Thursday, July 29, 2010

A short letter of thanks for love

I do not know how to even describe how much I love you. How I begin to tell you how much you mean to me.. I don't know that I have the words in me to articulate how important your presence in my life is. That you love me too is extraordinary, it blows my mind! How do I explain how precious I feel to know that you love me, to know that I am yours. Thank you for loving me, for seeing me, for knowing me. I feel honoured to love you, honoured to do life with you, honoured that you are in my world. Thank you for allowing me to see you, for letting me in. I am better because I love you, my world is richer because of the love you allow me to give.. thank you for the love that fills my world xo 

Monday, July 12, 2010

The measures we use - part 2

I wrote a few weeks ago about the measures we use to measure ourselves v the measure we use to measure our friends and a dear friend of mine requested that I explore some of the ideas a little further so here we go..

Practically for this concept to work I think we need to start by understanding the way we are in our relationships with our friends v our relationship with ourselves. We need to examine the various ways each of us as individuals measure and love our friends. For me I know that with all of my friendships the first emotion I feel when I see my friends is love and that shapes the way I see everything else about them.

If my core measure for my friends is love, I wonder how different my life would be if I loved myself enough to use that measure for me? How different would our lives be if we measured ourselves with love instead of hate?

Would our lives look different if we used the same measure of love that we use for our friends when evaluating our lives? Would we feel differently when we looked at ourselves in the mirror? Would we feel better about ourselves? Would we like ourselves more? And if we did like ourselves more would we see the flaws we see now or would we see the things we find beautiful in our friends? Would you suddenly notice that you have really pretty eyes or amazing skin? Would that moment in the day be different for you and would you day be a little brighter?

And what would happen if we looked at more than what's in the mirror when looking at ourselves.. What if we looked deep inside us for the qualities we love in our friends? What if we found them and then valued them in us like we value them in our friends, how different would that look? And how different would we feel about ourselves and what we have to offer the world? Would we like ourselves more? Would we be gentler on ourselves.. or dare I say it would we grow to love ourselves..

And if we did grow to love ourselves, how different would our lives look? Would we stop focusing on the mistake of the past and instead see the lesson learnt and the person it created? Would we then be able to let go of the past and heal.. Would all of this make it easier to make healthy life changes or harder? How would it look if when deciding what needed changing we spoke to ourselves kindly and gently?

Perhaps today when you look in the mirror to get ready for the day you could put on some love for yourself when you put on your make-up.. maybe you could take a moment to work out what you value in your friends and then ask yourself if you have those qualities.. maybe you could love yourself for a moment and see if it's easier to choose the healthy life option.. maybe you could see how it feels to be loved by you xo

Pursuing perfection - an examination of my struggle

This post is a little different to most because I am literally mid-journey. So my sister said something yesterday about my prior intolerance for flaws (apparently I'm quite tolerant now) which reminded me of a comment a friend made about me being a perfectionist.

Now f you ask me I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist. I would say that I want to be the best version of me and I would tell you that my house is not nearly clean or organised enough, the standard of the work I produce could be higher, I could study more, eat better, work out.. generally I could give you a mammoth list of things that I could totally do better if I were more disciplined. Reading that back makes me go "eek that is totally what a perfectionist would say"! So for the sake of self-discovery I am going to own being a perfectionist and work with it.

As I accept this my body naturally squirms as I try to let this new found realty settle, I shrug my shoulders a few times and wiggle around in my chair some more. If I take a moment to stop and examine my body and the physical reaction I am having to this my stomach feels unsettled, I have light chills (that I wouldn't even notice if I wasn't looking), my face is pulling various hmm faces but my torso is engaged, I am leaning forward and my head is to the side taking in this realisation. I lean on my chin on my hand hmm yes I think this is correct I am a perfectionist. Enough about the physical reaction what does this mean in my world?

If I am honest this means that I am hard on myself, not mean just hard. I look at my life and see various examples of where I didn't try hard enough, where I could have done more or better. If I look at the past I would say that my perfectionism has led to me seeking approval from others because I don't get it from myself. It has led me to expecting efforts beyond what is humanly possible from myself and pushing through until my body crashes and refuses to get out of bed for days at a time. At first glance I would say that this hasn't impacted my relationships but that would be a lie.

When I really look at my past and consider the impact my perfectionist tendencies had on my relationships.. I would say that while I didn't consciously expect perfection from others, I did expect that I would be perfect in those relationships and that the relationships themselves would be perfect. Imagine if someone you loved was more worried about things being perfect than being present in your actual relationship.. I did that. I can honestly say that there have been moments when I was too busy looking for perfection in the world to see what was right in front of me..

I think there are many of us who pursue perfection without realising that in doing so we can miss out on enjoying what's right in front of us. I pray that we can let go of being perfect and focus instead on being who we were created to be, I pray that we can open our eyes to see beauty in the imperfect and that we can love ourselves and each other in all of our humanity. Be gentle with yourselves and each other.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Reason enough to love ourselves, our friends and our daughters

Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about body image and self-worth.. While still in primary school I was exposed through a friend to the violent and evil disease that is anorexia.  This disease has infiltrated the lives of more than one of my friends along with other eating disorders including bulimia and by association has been a part of my life for at least 15 years. I have watched people go from happy, confident and full of potential to being riddled with self hate.  

Eating disorders are silent killers that start by telling a woman that she is fat, slowly etching away at her self worth and then suddenly it moves swiftly to take everything - her confidence, her friends, the ability to eat, to rationalise, to love herself or the world, to think!  It robs her of her ability to live. What starts as skipping lunch at school can turn quickly into over-exercising and not eating to taking drugs and engaging in self harm. I've watched it happen to more than one person.

Anorexia (like other earing disorders) is not something that goes away when you reach a certain age or weight, for those with the disease it's something that they live with everyday. Even those who are now a healthy weight and are women they still struggle with this disease that never fully goes away. Today I stumbled upon this blog which is a frank and honest look inside the mind of a young woman's who's life has been taken away by an eating disorder. She might be alive but she is certainly not living..

I am aware that the blog is confronting but eating disorders are diseases which are taking the lives of our daughters, sisters and friends and we need to educate ourselves about it.

In our culture thin not healthy is good.. as a naturally skinny person, women are always complementing me on my weight (like it makes me a better person) now I'd like to throw out there that if I were anorexic that "complement" would be feeding my disease. We celebrate losing weight as oppose to being fit and healthy. This disease can hide and breed in the messages we project to our daughters. This disease is not a diet or a faze and we need to take it seriously.  It is real and it has to power to take away the joy, potential and lives of our women. This disease does not discriminate.

I encourage you to share the above link with your sisters, daughter and friends educate them. I think we need to watch the way we speak to each other, the things we complement and celebrate. We need to love each other and promote self worth. We need to learn to love ourselves, our friends and our daughters.. to value them and help them to love themselves.

I pray that we can be a society which loves and values ourselves, our friends and our daughters xo

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A quick thank you

I have been incredibly blessed this year and for something different I would like to take a moment to give thanks for a few of the awesome moments of my week and the people who gave them to me:
  1. Thank you for showing me that you are still there and for letting me in again, I can't wait to see more of you. I love that we can bring out the best in each other and pray we can do that for the rest of our lives;
  2. Thank you for eating too much Indian and for openly and honestly doing life with me. I love that we can say the things we really shouldn't say and talk about them until they make sense;
  3. Thank you to my new elderly friend who made me tea and toast last night - there may be over 5 decades between us but sitting at your kitchen table talking over tea makes me realise that we are all simply women who just want to be loved. Thank you for letting me in;
  4. Thank you for your messages of encouragement and love and for the woman you are growing to be. I miss you buba;
  5. Thank you for being an inspiration, Mum you are a truly remarkable woman;
  6. Thank you for being my Jonathan - my number 3, the voice of reason when I am a silly insecure girl, an inspiration;
  7. Thank you for trusting me enough with someone so precious to you, I shall keep her in my heart and love on her like you have loved on me;
  8. Thank you for being human, for being scared, for being brave but most of all thank you for crawling into bed and resting like the doctor said;
  9. Thank you for my new book and for all that it represents.. we have come so far in such a short time;
  10. Thank you for your presence, for you love and for making me whole.
There are about a million other things that I could be thankful for, a million other people and moments. Most of all today on my Dad's birthday I am most thankful for my Dad and for every year that he is in my life.

I pray that in amongst the business of life we can take a moment to be thankful for the little blessings who make a big difference in our lives.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

That which matters most

In my heart I have always had a really clear idea of the thing that matters most to me, my relationships. I have always known the value of the people in my life, always loved my family and appreciated my friends but I haven't always lived what's in my heart..

There was a time in my not so distant past when I might have felt those things in my heart but I certainly wasn't living them. It started by placing work as the most important thing and then it spiralled out of control and there was so much to do. Before I knew it I was tired and out of control and that's when it happened; that's when I stopped investing in my relationships. That may be a bit dramatic, I mean I didn't stop investing in them altogether but my priorities were definitely off and any investment I was making was into the wrong relationships (tip: 2 broken halves will never make a whole! This goes for both lovers and friends, being bound by brokenness is not sustainable but that's a whole other post).

I was recently reminded that this is something we are all in danger of.  For you it might not be your career, it might be a personal problem that seems to require more than you have to give or planning a wedding or making a new marriage work or raising a child or any one of the million challenges we face in life. It starts off as being important so you put in the hard work but the more you put in the more it demands and suddenly you are lost in it and you can't remember the last time you ate too much food with your best friend. It happens really easily and it will happen to us all at some many points in our lives but it's what we do in those moments that make all the difference.

I remember the "it's just too hard/I feel so guilty/the last thing I need is to go out right now/I want to go to bed" argument I used to have in my head but the crazy thing is that all it took was 2 mins with the person I loved and suddenly I was full of life! The people in our lives, the ones we have given a place in our heart, they are what re-energise us! They remind us who we are beyond that thing that is consuming our life, they love us in our brokenness and have the energy to find the obvious solutions that we are too tired to see! They are what we need in those moments more than anything else!

I can remember being exhausted and wondering how I was going to stay awake on the train trip to my parents but as soon as I saw my Dad at the station I felt at home and by the time I had a cup of tea with my Mum I felt completely myself and a trip to the beach with my sister = wow! I am now also blessed with  amazing girlfriends who do the same thing but it's not just about what I can get from these relationships it's about what I can give. How can I show them how important they are to me and what they mean to my world? The answer is very simple I can give them my time.

And it doesn't need to be a lot of time. It can be a phone call, an email, a cup of coffee, a quick lunch during the week, helping out on a photo shoot, dinner, doing a dance class together, walking the dog, taking someone who's had a hard week some food, lending someone a book. It's about doing life together. There are a million little moments in each day where you have the opportunity to love and invest in the relationships that are important to you.

It's not hard to re-charge the relationships that feed your soul and it's not hard to keep investing in those relationships. I pray that those of us who need to reconnect, that we take a moment today to tell the people we love that we love them :) For those who feel disconnected I pray that you take a moment to reach out to the person you love but haven't seen for a while because you may just be the energy hit they need.. For all of us I pray that we can continue to take small steps towards living what is important to our hearts and living for that which matters most xoxo

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The measures we use..

I was at a dinner party last night with 5 other amazing women, these are women who have changed my life. They fearlessly speak into my world, they draw out my hopes and dreams and they lift me up and into my God given destiny. In our conversations they both allow me to be me while encouraging me to be the best version of me. They tell me when I'm wrong, they show me what I need to sow into and what I need to let slip away and they do it in the most loving, kind and gentle way. I am better for knowing them.

When I look at them I see beautiful, talented, strong, feminine women who are each on a journey to discover who they are in life (just quietly I am incredibly blessed to walk the journey beside them). They each have so many amazing qualities that I love and admire and are so full of wisdom! I love them deeply!

What struck me last night though was the extreme difference in the way we love each other to the way we love ourselves, the way we measure success in others compared to the way we measure success in ourselves. We are so kind and generous with each other.. when we think of the important qualities that we look for in our friends, the things we love about them, even the way we encourage them, we are so loving.

I look at my girlfriends (all of my girlfriends) and I see amazing women who navigate life with courage and grace. I see women who even when they have made mistakes or fallen, they get up and live and love. I see success in the ways they love each other, in the people they are trying to be, in the differences they are making in their world whether it be raising amazing daughters or giving a hug to someone in need. I see the beauty in their journey. When I see the mistakes they have made in their lives, I don't see the mistake! I see how they have allowed their mistakes to grow and shape their life, how they will willingly go back there to that place where they were fragile and share with me how they navigated the challenge. How even when it is painful they are willing to give. I see them as more precious than any jewel in this world. If I am honest when I look at my friends and evaluate their journey the measuring tool I use is love, compassion, understanding and awe.

I think most of my girlfriends are like that when they look at the people in their world.  It's funny to me that when we look at each other we see the success not the failure, the voice inside us says so worthy not worthless, we feel love not hate yet when we look at ourselves we use a different measure. We see our failures, our shortcomings, the worthlessness, we look at our situations and say if only _____ then I would be worth enough to love. The measuring tool we use for ourselves is hate and the scale of evil emotions that hate breeds. Even the way we judge success in ourselves is different, often the things we think we need in order to be worthy aren't something we even take notice of in our friends..

I pray that today just for the day we can take off the hate we have for ourselves and treat ourselves like we do our best friends. I pray that today we be be gentle with ourselves that we can try to be loving, compassionate, understanding and in awe of where we have been. I pray that we can try on what it looks like to love ourselves like we love each other x