Let's be honest. public shaming is hardly a new phenomenon and unfortunately I'm sure that all of us have played into it in some way at one time or another.Read More
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?