CJ Hendry – Brisbane artist who sold her work to Kanye. (West)

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Have you ever been in a bar, chatting away to someone about what they do, and said, “Yes, you do that for your day job, but what do you really want to do?”

No? Well, I ask that sort of thing. A lot. So does an artist who sold her artwork to Kanye West.

But enough about me and how I’m basically a rapper now.

This week I’m interviewing CJ Hendry. She is a Brisbane based visual artist who boasts over 100,000 instagram followers and makes her living selling her artwork… FROM INSTAGRAM.  To people like Kanye West. Have I mentioned that?

Kanye

CJ is someone, who by her own admission, has tried and failed many things – while she was always obsessed with having that ‘dream job’, her plans never seemed to follow through the way she wanted.

I found out about CJ and her work at Tedx Brisbane, she was the first speaker up and a few minutes into her talk, my boyfriend kept nudging me saying, “that’s so you! that’s so you”! I found this annoying because at that part of the talk she was only listing her bad qualities and failures, so I started thinking of ways to make fun of something he’s sensitive about at a later stage. #TrueLove

In between planning my revenge, I also listened to CJ speak and discovered she hasn’t done a degree in visual art, nor has she followed any kind of conventional path of finding galleries or representation.

She just started drawing, put her stuff up on instagram and now makes her living from her high end artwork.

I don’t mean to make it sound easy, she’s got a hell of a story of all the different things she’s tried. You can see more about that here: 

BUT. The main point I want to focus on here is that CJ finally realised having a plan wasn’t working for her – and once she realised what she wanted to do, it was just about sticking to her guns and going for it.

Ever  since discovering her drawing, she’s taken a chance on herself and wants to make her life about doing what she really wants to do.

“But CJ,” I ask in my devil’s advocate cynical voice, “What do you mean you draw all day and still manage to survive? You must realise that sounds crazy to the people you’re asking what they really want to do?”

She’s quick to reply, and kind of shocks me with her response, “Actually, my parents have always taught me to be financially focused. So I went into this drawing thing with enough money to survive for a time, and then after 6 months, I sold my first bit of art and it’s just kind of snowballed from there”.

“The other thing I did was just name my price and stick to it. One time,  someone offered me half, and my money was running out but I still stuck to my guns and inside I was screaming YOU NEED THE MONEY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! But that attitude paid off and I regularly sell work now”.

The thing I love about CJ, is that she just STARTED. She took the risk. Often that’s the scariest part. And she wasn’t flaky about it at all.

She made sure she had enough money, and then stuck to her instincts.

“For me, it was about understanding it may not work and not having any expectations on it. Also, Instagram gives you that instant gratification, I’m not waiting for a show.  What do you mean you like it?! It’s great”.

CJ is full of quick, punchy little gems of wisdom that I just have to share with you:

  • You know the term Bridezilla? Well, I was a Plan-zilla . CJ says not having a plan is a good thing because, “When you don’t have a full on plan, you don’t know your full potential”.
  • That idea of being frustrated, “actually means you’re on the brink of figuring something out, so it’s not such a bad place to be in”.
  • Name your price and stick to it
  • Plans make you anxious and anxiety is numbing
  • Do you think Beyonce knew she was going to be Beyonce?
  • On meeting Kanye, “I said to him, f*** the handshake, bring it in for a hug”. He was very humble, and very softly spoken.

We may not all be visual artists, but the awesome thing I think we can all take away from CJ is that we can gamble, if only safely (my favourite kind of gambling) on ourselves. We don’t have to throw everything away, we can get there bit by bit.

Not only that, but perhaps thinking you have to have a perfect plan and follow it through exactly ,isn’t going to work. Boiling it down to a few key points and then plugging away at it seems like it’s working a treat for CJ!

Check out the rest of her work here: http://instagram.com/cj_hendry

Lisa Hyde: Bachelor Runner Up and Businesswoman!

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At the moment,  I’m only employed on a casual basis. So I have time, for well, anything really. #PleaseTalkToMe

With that in mind, I’ve decided to make a project for myself. I’ve made it my mission to meet one inspiring, fascinating, interesting woman a week FOR ONE WHOLE YEAR.

Why?

  • I think it will be interesting and I like the idea of creating a space for many different stories so we can all share in our vulnerabilities and triumphs and learn from one another #ooo #deep
  • Why women? Because we do that thing where we get jealous and compare ourselves (I do it all the time) so I want to make an effort to stop that
  • Maybe I’ll get more friends

Last week, I was very lucky to chat with the very lovely Lisa, the 2014 runner up of The Bachelor.  She talks us through the rollercoaster of this year’s Bachelor series,  shares some tips and experiences for working in a creative industry and discusses upcoming launches for her fashion label, Shevoke.

I’m going to admit it: I totally stalked researched Lisa throughout The Bachelor series. I always thought she was effortlessly gracious and remain dignified in a lot of tricky spots, where a lesser person may have resorted to drama.

In my “research”, I discovered she’s a fashion designer and studied at the same college I once worked for as a marketing coordinator. Small world right? *squeals and hopes we will become best friends for life*

Best-friends-to-be Lisa Hyde (left, as seen on Channel 10) and Michelle Janssen (right, as not seen on Channel 10)

Best-friends-to-be Lisa Hyde (left, as seen on Channel 10) and Michelle Janssen (right, as not seen on Channel 10)

Meeting Lisa is like catching up with that friend every girl should have: bright, bubbly, engaged, and most of all: interested. Here I was ready to ask all the questions, and Lisa casually interrupts herself saying, “So what are your goals with writing and your comedy?” and needlessly apologising for her charm adds, “Sorry, I’m just interested”.

Perhaps judgementally, I wondered if Lisa was concerned about the way the public reacts to shows like The Bachelor. Sure, it’s a bit of entertainment, but how does a smart, creative, business woman (she’s had three fashion labels), end up on a dating show?

Quick to dismiss the argument of the show objectifying women, Lisa says, “I’m 27, and have always been someone who focused on career, I was always too busy for a relationship, so I put my name down for The Bachelor because I honestly thought, well, if that’s your one, that’s your one, so I’m honestly so proud of every girl for entering that competition”.

Not a totally crazy concept right? I’m sure most women can relate to this – and after all we do live in a world of online dating and pursuing less than traditional avenues for meeting a partner. In her refreshingly honest manner Lisa adds, “Look, it didn’t turn out that I met my one. The guy ended up being a bit of a douche really, but the main thing I’ve taken away from it are the friendships, and that I’ve grown so much. Plus I get to watch myself back and see how I act on dates!”

Oh gosh, imagine if we could all do that!

Lisa’s rapid-fire style of speaking sees her articulately speeding through her words, seemingly fuelled by the occasional sip of coffee and pure enthusiasm. She has a sincere appreciation for life –  the desire to meet people, find out about them and add her own unique mark to the world.

It is so energizing to meet this kind of woman. She is someone who gushes gratitude, “My parents were always so supportive, so I’ve never questioned whether or not I could do something, I’ve just given things a go” and who doesn’t let jealousy get to her, “I’m inspired by others, definitely, but I’ve never compared myself to anyone else because I think that’s a waste of time”

She’s had two self-described, “failed” fashion labels and is onto her third Shevoke.  Shevoke is the result of  the trial and error of other labels, as well as Lisa identifying her need to really figure out how to get her label to flourish.

From Shevoke's new sunglasses range

From Shevoke’s new sunglasses range

Lisa has used these failures as a way to identify what’s she’s good at and where she had a skills gap, suggesting too many people waste time on things they already know, “So many people have asked me why I didn’t do a complete fashion degree, and I think it was because I didn’t need to – I’d already had two other labels…I was good at expressing myself creatively but I needed the   business skills”.

For anyone who might be a creative type, but is struggling with their own brand or identity, Lisa says, “Well, I went and studied the business and marketing side of things, but it’s ultimately just about finding your own voice”.

With that trademark air of dignity and grace, Lisa closes by saying, “I live in chaos, and always have something on the go, but I love it that way. I could have my 9-5 and earn more, but I wouldn’t be happy”.

She had such a positive impact on me, I walked away beaming and excited to have shared some time with a truly creative and inspiring mind.

The biggest lesson I took away from Lisa and her attitude about life is to be honest about where you’re at and identify opportunities for growth, but don’t put yourself down or waste time on things you don’t need to. I think this sort of approach could help a lot of people, particularly creative types who may spend a lot of time doubting themselves.

Thanks Lisa for being such an interesting first interview! x

Want to find out more about Lisa and Shevoke?

Shevoke’s website: http://shevoke.com/

I don’t know if anyone’s ever said this before, but parenting seems hard.

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baby-puppy-staring-contest

As a 26 year old mother of 0, I ‘d just like to say how tough mothering is.  Let me rephrase that, how tough it seems mothering is. (Phew, okay mums put down the pointy objects you were about to throw at me).

About six months ago,  I had this bizarre feeling I’ve never had before to have a baby. Of course I used to look at babies and go, “Aww! “ but never have I considered that I realistically want my own. You know, like, right now. That was always a “one day” plan. NB:  Let me be clear to my partner’s mother reading this – it’s not time for grandchildren yet.  Cancel the online order you’ve just made to Baby Bunting instead of  reading this post.

In my unemployment, I’ve taken on a nannying job two days a week, 10 hours a day. Or as I like to call it, my Mary Poppins gig. I adore the kids and have a good time with them, but never before have I seen such an insight into how much you need to do for them. Let me clear to any parent reading this – I’m not saying I GET it and I know I’ve only caught a glimpse. That scares me even more that I’ve only seen a fraction of the work.

But it suddenly dawned on me that you are completely and utterly responsible for the life of everything to do with that human being. Or two. Or three. But I only want two, so two. Oh god maybe only one?! Maybe none. I’m feeling quite selfish today.

It shocked me that I actually started questioning if I really want children. I still feel like there’s so much I want to do and achieve, I’ve just started to get good at looking after myself, and I want to have a bit more “selfish” time before I become a parent. Is that horrible?!

I always kind of assumed that one day I’d just suddenly feel like, “Yup, now’s the time for kids. I’m ready for nappies and Wiggles and Mummy yoga”.

But I just don’t feel that way at the moment. I want to have sleep ins and travel when I want and focus on my writing.

I’m just scared that I actually wouldn’t be cut out to be a parent. Or that I won’t ever have that feeling of wanting to surrender to the experience of looking after other human beings 24/7.

So my questions to the mummies and daddies and people raising children out there… I am actually genuinely interested in your responses and would love to hear your very honest thoughts. Private message me if they’re too real! (haha):

  • Does that ‘selfish’ feeling start to fade and that’s when you decide to have kids? Or, do you just ‘learn on the job’, so to speak?
  • Do you feel like you miss your old life?
  • How do you manage your own goals and things you want?
  • If you’re with a partner, has that relationship changed for better or worse?
  • Are you ALWAYS tired?

Be nice to yourself, idiot.

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nice

Yesterday I had cups of tea with a friend who I haven’t seen for a long time. Even though we don’t see each other regularly, every time I see her we’re pretty much straight into talking about ideas, what we want out of life and why. It’s really strange, I guess. I suppose you’d expect a bit of small talk of how’s thing, how’s the weather, where do you live? But that’s skipped over in favour of – What are your goals? What do you think? What do you want?

It’s weird and yet feels very normal.

In our chats yesterday, we were talking about the idea of setting expectations too high and how hard it is to actually be nice to yourself.

Someone told her to set fewer goals and to be happy in the now. Drop your expectations a bit and just enjoy the moment. Before she could finish that story, I had already decided that that is easier said than done. Sure, you can lower your expectations. But then my perfectionist self (in the voice of a disappointed teacher on an end of term report card) says, “Yes, you can only do this, but you know you could do SO much more”.

If you’re not doing enough it feels like you’re betraying this higher purpose we’re all told we have. Be more… of everything pretty much. Just be better. You haven’t done enough. You could be richer, funnier, fitter, more successful. You could have saved more, travelled more. What have you actually done?

I would never, ever say that to a friend (unless they actually never left the house and did nothing) and yet here I am openly admitting that I talk to myself like that.

Why do we do that?

Apparently there are actual real life science reasons.

Here are some:
In her research on self-compassion, Dr Kristin Neff talks about “fight or flight” mode in everyday life. It’s programmed into us on a biological level. If you’ve ever watched a Ted talk or had a conversation with a drunk mate who did really well in grade 12 science, ‘fight or flight’ gets mentioned a lot. Dr Neff says, “Harsh criticism of ourselves taps into our threat/defence system, making us stressed, anxious or even depressed. Most of the time these days, we aren’t physically threatened but our self-concept is… and we’re trying to get rid of the threat. We see the threat as our imperfect selves”.

Wow. Big statement right?! To quote one of the nameless girls from the reality show The Bachelor, “I’m really deep”.

So really, it’s kind of as though you don’t necessarily need to lower your expectations for yourself or want less from life. You’ve got to try and sort through what is helpful for you and what isn’t. Realise that being nice to yourself is probably not a natural state, but it’s also a habit you can try and get into it. Probably never completely (as I’m learning) but enough to, you know, realise you are enough. I write this with the tone of still walking through all of this and learning, so I’m not trying to doll out advice but rather to flesh out these ideas with all of you.

I try to be wary of self-help books as I feel like a lot of them are rubbish. So I try and pick ones that have been recommended, and aren’t from airy fairy people who have no qualifications or research or tough life experience and over simplify by talking about “manifesting” things into their lives. (Ugh)

Dr Kristin Neff, is a leading expert on being compassionate and kind to yourself. It seems like accepting yourself as you are, and going through different emotional difficulties without beating yourself up should be easy, but I’ve found for most people, it’s just not. She teaches us how to make being nice to yourself a habit. It’s not through affirmations or positive thinking, it’s through research and treating it as a skill, in the same way you might learn to drive or learn a new system at work or cook a new recipe at home. I love that. (I hate affirmations).

If you’re unfamiliar with this sort of territory, I’d say the gentle way Dr Neff speaks might be a bit off-putting, and seem as though she is a bit airy-fairy. I can assure you, she’s not. She’s gentle, and incredibly smart and I love her.

Here’s her website: http://www.self-compassion.org/

A lady undressed me as I lay next to my boyfriend…

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I love Summer. My pale skin and dyed-blonde hair would suggest otherwise, but it’s true. Hot weather is the best. When I was a kid, I loved it when The Simpsons would come on at 6pm, the sun hadn’t set yet and I’d relate to Lisa Simpson while enjoying a Sunny Boy iceblock. Or when I was 19, and it was a hot Sunday (hungover) afternoon – we’d eat a KFC Ultimate Burger meal (upsized with wicked wings) while enjoying a nice summer breeze. Those experiences don’t sound too sophisticated, but I always associate the warm weather, calm and just hanging out as being the best times.

On the way back from The Great Wall of China, (Cue Katy Perry’s song: It’s No Big Deal) it was SO HOT. I was exhausted. You know, from CLIMBING THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA. I was lying down at the back of the bus – physically drained, sweaty, hot and in need of a meal and a sleep. The breeze was a familiar, welcome relief. As I lay there, very content, I listened to the world go by outside. The beeping of the horns, the movement of the car and sporadic chatter was like a nice light blanket covering me as I dozed off. The only thing that would have made this experience better was a literal and not metaphoric blanket. But nothing is perfect. The point is, I was happy. My boyfriend was hugging me and holding my gross, sweaty hands and all was well. I was so grateful for him, and the holiday. It was a nice feeling.

My on again/off again sleep was broken by our tour guide asking if we’d like to have massages organised at our hotel. Um, yes! We’d get to go up to our room, get massages and then we wouldn’t feel sore the next day! Talk about glamourous and sensible!
Our appointment was booked at 4pm. We only arrived back at the hotel at 3.50pm, so we had to rush to our room and not have a shower, which was slightly upsetting.

My boyfriend queried, “Ahhhh, where are they going to put their tables? Will they bring tables?” In an uncharacteristically calm manner when navigating something new, I said to him, “Yes, of course they will! Relax! Just let it happen!”

Within moments there was a knock at the door. I felt weird about answering the door and letting people into our pseudo home to touch us. I joked, “See this is the reason I could never order a prostitute, the bit at the start of letting them in and interacting briefly would be so awkward”. Mitch replied, “Good, that that’s the reason you’d feel awkward”.

Any uncomfortable feeling I had was completely taken away though. Why? Because the ladies made me feel so at home and relaxed?

No.

Because I was terrified.

Two little Asian ladies charged in like bulls, shouting at us hurriedly and darting in and out of the rooms with broken English. Sail away, sail away, sail away….

“On the bed! On the bed! Take shirts off!!” they commanded.

There were no tables. I had held on to the hope that maybe, just maybe, even though the ladies had walked in empty handed that perhaps they would perform some ancient chinese magic and make two tables appear. Earlier in the week, we had seen an acrobatic show with 8 motorcycles in a dome. It seemed plausible to make two tables.

We hadn’t had time to shower or undress. They were no privacy screens. No “Okay, so I’m just going to go outside while you change. Leave your items in the container below and cover yourself with the towel and I’ll be back shortly”.

Just my boyfriend lying down without a shirt on and me looking away to take my shirt off too, while an Asian lady glared at me for taking too long. She didn’t understand about the importance of context and prior instruction so the client doesn’t feel like they’re being assaulted.

I left my bra on – there was no way I was taking that off under the circumstances. WORK AROUND IT, I said with authority in my head but never aloud.
Then my masseuse pushed my head into the pillow and unhooked my bra, without my express written or verbal permission.

“DO YOU HAVE A STRATEGY FOR GETTING THIS BACK ON IN AN ELEGANT & DISCREET WAY?” I cried on the inside.

Then she began physically abusing/massaging me and I listened to the downstairs sirens, beeps and traffic. No longer comforting. The warmth and dull hum of life going on downstairs felt like a taunt that I would never be happy or comfortable again. I thought couple massages were meant to be about connecting and relaxing. Instead I was paying for ladies to hit my boyfriend and I in various states of undress.

The ladies started directing us into various positions on the “massage table” bed. Imagine a game of Twister. But instead of someone spinning the dial and seeing what happens in a light-hearted fun way, your drunk mate has done away with the dial, and started directing you into awkward positions so he can make really gross and obvious sex jokes. Weird, and not enjoyable.

COOL.

“Very beautiful girl, nice body! She your wife?” said my martials arts master/adult film director/ alleged masseuse.

I decided they were hitting on Mitch and alluding to the film Pretty Woman, rather than my physicality. I’m not very good at taking compliments.

Finally, the massage was over and the ladies disappeared into the bathroom. They were there for a while which was good, because I was trying to gracefully put on my undergarments again without anyone seeing.

Then the ladies came back with garbage bags full of hot water and tied them to our feet for five minutes.

I don’t know why either.

Then it came time for payment. We had agreed on a price at the start and Mitch handed them that money. Plus a bit extra for a tip. They kind of hovered, counting the money, looking at us, looking at the money and then looking REALLY sad.

We didn’t know what to do. “That’s right isn’t it?” and they sort of agreed, but in the way you agree when someone has put in $20 for takeaway you’ve just brought home – when really they owe you $35. It’s fine, but really you genuinely need that extra $15 to live. But you don’t want to say it, ya know?

Then they left without saying goodbye.

The next day, I woke up and didn’t feel sore. In the true theme of the experience, I was physically but by no means emotionally satisfied.

Squat Toilets

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I did not expect the first thing I wrote after getting back from China to be about toilets. I anticipated I’d write about unemployment, my previous job, or perhaps The Great Wall. But truth be told, toilets are on my mind…

In China, they have squat toilets. I felt very upset with them.

If you are not familiar, this is what a squat toilet is:

squat Toilet 2

I guess anyone from a land of squat toilets might say to us, “What? You all sit on the same seat that all different stranger’s bums have been on? Gross.” So, let me clear that I’m not poo pooing (high five for that pun!) a different culture, but rather trying to communicate to you how awkward I am and wishing that I were a more accepting, free-spirited traveller.

I should also put it out there that in my general life, I do not enjoy talking about toilets. Even though at home, you live your life and go to the toilet and it’s fairly clean and uneventful. But still, I do not like hearing about toilets. Or farting. I don’t like bathroom humour. I don’t like people even knowing I’m going to the toilet. I hate how much I’m saying toilet. I don’t like the idea of sharing bathrooms. When I went to New York, I didn’t realise where I was staying was half a hotel, half a hostel. So I was afraid the backpackers would come in and try and steal my private bathroom. As I scan back up over the first few lines, it makes me feel uncomfortable that I’ve said, “bum” and “farting” and “poo pooing”. It honestly makes me feel more vulnerable and awkward to talk about this stuff with you, then to talk about some emotional issue I have.

Not a good start for the world of squat toilets.

In what was anything other than dramatic, I experienced what I would describe as (self diagnosed) pre and post toilet depression. Knowing what was before me and what I was about to go through – and that it was so inevitable – made matters worse.

Trying to stop drinking water wasn’t an option either. It was generally 40 to 50 degrees, so it was either dehydrate or go to the horrifying toilets. I attempted the not-drink-water option but my selfish boyfriend intervened with his “You’ll get sick and miss the trip” rants. In his defence, he was pretty great at keeping me alive and waiting outside the bathroom with hand sanitiser and sympathetic eyes.

I took to breathing through my mouth. “Success,” I thought to myself and pleased that I’d tricked the lack-of- cistern system. About 11 seconds into celebrating my success, I realised I’m still inhaling god-knows-what airborne particles and because of the heat and pressure, will probably pass out onto a floor of wee, poo and (sorry) blood. What was that? You’re grossed out? Oh okay. I LIVED THROUGH IT.

At some of the fancier malls or dinner locations, there would be a toilet attendant. The worst one was at a market where there was water all over the floor, and a Chinese lady with a mop that looked as though she actually lived in the bathroom. Sort of like Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter, or one of the things attached on the boats in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Bootstrap_Bill

This toilet attendant glared at us as we walked in and would walk back and forth between the sinks and the bathrooms, with a mop that looked like it had been in use for 700 years and she did not appear to clean anything. She did wipe me of my ability to feel like I’d ever be clean again though, so that’s a positive for meeting her job requirements.

Any time there was a sit down toilet or a bathroom that didn’t smell, the girls in our tour group would rejoice and come back celebrating, telling each other of the joyous experience. These experiences were few and far between, and one night, after a visit to a local village, I felt traumatised and compelled to share my story with my partner. What had been seen, could not be unseen. I had to tell someone.

Here is a conversation that actually happened back in our hotel room one night:

Me: I’m upset about the toilets.

Mitch: What happened?

Me: I don’t want to tell you, I can’t tell you. It’s too embarassing. (He’s already begun to laugh & is encouraging me to tell him the story, I suspect not out of empathy but in a desire to laugh more).

Well. It smells. I have to hold my pants forward which is uncomfortable. My legs are tired from all the walking and the heat so squatting = legs shaking. I have to use the other hand to hold the door shut because the locks don’t work properly. I squat there wondering if I’ll ever be happy again. You walk in and people don’t have the toilet closed, or they’re banging on your door. I tried to look away from what was below me, but if I look to my left THERE ARE SPIDERS and if I look to my right there’s a basket full of used toilet paper and (I’m sorry this is going to be horrifying) used sanitary items that have not been covered and looks like the Chinese girl on the packet has been violently massacred:

girl

A less sprightly version of this girl stared back at me from the bin

After laughing for about five minutes straight, and I mean not just a giggle, but laughing from the very core of his being, Mitch managed to pull himself together and comfort me.

Upping the ante slightly, I in my mostly facetious, a little bit (anxiously) sincere manner said, “What are you laughing for? I’ve probably contracted AIDS!”

More laughter. I am now crying with both upset and laughter tears.

Of course I was just being silly. But I’d definitely be HIV positive.

N.B: My next few blogs will be less disgusting and more about the rest of the China trip. I am living with post traumatic stress & HIV (self diagnosed) now though – so who knows what tone the rest of these posts will take really.

I quit my job and I’m going to China!

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Have you ever felt nostalgic for your old self? Not for someone else, a time, a memory -but for you? No? Just me? I’m really selfish? Well, thanks for coming to my blog and calling me names. Rude.

Lately, I have been nostalgic for my 2011 to 2012 self. Um, lol? What?

This is because that’s the year or two where I romanticise how together I had things. I had a good job, I tried new things (sort of) and I had a house with housemates that I really liked. On a whim, after tax time, I walked into a Flight Centre at Garden City and booked a two week holiday to America. I would also do other glamourous things like get my eyebrows tinted and buy Kellogg’s (not homebrand) fruit loops.

Sometimes I think about this girl and I miss her carefree cereal buying ways. I think I do this because my emotional self preserves the “good parts” of her existence, and forgets the behaviour that led her to a lot of debt , sadness and frustration. I think I romanticise her when I’m going into work at a call centre, or when I was paying off debt, or when I’m crying because I get anxious that I’m not in the career that I want yet.

What I’ve realised though, is that to get caught up in a fantasy of her is to forget how much I have grown in the past couple of years. It’s a betrayal to me now. It’s unfair to the people around me now. Because what I had really done in 2011/2012 is to create the illusion that I had everything together. Everything looked pretty good, but I had this overwhelming disconnect with my life. I would drive in to work the same way every day and feel as though I was looking down on my life as a witness. An out of body experience, you know.

Really, I was just living life on the sidelines. I was too afraid to make a mistake, be hurt by somebody or look foolish, so in my day to day life, I played it safe. Of course I did some brave things, like book a trip overseas or do stand up comedy, but I felt a great deal of discontent on a day to day basis. As I’ve talked about before, I had issues to sort that I chose not to.

I make no secret of the fact that my partner has helped me step out of that comfort zone. He is far more spontaneous than I am (he tried to buy half of Robin’s Kitchen the other day, of stuff we already had) and he is far better at being in the moment. It’s a quality I aim to emulate everyday.

But I still struggle to connect with accepting this idea of not living on the sidelines and accepting the help of others. Do you? Anyone? Please tell me you do.

For his work, my partner is going on a trip for three weeks to China. I was sad because he is a good cook and I didn’t know if I could survive for three weeks without food. Also he is pretty good company etc. Anyway, I won’t bore you with the story but through an amazing deal and luck, he asked me to come on the trip with him. That he’d pay for it and I’d pay him back when I can. (I know, he’s really good. Sorry everyone)

This is AMAZING, and my first reaction was, “YES YES YES” but I also panicked about not contributing, not being equal and that really, accepting this gift from him made me very vulnerable. I’d have to step up and really own all this stuff about not being “as successful” as I was before and just embrace the life experience. *Breathes into brown paper bag*

Here’s the cooler part: My job at the call centre wouldn’t give me the annual leave. Taking this as a sign to move on, I resigned from the job and finish up this Friday.

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! DO YOU FEEL LIKE HYPERVENTILATING? OH OKAY, JUST ME AGAIN.

After many discussions, bouts of anxiousness and a therapy session or two, I have quit my job and I’m going to China on Sunday for two weeks with my partner! And coming back to no job.

It is wonderful. It is scary. It is happening.

Everyday I am trying to choose gratitude. To let my negative / old thoughts just be there, but to only treat them as though they’re cars passing by. I don’t need to flag each one down and cause a big scene.

No, I don’t feel like my external life at the moment matches exactly what I would like. But do you know what? I am in love, I am healthy, I’m going to China (!) and I’m entering a new chapter where I can find more meaning. I have never felt so grateful or so loved.

I share this because maybe other people reading may relate to elements of this and hopefully sharing this little story is some sort of comfort, or even encouragement, to walk through the hard times and your own self doubt. You may not be anxious or as nervous as I can get (or you’re even more so!) but I like to share this stuff so we’re, like, all in this together and whatever.

Also I come back on Monday, 28th July and need work. Help me!

Love
Michelle Janssen