relationships

The Reality of Fear

The Reality of Fear

F-E-A-R, a thought-provoking, four letter F word that walks alongside us can either be a barrier or the motivator. It depends on your perspective. Whether in life, love, your job or your self-image - to feel fear is a natural human instinct of perceived self-preservation. You see danger is real, we learn to identify it from an early age - it’s what stops us from putting our hands over a flame too long in case we get burned. Fear on the other hand is the seed planted in a way of thinking that clings on to the worst case scenario of the spectrum.

# 68 The Value of Everything

# 68 The Value of Everything

There’s a lot I’m questioning about myself and I’m not totally sure where it’s going yet. I’m convinced though that it’s long overdue and definitely a good thing. Losing my voice was a blessing in disguise - it allowed me to call a truce with myself. To be grateful that I’m still here. To start over.

# 66 The Cultural Divide

# 66 The Cultural Divide

What I have to remember in all this is to keep living my truth. Taking on other people’s expectations of me, that’s a heavy burden to carry and impossible to live up to. I don’t want to live the rest of my days scared of disappointing people, because let’s face it, it’s going to happen anyway. When we label others, how we see them is biased while that person is in that bubble.

Peel away the labels and let go of the judgement. Take away the regrets but keep the lessons. Yeah, I think that’s a good place to start.

# 62 When The Ego Speaks

# 62 When The Ego Speaks

I cried...because I was tired, emotionally vulnerable and fear got the better of me. Not because he said anything mean or hurtful. He was right though, I got scared because whatever I thought I was looking for in him wasn’t there. I missed being in a relationship, and I was tired of waiting for ours to mould itself into the void my last one had left.

# 61 Playdough

# 61 Playdough

The date on phone tells me it’s 18 April - today’s my birthday! Facebook had reminded people it was my birthday and they have been steadily posting on my page all day. I'm on a plane somewhere over the Tasman Sea. You can say that I’ve spent my 34th birthday getting somewhere, as much as my 33rd was spent trying to run away from something. I don’t know what the next chapter of my story will be, for now, I just want a break from having to think so much.

# 59 Don't Forget Your Roots

My relationship changed with my parents this past year - I’m grateful because I feel my separation became a catalyst to a more honest connection with them both, with my Mum especially. We don’t have to agree on everything, yet I’m not as quick to judge their perspective, or feel resentful that they may not agree with some of my life choices.

Being the child of migrant parents, born in the Philippines but raised overseas, I’m an awkward split of a generation. Even though I have spent most of my life in New Zealand, I’m still proudly Filipino. I don’t know what it is about us, but we are raised to be patriotic to the motherland. I don’t think I have met a Filipino who isn’t proud to be one.

As a child, I both respected and feared my parents. The repercussions of stepping out of line as an Asian kid is different to some cultures. You don’t just disrespect them - it has a ripple effect on your extended family too. To feel that my family were disappointed in me instilled a guilt far greater than I could ever impose on myself.

A big part of my upbringing is Westernised, and I guess that’s where my Mum and I have clashed in the past. As I got older, I learned to see and understand her point of view and how she has carried the burden of expectation of our culture, and our roles as mothers and nurturers. During those first weeks of moving back home, there were times I felt she was always in my personal space - asking where I was going, if I had eaten, what my schedule was. At first it was a point of contention between us because all I wanted to be was alone.

Pinoy ako - always have been, always will be.

 

I must have been a real cow back then - but she couldn’t give up. Someone had to save me from my own darkness. There’s no doubt in my mind that my parents love me unconditionally - even though we’ve had countless arguments, home was always a safe place to fall. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how different I would be if I couldn’t trust them like that. I have friends who don’t feel the same way about theirs and that’s sad. We always need someone in our corner to be help us tackle the sucker punches life throws at us.

They say that women who have a good relationship with their fathers have a higher chance of having healthy, loving relationships as adults. I remember when we first moved to Whakatane in my high school years, my Dad and I used to go fishing during mackerel season. We fished at a local wharf about fifteen minutes from home and would usually leave before sunrise. The mackerel came closest to the shore at dawn. There with our yellow rod, he and I would fish. OK, he fished and I was his assistant - not a very good one either because I didn’t want to get that fishy smell on my hands. Still, it was cool to hang out. Some mornings we got lucky and caught a decent sized fish. Other days we came up empty, so he would just buy us breakfast and take it home to share with my Mum.

My Dad and I haven’t fished in years, and I wonder what we would talk about now if we did. Something we do share is our love of singing, and no one loves karaoke more than us Asians. They own the latest Magic Sing (it’s a large microphone with built-in karaoke software that you plug into your TV) and a turn on it is as common as offering a visitor a hot drink. If I sleep in on a Saturday morning, I could be waking up to the smell of toast and be serenaded by Frank Sinatra at the same time.

In my meditation evenings (which I realised that I haven’t been to in weeks), we are taught to ‘ground’ ourselves. Grounding is a term used to describe that feeling of connection to the Earth, to keep you steady and safe wherever your mind may take you. I guess it’s the same as knowing your roots - by giving us a strong foundation to lead soul-enriched lives.

As an adult I finally understand why knowing my culture (or re-discovering my appreciation for it) is important moving forward. It explains a lot about who I am and what I value, my quirks and what I offer this world.

Pinoy ako - always have been, always will be.

# 55 Keyboard Lovers

Ah the perils of great expectations. When I meet a guy, I go on a few dates, get to know them just enough to decide if I want to dig deeper. That’s about the third date for me. I decide if there are some clear deal breakers or alarm bells early on - let’s be real, if that person you are dating doesn’t put in some decent effort to get to know you in the beginning, walk away. It’s not you, it’s them.

I have also realised that with these dates, enjoying the idea of them liking me isn’t the same as actually liking that person. I mean, sure, it’s an ego boost to know someone is thinking of me. Developing that almost ninja instinct to pick up your phone just before they text. Or is that just because you’re checking your phone every ten seconds hoping to hear from them?

Cute, right? Not really.

Here’s the most frustrating part - people often forget that these sites and apps are just tools to meet actual people. On the other side of that screen is a real person. If I talked to a date like most keyboard lovers have, it would make for a whole lot of awkward.
— fivefootronna

 

With online dating and apps becoming just another way to ‘meet’ that special someone (or a cuddle buddy), it’s so easy to become keyboard lovers. The Casanova Charmers who hook you in with their sweet nothings that turns out were a cut and paste from Google’s greatest hits. I’ve talked to plenty of those. They want to impress you online, but will never arrange to meet you in real life.

Here’s the most frustrating part - people often forget that these sites and apps are just tools to meet actual people. On the other side of that screen is a real person. If I talked to a date like most keyboard lovers have, it would make for a whole lot of awkward.

I had a lightbulb moment this morning - when you realise that you like that person and begin to play a fantasy in your head about how you ‘wish’ they fitted into your life, that’s when you need to stop...and breathe. You notice they don’t text or call you as much, and you start getting worried. It drives you CRAZY. What did I do wrong? Maybe their phone broke. Maybe they’re in hospital and they forgot their charger so they’re conserving battery life.

Or maybe, they’re just not that into you. Ouch.

When we ‘like’ someone, plenty of common sense goes out the window. You start changing yourself to what you think they would like, when really, there must be something cool about you for them to ask you out, right? It’s a big ego stroke when that date tells you that you’re beautiful, or that you have a great personality. I get it, because I’ve been there. I’m going through it. Then I realised, if I didn’t already like this person, would I put up with that behaviour in the first place?

Yeah, you know, the one worded text replies. Asking you out for dinner for the next day at 11pm. You find yourself always texting first - and when they do reply, you cling on to that hope, that maybe, they do like you, they’re just busy.

Then I found myself watching a Matthew Hussey video, and he was talking about ‘breadcrumbing’. Now, you’ve heard of ghosting, right? When you go on a few dates, then all of sudden they fall off the face of the Earth never to be heard from again? Cue tumbleweeds…

Breadcrumbing is when you’re dating someone, and they might only contact you once in awhile to keep you interested. What sucks about it is that when you do hear from them, it occupies your thoughts not just for that day, but maybe that week, clinging to hope, and maybe even stop you from dating other people.

Next time you’re ‘really’ into someone, and haven’t heard from them for a few days and itching to send them a text...STOP. Go for a walk. Bake some cookies. Hang out with your friends. Still itching? Turn off your phone. Watch a movie. The point of this is, if they are into you, they will text or call because they want to see you.

Don’t put your life on hold for someone who doesn’t want to invest their time in you. If you’re not a priority in their thoughts, don’t allow them to burden yours.

# 54 Where Cupid May Roam

With Valentine’s Day this week, love has been on the brain. Even when I was in a relationship, I never really bought into the idea of Valentine’s Day - well at least not the consumerism of it all.

As love is in the air and all that, it seems only fitting that I would write about my first Valentine’s Day as a single woman. They say we can only receive as much love as we feel for ourselves. How many of us seek affection for our validity of worthiness? I certainly have.

I have a habit of ignoring what is in front of me, and hoping for something greater than what it actually is. That subconscious conditioning that if only I could convince this date that I’m relationship worthy, then I would feel desirable. This is even before I have decided if I liked him in the first place.
— fivefootronna

 

There are many reasons for having, or lacking self-love. Life throws curve balls, though what it comes down to is how much we respect our vessel. Not just the physical one, but also the mental and spiritual part of ourselves. It means valuing rest or choosing our internal monologue. It’s a lot harder to switch off from the chatter in our heads, so may as well make it a good one.

At one of my meditation evenings, I asked how I can learn to trust my decisions when it came to men. The answer has always been there - to acknowledge that I’m still healing and that I’m afraid of getting hurt. I have a habit of ignoring what is in front of me, and hoping for something greater than what it actually is. That subconscious conditioning that if only I could convince this date that I’m relationship worthy, then I would feel desirable. This is even before I have decided if I liked him in the first place.

Do I love myself? Most of the time, yes.

I don’t think I can ever truly love all of me. There will always be parts of me that I wish were better. Like when you’ve just had a full on workout but you can still feel that layer of cuddliness in your middle. That’s human nature - we make it so easy to be critical of ourselves.

OK, so I didn’t spend Valentine’s Day alone this year - it was actually my second date with a guy I had met the week before. We saw a movie and grabbed a bite to eat. Of course our date involved food. I’m glad it wasn’t our first date though - I can’t think of anything more awkward than sitting next to a stranger in the dark, in silence.

My date was Greek and he’s teaching me that it’s never too late to learn a new way to love. To have love for myself. To value time with my family and family. To be a better lover. By loving myself first, it allows me to give more love to those I truly care about in my life.

He’s a tourist, so I’m realistic about how long he would stick around and that’s been playing on my mind. Can I give myself permission to develop feelings for someone that is highly likely to be only a temporary part of my life? Isn’t that a natural reaction though? To close ourselves off when there is a high chance that we might get hurt? Maybe he’s the one before I meet the one or he might be the third or fourth along. All I know is that the more I learn about him, the more I learn about myself and what I want to give and receive in my next relationship.

When we choose to live and love in the moment, it lightens the burden of expectations. It’s such early days yet, and there’s plenty still to discover about one another. Isn’t that what dating is all about? To be genuinely curious about each other, to explore and to see if two lives can merge as one?

Oh Cupid, want to do coffee sometime?

# 53 The Wolf In The Forest

On Monday nights I go to a meditation evening, which is usually a mixed bag depending on how my weekend went. Sometimes I fall asleep, and some days my mind is full of noise. With time, it gets easier to trust what is the divine and what is my ego trying to take over.

In my meditation, I was running alone through an empty field - acres and acres of soil ready to be sown. The dirt was wet, yet there were swirls of dust in the air. As the edge of the field drew near, I sensed I was not alone. There stood a grey wolf, waiting for me. We walked side by side into the forest, and as night fell, the wolf felt more human than animal. I wasn’t afraid.

To my left I saw the embers from a fire built by my imagination. Suddenly I could hear a faint drumbeat, which grew louder as we began to dance. The higher we jumped, the louder the music became. There in the forest, the wolf and I danced under the full moon. The dancing felt primal, and with each breath, I felt free for the first time in a long time.

They say that the wolf symbolises an appetite for freedom and living life powerfully, guided by instincts. Certainly there have been days I have felt shackled. Wolves as spirit guides is often a call to live more freely and to increase the intensity of what we are passionate about in our day-to-day. The role of the alpha wolf is as a leader, not a dictator. Their decisions is for the greater good of the pack, its survival.

Freedom, as the saying goes, is when you have nothing left to lose. In a society where we are conditioned to want, to consume, sometimes in excess - this phase is compelling me to rebel.
— fivefootronna

Freedom, as the saying goes, is when you have nothing left to lose. In a society where we are conditioned to want, to consume, sometimes in excess - this phase is compelling me to rebel. To live with less. In my vision, there were embers of a fire, but no food, no shelter. There in the forest I had nothing except the clothes I wore. Put simply, I have too many things in my basket. The basket is overflowing and the only way forward is to empty it and only keep the essentials. Purge the trimmings. To focus on what is truly important.

I have been guilty of a gluttonous consumption of life. Put simply, I have too many things in my basket. The basket is overflowing and the only way forward is to empty it and only keep the essentials. Purge the trimmings. To focus on what is truly important. Even if I can’t act on it in the physical straight away, it’s already begun in my head. Isn’t that why I have been such a hermit these last few weeks? To help remedy the fear of missing out is to see the real value in what we do, in what we have.

Often we are afraid to feel powerful, and seek outside of ourselves for the answers. In meditation, I have learned that questions are answered in clarity. It’s only my ego that muddles the waters. Trusting your instincts is not to listen harder, it’s simply to quieten the noise.

Which brings me to the point about trust.

Journeys are never linear, and it has taken me many wrong turns to get here. I believe in the bigger picture, my life path, and in free will. I knew from the start, even before I met my ex-husband that I would do something that will take me away from this town. It scared me because I had only just discovered my love of dance, and many more years before I began to share my writing. Did I stay with him because it anchored me? Maybe. Many people didn’t understand my need to wait to have children, and he didn’t at the beginning either. I think he accepted it in the end, he had to. Did I force that on him?

Guilt is a circumstance we have yet to forgive. Maybe that’s why I didn’t feel angry when I heard he was having a baby with her. I felt guilty for not being able to give him that when he wanted it. Is this my penance for choosing not to have children in my twenties? In reality, he too has free will. To think I had that much power over him is my ego talking.

To forgive all that happened is to first forgive myself.

A wolf can survive alone, but it thrives in a pack. Like the wolf in the forest, I’m not afraid to dance to my own drumbeat. The embers are just waiting for me to breathe life back into them, but for now I will wait. And dance. Yes, we shall dance!

# 52 Home

My friends Sam, John and I at The Gourmet Picnic in Mount Maunganui. Great food, awesome company - a snapshot of new beginnings. 

My friends Sam, John and I at The Gourmet Picnic in Mount Maunganui. Great food, awesome company - a snapshot of new beginnings. 

What I hope to become at end of this phase is a simpler version of myself. A kinder human, both to others, and less critical of my shortcomings.
— fivefootronna

The house went unconditional a few days ago. Now that it’s almost over, waiting for the settlement is like eating straight from the the Nutella jar. A new jar, you eat it with reckless abandon, but when It’s almost empty, you savour each spoonful. In each scrape, you are hopeful there will be one more, just more one. Pretty soon the house will be gone too.

He was first to go. Next was the house. The last will be my married name. Once the divorce is finalised with a scrawl, who will I be? How much of the old me will remain? It seems with my eagerness to move on, it’s only now that life has finally caught up and I can slowly close that chapter of my story.

Often I talk to people about what this journey has meant for me, and I feel it has been very much about the human connection. In my loneliness I sought to connect, to understand the humanity behind life decisions, to love and lose, and how much control we believe we have over the outcome of those actions. By listening to understand and not just to respond, I have let many people in my life that I otherwise would have just walked past in the street.

Once the house went on the market, I handed my set of keys to our real estate agent. I haven’t been back to the property since. Of course there are details to tidy up, and I will have to return one last time to clean out the last of my ‘things’ from the garage.

It feels cold to call my previous home a ‘property’ - maybe because I haven’t lived there in almost a year and a lot of the emotions that made it a home has since been lost. What once felt like a messy and jaded part of my day-to-day has since evolved into clarity and speckled wisdom. A home is the emotional connection to a place or a situation, and those feelings shapes our memories, happy or otherwise. That house is a snapshot of a part of my life that was both ends of the spectrum, and for me to reminisce just the happy would leave half of the story untold.

In reality, my big reset has reached the point of no return. They say that once you have acquired knowledge, it changes you, even if you choose not to act on it. The more I write, the better I have become organising my thoughts. The more conversations I have, the more expressive I allow myself to be, and slowly peels away filters and forced social graces.

What I hope to become at end of this phase is a simpler version of myself. A kinder human, both to others, and less critical of my shortcomings. Also to be hopeful that the path I choose to travel is now the better one. Clarity comes in the stillness, in the insomnia and the patience. The lesson is that the Universe is always listening. Answers come swift or a complicated maze of emotional baggage, going round and round at the airport carousel.

Home is within us all, and the big reset starts with me. If I want my future to be happy and fulfilling, then I have to decide that for myself, and live it!

# 50 It's All About The Nuts

Happy New Year! My first blog for 2017...yes, this one is about nuts.

Waffle cones, whipped cream and nuts in the sunshine. According to my friend Lana, the nuts do it for her, and I tend to agree. We must have been quite the sight - she in her blue ‘Stepford’ wife dress (from her lunch with her Mum), and me in my black staple of jeans and singlet. Only in New Zealand is it totally normal to see someone wearing all black in summer.

We walked back towards the park where we knew there was shade under the trees, eating our ice creams quickly, hoping not to make a sticky mess.

Lana and I met at a mix and mingle a few months back. When I walked into the bar, I knew there weren’t any men there that interested me. I decided to make the most of the trip over (it was an hour’s drive), and began talking to two women there. In the end we found plenty in common and I made two friends that night.

It was her 36th birthday, and I made the trip over to see her. This was the first time we had seen each other since the mix and mingle, even though we kept in touch through texts. She has travelled extensively, owns a camper van, and recently moved back in with her mother last year. Like I said, we had plenty in common.

Physically, we are polar opposites. She is fair, blonde, blue eyed with great legs. I’m Asian, well-done on the toast scale and legs built for doing squats at the gym. Friends don’t let friends skip leg day. Sometimes I feel the donkey is a kindred spirit animal - strong legs and a big ass. Lana may seem reserved, but she has a quick wit and a dry sense of humour.

We made sure to sit away from the playground in the park. Families with young children were making the most of the sunshine, perhaps trying to use up the last of the beach-day enthusiasm before heading home for dinner. We sat under a nearby tree and found the shade a nice escape from the searing heat.

Professionally, Lana has worked in various industries. She had been in the Air Force, marketing, a teacher and now, well she builds bus panels. Or at least that’s what I think she does. An ideal day out for her would be a trip to Bunnings, as she’s helping her Mum to renovate her kitchen. If a guy bought her tools for Valentine’s Day instead of flowers, she would be in heaven. I like that she’s happy in her own skin and unapologetically out of the norm.

I told her my story from the beginning - I guess it can be overwhelming for someone who is coming in a few chapters along. So much emotion has already been chewed up and spat out. I don’t often go back there anymore, that woman only exists in name. I don’t want new people in my life to define me by that story - pretty soon I’m sure it will be just be a passing memory.

“Do you regret the last ten years?” She asked. No, how could I? So many amazing people came into my life because of that relationship. I wouldn’t want to let go of those memories just because it ended. On the flip side, it purged people I wanted to get rid of a long time ago - so that’s a bonus.

As the sun began to set we decided to escape the chill and grab a drink. Which meant putting our shoes back on. And putting on some make up. Could more ice cream be part of this scenario? I was hopeful.

I got home about midnight - my face hurting from laughing too much. It’s good to laugh and make time for friends. I spent so much time alone last year that this year is my year for connections. Genuine connections.

Here’s to a new story, a more loving heart and living my truth...unapologetically.

# 36 Poem: Emotions

Emotions

There it is, the half moon rising
The hungry moon is silent
Street light flickering, masks its beauty
Speak I say
But it doesn't hear me.

I see it at the end of my finger tips
Yet still so far away
The silences frustrate me
I just want someone to think of me
Like my shadow clings to my back
I try not to feel lonely, but moon is so pretty
And no one thinks of me that way.

No one closes their eyes at night and wish they would wake up
next to me
I wish I wasn't lonely, but the moon is so pretty
And no one thinks of me that way.

 

Image credit: Moon


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.

# 35 The Search for a Unicorn Amongst Donkeys

# 35 The Search for a Unicorn Amongst Donkeys

I put this phase of my life to the feeling that, for the past ten years I measured my desirability as a woman in the fact I was married. Being single can be like searching for a unicorn among donkeys, that mythical creature that only leads to overthinking and frustration.

# 32 Thinking Out Loud

It's always 3am somewhere in the world, right? It seems I'm a woman of the world, because my body loves to wake up at 3am.

Last night I went to a political campaign launch for our upcoming local elections. I felt rather adult turning up to such an event, and even wore heels. Then I saw the eclairs and turned into a nine year old drooling over chocolate cake at a birthday party.

I struck up a conversation with a woman in her 60s - she had chosen to leave a loveless marriage, yet she feels like she's the one being ‘punished’ for wanting to be happy. That one choice took away the family home, the holidays, financial security and to some extent, even though she didn't miss him, the warped version of companionship.

She meditated, extensively. The theory of ‘letting go’ is ingrained in her thinking, but admitted it was a struggle to see her friends enjoying, living, the life she so desperately craved. In her pursuit of happiness, she found loneliness and fear. Where to from here, how much more does she need to learn before it felt like she would get a break? Perhaps it wasn't about letting go, it was more seeing that the ideology of ‘fairness’ is self serving.

Self serving, yes I said it. I just think trying to qualify what is ‘fair’ is subjective, and biased based on how it affects each party. That's just how I see it, doesn't mean it's right.

She had to take a phone call and our conversation was interrupted. By the time she returned, she had to leave the campaign launch and I didn't even get her name. I would have loved to hear more of her story, if she asked, I would have offered this advice.

Yes, you deserve to be happy, and you shouldn't feel guilty for wanting that

I heard her say, “Deep down I don't feel I deserve to be happy.” There it was, her stumbling block. Why did she feel like she had to settle for a lesser version of true happiness? Her husband may have also been unhappy, but he didn't leave. That's her gift to him, it may seem like a cruel twist of fate, but by no longer being together, opened up the doors to their own versions of a more fulfilled existence. Right now she sees the reality of her material existence, and it’s sh*t, but that's her ego talking. Who I saw was a woman that was so close to being free. All it takes is self-love, forgiveness and time.

Forgiveness, or the act of forgiveness takes persistent action

Her world was her family, more so her children. She did feel a lot of guilt for leaving, and held on to the marriage a lot longer than she should have. Maybe she needs to start by forgiving herself.

Forgiveness, or the act of forgiveness takes persistent action. I started by realising that this ‘moment’ in my life, and the emotions I felt, were temporary - a mini-chapter in my story. The labels that come with it, the stigma, they will fall away, and it's up to me how long they stick, if they do at all. Persistent action.

By making the decision to forgive, we choose happiness over ego. It no longer matters who is right or wrong, but simply that you are moving on. Trying to lay blame just keep you swimming in that toxic thinking, we make those choices everyday.

Most days I am excited about how my life has the potential of a blank canvas. Some days it's daunting, the starting over part. Then I get tired and get too much in my head. I know the hardest part has already passed, so after I get through that episode, I smile.

The best advice given to me by a friend was this: Forgive, release, let go.

Forgive the person, situation, even yourself. Accept that the past is only a constant heartache if you try to change it. Life lessons can harden you, or it can make you better.

Release the emotions, ALL of it, if you're sad, let the tears come. Angry? Go run it off.

Let go, don't let it define YOU. You are not a situation, or the emotions you feel. However, you can allow it to CHANGE you into a better version of yourself.

A better version of myself, yes indeed. Today may feel like growing pains, but each day gets easier and the ‘not so good days’ visit less and less.

I am like the arrow, shoot me forth and I will go.


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.

# 27 Listen to understand

The hardest part of what I do is to listen. Especially to teenage girls frustrated at their mothers, and mothers at their wits end. We are taught words, and we all want to be heard, but are we just as ready to listen?

I am sometimes a bridge to the generation gap, growing up with strict parents, yet home was always my safe place to fall. It took me until my thirties to really appreciate my Mum. Sometimes we just agree to disagree, but there's no doubt she loves me unconditionally. I see the glass half full, and she's definitely old school.

I'm also careful that I don't lecture parents on how to raise their kids. That's not my place, but I genuinely care about them as people. We all do our best and that all anyone can ask for. I’m not a parent myself, and I don't know how to raise your child better than you. Just remember, it takes a community to raise a child, we're all in this together.

Here are some valuable lessons kids have taught me over the years…

Trust works both ways, and we will make mistakes

It's easy to judge teenagers and hold them account to adult standards, yet we forget how we were like as teenagers. Did we make all the right decisions with limited life experience? How much did we resent the feeling that no matter how much we tried to prove our independence, or being home on time, somewhere along the way we still manage to do stupid shit?

I've learned that if I believed the worst in someone, then sooner or later it will manifest itself to suit that belief. So I teach them how I want to be treated, and I help them to value themselves and others. I tell them straight up that if I can't trust them, I can't train them.

The World already judges them, be a safe place to fall

When people come to me with their problems, I will ask, “Do you want me to listen, or do you want help to resolve it?” Sometimes people just need a safe place to fall, to feel accepted, to be heard. I sit there and listen, cry with them, and give them hope. There's already Uncle Google for advice, just be the friend they need.

As a kid, if you wanted to say something mean to someone, you either had to say it to their face, see them at school, go to their house, ring them up or write them a letter. Dear Jane Doe, you have toe jams. From Me. These days you can't escape it, no wonder kids feel like they're caged in. In one way we encourage them to be individuals, yet they are also pressured to conform. Wouldn’t you be confused?

Anyone can be a critic, so be the rebel, choose to love them instead. The lecture can wait.

What is your measure of success?

There’s a time and place for pushing them to do their best, we all work hard for our money, so I totally get that you want to see where it’s going. What is your measure for success?

I posed this question to one of my dance crews, and their answers were simple and honest.

Me: What do you want to get out of this competition experience?

They all wanted to be more confident, to feel proud of themselves, and to know they gave it everything they had. Nothing about placings, or being better than anyone else, they simply wanted to feel like they could do something that was hard for them, and know they could do it. Isn’t that a good baseline for success? I think so.

Certainly I support all measures of success, because I know how much sacrifice and hard work it takes to get there. Not everyone can take first place, it doesn’t mean you should stop doing what you 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.

# 19 If you want to be treated like a queen, treat him like a king

A trip out to Bulusan, Philippines during our honeymoon in 2011.

A trip out to Bulusan, Philippines during our honeymoon in 2011.

My husband, Morgan, and I will be married five years on March 12. We've been together eleven years and our relationship has been one huge learning curve for me. During our time together we've endured a five months apart when I travelled and lived in Asia, moving in together, getting married, starting up the studio, buying a house, three dogs, and the highs and lows of living with creative person. I've crashed and burned at least twice in our relationship, and each time I saw an inner strength in him, and me, that we didn't see in our day to day lives.

This post isn't going to talk about a lot of the personal stuff, because I respect him too much for that. Instead I want to talk about what he's taught me, about relationships and how to treat myself better. What I'm about to write isn't new, a lot of it is common sense, but it's what's helped me when times got tough. 

1) He is not a possession

Jealousy comes in many forms, and I admit I've been guilty of it. Lately though I've let it get the best of me, and he's paid for it. To be honest, he wasn't guilty of anything, it was my own insecurity rearing its ugly head. You know that saying, "People don't argue about the real issues, they argue about the symptoms of those issues." Couples arguing about money - trust. Jealous about spending time with other people - loneliness." 

Morgan is a really awesome guy, socially he gets on with most people and he's genuinely kind and likes to help people. He's also patient, and he helps ground me when I need it most. I also know that he has his own mind, and trying to control him will slowly, but surely, crush the wonderful man I love. He builds me up, and I need to do the same for him.

2) Establish the deal breakers, work out the rest as you go

There's a few things that annoy me, and I'm sure there's plenty I do that he's just been too nice to say anything about. We choose our battles, because at the end of the day we don't have to agree on everything. As long as we have the same deal breakers, that's what counts.

Early on in our relationship, even before we moved in together, we had THE talk. I don't understand why people shy away from it, I mean it's not something you discuss on the first date, but if you plan to enter into a long-term relationship, don't be naive about it. Love, feeling and being in love is amazing, but you need to learn and understand who the other person is. It's as much to protect you, and the other person. To me, love doesn't keep you in a relationship - trust, respect and wanting to bring out the best in that person does.

3) Screw those romantic movies, because it won't always be pretty

Romantic movies screw up our idea of what 'love' is, and distract us from what it's like to be in a healthy, loving relationship. What I've learned most in the last eleven years is that the good kind of love shows the ugly side of us, and you work through it. We accept each other's flaws and meltdowns, as well as cherish the incredible highs of making amazing memories together.

When I have kids someday, I will do my best to pass on these life lessons - to be kind, forgiving, and see beyond the imperfections.

# 4 What people think of me

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with one of my dancers this afternoon. I listened to their concerns about dance, experiences so far, and obvious frustrations. This isn't about throwing shade, far from it. By listening to this concerned and thoughtful teenager I realised there was an even bigger conversation I wanted to have with her. Here goes...

 

Dear Awesome Person,

Firstly, thank you for talking to me today. Listening to you made me both sad and hopeful. Sad because I could hear the frustration in your voice. You're at an age where you're looking for your place in the world and don't want to miss out on anything. 

Why hopeful? Hopeful because you're at a stage in life where you're learning about true friendships, and making good decisions on those. Sometimes you feel like a circle trying to fit into a square. You my dear, are born to shine, don't let others make you doubt that.

It was interesting when you told me what some people in the community thought of me. If you had told the person I was back in 2012, I'm sure I would have reacted differently. As I listened to you, it made me think of this quote.

My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me.
— Anthony Hopkins

The truth is, yes, criticism hurts, at any age. But what I have learned is that my journey is my own, and constantly comparing myself to other people is tiresome. I will never win. By focusing my energy on learning, improving and growing, each step takes me closer to achieving my goals. Then I can set more. 

Oh one last thing, surround yourself with people that are heading towards similar goals that you are. They don't have to think exactly like you, or always agree with your methods, but as long as you encourage and support each other, those are the kind of people that will build you up. True friends and mentors will challenge you, motivate you, and best of all, be there to see you through the doubt.

 

Much love and hugs
fivefootronna