I've been making a point of reflecting and taking note of the big - okay, massive shifts which have occurred in my life over the past year. Spending today getting stuck into finally unpacking the last of the boxes from when we moved into The Kitteh Palace, clearing out stuff we no longer need, and rearranging some of our furniture, really helped to anchor these reflections.Read More
We had some technical dramas - being my first ever attempt at using Hang Outs, and I had to switch to a new Live Event venue. It was essentially the online equivalent of locking yourself out of your house when there's an amazing party going on inside, and the music is pumping way too high to get anyone to let you back in!
All that aside - it was super encouraging to have a bunch of Girl Gang members jump venues, and stick with me while I got things up and moving again!
For those of you who weren't able to attend live, the event was recorded and you can check it out below!
I shared tips on gaining clarity on your goals and dreams, building the confidence to go after them, and maintaining motivation to stick with it when things get challenging. I also talked about the benefits I've experienced as a result of working with a coach, and enrolling in further study.
Again, Thank you so very much to everyone who was so enthusiastic and supportive, both in the lead up to the event - and DURING the broadcast! Especially big thanks and hugs go out to Jessi who wrote THIS review of the evening as well as her experience working with me One-on-One. I really appreciate all of the encouragement, and I hope that you found the call useful!
Now that I've got the whole Google Hang Out thing down pat, I've decided to make hosting A Rad Bitch Pyjama Party, a regular weekly thing! So if there's anything you'd like to see me discuss, I'd love to hear from you!
In order to ensure that the Live Hang Outs remain safe spaces for all involved - and to keep things a little more streamlined, I've set up a special Rad Bitch Guest List. Those who register for this list will receive an email on Fridays with a link to the coming Monday's event, as well as details on that weeks topic. You'll also receive a recording of the Hang Out delivered directly to your inbox afterwards.
You can sign up for the Guest List HERE
Over the years, my Dad has often tried to suggest to me that I write an autobiography.
Over the years, I've always said, "No! Seriously, there's no way that anyone is going to believe that half of this is for real! Also, who'd want to read my story anyway? From the outside it probably just sounds like one big, long, depressing whinge-fest - and there's no way that I'd want to read that story! Hell, I don't even want to sit down an write it, and it's all happened to me!"
I think now that things seem to have stabilised a lot more, and knowing that people are taking something constructive out of what I'm sharing, I feel more comfortable about it. I think that sharing my story in snippets, across various media - including this blog, and through videos, with a hint of snark and humour, make things much easier to handle. Also, I get to mix topics up every week, which is super fun.
So without further ado, here are some of my experiences from the last week, and the adventures that have led me here.
If you're in Australia, and your anything like Jordan and me, then you'll have already signed up for Netflix, and there's a high chance that you've spent the Easter Long Weekend binge watching episodes of TV shows you had to download illegally until now - or you know, just wait until forever for them to be released here.
Between episodes of Vikings and Bojack Horseman, I've spent the weekend watching Tina Fey's new series 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt', and in spite of (or possibly because of) the many cringe-worthy moments, I'm really digging it so far. It's nice to watch a show which presents survivors as being more than their traumatic experiences, and smashes holes in the phenomenon of labelling women as "Victims" with cheesy comedy.
I think the thing I love most about the show - and definitely the thing which resonates most with me, is Kimmy's refusal to be reduced to her experiences, and her determination to create exactly the kind of life she wants for herself.
This whole conversation around "Victims" and "Survivors" has always been really interesting to me. I can remember the first time I introduced my eldest Kitteh, Felix the Guard Tiger to my ex. I talked the other week, about how Felix lives with some pretty intense anxiety, and is generally pretty timid - especially around men. As my ex walked into the apartment I was living in at the time, I explained that Felix probably wouldn't let him too close and that the RSPCA had rescued him as a stray from Kinglake after the Black Saturday Bushfires.
My ex spun around and said, "Oh, so he's a Victim??"
And in what was probably the most telling example of the extreme differences between us, I responded, "Nu-uh! He's a SUR-VIV-OR!"
Anyway, these ideas have been going through my mind a bit lately, not only thanks to Kimmy Schmidt, but also because of this awesome campaign called Red My Lips which seeks to combat rape culture and minimise survivors experiences of shame through speaking out, and because New South Wales now has a Minister for Women who's already come out far stronger than her Federal counterpart - after only a week in the job.
As you can see, a lot has been happening inside my head this weekend - behind all of the planning for tonight's Google Hang Out, and Easter Egg Hunting (I may be a 29 year old woman, but Jordan still hid chocolates all over The Kitteh Palace for me yesterday) - I definitely needed yesterday to just chill out and stream TV Shows.
The other super exciting thing which happened yesterday (Yes - even more exciting than an apartment filled with hidden chocolate!) was that I received the results for my final exam as part of my ICF Accredited, Coaching Certification - and I am beyond thrilled to share with you all that I scored 95.6%, meaning that I performed extremely well in ALL three of my exams!
Now, in all honesty, I've always been something of a "High Achiever". I always did extremely well at high school, and it often felt somewhat unfair because I never had to push myself out of my comfort zone, or really challenge myself to do well. I think I felt guilty about this when I had friends who really desperately wanted to do well - especially in Years 11 and 12, and they would work incredibly hard and give their absolute best.
This all got much worse when I finished high school, and went straight into studying to become a Primary School Teacher. While on the surface, I was happy to have gotten into the university course I wanted to attend, and while I genuinely enjoyed going out to schools and taking part in practicum, as well as studying ideas and theories at a deeper level, I honestly felt kind of shit for most of the time I was doing anything to do with my degree.
It wasn't that I found the work too hard, when I actually got work done, I always received great marks. But I REALLY struggled to get work done - and if I submitted assignments at all, they were always marked down for late submission.
For years, there was a lot of underlying fear and anxiety below the surface that I wasn't ready to deal with - and eventually, I ended up dropping out of uni. TWICE!
As silly as it sounds, I think I was so totally scared of actually standing out and succeeding, that I absolutely sabotaged myself. I didn't believe that I deserved to be successful or stand out through my studies - or in my career - and for years I've been hiding myself away and running around in circles in my own little world.
I don't talk about it much, but there was a whole lot of really intense shit happen between the end of Year 12 and heading off to Uni. For those of you who don't know, I was involved in a serious car accident, and then on the day before we received our final VCE results, one of our school mates disappeared under water, and drowned while swimming in the Yarra River.
For a long time, I think I felt guilty about going on to university. I felt guilty that the work seemed easy to me, and I resented the idea of regurgitating information out onto paper just to prove that I'd understood it when I'd already demonstrated a clear understanding of the theories through practice. I know, essays are a part of academic study, and writing is something I'm naturally good at, so logically I should have been able to just pump the work out, but I would sit down and jam up every time I attempted to write. It was pretty much like having a panic attack every time I tried to do an assignment.
I stuck with teachers college for three whole years - attempting to work my way through it and repeating subjects I knew like the back of my hand, until I finished my Visual Arts Major and got the hell out. I honestly think that I stuck with it for so long because it was always expected that I would do well at uni - and that I would make a great teacher. Honestly, I think I stuck with it because I had no idea what else to do - even though I was working 3 crappy jobs the thought of dropping out and getting bogged down in them - and feeling like a failure was terrifying. I think I felt obliged to try and figure it out and make it work - like I didn't deserve to have it easy anymore, so everyday life became inherently challenging.
The other week, I shared on Facebook that during that particular day, I'd published almost 4,000 words on this blog - and that since creating this blog roughly 6 months ago, I've written more words than I did during all of the 6 years I spent at university.
Granted, now I'm writing by choice, on topics I'm totally passionate about, which makes a big difference, but I've also spent years getting to know my fears and triggers, learning about what I'm truly fucking terrified of, so that I can try to work with those fears to create something better.
Another huge lesson - aside from working to accept the things that have happened in my life, has been that none of the time I spent dithering and working through the shit at university was wasted. I learned a whole lot during that time - not only in terms of academic knowledge - but also about myself and other people.
My biggest piece of advice to anyone considering going into study now - regardless of what field they're thinking about - or where they're contemplating going (whether it be a university, TAFE, or private college or online provider), is to seriously ask yourself WHY?
Are you choosing to enrol just because you think that you should?
Or because someone has told you that you'd be good at it?
Or because you have no idea what else to do?
I finished high school over ten years ago now, I don't have a university degree, I've only JUST figured out what my thing is, and I've gotten through life quite well thus far I'd say - but things didn't need to be a fucking hard as I made them for myself.
My advice to you, is to ask yourself, when going into anything, "Is this something I'm truly excited by, and passionate about?"
It doesn't need to excite you, or be the ONLY thing you're ever going to be passionate about - EVER.
But at this point in time, for me, I've absolutely loved studying with the International College of Wellness Coaches, and receiving my exam results yesterday made me feel as if I've genuinely accomplished something to be extremely proud of. Just completing my exams and feeling good about my studies has been a big accomplishment for me.
So, at this stage I'm inviting you all to really think about what it is that you truly want to achieve in this life - and to think deeply about what might really be holding you back.
Please feel free to share what you come up with in the comments below.
Until next time,
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Holy Crap! Thank you for such a fantastic response to A Rad Bitch Re-Boot!! On Monday, I shared with you all about my new One on One Coaching Package, A Rad Bitch Re-Boot, and I have to say, I've been totally blown away by the comments and response I've received since!
I'll be sharing some of my own story, and letting you in on:
- What I've successfully achieved over the last 12 months,
- How I've done it,
and more importantly,
- How YOU can reach your goals too!
I'll share how investing in further training and one-on-one coaching have genuinely shifted my reality and opened up a whole host of new friendships and opportunities that I never would have encountered otherwise!
By the end of the night, you'll have learned:
- How to create clarity around your skills, passions and dreams to finally take action towards them.
- How to build the confidence that you have something totally valuable to share with the world - even when that bitchy little voice in your head is trying to distract you and fill your head with noise and negativity.
- How to maintain motivation and keep on moving forward when everything feels overwhelming and as if you're not getting anywhere.
- The value of collaborating and seeking support - especially when it comes to holding yourself accountable and actually get shit done!
The Hang Out is going to be a super fun opportunity for us to connect across state lines and international borders, in real time - and you'll have the chance to ask me any burning questions you may have.
Being Easter Monday, if you have any left over, bring your festive novelty shaped chocolates, a mug of hot chocolate, a blanket and your favourite notebook.
A Rad Bitch Pyjama Party Google Hang Out Details!
Time: 8.30 - 9.30 PM AEST Date: Monday 6th April Where: HERE How: Click on the link above just before 8.30 PM and I'll meet you there!
If you have any questions, or anything in particular you'd like me to cover, please feel free to let me know ahead of time by commenting below.
If you'd like to schedule in a complimentary 30 Minute Virtual Coffee Date to see if coaching with me is right for you, please click HERE and I'll be in touch within 24 Hours.
I can't wait to speak with you on Monday night!
This weekend has been far quieter than the last few - and definitely quieter than I had planned on this one being. I had honestly been really looking forward to heading out both last night and today, but unfortunately have caught myself an ick. It's nothing serious, just a cold, but definitely enough to have taken my voice away and replaced it with a hearty deep and gravely bark. In the spirit of focusing on the positive, and considering that I missed out on seeing them play last night, I recommend that you all go and check out the psych-rock goodness of House of Laurence. Seriously, their tour diaries always look like their adventures are super fun.
Add this to the facts that I was supposed to attend a picnic this afternoon to help my friends celebrate their first wedding anniversary, and that my neighbours have set up an outdoor cinema in our courtyard and are currently chilling out on bean bags watching Clint Eastwood films, and I'm dealing with some seriously Knowledge Of Missing Out.
So, what's a girl to do when she's feeling ick and trying not to cough up a lung? Well, in my case I'm using this as a healthy reminder to take better care of myself. I've spent most of today rugged up in my PJ's, I've taken a nap and done some writing.
While I don't want to weigh in on the whole "Food as Medicine" thing that's become a massive, polarising and sensationalist shit-storm in the media at the moment, for me there's no denying that certain foods at least help me feel more comfortable, and as if I'm taking care of myself when I'm sick.
In that spirit, I've decided to share with you all some of my favourite comfort foods, and most of these have been passed down across generations - and not just in my family.
Hot Fresh Lemon and Ginger Tea in the mornings.
Anything with Garlic, Chilli and brightly coloured vegetables.
I'd love to say that I up my Vitamin C levels with Fresh Citrus Fruits, but the truth is that I have never liked Oranges or Grapefruits, and I can really only handle them if their flavour is buried beneath lots of other yummy fruits.
I do however LOVE fresh berries, so I eat as many of those as possible to help boost the anti-oxidant levels (but mainly because I love them).
Creamy Pumpkin Soup is by far my MOST favourite comfort food when I'm not feeling well. Usually, when I cook soup for myself, I roast the pumpkin, garlic and onion in maple syrup before cooking the actual soup. I've had to resort to buying pre-cooked soup this time (I know, I'm devastated by this) because we've recently discovered the biggest flaw with The Kitteh Palace having an original kitchen - our oven doesn't work!!! Also, my stab mixer died and I haven't had the opportunity to replace it yet, so I can't puree anything at the moment.
Another massive favourite of mine, is a Hot "Buttered" Rum Toddy. I've had lots of requests for my recipe for this, which is honestly the entire reason I'm blogging about having a cold in the first place!
So, without further a-do, here is my Hot "Buttered" Rum Recipe, although it's really just a list of ingredients that I never measure, I just add in willy nilly as I see fit, so use your own responsible discretion here.
Sailor Jerry Spiced rum
Nuttelex Spread (if you're making a non-vegan version, just use butter)
Agave Nectar, of Maple Syrup (again, if you're not vegan, you can use honey)
Ground Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves and Cardamom
Fresh Cloudy Apple Juice.
To make it all hot, I heat the apple juice in a saucepan over the stove, before pouring it over all of the other ingredients - either directly in your own cup, or in a teapot if you're making enough to share.
I'd love to know, what are some of your favourite comfort food recipes when you have an ick?
Until next time, stay healthy, everyone!
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In my last post I made a passing mention of the cult classic 80's film, 'Heathers' - purely in reference to the fact that I'd been playing croquet at a picnic over the weekend, and to be honest, it's been on my mind ever since. It turned out that nobody else at the picnic had seen Heathers before, so I gave a super brief, non-spoiling description to the interested guests that, "It was a cult 80's high school film starring Winona Ryder and featured heavy doses of dark humour".
The comparison was immediately drawn between it and 'Jawbreaker', a film which I remember watching on VHS when I was still in the early years of high school, and starred Rose McGowan and featured a cameo appearance her then boyfriend Marilyn Manson. For the record, I really enjoyed this film when I was young - and I'm a little tempted to give it, and 'The Craft' another viewing - just for shits and giggles and "old times sake".
Anyway, this all got me thinking about pop culture references to Girl Gangs - particularly in the films I grew up watching - and the interactions between female characters in them, and I was struck by how overwhelmingly negative the relationships were.
In pretty much all of them, there's backstabbing bitchiness, competition over boys, perfectionism, idealised superficial beauty - and murderous cat fighting.
Even if I think back to stuff I watched as a kid - 'The Addams Family Values', 'Daria', and the relationship between Darlene and Becky in 'Roseanne' - the sarcasm, snark and straight-up resentment that played out between these fictional girls, was intense! And yes, I totally identified with the "odd-girl out" in all of these examples.
About the only examples I could think of which featured solid Girl Gangs, were 'Now & Then', and 'The Baby-Sitters Club', which was originally a book series (books that I devoured copies of faster than my Mum could bring the next one home from the Second Hand Book Shop) before being made into a film. The fact that I grew up and became a Nanny, is no freaking coincidence when you think about this.
This isn't just limited to films intended for teen audiences ('Bridesmaids' is a good example of this), although it's super prevalent in the whole high school film genre.
In reality, most female relationships are not this fraught - and for the most part, these films are a great excuse to hang out on the couch in your PJ's with your own Girl Gang, eat pop corn and laugh at the absurdity of it all. Yet the overwhelming message in most of these instances, is that as girls, we are automatically and intrinsically pitted against one another and will fight to the death.
There's rarely any real, deep learning - let alone genuine self-acceptance that takes place by the final act of the film, and whatever "feel-good" message we end up with, is usually pretty generic and superficially blase. I could very easily get into a rant about how this is all because patriarchy is still a thing, but that's not really the point of why I wanted to write this post.
I suppose I've been thinking about this sort of thing a lot more recently - especially since I created The Rad Bitch Girl Gang. Although in truth, I've probably been thinking about this - at least on a personal level, since I started on this whole adventure of rebuilding my own world over the last few years - because my focus is on creating positive, supportive relationships and safe spaces which encourage and facilitate growth.
So as not to sugar-coat stuff, I've definitely had my share of falling-outs with girlfriends, and regrettably have dished out as much Girl-on-Girl negativity as I've copped over the years, but it's a pattern I've worked damn hard to recognise, repair, to change and improve upon.
One thing I have DEFINITELY recognised over the years, is that I am far more likely to treat others well, and to feel confident in my relationships when I'm feeling confident and comfortable within myself.
I believe that there are three sides to this:
- First of all, we have to do the work to create our own genuine sense of self confidence.
- Secondly, there's the Karmic side - What you put out into the world comes back unto you.
- And thirdly, I wholeheartedly believe that we teach others how we to be treated through how we treat ourselves.
As much as I think it would be cool to have a well known pop-culture reference to point out as an example, and confidently say, "YES! THIS!! This is exactly how my Girl Gang feels!" I honestly can't think of one - yet! So, in the meantime, I suppose I'm working to create what I hope to see more of in the world - groups of amazing girls and women who treat themselves and one another beautifully.
I'm proud of the fact that The Girl Gang is a safe space for many of The Rad Bitches to share and support one another, and I'm proud to know some incredible women who are working to empower women in ways that will seriously change the world.
Remember, each of us is enough as we are.
There is enough in the world for each of us.
PS: '10 Things I Hate About You' will probably ALWAYS be my favourite high school movie, ever.
To download your copy of my FREE eBook 'A Rad Bitch's How to Guide to Life: From Post Break-Up Survival Mode, to Rocking at Life', click HERE. [contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]
It's been a funny old weekend here in Melbourne. Autumn is definitely in the air, and things are really starting to click. While we didn't really seem to get much of a Summer this year, I'm actually really looking forward to the cooler months and getting to retreat indoors, snuggle up in a blanket, and eat bowls full of creamy pumpkin soup.
In the meantime, Melbourne treated us with one more weekend of stunning sunshine, and what better way to make the most of this, than to head along to a picnic in The Royal Botanical Gardens for a spot of croquet? Well, in celebration of my friend Heidi's birthday, this is exactly how I spent my Saturday afternoon!
I had literally never played croquet before, and if you've ever seen the cult classic 'Heathers', and share my dark sense of humour, you'll understand why I enjoyed it so much - sadly my hair no longer accommodates a scrunchie.
Today's adventures, being Self Care Sunday, involved an early morning Coaching Practicum Session, followed by brunch with the parentals, some filming, as well as winding down for the night. I'm currently typing while wrapped up in my cosy pink slippers and pj's, having warmed my soul with a big mug of hot chocolate.
I'm starting to really enjoy filming and posting to You Tube. As much as I love writing, I have always had something of a mouth on me, so verbalising my thoughts has been a whole lot of fun - well - especially now that the content has lightened up a bit.
In this weeks two part video, I talked about reconnecting with my parents; the impulse to create and the importance of sharing. I also talk about realising that my parents are way cooler than me, and HOW influential they've been. You can check out Part One, below.
I still have to do a little more playing around with the editing suite before Part Two goes up, but it won't be far away!
Until then, have an amazing week ahead, and please click through to You Tube and check out the links to some of the other people, books, tumblr pages, and discussions I mention in the video.
PS: If you'd like to receive a free copy of my eBook, 'A Rad Bitch's How to Guide to Life', and receive doses of Kym Style Awesomeness, direct to your Inbox, you can sign up HERE
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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:
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.
Today is International Women's Day, so inspired by my friend Yen over on The Yennipenni Channel, and after saying for months that I wanted to create videos, I've finally pulled up my Big Girl Pants, said, "Fuck it!" and rambled to my webcam for a good 10 minutes.
Obviously, uploading it to YouTube and hitting publish without editing or re-watching it was the only way I was ever going to get this bad-babe out to the world without hitting delete and bailing on the whole idea, and I'm not entirely sure that I was coherent so please, "Go gentle on me, Internet."
You can check out my video here, if you're so inclined:
*If my video triggers any negative responses, or upsets you and you'd like to speak with someone, I've listed some of the services available within Australia, including Lifeline and Beyond Blue. You can find their contact details at the end of the post.
The overall idea was to send a message of things I would like my younger self to have known, and I chose to address my message to Nine Year Old Kym.
I chose that age pretty specifically because that was the age that I remember having absorbed so much of the negativity around me, in the way girls spoke to one another - to me specifically - and internalised it not only as acceptable, but as NORMAL.
Looking back now, having done a shit-tonne of work developing my own sense of self worth and becoming confident in who I am, I can see that whenever I engaged in Girl on Girl Hate (and sadly it took years to truly stop engaging in this kind of behaviour), it was more a reflection of how I felt at the time, than of those said Hate was directed towards.
I think it's also really important to recognise that this kind of behaviour is something which our culture still very much ENCOURAGES. Seriously, think about all of the toxic negativity we see spewing off the covers of trashy magazines, on TV, and out of newspapers. Anyway, this is a big part of why I now make such a considered effort to encourage women and girls to support one another - and why in The Girl Gang, I try to promote the idea that Rad Bitches Stick Together.
I also don't own a TV anymore, and I rarely read the news, because I'm trying to limit my exposure to things which frustrate or piss me off. I never buy trashy magazines and if I feel like indulging in a little pop culture, I stick with titles like, The Collective, Womankind, Yen, Peppermint, Frankie, or Bitch, because they offer well rounded, complex and nuanced representations and interpretations of the world we live in.
I think that this is also part of why I've always felt at home within fringe communities filled with artists, goths, punks and metal heads - even though many of those communities are super filled with dudes, I always felt accepted, rather than competed against.
Over the years, I've learned to be far more patient, understanding, and compassionate, but I still get super worked up about a bunch of issues - most of which tend to centre around inequality and systems of oppression.
I'm super fortunate to know (and know of) a number of incredibly wise and articulate people who frequently write and speak on these topics, so today, I'm going to share links to some of the pieces I feel are worth considering today.
My friend Penny attended Amy Gray's International Women's Day Opening Address during the week, and wrote about 11 Ways Amy Gray Inspired her.
Last year, my lovely friends Stevie and Luc - who collectively formed Team Earthling, explored International Women's Day from a vegan perspective, along with some of the ways in which animal rights organisations fail as an intersectional movement, in their podcast Why Intersectionality Matters.
I would also encourage everyone to check out Amy McGuire's piece for New Matilda, All Feminists Are Created Equal, But Some Are More Equal Than Others which discusses the unique forms and systems of violence experienced by Indigenous Australian Women.
Take the time to learn about the history of International Women's Day and it's roots as a revolutionary movement, and the relevance it still holds today. This article written by Rebecca Winson, was published last year on New Statesman.
I'd also encourage you to learn about what actions YOU can take to prevent violence against women and children, and the ways in which you can offer support to those who are currently experiencing, or have experienced male perpetrated violence through initiatives such as Our Watch.
Check out Annabel Crabb's piece on being a Proud Bad Feminist.
Or learn about the Radical Brownies, based in Oakland, CA. who aim to "empower young girls of color so that they step into their collective power, brilliance and leadership in order to make the world a more radical place."
Now having put my first video up, I'm feeling a little braver about the whole thing, and I've decided that I'd like to send a message to both 17 Year Old Kym, and 25 Year Old Kym.
How have you celebrated International Women's Day this year?
What message would you like to send to a younger version of you?
In the meantime, let's all stick together, learn from, and support one another - even when we disagree - that's the beauty of open dialogue.
Contact Details for support services and resources available in Australia:
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, an Australian "national initiative to raise awareness of anxiety and depression, providing resources for recovery, management and resilience."
Last 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 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.
Now, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
Over in my Facebook Group, 'The Rad Bitch Girl Gang' I make a point of hosting "Self Care Sundays". Basically, each week I highlight something small that I've done, or plan on doing during the day to make myself happy, and encourage others to do the same. Some weeks I'll catch up with a friend for a coffee and a chat, others I'll put on fresh pyjamas and read all day.
This morning I participated in a Practicum Class with my Coaching Peers as part of our assessment towards our certification. Today I was coached by the lovely Theresa Burke, while our classmates were able to listen in, and provide us with feedback at the end of our session, and it was such a wonderful way to start the day.
You see, I haven't been feeling the best of late, so I've been holding back and hiding from the world a little.
Holding back from blogging as much as I would like.
Holding back from recording videos.
Holding back from creating a podcast series of interviews with some seriously amazing Rad Bitches (Super exciting!!).
Holding back from writing newsletters.
Holding back from making myself available to ACTUALLY COACH!!!
While I haven't been feeling so great lately - and I'm talking 'Randomly bursting into tears and telling Jordan that "I'm really sad right now!" in the middle of the supermarket' levels of not so great - I'd been waiting until I felt as though I'd at least learned something worth sharing - or had found my way out from this little patch I'm experiencing, to write about it or share.
This morning Theresa helped me to see that a big part of what I write about, share, and encourage others to get comfortable with, is IMPERFECTION. I was really quite shocked to realise that as comfortable as I am with BEING imperfect, I wanted to be able to write about it perfectly - and with hindsight. We then identified some practical action steps that I could start taking today in order to start building my confidence around showing up in the world NOW.
After our session ended, we received some really amazing feedback - not only for Theresa's coaching skills, but also in regards to what I'd shared. It turns out that some of our peers have been dealing with similar feelings of insecurity and fears around putting themselves out there - and that some had been looking to me as somebody who's confident, and who is definitely "showing up", so they gained a lot from hearing what I had to share. Now it's kind of like, "Duh, of course, Kym! Teach by doing. Lead by example. You know this!" and it seems obvious.
My confidence is not innate. With every post, interview, or photo on Instagram, I have to make a conscious decision to put myself out there in that way - and sometimes that's easier than others. Being confident in who I am, and what I know, is something I'm constantly learning - and I know that I'm not alone in this.
I think that what struck me most today (as it often does), is that sometimes during sessions when I'm being coached, I'll find myself relearning things that I already know - or even more poignantly, that sometimes I really need to hear the same messages I'm sharing with my clients. To show up and be seen, or to let people know when things aren't ok and allow myself to admit when I'm struggling is important, because here's the thing, NONE OF US ARE FUCKING PERFECT, and sometimes other people need to see that in us, too.
So, if you I'd like you to consider this a reminder that Rad Bitches have shitty days sometimes, and if that's where you find yourself right now, then it's totally ok. Sometimes it's better to accept that this is where we're at right now, and spend some time getting to know what we actually need - rather than trying to force things to be "better".
PS: I finally finished Amy Poehler's book, 'Yes Please' and I totally recommend it if you're feeling a little "bleurgh" (or if you're feeling amazing), could use a little reassurance that you're exactly where you need to be, or just want to giggle.
Whether or not it's because of Mercury Retrograde, a cold and grey summer, or just the "Back to Work" Blues, I have noticed a definite energetic slump across the internet - and within my friendship circles over the last month. Being someone who's particularly sensitive to these things - and someone who has experienced both depression and anxiety at different times through my life - I haven't been immune to this funky little period that many of us seem to be coming out on the other side of.
First of all, let's take a moment for a collective deep breath, a sigh of relief and appreciation for any lessons or gains since the start of the year.
I think it's really important for us to acknowledge and learn to recognise that sometimes we do all need some time out, to step back, reflect, recover, recoup or do whatever it is that you actually need right now.
Obviously, as much as we may love to be able to hit the pause button on life occasionally, and take a break where we just don't need to adult for a while, the world keeps turning and we still have certain responsibilities to take care of, and expectations which need to be met.
Sometimes that might mean that we strip everything back to the absolute bare minimum, and only do the things which are truly essential (like eating) before crawling back into a quilt cocoon and cuddling up with the cats. I have definitely had my share of days like this over the last month. I have been making a point of spending my days off reading and writing in my pyjamas, and trying to allow space.
All of this said, January and early February have still been quite big months for me in terms of social events, with Baby Showers, 30th Birthday Parties, Reunions and Catch Up's out the wazoo - the biggest of which being my Lil Sis's Bridal Shower.
So, how does a sensitive introvert like me not only show up and deal with, but actually enjoy getting put and being social during a time when I'd really love to be tucked up at home?
To start with, I ask myself, "Why am I going to this event (or doing this thing)?" If I'm thinking about going along, purely out of obligation and the world isn't going to stop turning if I'm not there, then I scrap my plans.
Another way of looking at this, is to check in with your gut reaction to how you feel about being at an event? Then in the words of Mark Manson, if your response isn't "Fuck yes!", then it's a, "No."
For me, the event's I've been to over recent weeks - especially my Lil Sis's Bridal Shower, have been ones which I know that I'll enjoy, and that I'll be truly shitty at myself if I miss out on them. I've also gotten to a point now, where people really only invite me to events if they genuinely want me to be there, and that my attendance will be appreciated, which makes showing up way more fun.
Something else that I've been practicing over the past month, has been to take time out DURING events. Back in the day, I used to just punch through and hop from party, to party, back to back, and stay out until the first train home in the morning, or just end up crashing on a couch somewhere I didn't want to be - either because the cab fare home was too high - or because cab drivers wouldn't go as far out into the bush as the parties I went to, or I had just had way too much to drink to be going anywhere.
For my Lil Sis's Bridal Shower, her Bridesmaids had planned a MASSIVE day, starting with a champagne breakfast, followed by barefoot Lawn Bowls then a few hours of shenanigans, before dinner with cocktails, THEN dancing and drinking late into the night.
Considering that my sister lives interstate, and that many of her friends live in the outer suburbs, I definitely got lucky with the venues being within a ten minute drive from the Kitteh Palace. This meant that I was able to come home and take some time out after we'd finished with lawn bowls, and then go back out and meet the party again for dinner.
When he realised that I'd come home, Jordan assumed that it was because I wasn't having fun, however this wasn't the case. I had actually been having a great time, but I know myself well enough now to know where my limits are. By taking a break (and having a snack before going back out), I was able to really enjoy the rest of the night without feeling tired or getting cranky that the food took ages to come out.
Another thing I've learned over the years, is to leave while the party is still fun! While there's a lot to be said for those times when time gets away from you because you've found yourself engrossed in a conversation with someone you can truly relate to, then suddenly realising that you've been talking for four hours, when it comes to nights out I've become a big fan of recognising - and paying attention to when it's time to leave.
These days, I'm all for embracing the latter part of the saying, "GO HARD, OR GO HOME".
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.
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.
TIME: 2pm - 4pm
WHERE: Melbourne, Victoria (exact venue TBA)
TICKETS: $55 each through Eventbrite
Join Kym Seletto, author of ‘A Rad Bitch’s How to Guide to Life’ and Master of Real Talk, for an afternoon filled with some of her favourite things: Coffee, Cakes, and Coaching!
The Tea Party will be a professionally catered event, in a gorgeous Melbourne location - yet to be announced.
There will be cakes, scones, tea - and obvs. coffee (duh, of course!), as well as a professional photographer to capture all of the fun of the afternoon.
Best of all, there will be the opportunity to spend an afternoon in amazing company getting to meet fellow Rad Bitches in person!
I'll also be talking about how I became a Rad Bitch in the first place, and why I decided to study Health and Wellness Coaching, before leading a group coaching session around creating actionable goals and intentions for creating your own Girl Boss life in 2015.
I'm also super excited to announce that we will have a special Guest Rad Bitch Speaker joining us!
Ticket price includes a bonus 30 Minute one-on-one Virtual Coffee Date with Kym after the event.
Your ticket price includes: Delicious catering, The opportunity to meet likeminded Rad Bitches in a gorgeous setting, A Rad Bitch's How to Guide to Life Group Coaching Session, A Special Guest Rad Bitch Speaker on the day, as well as a Bonus 30 Minute Rad Bitch Virtual Coffee Date with Kym Seletto after the event.
Jordan and I have just returned home after spending Christmas together in one of my favourite parts of the world, Merimbula on the 'Sapphire Coast' in New South Wales. We stayed in this stunning apartment which had literally JUST been renovated. It was the perfect location to chill out, unwind and reflect on some of the amazing things that happened over the past twelve months. Of course we also spent plenty of time on the beach, swimming, paddle boarding, and enjoying the sunshine with family and friends.
I know 2014 was difficult and challenging for some of my friends and readers, and I know many people are looking forward to a fresh new year filled with new opportunities.
While I don't believe that anything happens for a reason, I do believe that everything we experience is an opportunity to learn and grow as a person.
With that said, I'd love to share some of my wins for 2014, and invite you all to share yours!
At the start of the year, I sat down with a fresh notebook and a copy of the Kikki.K edition of Shannah Kennedy's book, 'Simplify Structure Succeed' and wrote down pages of goals I hoped to achieve over the next few years.
I listed things like having a loving partner who complimented me as a person and would support me in my crazy, that I'd love to own a vintage bike and a Mini Cooper, to live in a cute functional apartment, to study, spend time at the beach, and to surround myself with positive and inspiring people who encourage me to be the best person I can.
I wanted to feel more relaxed, to be more organised, and to get more consistent sleep.
I wrote that I wanted to be financially secure and not living payday to payday.
I wanted to cook fresh healthy meals for myself each day, and cut down the amount of coffee I was drinking.
I wrote about cuddling up in front of the heater with a blanket, a mug of soup, a good book and The Kittehs during the cooler months, and time at the beach when it's hot.
In no way did I ever imagine that I would achieve even HALF of what I wrote down, let alone within the year.
As crazy as it sounds, I've not only achieved these goals, but I've achieved even MORE!
Jordan and I are about to share our 12 Month Anniversary, we moved into our Dream Apartment: "The Kitteh Palace" in June (after our first Broken Dream Apartment didn't work out as I'd hoped), I began studying Health and Wellness Coaching and have started building my new business, I've attended networking events and conferences AND I even spoke at one!
I started my blog, made new friends, travelled interstate and stayed in five star accommodation, I have a bright pink bike and a black MINI, I've enjoyed plenty of cuddles with Kittehs and cups of soup and so many interesting books!
Most of all, I've met amazing women and forged closer friendships with some very special people.
I'm working on my Money Story, but it's a lot more positive now than it has ever been. I have a budget now, and realistic plans for increasing my income into the new year.
I stick to a healthy sleep routine and I was introduced to Barre Body classes thanks to my friend Emma.
I'm so grateful for everything I've achieved, learned or experienced this year - the challenges which forced me to innovate and grow, the people who have offered me a safe space to learn to open up and to be vulnerable, the kindness of those who share their time, food, knowledge, friendship and support.
I am grateful that I pushed myself, that I have trusted my gut, taken risks and wholeheartedly believed that I am capable and deserving of better, then I set to work creating by reality.
I'm still learning to become a better communicator, and not to overcommit. I'm still striving to take consistent care of myself and eat healthy delicious food everyday.
2015 will bring some more exciting changes and challenges as I shift into the final stages of my course, and the next phases of building my Coaching business.
Thank you for being part of my year, and bringing your awesome into my life. xx
*BONUS BLOG POST TIME! IT'S A LONG ONE, TOO - YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED* Tonight I want to share some super personal things with you - things which have challenged me, made me ecstatically happy, left me shaking with rage, some that even made my Mum cry.
Anyone who has known me for any length of time - especially if they knew me as a kid, will tell you that I'm a pretty outgoing person, with a "Screw what anyone else thinks" attitude. For the most part, they'd be right on the money. I love getting up on stage and performing in front of an audience, I rock up to my Nannying job in Black Milk leggings covered in Monsters, and on one occasion in my early 20's I went out to party wearing a tiara created with my own hair. All of that said, I only enjoy being the centre of attention IF I'm doing so on MY TERMS.
What many people don't know, is that I'm actually absolutely TERRIFIED of being LOOKED AT.
You know that feeling when you rock up to a class or a meeting five minute after it started, and EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the room stops what they are doing, and STARES AT YOU? You get so nervous that you kick someones chair on your way passed, accidentally drop your pencil case as you take your seat, and you just KNOW that you're making so much noise while you're getting settled, that everyone is super annoyed with you. Your mind starts playing tricks on you as ridiculous thoughts race around your head.
"Oh crap, they're all still staring! Shit, why are they ALL staring at me? Is my dress tucked into the back of my undies? Do I have a booger hanging out of my nose? There's totally a booger hanging out of my nose, isn't there? I don't even have any tissues with me! Gah! Stop looking at me, dammit!"
This is exactly how my mind worked, pretty much all of the time, right through school, and it still does every now and then.
So from the minute I decided that it would be a good idea to hire a professional photographer and have a series of portraits taken for this blog, my stomach instantly started doing somersaults. One night, I bit the bullet, and sent off an enquiry email at about 1am. I barely slept and spent the next day exhausted, running on adrenaline as I got through my Buddy Coaching calls.
In the following days, I started to feel a little better about my decision and tried to step into a space of genuine excitement, by thinking about how this meant I absolutely HAD to get a hair cut, and that I could totally pick out some new outfits for the occasion! I shared the news of the impending photo shoot with a few friends, and my business coach with an air of nonchalance, as if this was the sort of thing I do every day. Really, I was telling them for an added level of accountability, so I couldn't back out!
As the day crept closer, that little voice inside my head started getting louder, and more specific, until it was practically SCREAMING my deepest insecurities at me.
"Just who do YOU think you are, hiring a professional photographer?"
"Really Kym? YOU'RE doing a photo shoot? In PUBLIC?!?! HAHAHAHA! This is a joke, right? What is the photographer going to think? As if he'll even want to shoot you!"
I did my very best to ignore that ridiculous voice, and replied to every email as we planned and nutted out the details of what I wanted. I told myself I was being ridiculous, I'd met Ben before at a friends wedding, he'd taken a photo of Jordan and me that happens to be my favourite one of us together. I knew he understood my style, and that he'd be able to take photos that would help me stand out from other Life Coaches.
When Ben first arrived, I felt slightly ridiculous posing in my lounge room, but we quickly figured each other out, I calmed heck down - Lucy the Hell Kitty and The Sassy Ms. Honey B even came out to play for the camera!
Well it turned out, that THIS was a particularly sunny Sunday afternoon, so just about every man and his dog was out and about. We wandered slowly by crowded cafes and distracted traffic at busy intersections, before I posed on park benches or leaned on quaint little bridges, thoughtfully watching ducks and geese go about their business.
Of course I was laughing at how silly we must have looked. But inside, I was registering every single person who looked at me, trying to quiet that voice in my which was scolding me for being so ostentatious and flamboyant, and ignoring the thought that everyone was judging me.
We rounded out the shoot with a few more shots back at The Kitteh Palace, and with me feeling super proud of myself for actually DOING the shoot at all, and especially for the fact that I had FUN!
The next day, Ben sent through all of the proofs for me to choose from. This freaked me right the hell out. So much so, that I procrastinated getting back to him for about a week. I ummed-and-ahhed for days, tearing apart and scrutinising my appearance in every photo, before FINALLY deciding on 10 images.
I almost dreaded getting the final high resolution images back from him, knowing that I would have to start sharing them!
I've essentially had the first half of this post drafted in my head and ready to go ever since the photo shoot, although I was still tossing up whether or not to actually share it.
There have been a number of really significant events this week, which have convinced me that I HAVE to share these photos, as well as the following stories.
For those of you who don't know, when I was a little girl, I had a hemangioma or Strawberry Mark, which at its' peak covered about 90% of my face, neck and along my sternum. While Strawberry Marks are not uncommon, mine was at the time, one of the most severe known cases in the country, as it affected so much of my face, as well as my airways, and my throat. Due to the internal swelling, I wasn't able to swallow food, or breathe through my nose, so for the first few years, I lived with a feeding tube into my belly.
Given that my parents were the first of all of their friends to get pregnant, there was a LOT of anticipation and excitement about my birth - so it turned out that we had a massive group of family and the kind of friends you think of as "Family" who considered me "their" baby, too.
There were plenty of ups and downs along the way, but ultimately, I was a really happy little kid. I was proud of my Strawberry Marks and thought they were pretty. I have vivid memories of standing in front of the bathroom mirror when I was tall enough, finding the flowers in the pink lumpy shapes on my cheeks, thinking to myself just how cool they were. Seriously, how lucky was I to have pictures on my cheeks just like My Little Ponies had pictures on their rumps, or Care Bears had on their tummies?
All of that said, I was born smack-bang in the middle of the 80's, and at the height of AIDS hysteria. People were afraid of anything they didn't understand (and still are), and my Mum once told me a story of some guy dragging his kid off a carousel in a shopping centre and telling her off for taking me out in public, as if I posed a danger to his kid.
I can remember a photographic assistant at the Children's Hospital admonishing Mum for letting my sister and I look at the photos in MY medical records, as if photos of my own birth mark were too graphic for us to look at, or something?
I can't even imagine how difficult that must have been for my Mum (Who for the record is extremely humble, unassuming, and nowhere near as outlandish as I am), or for my Dad - but they NEVER hid me away from anyone. Every year, Mum and I would line up with everyone else at K-Mart for our annual Pixie Photo session. Every year, she would order a deluxe package with blown up portraits, laminated calendars with magnets glued on the back for both sets of grandparents, and all of their friends. I'm actually pretty sure she still has a calendar from 1990 on her fridge.
As I started to grow, I turned out to be that kid who'd be out on the dance floor at every party - rocking out to whichever band was playing - on my own half the time, but having a blast. I was out there, doing my thing, dancing to blues guitar and singing along to words I didn't even know yet, and not giving a shit who cared. Not once did Mum or Dad try to stop me, no matter how uncomfortable they might have felt.
Now the reason I'm sharing all of this, is because during the week, I've come across two articles, written by two different mothers whose daughters were also born with Strawberry Marks.
The first article, by Beth Seaver appeared on xoJane, was titled 'My Kid Has a Big Red Dot on Her Face, Here's How Not to Be a Dick'. Naturally, it warmed my heart and it made me so unbelievably happy to read, so I posted it on my personal Facebook, knowing that Mum would read it. As fate may have it, I was catching up with my parents, as well as all of Mums siblings and a few of my cousins that night for family dinner, so the article came up in conversation. We all agreed it was amazing, and I highly recommend reading it. Mum found herself agreeing with many of the points raised in this article, and today she told me that no matter how challenging or unfair things felt at different times when I was in and out of hospital, she always came home feeling lucky knowing that I was relatively healthy, and that I was going to be fine.
On Wednesday, following on from my posting 'How Not to Be a Dick', I was tagged in a Facebook post by Mia Freedman's blog MamaMia, (although the article was originally published on The Huffington Post). To say that the experience of reading the article was a stark reminder of exactly why I NEVER read any thing on MamaMia, would be an understatement. I felt physically ill for having read it, and it brought up some very painful memories.
Before I post the link to this article, I want to make it EXTREMELY CLEAR that I am NOT attacking the author of this article for the choices she made. I'm absolutely certain that she felt that she was making the very best decision she could - with the information available to her at the time. I want to acknowledge how courageous she must be to speak publicly about what was an extremely difficult and painful decision for her to make at the time - especially when she must have known how her decisions would come across to an audience who have never been faced with the situation she was.
Now, as full disclosure, I DID undergo cosmetic surgery as a child. I had a facelift in 1991 at age 6 (when elective cosmetic surgery was still relatively new), and about a year later I had laser treatment under a General Anaesthesia (I woke up screaming afterwards, and was sick for the rest of the afternoon). I want to stress that my Strawberry Marks had mostly disappeared by this time, and that deciding to put me through both of these procedures was very difficult for my parents - especially considering that I was well and truly OVER the whole hospital thing by that point.
I can only speak to my own experiences here, but the article I'm about to link to paints an extremely vivd picture of what I felt when I underwent a "test patch" without anaesthetic. It was by FAR one of the most traumatic and physically painful experiences of my life so far. From being on the receiving end of laser treatment, I felt that the sensation was a metric f*ck-tonne more painful than a flick with an elastic band, and I'm beyond furious that the same comparison that my parents and I were told of, was then fed to these parents across the world, a whole FIVE YEARS LATER.
I'm furious that they were advised that the procedure would be beneficial on an infant from the age of 13 months old.
And I felt physically ill at the thought that the procedure was REPEATED again and again, WITHOUT ANAESTHETIC.
I'm angry that procedures like this are being sold to concerned parents who want to protect their children from potential bullying or cruelty - as if removing a birthmark (one which generally disappears by its own nature) is an appropriate way to go about that.
I don't want to go into the other issues this article raised for me - although there are MANY - including how f*cked up I find it that girls like me were sent messages that something about our physical appearance that we were either proud or unaware of, was inherently wrong and needed to be corrected or removed.
Ultimately what I've learned from reading both of these posts, is just how important it is for me to show up, allow myself to be seen, and LOOKED AT - even on days when I feel like I look kinda crappy - let alone on days when I feel totally amazing, and I'm posing for professional photos.
I'm not conventionally "pretty", but I'm ok with that.
I regularly take and post "No Make Up Selfies" on social media - sometimes with bed hair, often while I'm still in my pyjamas.
I'm still learning to think of myself as beautiful, no matter how many times I hear other people tell me I am, but I'm getting better.
I'm unique, and I love that what makes me stand out these days is not my wrinkles, or the few reddish spots on my face, it's my personality, and the confidence in who I am and what I can do because of the experiences I've had.
It's important for me to be seen, so that parents facing these decisions either now, or in the future can see just how amazing us Strawberry Marked Girls grow up to be.
It's important for me to show up and share my stories, so that girls with Strawberry Marks know that they're not alone, and there are more of us who've been through similar experiences to you. I want for all of you to know that you are beautiful exactly how you are, and please don't you EVER let anyone treat you as if you are less deserving of the wonderful things this world has to offer.
Don't ever settle, compromise, or allow anyone to ignore your voice.
I want to thank Ben Gunzburg of BENSHOOTSPEOPLE for the amazing portraits he took, and for helping me to feel so relaxed during our session. It was a lot of fun, and I totally look forward to working with him again in the future.
But most of all, I want to thank my parents (and I know that my Mum will have been crying through this entire post) because reading these articles has reminded me to be grateful every day for just how f*cking incredible they were, and still are. I want them to know that they were not just doing "what mums and dads do", they were doing what OUTSTANDING Mums and Dads do.
I want my Lil Sis to know how amazing she is, and how much I still appreciate those two years when she would ditch her friends on the playground if they didn't want to include me in their games.
Thank you to everyone who's read this post, sincerely. There is a huge part of my soul that has been poured out and into these words tonight.
This weeks post comes from the first tip in my eBook A Rad Bitch's How to Guide to Life: From Post Break-Up Survival Mode, to Rocking at Life, and it feels like it's a message we all need to be reminded of from time-to-time. I've seen countless articles and email newsletters written on this topic recently, as well as questions from within my network of peers - Yep! Even us Coaches, battle with with the dreaded Comparison-itis from time to time!
You know that feeling, when you see some other Girl Boss totally killing at life. She's posting all these amazing photos across Social Media - Oh look, another Instagram photo on a beach with her puppy and Significant Other, followed by a Facebook update about that gig she went to last night. Whatever the case story may be - it doesn't actually matter.
What matters, are the stories and the meaning that WE attach to other peoples lives.
Sometimes we look at those around us with envy or jealousy. It's easy to get caught up in thoughts that there's some finite level of AWESOME available in the world, and that somehow, it's being unfairly distributed - especially when you're really struggling. Sometimes, it just feels so f*cking unfair!
"Like, really Life? How come SHE gets to have ALL of the AWESOME, while I'm stuck over here on Struggle Street? Gahhhh!"
Okay, if this is YOU right now? STOP!
Here are some really important things I want you to remember:
First of all, the people in your life, are here because you're YOU.
They love you and want to spend time with you because they damn well get the person you are. Unless you have totally shitty friends - this is a good thing! They love YOU - quirks, weird habits, dangerously high number of feline friends and all!
Secondly, EVERYONE starts out SOMEWHERE, and has a bad day every now and then.
This one took me a long time to realise for myself, so please don't beat yourself up if this takes some consistent practice - and some missteps along the way. It may be that the Girl Boss you've been shooting dagger-eyes at through your phone screen, once found herself in the same tired, old, warn through sneakers you're dragging your butt down to 7/11 for a sneaky 2am donut in (It's ok, we've all done it). There are any number of possible events that may have occurred, and choices she may have made about her life - let alone how much work she's put in in the mean time, to get to where she is now.
The take home message here - is not a new one, but it is an important one all the same: You can't compare your Page 1, to someone else's Page 101 and expect them to look the freakin' same. Seriously, plot and character development are crucial elements to any story that's supposed to make any sense - let alone great to read!
Third, whatever you get to see is NEVER the full picture.
Regardless of where you interact with others, be it at work, uni, the gym, online, or even through the media - you will never get to see a complete picture of who they are. Whatever you see of them - particularly online (or in the media) - will only ever be what someone chooses to show you. In reality, unless you're reading trashy tabloid crap - in which case what you're consuming is probably totally made up bullshit - you'll only get to see the BEST selfie that someone took, not the countless other ones which feature weird light, or the ones when their eye was half closed and they look kind of drunk. What we see is CURATED.
Fourth, it's great to have positive role models and people who inspire you, BUT...
Role Models should have a positive influence on you. They should INSPIRE you to grow as a person, and to be your own best self - they should not bring out feelings of defeat or hopelessness. If you've tried all the things I've suggested so far, and you've still got a severe case of Comparison-itis, I want you to remember that YOU get to choose what and who you see, or at least how often and how you interact with a given person. If you REALLY can't shake the negative feelings someone brings up for you, limit or eliminate the contact you have with that person - at least until you feel more confident in where you're at.
MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, REMEMBER THAT THE ONLY PERSON YOU SHOULD BE COMPARING YOURSELF TO, IS YOU!
Check in with how you feel about what YOU are doing, feeling, achieving? Who do you share your life with? What do you have to show for yourself? What goals are you working towards, and how much closer are you to reaching them than you were yesterday? Last week? A month ago? Five years ago? How much have you grown and what have you learned from your unique experiences in life?
Ask yourself, "What AM I doing?" In spite of all the excuses you could be making, and potential set backs or barriers which would cause anyone else to throw their hands up in the air and scream, "F*ck this for a joke!" I guarantee that you're kicking more arse than you think you are - AND I'd be willing to bet that somewhere out there, SOMEONE else is looking up to you, hoping that their Page 101 looks half as freakin' AWESOME as yours does to them.
Thanks again for stopping in, and please let me know in the comments section below:
How YOU deal with Comparison-itis when it rears its' head?
It's been a really interesting couple of weeks here at The Kitteh Palace, as always, I've been pretty busy, and to be completely honest with you, at times things have felt just a little hectic. There have been a couple of nights when I've crashed into my armchair after work, given up on the idea of cooking dinner. Having battled extreme fatigue levels, anxiety and depression at various times during my life, I'm now extremely aware of my needs, and the importance of incorporating self care in my day to day life, so I've been working at holding the ship steady, while zipping along.
The very night that I published my 'About' page on this blog, I received a phone call from a friend who I used to work with when I was about 20. Back when we worked together, I was pretty much at the messiest time in my life. I was working at three different, physically demanding jobs, being under-paid, attempting but failing my teaching degree, dealing with full-blown insomnia, and partying WAY too many nights a week. I had also gone from one ridiculous boy situation, to another, even MORE ridiculous boy situation - which went on for the next five-or-so years (Yes, I'm serious. Like I said, MESSY).
Now, the interesting thing here, is that even at that time, despite the mess I was creating around me - and despite of our age difference (she was in her 30's at the time), I often found myself supporting my friend in the very same way I do for clients now! Talking with my boyfriend after I hung up the phone, took me back to those days, and somehow in spite of the hangovers and sleep deprivation - the memories of our personal struggles, and the pain I was trying to numb were super vivid. I sat with them for a few minutes, before realising that memories like these are EXACTLY why I believe in the work I'm doing.
I honestly believe that we're given this decade known as our 20's to try shit out, fall down, destroy some stuff, and learn what works and what doesn't, (and even as I'm typing this, I'm worried it will come out sounding super dull and boring) so that by the time we hit our 30's, we have enough of an idea of what serves us (As well as what doesn't!) so we can seriously kick arse and really make the most of our time here.
And believe me, I know just how challenging this shit can be to sift through. But what happens if we get to the end of our 20's, or even to the end of our 30's, 40's or even the end of our 50's, not having learned these lessons? Do we just keep on repeating the same patterns, living out the same (in my case, destructive) behaviours? I truly get that sometimes, all you need is someone to hug you while you cry it out, and others you really need to hear is, "Harden the fuck up, and sort your shit out already!" from someone who genuinely gets you.
I want to tell you, that even though over the last two weeks, I've had moments where I've bordered on overwhelm with my workload, not only does it feel worthwhile when I know that I'm working with Rad Bitches and Girl Bosses so that they don't keep living out the same stories over and over. It feels worthwhile when I remember that I now know and understand my limits, and that the work I'm doing is challenging me in ways I genuinely enjoy. I'm growing, and I'm learning every day, and the challenges are nowhere near as overwhelming - let alone soul crushing, as the ones I used to go into battle against every day.
In light of all of this, I sat down and wrote an ebook, which you can download for FREE!
I've included some of my most favourite pieces of wisdom, which have helped me get through some of the most challenging times in my life!
I'm sharing this with you all, in the hope that if you’ve come across this little book at a time when you’re feeling stuck, or maybe even find yourself screaming, “LIFE, WHY YOU BE SO HARD FOR???” that you’ll be able to flip through it, and know that you’re not alone!
I'd love to know what you think of it!
In other news, Jess and I have been working hard behind the scenes to put my first coaching package together; I've been completing my course work; joining in on practical coaching sessions with my classmates; as well as participating in a new project with the amazing Elle Roberts (stay tuned, I'll be announcing the details of this in the coming weeks!).
I sat my Level 1 Health and Wellness Coaching certification exam yesterday, before Jordan and I headed into the city for an Art Gallery and Bagel Date to celebrate.
We visited ACCA, the NGV International, and Anna Schwartz, before walking down to the (still essentially abandoned) Docklands precinct for the exhibition opening at D11.
Thanks again for stopping by, and than you to everyone who has shared their support and words of encouragement over the last few weeks and months. I really appreciate your thoughts!
Until next time,