# 37 Got a ticket for the long way round

Let's be honest, a lot of my writing has been pretty f@#**ing depressing lately. Even I was getting worried about it. Optimism, and the burden of it can be hard to carry, even with my donkey legs (I take my squats at the gym seriously.) That wave of melancholy has passed somewhat, this last episode caught me off guard, but I'm well on the way to recovery.

Waves of sadness, self-pity and frustration, it never really leaves me. Most of the time, with the energy I have, it's manageable. When it happens I have two options: Fight it with all my might, or accept it, allow the current to take me until I reach the bottom and slowly make my way back. The swim upwards gives me plenty of time for reflection, and I bounce back stronger. It's usually on the way down that I make stupid decisions based on fear, being impatient and doubting myself. Each episode passes quicker and adds to my library of lessons that can only be learned when life pisses you off.

Growing up, and even in my twenties, I could count my close friends on one hand. I'm grateful I still have friends from high school that I know have my back. These days I still don't have many friends, but I like it that way. We share a group chat on Facebook that when any one of us have issues, becomes a marathon of advice, love and hard truths. Great friends are hard to come by, honest ones, those are keepers.

Living with my parents again, I try my best to have breakfast with my Mum (my Dad works out of town during the week). As we sit eating a bowl of porridge, or a fried egg, we would talk about the studio, work, or just life in general. This morning she was recounting a Facebook post she read that she was particularly excited about. Even though we have lived in New Zealand for over 25 years, sometimes her English still gets mixed up, and today was one of those times.

The post she talked about is about two mothers and their daughters, sitting nearby in a park. One family was black, the other white. One of the girls asked why her skin colour was different to the other girl's sitting across the playground. "When God created humans, he used clay and it was black, that's why she has dark skin. Then God saw white dust on those first hands and smiled, and that's why you are white." (Ok, I haven't been able to find this post, so I have to take her word for it. Either way, I like how my Mum closed by, "No matter what the colour of our skin, we are all made from the same clay. You are beautiful...and black."

No matter what the colour of our skin, we are all made from the same clay. You are beautiful... (sic) and black.
— Mum


For those who may not know, I have dark brown skin, taking after my Dad. My Mum is fair skinned, as we have a strong Spanish / Chinese ancestry. My sister takes after her, and my brother I refer to as a caramel-mocha! Growing up, my older sister would tell me that the reason I had darker skin was because I was born at night. Sisterly love!

There are days I just want to know where I'm supposed to be, to take the express route instead of the scenic tour. For now I have a ticket for the long way round, and that's ok with me. In the words of Walk The Moon, "It's not a matter of if, it's just a matter of when..." Here's to more adventures, laughs and self-love.

Ronna Funtelar Thacker is a writer, foodie and dance studio owner.
A self-confessed eternal optimist and lover of crispy M&Ms, she shares her adventures and life learnings to connect, inspire and nurture self-love.

# 28 The Burdens of an Eternal Optimist

JC, my day one dog, beach lover and explorer.

JC, my day one dog, beach lover and explorer.

I met another eternal optimist like me, he too was dealing with a recent break up, and it was fascinating to listen to a male version of my thoughts. One day we must have both been feeling low, and I talked to him about the burdens of being an optimist.

"What do you mean?" He asked.

You see, as an optimist I can't help but see that the glass is half full, or the big picture that something or someone great is just around the corner. But I'm human, and I still get impatient. That kind of thinking gets things done, but only in the short-term. When I get down, there's one side of me that feels and shows that frustration, and another that won't. He put it simply, “Some days I just want to say F@*k it, I'm tired, I can see the good in this later.”

Days when you want to buy silver top milk and Oreos and just be left alone.

That's the burden of an eternal optimist.

He asked me if I had faith, and I said yes, more than anyone can know. Hold on to that, he said, it's what gets you through days when you feel like you're stuck, or in the rapids without a paddle. Faith grounds you and gives you hope.

I also feel the pressure of where society expects me to be at my age - settled down, popped out a couple of kids, walking along the beach with our dog. Ok, I have the dog, check. And I work with kids. Days like these I stop, breathe, and realise how incredibly blessed my life is, even when I haven’t quite figured it out. Walking alone on the beach with my dog, I am reminded, this moment, these emotions are temporary, and the bigger picture is actually quite awesome.

Last night we farewelled one of our dancers, Rieke, who is going back home to Germany after a year in New Zealand. We spent one incredible year with her, and I truly feel blessed to have known and taught her. Hearing her laugh is like going for a swim on a really hot day, or finding out your favourite chocolate bar is on special at the supermarket. Simplistic joy. She will be someone who will impact many lives, we are just a few.

Each dancer shared the love, like really shared the love. And there I listened, in awe of these kids, their honesty and giving a part of themselves without hesitation. Rieke is their friend, forever part of our family. Giving time is truly the greatest gift.

So, what is the burden of an eternal optimist? It’s being patient with yourself, as much as you are with others. Taking your own advice even though it isn’t what you want to hear right now. If you want to be sad, be sad, just don’t stay there too long. The sun is shining, and the dog wants to go to the beach.

An awesome life isn’t about everything going right, it’s living in the right now.

Ronna Grace Funtelar is a writer, foodie and dance studio owner.
A self-confessed eternal optimist and lover of crispy M&Ms, she shares her adventures and life learnings to connect, inspire and nurture self-love.