selfworth

The old man in the alley

The old man in the alley

Growing up and until my early thirties, I just assumed that I would be a mother. It wasn’t something that I felt pressured into, yet something that I somehow thought I had to be. Motherhood is such a natural part of my culture, that it never occured to me to question it. I have friends who’ve struggled with trying to conceive, and I also have friends who chose not to have children. Then a few weeks ago it hit me. Whether or not I have children of my own in the future, I know that they’ve been an integral part of embracing my purpose. No matter how much I’ve tried to walk away from teaching, I somehow find my way back to it - whether it be teaching English or dance.

Maybe I thought that having children meant that I wouldn’t be alone in my old age. I grew up in a culture where the older generation were cared for by their children, or at least younger relatives. I didn’t even know that rest homes existed until we moved to New Zealand. There, I’ve seen once active people go into rest homes and over time lose their joie de vivre, not from old age, but from feeling like they’ve been forgotten.

There’s an old man that lives in the gap between my apartment and a brick wall. It’s below my bedroom window on the first floor, so I hear him every night. Sometimes he sings, sometimes he laughs, sometimes I hear him have arguments with an invisible foe. I see him arguing with himself more these days. He’s in a permanent state of stupor but never has he been rude to me, in fact he holds the gate door open for me, especially when it rains.

Why taking a gap year in my thirties has been the best decision ever

Why taking a gap year in my thirties has been the best decision ever

If like me, you’re single and in your thirties, you’ll probably relate. I go through a cycle where I’m super comfortable about where I’m at in life - I do what I want, I’m going out and having fun and just doing me. Then,
I meet someone who either makes me rethink this whole being single thing, or it reminds exactly why I like being single.

People usually take their gap year after high school, but what happens when you get to your thirties and you feel like you’re on a raft in the middle of the ocean without a paddle? That’s why I decided to take a gap year. Sure, it isn’t the most adulting decision ever, but that space, time and permission to start over and get to know the real me again has been a real game changer. I’ve made some incredible connections and taken up new hobbies that I never thought I would, like rock climbing.

Taking a gap year in my thirties is not like a holiday, that’s the mindset I had to adapt. I knew that if I worked, I could live in Peru for at least a year. I had no plans of spending my days lying on a tropical beach somewhere - my gap year had a purpose, even if that purpose has changed somewhat throughout the months I’ve lived here. This wasn’t about taking a break from my ‘real’ life, everything that happened this year has shaped who I’ve become, as much as the memories I made in New Zealand.

Remember that you're not starting from scratch, you're starting over with experience

Remember that you're not starting from scratch, you're starting over with experience

The cackle of my laughter briefly filled the room. Two of my girlfriends were teasing me about a guy I liked - they gestured a slight flick of the hair and it triggered laughter in me that I couldn’t contain. I had been away for three weeks and today marked just my third day back in Huaraz. There was a comforting familiarity in their presence and seeing them was the icing on the cake on being home.

I had a giggle to myself as I walked home, remembering the mischievous glint in their eyes. Huaraz feels like home, it really does. I’ve begun to build a new life here, made friends, so it will surprise some people back in Whakatane that I’ll be heading back in just three months. Mind you, that’s almost a year living in Peru.

Hasta luego Huaraz!

Hasta luego Huaraz!

“Make sure you come back!” That’s what most people have told me these last two weeks. I’ve made friends here, and Huaraz does feel like home. As much as I’m excited for my month off work and traveling, in the back of my mind it feels like a dry-run for when I have to leave Peru for real in September.

My bus will leave in a few hours, I’ve never really done the backpacking thing. Even though I have a list of what I want to see in the south of Peru, I also have a flexible itinerary. That’s both exciting and slightly out of my comfort zone. Who am I kidding? It’s going to be a month of incredible memories!

Finding my bliss - the incredible gift of giving back to myself

Finding my bliss - the incredible gift of giving back to myself

Everyone has their catalyst story - when we look back at that time of our lives wondering if this was all we were meant to do, meant to be. Here’s the fascinating thing I’ve learned in my most recent introspection, I wasn’t necessarily unhappy with how my life was going. Although I was doing and being what I wanted to be before my own ‘a-ha’ moment, I wasn’t living a life that was soul-enriching either. You see, not everyone has to be at their lowest of lows to ask that question - is this it?

The woman behind these words can say honestly say how grateful she is for what pushed her to walk in the unknown. To discover and learn from the shadow parts so that she can appreciate and feel joy from within. In this chapter of my life, I know I’ve found my bliss.

For me, knowing and living my bliss is about letting go. To live from a grateful and abundant mindset and most of all, to be honest about who I am.

Hike. Eat pizza. Repeat.

Hike. Eat pizza. Repeat.

I lay on my bed while using my fingers to count how many months I’ve been in Peru. Seven. Almost seven months. It’s only 7am on a Saturday morning - I close my eyes again and ten minutes go by. April is my birthday month. Just a few days after my 36th birthday, I hope to gift myself a day on top of a glacier. I have set my sights on Mateo, a moderate terrain that can be climbed in a day. It’s towards the tail end of the rainy season, so I’m optimistic that we’ll have a mint view.

That reminds me, I also need to set aside a day or two to go rock climbing with Guido before I go on holiday in May. I tried it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I saw a shift in me. I think that goes hand in hand with trying anything hard, right?

It took me two goes to get up what they called a “really easy rock”. On my second attempt and while halfway up the rock face, I began to hear those familiar internal tapes of doubt. I looked down at him and yelled, “What do I do next?” He smiles and yells, “Keep going up!” I laughed. And climb I did. I was pretty proud of my effort that day.

Will you be my Galentine?

Will you be my Galentine?

I started writing this amidst loud sighs and pensive faces (plus a few sneezes), that’s right, it’s Valentine’s Day and my students are spending an hour and half with me to sit a not so romantic exam. There’s the promise of chocolate at the end of it, plus an extra for someone who delivers the best short speech. I hold great admiration for all the students I’ve taught during my three months teaching English in Huaraz. It’s like every cycle (a cycle lasts a month) I get a small glimpse into their world, then after two months I’m moved to teach different class and I start all over again.

There’s usually time before classes to talk to some of the other students while they wait for theirs. It’s taken awhile for most of them to realise that I’m a teacher, and not a student. I’ve started to say hello, even if their level is basic, those short interactions gives them the chance to practice and they seem to enjoy it. Personally, the best part of teaching has always been about seeing students bridge the gap. For some it’s slow and steady, and for others it’s like a growth spurt.

In the pursuit of joy, remember, you are enough

In the pursuit of joy, remember, you are enough

I heard my voice on the podcast and it felt surreal to listen to her talk about the life I had just six months ago. Just as I am now, at the time of the recording I was riding a wave of optimism as I was getting ready to take that leap of faith. We’re only into the second month of 2019, and I can honestly say that this year feels totally different. It feels lighter, more peaceful and full of possibilities. In a few days, I’m taking a step towards a goal I set for myself last year. Does it make me weird to be excited about stepping into the unknown?

Often people ask how I can do all the things I do. Like solo travel, to follow my passions, you know, basically be me. My answer is simple: Be one step ahead of the fear and the rest you’ll figure out along the way. Stop comparing my progress to others, because if I wanted what they have, am I willing to do the work to get there? You see, you are energy, feed your passions, be kind and let go of judgement. The rest are just details. And yes, you are enough.

Before I dive right into you

Before I dive right into you

I had brunch with a guy on Sunday, and what was meant to be just a breakfast sandwich turned into a four conversation. And pizza. Oh and juice - who knew mango and basil is a great combination, right? Really refreshing.

He sat at a table in the shade, there was no one else at the cafe so he was easy to spot. His dimples were unmistakable too, I liked it when he smiled. It can be a bit awkward meeting someone for the first time, and I found myself talking faster than usual. When I realised this, I took a deep breathe and relaxed, and that’s when conversation flowed.

There’s that word again, flow. Lately it’s been popping up regularly on my social media, in conversations with people and sometimes, even at 3am when I’m bed. It asks me to look at my life in a way I’ve never seen it before. So, what does it mean to go with the flow?

It starts with walking in my truth, hand-in-hand with the weird part of me that kind of hides away in the corner in social situations. Especially in Peru - where I’m both free to be who I am, yet still feeling my way through an introverted culture. There are times when I feel too loud, too energetic - sometimes even too independent.

A Christmas postcard from Huaraz

A Christmas postcard from Huaraz

It’s my first Christmas away from New Zealand in almost ten years, maybe more, I can’t remember. This time of year has often been a time to recharge more than being about the “festive” season, and because my family has been scattered around the world over the years, gift giving has mostly been more about making the time to catch up or sending each other pictures of the food we had that day. You know, the simple things in life.

December has been a full on month, teaching four classes including Saturdays. I know some teachers do more, and they even study at university after their classes. It’s something I often joke about with one of the teachers, like, when does he actually sleep?

The Not So Typical Like Letter

The Not So Typical Like Letter

I actually told someone I liked them today, oh wait, does it count when you also tell them that you “used” to like them? You know, like in the past tense. Not really sure on that one.

It’s been a weird few days for me, my energy has been really up and down. My mornings, when I would normally go to the market and then make time to cook lunch, has been swallowed up by extra commitments. Falling back into those old patterns of being in the business of being busy, not eating as healthy and definitely not sleeping enough.

As I sat there watching my students frown at their exam papers, on impulse, I tore a piece of paper from my notebook. It made that satisfactory tearing sound that made you feel productive in a sea of silent tension. I picked up the pen and began to write. My hands had the usual onset of cramping that anyone who ceased to write essays in their high school years knew too well. No matter how neat your penmanship was back then, as an adult, it just looks like chicken scratches.

Love Is The Tool
To Remind Us Of
Who We Are

Love Is The Tool <br>To Remind Us Of <br>Who We Are

The last two days have been surreal - like a switch just flipped and nothing’s really been the same. I’ve learned that life may not always work out the way you want it to, but it can give you magical moments if you let it. Like the way the threat of rain clouds disappeared, while the moon made its way above the stage just as Ed Sheeran began to strum the chords to ‘Thinking Out Loud’. I wasn’t even supposed to be there - but it was one of those take it or leave it moments that the Universe offered up on a plate. Game on Universe, game on.

You see, normally I’m at the gym on Saturday mornings, but two weeks ago, I was tired and decided my body needed a sleep in. I was scrolling through my newsfeed when a friend from high school posted that she had a spare ticket to the Monday night Ed Sheeran show in Auckland. A sold out concert at that.

Sometimes You Have To Suck It Up And Be Your Own Cheerleader

Sometimes You Have To Suck It Up And Be Your Own Cheerleader

I recently reactivated an old social media account, one that I hadn’t used for almost three years. It was like discovering an old childhood diary or photo album at your parents’ house - it triggers nostalgia and the memories, with each photo serving as a visual aid, were in fact, mostly junk. I obviously took a lot of photos of food (I still do), which makes you wonder how people ever knew what you ate during the day before Instagram, right? *Insert favourite sassy emoji here.*

The collection felt like a digital time capsuIe. I deleted almost 300 photos from this account, but not before I made time to look at each one. Some were more precious than others, like the ones of the puppies, or the first time I ventured to Singapore for a dance camp. There were forgotten snapshots of my marriage. I looked at each one, said goodbye and deleted them with love. Yes, with love.

Loving Yourself Isn't A Catchphrase Set In A Beautiful Typeface

Loving Yourself Isn't A Catchphrase Set In A Beautiful Typeface

Loving yourself isn’t a catchphrase set in a beautiful typeface, it’s a conscious decision to be OK with being you. Being happy despite your flaws. Feeling gratitude for all of what life offers. Embracing the lessons, especially when you did the total opposite of your mother’s advice because you thought you knew better. Best of all, it’s knowing your worth, and placing a high value on your heart. And theirs. If you want to give your heart to someone, and I mean real emotional investment, start with yourself. That means they will get the best version of you, and they can give you the best version of them.

Close The Door
So That It Clicks

Close The Door <br>So That It Clicks

I went to see an acupuncturist a couple of days ago. She also practises Reiki. There was a tightness in my left hip that had been persistent for the past month. It wasn’t painful, just mildly tight and sometimes an uncomfortable feeling at night. I had been following her on Instagram for some time and had read her reviews - the Universe insisted that I go to see her that Friday. 

My acupuncturist talked about the left and right sides of the body and what they represented to her as she treated patients. The tightness on my left hip was being caused by fear, and possibly furthermore, habitual fear. Feeling stuck and indecisive, as well as becoming frustrated because I can’t (or won’t) make decisions that I know will help me to move forward. Like booking my tickets for Peru. The tightness I felt in my upper left glute felt the same way as if I had been sitting on a concrete floor for hours. There’s that word again - stuck.

The point I’m making is this, sometimes, when we need to move on, you need to make sure that proverbial door clicks...shut. Then you make a promise to yourself that, no matter what, you walk away. Don’t let the fear of having that one part of your life ending hold you back from the thousand other (read “better”) ways for you to be happy.

# 47 The Friendzone

I was a late bloomer when it came to men, so it isn’t surprising that my only long term relationship began at 22. At 19 I met a man who was my first real infatuation, and though I felt rejected at the time, meeting him did help shape me into the woman I am today.

His name was Peter, a student teacher from America, and we met at my old high school. Before you get the wrong idea, I had already finished high school the year before, and that day I was visiting the art teacher. He had a great smile, tall, blue eyes, and as I show the art teacher my portfolio, he just listened. I mean, if I knew what my type was at that age, he would have ticked a few boxes.

Looking back at the 19 year old woman that I was, she was happy, yet also deeply insecure. I never saw myself as physically attractive, and no guys ever asked me out in high school. Being single didn’t bother me because I didn’t really know what people did in relationships - how can you spend that much time with each other and not get sick of one another? What could I offer that other people couldn’t give them?

Peter and I hung out a few times, but we never moved past that. This all happened before unlimited texts, and we both worked during the day, so we would talk at night. Deep down even though I knew he didn’t really feel the same way, I couldn’t accept that I was well and truly in the friendzone. It didn’t help he was actually a nice guy.

One day he rang, really excited. He got a job in Auckland. In Auckland, a city four hours away. Gutted didn’t begin to describe how I felt, and how hard it was to be happy for him. Nothing says a guy isn’t that into you by moving to another city. By the way, he took that job because it helped him to get his PR, and I understood that, but still, at the time, gutted.

On his last night in Whakatane, he was out with a friend and I was out with mine. I knew he was into one of my friends, because he often talked about her, and nothing plays into a woman’s insecurities than a guy you’re into telling you how much he’s into your friend. It came to a head at the end of the night, feeling confused, rejected and a bit drunk, I asked one of my girlfriends to drive me home. He caught me as I was walking to the car, but I didn’t want to talk to him. I was angry. At him? Maybe, but mainly at myself for being into a guy that didn’t want me. As I sat in the car while my friend drove away, he stared at me, with those damn gorgeous eyes, confused about how the night ended.

We tried to have a conversation about it a few weeks later after he moved to Auckland. He understood, though he didn’t really say much. We last saw each other for dinner, my birthday was coming up and he was in town and wanted to catch up. He didn’t say anything about that conversation, though he probably felt bad for me that he didn’t see me that way.

For my birthday, he gave me a book. Sounds odd I know, but like I said in the first paragraph, knowing him helped to figure a few things out. He gave me an inspirational quote book for young women trying to find their place in the world. One of the quotes that stood out to me went something like this…(This is a similar quote on Google).


The worst thing is catching feelings for someone who’s not officially yours and you tend to get mad at everything they do, forgetting it’s not your place to even feel that way.

The truth is, we were never together, and it was unfair to be angry at him for not feeling the same way. He was just not that into me. I read through that book in one night, laughing, crying and most of all, feeling grateful that I had a friend who cared enough about me, and the future men who would come into my life.

We’ve messaged maybe twice when he pops up on social media. I know he’s married with kids, and he’s happy. Sometimes I still think about him, though not the same way I did at 19. One day we’ll cross paths again, that I’m sure, and over coffee I will be sure to thank him for a life changing gift, my self worth.
 

# 25 The business of being busy

Image credit: Quotesgram.com

Image credit: Quotesgram.com

 

As I sit outside of L’epicerie before work, waiting for my friend Nyre, I understand now how people become overwhelmed. How I became overwhelmed. And getting caught up in the business of being busy leave little room to truly enjoy and feel grateful for the many blessings we receive.

I resisted worrying about being late for work, because I wasn’t. I admired the chalkboard artwork. They’re open for Mother’s Day. Took photos of my food. And again resisted worrying about being late for work, because I wasn’t. Today I was choosing to give myself a bit of time out. It’s hard. For a long time I prioritised my long list of tasks, meetings, and for what? Then the Universe got tired of waiting for me to learn what was actually important, which people mattered to me, so it snapped me out of it. Being busy became a drug, and it numbed me.

Addiction ruins relationships, and usually the one addicted is the last to realise the impact of their choices. Busyness was my drug, and it numbed me. You can only push the Universe away for so long, until life snaps and you’re left with emotional chaos.

Release, forgive, let go

Today I'm letting go of the guilt I feel. The guilt I feel is that first scab that you get from a day old wound. Just because you've stopped the bleeding, beneath the hardened skin is still the raw, tender flesh held in check by a thin band-aid of scab. My healing process has reached the scab stage - should I pick at it and risk scarring and more bleeding?

But swirling in that guilt keeps me in the past, in the hurt. Each day, each memory, I plan to release, forgive and let go. Today, I am letting go of the guilt.

The other side of fear

Every day is getting easier, some days still feel like I'm not waking up to my life. Like I'm a voyeur into a parallel universe, and I just want to go home. I can see two doors, one that could erase everything that happened, and I would continue to live that ok, yet secretly numbed existence. The other is a view of the present, with the future undecided. Which would you choose? A door that would erase the pain, but never address the cause?

Fear of the unknown. Isn’t that what holds us back, to second guess ourselves, to be in denial of our unhappiness? This fear manifests a hardened belief that we can survive on a bit of happiness, of some ‘me’ time when you’ve completed ten tasks on your list, to feel lonely, isolated. In the business of busyness I lost myself. Beneath the smile I was continually planning meetings, paperwork, paying bills, trying to push my body to squeeze one more second out of the day. One more bloody second.

My love for food was only surpassed by my gluttonous consumption of life.

The day shit hit the fan, was the day the Universe decided I needed an intervention. Don't ignore the Universe, because as much as it wants you to have it all, it’s an ass when it's grumpy. It beat me into humility, I cried until my eyes were raw, and I saw how messed up my way of living was. Before that day I was barely existing, let alone living.

Today I'm doing me.

What's on the other side of fear? Lots. But I can't tell you, you'll have to see it for yourself.

UPDATE 10/05/2016

P.S. I agonised whether or not to publish this several times, to delete or to save for another day. Getting these words out have served their purpose, and I am letting go, but I do hope they help someone else who may be in this situation. If I saved this for another day, I will only have to relive this moment in my life, and I don't want to. I have felt every spectrum of my emotions, and I can say I'm on my way to letting go.

One day soon I will emerge from this and fly high. Probably to a foreign land and do some more exploring.

P.P.S. I'm going to focus on getting Be The Rebel, Choose Love event ready for July, it feels right for me. Food, laughs and connections. Let's be inspired together.