Brixton & Battling

And a Happy New Year!

Yes, it’s been incredibly quiet on the blogging front from me, however i’ve been up to my armpits in off-line ‘real life’ stuff.

Towards the end of last year I was in a real state of flux. I’d recently finished a part-time stable job that was very helpfully supplementing my income, and at the same time had been given notice by my landlady. yowzers.

Long story short, I found a new place (in Brixton, South London) and have a new gig – I’m a film extra! Since November I’ve worked on two major movies and have had a blast on both of them, as well as been paid very well indeed. It’s re-fired me up to be more involved in productions (film, TV, stage) and that’s where I’ll be focusing my efforts for the foreseeable future.

To any performer who has had snide remarks said to them…

Things have also been getting good with my ukelele group! I joined in Sept last year and over Xmas took part in their festive hootenanny – I had the chance to lead everyone in a few songs on the main stage. And I had a strange deja-vu moment, one I’ll share with you now as it may help – for anyone who has been judged for being a performer.

Many years ago back at university, I played guitar & sang in a few bands. One night me and my then-boyfriend went to see a friends’ band play. During their set, they asked me to come up on stage to do some backing vocals. I rocketed to the stage and had fun. I then joined them for a couple of other songs. When I re-joined my boyf in the crowd afterwards, he told me I was an ‘attention seeker’, and that weekend when we were visiting his parents, he told them about me and the gig, saying I liked to ‘steal the limelight’ and that I was ‘hogging the stage’.

Those phrases stuck in the back of my mind, and sub-consciously ate at me.

I played in bands less (stopping altogether, eventually) and began to tone myself down.

(You’ll be pleased to know that me and the boyf didn’t last)

Fast-forward to the ukelele hootenanny.

After going up on stage to lead everyone through a couple of festive songs, I came back to my seat in the crowd, and the guy next to me (who I didn’t know) says ‘Well you like the limelight, don’t you’.

I didn’t know what to say. Was that a criticism, an observation, even an affirmation? My immediate response was to take it the way my ex-boyf had said it – almost as a put down. But this time I chose to respond differently.

Just then the ukelele group leader called out ‘we need a female singer to come up and sing the women’s parts on this song’.

So I waved my hand, stood up, turned to the guy next to me and said ‘Yep, it’s time for me to get back in that limelight’.

I wish I hadn’t previously let other people’s judgements about me being on stage get in the way of me being where I’m meant to be, doing what I love to do. I suppose it was a ‘test’ in how much courage and faith I have in myself as a performer – that it’s ‘okay’ for me to enjoy it and want to do it – that it’s not about me being an ‘attention seeker’.

So for anyone reading this who might have come up against the same comments from others, please don’t start turning your back on your performance space! If you love it and it makes you feel alive, then you’re meant to be there. Who gives a fig what others might think about you. Life is too damn short.

Waacking abroad

Other big and exciting news is that I’m on the battle list for Street Star – a big European street dance competition being held in Stockholm at the end of February. I’ve taken part in battles here in London in front of 100 – 300 person crowds, but this is a big step up – there’s likely to be at least a thousand people watching.

Dressed as Pingu for a fancy dress battle

Dressed as Pingu for a fancy dress battle

I suppose the thing that means the most to me about it is that I only started dancing this style (waacking) two years ago, with no idea of where it would lead (if anywhere). I couldn’t have even dreamt that I’d be getting on a plane to compete & represent the UK!

So this blog will likely still be a bit quiet – from now til then I’ll be training, booking the hotel, and hopefully there’ll be another film job.

A year ago I had no idea that I’d be going to international dance competitions,playing in a music group again, and making money from acting in blockbusters (being on set with Kenneth Brannagh and Kevin Costner LOL). Funny how life turns out. Never say never…

S xo

30 year old woman attempts skatepark bowls for first time shocker

Today I finally got my self to a skate park – one known for its bowls

I’ve never skated ramps or bowls before, only straight roads. But I was drawn towards trying out bowls to see if they are more fun than just going straight!

So I’m at the park, and fear crept in. Ah the familiar feeling! I spent about a good 20 minutes standing on the sidelines, watching all the guys easily skate about, doing tricks, falling off. I just couldn’t stand on the board and go.

So I stood with the feeling. I just stood in fear. I didn’t do a goddamn thing with it. I didn’t force myself to ‘go through the fear’, and neither did I decide I was too scared & should leave.

Eventually, I got so bored with feeling scared, and more motivated to have a go, that I finally got on the board and skated about for a bit, slowly and rubbishly mooching over the edges of some curves, getting used to the feeling, til I went fast through a bowl and fell off.

hand

Grazed my wrist and have a colossal bruise on my thigh. Yet I am happy – because i refused to let fear stop me, when I was so ready to not take part, to just go home.

What did I learn:

1. Be kind to yourself. Don’t turn up anywhere doing something for the first time and expect to be good. You are going to make mistakes, be rubbish, not impress anyone. Embrace that freedom. The freedom to be crap!

2. When you feel big fear, don’t make any decisions or take any actions til it subsides (if possible). Get past the fight/flight impulse just by hanging in there, doing nothing.

3. Fear tends to precede memorable moments. Life should have these moments, so don’t deny yourself the memories. Decide that you want the memories/experience more than you want to give in to fear.

4. Dive in and learn as you go. I watched guys skate about for a good while, and that didn’t help all that much when it came to me taking my turn. Sometimes you just have to move forward, try it out, mess up, to figure out how to do it. That goes for most things. I saw a three year old there on a scooter, slowly meandering around. How can you teach a three year old this stuff? They just have to have a go and learn as they go along – they’re not gonna study books or watch training videos. Sometimes that’s the best way to do things.

More sporadic updates to come!

S xo

Learning how to feel without analysing or fixing

I will kinda be taking a hiatus for the next couple of weeks from writing the blog. I’m yearning for a slot of time to ‘go deep’ as it were, and currently i’m just feeling things without processing them or making teachable lessons out of them.

So in fact I will write about that right now!

There is a tendency for *some* of us on the path to be very self-aware, to notice what’s going on with ourselves, catch our habits, have our tools to get us back ‘in the game’. But not actually dwell in the feelings themselves – I know for myself if something comes up (a fear, anger, uncomfortable feeling etc) I will automatically go into ‘let’s sort this out’ mode, or look at it like a scientist and try to work out what’s going on, if there’s an underlying emotional ‘hot spot’ that needs working on. I like to be pro-active and make things right. If i don’t go into analysis mode, then instead I will look to my list of mood-lifters to get me back on track again – exercise, dancing, watching Glee etc.

I think that’s probably what a lot of us do, who are into the whole self-help melarky.

However, i’m now learning to sit in the space of the feeling and do nothing. To not think/analyse, and to not go into fix-it mode. If i’m scared, BE scared and breathe into the feeling. If i feel angry or hurt, to stay with it as much as possible.

At first this was scary for me, and I had a lot of resistance, because I don’t want to be ‘an angry person’, or dwell in sadness and not come out. I think there was a fear that the more ‘negative’ feelings are traps – to be avoided. And it seems strange to want to willingly walk towards a painful emotion (well, seems strange to me at least).

But this is what I’m doing. And the reason why is that the self-analysis, and the ‘oh god i feel a bit resentful, quick let’s go meditate or go for a run to get me back in a good mood!’ strategies were just ways for me to invalidate the feelings. Like, i can’t feel sad/angry/frustrated/mopey etc, so quick quick let’s get back on that happy vibe. I was invalidating myself. And how can you expect others to care about your feelings when you don’t care about them yourself?

So this week (well, potentially next couple of weeks while i listen to death metal and punch pillows) I encourage you to sit with the feelings. Honour them. If you feel miserable, go with it. Sit in the expansiveness of it. Don’t think, analyse where it comes from, judge, dwell on the reasons behind the feeling, or try to get out of it by ‘doing’ something. Just sit in the space. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel. If you don’t, you’re being mean to yourself! And boy, have I learnt how mean i’ve been towards me for not letting me sit in my ‘negative’ emotions.

Yesterday I gave it a go with the feeling of ‘abandonment’. I didn’t really wanna ‘go there’, but I just did. For about 20min. Then I naturally came out of it. It wasn’t so bad after all! The world didn’t end, I didn’t get attached to the feeling, I kind of felt resignation and ‘oh well’ afterwards. So I know that even with some initial resistance, once you do it and ‘go there’ it’s not so bad.

Right maties, look forward to reporting back with new discoveries

S xo

Andy Murray got me to therapy

This is a short n sweet thank you note to Andy Murray, the British tennis player (as well as the fantastic Olympians and Paralympians).

I attended the team GB victory parade on Monday, then later that night found out about Andy Murray’s victory at the US Open. Inspiration overload!

Watching Andy triumph, finally, after years of not quite breaking through to win a Grand Slam – I saw a guy stepping into his power and being the best he can be. It was like he’d managed to break through his own glass ceiling.

He thanked his new coach, the tennis legend Lendl, and it really hit me that if you want to be the best you can be, beyond even your own imagination, you need to do whatever it takes to support your growth – including having someone to help you break through any bad habits.

It seems that Lendl has helped Murray keep his composure on court, to be emotionally fit which helps him get an edge, and not be rattled when things aren’t going his way on court.  I think this has been a key part in helping Murray win an Olympic gold medal as well as get the US Open. Alongside having great coaches, medics, physios, masseurs, managers, he also needed someone to refine his emotional fitness.

So when i saw Murray thank Lendl in his champions speech, I decided that I too needed to do whatever it takes to get me to be my best self. I need a Lendl.

And so the very next day I went to my first psychotherapy session.

I had considered (and very nearly gone ahead with) therapy before, but never felt compelled enough to follow through – I questioned if i really needed it, if it was a luxury. But there was something about seeing Andy Murray win that made me think ‘i too want to be at the top of my game and i need to do whatever it takes to do that.’

So this is a thank you to Andy Murray for inspiring me to honour my ‘best self’ by getting help. It’s not enough for me to be grinding in third gear. If i want to be at the top of my game called life, i need to respect my talent/soul/capacity and support it by getting rid of any bad habits that may be blocking me. It’s this desire that’s driving my butt to therapy each week, and what a great reason to do so :)

I hope that you were inspired in some way by sport this summer – maybe, like me, in a really unexpected way.

Have an amazing week, we are all champions

S xo

‘There’s only one path to what you want’ – the killer lie

I watched another great episode of ‘The Conversation‘ today and had a moment. It’s about thinking you have to walk a certain route to get what you want, when actually you can get there your own way. And it’s about thinking you have to ‘be’ a certain type of person to get what you want, when really you can be yourself.

A very successful plus size model called Crystal Renn was interviewed. She originally worked as a model where she had to be in the gym 8 hours a day and be anorexic to keep her weight down. She put herself through this unhealthy lifestyle in order to fulfill her dreams – of being a top model working with the best fashion photographers, walking runways for the best designers and all the other things supermodels do. She took what she believed to be ‘the’ route towards this goal – getting skinny and doing whatever her agency management told her to do.

Well, one day her agency told her she still needed to still loose weight despite the fact she was anorexic and was going crazy at the gym. If she did not loose more weight, her only other options in the model industry were to do catalogue work or plus size modelling where she could eat what she wants. So Crystal decided to go for plus size.

Now, I don’t want to ignore the health and body image issue because I know it’s super important – no-one should push their body to the brink to fit someone else’s ‘idea’ of what beauty is. But what struck me about her story (which I will conclude in a mo) is that she had the guts to opt for plus size modelling, which overarchingly does not normally lead to working in the mainstream fashion industry as a model. She had to let go of her dream of being in Vogue shoots or doing a runway show at fashion weeks, because as we all know, magazines and catwalks favour skinny.

From Vogue mag

walking for gaultier show

See, she did it! She fulfilled her dreams and she didn’t do it the ‘normal’ way. She didn’t think ‘oh, i don’t have options, i can only get what i want if i do the skinny thing’. And she didn’t see her work as a plus size model as restricting her to plus size catalogues or designers – she wanted to do the major mainstream designers and be in the top magazines. And sweet lord she did it.

There is never only one way to what we want – whatever that goal is. But sometimes we can get so tripped up on ‘how things are done’ and the ‘normal route’ that we can’t even imagine that we can get there another way, in a way that is right for us.

Sometimes the idea that we could get what we want via another route can seem so audacious, nigh-on-impossible, that we don’t even let ourselves try.

Next time I think ‘i can’t get to where i want because the established route is not for me’, I’m going to remember Crystal. She did not sit back and accept ‘this is the way things are done’. She held strong to what she wanted and she got it on her own terms, away from the starvation and gym addiction.

My Q for you (and me) this week – What do you think you can’t have or get because you don’t ‘fit the norm’? Have you given up on something you want even before you’ve got out the gate simply because you don’t fit the perceived ‘standard’? Can you turn your difference into a strength, so you stand out and bring something new to the table?

Celebrating the unique,

S xo

What i Iearnt from rock climbing

Yesterday I was lucky to do some rock climbing up a 70ft climbing wall, and there was a moment during the climb where I couldn’t find a foot hold, which made me feel scared and like I couldn’t go any further. My tutor down on the ground called up to me instructions for what i should do, i did as he said and I was able to carry on to the top of the climb.
After the climb, I was thinking about some of the scariest moments I’ve gone through in recent years (flying a plane, trapeze, this super high climb) and wanted to know WHY I was scared. I don’t have a fear of heights, and I don’t have fear when it comes to doing something new. I largely trust myself to be able to ‘do anything’ within reason! So what was I really scared of? What was the anxiety?
I discovered something that may strike a chord with you, that I think is relevant to many people, particularly women.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, it wasn’t the uncertainty, and it’s not control issues as such.  What it is, is i forget that someone has my back. I’m so used to being totally in control or ‘this is all up to me’ that if my foot slips on the climbing wall, i think oh god i’m going to fall because i completely forget someone else has my back. likewise with trapeze, i couldn’t just ‘let go’ and trust in my instructors holding the safety lines because in my headspace i felt like if i mess up or fall or whatever, it’s just me; i forget i have back up.

because i’m not used to having back up

So my fear is not about perfectionism, it’s more like – if i slip, if i mess up the aeroplane controls and we nose dive, or if i let go of the trapeze bar, that’s it. because i forget there’s someone next to me or holding the rope that’s there to keep me safe.

because i have rarely had it. i’m not used to it. it’s so new.

it’s not that i don’t trust them or ‘know’ they will keep me safe, it’s more like it literally doesn’t register in my consciousness that i have someone to keep me safe.

Is this what can hold a lot of us (and women in particular) back from taking risks, daring ourselves to go further?

I’ve read a few articles recently about ‘perfectionist’ tendencies and how that can hold women back from doing anything – beating ourselves up with the idea that ‘if it isn’t perfect then it isn’t worth bothering with’, or fearing that if we don’t succeed the first time we have failed.

But actually I think for some of us it’s less to do with the fear of failing and not being perfect, and more to do with being so scared that everything rides on ourselves, that if we make a mistake or freak out or don’t know what to do that we literally will crash that plane or fall to the ground. Because there is no one at our side who could share some of that responsibility.

That’s a lot of pressure to take. And it’s isolating (as well as saddening) to feel or believe that no-one has your back and could take the wheel if need be or is holding the safety rope.

Self-sufficient women

For me, I think that this belief/habit of feeling that ‘I only have myself to rely on’ comes from an early age. I did not feel safe in my household, and out of that became a very self-reliant person. I literally did not have anyone able to have my back, because most of the adults in my family were broken to some degree.

And I’m sure there are many other women out there who have had the same experience (though maybe a different hue) – perhaps your guardians were physically ill and you had to be the caretaker/head of the household at a young age, perhaps your parents were never home so you had to be in charge of your siblings, perhaps your parents were addicts and you had to raise yourself. Whatever the reason, you may have had to become the ‘strong’ one in your household, reliant on yourself, and having others rely on you, without having anyone else to rely on yourself.

Breaking out of that mindset is hard. And to a large extent it is empowering (and necessary) to be able to trust yourself, to know you can look after yourself, and you don’t ‘need’ anyone else. Yet it also makes taking big risks super scary, because you have those habitual thoughts of ‘if this goes wrong, no-one will be there to help bear the weight’.

I think that’s where my terror comes from.

So i am really grateful to have had some opportunities lately to let me have some back-up; instructors who can guide me and keep me safe while i take risks. Because sometimes things are just too daunting (and dangerous!) to do without having someone else there.

So my Q’s for the week for you: Does this resonate with you? Do you ever put pressure on yourself to ‘not mess up’ because you’re afraid no-one has your back, a primal fear that you could even almost die if you mess up? In what ways could you practice getting support from people you genuinely trust? Which people or situations in your life have you felt secure with, allowing you to dare further than you would by yourself?

I frickin love pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but in order to do so i need to have some measure of security – that someone i trust can hold the safety line in order for me to scale higher. For any of us to grow and push our limits, we have to know someone has our backs, otherwise the fear of doing it alone can be paralysing.

So here’s to climbing higher and having fabulous expert instructors holding our safety wires!

S xo

I can’t…?

Ladies, you will love this show; The Conversation. You can watch all episodes of it via the link. It’s a series of short interviews with women in the public eye (Lady Gaga, Jane Fonda…),  about finding their confidence, sharing their life lessons etc. I can’t recommend it enough.

This week two things have happened that have challenged me, both in positive ways, both around the idea of ‘I can’t’.

1. I had my first flying trapeze lesson. After one practice of hanging from the trapeze bar by my knees close to the ground, I was then the first in my group to go do the move up on the 30ft high trapeze.

Climbing up the ladder, all i wanted to do was get back down to the ground.

On the ledge, looking out across the big expanse of net, I was terrified.

When my instructor told me to lean out and grab the bar, I didn’t wanna let go of the safety rail next to me.

But I refused to say those words ‘i can’t’. I said everything else (out loud, too) – i’m terrified, i’m scared, i feel sick, i don’t want to do this – but I refused to say ‘i can’t’ because i didn’t want fear to win.

So I went ahead, jumped off the ledge, swung by my arms, screaming, did the move, was hanging by my knees, and that was that. I did it.

On the ledge before the jump, I had to take action despite every part of me wanting to recoil, get back down that ladder, and sneak out of the class. It took everything I had to stay on the ledge, everything I had again to reach out to take the bar, and jump. The only thing that kept me going through with it was ‘i won’t let fear win‘.

2. At work we sometimes play sports with kids in the community, and yesterday we had a 12 year old girl who was hoping to make a junior football team. She was really good, way better than me and my colleague, but what impressed me more than her ball skills was her attitude.

I can pass the ball, and i’m pretty okay at defending, however my ‘ball skills’ (and kind of tricks or anything that requires a fair bit of ball control) I’m just not good at. So when the girl wanted us all to do knee-ups and do penalty practice I knew i’d be struggling. There was one move in particular I ‘couldn’t’ do. I tried a few times, laughed at my own ineptitude, and say ‘i’m sorry, i just can’t’.

This girl was awesome. ‘You can do it!’ she nodded and smiled, ‘keep practicing, you’ll get it’. Egged on a little, I tried some more, slowly getting there. ‘That’s it’, my little cheerleader said, ‘you’re almost there’.

Well you can see how this story ends – I do learn, and I can do it, even though it might have taken me a while, a lot of concentration, and a fantastic teacher at my side.

It made me realise how quick I (and maybe others) can be to just say ‘i can’t’ and leave it at that. That if something doesn’t come ‘naturally’, then it can’t come at all. That sometimes our perception of ourselves can’t even comprehend that we could be possible of doing more.

And sometimes it’s easy to compare ourselves to others who are highly skilled or competent in something that we’re not, and think ‘well if i’m not as good as them, i might as well not even bother’. We can shut ourselves down and miss out on the experience of pushing our own boundaries.

My greatest life achievements have come from being stubborn enough (and having some outside encouragement too) to not stop until I CAN. When i’ve been so ready to give up yet pushed through. Which is why this week I’m encouraging all of us to push our own boundaries, and look for the things where we tell ourselves ‘i can’t’.

Sometimes sports can be a great arena for us to push our own boundaries, so maybe this week you might wanna try – doing a handstand! Learn how to spin a basketball on your finger! Do whatever it is that you feel ‘oh god, i CAN’T do that’. It doesn’t really matter what the activity is as long as you feel it’s not ‘who you are’.

Something on my to-do list is to go to a skate park and do a ramp. All i’ve ever done so far on a board is cruise along tarmac, almost like a scooter without a handle. I think i *could’ do a ramp, but it will take some bottle.

With each push of the boundary, we grow.

S xo

What does your soul want to DO?

Earlier this week I pulled a muscle in my neck/shoulder, which has given me a few days of being laid up at home, watching Salt, eating muffins and musing!

Inspired by Lissa Rankin’s articles, I want to share something with you to hopefully help anyone who is feeling in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back place.

Your souls calling

In one post, Lissa asks us all ‘what is your soul dying to create?’. And i realised that my soul does not want to create.

Creating can be quite an earthly, tangible thing. It springs to mind a business, a book, a radio show, a house, a baby, a table, whatever it is! To me, ‘to create’ implies output.

And i realised that part of me had a belief that if i’m not producing (or creating) something, then whatever it is i’m doing is worthless. If there is not tangible, quantifiable ‘thing’, then what do I have to show for myself?

That’s a terrible space to be in when your souls calling is truthfully not attached to outcomes. If you’re in the headspace where tangible, quantifiable outcomes (the book, the show, the project etc) denote how well-spent your time is, or how much value you are worth, then you will look down on things that don’t produce an obvious outcome. Things that you love to do for the pleasure of, the process.

My soul does not want to create anything. I know that for sure. My ego wanted to create EVERYTHING. It wanted an impressive bio full of books, movies, acting roles, gallery showings – tangible ‘things’ that prove i’m contributing to the world, being productive.

Nope, my soul can do without all that. For me, it’s about what my soul needs to ‘come out’ – how it flows out into the world. It’s like energy that just needs to have space. Anyone else ever feel that? I feel my soul doing it’s thing when i’m on the dancefloor, when i’m singing & playing along to songs at ukelele jam, when i’m in the flow at stage combat class, and of course sex. I have NOTHING to show for myself at the end of these activities – no souvenirs (unless someone else has been filming it) , no products, i haven’t been working towards anything – just enjoying myself in the moment.

My soul seeks opportunities, spaces, platforms, to do her thing, let her hair down, give it all to that space, then leave.

So is this true for you, i wonder? What does your soul need? And what does your ego need?

Resistance

When i opened up to what my soul really craves (spaces to be free), I hit some gnarly beliefs.The main one being that my soul’s desires are worthless.

How awful is that?! I know!!!

I’m sure it’s an accumulation of many factors – let’s face it, most of us have grown up in an education system that’s results-based, and its likely that out parents geared us up that way too. Worthiness, productivity etc is often based on output and measurable things. So the things we do with no measurable output (other than that we love doing them) are left out of the equation. Even thinking about sex, ‘How many orgasms did you have?’ can be considered more important than ‘how pleasurable was the ride?’

I don’t know if this is to do with living in a masculine-skewed world, and i don’t think it matters too much if it is – what matters is that we start to change our minds. The fact is, for some of us, we have to start unhooking ‘worthiness’ and value from productivity/outcomes.

The main reason why this is so important is that if you don’t feel your soul’s desires (to express, rather than to make something tangible) are worthy, that they don’t matter, that they’re not good, then you are pretty much telling yourself that you aren’t worthy, don’t matter, and are no good. And how the fuck can you live your life from that space?!

This is hard work. For me, i’m finding it hard work. To know that when i hit the dancefloor at class, just ‘doing my thing’ is enough. That my unique expression in whatever arena is enough. No-one ever told me that. Rarely has anyone ever said ‘just bringing your spirit into a space is valuable in itself‘.

Holy crap

Have you ever been valued for who you are, rather than for what you can do for another?

You’re not ‘of worth’ because you produce an outcome, or fix a problem, or make someone else’s life better. Your value doesn’t come from being measured in terms of output or meeting anothers needs.

Your value does not come from output. Not from metrics. Not from what you can provide another. Not from what you can physically go out and change. Not from anything measurable or quantifiable.

Your value comes from your being. When you walk into a room. The way in which you make pancakes. That your presence alone can make someone else feel safe. That’s your significance. Not the trophies, the certificates, the goals met, the number of followers – not that, none of that. Just your presence, your existence, and what your essence brings – which you carry with you all the time.

That’s the value, the worth, the gold.

And I raise a valiant middle finger to the world that has distorted things so much that we don’t feel worthy unless we’re being over-producers, over-achievers, constantly looking to prove our worth.

The sting, the rub, the beginning, and now the end

I know a lot of this stuff isn’t ‘new’ – god knows i’ve read it before. But i’m having a proper bing-bing moment so please bear with me.

Where does this split occur, where we start to believe we need to prove our worth & value in the world by going after external things? Even those of us who have let go of material things (fancy cars, job titles etc) still probably have other things we believe we need to have or do or be in order to be considered of value – whether that’s creating output that others need, or doing something that we believe will have an impact, in order for us to feel valuable.

I can pin it down.

God bless my parents.

What did you have to do to get love? What did you have to do, who did you have to be, to feel recognized, valued? When you were a kid – did your parents project a role or their needs onto you? Or did your parents allow you to just ‘be’, getting their needs met from others or met by themselves in a healthy way?

Let’s just say that both my parents were unable to provide themselves with the happiness and healing they needed, so I had a lot of stuff projected onto me.  I lived in a world where my value, worth, came from what i could provide these people with – that i met their needs that I shouldn’t have met. I wasn’t valued for simply being me – messy, hanging from the trees, plastering-barbie-with-punk-make-up me. I was valued based on what i could do for others – be that fan their social status, or be an emotional rock.

And i guess I’m starting to crack that idea that i’m valuable just for being me, not for my output or for what I can give or do for others ( I enjoy helping empower others – i’m talking about enabling and/or martyrdom…).

So my big ol’ Q’s for the week for you are: What are your feelings, memories, ideas around ‘being of value’? What do you value, what have people made you feel valued for? What’s your lifeblood, is it different to what others value from you? What does your soul want to do, and do you value it? If not, why not?

And with that, I’m done. High fives to all who made it to the end of the post.

Your value is in your happy glory

S xo

Passion. The.

My younger brother is graduating uni soon and is, like most twenty somethings, feeling pretty unsure about what to do next – which career to go into, what his path is etc.

I have done a LOT of research on this stuff myself to help direct my life choices – finding your ‘life purpose’, finding the ‘right career’ etc. And whilst I could have sent my bro a big ol’ reading list and a tonne of action steps, the most urgent and pressing thing I wanted him to know was ‘find and follow your passion’.

Passion can be easy to find, it can be hard to find. Sometimes you already know what it is, sometimes you lost it along the way, sometimes you have to go out into the world trying new things out til you finally hit on something that hooks you like a drug.

You also have to start being discerning when it comes to sorting through passing interests, things you enjoy, and gut-level passions. Often passions are things that you can’t live without. Passions are things that compel you – it’s like being in love. And you’ll break through barriers to make sure you can do your passion – whether that’s saving money in other areas of life so you can afford to do it, or willingly take the two-hour bus ride to do it, or whatever other sacrifice you have to make. You no longer care about those kind of inconveniences because you.must.do.it. Passion (a little like anger) can carry you through any bullshit excuses or reasons ‘not to’ because you inherently NEED to do whatever this passion-filled activity is.

Whatever this passion thing is, you have to treasure it and stoke it. You might only be able to do it once a week for an hour – so be it. You might not get paid to do it – so be it. Passion is your vibrancy, your soul’s colour. It MUST be done.

So if you aren’t feeling passionate about anything in your life at the moment, commit to doing the work to find where the passion is and to stoke the fires. Be discriminate – an interest of ‘something nice’ is not enough – we’re looking for head-over-heels compulsion, where you feel you are ‘meant’ to be doing whatever it is, wherever you’re doing it.

Here’s a couple of blog posts I received today that can help you on your quest:

http://passivepanda.com/finding-your-passion

http://www.thechangeblog.com/your-passion/

Yay passion. Can’t be faked, bought, analysed, or talked-into.

S xo

P.s I’m gonna list mine, to show you the differences in interest/passion levels. Try working out your own ones. Passions really are the ones that make you feel alive & that keep you coming back for more

Interests (stuff that keeps me occupied, that is fun): learning new languages, trying new sports, philosophical/spiritual/motivational stuff, organic/natural products & health foods

Things I do to live well, that i ‘have’ to do to maintain a decent life (+when i don’t do them i feel out of sorts): meditate, work out, have baths, get fresh inspiration (magazines, books, movies), manage my cashflow, live independently, share life lessons on my blog & as a mentor

Passions: dancing (waacking, voguing, the hustle/lindy hop, flamenco), sex & sexuality, making large-scale paintings & art experiments, communing with others in a shared activity (like playing music or acting) with lots of laughter, crazy life experiences like flying a plane, going on a trapeze, swimming with sharks etc

Spirituality, big feelings, detachment and disengagement

I was having a great conversation with a friend of mine who works in the spiritual/psychology field about the perils of being in a constant zen-like state, where nothing ruffles your feathers.

It can be very easy to use spirituality as a way to ‘escape’ rather than to be an active participant in life.

I started to think that we (the collective ‘we’) have to be careful that ‘acceptance’ doesn’t turn into denial, that in our spiritually pacified states we don’t lose our agency.

No-one can afford to lose their sense of agency, their ability and motivation to have an impact, be seen, be heard, affect change.

Yet I sometimes wonder if that’s what *some* self-help/spiritual stuff can do to us if we’re not careful. Sometimes you have to make a stand, ruffle feathers, not be compliant or turn the other cheek. The more you disconnect from the meat of life, the less contribution you will ultimately make.

It can be too easy to want to hide from the world, allow crappiness to happen and call it ‘fate’ or that ‘bad things are meant to be’. If previous generations had believed that, do you think women would have got the vote or that slavery would have ended? It can be easy to ‘rise above’ things, rather than to feel the pain of what isn’t right in the world, and take steps to address and change things.

I can’t remember who said/wrote it, but there’s a quote by one of the big inspiring leaders of our times (maybe Gandhi?!) who said (word for word y’all) “it is just as bad to stand by and watch badness happen than to actively go out and harm”.

So we need to be active participants in life. Stand up for what you believe in, don’t take sh*t, fight the good fight. Life can’t always be about sitting on the meditation cushion. Life also has to be out on the streets, in workplaces, in relationships. Don’t blank yourself out of being an agent of change because a) it feels better/safer to remain detached b) we’re all white light underneath it all so it’s ‘okay’ if bad stuff happens to people c) stuff that happens on the physical plane doesn’t matter as long as you’re doing the internal work.

There’s a reason we’re all put on this earth in the physical realm, and i doubt it’s just to be in pure white light zen all the time – you can do that when you die. Right now, there’s work to do, and marks for us all to leave here.

Viva the revolution,

S xo