I Am, I Do, I Know

As Good As Can Be Expected

My Dad passed away two weeks ago.

People keep asking me how I’m going, as though they’re half expecting me to break in front of them.

I’m glad they ask.

I’ve realised it’s much nicer than not being asked.

How am I going?

I’m not sure.

Mostly I say, ‘as good as can be expected.’

I suppose that is true.

I’m not sure what the expectation is when you lose one of the most important, pivotal, beloved people in your life, but I feel like I’m doing as good as I can be – I’m waking up, and showering, and eating, and caring for my son, and driving my car, and running errands, and seeing family and friends, and cooking, and cleaning, and checking emails, and making phone calls, and planning, and doing all the little things people do that fill their days.

Some people don’t know what to say, which I somewhat understand, but here’s something else I’ve realised; it’s not that hard to say ‘I’m thinking of you’ or ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ or ‘I hope you are doing as good as can be expected’.

I have been showered in support, and love, and thoughts, and I feel them, wrapped around me. I am so appreciative of every single one of them.

But my Dad has died.

He’s gone.

And my life is forever changed.

Everything is kind of the same, but paradoxically, absolutely nothing is the same.

Nothing will be the way it used to be, ever again.

I am mostly fine, except for when I am not. I am mostly ok, except for when I am not.

Sometimes it slowly creeps up on me, like a looming dread in the pit of my stomach, and sometimes it hits me, bang out of nowhere, and I catch myself clutching my breath.

I’m as good as can be expected, but I am angry.

I’ve got a simmering rage inside me that I’m containing, but boy does it bubble. I’ve had to remind myself, every day, to ‘let it go’, that ‘it’s not worth it’, to ‘calm down’.

I’m as good as can be expected, but I feel robbed.

Robbed that Dad didn’t get enough time, that I didn’t get enough time, that we all didn’t get enough time. Robbed for what he’ll miss, for what I’ll miss, for what we’ll all miss.

It’s true that we don’t know our own strength until we need to; people have commended me for mine, which is lovely, but also slightly odd.

I’m ‘strong’ because being anything less seems like a disservice to Dad; to his honour, and legacy. I’m ‘strong’ because I have a child to raise, and a family to love, and being anything less seems like a disservice to them.

People see strength as ‘getting on with it’ – helping organise a funeral, and saying a eulogy without falling apart, and running yourself into the ground with errands, and doing as good as can be expected, and they say, ‘Good on her, look how strong she is,’ like you’re a show dog at a competition.

That is not strength.

That is autopilot, running on adrenalin.

Do you want to know what strength is?

Strength is not snapping someone’s neck in rage.

Strength is not losing your shit at someone else’s incompetence.

Strength is repeating the same story, over and over, to sympathising guests, when all you want to do is lie down in bed with the doona well above your head.

Strength is choosing not to be negative; choosing life, and beauty, and adventure, and wonder.

My Dad may have died, but that doesn’t give me the right to act like a dick.

So I am being as strong as I can, in the way I know how: by not being an arsehole. The world has enough of those.

Death evokes all sorts of feelings and reactions in people, and they’re all ok. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, or empathise. For the most part, people use it as an opportunity to think about themselves. At the centre of their own universe, they think of how death affects them. I’ve discovered, in this fortnight that feels like a year, who is really there for me, and who is not, who my true friends are, and who are just people I know.

There’s one small thing I’ve found exceptionally difficult: how quickly ‘is’ and ‘are’ become ‘was’ and ‘were’.

The instant change in tense is jarring.

And, there’s another thing: how the world just keeps spinning.

My Dad may have died, but that doesn’t mean the world stops.

I get that.

That is the way it should be.

It’s just a little unnerving, how everything goes on, swiftly, at full tilt.

It’s all very surreal; that this has happened, that this is life now.

I’m not convinced that anyone can truly know what it feels like to lose a parent, until they have lost one. And the well-wishes are pleasant, and the thoughts are kindly, but the advice is inordinate and borders on offensive. You either know, or you don’t, and if you don’t, you’re fortunate.

I’ve unwillingly become part of a club I don’t really want to be in but the other people are lovely, and they get it, and the biscuits are nice.

I’ve discovered there’s no real preparation for losing a loved one; whether it strikes you out of nowhere or you have a long lead-time – there’s no difference whatsoever. There’s only here or gone and until they are gone, they are here.

Predominantly, I understand there’s no right or wrong way to go about any of it. Being close to my family and friends has helped me, but some people might choose to shut off. I know that people mean well – and it’s better having people mean well than not having people at all. I recognise that, like with anything in life, there’s constant challenges and choices, and I get to choose my choices, and own them too. I acknowledge that grief is a bit like a wave, and I think I’ll be buoyed forever…

but I also know that I’ll still laugh

and love

and soar

and that the thirty-two years I got were better than thirty, or twenty-five, or ten, or none at all

and that so much of who I am is because of him.

So much. Of who I am. Is because. Of him.

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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 Am

Laying It Bare…

I wrote this post on Facebook over the weekend:

The Invitation - Exceprt

“Sometimes I get a little obsessive with songs, or poems, and I listen to them or read them, over and over, until I’ve got everything I can out of them, or they’ve at least sunk in.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been reading ‘The Invitation’ by Oriah, Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder, and I love it, all of it, and I’ve got this verse playing on loop in my head, and in particular this line: “I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.”

Can you?

Because I’ve realised I can.

Because being genuine – not betraying who I truly am, or my soul – might not make me the best person in the world, by some standards or rules, but it makes me the only one I’m happy to live with. Being fake – especially to myself – is just not an option. I’ve always been ok with that, but I’ve doubted it a little recently.

Earlier this year, I wrote a thing, and one of the lines in it was this: “People will tell you to ‘be yourself’ but in order to do so, you’ve got to get really comfortable with who you genuinely are.”

Are you?

Because I’ve realised I am.

Even if that means disappointing another to be true to myself.

I really, really am.”

I do that kind of thing, sometimes – post a thought, or an opinion, occasionally a rant.

There’s no real rhyme or reason to what I post, other than feeling a certain way in a certain moment. It’s a free pour, out of my brain, to my little community of people, partly in the hope that some of the words might mean something to them – that they might help them, or inspire them, or at least make them think.

Sometimes other stuff happens instead.

Sometimes people don’t like what I write, or say.

Maybe it hits a nerve for them, or maybe it confronts (or more likely affronts) them.

I’m not sure.

This morning my phone rang and it was someone telling me they’d read my post, and that I was wrong. They told me all the reasons I was wrong. And then the reasons why I was selfish.

I chuckled, a bit. Mostly because I know I’m one of the least selfish people in the world, but paradoxically, and this was kind of the point of my post, I can also be terribly selfish, and I’m ok with that. I’m more than ok with that.

I know you’re not supposed to say that.

I know you’re supposed to say that you spend your entire life in service of others; of people, the greater good, of tasks and checklists. That you put everyone, and everything, first, and lag behind, hoping to catch a break or take a breath. And even if you know who or how you really are, I know you’re meant to deny it, and pretend. Pretend like you are that person you’re ‘supposed’ to be.

But I can’t do that.

I’ve never been wired to do that.

And if there’s anything I know, it’s that you’ve got to love yourself first.

For me, that means being true to who I am. Even if that means disappointing someone else. Even if that makes me selfish.

I am no good to anyone, or anything, any other way.

Jane Caro - It's Important To Be Brave

Today someone shared this Jane Caro article on Facebook, and I read it and nodded. It is much more important to be brave, than nice. And people are very afraid of offending others. And saying what they think. And none of that fazes me at all.

I definitely don’t ever intend to offend anyone, but if someone is a little disgruntled after reading something I’ve written, there’s not a single part of me that is concerned about that.

It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I can’t, and won’t, suppress my thoughts because they don’t align with someone elses.

Part of what I do, as a writer, means putting a fair bit of myself out there. And while there is a great deal that I haven’t yet written about (my childhood, my challenges, my pretty traumatic labour experience, to name a few), there is a lot that I have. And I know that if I want to be the best writer I can be – and, more importantly, be true to who I am – then I can’t filter my thoughts.

If I factored in every opinion, and expectation, I’d likely never write a thing.

And let’s be honest; writing is one of the most selfish, indulgent things you can do. Especially when it’s about yourself, or your life.

That people even read what I write still blows me away. With all the words in all the world, the fact that a small percentage of people read mine with what precious time they have is kind of incredible.

But I don’t really write for them. I write for me. And, I suspect, that’s part of the reason people keep coming back; because I’m not trying to be perfect – something I most definitely am not. I’m only trying, every day, to be the best me I can be. And I think sharing parts of who I am can maybe help other people be brave, or at least be themselves, unashamedly.

Something I’m conscious of is that not every story is my story – even the ones that do have a lot of me in them. And while I’ll always be true to myself, I’m aware that not everyone I cross paths with has signed up to have their life chronicled, or their thoughts aired, and I respect that, with every ounce of consideration I have.

But it’s ok for me to be raw, out there. To say, or write, the things I don’t think enough people do. I can handle the negative feedback and comments (and even the phone calls).

But I don’t think I can stomach the judgement.

I think people that say things that are truthful – even if those things aren’t necessarily pretty – shouldn’t be torn down, but maybe instead given a high-five, or at least a thumbs up.

Not because of any other reason than it is brave.

It requires, no matter how often you’ve done it before, an unflinching exploration of boldness.

And not enough people are bold. Or brave.

And the more we tear down people when they try to be, the less likely they are to lay anything bare.

And we need to lay bare; to unlatch and throw wide open the window on who we are, so we can make it easier for other people to be who they are.

I’m never going to stop doing that; even when it’s not pretty. Even when it’s brash.

Being who you genuinely are, and being ok with that, is brave and it is bold.

And that’s all I need, and want, to be.

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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 Do, I Know

31 Things I Know, Now That I’m 31

1. When I was 16, I felt like I knew everything. Now that I’m 31, I know that I definitely don’t.

2. Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.’ As I get older, I see more and more people dying. Their bodies just haven’t realised it yet.

3. There’s nothing wrong with routine, or habit, but every now and again shake it up; take a different route, start the other way around, order a different drink. Just because.

4. Where possible, do things because you want to, not have to.

5. People change. It’s unreasonable to expect someone to be the same person for an entire lifetime.

6. Don’t make excuses.

7. A well-stocked freezer never disappoints. There will be nights when you’re cold and weary. Nights when your legs feel like lead. Nights when even thinking is too tiresome. These are the nights you defrost.

8. Different people will stir different things inside of you. That’s why your circle should be wide and varied.

9. We are guests of this world, this planet, and we don’t own shit; let’s all act accordingly.

10. People do the best that they can with what they have and what they know. But people can always do better.

11. Anything is possible. I mean Cadbury just put Vegemite in chocolate, so really.

12. Use everything; your best earrings, your favourite shoes, the expensive hand cream, the fancy gifts. Use ‘em all until they fray and run out and break.

13. Figure out what you’re not prepared to compromise on, ever, and don’t.

14. There’s very little black and white and a whole heap of grey.

15. If you have to choose between settling and running, run.

16. When a day ends and you’ve been scared and challenged and nervous, understand that’s not a bad day. That’s the very best type of day.

17. Live like you mean it.

18. When it all seems too hard, too big, too messy, wait until the sun sets and the sky goes midnight blue and the stars start twinkling. Then look up.

19. Love yourself first.

20. Someone recently shared some advice with me they’d once received, advice they live by: ‘just say yes’. So just say yes. To the things you want to do, to the things you don’t know how to do, to the things that scare you.

21. Throw yourself out of your comfort zone. Often.

22. Eat your greens.

23. You’ve just gotta listen to music every day.

24. There is enough of everything for everybody.

25. People will tell you to ‘be yourself’ but in order to do so, you’ve got to get really comfortable with who you genuinely are.

26. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.

27. One day you’re 20 and then you blink and you’re 30. Some days might be long but the years are short so if you can do something with them – something meaningful and good – then you should. Don’t let a decade pass only to wonder what could have been.

28. You will likely leave this world in a similar way to how you entered it; naked, screaming and gasping for air. I don’t know why people make the part in between those two events so difficult and pointless, but if you can help it, try not to be one of them.

29. Everyone is on this quest to find the blank white space where everything is neat and perfect and sorted and solid. And that’s great. But if you can get lost in the sticky for a while – that gooey, uncomfortable place that everyone’s running from – then you should. Get wildly lost.

30. Things are only ever as complicated as you make them.

31. To feel is to live. If you don’t feel it, you’re not living.

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I Read

Swing, Man.

I stumbled upon this letter the other day:

Frank Sinatra's Letter to George Michael, 1990, Calendar Magazine

It’s written by Frank Sinatra, in the September of 1990, to George Michael, following an interview Michael did with the LA Times’ Calendar Magazine. Talking on “the tragedy of fame”, Michael declared that he would shun the limelight before and during the upcoming release of his album ‘Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1’ – meaning there’d be very few interviews, absolutely no promo videos and no tour.

Frank Sinatra's Letter to George Michael, 1990, Calendar Magazine

The week following Michael’s interview, Sinatra’s letter was published in Calendar Magazine.

And I bloody love it.

Particularly this paragraph:

Talent must not be wasted … those who have talent must hug it, embrace it, nurture it and share it lest it be taken away from you as fast as it was loaned to you.

But really the whole darn thing. Every word of it.

There’s so many truths in it. So many absolute gems. I’ve read it over and over and, to me, it’s not just a polite dust up of George Michael’s attitude. It’s a kick in the face to those coasting along. Those being ungracious. Those who aren’t hungry anymore.

I think most people could take a little something from it. Like:

Feed your talent.

Take life a little less seriously.

Don’t forget where you came from.

Be grateful for where you are. And what you have.

And:

You are stuck in a whirlwind of lament. But you have nothing to really complain about.

So have fun.

Go easy.

See where the ride takes you.

Swing, man.

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I Know

Scare The World

Scare The World

I believe two of the most important things in life are being yourself, wholly and fully, and being honest, with yourself, and everyone else.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve grappled with the idea of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – doing the ‘right’ thing as opposed to what’s right for me. I’ve grappled with being the ‘bigger’ person, as opposed to being the best version of myself.

I made a promise to myself a few weeks ago. And then the other night I drifted from it, just a little bit. And when, the next morning, I realised I’d drifted, I felt sick. To my core.

So I swiftly went about fixing things. For me. Which was not particularly easy. But it was necessary. So necessary.

Because if you’re not who you say you are, then you’re no one. If you’re not the person you promise you will be when the time comes to be it, then you won’t ever be anything.

People spend half their lives ranting in their heads about all the things they’ll do and the words they’ll say, and then they stumble and quaver and choose the easy way out, the one that involves making no choices or avoiding the truth or shying away from the conflict or maybe all of those things combined. And they mask it all with phrases of ‘being the better person’ and ‘doing the right thing’ and ‘keeping the peace’ whilst the truth almost chokes them.

Here’s a few truths; if you sit on the fence, you’ll live your whole life with splinters up your arse. If you avoid conflict, chances are you’ll end up creating more of it. And if you avoid the truth, you are gutless.

It’s easy to say who you are but much harder to be it. But you should never waiver from who you are.

So make the tough calls. Take risks. Stick to your word. Swallow the lump in your throat. Be bloody bold. Make yourself proud.

Scare the world.

And every other mofo who dares to stop you from being honest and being you.

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I Know

It’s Worth Remembering…

It’s worth remembering that people, not all, but some, will take advantage of you when and if they can.

Being taken advantage of isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

It’s worth remembering that people will often forget the things you have done for them; the very good things. The things you have sacrificed. The time you have spent helping them.

People forgetting the things you have done isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

And it sometimes results in being taken advantage of.

It’s worth remembering not to have too much to do with dumb people.

Dumb people are dumb.

They are forgetful. They aren’t ‘with it’. They’re rarely up-to-speed.

When you have things to do with dumb people you spend a lot of time repeating yourself. Going over old ground. Going around in circles.

It isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

It’s worth remembering that some people are selfish. Some people are obviously selfish and some are less so but selfish is selfish.

So because of that it’s worth remembering to look after yourself; your priorities and interests, first and foremost, before you sacrifice too much and put the dreams and ideas of others before your own.

Because in the end those people will look after themselves; they will take advantage and forget the things you have done because they are dumb and selfish.

And being too loyal, too kind, doesn’t win you any prizes.

Sometimes there’s no prize to be won.

Maybe there’s some acknowledgement or recognition. Maybe there’s a little thank you or some appreciation.

It’s worth remembering that you won’t always get that, even if you never expected it.

And so, it’s worth remembering that you can learn your lesson once, twice, even three times and then still find yourself back to where you once were, wondering how you forgot about people that take advantage and forget the things you have done, people that are selfish and dumb.

So try not to forget.

Do your very best to remember.

Put your energy and effort into the things you love, the things that build your dreams in the night and pump blood to your heart in the day.

Spend your time with the people you know are not selfish and dumb.

And then you will not be forgotten. Or taken advantage of.

But be grateful you once forgot, because it reminded you to stop and walk in a straight line, along some new ground.

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I Do, Press

Wisdom of the Ages

Wisdom

I was thrilled to be invited to speak at Wisdom of the Ages, an event organised by Tina Jensen to be held at Hub Melbourne this Friday the 8th of March, to coincide with International Women’s Day.

I’ll be reading a letter, sharing a story, to my 18 year old self – “If I knew then what I know now…”

All are welcome and you can find further details and ticketing information by clicking this link.

Image © Sandi Sieger

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