A LITTLE COMPASSION…

I hate it when people go on about other people being so “out of touch with reality”.

Out of touch with WHOSE reality?

I’m coming back yet again to Gwyneth Paltrow. This time for her comment about being a working mother.

“I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening. When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, “We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,” and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”

Ok. Now of course she is out of touch with OTHER people’s realities.

But you know something else? It’s an unfortunate truth, but most peoples worlds revolve around themselves.

This is HER reality. She can only speak for herself. It’s true and relevant for her as she peers over the fence into the lives of others as a comparison.

Of the bunch of articles I’ve read on her recent separation from her husband, it seems that a lot of people are REALLY angry with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Angry because she is slim, gorgeous, successful, and wealthy.

She has no right to be human and have any feelings. Right?

Money fixes everything right?

Well, I have to quote an excerpt from the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”.

“As a woman’s financial needs are fulfilled, she becomes more aware of her emotional needs. A wealthy woman needs more permission to be upset. When a woman has a lot of money, people do not give her the right to be upset. She has no permission to be like a wave and crash from time to time. She has no permission to explore her feelings or to need more in any area of her life. A woman with money is expected to be fulfilled all the time because her life could be so much worse without this financial abundance. This expectation is not only impractical but disrespectful. Regardless of wealth, status, privilege, or circumstances, a woman needs permission to be upset”.

Is Gwyneth not as human as the rest of us?

Does she not get lonely, depressed, confused, exhausted? Does she not sometimes cry herself to sleep at night, and need to be comforted? Does she not worry about her children, and winding up alone? Does she not just need a hug and for someone to tell her it’s all going to be ok?

Money can buy you a lot of things.

Fancy cars. Designer label clothes. Fabulous holidays.

And sure. It can make things a lot easier.

But what about happiness?

Of course money can’t buy you happiness.

What about love? What about health?

It can’t buy these two things either.

So whilst a lot of people may be furious with her that she has hit the genetic gene pool lottery, and has what may seemingly be “all the luck in the world”, a little compassion for her as a woman wouldn’t go astray.

Breakups are hard. In fact, they are soul destroying on so many levels.

Just because she is beautiful and rich, does not make the emotional impact of the ending of a long term relationship any easier.

And when did everyone become so mean anyway?

We all have our secret sorrows. We all have our hidden hurts. And try to remember, that nobody really knows what goes on behind closed doors.

So today, try to show some compassion and empathy towards someone. Stop bitching about people. Stop being jealous and hateful. And try to remember that we are all on our individual journeys, some outwardly appearing more materialistically comfortable than the next person. But no one knows how this person really feels.

And in terms of some people being out of touch with reality? Ask yourself what IS the reality. Not just YOUR reality. Not simply the reality that is portrayed. The illusion of the facade. Try to scratch below the surface, and then you will discover who this person really is. And maybe then we will have some compassion.

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

CLOSING CHAPTERS

I’ve read a bunch of articles this morning on the split of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.

They have announced their separation as a “conscious uncoupling”. I think it’s a nice way to put it, and I also understand their logic behind publicly announcing the split.

Because I kind of did the same thing coming up to 10 weeks ago now.

Now in no way did my own personal split warrant an announcement, particularly as I am essentially a nobody.

However, people aren’t stupid, and they see what’s going on. Better to hear the news from the horses mouth, let them gossip for a few days, than to have people making their own assumptions about what is going on, or worse yet, start rumours. And at the end of the day, it is what it is.

The day I published that article was an interesting day.

Interesting because of the outpouring of support, and private messages I received from the most unlikely of acquaintances.

Now one thing I want to write about today, is relationships, and the fact that like everything in life, nothing is permanent but change.

People change, circumstances change, and one thing we need to remember, is life is very different now to what it used to be.

We have options.

Take my Grandparents for instance.

They hated each other.

My Grandfather secretly sold their home in Gladesville and bought an old fishing cottage at Warriewood on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, without letting my Grandmother know.

She was furious, and she spent the next 20 or so years being angry with him about it. She never ever forgave him.

She would sit in their lounge room in their home perched high atop the cliff overlooking Turrumetta Beach, with the curtains drawn, spitefully hiding the sweeping ocean views.

She would complain constantly about the crashing noise of the ocean. She wasn’t a happy woman.

Once Grandpa was cutting the grass in the backyard, and as he went to throw the contents of the catcher over the cliff top, he clumsily managed to throw himself off too, being saved from certain death by becoming entangled in the scrub that grew out from the cliff face.

He layed there for the longest time. Calling out fruitlessly for help. The lawn mower still running.

After almost an hour, my Grandmother wandered down to see where he was.

She looked at him laying pathetically amongst the foliage, walked back inside, phoned the emergency services, closed the curtains, and switched on the tv.

A helicopter had to be called to winch him to safety. The local newspaper came and took photos of the ordeal, and even published an article in the paper, and poor Grandpa spent a week removing ticks from his body on account of laying in the bush for an extended length of time.

And it got me thinking today.

About options.

My Grandmother never worked. She didn’t drive. My Grandfather in his younger days would spend each night at the pub, whilst she raised 3 children at home.

She was without options. She was reliant on him. Dependant. And she resented him as a result.

This shit would never fly in today’s society.

Because we have options.

We no longer have to stay with someone that we have grown apart from, out of convenience, co-dependency, or because our options are limited. We don’t even have to stay for “the children’s sake” anymore. Mind you, I personally believe a lot of people still do this – but where does this leave them as a romantic couple when the children leave the nest?

What about love?

Not comfort. Not familiarity. Not just a friendship, or a mutual respect of one another. Not what we have become accustomed to. More than that.

Pure love. Lust. Connectedness. Being in awe of each other. Infatuation. Attraction. Butterflies.

Another thing is, we live longer than we used to.

Is it really possible to stay with the one person forever?

I have to give myself a big hug, and commend myself for staying in a relationship for 20 years. It’s a lifetime. But it is a chapter that is now closed. And what I did took courage. Leaving the familiarity of a comfort zone, is something a lot of people don’t do. Yet I was brave enough to do it.

I’m grateful too, that I’m 34, and not 54, and have time on my side in terms of starting over.

With divorce rates now at an all time high, does this mean that we are no longer willing to, in the words of Carrie Bradshaw, settle for anything less than butterflies?

So is “conscious uncoupling” a good thing? Yes. Yes it is. Because you are consciously aware that by committing to separate, you are each doing the other one a kindness. And it shows the importance of closing certain chapters.

So today I leave you with a quote from the fabulous Paulo Coelho.

“That is why it is so important to let certain things go. To release them. To cut loose. People need to understand that no one is playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Don’t expect to get anything back, don’t expect recognition for your efforts, don’t expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood. Complete the circle. Not out of pride, inability or arrogance, but simply because whatever it is no longer fits in your life. Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were and become who you are.”

#NoMakeupSelfie for #CancerAwareness

For all of you that were brave enough to go bare-faced and participate in the #nomakeupselfie for #cancerawareness – did you donate as well? (And just a side note, my eyes are way too big for my head).

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Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer in women, so we should get behind this cause and donate to help find a cure. All of us are affected by cancer throughout our lifetime. Whether it be personally, or that of a loved one.

And for those of you not daring enough to go makeup free? Jump online and donate anyway to show your support. Even $5 can make a difference.

And I dare you to share your receipts instead of selfies to show your support!

Here’s mine:

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(You can donate here by clicking on the following link:

https://secure2.webtemplate.com.au/bridgehead/AustralianBreastCancerResearch/promised-donation )

Amy xxx.

GOING INTO YOUR SHELL

Finally. I write…

I said I have been writing but not publishing. This is partly true.

I have been writing. Yet, it is all of the negative variety. Very uninspiring stuff. Stuff that I cannot even finish. In terms of a complete article. There is no solution to the things in which I write. There is no epiphany or lesson in any of it. Only word vomit.

I have been venting my anger and sadness through the written word.

I email my friend, and send her my unpublished articles.

“No. You cannot publish that.” She tells me.

I become frustrated.

“You are trapped in a loop.” She goes on.

I have not been able to seek out inspiration anywhere. Because I refuse to leave my comfort zone. I have done what I’m really good at, and withdrawn into my shell. Become somewhat reclusive.

People can rarely even get me on the phone these days. I’m a little like the phantom. But it’s the way I find I’m best able to cope right now.

Ordinarily, I can connect with myself so easily, that a simple trip to the supermarket will stir my creativity enough to find some meaning in life.

Yet my friend is right. I’m trapped in a loop. A loop of what is my memories.

Solitude will do that to you.

You will sit down with your thoughts and draw upon your experiences. And you will do your own head in.

What are memories anyway?

There’s this definition here:

“The mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience.”

Retaining and recalling past experience.

We draw upon all we know.

So if I’m stuck in a loop of retaining and recalling past experience, doesn’t that mean that in order to “move forward”, I must create new experiences?

Where do you think the saying “but it’s all I know” comes from?

From your experience and memories quite literally being all that you know.

One thing that has been difficult through the breakdown and separation of my marriage is people telling me that I have it good because I don’t have any children, and financially, I’m ok.

It doesn’t lesson the pain, and it makes things confusing in terms of what comes next.

There’s too many choices. I find myself confused at the possibilities.

I’ll be 35 in 2 months. I’m not 25. I’m 5 years off 40. Starting again is daunting. It scares the living shit out of me.

I feel like I’m in limbo. I belong neither here nor there.

But I have to be realistic about what is my life now.

My life certainly didn’t pan out the way that I expected.

I’m not saying I’ve not had an amazing ride. But it hasn’t gone the way I thought it would.

Obviously no one gets married with the intention of separating or getting a divorce. Life just happens.

Most people have a little plan in their minds as to how they see their future going.

If you were to look back 2 years. 5 years. 10 years. 15 years. What were your plans back then? Has your life turned out the way you had planned for it to go? And most importantly – are you happy?

Asking yourself if you are truly happy, is a very confronting question.

Some people go their whole lives never questioning whether or not they are truly happy.

Because like Paulo Coelho says, “No one should ever ask themselves that: why am I unhappy? The question carries within it the virus that will destroy everything. If we ask that question, it means we want to find out what makes us happy. If what makes us happy is different from what we have now, then we must either change once and for all or stay as we are, feeling even more unhappy.”

15 years ago, I got engaged. 10 years ago I was trying to have a baby. 5 years ago my ex husband and I were a force to be reckoned with in the business sense, and 2 years ago, the cracks had begun to appear.

If my life went according to plan, I would have 2 or 3 children by now, and have the fairytale.

Yet, life throws us curve balls.

On a long enough timeline, you experience so many different things.

I never anticipated this for my life. But here I am.

So it’s time for me to start creating new memories. As scary as that is.

I also have to understand that my new memories will only come once I start living, and stop wallowing.

Sometimes the memories that we create are what our parents have taught us to create.

We’ve not been exposed to anything other than the familiarity of our childhood.

It’s all we know.

So if you are faced with the possibility and the task, of the world becoming your oyster, like I find myself right now, what would you do?

Oysters produce pearls. Do you know how they produce those pearls? Through irritation.

Here’s another dictionary definition for you:

“The creation of a natural pearl starts when a foreign substance falls into the oyster between the mantle and the shell, hence irritating the oyster. The oyster’s natural response is to conceal that irritant to protect itself. The mantle then covers the irritant with layers of similar nacre material that is used to form the shell. This ultimately forms a pearl.”

So perhaps it’s not the world that is your oyster after all. It is YOU that is that proverbial oyster.

Maybe by withdrawing into my shell like I’ve done for what now seems like an eternity, I am in the process of creating.

It’s time to embrace that irritant that I have concealed to protect myself. And ultimately start creating that pearl.

BROOKE & HUEY

So I’m finally publishing something. Just a quick article.

I’m so excited for my cousin Brooke’s wedding today to Huey.

As I look back on a few photos from my life with cousin Brooke, I remember the importance of family, and how that invisible thread of biological connectedness can never be severed.

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Tea parties as children, family Christmas’s, and now a wedding.

I wish my Grandparents were still here to witness all they have created, particularly at the coming together of such a beautiful couple (and my gorgeous little second cousin that these two made). But I know they will be there in spirit watching over all of us.

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So today, I congratulate cousin Brooke and Huey on their wedding.

I can’t wait to watch you walk down the aisle (and have a dance with my father) xxx.

“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.” 
― Bob Marley

EMOTIONAL INDEPENDENCE – by Paulo Coelho

(No writing for me this week. I am still writing, yet I am not publishing anything indefinitely for several reasons. However, I stumbled upon this article today by Paulo Coelho and thought I’d share. Enjoy.)

“At the beginning of our life and again when we get old, we need the help and affection of others. Unfortunately, between these two periods of our life, when we are strong and able to look after ourselves, we don’t appreciate the value of affection and compassion. As our own life begins and ends with the need for affection, wouldn’t it be better if we gave compassion and love to others while we are strong and capable?”

The above words were said by the present Dalai Lama. Really, it is very curious to see that we are proud of our emotional independence. Evidently, it is not quite like that: we continue needing others our entire life, but it is a “shame” to show that, so we prefer to cry in hiding.

And when someone asks us for help, that person is considered weak and incapable of controlling his feelings.

There is an unwritten rule saying that “the world is for the strong”, that “only the fittest survive.”

If it were like that, human beings would never have existed, because they are part of a species that needs to be protected for a long period of time (specialists say that we are only capable of surviving on our own after nine years of age, whereas a giraffe takes only six to eight months, and a bee is already independent in less than five minutes).

We are in this world, I, for my part, continue – and will always continue – depending on others. I depend on my wife, my friends and my publishers. I depend even on my enemies, who help me to be always trained in the use of the sword. Clearly, there are moments when this fire blows in another direction, but I always ask myself: where are the others?

Have I isolated myself too much?

Like any healthy person, I also need solitude and moments of reflection. But I cannot get addicted to that.

Emotional independence leads to absolutely nowhere – except to a would-be fortress, whose only and useless objective is to impress others.

Emotional dependence, in its turn, is like a bonfire that we light. In the beginning, relationships are difficult. In the same way that fire is necessary to put up with the disagreeable smoke – which makes breathing hard, and causes tears to pour down one’s face.

However, once the fire is alight, the smoke disappears and the flames light up everything around us – spreading warmth, calm, and possibly making an ember pop out to burn us, but that is what makes a relationship interesting, isn’t that true?

I began this column quoting a Nobel Peace Prize winner about the importance of human relationships. I am ending with Professor Albert Schweitzer, physician and missionary, who received the same Nobel prize in 1952.

“All of us know a disease in Central Africa called sleeping sickness. What we need to know is that there is a similar disease that attacks the soul – and which is very dangerous, because it catches us without being noticed. When you notice the slightest sign of indifference and lack of enthusiasm for your similar, be on the alert!”

“The only way to take precautions against this disease is to understand that the soul suffers, and suffers a lot, when we make it live superficially. The soul likes things that are beautiful and profound”.

SURRENDER TO WHAT IS

Do you know where confusion comes from?

From the battle between the head and heart.

Your logic, and your intuition.

I’m all about following your gut instincts.

When something doesn’t feel right, you feel it in your gut. In the pit of your stomach.

Sometimes the feeling can be so overwhelming that it physically makes you sick. It prompts you to take action. You follow it blindly having faith that it is leading you in the right direction.

This is sometimes where logic kicks in.

It will attempt to convince you that you are overreacting. You’re just being paranoid. You ate something funny and that’s why you feel weird. You are just tired or emotional.

So what happens when your head overrules your heart, and you ignore that instinctive intuitive nudge?

Well, this is where the universe steps in to intervene.

I’ve written about this whole process in my previous article “Open Your Eyes”.

I pride myself on following my intuition. I quiet myself and try to listen to what it’s trying to tell me.

I have feelings about things. I allow that feeling to overwhelm me and follow what it’s trying to tell me.

Except when I don’t.

But when I don’t, I do personally get more and more signs to follow.

It may be a feeling that something just doesn’t feel right. It may be a conversation that doesn’t make sense. It may be that the dots are somehow just not connecting.

And it is then that I am compelled to follow my heart to alleviate the feeling.

So back to the universe.

When you don’t follow your gut, the universe will push you even further towards what you need to evolve to that next level. And sometimes it can come as quite a shock.

Might be a phone call from someone imploring you to trust your gut. Might be a dream that acts as a premonition. Might be a photograph you happen upon that tells a thousand words. Or it might just be that you really knew all along.

So whilst today is a short article, I ask you to start listening to your gut. Even if right now you can’t seem to connect the dots.

What is it trying to tell you? What is your logic trying to conceal from you? What signs is the universe sending you? What do you already know on a deeper level?

Only then will you be able to truly connect and see things for what they really are, and have all of the information needed in order to take the next step.

Perhaps you really do have to die before you die. Die in the metaphorical sense that is.

To rid yourself of all of the negativity of your past. To turn the page and start fresh. Begin again.

After all, you cannot continue to read over the same page again, and again. The story will never change. You will never discover anything new. And you will never evolve to what is meant to be.

Listen to your gut, follow it blindly, and surrender to what is.