Would the REAL Heather please stand up!

I shared this post on my other blog a few months ago.  Now it’s time to share it here.  Here goes:

There are two Heathers.

The one (usually presented in this blog) is the “nice” Heather.  She’s trying to put her best foot forward… she wants people to like her… and to relate with her… and be friends with her.

She’s a people-pleasing Heather.  She writes every blog and every thought whilst thinking “Will people like this?”  or “Do people want this?” or “Is this relevant to others?”… in a nutshell – she edits herself (all the time) in order to (hopefully) appease other people.

She doesn’t allow herself to be TOO unorthodox… TOO crazy-irreverent…  TOO much of a rule-breaker (which is who she actually is).

Today,  “that” Heather is coming out of the closet.

I’m coming out of the People-Pleasing closet.  I’m coming out the Trying-to-Fit-In closet…  the Trying-to-be-Liked closet.

And – if you’ll forgive me… from now on – I’m going to stop worrying about… and thinking about… (and worrying some more)… about YOU aka: the potential reader on the other side of this screen… and I’m going to be 100% – unapologetic – authentically “me”.

Why?  Because it’s healing.  And liberating.  And I’m tired of pretending.

(And I strongly recommend the same process to you!)

 You may be wondering:  “Okay – so who IS this “real” Heather?”

Well – for a start… I’m not “nice”… and I’m definitely not very lady-like.

  • I have burping competitions with my husband (he usually wins).
  • I chase my kids around and threaten to bite their bums, and they scream:  “I’ll fart!  I’ll fart!” – and then I say:  “I don’t care!  I love farts!  I’ll eat those farts right up!”… and then they scream and run and lots of chasing and mayhem abounds.
  • I’m not very refined.  I clumsily drop cocktail meatballs down my cleavage at uppity red-carpet events… and then, I dig furiously down said cleavage to retrieve said cocktail meatball.. and eat it.  Yum.
  • I visit the late-night Quick Shop in my PJ’s and buy big jars of Nutella (loved by my family – and especially my daughter!).
  • I like getting dirty… like, filthy dirty!  I especially love a combination of mud and warm rain… and I dream of hiking through the Amazon and being sucked by leeches – just so I can “experience” being sucked by leeches.
  • I’m almost always without shoes.  If I wear shoes, it’s slip-slops.  Even on the red carpet at Nick’s movie events… I have been known to remove the high-heels and trot around around bare footed.
  • I’m very opinionated and stubborn – but many people don’t realise this about me… because I simultaneously hate conflict.  I’ll be boiling mad and cursing up a storm inside my head – and most people are completely oblivious (except my husband who can read me like the proverbial book).
  • I’m 100% artist / creative creature / musician.  I draw... I doodle… I paint… I compose… I enjoying creating music out of anything (the other day, Morgan and I composed harmonies out of wine-glasses and upside-down chutney bottles)… or we sing songs to the rhythm of the car indicator!  🙂
  • I am very very curious about the stuff that some people find “gory”.   I love watching live operations… I absolutely adored the Body Worlds exhibit… and when I went in to have a C-section… I desperately wanted them to put a mirror on the surgery roof so that I could properly see what was happening!
  • When I was a kid, I used to dissect dead chickens and stick pins in their eyes – just to see how a chicken eye responded to a pin…  I have always had a deep sense of… I dunno… perpetual curiousness!
  • As a kid, I used to fish dead, bloated rats out of the septic tank (with a pool net)… then I’d line them up on a drive-way and “pop” them with bricks.  If I came across a couple of dead, bloated rats today… I might just try the popping experiment again.
  • I’m a rule-breaker at heart.  This is a long topic.  There is lots to write about it.  But, in a nutshell:  “Stupid Rules don’t apply!”.
  • My husband and I occasionally visit graveyards… and we take our kids to visit too.  I think a graveyard is a wonderful place to reflect on how short and precious life is – and how important it is to truly…. LIVE!  (and not to waste our lives away being miserable and unfulfilled).
  • I couldn’t give a continental crap about things like “status” or “keeping up with the Joneses” or being “in-fashion” or “on-trend”.  I care far more about things like living deliberately and purposefully… being fulfilled… and happy… and being the change we wish to see in the world.
  • I deliberately smashed my bathrooms scale into tiny pieces – because the days of allowing a weighing-instrument to determine my worth are over!
  • It’s important to me to have a VOICE.  I lived much of my life as a wall-flower… hiding in the shadows… being afraid to shine.  I’m not that person any more.
  • I used to be religious.  But I’m not anymore.  I don’t have anything against religious people (or anyone who holds differing beliefs)… if anything, I celebrate our uniqueness and our diversity.  One of the biggest reasons I have STRONGLY edited myself has been because I worry about what my Christian friends will say or think about me.  I have now reached the stage that I’m just tired… exhausted really… of wearing a mask and pretending to be someone I’m not.
  • I refuse to ridicule other people’s belief systems.  I think it’s rude and condescending to ridicule.  I respect the right of anyone and everyone to believe whatever they choose to believe.  The only way your belief system will offend me is if you deliberately use it to hurt or marginalize others.
  • I’ve long toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo… but honestly?  I change my mind way too often!  I have a strong suspicion that I’ll love my tattoo on the day it’s done… and a week later, I’ll be trying to sandpaper it off!
  • I’m not much of a… uh… dancer…  but love doing a kitchen-jig – and especially if I’m listening to “Staying Alive” by the Bee-Gees.  That is a Heather-HAS-to-dance song!
  • Food remains my kryptonite… but I no longer hate myself because of it.
  • I’m far more confident in my talents and gifts – and no longer shy away from saying what I’m GOOD at… (and not afraid to share my vulnerabilities either).
  • I live a pretty unconventional kind of life.  My husband and I are striving to be full-time Digital Nomads by November this year… (which means, in a nutshell, that we travel the world with our kids… earning an income with our laptops and cameras and art-materials on the road.  We’ve both been self-employed for most of our lives, so this really isn’t such a big shift for us).
  • I consider myself a World Citizen.
  • I’m a bit of a potty-mouth (I blame my husband for this).  I don’t swear in front of my children – or in front of anyone whom I know finds it distasteful… but Nick and I enjoy a few private swear-a-thons with like-minded potty-mouthed friends.  It’s probably just our previously conservative pendulum swinging hard-left for a while… (Nick finds it liberating).
  • I homeschool my kids.  I was one of the people who used to vow that I would “never” homeschool my kids.  Ha! Ha!  Life has a funny way of teaching you lessons you never wanted to learn.
  • I’ve done some epic, crazy stuff… and I’ve taken some huge risks in order to live life the best kind of life… a beautiful life…  because of this, I really believe that I have something valid and relevant to share with the world.  I have walked this talk.
  • I love life.  And I’m a happy, positive person…. and I am very drawn to other happy, positive people (especially the crazy, out-of-the-box ones).
  • I believe in LOVE.  Strongly… deeply… believe in love.  And I am very accepting of people who live differently to me.  I love and respect diversity – I celebrate it.  How boring the world would be if we were all the same. No matter your religious beliefs, your age, your race, your sexual orientation, your culture, your size, your colour… you are so welcome in my life… my home… to eat at our table.

Here are some photos that kinda give you a glimpse into the “real” Heather…  enjoy!  🙂

Any kind of fun to be had that involves vast expanses of water?  Count me in!

Any kind of fun to be had that involves vast expanses of water? Count me in!

This photo is very ME-ish.  We were out camping (somewhere)... me in my PJs'... writing music... showing Nick my chords as he throws in a few ideas of his own...

This photo is very ME-ish. We were out camping (somewhere)… me in my PJs’… writing music… showing Nick my chords as he throws in a few ideas of his own…

And... I take huge, childish delight in the "little things"... like this cow milk jug (on our Austrian honeymoon)...

And… I take huge, childish delight in the “little things”… like this cow milk jug (on our Austrian honeymoon)…

More childish delight... this time, it's about icicles!  (I was trying to stab Nick when he took this pic).

More childish delight… this time, it’s about icicles! (I was trying to stab Nick when he took this pic).

Strawberries... nutella... warm hotel room in the Austrian alps... snow falling outside... warm husband - blissful-bliss!

Strawberries… nutella… warm hotel room in the Austrian alps… snow falling outside… warm husband – blissful-bliss!

My first (and last) time in a Catholic confessional booth.  Then again... probably wiser not to say "never again"...

My first (and last) time in a Catholic confessional booth. Then again… probably wiser not to say “never again”…

Pregnant with Morgan... floating in the river... in some wildlife reserve in the middle of nowhere...

Pregnant with Morgan… floating in the river… in some wildlife reserve in the middle of nowhere…

Brand new mother... with baby Morgan - who had just SHOT a huge mustard poo out of her tiny bum - and it was everywhere.  I was giggling hysterically - and Nick was laughing so much he could barely snap this photo!  hee-hee!!

Brand new mother… with baby Morgan – who had just SHOT a huge mustard poo out of her tiny bum – and it was everywhere. I was giggling hysterically – and Nick was laughing so much he could barely snap this photo! hee-hee!!

scan0045

I love trying NEW, exciting things! I would definitely leap at the chance to go parasailing again…

Yip... I would call this a very Heather-ish pic!  :-)

Yip… I would call this a very Heather-ish pic! 🙂

This was in Nigeria... I loved their "taxi service"... so refreshing (especially with the intense heat!).

This was in Nigeria… I loved their “taxi service”… so refreshing (especially with the intense heat!).

I like this picture... Mom-duties!  On a beach!  (Morgan is now 7 - and thankfully the dirty-nappy-days are over!) woo-hoo!

I like this picture… Mom-duties! On a beach! (Morgan is now 7 – and thankfully the dirty-nappy-days are over!) woo-hoo!

This is a photo of me at my tramp birthday party... 100% tomboy (not much has changed).

This is a photo of me at my tramp birthday party… 100% tomboy (not much has changed).

One of my favourite things to do as a kid:  Rotten apricot fights!!  (I'm the one in the middle)...

One of my favourite things to do as a kid: Rotten apricot fights!! (I’m the one in the middle)…

This was my way of being a rebellious teenager!  Instead of getting drunk or smoking cigarettes - we would sneak around at night, stealing the numbers from the walls outside people's homes (see there's a doctor's plaque in there too!).  Don't worry - I wouldn't do this again... I've learned (hopefully) to be more considerate of others!

This was my way of being a rebellious teenager! Instead of getting drunk or smoking cigarettes – we would sneak around at night, stealing the numbers from the walls outside people’s homes (see there’s a doctor’s plaque in there too!). Don’t worry – I wouldn’t do this again… I’ve learned (hopefully) to be more considerate of others!

This was SCARY... but fun-fun-FUN!  (like I say:  I love trying new things!)...

This was SCARY… but fun-fun-FUN! (like I say: I love trying new things!)…

Fun with my kidlets!  THIS makes me soooo happy...!

Fun with my kidlets! THIS makes me soooo happy…!

The most recent photo of me... taken last weekend, while waiting at a restaurant for my coffee to arrive.  My son looks like he's licking the menu!  hehe!

The most recent photo of me… taken last weekend, while waiting at a restaurant for my coffee to arrive. My son looks like he’s licking the menu! hehe!

Obviously – I have thousands of photos… and this blog will be very long if I carry on adding Heather-pics…

So – I’ll end off for now… BUT…

I am all about *connection*… so feel free to drop me an e-mail (heather@beautifullifeproject.com)… comment on this blog… comment on Facebook… I would love to know if YOU have struggled to be authentic… and to really own your YOU-ness…?

Enjoy your day & chat soon-soon! X

heather heart

PS:  Would you like to receive an occasional BLP e-mail?  Click here if you do!

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I’m not Superwoman

Self-Nurturing (for me) - means a time-out... by myself... at a coffee shop where I can draw, think, drink coffee and eat cake.  I do this at least once a week.

Self-Nurturing (for me) – means a time-out… by myself… at a coffee shop where I can draw, think, drink coffee and eat cake. I do this at least once a week.

Wow – I’ve been absent from this blog for ages, huh?

I’m sorry.  My life has been a bit like a huge farmyard… with lots and lots of animals, running all over the place!  The chickens eating from the pig trough… the pig is wallowing in the dog food… the turkeys have fallen into the duck pond… the dogs are fighting… the cats are eating the poultry – (you get the picture).

What I’ve been doing (for the past couple of months) – is trying to safely corral all of the animals in their own enclosures.  Within the context of my life, this means that I’ve been busy organising certain “groups” (of what is essentially me) – into slightly more manageable situations.

I guess we all have many different parts – and most of us juggle a number of different roles.

I have quite a variety of different parts-of-me – very basically boil down to this:

  • My role as a mother to two young children.
  • My role as a wife.
  • My role as an educator (my kids are homeschooled).
  • My role as an artist and musician.
  • My role as a writer and blogger.
  • My role as a creative social entrepreneur.
  • My role as a speaker.

All of these roles are sooo multi-dimensional.  It’s almost as though each of these roles have hundreds (if not thousands) of different prongs… like branches on a huge tree!  And to make things a bit more complicated – each of my roles come packaged with a set of dreams, ideas and plans.

  • As a mother, I want my kids to be happy and fulfilled in all the ways that count.
  • As a wife – I want to connect with and support Nick (in soooo many ways)
  • As an educator – I want to instil in Morgan and Joah a LOVE and a passion for learning and knowledge.  I want them to be creators, initiators, problem solvers…
  • As an artist and musician, I want to – I NEED to – create (regularly!).  It’s in my DNA.  I wither when I don’t create.  Something inside of me shrivels and withers when I don’t compose and draw and design.  I have dreams for my art and my music.  Big, crazy dreams!
  • As a writer and blogger – I want to connect with a wider audience.  I want to share stories.  I want folk to *get* what I’m about – and I want to hear their stories and *get* what they’re about too!
  • As a social entrepreneur – I want to make the world a better place.  I don’t just want my life to be about Me & Mine… I want to see a much bigger picture.  I want to be a part of the world’s solutions.  I don’t want to be apathetic.  I don’t want to be irrelevant.  I want to do the stuff that matters.
  • As a business owner, I want my work to generate an income (absolutely!) – but I want more than that, I also want it to make some kind of a positive difference in the lives of others.
  • As a speaker – I want to challenge, encourage and inspire.  And I want to tell stories… and share pictures and songs… and make people laugh… and give them interesting, meaty ideas to think about and ponder…

Anyhoo…

What I’m trying to say:  you can see how it can all get a bit messy?  So many roles… dreams… spaces that I’m trying to fill… so much to think about… so much to manage… so much to DO…

(and don’t even get me started on the part where I need to nurture myself and my body physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally!) – that’s the part that’s always left at the back of the line.  I tell myself that I’ll look after MYSELF – only when everything and everyone else has been sufficiently dealt with.

But, I’m sure you can relate.

Most women I know are exhausted.  Most of us are stretched beyond capacity with a thousand things… a thousand roles… hundreds of expectations and stuff that we feel we’re “supposed to” do…

And here’s the thing…  you don’t *HAVE TO* do anything!  YOU can CHOOSE to let certain things go (or you can choose not to)… and guess what?  There’s only 24 hours in a day – and you’re not Superwoman!

  • You don’t have to take on every project that is offered to you.
  • You don’t have to say “yes” all the time.
  • You don’t have to attend every church meeting, prayer meeting, school meeting, family meeting, book-club meeting, etc.

You don’t *have to* live up to anyone else’s expectations (including your own!) – and especially not if those expectations are going to drain you of energy and leave you feeling as though you’ve been run over by a bus full of rugby players… (and then the bus stopped and reversed over you – just to make sure you were pancake enough).

This blog is a case in point.

Over the past couple of months – I have needed to strongly focus my energy on a number of different things… and this blog just wasn’t on that list.

Of course, in Heather-can-do-it-ALL-Land – I would not have neglected this blog.

But, of course, Heather CAN’T do-it-all.  None of us can.

Predictably, when I neglected the blog… a bunch of catty, niggling little thoughts started popping into my (already overcrowded) brain:

  • “If you don’t update your blog regularly, people will lose interest and they’ll think you’re not serious and they’ll never visit again!”
  • “If you disappear from your blog, people will assume that you’re not trust-worthy in other areas of your life”
  • “If you neglect your blog, people will assume that you’re neglecting Beautiful Life Project”.
  • “People will be disappointed with you”
  • “People will lose faith in you”

And so on…

Interestingly enough – my biggest concerns mostly had to do with these two things:

  1. “What will people say?”
  2. “What will people think?”

Isn’t it crazy how so many of us allow those two little thoughts or concerns to absolutely GOVERN our lives?  Even to the point where we burn ourselves out trying to please everyone… like, all-the-time??

When you take time to really THINK about it – it’s beyond silly.  It is.

Who gives a (*insert rude word of your choice here*) what OTHER PEOPLE say about you?  Or what OTHER PEOPLE think about you?  Why does it matter so much?

Does it matter SO much that you’ll neglect your health and burn yourself out completely – for the sole purpose of trying to please others, or ‘measure up’ – or live up to expectations that others have placed upon your life? (or even more telling:  the expectations that YOU have placed upon your own life!)

Take it from someone who knows:  IT. IS. NOT. WORTH. IT.  (repeat, repeat, repeat!!!).

So.

Now you know why I have neglected this blog.

It’s because I’m not Superwoman.  And, for a season, this blog needed to give way to other important needs.  There ya have it!

And now… (because I am being KIND to myself these days)… I’m going to run a very hot bath… and I’m going to sink into the suds with a good book… and relax the cares of the day away.  Until next time….

heather heart

I’m daring myself to dare

If ever I had any “MUST WATCH” recommendations – these 3 videos would be near the top of the list.

The first is Brene Brown’s original TED talk:  “The Power of Vulnerability”

Then her second TED talk: “Listening to Shame”

And finally – an interview between Oprah and Brene Brown called “Daring Greatly” – the link is here:

http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/Full-Episode-Oprah-and-Brene-Brown-on-Daring-Greatly-Video

I had watched Brene’s original TED talk last year – and resonated deeply with what she said.  Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Jacqueline – who sent me the link to the discussion between Oprah and Brene.

I got half-way through… and then started getting all weepy (in a good way!).

Brene was putting into words something that I have often struggled to understand or articulate.  She was saying things like this:

Daring greatly is:

  • The courage to be vulnerable.
  • To show up and be seen.
  • To ask for what you need.
  • To talk about how you’re feeling.
  • To have the hard conversations.

And then she says this:  “Most people think vulnerability is weakness – but it’s the cornerstone of confidence.  It’s the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.  You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability”.

WOW-zers!  I especially love that last bit:  “You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability” (!!)

vulnerability

As I explained in more detail in my Weekly-E… I have been grappling with this concept of vulnerability – and I have been really worried that sharing my vulnerability on this blog – may be a BAD thing.  I have been worried that people will perceive me as weak… or frail… or incapable… and that, instead, I ought to try to present myself as being strong… “together”… and as some kind of role-model…  I mean, isn’t that what the world wants?  The “strong” people that we can put on a pedestal and “look up” to?

Perhaps I shouldn’t be sharing stories about my fears and failures – and rather wax lyrical about “The Answers” – I mean, isn’t that what most people want?  An “answer”….(?)

Let me tell you – I have a LOT of thoughts on this topic… and if you were sitting in my home right now, I’d love to discuss it over a cup of coffee (and some home-made cupcakes that my daughter is busy baking as I type).

But now – I want to swing it back to you!  What do YOU think about vulnerability and courage?  Do you think that being vulnerable is a good thing – or do you think that, in a sense, you’re shooting yourself in the foot when you’re vulnerable?  Have you had any negative or positive feedback after being vulnerable?  Do you think people respect you for your openness and vulnerability – or do they perceive you as being weak?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  You can respond in the comments section of this blog… or hop on to the Facebook page and chat there… or drop me an e-mail:  heather@beautifullifeproject.com

I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts!  🙂

heather heart

What to do when you’re scared

something new

I’m doing something scary!

I’m developing a brand new idea that is going to require me to step out on a limb… take a leap of faith… and expose my vulnerability to the world.

And yes – I am scared!

The last time I was this open and vulnerable  – I was publicly ridiculed.  I’m scared that it may happen again.  My insecurities are screaming their objections to my plan.  The part of me that wants to feel *safe* is fiercely resisting this Big Dream.

But, there’s another side of me:

A strong, creative, DO’er who is stubbornly determined to live the best, most authentic, deliberate and beautiful life possible!

And that part of me is going to DO this thing… whether my insecurities like it or not!

“Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway” – John Wayne

I’ve been thinking a lot about fear recently… and how it holds so many of us back from following our dreams and doing what we REALLY want to do with our lives.

  • We’re afraid of failing..
  • We’re afraid of being criticised or ridiculed…
  • We’re afraid that people won’t like us…
  • We’re afraid of what people might say – or think – about us…
  • We’re afraid of “The New” and “The Unfamiliar”…
  • We’re afraid that we’ll make fools of ourselves…

I wonder what we’d all be like… and I wonder what kinds of lives we’d be living if we weren’t so scared?

A friend of mine, Nancy (of Family on Bikes) – likes to ask people the question:

“What would you DO if you weren’t afraid?”

Nancy – to give you some idea – travelled with her husband and 11 year old twins from Alaska to Argentina… on bikes!  This was an enormous feat – and Nancy mentioned that, in the beginning, her fears threatened to put a halt to her big dream… but… she saddled up anyway!

Now… obviously, we don’t all share the same dreams.

I have no intention of cycling from Alaska to Argentina… but I also have scary dreams (of a different variety).

What are YOUR dreams?  What would YOU do if you weren’t afraid?

  • Would you quit your job?
  • Would you change careers?
  • Would you walk away from an abusive relationship?
  • Would you move to a different city – or country?
  • Would you take to the stage and perform?
  • Would you learn how to hip-hop dance?
  • Would you take a scuba diving course?
  • Would you stand up to the bullies in your life and tell them that you’re no longer prepared to be their doormat?

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

The first step, is figuring out what you’d DO… and then the second step is taking action (and even it’s tiny baby steps) towards that dream or goal.  DOING is what gets you out of the rut – not sitting / stagnating / hoping / waiting for a miracle to drop from the sky… but DOING!

Here’s a great quote from Dale Carnegie:

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear.  Action breeds confidence and courage.  If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it.  Go out and get busy!”

By the way – I’m preaching to myself here…

I have pasted a couple of inspirational posters and messages around my office and workspace – and they incentivise me to DO.  Every day, I wake up… and I take tiny baby steps towards achieving my Big Dream (which I’ll tell you about later).  Do you know – that even actively writing and posting this blog… and publishing my Weekly-E… and posting on the BLP Facebook page are all tiny, baby steps towards my goal?

And yes… there’s a big part of me that is scared:

  • “What if people don’t like what I say or do?”
  • “What if they ridicule my work?”
  • “What if they ridicule me?”

But… *taking deep breath of courage*…. I’m gonna saddle up ANYWAY!

Wanna join me?  I would love to hear your thoughts!  – and if this blog was relevant for you – or if it resonated with you – please share the love!  Ta!  X

heather heart

If only I could…

I’m on Pinterest.  As a creative creature who is inspired by visual things, I love scrolling through all the images and “pinning” ideas and photos of things that I find beautiful, interesting or inspiring.

I pin all sorts of things:

  • Photos of places I’d like to visit.
  • Photos of hairstyles I wouldn’t mind experimenting with.
  • Ideas of fun things to do with the kids…
  • and a whole bunch more.

There are a few categories where I find myself continually making internal promises to myself whilst pinning things:

“I must try this!”  I tell myself.  “I must make these polenta-crusted-rosemary potatoes!”

Or… “I must make this yummy-looking coconut chicken!”

I tell myself that I MUST make this:

That I MUST do this:

That I MUST organise my kids’ bedroom like this:

But… do you think I have?

Do you think I’ve completed any of the clever crafts?  Baked any of the rainbow cupcakes?  Sewn any of the pretty dresses?  Followed any of the make-up tutorials?  Visited any of the beautiful places?  Cooked any of the crock-pot dinners?

The answer is no.

Out of my 981 pins…  I have tried… (hmmm… let’s see)… 5 of the Pinterest ideas (and all of them were from the “for the kids” category).

And I don’t think I’m alone.

I suspect that pinning on Pinterest is one of the things we do to while away the hours and amuse ourselves with the “What if’s?” and “If only’s” of life.

  • “If only I were so organised!  Look at her perfect pantry!”
  • “If only my kitchen looked like that kitchen”.
  • “If only I could afford to dress like that”.
  • “If only I could visit that beautiful place”
  • “If only I had her body”

I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with “if only’s”… to a degree.

The problem comes when we “if only” our entire lives away.

And I’m sure you’ve seen this happen as much as I have.  I know many people who have been “If only’ing” for years… decades.  But they’ve made no effort – and taken no steps towards changing their lives… or following their dreams… or doing the stuff that makes them come alive.

They while away their entire lives… saying to themselves “If only…”.

Which is kinda the same thing as saying:  “Yeah… right.  As if!”

Which, I think, is a terrible pity.

“What if?” – I think, is something significantly more positive than “If only…”.

“If only” is a yearning for something that the yearner believes is a pipe dream… a pointless fantasy… something that could never, possibly happen.

It’s like me saying:  “If only I were a man”…

Not gonna happen.

“What if…” is has a slightly more positive spin.  I think that “What if?” is Phase 1 of any dream.

Our Big Dream also started with a “What if?”….  it went something like this:

“What if we sold our house?  What if we purged our stuff?  What if we home-schooled the kids and travelled the world?  What if we tossed out the Rule Book? What if we lived differently to the way we’ve been taught and told to live?”.

We thought about those what if’s a LOT.  We discussed them… we dreamed about them… we started researching the possibility of making them happen… and we discussed them again… and when our minds were made up, we started planning… and doing… and changing our lives.

And that’s the thing… in order to achieve your dream… you have to take the “What if?” to the next level – and DO something about it.

And you know what? Pinterest was actually rather helpful in this regard!  If you visit my Pinterest page, you’ll see that I have a board called “Food for Thought”.  The things I pinned there were little snippets of motivation that nudged me towards embracing the “What if’s?” – and taking steps towards making our dreams a reality.

And speaking of Pinterest…  I think I view the whole thing very differently now.

I haven’t pinned anything under “Food” or “Style” or “Home” or “Organising” for many months now.  Those boards always made me feel a bit guilty.  Like I just wasn’t measuring up in those departments.  Like all the promises I was making to myself of how I would need to become a ‘better‘ mother… a ‘better‘ cook… a ‘better‘ organised person… a ‘more‘ stylish person… were just draining me.

’cause here’s the truth:

I’m never going to make those Christmas ornaments.  I’m never going to follow that make-up tutorial.  Or buy the glitter nail-polish.  And I’ll probably never make that raspberry pavlova… and I’ll probably never make upside-down biscuit cups for mini scoops of ice-cream.

The photos are fun to look at, sure – but I’m done with comparing myself… and feeling like some kind of a failure because I just don’t “DO” that kind of thing.  It’s not authentically me.  It’s not who I am.  It’s not how I’m designed.

These days… I mostly pin things that inspire me and make me happy.  I no longer pin things that make me feel pressured to make or do things that are just NOT important within the big picture of my life.

These days, you’ll see a lot of things pinned under “Art”“Food for Thought”“Graphic Design & Illustration”… “Fun”“Inspiration” and “Stuff that makes me happy”.

Stuff like this, that makes me smile:

Or stuff (like this) that makes me giggle:

Or stuff (like this) that inspires me and nudges me and affirms my decisions to dream big and live authentically…

And… as a whole… I think I’m a much happier and more content pinner than what I was a year ago.

Wait – scratch that – I’m actually a happier and more content person – as a whole!  🙂

heather heart

PS:  And to end off this post with a laugh… (and this really made me cry-laugh!)… here is a very funny blog post with some very funny photos featuring lots of Pinterest “Fails”… hee-hee!

Words of wisdom

“Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day.  Remember that no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character are required to set up in the fault-finding business.  Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it.  Your time is too precious to be sacrificed in wasted days combating the menial forces of hate, jealousy and envy.  Guard your fragile life carefully.  Only God can shape a flower, but any foolish child can pull it to pieces” – Og Mandino –

The most humiliating day…

who you think low res

Over a year ago, I was chosen as one of 10 social entrepreneurs who was invited to pitch my idea to a group of judges (and a large audience) at the Cape Town City Hall.  The idea I wanted to talk about was VENT! – a project which aims to give permission… and create a platform… for Africa’s disadvantaged and ‘voiceless’ youth – to share their stories using art.

I had 5 minutes to share the concept – and was encouraged (by the organisers) to make it personal… to use my own story to explain the “why’s” behind my idea.

This was pretty easy for me to do.  I know what it’s like to feel “invisible” and “ignored”… and I know the desperate longing to have a VOICE – and to have somebody ‘hear’ me… and ‘see’ me… and to acknowledge what I have to say.

And so… I bravely put myself “out there”.

I allowed myself to be completely vulnerable in that hall full of people and cameras.  I stood on that stage, in the spotlight – and I shared the story of my own eating disorders and deabilitating self-esteem struggles that I have struggled with in the past…  quickly linking those stories to VENT! and the young participants I worked with – who had similar self-confidence issues.

I talked about how I had seen lives and hearts transform – when those who had never been listened to… were given a ‘space’ to create… share… and be heard.

Now….  sharing the stage with me… was a panel of “judges”.  They were all very important, wealthy CEO’s from some of South Africa’s top brands including Woolworths, MTN and DSTV.  All of them sat, stone-faced, behind a long table…. scrutinising me.

I knew that the judges were going to choose a “winner” out of the 10 of us… and I knew that the winner would be awarded with a cash prize (to be used for the development of their particular idea).

I had imagined that the judges might ask me a few questions after my 5 minute presentation.  I thought they’d want to know a few what’s, how’s and why’s about the VENT! project – and I was more than ready to answer those questions…

I could never have anticipated what came next…

The judges seemed to view themselves as Reality TV judges (like Simon Cowell from Idols).  And, instead of asking questions…

they tore into my idea…  they attacked and ridiculed the idea of VENT! – and worse – they attacked and ridiculed me personally.

I stood there… frozen… rooted to the spot… in the glare of the spotlight… in front of all those video cameras, flashing lights… and the City Hall packed with people…  while strangers (who didn’t know me at all) – ridiculed me… ridiculed my “so-called” self-esteem issues… and said things to me that I wouldn’t dream of saying to anyone.

I… was… devastated.

I felt humiliated, judged, embarrassed… and shamed.

I had taken a risk by exposing some very vulnerable truths about myself – in a public space – and… for the trouble… had experienced the worst kind of public shaming imaginable.

I went back to my hotel room – and I cried and cried.  Thankfully, I had Jo – an invaluable friend – who offered comfort… and who tried to help me make sense of it all.

But… I was deeply hurt.

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I spent the next couple of days in a bit of a daze.  I was trying to process what happened… but I could feel myself sinking quickly into the black hole of depression.  And all those familiar little voices started niggling at my mind:

  • Maybe those judges were right.  Maybe you are exactly what they think you are!
  • Maybe you should give up on this whole self-esteem-work nonsense… clearly you don’t have anything of value to add!
  • Maybe you deluded yourself into thinking that any of the VENT! participants benefitted from your project… maybe they all think you suck!
  • Maybe you hurt the VENT! participants instead of helping them!  Because you’re selfish – like the judges said!

When you give free-reign to negative, poisonous thoughts like that (as I did)… it isn’t very long before the inevitable happens:  you slip into the muddy doldrums of woe… and that’s exactly what I did!  For 8 months!

8 months!

Can you believe that I gave those judges so much power over my life?

Here is a brilliant quote from Cari Corbet-Owen… and please read it carefully (it really helped me to *get it*):

Just remember:  you can only be hurt by the judgement of others if you believe at some level what they’re saying.  Your worth should not be determined by the words, actions or reactions of another.  If what he or she says or does doesn’t resonate with you, then you don’t have to absorb it into your being.  You don’t even have to convince the person that you’re not what they think.  When we feel offended we’re mistakenly allowing another’s judgement to be applied to us personally.  But this should only happen if we can use it to transform and grow.  Self-love is refusing to be offended or take things personally.

Wow!  Wise words, huh?

And here’s the truth:  I was hurt by what those judges said… because I believed – on some level – what they were saying!  On some, deep level… I believed that I was a selfish person… a bad person… and the words of the judges only seemed to “confirm” it.

There have been a couple of things that have happened in my life over the past 15 months that have stirred and created some really mammoth changes in my heart and my life… but I’m not going to share about them in this post (this blog is already too long!).

I’d love it if you stuck around… *liked* my Facebook page… or signed up for my Weekly-E.  I want to share my exciting journey – and some of my ideas – with you… and I love connecting with new friends.

Remember:  If somebody says something about you that doesn’t resonate – you don’t have to absorb it into your being!

If this blog was relevant for you… or if it resonated with you… please share the love!

heather heart

PS:  Do you like my piece of art (at the top of the blog)…?  Click here and you can download it as a high-res, print-ready PDF.  You can print it out… stick it it up… and, in doing so – you’ll be supporting me and my blog for only $3!  Thanks a mil!