Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend.

Holy Mother of Pearl. It’s been 4 months since I lasted posted.

Like any good (insert: infuriating) story, allow me to recap the entire last episode of my life for those that missed it so that we can get to the next thrilling episode in the longest most agonizing way possible.

Re-Cap in 250 words or less

The last time I posted I was tucked up on my bed in NZ, living the dream of the unemployed having spent almost 3 months convalescing, post chronic illness. I was pretty well by this point and I embarked on the daunting task of job hunting. Keep in mind that I’d been unemployed for almost 12 months & was surviving on a bit of freelance work here and there so I assumed the task was going to take time, energy and patience. The quandary was whether I sought work in NZ or home so I applied for a couple of jobs in both countries. The first job I applied for was back home. A marketing job in the tourism industry in regional Victoria. These kind of jobs don’t come up often and I’d always had a passion for tourism so I threw my hat in the ring!

To hurry this story along a little and stay true to the definition of re-cap…the next thing I knew, I was cutting my trip short by 2 weeks and flying home having secured my dream job via a Skype interview!

Home again, home again, jigity jig.

When you go through a looooong season of hardship in your personal, professional, mental or physical health, you learn a lot about yourself as an individual. When you go through hardship in every one of those area’s simultaneously, you learn some truly astonishing things. It’s the good, the bad and the ugly all rolled into one giant, messy, emotional ball of something resembling your former life.

My biggest takeaway from the last 12 months? There is a difference between challenge and struggle.

Confused? Let me break it down for you. No, I’m not going to rap. I’m literally going to break this concept down with dictionary definitions to support my theory and everything.

Challenge: Something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort; Difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it.

Struggle: To be coping with the inability to perform well or to win; contend with difficulty: a forceful or violent effort to get free of restraint or resist attack.

My pattern in life has been to equate struggle with challenge. Example: When I’m faced with, let’s say a challenge in my relationships, I struggle through because the internal dialogue is strong. “What is the right thing here, what should I be doing, how should I be reacting, did I do that right, I stuffed that up, why am I struggling at all, what did I do wrong, that’s probably my fault”…. you get the picture.

What was an ordinary challenge or life hurdle – something that would take a bit of ‘special effort’ on my part to overcome, becomes ‘the inability to perform well or to win’ because I don’t like to fail. It takes ‘forceful & violent effort’ to proceed because I’ve applied a sense ‘not winning/not getting it right’ and whirled myself right on down the rabbit hole.

The truth is, there is nothing wrong with challenge. There is actually nothing wrong with a bit of stress or pressure. We all know the story about how diamonds are made.  Heat and pressure. How we react to that challenge, to the heat and pressure, is very telling and strongly determines the outcome.

How did I start to affect this change? I’m so glad you asked, faithful few that didn’t check out at the re-cap.

(Note: This advice is coming from a completely unqualified individual with zero professional understanding of the subject matter, so please go right ahead and quote brazenly & liberally from this blog post with confidence as to it’s legitimacy…)

For starters I’ve stopped using the word ‘Struggle’ where I can. I’m working on not applying a negative connotation to a normal life situation or a challenge that can be overcome. Let me number off the rest of my excellent pearls of wisdom:

  1. Make a conscious decision to not entertain any destructive narrative bombarding your brain. Finding a way to process and deal with the internal dialogue, so that you don’t drive yourself insane, is an important factor in moving forward. Personally, I wrote things down. All the fears, anxieties, questions that would keep me up at night, problems with no apparent solutions – I wrote them all down, I placed my hand on the page and I earnestly committed it all to my heavenly Father. Then I firmly closed my journal & refused to entertain the narrative any further. I did this every day as a way of learning to not borrow trouble because I’m a worrier. I’m an over-thinker and it gets me into trouble! I forced myself to find every positive and good thing and I dwelt on that. It’s not about blindly giving yourself over to something with mindless positivity – it’s about re-training your mind. What we dwell on affects our brains, our emotions and even our general health & well-being.
  2. The gift of choice is a powerful thing. Engage it and use it. I’m hesitant to say this but….some people are addicted to drama. They live in a heightened state of emotion, intensity and ultimately, confusion. You need to start activating your God given will and remove yourself from such situations. It is not healthy and it will not help you grow or move forward. If this is not you but there are people around you that live in this constant state, you need to take a step back and find some calm. Things in life happen to cause upset, anxiety, stress, fear, hurt and grief but they are events that pass with time and our hearts and minds have the capacity to heal. It’s not a lifestyle. Go back to step one if you need help to quiet your mind! Find an activity or outlet such as running, dancing, boxing, walking, prayer, driving around in your car with the music blaring – anything that is a healthy outlet for you to release stress & pressure. Diamonds don’t stay in the heat & pressure forever. After intense heat & pressure they are rushed to the earth’s surface to cool. This step is just as important as the heating and the pressure!
  3. Actively work on & invest in your relationships. Thinking outside of yourself and giving energy to something or someone other than what is going on in your life will fast track growth and healing. I have no scientific fact to prove this but I know it to be true! We can be so self-centered and consumed by our own circumstances. Do we really know what is going on in the lives of the people around us? What is it that you have or that is within you that you can share with another to enrich their life or make their life a little easier? Be the answer for someone else! Be the support network, the friend and confidant that you would want in a time of need. Which leads me to my last point…
  4. To despise yourself and who you are is a luxury that you just can’t afford if you truly want change. You were made with intent, on purpose, by an ever loving Creator who doesn’t make mistakes. We all have something to offer and give in this lifetime. Peeling back the layers that can set hard around our hearts over time, who are you at the core of your being? Don’t let people, or the hardships that life sometimes presents, tell you that you are to hard, incapable of change, that it’s to late or that you will never be enough. That is not who you are and it’s a narrative that needs to change and that CAN change.

You have the capacity to make a fresh start. You have the ability to forgive and let go of the past. You absolutely can make good life choices that will set you on the path to recovery and purpose so go for it!! I believe in you, I truly do!

My final thought? Upon reflection, it just might be true after all that diamonds are a girls best friend. (Note to reader: All offers of diamonds to symbolize the truth of this post will be humbly and gratefully accepted.)

Ciao my little loves x

Stop the world, I want to get off!

Relax dear reader, I don’t mean permanently.

But sometimes when life is happening and I get caught up in the busyness and the mayhem and I feel like things are spinning out of control, I want to throw up my hands at the world and shout “everybody just STOP! Let me think for a minute!” simply so I can catch up.

I don’t know where I first heard this phrase but it turns out it’s the name of a musical. One of my very favourite things is a musical so that’s kind of fitting! Having consulted Wiki, it was last on Broadway in 1978 so clearly I haven’t seen it. But I hadn’t heard of it either. It’s about the life of Littlechap. Each time something unsatisfactory happens in his life, he calls out “Stop the world!’ whilst addressing the audience. Judging by the picture on Wiki, he also appears to be a circus clown. But that’s neither here nor there.

Would you like to know how I came to be sitting at the kitchen table at 1.55pm on a Wednesday, while the rest of the world is working, talking to you about Littlechap? You do? I suspected as much. Grab a cup of tea, I’ll wait…..

Excellent. It happened like this.

I can pin point the moment that feeling became semi permanent for a season of my life. It was in June 2015. And for 6 months I had an overwhelming feeling of needing the world to just stop for a minute so I could catch up. Of course I didn’t want to just stop all on my own and take a breather because I feared life going on without me. Work, family, friends all continuing to spin around whilst I simply stopped. If I’m honest….there is also the fear that life would in fact just continue to spin because I am not the center of the universe….but that’s just between you and me my reader friend! And so I pressed on but it was with reduced capacity to enjoy life, to cope, to be in any way productive as each area of my life took a hit. There were issues at work, huge financial pressures, tensions in some of my relationships and then spiritually I began to struggle. New Year’s Eve 2015? I was away with friends and crying on my poor bewildered sister’s shoulder, I begged her to let me go home for the evening and I spent it alone. I ate Nacho’s and I went to bed at 9pm.

Then I kind of got my unspoken wish in the most unorthodox way! I was made Redundant. The world didn’t stop spinning but it surely slowed down! My friends and family took matters into their own hands and shipped me off to New Zealand for a week. If I think about that to much I feel overwhelmed because their generosity during a financially difficult period and their intervention got me back on track. Away from home & staying with wonderful friends, I began to unload the fear, stress, grief and anxiety that I’d been carrying for a long time. And in the process, I began to heal. And in the healing, I could see all that God had been doing for me all along and I began to feel His presence around my life again. That might sound odd to you, if you aren’t a person of faith. But I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t want God to just be real from afar. I want Him to be real and evident in my life. My everyday life.

I’ve been unemployed for 8.5 weeks. Not for a moment did I think I would still be unemployed coming into April! I job hunt everyday but I’ve also made some changes. I started keeping a journal because I realised that my ability to carry not just my burdens but other peoples burdens was, frankly, world class. Dutch Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom says this:

“Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts, whirling around a center of fear”.

So I started to write it all down. Every question, fear, problem, concern, thought on life and my friends and family, I write it all down. I take a deep breath, close the book and I cease to carry it. It’s my way of offering it up and letting God be God. Sometimes it takes several deep breaths & some midnight entries so I can sleep…but it’s a work in progress!

I’m also going back to study! If there is one thing 2 months off work has done it’s allowed me to take stock of my life and think about what I really want to do next. And with the very timely sale of my apartment, I’m going to work less & take on some study.

I do a bit of freelance work. Work I love and enjoy. It ensures I get dressed everyday (ok, most days) and gets me out of the house.

I got an exercise bike. It’s squished into my tiny bedroom and I ride away while catching up on episodes of Blue Bloods. I know most people listen to music but I feel it allows me to watch it guilt free if I’m pedaling at the same time.

And that’s my story. If anybody is still out there.

“Oy with the poodles already” x

P.S: Maybe next post I will shed some light on that phrase…unless you’d like to boost my confidence by leaving a comment & shedding light of your own….hint hint…

P.P.S: There is something very narcissistic in writing about oneself and expecting people to not only enjoy it but leave positive comments don’t you think?

 

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