Living Abroad for the First Time

A friend is living abroad at the moment and going through some blue times. Sometimes I get weird about sharing myself in black and white, and say the bare minimum. However, this makes me feel like I need to expand it out. Not sure if she’ll ever read this, but I have to share it.

When I moved abroad for the first time, not just traveling but living in one place intentionally with another person, I was so in over my head. I didn’t realise it at the time. I had left a good life but one that I wasn’t feeling fully fulfilled in anymore and decided that I wanted to do something different. I had just ended a long term relationship, had a health scare with precancerous cells on my cervix, and had become very cynical about corporations and their role in capitalism in the world at a time when I was moving more and more towards a more balanced view of living and using one’s resources. Then came along an attractive, charismatic alpha male foreigner who had me in his sights, and him in mine. It started fast like most fires do, and in a short time, even though there were some warning signs, I dismissed them, and soon he was back in his own country. I missed his energy and the way I felt around him, and questioned why I would stay where I was when this whole other life could be mine. I went on a holiday to visit him in Brazil and loved it. I was enamoured by being around him and allowing the flames to engulf us, I enjoyed the lush life he was accustomed to, and he wanted me to return. Within a very short few months, I resigned from my job after being with the corporation for 9 years, gave away everything I owned, and moved to Brazil with two suitcases. I was just 27 and had only lived in low population areas where everyone knew everyone, where I was the big fish in the small pond with a small exception when I was at University where I joined a sorority to counteract and become a big fish again. I had no experience with big city people and he was the epitome of big city and I had no idea what I was really getting into.

The beginning was fun, I enjoyed myself, it was all new, and I would share with family and friends back home about my new findings, the life I was now living which seemed like it was out of a movie, and it was incredible. After a while, the newness started to fade away though. I couldn’t easily find a job like I had before, I didn’t speak Portuguese, I realised that he was a lot different in his regular life than he was when he was traveling, or when I was traveling to holiday with him. It took me a while to understand that society people are very different from country people like myself. I hadn’t realised fully how many masks are worn, or how people associate with others just because of the benefits that they may get, or because they are the right people to know. I didn’t wear the right clothes, the right shoes, the right whatever, I hadn’t grown up in it, and that outward superficial appearance of things wasn’t important to me, maybe a bit, but nothing in comparison to the people I met and socialised with on a regular basis. I joined the “club” and did my best to make the most of it. However, it started to break at the seams.

There are so many more details to add here, but in short, I realised that I was in the wrong place. I was headed down this path with someone who wanted me to marry him, and I had already given away my entire old life. My ego was so big that I didn’t feel like I could go back, I had never actually failed at anything, and there was no possibility that I was going to admit freely that I had made the wrong decision. So I continued my best to make it work. I was depressed. I was living in Sao Paolo, the third largest city in the world, and I felt so utterly alone. I felt like I couldn’t talk about it with friends and family either, not deeply, not fully.

In this time of feeling out of alignment, I was in search of finding what was right for me. I did some dream therapy, taught myself to meditate, even fasted for 28 days to gain clarity. I wasn’t even that happy when I was at the weekend holiday homes on the island or in the exclusive private beachside community on the weekends. I was so out of it. I traveled a bit from there to Argentina for a short stint away, and the message I received when couch surfing with this amazing family near Patagonia, was that it’s not always easy but you make it work. So I returned and tried again. The day before we got married which I only agreed to for health insurance reasons and thought I had made that perfectly clear, I called an Aunt of mine back in the US on a payphone and calling card, and she told me that I could mould him into the person I wanted him to be and essentially I’d be a fool to give up the life I had in order to return to the US in any capacity like I had before. Horrible advice. I even got in contact with some old friends from Yosemite who basically were just like, “what do you have to lose?” I cried the day I signed those papers after the ceremony was performed in Portuguese. I cried and cried. It was like I was on a fast moving train and I just couldn’t get off.

I started indulging in more drinking than I had in a long while, I would smoke a lot of cannabis, and still none of it made a difference. I would go to acupuncture weekly and then listen to this jazz band every Tuesday afternoon and that was like a salvation for me. Eventually I felt afraid to continue being there with him but didn’t feel like I had an out. I had transferred all of my money into his name, which was a ludicrous thing to do but I was so naive and trusting especially when I first arrived.

About ten months after the marriage, my grandmother fell ill and I took the exit opportunity. I told him we were separating, and I left. It was emotional. I got back to the US, and I felt so completely broken. I wore my wedding band and tried not to talk about it with anyone, I just couldn’t. My ego was shattered. I lost my once tangible level of confidence, and I was lost. My grandmother wasn’t doing well, and I spent time with her, and I bounced around from place to place because there wasn’t any room for me to stay at my parents house, that was never a backup or fall back plan for me in life as they never really had it together enough on their own to offer such stability or security. Eventually I made my way back to Yosemite to stay with a friend. My heart was back in tact or at least starting to mend. I learned about Vipassana meditation, and enrolled in the next available course. There was a blip in there where the Brazilian came to the US on a work visa for his American based corporation and terrorised me, but I don’t want to get into that now, but it was so scary as I hadn’t told him where I was staying and he still found me. Meditation helped me to reset, my grandmother passed when I was in between sessions, and I was the most level emotionally I had been in a long time and was able to act as support for my family.

I got offers to work back in Yosemite but I couldn’t I couldn’t go back to a life that I had left. So I traveled. I roadtripped with friends, learned about my own country, went to Burning Man, just lived and experienced life like a rolling stone. It was exhausting. By New Years a year later after returning from Brazil, I was on this three day party bender, and I knew I was also not in the right place. I wrote down that I wanted a flight someplace else in a journal, and an email showed up from the Brazilian saying he had bought my ticket to Australia and to just get on the plane, no expectations, just to come and stay a year. Up until the day of the flight I wasn’t sure if I was going to go, this same person who scared me, was offering this opportunity, he had all my money still, and was promising no expectations of what was to come. I had offered up to the universe what I wanted and it came in a way that I hadn’t envisioned, which does happen often. I took the flight, and soon after separated from him again, and it brought me to Australia. The story continues as does the scariness but it’s all resolved now. It took a very long time and a lot of internal strength to get through it all.

If I have learned anything from all of this is that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to say that things didn’t work out. It’s okay to return. It’s okay to try again. The beauty is that every moment contains the seed of something new to become. It is because of these experiences that I have grown in ways that I have, and I have no regrets. Also, I listen to my internal voice a hell of a lot more than I ever did when I was younger. I don’t know everything, and am open to seeing what presents itself. Life is a wild and glorious ride.

The Immigrant Process

I am an immigrant. I chose to leave my home country in pursuit of a new adventure, a new life, with new opportunities. It’s taken a considerable amount of courage, bravery, and resilience. Being an immigrant is a hard road and comes with many challenges, especially as the global powers tighten boarders and make the pathway to citizenship longer and more complicated than it needs to be.

My niece has asked me about my experience as an immigrant and specifically my pathway to citizenship as there are bound to be many similarities that I have faced that immigrants to America would also face. I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time, I talk about it a lot, but haven’t fully put it in to black and white, and I welcome that chance now.

I read somewhere a line that went something like to be an immigrant, you will always have your heart in two places, and that’s as true as it can be. My heart has always been torn between forging a new life for myself in Australia and leaving behind my family and everyone I have known before now in order to do so. It’s a compromise that has to happen when you venture out into the unknown of anything, and absolutely applies to traveling and making home abroad.

The process to citizenship here in Australia has been very long and convoluted. I still, after being here for more than eight years, being married to an Australian, having an Australian child, owning a business in Australia, and having gone to University here in Australia, I have still yet to be granted citizenship. I’ve had various visas that always cost a lot of money, and I’ve had to learn to live with the instability that comes with not being fully allowed to live in a country. Honestly the stress that this has caused, I’m certain has negatively impacted my health and also my first pregnancy. The stress that you can be asked to leave at any given time because you don’t have the right to stay is ever present. It’s like holding your breath, and wanting to give all you can to the country you are now living in, but at the same time holding back because why set down roots if you will have to cut them off and move again anyway.

When applying for Permanent Residency which precedes citizenship, there are typically requirements that need to be met like being in the country for a certain amount of time and not having any issues with visas before. For PR, as it’s commonly called, you have to submit so much paperwork not only about yourself, but you also have to give information about your friends and family as well, private information like their birthdays, their occupations, their own families, their marital status. It’s incredibly invasive, and asking friends and family to do this feels like one additional barrier that we have to go through. There’s a thorough health check, at designated immigration doctors offices, and you are treated like just another immigrant, no bedside manner, all matter of fact, and then you’re on your way awaiting the results. There’s character checks that happen from your original country, then within the country you are trying to immigrate to, along with any other country where you have spent more than a year. If you’ve married a citizen then you have to prove your relationship, which feels so false, and the things they ask, normal couples wouldn’t do. Specifically, who opens a joint bank account with their boyfriend or girlfriend the day they decide they’re going to be exclusive? If any regular couple did that, it would be a huge red flag, but for immigration, that is one of the ways to prove your relationship, and if you don’t have that you get knocked back in the queue.

The hardest part of all of it, beyond the utter lack of privacy, beyond the inane requirements that normal people wouldn’t do, is that the government is always changing, and with that, their stance on immigration changes. So you can call up and be told one thing on Monday, and then call back the next Monday and be told a completely different thing. For us, we were advised to wait until our three year anniversary before applying for PR because it would go right through, no more than six months the immigration agent said. So, we waited the additional year and a half and when we applied, the rules had changed, and had to wait an additional two years, not six months, to finally hear back, which gave another waiting period of a year. So it took a total of three years from the time I applied for PR to the time of being granted it, rather than six months, and that was after waiting for the full three years beforehand to apply. In this time, the fees go up, the waiting stretches out, and you find yourself checking your email account every single day, and every single day you feel disappointed and feel like it’s not going to happen.

Also in this waiting period of seeing if you will be accepted, and this could only be me, but I felt completely restricted about what I could say online. It was during a time when America was changing greatly, and Trump had been granted President, and the whole world was in shock and disbelief. Even before then with whistleblowers being outed and vilified, I didn’t feel like I could speak freely about this. I didn’t feel like I could even seek help with dealing with the dark feelings I had after having a very traumatic birth because all of that would be linked to me, and all of that would go into the decision making of whether I got to stay in the country where my entire world existed now, and I didn’t want to do anything at all to jeopardise that.

Looking for jobs as an immigrant is always a trying situation, because employers want to know that you will not be a fly by night, and the time and training they put into you will be repaid by long service. Going to University and further education is also limited unless you have the access to pay for the exorbitant fees they charge international students, and even then only some courses are available. There are restrictions every way you look, and sometimes, it feels like it would be easier to just throw away the dream and move back to your home country. I’m lucky I’m not a refugee and that is an option for me but for a lot of immigrants going home isn’t an option, so they have no choice but to deal with each obstacle, each setback, each challenge, and trying to maintain patience with their heads down, waiting for their time to come and be welcomed officially into their new country.

Lawmakers must be so removed from this process, because I can’t imagine that they would put us through all of this hardship, which ripples out to our new families here, and our friends, and the economy because we are going through unnecessary challenges to gain access to stay in the new country. I would definitely recommend a change that would include having English classes for migrants who don’t speak English as their first language while in the process of immigration because everyone benefits when we can speak a common language. I would recommend each immigrant being issued a clear plan with dates for them to apply and what to do at each step, currently the information is all over the place, and it changes so frequently that making a timeline with a plan is almost a joke currently.

Resigned

I’ve let my job go. In part due to truly feeling like I need to have the flexibility to be available in case my family, including my in-laws who have experienced very ill health as of late, need me, and more specifically if they need my son, the golden sun, around to help brighten moods.

It was bittersweet. I know it’s been coming, and I truly do want flexibility, but I also liked that I did have a team of people I was working with and I enjoy the feeling of being productive. I learned a variety of different real estate based systems in a short amount of time and even wrote some Marketing AdCopy, which I definitely enjoyed doing.

My son has just gotten up from his nap and is standing next to me with his hand on my leg, asking for my attention, so I have to cut this short.

Now, comes the entrepreneurial phase and I’m totally open to this.

Multiculturalism of Australia and White Nationalist

At Costco in the line to return something that happened to be the wrong size, I was marvelling at all of the different heritage around me. There were so many shades of skin colour and accents it was truly a moment capturing the beautiful multiculturalism in Australia. It was totally awkward, but I couldn’t help but compliment the woman who had been partially helping the woman who was helping me as her skin colour was this incredibly rich shade very different from my pale freckled skin, and she had such a great complexion too. Anyway, I smiled to myself during the whole encounter because it really made me feel that Australia is a country that has so many immigrants and in places where we all converge all just flows.

As it usually goes in just about every shopping experience, there’s a signal to everyone that it’s now time for every single shopper to make their way to the counters to pay. This happens everywhere, we as humans must all feel the urgency of timing all at once and all in unison turn around and make a b line for the closest checkout. I was in one of the lines and moved back so other people could pass in front of me to get to the other side. In this, some people got a little confused about where the line started, but I hadn’t thought it was going to be a problem because there were clearly people already waiting behind me, specifically this woman and her baby who my son and I had talked about during our shopping trip. We heard the baby talking and talking, and then by checkout time, bub was not happy and needed to be held. My toddler noted all of this as we’ve been talking about feelings a lot lately so he narrated the scene when we saw them. Apparently an older woman didn’t realise the line was much longer and put her cart behind mine, and I politely told her that I thought the woman with the baby was next in line, and the line was curving a bit making a hand motion in the direction of the curve. I could tell that English wasn’t her first language, but she understood, and moved her cart to the end of the line. All was fine, just helping create some order. Then all of a sudden I hear the two guys who are with the woman and baby, say “Yeah, we need to take care of our own” and I made eye contact with him, and at first the thought was just that I have  child and I assumed that was probably his child. The mother now holding the baby didn’t say a word, and I loaded up my items on the conveyor belt and the comment swirled around in my head. Why I can’t just let things roll over me and be done with it, I’m not sure… but I thought about it and I was the only other fair skinned person with my son in our line besides them. I hadn’t even considered that the remark would have been racial in nature. So I purposely talked in my very American accent to the checkout helpers and talked about the wagon I had in my trolley and how it was going to be great this summer, especially with the extra drink holders. As I left, I distinctly noticed a big Southern Cross tattoo on the man’s neck who made the remark. And I quickly pieced together an episode of Triple J’s Hack where the Southern Cross had been coopted and now was representing something more like white nationalist pride, or something of the like. My stomach turned.

I enjoy the richness that comes with multiculturalism. I enjoy the opportunity to learn and grow with the people around me. I know I am an immigrant, and I cannot help but feel the same amount of slightedness that might be aimed at people who are more obviously not from here based on their accents, or their skin colour, or the way they dress. I am one of them, I am one of the Australians too. We are all one.

Maybe I misconstrued what that comment meant and probably I am overthinking and overanalysing it, but maybe not.

Finally I Saw Therapist

Finally I got some face to face help. Two sessions today after calling around yesterday to see if I could talk to someone. I felt the dark wave of grief and despair rolling over me yesterday. I know this feeling. I know it very well since having my child. It was a very traumatic experience for me and I haven’t felt confident to seek a qualified professional as I didn’t have Permanent Residency and didn’t want to jeopardise my chances of getting to stay with my family here in Australia. Now I do have PR and I am working through this now.

The first session was a woo woo style practitioner. She let me ramble and ramble, and that’s what I did. I cried a bit, told my story, described how I felt in creative ways, and at the end did some sand play where I just created what was circling in me and brought it to the surface. That was fun, I always enjoy these kinds of ways of bringing out creativity and to help gain insight. I described what I thought about each piece I chose to add from her shelves of figurines. I chose a mini pot of flowers to add beauty and symbolise the circular path that life seems to be. I chose a native woman carrying a child on her back and a golly wog doll which is an inherently racist black doll that is very kitsch Australian, and I chose these because I feel empathy for them, and in my own plight I understand theirs better. I chose Merlin with a unicorn to help represent how magic is all around, I just have to ask and see it. I chose a happy smiling buddha because I want more of that in my life, but am not sure how to fully detach to get to that stage these days. In the middle I drew out two big eyes, like that Grateful Dead song that goes “wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world” as it’s been running through my head for days now. All in all, it was a good session and I appreciated having that kind of very soft space to talk about things.

The second session was just a few doors down, also upstairs in this downtown charming historic town. When I walked into the stairwell it smelt like beauty parlour that specialises in waxing, and it took me by surprise. I guess that smell went with how I felt when I was in the session, very similar to when you are going in for a wax, you know you need to do it, you know you’ll love the results, but for christ sakes the process is painful, but some areas are strangely very satisfying and almost enjoyable in their pain. The psychologist was an older woman who I can only guess has hair that reaches all the way down her back, she had it piled up high on her head into a bun, she’s of retirement age, but so youthful and full of energy as soon as she opened her mouth with a bright sparkle in her eyes. She wore older woman nice clothes, you know the kind that were popular ages ago and they’re still in fine knick but not necessarily up to date. She also wore a beautiful broach that coordinated with her maroon pantsuit which gave me a sense of comfort thinking about how my grandmother used to wear broaches.

We got down to business after I sat in her narrow office. I had already filled out the paperwork, which thankfully my husband’s work pays for these sessions so we don’t have to pay out the $175 per visit as the contract had read. I get five sessions with her under his program and I will use them all. She asked me to give her a summary of why I am there and what I’ve been up to. So I backtracked to 2010 and mentioned that after a head on collision that happened just months after arriving in Australia, that I received counselling which was very helpful. I mentioned that due to a Medical Treatment visa I was able to stay here, and that’s in the timeframe that I met my husband. I mentioned about going back to University and finishing my bachelors. I mentioned that although my husband and I both had chosen in our earlier lives to not have children, that together we changed our direction and intentionally created our son who was conceived on our wedding day out of love, and that he is all love. I then talked about how that pregnancy went haywire, and I ended up in hospital for nearly three weeks until an emergency caesar where he was extracted from my body, and put into the NICU in a  plexiglass box and that a couple days later I was able to see him and all of it was very disorienting. I told her that before I was put under with the gas that I made peace with my life because I thought I was going to die, and how I had just left my husband’s hand in this stark white corridor on the way to the surgery area. I talked about how I had been so straight during my pregnancy with everything I was consuming and then all of a sudden I was taking major drugs to help me cope with the pain, and how that along with having to inject myself with a needle to help prevent dissolve the blood clot that had formed in my groin, was the worst kind of self harm I’ve ever known physically, and all of it took me so far from my natural clear headed state. I talked about the uncertainty when bringing home our child, and being all alone in Sydney with my husband working shifts of four days on and four days off, and not having any additional help and those first months were the darkest of my entire life. I shared how when I think of the newborn phase I think of the smell of Aquim hand sanitiser, chords, beeping, uncertainty, pain, hurt, and grief. I shared with her out loud things that I have never shared with anyone else that went on in my mind during that stage and I wept so loudly and it all came out. I completely lost it, and it may have only been in the first ten minutes of me walking in. Progress was being made.

She talked about the amygdala and how it stores all of our past experiences and how it’s like a volcano that has many layers and how when something gets triggered it then accesses every time I’ve ever had that feeling, and this made perfect sense to me. I had thought of it as wells of emotion within me, something I was holding, something I was internalising, something that was there always with me. She helped me to see that the release can happen by changing it to be a volcano versus a well, and to do whatever I need to in order to get the hell out of the fucking well. She didn’t say it quite like that but this was definitely how I heard it.

She talked about how this kind of trauma creates spikes in my cortisol levels and with that comes fight, flight or freeze. This was also an ah-ha moment to me. I know that my cortisol levels have been spiked from childhood due to having a very traumatic upbringing, and over the years it was clear to me what I was doing I was definitely fighting or fleeing the situation. This time around I have been full on in freeze mode. I hadn’t even considered that freeze was an option, and that’s exactly where I’ve been for the past three years. Adding on the waiting for Permanent Residency and that just created a stronger freeze feeling for me. So I’ve been on edge pretty much my whole life and in this last stretch, it has become freeze and now I get to fucking work it out so I can move forward. No more internalising. I see it, I understand, I have ways to move past this, and now that is what I am doing.

She talked about the importance of getting my levels checked to make sure all of my vitamins, thyroid and all other blood markers are normal in case that needed attention. Thankfully I’ve had those earlier this year due to the endometriosis. Oh speaking of endometriosis, she also said that by keeping all of this in my “well” rather that in a volcano, it would create disease in my body, and then I told her about the endometriosis, which completely makes sense. It came on strong and seemingly all of a sudden, and lasted about ten months. After using the Mirena IUD and getting PR, it’s amazing how it’s settled down, but not at all surprising as I’m not as on edge about everything.

She talked about the importance of deep breathing. 3 count in, hold for 3 and release for 5. She said that if I’m in freeze mode and I’m shallow breathing all of my cells think that they are also in survival mode. She gave an extra oomph to it by talking about Taming the Tiger, and with the breathing to clench my fists in the in breath, and release my hands completely in the out breath to signal to my body physically as well that it’s time for this to go. I loved this. I love that this is actionable and we did it in her office, and I could feel the difference. I will continue to do this.

Overall I feel completely drained from today. My eyes are so tired and dry from all of the crying I’ve done, by far more than I’ve cried anytime in the past couple years, probably not since my father died two years ago. Interesting that it’s also his birthday today, feels very auspicious. I don’t want to be that kind of parent and it almost feels like I’m honouring that by getting help now.

I see her next week and I really look forward to it. I am writing it out. I am moving past this. Thank fucking god. I’m so ready.

Somewhere Along the Way

Somewhere along the way I grew jaded. I mean that has to be the reason right? The reason I am questioning so much after spending so much of my time in this way of thinking. That I would devote so much time and energy into the thought and lifestyle of “following my bliss”. I curated the thoughts in my head, I used mantras, I cut out people from my life, and even would steer away from friends who had gotten sick because they must not have been aligned for something to go wrong, right?

I’ve always been an optimistic person and I’ve always been one to dive right in, and this stage of my life was no different. I had been living in Brazil and was totally lost, I knew I wasn’t where I needed to be and was searching for clarity. I was trying anything and everything and even fasted for about a month on just water with alternating days where I would drink some coconut water or some sugar cane juiced with lime. I taught myself to meditate and would create art for arts sake to see what was going on. This was all back in 2007-2008 and the internet was really just starting to kick off there weren’t a lot of resources like you can find now about all of these topics, so I just kinda figured it out as I went along. A sort of friend of mine said that he had been reading Joseph Campbell and in a short email exchanged mentioned the term “follow your bliss” and I grabbed ahold of it with all of my might.

I made posters with that wonderful phrase and hung them on my dingy apartment wall overlooking one of the busiest street intersections in Sao Paolo. I scribbled in my journals, and I meditated with it in mind, hoping to figure out what that actually meant and how I could use it to help my situation. One day at a friends ranch in the countryside, we ate some “Hawaiian babies” which were seeds from one of the plants in the yard. I had broken my fast by taking them and drinking watermelon blended up, a strange way of ending it, but I got the clarity I needed. I wasn’t a very good guest that weekend, I scribbled in my journal, I drew the fabulous magical plants around me and I came to realise that for me to follow my bliss meant that at any given time I needed to do what felt best to me, even if that meant being anti-social and completely doing my own thing, which I did. I had so many realisations that weekend while I was off my head and it certainly was an awakening of sorts.

Eventually after I was back in the US after my escape from Brazil, yes it was like an escape, but I’ll write more about that later, but after I was back in my home country I was even more lost than before. Familiar people, familiar places, familiar smells, but none of it felt fully like home. Yes I snuggled and cried and danced and swam and stomped through the snow in my beloved Yosemite, and did think about returning for another round, but I just couldn’t. I wasn’t the same, I was a different persona and I needed more than I knew how to get there. I continued to listen to the writing on the wall or take tips from people to heart, and one gave me a tip about a meditation centre nearby, one that had been there the entire time I lived in Yosemite but never knew about.

I spent time at this meditation centre and there’s more to this story too, but I’ll share more about that later. I will say that it was another one of those times where I met the right people at the right time, and forged friendships that would definitely support that stage of my life. I had learned about the power of manifesting along the way by writing down what I wanted and watching it unfold. I noticed this happen again and again and again. I also felt like it was contrived and I came to the point where I actually wanted to be surprised and let go of trying to be the master of my universe. I have still used that over the years though because I know the power of my words and the strength of my mind can cause tremendous change in my life and those around me. It sounds like a god complex kind of thing but it wasn’t, or maybe it was? Is this the heaven on earth scenario just a bit manufactured? Who knows. There are always questions.

So fast forward and I got into head on collision and I was fully into that mode of thought of Law of Attraction where what I think becomes, and was certain that I had created this crazy accident in some far-fetched way because I wasn’t on the path I needed to be on, so the Universe not so gently helped me correct course. Okay, I accepted that and it made sense. Maybe that’s the biggest part of all of this line of thinking, we always want everything to make sense, I always want to put everything into some neat little informational package so that all the pieces fit together, to tie up loose ends and ensure that it all flows so I can continue moving on to the next thing.

When my very complicated pregnancy came around, I did try to change my thoughts, I did try to manage my vibration but sure enough I couldn’t do it well enough, if looking through that lens, and had extended hospital stays, prescribed pain killers, and an emergency cesarean of my baby two months too soon, followed by an intense section of life of the emotional hell that is the NICU. I felt embarrassed that I wasn’t strong enough to handle the way it happened. I felt that I had failed in my own way of thinking and had surmised to this weaker state of mind which allowed all of the heartache and pain to happen. I didn’t want to share pictures of my child that would normally be joyous of his first days because to me he looked like an alien in a clear box with all kinds of tubes and wires hanging off of him, I had failed to create this birth for both of us, for all of us. Whoa it’s hard to confront this truth and I’m getting emotional typing it. I really felt like I had failed and let myself, my new son, my husband, and every other person I have every talked to about the power of thoughts, down. Like going through seeing your child like that and dealing with my own pain wasn’t enough, that feeling of failure was absolutely soul crushing. How could I have not been able to practice what I have preached and been able to do again and again in my own personal life before then? Oh boy it was a hard time.

I see how “thought leaders” in this industry of selling the thought that you have control over everything in your life attribute being poor with not being spiritual. I see them also attribute not being healthy or having an illness as not being spiritual, that you can just turn it around with your thoughts. I think it’s all a big pile of bullshit these days. I believe in optimism and I believe in setting goals and doing your best every moment and really finding the goodness in life, but everyone has the path they need to walk and to justify it one way or another is just making a huge pile of excuses and it may sell books or speaking gigs or classes, but I don’t subscribe to this thought any more and it feels like I am breaking up with it.

I do however still believe that my thoughts influence my life, absolutely. I absolutely believe that being optimistic can bring sunshine into the gloomiest of areas and help a person get out of situations to where they really do have more sun in the sky than rain, metaphorically speaking. I’m just dropping the judgemental part of it. We all get a starting point where we are, and sure enough we can do whatever we can with it, and that’s great, that is fine, that is enough, and things happen in life, it is our attitude that helps guide us through the process but that still doesn’t justify why there are kids who starve to death, or young people who get cancer or other atrocities like this, it’s not because they aren’t spiritual enough, it’s just the hand they have been dealt and that’s it.

I’m still holding onto the need for joy and laughter and fun and time off in my life. I am still holding onto the need for beauty and smiles and healthy living. I am still holding onto the fact that loving someone else and feeling that love back is one of the most precious gifts in human existence. I am still holding onto my way of being that likes to see the bright side. I am still holding onto my understanding that we aren’t really all created equally and that we all don’t have equal ways to get ahead or to progress and I have compassion for this. I am holding onto my belief that I still get to choose in every moment who I get to be and can be that person and allowing change to happen this way in my life now. I still believe that if you surround yourself with things/people/environment that make you feel inspired to be your best self, then its a hell of a lot easier to do so. I am still in total belief that I am here to make a positive impact upon the world and will continue to do so, even if with only my smile as I pass a stranger. I will continue to share love and be love because I can.

Navigating the Waters

In the last week, I have turned a corner, a major corner. I have started to allow someone else to look after my child in a maximum of 2 hour increments. This is a big deal. He’s now almost 22 months, and prior to now, I pretty much count on one hand the number of times someone else has looked after him besides my husband or myself.

I have so many feelings that are arising from this. Perhaps this is what primary carers of little people go through with this transition. Simultaneously wanting to have freedom and independence, but at the same time wanting to make sure that my little person is completely taken care of. The feeling of, YES FINALLY, I’m Doing Something For Myself, AND the feeling of guilt that someone else is looking after my most precious being, who is completely defenceless, completely incapable of articulating with words anything that goes on.

Exhale. I am doing that a lot, deep breathing. He is going to the day care option that is available at the gym I have joined. It’s all super new, totally customer oriented, and really top of the line. The classes are incredible, the machines are the newest available, the instructors are top notch, the child care is incredible. Even in the baby area, they have a huge play section that rivals the places you have to pay to go into for $12 for 2 hours where you have to buy an obligatory coffee as well. The carers are so lovely, so friendly, so very obviously kid people with big hearts and huge smiles.

All of this is good, I know it. I do. Me progressing forward by moving my body and getting back into shape, along with allowing the next stage of our lives to happen by me letting go and accepting help with my child. I know all of this, I know it’s truly all good. There is still a fountain of feelings coming up and I can’t ignore them. I even invited a fellow Mum from my mum and bub group to come over and watch a tear jerking movie that left us both sobbing, just so we could let the emotions out in a safe place.

The new chapter is beginning and I am grieving the last one. It’s normal, and it’s okay. I have loads of self compassion for myself and am being as gentle with me as I possibly can in this transition. I am also doing my best to be there for my son while he transitions, because it’s also a major shift for him as well. Such a big deal.

How could they?

My stomach is turning, my throat is tight, my brow is furrowed. I have blocked out the majority of my childhood, only a glimpse or two remain from before I was in my teens. Recently, as in about 20 minutes ago, I learned from a close relative, whom I trust, that when I was 4 or 6 weeks old, that my parents asked this relative to look after me for a couple of hours, so they could go on a motorcycle ride, and did not come back for 3 days. THREE DAYS! Three days they left me, their premature baby of 6 weeks, with someone else.

My relative only brought this up after asking if I had put my own child into preschool or daycare yet. I said I hadn’t, and that I honestly didn’t really trust it, at least not until he is old enough to speak. This is a deep untrusting level I have, and maybe this is where it comes from. She said that I was so different, like the opposite of my own parents, and told me that story jokingly. She of course didn’t realise how it would effect me, neither did I.

I feel so disappointed. I feel so sad. I feel so very angry and pissed off. How could they do this to me? Why have children if you aren’t going to take care of them? Really, and me? How selfish of them, it really is the opposite of how I am with my own child. No wonder I was reluctant to have children.

This all shows that even from the beginning they didn’t want to be parents. I had this rosey view now that I have my own child, that maybe in their early days they did care, that we really did have a family atmosphere, but clearly that is a fantasy, and certainly not one based on any memories, just hope.

External, internal talk: I love you Jennifer. I know this is hard for you. It is so very unlike what you would do. Try to have compassion. You are special, you have gone through so very much and look how far you have come. I know it hurts. I know it hurts to feel like someone doesn’t care, I know it must be devastating to feel like your parents didn’t care, but they did their best. You are highly resilient, and no matter what happened as a child, you are not destined to repeat their lives nor their mistakes. You are better than that. You are a beautiful, thoughtful human being, and you get to choose every single day how you operate in the world. Let this be fuel to make you better. Let this be fuel to understand your own self reliance, your own self worth that you have developed because of you.

I really feel gutted right now. NO wonder I’ve had self worth issues. NO wonder I’ve had issues with security. No wonder. Without a solid base, everything else is hard to build. I am so lucky that I have chosen this conscious route and have rebuilt myself as an adult. It still hurts though, uncovering a bit of the truth that is so utterly revealing.

Also just from a baby’s perspective, not having your parents there, for days on end. Not having the security of your parents for days on end. I know that can be overcome, like it has with Abraham after him being in the NICU, something I did not choose. However, it has taken conscious effort to rebuild that trust, no wonder I never really trusted my parents.

Weaving Paths

Life is so funny sometimes, most times really. I have noticed that people are weaved in and out of my life on a regular basis. Some of them I may have met, our paths had crossed, but nothing to fully keep us connected other than superficially on social media. That’s fine. The cool thing is that, as time progresses, the connection deepens, and we are able to communicate on a deeper level. It’s really beautiful.

I wonder if it also has to do with a lot of these really interesting and soulful people I met while traveling, after returning from Brazil, after diving into meditation. I was like a free radical at the time, not held down by anything. Maybe I didn’t open up completely, or maybe at the time they didn’t either. Maybe we didn’t have that one-on-one time which I find so valuable to be able to really connect with someone. Maybe it’s the wall of observation that I may put up sometimes, especially if I am new to joining a group. I like to see what they are about, what is going on, and then proceed accordingly. I wonder if that also creates a different sense of trust, or lack of trust. Who knows. Who really knows.

Gratitude is what I feel when my path and theirs reunites in this intergalactic inter web of life. It’s beautiful. I love getting to share and learning about myself and others in the process. I love that we get to catch up and allow that space to do so. Yes, thank you, more please.

Indulgence

Some days are simply meant for indulging. Today has been one of those glorious days. I have pampered myself with a soak in the bath, eaten delicious food that is usually considered my some times food which included an amazing baked camembert and garlic tiger bread loaf, romped around and had an amazing time with my husband, and generally had a low key, lazy day and it’s been fabulous.

The beauty of this day in particular is that it happens to fall on a weekend. It just so happens that my husband is home. It just so happens that the weather was grey and not inviting for hanging outside. It was a lovely inside autumn day and I am so thankful that we were able to take advantage of it.

When working with someone else’s schedule, it’s a lot harder to go with the feeling of the day. When deadlines are looming or you have to be inside the office like most people working 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, you don’t get to indulge in how you feel very often. It’s interesting, it’s like we have to squish it down and put on the hard hat and go in no matter how we feel, unless of course you are really sick, you are there. The days of indulgence are partial, a short 4 hour window after work ends and bed time begins, or the 2 days on the weekend, but that is it.

Somehow we’ve all agreed that this way of working 5 days on and 2 days off is okay. That it’s more important to work for someone else doing what they want, than to spend time building your own family and your own business. I see it as freedom, and the lifestyle of the truly rich who are able to have the flexibility to work when they want.

Hedonism always comes to mind when I think of indulging, and being a bit hedonistic is fine, everything in moderation. Perhaps if we didn’t have these obligations in place where we are expected to be someplace and need to go in order to have money to live and provide for others, then maybe people would just waste away. I’d like to think that if people didn’t have that obligation, then instead they would use their time and creativity to solve problems in the world, to learn how to love more deeply, and give back in other ways.

If learning to listen to ourselves is a big block in being self directed, it would make sense because we have been taught and have learned so well to fit into a schedule created by someone else. It starts from school, and then goes into the labour force, all Monday through Friday from about 8am until 4 or 5pm. This is the life schedule of working for someone else for most people in the western world.

I have a strong feeling, based on my own experience, that once that habit of fitting into someone else’s schedule has been broken, a new thought pattern will arise, naturally. Then it’s a prime opportunity to create a better, more empowered version of life that one can take ownership. Perhaps this would simply be because it’s easier to listen to your own wants and needs when the other is no longer being enforced.

These indulgent days are so needed. Time to recharge, reenergise, and rest always brings about new energy to keep moving forward and pursuing what is important in life.