Full Time Unicorn

Law of Attraction: Manifesting Abundance

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Manifesting Abundance

Manifestation has gained popularity over the last 10 years or so thanks to the self-help hit The Secret: The book which explains how the mind and the frequency of thought has a huge effect on the vibration you put out into the world.

The Secret – and Beyond

Personally I’ve never read The Secret. But I got the gist of it. A while back I watched the cheesy docu-drama – The Secret Laws of Attraction – and it got me to thinking about this manifesting business. Can I really will the universe to provide me with what I want and need? Do my own thoughts hold the power to send vibrations out into the world?

I know. It all sounds a little woo-woo. But I myself am a big fan of woo-woo. I can’t get enough of the shit. I love my salt lamp, my candles, my crystals, my herbs and of course I wouldn’t be without the horse shoe on my front door. I consider the moon’s cycle when it comes to my moods, I light candles to set my intentions and I even surround myself with runes and positive affirmations etched on coloured paper when I am working on a novel. So yeah, you can say I’ve pretty much crossed over into the realms of woo-woo in my daily life.

Is Manifesting all just Hocus Pocus?

There’s part of me (probably the left side of my brain) that is always looking for a scientific explanation. Proof that thoughts can really become things. Can the vibration of thought effect the energy around us? Is everything connected?

Yes! According to many a Nobel Prize winning physicist, everything in the universe is made out of energy.

“If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet. Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” – Niels Bohr

I decided to do some digging and discovered this mind blowing article on Collective Evolution.com. The following paragraphs gave me chills:

Quantum physicists discovered that physical atoms are made up of vortices of energy that are constantly spinning and vibrating, each one radiating its own unique energy signature. Therefore, if we really want to observe ourselves and find out what we are, we are really beings of energy and vibration, radiating our own unique energy signature -this is fact and is what quantum physics has shown us time and time again.

We are much more than what we perceive ourselves to be, and it’s time we begin to see ourselves in that light. If you observed the composition of an atom with a microscope you would see a small, invisible tornado-like vortex, with a number of infinitely small energy vortices called quarks and photons. These are what make up the structure of the atom. As you focused in closer and closer on the structure of the atom, you would see nothing, you would observe a physical void. The atom has no physical structure, we have no physical structure, physical things really don’t have any physical structure! Atoms are made out of invisible energy, not tangible matter.

Woah! We really are all just energy. And if we are all just made up of energy, then inevitably we are all connected in some way; our atoms banging together. When you accept this simple concept, then it starts to explain why the power of your thoughts could legit have an effect on not only your physical energy, but also the energy you push out and vibrate into the world. It may seem like there is only air around you, but the air is made up of gases, which are comprised of energy, the earth you stand on, at its most infinitesimal state – energy.

Manifesting Abundance

My Adventure with Manifesting

​My adventures with Manifestation didn’t actually start at this realisation. They began earlier when I started willing stuff into my life. It started with weeds.
Yes weeds.

I became oddly and quietly fascinated with edible weeds. This was because I had chickens and became concerned that they would eat toxic weeds and die. I started researching and discovered a plethora of edible weeds that humans could and really should eat due to their high nutrient levels that also grew plentifully, supposedly everywhere. One of them was chickweed.

Chickweed is identifiable by its opposing tear shaped leaves, 10 petal white flowers and the small line of fine hairs that grow along one side of the stem.

Chickweed Freak

I became a freak for chickweed. I needed to find some. First to feed my chickens, then to feed myself. Everywhere I went I was searching for the stuff. It was meant to grow everywhere but I couldn’t find it. At the park I’d scour the trees for signs of it growing at the stumps. I searched through my whole yard: Nothing! My family thought I was crazy – constantly taking weeds home so I could hold them up against picture on my laptop, squinting and scowling.

I was quietly obsessed. I didn’t go out of my way or whinge about not finding it, but it was always there in my mind just a little.

I gave up and planted a veggie garden, making sure all the weeds were out and filled it with spinach, kale, celery and silverbeat. My garden looked amaze. Not a weed in sight.

Because I am a bit of a fair-weather gardener and I get distracted from the craft due to my love of writing and not gardening, it was a while before I went back outside. But by the time I did my garden was full of weeds.

CHICKWEED!

I am not even kidding. There was so much chickweed in my garden it was dwarfing the other plants. The weirdest thing was, it was only growing in my garden. Not outside it, only in it.
It was weird.
I had manifested chickweed.
That’s where it began. After that I started moving up the mountain. If I could manifest chickweed, what else could I will into my life?

It turns out I could manifest paid writing jobs, acting work and free stuff. I also manifested the strength to finish my young adult fantasy novel with a manifested feeling of certainty that it will be published, it will be a super massive hit and it will begin my novel writing career.

Manifesting Abundance

How to Manifest Stuff

If you’re wanting to tap into the powers of manifesting but don’t know where to start, I got you covered.

Step 1: What do you want?

First thing’s first. To manifest cool stuff into your life you need to know what you want. It’s all very well to ask for all of the stuff but if you can’t clearly hold an image in your mind of what you want to bring to life then the vibrations you send out will be thwarted. Perhaps you are feeling a deep feeling of restlessness. You know that something is missing from your life but you don’t yet know what it is.

If this is the case, take some time to think about it. Talk it out with a friend or do some journaling to establish what it is that you are yearning for. Is it money to pay off debt? Is it that new job you interviewed for? Maybe you want to manifest more opportunities to turn your hobby into a career? Or maybe you just really want that new pair of kickass pink shoes. Whatever it is, be specific. The universe will respond.

Step 2: Write it down

Once you know what you want, write it down as a mantra. But, here’s the catch: write it down as if it has already happened. Instead of “I want to be a millionaire” instead write “I am so grateful to now be a millionaire”. Or better yet, you could be even more specific about how you want to become a millionaire. How about “I am truly grateful to be a successful business woman with a multi-million dollar company!” Yes.

Take time to write down your mantra. Pull out some pretty writing paper and a sparkly pen you love working with. Use your best handwriting and send your energy into each word on the page. You can even decorate the page with stickers and pictures of what you want and how you want to feel.

Step 3: Meditate

Some people believe that in order for your mantra to be released into the world, you need to write it down hundreds of times over multiple days. I don’t necessarily agree. I actually think that can be detrimental as it makes your mantra lose its oomph and the process becomes a bit of a chore. The manifesting power is in the mantra.

Once you’ve written it down, sit in a meditative state. Hold your mantra in your mind. Feel the joy all through your body as you say it aloud or think it to yourself. Believe it to be real. Feel the gratitude run through your veins. Let a scene of you living the mantra unfold in your mind. Follow the joy down the rabbit hole and see where it takes you. Will it into life. And so it is.

Manifesting Abundance

Step 4: Light a Candle

I’m a candle person and I feel like process of embracing of the energy of the fire element helps send my intention outward.

Take a candle of your choice and engrave your name and your desire along the side of it. As you light the candle hold the feeling of living your mantra in your mind. Sit with your candle for a moment, feeling its energy flow outwards.

If you like you can burn your mantra. I prefer not to because I regularly write down things I want to let go of emotionally and then burn them, so to burn my mantra would seem detrimental. I like to hide my mantra somewhere. Somewhere sneaky. Like under my bed. Then in six months’ time, when I think of it, I go back and pull it out.

You can continue to burn your manifesting candle daily – I do this while I work. Every time your burn it it will be bringing energy to your mantra but as you do it daily it won’t be an obsession, just a ritual.  Which brings us to…

Step 5: Surrender

The next step is actually the hardest. Once you have hidden your mantra. Forget about it. That’s right. Move on. Do not obsess about it. Be like Elsa and Let. It. Go. Do not constantly check your emails waiting for all your chickens to come home to roost at once. The power in manifesting lies in surrendering to the universe and actually doing nothing more than letting things unfold in divine timing.

Of course you can’t sit around watching Netflix and eating ice cream if your intention is to become a bestselling author. You actually have to do the work. The universe can only do so much. Part of the agreement is that your do your part. That means when the universe sends you opportunities it’s only polite that you take them. Don’t let your inner critic psyche you out.

I have a friend who constantly asks the Universe for things. The cool thing is the Universe delivers. The not so cool thing is she lets her self-doubt sabotage the opportunities, usually resulting in her saying no to them. Imagine you gave someone a gift – something they had said they really wanted – and they took it and said “actually, no thanks, I can’t accept it. I don’t deserve it.” Ouch! That would hurt your feelings, no? Imagine how the Universe feels when you turn down the gifts it offers you.  The Universe wants to send you cool shit. You just need to get out of your own way!

Step 6: Live like it’s already here

Yes. You’ve put your order up into the Universe and now it’s sitting in the vortex waiting for you to get in the zone. Come on baby! All of the cool shit is here waiting for you!

If you want to be an online baking sensation act as if you are! Bake! Tell everyone proudly and confidently, how much you love baking. Bake like you are the best baker in the world. Take yourself and your passion seriously.

If you want to be a bestselling author, write! Write everyday! That’s what best selling authors do once they become bestselling authors.

Step 7: Say thank you!

The Universe loves gratitude! Don’t we all? It’s only polite to say thank you when the Universe gives you want you ask for. Say it out loud whenever something amazing manifests; when you get a payment into bank account, when an unexpected tax refund comes through, when a friend offers you the exact book you were hoping to read.

Living with a sense of gratitude in your heart is the most effective way to live a life of abundance and the easiest way to get inside the vortex! Say thank you every day for the abundance that surrounds you!

Manifesting Abundance

 

The Limitations

There are a few things to consider when manifesting. You can’t make people do things. So if your mantra involves other people doing or changing things then it may be in vain. For example, you wouldn’t want your mantra to read “I am so grateful my ex-boyfriend changed his mind and came back to me”. Because the universe can’t control people, only energy. Though you could instead state “I am so grateful that the universe has provided me with a loving relationship.” Because really, maybe your ex was a bit of a scum bag and there is someone way better out there for you.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you may not get exactly what you are asking for. Personally, after auditions for cool acting jobs, I have tried to will that specific job into reality. Sometimes it’s worked and sometimes it hasn’t. But when it hasn’t, the universe has always provided me with some just as good, if not better. So perhaps you won’t get exactly what you are after in exactly the way you were hoping, but the universe will respond.


Love and Abundance!

Full Time Unicorn

Creative Industries

Thinking in Colour: Synesthesia

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Synesthesia

As a kid I loved the weekend because it meant we had two yellow days next to each other. I preferred the yellows days way better than Monday – the only red day of the week. Tuesday was also yellow. But a darker yellow than Thursday which was a bright fluro yellow. Wednesday was orange and Friday was green. But Friday was special because it also had a picture with it. A green jelly-bean shape with dots in it. I had no idea back then but I was experiencing the symptoms of synesthesia.

The mind of a Synesthete

When I think of numbers, they are all stacked bottom to top and they each have their own colour. When they get to 11, they start going horizontally. The twenties are all purple, the thirties all green and the forties all red and so on. One hundred is a red castle with a flag at the top.

The months of the year have their own colours too, and they’re set out on a timeline; like a ruler, with a large monolithic divide between the two years. I am positioned on that ruler too – quite close to the end now as it’s December.

What is Synesthesia?

This is how my mind works. I have synesthesia, meaning that my mind associates words, letters and numbers with colours. Some synesthetes smell, taste or feel pain in colour and sometimes shapes as well. There are those who also see these colours, not in their mind’s eye, but floating in front of them. Some hear in colour and physically feel music within their bodies.

Lorde: “It’s hard to explain this to people who don’t have synesthesia because they don’t know any different,”

Singer Lorde has chomesthesia type synesthesia. She hears in colour which helps her to create beautiful artworks – that also sound pretty good too.

“If a song’s colours are too oppressive or ugly,” she explains, “sometimes I won’t want to work on it – when we first started Tennis Court we just had that pad playing the chords, and it was the worst textured tan colour, like really dated, and it made me feel sick, and then we figured out that pre-chorus and I started the lyric, and the song changed to all these incredible greens overnight,”

Synesthesia

 

Doesn’t everyone think in colour?

Thing is, I always assumed that everyone saw words, numbers and letters of the alphabet as colours and images. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that it’s actually a somewhat rare attribute. According to the American Psychological Association, around one in 2000 people are synesthetes but it is suspected that around one in 300 have some lesser form of the condition.

It’s believed that synesthesia runs in families and it tends to be more common amongst women. Personally I’ve always kind of liked my synesthesia. It’s just how my mind works. But I really wish I could up my synesthesia skills and start hearing colours. That’d freaking awesome. Could such a gift be trained?

Can Synesthesia be Learned?

Well, according to synesthesia expert, Jamie Ward, “no”. I know. Sadface. “You can train yourself to think of the letter A as red, but you wouldn’t literally see it (that way) if you were just to associate the colour to the letter.” Ward goes onto explain however that some people may acquire synesthesia after losing another sense. For example many people who go blind begin to associate sounds and words with colours. “These are hallucinations that blind people begin to have, which are triggered by sound.”

Pharell Williams: “I’d be lost…I’m not sure I could make music.”

Pharrell Williams, is another well-known Synesthete. He sees his synesthesia as a gift and would feel deprived if it was suddenly taken from him, claiming, “I’d be lost…I’m not sure I could make music.”

Like me, Williams also assumed that thinking in colour was what everyone did.  “Oh my God, it’s always been this way. But I thought all kids had mental, visual references for what they were hearing.”

Williams sees colours of the rainbow when he makes music, and believes that as well as having a correlation to musical notes, each colour also has an effect on a different chakra point. “There are seven basic colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. And those also correspond with musical notes … White, believe it or not, which gives you an octave is the blending of all the colours… For every color, there is a sound, a vibration, a part of the human body, a number, a musical note…You have all of your chakras.”

Williams also has an interesting theory about synesthetes and people with ADHD. “I happen to have a theory that synesthetes and people with ADD/ADHD will rule the world. You want to know why I think that is the case? Because historically, that is the case.”

Synesthesia

Other Famous Synesthetes

Other well-known synesthetes throughout history include Vladimir Nabokov, Vincent Van Gogh, Franz Liszt, Stevie Wonder and Marilyn Monroe. While they may not be well known politicians or activists likely to change the world in a revolutionary sense, people with synesthesia tend to be of the creative persuasion, which isn’t overly surprising when you think about it.

Secret Advantages of Synesthesia

Generally, those with chromesthesia (the sound to colour form of synesthesia) are inclined to become musicians as their form of synesthesia allows them to see notes in colour, which is a helping hand when it comes to learning pitch.

It’s believed that synesthetes who have the form known as special sequence synesthesia are more likely to have excellent memories as they view time in a physical special way in their minds. I too have this form of synesthesia and I remember everything. Seriously, there is very little from my childhood that I don’t remember and if I’ve seen a film I can tell you all about it. Even if it was years ago.

Do you have Synesthesia?

I think the weirdest part about having synesthesia is actually discovering that other people don’t have it. It makes me wonder what they see and how they think. It’s allows me to ponder at just how different we all are and that sometimes we have gifts that we aren’t even aware of.

Do you have synesthesia? I’d love to know!

Full Time Unicorn

Fighting Fear

Energy Trade: Full Time Unicorn Guide to Energy Protection

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Fairy Full Time Unicorn

Our energy is like a currency…

We really only have so much to give out to the universe and to others. With family, friends, work commitments and passion projects our energy can be easily depleted. And if you are a Highly Sensitive Person, an introvert or an empath, living an outward life can be incredibly draining.

We are all made of pure energy. We are all stardust, cosmically connected by that one moment of creation. When the big bang hit, the planets began to form and upon the Earth a single cell organism sprung up from the stardust like a phoenix rising from the ash. And it all started with just one singularity. From stardust.

What is Personal Energy?

Our bodies are kept warm from the beat of our hearts, circulating blood through our bodies. Unlike cold blooded animals, us humans maintain a base temperature no matter what environment we are in. We have our own internal thermostat. Our own furnace. But keeping that furnace burning uses energy. Just sitting, doing nothing uses energy. But doing hard physical or mental work also uses energy. As does enduring emotional distress.

The thing about energy is that when you have a plentiful supply you don’t really monitor how much you are giving away.  As a kid I never considered my energy. I just had it. I’d say yes to everyone and everything. I never really remember getting tired. I do however remember becoming overwhelmed and emotional when I had been around people too long.

But now as an adult I am beginning to understand that my life revolves around energy. Every interaction in life, every conversation, every act is a form of energy transfer.

The majority of ads we see on a daily basis are trying to sell us the hope of increased energy, or a way in which to save our energy for the things we enjoy doing; like surfing instead of cleaning.

Have you ever noticed that if you go to a party where you don’t know people very well, you get home and you are completely exhausted? This can be a lot to do with the energy you are giving out to others. Meeting new people is exhausting because we not only use a lot energy to present an edited version of ourselves but we be also expend a lot of energy taking an interest in the lives of others.

Different Energy Transfers

There’s a whole bunch of different ways in which us humans expend our energy

Equal balance energy transfers

When I am hanging out with my bestie, I never feel like I am expending heaps of energy. I know her and she knows me. I’m not burning energy through anxiously trying to be polite or adhere to her ways of living. We’ve been friends for forever. If I want a cup of tea I make one. If I’m hungry I nag her for food. She doesn’t care.

When she needs support I give it to her and vice versa. But our give and take is 50/50. I never feel drained after give her my time and energy because I know my advice has been heard and I also know she has and will be there for me a million more times in life.

Energy Transfer

Unbalanced energy transfers

An unbalanced energy transfer is when one person in the friendship or situation is expending more energy than the other. This could be in the form of physical energy – doing all the leg work; driving everywhere, organizing everything or always coming to the other person or doing what they want. Physical energy can also be expended in a friendship where one person has excessive rules the other must adhere to. This is draining as they must constantly use energy trying to remember the certain set of rules for this one person.

An unbalanced energy transfer can also occur with emotional energy; where one person uses the other to off load their emotional baggage excessively, but never receives the baggage in quite the same quantities.

How to notice an unbalanced energy transfer

If you are constantly leaving a meeting with someone feeling tired, deflated or unfulfilled by the encounter, then you might be experiencing an unbalanced energy transfer situation. Think back: are you handing over genuine emotional energy to the other person, only to have a limited amount offered back when you bring up your concerns or needs? Do they ask to hang out only when they need to off-load or organize their thoughts out loud? Another red flag is that the conversation may be quite one sided, you may get a few words in before the energy draining person gets bored and moves the conversation back to them.

If this behavior is more common than not, you may have an Energy Vampire on your hands.

Emotional Energy transfer

As a mother I find my energy is always making an outward journey. Even if I am not actively parenting; physically engaging or watching my children like a hawk, I am always thinking about them, about their lives or their emotional needs.

This can also be the same with friends or acquaintances who are going through a tough time. If you engage so much in their story and their struggles, you may begin to notice your energy slipping in their direction, even when you are not with them.

If you’re a sensitive empath (I feel ya!) this can be incredibly hard. People are generally drawn to empaths as a safe person to share their pain with. But for the empath this can be doubly hard, as not only do we feel hear their story and offer our healing energy, we also fear their pain as if it were our own. This makes the pain very hard to let go of. It can take hours or days to regain our energy equilibrium. What’s more, during those hours and days that we are left still thinking of the person in pain, we are actually still sending them our healing energy, as if in a long-distance reiki healing session.

Fear related or anxious energy transfer

As an anxious person I know all too well how draining constant fearful thoughts can be. These can be thoughts of self-doubt, judgement, or fearful thoughts of things going wrong or that you just don’t have enough time to do everything.

These energy transfers are between us and our Ego. The Ego wants all of our focus and all of our energy at all times. That way it is in charge of our lives and our actions. But our Ego is not our friend. It is fueled by fear.

When we allow our minds to take us on emotional fear-filled journeys all day long, it’s not surprising we can start to feel drained. Simply getting your head in the right space can prevent you from bleeding unwanted energy all day long.

When I hear those nagging thoughts in my head; worrying about whether or not going for a swim is the ‘best’ use of my time, when I feel these thoughts tug at my solar-plexus chakra, I force myself to take a breath and consciously silence them. I even say out loud: I refuse to waste my energy on these thoughts. I need it for greater things.

Energy Transfer

How to protect your energy

When I go to a new friend’s house I am more likely to be on edge. I don’t know their rules around social etiquette and if I actually like them I want them to like me too. I am trying to pretend that I am not secretly a little bit feral. I am trying to show the very best side of me and that takes conscious effort. And effort = energy.

Because I am slow to open up to people, I’m more likely to give support before I ask for it. This makes me far more prone to expending energy rather than receiving a top up, as only a certain few will be called upon to loan me some of their emotional energy. So as you can imagine I’m constantly monitoring how much energy I have and how much I have to offer others.

Say ‘No!’

As an introvert, empath and HSP I have learned to get very good at saying no. If someone wants to hang out and I feel instinctively that they want to off-load (again) and I don’t have the emotional energy available for it, I say no. If someone in a lot of pain wants to have a coffee, while they may not even speak about their struggles, I can feel them, so I might say yes to a catch up, but I know I will need to take some time out afterwards to meditate in order to restore my energy.

If you are an empath take care when browsing Facebook or online news stories. Even reading about someone in an awful situation could suck the oompf right out of you. When choosing films or shows to watch, first assess how able you will be to separate the story from reality. Even pretend tragic stories can be draining.

Meditate

Meditate, meditate, meditate. I can’t say it enough! I hear ya: There’s so much to do every day! Who has time to sit on a cushion and hum? You do! Believe me!

I too struggle to make time to meditate but when I do it I feel like a million bucks! It instantly calms my mind and allows me to get on with my day. It quiets the anxious chatter in my head and therefore prevents me from leaking energy all day long.

When I don’t meditate my mind wanders constantly. I find it hard to stay on topic with what I’m writing and everything takes longer. When I’m with my kids I’m more snappish and less likely to let them create magic (read: mess) in the kitchen or do science experiments.

Eat Like a Unicorn

It’s a common misconception that unicorns live on doughnuts and candy floss. The truth is unicorns are creatures of the divine. They dwell in the forest lands of faery realms. Do you really think they would fill themselves with processed guff made of who knows what? Hell – to the –no!

Unicorns thrive on plant based foods; berries, green veggies, fruit, nuts and coconut. They eat only the purest of foods and because of this keeps their minds, hearts and souls are pure too. When you eat like a unicorn, you run like one too…

Move like a Unicorn

Which leads me to my next point: move your tail! It may seem that to conserve energy you should sit still and rest but nope! Not at all! To ensure you have energy you gotta keep that furnace burning. If you are still for too long it goes out and all you’ll want to do is sit down and eat quick release energy foods – like candy.

Unicorns love to run but you can move however you want. Do some gardening, walk in nature, swim in the sea, practice yoga. Do what you love. Just move.

Crystals and Candle Magic

Most days I need a little help from my friends – earth and fire. While I’m working, I surround myself with crystals and burn a natural candle. At the moment I am burning an Ix Chel candle by Triquetra Candles. It’s made with soy wax, rose quartz and dried herbs and it is BLISS.

The energy from the candle, herbs and crystals helps to keep my vibration lifted. It also helps me to maintain my focus with a sense of ritual.

How to restore your energy

Despite taking all the precautions to protect my energy, there are still times when I reach the bottom of the barrel. It’s usually after a trip away for work, or after an intense work project – where I am more likely to skip my energy protection practices– that I will hit a burnout. Once it has hit there’s nothing much you can do but ride it out. Take a break. Watch Netflix. Eat well, stay hydrated and do some light exercise. If you’re in the midst of a burnout, definitely do not agree to a meeting with an Energy Vampire. Make your default answer ‘no’ until you are feeling replenished.

As soon as you’ve recharged through stillness, resume your energy protection practices.

Everyone’s energy is different

A lot of us go about life assuming that we should all have the same levels and that there’s something wrong with us if we tire easily or need to take breaks. There’s not. We are all magnificently different. The best thing you can do is forget about the energy levels of others and simply focus on your own. The better you know yourself the easier it is to stay true to your individual needs and strengths.

Full Time Unicorn

Fighting Fear

A Pill to Make You Numb: Do You Numb Your Hard Feelings?

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Full Time Unicorn

Hard feelings. We all get them from time to time. Sometimes we’re mad at others. Sometimes we’re mad at ourselves. Hard thoughts can be tough but they usually come up for a reason. The Universe is always trying to teach you something new, so when icky thoughts or feelings come up they do so to force you to face them. Of course, hard feelings are not fun. They require work to sort through. If you find yourself eager to numb the uncomfortable feelings with alcohol, drugs, sex, junk food, shopping or bad T.V. you’re not alone. Most of us don’t know how to deal with our feelings. Instead of sitting with them we try to dull them down.

Where do we learn to numb?

It was something I learnt growing up. If ever my parents were mad sad or depressed they would reach for something to ease their ills.

On nights when my mother would curl up on the couch claiming to ‘feel fat’ or ‘down in the dumps’ she would order my dad to go down to the dairy and get her a Jelly Tip. At the time I didn’t think much of it. Usually it meant that my dad would race me down to the shops. Me on my pink sparkly BMX, my little legs pedalling as fast as they could. My dad, jogging alongside me, pretending to go as fast as he could. The end result would be three Jelly-Tips, wrapped diagonally in newspaper, ready for when we arrived home. I’d ride even faster on the return journey.

On days where my parents were stressed or angry they would open the liquor cabinet, revealing a slew of long fancy bottles filled with intriguing and alluring elixirs. I’d watch the way my dad filled his glass with ice, a scowl on his face, gingerly pouring the syrupy bronze liquid. The ice cubes would clink as he lowered himself down into his chair, releasing a sigh. Being an adult looked cool because you got to look stressed and sigh and drink things that looked very grown up.

As a teenager my mother would poke her head into my bedroom, her eyebrows raised. “Busy? Want to go to the mall?”

At the mall her eyes would light up. I would visibly see her shoulders relax. “I really needed to get out to cheer myself up. I could really use a new top don’t you think? But first how about some junk food?” These times with my mum were some of the best I remember in my teenage years. We bonded through shopping and eating French fries and my mother used it as a way to make herself feel good. Is that so wrong?

Though I didn’t notice it at the time, this behaviour was setting me up for a future of dependant numbing. As early as 16 I can recall feeling so anxious I could hardly breathe. But instead of going for a walk, having a bath or perhaps meditating, I made my way to the liquor cabinet. I did what I’d seen my parents do for years; a placed the ice in the glass, added what I now knew to be Jack Daniels and topped the brew off with coke.

Learning to Numb with Alcohol

I sat in the sun and let the sweet mixture slide down my throat. With each sip I felt lighter. My chest relaxed and my thoughts grew soft and fuzzy. So that’s what all the fuss is about!

Up until this point I’d only ever used alcohol as a way to get drunk. It was what my friends and I did on a Friday night: From the age of 15 we would catch the train into town and then a bus into Newtown. Back in the 90s Newtown was not the funky bohemian metropolis it is today but instead a dodgy place where teenagers went to score their weed. We’d usually flip a coin to determine who had to go up to the door. If was always a sketchy experience, though thrilling too, in that way illegal activities tend to be.

Once we’d procured our cannabis, it was on to the liquor store to con some well-meaning adult into buying us a cask of wine.

From there we’d move onto the small treeish space we had named It. It was behind an old church and an electrical supplies store to drink and smoke ourselves into a fugue state. We’d stumble to the train station in time to catch the last train home, waxing lyrical on our homeward journey.

So as you can see alcohol was already a part of my life but it wasn’t until that sunny day with Jack that I learned to numb my feelings with it.

From that day on I had a quick tipple before I had to do anything too scary. About to perform in a play: a nip of vodka. Going on a first date: A quick skull from the bottle of wine in the fridge. Getting my legs waxed: A bourbon and coke.

It wasn’t until my mother caught me priming myself before an electrolysis session that I learnt that this behaviour was not approved of by my parents. My mum stood there in the living room staring at me. “What the hell are you doing?” she asked, her face in a half-smile half-scowl.

“Um, getting ready for my electrolysis appointment. I’m nervous.”

“Why are you drinking my gin?”

“Because you’re out of Whisky.”

“You can’t just drink alcohol because you’re nervous!”

I was stumped. What did she mean I couldn’t drink because I was nervous? Wasn’t that what all grownups did? Wasn’t that the correct way to drink? It wasn’t like I was drinking to get drunk. I was drinking responsibly to numb my pain. Duh.

“But,” I managed, “that’s what you do.”

I watched her face fall. Her mind processing what I’d said behind her hurt eyes. Shame. She’d been seen. Her actions, my father’s too, had been witnessed and mirrored. She hadn’t managed to teach me how to keep my room clean, how to make a bed with hospital corners, how to cook a meal then clean up after myself, but she had taught me how to drink. For some unknown reason that was what had stuck.

Full Time Unicorn

Who will Teach us to Deal with our Feelings?

It’s little wonder though isn’t it? When we go to school we learn how to read, write, add and subtract. We learn how to throw a ball and paint pictures. But do we ever get taught how to manage our feelings? I didn’t. Nor did my parents. If anything they were taught to hold their feelings in and ‘not make a fuss’. But when we hold in all our emotions they don’t just go away. They brood and grow. They have to come out eventually or they’ll begin to eat away at our insides, making us bitter, resentful and ill.

Everywhere we go alcohol and junk food are offered up to us on huge billboards, normalising substances that when taken in excess can cause death and disease. We’re taught to ‘enjoy treats in moderation’ and ‘knock back a cold one on a hot day’ as a way to let off some steam and relax. But we’re meant to know when enough is enough. And as soon as we cross the invisible line of ‘enough’ we’re an embarrassment. A weak fool who doesn’t know their limits and eats drinks too much for the wrong reasons. But what are the right reasons and who is meant to teach them to us?

While I now only drink in small amounts and I make a point of not using alcohol as a numbing agent, I still struggle with sugar. Now, if I have a bad day, I can feel my internal voice begging me to hit the confectionery isle so together we can self-harm and self-placate through candy. I must use all of my will power to resist and instead settle on an exotic tea blend as a reward for getting through a hard day without numbing.

Is numbing really that bad?

So you may be wondering is numbing really that bad? Well, that depends on why you’re numbing yourself and what you are using to do so. If you are using drugs and alcohol as a way to avoid dealing with your hard or dark feelings, then you are not teaching yourself to work through those feelings. While getting drunk may make you feel better, the same issues that were bothering you before you lifted the glass to your mouth will still be there tomorrow, when you’re hungover.

When it comes to eating junk food as a way to numb the same thing goes, though the ill effects may be more slow going. Not only will unhealthy food pick you up then drop you down, it will also have detrimental effects on your health in the long term.

Spending money to cheer yourself up might be fun but what happens when you run out of money? Then how will you cheer yourself up? If you numb yourself by keeping so busy you have no time to think, you could run the risk of he major burnout.

Perhaps you like to numb yourself by scrolling mindlessly through your Instagram feed. How do you feel afterwards? Personally I always feel worse after perving at Instagram too long because everyone always looks so much happier than me – I almost forget that it’s not their real life I’m ogling!

Full Time Unicorn

Temporary, conscious numbing

There are times where we may have to pick our battles. Sometimes using food and the like to numb ourselves may well be the best we have available at the time. When I had two children under four and was sleeping very little, eating five chocolate biscuits a night was the only way for me to get through those hard times. I didn’t have any spare time to meditate, exercise or journal. If I was lucky I had one undisturbed hour a night to watch an episode of Dexter and O.D on chocolate. Did it make me feel good afterwards? Not really. But knowing that at the end of each long day I’d get to smash a pack of Squiggles was honestly what got me through. And as my kids got older and the pressure came off, the need to numb with cookies passed.

But ultimately, using methods to escape from your pain is detrimental because it stops you from uncovering why you are feeling these feelings. When we try to dodge the lessons the Universe has sent our way they don’t disappear. They wait. Soon enough they’ll come back again. And again until we’ve chosen to face them.

What to do Instead of Numbing

Of course there are those of us who feel more than others. I myself am one of them. Us feely types are far more likely to seek out methods by which to numb. But we are far better off seeking out ways to manage our thoughts and feelings.

Meditation

I find meditation especially good for releasing anxiety around any issue. There are plenty of free guided meditations on You Tube that will help you release anxiety and anger without reaching for a glass of wine.

Journaling

If your issue more about processing thoughts and feelings then free flow journaling can be extremely helpful. It allows you to get your thoughts, fears and anger out onto the page as way of releasing what you’ve kept inside.

You can also write a letter to whom you have pend up anger towards, telling them how you feel. You could even send it if you want.

Audio Diary

Just like Felicity did back in the 90s, keeping an audio diary is similar to having a therapist (though a lot cheaper). You can chat away about your feelings as if you are talking to a friend.

Walking

My personal favourite is going for a long walk in the hills WITHOUT an ipod. This way I am forced to listen to my head. While I may start the walk full of rage and resentment, there is a point where I literally feel whatever it was that was plaguing me woosh off into the clouds. After it’s gone I continue walking a little longer as this is when my hard feelings are usually replaced by inspiration and or euphoria.

Ritual Bathing

This is like a bath but not. Ritual bathing is a serious affair. First you must find a collection of beautiful plants to fill your bath with (I love lavender, rosemary, kawakawa and rose petals) this means you are forced to go outside and place your hands upon the glory of mother-nature. Then throw your plants in, fill the tub, light plenty of candles and grab yourself a nice refreshing glass of sparkling ice water with fresh mint and lemon.

Before you get in bless the water with this prayer:

I bless this bath in the name of the goddess of water and the goddess of fire. I give thanks to the spirits of these plants and I ask them to help me process my hard feelings.

Slide into the bath and sit with your thoughts. Do not read or watch Netflix. Just sit there for at least an hour.

Nature

Get thee to the beach! That is pretty much my mantra for when I wake up with darkness in my heart. There is just something about a long walk along the beach that resets my heart and my soul. It totally lifts my vibration and places me back on a path of alignment.

Emotional release

We all spend a lot of time trying not to feel. But it is our emotions that make us human. It is okay to cry, yell and laugh with joy, though it’s usually only the latter that’s acceptable.

Back when I was at drama school I had a practice of ripping out a death scene when I was in a bad mood. I’m not even kidding. I would drop to the floor and enact a horrific death. It felt great. I totally recommend this for when you are in state of contained rage.

If you need to cry, cry. Get that sadness out of you. If you are mad at someone tell them. You don’t have to scream in their face but allow your anger to come out as it arises otherwise it will grow into a giant monster who will really do some damage. Punch pillows. Howl at the moon. You are allowed.

Full Time Unicorn

 

Photos by Mervyn Chan ,  Alex Iby ,  Lyndsey Marie &  ian dooley

Creative Industries

Nosce Te Ipsum: The Importance of Knowing Yourself

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Know Yourself

It was 2:45am on a Saturday morning and I was still wide awake. No, I hadn’t been out partying. I hadn’t even had a sip of booze. I’d gone to bed at a normal hour after binge watching a few too many episodes of Fargo with my lover. I was tired when I lay my head on the pillow but as soon as the light went off I was wide awake. I was mad. I was sad. I was miserable. My body felt stiff and itchy. My gut felt hard and rigid; wrecked with guilt and full of resentment.  On this Saturday, which ironically marked the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, I was finding myself on the edge of a relapse.

For me, my mental illness is something that is always with me – even if just a little bit. I do my best to manage it and keep it in check but the truth is it is always there, lurking on the periphery.

A History of Mental Illness

From as young as eight years old I had bouts of depression. I recall my parents announcing a trip to the public swimming pools and feeling a heavy sense of disappointment, boredom and hopelessness wash over me. It’s a feeling I now know as depression.

From the age of ten I developed obsessive thoughts and feelings of anxiety to go with the depression. My mind was in a whir, constantly considering and questioning all kinds of things and then feeling guilty for even thinking about them. I became addicted to confessing my sins to my mother, who had somehow become my personal catholic priest. Every night I’d come clean to her, telling her all my impure thoughts from the day. ‘I looked at a girl’s vagina in the changing room at swimming. When Mr Bruce was talking at assembly I imagined him naked, then imagined him having sex, then I imagined having sex with him! On it went. Out it would all come and my mother would listen and smile then simply say, ‘it’s okay, you’re allowed to have your own thoughts’. I would sigh, feeling cleansed and absolved of my sins. For a few minutes. Then the thoughts would start up again and the guilt and fear would start up again with them.

During my teenage years the anxiety lead to extreme hypochondria and a dependency on alcohol to get through all social situations.

It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom at 23 and had a complete breakdown that I was forced to reevaluate my self-care practices. It turned out that up until this point I hadn’t really had any. Until then, exercise was only something you did to lose weight, sugar was a dietary staple as was coffee, early nights were for party-poopers and living as a tortured artist was part and parcel of a creative life. Oh how wrong I was!

Know Yourself

Nosce te Ipsum – Know Thyself

Nosce te Ipsum is a Latin phrase meaning Know Thyself. After managing my mental illness for ten years by using this phrase every day, I decided it was time to get it inked on my body as a constant reminder. I do my best to know myself. I know what makes my heart sing. I know what makes me sad. I know my triggers and my self-care requirements to keep my illness in check. I have learnt a lot of things about myself over the years and now that I know these things I can’t un-know them. One thing I know for sure is that I want to live. I refuse to let my mental illness claim my life.

What I Know about Myself

Caffeine

If I drink caffeine I have panic attacks. One cup now and then is usually okay – though I will notice I am more grumpy and hungry than if I stick to decaf – but one cup every day for a week will send me over the edge. It’s easy to slip back into that old morning routine of jump starting my brain with coffee – Oh believe me I do miss that wide away feeling. But the last time I let myself get hooked on the good stuff I found myself driving on a rainy night in peak-hour traffic with an elephant sitting on my chest. No matter what I did I could not stop myself from panicking. And panicking only makes a stressful situation much harder.

Sugar

When it comes to sugar it is similar but instead of becoming anxious I first become irritable and then very depressed. As I am highly sensitive to the chemical response sugar brings out in me, one tiny taste leaves me gagging for the next fix. I find it impossible to live in the now and be present with my kids because all I am thinking about is face smashing a tub of ice cream.  It is the one substance I am highly addicted to. If I fall off the wagon it is very hard for me to get back on it.

I wish I could say that I was fine with sugar alternatives like stevia or erythritol, but I find them just as bad, if not worse, than the real thing. I stick to fruit for my sweetness, especially banana.

The Need for Alone-Time

Being a Highly Sensitive Unicorn, an introvert and an intuitive empath, I find being around people for long stretches of time VERY hard. It’s not that I don’t like people – I do – it’s just that I find the energy of others incredibly draining. Even if another person is in the same room as me not saying a word I can feel their energy and I am concerned about their well being.

In order to recharge I need to be alone. Sometimes all I need is half an hour to unwind, read a book, exercise and meditate. Though of course if I leave it to long without demanding this time I will need a lot more time alone to make up for it. It may seem like a simple thing but I have learnt the hard way that when I don’t get this time I start to lose my shit. My perfectly woven shroud of wellness starts to unravel and soon all hell will break loose.

Know Yourself

Exercise

I have learnt that I need to exercise regularly and that if I go more than three days without a good bout of cardio I will start to become very sad. The sadness makes it even harder for me to start to exercise again. That’s when I know that the darkness is coming for me; the sadness is just the beginning, soon the darkness will swallow me up and it will not let me exercise at all. It will convince me that it’s best stay in bed eating Tim-Tams. But the darkness is not my friend. It doesn’t want me to get better because it likes having me there to torment. As they say ‘misery loves company’.

Do you want to know something funny? I hate exercise. I was not a sporty child and even now as adult I would rather be writing than sweating it out on the spin bike but I know myself and I know that exercise is simply a necessity for my well-being.

Sleep

Cyclically, if I get to point where I have not exercised for more than three days, I also find it very hard to sleep. My anxiety levels spike and as soon as my head hits the pillow all I can see are my children falling from great heights. My heart pounds and my legs are restless.  The only way to cure the sleeplessness is to go for a very long walk the next day. This can be the hardest thing to do when you’re feeling on the edge of a breakdown. But believe me, it is the very best thing you can do in order to rebalance your sleeping patterns.

Purpose

The most likely times for me to experience a relapse in anxiety and depression are during the school holidays (when I am likely to miss out on ‘alone time’ or exercise time) or in between projects. If I don’t have a project on the go that I am passionate about I can begin to lose my sense of purpose. For this reason I do my best to make sure I have a direction ready for when I finish a large project.

I recently sent my young-adult fantasy novel off to a few literary agents in New York. I knew that suddenly not having my novel to think about 24/7 would leave me feeling a little directionless, so I booked in some film work for that week to give my mind a new focus before I started on my next novel. I need to be constantly working on something that excites me and sets my heart a flutter in order to feel fulfilled. How about you?

Know Yourself

Being a Tortured Artist is a Choice

Ah yes. That old cliche that has claimed the lives of many artists. For years I believed that in order to make really good art one needed to suffer. I even foolishly thought that my mental illness was the key to my success and to treat it or manage it would be my creative downfall.

For years I stayed up late to work – even though I knew it impacted on the rest of my life. I used to drink a lot to drown out the sense of disappointment when my work didn’t sell, get published or if I didn’t get the part. Even when I finally realised that drinking heavily wasn’t a healthy way to manage my feelings, I still continued to binge on junk food instead; when really it’s the same thing, just different.

I used to engage in spiteful acts of bitching just to make myself feel better about not having what others did. Instead of being happy for my peers I would silently hate and resent their success. I would wallow as if they had blatantly stolen something from me, even though they had earned it fair and square.

When I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic I was reminded that living as a tortured artist is in fact a choice. We can choose to live as if this creativity we a besieged with is a heavy crown on our heads, a curse if you will, or we can accept that yes, we have a need to do this work, a calling even, but it need not be the death of us.

“You can believe that you are neither a slave to inspiration or its master, but something far more interesting – it’s partner – and that the two of you are working together toward something intriguing and worthwhile.” – Elizabeth Gilbert.

 Medication

On top of all of the things I do to manage my illness, I also take medication. Since my breakdown over 10 years ago I have remained on medication. While all of my self-care can help with the depression and anxiety, only medication helps to relieve me of the obsessive thoughts.

I have at times come off it, like when I was pregnant, but after falling ill again I’d always go back on it. I’ve discovered I am not well when I am not on medication. I have an illness that requires medicine. Much like people with high blood pressure or asthma need medication, so do those with mental illness. They shouldn’t be made to feel bad about it, as if it’s ‘taking the easy way out’, believe me, it’s not.  It’s a bit like how body builders take supplements – they still have to lift the weights.

As they say, ‘opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one’. Inevitably, there will come a time when some big dummy decides to tell you what they think of your choice to take medication. The thing is only you, and those closest to you, can truly know what’s best for you. Personally, I knew that when my lover couldn’t go down to the shops to get milk without coming back to find me in tears, because I was sure he would crash and die on the way home, that it was time to go back on my meds.

Being medicated is a choice that no one should make you feel ashamed of. It takes a lot of courage for someone with a mental illness to even seek help let alone accept that medication may be the right choice for them. In my experience, it’s not the mentally ill people on medication you need to worry about, it’s the ones who aren’t medicated that you need to watch out for!

The most important thing that we learn in this life is how to master the art of being ourselves. To do that we need to learn to know ourselves through and through.

Know Yourself

How well do You Know Yourself? Ask yourself these questions:

 

What is your favourite colour? How often do you wear it?

What is your favourite food? How often do you eat it?

If you could wear anything, without considering cost or ridicule, what would you wear?

A) I am happiest when…

B) why?

A) I am saddest when…

B) why?

What would you be doing if you were in your absolute bliss moment?

What foods or environments make you feel bad?

What daily activities are you currently doing that are detrimental to your happiness?

What one daily practice are you not currently doing that would improve your quality of life?

My life purpose is…

Obviously there are no wrong answers. The point of theses questions is to get you thinking about what you like and don’t like. The real truth lies behind how easy it was for you to answer these questions. If you struggled to answer then perhaps you are a little out of touch with what brings you joy.

Full Time Unicorn

Fighting Fear

Living in Awe: Placing your Hopes on a Pedestal.

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Placing things on a pedestal

All my life I have been in awe of things I admired. If I wanted something badly, the want made it unattainable. The more I wanted something the further away it seemed and the harder or more impossible it became to acquire. This became the basis of my life: The things that you really want you cannot have. By either self-sabotaging or creating an awe-struck anxiety around the things I wanted, they became unattainable.

When I was younger it was easier to get what I wanted. I could simply put it on my Christmas list, write a polite letter to Santa and SHAZAM! If it was realistically priced it would pretty much always end up under the tree on the big day. But some things, the things that really mattered to me, could not be wrapped in pretty paper and tied up with ribbons.

Choose Gratitude over Guilt

In Awe of the Crush

As I reached adolescence it was boys. If I liked a guy for whatever reason, found them handsome or funny, I’d clam up. My throat would fill with sand and my lips would glue themselves together. I’d be so in awe of them that I’d ignore them or even act like a bitchy little snob if they spoke to me. I couldn’t even manage to make friends with them. Are you kidding? How can you even talk to someone you are in awe of! 

This behaviour continued into my late teens and early 20’s where it was pretty much impossible for me to talk to any guy I found attractive or interesting. Eventually I turned to alcohol. The thing with drinking is that knocking back a few can help you pluck up the courage to come out of your shell. Known as social lubricant, alcohol can help you open up and release that awesome personality you keep locked inside. However, relying on alcohol to help you be yourself is never a good idea. And, as the mighty Lorde sings ‘But what will we do when we’re sober?’ Because, you can’t be drunk all time.

In Awe of my Own People

I’ve always had a thing for musicians. I used to have huge mega-crushes on minstrels and troubadours alike, who would not only make sweet sounds but also pen romantic verses to match. How many musicians have I dated? Zero! Why? Because I was so freaking busy being in a state of awe of them that I placed them on a huge pedestal. I made them into Gods in my head because I really liked what they did.  Instead of just waltzing on up to them and saying “hey, that’s a really cool song” and talking to like a normal human, I stood back in awe and wished I had more nerve.

To make it even more ridiculous I too was a musician and a poet so I would have had plenty to talk about with these guys. But the awe made me feel less than. I loved music so much. I felt every note and every key change in the sediment of my soul. Music was my passion. Music was cool; far too cool for me. So eventually the awe around creating music became too great and I stopped all together.

full time unicorn

Awe Sabotaging Friendships

As a teenager awe made it impossible for me to make friends with people I genuinely thought were cool. When I was 14 I moved from Hamilton – a small farming city – to Wellington – city imbued with art and culture. Everything was so different. For starters the kids at my new school wore mufti where I’d always worn a uniform. But these kids didn’t just slip on a pair of jeans and head to school. Oh no! They had a distinct individual style.

I desperately wanted to compliment some of them on their awesome sneakers or sweater, or mention that I really liked the bands that they had scrawled across their pencil case. But I couldn’t. It was as if the moment my mind decided I liked them, or had anything in common with them, they were off limits. They were too cool for me.

Inevitably this lead me to either make friends with people who were younger than me – and therefore for some reason less intimidating – or people who didn’t treat me very well. I also felt more comfortable around people that didn’t register as ‘cool’ in my mind. At one point in high school, I remember purposely sitting next to people I thought were nerds, just because I felt no pressure around them. I could be myself. So not only was I letting my Ego judge myself and others, I was then letting it decide who I was allowed to make friends with. And, seeing as I didn’t think I was worthy of being friends with like-minded people I found interesting, I allowed myself to create friendships that didn’t support or fulfil me.

Awe Stole my Tongue

At 14 I fell into a lonely depression. I had friends, but be honest I didn’t enjoy their company. I was not brought up in a religious family but still I prayed. I prayed that somehow I would manage to make friends with the group of girls whom I thought were cool -one of them wore the most awesome fur-trimmed coat I’d ever seen. I willed it in my mind each night. I imagined talking to them about music and art and hanging out at lunch times. I didn’t know it yet but what I was doing was manifesting my reality.

Towards the middle of the year a new girl arrived in our class. The teacher sat her down next to me. “Hi!” she said, “I’m Ella.” She plonked her bag down next to me and then said “Hey we have the same shoes!” I looked down. So we did. The exact same purple Doc Boots.

Ella and I chatted throughout the whole class. We liked the same music and both liked to draw. As the bell rang she said “Hey, do you want to come and meet my other friends? I kinda moved schools to be with them. I hated my old school.”

“Sure,” I said with a shrug. As we neared the canteen I saw them. It was the girls I had hoped to befriend. I couldn’t believe it. But as Ella introduced me I felt my throat seize up and my chest grow tight. I managed a stifled hello and that was it.

They invited me to join them for lunch. We sat on the field and made daisy chains. I listened to them speak but I could not join in. My lips were sealed together. I had what I wanted – I had been invited to hang out with people I actually thought were interesting – but it didn’t matter. They were still up on that pedestal and I was wallowing on the ground beneath them. What was the point of being around like minded people if I wasn’t able to open up around them?

Now that I knew Ella was friends with the ‘cool girls’ I could no longer relax around her either. I couldn’t talk to her like I had before. She was too cool for me.

I learnt a valuable lesson from that experience. Firstly, the universe is always listening, trying to meet your needs and your requests. Secondly, be careful what you ask for – you may get it but it might not be exactly what you need. I had asked for an opportunity to make friends with people I thought were cool. But what I really needed was to learn that I was worthy of quality friendships and true connection. I needed to learn that I was cool too. That what I had to offer another person was of merit. I’d forgotten that I was a unicorn, full of awesomeness. My mind was full of the belief that I wasn’t good enough to be friends with interesting people that I rated highly.

I remember seeing an interview with Jack White on Conan O’Brien. He was talking about how he’d bought a new house in Nashville and it needed a bit of work and that Bob Dylan, who now works as a welder, was fixing his gate. I could not believe it! Not about the welding part, that didn’t surprise me. It was the fact that Jack White was relaxed enough around Bob Dylan for him to fix his gate. I mean he’s Bob freaking Dylan! How can you ever get past that fact and move on to a cup of tea and “Hey Jack, I’ll fix your gate”?  I don’t know if I could ever talk casually with someone I admire. Which is sad. After all, the people we admire are just people like you and me. What’s to say someone doesn’t admire you like that too?

Putting my Goals on a Pedestal

Awe also affected my goals. If I discovered something that I wanted to achieve, something that I thought would be fun or cool or enjoyable, I’d amp it up so much in my head that it became too over inflated to conquer. Or I’d over think it: I’d nit-pick at the idea or question my ability to complete the project and then ultimately fall victim to analysis paralysis. Basically, I’d let the Awe freeze me out until I gave up, feeling worthless.

If I did develop the nerve to strive for something I was in awe of, the anxiety created by the Awe would usually sabotage my attempt.

After I attended Performing Arts School I auditioned for a prestigious Drama School – twice. Both times I freaked out because I had spent years placing the school in question inside a big bubble of awe.

My first audition wasn’t too bad – I was told I needed more life experience – but my second was just appalling. I performed my monologue multiple times but failed to follow the tutor’s direction. Every time he spoke my mind filled with Awe filled waffle. I was too busy being completely awestruck by the head tutor to even listen to what he was saying. The fact that I was even allowed inside this prestigious drama school was enough to make my head explode!

Awe and the Ego

In her book The Universe Has Your Back, Gabrielle Bernstein writes about placing people on a pedestal or making them ‘special’. In her experience, it was a High School boyfriend whom she’d placed on the pedestal, ultimately making him into an idol. So not surprisingly when the relationship ended she was left heart broken. Bernstein that the Ego is responsible for the creation of Idols. The Ego, thinking only in good or bad, better or worse, likes to pull rank. It wants us to judge ourselves against others and determine our worth. The Ego is what makes us believe we are either above others or beneath them.

Believe it or not, most of us feel the effects of the Ego telling us we are either better or worse than others. Even the most successful, beautiful organised people feel at times that they are not quite good enough compared to someone else.

Sofia Amoruso shared in her battles with feeling inferior in her book #GIRLBOSS. Despite being the CEO of multi-million dollar fashion empire NastyGal, Amoruso admitted to feeling like “an interloper in a Black Sabbath T-shirt” when sitting in the board room next to Harvard graduates. She’d worked hard to get to where she was but still she felt inferior amongst these big-wig investors. “Finally though, I arrived at a point where I decided this was bullshit. I stopped feeling as if I didn’t belong anywhere, and realised that I belonged anywhere I wanted to be.”

When we place things up on that pedestal we can strain our necks looking up. When we make idols out of every people we are wasting value time worshipping them that could be used on investing in ourselves.

“I don’t want to be put on a pedestal. Anyway, I’m way to ADD to stay up there. I’d rather be making messes, and making history while I’m at it. I don’t want you to look up #GIRLBOSS, because all that looking up can keep you down. The energy you’ll expend focusing on someone else’s life is better spent working on your own. Just be your own idol. “ – Sofia Amoruso.

We are all Unicorns

The thing is dear Unicorn, we are neither better nor worse than anyone else. We just simply are. We are no better or worse than the janitor at the mall. We are no better or worse than the lawyer in the BMW. We are all equals and we are all God Damn Magical Unicorns.

To believe you are awesome is not to believe that other people are not. A true unicorn knows that being their best self and loving themselves down to their marrow, has no bearing on others. There is enough awesome to go around for everyone.

“Loving yourself does not mean hating on others.” – Lisette Prendé

There are no Pedestals

I’d don’t know about you but I’ve never actually seen anyone stand on a pedestal. They are for cakes and contestants on Gladiator. The pedestals in our minds simply are not real. They are part of an imagined ranking system that only exists because we let it.  What if we were to lower those pedestals to the ground where we are all equal? How would that feel?

full time unicorn

How Awe Blocks Abundance

The number one thing to remember when it comes to manifesting what you want is surrender. When we obsess over things we’re more likely to block the flow of abundance than to welcome it.

The ability to submit to the will of the Universe is fundamental to manifesting your desires. Have you ever noticed that it’s the little things that randomly pop into your head throughout the day, that you manage to manifest, yet the big things that you plead for, you do not? That right there is an example of how begging for abundance blocks its flow. Because when we beg it comes from a place of lack, scarcity and doubt. When we beg we are not using gratitude, faith or trust.

Similarly, when we place the things we want way up high on a mountain top and think to ourselves, I wish was good enough to play music/learn fluent French/find a spouse, all The Universe is hearing is what you are feeling and the vibration you are creating. And when we are in awe it is a vibration of Not Good Enough. Which, in Universe speak means I Don’t Deserve Good Things.

Calling out the Awe

A while back I realised that my awe issues ran deeper than shyness. They ran deeper than thinking someone was cool and wishing I had the guts to say so. My issues with placing things up high on a metaphoric pedestal stemmed from that fact that I did not place myself on one.

One of the most effective ways of breaking the awe is to call it out pretty quickly. If you think someone is beautiful, tell them. If you love someone’s art/music/books et al, tell them! The truth is most people don’t know they are awesome, so it’s nice to tell them you think so!

Meditation for Removing Awe

Another way I remove awe is to focus my meditations on lowering them pedestals. Once I have completed a body scan and have moved into deep relaxation, I visualise a large vast field. In that field is a very tall pedestal. Whatever awe issue is erking me at that moment is what I place up on the pedestal. In most cases it will be a person you put up there.

I see the pedestal slowly lowering until it has reached the ground. The person on it is now the same height as me. I walk up to them and take note of how they look up close. I take in their humaness. I give them a hug and thank them for the things they have done, created or achieved. I tell them that I admire them for their work. I watch as they blush from the compliment. I tell them that I have struggled from being in awe of them and I watch as they react, surprised. I explain that now I understand that we are all equals. We are all one. We are all connected in the Universe. Their gifts are mine. Mine, theirs.

Placing things on a pedestal

No woman is an island. I want to surround myself with people I think are awesome. I don’t want to push them away or fear them. I want to work with them, support them and collaborate with them.  I want to strive for the things I want to achieve. I don’t want to psyche myself out or subconsciously will myself to fail! I want to win.

Life is too short to spend it lurking in the shadows. Get out of your own way. Go after what you want. Befriend people you admire. You’re worth it.

Full Time Unicorn

Body Image

The Body Image Battle: How Low Self-Esteem Impacts our Lives

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Self esteem, body image

I was seven years old when I realised that I didn’t look like the girls on T.V. I vividly recall standing in front of a mirror in the changing rooms of a kids’ clothing store and staring at my reflection with disappointment.

Michelle Williams and The Disappointing Bikini Incident

I’d wanted a bikini. I’d seen them on T.V. To be fair I’d seen them on Baywatch. A pre-Dawson’s Creek Michelle Williams had starred as a love interest to Mitch’s son Hobie. She wore a cute bikini and jogged along the beach – as most people in Baywatch tend to do.

Seeing as I (and most girls my age at the time) had a huge crush on Hobie, I decided that I wanted to look just like Michelle. First thing’s first, I would get myself a bikini and then ta-da! I would practically be her.

So off I went one Saturday with my Mum on a girlie shopping trip. I picked out the most Michelle-Williams-esque bikini I could find and then headed to the changing rooms. As I stood there looking in the mirror a strange realisation washed over me: I did not look like Michelle Williams. In fact, I didn’t look like any of the girls on T.V. Unlike theirs, my stomach was not flat and defined. Instead it was soft, rounded pot belly. Where they had newly budding breasts, I had a flat childlike chest adorned with a pair of puffy nipples. I also did not have a bronzed California tan. I had, what can only be described as The New Zealand Summer Tan. Meaning, hardly any tan at all. My skin was pale all over except for a strip of freckles across my nose and a rosy red flush to my cheeks.

For the first time in my life I had made a direct comparison of myself against another person. It was a strange feeling of blatant self-directed judgement. Why didn’t I look like Michelle Williams? I just couldn’t understand it. “Do you like it?” my Mum asked, smiling at me.  I did not reply.

It was then that the sales assistant burst into the changing room. She looked me up and down and then said “How about I bring you in a one-piece instead?” That’s when it dawned on me: It wasn’t just that I didn’t look like Michelle Williams in the bikini, it was that I didn’t look good in the bikini.

Low Self-Esteem in Girls

Frighteningly, a study carried out by the AAUW, found that self-esteem levels in girls begins to drop from the age of nine. The survey, which studied 3000 children, revealed that a large proportion of girls, who claimed to feel confident in themselves and their abilities at the age of nine, were less likely to do by the time they reached high school.

The study in question was conducted back in the 90s, when self-esteem was still a buzzword. Since then ‘self-love; and ‘self-development’ have come along, with countless resources around to target adults who missed the focus back when it peaked. But what about children and teens? When these kids were surveyed their exposure to media was much more limited that it is today. Back in good old 91, we had T.V., the newspaper and the (very) occasional Billboard (this was Hamilton). Today, with the influx of digital media and social media, there are too many forms of media to count! It is everywhere.

Self esteem, body image

Self Esteem and Exposure to Media

The problem with media is that it’s ultimately a platform for marketing, and when you’re marketing things you want them to appear as perfect as possible. It’s not enough to sell clothes by using a beautiful model – whose body type is in the genetic 5% per cent – you also have to retouch the images, so they look even more perfect. Sadly every single image we see online or in print (even in film!) has been modified to look even more flawless. And this is what us, and our children are exposed to for around eight hours a day – the estimated media exposure time for young people today. Over the course of a year, kids between the ages of 2 – 11 will see on average 25,600 ads.

Young girls are struggling with their self-esteem more and more. In a study conducted by the Dove Self Esteem Project it was found that 72% of girls felt a huge pressure to be beautiful but only 11% of girls felt comfortable calling themselves beautiful. Frighteningly 6 out of 10 girls questioned said that they are so self-conscious of how they look that it is holding them back from trying new things, sharing their opinion and even going to school.

Low Self Esteem in Women

It’s not surprising then that only 4% of adult women could describe themselves as beautiful. Perhaps that explains why, in a study shared in Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, 33,000 women admitted they would rather lose 5kg than achieve any other goal. Isn’t that sad? Think of all the things you could do instead: Learn a new language, play an instrument or write a book! But instead the idea of looking better seems to pique our interest more than anything else.

Beauty-Brainwashed to Forget all Other Goals

When we are bombarded with unrealistic images all day long it is not hard to become influenced by them. It’s not only that the women in the images look thin and flawless, they also look happy, have a handsome man on their arm and appear to be where the party’s at. Subliminally be are being taught that ‘only thin beautiful girls have fun’. Which is exactly what the marketing companies want you to think. This constant barrage of brainwashing never ceases.

While it is highly unlikely that we will ever look like the model on a magazine cover, we can but try. We try so hard and then fail at this impossible goal. But the goal never leaves our head. In fact, this desire to look perfect, and the self-loathing that comes from failing to, is a downward spiral. We become so obsessed with how we look that it fills our minds, making it hard for us to focus on anything else. All of our other goals go out the window while we obsess over not being good enough. But alas, when we feel like we are not good enough, we are less likely to succeed in other areas of our life. As the late and great Louise Hay once said “Every thought we think is creating our future”.

Self esteem, body image

 

After the Disappointing Bikini Incident

From as young as the age of seven I began to assess myself far more critically. Whereas in the past I’d been more concerned with dancing, painting and writing, after the episode with the bikini I became far more caught up in how I looked and I how I could improve how I looked. I hated my hair. I hated my skin. I hated my boobs (or my lack thereof). I even recall going to the gym with my mum to try and “lose weight”.

At 11 I stared reading Dolly magazines, which only further fuelled my obsession with how I looked. Instead of studying I was using a deep treatment conditioner to tame my frizzy hair. Instead of after school sports, I was exfoliating my rough skin. Instead of playing the drums I was bleaching my moustache and by the time I was 13, throwing my up food.

Low Self Esteem in Adolescence

For the next ten years I let my appearance dominate my mind and my life. I became socially anxious and hyper self-conscious. I was afraid to try new things, speak in class, talk to boys and even make friends. It didn’t matter that my self perception was only how I saw myself. When people complimented my blond ringlets, long lashes or white teeth it fell on deaf ears.

I spent so much time focusing on my flaws that I failed to learn the value of my strengths. The sad and interesting part is that our flaws never go away. Sure we may amend some of them but ultimately, unless we learn to accept ourselves, another flaw with rear up in its place, begging us to focus our energy on it. As women we must learn to ignore them. If we are going to live our lives to our true potential we must learn to love ourselves. If we don’t then we are not just letting ourselves down, we are letting all women down.

In the Beauty Myth Naomi Wolf writes: “A consequence of female self-love is that the woman grows convinced of social worth. Her love for her body will be unqualified, which is the basis of female identification. If a woman loves her own body, she doesn’t grudge what other women do with theirs; if she loves femaleness, she champions its rights.”

Self esteem, body image

Changing your thinking

When we refuse to play a part in the game of self-loathing and lack, we free ourselves up to allow room love, joy, gratitude and abundance. Why not try it. For just one day I want you to note down every time you give yourself a negative thought. It doesn’t matter if it’s about your appearance or your performance, simply note it down. You can write down the thought or you could put a penny in a jar every time you hear a nasty niggle pop into your mind. At the end of the day have a look and see how many cruel thoughts you have had about yourself. Warning: This part could surprise you.

The following day I want to you try something else. Every time you hear a negative thought, stop it in its tracks. Tell it to piss off – you can say it aloud if you want, though you might get a few strange looks! Then, to change your vibration, jump up and down five times or take five deep breaths. Then finally, consciously replace that negative thought with a positive affirmation: I love and accept myself completely and utterly.

When we are constantly judging and slagging ourselves off we are sending the message to the Universe that we are not good enough and therefore not worthy of receiving abundance. When we tell ourselves ‘I’ll be happy when I’ve lost 10 kilos’ or ‘I’ll love myself when my skin is better’ we are telling the Universe we don’t want anything good in our lives until we’ve achieved that goal. But, not many goals are achieved out of self-loathing.

Full Time Unicorn

Uncategorized

Life as an Intuitive, Introverted, Highly Sensitive Person

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Highly Sensitive Person

As a child I was always overwhelmed. Except of course when I was in my bedroom by myself; painting and crafting or dressing up and devising solo performances for my dolls. Being alone was blissful. I was never once lonely or bored. Occasionally I’d get into one of those funky moods often confused as boredom – you know, when you just don’t know what to do with yourself because nothing appeals whatsoever. But lonely I was not. How could I be lonely when my mind was so full of ideas, images and creatures?

The problems occurred not when I was alone but when I had to be around people. Oooph! That was a real doozy. People were complicated. They said one thing but their heart said another. People had feelings oozing from their pores, permeating the energy around them. People spoke. A lot. They yammered away, making noise and getting far too close to me. I could feel the sun on my back, the wind in my hair and the clothes against my skin. I could feel it all.

Luckily, being an only child meant that at the end of every day I could come home and recharge. I could sit all by myself and decompress after the chaos that I’d been amongst all day long.

Being a Highly Sensitive Person

I was, and am still, a Highly Sensitive Person. In public places I hear the music, the scrape of chairs, the laughter from across the room, the tone in the waitresses speech.  I smell all the smells, and I feel all of the subtext behind every word spoken. Not surprisingly this is exhausting.

As well as being sensitive to my surroundings, I am also very sensitive to food. I didn’t become aware of this until my teenage years, when after drinking an energy drink I had a massive panic attack. It was a normal Saturday at work at my local supermarket. When it came to lunch time I decided to try the new nifty looking drink we had in store called Red Bull. So I chugged it back with my sandwich and then headed back to the check-out.

Like most Saturdays it was busy. Lines of people snaked out from eat check out area. I could sense immediately that the customers in line were getting shirty. I logged in and started serving. It didn’t matter how fast I went, I could still feel the impatient energy wafting through the air. I could hear people in my line sighing. Sweat began to drip down my back and bead on my upper lip. I tried to scan faster but then I started making mistakes. My heart was racing. A kid in the line next to me started to cry. A man in my queue made a comment about choosing the wrong line. The cacophony of check out beeps filled my ears. My till whipped open, smacking me in the hip and revealing that I didn’t have enough cash to give the correct change. I rung my bell but the floor manager was nowhere to be seen.

“It shouldn’t be too long,” I said to the impatient face of the woman at the counter. But the words would not come out. She looked at me, puzzled. It was then that I realized I was hyperventilating. I tried to say it again but not only could I not speak, I now couldn’t breathe. My vision went blurry and I fell backwards against my till.

The next thing I knew I was in the manager’s office, sitting on the sofa, drinking a glass of water. “Your Dad’s on his way to get you,” the manager said, offering me an Anzac biscuit.

I stopped drinking caffeine after that.

It wasn’t just caffeine that I was sensitive to though. It was pretty much everything. Friends would tease me for being “fussy” because I couldn’t handle strong smelling perfumes, loud bars, curtains that let in light, clothes made from itchy fabric, eating too much sugar, eating wheat, having to make polite conversation, wind, artificial sweetener, medications and getting hangry. Considering all these special requirements, it’s not surprising that I was dubbed ‘High Maintenance’.

Highly Sensitive Person

Being Identified as Highly Sensitive

It wasn’t until a friend discovered Elaine N. Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person, and called me with her diagnosis, that I realised being “sensitive” was a thing.

When we are offered the term “highly sensitive” it’s easy to assume it means that we are “fragile” “over-emotional” or “weak.” By definition the word sensitive means:

1: quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences.

2: having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings.

Neither of these definitions imply weakness or vulnerability. Sensitivity is actually a matter of awareness. It is being so in tuned with your senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – that you are consciously processing all of this information.

A lot of people go about their life without their brains actively processing all of the information that is being fed in via the senses. They are blissfully ignorant about the amount of activity that is going on around them and able to simply hone in on one or two senses – perhaps sight and sound if they are listening to someone speak.

Whereas an HSP is not only listening to someone speak, they are also listening to the background music playing in the elevator and trying to ignore the very strong perfume of the woman in the back – she’s nearing 60 so perhaps wearing perfume to cover up the hot flashes she’s currently experiencing due to menopause – whilst also trying to ignore that the shoes they are wearing are a little tight on the left pinky toe. Like I said. Exhausting!

So while HSPs may be branded “soft” or “fragile” their brains are actually working double time, so no wonder they get tired and flustered.

Officially being dubbed an HSP is determined by a checklist. Personally, I answered ‘yes’ to every single question on the list. Turns out I am a Very Highly Sensitive Person!

How to manage being Highly Sensitive

So what do you do when you have this information? For me it was just great to know that I wasn’t simply fussy. That I wasn’t being a trouble maker or trying to be hard work. The best way to manage having a highly sensitive nature is to accept that is how you are. Highly Sensitive People should ensure they get enough sleep, eat (healthy, non-stimulating food) regularly and plan down time into their day when they know they will be busy or forced to spend time in highly stimulating environments.

After reading Aron’s book I felt vindicated. I was just an HSP and that was that. No more did I have to feel bad that I struggled with office life or that I found it taxing being in busy places all day long.

 

Being a Highly Sensitive, Intuitive, Introvert

Of course being an HSP was only half of the challenge. I have also always been introverted and highly intuitive.  Not all HSPs are introverted though. Of the 20% of the population who are Highly Sensitive, 70% are introverted. So while us introverts are the HSP majority it is not a prerequisite.

In her book Quiet Power, Susan Cain defines introversion as the following: “Being an introvert is about having a deep inner life, and considering that inner life to be important.” Personally I have always been an obvious introvert. As a kid I loved being alone and still do. That’s not to say that when I am out I can’t string a sentence together – quite the contrary – when I go to parties I am quite happy to chat but it’s preferably one-on-one about things that really matter. I’d rather eat my wine glass than make small talk.

Highly Sensitive Person

Managing Intuition

Being highly intuitive is harder to manage. Where an HSP uses acutely uses their senses, an intuitive feels things easily, empathising with the emotions of those around them.

A while back I took my kids to a playgroup. I could feel something off in the ether. It was a heavy, miserable emotion that hung in the air. For a while I thought I was making it up. That was until I asked another mother if she could also feel the vibe. She couldn’t but she told me that the head teacher had very recently lost her husband to a short illness. As soon as she told me that it made sense. Not only could I feel the grief in the air but I could feel the sympathy that others were feeling for this grieving woman. A few weeks later the head teacher resigned so she could move closer to family and the heaviness lifted from the space.

When it comes to being highly intuitive and Highly Sensitive, there is a slight cross over. HSPs pick up so much information around them that, to the untrained, they may seem to be highly intuitive. But in reality they are simply processing all of the information their senses are feeding them.

A highly intuitive person can be highly sensitive too, but as well as picking up cues from their senses, they are actually feeling the shifts in energy around them. Highly intuitive people experience strong physical symptoms – or a gut feeling – from their subconscious mind, to help them make decisions. For example, the U.S navy has started working to develop the intuitive skills of their soldiers, after troops in Afghanistan spoke of feeling an unexplained sense of danger just before an attack hit.

It’s not completely crazy. According to the law of attraction, our thoughts and feelings are all just energy. Seeing as everything in the universe is made up of energy which connects us all together, it makes sense that we should be able to pick up the emotions of those around us.

Growing up as a Highly Sensitive, intuitive, introvert was exhausting. But now that I am aware of my needs it is manageable. For starters I have stopped trying to force myself to be extroverted. I plan down time into my day and I never over commit myself.

Creative Industries

The Truth About Fashion Week

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Fashion Week

Fashion Week: It seems so glamorous. Zipping away to Auckland for a week for “work”. Sipping champagne and attending fashion shows whilst rubbing shoulders with celebrities and influencers. But truth be told Fashion Week isn’t all glam and selfies. It’s a strange Wonderland that leaves me feeling a lot Alice chasing that damn rabbit.

I first started attending New Zealand Fashion Week with Mariana for The Madisons. To be fair it was just as much an excuse for us to stay in Auckland for a week shopping and eating in all the best restaurants as it was an opportunity to provide some awesome content for our site. We had fun. So much fun. We both have other things going – the fashion industry isn’t our main focus – so it was pretty cool to take a sojourn in this strange and exotic land where tall thin creatures with shining white teeth dwelt. It was also cool to not care what any of these people thought of us. I mean at the end of the week we were heading back home to our slippers, novels-in-progress and mum-life.

Going Solo

This year was different. My wing-woman, Mariana, would not be accompanying me this year. I had to decide whether to opt out, or to be a big brave unicorn and go it alone. I chose the latter. After all I have special unicorn business to attend to! I need to spread the message of the Full Time Unicorn (embracing your inner awesome and living your best life) far and wide!

Of course I wasn’t really going it alone! Over the past four years I’ve met heaps of bad-ass babes at fashion week, so the universe conspired and I ended up sharing an apartment with my fashion designer friend Desiree. We were two minutes from the viaduct and the complex had a spa and a pool! Bliss!

The Fashion Week Lurgy

Sadly however, I was not able to avoid the dreaded Fashion Week lurgy that threatened to strike down many models and delegates alike. The Fashion Week lurgy does not discriminate. I offered Codrol, while my girl Jess had a stash of Strepsils and even a jar of honey in her hand bag!

So by day one I was already tired. I was there to network and meet some awesome writers, designers, stylists et at, but all I wanted was a hot lemon drink and a fluffy cat to cuddle. Networking at Fashion Week is hard at it is. Try networking with a gravely throat and a case of the sneezes!

Backstage Fashion Week

The Designers are too busy to Chat

I quickly learnt that my intentions of interviewing designers backstage was not a viable option. For one, all of the designers showing at Fashion Week are flat out and frazzled, as is everyone in their team. They are so busy trying to put on an amazing show that reveals all their hard work, adds to their brand and creates a buzz for their new collection, that they don’t even have a second to spare. So my interviews with designers living their dreams would have to wait.

As would I…

Hurry Up and Wait

Waiting is part of the game at NZFW. Ever heard of the term fashionably late? Well turns out it actually stems from the fashion industry. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. I spent more time at Fashion Week waiting for shows that I did actually watching shows.

Normally waiting isn’t an issue. That is if you have a firm squad who are at every show you are. But seeing as not all 2000 delegates can fit into every venue there are times where you will ultimately be going it alone. That means waiting alone. In a line, nursing a glass of wine that is slowing getting warmer as the room fills with people.

Networking at Fashion Week as a Highly Sensitive Introvert

If I were not a highly sensitive introvert, perhaps this part would be easier. If I were a fiery extrovert who commandeered the room perhaps people would flock to my side to strike up a convo. Or perhaps I wouldn’t find it so hard to do the same. Truth is I suck at making the first move. Though once I have I am fine! I can chat to anyone about anything and somehow get down to ‘the real shit’ pretty quickly.

But it’s making that first move that’s the hardest. More often than not, I found myself chugging back my third glass of bubbles before I dared to approach another lone wolf. This made me realise just how crazy an environment it is that all of us fashion peeps need to be a bit boozed to say hello. We already know we are like minded – we’re at the same show – but still we struggle to mix and mingle unless we’ve mixed and mingled before. We rely on the steady supply of free booze to get us chatting and depending on how much of it we’ve had, chatting may or may not be a good idea!

And sadly, not all attempts to make a new buddy are reciprocated. Sometimes all you get is a one word response and an awkward silence. Not all fashion peeps are friendly! Some are waaay cooler than you.

Being Highly Sensitive, I also find the fashion week environment hard work. There’s the lights, the music, the tight clothes and the shoes that rub. There’s people. So many people. (Some wearing very strong perfume!) It’s all a bit much. Thankfully this year I was so close to our apartment, that I could nip back for a cup of tea when it all got too much.

The Fashion: Genuinely the Highlight of Fashion Week

The fashion, textile art displayed on walking canvases, is the best part of Fashion Week. It is amazing what people can do with fabric. I personally gave up on sewing in high school when I realised I did not like pins or working with flappy materials. These geniuses did not. They worked through the trials and now they create amazing pieces of art.

Every year there are so many shows I am dying to see. But the sad thing about a week full of fashion is that eventually it all starts to blur into one. At the first show, you’re inspired, you’re mesmerised. By the last show, the music is a bit too loud and you’re dreaming about dating one of the models.

The Perils of Social Media at Fashion Week

One major distraction from the fashion is social media. That modern beast. I was so busy vlogging, snapping, tweeting and instagraming, that I genuinely forgot to watch the shows. Yep. Much like everyone else I was there to cover fashion week, so much so that I forgot to actually experience fashion week. When people asked me after the show if I saw the boobs, bums or crushed velvet, I mostly hadn’t. How would the shows be if we actually watched in the moment?

Fashion Week: The Blatant Paradox

Another big distraction from the art is the paradoxical nature of the whole ordeal. I am watching 16 year old girls walk down the runway, wearing clothes their tiny frames look great in, but even these bright young things, who are in the industry, cannot afford to buy them. They are showing them to us; an audience full of writers, photographers, fellow designers and social media influencers who also are unlikely to have a grand to throw down on a designer dress. The women in the crowd (or sitting at work in their lunch break reading a blog about the show) who could perhaps afford these items, are over 50 at least and look nothing like the young twiglets showing off the garments.

And the designers, having spent A LOT of money to be part of NZFW are hoping and praying the publicity created by all these bloggers, photographers and influencers, is enough to get said 50 plus woman to head down to her local store and give the clothes a try on. Let’s just hope she’s okay with how they sit on her 50 plus figure.

The Truth About Fashion Week

 

The Fashion Week Revelation

There was a moment at Fashion Week between shows, where I sat outside in the beautiful Auckland sun feeling strangely underwhelmed. I watched people take multiple Outfit of the Day pics and chat in groups. I watched people point out cool clothes on other people and covertly photograph them. But mostly I watched people who were conscious of being watched. Primed for it. Waiting. Hopeful that someone would care enough to strike up a conversation or even ask them for a photo that would enhance their social media lives.

It didn’t feel real. Just like Jim Carey said on the New York Fashion Week red carpet recently “None of this is real.” I concur. It isn’t real. That used to be the appeal of Fashion Week; it’s ethereal anti-reality quality. But the more time I spend digging deeper into myself, into my spiritual side, the more I crave realness. I’d rather sit down with just one person and talk challenges, hopes and fears, pull tarot cards and drink tea, than attempt to mingle with over 1000 people that are living in a matrix of image and perfection.

What my Fashion Week experience lacked was connection. Genuine honest connection. Not talk-to you-until-I-see-someone-with-more-followers connection. It was there, sitting on that concrete bollard that I realised that this was not the place where I would find that connection, and perhaps not the kind of event for me to focus my intentions on at this time.

My Last Fashion Week?

I’m not saying that I will never attend another Fashion Week. Indeed with Mariana, covering our lifestyle blog The Madisons, I may. But as far as Full Time Unicorn goes the event in itself doesn’t foster the kind of energy I am seeking.

Where to from here?

The great thing about finding out that something no longer serves you is that it frees up space in your heart and soul. It makes room for those things that truly do fulfil you. Looking forward, I will be sending out my intentions to manifest new opportunities where I can share my message. I’m hoping for more speaking engagements and workshops. I’m putting it up to the Universe for now and we’ll see how she responds.

The Loot

As usual I managed to procure a whole lot of fashion week swag. We’re talking bags and bags of cosmetics and the like. But, seeing as I am a giving kind of person, I am giving THE LOT away! Check out my Facebook and Instagram for a chance to snag my swag.

GIVEAWAY T&C

Fashion Week Swag giveaway is to be drawn on the 13th of October. Half given away on Instagram the other half on Facebook. The giveaway is open to New Zealand residents only and prizes will be sent out via NZ post once winners announced and postal info provided. Prize drawn at random. Good luck!

Full Time Unicorn

Choose Gratitude Over Guilt

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Choose Gratitude Over Guilt

Guilt is an interesting emotion. It is a useful tool to prevent us from being total assholes, but most of us feel guilty at times when we’re doing nothing wrong at all. Women tend to feel guilty a lot of the time. And when/if you have kids that feeling of guilt becomes pretty much the norm.

Guilt and Motherhood

When my kids were super little it was damn near impossible for me to do anything without them dissolving into tears. I swear if I even so much as left the room to take a wee they’d act as if I’d left them at the train station with a note pinned to their shirts which read ‘FREE TO A GOOD HOME’.

All I wanted was a shower and a sandwich and it felt like I was asking for a goose that laid golden eggs. In the weekends I even felt guilty asking my partner for just a small amount of timeout to do the basics. Instead of being grateful for the free time he was happy to give me, I felt guilty taking it, guilty for putting him out.

When my kids got older and started going to kindy and school I had a bit more free time! It was so good to be able to do all those simple things I’d gone without. Now I could have a shower in peace! I could eat lunch in one sitting without sharing my food or holding a baby whilst chewing. I could go for a swim! I could sit in the sunshine. But of course as soon as I had that spare time I felt guilty using it for myself. I felt like I should use it to clean my house or even try to get a job. I couldn’t possibly just be grateful for my new found breathing room. Oh no. Instead I chose guilt.

Guilt: A Negative Message to the Universe

The guilt wasn’t just exclusive to parenting either. I started to feel guilty about everything. I felt guilty if someone gave me a gift. I felt guilty if someone in a store or café gave me extra special service. I felt guilty if I had to cancel on someone due to issues outside my control – even if the other person was completely understanding. Instead of choosing to be grateful for all of these things – thanking those who were kind to me and thanking the universe for these gifts of abundance – I chose to feel guilty.

I chose to feel as if I didn’t deserve anything good in my life. But when we choose to feel this way we are telling the universe that we don’t deserve good things, that we don’t want them. And, dear unicorn, if that’s the message projecting then that is what we manifest.

Choose Gratitude over Guilt

Guilt and the Inner Critic

Deep down I knew that this voice of guilt was not doing me any favours. I knew it was my inner critic, the one that embodies an old fashioned martyr woman, a woman born in a time when idle hands were for the devils work and cleanliness was next to godliness. But this woman inside my head was not me. She is a bitter, judgy apparition, that for some reason I wanted to please but did not want to become.

I didn’t want to be the boring woman who self flagellates, who sighs as she toddles off to work claiming not to have a choice. I didn’t want to be the woman moaning about how tired she is because she rushes from school drop off to work to house work, ad nauseam. And most of all I didn’t want to become that old and bitter woman inside my head that never allowed herself the room to find her life purpose. I didn’t want to be that woman that never let herself have fun and experience pleasure.

Choosing Gratitude Over Guilt

When my youngest started school I knew guilt would be a huge challenge for me. My partner and I had always agreed that I would stay at home while the kids were young. Seeing as I hated my pre-children job and that it also didn’t pay well enough to put the kids into to daycare, going back was never on the table.

I started writing when my eldest was a baby and I started working on my novel when number two was about three. I knew that I wanted to finish it and then start working on another. But what I didn’t know was just how hard it would be to quiet those feelings of guilt and simply write. It was as if every word I typed that wasn’t perfect, was another notch on the tally for that evil old inner critic of mine. See! She would rasp. I was right! You’re not a writer! Now go and get a job that pays a little bit of money so you can pay off the mortgage a few years earlier! It was a daily battle to tell her to shut up and choose gratitude over guilt.

Choose Gratitude over Guilt

Guilt and the Sacral Chakra

Interestingly, the feeling of guilt is associated with an unbalanced sacral chakra, known as Svadhisthana. The sacral chakra is located in the abdomen, below the navel.  When Svadhisthana is balanced all is good in the world! You know what you want in life and you are not afraid to ask for it.  You’re grateful for your talents and you know where your strengths lie. You feel good in your own skin and allow yourself to experience joy and pleasure. You live life to the full and are grateful for everything the universe delivers to you.

Guilt: Svadhisthana Unbalanced

However, when we allow ourselves to feel too much guilt, Svadhisthana can become blocked. This can cause us to deny ourselves pleasure, fun, intimacy and joy.

You might feel creatively blocked – as if for some reason you just can’t let your creative energy thrive. Your libido will likely be low and you may feel lazy or fatigued. Instead of spending time alone, you’ll want to be around others to boost your energy levels vicariously. Your train of thought may tend towards the negative which is likely to block you from attracting abundance. Physical symptoms include; lower back pain, menstrual cramps and abdominal pain, heavy or irregular periods and urinary tract and kidney infections.

Re-balancing your Sacral Chakra

If you think your Svadhisthana chakra may be blocked fear not! You can rebalance it through food therapy, crystal therapy and nature. Svadhisthana is associated to the colour orange and the element of water.

Foods: mandarins, oranges, melon, kumara, carrots, mangoes.

Crystals: Citrine, orange calcite, amber, tiger eye, garnet and carnelian.

Aromatherapy: As the element of Svadhisthana is water, adding these oils to a hot bath will be even better: Orange, neroli, grapefruit, bergamot, geranium, tangerine and clary sage.

Nature: Go for walks near natural water sources. Think beaches, waterfalls, lakes, and streams. Or go outside just after a downpour to soak up all those negative ions produced by the rain.

Choose Gratitude over Guilt

Developing a System to Choose Gratitude over Guilt

Over the course of that first year I developed a system that worked for me. Every morning before I started working, I would pour a cup of tea and light a beeswax candle, then I would thank the universe for this opportunity to explore my passion. I would give thanks that things had worked out in a way that allowed me to do this thing that I love so much.

A Daily Ritual to Beat Guilt

I still practise this ritual every day. I thank the universe for everything it has given me. A safe neighbourhood to live in, a wonderful family, a chance to spend my life amongst great people and the opportunity to do what I love whilst receiving all the abundance I need.

“I thank the universe for allowing me this time to become a creative, spiritual, Full Time Unicorn!”

When we choose gratitude over guilt we are changing our vibration to a higher one that makes room for even more abundance and gratitude. Give it a go next time you feel those pangs of guilt!