“I’M ENOUGH”

Todays blog, is a copy of the transcript from a Ted Talk on “The Power Of Vulnerability”, from the author, Brene Brown.

Her bio is as follows:

About

“Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of the most watched talks on TED.com, with over 15 million views. She gave the closing talk, Listening to Shame, at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach.

Brené is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012). She is also the author of the #1 New York TimesBestseller The Gifts of Imperfection (2010), and I Thought It Was Just Me (2007).

Brené is also the founder and CEO of The Daring Way – a teaching and certification program for helping professionals who want to facilitate her work on vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness.

Brené lives in Houston with her husband, Steve, and their two children.”

And here is the transcript from that Ted Talk…

“So, I’ll start with this: a couple years ago, an event planner called me because I was going to do a speaking event. And she called, and she said, “I’m really struggling with how to write about you on the little flyer.”

And I thought, “Well, what’s the struggle?”

And she said, “Well, I saw you speak, and I’m going to call you a researcher, I think, but I’m afraid if I call you a researcher, no one will come, because they’ll think you’re boring and irrelevant.”

And I was like, “Okay.”

And she said, “But the thing I liked about your talk is you’re a storyteller. So I think what I’ll do is just call you a storyteller.”

And of course, the academic, insecure part of me was like, “You’re going to call me a what?”

And she said, “I’m going to call you a storyteller.”

And I was like, “Why not magic pixie?”

I was like, “Let me think about this for a second.”

I tried to call deep on my courage. And I thought, you know, I am a storyteller. I’m a qualitative researcher.

I collect stories; that’s what I do.

And maybe stories are just data with a soul.

And maybe I’m just a storyteller.

And so I said, “You know what? Why don’t you just say I’m a researcher-storyteller.”

And she went, “Ha ha. There’s no such thing.”

So I’m a researcher-storyteller, and I’m going to talk to you today — we’re talking about expanding perception — and so I want to talk to you and tell some stories about a piece of my research that fundamentally expanded my perception and really actually changed the way that I live and love and work and parent.

And this is where my story starts.

When I was a young researcher, doctoral student, my first year I had a research professor who said to us, “Here’s the thing, if you cannot measure it, it does not exist.”

And I thought he was just sweet-talking me.

I was like, “Really?” and he was like, “Absolutely.”

And so you have to understand that I have a bachelor’s in social work, a master’s in social work, and I was getting my Ph.D. in social work, so my entire academic career was surrounded by people who kind of believed in the “life’s messy, love it.”

And I’m more of the, “life’s messy, clean it up, organise it and put it into a bento box.”

And so to think that I had found my way, to found a career that takes me — really, one of the big sayings in social work is, “Lean into the discomfort of the work.”

And I’m like, knock discomfort upside the head and move it over and get all A’s. That was my mantra.

So I was very excited about this.

And so I thought, you know what, this is the career for me, because I am interested in some messy topics. But I want to be able to make them not messy. I want to understand them. I want to hack into these things I know are important and lay the code out for everyone to see.

So where I started was with connection. Because, by the time you’re a social worker for 10 years, what you realise is that connection is why we’re here.

It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

This is what it’s all about.

It doesn’t matter whether you talk to people who work in social justice, mental health and abuse and neglect, what we know is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is — neurobiologically that’s how we’re wired — it’s why we’re here.

So I thought, you know what, I’m going to start with connection.

Well, you know that situation where you get an evaluation from your boss, and she tells you 37 things you do really awesome, and one “opportunity for growth?”

And all you can think about is that opportunity for growth, right?

Well, apparently this is the way my work went as well, because, when you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak. When you ask people about belonging, they’ll tell you their most excruciating experiences of being excluded. And when you ask people about connection, the stories they told me were about disconnection.

So very quickly — really about six weeks into this research — I ran into this unnamed thing that absolutely unraveled connection in a way that I didn’t understand or had never seen. And so I pulled back out of the research and thought, I need to figure out what this is.

And it turned out to be shame. And shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection: Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?

The things I can tell you about it: it’s universal; we all have it. The only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection.

No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it the more you have it. What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough,” — which we all know that feeling: “I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.”

The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability, this idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.

And you know how I feel about vulnerability. I hate vulnerability. And so I thought, this is my chance to beat it back with my measuring stick. I’m going in, I’m going to figure this stuff out, I’m going to spend a year, I’m going to totally deconstruct shame, I’m going to understand how vulnerability works, and I’m going to outsmart it.

So I was ready, and I was really excited.

As you know, it’s not going to turn out well.

You know this.

So, I could tell you a lot about shame, but I’d have to borrow everyone else’s time. But here’s what I can tell you that it boils down to — and this may be one of the most important things that I’ve ever learned in the decade of doing this research.

My one year turned into six years: thousands of stories, hundreds of long interviews, focus groups.

At one point, people were sending me journal pages and sending me their stories — thousands of pieces of data in six years.

And I kind of got a handle on it.

I kind of understood, this is what shame is, this is how it works. I wrote a book, I published a theory, but something was not okay — and what it was is that, if I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness — that’s what this comes down to, a sense of worthiness — they have a strong sense of love and belonging — and folks who struggle for it, and folks who are always wondering if they’re good enough.

There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it.

And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.

That’s it.

They believe they’re worthy.

And to me, the hard part of the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection, was something that, personally and professionally, I felt like I needed to understand better. So what I did is I took all of the interviews where I saw worthiness, where I saw people living that way, and just looked at those.

What do these people have in common?

I have a slight office supply addiction, but that’s another talk.

So I had a manila folder, and I had a Sharpie, and I was like, what am I going to call this research?

And the first words that came to my mind were whole-hearted.

These are whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness. So I wrote at the top of the manila folder, and I started looking at the data.

In fact, I did it first in a four-day very intensive data analysis, where I went back, pulled the interviews, the stories, pulled the incidents.

What’s the theme?

What’s the pattern?

My husband left town with the kids because I always go into this Jackson Pollock crazy thing, where I’m just writing and in my researcher mode.

And so here’s what I found.

What they had in common was a sense of courage.

And I want to separate courage and bravery for you for a minute.

Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect.

They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.

And the last was they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.

The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability.

They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful.

They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating — as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing.

They just talked about it being necessary.

They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram.

They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.

They thought this was fundamental.

I personally thought it was betrayal.

I could not believe I had pledged allegiance to research, where our job — you know, the definition of research is to control and predict, to study phenomena, for the explicit reason to control and predict.

And now my mission to control and predict had turned up the answer that the way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting. This led to a little breakdown — which actually looked more like this.

And it did.

I call it a breakdown; my therapist calls it a spiritual awakening.

A spiritual awakening sounds better than breakdown, but I assure you it was a breakdown.

And I had to put my data away and go find a therapist.

Let me tell you something: you know who you are when you call your friends and say, “I think I need to see somebody. Do you have any recommendations?”

Because about five of my friends were like, “Wooo, I wouldn’t want to be your therapist.”

I was like, “What does that mean?”

And they’re like, “I’m just saying, you know. Don’t bring your measuring stick.

I was like, “Okay.” So I found a therapist.

My first meeting with her, Diana — I brought in my list of the way the whole-hearted live, and I sat down.

And she said, “How are you?”

And I said, “I’m great. I’m okay.”

She said, “What’s going on?”

And this is a therapist who sees therapists, because we have to go to those, because their B.S. meters are good.

And so I said, “Here’s the thing, I’m struggling.”

And she said, “What’s the struggle?”

And I said, “Well, I have a vulnerability issue. And I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love. And I think I have a problem, and I need some help.”

And I said, “But here’s the thing: no family stuff, no childhood shit. I just need some strategies.”

So she goes like this.

And then I said, “It’s bad, right?”

And she said, “It’s neither good nor bad. It just is what it is.”

And I said, “Oh my God, this is going to suck.”

And it did, and it didn’t.

And it took about a year.

And you know how there are people that, when they realise that vulnerability and tenderness are important, that they surrender and walk into it.

A: that’s not me, and B: I don’t even hang out with people like that.

For me, it was a yearlong street fight.

It was a slugfest.

Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but probably won my life back.

And so then I went back into the research and spent the next couple of years really trying to understand what they, the whole-hearted, what choices they were making, and what are we doing with vulnerability.

Why do we struggle with it so much?

Am I alone in struggling with vulnerability?

No.

So this is what I learned.

We numb vulnerability — when we’re waiting for the call.

It was funny, I sent something out on Twitter and on Facebook that says, “How would you define vulnerability? What makes you feel vulnerable?”

And within an hour and a half, I had 150 responses.

Because I wanted to know what’s out there.

Having to ask my husband for help because I’m sick, and we’re newly married; initiating sex with my husband; initiating sex with my wife; being turned down; asking someone out; waiting for the doctor to call back; getting laid off; laying off people.

This is the world we live in.

We live in a vulnerable world.

And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability.

And I think there’s evidence — and it’s not the only reason this evidence exists, but I think it’s a huge cause.

We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history. The problem is — and I learned this from the research — that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. I don’t want to feel these.

I hack into your lives for a living. God.

You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions.

You cannot selectively numb.

So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin.

And it becomes this dangerous cycle.

One of the things that I think we need to think about is why and how we numb.

And it doesn’t just have to be addiction.

The other thing we do is we make everything that’s uncertain certain.

Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty.

I’m right, you’re wrong.

Shut up.

That’s it.

Just certain.

The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are. This is what politics looks like today. There’s no discourse anymore. There’s no conversation. There’s just blame.

You know how blame is described in the research?

A way to discharge pain and discomfort.

We’re perfect.

If there’s anyone who wants their life to look like this, it would be me, but it doesn’t work.

Because what we do is we take fat from our butts and put it in our cheeks. Which just, I hope in 100 years, people will look back and go, “Wow.”

And we perfect, most dangerously, our children.

Let me tell you what we think about children.

They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here.

And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, “Look at her, she’s perfect.

My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh.”

That’s not our job.

Our job is to look and say, “You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”

That’s our job.

Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems I think that we see today.

We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people. We do that in our personal lives. We do that corporate — whether it’s a bailout, an oil spill, a recall — we pretend like what we’re doing doesn’t have a huge impact on other people.

I would say to companies, this is not our first rodeo, people. We just need you to be authentic and real and say, “We’re sorry. We’ll fix it.”

But there’s another way, and I’ll leave you with this.

This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.”

And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough.

Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

That’s all I have. Thank you.”

(The link to her talk is below:)

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“YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL. JUST NOT ALL AT ONCE.”

That’s a quote from the inspiring Oprah Winfrey.

I’ve never really understood what it meant, until I got to my mid 30’s.

In life, we all try to not only create, but to maintain a sense of balance.

That’s what life is all about right?

Balance.

With balance, comes harmony.

Peace.

The dictionary definition of harmony, is as follows:

“The quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole.”

And the dictionary definition of peace?

“Freedom from disturbance; tranquility.”

So, how do we go about creating this “pleasing and consistent whole”?

This “freedom from disturbance; tranquility”?

Well…it really is quite simple.

It’s about deciding what is important to you.

What it is that you truly want.

And it’s compromising, and negotiating from there.

In my short lifetime, I have come to discover, that what Oprah said was true.

You CAN have it all.

Just not all at once.

And it applies to everything in life.

I recently read an article on “egg freezing” in the local Australian Sunday newspaper.

About women, predominantly in their mid 30’s – and sometimes early 40’s, attempting to freeze their eggs, on account of having chosen their own individual paths due to a myriad of reasons.

Not having met the right person.

Having spent the bulk of their adult lives climbing the corporate ladder.

Thinking that they had more time on their hands, in terms of producing a “biological child”.

I even read the thoughts on a lot of women, that they feel as though that the government should subsidise them for their “choices”.

Life is all about choices.

And it’s ultimately all about balance.

It’s about deciding what it is that you want from this life.

You CAN have it all.

But not all at once.

“Life”, happens to all of us.

And you cannot hold anyone else accountable for your “choices”.

Or for your mistakes.

No one is responsible for us, expect us.

It’s childish, and selfish to think of it in any other way when it is something that you have actively participated in selecting for yourself.

With everything in life, you need to decide what it is that you want to work towards, and to keep your eye firmly planted on your target.

Your prize.

It is not up to anyone else to be held responsible for your choices.

Nor should anyone else be paying for those choices, or life circumstances in which you have created for yourself.

#ShitHappens – as the saying goes.

It is not your “right” to take your “pound of flesh”.

Life is about adapting to whatever is thrown at us.

And dealing with it accordingly.

So it’s with this realisation that you have a choice.

What is it that you want?

Seriously.

And hey, I’m sorry to burst your bubble.

But shit does happen.

Welcome to adulthood…

But what is it that you want?

Do you want to climb the corporate ladder?

Do it.

Do you want to be the party girl / boy, rubbing shoulders with the “who’s who” of whatever it is that tickles your fancy, or whatever you’re consumed / involved with?

Do it.

Do you want to be a “mad artist”?

Do it.

Do you want to work like crazy to make yourself more comfortable financially?

Do it.

Do you want to get out of a relationship?

Do it.

Do you want to eat McDonald’s everyday?

Do it.

Do you want to be a #fitspo model on Instagram?

Do it.

Do you want to travel the world like a gypsy, forgoing a consistent income?

Do it.

But know, that everything has it’s price.

And it’s all on you.

That it all comes back to creating the better good for yourself, so that you can be the best possible version of yourself that you can be.

Which benefits all of us.

But most of all, if benefits YOU.

It’s the new modern holy trinity.

BALANCE.

TRANQUILITY.

PEACE.

If what you truly want in life is balance, tranquility, and peace – set about making that happen for you.

Stop pointing the finger. Stop bitching about it. Stop blaming everyone else, and allow yourself to make the choice once and for all.

Listen to your heart.

Listen to your intuition.

And go about creating that balance.

That tranquility.

That peace.

Decide how bad you really want it.

So today, from someone who first-handedly thought that they “had it all” – know this:

You CAN have it all.

Just not all at once 😉 …

YOU HAVE #NAILEDIT

Yesterday afternoon, I was tagged in a video from one of my your sister-in-laws.

It was a snippet of the video from your wedding day.

As I watched this video, I teared up.

Because that’s how I am.

I cry all the time.

I am unapologetically, all woman.

As much as that may madden you.

As much as our mother would tell me that I need to “take a spoonful of cement, and harden up”.

I will never apologise for being both a combination of soft, and strong (with the help of your wise, firm, and tireless guiding hand…)

I can feel the energy, and emotion of everything swirling about me.

Like a sponge, I absorb everything.

Like I do.

It’s my “thing”.

It’s my gift.

And my curse…

Alongside everything else in this bizarre, and clumsy life we are all living.

We are all “winging it”.

But in the short snippet of this video, I know, within “my waters”, that you have #NailedIt.

I saw the look of pure love, adoration, and mutual respect in your husbands eyes.

And in yours.

I felt the happiness.

And peace.

In both of you.

At committing to a lifetime of loving, and respecting one another.

Because that’s what it’s all about.

Love, and respect.

The song that played in the background of your video was called “Wedding Song”, by Angus and Julia Stone”.

And the lyrics of that song touched me deeply.

With everything within my heart, I wish these sentiments for the pair of you two lovebirds.

“And I’ll wind up every day
Thinking about the way you make me feel
When your lips touch my lips
And I’d crawl inside a cave
Or live somewhere strange
As long as I’m with you
I have got what I need”

It’s that last sentence that gets me.

“As long as I’m with you, I have got what I need.”

Because that’s all that really matters.

That as long as you’re with the one that has your heart, you have all that you need.

Nothing else matters.

It all pales into insignificance.

I recall another sister (a non-blood related sister – I have 2 non-blood related sisters) telling me once, that the only way to tell that you are truly in love, is to be stranded on an island, with your “significant other”.

So to my little sister, who is so much more the “older” sister, and in so many more ways than I can possibly imagine, I send you, and my new brother, ALL of the love.

And then some.

You have found your “significant other”.

You have #NailedIt.

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BE TRUE TO YOU

I am on the fence about so many things in life.

I believe in everything, and nothing.

It’s the Gemini in me.

I usually see both sides of the coin.

I remember, more than a year ago now, I published an article about ways that women can feel more confident about themselves if they are feeling like shit.

It pretty much touched upon the aesthetic, and perhaps superficial side of being a woman.

Wearing makeup.

Looking pretty.

Looking feminine.

These things that I recommended, were a tool that I personally use to feel more confident about myself.

They were all ways, and still are ways, that I put on my “armour”.

To be able to feel better about myself, as a woman, in order to get things done.

Because I’m all about whatever works.

And my personal mantra for my own life, is doing “whatever it takes you to get to where you need to go”.

When I published that article, I was met with anger from “feminists” on social media, who threatened me with physical violence, and publicly humiliated me, for in their opinion, being vapid, unintelligent, and conforming to societies pressures of what us women have been fighting so hard for, in terms of being exploited, and undermined for our gender.

Now there is one thing that I would like to touch upon in this article.

It’s the fact that as women, we should be there for our fellow sisters, to support each other, no matter what packaging we may come in, and for whatever way we choose to present, and make ourselves feel better about living our lives as authentically as we possibly can.

I love women.

I also love men.

I love human beings.

If I am to put a label on myself (which I detest labels in every way you can conceivably imagine), I am a “humanist”.

I have had good, and bad experiences with both sexes.

Like most of us.

And yes, I have absolutely felt demeaned at times on account of my gender.

However it has not always been at the hands of men.

In my life so far, a fair proportion of those bad experiences have come from women themselves.

I have been bullied by women.

I have been manipulated by women.

I have been personally attacked by women on account of the things that I have chosen to write about.

In the way that I have chosen to live my life.

I have been ostracised.

And I have been humiliated.

One thing that I want to touch upon, is the need that I feel to apologise for being a woman.

Ironically,  and contradictorily, I refuse to apologise for being a female.

And I refuse to take on any masculine qualities to prove myself to anyone.

I am a typical woman.

I’m a girly girl.

I cry very easily.

I am often irrational, and overly emotional.

I am a little bit crazy at times.

I often have “panic attacks”.

I feel like I am not enough.

That I am a fraud.

That I am a slave to my emotions.

And I am not immune to flattery.

What human being is?

I am insecure.

I am also a slave to my menstrual cycle.

And I like nice things.

I like beautiful clothes.

I like make up.

I like false eyelashes.

I love my curves.

I like the “four seasons” that I have each month.

And I can’t do a goddamn thing about them. Even if I wanted to.

They are there, whether I like them or not.

I accept me, for me.

I like my sensitivity.

I like my soft heart.

And I’m sick of apologising for being a woman.

And you know what?

I REALLY like being a woman.

So does that make me a feminist?

No.

Because like I announced earlier, I am a “humanist”.

We are all trying to figure it all out.

We are all winging it.

Trying as hard as we can to be the best possible version of ourselves that we can be.

We are all trying to be as compassionate as we can.

Most of us anyway.

I love all of the women that have been there for me in my life.

And all of the men.

More than words can express.

They are all my sisters.

And my brothers.

As I write this evenings article, I am listening to the “Scissor Sisters”.

I am listening to “Laura”.

A lyric in that song is “this will be the last time I ever do your hair”.

To those that have chosen to judge me, to throw me under the bus, and abandon me – this will be the last time I ever do your hair.

To both men, and women.

I got a message this evening from someone very special in my life.

A man.

Ironically – to the feminists.

It read:

“We are simple. Women are crazy, complicated, and driven by emotion and competition. I think men are competitive, but usually only over women or sport.”

So to everyone – males, and females – stop trying to “one-up” each other in this relatively short life.

Love, and accept each other for who you are.

I recall doing an interview, for a yet to be published article about my writing.

And I quoted Arianna Huffington in that article on her thoughts on the “Women’s Lib” movement:

“What Women’s Lib might achieve if their “consciousness raising” – or in plain English, brainwashing – campaign succeeds is a society whose members have identical roles but are perpetually at war with themselves: a society of males made neurotic by suppressed masculinity, of females made miserable by having masculine roles thrust upon them that contradict their feminine impulses.”

I agree with everything she has said .

Like it or not.

Stop carrying hate, greed, and the need to “win” in your heart.

Allow yourself to feel the human the gift of acceptance, compassion, and empathy.

Take it all back to basics.

And only allow goodness into your world.

Of “non-competition”.

In whatever form in takes.

Remain balanced.

Pay attention to what it is that you are willing to put up with.

Stop worrying about what everyone else wants.

Concern yourself with what YOU want.

And keep that head of yours firmly planted on your shoulders.

Be true to you.

DISCOVER THAT STAR…

Tomorrow is my birthday.

I’m going to be 36 years old.

I can’t believe it.

Where did all of that time go?

Am I REALLY going to be 36?

Particularly, as I have been jokingly saying for the past 9 birthdays that I am 27…

It was then that I had one of my many thoughts that my overthinking mind afflicts, and torments me with.

What have I learnt so far in my relatively short 36 years that I have graced this earth with my presence?

Yesterday, I got a card in the post from my Aunty:

star

It was the last sentence in that card from my beloved Aunty Gael that really moved me.

…”and just like the apple, when it is cut open….guess what? You discover a STAR!”

I don’t know why all of us can’t recognise this.

That beneath the tough (or sometimes weak), exterior that we display, that we are all stars.

We are essentially the star of our own show.

We are the masters (or mistresses) of our own universe.

Our world really does revolve around us.

Of course it does.

Who else could it possibly revolve around?

Sure, we love the people that are a part of our lives.

We often place them high upon pedestals.

We are there for them through thick and thin.

We cry for them, and with them.

We get mad at them.

We forgive them.

We see things from their perspective.

And at times, we don’t.

And sometimes, we use the courage that we have been born with, to let them go.

And that in hindsight, we often learn that it is a kindness.

It’s important to recognise that the central point of all that we attract into our lives, is that one pivotal thing.

That we are at the centre of all of those relationships and interactions.

We ARE the star, when you finally decide to dissect it all.

To break it all down.

So what have I learnt on the eve of my 36th birthday?

That my mind messes with me more than I would like.

That I refuse to be someone that I am not.

That I will not accept anything other than kind, accepting, non-judgemental, and loving relationships around me.

That I refuse to be held accountable for anyone else’s emotions, or perceived inadequacies, that they subconsciously choose to project upon me.

I will not stand for it.

I have decided that I am a force to be reckoned with.

You cannot fuck with me.

My choices are mine.

I own them all.

That I am unapologetically, a girly girl.

That I like to dress up, and drink too much wine, and dance a lot at a party.

That I am soft, and kind, and super friendly.

That I am not a feminist.

I’m not. Sorry to disappoint any of you.

That I cry often.

That I worry way too much.

And that’s totally ok.

I love me for me.

It is not a sign of weakness to feel everything so deeply. But one of deep empathy. and compassion.

That I am often taken advantage of.

And my friends are there, fiercely watching over me to recognise the rare occasions that it alludes me.

That up until a little while ago, I was hopeless at putting boundaries around me.

But not anymore.

If there is something that doesn’t feel good – I’ll announce it.

At times, it may seem as though I’m a little “firecracker”.

But I’m not. Not really.

Or maybe I am.

But I will not put up will having someone else’s toxic crap poured all over me.

I refuse to allow myself to be walked all over.

I’m not concerned with hurting anyone else’s feelings, particularly when not announcing what I feel is to my own detriment.

I’ve been there before.

I have finally, and magically connected to my intuition.

To my gut.

My core.

My centre.

To the star that I always have been, even if I somehow forgot.

I trust myself.

I do not lead myself astray.

How could I?

I pay attention to the feelings that arise within me. And I speak out on the things that don’t sit well with me.

Because life is short.

And it’s too short to put up with the bullshit of a reality that is not your own.

So on the eve of my 36th birthday, I implore you all to allow yourself to split yourself wide open and reveal the beauty of that star that resides within you. That IS you.

Even if you think it is forgotten, or buried too deep within, for you to find it.

Today, I leave you with a quote from the brilliant author, and philosopher Haruki Marukami, on “stars”.

Be brave, and bold enough to let that inner light of yours shine without.

Stop being so afraid of what everyone else thinks of you. Worry about what YOU think of you.

Cut yourself wide open, and discover that star…

“Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I’m gazing at a distant star. It’s dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago. Maybe the star doesn’t even exist anymore. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me that anything.”

A LETTER TO MY LITTLE SISTER…

On the weekend, I watched you get married to your best friend.

To your soul mate.

To the love of your life.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing me to be your maid of honour.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

My heart is bursting with pride, and joy.

I am honoured to have been chosen as such an important person to represent you on your special day.

I guess that’s why it’s called “maid of honour”.

The dictionary definition for “maid of honour”, is as follows:

“An unmarried woman who is the chief attendant of the bride.”

But for me, it runs so much deeper than that “definition”.

I detest being put into a “box”.

I am so much more than an “unmarried woman”. That is the “chief attendant of the bride”.

As you are much more to me than just the “bride”.

You are my blood. My family. My friend.

As I am yours.

And it is a huge honour that you chose ME to stand beside you on your wedding day.

I hope I did ok.

Especially when I dropped your bouquet in front of everyone when you handed it to me (*face-palms self* – you really can’t take me anywhere)…

I wanted to let you know that I am so happy for the both of you.

I am so excited I could lay an egg, whilst vomiting rainbows, glitter, and riding a unicorn.

I am beyond happy that you have married such a kind, and beautiful soul.

I am so proud, and honoured to call your husband, my brother.

I am ecstatic that he comes from such a lovely family, that are so warm and welcoming.

I trust that I too, have gained four wonderful sisters.

What lovely girls you have as new sisters…

It made my heart swell seeing you so happy, in love, and adored by all of his family.

I can’t wait to kiss your babies, and pinch their chubby cheeks.

I promise to be the best Aunty EVER.

I want to thank you for such an amazing weekend.

I was so honoured to have the privilege of being able to walk you down the aisle with our father.

shadow1

And I hope that the shadow that we cast on the ground in that photograph is a reminder of the support stands behind you. That there is a message in the way the sun shone on you that day. That neither of us are afraid of the dark that sometimes takes us captive. And even if we are, we possess the strength, and courage to pull the other one into the light. To reach for the stars, no matter what anyone else thinks..

You deserve all of the luck that is coming your way.

And then some.

Ironically, I want to thank you for being MY big sister over the past 18 months.

Without you, and the other women in my life (you all know who you are), I wouldn’t have been able to stand tall next to you the way that I did.

You have been firm with me, with your “no-nonsense” take on life, yet allowed me to be the free-spirited, and soft-to-a-fault woman that I am.

Allowing me to walk tall next to you. And I am eternally grateful.

So to my little sister and her new husband, I wish you all the luck, love, joy, and happiness in the world.

I look forward to watching your family grow, and I thank you with all of my heart for including me the way that you did in your special day.

Sending you all the love and light in the universe that I can muster up, and all of the luck for your future.

Congratulations. Much love to you both xxx.

“There were once two sisters who were not afraid of the dark,
because the dark was full of the other’s voice
across the room,
because even when the night was thick and starless,
they walked home together from the river
seeing who could last the longest without turning on her flashlight,
not afraid
because sometimes in the pitch of night,
they’d lie on their backs in the middle of the path and look up until the stars came back,
and when they did,
they’d reach their arms up to touch them
and did.” – Jandy Nelson

REMOVE THAT FUCKING FILTER

 

I love social media. I think it’s brilliant.

It really has revolutionised the way that we “connect”. And it has personally meant A LOT for me, in terms of being able to have a voice, and communicate, and interact with people.

I’ve written an article before about Facebook, and the “bullshit” it poses upon us… http://chasingamy.com.au/2013/08/is-the-grass-always-greener/

Yet, today’s article is about Instagram. 

On Instagram, I follow a bunch of different people. 

Writers. Fashion designers. Fashion bloggers. @MenAndCoffee (you women know who they are)…

But one thing that has been bothering me lately, is the realisation that I’ve had just this evening. 

I’ve finally connected the dots. 

A picture tells a thousand words right?

That’s what Instagram is. 

A picture telling a thousand words. 

With Instagram, I’ve noticed that I feel like I’m never enough.

I never have enough of the fabulous clothes I see in those pictures. 

I need everything that I “like”. 

Seriously.

I don’t have a good enough body. 

I don’t do that “paleo” nonsense, and there’s no #fitspo about the way I choose to eat, or exercise. Or conduct my life…

I don’t have a cool, sexy outfit that I wear to the gym every day. 

I’m not eating an exciting enough meal each day. 

At a really hip restaurant, that most certainly requires a trip to McDonald’s on the way home anyway, because of those bullshit small portions they serve you. 

What’s THAT about anyway?

It often highlights to me, my love of carbs. 

I do not dine on kale, and quinoa, washed down with a soy latte. 

In fact, as I write, I am dining on chocolate, and corn chips, washed down with a glass of Merlot…

My skin isn’t flawless. 

I have wrinkles and occasional pimples. 

I am human. 

I am a woman. 

And I’m far from perfect.

My hair isn’t always perfectly blow-dried. 

It’s messy, dirty, and knotted 99% of the time. 

And I have grey hairs. 

Because I’m not 21. 

I don’t wear makeup every day. 

Nor do I affix false eyelashes every time I leave my house. 

My social calendar isn’t full. 

I am the epitome of “boring”.

And then I had a thought. 

About what it is that happiness looks like. 

I then decided to make a list of what happiness looks like, and feels like to ME. 

Happiness to me, is a clean house. 

It’s the joy that I feel when the sun is out, knowing that I can wash my sheets, and hang them in the sunshine to dry. 

It’s the smell and feel, of above mentioned freshly washed sheets. 

It’s pyjamas till midday. 

It’s thinking of someone, and then they mysteriously reach out to you. 

It’s inch thick butter on raisin toast. 

Or hot cross buns. 

It’s a full tummy, and a warm bed.

It’s an early morning ocean swim.

It’s feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin.

It’s life being like “who wants to be a millionaire”, and having the option to “phone a friend” when you don’t have the answer. Or when you’re having a meltdown.

When you’re in doubt.

It’s talcum powder after a shower, and clean pyjamas. 

It’s coffee in the morning, and wine in the late afternoon. 

It’s swims in the ocean, and topless sunbathing.

It’s familiar, comforting smells. 

It’s making someone smile. 

And even better than that – it’s making someone laugh. 

It’s face masks whilst sitting in a warm bath, and listening to music. 

It’s a parcel being delivered to the house after doing online shopping. 

It’s vacuuming the house and listening to music. 

It’s back-to-back episodes of “Entourage” on cable TV. 

It’s nailing the “winged eyeliner” look. 

It’s sharing a meal with a loved one. 

It’s being seen for who you are, flaws and all, and being loved anyway.

It’s not being at a Vipassana. 

I kiss the ground every day with sheer gratitude for not being at one of those godforsaken retreats. 

It’s conversations where you don’t feel like you’re being judged. 

Where you feel safe enough to be able to be yourself. 

To say what you feel.

Unapologetically.

It’s hosing my driveway. 

It’s washing my car. 

It’s washing my hair.

It’s the warm embrace from the person who has my heart.

It’s being able to express myself without a filter. 

Which brings me back to exactly what Instagram is. 

I post quotes, and “outfit pics” to Instagram all the time. 

In no way, am I pretending that I have not succumbed to what, in a way, is “peer pressure”, and attempting to portray “perfection”.

I too, want to be able to tell my own story.

As we all do.

And all of the pictures I post, are done using the filter that Instagram provides. 

We try to beautify, and perfect the moment. 

We edit out all of the imperfections that we see. 

We make it as flawless as we possibly can.

But that’s not what REAL life is about.

It’s actually about not having a filter there.

It’s having the courage to allow people to see us unedited. With #NoFilter.

It’s about seeing the perfection of what we are surrounded by.

It’s about allowing those that are in our lives, to see our inescapable, and unapologetic beauty.

Without that motherfucking filter.

Life is about what makes us happy.

About what makes our hearts smile.

Not what makes us feel a sense of lack.

It’s about surrounding ourselves with beautiful people that lift us higher.

That see us for who we truly are.

That support us no matter what.

For knowing within ourselves what “happiness” REALLY looks like.

So, go ahead. Be brave. Be honest with yourself about what makes you truly happy. 

Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks happiness resembles, and figure it out for yourself.

And remove that fucking filter.

 

EXCESS BAGGAGE

I was packing my bag a few weeks ago to fly up to see my Aunty in Byron Bay for her 60th birthday party.

I had selected the “carry-on luggage only” option, which I began to immediately regret as I struggled to narrow down the options that I had laid out in front of me.

Options.

That’s one thing that I like to have.

I stubbornly attempted to squash down all of the items that I had chosen to take on board with me.

I struggled to lift my bag, and realised that I may indeed have to pay the price for my excess baggage by having to check it in.

I then had a thought about excess baggage, and what it means for us in terms of the cost involved.

Both literally, and of course metaphorically.

I had three options here.

I could hold onto all of my extra stuff that I had brought with me that I probably didn’t need anyway, and would likely have no use for, pay the additional fee, and check my luggage in. Not only would I incur the monetary fee, but it would also eat into my time at the other end, where I would have to wait at the carousel upon my arrival.

Oh, and I would keep my Aunty waiting.

The second option I had, was to just try to sneak my excess baggage through the check-in counter, and cross my fingers and hope that no one noticed all of the extra stuff that I was carrying with me.

Yet, the load that I would be carrying would be heavy.

I would struggle trying to get it into the overhead lockers that I can barely reach as it is.

I would very likely have to ask for assistance.

It would all become a bit of a burden if you will. And others would have to suffer for the things I had chosen to hang onto.

Then comes the third option. Which is often the hardest.

Deciding what to set down.

What to get rid of to lighten the load.

What extra “stuff”, would I be willing to get rid of?

With all of these options comes a price to pay whichever way you look at it.

And the funny thing is, I know that this last option is the one that makes the most sense.

Why?

Let’s break it down.

There’s so many reasons to get rid of excess baggage.

By having a lighter load, you are able to get to where you need to go much faster. You have nothing additional weighing you down. It makes the journey that much easier. And you allow yourself the freedom to travel that much easier.

And you have a bonus with that too.

In choosing to set down your excess baggage, you have space.

Space for something new to take it’s place. And it could be so much more excellent that before.

In making the decision to get rid of some of that “stuff”, you set down all that is holding you back. In every sense of the word.

And now I come back to my love of options.

I love being able to have the freedom, and flexibility to choose what it is that I want to bring with me on my journey.

But this is always the moment that I have to pick a team.

When I am at the fork in the road.

Do I want to drag along the stuff that I’ve collected along the way that I no longer have a use for, and that I won’t need?

Or do I want to get rid of some of the shit that is weighting me down?

Do I want to be able to collect new experiences, new memories, and allow some amazingly magical people to come into my life?

Or do I want to hold onto what is familiar and safe? Yet redundant, and no longer serving a purpose…

And it’s here that I ask you, what price are you willing to pay?

Are you wanting to hold onto that excess baggage? Or are you going to get rid of all the shit that is weighting you down, and holding you back, and making your journey that much more tiresome?

By holding onto all the crap that you’re carrying, what are you not being able to allow into your life as a result?

So my advice today, is to sift through what it is that you’re carrying unnecessarily, and ask yourself, what it is that you’re willing to take with you on your life journey?

Do certain things need to be set down?

Then set them down.

Lighten your load.

Get rid of your excess baggage.

Trust me on this one – open the window, and watch what flies in…

YOU’VE GOT THIS…

 

When it comes to going on a journey, why does it always feel as though the way back feels infinitely shorter than the way there?

I had this thought the other week, as I took a long walk along the South Coast of New South Wales. 

I was quiet for a change. 

Which to those that know me on a personal level, comprehend that this is almost nothing short of a miracle. 

And is often met with an “are you ok?” from whomever I’m with.

(On a side note, if I’m quiet, there’s definitely something wrong…)

I was taking in the breathtaking scenery. 

The crystal clear, aqua blue water to my right. The large trees flanking me, every which way I looked. The sound of the native birds in the trees.

I was carefully absorbing everything around me. 

At the same time, I was praying that there were no animals waiting to attack me. I was clumsily attempting to navigate the unsteady ground beneath me. Praying that ticks wouldn’t attach themselves to my limbs (and thank you, to my mother for putting so much fear in me, in every situation I encounter in this relatively short lifetime of ours…).

Taking in the earthy smells of the native flora and fauna, infused with the salty air that clinged stickily to my skin. 

On the way back, I noticed I had become more confident, and wasn’t being as cautious as I was on the journey there. And I was finally back to my talkative self. 

And then I had a thought. 

I wondered why the way back, always felt so much easier, and shorter, than the way there. 

Because you are seeing, and experiencing everything for the first time when you are undertaking whatever journey you have decided upon for the first time.

You are open to your new experience. Yet, you are also fearful.

Taking it all in like a proverbial sponge.

Both the good stuff, and the bad.

So if the way back –  or the second time you’re doing it –  feels as though it’s taking much less time, does this mean that you are not absorbing the truth of your experience on the way back?

Are you glossing over the minor details upon your return?

I would have to say, no. 

No, you’re not. 

You’ve become confident. 

You have already walked this path before. So it’s easier to walk it when you have to do it again. 

You stop sweating the “small stuff”. 

Because that’s crap – it seriously doesn’t matter.

You have a greater appreciation for all of the other stuff. 

You are naturally more relaxed with the familiarity of the situation. 

You understand the route that needs to be taken in order to get yourself to relative safety.

To where you need to be.

You are able to navigate your way through, what seems like an obstacle course. 

Because you are familiar with what comes next. 

You are less afraid. 

You are well equipped to deal with whatever emotions arise within. 

You’ve experienced them all before. 

And if the two motivating forces in life, are fear, and love, (which I often touch upon), then it is surely no longer the fear that is holding you back. 

It is only love, propelling you forward. 

Which makes it so much more excellent.

Love is everything.

Everything.

This is why it feels like it takes less time. 

Because you’re not “sweating the small stuff”. 

Confidence is a strange thing. 

It’s a combination of both love, and acceptance of the vulnerability that ensues from walking an uncertain path.

I believe it comes down to trust.

Trust that everything is going to work out exactly as it should.

All you have to do, is send your thoughts, and feelings out into the universe, and watch and see what happens. And not let fear of the unknown hold you in a place where you are afraid of every new thing that crosses your path.

If you have walked the path previously, you have to trust yourself, the universe, God, whatever – that everything will work out for the very best.

Exactly as it should.

So if this is the second time you are walking this unknown path, trust that your heart is guiding you towards whatever is good for your soul.  

And you can liken this to anything in your universe.

A new career. A new relationship. A new place to live…

Life is constant stream of new experiences. Of endings, and of beginnings. Of new interactions.

Of things that may get you out of your comfort zone.

Things that may burst your heart wide open.

And things that will break that heart of yours all the same.

But these things are not there to frighten you.

They’re there to remind you what is “worth it”.

Take a new journey.

I dare you to.

Even if it’s one that you feel as though you have potentially taken before, and want to avoid at all costs.

Because if you know that you have all of the experience from your last journey behind you, then this one will be that much easier.

And so much more excellent. That, I can promise you.

You’ve been there before, and you have a whole new list of the things that don’t work for you. 

Which is why it feels as though this journey is taking much less time than the last trip you took. Because you finally know what works.

Live in the now.

Don’t dwell in the past.

And most importantly, don’t let fear, or past resentments, hold you back from discovering your hearts desire.

Don’t ever allow your heart to harden. Keep it soft – not only for others, but for yourself.

We always catch more flies with honey…

You have to say “fuck it”.

Surrender to what is. 

Cross your fingers, and trust that everything is working out exactly as it should.

You’ve got this –  I promise…

 

OUR FIRST AND LAST LOVE…

I have this new thing, where I have a fortune cookie with my morning coffee each day.

I love everything about fortune cookies.

I love the strange shape that they are. I love the taste of them (oh, and they are totally awesome as a dipping tool into a jar of Nutella). And most importantly, I love the little philosophical messages inside. I love that shit.

The other days message was this one:

“Our first and last love is… self-love”

And it’s so true.

Lately, a lot of friends have been coming to me for relationship advice.

Yes, me.

The wisdom that I impart on them, generally begins with the same question.

“What’s on your list of non-negotiables in a partner?”

Because I believe that far too many of us settle out of a fear of being lonely.

Which demonstrates a lack of self-love right there. Which is what todays article is about.

Like Jean-Paul Sartre, the French Philosopher once said “If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company”.

I truly believe that until you are content within your own company, you are always going to be attracting someone into your life that is lacking something in some way.

The second thing that I always tell people is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Open and honest. It’s how people fall in love.

If you keep your walls up, how is anyone ever supposed to get in to know the real you?

If there’s one piece of advice that I know is true beyond the shadow of a doubt, is that one of the most desirable traits that anyone can have, is confidence.

True confidence comes from not being afraid to make a fool of yourself. Being comfortable in your own skin. Not giving a shit what anyone else thinks of you.

And then I had to stop, and ask myself, “am I the right person to give relationship advice?”

I’d like to say, that yes, actually. I am.

Whilst my own relationship didn’t work out in the end, it did for two decades. And that’s a really, really long time.

And I have learnt a lot from my own relationship in terms of what works, and what doesn’t.

The most important piece of advice I can give, is to communicate.

If you have something to say, say it.

Don’t allow things to get swept under the carpet, which will eventually become a thread bare rug.

There is nothing worse you can do than not speak up. To not say what it is that is bothering, or concerning you. To be brave enough to be able to have those uncomfortable conversations.

Bottling things up, only leads to resentment. And resentment festers, and infects things in the same way a virus does. It literally eats away at you.

And it destroys everything.

You are not dealing with the real issue at hand.

You are holding all of those resentments, and grievances in.

So something as trivial as not putting the lid back on the toothpaste, or not putting the toilet seat down, can become a massive deal.

These things are all a non-issue. Trust me (unless you’re a complete nag, and control freak with OCD), these are never the root of the problem. You are going to have to sit with yourself, and be completely honest, and ask what it is that is going on.

Know that it’s got nothing to do with any of these things that you think might bother you.

It runs much deeper than that. And you have to know yourself, and be consciously aware, to recognise what is truly going on. You also need to have those uncomfortable conversations with yourself as well…

Really.

And to women – don’t expect a man to read your mind. Men really are quite simple creatures. If they ask you what’s wrong, and you say “nothing” – then as far as the man is concerned, nothing is wrong. Speak up, and don’t play games. It’s up to YOU to express yourself.

The next thing is to have your own interests. Find out what your passion is, and pursue it. And discover what your partners’ passion is too, and support them in what their heart is drawing them towards.

Also, understand that you cannot change anyone. The only person that you can change is yourself.

And that can come in many different forms. That change that is.

You can change the way you look at a situation.

You can change what it is that you’re willing to put up with.

Yes, relationships are ALWAYS about compromise, however concentrate on changing you. Never the other person. We all are how we are.

Next, keep your sense of humour.

Life is pretty funny a lot of the time.

Compliment each other. It’s nice to be nice.

Something that I believe is paramount to the success of any long-term relationship is keeping some mystery there.

There is a difference between being comfortable with someone, and being a complete neanderthal.

Give each other space.

Anything that is truly yours will never be lost anyway. And I personally believe it’s of the utmost importance to not only know how to be on your own, but to also enjoy your own company. It’s not up to the other person to entertain you. You are not 5.

Know how to be boring together.

Life is not always super exciting.

Life is a lot of routine, and monotony. Do those monotonous things together in some way. Not together, together. You know what I mean. But it takes a lot to run a household together. The washing. The gardening. The dishes. The groceries. The bills. Don’t allow all of the household chores fall to one person only. It will go back to that whole resentment thing. And nothing good will come from that. Believe me.

Remain thoughtful towards one another. Remember the things he or she likes.

Do not hold the other person responsible for your feelings. This is a massive one.

No one is responsible for the way you feel, except for you.

It’s like the example of someone abusing the other person. Where they blame-shift to the other person, and a common excuse given is “if you didn’t make me so angry, then I wouldn’t have said / done what I did”.

This is a load of total FUCKING BULLSHIT.

It’s up to the individual to react the way that they do.

To hold someone else accountable for your own emotions is not only childish, but it’s also incredibly selfish. It’s on YOU to own your feelings. They’re yours, and yours alone.

And lastly, you want to WANT the other person. Not need them.

Something I refer to as the “co-dependency trap”, is something that we can easily fall into. Where we rely upon the other person to fill us up.

They are not an extension of you. They are not the fabled “other half”.

You are whole already.

And if there are any missing pieces, I strongly advise you to search tirelessly for those pieces before embarking upon a new journey with someone else.

After all, we are born alone, and we ultimately die alone.

Which is why both our first, and last love, is self-love.

Because until you love yourself, above and beyond everything, and everyone else, you are never going to find it in someone else.