A Bell & A Key


I sheltered from the storm that was brewing, tucked under the canopy of a wooden beach cafe that was locked up with circular whicker chairs crammed inside.

I noticed how different this exact same spot looked only 48 hours after I was last here. Two days ago, the sun was glorious, the water was calm, the sand was like talcum powder under my toes. Today, the winds were roughing up the sea, the colours of the boats were watered down, and the sand was littered with bits of broken branches from the palm trees that lined the beach.

“If I’d told someone two days ago that this beach is paradise and they came here today…” I said to myself, with a smile.

Yet, it’s the same beach, same boats, same sand, even the same time of day, but looking almost like a different world. That’s how it is in life: the filters of the sunshine or of the storm can totally alter our experience. If we let it.

I’ve suspected for a while that I’ve got a another book inside me – not another step-by-step coaching book, but something more in the style of my old blog posts. Life lessons and snippets of inspiration – and getting it out of me is probably one of the reasons I was drawn back to Thailand.

“Guide me, Lord,” I spoke out loud, as the wind howled around the wooden building I was leaning my back against. “I think you want me to write a book, but you’ve got to inspire me.”

Not four seconds later, I felt what I call my “truth feeling”; it’s a distinct feeling I get when I know something is absolutely true and right: I get a lump in my throat, my eyes water and I “just know”.

“Thank you,” I told God. “But I don’t just want to feel inspired to write a book, I need to know what to put in it. Help me with that.” I was sitting side-on to the beach, and I turned my head to look up toward the jungle-covered mountain.

Something hanging from the edge of the canopy I was sitting under caught my eye and came into focus. It was an ornate metal bell, with a key dangling from it.

A bell, and a key. A bell: a warning; a call to attention; a call to action. A key: the tool to unlock the barrier between you and what you want to get to. And I knew immediately what this meant.

I laughed in surprise. That was fast! Within seconds of asking, I was provided with the will, and the subject.

You see, back in January of this year, I was handed the key to unlock the “prison cell” I’ve been in since I was a small child. And this key continues to open every door for me. 

I’ve heard the alarm bell many, many times over my life and, although each time I was handed a rubber ring when I felt I was drowning, I still kept finding myself back “in prison”. And rubber rings don’t unlock prison doors!

I realize this sounds paradoxical coming from someone who spends her life traveling, used to live on a boat, eats breakfast on the beach any day of the week, jet-sets off to a new continent at the drop of a hat… But remember the filters of the sun and the storm and I’m sure you’ll understand.

I was at a talk last night given by a man decked out head to foot in bright orange. I didn’t agree with much of what he said for two whole hours, but the upshot of the bit I did agree with was that the most effective leaders are NOT those who are born with a skeleton key around their neck, but those who themselves have had to overcome great trials, so that they can meet you where you are, understand what you’re battling with, and help you through it.

And so it’s my greatest hope that if you’re hearing a warning bell and the rubber rings are not working for you, that you’ll allow me to share with you the key…