The Busiest Person Wins. Except When They Don’t.


I used to be a massive perfectionist. I could never rest, never relax, never have down time, never have fun. Never stop. To stop meant I could no longer run, no longer escape. And the thought of standing still, and having to acknowledge the things that silently ate away at me beneath the surface, was nothing short of terrifying.

Busyness was the vice I chose to numb my pain. It served my mask of perfectionism well. But being busy is no different from any other vice we use to detach ourselves from life a little – drinking, gambling, shopping, gaming, eating, whatever. Except, society has made busyness an acceptable vice, if not a glorified one.

The busiest person wins.

When really, our busyness, our perfectionism, our performing, is just another way we hide the shame that we’re not good enough. We think if we keep busy we won’t notice the ways we fall short, fail, disappoint, can’t keep up. We won’t notice our inadequacies. We won’t notice we’re not enough.

And we hope like hell no one else will notice either.

We fear if we aren’t accomplishing and achieving at all times then all we loathe about ourselves will be exposed and we’ll face criticism and rejection from others. We fear we’ll no longer be able to hide from the truth of how substandard we really are. How flawed. How imperfect.

How human.

Perfectionism is a slow death of the soul. It will kill our joy, our creativity, our peace, our ability to love those around us. We become servants to performance, slaves to our fear and shame. We live crippled by our comparisons and beliefs that no matter what we do, we will never be enough.

It took me years to recover from perfectionism. One of the most important things I have read, and continue to read, is this quote from Brené Brown:

“No matter what gets done, and how much is left undone, I am enough.”

Even though I have worked through my perfectionism, I still fall back into it at times, and need to be reminded of this often. Be reminded that my humanity, in all its inadequacy, is not shameful – but instead authentic and real and vulnerable and perfect.

Today two things happened.

My children went back to school after being home for two weeks of holidays.

And winter broke.

The longest goddamn miserable winter I can ever remember finally, finally broke in October. And it was glorious. 

And as I stared down the barrel at my list of things to get done today – because OH MY GOD THERE WAS SO MUCH LOST WORK TIME TO MAKE UP FOR NOW THAT HOLIDAYS WERE FINISHED – I couldn’t do it.

I was so drained, so tired, so worn down still from having spent the holidays meeting the needs of others. I needed to revel in the sunshine. I needed to be refreshed. I needed to be renewed. I needed child-like joy. I needed nature. I needed to live fully in the wonder of the day. So I came here, to my favourite place, and found life again.

Life is too short to be busy, and too beautiful to be missed. Leave behind the things that hold you to your busy, to your performing, to your need to be perfect, and live. No matter what gets done, and how much is left undone, you are enough.

Kathy x

And This Is How Survival Looks On You

And sometimes it is so hard to care for others when you can barely care for yourself. When you are tired in a way sleep will never ease. When the night goes too long and the morning comes too soon and you wonder where you will draw the strength to get through another day when there is nothing left in your drought-stricken bones.

You dress, make coffee, force a smile and hope nobody studies your eyes close enough to see the 4am loneliness that still lingers like tendrils of ivy that have crept in and wrapped themselves around your soul; relentless, incessant, determined.

You wear brave so well that nobody sees beyond the surface of your survival to the battle beneath. The way every day is another day on the frontline, no matter how exhausted and torn apart you already are. Nobody sees the fresh blood drawn from old wounds or the anguish in your muscles that are always on guard or how much it takes for you to get back up when your knees bleed from the crawl.

You do the best you can but it never feels enough. Every night inadequacy whispers its shame against your ear and soon your heart beats in time with its words. Failure. Disappointment. Hopeless. Weak. Useless. Incapable. All you ever wanted was to do better – to be better – than what was shown to you. But you feel as though you fall so short. That you let down those who need you. That you aren’t enough and never will be.

You’re so damn hard on yourself. As if it isn’t enough just to have survived this far. As if it isn’t enough to have found a way to stitch your broken pieces together when there was such little of yourself left. Instead, you’re so ashamed of not being straight lines and seamless joins and all you see are the jagged scars drawn across your body and your fingers trace over them like braille and to you they spell defeat.

Darling, let me tattoo truth inside your wrists so when you’ve forgotten who you are you need only look down. Undefeated. Worthy. Resilient. Strong. Courageous. Determined. Perfect. Enough. And if the light grows weak and the words fade before your eyes I will say them out loud and the letters will fall from my mouth and form a bridge that will lead you back to yourself once more.

You are so much more than you see. Your weakness intertwines with courage, your fear entangles bravery and your vulnerability is laced with strength. There is so much fortitude in the way you give all you have, even when you have nothing to give.

I know, today, you don’t believe me. I know today you are tired eyes and tear-stained pillows and battle scars etched upon your face. But all I ask is you look away from what you have come to believe about yourself and instead, look at me. Search my eyes for your reflection and in them you will see the truth.

That the way survival looks on you, my love, is nothing short of breathtaking.

Image courtesy




And she thought
to be accepted
she had to be good.
Follow the rules.
Do everything right.
Be perfect.
Keep them comfortable.
But good wasn’t real,
and she began to shrink
inside the lies of who
she pretended to be
until she became
so small her bones
crushed inside her frame
and she broke wide open,
scattered pieces laid bare
for the world to see.
A glorious destruction.
No longer hidden.
All of her naked.
Uncovered. Bleeding.
Real lost her many things.
But her soul it found.
And she would rather
walk alone in her
wondrous truth than
forfeit her real
for a scrap of their
shallow acceptance.

Find Me In The Space Between

Boho 2.jpgBetween who we pretend to be and who we think we should be there is a space where the truest version of ourselves exists.

We don’t often dwell in that space, but choose to exist on either side of it.

There is one side where we pretend to be someone we are not, where we project a false image of ourselves to others, believing that is what they want to see.

On the other side is where we spend our days striving to be better than, greater than, more than, because we believe the person in the space isn’t enough. 

Both sides exist because we are ashamed of the space between. The space where our mistakes live; our regrets, our sins, all the choices we have made that have hurt others or ourselves. The space where there is nowhere to hide our failures and all the ways we fall short, our flaws, our scars, our broken, our ugly, our messy. In this space we cannot fool ourselves with the false image we project to others. We cannot pretend to be anything more than what we are right now. We can only be real, raw, honest and authentic with ourselves.

Except, most of the time we would rather not be those things. We would rather cover the space with a bridge of lies that will carry us between who we want others to think we are and who we think we should be.

We don’t mean to lie, to deceive others, to pretend to be something we aren’t. But we’re ashamed of the space between, ashamed of our own inadequacy. We turn away from our truest selves because we are afraid to be seen – really seen. We are afraid of being exposed for what we are. We are afraid of rejection when acceptance is what our heart craves. But mostly we are afraid to discover that we were right all along, and our truest selves are unworthy of being loved.

The bravest thing we can do is choose to exist in the space between. To no longer pretend to be someone we are not. To no longer live as someone we think we should be. But to surrender to our authentic selves and to know we are worthy of love even in our darkest places, even in our unseen. To know we are enough as we are. To live inside all we fear that we may overcome. To embrace our broken, flawed, messy hearts and be reconciled back to our truest selves.

Because only when we choose to live from the space between can we ever truly live at all.

Image courtesy

How To Ditch The Diet Resolutions


Like every woman I know, I have spent much of my life in bondage to body-image issues. For years I have ridden the pendulum between self-hate and lukewarm self-acceptance, with an occasional fleeting moment of actual, true self-love.

But these moments have been hard to grasp, and before long I am pulled back into my frenzy of media-driven comparison, where I stand naked before the mirror, before my enemy. My gaze is thick with contempt and disgust as I stare at my flaws, my imperfections, at all I see that does not align with the image of the woman I am told is beauty.

She is beauty. I am not her. I am not beauty.

I stand up straighter and suck my stomach in to create an illusion of thinness I will never have. My stance widens in an effort to create a thigh gap, my shoulders pull back in the hope my breasts will take on a more youthful shape. I am sick with discontentment, dissatisfaction, with hopelessness and failure.

I look at the clothes in my wardrobe, clothes I have bought because I loved them. But they are clothes I put on, then rip off and throw on the floor. They do not look as good on me as they did on the size 6 mannequin in the shop window.

I am disgusted at myself, angry that I cannot be disciplined enough or focused enough to be skinny. Instead, I feel enormous in my size 12 body. Hot tears stream down my face. I am overwhelmed with guilt that I have eaten too much and not worked out enough. I am drowning in shame because my last New Year’s resolution was to have the perfect bikini body and as I stand here I’m nowhere near it. Not even close.

I hate the woman in the mirror. She is not perfect. She is not beautiful. I promise myself no more wine. No more Cherry Ripes. Start to think about how many meals I could skip each day before I would lack the required energy. How I would fit a couple of hours of exercise into my day. I make my 2017 New Years resolution, to have the perfect bikini body by next summer, and mentally I begin a checklist of all I need to sacrifice and how much I will need to strive to make this happen.

Already I am exhausted with the energy it takes to hate my body, to punish it. The more I hate it, the more I unwittingly focus on it. The more I obsess over it. The more it takes me away from what I am passionate about, from the achievement of my goals and dreams. The more energy I put into hating my body, the less energy I have to enjoy my life. I am at war with myself once again, and in that moment, I realise it’s a battle I no longer want to fight.

I look at my body again, except this time I make myself see its strength. The way it conceived, nurtured and grew four babies. The pain it was able to endure at the birth of those babies. The way it nourished those babies countless for hours, months, years at its breast. I see all it is capable of, the life and joy it brings me. It can swim, surf, kayak, run on the beach. It can play games of basketball and cricket in the backyard and mountain bike ride up and down hills. It can stretch, bend and twist in yoga, hold a plank for 2 minutes and 36 seconds, and can do cartwheels and handstands on the grass with my children. As Taryn Brumfitt, founder of the The Body Image Movement, says: my body is not an ornament to be looked at, but the vehicle to my dreams.

In her recent documentary, Embrace, we see the journey Taryn has taken to not only learn to love her own body, but empower other women to do the same. We see the mother of three’s struggle with her post-baby body, and how she believed cosmetic surgery was the quick fix she needed to find happiness.

Until she looked at her daughter and realised how much it broke her heart to think that her choice to change her body would set her daughter up to want to change hers too, and what kind of message was she giving to her daughter about her body? She was unable to go through with the surgery, but was still left with a body she hated.

Desperate to know what the perfect body felt like, she entered a body building contest, and for 15 weeks trained until she had the perfect body. Taryn stood on stage knowing she had made it. But she wasn’t happy. It had been too much time, too much energy, too much sacrifice, too much obsession. It wasn’t worth it. Taryn’s entire mindset changed, and she set out on her quest to learn to love and embrace her body exactly as it was.

I recently watched Embrace. I watched as beautiful women shared their beliefs about themselves. That they are disgusting, too fat, too ugly, need smaller thighs, bigger breasts, a flatter stomach. That they are not enough just as they are. I cried for them, and I cried for me. For the culture we live in that defines what we must be in order to be beautiful. The lies. So many lies.

Because, as Taryn points out, we are only shown one type of woman. She is young, flawless, perfect, blonde haired, blue eyed. She is not real. She is Photoshopped to a level of perfection that will never be attainable. We kill ourselves to be like her. We compare ourselves to her. We do not see our own beauty, for we are too consumed with worshipping hers. When all the while, our beauty lies beyond measure, unnoticed by our critical gaze.

We believe the lie that thinner is better. We suffocate under the pressure to be hot, no matter what our age or circumstance.To be young and hot. To be pregnant and hot. To be postpartum and hot. To be a mother and hot, a cougar and hot. It’s no longer uncommon for women in their 30’s and 40’s to battle eating disorders that once affected mostly teens and women in their 20’s. The spectrum is so much wider now and nobody is immune, from 50 year-old women being pressured to be the new 30 — because God forbid they look their age — to over 50 percent of 5-12 year old girls who believe they need to lose weight.

And as parents of these daughters, we are frantic with not knowing how to shield our girls from the onslaught of media and advertising, as well as the sexualisation of their bodies from such a young age. They are bombarded with messages at every turn. Thin is sexy. Thin is beautiful. Thin is what will make boys like me and girls want to be like me.

Being thin has become their measure of success. Who can eat the least? Who can exercise the most? The thinnest girl wins. And it is utterly heart breaking that this is what our girls face, and what most will succumb to in order to find their acceptance and their worth.

How do we change this?

In the words of Taryn, we embrace.

We stand before the mirror and see the beauty of our bodies, we see them for the strength they possess, for all they are capable of, for all they do for us, and we thank our bodies for how amazing they are, for being the vehicle to our dreams.

We embrace our flaws, knowing the moment we do that, we will no longer judge others for theirs, and we will find ourselves at a place of peace. We stop comparing ourselves to what we see in the media, and to each other. “It’s not about us versus them. It’s about women coming together and saying we’re all beautiful, let’s work together, let’s show the world we can be beautiful together.” ~ Taryn Brumfitt.

We speak to ourselves the way we would speak to another woman, the way we would speak to our daughters. You are beautiful. You are perfect as you are. You are more than just a body. You are strong, brave, intelligent, creative, a life-giver, a universal force, a complete miracle of creation, the very essence of all that is feminine in this world. We say these words out loud and believe them in our minds, embed them in our hearts.

We nurture our bodies with good food to fuel us, we run and jump and play and move because it makes us feel better to do so, we do things that bring us life, bring us joy. And then we eat a piece of cake that our kids make for us and pour a glass of wine with our friends and enjoy the balance that is paramount to a healthy life.

We do not waste another day of our lives being at war with our bodies, and instead we love them. And then we take all the time and energy we spent on hating our bodies, and we use it to instead do what matters. We use it to contribute. We use it to accomplish. We use it to make a difference, to make change. We use it to become the people we were made to be, before the media told us who we were supposed to be.

We take the New Years resolution of the perfect bikini body and laugh in the face of it. We are already beautiful, because we get to define beauty. We get to call out the lies of our culture and rewrite truth on our hearts, and on the hearts of our daughters. There are no prerequisites to beauty. It is not measured by a size, by a number, or by comparison to another.

Beauty is ours the moment we choose to embrace it.

Originally published on HuffPost

Trading The Hustle For The Silence

Brooke Cagle.jpg
Image courtesy Brooke Cagle via

“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness” ~ Brene Brown

As I have settled into November, settled into a month where I have put aside freelance writing and blogging to work solely on my novel, there is one thing that has stood out the most for me.

The silence.

The silence that comes with not hustling for my worthiness.

Because in this digital age, this is freelance writing – the fight to be heard, the struggle to be seen, the relentless pursuit of views, shares, readers, followers.

It is busy, it is noisy, it is exhausting.

I have found myself relieved to come away from that, surprised to find how much more I am able to breathe. But in the silence that has been November, I have also struggled to keep hold of my worthiness. Because it is easy to justify my existence when my articles are being published; better yet, when they are going viral. It proves I am worthy to call myself a writer. It proves the hours I spend in front of my computer are valuable, warranted, not just time wasted on a self-indulgent hobby.

It proves I have what it takes.

But in the silence, when I write, and I write, and I write, without any proof of this, without any publication, without any affirmation, I panic that my existence – that what I do – is not justified. That I have readers, followers, people who support me because of what I write; and yet, here in November, here in the silence, I write no words to be seen, and I wonder if I let people down, if I fail, if I need to show somehow that I am still validated to hold a space in the lives of others.

And so I struggle with the ambivalence of November – on the one hand, the silence being a welcome comfort. On the other hand the way it unnerves me, agitates me. Like two strangers face to face in awkward reticence, I feel as though I need to fill the quiet space with some kind of clang and clatter.

But instead, I choose to look down, and continue in my silence. Try to remember my worth is not based on any prerequisites. Try to remember my existence is justified because I am being, not because I am doing. Try to remember the long term dream the silence allows me to work toward, how much that dream means to me, how much closer I am for the silence.

The hustle can be all-consuming if we allow it to be.

We must find a way to be comfortable in the silence, to rest in knowing no matter what gets done, or what doesn’t get done, we are enough.

In the silence we must come to understand our worthiness is not based on how hard we hustle for it, but in how willing we are to embrace it.


PS – Thanks to everyone who has asked how I am after laser eye surgery <3

My recovery has been slow, a few post-op complications, but a week later I’m doing much better. I went for a run last night and could see every. single. blade. of. grass, as well as birds on the swamp, hills in the distance and the Mt Benson tower which is 10kms away.

My close-range vision is taking some time to adjust which makes computer work frustrating as I have to rest my eyes quite often. It’s slowed my writing progress down quite some, however, mid-November and I’m over halfway to my NaNoWriMo word count goal – further along than I’d hoped to be at this point – so here’s hoping next week I’ll be full steam into it again!

Why I Will No Longer Be A 24-Hour Woman

Photo by Brooke Cagle via
It’s 2pm on a Friday afternoon.

I count the productive minutes left in my day before my children are home.

Ninety minutes. Ninety minutes. 

My fingers tap against the desk. I need to write, dates and deadlines approach too fast and the heartbeat in my ears sounds more like the second hand of a clock. My eyes sting. I stifle a yawn and tell myself it’s too late in the day for another coffee. I waste minutes as I watch geese shuffle past the window in their clumsy line.

I came back Sunday from my Writers’ Festival weekend wrecked, but with no moment to catch my breath before being propelled into the week ahead.

The need to submit two more articles to Elephant Journal this week. That makes 8. If their writers submit 8 articles in one month they are eligible to receive some kind of payment. Eligible. As in, not even guaranteed. It relies on how many views my articles generate, and whether that helps them grow their readership as a whole. Otherwise they receive a complimentary annual subscription. Which is swell, given I’ve already paid my annual subscription. #writerslife

The need to plan a workshop and presentation for Literacy Week. The need to write some articles for HuffPost. The need to write an article on PTSD for a journal awaiting my submission. The need to plan words, plan scenes, plan time to write my novel-in-progress. The need to pay bills, do housework, pull weeds, plant vegetables. The long term projects around the house and farm that will have to wait.

Then mid-week the husband decides he wants to lamb-mark this week before the rain. Which means drop everything and cook food. Lots of it. Because for the rest of the week, not only will I have to feed four growing children, but also four fully grown, working, hungry men.

And so my week since has involved mornings spent wading through muddy sheep yards and marking lambs, a couple of hours of writing time grasped in the afternoon before school finishes, the rest of the day in the kitchen baking copious amounts of food, making dinner, preparing lunches, helping with homework, doing chores, sorting and folding washing, cranking the fires, feeding the animals, and this week preparation for piano exams thrown in there too.

When the evenings have slowed down I have reached for a glass of wine, somehow synonymous with calling it a day, and fallen onto the couch. Except, I don’t call it a day. I remember messages I need to reply to, emails I need to return, plans I need to confirm. I try to fool myself into the belief that sitting on the couch with a glass of wine is conducive to relaxation time, but as my fingers quick-fire against my phone and I engage in virtual conversations I’m too tired to have, I know this isn’t true.

Eventually all four kids are in bed. I tell myself I should write for another hour, but instead  berate myself as I inch upstairs, the promise of writing tomorrow night vague upon my tongue. I wash and moisturise, brush and floss, check everyone is asleep, then force myself to read one chapter of my book, which I’m too tired to absorb and will have to re-read anyway.

Tomorrow the alarm will go off at 6.30am, and I will do it all again.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina via
I recently read an article by Kristi Coulter, The Real Reason Why Women Drink , that confronted and challenged me. Yes, it was ultimately about why women are compelled to drink. No, I’m not ready to delve into my own psychological demons about that one just yet.

But she makes reference to the 24-hour woman, which I thought of again today after I went to bed too late, woke up too tired, and have struggled to work this afternoon, too exhausted. She writes,

“We can’t afford to act like it’s okay that ‘Girls can do anything!’ got translated somewhere along the line to ‘Women must do everything.’ We can’t afford to live lives we have to fool our central nervous systems into tolerating. We can’t afford to be 24-hour women.”

The 24-hour woman. I am her. She is me. And she is in the faces of most women I know as we hurry past one another, shopping in one hand, children in the other, both eyes on the clock. We are scheduled, organized, programmed, committed.

And we are exhausted.

We’re tired of not taking an hour off. We’re tired of striving to accomplish more than we can fit into each day. Tired of working as hard as any man for less pay and recognition. Tired of running our houses, running our businesses, raising our families, building our careers, and feeling the pressure to do it all with shaved legs, shaped eyebrows and three days a week at the gym.

We’re tired of the lie that women can do it all, and should do it all, and there’s something wrong with us if we don’t do it all.

But most of all, we’re tired with ourselves for perpetuating the lie in our desperate pursuit of being that woman.

Because if we’re not that woman, then we have failed.

It’s time to call bullshit.

It’s time to realise our limitations do not diminish us, they preserve us.

It’s time to allow ourselves some much needed grace.

It’s time to no longer give power to the lie of the 24-hour woman, and instead claim the power back for ourselves.

I’m not sure yet how that will look for me, or how it will feel or how it will sound. Maybe at first it will stick a little in my throat, maybe it will feel like an unfamiliar stranger or a new pair of shoes that don’t quite feel right, and I’ll feel a little clunky and unsure of myself.

I don’t know.

I just know tonight I’ll pour another glass of wine and not think about the reasons behind it and wake up tomorrow and do it all again.

But then maybe I’ll remember I no longer want to be a 24-hour woman.

And maybe, dammit, I’ll put on my new pair of shoes and learn how to walk in them.