Recently, it's fair to say, I've let myself slip. The past few months have been incredibly tough - in fact, since I've moved back I've struggled. Struggled with fitting in... struggled with self image... struggled with relationships... struggled with myself.
Lately, after a trip to Melbs and a good chat with family who saw the depression returning thick and fast, I've come home committed to getting myself back on track.
Many things I was passionate about I've totally dropped the ball on. Depression, for me, really is disconnection... from myself. It creeps back in when I become unaligned with my values. It's a nasty circle - the things you need to do to pull yourself out, you don't feel like doing. For me, it's a lonely and shitty trip down self hate street. The worse I feel, the less I do, the less I do the more I dislike myself, the worse I feel and so on.
I've been throwing a massive pity party for myself of late... interestingly, I've also been throwing actual parties and events that no one has shown up to... which has perpetuated my personal pity party - reinforcing my poor self worth.
Sometimes the hardest part about having the knowledge I've gained through my journey is being aware that I am the creator of my experience. That lessons will repeat until we learn the lesson. That I've attracted this back into my life for a reason... and owning that without beating myself up about it.
I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say the past year I've been under quite high levels of stress. Amongst other things I've struggled to fit back into my old life (which doesn't suit me at all anyway) and I've opened a new business which I've thrown every cent I have into (and some of the banks) and it's been a slow start. This, added to the fact I haven't been using all my wonderful tools for dealing with stress, has led me to the brink of a meltdown.
One of the main issues I'm dealing with is my feelings of resentment. One of the greatest tools I have is my ability (which I worked very hard on) to see another's point of view and always come from compassion... however, that's recently been replaced with resentment. I've had a few people let me down recently, or not give me back as much as I've given them.
I really need to 'get over myself'... I also now understand that this has all been reflecting back to me the way I've been feeling about myself. It's an outward reflection of my inner self. I've been letting myself down, not giving myself enough credit and really not showing myself the same level of compassion I'd been showing others.
I need to get back to a place where I can give without expectation, accept without question and love without condition... and how can I do this?
Drop expectations - from myself and others.
Live in the moment and get back in my body - which I usually start by setting a buzzer each hour and checking in with myself.
Do more of the things I love... just because they make me feel good.
And through extending myself the same courtesy, and kindness, as I do to others.
I feel the best when I'm doing things for others, and I LOVE helping people get back on track and creating spectacular lives. In fact, it's the very reason I started my new business.
However, with all the bills and stress that I've piled on myself I lost that focus. This morning I was reminded after reading a random email (funny how the things you need find a way of making their way to you just in time) something shifted. Then, the phone rang. It was a guy wanting to start following his heart in his business but not really knowing where to start. Bingo.
Time to reconnect, refocus and refresh. Pressing the enter button on a new start now.
Feel like I've come full circle. This little blog started out as a place to share some funny stories, took a turn into a self discovery type genre, and now I'm back to good times Karls. I'm dedicating my life to good times, adventure and shitloads of laughs!
Micko and I hit the sack early last night (surprise, surprise... you'd think we were collecting the old age pension if you know what time we ate dinner and went to bed). Micko brought to bed a catalogue he found in this weeks 'That's Life' magazine (in which I feature in the 'speedy reads' section - very dramatically written, not by myself). It provided us with at least a good hour of entertainment and here are some high points:
Everyone needs a 'personal massager' for their... back or neck, right?
And why not kill two birds with the one cat?
Leave your expensive bike and mower in this practical storage tent for added security and piece of mind.
Dog annoying you while you are trying to read the latest issue of That's Life? How about this dog crate that doubles as a coffee table? Could work for small children too.
If your bladder is anything like mine, this discreet Ready Relief bottle could be just the thing to hide away in your handbag.
Imagine the benefits of this in the depths of winter when you are taking a midnight pee. Perhaps take it off when your child takes a dump. Washable? Great! Problem solved.
Mystery Package? Imagine the goodies you could receive! And all for just $9.95!
These are sure to be in next months Mystery Package.
and when it all gets too much (or pair up with your personal massager for a match made in heaven) slip on a pair of these sexy waterproof grundies... thoughtfully they've provide you with enough pairs to share with your friends.
I dropped a friend at the airport this arvo... then I made a mad dash to the bank to put a couple of cheques that have been burning a hole in my wallet into my account.
I looked at my watch, 10 to 4. Sweet! Just made it.
Walked in the door and 'ding' - my hourly alarm for my check in exercise went off. I looked at my watch, 3.50pm. Then I looked at my phone and it actually just after 4pm.
I'd made it into a bank after 4pm!?! And the guy who served me was a total dude. That shit doesn't happen to me. I'm usually the person who gets to the bank to find them locking the door. Not this time!
As I walked back to the car I thought how effing awesome it was to have luck on my side today! I took a moment to celebrate the small victory. Something totally went my way.
Then I thought about all the good little things that happen in a day...
even on a bad day there is magic and beauty and things going your way... if you are willing to look for them.
And some days it's that little thing that turns your day from utter shite to pure delight.
A text from a friend, a sea eagle perched unfazed 10 metres away while I'm on my daily run, a random dog coming to say hello or my own dog placing his head on my lap, my thoughtful husband coming home armed with chocolate... magic is happening all around me.
I am lucky! I might not have won major in the lotto, or a Boystown house... yet... but I have these little victories every single day.
So, I'm going to focus on what's going right in my life, not what's going wrong.
I'm taking the time to celebrate the little victories... after all, in the words of Meredith Grey (yes, quoting Greys Anatomy... I'm not even going to back that up with a justification):
“Maybe gratitude has nothing to do with joy. Maybe being grateful means recognizing what you have for what it is. Appreciating small victories... At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.”
A couple of days back I had a temporary lapse of sanity. I jumped to a misinformed conclusion (I guess one might call it a massive assumption - you know, the mother of all fuck ups) and I felt a surge of anger rise through me. Usually, in my right mind, I'd think about why I had that thought, consider if it were true, how I might approach the situation and see both sides (well, all sides) of the scenario. I'd then diplomatically proceed with caution.
This time... no. I just pounced! I didn't consider anything... that perhaps I'd jumped to the wrong conclusion because of the amount of pressure I've been under... that this person would not intentionally hurt me. I turned into a victim of the highest order and paranoid delusional freak. I acted without thinking of the consequences. I acted in anger. I acted passive aggressively and wanted to make this person feel guilty. I acted this out through an IM on facebook. Low!
The very second I hit enter... I felt immediate regret. Something clicked. What had I done? I had acted in malice. I apologised, I apologised and I apologised. I cried, and I cried, and I cried. I was still crying when I went to bed that night.
There were lots of outside factors that brought me to this breaking point. None of which are excuses, but they do help me to understand why I acted out. Something needed to shift. I could feel myself slowly falling back into dum... dum... dummmmmm... depression.
Part of my melt down happened because I'd taken on responsibility for another persons feelings. I was trying to avoid this.. and do that... just to make her feel okay. But it was making me miserable. I was beginning to resent it... and her. I misdirected this anger towards someone completely undeserving. If I really think about it, I do this quite a bit. I don't often let people know when I'm struggling for fear of worrying them.
Yeah... I know, letting people dictate how I feel. See it's great to have all this knowledge, but when you are drowning in your own thoughts it's really hard to find a clear track out of that space. Today I realised I'm only human and it's okay to have dropped the ball momentarily. Something needed to shift, obviously, and I feel like I've moved a big tree from the road ahead. I was shitting myself that I was falling into depression again... thankfully I saw the signs and was able to put in place some rescue strategies.
Micko has been great. He is one of the only people I really have, in person, that I can turn to. He sees when I'm struggling and fishes for communication - I like to shut down and shut everything and everyone out. I have this belief that I need to do it all myself... on my own. Which is then mirrored back to me by friends not coming to my rescue when I need. I can't blame them, if I don't ask for help or for what I want, I can't expect to be given it - especially when, if I'm honest with myself, I won't allow it. I can't be weak... I have to be the strong one. What a ridiculous standard to have set myself.
I'm going to let the walls down. Truly make myself vulnerable. It's okay not to be perfect and have your shit together all the time. Hell, it's everyone's story. I'm certainly no alone on the struggle front.
I've understood and implemented the 'everyone is fighting their own battle', but this morning it really hit home EVERYONE (including ME) is fighting their own battle. Doesn't matter whether it's someone who seems to have it all - the uber rich and famous, the friend of facebook that seems to be living the dream, the person sitting next to you in the office, or train, or standing behind you in the supermarket, or myself, EVERYONE comes from their experience and inner battles. So, I'm going to forgive myself my indiscretion and move forward with love and compassion - not just for everyone else, but also for me. It's true, we are our own worst critic. What would I say if a friend made a mistake? Don't worry. You are a good person with a good heart. Take what you can from this and move on. Let yourself off the hook.
I pride myself on being open and honest, and for the most part I am. But I fear rejection and judgement just like everyone else. Shame most of it actually comes from within... what's going on around me is a reflection of what's going on within.
When I got up this morning I saw a facebook status of a girl I recently met. A couple of years ago her husband broke his neck playing football. She is not only a Mum, a full time carer, a volunteer in the women's network but she also runs her own business. Incredibly inspiring.... anyway, here was her status:
Am apprehensive, a little bit nervous, but mostly excited ...
Tomorrow we're headed to the gold coast hospital to have a consultation with a plastic surgeon who specialises in muscle and tendon transfers for peeps with spinal cord injury ... hmmmm, talking about splitting the bicep and putting it into the wrist or hand so that hopefully one finger or thumb might work.
Would be a long and somewhat unpleasant process, with a difficult recovery, but if it came off and was a success - wow what a difference having a finger or thumb that worked would be!
Reality check! I mean seriously... This guy is about to go through some torturous surgery just so he might be able to pick his nose. The things we take for granted.
What have I got to complain about? Not much, that's for sure. The one thing I do have to remember is that although my struggles aren't as hard as some, they are every bit as valid. Sometimes it does take a bit of a nudge to see the silver lining.
So I'm making some changes. Focusing on the things that make me feel good - for a start. Today I've set my alarm to go off every hour and I'm taking a moment to check in and shift. How am I? Emotionally, spiritually, physically? What needs to shift between now and the next buzzer to make my day even better? I'm 5 buzzers in and feeling good.
I'm going to be open to allowing good things in my life. I'm gong to be kind and gentle to others and myself. I'm going to be unashamedly me. In one particular aspect of my life I've been a prisoner of my bad experiences... but they do not dictate my future unless I allow them to.
I'm changing the record! Change is a foot at the Circle K.
Lately I've been feeling a little isolated... and lonely. This is not a new feeling.
I first became properly acquainted with isolation when I moved to the Mid North Coast. I knew no-one, worked from home and was suffering from depression. I was isolated - geographically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.
When I moved back to Byron I had anticipated to be back 'where I belong'. I'd be surrounded by friends and family and it would be an end to my isolation. Social occasions would be a plenty... there would be no time for loneliness.
Only, that wasn't the case.
I felt just as lonely and isolated as before. In fact, more so. I missed my wayward bunch of friends I'd slowly collected over the three years I spent in Nambucca. I'd worked so hard on myself and pushing my boundaries. I became a new and improved version of me. Hanging with people who inspired me.... and I, in return, inspired them. It was easy to be the best version of me. No one had any pre-concieved ideas of who I was. I was the 'right here, right now' me. But then, I moved back. In some ways it was like stepping back in time... to the person I used to be. The person I'd worked so hard to leave behind.
I struggled a little. Felt somewhat like I was starting... again! Learning to meld the two me's into one.
I realised that isolation (unless extremely geographical - like living in the middle of the antarctic) is an outward expression of inner reflection. The world is my mirror. What was this reflecting to me? I had isolated myself... from myself. I had buried the old me. I didn't like her very much anymore. She was everything I had worked so hard to move on from. She was judgemental. She had very little compassion. She was a bit of a gossip... and a lot of a bitch. She just wasn't me anymore. But I could feel her bubbling up to the surface once back in her natural habitat. I was trying as hard as I could to swallow her down.
Then, a friend of mine came to visit. An old Byron friend who moved away - coincidentally, she came to the Bali Retreat. My worlds collided once more. She knew both of me. She'd been a part of my life prior to my work on self... and she knew, and loved, the new me. However, she also knew and loved the old me.
** Insert lightbulb moment ** I am the old me... and the new me. In fact, the entire time I've been nothing but me. I've been shaped by my circumstances and experiences... and without the old me, the new me wouldn't exist.
We are one and the same. While the new me always tries to come from compassion and without judgement she wasn't extending the same courtesy to herself. The new me needed to give the old me a break. After all, she had been hurt... and was hurting.. and it was her (or me) who started the healing process.
She and I... we've done the work. We'd let go of the past and forgiven those that who had hurt me, only now I finally included myself on the list. Thankfully, my journey has given me the tools to recognise and overcome those parts, the beliefs, that no longer serve me. Coming back to the start, doesn't mean you are back at the start. I'm not the acorn... I'm a healthy tree starting to sprout leaves... there is no going back now.
I got out of the house on the hill. I braved Byron on a Friday night. I went back for more on the Sunday night. I saw old friends I had long forgotten. I saw the recognition on their faces... a genuine warm welcome home smile. I remembered all that I had loved about this place. All it takes here is to be a friend of a friend and you are treated like family. A 'you look really familiar' and it's like you are a long lost sister.
It's funny how things happen. As I finished writing my last post, after having the epiphany by the pool, I took my laptop back to the room, chucked on my swimmers and went for a swim. Two Aussies and two Brits starting chatting and I heard them mention Byron Bay. So I spoke up... told them I lived in the area and joined in on the conversation.... two hours later I was a total prune and completely water logged but happy to have chimed in, pushed a boundary and made some friends.
Now, we are headed out to dinner tonight - the five of us.
I'm happy as a pig in shit today. After meeting these ladies, I headed out on my own for a look around. One of them had told me about a gorgeous Day Spa called Spa Bali and gave me a brochure. So, I walked around the streets of Seminyak and eventually stumbled across the place. I've booked in for a 2 hour treatment - which includes a full body massage, a scrub and a flower bath. Can't wait!
On my way back, I realised I hadn't had lunch and I happened across a vegetarian cafe (Zulu - on JL Camplung Tanduk) that served healthy, mostly raw foods. Delish, cheap and super friendly. If I hadn't given myself a rule that I wasn't to eat in the same place twice (I'm a creature of habit and would eat all three meals in the safety of the hotel compound otherwise) I'd be back there again tomorrow! Comes HIGHLY recommended - from me anyway.
Learning so much about myself already... and I haven't even arrived at the retreat yet.
Loving live... loving Bali... and loving myself right now.
Another post from the plane seat - certainly not complaining... flying is a privilege that many don’t ever get the opportunity to experience. And as Cimone-Louise would say ‘does it get any better than this’. Having said that flying Virgin these days tends to provide none of the privileges that were once attributed with flying (ie. watching new movies of your choosing, or even just a little cartoon plane traveling across a map, average meals and free drinks), these days saver fares have left me with nothing left to do but to sit and think... or, in this case, write and think.
Sure I have the distractions of iPad games and a mag or two to keep my occupied, but these things struggle to keep my attention for too long, so a great deal of the time I’ve sat still and thought.
It’s been a blessing... and has given me quite a few insights. One of which I’ll share now.
For quite some time I searched desperately for my ‘purpose’. I felt some kind of sense of entitlement... that this life was mine and I had been put here to do something huge. It plagued me daily. So I headed off on a soul search.
I believed I was destined for greatness... and I guess I perceived that as fame and fortune. I mean, it had to be something kind of Oprah big... so much pressure I’d placed on myself. Hard to live up to an expectation of that level of success. Own. Worst. Enemy.
Somehow, I knew inside that my purpose came from doing things that made me happy. I felt the two were intrinsically linked. So I looked externally for the answers. I also looked internally... but it was difficult when I felt so disconnected from myself. I didn’t know what made me happy - hell, at times I couldn’t even recognise what happiness was. Without recognising happiness, it was really difficult to figure out what made me feel it.
In my garage, packed in one of the many boxes, I found an old school journal from around age 10. Here, in this totally 80‘s contact covered exercise book, I would find the answers I had searched so far and wide for.
And, there, I did find it... only, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. ‘I love dancing, singing and writing, but I don’t think anyone else thinks I’m good, so I don’t do them in front of anyone’. It was like being hit in the face with a 4x4.
My entire life I’ve been basing my success on what other people thought of me. I’ve held their opinion in much higher esteem than my own. And I’ve held myself back, time and time again, for fear of being judged... for fear of not being the best.
Wow! What would happen if I wasn’t the best at everything? What would happen if I were wrong about something? What would happen if I opened myself up to others scrutiny?
Then I realised, I do these things... when I write. My life is practically an open book. I’m honest and I write from the heart. Whilst I might hold back on the dance floor until I’m shitfaced... or sing full pelt only when I’m by myself in the car (or with Micko) but when I write I put it all out there for public scrutiny. Now, I’m probably not the best writer in the world, but in this circumstance it doesn’t matter. I don’t write for everyone else, I write for me. I write because it’s an outlet... and it’s the one thing I did, even through the very depths of depression... I write because I love to write. I write because it makes me happy.
Ah-ha moment (Oprah pun intended).
Success is subjective. These days, for me, it’s living a life aligned with my values. It’s being true to myself. It’s pushing through the boundaries and beliefs that hold me back. It’s being vulnerable, kind and considerate and it’s living a life filled with integrity, love and joy. It’s having the courage to do the things you love... being who you are... and being happy with that. It’s living in the moment, content with what you have and knowing, even if nothing else was to change, that it’s enough.
So, I’m on the plane on my way to Bali for Krista Jane’s Boom Boom Pow retreat. To say I’m a little nervous is an understatement. And it’s probably not for the reasons one would assume. In fact, it’s nothing to do with the retreat at all. I’m not anxious about what I’ll discover about my self or being introduced to new people or Bali belly or being mugged or trying new things, but for something most people would consider blissful. I’m flying in by myself and spending two days on my own...
I’ve never been a fan of my own company - something I’ve certainly been working on over the past 3 years. I didn’t like my own company because I didn’t really like me very much. Being alone was something that scared the shit out of me. What would I do? Would I go crazy hearing my thoughts go round and round and round? What would happen to me without the distraction of others? How could I do things on my own? And why would I do them just to please myself anyway? It always seems more fun and less scary when there is someone else around.
I’ve always been envious of those people who go on a holiday and within 5 minutes they’ve made a bunch of new friends - who they are inviting out to dinner or drinks. This has never been me. In fact, I’m very rarely on the receiving end of these people either. Sometimes I think I’m invisible if I’m on my own. Even as a child I’d stay in caravan parks, see all the kids running around together and wish they would come ask me to play. I’d plan how to make an in with the crowd, but never act upon it. People often mistake this shyness for snobbiness... but it’s rarely the case.
I’m a people person... but I’m also a ‘familiar people’ person. I like being around people and once I’m introduced to someone I’m fine, but I have a real fear of approaching and striking up a convo - I could probably count the amount of times I’ve done it on one hand (perhaps even one finger). People who know me find this quite unbelievable. They might not even realise I leave the stranger approaching up to them.
I’m outwardly confident and quite outgoing so they would probably never guess that even the sheer thought of initiating contact with a stranger makes me quiver with fear. Even more so if I’m on my own. Then, it’s a total no-go zone. What if they look at me blankly? What if they think I’m an idiot (this was a big one during depression)? What if they don’t like me? Sometimes, it’s not about what it’s about. In this case, I guess it’s about an innate fear of rejection. By not taking a risk, I’m safe, I’ve nothing to lose... But I also have nothing to gain.
However, if there is one lesson I’ve learnt through my journey it’s that through vulnerabilty comes great strength and growth. When you push a boundary, it moves... sometimes even breaking apart on impact. So this time I ask myself do I want to be free of this fear? Do I want to be comfortable approaching people? Do I want to enjoy my own company? Of which, the answer is a resounding YES!
So how badly do I want this? Is the pay off worth spending a couple of days by myself? Is it worth approaching people and saying ‘g’day’? Perhaps these are the questions you need to be asking yourself - probably not these exact questions, but questions related to your fears, concerns or insecurities.
Instead of asking what is the worst that can happen (I’m opening myself up to possibly a little rejection... which we inevitably cop in all aspects of our lives, so why focus so much energy and attention on this) I should be asking myself ‘What is the best that can happen?’ In this case, I make some new friends, have some new adventures... but most importantly, I push that boundary a little further away... and by doing so, I make a little room around myself to let good things in. I break a link on the chain that holds me back.
So this is where the captain announced we'd be landing and to turn off electrical devices. This morning, by the pool, I've been getting this ready to publish when in this very moment I've had a complete epiphany... All this time I've been looking for external confirmation of my level of coolness. I've been judging how likeable I am on how many people like me. When that's not what any of this is about. It's not about being in the cool gang on holidays... it's not about people coming up to speak to me because I'm approachable (or not) and it's not even about me getting the guts up to approach someone else. It's about me... being comfortable in my own skin. In my own company... without that feeling of loneliness or sense of lacking. It's about enjoying MY OWN company... and not feeling weird about that.
So now, this trip has a different meaning... a different agenda. I'm not feeling the pressure to get out there and do all the things I'd do if I were with people. It's about doing things that I love. Sitting by the pool writing. Walking the streets observing the people and the surroundings. Swimming... meditating... relaxing. Sitting in a nice cafe trying new foods, sipping on a Bintang, watching the passers by and scribbling in my notebook. Getting a pedi and a massage.
These next couple of days are all about me. And I'm now feeling really good about that!
Born in the late 70s during the depths of a harsh Melbourne winter, in her mid 20s, Karls migrated to a much warmer climate - then back to the cooler climate and once again to a warmer climate. With all this to-ing and fro-ing, she's discovered that home is where the heart is... in her case, anywhere that serves ice cold beer.