Health & Wellbeing

Wait Loss

If you are tired of waiting in life for that specific thing to happen before you can get on and live your best life, then I write this article for you as well as myself. Today I am focused on losing the wait(ing), through my journey of losing the weight.

Even if weight is not your issue then I hope you’ll find the content pretty universal and relevant; whether you are waiting for more money, better health, a special person, a life’s purpose, a family, more confidence or like me you are keen to lose some physical weight, we are all connected by a common barrier which is preventing us from living the rich interior life that we deserve.

Today I ask the question, why are we waiting for our external world to change in order to change how we feel internally?

Earlier this evening I was out and catching up with a few friends when one of my girlfriends caught a glimpse of an acquaintance across the room that she hadn’t seen for awhile. She commented to the other girls who also knew her “Holy Crap! She looks amazing! What has she been doing? She looks like she’s lost about 30 kilos” to which another friend replied “She saw a Life Coach, they got into her head and she said it changed everything.”

My girlfriend then turned to me and said “You’re a Life Coach, you need to do that to me” to which I replied, “I need to do it myself” and then I lol’d.

(I didn’t actual lol. I just threw that in there to stir her up because she’s a passionate hater of the ‘lol’. And now I really am laughing out loud, I am soooo funny. lol)

My girlfriend and I discussed it and agreed that we would do it together, not as a client and consultant but as two mates helping each other out. I provide all the tips, techniques and tools that I have and she provides some accountability for me to start practising what I preach.

You see I know what I need to do, and I don’t do it. I even know what I need to do in order to get over not doing the things I need to do, and I don’t do them either.

I believe that all of us know what we need to do to make ourselves happy, healthy and loved and sometimes we don’t do those things.  Sometimes we need help. Not to work out what to do but just to help us allocate some time and effort to an issue in our life. To help us with some inspiration, to help us with some accountability and to help us to acknowledge our unhelpful thought patterns.

I believe that we can successfully achieve any goal on our own, but I also believe, “where’s the fun in that?” Isn’t it an awesome thing to be able to collaborate with someone? Isn’t the juicy stuff of life all about sharing journeys, offering support and swapping wisdoms and ideas? These are the reasons that I am so passionate about what I do, I love helping people…but it’s time to start helping myself as well.

I preach the importance of, “putting the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on others” all the time, but I’m not doing it. I also preach the importance of “taking it easy on yourself and focusing on the things that you are doing as a beginning point rather than on what you’re not”, so this is where I’m going to start.

Before I started Loving Business I sat with my own business consultant and we talked about the kinds of clients I wished to see and the types of issues that I wanted to focus upon and specialise in. The conversation turned one day to helping people with their weight issues, and I remember saying to him “how could I possibly help others when I’m not doing it for myself? I’d feel like such a hypocrite”.

And then he asked me what was a great question and just one of many great questions that I have thanked him for asking me, he asked “What would be the benefits to your clients be given that this is an issue that you’ve struggling with too? Remember that you’ve also overcome the struggle a few times before, you know the path and the traps for relapsing.”

I came up with a long list of the ways in which my journey and personal struggles could help people, but my fears of being hypocritical shied me away from the idea.

So I’m going to dip my toe in and help someone, not a client but a friend, and then I’ll go from there. But it’s high time for me to lose both the weight and the wait. My intentions are to write down in detail the journey that we undergo and put it into a format of a teaching program; and if it all goes well then I’ll share it with you any of you who are also on this path and interested in what we came up with.

Actually let’s go one step further than that. If any of you would like to be included on this journey as we go along then feel free to contact me via the Loving Business Facebook page and I’ll keep you up to date with what we are doing. I’ll set up a private Facebook group where we can share our stories of giving up the wait no matter what it is that you are waiting for, as well as offer support and inspiration.

A few months ago I wrote an article about How to Help Her Lose The Weight Without Losing Her, I had some great feedback from lots of people that told me they couldn’t read the article because it tapped into issues that they had experienced from others trying to control their appearance and weight. I promised that I would rewrite the article from the perspective of the self for those people.

So tonight this is what I’m doing. The following is also an outline of the conversation I had earlier with my girlfriend when I was explaining to her how we’d go about this all and how we’ll start. I promised her no talk about food or exercise to begin with, no jumping on the scales, and no tough love. We’ll get there, but we all know that stuff. The stuff that we really struggle with is letting go of the wait.

The waiting until we get our perfect bodies before we start to live the life that we really want to live, before we feel like we deserve to be loved and before we feel like we have anything to offer, the wait is the most insidious thing about a weight issue.

So if you are keen to get on with it and lose the wait, no matter what it is that you are waiting for then I hope you enjoy the outline I’ve written below. As discussed earlier it specifically pertains to my weight loss journey but the kernel of each point is transferable.

1. What You Need To Understand Before You Begin

No one can ‘get’ you to do anything, including lose weight. It’s a personal journey that isn’t anyone’s business, so be careful who you speak to about it in the early stages.

Many people struggle with this issue and people will be only too happy to offer you their fears and opinions regarding your journey, keep them at bay. You’ve got enough of your own fears and enough tough love swirling around in your head, you don’t need to invite another critical voice to the party. You know exactly who this person is within your life that I’m talking about, keep them out of this.

2. Why You Are Overweight

Regardless of what you’ve been telling yourself or other people, you are carrying this weight for a reason. Not only are they good reasons but they are awesome reasons. Whether your weight has been a comfort, a protection, a support, a shield, or all of the above, it has been of great value to you.

Whilst weight gain as a coping mechanism has many limits and some obvious health costs, it is not the enemy here. It has done everything that it has been asked to do. It has been your way of coping, and it has done its job. It has also provided you with a sign that something is out of balance in your life.

To effect change you don’t need to unravel the specific reasons as to why the weight has been necessary in your life, you know why. You only need to get to a point where you can acknowledge that those reasons are a part of who you are; therefore they are important, valid and worth loving.

 3. Why Do You Want To Lose Weight?

Years ago I dated a man who thought that it would be helpful to pull at a fat roll on my stomach and tell me “You know something? You would be stunning if you lost some weight”.

Now let us ignore the insensitive nature of these comments and look at them for what they were. They were statements that I allowed because they mirrored my own thoughts about my body. They were also statements projected from a man who had those same insecurities and thoughts about his own body.

His motives limited his ability to offer a solution. He wasn’t able to offer me anything other than critical observations because that was all he knew how to bring to his own struggle.

If there was no way that his criticism and judgement was going to help inspire me then why do I think it appropriate to offer the same bullshit to myself?

Make sure your motives are loving ones. Get excited about moving towards the things in life that bring you joy rather than trying to push away from the things that are frustrating and disappointing you in your current life.

4. Your Weight Loss

Give up the temptation to compare your body and your weight loss journey with others. I mentioned before that your weight is no one else’s business, but the same goes for you.

I get that it gives you a thrill to see a celebrity on the cover of a magazine with their cellulite showing, or to run into frienemy who has packed on the pounds, but for your own sake stop it.

There are never times when we are thriving, feeling awesome and kicking goals in all aspects of our own life that we bother to stop and compare ourselves against the flaws and shortcomings of others. Never.

You’re not a horrible person for judging others, it’s human nature. But it’s not helpful to you on this journey. It is “pushing away” rather than “moving towards”. It is everything that you need to stop doing to yourself.

Judgement brings no joy and no solutions, it only offer’s more of the criticism that you’ve been hurt by yourself. Get rid of it out of you life. Because if you can stop measuring and judging the flaws in others then you’ll soon be able to stop doing it to yourself.

5. Specifically, What Are You Hoping To Achieve?

As an example let’s say that you’ve lamented how you used to be the life of the party and now you’ve put on weight you hold back. You’re less, less willing to go out, and you’ve noticed that you’re now lacking the confidence that you remember you used to have.

In this instance what you are hoping to achieve is to regain your confidence in a social context.

Activity:

I would encourage you to write out a list of the qualities you are hoping to see in yourself and experience once you’ve lost the weight, found the perfect person, have more money, have better health etc.

6. You Are A Mirror

You are the mirror from which you see yourself daily. If you were to start offering a new perspective on how you see yourself and your weight, then doesn’t it make sense that this would start to change how you felt about yourself deep down?

And the great thing is you don’t have to believe the new things that you are telling yourself, there was a time that you didn’t believe the horrible things that you say to yourself now. Your critical inner dialogue implanted itself into you slowly, little by little. So if you can develop hate for parts of yourself just by the things that you think repeatedly, then isn’t it logical that you can develop love for yourself using the same method?

I’ll pick up the example of confidence that I gave above. The first thing I’d like to ask you is; how has your lack of self confidence benefited you? Some possible examples below;

Activity:

Go through your entire list of what you are trying to achieve from the above activity and look at how you being overweight/ill/poor/lonely/ etc has benefited you in those areas. The benefits are there I promise, they are just hard to see when you are so heavily focused on the drawbacks.

The human experience is a dichotomy; near and far, hot and cold, light and dark, good and bad. It’s the whole yin and yang thing, for every drawback you’ve acknowledged about being overweight/ill/poor/lonely etc there are an equal amount of benefits, that’s right…equal. So start looking.  

 Then write out a list of appreciation for those benefits. 

Yin-Yang

 7. Your Positive Aspects

Going back to your list of things that you hope to achieve, I’d encourage you to start looking for where those facets of are currently showing up in your life.

If you are seeing your lack confidence at big parties; then where aren’t you lacking confidence socially? Where are you thriving socially? Who are the people you are with and what are the places where you are completely uninhibited?

Look for those moments; offer appreciation and positive attention to those moments. The day that you find more examples of yourself thriving then of yourself struggling is the day that you’ll tip the balance in your own perceptions.

8. Tell Yourself You Are Beautiful And Why

Once again, you don’t need to believe the words you are saying; because you certainly weren’t born thinking parts of yourself were ugly. You’ve picked that up over time through the practice of saying it repeatedly to yourself; unfortunately it most probably began with the help of some people you love.

So it’s time to get conscious about what you are saying to yourself, start by offering yourself some specific compliments that you can’t dismiss or shrug off. It doesn’t matter how small you start, just start. Pick something to focus on and repeat it until you believe it.

Be as enthusiastic and adoring of yourself and your body right now as you would be if you were living the dream that you’ve envisage for yourself. Once again, you don’t need to believe it, we’re faking it til we make it baby!

Why wait until you lose weight to offer yourself this level of positive attention, appreciation and affection? There is a lot about you that is fantastic right now. You’ve just got to start looking for what these things are. This is impossible to do when you are so heavily focused on the things that you don’t like, so shift your focus and get some balance back into your perspective.

9. You Don’t Need Fixing

You don’t need fixing because you aren’t broken.

You don’t need ‘to do things’ as much as you need ‘to stop doing things’. You need to stop believing that you are anything less than magnificent as you are right now. And this is easily achieved through practice.

Underneath it all you are exactly the same strong, brave, caring, compassionate, loving, smart, sexy, capable, funny and beautiful person who you’ve once known yourself to be. And don’t let me hear you say that you’ve never felt that way about yourself, you have. Because if you hadn’t then feeling the way you do right now wouldn’t be so bad because you’d have nothing to compare it to.

You know who you truly are, and that’s why it hurts so much everyday when you tell yourself that you are less than this.

You don’t need help to ‘get back’ to that person; you only need help to acknowledge that you still are that person. If fact if you were only focused more on ‘who you are’ and less on ‘who you’re not’ then you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation.

10. Losing the Wait

If you really want this, then stop waiting for your outside to change so you can have some peace and happiness on the inside. You can achieve that right now, immediately, and without waiting. Just keep your focus on just how amazing, beautiful and special you are right now and on thinking the thoughts that you perceive you’d have if all of your dreams were true right now.

Much Love & Appreciation, Leanne xx

PS: As mentioned above if you’re keen or you think that a friend would be interested to follow our journey with a focus on wait rather than weight, then hit me up through the Loving Business Facebook page. I’ll create a link for our private group where you’ll have a safe and supportive place to connect with which will hopefully inspire your own journey too.

Also for more Loving Business Articles please see the links below.

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Acceptance, Challenging Beliefs, Friendships, Relationships

What Baby Gammy has Taught Me about the Freedom of Difference

Photo Credit: Damir Sagolj, Reuters.

The other night Four Corners aired a report by Debbie Whitmont about the Surrogacy Business in Thailand with particular respect to Australian families.

The future of surrogacy in Thailand has been well and truly rocked by the alleged abandonment of baby Gammy. For those of you unaware of the story; it was alleged that Gammy, who was born via a surrogate in Thailand to Australian biological parents, was abandoned and left with his surrogate mother due to being born with Down syndrome.

There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for baby Gammy and a continued interest in the case as there is still so much that is unknown. Baby Gammy’s story has raised so many important questions with respect to how children are born and raised in our modern world.

Inspired by baby Gammy; today I wanted to push all of the legal and ethical questions aside to focus on our societies’ perceptions of children with special needs and the freedom that comes with the acceptance of different points of views.

Baby Gammy’s birth has raised many questions in me and made me reflect deeply upon my own beliefs, thoughts, fears, misconceptions and behaviours. I put my hand up to say that “I freak out when I see a child with special needs in a supermarket”. I don’t want to stare or make a fuss, I don’t want to seem uncompassionate or disinterested and I often find myself awkwardly smiling and trying to gauge the response of the parents. I am genuinely unsure of how to respond in a way that doesn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable or unseen.

Then I got to thinking about how I respond to children without special needs in supermarkets. I never seek the interaction; I interact naturally and when the situation calls for it. If they speak to me I speak back, if they stare at me I smile, if they bump into me I make a joke about it.

I’m also guided by the parents, if a parent is in a bad mood and dealing with a misbehaving child I don’t think,

“Oh I better interact with this family somehow otherwise they’ll think that I am disenfranchising them from our community.”

If I’m coming up an aisle about to walk past a family who isn’t paying any attention to me; I don’t think,

“What am I going to do once I get to them? They are standing in-front of the frozen peas and I don’t want to appear rude by asking them to move. Should I talk to the child first before I ask the parents to excuse me? I don’t want them to think that I don’t care about their child. Maybe I’ll just come back for my peas.”

I would never behave in such an awkward, calculated and conspicuous way; I would just be myself, I would act naturally and I would take my cues from the situation.

This all got me thinking about how we respond to the birth of children without special needs and what would happen if we behaved the same way upon the birth of children with special needs? What if we let the situation and the context dictate our responses?

In the past I haven’t shouted out any loud messages like “special needs children are born perfect as they are!” I’ve no doubt taken pity, offered sympathy and sentiments of commiserations; I’m sure behind closed doors I’ve made broad generalisations about how a special needs child “would ruin your life”. And if those words didn’t come out of my mouth directly then I have definitely allowed them to be spoken in my presence unchallenged.

I can’t speak to the realities of raising a special needs child, and that’s kind of my point. I would argue that none of us could understand the complexities until we were in that situation. I wish to be clear that I am only speaking of these ideals to the context of our collective society.

A close friend of mine gave birth to a normal, run-of-the-mill, healthy child yesterday. When we all heard the news her Facebook wall was littered with sentiments of ‘congratulations’,‘ how wonderful’ and ‘how exciting’.  I wondered if we would share the same sentiments if she gave birth to a child with special needs?

Raising any newborn child is difficult, I don’t wish for the sleepless nights and total upheaval that my girlfriend is about to experience upon myself, but I certainly wouldn’t think it appropriate to offer my sympathies to her. I strongly believe in her ability to be a mother to this child and I know that she has the support that she needs to do a good job.

If in a few days, weeks or months time she comments to me on how difficult she is finding it then my sympathy and support would be offered, but it is in a context of her seeking it. There are so many variables in how someone raising a child with special needs, or without, is going to be able to cope. The family and support networks available, access to medical care, education, practice, experience etc. Surely these things would make the journey of caring for a special needs child different from family to family?

So what if we offered special needs families the option to have us offer our excitement, our congratulations and our joy from the beginning? If it wasn’t appropriate because they told us they were struggling then we could offer them our compassion and support. But ultimately it would be their context and their needs that would guide us rather than our hypothetical projections of what it must be like for them.

I get that in practise this is awkward stuff, this is why I’d encourage us to have those conversations with our friends and families before such a situation arose. We are so good at asking the question “Would you go ahead with a pregnancy if you found out the child had special needs?” but rarely do we ask “If it happened, how would you like me to respond?”

To ease some of the awkwardness we could start having a different type of conversation behind their backs. What if when we were having those discussions with our mutual friends about their ‘situation’; we focused on the positive aspects that our loved ones were not yet able to see? What if we started to tell stories of hope and appreciation rather than pity?

“I heard about Bill and Jenny’s poor bub. Isn’t it dreadful? I can’t even image how difficult it is going to be for them. Their lives are never going to be the same; it must be so stressful for them. I don’t know how they are going to be able to cope.”

 What if we offered something similar to these sentiments as a new response?

 “Yes I don’t think I could cope but who knows how’ll they’ll find it. They are amazing people and I’m sure they’ll surprise themselves. I’m excited for them because if any family can thrive with a special needs child it’s them.

I know this is not the child they were expecting but what a blessing and joy he has been. I’ve already learnt a lot and I’ve had a lot of my misconceptions challenged, and he’s only 3 months old. This child could possibly be the greatest thing that has even happened for all of us, I am really looking forward to being a part of his life.”

We don’t know how things are going to turn out for Bill and Jenny, but the same is true for all families. Their family could break under the strain or they could thrive. As their friend what service do I offer them by focusing only on their potential future struggles? It’s not like if I don’t point out the potential difficulties to them that they’ll never know they exist. Why do we feel like “telling it like it is” is a helpful approach? You can’t “tell it like it is” about the future because there is no ‘is’ yet.

This is a really complex issue and I’m not suggesting that having a child with special needs is something that every one should choose or even consider. I have no judgement about the choices that parents make, every family is different and every set of circumstances is unique. Even as this story about baby Gammy unfolds it is appearing that his life has taken a much better turn than if his biological parents had taken him.

I’m simply suggesting that as a society rather than focus on the struggle as our first point of call that we allow space for an alternative more hopeful viewpoint for families. Surely we can offer optimism to others even in situations that we would find undesirable for ourselves?

Isn’t celebrating the birth of every child something that as a society we would want to aspire to?  Maybe this is a moot point; maybe upon the birth of a special needs child within our sphere of family and friends we would extend our congratulations and appreciation very naturally. Until that moment comes we are only speaking in hypothetical’s.

We’ve all over heard or participated in a conversation with friends and family behind closed doors that has been sparked by a prenatal Down syndrome test. During these hypothetical’s, declarations about “a zero desire to raise a child if the test came back positive” as well as “abortion being the only sensible option” are made. I don’t think for a minute that the decision would be so cut and dry if ever that choice had to be made for real. But maybe it would be, I’m not judging either way.

What is there to judge about people making decisions about what is best for them based on their own personal situation, needs and beliefs? I dream of living in a society that is able to do just that. Because the more capable we are of pursuing our own happiness free from guilt and shame the sooner we’ll stop caring about the choices that others make that are different to our own.

It is the allowance of a different point of view that I am arguing for. When those hypothetical’s come up; I can voice an opinion that for me the experience of having a special needs child may be one I see as difficult and unwanted, but I can also offer an acknowledgement that this wouldn’t be true for every family.

The truth is also that some families are thriving and have found it to be the greatest blessing of their lives. Why not tell those stories with our family and friends in front of our children as well?

It is the blanket belief that we hold as a society hold that “special needs children are always less desirable than children without special needs” that I am rallying against.  For some people the statement may be true, but equally for others it won’t be. So let us only declare which statements are true for us and let others decide for themselves.

Let us create a space where parents with special needs children can celebrate all that their children have enriched their lives with without us projecting our hypothetical fears upon them.

The reason we find it so difficult to muster hope and optimism for others is because we are searching for solutions to what for us is a hypothetical problem. We cannot possibly predict how others are going to rise to challenges or the amount of help and support that becomes available to them until we witness them in the situation.

We can never know the wonders or challenges that lay ahead in the future, just as we cannot know what drives the decisions of others and nor do we have to.

But to allow for a broad spectrum of difference in those decisions, and to offer people real freedom to make decisions that are different to my own which are free from my projections…well that’s a world that I’d like to welcome baby Gammy into.

Leanne xx

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Acceptance, Challenging Beliefs, Friendships, Relationships

The 3 Beautiful Lessons that I Learnt About My Beliefs from Picking Zucchini

Before the beginning of my final year at university I spent the summer picking fruit up north in a little town near the state border of Queensland and New South Wales called Stanthorpe.

The lovely little town Queensland town of Stanthorpe, home of the Apple & Grape Festival.

The lovely little Queensland town of Stanthorpe, home of the Apple & Grape Festival.

After some difficultly finding jobs, my girlfriend Michelle and I finally got work picking zucchini’s at a local farm. To get our jobs we had to convince and then promise the farms owners, a husband and wife team, that we were reliable and that we wouldn’t quit. We were told that the work was back breaking that they’d had a gut full of employees letting them down by quitting within the first week.

By the end of our first day I knew what they were referring to, I could barely stand up I was aching that much. But as we soon realised, there were other reasons that they had such a low retention of staff. Away from his wife, the husband’s behaviour was horrendous.

We were very young and his sexual attentions were very unwanted and they were constant. At one point he gathered the male employees together to watch us bending over picking zucchini’s and declared,

 “We should make them wear uniforms hey boys? Short skirts with no underwear.”

Our local pub which we conveniently lived 400m from. We were so broke that we couldn't afford to drink the $1.50 wines all night. So we would buy one and then refill our glass from a bladder of goon that we had stashed under the bushes near the back car park. #yeahIamabogan

Our local pub which we conveniently lived 400m from. We were so broke that we couldn’t afford to drink the $1.50 wines all night. So we would buy one and then refill our glass from a bladder of goon that we had stashed under the bushes near the back car park. #yeahIamabogan

I’m pleased to say that he was on his own, the ‘boys’ found him to be just as abhorrent as we did. We had no idea how to deal with something like this, we just tried to ignore it and hoped that it would go away, it didn’t.

After 6 days working there we had a day off. We travelled to visit a friend’s place that was on the other side of the border. On our way back we stopped and had a drink at a pub and we talked about our predicament.

For Michelle it was an easy decision, we couldn’t go back to work there, we’d find somewhere else to work. For me it was a massive struggle.

Firstly there was my fear about getting another job. We were living in a one-bedroom cottage with 8 other people; our combined weekly budget after we paid our $10 a week for rent was $50. Things were tight; between us we were down to our last $20.

Our beds on the lounge room floor of the 1 bedroom house that we shared with 8 other people.

Michelle demonstrating our comfortable beds on the lounge room floor of the 1 bedroom house that we shared with 8 other people. The only couple of the house got the bedroom and the bed frame above is missing a mattress because the guy sleeping on it vomited on it the night before.

But the even bigger reasons for my struggles were the beliefs that I held to be true of myself,

 “I can’t call home for money and admit that I’d failed at this, I’ve never failed.”

 “I’m not a quitter, I’ve never quit anything in my life.”

 “I promised them, my word is my bond. I’ve never gone back on my word.”

No doubt there were plenty of times that I’d failed, quit and went back on my word in my young life. But the way I would have justified it in my mind was by never declaring that I was ‘trying’ in the first place.

Unknowingly or not the ‘Farmer’ had tapped right into some of my most tightly held beliefs. I had made the commitment not to quit, I promised them I wouldn’t let them down, and I gave them my word that they could trust me.

These beliefs were further exacerbated in me by them also being tightly held by my family. Going back generations our family culture has been very clear about who we are and who we are not. We are ‘not quitters’, ‘we don’t let people down’, and ‘we don’t break our word’.

I still believe the attributes of determination and resilience to be fantastic ones, but that day at the pub on the border with Michelle planted a seed that changed me. Until that conversation it had never occurred to me to ask the question,

“To what end?”

What was I hoping to achieve by sticking it out at a job that was providing me some of the most uncomfortable and confidence crushing moments of my young life? I had failed to look at the context in which I was displaying these character traits that had always served me so well in the past.

At the pub Michelle told me that her father had always given her the advice,

“If it isn’t making you happy then change it, do something else.”

My struggle came about because I couldn’t see how her family’s beliefs could possibly align with my own. I saw her father’s advice as flakey. I remember thinking to myself that it all sounded too easy, what if everyone just went about and did what made them happy?

What if everyone did what made them happy? Good question isn’t it?

It was at that moment that I also realised I held a pretty strong belief that struggle was good. When I looked at why I thought that, it was because in my world struggle meant hard work, dedication and determination; and to me that always led to success. That belief had always been true for me whilst studying or on the sports field; but there was no ‘success’ to be had in this context.

At that pub I was gushing with tears. ‘Where I wanted to be’ was happy and safe, and ‘where I was’ was trying to hold myself in an environment that was making me miserable and unsafe. My two wants were in direction opposition which caused me a heavy internal conflict, my head was saying ‘stay’ and my heart was saying ‘go’.

After our drink we left the pub and we crossed back over the border, which became a metaphoric precipice for me. We quit our jobs the next morning and picked up work at another farm sorting green beans on a conveyor belt.

The conveyor belt. I often recited the entire script for Pulp Fiction whilst sorting the beans...it was the 90's.

The conveyor belt. I learnt to recited the entire script from Pulp Fiction whilst sorting the beans to break up the tedium. It was the summer of 1996 and I freakin loved that movie.

The work was much easier, we were paid more, and I loved every minute of it. The people we worked with, including our new bosses were some of the best people I have ever met in my life. They were impressed and appreciative of the hardworking, determined attributes that we demonstrated. I look back on our golden summer in that little town as one of the happiest times of my life.

Left: Me  Middle: Our beautiful new employers, Kim & Peter Slater Right: The most awesome picking buddy a girl could have, Michelle.

Left: I dyed my brunette hair blond myself after being warned by a hairdresser not to. She was right about it not turning out well. My hair was orange for a week and then after a couple of attempts I got it to a lovely shade of yellow. Middle: Our beautiful new employers, Kim & Peter Slater. Right: The most awesome travelling buddy a girl could have, Michelle Waples.

Michelle’s father was right, but so was I.

‘Get yourself into a safe and happy context’ and then try being ‘determined and tenacious’.

Over the years I’ve had many struggles when my tightly held beliefs were challenged, but every time the struggle has brought me a new perspective, a new ease and a new wisdom.

I’ve learnt three really beautiful lessons about my beliefs:

1. Beliefs are stubborn and hate the ideal of being changed. So we don’t need to change them when they are challenged if we don’t want to; just looking at the context is enough.

We wouldn’t hold it as a belief if it didn’t serve us in at least one context, so in that respect all of our beliefs are true and useful.

All that we need to bother ourselves with is it’s ability to function harmoniously in the context of our desires. If our beliefs are working in opposition to what we want then maybe it is time to put them aside for a bit until the context changes.

2. Beliefs are powerful and wonderful things but there is even more empowerment and joy to be found when we combine them with another’s. Not just anyone’s, but the one’s that align with the perspective of our heart.

3. Without even knowing it our beliefs can reach out well past our sphere of influence and out past our lifetime.

Michelle’s father will never know how his beliefs contributed positively to my life. Who knows how many thousands of people this one belief of his has, and will continue to bring joy to. Isn’t that cool?

Leanne xx

Post Script:

Unfortunately I’ve lost contact with Michelle, I’m unsure of her married name so have been unsuccessful at tracking her down. On the off chance that anyone reading this does know Michelle (nee Waples) I would greatly appreciate you getting in touch with me below.

Last day of our Golden Summer before returning home.

Left to Right: Michelle and I on the last day of our Golden Summer before returning home.

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Acceptance, Challenging Beliefs, Friendships, Relationships

Why I No Longer Think My Sister Is Perfect

I have long thought that my sister is perfect.

I was going to provide you with a big long list of reasons why she is awesome, but she doesn’t know I’m writing this and she would rightly crack it if she saw that list posted on the World Wide Web. But for the point of the story all you need to know is that I think she’s perfect. Perfect because of the person that she is and because of the type of life that she is living.

So here’s why I no longer think she’s perfect, the 1st reason is because she’s asked me not to; numerous times.

The 2nd reason is, that to call her perfect diminishes the hard work and tough choices that she has made in her life. Her success and happiness hasn’t just happened; she’s put great thought, focus and effort into the type of life that she wants to live and the type of person that she wants to be.

The 3rd reason is that to call her perfect unknowingly makes a judgement upon any struggles or hardships that she may have faced in her life.

A few years ago I caught up for lunch with my best friend and a mutual friend of ours who I hadn’t seen for over 15 years. He had always had a bit of a crush on me and had placed me on a pedestal; which if I’m being honest, I thought was lovely.

He had me on a pedestal because he didn’t know me that well; it is easy never to see the faults of someone you don’t really know. I knew that he wasn’t getting to see the imperfect aspects of me, and truth be told I was deliberate about keeping him at arms length in order to maintain the charade.

As a youngster I always thought that this was a great dynamic to have in my life. To have someone who looked up to me and who thought that I was much more capable than I thought I was.

What I didn’t realise until that lunch was; there was another side to being adored falsely.

It was a lot of pressure for me to live up to, but the heartbreaking side was the realisation that every time he recognised perfection in me, he measured a fault in himself.

When we recognise aspects of people that we admire, that we also see in ourselves, we never refer to them as perfect traits. We don’t use that word because we know from personal experience that we have also exhibited the opposite of that trait in our lifetime.

Perfection is a statement that says that there is no other side. That there is only success without failure, there is only compassion without cruelty, there is only good times without the bad and there is only love without fear. Perfection isn’t real, so holding someone to ideals that don’t exist is never going to bring service to them and it certainly isn’t going to bring good feelings for us.

So there I was at this lunch, with two people who saw me in completely different lights growing up. One thought I was perfect and the other knew me to be an obnoxious, insecure, overconfident dickhead. And my realisation was that I’d take the latter any day.

My best friend knowing all of my flaws and weaknesses had offered me an incredible and loving freedom. She got that I wasn’t perfect which made her appreciation of the great aspects about me even sweeter. She valued me for me, the good as well as the bad.

That lunch immediately had me thinking about how it must have felt for the people who I have placed on a pedestal in my own life.

And there have been so many, I am a serial offender. My father said to me when I was about 10yrs of age

“The problem with you is that you compare your weaknesses to other people’s strengths”.

Not only was he right but it has been a pattern my entire life and one I only recently worked out was connected to my ‘placing people on a pedestal’ thing.

I always thought that the act of being completely one eyed about someone was a loving one, but I now see that it’s not. It offers nothing but fear, and can do nothing other than bring about a feeling of unworthiness for the adorer and a lot of pressure and unloving attention for the adoree.

This brings me to the 4th reason I’ve stopped seeing my sister as perfect, she doesn’t need that discomfort in her life. She needs me to understand that she’s not perfect, and to love and appreciate her regardless. And here’s the kicker, I can’t love and appreciate her wholly unless I love myself like that.

This leads me to my 5th and best reason to stop seeing her as perfect; because it enables me to start seeing the perfect aspects within me in spite of my perceived weaknesses.

Who have you got on a pedestal?

Leanne xx

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Acceptance, Forgiveness, Friendships, Relationships, Romantic Relationships

Batshit Crazy: A Familiar – Letter to my Batshit Crazy Ex

Dear Past Self,

Tricked you didn’t I? Sorry, but to write this letter to our ex would be futile. You couldn’t change or fix him when you were together so how do you imagine I’m going to have some magic solution to do it now?

The reason that I write this letter is because you need to move on and you can’t do that until you stop taking responsibility for his behaviour and well-being. It’s now time to let go of having an opinion about how he is living his life, because it is exhausting you.

Whether you realise it or not you are still trying to fix, help and change him. There have been so many arguments; you’ll tell anyone who’ll listen just how Batshit Crazy he has been behaving and how if he just listened to you more he could avoid a lot of heartache. You read articles and your first thoughts are “he needs to read this, this is what his problem is”, you hear things and you think “that’s the issue that he has”; regardless of how much or how little contact you have with him you are still focused on all that he is ‘not’.

Here’s the thing, that focus isn’t helping either of you. Deep down you’ve always known that it feels safer to try and ‘fix’ and take care of him because it means that you’ll never have the time to do it for yourself. The question I want to ask you is “Now you are not a couple, why do you care so much if he doesn’t get it together?” When you were first together you didn’t seem to perceive him as being as broken as you do now. Are you really trying to ‘fix’ him or have you been avoiding ‘fixing’ yourself?

I know that this makes you very uncomfortable, but it’s not something you need to be afraid of any more. Lots of people in your life know that you are not perfect and guess what, they love you anyway. You love loads of non-perfect people too; in fact the only person in this world who you don’t love because they are not perfect is you.

Your ex is acting Batshit Crazy right now because he is very hurt, confused and angry…but so are you. You have managed to keep some control over your emotions so it looks very different but it is the same, you both haven’t been coping. He screams, rants and loses control and you withdraw, pull away and control.

Controlling? Me? You know what I’m talking about, when you give him your stern schoolteacher voice to instruct him “Please don’t interrupt me when I’m speaking or this conversation will have to end” is only something you do because you know drives him crazy. You constantly pointed out his faults and you set yourself up as the authority, in your world you were always right and he was always wrong.

I’m not judging your choice of tools here, I don’t think you’re an arsehole, I don’t think there are any arseholes in this story; you were just two people trying to do their best in a highly emotional situation. Why wouldn’t you retaliate when he flipped out? It’s a scary thing to deal with, and imagine the mess that it would have turned into if you didn’t have a clear vision of what you thought was happening and if you didn’t try to control it? My point is the two of you were in it together; you both were and are struggling to cope.

Whether you like it not your ex in still in your life and that may or may not change soon. But this uncomfortable, frustrating and undesired situation is offering you the greatest opportunity for growth that you’ve had in years. This challenge holds him at its centre but the benefits will mostly be yours; I urge you to start focusing on the things about him that you’d like to see.

Remember we are talking about a person who you fell in love with and at one point you thought he was so together that you decided to partner up with him. Start focusing again on that, I get that this was a challenge that you couldn’t meet when you were together, so why would it be any different now?

Here’s why, because now the middleman is gone. He is out of the equation so now you have the time and the space to start to redefine how you see him and more importantly how you see yourself. Remember how you used to feel? Remember how capable, loving and happy you used to be?

You’ve complained for years about how you are always there for others and how desperately you crave for someone to do the same for you. You now have the time and the space to be that person for you.

You can let go of worrying about him; it has taken up so much of your precious energy and has offered you zero returns. I’m not suggesting that you stop caring about him; I’m suggesting that you stop the worry.

I appreciate how terribly hard this is to do so I suggest that you start really small. Whenever he behaves in a way that is Batshit Crazy tell yourself a new story, tell the story so it it offers you some relief.

“I know that I fallen into his Batshit Crazy world at times and I have reacted in ways that have added fuel to the fire and which has made me feel more upset. I also know that how he behaves is none of my responsibility. His behaviour has never made me feel unsafe but I have surrounded myself with support and a plan in the event that it gets anywhere near that point.

I’ve taking back control of how I feel and I have the power to choose the emotions that I respond with. I no longer allow him to choose the emotions I feel by reacting to his behaviour. To do this I am going to step back and pay attention to what he is trying to achieve through his behaviour. I am also going to focus on the positive aspects of him in order to maintain the good feeling life that I wish to live.

When I step back I know he is only acting this way because he is feeling very hurt, confused and angry. I know that he wants to feel better and that he’s not sure how.

He’ll work it out, and I look forward to the day that he feels really good again, but I release my worry about that. I’m going to try and remember him as the person that I fell in love with. I’m not going to do this because I think that it will fix or help him but because it is going to make me feel better. And when I’m feeling good there is nothing that I can’t handle.

When we get stuck on things and I find him to be unreasonable I’m going to ask myself the question “Does it really matter if I let go and let him have his way on this?”

I’m going to stop engaging with him about who’s right or wrong, I’m going to let go and let him ‘win’ if it means more peace and happiness in my own life. I know there is lots of things that he is fighting for that he doesn’t care about, he just cares that he doesn’t ‘lose’. I can understand this response from him, nobody likes to feel like they are losing something.

I’m going to cease being a resistant force that he can push against, I’m going to let as much flow over me as possible. I’m focused on the end game, not the nitty gritty of all of this. I get that there are no ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ here. There is only ‘happy and peaceful’ or ‘sad and tumultuous’ and I choose the former.

Right now I don’t have a lot of great things to say about him and that’s OK. I know that I used to think that he was a good person. I know that some of his family and friends who I like and respect as well as our kids really love him so I’m going to try to focus on what they see in him. Until then it feels much better to have no expectations of him.

I know I can’t live the joyous fulfilling life that I desire for myself if I’m focused on all of the negatives in my life. So on the days that I struggle to see any positives in him I’m going to refrain from dwelling on any thoughts about him at all, I’m going to keep the focus on the good stuff in my life.

I’m improving all of the time and there are lots of things that I can be appreciative for. It makes me feel empowered and energised when I focus on these things.

Life is starting to feel really good again, everything is going to work out just fine for me: it always does.”

Lots of love from your Future Self
xoxo

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Acceptance, Forgiveness, Friendships, Relationships, Romantic Relationships, Teaching & Learning

Batshit Crazy: The Acquaintance – My Partner’s Batshit Crazy Ex

I’ve written this piece as part of a series on dealing with loved ones who are struggling with acute hurt, anger and confusion. This particular letter relates to those relationships that we are bound to, through either another person or circumstance. It could also be a work colleague, an ex’s new partner, a close friend’s friend etc.

I believe that a difficult relationship that we have had in our past plays a large role in the life of our other relationships. There are going to be character traits that we don’t like that keep popping up in people that come into our lives. One of the most heated contexts that this happens is where our new partner exhibit traits that are similar to or the same as those of our ex.

When relationships end with one or both parties feeling acute hurt, confusion and anger the Batshit Crazy is never far behind. When this behaviour becomes so volatile that it crosses boundaries that are not easily forgiven then things can quickly spiral out of control. I define Batshit Crazy behaviour as not being limited by fear of consequences and as the sentiment of “I want you to hurt as much as you’ve hurt me, and I will so this at any cost”. (For further explanation regarding this please see my previous post introducing this series.)

When a relationship has broken down and the parties involved are still bound together by circumstance, people or children there is often no opportunity for the couple involved to stand back and get perspective. Under these circumstances it is difficult to change the habits and patterns that they have been bound by for years. With all of those wounds and triggers still present and active, neither has had the time and space to deactivate them. It is my belief that a third party, like a new partner, a friend or family member, or a professional can help bring about that new perspective.

It only takes one side to see it differently and to offer something new to the dynamic for the whole thing to change into one that is respectful, caring and supportive. And if the ex couple can have that kind of relationship with each other, then doesn’t it make sense that when they hit those similar impasses in their next relationship that they’ll be able to navigate their way through more successfully than in the past?

So if I was tied to an acquaintance who I felt was acting Batshit Crazy then this letter would set out the parameters that I’d like to keep all of my communication within. Not because it is the higher road or because it is the most loving way. Not because there is a possibility that the dynamic could shift into becoming more respectful, supportive and caring.

But because this approach offers a release from being at the whim of the Batshit Crazy person; because it empowers and it offers peace and relief to us as their targets.

I would encourage you to write your own letters if this is a dynamic that you are struggling with; I would also suggest that you don’t send them because this approach isn’t about the other. Just write it and feel the relief of looking at it all from a different perspective. Feel the relief of releasing your own hurt, confusion and anger and most of all feel the relief from being able to take control of the situation in terms of how it is making you feel. This is then a relief that you can share with your loved one from the benefit of your new perspective.

Dear My Partner’s Batshit Crazy Ex,

Where do I start? Your behaviour has been Batshit off the wall crazy. You know what I’m talking about; the texts, the late night abusive phone calls, the not showing up when you are meant to, the screaming in front of the kids, the insults, the legal threats, the stalking, the games, and all of the carry on.

Let us start there and finish here with the four phrases of Dr. Hew Len’s ‘Ho’oponopono’. I’m sorry, please forgive me, I thank you and I love you.

I’m not offering this to you as an endorsement of your behaviour or solely out of the hope that it might change it. I am doing this for me. I don’t have the power to change you but I do have the power to determine how I respond to you and to choose how I feel.

I choose to take the responsibility for how I am feeling; this doesn’t mean that I am taking responsibility for you or for the situation or that I’m taking the blame. I no longer care about whose fault it is or who is to blame; that search has held me to this dysfunctional dynamic for too long.

I’m taking back my power and I am going to choose to respond to you rather than react. I am choosing to step back and disengage from what you are presenting to me. I am choosing to focus my attentions on what is really going on with you. I am choosing to feel good about myself and the way I behave when I am in your company or when I hear about your behaviour.

This doesn’t mean that I will never feel angry, hurt, confused or upset with you; it means that I will feel those emotions at my choosing and not at yours. And I am going to do all of this by offering you empathy, love and acknowledgement of our similarities rather than focusing on our differences.

I have been where you are; I have experienced the pain, anger and confusion of a relationship breaking down. Whilst my behaviour manifested itself differently and may have looked dissimilar; the sentiment running underneath was exactly the same. I am choosing to focus on the fact that you are hurt and you want to feel better.

Let me say that again; you are hurt and you want is to feel better…and that doesn’t sound so crazy to me.

Obviously the way you are going about it isn’t super helpful; but I know that you get that and in actual fact you knowing this is probably making it all worse. And you know how I know all this? Because I’ve done plenty of super unhelpful things in my own life, and I’ve also felt trapped by the guilt of it.

Although you and I don’t know all that much about each other I do know that I love and admire your children more than words, and they are 50% of you. I also know that the man that I love and adore once loved and adored you so much that he asked you to share the rest of his life with him.

I forgive you for all of the Batshit Crazy things that you have said and done to me personally; and I hope that you can equally forgive me for when I have reacted and tried to hurt you. I am sorry for this, this is not who I want to know myself as. I know that neither of us has ever woken up and decided to be a horrible person for the day; sometimes things just happen but that doesn’t speak at all to who either of us truly are.

I am thankful for the challenges that you have provided to me; I haven’t always risen to them but I am committed to my personal improvement. You see, I want to live a life where I can rise above a heated or uncomfortable situation and you have provided me with more opportunities to walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk than anyone recently.

I also want you to know that in your ex you are always going to have someone in your life that cares as much about your children as you do. He is someone who is always going to be there for you and care about you as their mother. He may be your ‘Ex’ but he will always be you ‘Current Co-Parent’ and this is an important relationship that I wish to support.

I also wish to acknowledge that throughout this whole process your kids have come out the other side just fine. Actually they are better than fine; they are happy, and loved, and they are spectacular people…and that didn’t happen without you.

Through the act of writing this letter to you I feel so much better and in control. It is almost an instant change I feel when I hold to a vision of you that aligns with the vision that I have for myself.

It feels so good in fact that from this point on no matter what you do or what you say I am going to refuse to stray from it. That vision is; you as a person are worth loving, you are worth caring about and you are always doing your best. We have so much more in common then we have in differences, it feels really good to me when I focus upon that.

Lots of love and appreciation from a Fellow Batshit Crazy Ex

xoxo

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Friendships, Romantic Relationships, Single Life

Why My Friends Wouldn’t Set Me Up and How I Rebranded Myself

Please forgive the sleazy pic above, you’ll understand why it’s there in a minute. But for now I want to tell you about the most charming man that I met last night at a local business owners meeting.

He was about 6’4, fit, handsome and had a nice sense of style. He was articulate, successful at his job, engaging and energetic. But the real charm came from his warmth, openness, honesty, intelligence and humour. You could just tell that he came from a really lovely family and would have lovely friends. My instincts even said ‘very healthy relationship with his mother’, which is a huge tick in my book.

I didn’t ask if he was single but let me tell you he is exactly the type of guy I’d want to introduce to my single friends.

And here’s where it got interesting. I started to pour through a list of my single girlfriends and I couldn’t find a match. I wrote all of my friends off as either being too picky, too closed off or too much of game players.

These are my friends! These are people who I love and adore and who I know the full complexity of. These are people who I know to be loyal, caring, smart, open, funny, and beautiful in the context of our friendship.

But in the context of the romantic relationships that I’ve seen them all in recently, I only know them to be uncommitted, fussy, critical, closed off, unreliable, protective, pessimistic or just not ready for anything serious.

Am I actually saying that I think this charming stranger that I met last night is too good for my friends? Um, yes I guess I kind of am.

I knew that they’d either mess him around or write him off as being too nice of a guy. The idea of setting them up felt like giving them the keys to a brand new Ferrari whilst knowing that they are rubbish drivers.

This got me to thinking about my own life as a single in her 30’s. Is this how my friends saw me? Would they not recommend me to a charming stranger? I asked them and they said yes. Ouch!

For most of my single years I wasn’t ready to commit to a grown up relationship again, even though at times I pretended that I was; the truth be told I was just really scared. So I either cut myself off from dating altogether or I ‘dated’ the types of guys who weren’t interested in a commitment either. But the kicker was…I then felt let down, hurt and upset by their lack of commitment.

That last bit is the topic for a whole other blog; but my point is the type of partner that my friends saw me being wasn’t indicative of who I knew I really was. I presented as a game playing commitment-phobe because they were the parameters that my relationships were bound by. To offer anything other within these relationships would seem either ridiculous or desperate to the other party involved.

Actually I did just that one evening. I met a nice young fella and we attempted to have one night of passion but due to some logistical issues (we couldn’t find a spot to do ‘it’) it didn’t happen; so we rescheduled to ‘catch up’ the next night.

It had been AGES since I had participated in anything slightly romantic so I lovingly prepared a candle lit dinner for us both, soft music and all.

Of course I knew that it was going to make for a really awkward prelude to some even more awkward sex, but I thought it would be a) funny and b) nice.

It was soooo ridiculous! We had dinner for goodness sake! We had zero in common and zero interest in talking to each other. After dinner I segued with, and I kid you not,

“So…..you want to see my room?”

We’ve since become good mates and we still laugh about it whenever I see him. I do a whole routine at parties where I re-enact our dinner scene that is hilarious! But I digress.

Just prior to meeting my current partner, and not even knowing that I did it, I rebranded myself. When I decided that it was time to get back into the game I cut off contact with (well most of) the pseudo-relationships that I was involved in. And more importantly I stopped talking to my friends about either my lack of a love life or my messed up, disappointing, drama filled ‘relationships’.

When my single girlfriends and I got together, actually when I caught up with any of my friends the topic of conversation would invariably re-enact that scene from the Bridget Jones movie,

“So how’s your love life?”

One day rather than regale with stories from my brief and dysfunctional dalliances or declare that I had nothing going on; instead offered something a little more like this,

“I’m not seeing anyone right now, I’ve ceased contact with the Fireman and the General (there were always code names). I’m ready to get back into a loving relationship; it’s time. I’m looking forward to offering all that I have learnt to someone really special, I’m ready for a really spectacular relationship.”

I would then go on about the specifics of what I had learnt and about what I intended to do differently. I never spoke about what I expected from my future mate, only about what I was excited to offer. Without knowing it I was rebranding myself as a person who knew how to be in a spectacular relationship.

It had never occurred to me until now just how much the rebranding brought to me. Of course there were a few other things at play but in essence, I had simply asked for what I wanted and started behaving in way that aligned with that request.

From that point on I actually had fantastic men seemingly coming out of the woodwork, and they were all introductions from friends. The interesting point is that these men were not actually in the woodwork, I was. They were there all along; I just wasn’t able to see their value because I wasn’t letting it in.

I met the man I now share my life with through friends at a party. Where this rebranding idea gets really interesting is with regards to what his mates had to say about me.

I knew some of his friends from high school; I couldn’t recall a single conversation that was longer than hello and goodbye but as it is when growing up in a small town we all knew of each other. When my now beloved mentioned to his mates at the as party that he was sweet on me and wished to get to know me better, his best mate said

“Mate, I wouldn’t even bother. She’s massively uptight and a bit of a snob.”

That was an impression that was garnered over 20 years ago!

Upon reflection I’ve learnt two massive things;

1. How you treat people matters in ways that we can never be aware of. The type of person that we are in all of our relationships is important.

Not because our friends will introduce us to people, although that is a nice perk. But because if our nearest and dearest don’t think we deserve someone wonderful, why would we?

The aspects of ourselves that we get to live everyday are the aspects that we come to define ourselves by.

2. Even when we live a life that is completely contradictory to the one that we know is our truth; as long as we believe ourselves to be more, love will always find a way.

How is the life that you are living lining up with your own personal truth?

Leanne xx

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