The magic of finding your true self on a tumultuous path
Interview with Helen Rebello
In her early days, Helen struggled against the wishes and advice of her parents and teachers, wanting to follow her heart into the world of writing. Then came her gradual acceptance into the ‘grown up’ decision of following her head into a sensible career. Not surprisingly, it was not fulfilling.
Today, Helen has found her way back to her soul’s calling as the proud new author of her first book, The Magical Unfolding.
This book came to life after Helen’s work with her coaching clients to help them find their own happiness, true path, and bring the magic back into their lives. As she kept taking clients through this process, magically, the 8 steps in this book began to write themselves. Helen added to this pieces of her own life story as real-life examples of the magic in action.
As Helen’s publisher, I couldn’t be more proud to have been a part of the process that brought Helen’s 8 magical processes in the book, out into the world to empower others.
Naturally, I couldn’t wait to interview Helen and share insights not only from The Magical Unfolding, but also from Helen’s journey to writing this book.
Dr. Andrea — Since we first met 18 months ago, the journey you have been on has been transformative. I’m grateful I’ve been able to see it happen. And in such a short period of time, The Magical Unfolding has evolved into the book that I’m so pleased to have been the publisher for, so we can bring it out to the world!
Can you start by explaining what’s behind the title — what does The Magical Unfolding mean to you?
Helen — There are a couple of elements to this. The first idea is that everything that happens to us in life, happens for a reason. Life takes us on a spiralling, unfolding pathway that teaches us the things we need to learn. Through that process, we find out what our strengths are, what we care about most in life, and we eventually come home to ourselves.
I want people to know that no matter how many different paths they have tried in life, nothing is a waste. It’s all about learning. I really wanted to celebrate that, so I’ve shared some of my journey in the book.
The other element sort of created itself! This is the process with the 8 steps that I describe in the book. This came from the work I have been doing with my clients to take them on their own journey from feeling stuck and overwhelmed, and not really knowing how to get out of it — to getting to know who they are, and navigating their way through life in a much more grounded way.
This is the magic process, and I feel that it sort of wrote itself in a way!
Dr. Andrea — So when did you know that you wanted to write this book?
Helen — The idea first came to me 4 or 5 years ago. I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a kid. But as I’m sure I’ve told you before, I buried that instinct for a very long time to go and get a ‘proper’ job instead.
It’s been simmering away forever, but this particular book made itself known to me years back. But the catalyst for me to actually do it was losing my sister-in-law, Toni, to cancer. It was just one of many wake up calls in life that made me take some action. It was really time to share this with the world!
Dr. Andrea — Something I love about this book is that it really is written for people who feel that their world is upside down and they don’t know where to begin making changes. You and I have both followed that path of squashing down our true desires to follow a ‘sensible’ career path — only to have an awakening later in life!
My mother used to say, “Your destiny is best viewed from the rear-view mirror.”
She was talking about the power of hindsight. What I love about your 8 processes, you’re basically helping us dust off our rear-view mirror to piece together how we have got to where we are, and why. Then to start finding the way forwards from there.
Helen — I’ve never thought of it quite like that, but this is a perfect way to explain it. What happens through each of the processes is that people dig into who they are and find their hidden gems. I love helping people to realize how much they really have to offer, and sometimes that can be seen from looking back over our life so far.
Dr. Andrea — So as a first time author, how has the experience of writing a book been for you? As your publisher and your friend, I’ve been privileged to watch from the outside. But I’d love to hear your account of it.
Helen — The process of writing this book really surprised me! I always wrote and blogged, and always enjoy it. So I thought the process of writing the book would be the same as I was used to. But with the book I found my routine was different, I wrote at different times of the day, and I felt the importance of changing my environment more. I needed changes of scene, more mediation, and I really relied on many of the tools that I describe in the book.
Ultimately, I needed to access something bigger than myself. I needed a two-way communication with the universe, and to trust what I was receiving was right — I needed to surrender.
It became a very humbling process, because I don’t think it was ever really about me. Although I was sharing my story, the message is more about how transcending bad situations is possible for everybody. The reason for sharing parts of my story was to say, “If I can do it, anyone can.”
Dr. Andrea — Isn’t that magical?! That’s like an encapsulated version of the magical process, just for you, while you were writing about that very process.
I know that we’ve both had the experience of repressing our childhood dreams, and deviating from our paths to follow other careers. You always knew you wanted to write, but didn’t start out on the path. Can you tell us more about that?
Helen — Well I had someone championing me at school — one English teacher who really believed in me, Mrs. Grace. She loved my writing, and in my memory she was the only person who really believed in me. Writing was the one thing I could do really well without thinking about it, it was natural for me.
After school I really wanted to do a degree in English. But I’d left home at 18 years old after a tumultuous time with my parents. Partly from the messages I got from them about needing to get a career, I ended up studying nursing. Our parents do mean well, but often they are coming from a perspective that was more relevant a couple of generations ago.
So I became a student nurse, which didn’t fit me at all. Later on I went to train as a radiographer. Half way into that course I knew I hated it, but I kept going because I was prioritizing what my head told me to do — to get a sensible job.
In the end, I was experiencing what I now know to be a big clash with my values. At the time I was depressed and anxious, having panic attacks before leaving the house for work.
Eventually it got too much and I broke down. But then I met my lovely husband who helped me to find my path and to start doing the work I love.
Dr. Andrea — So many of us take these winding and tumultuous paths back to our true selves.
In the book, I love how you describe becoming who we are as taking of layers of coats that we’ve been wearing, keeping us covered up! I also love that you begin the book talking about unfolding your cape of possibilities. There are 8 processes that you walk us through in the book. Let’s talk about some of those just a little. What is the first one, Unfold Your Cape of Possibility all about?
Helen — This is about people giving themselves permission to put down their superhero cape, and stop trying to be all things to all people. Women especially wear this cape, juggling way more than our ancestors ever did. When we can’t juggle 100 things all together, we end up feeling like we have failed!
So magical process number 1 is about allowing the reader to put down that cape, leave it to one side for now, and know that there is nothing wrong with her for doing so. Instead of carrying this weight, here the reader can embody this sense of possibility for her life.
This is really a foundation step, allowing people to connect to a sense of their future self, and the magic can start to happen.
Dr. Andrea — So this is really about the energy of ‘what if’?
Helen — Absolutely. I think it’s the loss of that energy, and the loss of that hope that really drags people down in life. This is a hard space to climb out from, so step one is a gentle, no pressure way of starting to move on from the lack of ‘what if’ to whatever might come.
Dr. Andrea — The next step in your process is Owning Your Miraculousness. Everyone reading or listening to this has this power in them, absolutely. Then the next step, which I remember was a hard one for me to embrace, is Embracing Your Uniqueness.
Certainly now I think of what makes me unique as my own superpowers, but at the time it was a struggle and I felt like I was weird for being different. I’m sure many people can relate to that
The 4th step of your process in the book, is Uncovering Your Superpowers. Tell us, how has that shown up in your own work with clients who came come through trauma and depression, for example? Do you find that it’s difficult for people to own their superpowers?
Helen — It really requires someone to find a lot of patience and kindness for themselves.
What I often see happen with clients is that when they first come to be they are very head-based. They are trying to figure out what they need from an analytical perspective. Meanwhile, they are quite disconnected with the rest of their body from the neck down.
The concept of feeling their own feelings can be lost on them at first. So when I’ve worked with them on mindfulness, and just really simple things like noticing their own breath and their feet on the ground, they begin to tune back in to their body. Then you can start to help them tune into more subtle sensations. Slowly but surely, as they shift, they start to realize the power within themselves. It’s quite an organic process.
It takes different amounts of time for different people. But one thing I know for sure is this. If you actually start, then you will get there sooner!
Dr. Andrea — That’s perfect! So what’s your biggest wish for this book now that it’s out in the world?
Helen — I would love it if the book touches the hearts of anybody who is willing and ready to receive the messages in it. I had a number come to me; I wanted to help 100,000 women to open their hearts and find the courage to become who they came here to be.
So maybe I will reach that number, and maybe I won’t. Who knows? But what I would love to start is a ripple effect. So maybe those women who do read the book can empower themselves, and then empower other women around them, passing it on.
Dr. Andrea — I really do believe that as you touch one life, you are creating a ripple of transformation that touches so many more lives that you won’t even know about.
So how can people connect with you?
Helen — I have a lovely new website in progress, www.helenrebello.com. I’ve been creating a movement, The Magical Life Movement, with resources to download for living a more magical life. So it would be lovely to see more people join in and come on the journey with us.
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