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A lost friend and a spirit of light

At what point does a person you know become your friend?

A friend of mine died yesterday.  It has filled me with enormous sadness.  But I don’t know if I can really call her my friend, not least because I wasn’t really a friend to her.

I met Adani at a Goddess Gathering that I attended during my quest to find my spirituality which I lost when I became sober.  I felt uncomfortable at the gathering, listening to people talk of what they could ‘see’, the angels that they knew were close by and could ‘hear’, the visions that came to them in their dreams.  I had never experienced anything like this in my life and try as I might, I could not relate.

Adani was sitting next me in the circle.  She immediately sensed my discomfort and told me the story of her journey.  How she grew up in a devout catholic household, and had felt guilty for most of her life, how she had become a naturopath and through that had found her way to her own spirituality.  Be patient, she had encouraged me, my own spirituality in whatever form that meant for me, would reveal itself.

We became facebook friends, although we never became close largely due to the fact that I somehow couldn’t commit myself to the spirituality that they believed in.  Eventually, I went through a vehement atheist phase and through a moment of atheistic activism I deleted almost everyone from that group off my facebook page.  Their belief and faith offended me, I had decided, and I didn’t need to see their constant postings of things that didn’t exist.

Except they did exist.  To them.  And that is all that matters.  I have mentioned that I am studying Philosophy and Anthropology.  One of the things that we are learning about is a thing called phenomenology which is where you bracket, or suspend, your own belief (or non-belief) and ethnocentricity to fully understand the thing or people you are studying.  For it is only through this method that you can fully experience what the other person is experiencing and their motivations for doing so.  First seek to understand.  It isn’t an easy thing to do when culturally we are taught that our way is the only way to do things.  But do it we must if we are to gain full understanding of the culture we seek to study.

When I heard of Adani’s death yesterday, I wept.  We hadn’t been in touch for over a year, but her love and light in the world was unmistakeable.  She was living a truth, her truth, and this truth allowed her to be that light.  My prejudice, on the other hand, had snuffed out that light on my facebook page.  As with a lot of things in life, it is now too late.

So, Adani, my friend.  I want to say to you that I finally see you for all the wonderful light filled person you were.  You were so friendly and warm whenever our paths crossed, always making time to talk to me, to find out how my sobriety was going and to enquire as to how I was travelling inside, which you said was so very important.  I want to tell you that whilst I was in disagreement with some of what you said and believed, at the heart of it, it was me in my spiritual darkness that was to blame.  You reached out to me, and whilst you were no doubt unaware of it, I turned away from you.

I am growing, though, Adani.  Your transition from life was swift, and one person mentioned that this was because you were such a light, your spirituality so strong, that your soul did not need a long drawn out process to pass, to enable you to come to terms with the end of your life.  You were ready and so you left quickly.  I would like to think that was true.

Dear Adani, thank you for your kindness and your light.  You have no idea how you helped me become a better person, even in your passing.  I hope you find your light in the spiritual world.  I truly hope it exists for you.  You lived your truth with such passion, it would be so wonderful for that truth to become a reality for your soul.

Rest well.

Much love,

SHW Signature

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Ramblings

A life without faith

I start university today.  I have been down this road a fair few times, dabbling with various courses, in an attempt to find “the one” that will help me define myself.  I have finally embraced being me and am now studying something that may not have any relevance in employability, but it has relevance to my curiosity.

I am studying a Bachelor of Arts and I am taking two units – a philosophy unit on World Religions and an anthropology unit on Culture and Communication.

I am not a person of faith.  I used to be.  I was sent to an Anglican school when I was 12 and when I was 14, we had a week of missionary work where my friends and I all became enraptured with the love of God.  But by the time I was 15, God and his autocratic, conflicting ways had lost its allure.

At the same time, my boyfriend at the time had a mom that had once been a stout Catholic and had since converted, largely, to buddhism and new ageism.  I liked the idea of Karma and being responsible for our own actions.  I liked that what we put out into the world, we reaped in further lifetimes.  We were accountable for our own soul journeys and that appealed to me a lot.

I remained in this spiritual new age kind of faith until I became sober 4 and a half years ago.  Attending AA I was asked to hand my life over to the will of God as I understood him.  I found myself questioning how I actually understood God.  How was I meant to hand all the ills of my life over to the care of someone whom I couldn’t define.  I had experienced no spiritual epiphany.  No-one had spoken to me, no-one had presented themselves to me. In fact, I had no evidence of any god, ever.

I had to have faith, I was told.  I had to just believe.  But, I suddenly found, I couldn’t.  I simply couldn’t believe in something that for me was completely inexplicable, and, when I analysed it, caused so much pain in the world.

Shortly after I became sober, my mother became a born again Christian influenced by my brother who had become one a number of years before.  My sister had also converted the year before and so it was, when my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, and I flew to England, I found myself surrounded by a house full of very enthusiastic born again Christians.  In the two months it would take for my mother to die, I felt very much like an outsider in my own family.  And it was awful.

I tried.  I went to church, much to my mother’s delight.  I sat at the back and watched as people raised their hands and sang songs to a God that I simply didn’t believe existed.  I was especially turned off by the amount of people who would fall to the floor, flopping around like a dying fish, speaking a language that only they and God, apparently, could understand.  The church my parents’ attended was a young church, filled to the brim with 18 year olds rushing to get married because “God wanted it that way”.  In truth, I believe they got married because they lusted after each other, and their faith prohibited premarital sex.  But that’s just me.

It may seem strange, then, that I am studying World Religions.  The truth is, I am miserable without a faith.  I am not a true atheist.  I am a humanist, and I may be a flaky agnostic.  But I do not believe in a deity, at all and I am in the minority.  Whilst atheism is increasing, an overwhelming 90% of the world believes in something.  And I want to know why.  And I want to know why we are driven to believe in something bigger than ourselves.  Is it because we are sentient beings that are aware of our own mortality and this scares the crap out of us, so our brains concoct some way for us to live on in the after life which makes dying a little less scary?  Or is it that religion and faith creates a community, a sense of belonging that we long for?  In my mother’s case, it was certainly the community that drew her in.

My mother believed in God, but she was skeptical of man’s spin on him and the often conflicting doctrines contained within the scriptures.  She was especially skeptical of the amount of writhing on the floor that went on.  She would point out to me the ones that did it weekly, almost as if they were serial writhers, and she would roll her eyes. I asked her once why she joined the church.  “Because they make me feel like I belong,” she had said.  I could understand that.  I felt very alone surrounded by these people that all seemed to love one another.

Despite her skepticism though, my mother herself had had an “experience”.  One of the pastors placed his hand on her during a bible study session and the next thing she knew she was surrounded by people as she lay on the floor.  Since she was diagnosed with lung cancer not three weeks later, it is my belief that she fainted due to this illness, but she, my father and the people in the room were unwavering in their belief that God had touched her that day.  Everyone would tell me how lucky my mom was that she had been called to the Christian fold just before she was diagnosed with lung cancer.  How lucky she was that her seat at the side of God in Heaven would be assured.

I would stare at these delusional people with, I am sure, a look of incredulity on my face.  I hated them in that moment, of course.  How dare they say that my mother was lucky?  On any level, she was not lucky at all.  She could not breathe and she had no time to prepare for death.  She was afraid of dying yet was not afforded the time to process it because “God was going to heal the demon from her”.  As she slipped into the cancer coma, people, strangers essentially, would stand around her bed chanting loudly for God to cast out the demon within her.  And when she died not two days later, and I questioned them as to why God had not answered their prayers, they told me that it wasn’t for us mere mortals to question his plan.  I should be rest assured that he took the good ones and that it was time for my mother to “go home”.

And so I am studying the World Religions – Hinduism – the oldest one by far, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam (the youngest of the five).  Together, they make up the majority of the world’s faith.  I want to try to understand how these faithful people find it so easy to believe.  So much so that wars are constantly raged across the globe in the name of each religion.

For a while I avidly followed the four popular proponents of atheism – Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett.  I went to the library and boldly asked for copies of The God Delusion and God Is Not Good and delighted at the look of horror the librarian gave me when making my request.  I felt rebellious and non-conformist and I loved it.  But there is an air of arrogance and anger amongst the atheist community that does not sit well with me.  The forums that I have frequented have not, really, been friendly places to reside.  Instead, they are places of people denegrating those of faith.  And whilst I understand the dismay of religions in schools and the influence of religion in law making, I think there are kinder, more effective ways to deal with that.

I am living a life without faith.  I am not sure how I feel about it.  There are days that I wish to goodness I could just throw caution to the wind and believe, have faith that there is a spiritual side to us that lives on after our death.  I especially wish I could believe that I will see my mother again.  I also wish I could meet God and ask him why he has made such a ridiculous mess of things.  But that’s just me.

The truth is I don’t have faith, I can’t have faith.  I cannot believe any loving God or Gods would create this mess we live in right now.  It’s a negative view I know.  It has been a week of hell for those of us on earth – Syria, Gaza, a civilian airplane being shot out of the sky, climate change, and an increasing thirst for money at the expense of the majority of people in the world.  Despite all this religion, faith and sense of community, so much destruction continues to be waged.

I wonder if it is too much to ask to live in a world that gives a bit more of a damn for the people that live in it, rather than hurt each other in the name of that one true god.  I wonder if it is too much to ask to just stop and think is this really what your god would want.

And so I am studying World Religions.  I am trying to understand our need for immortality, our need to survive our death.  And our need to destroy each other and our planet in the name of this faith.  And I’m trying to understand the mechanics of coming to terms of living a life without faith.

What about you, do you believe?  How do you believe, and how do you reconcile all that is going on in this world with a loving god/gods?  I would dearly love to know.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

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The perfect storm

Have you ever had one of those times?  The ones where no matter how well planned something is, everything goes wrong.  Where you have no alternative than to watch your best laid plans all go up in the air and you can do nothing but wait for them to land to see how much damage has been done and what, if anything, can be salvaged?

Four weeks ago I decided we needed a holiday.  Mr D had been working ridiculous hours and Master J was exhausted after a long school term.  We had become disconnected as a family, I had decided, and a holiday in the sun would help us to reconnect.  I hopped online, found a beautiful two bedroomed apartment and booked the flights.  Gold Coast here we come.

A week before we were due to leave Mr D woke up feeling awful.  Not one to make a big deal of illness, this virus gripped him quickly.  His temperature was raging and he struggled to breathe as it attacked his asthmatic lungs.  A day in bed was the only remedy.

The following day I woke to an uncontrollable cough.  No matter, I told myself, I will just rest and all will be okay.  Except it wasn’t okay.  In a horrible twist of fate I ended up in hospital after I developed severe abdominal cramps and started passing blood.  To add insult to injury, and please forgive my candour, I also started my period.  I am a middle aged woman who will be going through ‘the change’ in the not to distant future.  My body has responded in protest to this by attacking me with dysmenhorrea (painful and heavy periods).  There is no dignity in illness. In hospital, I thought I was going to die.

But, like the proverbial phoenix, I was going to rise out of my pit of despair and I was going to take that holiday dammit.  I made it very clear that despite my very high fever, the IV attached to my arm, the fact that a morsel of food had not passed my lips in three days, my rising liver enzymes, the continuing abdominal pain and the dysmenhorrea, I would be getting on that plane the following day.  No-one believed me.

I called home to let my husband know that no-one was listening to me.  Master J answered the phone.  “Mum, I don’t feel well.”  The virus’ tentacles had snagged him too.

The doctor came to see me at 6pm.  “I believe you are going on holiday tomorrow.”

“I am,” I said, trying to sound as well as I possibly could.  A cough was desperately trying to find its way out of my mouth, but I refused to let it.  It burst out uncontrollably.  I looked at her.  “I have to go on holiday.”

“I can’t stop you, Sarah, but you are not well.  Your liver is not well.  I would have liked you to stay in over the weekend, we would have booked a CT scan and some further tests.  We think there is sediment in the duct.  How long have you been sober?”

“Four and half years.”

“You see, these are results we would expect to see in a heavy drinker.   The nurses didn’t believe you hadn’t been drinking.”

I was getting irritated.  I had to get on that plane.  My family felt to me like it was falling apart and I needed it to reconnect, to find each other again.

“I’m going to let you go Sarah, but you have to promise me that you will eat a very very very low fat diet, that you will take it easy and that you will phone my rooms to have these investigations started when you get back.  Make no mistake, this isn’t just going to go away.”

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And so it is that I am writing this to you from our beautiful apartment on the Gold Coast.  We are all still very sick, coughing and spluttering all over the place.  We are unable to see all the amusement parks, or do half of the things that I had imagined when I booked this trip.  I am unable to enjoy that salted caramel chocolate tart that keeps staring at me every time I exit the building and a trip to Byron Bay lasted an hour before we were all too exhausted to take another step.  Mister D and his dodgy lungs are back at the doctor as we speak.

But hey, we have an amazing view of the ocean and the hinterland and in some weird kind of way, we are all together and we are all connecting, albeit through our lack of energy and illness.  It’s not perfect, but I don’t care.  We are all together and that is all that matters.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

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Today is a day for grief

I am not sure how to write this post.

I am not sure how acceptable it is in the world of blog to talk about the gut wrenching grief I feel right now.

As I sit here watching a TV movie of a woman whose husband is returned to her after 66 years of being missing in action, tears streaming down my face.  As I watch her hug his coffin, finally reunited with the man she so desperately loved, wailing loudly into the room.

Perhaps it is because I have been poorly these last few days.  I don’t do ill well.  I am not that woman who soldiers on.  No sirree, I am not at all.  I whinge and everyone in the house knows that my time has come.  I hate being sick.

It is because of this illness that I missed the anniversary of my mom’s death yesterday.  Until my dad sent me an email to let me know that he and my daughter were travelling to London to release balloons in Hyde Park – an annual tradition that we all do.  I had no strength to buy the balloons, had no strength to grieve.  My thumping head, high fever and vomiting just would not allow it.

I woke up this morning feeling a little better.  I managed to drag myself out of bed and even make myself a little something to eat.  And then my heart broke.  It has been four years since her death.  And lately it has consumed me more than ever.  Only a few weeks ago, I wrote about her on her birthday.  It’s a theme apparently, this grief thing.

Things are changing in my life.  Good things.  And I think that not having her around to share them with have reminded me of the gaping hole she left behind.  This grief has clouded me completely.

I decided that I need to fully sit in my grief.  I need to let the tears flow and my heart ache to the point of explosion.  I need to feel the darkness yet find the crack to let the light pour in.  God, I miss the light.

I need to find a way to negotiate a life without the sure footedness of her love for me.  My own identity was so inherently intertwined with hers that it has been difficult to find my own way without her.

This year I made the choice to consciously steer my ship, to point it headlong into the wind and face that stormy sea.  And since that decision I have been beset with health issues.  And as I have already noted I do not do illness well.

And this last bout of illness has seen me go to pieces, and then the grief set in.  And boy have I cried.  I’m pretty sure I’m dehydrated.

I have faith, though.  I have faith that there is light after the dark, that whilst it may take a little longer than expected time is a great healer.  It is called hope.  And I have always had it.  Even in my darkest hours, I have always had hope.  As sure as the sun rises after the darkest night,  I believe that the bad times do pass.  It is just sometimes I struggle to remember that.  I struggle to look to the horizon.  I struggle.

So this is me, writing about my grief.  It is ugly, but it is real.  I’m hoping tomorrow will bring a little more light.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

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Lessons on teenage pregnancy and becoming a premature grandmother

I became a grandmother at the age of 44.  I hadn’t planned this.  And when it happened, I didn’t feel as much joy as one would have expected.

My daughter was 19.  For a short while I was more concerned how her pregnancy would reflect on me.  I am not proud of this, but it is a reality.  We live in a world where appearances are everything.  And where perception is reality.  I was petrified of the judgement that would follow, of the view that somehow I should have done more as a mother to instil in my daughter the wherewithal to not fall pregnant.  Despite being on the pill at the time it happened.

I supported my daughter from the very beginning.  During her early teenage years we had gone over this ground:

If you ever fall pregnant, Miss J, I want you to know that dad and I will support you.  Never feel like you are alone.  You can tell us anything.  We will not judge you.”

Miss J would nod knowing that our philosophy was that there was nothing we as a family couldn’t overcome.

But then it happened and the reality hit.  I’m ashamed to admit it now, but I did judge.  Myself most of all.

It is fair to say that my parenting style is somewhat relaxed.  From the very beginning, I wasn’t big on being the strict parent insisting on conformity.  Don’t get me wrong, my children will be the first to tell you that I would yell, usually for them to clean their mess, but on the whole, I am all for my children having a very long leash.

I would tell myself that I was picking my fights. That it was important for them to learn their lessons without me trying to stifle them.  On the other hand, I would see children that had the most impeccable manners, who remained blissfully quiet whilst their parents talked ad infinitum to their friends, who were studious and focused and achieved greatly at school.  And I would denigrate myself for not being a good mother.

I stopped following mummy blogs because, frankly, they just helped solidify the image I had of myself as a crap mother.

So when my daughter fell pregnant, I felt, for a very short period, like I was being punished.  Like it was all about me and what I hadn’t done as a parent.

I would watch peoples’ reactions when they would hear that I was about to become a grandmother.  For a split second, it was there, that judgment, always followed by:

Wow, you look so young to be a grandmother.”

It wasn’t a compliment.  It was loaded with judgement and, for a short while, I let it wash over me, like self flagellation for being a bad mother.  I deserved this, I would tell myself.  This was all about me and not about my daughter at all.

As the weeks wore on, however, my mood shifted.  I began to realise that it doesn’t matter if I was a “bad” mother or not (which for the record I know I am not and really don’t give a shit of someone thinks I am).  It wasn’t about me at all, it was about my daughter.  Was she being supported to make the decisions that were important to her, that were empowering her, that were setting her up to be a mother in her own right at what is considered in our society to be such a young age?

This was highlighted when, at 22 weeks it was discovered my daughter was already 2cm dilated and at 24 weeks she went into labour for the first time (a number of times would follow).  There was a real chance we could lose Baby C. We sat in the labour ward as my teenage daughter and her partner were told that at 24 weeks it is better for them to consider not to resuscitate their, previously unwanted but now very much wanted, infant.

As I listened to the doctor telling my distraught daughter the cons of saving a 24 weeker, whilst she was breathing through labour pains, I became angry.  Very angry.  This was no longer about people judging me as a mother, or about him and the seeming inconvenience it would be to society to bring a child into the world that would be “riddled with special needs” – this man was asking my 19 year old daughter to decide to not let her child live – this was about my daughter, my beautiful brave daughter who had chosen not to terminate the pregnancy as so many teenagers would have done, but chose to keep the baby and then fight for him when things went awry.

I couldn’t help but wonder if a woman in her thirties would be treated in the same fashion.  Even the midwifery nurse was mortified.

The doctor left and I rushed to my daughter and cosseted her as she wept in my arms.  I looked at the lovely nurse and ordered that “that man is never to come near my daughter again”.  It wasn’t me that would have to endure the judgement, I realised, it was my daughter.  And I would do everything in my power to stem that.

Thankfully, through the power of modern day medicine and bed rest, Baby C managed to hold on until 37 weeks and he was born a healthy, bouncing, delightful, very much loved, baby boy.

But the judgement continued.  In Australia, only 4% of babies born are born to girls and women below the age of 24.  Young mothers are on the wane.  And as a society, we consider those young mums incapable.  We assume them to be slappers who clearly screwed around and got themselves into trouble.  And bugger it, we will leave them and their children to rot!

My response is this:  So what?  So what if they are all these things and more.  Does that mean that their youth-fuelled hormonally driven poor choices warrant less support, or none at all?  What gives us the right as a society to imagine that these young girls aren’t deserving of the support or resources afforded to the more mature mum.  What makes us decide that they “got themselves into trouble and now must pay the piper” as one delightful woman told me.

My daughter refused to go to a mother and baby group because the one time she attended she was surrounded by older mothers who did not speak to her.  She felt vulnerable and very much isolated.  And she felt judged.  As a mother, she continues to feel isolated.  None of her peers have children.  No-one her age in her circle can identify with the exhausting needs of a baby and how difficult it is to hold down a full time job, study and look after a very active two year old.  Because that is exactly what she is doing.

Judgement is rife for these young women.  Recently I had to attend hospital as Baby C had fallen and broken his thumb.  The nurse came in, and immediately said to me,

“So, Mum, what is wrong with baby?

Despite Miss J being the one to hold Baby C.  Despite her being the one listed as his mother.  A quick glance at her and her look of brokenness will live with me forever.  When, exactly, is it that we are able to claim our right as mothers?

Can I blame the nurse?  Not really, I guess.  Society’s new more for mothers is in the 30 plus age bracket, with that age bracket increasingly being pushed out beyond 40.

We need to challenge the status quo.  As women, we need to do this. Rather than judge and isolate these young women, we need to empower them, to encourage them to own their right as mothers, to feel confident in their choices, and capable of following it through.  Motherhood is hard, we all know that.  How much harder is it for a young woman who feels so alone?

I am a young grandmother and though it took a little while, I am really proud of that fact.  I get many many years to see my grandson develop and grow and to watch as my daughter does the same in her new role as mother.  We are closer than we have ever been.  But I could so easily have allowed my own judgements destroy that.  So easily have buckled to society’s expectations.

We don’t have to do that.  We can challenge the status quo.  We can support those young mothers that cross our paths.  And let them know that motherhood is a blessing and not a curse, that they have a right to be a part of the only rite of passage we as woman truly own.

Much love,

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An Open Letter To Tony Abbott

 

Dear Tony,

You don’t mind if I call you Tony do you?

You and I need to talk. Seriously.

What is going on? What is it that you are hoping to achieve by all these things that you keep doing and saying? I am genuinely curious to know.

I am a fairly political person. It’s true, I do have opinions. But on the whole, I believe that, in a truly democratic country, the good people will vote, and a country will correct itself and thrive. I have faith in the system. And so I keep my opinions to myself.  Well, I may include a few family and friends (sorry guys).

However, this latest gaff, Tony, I cannot leave to rest.

What were you thinking? By saying that Australia was unsettled before the British came, do you truly believe that you are doing Australia any favours? Do you think that comments like that will instil faith for foreign investors to come to our shores? Sure, there may be some xenophobic, sexist, billionaires who feel that their money would be well placed within our boat-returning un-humanitarian borders, but on the whole, Tony, I’m guessing you haven’t noticed, as a nation, and indeed as a species, we are evolving.

People are making fun of you, Tony. And we, as a country are being tainted by association. Comedy shows are making money from the numerous gaffs you keep making. More so, I believe, than George Bush in his day. In fact, comparisons are being made.

Is this how you want to be remembered Tony? Is this the legacy you truly wish to leave for your country? Or even for your family? All in the name of the few big money spenders that worked damn hard to put you in power for their own gains (and yes, Murdoch, I am talking about you)?

Every day another thing lands in my inbox, every day another monumental embarrassment. What will it take Tony, for you to wake up to the harm that you are causing our great country? The days of white supremacy, my friend, of white male dominated, male driven capitalism is on its way out. Your ideals, along with your party’s and those that support you, are no longer valid. Like the dinosaur, they are old, and ready for extinction. You are completely out of touch.

There is an entire generation coming up the ranks that knows that neo-liberal individualistic supremacy is no longer the way forward, if indeed it ever was.  Rather than pave the way for them, Tony, you are building a brick wall, setting us back years. In the 10 months you have been in power you have caused more damage for our country than, I believe, any prime minister in our history.

Your popularity in the polls have proven that. And they do count, Tony, those polls. Even if they move every day and are subject to what is going on in the press that day, they very much do count. If I was you, my friend, I would be paying very close attention.

The good news is, Tony, you have time. All those carefully worded, evasive promises you broke, all the damage that you have done in such a short time, you can put them right. It has only been 10 months. You have another two years to turn things around. You can add to this country, rather than subtract from it. You can be remembered as the PM that lost his way in the beginning, but ended up doing magnificent things for our country.

Are you up for the challenge Tony? Are you?

What is it you want for Australia Tony? Is it a country that is considered on the international stage a complete laughing stock; a country that still refuses to recognise its oldest peoples; a country that despite its bounty is happy to see men, women and babies die at sea; a country that refuses to look after its elderly, or educate its children, or take care of its sick; a country that plonks its head in the sand about the globally accepted phenomenon of climate change?

I am a lowly housewife, mother and grandmother. I form part of the middle income bracket. I pay my taxes and I do not receive any benefits. I am fortunate enough that I do not need them. I guess I should be supporting you to maintain the status quo. But I can’t, Tony.

What you are doing is suffocating our country. You are building a road made of straw for us and once you have left, the devastation you will have left behind will be felt for generations to come.

It doesn’t take much to be a decent human being. You have time to be decent Tony.

Do the right thing. Do the right thing by ALL your people, not just those that pay the most money to keep you in power. Let go of your antiquated ideals and SEE your people. Connect WITH them. Fight FOR them.

Can you do that Tony?

If you need some advice, feel free to give me a call.

Your concerned citizen,

SHW Signature

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Action {A lesson in owning who you are and finding your tribe}

 

On a recent episode of Graham Norton he interviewed the illustrious winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, Conchita Wurst.  Conchita is at first glance a conundrum – a drag queen who dresses like a woman yet wears a beard.

Conchita Wurst : Image from FashionPhotographyBlog.com
Conchita Wurst {Image from www.fashionphotographyblog.com}

Our minds look for patterns and we love to group things together.  We like to find familiarity in our symbols.  Conchita completely and utterly flies in the face of this.  She is the modern day Bearded Lady.  And I love her.

I love that in a contest like the Eurovision Song Contest, where millions of people throughout Europe get to vote, she was selected to be the winner.  It fills me with great hope for the capacity of humanity.

During the interview, Graham asked Conchita about the beard being combined with the womanly persona she had carved for herself.  As he noted, many drag queens had come before her and done well for themselves (Lily Savage, Dame Edna and the like), but the beard appeared to confuse people.  Conchita replied with aplomb.  Two quotes stuck out for me.

It’s so cheesy, but you just get one life, you know, and you better make it fabulous.  And it’s my own truth.”

and

Over the years I tried to fit in, and I changed myself, in every way you can imagine, I just wanted to be part of the game.  And then I realised, well, I create the game.”

And then I loved her even more.  Because I knew in that moment, the minute she started living her own truth, living life to the beat of her own drum, feeling comfortable enough in herself to be a woman with a beard, that is when her star really started to shine.  So much so that Cher and Elton John have been in touch.

How often do we try to fit in?  How often do we so desperately need to find a tribe that we will try to change who we are just to say we belong?  How often are we left longing, knowing that there is something missing in our lives, yet continue along a path that just doesn’t feel right?  And how, when we know this, do we change?

Is it not time to start living a life that is aligned with who we really are?  Like the beautiful, wonderful Conchita, we can inhabit our own space, claim it and change the game for ourselves.  Yes, we may have to take jobs that are not fulfilling to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table – the most common reason I hear for not living our truth.  But there are 24 hours in a day.  Whilst a third is for work and a third is for sleeping, a third can be spent in pursuits that invigorate us.  It is in those moments that we can find our true selves and through that discovery find our true tribe.

Conchita noted that she grew up in a small village in Austria.  She knew she was gay.  She admits it was not fun and she admits she tried to change.  You might be surprised to know that Conchita, who was born Tom Neuwirth, won a singing contest and in 2007 and formed a boy band.  But it was only in 2011, when she started to seek out her tribe, the tribe that was in alignment with who she was (gay and a drag queen), that she was able to find success, both personally and professionally.

I truly believe we should all be living like Conchita.  We should be living fabulous lives that invigorate and fulfil us.  Yes, you may be an office professional by day, but you go ahead and be whatever you like by night.  I am pretty sure once you start owning that, amazing things will happen.  First off, your own sense of self and happiness will improve.  And who knows, perhaps new opportunities to make a career of your passion may present themselves.  But you won’t know unless you take that first step.

It is scary.  I know.  I’ve only just started owning the fact that I want to be a writer and am seeking out ways to hang out with other writers.  I’m finding it nerve racking.  Will they like me?  Will they think my writing is crapola?  Will they laugh at me?  But if Conchita can be brave, so can I.  At the very least I will learn to be a better writer and at best, I may be setting myself on a path to be published.

I know that you can do this.  I want you to do this.  Seek out those people who love what you love.  Find that connection.  Be what you love.  And then let me know how it goes, because I so want to do that happy dance with you.

From my heart to yours,

SHW Signature