Reinvent yourself, reclaim your essence

Reclaim yourself from the living dead. Life beckons”
Srividya Srinivasan

Until the last few weeks I had noticed myself saying, “This is not how I normally behave.” “This is so out of character for me.” “I don’t normally do this.”

It’s been fifteen months since the dissolution of my marriage, since my life change irrevocably in so many ways, for the better, mostly. In this time, I’ve become aware of and begun dismantling some of the habits, beliefs and behaviours that developed during the past 22 years.  Initially, I didn’t know how to define myself without the construct of that relationship around me. Who was I when the persona I’d built, to live within the confines of the relationship, was no longer needed?  How do I navigate the world as a middle aged single woman? It was all very puzzling at first because I no longer had to do many of the things I’d always done now that I was no longer in a relationship. My approach to life was different. Routines fell away because I realised I’d created them to provide a sense of control over my life when I had very little control over the direction or depth of my relationship. Interactions with people changed too. I became more patient with people and more gracious. As a result of my intense pain I noticed I was more accepting of others, willing to listen more, less quick to judge or dismiss. Then of course interactions with men changed too. I was able to have deeper and longer conversations. Spend time with a range of men, things you don’t do, well, I didn’t do, in a marriage. I could go out and not worry about being home at certain times. I could go out on a ‘school night’ even.

It slowly dawned on me that I didn’t have to follow the same rules. That I could choose differently.  I began to let go of “you must be who you’ve always been” and just watched where things led.

I’ve experienced things I haven’t before because of the situation I was in, but I can make different choices now.  If a behaviour doesn’t feel right, then I know that I won’t repeat it. If a thought doesn’t gel, then I won’t go down that road again. But just because I haven’t done or thought or said particular things over the last 20 years or so doesn’t mean I’m not being me or that I’m acting out of character, it just means I’m exploring the possibilities, nudging structures that may no longer serve me. And you know what? If I wake up disappointed with myself, I can always start over and begin again.

The last year has been like an experiment to create a new identity for myself. It’s work in progress, so I don’t think I’ll be bursting through a ribbon, at a convenient end point, proclaiming a bright and shiny new me. The process is more like a resurrection. It’s like a remembering and rediscovering of my truth, a truth that become hidden among the needs of others, a truth hidden in the recesses of memory and youth, if it ever truly had time to develop in the first place. I feel that I’m re-emerging and reframing my life.  I’m discovering that what and who I always thought I was isn’t necessarily true anymore. I am reclaiming the essence of who I am and redefining myself.

If you find yourself in a similar position, my advice is to: resurrect, reclaim, restart and keep moving forward.

 

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From rollercoaster to transformation – Happy New Year

As we know ourselves more, truly anything is possible. When you connect to your true self, then life is limitless and anything you can possibly imagine can be your reality.” ~Yut

I rode an emotional rollercoaster in 2018 and at times experienced a curious duality where I felt like I was watching from a higher vantage point, witnessing the ride, the twists and turns and the transformations. It was a challenging year yet one of the richest and most rewarding years of my life. My 22-year relationship and 20-year marriage dissolved in January. I was floored and absolutely broken for a time. Can I say that 12 months on I’m completely healed? Can we ever say that with absolute certainty? There’s so much involved and tangled up in the healing process of a relationship of this length ending, but I’m in a good place, a solid place.

One of the biggest priorities for me, after this unexpected wake up call, was to strip back a lifetime of behaviours and exceptions to rediscover who I was before all the years of conditioning.

I now realise the absolute truth in the saying – “behaviour happens in a context”.  So often over the course of the year I found myself behaving ‘out of character’, then realising that perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps it was just different to the way I had behaved previously, under the veil of restriction.  There were times my opposite reaction to what I might previously have chosen, was a stunning revelation.  I feel like I am blooming. I feel alive and full of love for life.

I realise now I have spent the majority of my life carefully crafting a persona that I thought others wanted of me, wanted me to be. I projected to the world a conventional, well-behaved, educated, ‘proper’ front.  It never sat well with me, but I felt my worthiness was measured by toeing the line and by striving to be the best at anything I could be.  I strove for perfection. I created routines and structures to keep the illusion going. I did this to support a need for validation and to feel safe.  I needed to feel safe in a world where I was neglecting my true self.

So, imagine the chaos a marriage breakup causes to someone who has behaved in line with perceived expectations, who has restricted themselves for the benefit of others, who has chosen not to follow their passion, so others could follow theirs, who has hidden their spirituality because it wasn’t approved of or understood, who did not reveal their strongest, deepest desires for fear of ridicule. It throws everything off kilter and out of balance.

I had put myself in a box and suddenly I had the opportunity to see life, the world and myself differently. 2018 was a year of summoning all my courage to delve deeply into and take personal responsibility for how I had been. It was a frightening, revealing and ultimately satisfying journey to openly look into the dark crevices of my emotions and behaviours to learn how I had been blocking my own growth. In my pursuit of a more meaningful life I built a relationship with myself that I had abandoned at a young age.

 To find the true me, to allow her to emerge, I had to be willing to let go and erase parts of myself that were causing chaos rather than bringing balance. For the first time I started to listen to my passion rather than my fear. It was uncomfortable at first for the façade I’d presented to the world had to go.  Some people around me were challenged by my emergence, while others fully supported and cheered me on. I can’t thank these amazing, genuine, loving people enough for stepping forward to support me. Having these incredible people around me and accepting their love and support has been a humbling experience.  I cannot begin to name them all for they are many; they live close and afar, we have known each other for years and relatively recently. I have grown as a result of their love as much as my own self-discovery.

As this year begins I am full of a love for life that is new to me. I am full of love for friends and family. I feel strong. I feel more fully myself than I ever have. I am learning to love myself, the whole mixed bag of contradictions, intricacies and quirks. This is a year of continued transformation and I am so very excited for what lies ahead.

Happy New year.

Get your groove on ―it’s a rush!

Go ahead. Get your thrill on.” ― Gina Greenlee

I swept through the door and sent a message to my friend:

“I’m in love with life, my body and dancing in the dark for making me feel this way.”

I was on a high—giddy with the tantalising buzz of having spent an hour dancing in a darkened room with a bunch of strangers.  Usually sensitive to loud music I revelled in the noise that created a space in my head—a space where there was no thinking, no ruminating, no space for anything but the rhythm and the beat.  Once lost in the music my body began moving. Tightly sprung, rigidly held muscles loosened and I began to dance. No plan, no style, no care or thought or partner just moment. Just dancing in the dark.

What’s more, there was no self-consciousness because all the lights were out and while I could just make out the silhouette of the people nearby I couldn’t make out features or anything distinct. Everyone just did their own thing, anonymously, uninhibited and carefree.

For an hour I let it all go. Jumped, jived, swayed, shimmied, bopped and boogied. It is the best $8 I’ve ever spent. What a rush.

Needless to say, I can’t sleep and so, my friend, I share my excitement with you.

Do you have a No Lights No Lycra or Dancing in the Dark night near you? It’s definitely worth investigating if you do. I haven’t felt this alive in, well, almost forever.  Yippee!

 

 

Inside a mystery box

Image sourced from Lacy Lane

Image sourced from Lacy Lane

Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun.  – Nina Dobrev

You can be childlike without being childish. A child always wants to have fun. Ask yourself, ‘Am I having fun?’ – Christopher Meloni

Life is more fun if you play games.  – Roald Dahl

As a child I was fascinated by mystery boxes.  Being presented with a number of unobtrusive boxes and being tasked with choosing one to reveal either a welcome bounty or a dud souvenir was excruciatingly enticing . I delighted in the weighing up of possibilities and the anticipation –  would there be ultimate enjoyment or a momentary disappointment from having made the wrong decision?  Recently the tables were turned slightly. I was not choosing a box for a reward but rather I was put inside a mystery box and the ultimate reward came from escape.

My analogy is weak, I agree, so let me tell you a little about one of the most exhilarating  fun experience I have had in a very long time.

It all began with a shake down.  Phones and other electronic devices were confiscated and locked away.  A hood was placed over my head. I don’t go in much for blindfolds and I certainly don’t like hessian bags over my head but in the spirit of adventure and fun I played along.  We were led to our chamber and once our captor departed and locked us within we removed our bags to find we were in the dark bowels of the Butcher’s Burrow.  We had 50 minutes to escape our fate and I had no idea how to begin. There were limited tools at our disposal and those that seemed to exist were sealed away with combination locks. Time was of the essence and the two of us had to work together to escape.  Our first objective was to find light.

I would love to describe in detail the steps we took to escape and the challenges we faced but that would spoil the fun should you attempt this yourself. The Exitus escape rooms are an exciting addition to the adult fun arena.  The room we visited is part of the entertainment at Strike Bowling in the city of Brisbane but they are popping up almost everywhere.  Each room has a theme where minimal clues are given and teams must use their wits and combined brain power to solve the puzzles confronting them. The goal is to escape before the nominated time is up.  You can ask for clues – using the iPad that is supplied or the mobile phone that links directly to the administrator.  Beware – there are time penalties for clues.

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Before entering, I was a little apprehensive.  The thought of being locked in an unfamiliar room for close to an hour, sent my heart a flutter.  What if I felt claustrophobic and too confined, what if I  needed to get out?  Those thoughts soon passed and then a sheen of sweat broke out as I wondered if I would know what to do. Would I be able to solve the puzzles?  What if I needed maths? I need not have worried.  Precautions are in place in case of panic – the mobile phone allows for an instant exit should you need it and the puzzles, well, while they initially  seemed unsolvable, once an instinctual need to ‘escape’ kicked in the fuzziness of my mind was miraculously unlocked and I forged ahead.  Good news too – no maths needed.

My adult son and I worked exceptionally well as a team.  He had been in an escape room before and had some sense of what was required so with a little guidance we set about our task with the pressure and weight of a ticking clock as a constant motivator. We each had our moments of clarity and success and often times it was our combined collaboration that saw the different clues uncovered and puzzles solved.  Teams of up to six can enter the rooms.  I would have found that a little difficult; coping with too many personalities and noise may have rendered me incapable of clear throughout but it may also add to the fun for many.

We escaped, triumphant.  In our last three minutes, holding our final clue we were stumped.  We tossed around ideas, tried various options but relented and asked for a clue.  We weighed the alternative – time penalty or eviction without resolution.  We chose to finish the puzzle.  Surprisingly we were on the right path and probably would have gotten to the end point unaided but that ticking clock forced our hand.

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If you want to experience the difference between fun and enjoyment but don’t want to jump out of planes, travel too far from home or spend a fortune; try escape rooms – they are loads of fun and worth every cent. The warm after glow will provide you with plenty of lasting enjoyment once the thrill of the moment has passed.

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