On Making Sure No Girl Gets Left Behind

On Making Sure No Girl Gets Left Behind

In The Girl Gang, we often highlight the importance of Rad Bitches Looking Out For One Another, but after everything that's been happening in the world lately it can be challenging at times to remember that the world is predominantly filled with awesome people who are looking out for each other.

Looking out for one another is something that girls in particular are taught from a young age...

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On Dating and Healthy Relationships

On Dating and Healthy Relationships

If you're finding yourself repeatedly disappointed by partners who just aren't ready to commit, you're in no way alone. This might be a good opportunity to step back, reflect on what's going on for you, and how you might be able to change things up and break away from the same old pattern that's been getting you down.

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On The Importance of Taking Time Out

On The Importance of Taking Time Out

It was starting to become clear that both my boyfriend and I were long overdue for some time out of the house and away from our desk - with a few little technical glitches popping up and testing my patience to prove it.

Taking an extended break isn't a priority for us right now, but we weren't about to let that stand between us and a relaxed few days together.

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On Women Who Don't Go to The Police

On Women Who Don't Go to The Police

Maybe it's just the lack of good quality sleep I've been dealing with over the last week, but my anxiety has been on high alert lately. I spent a good chunk of yesterday in my pyjama's, listening to the music that got me through my 20's, feeling too many feels, and crying on and off.

Of course, it may have also had a lot to do with the near constant yelling and arguments that have been going on outside our apartment for almost a week...

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On Turning 30 and Lessons in Letting Go

On Turning 30 and Lessons in Letting Go

Now, the idea of turning 30 doesn't worry or stress me out at all (in fact, I've been excited about becoming this age for a few years now), so I haven't exactly spent the last few months poring over blog posts, or articles on news sites about all of the stupid shit I supposedly "MUST DO/BE/HAVE BEFORE 30". 

What has happened over the last couple of weeks, is that I've been noticing the STUFF I've let go of over the years, particularly in the years since high school. 

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On Stories That Matter

IMG_3185 Over the weekend, I did what was possibly THE scariest thing I've done in a very, VERY long time, and filmed a message of support and advice to Twenty-Five Year Old Me. In the video I shared really openly about why my last relationship ended, as well as the fall-out of everything that happened. I spent most of the day compiling useful information and resources to share alongside the video, as well as thinking about what I actually needed to get out - let alone actually filming.

The process of recording, was definitely emotional, but also somewhat cathartic. As soon as I hit "PUBLISH" I felt ok, and totally in control. I started receiving comments, texts and messages on Facebook from friends and Girl Gang members who had watched my video and been affected by it, and I was glad that I'd put it out there for the world.

The next day, however, I felt slammed by what I call 'A Feels Hangover', and spent much of the day feeling totally overwhelmed (aside from the time I got to share hugs and a catch up with epic Rad Bitch Jessi Anna, and her little man).

I started to worry about what the impact of sharing about something so dark (and let's be honest, negative), would have. I mean, I'm supposed to be empowering women, and surely that means sharing stuff which is positive, or inspiring, or you know, doesn't just make everyone cry?

Jordan decided that getting out of the apartment was in order, so took me out for brunch and a walk in the sunshine, which definitely helped.

After sitting with things for a little longer, I've realised that it's important for me to share this stuff - especially the dark, complicated and challenging experiences, not only because it's cathartic for me, but because my story matters.

If nothing else, from my experience, when I was Twenty-Five I wish that I'd had somebody who I felt that I could at least relate to - to look towards and see HOW they'd re-built their world, and what had worked for them.

I actually had an amazing conversation with my coaching friend Nell Boath the other day, about my general beliefs and philosophies on life and how the Universe works, which I feel ties in well here. I don't necessarily believe that anything happens to us for a specific (higher) reason, but I do believe that there is something to be created from every experience. As Carl Jung said, "I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become." I think that also because of the experiences I've had, I've always viewed life as a battle to fight my way through. While with time and age, I've learned that I don't always have to push back and fight so hard, because of this, the idea of letting the world beat me has just never been an option.

While I posting my videos was definitely scary, I didn't necessarily think it was brave, or feel particularly courageous. In many ways, I dealt with it the same way I do with everyday life with a stubbornness that says, "Okay, this is what it is, and I am going to beat it."

While it's extremely messed up that this happened to me, I'm extremely fortunate that I left and that I did find support through my friends and family. I'll continue to push and fight for a world where shit like this doesn't happen - let alone a world where it's accepted as normal. In the meantime, I've realised that my story matters, because right now there are people like Twenty-Five Year Old Me who need to feel less alone in the world. I guess my story matters, if only because by telling it - and being here to tell it, is the thing which needed to be created from this experience.

You can check the video out here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IizWA1mLUc

**TRIGGER WARNING**

THE CONTENT DISCUSSED IN THE VIDEO IS PRETTY HEAVY, I ALSO SWEAR A BIT, AND SOME PEOPLE MAY FIND IT UPSETTING. BELOW, I'LL LIST SOME SERVICES AVAILABLE. 

Lifeline Suicide Prevention Hotline: 13 11 14

Victorian CASA (Centres Against Sexual Assault): Sexual Assault Crisis Line 1800 806 292. For Sexual Assault Counselling Services 1800 RESPECT

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria: http://www.dvrcv.org.au/support-services

Sexual Assault Report Anonymously (SARA): http://www.sara.org.au/

I also want to let any of you out there who've experienced abuse or assault know that it doesn't matter what the circumstances are, IT'S NOT YOU'RE FAULT.

However you choose to deal with what's happened to you, is your choice and there is no wrong way of coping.

Talking about what's happened to you doesn't reduce your sense of ownership over your story, or the legitimacy of your feelings.

Some other resources I want to share include:

Leslie Morgan Steiner's TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/leslie_morga...

Suzy X's Comic 'I'm A Sexual Assault Survivor': http://bitchmagazine.org/post/comic-i...

Project Unbreakable: http://projectunbreakable.tumblr.com/

And some other really important stuff to remember about consent:

Consent explained simply: http://www.theloop.ca/this-woman-just...

Informed Consent MUST be given or it's rape. If you're passed out, asleep or intoxicated, you can not give informed consent.

If you're unsure, it means NO.

Silence means NO.

"Let's just cuddle", "Let's just go to sleep", "Not tonight", "I'm tired", "Stop!", "Wait...", "Slow down....", "I'm not ready...", "You're/I'm/We're too drunk/high" or any other variation, mean NO.

Resistance (unless it's part of a game) means NO.

The person (or people) you're with should be able to read your non-verbal responses, and be able to read the way YOU are reacting - not to be confused with how your body is responding. They should know if you are feeling uncomfortable, and they should stop. IMMEDIATELY. Ask if you're ok, and not try to push things.

You have every right to change your mind, AT ANY TIME, (even in the middle of sex) and if your boundaries are not respected, it is rape.

The absence of "NO" doesn't mean "YES".

If you're under the age of consent (which varies greatly, and is kind of arbitrary), then it's rape, particularly if the abuser is older than 18 and in a position of authority.

Nobody should ever pressure or threaten you to say yes.

Your experiences are your own, and nobody has the right to make you question the validity of your feelings about them.

On Relationships, Self Care and Role Models

IMG_3501_2Last Saturday morning, Jordan and I loaded up the MINI and drove out to Seville, which sits in the Warburton Valley, just beyond the urban fringe of Melbourne. While everything about the weekend could very easily have set the scene for a sneaky romantic weekend away, we actually went away to celebrate my Lil Sis's Wedding Day. Every part of the weekend was beautiful, relaxed and joyful for all involved. Jordan and I arrived in Seville nice and early and ate a lunch of pasties from the local bakery. We then met up with my Dad, checked into our accommodation at Dalblair Bed & Breakfast (Jordan and I stayed in the beautiful apartment @ Waters Edge), and enjoyed a lazy swim in the pool, before getting ready for the main event of the afternoon.

The view from the window of our accommodation at Dalblair.

The wedding was held at Killara Estate, which provided the perfect backdrop for the Lil Sis and her new husband, to celebrate their marriage - with all three of their beloved staffies in attendance. I don't want to spend too much of this post describing the wedding, as I feel that it's a story the newlyweds to share should they wish to - aside from saying that it was such an honour to share in their day, and to celebrate with them.

What I really want to share with you all, are a few thoughts I've had brewing over the last fortnight since posting about Self Care Sunday - and what even is the point of practicing Self Care?

Last weekend was actually the first time that some of our family and friends had really gotten to hang out with and get to know Jordan properly - and definitely the first time they'd gotten to see us really messing around and having fun together as I kicked off my shoes and we started dancing around, giggling and pretending as if we knew how to lindy-hop. I have it on good authority that a few happy tears were shed by those who've known the Lil Sis and I since we were born, at seeing us both so puke-worthily happy.

IMG_3440Now, the reason I'm sharing all of this, is not to be all, "OMG we had this amazing weekend away! Look how perfect my life is!" After we got home on Sunday, and I'd allowed the events to really sink in, I couldn't help but reflect on how much has changed - and funnily enough, I happened to have a photo which totally highlights that.

Partying on our last night of Art School - Back when we both smoked, and were still just mates who shared a studio space.

This rather unflattering photo of me and Jordan was taken at a time when neither of us were particularly healthy, nor very healthy. To be fair, we'd just pulled an epic couple of weeks at Art School, getting our folios together for submission and assessment at the end of our Third Year of our Painting Major Studies towards the Bachelor of Fine Art, so delirium and sleep deprivation, combined with alcohol, and regular job responsibilities had pretty well hit their peak.

At the time, I was in one of the "On Again" stages of the toxic On-Again-Off-Again, non relationship I had with my ex, I had spent three and a half years dealing with ongoing and complex health issues, and I drank too much too frequently. Shit was very much about to hit the fan, and the next year was to be one of the toughest I've ever experienced.

It strikes me now that so many people (and I know that they're saying this out of love - and partly because they may not have seen me for a while) comment on how happy Jordan makes me. This kind of bothers me a little.

The reason being that while I'm totally happy with Jordan, and I love that he challenges, encourages and supports me, I've worked my freakin' arse off to create a life which supports my own happiness - and I was happy as a Single Crazy Cat Lady.

This, I guess brings me to my thoughts on WHY Self Care Sundays (and self care in general) is so important. For me, self care isn't just about doing one small thing, once a week to make yourself happy. It's about accepting everything about yourself - including the stuff you kind of suck at, and building from there. It's about being the kind of person you love spending all of your time with.

While the purpose of self care is NOT attracting a partner - nor is it about creating the space and opportunity for a partner to come into your life, I have to admit that had I not put the time, effort and consideration into learning to really love the person I am, then I wouldn't have the kind of relationship that I do with Jordan now.

 

IMG_3554

Thus, bringing me to the other big event I attended this week. On Wednesday evening, I headed straight from work to Circa @ The Deck in St. Kilda, for 'An Evening with Lisa Messenger' presented by Suzanne Chadwick of The Connection Exchange.

I actually had the good fortune of seeing Lisa Messenger speak at The Artful Business Conference last year, but missed the opportunity to speak with her one on one.

At that stage (early September), I had literally just started studying Health and Wellness Coaching, and hadn't even set up a blog or Facebook page yet. Lisa was so generous with her time, and her words, and was keen to hear about my journey while she signed my fresh new copies of both of her books. I had already read Daring and Disruptive, but I spent this morning getting stuck into Love and Life, and I've already found myself nodding along with Lisa's story, and feeling as if it reiterates so perfectly what I'm trying to say here.

While I'm not the CEO of a publishing group, nor am I the Editor in Chief of a magazine which is currently sold in 37 countries around the world, one of my favourite things about reading Lisa's work, and especially about having met her in person, is how open she is - and how strongly she believes that anything is possible for any one to achieve - but most of all - how honest and true it feels to hear her say these things.

IMG_3562_2

When rich white dudes in suits with private school educations speak about achieving success, my eyes honestly glaze over and I feel like poking myself in the eye with a fork. When Lisa speaks about possibility, it FEELS genuinely accessible, and those rich white dudes in suits seem less intimidating - she is an Entrepreneur FOR Entrepreneurs after all!

The reason I wanted to share about meeting Lisa, and reading her books, is that she talks quite openly and honestly about establishing and practicing self care as a non negotiable, as it has formed the foundations for her success within relationships, life, and in her businesses. While I have very different goal and aspirations, it's genuinely inspiring to be able to look towards someone like Lisa Messenger and know that her past experiences are not THAT far removed from mine, and that she's just further along in her journey than I am.

Having Rad Bitches to look towards as Role Models, is something we talk about quite a bit within The Girl Gang, and I'd love to know - who are the women who inspire you to live at your biggest and at your best?

xx

Kym.

PS: I highly recommend checking out The (Renegade) Collective, as well as Lisa's books. They're fun, empowering, and easy to read - even if entrepreneurship isn't something you're interested in.

PPS: I haven't even had a chance to talk about the other amazing people I got to meet and learn about over the last few weeks, but I'm well over a thousand words now! Suffice to say, I've spoken with some incredible women who are up to big things!

PPPS: I've been getting back into hosting coaching sessions, and I'm totally loving it! Speaking with everyone I've held calls with has been so inspiring, and knowing that coaching is totally my jam has really empowered me to get myself out of that icky-funk I'd been in!

 

A Rad Bitch's Guide to Being Strong, Just For You

IMG_3724 I happened across a blog called I AM THAT GIRL during the latter part of last year, and it has quickly become one of my favourites. This morning while drinking my morning coffee, I read a post called 'Who Will Be Strong For Me?' which REALLY resonated with me. It took me WAY, WAY back to how I felt when I was 21, AAAAAALL over again - and yes, it is weird to think of just how long ago that really was!

I can remember feeling so burned out emotionally, and sitting up in the middle of the night, talking to the guy who was essentially my Boyfriend at the time (Although right throughout the 5 messy years we were on-again-off-again seeing each other, we flat out avoided labelling who or what we were, and staunchly refused that we were BF & GF.) about how as much as I loved being there for my friends, how completely exhausted I was. At the time, I can remember saying that I really wanted for somebody to offer me some space and support for everything to just. stop. for. a. minute.

The reality was that I was deliberately keeping myself busy to avoid dealing with things that were really affecting me. I was avoiding facing up to the reality of my mental health situation, and decidedly staying in unhealthy situations, taking on other peoples dramas and issues as if they were my own because they were a distraction from my own.

It has taken me a really long time to learn how to take a step back and maintain healthy boundaries - and I'm still learning to deal with me (which I know will take life long practice!).

What I do know is that taking care of yourself, and putting in consistent effort to deal with your own needs, will make you better equipped to support those around you.

This is why Flight Attendants instruct passengers, "In case of emergency fit your own oxygen mask first, before assisting children or others around you." While particularly as women, we want to help and support others first, we're no use to anyone if we've blacked out from lack of oxygen because we've been trying to help everyone else around us.

One of the lessons I learned from that time, and ultimately re-learned when that stupidly messy relationship finally ended, (which I included in 'A Rad Bitch's How to Guide to Life: From Post Break-Up Survival Mode, to Rocking at Life') is that sometimes our friends and family may not be the best people to turn to when shit hits the fan.

Honestly, "...unless you’re surrounded by total douche-lords, your friends and family want the best for you, they want to see you happy, and to rock out with you. This is NOT to say that you should put your issues aside – especially if you’re really struggling at the moment.

What I mean by this, is that while I’m sure you have amazing friends and people to support you through those times when shit just feels too freaking hard, at the end of the day – they’re not your therapist" - sometimes it's important to find support and guidance from someone objective.

Photo Credit: BENSHOOTSPEOPLE

Remember that you're never alone, and there's always someone nearby who's ready to support and assist you when you need. They may or may not be family - it doesn't matter, but spend some time identifying who you want in your support network, keep in touch with them, and reach out to them if you need. Take time out from other peoples dramas, because at the end of the day - Everyone has their own shit going on, and it probably isn't about you.

xx