focused and open-minded. Always able to see the silver-lining in any situation and keep positive through pain and adversity.
Searching for the Meaning of Life
For many years I searched for the meaning of life, who am I, what is my purpose, what career should I have, etc. I had many influential people offer advice and guidance like: take better care of yourself, pick something and stick at it, they would say things like “no-one will hire you if you can’t hold down a job” and “slow down or you would’ve done everything by the time you are 18”. But I always did what I wanted... and there is still so much more I want to do!
Their advice was based on their own experience of reality... sometimes good advice founded in love and knowledge (that I should’ve listened too) but also sometimes limiting advice based on their ideas of how life should be - or even for some... their desire to control me.
After being forced to slow down over the last few years of because of severe ill health I had lots of time to think about my life so far, my choices, my priorities and how I wanted to live – and took the time to seek guidance from those who inspired me and invested in healing my mind, body and soul.
What finally became clear to me, was my purpose: which is to experience life in all it’s glory and keep leveling up my ‘models of reality’ and ‘belief systems’ while being of service and helping others to learn the lessons through their own experiences.
The Hero’s Journey
Even through all of my experiences I still find just existing overwhelming. I feel everything and see so much and still wonder where I fit in. How can I make positive change and be of service for a better world, full of love and peace and abundance when there is so much judgment and fear out there. Sometimes I want to hide away from it all and sometimes I want to stand up and fight. I choose to do both and take each day as it comes and as a new beginning.
To make better sense of life, I’ve started to look at it like a movie or a Role Playing Game where I am the hero in the story. I’m on an adventure with a special set of ‘gifts’ to use in the game and every person, interaction, ‘battle’ and experience offers information, lessons, and tools to grow those gifts, increase my awareness and get to the next level of life. This way of thinking helps me through the tough times, where I feel alone or that the battle is too hard and I can’t see a way out... then I remember that I am the hero in my story and there is ALWAYS a way forward and this is all just part of the Hero’s Journey of life. A big part of the journey is seeing the ‘silver-lining’ in even the most unpleasant, sad or painful situations... what can I learn from this, how can I do it differently in the future or what door does this open?
I am constantly learning and leveling up my life. Adding to my toolkit by seeking out better ways of being, thinking, working and living. Making better choices by getting more informed and staying open-minded. I try to see stories from multiple viewpoints, research things I don’t understand and learn more about cultures and behaviours that don’t make sense to me, so I can by more informed. By being more informed, we can make better choices... and the more informed we get, the different choices we make and the more our ideas change.
Words the have shaped me
Instead of giving you specific advice based on what worked for me - because everybody is different and at different stages of life, I want to give you some powerful words that have shaped my thoughts and beliefs that may also resonate with you.
Wayne Dyer - “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”
Amanda Sears (me) - “With great knowledge, comes great empowerment”
Joseph Campbell - “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls”
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz: Be Impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions and always do your best.
My Secret to Doing So Much
So... the secret to how I do so much isn’t just about planning, setting goals and being organised – it is about starting. Stop waiting for something better, or something to change or someone to do something... just start now... there is no better time than the present. You are enough right now and you can learn as you go. JUST START and be open to the possibilities.
As Jim Carrey said “Your job is not to figure out how its going to happen for you, but to open the door in your mind and when the door opens in real life, just walk through it”
Another important lesson I have learned is to keep life fun. Work doesn’t need to be tedious or mundane, maybe you aren’t in your dream role yet, or too young to get the job you want... just enjoy the ride, learn the lessons, take the opportunities, spend wisely and take care of yourself, mind, body AND soul above all else – I learned the hard way that your ‘health is your greatest wealth’ and we only have one body, one vessel to carry us through our long, adventurous journey of life – and it makes a HUGE difference if your vessel is well-nourished with nutritious food, has a healthy liver and gets regular fresh air and movement in comparison to a couch potato full of alcohol, cigarettes and processed foods!
However, be conscious about EVERYTHING you consume – mentally, physically, energetically and emotionally, because it all affects you... maybe not right now, but it will...
We all have the power to create our own reality – it is just a matter of choice.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” and I say: dream big and let your imagination run free!
Don’t define yourself by social ‘norms’... embrace you! Be bold! Be unique!
I’m 33, run my own successful business and own HEAPS of soft toys... even a 3 metre rainbow caterpillar called Doug. I choose to be a successful business woman, to see the blessings, believe in magic AND be a playful, imaginative human being. I choose to be me.
Audio version on Youtube here