Yesterday, I got a surprise phone call from an old friend of mine, whose infectious laughter has never failed to bring a smile to my face.
She’s one of those people with “the best laugh”.
I love to laugh, and I have a great sense of humour, and I often do my best to see the funny side of life.
I think it runs in our family. Seeing the humour in things.
“Sweetheart, if it isn’t funny, I’m not interested.” – my Aunty once told me.
It’s always best to see the good in everything, even when we think we can’t.
Anyway, as usual, I’ve gone off on a tangent.
So I get this phone call from my friend.
“I have something for you, if you’re interested”, my friend told me. “I have a spare ticket to see Arianna Huffington speak tomorrow morning, and seeing as though you write for the Huffington Post, I thought you’d like to come along”.
Ummm…..are you fucking kidding me?!
So I met with my friend early this morning.
I haven’t seen her in over 10 years.
She is still as gorgeous as ever, and that infectious laughter was still firmly intact.
It was as if no time had passed at all, and we chatted comfortably, and incessantly the entire time. Laughing and joking, whilst I somewhat terrorised the wait staff (I do that sometimes – I like to see what makes people tick).
It was a breakfast for business women.
I am very much a recluse, and I’d actually never been to anything like this before.
But let me go back a little.
I decided to take a bus this morning, as I’m not a great driver, and I actually really like public transport.
There’s something nice about taking the bus. And being a bit of a people watcher, I find it fascinating to attempt to mentally unravel all of the different faces I see.
I had to be there by 6.45am, so I took the 5.31am bus to ensure I had enough time to walk to the venue from where the bus dropped me.
It was raining this morning, and I was mildly annoyed that I had gone to the trouble of straightening my hair, purely on account of the fact, that this was one occasion where I most certainly couldn’t wear a hat.
Upon arriving a little dazed at the bus stop from a lack of sleep, I saw the bus at the end of the bus stop.
I turned to a young man who was waiting for his bus.
“See that bus? That’s the city bus, right? Is the bus going to come to me, or do I walk up there to get on it?” I asked him.
“No, no. It will come to us.” He responded politely.
Now as I mentioned, I don’t get out all that much.
I have owned my own businesses with my former husband for the past 13 years.
Six of those years were spent in a restaurant, and the next 7 were spent working in pyjamas from a home office.
Which was excellent.
However, social interaction wise, I kind of missed out.
My only interaction during the past 7 years, was with clients and affiliates over the phone, so I’m a little naive when it comes to the way the world now operates – even if I am incredibly switched on.
So back to this dude at the bus stop.
I love to talk. I love it. And I love picking people apart and finding out what moves them. Why they behave the way they do. Where they are from. What their backgrounds are.
I guess the writer in me really is that perpetually curious child.
I chatted with him the entire way.
I extracted an enormous amount of information from him. Because I have an uncanny knack for getting people to drop their guards.
Ironic, seeing as though I am impossibly guarded.
I soon established that he was the younger brother of one of the friends of my younger sister.
There really is only that six degrees of separation, and we are more intrinsically connected than we think. Everything in life is this way I’m discovering.
As I’m not afraid to admit my flaws, I was also not embarrassed to ask for directions as to where I needed to get to. Which is quite embarrassing being as worldly as I am, and being a resident of Sydney for my entire 35 years.
He graciously offered to walk me to my destination once we had arrived into the city, even though he was going in the opposite direction, was heading to the gym, prior to meeting with his boss for an 8am breakfast meeting.
I accepted his kind offer, and he walked with me, in the rain.
He didn’t have an umbrella, (I did – see http://chasingamy.com.au/2013/12/shit-to-keep-in-your-handbag/), and he chivalrously explained that he loves to walk in the rain so I needn’t be concerned (as I clumsily attempted to share my umbrella with this gentleman who was towering over me, even in my 6 inch heels).
He walked me to where I needed to go, before bidding me farewell, and me thanking him profusely for his random act of kindness. There are so many people out there with such generously big hearts.
So to you, kind soul, I thank you.
Now, back to the event.
Arianna Huffington is beautiful. She has the body of a 30 year old, and she is groomed impeccably. She is the epitome of class.
But it wasn’t that, that made her beautiful.
She was so open and honest. She had “no air or graces” about her, which I adore. She spoke candidly, and confrontingly.
And she touched upon many issues that we are faced with in this modern world.
Arianna spoke about mental illness.
That it’s becoming a major threat. And the fact that one in five Australians are now suffering from it.
That there is a need for wisdom. That wisdom is different to being smart.
And it totally is.
To ensure we don’t lose our sense of wonder.
I personally believe it’s so important to never lose our childlike innocence.
That we’re so busy, perpetually multi-tasking, and that it’s all an illusion. That by multi-tasking, we are missing out on other things.
So many things in life are an illusion, and I’ll touch on that when I wrap up this long article.
That people learn things, by learning, and sharing other people’s stories.
I can say for myself, that through sharing my own personal stories, that are sometimes fraught with such emotional turmoil, that I have learnt a lot about myself. And that the constant support I receive from my dedicated readers, that I, in turn, are also helping them to understand aspects of their own life.
That giving is a short path to happiness. That there is no better networking skill than being a giver.
At one point, she sent away the waiters that were clearing the tables as they were making too much noise.
I loved this.
That she was so present within herself that she wanted all of us to be within the moment.
I had a reader message me the other day to tell me that he had met with Arianna Huffington, and that she was “rather awesome, and rather scary”.
I think she is fabulous.
Because she IS awesome. Because she is present. Something that so many of us aren’t.
And to a lot of people, rather than being “rather scary”, it’s rather confronting.
And I think it takes a lot to be honest enough to confront someone.
She spoke about the dangers of little sleep (something that resonated with me), to the issue of being addicted to technology. Which we all are in this modern age.
Hell, it’s the very reason that I’m able to connect with my readers. In fact, it’s the only way.
However, I’m not being “present”, in terms of living my life.
And I’ve personally found that when I “disconnect”, that I’m truly able to live in the moment, and appreciate all that this life has to offer.
It is only then, that I’m able to draw upon my own life experiences which happen to help me actually “thrive” (pun intended), and live my life to the fullest. To be present.
To drop resentments.
Anything that no longer serves us, to let it go.
That is a big thing in this relatively short life we lead.
To let go of which no longer serves us.
It can be anything from a hobby that we suck at, to a piece of clothing we have held onto for longer than necessary, to a relationship that has passed.
It takes an enormous amount of energy to hold on, when it’s so much simpler to let go. My summer water-skiing experiences have shown me that.
That by letting go, we make room for something else to take it’s place.
Arianna likened this to an old piece of clothing that we no longer wear, but we hold onto because we are attached.
Make room for new things in your life.
To appreciate what’s still going right for us in our lives.
That there is always a struggle for grace.
That no matter how blessed your life looks from the outside, there is always adversity.
And I come back to the law of polarities with that statement.
You can’t have one, without the other.
But it’s important to appreciate what you do have in your life, and not dwell on the negative. A powerful trap that we all get sucked into from time to time.
That in planes, in the case of an emergency, we are told to affix our own oxygen masks before assisting anyone else.
This comes down to that elusive self love that we are all in search of.
We are no good to anyone else, if we don’t love ourselves above and beyond anyone else.
Only when we are whole, and complete within ourselves are we able to care for others effectively.
That is a personal struggle I am attempting to deal with.
That life is shared from the inward, out.
This, I believe, is fundamental to enriching the lives of others.
About asking ourselves what we can do right now, rather than thinking of ways we want to be remembered.
Again, this comes back to being present.
How are we better able to enrich other people’s lives by what we have to offer in this present moment?
Now I come back to reason.
A journalist asked a question of Arianna as to why their bloggers are not paid.
As a blogger for the Huffington Post, I found her answer insightful.
The Huffington Post have 97 million unique visitors to their site.
Her words, and I quote, “self expression is the new entertainment”.
Being a blogger for almost 2 years now, I absolutely agree.
And if it weren’t for the freedom of self expression with the Huffington Post, I’m not sure I’d have as large a following as I do.
And most certainly on that one occasion, Paulo Coelho would not have stumbled upon one of my articles.
So to wrap it up.
That same reader that said that Arianna was “rather scary”, also asked if I ever take a bad picture.
Of course I do.
Because like most things in life, everything is just an illusion.
I went and purchased a copy of Arianna’s book “Thrive”.
I love signed copies of things, and today was no exception when it came to getting a book signed.
I lined up patiently with all of the other women, and finally got the opportunity to speak with the inspirational Arianna Huffington (where my nerves overwhelmed me, and I was shaking like a leaf).
She proceeded to sign my book. I thanked her, and told her that I write for her site. She in turn, gracefully thanked me.
I handed my phone to the homeboy who was taking snaps, and got him to take a picture of the pair of us.
And here it is. #NoFilter (look how unimpressed that woman behind me looks lol).
To that reader that asked me if I ever take a bad picture? Here it is my friend. Because homeboy #NailedIt.
And please, never ever forget, that everything is just an illusion.
Just continue to be authentically you, be present (even if you happen to look like shit), and continue to thrive.