Embracing my Authentic Self

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So. If you are a follower of my blog, you will have read that I have been making some changes in my life. I’ve been vague about it, partly because y’all are probably not all that invested in the random goings on of a person you sometimes see write stuff on the internet. And also partly because it has taken me this long to just finally stop hiding behind past iterations of myself, and fully be the person I am.

I have come to the realisation, through months of coaching (more on that in a minute), self development and taking chances, that I am 28 and far too old to be playing pretend anymore, at least where my ‘self’ is concerned. It’s time I started showing up as exactly who I am. So, I would like to (re)introduce you to Amy. Not new and improved, but simply more honest and authentic.

A couple of months ago, I began coaching with a friend of mine, who is a qualified coach, with a focus on spirituality and self development for millennials. To quote her, she is “Ushering in the Spiritual Rebellion where everybody gets a seat at the table” and guys, as if that doesn’t set your soul on fire just reading it. Anyway, I have a final session to go before I reach the end of my coaching and holy shit, it’s been a wild ride from start to (almost) finish. I have experienced such a massive shift, it’s like a heavy veil has been lifted and suddenly I can see things clearly. To be clear, we’re not talking a religious experience – one thing that hasn’t changed is my complete disinterest in any kind of organised religion. No, this is a spiritual awakening, and I can practically hear the Universe saying “it’s about fucking time”.

I learned years ago that there is nothing to be gained from playing a role, to make someone else more comfortable. But it took me this long to realise that by not accepting all the parts of myself – good, bad or otherwise – that I was doing myself a disservice. See, I have been hiding the softer parts of myself for a long time, playing into a version of me that has been safe, and distant, and perhaps not 100 percent authentic. This is for many reasons. I’ve spent so long being one version of myself, that I had almost begun to believe that that’s all that I was. I have kept myself at a distance because it’s easier than being involved with all the messy spectrum of human emotion and personal connection. And yes, I guess there was a big part of me that was afraid that if I came out of the spiritual closet, that I would be judged. So for a long time, I kept myself limited to being a certain way. But now I am finally here to say that whilst those aspects of my personality are still me, I am so much more than just the parts I’ve let people see.

So, yes. I mostly hate people, and I don’t like Christmas, and I would rather stick needles in my eyeballs than have children. I listen to heavy music, I wear all black, I swear like a trooper, and I think that love is an adulated concept and I will probably live my life on my own. Which, for the record, suits me down to the ground. But these are the things that you already know about me. What you might not know – and what I am trying to fully embrace about myself, and share – is that I enjoy romantic movies, and yes, sometimes they even make me cry. I have a somewhat large obsession with glitter. I believe in magic, and I collect crystals, and I sometimes like to go outside and stand barefoot in the grass and just bask in the beauty of the moon. I love to be naked, and I also love pretty dresses – even when they’re not black. My music tastes are generally pretty obscure, but I actually like many popular and more mainstream musicians (Dua Lipa anyone?). I sometimes get incredibly lonely, and sometimes I get incredibly sad, and I’m still learning how to talk about that instead of keeping it all to myself.

I wish you could feel how I was feeling. I wish I knew how to tell you about the positive energy I have begun to carry with me, through the simple act of embracing change and accepting opportunity. I simply don’t have the words to tell you what this is, and how it has awakened in me something I hadn’t even realised was there, buzzing beneath the surface of my skin.

I am learning, I am growing, I am blooming and I am here, in my flawed, vulnerable, beautiful authenticity.

Have I Taken on Too Much?

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Y’all, I fucked up.

So, it’s been a little while since I last posted. You may have gathered from my last post that things in my life have taken a sudden, somewhat drastic upswing. I feel like I have been busier in the last two months than I have been in a really long time. This has nothing to do with the fact that things in Australia are picking up in the wake of COVID, and everything to do with the fact that I have suddenly taken on a whole lot of new things.

Perhaps it’s some kind of subconscious attempt to make up for lost time, but in the last couple of months I have started coaching with a friend of mine, I have started a new job, I have finally – after over a year of owning roller skates – started to slowly practice my skating skills (I’m still as wobbly as a baby giraffe, but I’m sure I’ll improve), I have started singing with some gals, and even started sporadically practicing the guitar again. Basically I have gone from having a pretty empty schedule, to having an almost over filled one.

And therein lies my problem. There’s a lot going on. I got distracted, I was unobservant; I made a big mistake at my new job. It’s a fixable mistake, but it’s not a small one and I feel pretty shitty about it. I have let down the client, and let down the gal I work for, and honestly when I realised what I had done, I nearly cried. Which is extremely unlike me usually, but I’m learning to embrace the softer side of me (another blog for another time) and so I am admitting openly, to a bunch of strangers on the internet, that I fucked up and I got pretty emotional about it. You’re welcome, this means we’re friends now.

The thing is, I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with everything going on in my life. I just had four ‘days off’, and I spent two and half of those working anyway, so really I had one day off, and then I was so exhausted that I just got into bed and watched the final two films in the Twilight saga in the remainder of my final day (there I go again, admitting vaguely embarrassing things out loud). With things at my main job picking up due to people getting out and about – plus the fact that it’s retail and also the weeks leading up to Christmas – I sort of feel like I haven’t had time to breathe.

I think this problem of being overwhelmed is easily rectified by being more organised. But the problem is, I am having trouble finding the time to get anything done. I blink, and three hours have passed. I sit down to do one thing, and then it’s the end of the day and I have achieved nothing. Wait. I turned 28 a week ago, is this quickening time thing a result of ageing? Am I going to wake up tomorrow and be ninety?!

*sigh* Despite everything that has been going on, I still believe that the things I am doing now and going to set me up for the future. I know that the choices I have made, and the changes I am making are going to be for the better in the long run. But right now, I’m just struggling a little.

Well, thanks for listening to me vent a bit. I’m going to go and spend the next blink (*read, three hours) trying to fix the mistake that I made. Wish me luck.

Leaps and Bounds

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You know how you can be at work, and not serve a single customer for three hours, and then suddenly get a rush of twenty people all at once, in the space of about fifteen minutes? That’s how I feel about 2020. With all the strangeness surrounding Life in the Times of Covid, this year certainly hasn’t been anything like I was expecting. To be honest, I kind of feel like I have spent most of this year just living the daily grind, dying slowly from monotony and boredom, and then all of a sudden in the last few weeks, BAM! Changes flying at me from every direction, smacking me in the face like a ten tonne truck…only without the complete obliteration that would come with actually being hit with a ten tonne truck.

So what has caused this sudden massive change? Well first of all, I got a new job. It is effectively a social media manager, working for this suuuper amazing little company based in my home town. It’s not a full time position, more of a side hustle really. But it was one of those things that just spoke to me, and when I took a chance on it, and invested in myself enough to put in the application, it paid off. It has been a whirlwind of excitement and mild terror (I may or may not be prone to occasional bouts of senseless panic, don’t judge me) but I feel, definitively, that it was the right move. I am so pumped up about the future of this new venture that I can’t actually put it into words! But if I could, all the words would be positive ones!

The second of these massive changes is that I have started coaching with a very good friend of mine and hoooly shit, what a ride that has been already. To give you a bit of an insight, this friend has recently completed a life coaching course, which has enabled her to move forward in her own niche coaching market, and start taking on clients. Which is amazing for her and I am so stoked that I get to be a part of her journey, whilst she helps me begin mine. To quote her, because she will categorise it far more accurately and succinctly than me, she is a spirituality and self discovery guide. I mean listen to that, aren’t you inspired already?!

What this means for me, is that in the two sessions I have had with her already, I have made some personal goals and taken actions to move towards achieving them. I have begun to feel a change in my person, not like I have become someone else, but rather that I have opened the door to the aspects of my personality that I have been too scared or conditioned to show up until now. These changes are not necessarily physical ones. You could say that I am opening my arms to embrace my own spirituality, and that in doing so, I am setting my very soul alight. It has been a powerful experience already, and I have noticed the effects in ways I never would have expected.

Finally, I have started singing with people again. It kind of happened out of the blue one day, when I was asked to have a jam with a couple of my friends. It’s been so long since I actually sang for anyone other than my shower head, so I threw myself into the opportunity wholeheartedly. We’ve been working on a couple of songs and it has given me all the warm fuzzies, because I am SO proud of what we’ve achieved so far. Seriously, the last jam we had I was so effing jazzed by the whole thing, that I couldn’t stand still. I had those moves like Jagger, and let me tell you, I was Jaggering all over the place.

So, that’s me. After months of nothin’, the last 6 weeks have made me a social media managing, spirituality discovering, slick dance moving (which here means entirely graceless but enthusiastic) singer and I am fucking here for it. 2020, you may not have been what anyone expected, but as I begin to move forward in leaps and bounds, I can’t help but think maybe you’re not all bad.

Shopping Centre Wars

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There’s kind of an etiquette that comes with working in a shopping centre. For example, you always get your coffee from the same place, and make friends with the people who serve you on a daily basis. You say hello to the custodial staff if they pass you, even if they only give you a quick nod in response. And you try to maintain a polite kind of peace with the other shop owners and stall holders, because these are people you will likely have to see on a daily, if not weekly basis. I’m good at sticking to the first two of these rules, but that last one is…something else.

I have a vendetta, you see. Across the way from my kiosk is a coffee shop. And the owners are a surly older couple who seem to dislike me as much as I dislike them. We face off in silent loathing, pitted against each other like mortal enemies on a battlefield. Well, ok so maybe it’s not that dramatic. Certainly there are no swords involved…yet. What I mean is that we don’t really engage, and I make a point of walking right past them every day to get my coffee from a rival coffee shop. Even though they are the closest, I refuse to buy anything from them, and they are two of the few people that I won’t offer a casual hello to if they pass close by my shop.

This silent war kind of began some time last year. My former employer had issues with them for his own various reasons, but up until late last year I had no real issue with them, except that they seemed rather stand offish. But then came the weirdness. The guy who was one half of the Dreaded Duo started coming up to my shop to chat to me. Which is, in and of itself, nothing to write home about. It wasn’t that he was talking to me that was the problem, but rather the type of things he was saying. He was too familiar with me too quickly, which is one of my pet hates, but beyond that he would often stop by and make strange or inappropriate comments, which largely made me feel uncomfortable. But I’ve dealt with creepy older men many times before, and I knew how to handle him. Eventually he must have picked up on my – admittedly not very well hidden – loathing, and he stopped coming to talk to me altogether. Success! The wife though…well, she’s a whole other kettle of really horrible fish.

I had never had much to do with her really, but last year I began training a new person for my store. We are a shop that makes a bit of noise, not constantly, but you can’t do what I do without making a little bit of racket from time to time. Last year, whilst training my new girl on her engraving, the other half of the Dreaded Duo, who I shall now evermore refer to as the Wretched Wife, came over to complain. She insisted that the engraving was simultaneously driving away her customers and making them complain (if they weren’t coming in, I wonder how they could complain?). I politely informed her that I couldn’t stop the training, as it was necessary for her job development. Besides this, my girl had been engraving for barely five minutes at this point. The Wretched Wife left and shortly later I was approached by one of the men from centre management. She had gone to complain to them, and he came by to demand that I cease the engraving, effectively halting the necessary training that was required.

If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know that this just made me even more irritated. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn’t going to stop doing my job just because some grumpy old woman thought she had a right to make demands of me. And thus began The War. Yesterday though, after months of not speaking and ignoring each other, I was really craving a muffin. I thought, hell, I’ll be the bigger person and bury the hatchet. I went over, was served by one of the staff who was actually really personable. Later, when I happened to run into the Wretched Wife at the bins later in the afternoon, she said a begrudging hello and I replied, and then said “I had one of your muffins earlier, it was really good!” Her response was to completely ignore me, and I remembered in that moment why I had never bothered to try and be nice to her previously. Some people are just born surly, and stay that way I guess. And so, hatchet or no hatchet, The War has resumed. To hell with her, and her muffins.

Customer Service in the Times of COVID

I work in customer service. Ever since I was fifteen, I have been standing behind one counter or another, serving the general public, and dealing with all the awfulness that comes with it. I do not love my current job, and I certainly have no passion for it. My crowning achievement is that I have so far managed to make it through a 13 year retail career – or perhaps retail sentence is more applicable? – without punching a customer in the face. Which I rather think deserves some kind of award, honestly.

Here’s the thing. Customer service is never an especially thrilling or positive experience. Most of it is boredom, dealing with rude people, and trying hard not to let all the expletives you’re thinking come flying out of your mouth when confronted with jerks. Sure, we get nice customers sometimes, and in my current job (I’m a cobbler, of sorts), I take pride in the work I am doing. But, after five years in the same job, it’s well and truly time for me to move on and find some other hell to suffer in.

What is the tipping point, you may be wondering? Well, lately things seem to have gotten increasingly worse, and I am 100% blaming COVID-19. I live in Australia, and currently live in the only state where face masks are mandatory when leaving the house. Which means, for 8 hours a day, five days a week, I have to not only stand behind a counter dealing with all manner of rude people, but I also have to do it whilst wearing a face covering that limits my breathing, fogs my glasses, and generally just itches and irritates. The state of disaster declared in my home state means that people are confined to their homes, unable to go to school or work in a lot of cases, unable to leave their homes without a mask. It’s not a fun time for anyone right now. And I would be willing to bet money that this myriad of restrictions in place across the country is, in part, responsible for the attitudes of the people I have been serving lately.

I have had, in recent weeks, more horrible customer interactions than I have had in a long time. Almost as if every customer I have served has gotten together and said “hey, let’s go and be as horrible to the girl behind the counter as we possibly can, and see how long it takes to break her.” I don’t know if it is because I am serving less people as a result of the restrictions, and so I am more aware of the bad ones, or whether people are simply taking their own frustrations about the restrictions out on whoever happens to be in front of them. But regardless of the reason, my job has become increasingly unbearable of late, to the point where I have almost quit on the spot more than once. Usually I can brush it off, and then vent to my friends about it afterwards, but in this last week alone I have encountered some truly heinous individuals that have stuck

To those of you who work in customer service, I’m sure you can relate. To those of you who don’t, I beg of you; be nice to your customer service people. We work hard, and we put up with a lot of shit from people, often without the benefit of being able to bite back or defend ourselves. And I understand your frustrations about…well, everything in this strange time I suppose, but none of the things that you are frustrated about have anything to do with me. I am polite to everyone who approaches my counter (at least up until I can’t be anymore) and I would love it if people would offer me the same courtesy. I think a lot of people forget, particularly now that we have become anonymous and featureless behind our masks, that those of us behind the counter are still people. We are not lesser citizens, and we do not deserve the abuse or the sometimes violent attitudes of people who can’t handle their emotions.

Basically what I’m saying is that COVID sucks, customer service people deserve more respect, and, as always, don’t be a dick!

Why I Don’t Identify Myself By My Sexual Orientation

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I had a discussion with a friend recently about my sexual orientation. For the most part, I try to avoid discussing it. This is for a few reasons; firstly, I don’t think it really matters. Who I am attracted to isn’t anyone else’s concern, and it really makes no difference to the person I am. Secondly, I find it hard to categorise without then being subjected to questions, and in some cases, the obvious disbelief.

At the heart of it, I am predominantly attracted to women. I’m just not ruling out the possibility that I might one day meet a man who ticks all my boxes (so to speak). I like men, some of my closest friends are men, and I can certainly appreciate a good looking man. It’s just that I’ve yet to meet one that I would like to get to know on a more…unclothed level. I generally describe myself as being “mostly gay”.

The other reason I tend to avoid discussing my sexual orientation, is because I am a predominantly singular individual. In that I’ve never really had much luck on the dating front, and I rather enjoy the pleasure of my own company. And I do mean that in every possible sense of the word! (*wink*) Being on my own suits me just fine, despite the insistence of many of my friends that I “just need to find the right person”. But again, I’m not ruling out the possibility that I might just meet someone with whom I can sustain a relationship for longer than three months – which is, to date, my longest romantic relationship.

Sometimes I think romance is overrated. Which is not to say that it doesn’t serve a purpose! Just that perhaps people put too much emphasis on the idea that the only true happiness lies in being with someone else. In my life, and in the last few years especially, I have cultivated and nurtured many platonic relationships that I get as much out of, if not more, than any romantic relationship I have ever had – barring the one relationship with a former partner who remains to this day, one of my closest and dearest friends.

I just think that, in the scheme of things, who we are attracted to is such a small part of who we are. For some people, their sexual orientation is such a big part of their identity, and that’s absolutely fine! But for me personally, who I would like to go to bed with is just one small aspect of who I am, and falls far behind other things in terms of my identity. When asked to describe myself, I never actually say “Hi, I’m Amy and I like women”. More often than not I will discuss my creativity, my distrust of garden gnomes, my misanthropy, my love of 80’s music…anything else that I feel paints a better picture of the person I am.

On Being Chubby, and Trying to Not Hate It

Loving yourself is not always easy. Forever torn between wanting to accept myself in the body I have, and wanting to change my body/get back to my slender self, self contentedness is like a unicorn; hard to find, and harder still to hold on to.

You could say I have a love hate relationship with my body. There are days when I get dressed and I look in the mirror and think to myself “hell yeah, girl. You look the bomb”. And then there are other days when I avoid mirrors altogether because the sight of my own soft, round body makes me feel disgusting. Especially when I am confronted by photos of myself from a few years ago, when I was smaller and probably far more comfortable in tight fitting clothing! The thing is, where once I would have been described as svelte, these days I fall somewhere in the curvy category. Or, more accurately, I think I am actually smack bang in “chubby” territory. Which is fine…until it isn’t. And the truth is, most of the time lately, it definitely isn’t.

A lot of my close female friends are all about that female empowerment, self love, and not subscribing to mainstream ideas about beauty. They inspire me, constantly. But when I am home, stripped down naked in front of the mirror, there is a big part of me that can’t help the barrage of negative thoughts that flood my brain. I prod my soft little tummy with a finger, I grab at my wobbly inner thighs, my face scrunched in subconscious disdain. Clothes don’t fit comfortably, and I am forever conscious of the way I look, terrified that someone is going to point out that I am extra chubby lately.

It’s a horrible thing, to not feel comfortable in your own skin. And its exhausting trying to be positive about it all the time. Yes, my body is a wonderful and powerful thing, and yes I know that I should focus on the good bits, but sometimes I just feel a bit shit about it. I mean, right now is a particularly bad time, because it’s that time, which means my tummy is rounder, and achy, and I just generally feel a bit awful about everything. I am fairly certain I can be forgiven for not being all self love about things right now, and I am trying not to feel guilty about not loving myself as much as I should. It’s a process, what can I say?

In a society where we, as women, are still inundated with images of impossible standards of beauty, loving yourself can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility. But I’m trying. And hopefully I can learn to fully love myself the way I am, chubby body and all.

Hello, I’m Alive!

You may have noticed that I’ve been gone a while. Then again, you may not. With everything going on with the world right now, I doubt very much that people are paying attention to random blogs in a little corner of the internet! But, nevertheless, I was gone and I have returned once more, popping up again like a long lost friend…or, y’know, a whack-a-mole.

Anyway, all I’m here to say is HEY! Wait, maybe that was too aggressive. What I meant was more of a casual heyyyy. Still not clear? Ah well, just imagine I’ve walked into a thriving party, and am giving you a collective wave. I am also here, of course, to reassure you that I am still alive, and that I haven’t forgotten about you. You’ll have to forgive my absence; I needn’t reiterate how strange things are right now, and I confess I haven’t had a lot of motivation to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard as it were. But, in an attempt to find my groove once more, I thought I might just reconnect with my poor neglected blog, and to the few familiar names that consistently pop up on my screen when I put up a new post. I have come to feel something of a camaraderie with those followers and post likers, and my regular readers hold a special place in my heart.

That said, I’d best be off. Like the best kind of visitor, I pop in just long enough to have a cuppa and a chat and then head off before I overstay my welcome. Hope you’re all well, I promise I’ll be back soon – without such a big gap between posts next time! Ciao!

Cultivating Your Peoplehood

We all have our people. You know, the friends and/or family members that just…get it. Those people who understand and accept you as exactly who you are. Those people who you can be totally open, and honest, and raw with. The people that will hear you without judgement, and allow you to be your most authentic self. My friend and I have a word for this group of folks that you surround yourself with. More than just “mates” or people that you just happen to know. Not necessarily family either, though not explicitly excluding those individuals. An all encompassing term we coined to describe your tribe/friends/soul mates all in one. We call them your peoplehood.

I’ve had many different groups of friends in my life. School friends, long distance friends, work friends. Some people I have associated with purely due to circumstance, and others that I have grown fond friendships with after meeting in completely unexpected ways. There has certainly been cases of friendships based solely on proximity, that end without animosity when the situation changes. Friends I had at one job, that I lost contact with when I changed jobs, for example. I’ve had friends that I thought I would have forever – like the group of girls I went to highschool with – that I have grown apart from. I suppose you could easily sum it up by saying that I have had different people along for the ride in different times in my life, and many were in my life for only as long as they needed to be. Hey, the Universe works in mysterious ways, what can I say.

Now, it’s no secret that I don’t particularly like people as a whole. I’m an introvert at heart, and largely impatient and easily frustrated by humanity. However in recent times, I have come to realise that I actually have a much wider group of friends than I had ever really considered. This realisation, and indeed, reality, is at odds with my overwhelming misanthropy. But, at almost 28 years old, I have long since learned that it is not about the amount of friends you have (be that a large or small number) but about the quality of those relationships. And reflecting upon my close group of friends – my peoplehood – and the wider circle of friends I associate with, I have to say that I have succeeded in surrounding myself with some truly stellar folks.

I think it is important – nay, essential – to make sure that the people around you are good people. And by that, I mean people with whom you are comfortable, and safe, and happy. People who support you and raise you up, instead of dragging you down. People who you can turn to, and who can be comfortable turning to you. A relationship in any measure is, after all, a joint effort. It is also important to recognise when a relationship is no longer a healthy one. Toxic, unhealthy relationships not only affect you on a base level, but on a spiritual level too. It can sometimes be hard to step away from something, and see it without rose coloured glasses, but being able to do so will benefit you in unimaginable ways.

The message here is essentially that you need to find your people. Spend time with folks who make you happy. But more than that, surround yourself with people who understand you, and who light your soul on fire. Your time and your energy are precious commodities, and wasting them on people who bring you down, or leave you feeling drained will only hurt you in the long run. I’ll say it again for the people in the back; cultivate, and nurture your peoplehood. You’ll thank yourself for it, and you will get back as much as you give, every time.

Creative Person Syndrome

As a sporadically, broadly creative person, I find it hard to do just one thing. I sew, I paint (badly), I try and play the violin (even more badly), I sing, I embroider…I love to learn new skills, and so I am constantly trying to fill my time with various creative outlets. My problem is that I forget about setting aside time to just do nothing. I have three days off, today being the last before going back to work, and I have spent every moment of that time doing things I had meticulously planned out. Now, with this afternoon left before going back to work tomorrow, I have decided that I will take a step back from all my creative pursuits, and give myself permission to do nothing at all.

I put on a load of washing this morning (essential) and had a shower (also essential) but I have forgone straightening my hair, and I plan to stay home all day and do very little else today. Which is easier said than done. Every fibre of my being wants to pick up my paint brushes and create a pretty picture. In fact, on my drive home earlier, I saw so many things that inspired me, and I desperately want to try and recreate them on paper. However, I tend to paint hunched over, curled up in a small, unintentionally tense little ball. And I am aching all over today, so I know that painting that way is not conducive to healing. So. I am practicing a different kind of self care today. Instead of creating something, which for me, is a kind of self care in and of itself, I am electing to just veg out and watch some Supernatural in bed, with a cup of tea.

I love making things. A dress. A terrible artwork. A batch of chocolate chip cookies. It doesn’t matter what I make, so long as I’m creating something, then I’m happy. The thing is, I need to move away from the notion that if I’m not filling every spare second with something creative, then I am wasting my time. I think a lot of creatively minded people have the same problem. Creative Person Syndrome! I don’t want my hobbies to become a chore, or feel like something that I need to force myself to do. It is ok to not do anything creative today. It’s ok to just watch tv for a few hours. And that it exactly what I plan to do. My paint brushes will still be there tomorrow.