Eat, Pray, Love. (Whatever.)

Holy Smokes – it’s been 9 months since I last blogged! (Note to reader: all my posts start with such an exclamation because I’m the worst, most inconsistent blogger in the history of bloggers the world over so it really is no longer a valid introduction and I shall cease – henceforth.)

I’m sort of back and wondering just how on earth to re-gain my mojo after withdrawing from the Social Media scene (and pretty much all life as we know it) for a significant period of time.

Even as I type I’m trying to decide what angle to come at this because SO MUCH has happened yet when applying the bigger picture….not much has happened! Hence the silence on the blog front. I had nothing to write about. Literally nothing. I hit a big fat rut where I went to work and I came home and I participated in the mandatory aspects of life when I really preferred to just not. The days turned into weeks, the weeks rolled into months and I slowly realized that my life was becoming a blur of work and sleep. I was not participating well in this thing called life and I grew a little despondent. (Side bar: I grew a lot despondent. I watched episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. And I enjoyed it. There. I said it. Forgive me Father for I have surely strayed from the path of the sane & logical….) 

I was never going to publicly admit or put down on paper that I was battling my own version of anxiety and depression. Name a reason, I thought it. “What will people think? How humiliating. I always preach a message of joy in the Lord and contentment – where the hell is my joy & contentment? I’ve never struggled with it before. Hormones? Yep. Anxiety? Absolutely not. I’m way to old to fall into that now. I don’t have anything to be depressed about, I have a great life. Sure, I have flat days but I’m not that flat that I can’t function….” until I realized that I actually wasn’t functioning well. And for someone that doesn’t like to fail….hello cycle of vicious anxiety. Some mornings I would sit on the edge of my bed after a shower, unable to get dressed and willing my heart to stop pounding & racing, simply at the thought of having to engage in life. I would have hot flushes in the middle of business meetings where my palms would sweat and my brain would scramble mid-sentence, thought or idea. Most days I would fall into bed at night exhausted from doing the bare minimum of living. Sound melodramatic? I have a pretty accommodating personality but If I had a pet peeve it would be unnecessary drama in every day life – and suddenly this was my reality and my very own private hell.

(Gee whizikers….this post took a turn when I started typing…let’s roll with it shall we and see where it goes?!)

What I didn’t realize was that because I had never experienced this before, it was very situational and with time & with the right input and the right people around my life – this wasn’t a life sentence. Healing would come. The lights would come back on, my heart would no longer race at random and inconvenient moments, interest in the world around me would spark once again and dreams for the future would be restored.

Can I tell you one of the most frustrating things well meaning people said during this time in my life? “Just do what makes you happy. You need to look after you.”  Can I just take a moment to respectfully address this concept?

Fact: I was kind of depressed. Fact: I was extremely vulnerable therefore my feelings got hurt very easily. Fact: Life was no longer engaging. It was passing me by.

The thought of living a life with the only end goal being ‘do what makes me happy and look after me’ was entirely & utterly depressing. Every time someone said it, I would go home and cry my heart out. Sure, I understood the general sentiment. But every time I did something that was not for me, that was outward focused, I would be cautioned by a well meaning soul that I needed to slow down and think about myself.

Do you know how long I had already spent thinking about myself? I’ll tell you. A lot of time. To much time. I was consumed by my own hurts and feelings and sending myself kind of batty.

Sure, my life could do with some more adventure – I did have a tendency to be performance oriented and work a bit hard.  Taking a Cooking or Samba Class would certainly bring a smile to my face and bring an element of joy, a welcome break in a busy week but to what end? I was lacking a sense of purpose. I had gotten knocked off course and a 12 week cooking class absorbed in the world of butter, vinaigrette’s and pickled jams wasn’t going to resolve that or fill the void.

And if we are going to get philosophical, there had to be more to life than just being happy, right? If there wasn’t, then what the hell had I been doing for the last 37 years? Even though I knew it was not their intent, every time someone said it to me it felt like a slap in the face and kind of invalidated all my experiences and my life choices to date. Experiences that actually had brought me a great deal of joy and contentment. I created a narrative in my mind that said ‘these people think I’m a push over and that I have no will power or ability to make good life choices’. 

Let me share with you some of the wise advice I didn’t know I needed until it was delivered by some of the best people I know. It is somewhat contrary to what all the self help books are telling the kids these days but it catapulted me out of myself and back into the land of the living.

I didn’t know I needed some fiercely loving but firm words of truth to pull me out of where I was at and to help me see that some of the thinking patterns about myself were unhealthy. It takes guts and love for someone to see your despair and be willing to speak truth into your life despite the risk of you alienating them. Once the horror of truly being seen had washed over me and the immediate spark of anger out of self preservation had subsided, I sat down and took stock.  There was truth in their words and I needed to participate in the process of change. I didn’t know I needed encouragement that I wasn’t a total failure, that I was needed and valued and even wanted. And I needed it consistently even though my pride would argue otherwise. Where there is truth – there must be love. And I was getting both in spades. I didn’t know I needed someone to tell me ‘Kath, you have more to offer this life. You have something to give and only you can give it.’ Deep calls unto deep. Telling me just to be happy only validated my fear that I didn’t have anything else of value to offer this life. I didn’t know I needed to be reminded that God had a plan and no amount of heartache or drama or self imposed sanctions could knock that off course. As Lisa Bevere so aptly says ‘If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this. You, my beautiful friend, are not that powerful.’ I didn’t know I needed to be told that there was the time & grace to heal and that this wasn’t forever. I had time. Better days were coming, my future was bright. It was time to begin to unpack all the chaos going on internally and allow someone to speak into that and allow God to get in and around my heart.

That is not to discount professional help. If you need help – sit down with your Doctor and start the process. Coming off the back of a 12 month long illness, I was aware that my lack of physical health had contributed to the downward spiral in my mental health. These things can’t be messed around with. But I also knew I needed to start talking again and dealing with the heart issues.

We live in a world that has created such a strong sense of self preservation, for fear of not measuring up or for fear of getting hurt or simply because we have been doing it on our own for so long, its hard to let go and trust. We can default to ‘doing only what makes us happy’. But happy is a feeling. We can’t always be happy. We can’t replace trouble, grief or heartache chasing fleeting moments of happy. If we could, then my habit of emotional eating would have successfully filled the void a long time ago! These things must be felt, acknowledged and dealt with so we can move through to the other side. Life is happening and it’s full of challenges and ups and downs and happiness 24/7 is simply not attainable.

However peace is. Peace in the eye of the storm. It’s something I’m still working towards because that means absolute reliance in my ever loving Creator instead of in my self.

Do you know what else is achievable? Finding purpose. Finding a reason to lift your eyes from your self and to invest into the life of another. We were never created to be lone rangers – relationships is where it’s at. You may not always ‘feel’ happy – but you will experience and actively participate in this thing called life. You will overcome challenges, you will find joy & contentment, you will experience heartache and sadness, you will develop resilience, you will learn new things and you will do it with people you love and who love you.

Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

P.S – apparently in the scenario above I’m taking a cooking class with the CWA. Which could explain why the concept did not bring me joy. Note to self : Dream Bigger.

Kath x

Status: Single.

Listen up my Singleton Friends, this one is for you.

I’ve had so many interesting conversations with my fellow citizens of Single Town this past couple of weeks that I decided ‘Status: Single’ was going to be my next blog post. It’s an #awkward one because you can only write about what you know so if you aren’t a fan of the TMI then click the little at the top of the screen now cos this one gets a little bit personal and don’t tell me I didn’t warn you….

I am single. SURPRISE! Said nobody that I know. Ever. Except the girl who does my nails. She asks me every time I go in there. Which is roughly every 3 weeks. I can feel her disappointment & concern seeping through her handy work into the very foundation of my nail beds.

I am not a Nun. SURPRISE! Said a lot of people. As a Single Christian Woman at the tender age of 35 ½ years, it appears to come as a surprise to many that I am neither pining for a husband nor given up and married myself to the church. Or God. What is it that Nuns actually do? Do they marry the Church or Christ? Note to self: research this further in case I decide on a change of career…

So here are my observations having lived 35 ½ years on this planet as an unmarried woman but with a deep faith in God, broken down into 3 handy points with their very own Sub Headings.

There are things that are just plain awkward for Single People to answer when they are put on the spot by well meaning but socially unaware Not Single People they don’t really know.

The Weird Justification Conversation.
Not Single Person: What do you think of Bob?
Single Person: Great guy but I just don’t feel like we connect on any particular level.
Not Single Person: Why not?

BUZZ. Wrong answer. I’m never even sure what that next question means! Am I now meant to list all the negative or unappealing attributes about Bob? Bob is great, Bob is a delight. Bob earns lots of money. Why do I now have to justify not being attracted to Bob? Poor Bob! It’s not his fault.

The Unexpected Introduction to Reproduction
Not Single Person with Kids: When are you going to have kids? Have you considered what you’re going to do now that, you know, you’re getting older?

I have actually been asked this question. Several times. I have yet to formulate an appropriate response. Do you think I am not aware of my age? Am I meant to rush home & start researching how to freeze my eggs? Do you want me to cry? Have a nervous breakdown? Steal a baby perhaps?

The Patronising Knee Pat
Not Single Person at a Wedding: *pat pat on the knee* Don’t you worry, your time will come. *sad but reassuring smile*

Thank You for that very unhelpful, completely not required moment of unnecessary sympathy.

Middle Aged & Single doesn’t equal Beaten Down & Dismal.

This is not a feminist statement. It’s a fact. God created us. He created us to be Beautiful, Strong and Resilient and He gave us the resources to be just that.

Most of us have lived good, joyful, purposeful and adventurous lives. We won’t break if somebody else has a baby or falls in love or gets married. We are capable of separating our own wants & desires from the lives of other people so that we don’t feel resentment, jealousy or discontent when the life of another is enriched. We celebrate. We laugh. We buy a new dress for the party.

Of course, there are times we may feel lonely. There are times we think it would be nice to come home to someone. There are times that we wonder if we will ever meet someone that is compatible in the way in which we need and desire. BUT mostly, we are O.K!

For some it’s easy. For others it isn’t. And I don’t undermine those experiences because it hasn’t been 35 years of pure contentment. There are times I’ve wished things could have worked out differently. There are times I’ve wondered what is wrong with me, why everyone around me is able to find someone to journey through life with and what it is about me that lacks appeal. There are times I’ve grieved for what might never be. And I’ve sometimes tried to change. To fit in. To relax my standards and expectations because after all “you can’t be too fussy”. Like there is an age limit to having standards before you have to just let it all go!

Do you want to know the ultimate deal breaker for many men? Love Jesus with all your heart. It goes down a treat. You suddenly become ‘too strong’ or ‘too independent’ or ‘too Christian’. You can be Christian as long as you have no conviction. I’ve thought about what that life might look like. I figure if a woman isn’t expected to give up her dreams of making the Olympics, climbing the corporate ladder or becoming a Judge then I can hang onto my faith with both hands and feet.

The Issue of the Fine Line

There is a fine line between swearing off men & owning 10 cats and finding that place of contentment. Because no matter where we are at in life, there needs to be a level of contentment.

It was a quandary I faced the year I turned 30. It wasn’t like there hadn’t been possibilities or ideas or crushes but nothing had eventuated. So I sorted it out with God one day. I said to Him ‘Right. You and I both know I am going to honour You with my life, with my choices, with my future and with the man I marry, if there is in fact a man out there for me to marry. So if that time is not now, maybe that time is never but if it’s not now then I cannot feel Lonely, Lack or like I’ve been ripped off. Because there is none of that in Your plan for my life. The road might be bumpy but You did not create me to feel lonely or like the plan is flawed. So take it away. Every feeling of loneliness, every feeling of lack, every feeling of disappointment and let me know that You are there and You are in control’.

Hand on my heart, the conversation went something like that. With tears and snot and everything.

And He did. He continually meets me right where I’m at. There are times other thoughts & feelings might creep in but I know how to work through it and overcome. Probably because I’ve had a lot of practise and they say practise makes perfect but mainly because He made me to be Beautiful, Resilient & Strong. He has a plan and the plan isn’t always about the Man! The plan is bigger, more intricate, more colourful and more exciting than anything I could have imagined for myself. Just ask the 2005 me that stood on top of The Great Wall of China after working for 3 weeks in an Orphanage in Wuhan. Or the 2011 me that aced her Silver Marketing Exams when she didn’t think she was that smart. Don’t ask the 2003 me. She had a perm.

Have I given up the ghost? Nope. There is always the dream and the hope of what might be in amongst all the other chaos and adventure. Am I pretty bloody happy with the way life is going? Yes.