Onwards + Upwards

Hi, Hola, Bonjour! long time no speak, obvs.

While I could throw countless excuses onto this page in an attempt to justify my slightly extensive blog-a-day, I’m not about to start bullshitting at the ripe ol’ (new) age of 25! (I know- EW).

The truth? my priorities changed. And no- I didn’t find something more fulfilling than a self indulgent rant, rave or emotional outpour.

Instead, I put a lid on a lot of my creative outlets/ coping mechs in order to attain the m- fucker that was my second degree.

Every bit of my writing ability, drive and brain capacity was savoured for last sem survival, which as most people know, is counter productive AF. And indeed it was! But that got me the lil paper I copped last July.

.. And so my all time dreaded question rears its ugly head right about now– that of course being the ‘WTF are you now doing with your life?’ chest nut that (I have since learned) the majority of us Gen Y’ers escape to Croatia to avoid.

As if the question isn’t scary, gross and triggering enough, I, in my ‘poor ME’ pitty party do kinda have a another layer of shit to add to my answer.

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Ya seee, just before I accepted the paper of promises, I was offered a job. This meant, that before I got to drink, dance, holiday and whatever else the 6.5 years of brain-fuckery away, I was going to roll right into another den of stress coz like, #ADULTING! #debt #income #don’tevenknow.

I consciously chose to ignore my gut instinct- which included my desperate internal need to just turn off for a while; de- compress and then, ideally do what I have always wanted to do (more on that later).

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Now, before you press the shut up button for my adverse lack of gratitude and first world/ priveleged/ white girl struggles- there is something that happened. Something really bloody shitty that hit me so hard I then had no choice but to STOP, decompress and sort my shit out, in my own time.

After only a month in my new shiny role, the same day I received my second pay check and almost fainted at the amount of $$ being sucked from my little bank of debt, I was abused.

For legal and political reasons I can’t explain the scenario, and tbh it’s so gross and disheartening (especially for fresh grads/ general society members who choose to live in the clouds- #bless) that I’ll let y’all sleep and scroll in a bitta peace.

But I will say this. I was abused three times while fulfilling my role in helping someone. I then visited my doctor who was nothing less than a god-send and was deemed (extremely) unfit for work.

After visiting a therapist in an attempt to move further than the toilet without crying uncontrollably, I copped a double diagnosis of extreme anxiety and PTSD. For a good coupla’ months I swam in the yuck-ness of anxiety so bad, I told my therapist that I felt like I’d had a personality change. I completely lost any sense of who I was, what I was capable of and what I was worth. It was the pits.

But like all horror stories, there are lessons, gems and at the end, glimmers of light.

The biggest saviour (apart from the therapist who I now want to move in with) was my lawyer.

The main reason I want to mention her however, is her GENDER. My LAWYER, just like the person who ABUSED me, as well as my DOCTOR and PSYCHOTHERAPIST, all have vaginas.

Considering that every single time I’ve told my story, the opposite gender has been assumed for all involved, I wanted to shed light on my experience. so often men are assumed to hold the power, whether it be in an abusive context or professional role. Even still in 2017! which is just ignorant, in my opinion.

I would like to add here that the men in my life, even some who fall into the ‘ex’ / A-hole category provided the most sincere, supportive love and help during the shit time. Imma lucky girl.

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Another #blessing is of course, that the experience confirmed that I was not on my ‘destined’ path. AT ALL.

As a result, I have been forced outside of the secure walls of the (GA-ROSS) 9-5 grind, to follow my heart. Which, with its own scary- af challenges, actually makes me want to get out of bed, wear a smile and hustle.

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And most of all- I feel motivated again. Motivated to succeed, motivated to impact young- peoples lives, motivated to follow my gut and reach out to those that can help.

In other words, my experience has left me no choice but to prioritise ME, and the things that matter to me. Which, I believe is something we should all be doing, as much as we can.

And no, this doesn’t mean frolicking through France for the next two years (what a fkn dream though- right?) I am referring to the shit Oprah always bangs on about-  AUTHENTICITY.  Being and doing what is true to us. It’s the only stuff that matters and the only way of life that can truly make us happy.

[But enough of that la la talk]

What AM I even doing, you ask?

Well, there was one thing I continued to do throughout the whole ordeal. That was tutoring and mentoring teenagers. To be honest, the students were monumental in my healing process, as theres nothing I find more fulfilling than watching young people succeed; do things they didn’t believe that could do, and the consequential confidence boosts are honestly priceless.

.. I want to enable young people with the skills to tackle #reality head on. I want to make school life a bit less gross, and study semi do-able. Since my case was closed about six weeks ago, I have started my own business. I’ve networked, seaked assistance and support, done things that scared me and I have enjoyed every second. ‘It’ / I am in the early stages as I put one foot in front of the other, without any major rulebook, and I’ve never felt more FREE.

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So…thats where it’s all at. Hope y’all can take something away/ out of my situation.

Thank you to those who urged me to write again, and of course thanks to my massive network of mates for getting me to here!

PEACE.

Whips, Dicks and Doctors

Fifty shades of fucking grey. Who knew a film about sex, whips, power imbalances and emotional instability could cause such a fiery debate and controversy in 2015? While some of us were underwhelmed, it seems others were deeply angered and disgusted by the apparent abusive nature of Christian and Anastasia’s ‘interactions’.

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I don’t really feel like adding another review to the exhausted list, but I do want to explore to reasons why my gal pal and I experienced a sense of appreciation for our viewing experience a few Tuesdays ago.

I can’t help but question why the construction of Mr Grey: A sexy man with the emotional intelligence of a gold-fish; a damaging/ abusive childhood and a resulting host of insecurities with women, sex and control, was so disturbing to many.

While the mans inability to court Miss Steele in the traditional way (as promised by Hollywood romcoms) was clearly lacking, he tried his best to be the guy he believed the girl he loved, deserved.

Yes it was fucked up. I could never see myself settling for a contract involving but plugs and separate bedrooms, but I wouldn’t say no to a helicopter chaperone or new computer. The wine also looked delicious.

My point however, is that being the complicated creatures that we are, with our perceptions and relationship styles so heavily imbedded in our experiences and interactions; a little bit of dysfunction, (sometimes a lot) is healthy and natural. Why? because it’s real– it means we are being ourselves.

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I liked the authenticity. I also appreciated the vulnerability shown by Anastasia, particularly as a virgin. The fact that the consenting intercourse was deemed as violent I thought was uncalled for, however regardless of our positions, the fact that FSOG sparked debate over the topic of sexual/domestic abuse is bloody grand.

In Australia, one women dies weekly at the hands of a past or present partner. From 2002 – 2012, more women were killed by DM in America that everyone killed in 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq. This shit is horrific and real and needs to be addressed for so many reasons on different levels, including the shame victims feel.

It’s the kind of shame and inferiority that should not, but definitely does exist (on a not so illegal level) in many different forums where dominant and submissive roles are defs present.

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Power is used and abused in politics (dah) the class room (why can’t we call teachers by their first names?) and by doctors and specialists allll of the time, as experienced by many friends, and myself.

From the time my age deemed me capable of making a baby I have been invasively quizzed; with a shit load of unnecessary judgement and intimidation.

Those who know me well are aware that I’m a rather confident person, and I am not easily affected by other people’s positions. [Peas do get degrees after all!]

However I dread visiting doctors and their surgery and here’s why;

[Problem: Anything shitty]

Doctor: “Isabelle?” (my name is IsabellA. A . AAAAAA)

“Come through.” (turn their back, march in front of me, then guides me to their clinical, smelly, fluorescent white room featuring awkward dusty family photos I don’t care about).

Doctor: (without making eye contact, directs me to take a seat while they search my private file).

“Lets have a look here. When was your last pap smear Isabelle? I see here that you’ve been prescribed __ form of contraception. Are you still using that?

Me: “Nope.”

Doctor: (swiftly swivels to stare at me as though I’ve told them I am half dog.) Have you had un- protected sex? If so are you in a loving relationship? (WHY AREN’T YOU MARRIED YOU SLUT?)

Me: “Umm…”

Doctor: (provides a seriously un comforting and disapproving raised eye brow glance and waits for me to guide myself to some idealistic solution to my unruly ways).

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Doctor: “So what can I help you with today?”

Me: “well I have been feeling……..”

Doctor: “Mmm, I think you’re probably stressed and it is viral. It will go away with a lot of paracetamol.

Me: “I am allergic to that.”

Doctor: “How do you know that? I can’t find the evidence.”

Me: “Mate, I’m 23, I think I know my body by now” (said in a submissive, naughty school kid manner).

Doctor: “You need to get tested for every type of sexually contracted disease and take better responsibility of your life. Bye.” (said in a professional manner).

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11015839_10155311594580182_1632157548_nREGARDLESS of the reasons for my visit I seem to have similar experiences, no matter what surgery, no matter the age, gender or ‘niceness’ of the GP.

And it seems I’m not alone. One my good friends is a very knowledgable nurse in a committed relationship with a man she lives with. She often leaves the docs feeling humiliated and belittled, she recent left her usual doc crying.

There seems to be a major power imbalance that I can’t help associate with my given genitalia.

While I am yet to hear of similar experiences from males, I’m sure there are some negatives ones had- my own father refuses to visit the GP after all.

However, considering it is International Women’s Day today, I would like to acknowledge the power imbalance and sexism we (ladies) experience all the time.

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As much as we try to avoid the uncomfy, gross environments or men who feel permitted to touch our bodies when it’s not wanted; provide unwanted comments about our bodies (including gross wolf whistles and tooting), and be bigger than sexism, it’s still alive and kicking.

The gender pay gap its an absolute insult and needs to CHANGE. Women everywhere on this planet, regardless of what we wear, say, do or do not do, deserve to be respected and not objectified. unless we ask OR FULLY CONSENT to sex, we are NOT PERMITTED TO ENGAGE IN IT.

So, hears to my irrational, hormonal, dramatic, moody, needy, dependent, demanding, slutty, whiny, frigid, crazy, smart, caring, loving, giving, independent bitches everywhere– lets fight this shit like the warriors we are. NO ONE knows better than we do- in relation to our bodies, our intuition and our value.

That’s enough preaching for one day. I’m over this power shit. If we want chains and whips, then SnM we will do! and if we don’t, then that’s A-OK too.

Happy Sunday!

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Menstrual Mayhem

10957990_10155178593180182_585274568_nThere is a subject that I often ponder discussing, usually around the end of each month.

While a particular friend of mine repeatedly encourages me to  go all out on the oh so (somehow) controversially taboo topic, I have remained reluctant.

It wasn’t until I was reading the legendary Lena Dunham’s ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ book, that I identified exactly what was holding me back.

The title of the book encapsulates my struggle perfectly- I could not fathom the thought of y’all perceiving me as typical female who dramatically complains about the agony that is: menstruation.

But guess what?? I am a girl. I am often dramatic. Once a month I lay an egg and it’s the fucking pits. I HATE EVERY SECOND OF IT.

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EVERY single part of the stereotype I fulfil, from the moody weeks before Aunt Flow arrives, involving hot sweats, irrational outbursts followed by laughing and cuddle-athons (#bipolar?) to the couch ridden, hot water bottle hugging situation.

Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I plot attacks on my ex boyfriends, the next minute I fantasise about our wedding. I always finish at least 2 blocks of chocolate and down copious amounts of vino.

Much to many other FEMALES disgust, I refuse to leave the house. Yep , I DO let it slow me down, I often leave work early or don’t go in at all. Get. Over. It.

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However I am not here to bore you with the dirty, painful reality of my flow, I am here to question (as usual).

While I’ve never felt ashamed to mention my period, or to whine and mope around in front of anyone, I am often surprised to receive more empathy and care from the bastards who weren’t born with a baby making machine, compared to those who do bleed regularly.

When I have refused to exercise, socialise, dress up (or just fully function) because of the date, I am often met with “don’t be weak!”, “that’s life, get over it”, “woos”, “drama queen!” comments.

To be fair, I don’t blame anyone individually, as we are obvs just a product of our society.

Sanitary companies market their products in a way that promises us to be able to forget what is going on and partay the nights away with a care / swim freely without being shark bait.

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Jokes are constantly made at women’s expense, encouraging us [as the weaker gender] to fight back, defend ourselves and our ovaries, and prove just how strong and brave we are.

But doesn’t reproducing human lives make us slightly brave naturally? Doesn’t putting up with cramps and blood prove that we are warriors, hormones and all?

I remember meeting a yoga instructor who once had cancer. During treatment she stopped menstruating and said she has never felt less human or feminine. She made a promise to herself to honour her cycle once she recovered. And that she does.

The yogini doesn’t practice while menstruating, instead she lies on the couch with ice-cream being ‘girly’.

I wish this was acceptable. I wish people like professional tennis player, Heather Watson who ‘revealed’ that she ‘suffered from dizziness, nausea, low energy levels and spells of feeling light-headed’ did NOT have the suffer in silence, or regret allowing her period to effect her performance.

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After her loss, Heather said, “it happens and you’re dealt with different cards on different days and I should have dealt with it better. It’s a real shame and it sucks.”

It was refreshing to hear former player Annabel Croft come out and challenge the way in which the taboo subject is often swept under carpet, calling Watson  “brave”.

“Women dealing with these issues at any time is hard enough, but actually trying to go out there and trying to play top-level sport at one of the most crucial times in the calendar year, it is just really unlucky, ” she said.

While I hate having my period, like my friend, it makes me feel female. It remind me that my body is functioning properly and that I have the ability to carry babies, which I think is quite a remarkable power.

It is time to stop brushing a reality of life under the carpet and acknowledge that menstruation is a natural occurrence that is hormonally heinous, but also a privilege denied to many women too.

Lets start honouring life, honouring our bodies, our struggles and our strengths.

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Happy Sunday!

 

 

2014: Goodbye #Hashtags, Hello Sanity.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word for 2012 was #hashtag. Considering that last year’s was ‘Selfie’, it is refreshing to know that the word of 2014 is slightly less vein and social media focussed.

The word that encapsulates the ideologies, practices, shifts and social progression for the year that is almost finished (where the HELL did it go??) happens to be: mindfulness.

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Luckily for ‘quote queens’ like myself, this means that we don’t have to conduct any rigorous #instagram searches to find streams of inspiring + positive quotes associated with the notion, and to see how much the phenomenon has spread and is transforming lives.

For others however, I know that this can seem like a utopian, unrealistic, ‘hippy only’ idea that is unachievable, or means absolutely shit- all.

So instead of boring y’all with a formal definition, and in an attempt to make this post as accessible and interesting as possible, I thought I would express my excitement over our movement towards awareness and presence and all things positive, by highlighting a few of the benefits of the concept which really has EVERYONES best interests at heart, with the main goal being : HAPPINESS.

Before I do however, I cannot ignore the current headline blaring across the television as I write this. At this present moment, it has been reported that around 15 people are being held hostage inside the Lindt chocolatiers in central Sydney, AUS.

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Naturally, viewers minds jump to past events of similarityterrorist attacks performed by extremists who justify their actions by Islamic doctrine. We also immediately fear for the future– questioning the safety our of country, the world, our families, ourselves.

We cannot forget that 2014 has been paralysed with horrific events including be-headings and the shooting down and disappearance of planes, among many other natural and man made tragedies.

The role such realities play on our happiness, and ability to live in the present [without stressing over our futures, or harbouring regrets and grudges from past trauma] is undeniable (and valid). This, however, is the reality of life.

Unfortunately we can do little to control the actions of others, particularly those who are severely brainwashed. as cliché as it sounds, the only person we can control is ourself, and if we want to see change in the world, we must start with ourselves.

Learning to simply observe and accept the constant flow of our thoughts and emotions without judgement, in every present moment may (seem like) something only those bald, buddhist monks practice, (also referred to as meditation), but it is also classed as mindfulness. And it is bloody life changing.

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A common assumption that many of us have about meditation is the need for a blank mind; the ability to ‘switch off’ and not think, which is fairly friggen’ impossible. Sitting on a hard floor, cross-legged without adjustment or flinching for longer than five minutes is also something that most of us leave for the hairy arm- pitted.

The truth is however, that none of these expectations are required to watch our own process, challenge the negative, fearful thoughts and emotions we have, in a calming, intrigued manner, and allow them to come, and to go. All we have gotsta’ do is be AWARE; mindful.

For example- if ya fancy of bottle of vino on a Monday night when you think you shouldn’t; question why ya need the booze (?) Simply examine the thoughts and emotions that are swimming around, without judgement. The activity alone can lead you to change your actions, and understand your sub conscious response to recent (or past or futuristic) events.

Having been conditioned to suppress any negative emotions, has made expressing them through crying, writing, speaking to the cause (honestly and calmly), or other healthy outlets like exercise and meditation really difficult to do.

However, the more we let shit bottle up, the bigger the hole we dig for ourselves, and those around us.

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Practicing acceptance of our thoughts and feelings can lead us to be more accepting of ourselves; the good, bad and ugly (inside and out) which then leads to positive change. The more acceptance we have for ourselves, the more we will have for others.

[The use of mindfulness can lead us to identify what annoys us about someone else, which usually is something we do ourselves, or someone who has hurt us, does].

Do you see how beneficial this shit can be? do you know how much easier and enjoyable life is when we calm down and stop caring about unnecessary stresses?

When we learn to accept ourselves; our pasts, and begin to live in the present moment, we gradually become less dependent on others, for emotional and physical needs.

This can be freeing, as we no longer NEED another human to fill a void, or heal our wounds, or to make us happy.

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As a result, mindfulness can lead to the maintaining of positive, beneficial relationships, and the dropping of toxic, unhealthy ones.

Gratitude is another buzz word closely relating to the word of the year. While Americans have dedicated a holiday to the practice for a very long time, many of us forget to count the ‘little’ stuff that actually makes life pretty fucking beautiful.

Simply writing a list about the qualities of a particularly person or event each day or week or month, can REALLY change our moods, and make us happier.

So, as the behavioural scientist, yoga loving + counselling student that I am, I guess I’ve made my joy and optimism over the modern phenomenon that is #mindfulness, rather clear.

I can’t express enough, how helpful dropping the judgement and finding self- acceptance is, as well as living in the moment. For me, this was only achievable when I took the time to really tune into to my inner thoughts and feelings, and address the shitty stuff that had piled up over my life.

I hope y’all can find a little love and acceptance over the holidays. The present moment is literally all that we have. Remember that, and treasure who and what exists in it right now. Worry about tomorrow,when it comes and have a beautiful break.

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Thanks for reading and supporting my little blog this year, I am very GRATEFUL for the love.

I look forward to seeing what next years word is.

Happy New Year XX