Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Would you sell yourself

Would you sell everything you loved and wanted from your life in exchange for something else? Not just for money, although that's the obvious example. I mean loads of other things as well. Gadgets, big house, security, security, certainty even. Status quo. Comfort.

Years ago I found myself 'sold out' in that way, if you like. In multiple situations I didn't want to be in but had no idea how to change them. I swapped certainty and money for those things I truly wanted. I sold myself. I acted without bravery and as a result I sold myself way short.

I did eventually find my courage and changed my situations. Less certainty. Less money. It took a long time. And a lot of courage. But guess what? I now have everything I always wanted.  Everything.

It is so hard to live a life sold short for something. It's never worth it. It's always better to take the leap and find the courage. I found it so hard but I did it. And it was worth it!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Black Friday 2012

Have you seen some of the footage on YouTube of Black Friday 2012?

Being that I work in the retail industry, I was mildly curious when I read this article in the Age today.

Oh. Boy.

It's mass hysteria on crack. Seriously. I watched, completely horrified at the extent of hysteria. The screaming. The grabbing, and shoving. The fighting. The desperation. It's just awful.

It reminded me (a smidge) of our sample sales at work. Your brain just goes a bit crazy with all the amazingly cheap clothing and the fever in the air is absolutely contagious.

The footage made my skin crawl, and made a familiar bubble of anxiety creep up my throat. It made me very, very glad I wasn't there, at those Black Friday sales.

It also made me feel a momentary sense of gratefulness that I've found some stillness in my life. I've been desperate in my life. Not for a bargain...but for emotional calm. And now I've found it I'm extremely grateful for it.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

My first trip to a therapists office

I first decided to try therapy a few years ago. At the time I was working an extremely stressful job, was married and had a couple of tricky things going in in my life. I found myself feeling a sense of sadness that I had not felt before. And although I'm a cryer through and through and I don't find melancholy uncomfortable this sadness was just a bit different. I cried much more often than usual and one quiet Saturday afternoon during a particularly protracted cry my then husband very gently suggested that maybe it would help if I could speak to someone about the tricky stuff going on in my life.

The extremely stressful job came with free therapy sessions - 3 per year and more if 'needed' (if that's not a disclaimer to becoming a lawyer, good luck to you) - and so I rang the confidential service to arrange an appointment.

My first ever therapy session was hilarious, in retrospect. I cried from the moment I walked in until around three-quarters of the way through the session. I walked in, sat down, and the lovely psyhologist gave me an intro into what the sessions were all about. Confidential, safe to say anything I needed to, could talk about work or personal stuff etc etc. He then said, "what has brought you here today, and what would you like to achieve with our sessions?"

I started to explain that I had this huge well of sadness inside of me but tears prevented me from explaining and all I could get out in between tears was "I'm just really sad".

"What is making you sad?", he asked.

We sat in silence a moment (apart from the teary noises on my side of the room) as I tried to compose myself enough to speak. He gently nudged over a conveniently placed box of tissues, poured me a glass of water and waited patiently with me while the wave of sadness passed.

"I wrote a list." (More sniffles).

He looked impressed that I'd prepared for the session.

Not even bothering to try and read aloud I handed him the list. While he read the list aloud, to make sure he was reading all of the items on it correctly, I cried softly and nodded.

We went through that list together. Issue by issue, focusing more on some and less on others. It was brilliant. I saw him for the 3 full sessions and by the 3rd session it felt like more of a chat than a therapy session. Those sessions saw me through for a good while.

I still felt sad but was much more okay with it and not worried that the sadness meant something else.

I remember speaking with one of my aunties afterward about my experience with therapy. She was very kind and gentle with me and said that sometimes our lives get really tangled like a ball of wool and it's helpful to have an objective person help us untangle our tangled mess.

I love that analogy and for me it resonates deeply. Sometimes I find if I pick impatiently at a piece of tangled mess my own emotional attachment to everything can result in those pesky little tangles becoming huge knots that are impossible to undo. But a therapist, someone who cares but is objective and at arms legnth, has a much better ability to stand back, assess the tangle, and go in carefully to tug here and there until it's a bit looser and far more manageable.

I love that.

I was so lucky to have stumbled across such a wonderful and gentle therapist with whom I had a great connection - on my very first time. And although I still see a therapist (though not the same one, I've since moved, my current therapist is also wonderful) I'm extremely grateful to both for all their assistance over the years.

My ball of wool is still a bit tangled, but less so now, and actually I've quite fallen in love with some of the messiness in my life.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Gratitude journal entry no. 1

I have days where I feel I am deficient in some way. Sometimes I feel like if I was just a little bit thinner, or had a little more patience, or a little bit more money, or lived somewhere different or had a 'better' job, or a little bit more of [blank] or less of [blank], I'd be happier / more satisfied / more financially secure / or whatever.

None of that is true, though.

In the last few years I have made some fairly hilarious decisions. Some of them great. Some of them didn't work out. I try not to beat myself up about any of it, but use it as a learning tool and something to grow from. Oh! And I had a loooooonnnnnng ways to grow. Trust me on this. (Still do.)

So, there was the time I thought I wanted to live in this beautiful loft apartment in the city. It only had 2 windows and no balcony but I somehow talked myself into signing the lease, moving in, and redirecting all my mail. Then, after around 6 days of steadily increasing panic about the decision I'd made to live there, I left, moved out, called my agent and broke my lease. Oops. Expensive lesson (though I must say the agent was very gentle with me during the break lease process - lovely guy).

Oh, and there was also the time I thought I wanted a different job. I needed a challenge, that'd fix me (*fist pumps the air*)!! So I got myself a recruiter, found a job I thought I'd love, and even though I wasn't certain about what to do, wasn't being offered much more money and was being encouraged by more than 1 person to just stay put (and that I'd had just a little too much upheaval in the preceding years), I somehow talked myself into signing a new contract, giving notice at my existing job, leaving my wonderful job (that ticked 8 out of 10 boxes), and starting at the new role. Then, after 2 and a half days (I'm sorry to say I am not joking) and 3 panic attacks, I left at lunch time on the Wednesday and never went back (please don't think I'm awful, I did tell them, I just couldn't go back). Oops. Mortifying lesson. Luckily I managed to get my old job back through a stroke of ridiculously well timed coincidence. Or perhaps it wasn't coincidence. Anyhow.

There were a few other ill-made decisions in there which I care not to go into right now, but suffice to say I ended up deciding to stay put in all my areas of life for a while to see what happened and to give myself a bit of time to breathe and to recover from a lot of things that somehow went awry in my life.

It's done me the world of good. It's helped me realise a few things: a). there ain't nothing wrong with taking your time (contrary to what I used to think), b). standing still sometimes is the only way to hear what your heart is telling you (and yes that is a line in a Missy Higgins song, thanks Missy - it resonated with me), c). reluctance and uncertainty tells us something and that should be considered and taken into account in our decision making process, and d). when we're rushing all over the place like ferrets (or squirrels, if you like) trying to fix everything it is much more difficult to actually do ourselves any good.

Sometimes we just need to just stand still, take it in, process it, feel it, and then take a little step forward.

And that's what I've been trying to do (it doesn't come naturally to me I must admit and it's taken me a good few years and I'm certain I'm still 'getting there'). Standing still, and just having a look around.

I've been very pleasantly surprised. I've found out some stuff I didn't know, and also some stuff that I did know but have a new appreciation for. I feel pretty grateful for a lot of stuff in my life. And when I just sit still with my gratitude it's really hard to feel that sense of dificiency that I described above. I find myself feeling lighter and more grinnier (not a word, but I don't care!).

I have a new appreciation for my own company. I've always enjoyed just hanging out with myself but lately I've made a pointed effort to let myself be me more. Sometimes I don't do anything in particular, just chuck on a CD and sing until I have pins and needles in my face (it must drive the neighbours nuts). Sometimes I just talk to myself (*giggles*). Sometimes I take myself on a date, like to the movies. I've taken myself out for lunch and it's great coz I can eat whatever I want....!!!

Also, I've been reminded time and time again that I've the most incredible family in the history of all time. They've seen me through good times, tough times. We laugh together. We cry together (it's usually just me crying though). And I can share stuff with them. And I'm super lucky that at the moment I get to work with my sister! Yup, that's right, we get to have lunch together every day! Ahhhh. How amazing is that?!

I've the most incredible boyfriend in the history of all time. He's patient, handsome, hilarious, silly (like me), intelligent, passionate and very kind hearted (he has a huge heart). He's loads of lovely things. I'm very proud of him. And I enjoy having him by my side in life. We laugh. A lot. About silly things. Just the way I like it. We seldom fight and when we do it's always pretty tame and always fair. I think the worst argument I can remember us ever having started on our way home and (as usual) I cannot remember what it was about. We got sooo frustrated at each other (*pauses to chuckle*) that we couldn't even walk beside each other so we stomped along Brunswick Street sort of walking together but with a good metre or two between us. Then out of no where, even though he was fuming, my incredible boyfriend reached out his hand to hold mine. Still keeping a bit of space between us, but reaching out to hold my hand. It was an incredible gesture and it's an attitude of his that I really value. I've said for a long time that finding the right person is finding the person you want to share life's sh*t with (as opposed to someone you just have a good time with - although this is obviously important too). Coz life does throw us difficult times, but if we have a person to hold our hand and stand by us through the worst of it then isn't that the most incredible thing ever? Bonus points for still enjoying each other during the rough times.

I am also insanely grateful for the wonderful friends that I have made over the years. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderful and terrible people can be - but that the friends I've made and kept over the years are truly in that first category and of the truly wonderful kind.

My job has also done some pretty wonderful things for my life. It's given me balance and time to be creative. Just wonderful.

And my beautiful apartment. It's like a soothing cup of tea for my soul. I did an exercise a few years back where you write down everything you want. I was reading it the other day and I realised (actually it was my boyfriend who pointed it out), that the bit I wrote about what I wanted in an apartment has all happened. It's just wonderful, it has everything I want for this point in my life. I picked it, and I pay rent for it. But I'm still extremely grateful to have found it.

I've been reading a few books written by Brene Brown (they're incredible I cannot recommend her work highly enough). She talks about writing gratitude lists, and writing down what we want in life. I'm not sure how it works exactly but it did for me, even though it took me a while to get there - and obviously I made it happen - I guess it kind of cemented what I wanted and I set about making it happen. Anyway I am grateful. And so I wanted to express it here for all of you!

Something I have realised (maybe just now) is that I'm extremely grateful that I've grown to find writing such an outlet, and I'm not certain I would write as much if no one else read it. Some of the feedback I have gotton over the few years I've been writing on this blog has been just lovely. Most of it from people I know but that's okay, there has also been a couple of really lovely things written by strangers. And I've grown very fond of writing on this blog.

So thank you.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Fast forward the hard bits

I looked in the mirror today and saw myself grinning back.

I've done a lot of hard work and been through some pretty difficult stuff in the past couple of years. During the really hard bits I found myself wondering if I'd ever come out of it. At times I desperately wanted to fast forward into the future, to a time I was just me and happy again. I'm not saying the last few years have been all bad. There have been magnificent (amazing) bits - and certainly this past year has mostly been fantastic - and I wouldn't have changed anything.

Today I just realised that you can't fast forward through the hard bits. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes things really suck, and that's okay. Time moves us on anyway. And we make it in the end, with patience, persistence, hard work and determination.

We can't fast forward through the hard bits. But we can be kind to and patient with ourselves. And to others. And we can hope that when the hard bits arrive the people in our corner will be kind to and patient with us.

I looked in the mirror tonight I saw myself grinning back. I couldn't fast forward but I made it here anyway.

[Picture taken by my wonderful boyfriend Peter Geranio]