I Know

Freedom…

There is no such thing as ‘getting over it’ in life.

You don’t get to go back.

Trauma changes us and tragedy disrupts us.

And that’s ok.

Maybe you lost someone.

Maybe you lost yourself.

Maybe you’ve had more bad days than good ones.

Maybe you’ve made a mistake.

Or ten thousand.

You are not defined by them.

What you’ve done is not who you are.

You aren’t damaged.

Don’t get bogged down by your ‘failures’.

You aren’t the opinion of someone who doesn’t know you, or even someone that does but doesn’t know what wakes you up in the middle of the night.

You are better for going through – and not around – something terrible.

The best people I know have depth, and parts of their story that don’t shine.

Don’t dull the muddy bits.

I’ll never stop falling in love with people who have scars but can still sustain the courage to dream. And the courage to re-write their story. Sometimes over and over.

That’s what freedom is.

That’s what rising up means.

To write the story of “this is what tried to keep me from stepping into the best version of myself, and this is how I told it to ‘sit down’”.

Maybe you’ve survived a bunch of thunderstorms and continued walking.

Maybe you got back up.

Multiple times.

You are wiser for it.

You are better for it.

Don’t ever let anyone, or any one experience, stop you from living and doing the things you love.

Society doesn’t get to tell you how to live your life.

It’s your life.

You get to decide how it goes.

There’s no trophy for having it all figured out by 30, or 40, or 50.

Life is about creating as many genuinely happy, passionate moments as possible – for you, and others.

That’s it.

Chase your dreams. Fall in love. Travel. Take detours. Study. Fall out of love. Switch jobs. Move. Stay. Fight. Give up. Go. Learn. Swerve. Grow.

There is more to you than yesterday.

Freedom is knowing that, at the dawn of a new tomorrow.

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I Am, I Know

Life Is A War Of Head Vs. Heart

Life is a war of head vs. heart. It’s tiny little moments, like: watching the flickering lights of the city from a rooftop, while the soft breeze tangles your hair and kisses your cheek. Waking up early in the middle of winter to feel the chill cut through your coat as a chai latte runs down your throat. It’s that marone jumper you love, that still smells like him.

Life is messy. It’s making mistakes, like: one too many wines that numb your lips but not your tongue. Feeding feelings with memories, instead of drowning them in tears. Driving too fast. It’s being afraid of nothing, except saying exactly how you feel, because then it’ll be real.

Life is glorious. It’s sublime moments, like: watching a radiant sunset, and feeling its glow warm your cheekbones. Goosebumps tingling across your body, as he runs his hand up your thigh. Midnight conversations with people that matter. It’s that spark, that begins when you lock eyes and ends with your souls dancing together.

Life is magic.

If you listen, it will tell you.

If you look, you will find it.

If you do, you will become.

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I Know

33 Things I Know, Now That I’m 33

1. There’s only one person responsible for your life – you.

2. It takes guts to be kind.

3. You can’t be distracted by comparison if you’re captivated by purpose.

4. A sunrise doesn’t define its glow by how it set the night before; you shouldn’t define yourself by yesterday either.

5. Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours shine any brighter.

6. Whatever you focus on grows.

7. Where and how you choose to spend your time is telling – you will always make time for the things you value.

8. The best thing about the worst time of your life is that you get to see the true colours of everyone.

9. Not everyone is gold; some are simply gold-plated.

10. You gotta be a little savage.

11. Hostility towards unfamiliarity is true ignorance.

12. You aren’t owed shit; act accordingly.

13. Grief is the price of love – and it’s worth it.

14. Things may not always go to plan, and that might be the very best outcome.

15. Never judge someone by the opinion of others.

16. Nothing great can be achieved with selfish people.

17. Time heals nothing. It just replaces – or dims – memories.

18. Don’t harden up when someone mistreats you – being bitter is a waste of time, and a true disservice to yourself.

19. Feelings aren’t final – they’re fluid.

20. You leave pieces of yourself in everyone you’ve ever loved. That’s quite a responsibility.

21. You may not be able to control your situation, but you can always control your attitude towards it.

22. Collect moments, not things.

23. Never allow waiting to become a habit.

24. Don’t change parts of who you are, or what you do, or how you do it, to please someone else. Unless your aim is to be miserably unsatisfied.

25. When you stop caring about what other people think of you, you’ll find true freedom.

26. Where possible, skip the small talk. Everyone is deep, most are just afraid to dive.

27. The ‘little things’ are never really that little – they’re often the most important.

28. If you can only let go of three things, make them these: grudges, the past, and poisonous people.

29. You will never be able to escape your own heart – so listen to it.

30. Stress literally achieves nothing. Action fixes everything.

31. Worrying literally achieves nothing. Action fixes everything.

32. Pursue a life of meaning, and the happiness will come.

33. When in doubt, be extra.

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I Know

32 Things I Know, Now That I’m 32

32 Things I Know, Now That I'm 32

1. In a world where everyone’s running around, in pursuit of goals, trailing their to-do lists, be in a race towards what makes you feel good.

2. Fuck fear. Fuck it hard.

3. Honour your feelings.

4. Have your own back.

5. There’s no such thing as coincidence. And nothing is ever random.

6. You already know the answer. So follow your gut. Follow your soul. Because you already know the answer.

7. It’s only ever too late if you think it is.

8. Appreciate people for who and what they are, and for the place they have in your life.

9. If someone treats you poorly, it’s usually more about them than it is about you.

10. You can only fix something that is broken.

11. You really can do whatever you want. I’m continually shocked by how many people do not understand this.

12. When you’re scared of the height, jump. When you’re fearful of the outcome, delve. When you’re doubtful, believe.

13. Be humble.

14. I’m yet to meet a person that’s tired of seeing a blue sky. I’m also yet to sit under one and feel anything but serene.

15. Fuck ordinary. Fuck it hard.

16. Everyone has something within them that sets them alight. If you don’t feel the fire, start burning some shit.

17. It’s ok to change, and swing, and be madly passionate about one thing, and then another, and it’s ok to change your mind, and change your beliefs, and swap and switch. It really is. Everything is fluid. You, and your mind, should be too.

18. It doesn’t matter who you used to be, or what you’ve done, all that matters is who you’ve become.

19. If you want to be smart, and you seek to be compassionate, go somewhere new, as often as you can, and meet someone new, as often as you can.

20. Trouble isn’t always so bad.

21. Create your own definition of success, and work towards that.

22. Spend a bit less time focusing on how you look, and a bit more time focusing on how you think.

23. We don’t meet people by accident; they’re meant to cross our path for a reason.

24. If you’re undecided, follow what gives you energy. Energy doesn’t lie.

25. You could be the same. Or you could be better. You decide.

26. It’s only ever too hard if you think it is.

27. I’ve learnt more from pain, than pleasure. Give your heart away. Over and over. Don’t be guarded. Feel. And learn.

28. Be kind.

29. If you’re still undecided, spend some time alone. Silence has a way of delivering solutions.

30. It’s only ever too complicated if you think it is.

31. Perfect is an illusion.

32. Whatever you do, don’t die before you’re dead.

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I Am

Friday

AIDS Memorial Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francsico, California

Here’s some things I am:

– The kind of tired sleep doesn’t fix
– Hopeful
– Embracing growth, plunging into change, still breathing
– Bruised
– Listening with an intent to understand, not reply
– Thirsty
– Getting better at saying no
– Unapologetically doing my thing

Here’s some things I know:

– Almost is the saddest word there is
– You don’t fall on top of a mountain, you climb up one
– Existing is different from being alive
– Halfway is no good; go all in
– The things worth saying, most people don’t
– Fight change or flow with it; change goes on
– You can’t fake tenderness
– Risk is given a bad rap, usually from people who never take any

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I Am, I Know

A Letter To My Son

Joyce Maynard - Parenting Quote

O,

It’s getting to the tail end of 2015 and today I was thinking about all the things I’ve done so far this year, and all the things I’ve learned. It’s been a big, tremendous year. I was thinking about you, too, and how quickly you are growing. There are so many things I want you to know, and so many things I hope for you.

You are cheeky and sharp and bright. Don’t ever lose your spirit. Don’t ever let life – or, worse, other people – dampen and sap your energy. You have so much energy. You have a zest for life. I know you do. I know it because you are like me. Don’t stop singing to yourself, and hopping when you get excited, and screaming ‘yeah’ out loud when you’re happy; the world beats that kind of stuff out of people, as they grow, but I don’t want that to happen to you.

I hope I can instill in you the highest possible level of confidence – not arrogance, confidence. They are two very different things, though sometimes people get them confused. And if, at times, you can’t be confident, then I hope you can pretend to be. As you grow, you will realise that no one really has it all figured out, and the ones that say they do you likely need to run from.

Your confidence is going to grow in proportion to how often you’re prepared to step out of your comfort zone. So don’t become stagnant. Keep fresh.

I am going to tell you to ‘be careful’ a lot. I have already started. And I mean it. But, really, I want you to take a lot of risks. Hopefully not too many of those risks are reckless – like driving dangerously or jumping off large moving objects on a regular basis – but take risks. Climb to the top of the highest trees you find, swim at the base of waterfalls, be driven down a highway while you stand through a sunroof and your hair thrashes in the wind.

Hopefully you don’t want to become a UFC fighter, and maybe you can get through life without a motorbike, and out of all the animals you might like to adopt over the years, I truly hope none are of the reptile variety.

But if they are, that’s ok. And if you want to ride a motorbike, or become a UFC fighter, then I’ll help you in any way I can.

There are some things in life you should do; even when other people tell you that maybe it’s not such a good idea.

You should ride a motorbike, at least a few times in your life. And one of those times should be sitting on the back of one, holding onto someone’s waist, preferably along a stunning coastline somewhere in the world, because there will be a point where you turn your head and see the ocean, and you’ll feel the wind slice through you, and then something churn deep inside you and this I know, O: that’s what it means to be alive.

And you should hold a snake, or swim with a croc, or do whatever it is that you want to do, but that’s the key; do things that you want to do, not things you think you should, or just because other people are.

People will bang on about things in life coming at a ‘cost’. Spoiler alert: every single thing you will ever do will come at a cost. Don’t think about that. Focus instead on what adds value to your life. If it adds value to you, include it. If it doesn’t, subtract it. But don’t dwell on cost – monetary or otherwise. Because here’s the other spoiler alert: it’s always worth it.

While it’s definitely too early for you to be thinking about women, if that’s what you’re into later in life, please know this: be a gentleman, be kind, be thoughtful, be loving, but never compromise who you are for somebody else. Don’t give up on the things you love for a woman. Don’t change who you are for a woman. A good one will never expect you to. A great one will encourage you to be more of who you are, not less.

You will meet some amazing people in this world. Always be open to them. And if you’re drawn to somebody, for whatever reason, explore it.

I hope you find dazzling people and talk with them until the early hours of the morning; on a rooftop, or a verandah. Some of those people you will never see again, but I guarantee you will carry a piece of them with you for your whole life, and every once in a while someone will say something, or you’ll see something, and you’ll be reminded of them. And in your head text will appear like a leading title on the news: ‘Soldier, 1999, on the train to Venice’ and you’ll smile thinking of them.

Try and stay away from the kind of people that place value on material things, and instead find people that are interested; in life, in history, in books, in music, in people, in conversation, in living.

I hope you spend most of your time with good people, people that understand and embrace you, but you need to know this: sometimes people can know you for a long time, but not really know you.

Just last week someone I’ve known for half of my life said some awful things to me, and they did some horrible things, and it ripped a little piece out of me. Sometimes people will hurt you and sometimes they’ll break a part of you but here’s the other thing you need to know: you can always put yourself back together.

I hope you continue to be happy, and in doing so realise that you cannot ever compromise on your happiness. It should be the one thing in life you fail to bargain on. Find happiness in small things, as well as big things, and find it on your own. Don’t tie all of your happiness in a place, or a person. Anchor it to yourself.

Be the kind of person that spreads good stuff wherever they go; happiness, energy, love. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t be afraid to make them. I hope you make a ton of them, because that means you’ll never stop learning. There are secret opportunities hidden inside failures, and only the courageous get to unearth them.

Don’t let mediocrity get a grip of you; don’t tolerate it in other people.

Listen to your instincts, every single time. Always listen to your instincts. Sometimes you will need to ignore logic, or change your plans, and when those moments come, do exactly what you yearn for, and always remind yourself that death might be frightening, but not living should be feared far more.

I hope you tell a lot of people that you love them, and I hope a lot of people say it to you, too; some of them will whisper it, some of them will shout it, and some of them will only reveal it with their eyes, but every time take it for what it is; an absolute privilege, not something you are entitled to.

Don’t hold back from revealing yourself to other people; the only time you will ever need to be guarded is when you’re in a defensive stance in basketball, beyond that, let fall and slip, let fall and slip – even when it’s risky, even when you wind up hurt, even when it’s costly because, remember, it’s always worth it.

Live your life your way, and don’t ever allow anyone to make you feel guilty for that – the only opinion you need to worry about is the one you have of yourself. Use that as your compass; someone else’s might be broken, or going the wrong way. You can direct yourself, that I will always be sure of.

O, the thing about this year is that you’re not the only one that’s grown; I have too.

I know I haven’t been there to put you to bed every single night of every single week this year. I know you don’t need me to be. Your life is blessed and filled with people; people that love being around you, and can be when I’m not there. But just know this; every single time I walk in the door, no matter how late at night, or early in the morning, the first thing I do is walk into your room and run my hand through your hair.

And I know that sometimes I’m at the computer when you’re building a tower out of Lego, or making a train track, and five minutes can become twenty-five.

But there are some final things I need you to know:

I’ve never used you as an excuse, and I never will. Some people I know with children tend to use them as an excuse for all the things they can’t do, but I don’t feel that way with you. I know I can do anything. You don’t prevent me from doing anything and I think in the future that might be one of the best things you learn from me.

You are like a sponge; you soak everything in. And that’s why I’m so determined to live the best possible life I can, and be true to myself along the way, because I need to, for you. It’s not enough for me to hope and wish for who I want you to become – I need to be those things.

In many years to come, when you’re a man, and I’m an old woman, you won’t remember the things I tried to teach you, or the things I told you to do – you’ll remember who and what I am. And the things I did. You’ll remember how I lived.

I need you to know that life is resplendent – that every year you will learn, and bloom, and lament, and hurt, and you will go on adventures, and life will blow you away.

You have roots, and a core, and a heart, and you will sprout and develop, and I will always be there, to nourish you and love you, and it will never, ever feel like an obligation. It is a privilege, my son. You are an absolute privilege.

Love,

Mama

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I Know

Mistakes.

At the very end of last year, on the final day of December, I was lying on a futon, in a charming apartment four storeys up in Bronte, NSW, the waft of hot chips from the fish shop below seeping through the open windows, the waves from the beach crashing in the background, and I was reading this quote:

Neil Gaiman - Make Mistakes

I love Neil Gaiman. I love his attitude. I love his wise words. And I love this quote.

So I posted it. I posted it online because it seemed fitting. It seemed like a gentle reminder to not strive for perfection, but rather to strive for evolution.

I stumbled upon it again tonight. Lying in my bed, with the sounds of spring outside my door.

It’s almost October. That’s quite a few months since the last time I read this quote. Heck, it’s almost a year. If I close my eyes, I’m right back there, on that futon, in Bronte, with the strange taste of hot oil and the sea in my mouth.

The days have hurtled into months and this quote found me again, tonight, of all nights, after a weekend spent drawing metaphorical lines in the sand.

I don’t reflect a lot but when I do, I reflect with gusto. Looking back over the year so far, I can confidently say this:

“Neil, I’ve nailed it.”

I’ve made some good mistakes this year. I’ve made a few bad ones. I’ve made things and broken things and mended things. I’ve kept moving, mostly forward, occasionally sideways, without ever freezing.

I’ve learned. Goodness, the things I’ve learned. And I’ve lived. I’ve lived boldly and passionately and without any reservations. I’ve changed. I am not the exact same person as I was on that last night in December, lying on that futon.

I think that’s a good thing.

I think mistakes are good things.

Despite the overwhelming bad wrap they get, mistakes, messy though they sometimes may be, make you grow. They force you to grow.

Some of my mistakes have been insignificant, some have been diabolical, but they’ve all helped me evolve into who I am, right now, right here, lying on my bed.

I feel fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to even make the mistakes I have this year.

And that’s the thing about mistakes; people try to avoid them. They try to excuse them. But the very best thing you can do is embrace them. Own them.

Mistakes make you.

They don’t define you.

They make you.

Who you choose to be, who you get to be, after them, well, that’s yours for the taking.

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I Know

Tiny Interesting Choices

“That’s what I love about life, you never know how the day's going to end." - Sandi Sieger

I was just chatting to my friend and I uttered my famous line, the one I rip out about every fourth day:

‘That’s what I love about life, you never know how the day’s going to end.’

Even though I’ve said that line about 84,932 times, I really mean it.

When I wrote this blog the other week, one of the things I listed liking was tiny interesting choices.

Tiny interesting choices.

They’re my favourite.

A lot of people think it’s the milestones that matter in life – and they do – but so do the tiny interesting choices.

Graduating is exciting, but you know what else is? Being on a city street on a Tuesday night and making the choice between turning left or right.

I’m not being sarcastic.

The big things in life – weddings and babies and houses and holidays and birthdays ending in 0 – they’re all very special. They’re magical and memorable and I love the way they pepper life with joy and love and adventure.

But you don’t do them every day.

Living from milestone to milestone is not for me. It’s not enough. It’s not living.

Living is making tiny interesting choices.

Left or right. Up or down. Yes or no. Jump or freeze. Charge or stall.

All the little things; the choice between smiling at a stranger, or not. Meeting a friend at the corner café for a chai latte at 9pm on a rainy night, or watching TV. Walking through an unmarked door, or walking past it. Replying to an email, or sending it to the trash.

They’re the things that make the difference. They make all the difference.

They might not make it to the photo album – or they may.

The best thing about tiny interesting choices is you don’t know where they’ll wind up. Maybe the stranger walks right past you or maybe they become someone. Maybe you just chat with your friend or maybe you have the longest, hardest laugh you’ve had all year. Maybe the door leads to a dead end or maybe you discover something wonderfully new.

You don’t know.

I don’t know.

And that’s where the magic is.

In the tiny interesting choices; the underrated, unknown, seemingly unremarkable.

In the conversations and the promises and the aspirations. In the mistakes and the frustrations and the chaos. In the glances and the giggles and the noise.

Ahead of you are goals and plans and milestones.

And right now you’ve only got tiny interesting choices.

Don’t write them off.

There are so many adventures you will miss in the pursuit of a milestone.

Don’t.

Don’t be comfortable.

Don’t be hesitant.

Make tiny interesting choices.

You never know how the day’s going to end.

It’s what I love about life.

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I Am, I Know

I Just Don’t Know How To Be Any Different

In The Thick Of It Blog Comment

Cheryl left this comment on my last blog, asking how I go about self-care when it comes to wearing my, let’s call it, ‘cape of no fear’.

I’m not really sure how to answer or where to even start.

I realise that’s incredibly unhelpful, so I’m going to try and break it down.

I’m a really positive person. And when I say really, I mean r – e – a – l – l – y. Like, there’s almost something wrong with me really.

I believe it’s one of my greatest assets, but also one of my biggest downfalls.

It’s where a lot of my strength comes from, but it also makes me blind as hell.

And it’s a double-edged sword.

When shit hits the fan, when things go wrong, when nothing feels right, when people screw me over, my ability to see the positive is ridiculous. My knack of finding a shining light in everything and – to a certain extent – everyone, is outrageous. But it’s all I know. Why I am like that – why I think like that – is beyond me. I just don’t know how to be any different.

The problem with that is sometimes I’m a little out of reality. I don’t think ahead too much, and I don’t plan enough, and I get kicked in the guts more often than I’d like because…because…because in my head, it’s different.

I’m not stupid.

I’m not out of touch.

I’m not in la la land.

I’m quite reasonable.

I’m pretty intuitive.

It’s just that I always always come out the other end of every hiccup, every challenge… happy.

I told you. There’s almost something wrong with me.

I still go through the motions.

I feel it.

I feel everything.

Some days I just want to pack it all in. Other days you can’t tear me away from my computer. Some days I want to move to a tropical island and live off coconuts. Other days I have five coffees and six meetings and I swear sparks fly out of my shoes when I’m sashaying down the street. Some days I wake up and wish I could go back to sleep for 72 hours. Other days I’m up at 5am buzzing. Some days it takes the best part of twenty hours for me to tick two things off my to-do list. Other days my to-do list literally cannot keep up with me. Some days things hurt. Other days things don’t.

Sometimes I can feel myself starting to harden. When I’ve been burnt or disappointed. And then I remember that while it’s hard feeling so much, it’s better than feeling nothing at all. And while on the inside everything feels like it’s crumbling, it’s really not. And when all I want to do is curl up on the couch and get lost in something, it’s better to get dressed and show up.

For me, anyway.

I realised, actually, I decided, years ago, that I didn’t want to be the kind of person that let the bad things in life determine the kind of person they would be.

People often confuse my positivity with an assumption that the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced is a broken fingernail. It’s so ignorant of them. I don’t subscribe to the idea that if you’ve had a tough life – challenges, hurdles, obstacles – you need to be bitter about it.

What I know is that what’s happened has happened, and, for me, that means one of two things: let all the bad, all the hard, all the really messed up stuff hold me back or let it set me free. Let it bring me down or let it make me soar. Let it make me despondent or let it make me grow.

I always choose the second option.

I don’t know why.

I just don’t know how to be any different.

So, Cheryl, for you, or anyone else out there that feels the highest of highs, but also the lowest of lows, know this:

It has to be that way. As long as you have some of both, and some days that fall smack bang in the middle, you’re doing it right.

I need to feel low-spirited at times, because it makes the times when I’m towering over everything feel so much better. I need to feel angry and enraged and saddened at times, because it makes me feel. It makes me a better person. A better writer. And it makes the times I’m elated so much more valuable.

Some days you’ll want to Netflix your life away. You should. Some days you’ll want to be alone. So be alone. Some days you’ll just want to stare out a window for a while. So do exactly that.

We’ve got to stop permeating the idea that every day needs to be perfect and well-balanced.

It’s rubbish.

The truth is some days are good and some days are bad. Some days are easy and some days are hard. Some days make you and some days destroy you.

They’re just days. It’s just life.

And all I know is the difference between the people that are happy and the people that aren’t is the way they choose to be.

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I Know

It’s Not Often Enough…

It’s not often enough, in amongst the daily grind, and the busy-ness, and the rush, and the hopping between text messages and email bings and Twitter notifications, and the running to and from, and the endless pursuit of ticking things off the to-do list, and the driving here and there, listening to ads screeching through the radio, and the beeping and the ringing, and the reorganising and the scheduling, and the managing and the planning, that we sit back, truly sit back, and realise, recognise, how good this life is.

How wonderfully, beautifully, incredibly good it all is.

And it is.

It’s so, so good.

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