A LETTER TO MY TEENAGE SELF

A friend asked me to do this a long time ago. Yet I never had the right advice to give to my teenage self.

I can only write when inspiration hits me.

I dug out an old photograph taken of me when I was around 12 or 13.

More than 20 years has passed since this photo was taken.

I looked at the young woman in the picture, her youthful face free of lines and worry. So young. So beautiful.

In a lot of ways, I still feel like I’m her.

Yet the sands of time have helped me to evolve into the person I am today. I am no longer that teenage girl. I am now a woman in her mid 30’s. Where did all that time go?

Life moves very quickly, yet slowly at the same time. And like Paulo Coelho says, “life moves very fast. It rushes from Heaven to Hell in a matter of seconds.”

To look back on the time that has passed, makes me pay attention to all that has changed, yet remained the same.

Like my late Grandfather says “ever changing, and never changing”. He has featured heavily in my dreams of late. I think our loved ones are always with us in spirit. Holding our hands in times of need. Perhaps he has assisted me in writing this article today, on the eve of the turn of the new year.

So today, on the last day of the year, a day where we often look back in hindsight and retrospect on all that has transpired, the good times, and the not so good times, and promise to ourselves that the new year will be better than the last, I have finally been able to write that young girl a letter.

So here it is:

Take good care of your skin, you will thank yourself for it later. Drink lots of water.

Don’t cut your hair – while it will grow back, you will regret it.

Always wash your makeup off at night. That cyst you will get in your right lower eyelid when you are 16 can be avoided if you do this.

Look after your teeth so you don’t have to go to the dentist.

Don’t smoke. It’s addictive, and toxic and it will be hard to quit when you turn 24. You will return to it when you’re 33 during a stressful time in your life.

Don’t worry about boys. Worry about yourself. Grow as a person. You need to find who you are. Otherwise you will still be searching in years to come.

Don’t wax your arms when your friends tell you to – there’s no need. The hairs are blonde anyway.

Don’t over pluck your eyebrows. You’ll regret it.

Continue to look after your body. You have it for life. Oh, and your boobs are never going to get any bigger than what they are now. 10B it is.

You’re never going to get any taller either. In fact, you will look like you’re 12 still when you are in your 30’s. But you’ll still be pretty.

Keep your favourite clothes. You will surprisingly still be the exact same size in 20 years.

Don’t get a perm. You will hate it, and it will take years to grow out.

You won’t feel this way forever.

School teachers really are dickheads. Dad is right about them being a “man amongst boys during the week, and a boy amongst men on the weekends”.

Don’t be fooled by flattery, and try not to be so naive.

If you’re not careful, that trusting nature of yours will be with you for life. Learn how to say no. Learn what boundaries are. You don’t always have to be nice. You will get taken advantage of.

Learn how to stand up for yourself. No one else is going to do it for you.

It’s ok to cry. Really.

You are going to learn more from life, than from school. And the hardest lessons are always packed with the most meaning. They help you grow.

You don’t need makeup to be beautiful. True beauty comes from your soul.

You light up the room when you enter it. You have a magnetically infectious aura about you. You don’t need to look down at the ground. Hold your head up high.

You are going to have a busy life while you’re a teenager. You’re going to be involved in art, singing, drama school, modelling, as well as having a part time job, in addition to school. It all builds character. Enjoy it while it lasts.

School doesn’t make you smart. You learn everything important from interacting with others. From life experiences. And from taking chances. Life doesn’t come with a book of instructions. It can’t be taught.

You are much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Never give up. Ever.

You can do it. Believe in yourself.

Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket.

Create balance. You need to discover there is going to be more to life than just work.

Never be afraid to speak up. People will respect you for it.

Don’t allow anyone to walk all over you. You will easily be taken advantage of.

Don’t fall in love so easily. Fall in love with yourself first.

Be brave. Don’t let fear hold you back. Feel the fear, and do it anyway.

It’s ok to be different.

Don’t allow another person to determine your self worth. You know who you are.

Trust your intuition. It will lead you everywhere.

Every person is a teacher. You will learn from everyone that crosses your path. They are all there for a reason.

Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Money should never define you. It is fleeting. And only an illusion. Retain your sense of humility.

Never apologise for being you. You are more than enough. In fact, you are magnificent.

People will come into, and go out of your life for a reason. It’s all there to serve your own evolution.

Be true to yourself.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t have to do everything alone.

Draw on whatever resources necessary to get you to wherever you need to go.

Nothing lasts forever.

And finally, I love you. I am here for you. I will never abandon you. You are much braver than you think. Give yourself the credit you deserve.

Happy New Year.

BEST THING I’VE READ THIS YEAR

Not planning on writing a blog today, yet this morning whilst browsing through my Facebook feed, I stumbled across this article. A letter to Angelina Jolie, written by Brad Pitt.

I am constantly writing about people being like mirrors, and projecting our innermost states.

The moving words written by Brad Pitt should be a reminder of the profound effects your actions can have on another person.

It made me recall a quote from the author C. JoyBell C.

“You will manage to keep a woman in love with you, only for as long as you can keep her in love with the person she becomes when she is with you.”

So to all of the men out there, this article is for you.

(A link to the original article can be found here http://couplesandco.blogspot.se/2013/12/i-lost-hope-and-thought-that-well-get.html?m=1 and the excerpt is below):

destruktivna:</p>
<p>“My wife got sick. She was constantly nervous because of problems at work, personal life, her failures and problems with children. She has lost 30 pounds and weighed about 90 pounds in her 35 years. She got very skinny, and was constantly crying. She was not a happy woman. She had suffered from continuing headaches, heart pain and jammed nerves in her back and ribs. She did not sleep well, falling asleep only in the morning and got tired very quickly during the day. Our relationship was on the verge of break up. Her beauty was leaving her somewhere, she had bags under her eyes, she was poking her head, and stopped taking care of herself. She refused to shoot the films and rejected any role. I lost hope and thought that we’ll get divorced soon…But then I decided to act on it. After all I’ve got the most beautiful woman on the earth. She is the idol of more than half of men and women on earth, and I was the one allowed to fall asleep next to her and to hug her shoulders.I began to pamper her with flowers, kisses and compliments. I surprised her and pleased her every minute. I gave her lots of gifts and lived just for her. I spoke in public only about her. I incorporated all themes in her direction. I praised her in front of her own and our mutual friends.You won’t believe it, but she blossomed. She became even better than before. She gained weight, was no longer nervous and she loved me even more than ever. I had no clue that she CAN love that much.And then I realized one thing: The woman is the reflection of her man.If you love her to the point of madness, she will become it.“                 <br />
- Brad Pitt</p>
<p>Sweet ❤️ 
 
“My wife got sick.  She was constantly nervous because of problems at work, personal life, her failures and problems with children. 

She has lost 30 pounds and weighed about 90 pounds in her 35 years. She got very skinny, and was constantly crying. She was not a happy woman. She had suffered from continuing headaches, heart pain and jammed nerves in her back and ribs.

She did not sleep well, falling asleep only in the morning and got tired very quickly during the day. Our relationship was on the verge of break up. 

Her beauty was leaving her somewhere, she had bags under her eyes, she was poking her head, and stopped taking care of herself. She refused to shoot the films and rejected any role. 

I lost hope and thought that we’ll get divorced soon…But then I decided to act on it. 
After all I’ve got the most beautiful woman on the earth. 

She is the idol of more than half of men and women on earth, and I was the one allowed to fall asleep next to her and to hug her shoulders.

I began to pamper her with flowers, kisses and compliments. I surprised her and pleased her every minute. I gave her lots of gifts and lived just for her. I spoke in public only about her. I incorporated all themes in her direction. I praised her in front of her own and our mutual friends.

You won’t believe it, but she blossomed. She became even better than before. She gained weight, was no longer nervous and she loved me even more than ever. I had no clue that she CAN love that much. And then I realized one thing: The woman is the reflection of her man. If you love her to the point of madness, she will become it.“           

– Brad Pitt

 

HOPE AND PEACE TO ALL

So I wrote an article the other day for “The Big Smoke” about Christmas.

They asked for a light-hearted piece.

I did my best to fondly recall memories from my youth about what I enjoyed about Christmas time.

Christmas is a funny time, and it wasn’t one that was easy for me to write about this year.

It can be a joyous time, and it can also be a difficult time.

There is something in the air during this period. I think it heightens all of your emotions.

It can amplify your feelings to an intense level.

I have this little crystal angel decoration with gold wings for the Christmas tree that I would always place on one of the top branches last.

From the age of 24, until I was 30, I would always say the same thing in my mind as I placed her on the tree.

“Maybe next Christmas.”

Maybe next Christmas I’ll have a child.

We all have hopes for ourselves. Yet our hopes and desires change with the winds of time.

This was my wish for that period of my life.

I recall my hardest Christmas was a few years back now when I went and saw some friends on Boxing Day. They had a 2 month old baby.

My friend was about to feed her baby and she asked me if I’d like to hold her.

I was such a bad friend, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hold her beautiful little baby in my arms and feed her. I couldn’t do it because I knew I would have broken down. She would have seen how weak and pathetic I was. It was an impossibility at the time. Such an overwhelming feeling of injustice I was consumed by. So selfish of me.

Why can’t I have a baby? I tried so hard. This isn’t fair. Why me?

We all have reasons behind why we do what we do. However they’re not always up for discussion. And a good friend will accept your reasons even if they remain unspoken. I guess that’s where the term “hidden hurts” comes from.
I recall leaving her house, and the moment I drove away and was safely out of view, I did break down. The lump in my throat that I had been fighting to swallow away, and the tears that kept pricking the back of my eyes for hours finally overwhelmed me. And I didn’t just cry. I wept. Inconsolably.

Looking back, I don’t know how I managed to make it through the other side of those 6 years. I thought it would never end.

But it did. Life is like that. When you’re in a situation, you feel as though it will never end.

Yet nothing lasts forever.

I look at my day yesterday. I went to the beach with a friend and my 6 year old buddy.

We swam in the ocean while he held my hand. I helped him shower and dress afterwards. We had a great day. I really enjoyed his company. I am so grateful that I finally have the opportunity to enjoy my friends children.

Such a stark contrast to years ago when I was in the midst of a seemingly never ending rut of feeling hopeless.

So why such a somber article today?
Christmas is upon is, and I think for everyone, it’s a time for reflection. To look back on the years that have passed to see how far we’ve come. How much we’ve grown.

Or to see how much has changed in every sense of the word. Life, friends, relationships, feelings, circumstances.

Whilst this is a relatively long article today, I will say that in my 34 years, I have come to understand that life never goes according to plan. Not for anyone. Well, maybe for a lucky few.

I look back 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and I would have never anticipated to be where I am today.

Not in my wildest dreams.

Nobody knows what the future may hold, and none of us are playing with marked cards, so all we can really have is hope.

So in no way is this a “light-hearted” piece today. In fact, I go into Christmas this year with a somewhat heavy heart for reasons that will remain private, and carefully guarded behind those walls I have strategically erected around me.

But I haven’t lost hope.

So I say to the angel this year “maybe next Christmas”. Yet my hopes and wishes have changed for what I’d like for this time next year.

I hope for peace. And happiness.

Maybe next Christmas I will find it. After all, this is what I am chasing (hence the name of my blog).

I guess that’s why all the Christmas cards say “hope and peace to all”.

So Merry Christmas, and hope and peace to all.

AM I LONELY?

Last night, I had plans to go to the gym and meet a friend for dinner, however an incapacitating migraine prevented me from following through with my plans, and I cancelled.

I chose to stay home and chill out. Not that that’s too different to a regular night for me. I’m always at home. I’m a homebody.

I decided to go up the road and buy a 6-pack of Coronas and enjoy the late afternoon sun and try and write something. I haven’t written all week. Sometimes my mind just isn’t there. Sometimes it isn’t a priority. And quite often I have decided to quit writing for good.

But here I am. Writing.

A girlfriend phoned me on her way home from work. I told her I was planning on having a Corona. She told me she’d collect her son and drop in and join me.

I decided to cook a gourmet feast for us too, and she could stay for dinner.

“God you’re a good cook Amy” my friend told me as she started eating.

“I know” I replied.

She laughed.

I’m an exceptional cook. I really am. But I often forget how good a cook I am as it’s always just me, and there’s not much point in cooking for yourself. So I find I eat a lot of salads.

We finished our meal (which had the tick of approval from my 6 year old buddy, who informed me that in addition to his Mum, I was his best friend), and went and sat in the garden.

My buddy comes outside and says he wants to make a fire.

“Ok” I say. It appears I really am “crazy Aunt Amy”. Almost anything flies with me.

So, we light a small fire in the backyard. My buddy is delighted.

And then it dawns on me. I haven’t lost that childish innocence about me. Which is good as I don’t take life so seriously, and bad, as I am quite naive. Vulnerable. Easily taken advantage of.

I try to see the good in everyone. But that’s not always a positive. Seeing the good in everyone usually entails a combination of wearing both rose-coloured glasses, and blinkers. They blind you to the reality of a situation.

After our pyromanic episode, we went inside to watch a movie. I didn’t have any kid friendly movies to watch except “Drop Dead Fred”.

For those of you who have watched this movie, you will know that the lesson in this is that until you have self worth, and until you find yourself, you can’t truly be happy. There will always be someone there taking advantage of your childish innocence.

So we watched the movie and then it was time for my friends to leave.

As my girlfriend and my buddy were leaving, he saw me light up a cigarette. That filthy, filthy habit that I swear I’m going to kick.

“Are you going to have a cigarette all by yourself?” He asked.

“I do everything by myself” I responded confidently, and matter-of-factly.

“That’s sad” he replied as he climbed into the car.

His response threw me a little. In fact, it knocked the wind out of me a little.

He had said something similar a few nights ago too as they dropped me home after a night out. As I got out of the car, he asked me “isn’t anyone home?”

“No. It’s just me.”

“Do you want to sleep at our house?” He asked me innocently.

“No, that’s ok. I have my own house. I’m used to being by myself.”

“That’s not fair.”

Children are never alone. And this is what made him say it. They cannot comprehend what solitude is.

I am always alone. I try not to think about it too much, yet the fact was inescapable. And I thought to myself, “is it sad?” And “is it fair?”

And I’m STILL mulling over it. And I don’t really have an answer as to whether or not it is indeed sad or fair.

Which takes me back to the movie.

“Look, you’ve got you now. You don’t need me.”

That’s what Drop Dead Fred says to the female character, Elizabeth, in the movie after she finds her worth, and finds herself. He’s there for her only during the times she has found herself lost. Found herself lost. What a contradictory statement.

And then I had another thought.

If you’ve “got you”, do you not need anyone else?

Of course, we all know the saying about man not being an island.

And then I read a quote from the late Audrey Hepburn.

“When you have nobody you can make a cup of tea for, when nobody needs you, that’s when I think life is over.”

Is my little buddy, who is near three decades my junior, onto something with his observations? Does he see a little bit more than I give him credit for?

So whilst there’s hardly a lesson to today’s article, and more just the dissection of a conversation with a child, I will say this.

My little friend has certainly made me think. Made me question myself. And he made me ask myself the question I think all of us do at some point – “Am I lonely?

 

LABELS

Sometimes I wonder if I’m turning into “that woman”.

You know the one I’m talking about. That crazy Aunt we all have.

The one that’s into tarot cards, and mood rings. Detoxes and vegetarian meals.

As I went to my local liquor store the other day to purchase a bottle of wine, I said to the young guy behind the counter “you must think I’m an alcoholic”.

“Nah. I don’t think that at all.”

That’s what I think of myself actually.

I don’t drink that much. Just a glass here and there, however weighing in at barely 50 kilos, means the single glass has quite an effect.

I have found after 18 months of insomnia, I have sought the help of alcohol in order to assist in sedating me.

Insomnia is a funny thing. You think with a lack of sleep, you would eventually become tired. Not at all. You actually become increasingly anxious. Full of nervous energy that needs to be spent. What I’d give for a proper nights sleep. Probably the reason behind Tyler Durden starting Fight Club. To get rid of that extra energy. More on that later.

In my true contradictory fashion I had stopped in to purchase my bottle of plonk on the way home. On the way home from a 90 minute gym session.

Upon arriving home, I sat out in the garden in my gym clothes, poured myself a glass of wine, and lit up a cigarette.

If that’s not the definition of counter-productivity, I don’t know what is.

Oh, and after chain smoking 4 cigarettes with my glass of vino, I went back inside, showered, and made myself a chick pea salad.

I am both the picture of health, in addition to being a toxic wasteland.

And I had a thought. Well, I always have thoughts. But this one was a little more profound than the usual pondering of life’s mysteries. Like the random thoughts that occasionally pop into my mind. The ones that we keep to ourselves. “Do those Mexican girls that do the donkey shows like their job?”, “I wonder if vampires are really real?”. You know. Those ones.

So, I had a thought. Am I “that woman”? Am I “crazy Aunt Amy”?

Not that I have any nieces or nephews. Thank God for that. These non-existent children have truly been spared.

But have I morphed into that woman I swore I would never become?

The eccentric writer who occasionally resembles a bag lady. The one with no set routine. The one who won’t buy any appliances or sign any contracts during mercury retrograde.

Am I her?

I am two women. I am the free spirit, and I am the one who craves stability. I am the non-conformist, and the one who would like to know what normal looks like. I am the hobo and the glamour girl. I am aloof, yet very sensible. Cautious even. I exude confidence and charisma, coupled with self-doubt and awkwardness.

Don’t we all look like this on the inside? Tormented by our very selves?

Which brings me back to Tyler Durden and Fight Club.

What an appropriately named title for the film. Fight Club. The inner battle between consciousness and ego.

Eckart Tolle teaches in “The Power of Now”, that the ego relies on labels to identify with.

Have I inadvertently labeled myself?

My new neighbour invited me over for drinks one afternoon. Drinks. I can handle that.

My mind immediately began with its unstoppable thoughts.

“Will they like me? I’m so different compared to them. What am I going to talk about? They are the nuclear family I often wonder about. They are the 2.3 children, 4WD people.”
I reigned myself in. Centred myself.

“You are a nice person. You are kind, and honest, and interesting.”

That’s all that matters at the end. My heart is in the right place.

So am I “that woman”? No. I am me. No labels. Just me.

The first step in eliminating labelling yourself is acceptance. So accept yourself for the person you are.

While I am terrible at taking my own advice, I excel at dishing out pearls of wisdom.

Create balance in your life, get enough sleep, don’t overthink, never allow your ego to override your consciousness, and never buy any appliances during mercury retrograde.

So don’t label yourself. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into a stereotype. Lose the label. Free yourself.

Because like Tyler Durden says in Fight Club “It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we’re free to do anything”.

INVICTUS

I always attempt to have depth to the things I write. I seldom write about world events or the like. Because I rarely watch TV. So I’m not schooled on current affairs. I rely on 140 character bursts on Twitter to provide me with updates on what is going on in the world.

However today, I’m not going to write much about what I’m about to talk about, but rather share this with you.

While I was at the gym the other day, I saw an ad pop up on TV.

It was an ad for Paco Rabanne’s new fragrance “Invictus”.

Invictus is a Latin word meaning unconquerable.

In my opinion, it’s the best commercial I’ve ever seen. Unconquerable. The look on the guys face at the end made me smirk. It was a look of “What’s a guy to do?”

The man in the commercial is beautiful. Beautiful. Upon googling, I discovered that this fine specimen is Australian. It’s former football player, turned model, Nick Youngquest.

Football players have the best bodies out of all the athletes I believe, and this guy is HAWT.

Check out the commercial below. And you’re welcome.

CONVERSATIONS WITH MY MOTHER

The conversations I have with my mother are always exhausting.

However there’s very little actual conversing taking place, and it’s more of me just listening.

I often get up and leave absolutely exasperated after a certain amount of time.

Particularly as my mother treats me like a child quite a lot of the time.

I went over yesterday afternoon to hang out with her for a bit. It’s sad to admit, but I actually live 2 doors away from my parents. Which is both good and bad. And I actually went over to hang out with my Dad. But he was having a nap like the old man he is. So I steeled myself for some madness and sat down with her for a chat.

Mum: What have you got there? (I had a banana smoothie in my hand). Are you drinking?

Me: It’s a banana smoothie.

Mum: Are you eating?

Me: Of course I’m eating.

Mum: You’re very thin you know. You know you can have a heart attack if you don’t eat. Are you still smoking?

Me: I eat. Don’t worry. And no, I’m not smoking (I lied).

Mum: You liar.

Me: (silence)

Mum: You look very brown. Where have you been?

Me: Nowhere.

Mum: You have to be careful of skin cancer you know.

Me: (rolling my eyes) I know.

Mum: You look like you’ve been at the beach.

Me: Nah, not this week.

Mum: Did you hear about that guy that got killed by a shark in Coffs Harbour?

Me: Yeah I did. I don’t know why they don’t just kill all sharks.

Mum: You silly girl. They keep the oceans clean. Who do you think eats the whales that die out at sea? Would you like dead whales floating around while you’re swimming? I didn’t think so.

Me: (silence. I have nothing to say.)

Mum: We’ve booked our trip for August next year. I’ll have to book a chauffeur with you to get to the airport.

Me: It’s nine months away. Think about it in July.

Mum: Yeah I guess so. Nine months. I have time to have another baby then before I leave (my Mum is in her 60’s)

Me: (laughing)

Mum: What?

Me: Nothing.

Mum: I do have time. Wouldn’t that be something. It’d be like the immaculate conception.

Me: (laughing. My Mum also cracks a smile now too. She’s very funny when she wants to be)

Me: (my phone starts ringing. It’s one of our drivers and I can’t be bothered answering and I silence the call) I’m not answering that call. Fuck that.

Mum: Oh Amy don’t use that word.

Me: (silence)

Mum: You aren’t allowed to take a handbag on Emirates flights.

Me: I don’t know of any airline that doesn’t allow you to take a handbag.

Mum: Yes, it’s true. I read it online. Your father and I are going to Lufthansa too. Have you been there before? Is it a nice country?

Me: Lufthansa is an airline, not a country.

Mum: Are you sure? I don’t think you’re right. We’re going to Dubai too. Have you been there? What’s it like?

Me: Its an airline! (I yell that part) Yes, I’ve been to Dubai. Not a lot to see. But the desert safari is cool.

Mum: Desert safari?! And where do I go to the toilet? Are there toilets? I mean, who has toilets in the desert? What am I meant to do? Dig a hole in the sand and let a scorpion bite me on the arse? Or a snake? I’m not doing that.

Me: (silence)

Mum: We’re going to see The Sound of Music house too. Do you know how much I hate that film? We have to ride a bicycle there. I won’t be doing that. Your father can do that on his own. Not everyone can ride a bike you know.

Me: (silence)
Mum: (starting to read out the entire itinerary of her trip in 9 months time)

Me: Can I look at it later on?

Mum: No.

Me: So I don’t get an option as to whether or not I want to hear about it?

Mum: No.

Me: (silence while the entire month long itinerary is read to me)

Mum: I put the Christmas tree up yesterday.

Me: No you didn’t. Dad did it. I was here when he did it.

Mum: Oh well, same thing. It’s up.

Me: (silence, and smirking)

Mum: What are you smiling at? (she turns to the tv now) Oh look! You’re on tv! (an ad with Jennifer Hawkins comes on – she clearly has issues with her vision)

Me: I’m gonna go home now.

Mum: You’re going Alyssa? (Alyssa is my sister)

Me: I’m Amy.

Mum: Oh well, whoever you are. Take some mangoes with you.

Me: We had this conversation yesterday.

Mum: We did?

Me: We did.

READER FEEDBACK

Nothing like a an opinion piece to start an in depth conversation.

As I mentioned yesterday on my Facebook page, I had a comment from a male reader in the UK, in relation to my Huffington Post article “Strong, Independent Women”, which turned into a lengthy debate.

So today, I’ve chosen to publish the conversation as I found it incredibly interesting. Today’s article is infinitely longer than my usual stuff.

An opinion can never be wrong. It is merely that. An opinion. And I respect the readers thoughts and feedback on what I wrote.

So here it is:

READER: “My comment was deleted so obviously I’m not allowed to tell you exactly why.
But no, you’re not a strong, independent woman.”

AMY ANKA: “Thank you for your feedback. I was not insinuating that I was a strong, independent woman one way or the other. I asked the question, and you answered with your opinion. That’s fine. We are all entitled to them. Thanks for reading.”

R: “You’re welcome. If my comments don’t get deleted again I’ll explain why I have answered this way. The problem is that you have thrown so many different things at this blog post each point you make could have its own thread. Anyway, I’ll respond to a few to start with ..

Twilight and 50 shades – what is it about the female characters that make a vampire (who’s hundreds of years old and still hanging round school kids) and a good looking billionaire (he had to be very rich and good looking, didn’t he? Would 50 shades have sold so well if he was a street sweeper?) obsess over them and worship them? Nothing.
Since 50 is just fan-fiction based on Twilight .. they have the same problem – the female characters aren’t well written, there’s no depth, and from the part of Twilight that I watched before I couldn’t take any more (sparkly vampires? are you kidding?) the girl has to be one of the most insipid characters I’ve seen in a film.

It’s fantasy, nothing more, that an average woman would have someone powerful, rich, good looking utterly devoted to them. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re framing it as these men controlling the women .. who’s really in control in a sub/dom relationship?”

AA: “Point taken in regards to plots and characters. And yes, I stand by my claim that these women are both in controlling relationships.”

R: “Relationships they revel in – ooh, the drama – with plenty of alternative options around them that they have already dismissed because of their preference for the “bad” boy or the “rich” boy.”

AA: “The complexities of a controlling relationship are too in depth to go into, however it’s not so simple to walk away, and there often aren’t alternatives when the abuse is so deeply entrenched. What keeps all women in controlling relationships is fear. You should google Simon Gittany, who was recently convicted of the murder of his fiancé. It’s got nothing to do with these women being attracted to a “rich” or “bad” boy, and more to do with the incredible charisma of these men, and the control exerted by these men to keep these women off balance.”

R: “OK, next one – your section on being vulnerable and filled up.
Totally submissive? Hardly the case for every woman. Some women love being on top – are they being submissive? And for the ones who actively enjoy having the man on top and don’t want to reverse positions – are they being dominated or having sex the way they want? Maybe it’s just different for different women.
And how about control of when and where it actually happens? For example, with every girlfriend I’ve had – if they didn’t want to have sex – guess what? – we didn’t have sex. Who’s in control there?

Have you heard of ‘enthusiastic consent’? I’ve seen several discussions of it. There are those who would argue that unless the woman clearly and regularly states that she wants to have sex and she wants to continue then the man is effectively assaulting her. Would you support this? In some cases it seems that we may as well have a meeting beforehand, agree to a contract stipulating exactly what will and will not happen and that before every move proceeds .. she makes a statement that the agreed action is still acceptable.
No more flirting. No more seduction. No more having a few drinks and blaming alcohol. Things would have to be stated explicitly and agreed with no confusion at all about what was going to happen.

Would this control make you feel better about sex?”

AA: “I think you read a little too much into what I wrote and took it way out of context. I said women need to be submissive and vulnerable in order to have sex with a man. They do. They have to open their legs (or get on all fours, or climb on top, etc), and let a foreign object enter them. I didn’t make any mention of preferred sexual positions, locations, frequency, or levels of enthusiasm. I’m merely explaining the basic mechanics of how a male and female have sex with each other. And I do stand by my claim that women do need to be vulnerable and submissive when they have sex. It is the truth. I did not go into anything other than that.”

R: “Since your blog had so many points thrown into it of course it was left to interpretation. I gave you my interpretation and provided my own context.
I’m aware of how sex works, thanks. You have applied a subjective view of basic mechanics. When you eat – are you invaded by the foreign object? If you have an injection are you being submissive to the syringe?

I too stand by my claim. I know women who are not vulnerable or submissive in the slightest when it comes to sex.”

AA: “Understood. However from a biological perspective women are the ones who do need to be open and vulnerable. It is not a matter of invasion, but rather of being submissive in allowing the act to take place.”

R: “Found the issue – I attempted to discuss dating behaviour and judging and got instantly deleted.

Different topic then and I’ll make this my last one – “are women stronger but the male ego would have us believe we are anything but?”
Do you really think men are deliberately holding women back? There are women at the head of all kinds of professions holding senior posts and have more power and money than men working for them. How come these women have made it if men really want to keep women down?

Concerns about women in STEM – girls are doing better than boys in school, more women attend university, more women are graduating with higher scores in many courses .. but still many women are not going into subjects like science or engineering. Why is it? Why do certain subjects hold little or no interest for so many women? Is it really because they weren’t given science sets or building kits as children? There are many arguments about this and the effect of our upbringing.

Why is it that there is so much female interest in fashion/makeup/gossip in TV and magazines and little female interest in science and tech. Who do you find hidden away in their rooms obsessed with computers or playing video games, building things or taking things apart? Are girls being “prevented” from doing this? Really? I don’t think so.
Why are there tomboys who resist all of this stuff?”

AA: “I don’t know how to even respond to this comment, however I will respond to one question “Do you really think men are deliberately holding women back?”
In my article I asked questions, rather than made statements. And yes, in certain cases, it’s not that I feel as though men hold women back, but I do wonder (hence why in the piece is was presented as a question), if in some cases, men’s egos are convincing women that we are not as strong and independent as we actually are. Have a look at someone who feels threatened. What do they do? They attack. And say for arguments sake, a man feels inferior due to a combination of his own low self-esteem, and being in a relationship with a strong, independent woman. He is going to attempt to undermine her to make her doubt herself, and in turn make himself feel more confident. It’s a terrible combination, and so in these instances, yes, I do think that men would have women believe they are anything but strong and independent. It’s actually emotional abuse, and abuse (physical, emotional, etc), is prevalent in one in three relationships. And before you say men can get abused too, I’d highly recommend a book worth reading by Lundy Bancroft called “Why Does He Do That”.”

R: “Yes, there may be many situations where women are unusual and they receive a less than warm welcome as they enter professions and get promotions having to prove themselves to the men they work with.

So? Men do this to each other. Women do this. See what happens when men enter “women’s” professions – do the women immediately accept and welcome? Hardly. While there will always be bigots of either sex .. there will also be the expectation from any group that someone entering for the first time has to prove themselves.
As for abuse – it’s interesting that you seem quick to dismiss abuse of men as a lesser issue compared to what women experience.

Women can be extremely guilty of mental, emotional and physical abuse – whether of men or of children. Men are rightly criticised when they attack smaller, weaker women – even when there has been extreme provocation. But why don’t we see women’s abuse of children – far smaller, weaker and even more vulnerable since they are utterly dependent on them to survive – as something that should also be vilified in the same way? And before you say it is – look at child abuse and DV campaigns – how many have you seen that highlight this issue with the mother/wife attacking the child/husband?”

AA: “I’m not really referring in particular to women being accepted into their chosen professions or careers, and rather just talking in a generalised manner as a whole. I really feel as though I articulated what I wanted to say, and it’s a topic that can be discussed with no “right or wrong” conclusions being come to. It is an opinion piece after all.
And I do feel as though abuse of men by women is not as prevalent, however I’m not dismissing the fact that it does indeed take place, whether that be women abusing men, or children.

In my opinion though, statistically, woman are far more likely to be abused than what men are, and I do think it has a lot to do with men’s perceived inadequacies of themselves, which often leads to breaking a woman’s spirit in a sense, ensuring that there is little chance for them to become “strong and independent”.”

R: “The reason I answered no .. is based on the fact that you seem to be framing things purely in terms of women being “weaker” than men with stereotypes and cliches – as if you can consider men and women as ‘groups’ rather than just a huge bunch of individuals.
If you really still see things in these terms then how can you be “strong and independent”?
However, if instead you recognise what you do have – you’re the director of your own agency, you have a blog posting your writing on an internationally read newspaper .. then you are strong and independent – you just don’t sound it.”

AA: “Interesting observation. Inner strength and independence are not gained by having a certain social status or career achievement. If we derive our identity and self-worth from “what we do”, isn’t that a little counterproductive? It’s only what I do, not who I inherently am. It’s not a given that purely based on the fact that I have been successful in business, and that I write for an internationally recognised newspaper that I am going to FEEL strong and independent. The message I was trying to get across, from a woman’s perspective, is that very message of aspiring to be a “strong, independent woman”, is constantly forced upon us to aspire to be this woman. Yet men are not faced with the same messages. It is already assumed they are strong and independent. What I was asking is are we in actual fact, already “strong, and independent”? There are a lot of contributing factors that help and hinder your level of “strength, and independence”, and as a woman it’s something that we are constantly working towards. Everybody’s perception of what they deem as strength and independence varies I suppose. But again, I welcome your feedback, and I do thank you for reading.”

R: “I wasn’t seeing “director” as something you “do” – it’s something you have worked for and earned – no? But you raise an interesting point in how people, and maybe men in particular, do tend to judge others and themselves by what has been achieved, what job you do and how successful you have been.

But to say men are not faced with the same message? I disagree. Men are constantly told they have to “man up”, deal with things, find solutions – if they do not achieve something, make money, whatever then they can be judged as worthless.

There’s an article I saw today which covered a survey of women asked if they would date a shorter man – no prizes for guessing what the response was. How many women also draw the line in terms of the man’s job and his wealth? How many poor, or poor and short guys are rejected?.

But if this is just a matter of how you “feel” about something – why don’t you recognise your success as demonstrations of your strength and independence?”

AA: “Sure, I agree with you about men being told to man up.
In regards to women not wanting to date a shorter man? Well I guess that’s going on at a subconscious level and has got more to do with women subconsciously selecting men that will produce the strongest offspring, and aesthetically that’s from someone tall, and fit, and masculine looking. It’s just biology. Same way men are generally drawn to women with tiny waists and fairer hair – the indicators of fertility. Perhaps we’re not as evolved as we’d like to think. But do think it’s unfair that women would be so judgemental and not give someone a chance based on a lack of height or wealth. I also know some men do this with with women also – if they’re not thin enough or beautiful enough. Both sexes are equally guilty of discriminating.

To answer you as best I can in relation to perhaps not feeling “strong and independent” based on career or social achievements? I do think marks of strength and independence are different for everyone. There are lots of aspects in my life where I do possess strength and independence, however I have also been subjected to an undermining of those traits by men, and I understand the complexities behind human behaviour enough to recognise the reasons behind this undermining, and it always has to do with the man feeling threatened. I am not immune to self-doubt, particularly when the other party has a convincing case against why you are not the strong and independent woman you are. So whilst you shouldn’t base your self worth on somebody else’s opinion of you (and the reasons why they have that opinion), I do personally feel as though a lot of the reason why I perhaps don’t feel the way I potentially should, is as a direct result of taking on board the opinion of the men in my life. Which was the reason behind the article.”

MASKS

I was watching a terribly sad film on Sunday.

I don’t know why I do that to myself. Watch sad movies that is. I end up being beside myself with empathy for the characters. By the end of the film I was surrounded by snot filled and tear soaked tissues.

I’m way too sensitive and am always deeply moved by everything.

There was a priest in it. Actually the role was played by Javier Bardem. I much preferred the part he played in “Eat, Pray, Love” alongside Julia Roberts. He preaches to the congregation. All of the life lessons to live a happy life. All of the ways to find God.

Yet, the priest himself could not take his own advice. He was desperately unhappy. Lonely. In fact, he himself is searching for God.

I think that a lot of us have two sides to us.

The side that we allow the world to see, and that hidden side, carefully guarded, and tucked away safely to protect ourselves from pain. Do we all have a tough exterior and a marshmallow core?

I believe that we all wear masks. The mask of perception. The way we would like to be portrayed. The one where we appear a certain way, yet we have this other part to us, that we don’t allow anyone to see. So is it actually a mask of deception?

I don’t think so. It’s more a self-preservation mask. We all have our secret sorrows that very few people, if anyone, truly know anything about.

Here’s a few examples.

I know plenty of people that are well into their 30’s who always look brilliant. They wear the mask of an envied lifestyle. They are adorned in designer label everything, they have a full social calendar, they drive the coolest cars, their Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with exotic holiday snaps. But in actual fact, they still reside at home with their parents. They often long for a partner and a nuclear family.

To the happy family with their 2.3 children, their 4WD, and their life consisting of ferrying their children to school, birthday parties, and sporting events. They wear the mask of normalcy. They appear to be happy, yet the husband has a porn addiction, bored with the mundaneness that is now his life, and the wife spends her time distracting herself with her new found freedom in the career she has now had the chance to finally go back to after her children have become old enough.

To the couple who wear the mask of luxury. They have a beautiful home, expensive cars, brilliant careers. Yet the husband is engaged in extra-marital affairs, and the wife pretends she has no knowledge of it, in order to maintain the wealth and status they’ve so tirelessly helped create. In secret, she cries herself to sleep most nights with the knowledge that her life is a far cry from what it appears on the surface.

To the single woman, who wears the mask of independence, who happily indulges in anything she feels like, whenever she feels like, yet she spends most nights alone, pining for her knight in shining armour to come save her from herself. For the companionship she so desperately craves.

Let’s shift the focus to me.

Who do you think I am?

Yes, you all know I’m a writer. I have no children. I’m 34. I rarely brush my hair. My flippancy, aloofness, and humility being the overtone for most of the articles I write. My deep introspect helping me to create.

But I too have my secret sorrows that are kept carefully and meticulously guarded behind a confident exterior. Not that I personally label myself as confident. I’m anything but. That’s a label awarded to me by others. Yet my life is complex. Confusing. And for several reasons I am not willing to go into those complexities. Yet, I wear the mask of indifference.

That’s the self-preservation mask I’m talking about. And we all do it.

In the movie I was watching, there was a scene that stuck with me.

It was a scene where the actress in the film was in a swimming pool. The camera filming her from beneath the water. She was using her fingers to draw on the surface of the water.

“I write on water, what I dare not say.”

How profound and moving this scene was.

And this is something all of us do.

Write on water, what we dare not say.

Nobody wants to be perceived as weak. Vulnerable. Everyone is content with the mask. The illusion.

Just remember that saying of nobody knowing what goes on behind closed doors.

Nothing is what it seems on the surface.

HEARTS AND MANGOES

Writing is the art of creating something out of nothing.

Stringing together carefully constructed sentences in order to tell a story. To paint a picture.

I am often tormented by my inability to write. It’s there constantly in my mind. The torment that is. I think, and think, and think, and think.

What can I write about that is interesting?

I’m not particularly interested in current affairs or politics. I don’t watch much tv.

Religion is something I’m on the fence about. No. Scratch that. I have very strong opinions on organised religion. I’m on the fence about a God and whether he or she exists. Even that part I’m lying about. The “he or she” statement that is. If there is a God, it is a man in my opinion.

I’m also crap with writing about fashion. I love fashion. Love it. But I couldn’t write about it.

What would I say?

“I’m beside myself with giddiness over Burberrys new season trench coat. As I watched the models strutting their stuff down the catwalk, I fully appreciated the vision and craftsmanship that went into creating such a unique tailored piece”

No. Not for me. And I’ve never been to a runway show. Well, I’ve been to one. For Mara Hoffman in LA. But I’m not a fashion expert and in no way should I be dishing up advice on something I really know nothing about.

So here I sit, pondering an interesting topic to write about.

I find inspiration hits at some point and I’m able to connect to my creativity. The universe sends something my way and my brain lights up.

I get a text message come through from my mother. And so it begins.

image

I hate mangoes.

I find everyone hates one fruit.

I have a friend who hates bananas. Another who hates apples.

There’s always one fruit we don’t like, and there’s generally a reason behind it too.

So I hate mangoes.

My Dad was across the road at his friends house. I was quite young at the time. I grabbed a mango from the fruit bowl, and I walked to the end of the driveway and called out to him.

“Hey Dad! How do I eat this?”

He squinted to see what I was holding in my hand. He had no idea what it was so he took a stab in the dark and gave me an answer.

“Just like that!” he called back.

“Ok!” I answered and skipped back into the house.

And so I ate the mango. Skin and all. Which has led to a life long aversion as a result.

I also don’t eat sausages. I hate them. But that came from a hot dog I ate once in circa 1992. I was violently ill from it and have not touched one since. And I find the whole idea of them repugnant.

Also in circa 1992, I stumbled across a bag of honey roasted peanuts in a cupboard that my mum had hidden away.

Later on that evening after having eaten the entire bag, at around midnight during the onset of projectile vomiting, I went to the rubbish bin to inspect the use by date on the packaging.

“Best before June 1987”

Figures.

So, where’s the lesson I hear you ask?

I suppose check use by dates is the first one. And perhaps ask the right person the right question. Or at least show them what you’ve got. I think that’s the most important thing.

But this is where it all ties in nicely.

When you’re physically ill from eating something bad, where do you get the feeling?
In your gut.

When you get a strong reaction to another person, where do you get the feeling?

In your gut.

I think there’s only three places we truly experience things.

Our mind, our heart, and our gut.

The one tricky thing to do is to be able to connect them all.

Our logic, our emotions, and our intuition.

With the nuts for instance, if I used my logic (my mind), instead of just using my emotions (my heart) to want the nuts at any cost, then my intuition (my gut) wouldn’t have been blindsided and I would have saved myself an evening spent hovering over a toilet bowl.

Sounds simple right?

Not so much.

You know I often speak in riddles and am the contradiction queen.

Connecting to your intuition is a funny thing. Sometimes, the heart wants what it wants, and no amount of logic, or intuition is going to be able to stop you.

I think we all need to follow our hearts. It’s our life source after all. People can live without their brain functioning properly. People can live without their guts functioning properly. But your heart? Not at all.

It’s what keeps our blood flowing, what ignites and fuels our passion. What drives us.

So go after the things you want. You might end up sick. You might end up getting hurt. In fact, you might end up heartbroken.

But life is all about experiences. So go ahead, and follow your heart. Follow your deepest passion and desire.

Whichever way you look at it, your experience will be undeniably unforgettable in every sense of the word. And it will leave a lasting effect.