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To You

GOODBYE 2014 AND WELCOME TO THE NEW YEAR OF 2015!

Hello there my friends,

How are you this fine new year’s eve?  The weather here in Melbourne is somewhat overcast and moody.  Perhaps an indication of what my year was like.

I was doing some bloghopping recently and came across this lovely post by Maxabella Loves.  She asks us to answer 10 questions to say farewell to 2014 and to ring in the new year.  I thought it would be fun, and possibly helpful, to play along.  I hope you will too.

1.  What word do you think best summed up 2014?

I would have to say Challenging, especially since Mr C and I ended up in hospital no less than three times each!  I also had to come to grips with being bald, and a new wig, which whilst an amazing gift, did present its challenges.

2.  What did you do for the first time this year?

Two things: (a) I blogged about being bald, and took a photograph of myself bald for the entire world to see.  (b) In response to Edenland’s call for lip-syncing entrants to honour the memory of her brother who had committed suicide, I decided to enter.  At the last minute I decided to remove my wig.  I then posted said entry onto you tube.  I faced my vulnerability well and truly that day and is something of which I am quite proud.  You can see the entry here.

3.  What is the one thing that happened that will have a lasting consequence?

Undoubtedly it was the fact that I decided to do the Blog With Pip course.  Through this course I learned to start and run my own blog, but more important than that was the connections that I made to some incredible women who continue to inspire me every day.

Before I started the course, I didn’t really follow blogs as such but now I read a number each day which has opened up my eyes to a whole new world.

I also learned to listen to my inner intuition more and to trust the process of living.  As a recovering alcoholic this has been quite an amazing revelation, although still very much a work in progress.

4.  Was there anything you wish you had done differently?

The one thing that truly stands out for me is that I did not take control of my health this year.  Despite my body shutting down and needing two operations, I still didn’t heed the signs.  The result is that I am still obese, am tired, am tired of being tired, feel very sluggish and am struggling to get out of my depressive spiral.

Losing weight isn’t just about the aesthetics for me, it is about my body not having to lug around 35 extra kilograms, it is about feeling vital, and not waking up every day feeling like I am wading through mud.

5.  Do you have a favourite moment from this year?  What made it special?

Hands down my favourite moment is when Master J came second in his Maths exam.  The sheer sense of achievement he had brought an expansion to my heart that I have never felt before.  For the first time in his life, he did not feel behind the 8-ball, he felt ahead of the game.  It was a marvel to watch and a privilege to witness.

Autism has many deficits, but so many strengths do exist.  Unfortunately, in our society, we have a habit of focussing on a person’s deficits instead of their strengths.  We somehow have to make people feel diminutive.  That day, my son stood tall, not diminutive at all, head held high knowing that his incredible hard-fought hard work had paid off.  There is no greater joy.

6.  What lesson has 2014 taught you about yourself?  About others?

Such tricky questions!  2014 has taught me that no-one can tread my journey but me.  For too long have I stood in the shadow of my own life watching it pass me by.  By writing here in this little space I have learned to confront a lot of demons, let them go and to move forward.  This has been a challenging experience, but also a gift.  It has blown out a lot of cobwebs in the recess of my mind.

I have also learned that the same applies to others.  I cannot tread their path for them.  This has involved doing a lot of letting go – of control, of doing too much, of always saying yes, of not feeling good enough.  It isn’t my responsibility to make my adult children’s life as easy as possible.  It isn’t my responsibility to always do for others at the expense of my own peace of mind and health.  They have their own journeys and they need to find their own way to live it.  Just like I have had to learn to do with my own life.

2014 was a massive learning curve in this area of my life.  It is still very much a work in progress, but I do believe that 2015 will provide more opportunities to practice and I will rise to the challenge well.

7.  How will the lessons from this past year change the way you approach the new year?

For a start, I am taking more control of my health.  It is my intention to focus on my health and my wellbeing at the cost of all else, if necessary.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds, not for me.  I am prone to being reclusive, to be mindless in what goes into my mouth.  I have an addictive nature – I replaced alcohol with sugar – so I have another addiction to conquer this year.  But I am determined I am going to do it.

I fear death.  Not actually dying, for that is foolish – we all die, but the fear of dying before knowing what it feels like to live a fulfilled life, a life of purpose and meaning, a life of vitality and joy, a life with more peace of mind than not.

I have a plan to achieve this sense of wellbeing and over the coming weeks of 2015, I will reveal it.

8.  What do you most want to do in 2015?

I want to regain my health which in turn will feed my sense of well being and peace of mind (and there is some really good science behind this too).

9.  What do you most want to change about yourself?  The world?

Kindness.  I want to be more kind to myself by feeding my body nourishing food, by moving it more, by developing my mind.  I want to be kinder to others and to the world, reducing my footprint on it.  And I would love the world to become kinder to itself.  If I could witness that in my lifetime, that would be incredible.

10.  What one word do you hope will sum up what you hope to achieve in 2015?

For me, it has to be HEALTH.  Without it I have nothing – no vitality, no peace of mind, no quality of life.  This year has taught me that I need to take control of my health on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.  Health has to be all encompassing, or it isn’t health at all.

I cannot give to the world in the way that I want to if I do not have my health.  I will be working very hard this year to achieve this.

So, there you have it.  My 10 questions answered.  It’s been a weird old year for sure, but one that continues to lay foundations for a better, more healthier me.  Thank you Bron for the lovely questions which gave me some real food for thought and have helped me to clarify my journey for next year.  No doubt there will be bumps along the way, but having this blue print will help.

Happy New Year everyone.  May 2015 bring you health and peace.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

Categories
Mental Illness To You

A love note to myself {and I encourage you to do the same}

Below is a love letter to myself.  It is Day 12 of the #reverb14 and this was the task for today.  I found it incredibly difficult to write.  It felt narcissistic and wrong.  And yet, by doing so I was able to acknowledge the value of myself as a person.  As a person with depression I find this almost impossible to do.

It ended up being reflective, encouraging and extremely cathartic and, dear friend, I truly encourage you to do the same.  It will feel strange.  We are taught from the very outset that any self love is really vanity which is wrong.  It isn’t vanity or wrong.  It is something we don’t do often enough.  We don’t visit ourselves and acknowledge our strengths and gifts.  Perhaps if we did, the world we live in might be a little nicer and kinder place to be.

 

Dearest Sarah,

Today is Friday, 12th of December 2014.  This time a couple of years ago there was much hype about the impending end of the world due to someone in the Mayan culture not continuing their calendar, silly person.  It worried you though.  You were only 44 years old and there was so much you felt you had not done and it scared the crap out of you to think you may never get to do them.  What frightened you most though was the fact that you knew you had all this unrealised potential inside of you and you didn’t want to die without getting some chance  to put it out into the world.

It would take you another two years to start to work towards realising your full potential.  And you are still very much a work in progress.  That is okay.

It was a fortuitous day in January that you met with that art therapist who urged you to start your blog.  Even as you felt you didn’t know what you wanted to blog about, or what you wanted to say, or what niche you should have, or if indeed you had anything to say at all, you knew deep down inside that all you had to do was show up and start writing.

I want to thank you for doing that.  For just showing up, week after week, and just writing.

So often you would have no idea what to say, but somehow as your fingers danced across the keyboard, the words would tumble out.  Sometimes your life seemed so dark that all you could write about was that darkness that inhabited your soul on that day.  

What you didn’t know is that by answering the call to write, by spilling your guts out onto the page and into the cyber/universe, you were healing the toxicity that had inhabited your soul for so very long.  That writing was allowing the light to shine through those cracks of that damaged heart of yours and it was beautiful.

You had no idea the people you would touch, or the people you would meet, and your instinct was to withdraw.  History had taught you not to trust.  But you didn’t withdraw, you ignored your head, you listened to your heart and you took a deep breath, mustered your courage and went to those gatherings, and online meetups, you made your contributions and with it amazing connections.  

I know you still struggle to see what goodness people see in you, how surprised you feel when someone says how kind you are or what an amazing writer you are.  This is because us creatives never believe our own self worth.  Which is why we have to look at our craft as an act of service, to put some goodness out into the world, expecting nothing in return.  That way, we safeguard ourselves from disappointment and anguish.  The irony is that once we start to do that, as you have started to do this year, the universe responds.  It starts to give back in ways you never imagined, as you now have begun to see.

Please do continue with your kindness bombs.  The world needs them.  I know you doubt yourself and wonder if the words are just frivolous noise in a sea of online noise.  I know you wonder if they mean anything.  Let me say this:  Anything that is positive and kind and nurturing is worth putting out into the world.  There is so much negativity out there that anything that counters that is a good thing.  People let you know that they love them, so please do continue with them.

I want to thank you too for your resilience.  I know you don’t feel that you are resilient, but you are.  I know how hard it is for you sometimes when the black dog comes to call, how you want to slink away, how you convince yourself that no one cares, how sometimes just drawing breath seems more effort than it is worth.  But you do, you draw that breath, you get out of bed, you meet with your friends, you go online, you write.  You show up every single day and my dear dear Sarah, that is worth celebrating.

You are just beginning to realise that life is something that is for living.  You are just finding out that you are a good person who has something to offer the world and believe me when I say that 2015 is going to take that momentum and catapult you even further to find more joy, more happiness, more peace and contentment than you ever imagined would be possible.  So much so that when the world is in fear of ending again, you will be able to hold your head up high and say “That’s okay, I’ve lived a good life, I’ve given the world all I can”.

Look back at this year, Sarah, and see how far you have come.  Know how proud I am of you, how proud your family is of you.  Know that you are well loved and valued for what you bring to this world.  Know that you have so much more to give.  As you head into 2015, continue with your courage and your tenacity, your kindness and your love.  The world truly does need it.  And do not stop writing.

In closing, I want you to know that I love you.  You probably don’t know that, but deep down inside I value you and I cannot wait to travel with you as you realise that full potential you have burning inside of you, and to live a life of self worth and inner contentment.  Let’s walk those 500 miles together and then 500 more.

Lots of love,

Sarah x

Categories
To Others To You

Piece of mind vs Peace of mind

If you had the opportunity, would you go back to that one person who hurt you so badly and let them have it?  All that visceral anger that you have been harbouring, unleashed.

One of the traits of someone living with depression is that we tend to ruminate, especially on those people or incidents that left us feeling unvalued, hurt, humiliated.  We tend to play over and over in our minds the details of the offending event, imagining what it would have been like if only we had been braver, more succinct, able to think better on our feet.

Oh my how that person would suffer at the hand of our witty, but cutting, repartee.  The look of abject horror in their eyes, knowing full well that they had been non-violently beaten into submission.  We would turn on our heals and leave, their dropped jaw gleefully seared into our brains, and we would know that, finally, we had won.  Vindication would be ours.

But it never quite happens that way.  Victory is rarely won by any form of confrontation.

In humanity, there are people who delight in causing mayhem and harm to others.  They are ignorant, unaware, pigheaded.  There is no reasoning with them and whenever you are in their company they always leave you feeling less than, never valued.  Often they create drama wherever they go and they always seem to pull you into their web.  You don’t want to be there, but somehow you are powerless to avoid it.  More often than not if you were to ask them what type of person they were, they would reply that they are good, kind people who only want to bring goodness into the world, completely unaware of how their bombastic ways leave people feeling.  This is part of the human condition.  It is unavoidable.  We cannot change this.

It can all feel so disempowering.  And it is that feeling of disempowerment that leaves us with residue anger that can live with us for years.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It doesn’t seem right, I know, but the single most liberating thing you can do is to let them go, to let the incident go, to move forward, to live free.  Free yourself of the weight of the anger, frustration, injustice.

It isn’t easy.  The brain tends to replay incidents in our minds.  It is a biological response, you see, to replay that incident that caused us harm.  It is a way of protecting ourselves, preparing ourselves if the incident should ever happen again.  And our body can’t differentiate between what is real or imagined.  When we ruminate, it is as if we are living in the moment of that incident.  We feel wretched, angry, hurt all over again.  We are stuck.

The only way to stop the cycle is to let it go.

In recent years I have had a couple of incidents that have left me reeling.  And I carried them with me like medals of a battle I should have won.

I was torturing myself.  Every time I was alone, it seemed, with nothing but my own thoughts to keep me company, I would replay those incidents over and over again.  A stuck record, searing a scar so deep into my brain it felt like I would never be free of the misery.

But then I realised that I am master of my own destiny.  I do have control over my thoughts.  I do have control over how they dance across my mind.

I consciously chose to sublimate those thoughts.  It isn’t easy and it can be a good few minutes of ruminating, self talking, imagining my responses before I become aware of them.  But then I close my eyes.  I breathe in and breath out.  I say the words “breathe in, breathe out.”  You see, it takes conscious effort to speak.  It diverts your mind from those ruminating negative thoughts to your voice.  “breathe in, breathe out.

Before I know it, my heart rate has lowered, my breathing has slowed and a calmness has settled over my mind.

It takes practice.  A lot of it.  Sometimes, it is a real struggle.  My mind fights with me.  It wants to be heard.  It wants to warn me of the impending danger, remind me of the pain and hurt I felt so that I can be better prepared next time.

But I have learned.  It isn’t real.  The hurt and anger is futile.  The event has passed.  Retribution isn’t coming, and it is pointless to hold onto it.  And so I consciously let the person go.  I say the words, “You can no longer hurt me, and I let you go.  Breathe in, breath out.  I let you go. Breathe in, breathe out.

I also choose never to have anything to do with them.

This seems harsh, and it wasn’t a decision taken lightly.  But I believe in my right to choose whom I have in my life.  After a lifetime of allowing people to dictate my worth, I have taken ownership of it.  And so I choose to let them go.  Not with hatred.  For they acted in response to their own demons.  And I take ownership of my part, for there are always two sides to any story, good or bad.

Still, I choose not to dance with them any longer, to not engage in their little game that seems to drive them, thrill them, control them.  That is their internal fight, not mine.  I choose to walk away.

And I feel so much better for it.

Do I wish I could yell and shout, and give them a piece of my mind?  Sometimes.  But mostly, I choose peace of mind and that makes all the difference.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  
Categories
To You

Time to let go, time to release

 

Frantic is the only word to describe my life at the moment.

The silly season is upon us and I am the proverbial chicken without a head, trying desperately to get it all done before the big day.

It isn’t going to happen.  I have to let some things go.

I have lost my christmas mojo.

I don’t like to admit it, but I have.

Partly, it is the seasonal grief that the loss of my mom brings.  Grief is a funny beast and the silly season is one of those times when, for me, it manages to find me and cling to me like sand brought home from the beach.

But I also think it is the notion that I have to have a perfect christmas, full of feast and festivities.  And because I suffer from depression, with my list ever growing, I find that my motivation is ever waning.

I am tired.

It has been a difficult year.  A year of growth, yes, but we only grow when we are prepared to confront those painful aspects of our lives and let them go.  I have done an awful lot of letting go.

Writing has been therapy for me.  Toxic, ugly therapy.  Therapy is not meant to be rainbows and unicorns.  And I’ve grown.  But with any growth there has to be a period of rest.  To recharge, to gain strength.  I am finding my body desperately wanting to rest, my mind begging me to stop.

But I can’t, I tell myself.  I have so much to do.

What is it that drives us to do so much?  To aim for perfection?  A perfection that is a moving target since it means different things to so many different people.  For each of the 12 people that will sit at my christmas table, perfection will mean something different.  I am chasing an illusion.

I have to release this notion of perfection.  I have release this notion that unless I can achieve perfection, I will be viewed as not good enough.

I am enough.

Done is better than perfect.

Done is better than perfect.

Be kind to yourself.

Let some of it go.

The greatest gift we can give to ourselves is the permission to let stuff go, to put things out into the wider world that show imperfections, that are less than, but more than enough.

My to-do list is enormous.

If I don’t get it all done by the time Santa arrives, that is okay.

The world will not come to end.

Life will not stop.

Deep breaths.  In. Out.  In.  Out.

Let.  It.  All.  Go.

Dear Universe, I really wanted to get this shit load of stuff done by the 25th, but I am simply not going to manage it.  I am releasing those less important things to you.  Chances are no-one will notice.  I will notice, but that is okay, I am handing them over to you.  I am a fallible human, and at this time, in this moment, I just simply cannot do it all.  I am choosing my mental health over home made christmas bon bons, hand crafted gift bags and a number of other homestead-y type things.  I know you will  understand.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

 This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  
Categories
To You

I don’t fit in and I am proud!

Mr C attended the annual breakfast run by The Reach Foundation today.  For those of you that don’t know Reach is an amazing organisation that works with youth to help them get the most out of life, to feel less like a fish out of water and more like they have a valuable contribution to make.  They do amazing work.

Mr C phoned me after the breakfast, as he does every year, to enthusiastically let me know what it was like.  Our son has benefitted from this organisation’s work, so it very much has a place in our heart.

This year, they spoke about how children are put into boxes, and once they are put into those boxes, how these children are expected to act according to that labelled box.  An example given was of trangender – children who are born as one sex, but actually desperately align themselves with the other sex.  Mr C told me that there were two transgendered youth that spoke today – both of whom were born females, but are transitioning to males.  They spoke of how the largest barrier for them, was the inability of their families, driven by society, to accept where they fit into the world with some devastating consequences.

40% of children who identify as homosexual or end up self harming.  A whopping 40%!!  It is suspected that this figure is even higher for transgendered youth.

This morning, I read this amazing post by Carly Findlay.  In it she speaks of how people offer her unsolicited advice about her condition, how people will walk up to her and say that they couldn’t live with what she has, how they make comments about her appearance without even thinking.  Then, when she points out the insensitivity of these people, she is accused of asking for it because she is a blogger, and that because she looks differently she should just accept that people will make comments.

I, myself, am bald.  I have female pattern balding, otherwise known as Androgenetic Alopecia.  This means that I don’t have a completely bald head, but that I lose my hair in the same way a man usually loses his hair (on the top and around the sides).  It got so bad that I chose to shave what little hair I have in order to wear a vacuum wig.  Part of the reason to take this route was because of the constant stares and unsolicited advice that I kept getting.  People would stop me in the street to tell me about a hair loss remedy they “knew for a fact works”.  I even once had the owner of a nail salon, whilst getting my nails done by one of her employees, walk up behind me, run her fingers through the thinnest part of my hair, shake her head and say “What an awful thing to have happen to you.  How do you live with it?”

Androgenentic Alopecia
This is me just before I got my new wig.
Completely bald, yep, that's me with no hair.  I shave my head every two days to keep it smooth so the wig can suction on and I feel secure.
Completely bald, yep, that’s me with no hair. I shave my head every two days to keep it smooth so the wig can suction on and I feel secure.
This is me with my wig.  I love it.  But I love it more when I can take it off at the end of the day, kind of like removing your bra - that same feeling of relief.
This is me with my wig. I love it. But I love it more when I can take it off at the end of the day, kind of like removing your bra – that same feeling of relief.
This is me with an 'up do"
This is me with an ‘up do”

I have even had one person, who has Alopecia Universalis (total balding all over the body), tell me that I shouldn’t complain because “at least I have some hair.”  Because balding is a competitive sport apparently.

There is something gravely wrong with our culture.

Increasingly we seem to think it is okay to blurt out or do whatever comes into our head.  There is this narcissistic thread that runs through society that says that we are special little people entitled to our opinions, dammit, and as such we can say and do whatever we like without thinking about the consequences of our actions.

Well, actually, no.

There are 7 billion (and increasing every day) on this planet.  We are ALL DIFFERENT.  Not one single one of us is the same as someone else.

The media have sold us a lie.  And if you think for one second you are not influenced by the images you see on a daily basis you are deluded.

At the breakfast that Mr C attended, they showed a small clip of popular culture that our youth are subjected to numerous times a day, in particular music videos and adverts that pop up online all the time (think you tube videos and the like).  In all of them, women were portrayed as sex objects wearing skimpy clothing exposing their crotches and bum cheeks gyrating as suggestively as possible, not looking productive or intelligent at all, and men were portrayed as ripped, bad boys who were in total control.  Is it hardly a wonder we have a burgeoning domestic violence issue?  Is it hardly a wonder some freak thought it would be a good idea to start a school on how to pick up women and use them for nothing other than as sex objects, and that men pay thousands of dollars to attend said school?

But I digress.

This is about difference, and embracing it, rather than shunning it.  We all like to think we are different, yet we rush to let someone else know that they just don’t fit in.

I don’t fit in.  I am overweight, I have balding hair and I have an accent that means I don’t have a home country either.  I am an outcast in my own existence.

Why is this?  Why is it that the youth of today are being pressured to fit in, to be and act a certain way?  Why is it that middle aged men and women, rather than embracing their mature-aged wisdom, are clinging to some image of what they might have been had they only been prettier, thinner, more fit, more career minded?  Why is it that the mental health issue across the world is bursting at the seams?

Because it sells.  Marketers have discovered our propensity for patterns and tribes and have created a culture in which we fight to fit in for fear of missing out.  There’s even an acronym for it – FOMO.  Everything, no matter what, is up for sale.  Even families on TV who do nothing other than appear before the camera in a tell-all scenario are held up to us like some beacon of what we should aspire to be.

The fall out from that is that those of us that don’t fit the mould are cast out, and those that do fit the mould are sure to let us know about it.

In the last 40 years a culture of us and them has been created.  A culture of narcissism has also been created which dictates that if I want to say something, then I get to say it, regardless of the consequences.

Except it is all a lie.  Because we are all different.  Every.  Single.  One.

You don’t get to tell someone who has Ichthyosis how they should manage their own condition, you don’t get to tell a transgender person that they shouldn’t want to be a member of the opposite sex, you don’t get to tell a woman who is losing her hair that she has no right to be upset and you certainly don’t get to tell all of these different people that they don’t belong because of some image that you have bought into sold to you by a society-crushing ravaging media.  You just don’t.

So I challenge you today.  I challenge you when you see someone that is strange or different, or acts in a way that you wouldn’t, or is just simply not a member of your tribe, I challenge you to embrace them, to get to know them, the person. Resist the urge to enquire about their condition, about their appearance, about their choices.  That is all just wrapping.  Get to know them.  It may just make your day.

Go on, I dare you.

Much love,

SHW Signature

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To You

Thankful Thursday {Choosing Gratitude}

I think it is safe to say that I have been having a pity party this week.

I’ve been feeling extremely sorry for myself.

I’ve been looking at myself and lamenting all the things that are wrong with me – my baldness, my obesity, my crappy nails, my crappy feet.  You know, that systematic attack us women do on each and every part of our body.

Then two things happened.

I read this post from the beautiful Rachel over at The Chronic Ills of Rach

And I read this post from That Summer Feeling.

I know that this depression thing totally sucks.  That there are times when living life on its own fucking terms doesn’t seem to work.  I know that looking at myself and systematically denigrating all that I am is just a manifestation of the toxic ball of shit that I feel inside.  I know this.

And it is because I know this that when I read those posts I could step outside of myself for just a little bit.  It is because of this, I could choose to work on something that wasn’t about me.  It is because of this knowledge that I strive each and every single day to live a life that is better than the day before it.  It is because of this that I want to BE better.  It is because of this that I WILL be better.  It is because of this that I don’t want to take the life I have for granted.

How grateful I am to be living in a time and place where I can connect with such incredible beings who live thousands of kilometres away, who inspire me so much.

How grateful I am to be sober, to be working on myself each and every day so that I can be more present for my family, so that I can work towards living my best life.

How grateful I am to live in a time where the quality of wigs are so incredible that no-one knows I am wearing one unless I tell them.

How grateful I am to be able to create, to be able to contribute some goodness to this world, rather than take away from it.

How grateful I am to be alive, right here, right now, in this moment, talking to you, telling you my story.

How grateful I am that you are reading my story.

Today, this Thursday, I am simply grateful.

Much love,

SHW Signature

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Mental Illness To You

An ode to the rainbow and the uniqueness of its colours

I’m going to struggle to find the words.  I know I am.  The words to describe the warmth I feel right now.  The words to describe that despite still feeling dark in places, the light is beginning to find its way through.  The words to describe what it feels like to find a group of women who have enveloped me, hugged me so hard that indeed it seems my broken bits are being mended back together.  The words to describe having hope, and the strength to work toward, a future full of life, love and living.

But I am going to try.

After 8 or so years of being clinically depressed and having gone through a number of psychologists, I had given up hope of ever finding light with any regularity in my life.  I had simply resigned myself to a life of existence.  No living.

My sister, God bless her, suggested I try an art therapist.  I baulked at the idea.  I am no artist.  But she encouraged me, saying it wasn’t about the art, it was about being creative and the toxicity that gets released through that creative process.  I took her advice.

After a few sessions it became evident that I love, well live, to write but fear with a capital F had stopped me from ever letting anyone see my work, bar a couple of blogs that I never told anyone about.

She suggested a blogging course, where I would be ‘published’ through a guided, supportive environment, with very little risk to my self esteem.  I chose the Blog with Pip course at her suggestion.

I enrolled on this course with trepidation.  I had no niche, no craft, no particular skill.  Immediately I didn’t feel like I fit in.  But I persevered.  I started off with this blog, realised it didn’t fit me and so started Sarah’s Heart Writes.  Without realising it at the time, I just kept showing up.  I re-evaluated and adjusted, and I just kept going.

However, my lack of belonging dogged me.  I wanted to belong so much, to be part of a tribe.  All across cyberland, you will find tribes.  It is the beauty of it.  No matter what you are into there will be someone out there who is into the same thing too.  And no doubt a few others too.

You know that here I write about my life mostly battling depression, recovering from alcoholism, being bald, being a grandmother, parenting a child on the autistic spectrum.  I couldn’t narrow it down.  I am a whole person and so I write about the whole of me {and please, dear friend, you do the same}.  My tribe seemed impossible to find.

But without realising it, I was looking in the wrong places.  Without realising it, I didn’t need to look at all.  Without realising it, I needed to be found.

You see, I met a group of women who just seem to get me.  They accept me for who I am.  They don’t care that I am melancholic, prone to more bad days than good, am extremely overweight, live a pretty boring existence, struggle to see my own value in a world that seems to have no place for me.  What they care about is that I show up as their friend as much as they are mine.  This is because they value what I have to offer and they remind me constantly what it is that I do have to offer.  This is such an incredible gift.

A gift that is in itself a lesson.

I was looking for someone just like me.  Someone whom I could hold up to the light to say “Look, they are just like me and they made it, so can I.”  What I didn’t consider is my uniqueness.  By virtue of everything about me – my upbringing, my life experiences, my genetic make up – I am unique.  As are you.  I had never really come to grips with that.  My uniqueness felt so isolating somehow.  I needed a tribe.

But then I found this group of women, and they found me, and together, we expect nothing more of each other than to show up with our uniqueness.  We celebrate our uniqueness with zest and love.  We champion it like knights on steeds carrying banners for all the world to see.  We are each individual colours of a rainbow, coming together to encourage each other to shine.  Yes, I have found my tribe, but it is based on something completely different than I ever imagined my tribe would be.  It is based on acceptance and love.  Nothing more, nothing less.  They don’t expect me to be something different.  They expect me to be, well, me.

We need more of this in the world.  We need more women championing each other, not tearing each other down. We need more women encouraging the uniqueness of others, celebrating them for it, not trying to pigeonhole them into something they are not.  Mass media makes its living out of trying to get us to do just that, and we conform, doing their job for them, tearing others down.

Albert Einstein apparently once famously said that if you try to get a fish to climb a tree, it will always feel stupid.

Don’t be a tree climbing fish.  Be a unique colour of the rainbow.  Own your truth and I promise you, your tribe will find you.  I will find you.

Much love,

SHW Signature