Art Matters.

IMG_8945.JPG

It’s hard to write today.

It’s hard to not feel like my work is pointless. That anything I write at this time is futile. That I have nothing significant or relevant to add to the already overcrowded media sphere.

I am struggling to find meaning in what I write; instead I sit here finding ways to both avoid and appease my inadequacy.

Not wanting to read headlines yet not being able to look away.

With all that is transpiring in the world I feel heavy and burdened; and anxious. It is hard to focus, to find creativity and any kind of joy or satisfaction in my work.

It’s hard to believe it matters.

But it does.

And I think this is what we need to remember in the midst of such volatile and unsettling times. The best art comes from authentic truth-telling. People who can create from the depths of turmoil; who can both preserve the moment and make us see the beauty that still exists within in.

More than ever during these hard times, creatives need to create. We need to bear witness to the human spirit which radiates through these seemingly impossible times. It’s often difficult; we are the empaths who carry the suffering of the world too close to our hearts. We find it hard to confront such suffering; to not be affected to such a degree we can no longer function ourselves.

But if we can find a way to hold these moments; to feel them, to carry them, to create beauty from destruction, then we leave not just a memory, but a legacy that generations who follow will hold even closer.

It matters.

The Audacity of Authenticity

240_F_135588914_IM8YzDfh7jx4gDk97Z8EmYI1Gup51Ja9

Let’s talk about authenticity.

So much of what I write is to challenge, and empower, and push against the system of both religion and patriarchy which women have been forced to live under; to speak words that those who have upheld this system may find uncomfortable, or unacceptable.

I don’t believe there’s any need to shock, or be shocking. But I do believe in the importance of challenging perceptions which have led to repression and injustice. If my words offend people, I couldn’t care less. I’m not here to play small to enable those around me to feel more at ease with their narrow-minded thinking.

But here’s the thing when we push against the system. Sometimes, it pushes back: Can you believe what she wrote? Did you see what she posted? What gives her the right to think she can say those things? What will her family think?

How dare she be so honest, raw, real, unapologetic?

HOW DARE SHE NOT CONFORM.

This is essentially what authenticity is. The act of not conforming. Refusing to forfeit your personal power for the approval of others. Brené Brown says this on authenticity: that it’s not so much the act of authenticity that challenges the status quo, but the audacity of authenticity.

Authenticity is threatening to those who live in conformity. Who live in fear of what others will think of them. It’s far easier to gossip about those who live in authenticity than to risk being the one who is gossiped about. It’s far easier to slander those who challenge our insecurities than dare to question why it makes us feel uncomfortable. People will rarely tolerate the freedom in others they choose to deny for themselves.

But to live authentically is to live in freedom. To live our truth, to speak our truth, free from the fear of what others will think, or say about us. It requires us to be vulnerable, courageous and resilient. It requires us to step beyond our comfort zone and no longer play it safe. But it’s only here, when we live in this freedom, will we be unafraid to challenge and dismantle the systems of conformity and repression that have controlled us for long enough, and empower others to do the same.

No. Means. Motherfucking. No.

podcast-2.jpg

Here’s the thing.

No. Means. Motherfucking. No.

When someone claims to love you, but continues to violate your boundaries, they do not love you.

When someone says you are safe with them, but continues to violate your boundaries, you are not safe with them.

When someone tells you they would never seek to control or manipulate you, but continues to violate your boundaries, they are seeking to control and manipulate you.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s family, a friend or a lover. If you have drawn a line around yourself and someone continues to disregard that line to gratify their own needs, that person does not belong in your life.

It doesn’t matter how nice that person may seem. Or how well-intentioned they say they are. Or how much they tell you they love you. There is no excuse or justification for intentionally and wilfully disrespecting the boundaries another person has put in place to feel safe. Even if they don’t understand. Even if they don’t agree.

Too often, abuse survivors who have had their boundaries violated from a young age struggle to put necessary, appropriate and healthy boundaries in place as adults. We grow up feeling powerless, voiceless, and not worthy of being protected. We also grow up as chronic people-pleasers, seeking the affirmation and validation we lacked as a child, making it easy to disregard our own needs for the needs of others in order to be accepted.

We believe being NICE and KIND means people will love us. We believe being NICE and KIND means having to be okay with people violating our boundaries. We believe being NICE and KIND means having to tolerate people in our life who are toxic. We believe being NICE and KIND means never being able to say no, or speak up about how we feel, or have our needs met.

It doesn’t.

We can be NICE and KIND and still be worthy to be seen and heard, and still be worthy of respect, and still be worthy of standing up for ourselves, and still be worthy of saying no, and still be worthy of putting boundaries in place, and still be worthy of having those boundaries honoured.

And when we’re done being NICE and KIND and people in our lives still refuse to accept or respect the boundaries we’ve put in place, we can in turn be NICE and KIND to ourselves by telling those people to fuck off, and doing what we need to ensure they are no longer part of our lives.

We are never responsible for the reactions of those who have chosen not to respect us.

We never need to apologise for choosing to love, honour, respect and put ourselves first.

We never need to believe we aren’t worthy to determine how we deserve to be treated, and demand nothing less from those around us.

“No is a necessary magic. No draws a circle around you with chalk and says, I have given enough” – Boundaries

There Is Nothing Easy About Breaking Generational Cycles

Girl-Walking-in-Dry-Grain-Field-Sunlights-HD-Wallpaper--NatureWallBase.Blogspot.Com.jpg

There is nothing easy about breaking generational cycles. The responsibility of change carried in your often-weary arms. The battle to not only heal your own wounds, but also to not inflict those same wounds upon others. The overcoming of all that has come before you, the defeating of all that still tries to find its way back in.

It is heavy work. Back-breaking work. Thankless work. Exhausting work. It is scraped knees and blistered hands. Faces marred with sweat and tears. It is lost sleep and unheard prayers and always wondering if it is enough. If WE are enough. To do this. To be this catalyst for change.

But, dear woman, see? See the work you have already done. See the dirt under your fingernails; the way your hands have worked callous earth that fresh seeds could be planted; these fields now swollen with new birth, the promise of abundant harvest whispered to you beneath the warmth of this early summer sun.

See all you have already accomplished with the empty hands you were given. See how much stronger you are for the hard work; the straightness of your spine, the way your chin does not yield. How sure and tall you stand upon this land once covered in weeds.

You have been given the work because it is you who has what it takes to complete it. It is you who has the fire of determination in your stomach, the strength in your bones, the persistence and will to keep going pulsing inside every fibre of your being.

It is you who forged your way through unholy ground where others have feared to tread. It is you who remains unflinching and courageous; the heart of a lion and the spirit of a warrior burning inside you. It is you; headstrong and uncompromising, who will not rest until the work is finished.

I know these days of planting have been long, and hard. But see the way the light has shifted; the way the shadows have become less, days stretching out beneath beams of warmth and hope.

Dear woman, I know there is nothing easy about breaking generational cycles.

But see?

The harvest is near. The harvest is near.

First, The Breaking. Then The Becoming.

alone-girl-walk-alone-beauty.jpg

“Transformation isn’t sweet and bright. It’s a dark and murky, painful pushing. An unravelling of the untruths you’ve carried in your body. A practice in facing your own demons. A complete uprooting, before becoming.” ~ Victoria Erickson

Here’s the thing about breaking.

You never heal the same.

You can never go back to the person you used to be, nor fit in the spaces you once thought you belonged. There will always be resistance. A defiance in your spirit. A sense of being out of place. A pulling back to your true north.

The breaking can be a lonely time; the healing, even more so. Islands of isolation and seclusion during times you feel too vulnerable to face the world. Feeling lost and homesick; no longer the person you once were, yet not knowing which road will lead you to the person you’re still becoming.

But this I have come to know:

I would rather the loneliness than living a life I no longer align with. I would rather move forward on my own than force myself to fit into places that have become too small for me. I would rather exist as an island living true to my authentic self than compromise who I am becoming just so another can hold me in the spaces they desire me to stay inside of.

The path back to ourselves is not an easy one. It is an unlearning of the people we have been taught to be. A falling away of the lives we have sought to live. It is a letting go. A surrender. A grieving. It is the breaking apart of all we once thought to be true, and real.

But with the breaking comes the healing; eventually the transformation.

And then, the becoming.

Dear Mother Who is Struggling

181031-depression-mn-1030_b9a9760c62bf89faaf1ca3f488b41c00.fit-760w

Dear Mother Who is Struggling,

I know you haven’t been yourself lately.

I see it in the way your eyes no longer carry the light the way they used to, their colour faded. Your frown lines have deepened, outnumbering the lines of laughter that once etched the sides of your face, back when your joyful smile would reach that far, back when your shoulders were straight and the weight of your tiredness didn’t pull you down.

You love your babies, I know you do.

But this is hard. And you are tired. So damn tired.

And maybe this is what adds to the tiredness; the guilt that you shouldn’t feel this way. You wonder if you’re the only mother out there who feels so isolated, so alone, so exhausted. Or do they all have these villages you hear of – support networks of family and friends who share the burden of raising a family, while you wake up each morning and wonder how you will get through another day on your own?

There was a world you used to belong to, and you grieve it. It’s there in front of you, every day, on social media – there, in the radiant faces of other women as they go about their lives, their holidays, gym classes, dates, promotions. You wonder how, in a world so connected, you are left feeling so goddamn disconnected from it all.

Surrounded by little people, noise, clutter, you find yourself lonelier than ever. But it’s not a loneliness from being alone. It’s a loneliness that comes from being so far from yourself, so far from who you once were. You don’t even know who that is anymore. You feel as though you’ve traded your whole identity to be a mother. Sacrificed your entire life to care for those around you. This is all you know now. This is all your life has become.

You miss the woman you once were, and the life you once had.

You long for independence, spontaneity, to be carefree. For road trips and dinner dates and live music and nights out in the city. For beach days and lazy Sundays in bed and to read a book, uninterrupted. Drained, you yearn for the things that bring nurture to your tired body and soul as you force yourself through another day on the remnants of what you have left to give.

I know this is hard. But take heart, dear one.

It won’t always be this way. It won’t always be so hard. Days will get easier. There will be more moments to be still, to breathe, more moments to laugh again. There will be more moments where you can reach inside and find the misplaced pieces of the woman you used to be, and the days will begin to feel less lonely as you journey back to your own heart.

I know you think the way you struggle makes you a failure. That because of this, you fall short and aren’t enough. Don’t believe these lies. Be gentle on your heart, for every day you face the hardest job, alone, and you make it through. No matter how impossible it seems, you don’t give up. You show up, and continue to do the best with what you have.

And some days that may not seem like enough. But every day, you continue to love. And that will always be more than enough. I know this is hard. But for now, this is all you need to know.

This too shall pass.

And when you close your eyes tonight, write those words on the back of your eyelids, and let them fall away toward your heart and kiss it with the hope that will get you through your tomorrows.

You may not feel it today, but I promise you, my love – you’ve got this.

Let Them Throw Stones

Nobody has the right to judge you.

Nobody has the right to hold you prisoner to your mistakes when they don’t know a damn thing about the choices you had to choose from and how hard you fought just to survive.

Nobody has the right to shame you for your humanity. To deny you the right to be human. To deny you the grace of the human condition that sees us all fuck up at times and learn from that and do better.

Nobody has the right to take away your redemption. To take every damn drop of blood poured for your healing, your growth, your change, your becoming, and make it worth nothing.

We are not held captive to our yesterdays, to the person we once were when we knew no better. We are not bound by our mistakes, to the ways we hurt others when our hearts were hurting so damn much inside our fragile chests. We are not defined by our rock bottom, when nobody knows what it has taken us to claw our way out to become the person we are today.

We are not our past.

We are not our shame.

Nobody has the right to judge the heart they do not know.

Your heart is beautiful; made new with each day you have woken and determined to do better. You are worthy. You are deserving. You are everything they will never be.

Forgiveness, grace, second chances: these are the things we offer other humans when we understand the frailty of our own humanity. When we understand that mercy always triumphs over judgement. This is how we offer love.

There will always be those who throw stones.

Let them.

For their feet will forever be bound by the shore, destined to watch as you, my darling, become the ocean.

The Fear of Abundance

img_5582

You’re so scared of abundance, aren’t you?

You’re so scared to be everything you long to be.

You know it’s there. It burns within you; your purpose, your calling. It burns and you feel it when you’re alone and your soul is connected to the universe and in those moments you are an unstoppable force. In those moments your heart cracks open with the beauty of all you are and it cannot be contained within you and you know this is who you were meant to be.

You long to step into your destiny and make that your home. But when you emerge from the quiet shadow of your solitude, the fire is smothered by a fear you can’t let go of; scared of what they might think of you, what they might say about you, of being misunderstood, ridiculed. And so you shrink yourself, bend yourself, shape yourself, mould yourself into something you think is more palatable to the world.

And then wonder why you feel as though you never fit, why you never find your place, why nowhere feels like home.

You were made for so much more than you allow yourself to be.

You must be brave, beloved. Be fearless in the pursuit of your destiny. Find your place. You will never be too much for this world. Do not fear abundance, but allow the overflow of your life to spill into the world. Allow beauty and creativity and kindness and love to flow mightily.

Let go of the fear you are too much.

Instead, go set the souls of the world alight with the radiance of your all-consuming fire.

An Apology Without Change Is Just Manipulation

beautiful-young-teen-girl-in-deep-thoughts-sitting-near-window.jpg

An apology without change is just manipulation.

For many of us, it has taken years to learn how to place healthy boundaries in our lives. Growing up, our boundaries were consistently violated; from this we learned our needs were not important, that our no’s did not mean no. We have spent the majority of our lives unheard, unseen, and believing our fundamental right to feel safe is unimportant.

Therefore boundaries, for us, become even more critical. Yet we often still struggle to stand firm in our boundaries. We will often be the ones who bend easily; who allow people closer than we feel comfortable, who shift the lines to accommodate the needs of others over our own needs, who give too many chances and accept too many apologies. We are still learning to trust the sound of our no, and the power contained within it.

But when we put a boundary in place, then allow another to cross that boundary, we dishonour ourselves. Often, we allow it out of good intention; genuine love and care of another. Regardless, we allow it because we have chosen to believe our need to feel safe is not as important as their need to be seen. To believe our needs are not valid or important. That WE are not valid and important.

We feel this dishonour in ourselves; the violation deep in our core. And often we will work hard to reaffirm the boundary, only to be disarmed with an apology. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. You’re seen and heard. I’ll respect and honour your needs. You’re safe here.

But an apology without change is just manipulation.

Honouring ourselves means honouring the boundaries we have put in place. It means standing firm in our truth, demanding respect and refusing to accept less than this. No matter how nice or caring or well-intentioned a person may be, if they consistently choose to disregard our boundaries in a way that leaves us feeling unheard, unseen, unsafe or disrespected, then the relationship is not a healthy one.

When we choose to respect and honour our needs we are no longer powerless. We send a message to the world that says, this is what I will accept, and nothing less. We choose to take back everything that has been taken from us. We choose to believe we are worthy of being heard and seen.

We choose ourselves.

Why I’ve Learned To Trust My Nervous System Over My Heart

women_brunette_women_outdoors_dress_brown_eyes_long_hair_looking_away_standing-1203588.jpg!d.jpg

One thing I’ve learned in the last while is the most accurate reflection of our truth is not found within our mind, or heart, but in our autonomic nervous system; the system of our body which rests outside voluntary control.

Meaning, it cannot lie.

It is our nervous system which communicates emotions to our entire body. Ongoing suppressed emotions like anger, stress, fear, frustration etc cause overload to our nervous system, creating imbalance and chaos which, if left unchecked, leaves us in a state of fight-or-flight mode where we remain until we choose to deal with these emotions.

For me, the suppression of emotions has always manifested as fibromyalgia. Studies show women who suffer trauma or abuse in their childhood are 65 times more likely to develop fibromyalgia, citing abuse as the leading cause. It’s often classed as a mystery illness; as in, doctors cannot find an actual cause, nor a cure. Which makes perfect sense, if you look at fibro not as a physical disease, but the physical response of the nervous system to negative emotion.

It doesn’t matter that I am now no longer in a situation of abuse or trauma, my body’s response to ongoing stress or negative emotion is still the same.

It doesn’t matter how clean I eat, whether I exercise, get enough sunshine or sleep or how much self-care I allow myself in a physical sense; if my life is unbalanced in an emotional sense – whether that’s too much stress, a situation that is causing a negative emotional response, a relationship in my life that is no longer healthy, whatever – my nervous system will always respond with chronic pain because it cannot differentiate the different types of stress, only that the negative emotions in my life today mirror the same negative emotions in my childhood, therefore the response of the nervous system is the same even if the circumstances are not.

It doesn’t matter what I tell my heart and mind – that I’ve got this under control, that I can manage, that I’m not that stressed, that a relationship in my life is healthy even though I know it compromises my values or boundaries or the person I choose to be. My nervous system knows better. And whenever I have a fibromyalgia flare-up, I know I need to examine what it is in my life that does not belong there or does not align with my authentic self.

It’s easy to want to resent our nervous system when we suffer these flare-ups. Instead, we need to learn to listen to what our body is trying to tell us. We need to learn to identify the stress, or the suppressed emotion, or what it is in our life that is causing misalignment. And once identified, work through those emotions, or take action to change the things in our lives we know have no place there.

The nervous system is a gift, if we can learn to surrender to its wisdom and honour its place in our journey to healing and wholeness.