It’s my 33rd birthday today.
I’ve gone out, had brunch with my wee lil family.
It’s raining now. My very favourite weather. I am curled up on the couch while baby sleeps + Starry plays + Chris emanates hotness. He’s probably doing something else, but I can’t remember what. #distracted
I wanted to write a post today.
About the 33 lessons I’ve learned in the year before turning 33.
I even did the pretty graphic up and everything. See above.
But you know what?
That sounds awfully fucking trite. I’m pretty sure the universe didn’t send me 33 mind blowing, perfectly formed lessons just so I can write a listicle with perfectly forming numbers.
So I think what I’m going to do is this:
And see what comes out.
One year ago, I was sitting in our rainforest house in Kuranda. If I had seen ahead to know what the next year would bring, I would have scarcely believed it.
Would I have known that I would move across the country twice?
Would I have known that within days of my birthday, my path would converge with another soul – changing the course of our destinies?
Would I have known I would sit here, a year older, a year happier, a year more healed?
I wouldn’t have believed it.
I just know I look back and think:
Wow. I did not see that coming. And I am so glad it did come.
We moved to Tasmania in February. My husband had longed to be there since he left in his teenage years. I had been there for three days before and liked it. We bought a house off the internet, and landed in Hobart. The breeze was salted with deep ocean. We stayed in an old stone manor before moving in.
Our house on the hill looked over kunanyi, Mt Wellington. We stared out over it each day. We watch it turn pink with each sunrise, purple with each soaring sunset. We were ripped open by the swathes of blue sky.
The wild expanse of sky wass liberating. We had spent two years in the valley of a rainforest, trees crowding us from every side. For the first part, it was beautiful and healing. It stitched us back together after a shitty two years of being exposed in my hometown, in a small cottage on a bustling street that was wholly visible from every angle. No privacy, no land of one’s own. We were raw and ripped apart from everything that happened there, a story I will tell another time I am sure, but I’m not quite ready just yet.
The rainforest in comparison was perfect. Sheltered, private, our only companions the trees and the moon and the rainforest animals which became friends. The pendulum swung, and after a while, the healing there was complete. We no longer needed sheltering. We began to feel claustrophobic. We ached for the sky and to see further into our future than we could in the rainforest.
Our house on the hill in Hobart gave us that.
And my husband needed to see that mountain. Needed to go back and reclaim a part of himself he had left behind. We watched kunanyi become covered with snow. Nothing made my love more happy.
We walked along the sea. We had chest infection after chest infection, coughing out the rainforest dust from our lungs. We met beautiful souls. I gave myself the gift of tubal ligation so my poor, sweet body would know I would never again fall pregnant and suffer hyperemesis gravidarum again. We walked the city streets and we laughed. Life was gentler here.
I could have spent three years and $20 000 on therapy,
my love said.
Instead, I just needed to come and sit and stare at this mountain a few months.
That’s been just as healing.
One winter night, the world above our enchanted tree shifted.
I woke at midnight and roused Chris.
It’s been a gift to be here,
But Canberra is calling me.
All our tribe is there.
It’s our home. It’s where I want to be.
He understood. He agreed.
We had had a long Tasmanian holiday that we didn’t know was a holiday.
It had been just what we needed.
Five days later, we had bought a house (again, off the internet). Five weeks later, we moved.
Once the vision was clear, it was so easy.
It all aligned quickly.
In August, we returned home.
We flew over the snow-spotted Australian Alps hemming the alpine city of Canberra, touched down on solid ground.
Oh. Here. Here is where it is. Here is our place under the sun that has the conditions we need to thrive.
Just like plants in the garden.
We move into our new home.
It has an enchanted garden. A garden owned and loved by a woman named Marion, the same name as my much-adored grandmother who died last year.
It is just the right size. Not too small, not too large. Not too wild, not too sterile. Not too near, not too far.
It was the sweetest homecoming.
To see my darlings again. The women who are the sisters of my heart.
My spiritual mentor/dearest of dear dears Deb. My highschool friend Lena. My old cubicle boss Lile. My sage friend Mel who loves me despite her avowed aversion to hippies. And so very many more.
There has been dates in the sun, and under the moon.
Dates for our wild clan of wombfruit to play together, and dates for us to just be wild women on our own.
I’ve been out more times in the last 3 months than I have in the last 5 years.
It has been a relief. A wonderful, splendiferous relief.
To be so known. And so loved.
Know more getting to know you. Just: I know you and love you.
It’s evening now. Bethany decided that You know what? Fuck my daytime nap today. It’s my mama’s birthday and the only way to celebrate is by fighting with my older sister/destroying the house/adding my own soundtrack of shrieking when mama is trying to watch a movie.
It was, in a word: #blessed
Or as Grant messaged me:
Happy birthday! Hope you’re have a great day! Oh wait! You’re still a mother. This birthday, you can… mother.
Or as my dear highschool mate Anthony messaged me:
Happy birthday, Friend! Hope you’re having a great day doing all the things you want!
Thanks so much for your thoughts matey. But LOLLLLZ NOPE. I have children, remember.
His response, being a new dad who is now in that special, special club of all hobbies outside of kidrearing being annihilated (or sorely damaged) in one breath:
HA. YEP. WORD.
So yeah, my loves, if you are out there with children crashtackling all over your dreams of CAN’T I JUST HAVE ONE NICE DAY, I want you to know you have my sisterly solidarity + love. I get it, girl. Love you. I’m sorry this is happening. This is hard.
Now, next thing.
What else have I learned this year, outside of our moves around the country?
The second big thing that shifted for me was the aforementioned colliding of paths with Grantacular, our (now) Chief Operations Officer and brother-from-another-mother. Though I’d never considered taking on a co-teacher, as soon as we met, I knew he was meant for our tribe and that we were destined to work together. Our business + life values are remarkably the same, and our earth angel missions aligned. We knew we were better together than apart.
It’s been a huge adjustment for the both of us. We are two opinionated, independent, emotional, entrepreneurial souls. Our paths were very separate when we met, and it has been painful and hilarious and wonderful as we’ve learned to dance together. We’ve had to both heal a lifetime of shit to be able to communicate with each other and work together, and it has caused a large amount of both inner + outer growth for us both. We have that particular knack of both being in complete simpatico and also managing to press the whole fucking controlboard of buttons on each other as we do.
It’s one of those miraculous soul contracts where we’ve agreed to meet, to work together and adore each other and shit each other off to undertake a fast track of growth and evolution. And do our work in the world and fulfill our soul purpose and help as many people as we can. It’s a world-changing friendship + work connection for the both of us, as we call out the highest and best in each other, again and again. Not always graceful, but filled with gratitude anyway.
We call our connection our little playground and incubator of becoming better humans. Through our mistakes and misunderstandings and learnings and dreamings and conversations, we get better at marriage to those hotties we are betrothed to, better at parenting and friendship and success and communicating and marketing and business.
On a practical level, having Grant in the company has definitely helped me and the company mature in so very many ways. I’ve had to learn patience, and how to be a better manager, and how to have better emotional fortitude. We’ve reinforced our team and systems and standard operating procedures and support. There’s a million things we have executed this year – at a much faster pace than we’ve been able to achieve before. His energy extends me, and the company is not as limited by my own physical and family and lifestyle limits.
He’s learned his own lessons along the way, but I’ll leave it to him to share what he’s called to from his journey.
He’s also taught me:
- How to not react when mistakes are made by staff. Fix the immediate problem. Take a note. Look for patterns. Circle back around to talk about it + work out ways to improve our systems so it doesn’t happen again.
- How to make a mistake.
- How to argue well.
- How to be less passive aggressive, and more forthright in asking for exactly what I want. In one particularly special moment, he told me: “Don’t tell me it’s raining when you are really just pissing on my leg.”
It’s been a wonderful thing, filled with lots of learning all round.
Such a great mirror, he is!
And lastly, the third most important thing I’ve learned this year is the power of truth-telling and whole-hearted living.
Oh how funny – I’ve just realised that there’s been three big lessons this year… just perfect for turning 33 with. Oh Universe, you really DO have a sense of humour.
So… that last lesson.
What to say about that?
Since the beginning of time, I have been a real Pollyanna.
I’m a natural optimist.
And I was also born into a lineage of women who sacrificed themselves + their truth for their family, who only spoke of the nice things because they couldn’t speak the other words. Who wouldn’t and couldn’t tell you when things weren’t okay. It was Chin Up + Soldier On + Pretend Everything Is Wonderful Anyway.
Which has its blessings and its evolutionary usefulness in some ways.
But it also means that you couldn’t always trust that what they spoke was really real.
And of course, that’s how I grew up.
Look on the bright side. Look on the bright side. Look on the bright side.
I couldn’t bare to hear another person was in pain, or lost, or confused.
I wanted to fix them right away.
I wanted to positive-speak them into happiness again.
Looking back, I realise I was unable to really engage in empathy and compassion and true connection.
I started learning it four years ago:
That moment in a relationship counsellor’s office, when our counsellor told me I didn’t let Chris have his feelings because I was always telling him he shouldn’t feel that way. BUT LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE.
I started practicing unconditional listening then. It was world-changing and relationship-changing. Just to listen to understand his feelings. To not fix them. To not want him to be better. Just to understand.
It took me much longer however to start telling the truth about my feelings. I still didn’t feel safe saying it. Didn’t feel like I was allowed. Felt like the world would cave in if I started speaking the words of everything that angered or upset me. Didn’t even want to consider saying the things I felt shame about.
Kept positive-thinking my own thoughts. Whitewashing it all.
That’s where I think all that Law of Attraction stuff can be harmful. To feel guilt and fear whenever I had a negative thought because OMG MAYBE I WOULD BE ATTRACTING TERRIBLE THINGS TO ME.
And I still felt uneasy about all that empathy and compassion thing. It was an entirely new world to me. To sit with someone in their suffering, and listen. Just be there with them. Stop trying to fix them. Just meet them where they are.
As I lay in my bed, rocking back and forth for nine months, just willing myself to keep enough food and water down to keep me and the baby inside me alive… there were two distinct responses from friends (and strangers).
The first tried to fix me. Tried to offer remedies. Tried to tell me to think on the bright side.
The second didn’t do these things. They listened. They said they felt so sad that I was suffering so much. They asked questions about what it was like. They agreed with me that hyperemesis was the most horrible invention on earth.
To my surprise, I discovered that the one that made me feel better… was not the one that tried to fix me.
It was the one that met me where I was, with compassion and empathy.
I began practicing it, slowly.
And discovered that it brought me closer to people.
When I could just listen. Try to understand. Be curious about how they were feeling, what they were experiencing. No fixing. Just loving exactly where they were.
I loved the things they told me. I loved hearing the difficult things when I relieved myself of the duty of having to fix them. I was afraid of suffering before. Now I began to see it was a way to learn and love even deeper.
And slowly, slowly, I began truth-telling myself.
To trusted and wise and non-judgmental friends, who long had learned the gifts of compassion and empathy.
Like a striptease of the soul, cloak by cloak discarded:
I feel deep shame about this…
I know I’m not supposed to feel like this, but I do…
I am so scared about this…
I feel so very angry about this…
About family. And parenting. And life. And friendships. And marriage.
And everything that this wild journey of life encapsulates.
All the feelings I thought I wasn’t allowed to have.
I was always met with:
Oh honey, that’s okay. I understand. I love you anyway.
And often met with:
Oh honey, I’ve been there. I’ve felt EXACTLY the same way.
And sometimes with hilarious results:
You think that’s bad? Oh honey, listen to THIS!!!
And we would laugh and laugh and laugh at just how hard it is to be human.
And guess what?
Not at all.
I was freed. Freed everytime I spoke those things.
They no longer had power over me. They were no longer stuck inside me. And I no longer believed that just because I had those feelings, it made me a very bad and surely terrible person because I am sure nobody else has ever felt this way.
The practice of truth-telling has been such a gift this year.
I’m excited (and slightly terrified) about what it will mean to go even deeper into it in my 33rd year.
Not so long ago, I was with a new and lovely and wonderful friend. She was telling me the things she felt most afraid of.
And I said:
I’m so glad you didn’t meet me a few years ago. I would have tried to fix you. Now I can just love you instead.
And we laughed and laughed and loved.
These are the gifts of my last year.
They are the best birthday present I could ever receive.
Thank you, beautiful world.
Thank you for every wonderful, hard, magical, mundane thing.
Each part brings me even closer home to myself, to Great Spirit, to truth and to beauty.
It’s the very best journey of all.
All my love,
YOU MAY ALSO LOVE…