For the first time in my life (that I can remember) I experienced one of those days where I literally did not want to get out of bed. That NEVER happens.
It felt completely uncharacteristic – I’m usually the peppy, optimisitic, go-getter girl!
Our trip to the UK to visit family had been on the cards for a number of months and our departure date had arrived sooner than expected. Basically, I wasn’t ready for it. I had been trying to market myself in the UK to book some shoots while I was there because I was stressed about earning money while I was away. In the lead up to our departure, I had (as I usually do) piled a shit-tonne of work on myself for my ‘future success’ – meaning that the work I was doing was not going to yield me any immediate results. I was feeling overwhelmed with my daily videos and I was working so damn hard on my rigourous daily personal development routine, that I now think I was doing more harm than good. Suffice to say, I was not in a good place.
Our departure day arrived and I had no choice but to let go. I had a plane to catch and it wasn’t going to wait for me to get my shit together. I had to hop on or be left behind.
On the flight to Doha, where we were to get our connecting flight, I managed to get a good few hours of solid studying done – did I mention I have a number of courses that I’m currently studying as well? After a 7 hour stop over, we eventually landed on British soil – exhausted, a bit bloated and somewhat emotionally numb.
Oh, we’re actually on holiday…
I couldn’t believe how hot it was – it really felt like we had arrived at our holiday destination, which until that moment had not occured to me – we were on holiday. I’d been so focussed on work and finances and studying, that it hadn’t occurred to me that this was a holiday break that we were taking and the beautiful sunny weather was a warm reminder to me to soak it all up, take it all in and enjoy.
Enjoyment had, until that point, been something I’d temporarily lost sight of. I hadn’t been enjoying the daily struggle, the daily stress, the constant fatigue and unending to-do list. I’m an ambitious girl, but I’m also fairly unfocussed, and ambition coupled with a lack of focus can be a recipe for disaster. In the lead up to our trip my anxiety levels had shot up through the roof and I found myself not able to think clearly. The self doubt had swooped in and the act of having to make even a minor decision had me cowering like a dormouse in a cattery. I felt like a faliure, I felt like I’d never amount to anything, I felt hopeless. Had it not been for my husband who forced me out of bed that day, I’m not sure how deep down that dark road I would have gone.
As we were welcomed by our family, my anxiety began to slowly dissapate with the outpouring of love and joviality and I made a conscious decision to give myself permission to be fully present with them. To leave all my stresses and problems behind me and to concentrate on connecting with my loved ones in the sun.
The main reason for us going over to the UK was for my Nan. Her 94th birthday was on the 13th July and she wanted her family with her to celebrate. I spent a lot of time with her in the lead up to her birthday and getting a glimpse into her daily life really shifted something in me. It made me realise that how we spend our days – one after the other – determines how we spend our life. My Nan has been living alone at home for 12 years, ever since my Grandad passed away. It’s been a long, slow, lonely 12 years for her. Of course, the family that live nearby do visit her as often as they can, but the hours and hours that creep by when she’s on her own must ache with emptiness. She doesn’t drive and at 94 she tires easily so she can’t go far. I also now know where I get my stubbornness and fierce independence from, both of which have added to her lonely existence as she refuses to accept help beyond her usual routine and insists on not being a burden to anyone.
I also saw in my Nan an adventurous spirit. Through our shared desire to spend as much time together as possible, she agreed to every outing we suggested. We took her out nearly every day to neighbouring villages, to different family homes across Bristol – we even took her on the Big Red Bus in Bath – on the open top section, would you believe?
I played cards with her, and my Dad got her set up with an iPad so we can FaceTime her.
After a few lessons, we were chatting away – we even got some Facetime calls from her while we were in the middle of Germany on our way back home. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see her trying something new, learning new technology and opening up to the possibility of adding more life to her days through this modern form of communication. It excites me to see that no matter how old we are, we can change if we’re willing to. Just because something has been the way it’s been for years, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Every day, we get to choose. We either choose to keep it the same or we choose to change it.
I see more clearly now
My eyes were opened to so many of my own tendencies and the break away from my own day to day routine gave me the space I needed to really assess what I’ve been doing and what needs to change. Through my aforementioned stubbornness and fierce independence, I can see the chokehold I’ve had on my business, creativity and personal development for the last while. Not wanting to veer from the path I’d carved for myself and not wanting to ask for guidance – insisting that I have to figure it all out on my own – “If I just work harder and longer…”
Isn’t it crazy what we do to ourselves, not even realizing we’re doing it? There I was thinking I was doing the work that would lead me to success and happiness, and yet I had neither. What I’ve found, in this time away from my own demanding expectations, is that the more I let go, the more things flowed. I’ve heard of the concept of flow before from my friend Timea who runs the Flow Experience, and while I thought I had, it seems I haven’t been putting it into practice. When I began to let go of my obsession with work, and deadlines and social media posting schedules it was like a weight had been lifted from my chest and I could breath again. I could see things more clearly. I could think more clearly. And when I came back to Cape Town where I would have expected a shit-storm of chaos to errupt, it didn’t. In fact, getting back into work mode has been a beautiful process.
As I type this now – I’ve got shoots to edit, shoots to plan, emails to answer, videos to film and edit (I realised this morning that I’m actually 3 videos behind in my daily series!) and I’m totally ok with it all. I’m choosing to remember and reignite that feeling of freedom and love and joy and excitement. And to approach each task as if it’s the first time I’m experiencing it.
The clarity I’ve been lacking for a while is starting to take form as I acknowledge and accept my own fallibility. Choosing to not let my past mistakes determine my future, and more importantly, my present actions.
I’ve been humbled by this experience. I have so much gratitude for this experience and I’m especially grateful for all the work I’ve done on myself in the past, that has given me the tools I needed in this time of discontent. I’m excited to watch the puzzle pieces fall into place and I’ve decided that collaboration is my top priority. I can’t expect to do it all myself, I’ve seen what happens when I try. Whether that collaboration is in the form of joint projects, outsourcing, meeting for a coffee and a chat, sharing a hug or trusting that the universe has my back, that’s where I’m at. I’m not prepared to go back to where I was a month ago. No good can come from being in that state, except of course, in the coming through it.
They say that your biggest breakthroughs come from your biggest breakdowns.
I had my breakdown, and I’m SO ready for my breakthrough!
Warts and all, I’m facing my fallibility. How about you?
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