Let me take a quick break from exploring and adventuring to chat about life, quickly. (I suppose that is an adventure too, right?)
I have found myself recently in an Agony Aunt situation a lot. I am grateful that my friends think that I have my shit together enough to be the person that they come to when they need advice, someone to listen to their rants and to give them some no-bullshit truths. The truth is that I don’t really have anything new to say each time and I get it wrong most of the time too, but perhaps what I have to say is worth something to you. Maybe you have a light bulb moment too and change those things that keep niggling at your happiness…
You are your own worst enemy.
You try to convince yourself that doing what other people think you should do is the acceptable solution to a problem. You think that being alone means that you’re lonely. You think that someone else is going to fix you. You are afraid of yourself. You let people make you feel less than what you are really worth. You accept mediocrity. You take on others’ issues instead of working through your own.
Fuck that, dear readers, fuck that…
If you are unhappy, change something. No matter how small or unassuming you think it is, do something that just might change things. It might not, but there is only one way to find out. You are stronger than you think you are. You are more important than you think you are and you deserve to be happy, but you need to help yourself first.
Do what makes you happy, don’t care what other people think, keep working on yourself and make yourself better (you can quote me on this – I expect to see motivational posters of this all over Instagram tomorrow).
If you follow me on Instagram, you are well aware that I have a pretty little (big) horse with whom I am utterly in love.
She is a ridiculous animal who manages to pull off a certain amount of elegance in her ridiculousness that I envy. I’ve had her for just over 2 years and have only recently gotten myself into the position to be able to play Pony-Pony with her almost every day. It’s amazing. And I’ll tell you why in this post.
The first thing that people ask you when they find out that you have a horse is “so what do you do with her; do you race, show jump, what’s that thing with the fancy jackets and fancy walking?” No. None of the above. Having a horse is more than participating in competitions where you jump over poles or do that fancy walking (it’s called dressage, by the way, and is actually a form of training that was developed into a competitive sport). It’s like having a really big, really expensive puppy that you can ride and explore with.
It’s a wild animal with the ability to perform at levels of far more intelligence and power than other animals and the ability to bond with humans (and other horses) on an emotional level (which is probably why it’s fairly female-dominated, due to us being the more emotive and nurturing of the sexes… side note).
Here is what this silly big creature has taught me about being a better human:
- Patience. Working with horses takes time. They have their own emotions and their own brains. You can’t rush them into behaving a certain way – you can only do what is right for them, taking into account their own baggage, and wait for that moment when it sticks.
- Dealing with frustration. You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make her cross it. Some horses are scared of water and mine happens to be one of those. She is stabled along a river, so we can’t really go anywhere until I figure out a way to get her to go near the river. Sigh. Getting angry doesn’t help. Thinking out of the box does. I’m on it.
- Unconditional love. A horse doesn’t care what you look like or what you’ve done in your past or that you really just want to run away from your desk and learn to surf in the middle of the day. She just doesn’t care. She loves you even if you’ve got a massive volcano pimple on your forehead and are wearing a holy T-shirt that you slept in.
- Leave the ego behind. Being a wild animal, she doesn’t have an ego. She doesn’t care what the male horse next door thinks of her running up and down the fence trying to get to him – she wants his man-bits and is not ashamed to show it! A new mare comes into the yard and she will chase her away if she gets too close – she runs the show there and is not afraid to say so.
- Getting dirty is the most fun. It’s more fun when you get sweaty and dirty. Proven fact.
- Keeping fit is essential. You just need to leave a horse unexercised for a while and see their physique get saggy and their behaviour change for the worst. A grumpy horse is no fun and also dangerous. So is a grumpy human. Exercise is essential to a healthy body and mind.
- Trust. When you’re riding an animal that weighs at least half a ton, you learn to develop a trust relationship. If you don’t trust your horse, you will never be able to do all the fun stuff and will land up just walking her around while sitting on top like a sack of potatoes, waiting to be thrown off. If your horse doesn’t trust you, she will never have the confidence to do the fun stuff either, and you’ll likely be thrown off and land on your pip.
- Honesty. A horse cannot lie. It’s the most honesty you will ever find in this world.
So no, I don’t race her, I don’t jump her over poles in competitions and I don’t make her do ‘fancy walking’ in return for a ribbon. I work with her every day to teach her something new, to teach myself something new, to love and be loved unconditionally in return.
6.30am: Woke up before my alarm – winning! Then realised it’s because my head feels like it’s splitting open from the inside of my skull. This is what they call a ‘detox headache’, friends. Painfully regretting Sunday’s champagne escapades.
Peppermint tea helps to ease it.
9.46am: I seem to have lost my sense of humour with these headaches. Peppermint tea does help a little, but doesn’t take them away.
12.03pm: THIS HEADACHE! Maybe one day of this is enough. I mean, how toxic am I, really? At least I’m not hungry, I guess.
2.05pm: Lunch in a glass
5.30pm: Felt hungry for the first time today
6.22pm: My kingdom for a piece of cheese on a cracker. I’m not asking for much.
6.23pm: Lost the will to live. I think my body ate it.
6.24pm: I think it’s dinner time. More juice from this… (at least my grocery/food bill over the past 2 days has been minimal)
7.00pm: Okay, I’m calling it. Will break the fast sometime during the day tomorrow. This life where I can’t have champagne and oysters while watching the sunset is not the one for me (also, I’m sick of freaking peppermint tea, dammit).
It’s been real, guys, I’m all cleansed.
This is the year that I hit the big three-oh and I didn’t think it was a big deal until people started telling me it’s a big deal.
I’m a big fan of celebrating milestones in life. We each have our own goals and our own achievements throughout our lives that are defined by us, not others, and those are the ones I like to celebrate as and when they happen. A trip to Thailand when my first business hit one year, a champagne dinner at the start of my second, a good pedicure to congratulate myself on getting through a rough time… big or small, I have my ways of celebrating ‘myself’.
What I’m struggling to grasp now, is the need to celebrate reaching 30 years of life. Look, it’s not difficult to survive in this world with a good upbringing, decent education and a clever pip in your head. What’s the big deal?
I suppose birthday parties have always been a non-entity in my life. I don’t get it. Just an excuse to have a good party? Perhaps. But now the whole “Big 30” thing comes and smacks me in the face and I’m supposed to create a big celebration for it.
The big 30th parties are popping up all over the place – it’s like 21 all over again. It means bigger parties, bigger presents and dress-ups – just like our 21sts, but on our budget instead of our parents’.
I watched an interesting TED talk a while ago, which delved into the topic “Why 30 is not the new 20”, where a clinical psychologist (Meg Jay) talks about how your twenties are not a throwaway decade, but rather a defining decade in our lives. She says that 80% of life’s most defining moments take place by the age of 35.
I tend to agree with Meg Jay on this one. I didn’t necessarily waste my twenties, but I did go through it with a mindset that it is a temporary period of my life and I only started to take things a bit more seriously a few years ago (thank frik for that).
But I digress. These days we marry later, have children later, start making money more in our thirties than we did in our twenties. SO perhaps 30 is the new 21? Is that why I am supposed to have a second 21st?
Being defined by a number grates me. I know that I’m getting older, you don’t need to point that out, and I’m very much okay with it. I’m much happier with myself and my life now than I was when I was in my early twenties. I can see the physical effects of age and I’m okay with that too. My laugh lines mean that I’ve laughed. My wrinkles and dimples mean that I’m not the same person that I used to be and that is good.
Please enlighten me then – what is the big deal about ‘The Big 30’?
If you’re fairly active in the social media world, you’re likely enjoying Twitter and the inter-connectedness it offers. You’re meeting new people online and offline and sapping up all the networking that comes with it.
You’ve also likely got a Twitter crush who’s admired for his online status. Here’s why you shouldn’t date him.
1. He’s not what his bio says he his
He makes himself out to be just amazing. Desirable. He’s taken qualities that everyone loves and mashed them together into ‘I’m Mr. Awesome’. He’s likely just a dork in real life, compensating for the attention he missed out on in his pre-digital years.
2. If he’s big on Twitter, he’s only big on Twitter
These guys tend to take their online status VERY seriously. To the point that they actually don’t have all that much real going on offline. Offline, they talk about what’s going on online, ALL the time. They validate their worth by their online following.
3. If he chased you on Twitter, he’s probably chasing someone else there too
Twitter is not a dating site. Guys that use it as one like to break the rules and get a thrill from the chase. Once you’re there in real life, the game is over and it’s time for a new one.
Although social media is an exciting and extremely useful environment to be in, it also provides an easy opportunity for exaggeration and embellishment of the facts. Everyone wants to be noticed, and some are just clever enough to market themselves well so that you to believe what you read.
Don’t fall for the guy on Twitter, fall for the one in real life.
(Granted, neither has worked for me very well, but it sounds like good advice, right?)
A friend told me about Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas; a diagnosed sociopath telling her story of how she sees life differently, how she lives her life with a mask of “normalcy” to hide her sociopathic ways from the rest of the world and how she functions (and thrives) in normal society (she also writes a blog: Sociopathworld.com). It provides a raw account of life as one who is misunderstood as a criminal monster because of her lack of the ability to feel guilt, remorse, or empathy and how rules are abided by, not because of moral understanding, but rather because the effects of breaking them are “unfavourable”.
I was sitting one night and thinking, after a particularly frustrating conversation with my ex-boyfriend, trying to figure out how someone can be so emotionally stunted. I could not put my finger on what was so “off” about his reactions (or lack thereof) to any sort of talk or appearance of emotions. I’m not a particularly emotional person myself, but I have worked hard in my life to acknowledge and understand what and how I feel, and how it affects others. I naturally assume that other people are able to do the same, particularly those I have been close to and cared about.
So the next thought for me, in my broken state, was that he must be a sociopath (as one does). I got hold of my friend and immediately borrowed this book to start educating myself.
I was engrossed. It has been a long time since a book has captured my attention like this one did. What I uncovered was a fascinating psychological look into the mind of a person with a label and the genetic brain wiring to have the capacity to do harm to others with no guilt or remorse. She functions and thrives in society, without others needing to know her “secret”. With 1 in 25 people being sociopaths, this could be someone you know, someone you work with, or more likely someone you report to in the corporate world. The traits of a sociopath fit in very well with high-powered executive positions and this book revealed quite a few people to me that I have encountered in my previous corporate life and my personal past, that are quite likely sociopaths. It helped me to understand the way that they think and some of the immoral and unethical behaviour I encountered.
I discovered a few interesting traits about myself in the author, which at first scared me, but I realised that, for example, “nearly everyone in the world has appetites and impulses, trigger emotions, islands of selfishness, lusts just beneath the surface…. most either hold such things in check or indulge them secretly”. It does not make you a sociopath. “I like people. I like to touch them, to mould them and to ruin them.” I don’t have that kind of manipulative streak and no intention to harm others for my own gain. I’m no sociopath. My ex-boyfriend probably isn’t either.
This is a compelling and insightful look into the mind of a functioning, non-criminal sociopath – what could be more interesting?
Every now and then, I get a few minutes to myself to browse through my favourite YouTube channel – Soul Pancake. When I feel like the world is on top of me and people are assholes, it’s always welcoming to see some nice stuff.
Psychological studies show that one of the greatest contributing factors to happiness is not health, wealth, fame or fortune. It’s GRATITUDE. Watch this video and see for yourself. I’m pondering on carrying out the experiment myself – what do you think? If you take the time and effort to do it, let me know how it goes for you!
It struck me this past week, when I was being email-attacked by a client’s vendor, that people have forgotten how to be nice. Are the days of friendliness and adult conversations really gone? Have people forgotten their manners and what their parents tried so hard to teach them? We’re all fighting our own battles out there, granted, but there are these WTF moments in life that take my mind into a world of sharks and villains and downright nastiness.
So the big question is: WHY? Honestly, why? Why do people feel the need to take out their anger on other people? Why do they feel the need to mask their insecurities with accusations of blame? Why do they feel the need to push people into the mud-pit for challenging them?
I can’t actually answer those questions, but I can tell you that despite the way that I have been treated on occasions in my life, I do believe that people are inherently good. For some, it just lies a shit load deeper than in others.
So I challenge you! Soul Pancake shared a video late last year that inspired people on the street to compliment each other and I thought it was really cute. And relevant to me right now. What if we were to compliment someone, instead of berating them? What if we told people the good things we thought about them instead of focusing on the bad? (Yes, some people really are just assholes, but I’m pretty sure that there is something in them that is good, you’ll just have to look really really really deep.) Don’t you think it would change their lives in a teensy weensy little way that can create a bigger positive change as a result?
Whilst being stuck in Chiang Mai, hanging around the city, I visited one of the many temples in the city (Wat Pra Singh) to pass the time. Having been to Thailand before and done the whole ‘visit the temples’ thing, I wasn’t too excited about it, but this temple was actually really interesting as you could wander around the temple grounds, discovering random words of wisdom pinned to the trees.
Here are some that I found quite interesting. I hope that you find something here that speaks to you.