Every now and again I turn to my camera roll and flick through moments captured in time, and every time I find something new. It’s often raw and unpolished and of nothing terribly, seemingly significant, except maybe to me. And in that one little reflective moment, it all comes back. The hum of the city. The footsteps beside me. The heat. The orange sunset ricocheting off the 9th Avenue buildings. If those streets could talk. The stories they would tell. If we only understood that all we have is moments, strung together, that we bundle up and call a life. Maybe we’d make the most of our moments. Maybe we’d live more, in every moment. Maybe we’d never take a single one for granted, ever again.
Almost two months.
Of juggling and wading and balancing and shifting.
Almost two months of going through the gamut of human emotion.
Almost two months of elation and sadness and confusion and productivity and exhaustion and positivity and cocooning and laughter and frustration.
I made a decision almost two months ago, one I didn’t even consciously realise at the time; this whole experience wasn’t going to happen to me — I was going to happen to it.
That if I couldn’t go anywhere, I’d instead go inside myself. And ask some questions.
Like why do I think the way I think? Am I using my full potential? What does success mean to me? What do I want to change? What habits do I want to foster? What stories do I tell myself? What really matters to me?
I have pages of questions and more pages of answers.
I have fostered new habits.
I have dug deep and I’m not nearly at the bottom.
I’ve realised there’s some things I miss about ‘normal’ life, but some I absolutely don’t.
There’s some things I can’t wait to get back to, and some things I never will.
I knew this period would offer growth, and clarity, but I didn’t realise quite how much.
I love getting uncomfortable — I’ve made a life out of it — but I haven’t often enough allowed the space for things to get really quiet. And really still.
Because that’s genuinely uncomfortable.
Sitting — still, silent — with yourself.
Now I do it on the daily.
And, almost two months on, I can say with absolute assurance that you will bloom if you take the time to water yourself.
Also — I’m still living in playsuits.
“I was waiting for something extraordinary to happen, but as the years wasted on nothing ever did unless I caused it.” — Charles Bukowski
I think about that quote, one of my favourites, a lot. In many ways, it’s one of the defining manners by which I live my life. Not the waiting bit, I’m no good at that. But the bit about causing things to happen. I get that.
I sometimes wonder, like I was just now, walking around in the glorious autumn sunshine, ‘how did I get so lucky?’ ‘Why am I so blessed?’ ‘Why me?’ and then I realised it’s not by chance, not by coincidence, not by fate, and certainly not by luck. It’s because I caused it.
Because I’ve been ferociously protective of where I invest my energy. Because I’ve gotten uncomfortable. Because I’ve done the work. Because I’ve shown up. Because I keep showing up — even, and especially — when it’s hard and inconvenient and tricky and messy.
It’s because I’ve gone deep. Because I’ve taken responsibility. Because I’ve owned my choices. Because I’ve lived in accordance with my values. Because I’ve believed in myself — backed myself. Because I’ve operated from a space of no judgement — no judgement on others, on myself. Because I’ve chosen, and continue to choose, my attitude. Every single day.
It’s because of these things that I find myself here — mid global pandemic, in the throes of social isolation, with an empty schedule and a strange new normal — filled with gratitude. Occupied with excitement. Loaded with love. Exploding with ideas. Executing plans.
You don’t accidentally wind up living a life that makes you burst out of bed each morning, one that fulfils you, one that enriches others, one that makes you proud.
It takes guts, and courage, and gumption, and nerve, and an abundance of never-ending work. And all of that is reliant on you taking action. On making things happen. On causing it.
I’m reminded of the old Latin proverb; ‘fortune favours the brave.’
Turns out, it’s true.
Around this time of year, people start wishing for it all to be over – the year, the day to day, the busyness of life. But I don’t want to plod my way across some imaginary finish line that marks the end of the year. I want to roll in with a bloody bang. And savour every last day. December isn’t a month to be wished away. This decade is never coming back. So this is your friendly reminder that you could die, at any time, or your entire world as you know it could change, at any given moment. Maybe, if you’re not already, it’s time to start living like you mean it. Living like this one precious life you have is fleeting. Maybe it’s time to stop telling yourself stories and start getting uncomfortable. Living in truth. Maybe it’s time to start choosing joy. Joy doesn’t just happen. It’s a decision you make about how you are going to live your life — and how you are going to respond to life. Here’s what I know: joy attracts joy. Here’s something else I know: who you surround yourself with is who you are. Who are you spending the rest of this year, this decade, with? My advice is to find people who speak your language, so you don’t have to spend a lifetime translating your spirit. The kind of people who understand what you do not say. The kind of people who light a fire in you. The ones who fill you with joy. Find one, or ten, of them. But more than anything, be one of them. The clock ticking over at New Year might signify a fresh start for some, but I don’t buy into that, and never have. You can reinvent yourself anytime you like. You can reflect, and reassess, on any day of the damn year. Fresh starts happen anytime you decide to embark on one. All you have is now. And, to me, that seems like a perfect place to start. Go be who you want to be. The person you need. Don’t put your happiness in a person, a possession or a profession. Joy is up to you. So is how you spend the last thirty-four days of this year. And any days you get beyond that. Find your joy — and keep choosing it every day.
the poet spoke seven last words
“i go to seek a great perhaps”
but i don’t want to wait until i die
when it’s time to join the birds
to start seeking a great perhaps
to finally feel like i can fly
i want to feel this life while i’m in it
uncaged, vibrant, brutally conscious, free
oh what a word
filled with so much possibility
is an uncomfortable place
but what a place to be
it’s the life for me
there’s nowhere i’d rather be
I’ve never understood people that choose negativity over positivity.
But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised that some people are wired for negativity – they get off on being argumentative and combative. They thrive on being toxic. Thrive on destruction. And drama.
It’s harder to be positive. It’s harder to spread positivity. But – and I’ve said this a million times – it’s so worth it.
Negative people think they’re a victim of circumstance; positive people know they create their own reality.
Negative people live in scarcity – with a mindset of ‘there is not enough.’ Positive people live in abundance, knowing there is always enough.
Negative people know they are alive temporarily, and that scares them. Positive people know they are alive temporarily, and they think that’s awesome.
Negative people are in competition with the world. Positive people are in harmony with the world.
Negative people complicate things – they lie, especially, and most importantly, to themselves. Positive people are happy – especially, and most importantly, within themselves.
So why do people persist with being negative?
And because it’s easy.
And most people are lazy.
It’s easier to criticise someone else than to focus on your own shortcomings. It’s easier to plant the seed of doubt in someone than it is to work on your own self-doubt. It’s easier to judge than it is to self-reflect. It’s easier to mock someone else’s dreams than it is to have the courage to pursue your own. It’s always, always, always easier to be negative than positive.
But good things don’t grow in negativity. And do you know what’s louder than it? Positivity.
Positivity wins. Always.
For those of you working hard to be positive; keep it up. Stay in your lane. Ignore negativity. Do not feed into drama. Do not allow toxicity to drain you.
People will try and kill your dreams. People will try and assassinate your character. And when they don’t get their way, they’ll try harder. When they realise they can’t control you, they’ll try and control how other people see you.
Stay above it.
Trust that other people will see the truth.
And they will.
Because you can only hide in negativity for so long.
Unbothered by negative souls.
Because that’s a goal worth striving for.
If you can be unbothered by negative souls, then you’ll understand the true meaning of the word freedom.
And that makes you unfuckwithable.
When you are truly at peace and in touch with yourself, you’re unfuckwithable.
When nothing anyone says or does bothers you, you’re unfuckwithable.
When no negativity or drama can touch you, you’re unfuckwithable.
A dear friend recently described me as having ‘a no-fucks vivacity and an all-the-fucks heart.’ It might just be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.
I do give no fucks, about the things that don’t matter.
I do give all the fucks, about the things that do.
I am unbothered. And unfuckwithable.
And I hope you can find the courage – and the calm – to be so too.
You have no idea how petrifying you will be to someone who only knows how to deal and trade in negativity when you’re unfuckwithable. When you’re positive. When you’re happy.
Their energy is wasted. Their words fall on deaf ears. Their efforts amount to nothing.
All the while you soar.
Stay in your lane.
It’s tempting to veer.
But stay in your lane.
I promise you it’s worth it.
“When I finally get…”
“Once I’ve bought…”
“When I finish…”
“Once I’ve done…”
Boring, wearisome words.
If you want to rob your life, of the good, and the great, of the grand, and the majestic, keep feeding yourself lies.
Wrap them up into a neat, safe, beige parcel and call them reasons.
Believe they’re what’s holding you back.
Believe they’re why you haven’t already.
Tirelessly wait for better days.
For “when I finally get…” and “once I’ve done…” and then, when you’ve got and you’ve done, you’ll realise the cost was living your one, precious life. Abandoning your dreams. Abandoning yourself.
You have everything you need – right now – to make your life beautiful. To do the things you love. To be the person you want to be.
You do not need to wait, or delay.
“When I…” and “once I…” are traps.
And you know they are.
Stop making excuses.
Stop waiting for the right time.
Stop wishing your life away.
I will say it again: you have everything you need – right now – to make your life beautiful.
Go and make your life beautiful.
- Never stop being a good person because of bad people.
- Your worst battle will always be between what you know and what you feel. Go with the latter.
- Never let success get to your head. Never let failure get to your heart.
- Your time is best spent with people who make you see the world differently – not with those who flatter your view.
- Two things you’re going to need in life: hope and purpose.
- Nothing changes, if nothing changes.
- Find someone who speaks your language, so you don’t have to spend a lifetime translating your spirit.
- Own your choices.
- You need at least one friend in your life who understands what you do not say.
- Get uncomfortable. As often as possible.
- Some people may not deserve your love, but it doesn’t mean they don’t need it.
- Mostly, it’s the will, not the skill, that will be the difference.
- Be alone, more often than you’d like. It’s good for you.
- Positivity is a choice. And the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.
- Being broken doesn’t give you the right to break other people.
- Be louder.
- The secret of your future is hidden in the habits of your daily routine.
- You give life to what you give energy to.
- Be afraid, but do it anyway.
- Perspective is everything, perception is just a lie.
- Never go too long without watching a sunset.
- Don’t put your happiness in other people’s hands. They’ll drop it. Every time.
- Only boring people get bored.
- It’s not a coincidence that the happiest people are the ones that do the most for others.
- Follow the flame from the fire that burns inside you, and you will always feel the light.
- Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Every day is a special occasion.
- Only insecure people judge others.
- No one else knows what they’re doing either.
- You must know your worth, and not discount it.
- You do not have to unscrew another person’s light bulb in order to shine.
- If you accept your flaws, no one can use them against you. And that’s power.
- The wound may not be your fault, but the healing is your responsibility.
- It doesn’t matter who you’ve been, or what you’ve done – all that matters is who you want to become.
- In a world full of fish, be a shark.
“Don’t deny your fire,” he said. “Just be who you are and burn.”
Whenever the sky is hazy and pink, I think of him. And what he said. In that beautiful moment in time.
“March on solider,” he said, as he pulled me up from the ground by my left shoulder, while I wiped tears from my cheek. Whenever things get tough, I think of him. And what he said. In that beautiful moment in time.
“Everything else is just extra,” he said, as he swigged the rest of his coffee and threw his jacket on. “It’s all glitter and sparkles.” And he was right. In that beautiful moment in time.
“It’s okay to ricochet between certainties and doubts,” he said. And it is. Whenever I’m in between, I think of him. And what he said. In that beautiful moment in time.
I felt a lump swell in the base of my throat yesterday.
I instantly knew what it was.
I’ve felt it a couple of times this year already; in the days leading up to my birthday, and Father’s Day, and his birthday.
It’s unmistakable – a sharp bulge, that intensifies the more I try to quash it.
But it remains.
I wonder if it’ll be like this forever.
I suspect it might still be too early to know.
There’s been a lot of ‘firsts’ this year.
First without this, and first without that.
People say it gets easier with the seconds and thirds.
I’m not convinced.
Time passes, time heals. Maybe. But it doesn’t erase.
And I wouldn’t want it to.
So many years of saturated memories; tinsel flooded floorboards, and sunburn, tables overflowing with food, and cherry stained fingertips. Music permeating the walls. Laughter, over the crunch of wrapping paper.
For the most part, this Christmas won’t be all that different from any other.
There’ll just be one person missing.
It’s disconcerting how life ticks along, as though the people who once loomed so large were never there at all.
But of course they were.
I’ve got little interest in popping crackers or faking festivity over small talk with people I’ve no partiality to.
I just want to be around the people I love, that get it.
The ones that you don’t have to explain anything to, because they know.
It’s funny, what, and who, you’re drawn to after loss. The comfort you find in the familiar, the warmth in revisiting old memories, and with it, old feelings.
I like being close to that.
And as far away as possible from the rest of it.
It’s hard to describe – the immense sense of loss, the extensive gaping hole – because it is entirely at odds with – sublime happiness, genuine excitement – and here I am, occupied by all of them, at once.
It is both melancholic, and marvellous. Delicate, and misinterpreted. Complex, and cathartic. Light, and dark.
The lump comes.
But maybe instead of trying to quash it, I’ll just let it linger.
It’s a nice reminder, in some ways.
To stay near the people, and do the things, that feel like light.
Not just for a season.