Brave

As most of you know this is a blog about my own personal journey. I wanted to share with you my most recent thought. I met up with an old friend from back home whilst in New Zealand. This friend has had a difficult road and her transformation has come from some hard lessons.
For privacy reasons I will refer to her as Jane don’t worry she’s not a Jane Doe (she’s very much alive and kicking) I feel very protective of her as I am putting our private conversation in the public domain.
It had been over five years since I last saw Jane, catching up with an old friend whilst on the road gave me feeling that I just cannot describe. Someone who already knows where you come from, your family dynamics and where you’ve been, there’s no need for an introduction or explanation. The joy of that warm hug, as the embrace is about to break there’s an extra little squeeze almost saying, “it’s so good to see you.” The feeling is Love.

As Jane and I sat looking at one another, we realised that we looked exactly how we remembered although five years had passed, and our waistlines had grown, grey hairs had appeared and there are more “laughter lines”. Like us our friendship had aged but our ability to sit and converse with ease had not been affected by our time apart.
We began with the information we had missed out on, two children, a divorce and a funeral, this was beginning to sound like a plot for a Hollywood blockbuster, a rom-com with Hugh Grant alongside terrible sound track.
As conversation flowed, the information was exchanged, and it became evident that we had both been through pain but in the end, this had helped us grow, to transform.

Jane told me of her troubles and the moment when she knew things had to change. Jane said “Amy, I was at home one day and I thought, why I am unhappy? I have a husband, children, a beautiful home and we are financially comfortable. This is everything I have ever wanted and it’s mine so why am I unhappy? Jane knew that the husband was not the man for her. Can you guess what my first thought was?
How brave Jane was. How brave of my friend to acknowledge that there was a problem.
How brave Jane was to go through the process of heartbreak, change and divorce.
The difficulties she must have faced when going through this transformation.
How brave she had been to face the hash realities, to take it on, to tackle it, to collide with the criticism, people once considered friends telling her that she was breaking the family up, questioning her abilities as a wife, blaming her for the marriage breakdown, those ignorant ridiculous people telling her that all that matters is the happiness of her children, clearly not understanding that children cannot be happy if their Mother or Father are miserable.

I see my brave friend, taking her life back and saying, “I’m not happy and what am I going to do about”, I tell her how brave I think she is and she brushed my compliment off as quickly I had given it and suddenly I realised I had done the same with people who told me that I was brave. Why had I not allowed myself to take the same compliment? This got me thinking about how I talk to myself. Now don’t pretend, we all talk to ourselves!
That inner voice that criticise, questioning our abilities and faith in ourselves when we are in need reassurance. There’s no in-between the voice either chips away or bellows.

I would never speak to a friend the way I speak to myself, why is that? I say this as if there is an answer, but I don’t think there is, in psychology there are only theories.
So, I have decided to be rebellious, I am going to put my big girly pants on and start being kinder to myself, show myself tolerance and even a little love.
I shall not berate myself in front of the mirror, I shall not daydream about being a size ten, I shall not say “oh if only” or “I wish” instead I shall say replace the negative with a positive and why the hell not! I like my hair! I am brave for travelling worldwide and you know something, I worked hard for this and I deserve this.

It was on this day, sat outside a well-known coffee shop with my brave friend that I decided I am going to be kinder to myself, I am going to compliment myself and say YES, I am brave, and this adventure is mine for the taking. I am a strong person, I take charge of my life, I don’t know where it will lead me but in the words of David Bowie “I don’t know where I am going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

If any of this resonates with you then I want to reassure you that YOU are brave, you may not know it, but I promise you, you are. We all waver from time to time but if something or someone costs you your happiness it will never be worth it because after all happiness is priceless.
I’ll leave you with this quote from A.A Milne (the author of Winnie the Pooh) “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

Love Amy x

P.S Piglet is my favourite 😊

Equals

This story begins with a man and a woman, not in that sense!
The setting is a hostel common room, the large space had a feeling of a giant living room of yester years. The 1970’s wallpaper and the psychedelic carpet the only saving grace was the open fire that was peculiarly placed in the middle of the rectangular room.

His name was Agustin, from Argentina, he was 28 years old. I had sat down for breakfast on this particular morning, hoping for no social interaction before my morning coffee, Agustin however had a different idea.
Agustin wandered over and asked if the seat opposite me was taken knowing perfectly well that the seat was empty. In a room full of empty seats he had chosen my table to sit at so I pulled my unsociable head out of my ass and invited him to take a seat.

Agustin and I faced each other, although we were sharing a dormitory we had exchanged very few words.
I asked him about home and how long he had been on the road, he told me that he had only been in New Zealand for one month and that he was the eldest of three children (one boy two girls).
One the surface you’d be forgiven for thinking that Agustin and I had nothing in common other than our love for travel but you would be very wrong.

Firstly Agustin asked me about the English’s obsession with tea, I explained that it is not the actual substance of tea that is important but what tea stands for, the invitation of having a simple “cuppa” or “brew” can be interpreted as a request for ones company or in other words “I’ve missed you” “ I really need to talk” “it’s been ages since we’ve talked” “I just want you to know that I care” “I love you” and so on. Like life, it is not what is said but what is not said that tea signifies. Agustin responded by nodding he tells me that Mate (a South American caffeinated hot drink) also has the same meaning but he articulated it beautifully by saying it is not about the Mate, it is about who you drink the Mate with. To his delight I said “I could not of explained it better myself and my only language is English”.

He gets onto a more serious subject, why was I on the road? I explained that I was feeling lost about the choices I had made and that things had not turned out as I expected. I confessed that my first mistake was to expect anything, Agustin shrugged his shoulders and told me “expectations is normal Amy but yes it hurts when it goes wrong.” I open up saying that I was upset with my career choices, his response was ‘do you enjoy it?” “No” I said. Agustin acknowledges with a soft knowing glance.

I go further by explaining that it has taken me six months to finally be able to say out loud that I was unhappy, that I had spent twelve years in the health industry, thinking that because I am a kind and caring person I should go into this profession when actually it brings me no sense of wellbeing, happiness or  lifestyle. I quickly injected into the conversation that I was good at my job, I enjoyed the people part of my work just not everything else, Agustin raises his hand to stop me, to stop me justifying my statement as if to say “it’s okay to be truthful, there’s no judgement here.” To my relief I could see that he was just listening not judging.

Agustin looked at me and said “Amy I envy you, you can say it out loud, I went to university for five years and during my third year I hated my studies but I thought it was just the third year. I started out wanting to be a mechanical engineer like my father and his brothers, my family have a business and I thought I should do this but now I am a mechanical engineer, I.” Agustin pauses, his shoulders hunched up almost to his ears, I do what I can to help by asking, “Do you like it?” He was looking down at his breakfast, lost in thought, “No Amy I don’t, I hate it, I should never have followed in my father’s footsteps, I thought I was doing the right thing but I was doing it because I didn’t know what else to do so I just followed what most men in my family have done. Now I am unsure on how to go forward, I don’t know where to start, for me this is the first time I have said this out loud, for me this is a very important conversation to have, other than a few friends no one else knows that this is how I feel.”
As Agustin said this statement I could see the tension leave him, his shoulders softened, like a big sigh of relief washed over him, he told me about his love of cooking and how he has family in Italy that he would like to visit, he said that he has no concept of time, like a true Latino he is always running late.

Before I knew it, it was lunchtime and Agustin offered to share his lunch with me (I had previously planned to go out for lunch but that was before I had a breakfast partner). I agreed on the pretense that I would do the washing up, explaining to Agustin that it was a rule in my house (Mum’s rule) that whoever cooks should not do the washing up.
Agustin smiles and says “we have the same rule in my house, I think it must be a mum thing.”

I looked at Agustin and I realised that in this moment in time we are equals. There are seven billion people on the planet and we have somehow managed to find ourselves in the same country, in the same hostel, at the same time, both of us navigating the uncertain seas of what to do next. I was the inexperienced sailor and Agustin the unknown coastline, providing me with reassurance that I am not alone and most importantly that it is okay not to know what to do next.
I suppose the moral of this story is a problem shared is a problem halved, it can be lonely trapped in your own head, thinking that this is YOUR problem and as it turned out with Agustin if you share your thoughts, you feel less lonely because someone else knows exactly where you are coming from.