Archives for posts with tag: reflection

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Dear 16 year old me,

I know you think that you have life pretty much worked out. Fun girlfriends, good grades, a nice job that funds your wardrobe, a boyfriend you adore, dance class every other day, and big plans.

But I want to share some things I know now which could help you make the most of the next two decades.

Firstly, wear short skirts now. Quit hating your thighs. They will never look better than this. And you are more beautiful than you think. Later you’ll look back on this body and wish you could have it back.

Hit the beach in bathers. Do not hold back from doing anything because you think you’re fat. Big girls need role models too. Be one.

Wear sunscreen and quit baking yourself like Sunday dinner. They’ll be cutting cancerous chunks out of your skin soon.

No tattoos. You’ll be more original by having inkless skin in time. Get scars from making great stories instead.

Treasure your adorable boyfriend. He is your first love. He will become the benchmark for your future fellas. And when, after fifteen years, you cross paths in the doctor’s surgery, each with a snotty kid on your hip, you want it to be lovely.

Sex is rarely as fabulous as in your mind. So hold on to your virginal status and enjoy exploring all the other options in the meantime. Then have sex with enough people to know a great bang from a blah one.

Don’t freak out. The nuns have you convinced that you’ll get pregnant if you miss a pill (not that you’re even on that yet!) So it will come as a rude shock when you struggle with infertility in your early 30s. Keep it together. You are meant to be a mum.

Learn all you can about boys. One day you’ll be responsible for raising two of them, so pay attention.

Cook. You’ll eat more than a thousand meals every year. Knowing how to make them enjoyable is an essential life skill. And cooking for others will bring you joy. Learn from your mum while you don’t have to pay STD call rates to find out why your crackle won’t crisp.

Stop drinking Diet Coke. It will be bloody hard to kick that nasty habit later. Quit now. And do not eat whatever you want. Sure, Caramello Koalas are yum. But if you can learn to love eating healthy now you’ll save yourself a lifetime battle with the bulge. Of course, I know you’ll ignore this advice.

Be good to your parents. You think they are overprotective, old-fashioned and naive. But you’re wrong. They are your rock, lifeline, lighthouse, sanity, saviours and fans. Always will be.

You will meet Olivia Newton-John, in a bank, and she will sign a copy of Grease for you. It will be the highlight of your financial services career. Yes, you’ll have one. Shockingly uncool, I know.

Be of service in retail and hospitality. It’s fun. And it will teach you how to be a good manager, and nice to your waiter.

Remember your roots. You can’t wait to spread your wings in the big city. But don’t forget your hometown best friends. You’ll need them to remind you who you are when you lose yourself. And when you make the big decisions, like getting married, you’ll want one of them standing by your side.

Keep shooting. You’re dreaming of being a photographer. Do it. You can do anything, but not everything. So if you get a ‘proper’ job first then it will be decades before you find the space to pursue this passion again.

Travel far and wide, with friends and solo. It will keep you forever curious and grateful. And it will help you recognise home.

Get some manners, proper toffy ones. So you don’t feel uncomfortable at a formal function or ever wonder what the ‘right’ thing to do is. Know the rules, then choose to break them.

You will always love Patrick Swayze and Dirty Dancing, but don’t confuse your dance teacher for him. That man will break your heart. This blow will help you to recognise a truly good man when he opens your car door for you. And when he proposes, in a spa, while you’re wearing ill-fitting bathers and last night’s makeup, say yes.

Marry a man who is good with his hands. Musicians and dancers are fun, but a guy who can build a cubby, unblock your drain, assemble flat pack furniture, fix a leaking whatever, and make you come is a keeper.

Love learning. Study. Take jobs that are just beyond what you think you can do. Read. Seek out inspiring people. Stretch your head in new directions and you’ll always find something to be excited about.

Fail more often. Stop hesitating to try things that might not work. It’s a terrible habit. Nobody cares if you fall on your face. Honest. So long as you can laugh in the mud.

Play an instrument or sing. Otherwise you’ll spend a fortune of music festival and concert tickets while you live vicariously, dreaming of being on stage.

Be nicer to your crazy uncle and your spinster great aunt. You’ll miss them when they’re gone. And, believe it or not, you will aspire to be like them one day.

Pace yourself. You can have it all, and you will. But it is a hell of a lot to juggle. And you’ll be happiest when you’re clear about what is most important at any given time.

Save. Money can’t buy happiness, but it does give you options. You will always earn more money than you need. Don’t waste it.

Never stop dancing. It is essential for your happiness. And when you take a big break, it is bloody hard to get your groove back. Trust me.

Be happy. Not just because it feels good. But because you are better, healthier, more generous, more patient, more productive, and more creative when you are happy.

Worry less. It’s going to be splendid. And when it’s not, you’ll be just fine.

Of course, I know you’ll ignore all this advice. You’re determined to find your own answers. And it will make for one big, beautifully messy life. Enjoy it.

Big love,

36 year old Me
xoxo

PS: Rethink that velvet hat, please.

PPS: This post was inspired by the regular Womans’ Weekly column ‘Dear Me’.

PPPS: If you like what you read, subscribe below for more.

What advice would you give your younger self?

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Writing makes me happy.  

For decades I have paid my bills by writing, in all formats.  Mostly, my prose is presented under a company’s logo or by someone else entirely.  But writing as work made me forget that it’s fun.

Personal blogging is new for me.  Putting my musing out there, in my own name, is leap of faith.  And when I published my first post in March, it was a tentative toe in the web’s water.

Thank you for reading.

I was blown away to see that 450+ people regularly read my ramblings.  Your responses, online and offline, have led to some really inspiring, encouraging, heart-warming discussions.  Thank you, from someplace deep within me.  

I began blogging for me.  But being heard, understood and appreciated has been an unexpectedly lovely side-effect.  

My blog is finding it’s place.

I began this blog without a clear purpose.  But putting myself out there is changing my life.

It’s helping me to clear my head and create, for your consumption.

I am enjoying the discipline of writing regularly.  It has helped me to find routine in my new freelance schedule.  And satisfaction too.

Blogging is helping me to overcome my perfectionism.  I have a million unfinished tasks weighing me down because I want to do them properly.  And this means I actually do nothing way too often. Perfect really is the enemy of good.   

My inner critic stops me all too often, by convincing me that everyone else is more creative, clever, talented, worthy… but bollocks!  I also know that it’s not about the best, it’s about who gets it done.  And so I am aspiring to be a completionist.  And I feel much more accountable knowing you’re on the receiving end each week.

This blog is also an exercise in consistency for me.  I am great at starting things, but not at sticking to them.  I bore easily.  There’s always something shinier that catches my eye and I’m off down that rabbit hole before I’ve wrapped what was underway.  So I am curious to see whether I can stick with this little blog.  Time will tell.

Blogging demands uncomfortable levels of self reflection for me.  Naval gazing has been something I have actively avoided in the past while I glorified busy.  But I am learning that reflection and gratitude are key to happiness.  And I want to recognise joy more often, and therefore chase it less.  

We must stop glorifying busy, for everyone’s sake.

Life’s frantic pace often sees us squishing our social interactions into sound bites.  I fear we’re losing the art of lolling, day-dreaming and in-depth conversation.  

I believe that the explosion of counselling/coaching services in recent years is a direct reflection of our inability to make time to really listen to each other day-to-day.  We are now paying people for their attention.  Bit sad really.

This blog is a way for me to share my learnings in more than Twitter’s 140 characters, a status update, or a coffee break worth of chatting.  A kind of free therapy I guess.

I hope it helps you to slow down too, even if only momentarily, and that it makes your heart smile.

Great breakthroughs, inspired art, real progress, and happiness all require us to be still, tune-in, reflect and be grateful.  And this is bloody hard when our task lists run to multiple pages and we’re spreading ourselves wafer thin.  

My new (financial) year’s resolution is one post per week, for a year.  

Let’s see where that takes us.

It’s noisy out there (WordPress alone has more than 63 million blogs!) and so I am very grateful that you’re reading my ramblings.  

Thank you.