Today I continue the So.Many.Stories project with a wonderful piece from Kimberly Burnham. Kimberly grew up as a third culture kid in Colombia, Belgium, Japan, Canada and yes, even Cleveland. You can read more about Kimberly at the end of the piece. For now, enjoy this challenge to do what you love.
Bullet Statement: Do what you love, what you are passionate about, safety and success will follow.
It is hard to imagine I paid money, a lot of money, to step onto this stage. I chose to speak through the fear, sadness and, yes, elation coursing through my veins. In a moment of insanity, like the time I roped up and walked face first off a cliff in Utah’s Western desert, I chose to storm this stage in front of a room full of entrepreneurs.
“Own your power. Stride on stage like there are lions who will eat you if you waver,” says Bo Eason, professional football player, storyteller extraordinaire and actor in Runt of the Litter. “Move on stage like a lion. Make the audience feel if they look away, you will eat them,” he coaches.
At 14, I walked face forward off the edge of a cliff. I trusted the strength of the repelling ropes, around my waist, to stop me from crashing a hundred feet down to the tree lined canyon floor. I trusted the survival trip leaders to ensure my safety. As I walked down the cliff face I controlled the speed at which the rope slid through my hands. I felt powerful. I felt safe.
At 54, I repeat to myself, “each day is about the peak moment, when supported and encouraged by others, I feel powerful.” I am the master of my destiny, I remind myself as I take this stage.
“I am here!” I plant my claim to the stage, to my life, to my story. I have begun to convey my experiences. Now, there is only forward. There is no turning back, running off stage and pretending my inner introvert no longer wants to share my message, the story of how I use complementary and alternative medicine to contribute to peace and health in the world, the way I walk the tightrope between passion and safety. Through the nerves and love of my life, I tell the story.
“I am here!” No one wants me here but the Egyptian shop keepers whose stalls line the edge of this much fought over beach. I am here to scuba dive in the Blue Hole, my dream since I was a child listening to Jacques Cousteau, the most famous undersea explorer of all time. The jagged coral, the poisonous lion fish, the deadly rip tides, it is the Red Sea, where waves of deep blue water meet the red sands of the Sinai desert. Cousteau describes, “the most beautiful place on earth.”
Every cell in my body is listening as I tell the tale. “My friends and family feared for my safety. My life insurance company called it high risk behavior and that is just the scuba diving, not this Egyptian beach. To get here from my hotel, I had to jeep through three check points manned by soldiers carrying machine guns.”
“There in the distance,” I paint the picture for one person in the audience. I can get through the emotions I feel. I can tell the story, if I focus on one person. I look for the light in the eyes of one person hungry to hear my story of hope, of ways to thrive in this world.
“Way in the distance across the Red Sea, I can see Jordan and Saudi Arabia. And back beyond the checkpoints and my hotel is modern day Israel.”
Standing on the stage, I know where the story is leading. Emotions well up. Tears at the very edge of my eyes, I say, “It is a good day when you can cross something off your lifetime to do list. I went scuba diving in the Red Sea among the alligator fish, a pride of lionfish, and their deadly cousins, the stonefish, small terrorists of the sea.”
Telling the story, I start to recognize the patterns, the openings to joy and connection. I say the hardest words for me to say.
“A week later, I watched on a big screen TV in a downtown hotel room in Tel Aviv, Israel as the Twin Towers burned. I understood that day, September 11th, Tel Aviv was safer than New York City.”
“There in the Middle East for three weeks, I worked in a physical therapy clinic, helped an Israeli soldier live pain-free, supported a child to walk with more balance. I explored treatment options with a much loved Rabbi, committed to finding ways to deal with cancer, without fighting terror with terror.”
I believe people who feel better, make better choices for themselves, their families and their community. I can contribute to peace by supporting healing and decreasing pain.
As I talk to large audiences and individuals, I share my experiences and the stories of my clients, not because it is easy but because I am grateful for the ability to inspire hope and offer real solutions in the form of knowledge, self-care exercises, visualizations and treatment approaches from Integrative Manual Therapy, Matrix Energetics, acupressure and other forms of complementary and alternative medicine.
A lot of people ask themselves, “how can I thrive, make a difference in my community and contribute to a peaceful world?”
On my desk is a heart chakra green and white postcard which says, “Do what you love. No excuses.”
Do what you love, what you are passionate about, safety and success will follow. Building a wall and locking the door is not the way to keep yourself safe. Not doing things because of fear, doesn’t increase your safety.
Perceive the opportunities. Live passionately. Contribute to quality of life in this amazing world.
More about Kimberly: Born in Provo, Utah, Kimberly Burnham has a BSc in Zoology from Brigham Young University ’82 and a PhD in Integrative Medicine ’96.Kimberly is the author of several books and a chapter, “Fractals: Seeing the Patterns in our Existence” in Jack Canfield’sPearls of Wisdom, 30 Inspirational ideas to Live Your Best Life Now! (2012) as well as ”The Eyes Observing Your World” a featured chapter in Christine Kloser’s Pebbles in the Pond, Transforming the World One Person at a Time (2012). Her upcoming book is The Nerve Whisperer. Kimberly’s goal is to change the face of brain health and how each of us experiences this incredible world. She lives in West Hartford, Connecticut with her partner, Victoria Carmona. Find out more about Kimberly at
- So.Many.Proposals (communicatingacrossboundariessomanystories.wordpress.com)