Thursday 31 January 2019

Opportunity - Sharing the Janergy Effect

Opportunity - a time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.

How many times have you had opportunity knock on the door and you haven't let it in?
I have, and sometimes it has kept knocking and knocking and I still haven't let it in.

The bell rings
It yells out
It looks under the door and calls out
It peeps through the keyhole
It goes away
Comes back
And practically breaks the door down to try and get your attention
But for whatever reason, you just wont answer it and let it in.

Eventually though, you get the message that maybe those "opportunistic" moments are presenting for a reason and maybe you need to take notice and open the door.

One of my favourite movies is Yes Man where the main character takes on the challenge of saying YES to everything and I mean everything, and with that brings great adventure and positive change in his life as he overcomes his fear of the unknown. Sure it's a hollywood blockbuster, but the message is very clear - SAY YES TO OPPORTUNITY WHEN IT PRESENTS, even if you feel scared.
Over the past 6 months since I was made redundant, I have been open to all opportunities. I even saw being made redundant as an opportunity to consider what else might arise here in Melbourne and I guess the biggest thing it did was give me time to think about what I want next in my life.

I used my time to do some personal development, get some life coaching and see where my strengths are and how I can use them to my advantage. I tapped into a lot of free events that I found on facebook and meetup and went along to see what I could glean.

One of the great things I did was attend a free public speaking course. It was amazing to learn in really simple steps how to get up and talk in front of a group. At the end of the night I volunteered to get up and do a 2 minute impromptu speech to about 30 people. I talked about finding purpose and how I wanted to pursue some things that would satisfy me in a personal and professional way. I talked off the cuff and felt an incredible sense of achievement from this. Was it uncomfortable - Yes, was it worth it - hell yes. But I saw an opportunity and I took it.

Work opportunities have been less forthcoming, so I have had to think about my longer term plan. Maybe my opportunities aren't here in Melbourne, as I have found that securing ongoing work hasn't happened and the financial impact has been devastating. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Melbourne, but I need to take notice of the resistance that is surrounding me.

I have found that the more I have tried to lock down my future here, the less it seems probable. Six months is a long time to hold on for maybe, so I am listening to this loud and clear and taking notice of the blockers. There's a big world out there and maybe I am meant to be out there amongst it.

When you apply for over 100 jobs and get only a handful of interviews, then you have to wonder if there's a bigger plan ahead, right? And with that, I need to act.

In my last post, I talked about meeting a lovely man and as we have spent time together we have both agreed that maybe our opportunities are elsewhere and with that I have joyfully accepted this and set the motion of change in effect.

I have given notice on my place and begun to downsize my possessions so I can travel lighter. I have a lot of stuff and I don't want anything to hold me back. I already paid for most of it to be in storage for the past 3 years at a staggering cost of nearly $5000, so I am prepared to give it all away if need be, because as much as I love these items, I don't love them enough to pay to keep them locked in a warehouse gathering dust.
My "One Day" is here and I am freeing myself of all this baggage. I hate to think I am living in a throwaway society, but I have to take charge of my life and be realistic about circumstances and things need to change.

I started to unpack everything I got out of storage and it turned into a garage sale. I literally opened my garage door and put some stuff out to sell. How's that for opportunity.

So what else can I share about opportunity?
  • If something keeps nagging away at you, then maybe it's opportunity trying to get your attention? Listen to it! My ex husband kept nagging away at me and eventually I listened and I realised that the opportunity to live a happy peaceful life was passing me by.
  • If an opportunity arises, take it, jump on it, embrace it. You may welcome it wholeheartedly, or you may not think it is right for you or has any benefit, but you'd be surprised what doors open up just by saying "yes". Whether it's opportunity to further your career, go on a date, get up and speak in front of strangers, take a road-trip, whatever it may be, JUST DO IT. Use it to broaden your world and your life experiences. You can always change your mind if it isn't working, but the opportunity may not present again, and you don't want to live with regret.
  • Embrace fear. Make it your friend and let it guide you to bigger and better things. The comfort zone is a great space if you want to live in comfort, but being out of your comfort zone is where our magical moments happen. The more uncomfortable we are, the greater opportunity it gives us to grow our confidence and abilities and to enjoy our life.
Over three years ago I said yes to moving to Melbourne. It was an opportunity that I didn't want to regret pursuing, so I took it. It's been a great adventure, but maybe its purpose has been fulfilled. In fact, I know some things have. I always wanted to live here. It has enabled me an incredible amount of self-growth. I have made some amazing friends who have stood by me along this journey. I found my voice and I like it. I feel empowered, confident and strong and that my not have happened had I stayed in my safe space.

I have also met the lovely man and had my heart healed. However our journey turns out, I know that the care and kindness I have experienced in the short time I have known him is something I have never experienced before and it is an absolute joy to have had that unexpected opportunity.

My bigger picture is now to move to Canberra, pursue some contract work there, get myself back on top financially and then see what opportunities present and I will be doing this with my new found love beside me.

Opportunity awaits and I am ready for it.

See you soon for the next word that I pull out of my lucky dip. I can't wait to see what it is.

Sunday 20 January 2019

(your) Rules - Sharing the Janergy Effect

Well, I am back on my blog after what has been a busy 12 months. Why busy? Well, I have been doing a word of the day project - something short each day that I shared on my instagram and something that I hope to document in a place where people can access it. My wall at home was awash with post its and was like a blooming garden of colour, words and inspiration.

I also lost my job. Yep, was made redundant. That's another story.  

I've also been thinking a lot more deeply about how I share my skills, talents, stories and inspiration with others, and here's what happened.  I was put in a touch with a life coach who has been helping me to determine how best to use these things - it's still a work in progress, but unless we give something a go, we will always be wondering "what if". And with that, THE JANERGY EFFECT was born. So I am back here doing what I love to do - writing about stuff - while I explore the possibility of public speaking, life coaching and helping people to find their true sense of self.

What else. Oh yeah. I met a lovely man in October.  He arrived unexpectedly and hasn't run away. He has actually run towards me. That was shocking at first, but I am loving it. Two weeks after meeting we decided to go to Fiji - can you believe that?  Yep.  Talk about adventurous and the journey continues in a very happy, calm, simple, uncomplicated manner.  Well there is one complication. He doesn't live here, but we are burying that under the carpet till we have to deal with it - out of mind out of sight I say.
Anything else? No nothing of note.  Hang on yes. I moved house, then had cataract surgery, also decided I loved sharing funny and some not so funny instastories - all in the spirit of authenticity and sharing my very real life, and that has opened up a whole new way of engaging with people. And that's it. 2018 done. 

No hang on, a bit more.  With the loss of my job, means the very real possibility of leaving Melbourne (maybe temporarily - maybe permanently - and maybe this week as I look for work). The cards are up in the air, looking for a place to land.

Okay now I'm done, so let's get down to business.    

Following my word of the day project, here's what I am doing. I am going to explore some more words. Words that resonate with me, and words that have become staples in helping me to define the person I am today.  The me who is resilient, happy, confident, stylish and wants to help others find and be those things. My words may not be what other people choose, but if you take something away to help you think, grow and find another layer of happiness, then that's a job well done.  I'll be talking dating, health, dancing, confidence and so many other things, so stay tuned.

And here are my words. I am going to pick one out randomly and write about it, vlog about it, maybe do a dance about it, or all three. However I do it, I need to express creatively. It's in my blood and pulsing through my veins all the time.
And now, I present word number 1. (your) Rules
Rules are an accepted principle or instruction that states the way things are or should be done, and tells you what you are allowed or are not allowed to do.

I get it, I know we need rules. They keep us safe, they uphold law and order, they provide a level of fairness but sometimes they are made to and should be broken.

A couple of years ago, when I entered singledom and began navigating the world of dating, I had no idea of the etiquette (or lack thereof) that came with the cut throat world of looking for love.

I remember going on what was my second post marriage date with a man I met online. We swapped a few messages afterwards and I wondered whether I should reach out to him a while later to say hi as there wasn’t really any clear open or closure after the date. Well I am awake up to that now. Hello Ghosting. I was new to Melbourne, didn’t have any friends, so for me, it was about connecting with another human. The rules of dating were – wait until the man contacts you. Seriously? How long – a day, a week, a year? You might be waiting forever, so I thought that maybe I should just reach out and say hi. There was the risk of rejection and the risk he mightn’t return my message and initially those things bothered me. I didn’t want to look like a dick. I’d never been great at dating, and was pretty clueless to the modern world of online dating. I met my ex husband online back in 2004 and boy, were things different then… So I ummed and ahhed this messaging thing, sound boarded it with a friend and they said “just play by your own rules”. (apparently, I always play by my own rules) and I guess that is what makes me, ME! I am comfortable making my rules up as I go, or changing them up when I want or need to in order to keep agile. In that instance though, I felt I should follow the rules, even when I felt like they were going to keep me constrained to a way of being that others had defined.

Life has so many rules and many of them we impose on ourself even if we don’t make them. Rules, rules rules……Fuck the rules, there are so many and they are holding us back from living authentic, empowered and fun lives. Where do I start about rules?

What about those rules around fashion? Pink and red should never be worn together. Well I was breaking this rule at the turn of the century and have continued to break the fashion rules since. See Example A.
Example A
I embrace black and blue, silver and gold, pattern clash like queen, wear too much together (think layers of jewellery, plus a hat with flowers, plus clashing colour – all at once) or too little – think mini skirt or short shorts with a bra under a sheer top. 
I’ve been wearing sequins in daytime since the late 90’s. Why should something so shiny and vibrant be left to dim under the evening lights? Why shouldn’t they glisten in the sun as we go about our day? My how times have changed. I even hand beaded a pair of ¾ pants back in about 1993, because I wanted something that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I wasn’t going to wait for fashion to decide when I could wear these things. I was going to break the rules and just do it.

See Fabulous examples B, B and B - skirt from 1999, sent to me by my sister when she lived in India. I still have it, and still wear it 20 years on. Note hot pink colour (I've never lost my love for pink) and yep, there are sparkles at the bottom. Other examples include colour and pattern clashing and short shorts (I'm in my 50's and I am owning the heck out of them).
Fabulous examples B, B and B
Now before you think - well you can get away with it, you have great legs, or great style, or are confident or anything else that might pop into your head, here's the thing, I am me and I am perfect as I am - with the veins on my legs, my flabby arms, a nose I grew to love, a tummy that's stretched and sags from having a child 33 years ago and a sense of style that one day blossomed. I didn't wake up like this, but I decided not to care about the things that we are expected to be ashamed of. I just want to live my life in happiness and I am not going to hide any of those things away because others deem them unacceptable or unpleasant to look at. 

I actively worked on my sense of self to walk tall and not give a fuck about what anyone else thinks. I said "F U" rules and "F U" anyone else who is going to try and make me feel bad because I don't follow along like a sheep. I am not a Sheeple - part of the passive herd behavior of people easily controlled by a governing power which likens them to sheep, a herd animal that is easily led about. 

Now I am going to let you in on a big secret. Are you ready? Okay then……here’s my rules……. (insert blank space). Hang on a “blank space”, yep, I have benchmarks, standards and values, but I try not to be confined to rules, unless they are mandatory or there's more than a 97% chance of me being arrested if I break them or if my safety is going to be compromised.

If you were to stop and ask yourself about what things you are doing because you feel you have to play by the rules, would there be many?

⏰Are you doing a 9 – 5 job, because that’s what your parents did or because that’s what’s expected by society? Or are you chasing your dream?

๐Ÿ‘Do you do things that everyone else might do because you think they might be living better lives and their vision might make your life better?

๐ŸนI stopped drinking nearly 2 years ago. I consider this a pretty big rule to break, because advertising and society says we can’t have fun unless we are guzzling down booze. They never advertise the hangover that comes with it, or the violence that comes with it, so we just go along accepting a way of life that we might not really enjoy.

๐ŸจAre you afraid to eat ice-cream for breakfast? Well treat yourself.  It’s not an everyday thing, but why shouldn’t we do it? Because we don’t eat ice cream for breakfast, that’s why…..It’s against the rules. But what if you wake up and get a big bowl of ice-cream and go and sit back in bed and enjoy every mouthful and then lick the bowl and go wow, I loved that and it made me feel great!

๐Ÿ‘ซDo you want to fuck on the first date? Well if you do, then go for it (safely). You are in charge of your sexuality. I threw the "my rules" card around here - my body, my rules. If blokes didn't like my non compliance of their pressure, then I said "see ya and go fuck yourself".

So what happened with the guy who I wanted to message? Well I did message him and just said hi, how are you? His response was "I'm seeing someone" to which I responded "I am only asking how you are, not asking you for a date" and he said "fair point" and apologised for reading something between the lines that wasn't written.

I am glad I messaged him, because it put me out of my then comfort zone and enabled me to head into my dating life owning my part of the interactions while starting to build confidence in an area that I was really lacking experience in. I began to form my own rules around this part of my life.

So why do we sometimes live with other people’s life limiting beliefs and rules? 
When I think about it, it may be because we have inherited them or because they have crept into our lives to keep us feeling safe. We become afraid to explore, express and ultimately to experience true happiness and have fun along the journey of life. We put ourselves into a box that has all the should's and should not's in there and they define us. OPEN THAT BOX AND SET YOURSELF FREE....make you OWN rules.

That was the case for me at times. I was living safely, I didn't feel true happiness, I didn't know myself and I don't think I was living with true authenticity. I wasn't fake, I just wasn't anything. I was holding onto all those things I had been told not to do...and then I began to break the rules and break the routine and break into my life and dang it feels great.
It only took for me to choose change.
What's something you can do to shake it up a bit and take that first step towards making your own rules and stepping into your own life? Maybe....
  • start by doing one small thing that you wish you had the courage to do. It might feel strange at first, but the freedom and follow on effects will begin to make your world bigger and with that comes strength and empowerment.
  • go to a cafe and order that ice-cream for breakfast. Don't just order one scoop. That is playing safe.  People might look at you strangely, but I bet they are probably wishing they were eating ice-cream for breakfast. 
  • question whether anyone else's rules are the ones you want to live by - you can do or wear or be or act or think a certain way if YOU want to. It's your choice.
now go, go, break some rules. You don't know where this new found freedom may take you!
How am I breaking the rules today...well I am wearing short shorts and popping out a bit of cleavage.  Big deal you say - well women over 50 shouldn't be wearing mini skirts, so I am being very risque.
If you want to run some rules by me, then reach out.  I'd love to help you consider if they are real, or if they really have to go.

See you soon for my next word and a much shorter post.  

Wednesday 21 February 2018

365 days on the alcohol free road

This time last year, I did the unthinkable......the unimaginable................the unfathomable.................. one of the most anti-social, un-Australian things you could ever do. I decided to stop drinking alcohol.  GASP.  Well, I wasn't sure I meant to give up alcohol, but it seems I have. I think. I am pretty sure I have....I am living alcohol free.  I don't drink.
What happened was a kind of unintentional and yet really positive life changing experience and for a culture that seems to revolve around drinking, I feel like I am paving my own way and beating my own drum when it comes to doing what I want to do, not what I am expected to do to fit in with the norms of society.  And drinking - and usually by quantity - is a social norm.  I have challenged the norm and here I am 365 days later with a brand new normal.
Over a 30 day journey, my whole relationship with, and view of alcohol changed. I was someone who enjoyed a drink. I loved the social aspect of it and I liked the taste of it and I liked the feeling that came with having a few drinks. A drink for me was coming home from work and having a couple of glasses of wine and maybe a baileys, or having a few drinks if I went out on the weekend or any of the occasions that relate to drinking - work drinks, dates, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera....people drink to celebrate anything and drink to celebrate nothing.

Over a month, I probably drank about this much and it looks a lot, but it is a calculation that I figured covered any possible drinking scenario. I've included it all - the wine, the shots, the cocktails, the beers, the bubbles, the g&t's and the whatever else's that made up the social and unsocial norm.
I would have a drink or two every night, just like millions of others would.  What I found though, was that one glass was turning into another and some days I'd wake up feeling not as fresh as I wanted to.  I'd often thought about not having a drink at night, but it became a case of why not.  It's only a glass or 2 of wine. She'll be right mate.

When my son moved back home to deal with an over the counter pain killer addiction, I found myself thinking more and more about his situation and wanting to understand what addiction was so I could be in a better position to support him.  And that's how this journey began.

Was coming home every night and having a few glasses of another type of over the counter medication setting a good example?  When I look at it that way, no it wasn't.  But it was only a drink or two, right?  Wine time is big business and it comes with its own set of nasty side effects - addiction, aggression, over-dosing and even death - no different then any other drug.

I actually hated the thought of not having a glass of wine at night.  It was like a familiar friend. And as a single woman in her early 50's living by herself, I was in the statistic range of problem drinkers and I had a bit of a holy fuck moment. How do I not have a drink?  How do I break up with a friend I had known for many years who I had shared so many life experiences with? And I am being totally honest, the thought of that kind of scared me a little, especially as I reflect on it now.

Was I a problem drinker?  I am not sure.  What I am sure of though, is that the thought of drinking never entered my mind till I walked in the door at night, or when I was at whatever social event it was that I was involved in. It would come up in conversation but it was never something that filled my thoughts or consumed me.  I liken it to a pie chart....
That small amount of green was when I consumed alcohol during the week or on the weekend.  The others times were when I was sleeping, or at work or the general daytime and alcohol wasn't on the radar. I work in a job that has a zero alcohol policy, so it was just not relevant. The window of consumption was very small, but if I was doing something social, the level of consumption could be quite big. I could keep up with the best of them.

When someones life revolves around their next drink at anytime of the day, I think that's a big pie problem. I'm not one to eat a whole pie, so the small piece of the pie I was consuming got me thinking about whether I really needed or wanted it and the timing of my son's arrival seemed to lock in the decision.  Pie was off the menu.

I'd stumbled across this book in an op shop.  It cost me 2 bucks and apart from understanding the mechanics and effects of drinking, it has been a game changer for me in other aspects of my life.  I guess somewhere in my brain, I was thinking about making change.  After all, how long can we keep waking up of a morning feeling cloudy or having your day written off because you partied super hard and your ability to function is compromised? Well for me, I committed to changing that aspect of my life on 21 February 2017 when I stepped into the unknown.  I remind myself that a decision is made in a moment.  And I made the decision.
And what did the unknown look like? Well I didn't know, but I soon found that by acknowledging that I wanted to make change, committing to it, proudly owning the decision and seeing it through meant the unknown was not a scary place.  It became a joyous ride into self discovery.

As I went through the 30 day journey, my eyes were well and truly opened as to what the effects of drinking are on yourself and the impact it can have on others even when you think it might not. The more I got into the journey, the more enthusiastic I became about seeing my future life with a different kind of freedom.  The freedom of not being attached in any way shape or form to alcohol - something that had been a part of my life for such a long time. 

It became extremely liberating. Was this the 2017 version of burning your bra and taking the next step as an empowered free woman?   I can go ANYWHERE with anyone and not have to have alcohol, or rely on it to give me some dutch courage or do it because everyone else is, or drink something that I hate the taste of.  I am free baby!  Everything I do, is me, being my authentic pure self.
So what now, 365 days on...well in no particular order
I feel amazing. I never even think about alcohol. I am using that money for different stuff. My time is more purposeful. I am not missing out on ANYTHING. I always have a clear head. I feel amazing. My weekends are fuller and not of sleep or blur.  I feel safer knowing that I am not intoxicated in anyway when I am out. My social interactions with men aren't risky and as a single woman I am in total control of every action I take part in. I like to say "I don't drink" (like I am part of a cool club). I feel fresh. I feel amazing.......should I go on!  Look at my booze pie now....what a freaken LEGEND.  It says so in the legend.
So what else? Well along the 30 day journey I really looked at who I was.  I had some moments of closure (one giant moment of closure actually - the closure of the wine bottles) and many moments where I opened my thinking to new possibilities and opportunities.   

When I started documenting my journey, we had to take a before and after photo.  Here's me when I started the journey.
 Me after 30 days.
 And me, a year later.

I've always been comfortable exploring and doing things out of my comfort zone and this was a big step outside of it.  Could I go 30 days without alcohol? Could I go one day without it? Would I struggle at all? Would I be okay being a bit of an outcast in a world that revolved around booze? Well, I am totally fine and I guess to sum it up, when I think about my pie chart, the majority of my day was spent alcohol free, so why not make it all alcohol free?  I am still the same person, Actually I am probably even better.

And what next?  Well I have had quite an amazing life journey and one that has inspired others to think differently, to challenge the normal, to be fearless, to accept only the best, and to know your worth in a time that it sometimes isn't easy.  Part of this journey has been about setting goals and actions, visualising my future and closing in on my purpose.  And as I connect more with others, it's my ability to communicate that I see as being the thing that I want to explore and use to see if I can make a difference to those who may find themself treading water, or doubting their decisions, or needing a little push to follow things they are passionate about but don't know where to start or seeing that it's possible to make change even in the hardest of times.  I want to give back all of the wonderful things I have been empowered with.

When I started on my 30 day journey last year I wrote about it each day. I think it's still relevant and it's still current and the topic is becoming more a discussion point in mainstream sources.  The link to my 30 day journey is here if you wish to check it out. Maybe you are thinking about this as something that you want to try and if so, then go for it. You might find down the track that your life has taken a whole different direction because you made a choice to consider the possibility of doing something so far from your norm that it kind of surprises you when you see how good it is.

Alcohol is driven by advertising and how great life is when you are enjoying a few pina coladas on the beach. But the reality is that after a few pina coladas things may not always end up as the commercial tells you it will but we'd like to believe that it does. And with alcohol, I've seen the nasty, I've been part of it and it's not all that pretty, so why would I want to put myself in any position that leads me to believe that the perfect sunset must be enjoyed with wine in hand.

I could go on and on about how I am so happy with this lifestyle choice, but I think it's kind of obvious, so that's it for the alcohol free journey.  This is my normal and I'm a poster girl for courage, possibility and freedom from being tied to something that wasn't enhancing my life.

I don't drink.  I love saying that.