#ProjectPositive, September 9th. Confidence.

Confidence isn’t what occurs after a haircut, manicure, purchasing new clothes. Those things are transitory and chewed up within a day of receipt. It cant be bought, and doesn’t depend on weight, nor a makeover. To have any lasting value, it must stem from within. If you don’t have it, that’s okay. A clean slate can easily have beautifully-scripted writing imbued on its surface. Make a list of all you value about yourself. Doesn’t matter what it is. Look at the positive qualities you radiate each day and all the great things you do, rather than the stuff-ups. When I see a confident person, I am mesmerized. It’s in the way they walk, the projection of their voice, the way they look you in the eyes. You can tell this person feels at ease within themselves and thus you relax too. They have a way of being. Every day, think about how valued you are, and the wondrous ripples you send out to us all. You are valued and treasured and this world would just not be the same without you. You can have complete confidence in that!

#Project Positive, Day 8. My Job…

Sydney Town Hall, reciting poetry. Ten years ago!
Sydney Town Hall, reciting poetry. Ten years ago!

I am great at my job because I love it! I have always loved reading and writing stories. I had my own newsletter called ‘The Weekly Mag’ when I was little. The subjects I chose to focus on were the environment and animals. I printed copies and distributed it for a donation, which I would give to charities. Hearing people’s stories is a privilege, and relaying them is a big responsibility. I believe that we need to table our stories, and share with each other. We garner strength and courage by doing so. I relayed on this blog a while back, the time I met a schoolteacher after my second spinal operation. I was sixteen years of age, about to endure the committal hearing, and had a lot on my plate. I feared I may topple. This lady wrote her story down for me, and as she sat with me, my eyes grew wide with wonder. She was also very young when she had been subjected to an horrendous act. She had endured the court proceedings too. She told me this as a woman in her thirties, with a beautiful life. At that moment, I could see myself surviving, as she had. What a gift she gave me. If I can do the same, then my life has been blessed. It is hard to open oneself up, and become vulnerable, but the alternative is far worse. What would the point be of all that you have learnt, been through and accomplished? We are each other’s beacon’s. I love writing, and am blessed to be able to do it consistently. Find what makes your heart sing, and do that thing!
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5th September, #Project Positive. Mirror, Mirror…

When I look in the mirror, I see…
A strong woman, and an impudent child. I look into my eyes and affirm, “look love, I know you haven’t had much rest. I know all about your pain. You can do today, you can! I will talk you through the steps, and even estimate how many hours it shall be before you get to have blessed rest. Remember how good it feels to lay down after a productive day? You can do this! You can!” That is the first thing I do every morning when looking in the mirror. I refuse to pay mind to creases and sags and wrinkles and pimples. If I wanted that sort of attention to detail, I would be sitting beneath either a cosmetician’s or plastic surgeon’s microscopic mirror. The eyes, and the smile, that is all that matters. As long as they are set for the day, the rest can be discounted. I pat a little jojoba or rosehip oil onto my visage, and off I go. I first saw my daughter studying her face in the mirror at six. Really studying it, as though they were becoming acquainted for the first time. I have her art and pretty hairbands and clips arranged around the rectangular bathroom mirror. I believe it is time to put up some affirmations too. I have practiced a lot of self-loathing in my time. I have starved myself and binged. When I was underweight, my parents said nothing. Scars and a rotund tummy were commented on, after weeks in bed after surgery. The state of my being after exiting a body cast. The puffiness of my face after steroid injections. Was I going to join the critique and wound myself further? No! I decided the most rebellious thing I could do was to discount the commentary, and certainly not join in. I have loved myself with stitches in my face, with black eyes, teeth that have fallen out due to medications, a body that gained a few stone and a body that became a puffer-fish. I decided that I had to love it all, or I wasn’t practicing self-love, rather conditional approval. It is tough and uncomfortable to look into your eyes at first. To say kind things to yourself. It won’t feel natural. I promise you, that if you keep doing it, it will become a ritual, performed without thinking. It helps to seal the wounds this world inflicts upon us. This world has enough critics. Become an encourager, and start with yourself!
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September 4th, #Project Positive Challenge. The most valuable thing I’ve learnt is…

I have learnt many valuable things. The lessons bleed into each other, and are multi-levelled. You know, I think I understood more when I was younger. I think kids naturally "get it." We then get dulled by the world, our perceptions tarnished. Breakthroughs happen after breakdowns, big and small, and we are washed clean. Rainbows appear as does the knowledge that was always ours. Here are some valuable things I have learnt, re-learnt or am still learning.
1.You are going to be okay.
I wish I could travel back in time and reassure the girl (who was always afraid), that the life she dreams of will be hers one day. I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying. Now I say to myself, in three months (or three years), will this still be problematic? Everything comes to a conclusion.
2. Your perceptions are right.
I listen to my instincts when meeting people now, as in hindsight its always been proven correct. If I want to teach my child to follow her gut, then I have got to do likewise!
3. Everybody needs quietude.
We cant be all things to all people. I have tried! We need a quiet moment to ourselves regularly, just to check in.
I need to approve of myself, and there needs to be self-love, rather than self-loathing.
Intent is everything. I can exercise to flog my body, or to release endorphins to make myself feel great. I can raise a toast in celebration at a friend’s occasion, or drink to obliterate myself.
5. Regret nothing, as time is never wasted.
A love affair gone sour? It was sweet for a while, and provided nourishment for a time. Now it’s gone, its time to release and go onto another adventure. I have had the privilege of being with many folks, young and old, whilst they were letting go of this life. Sometimes I wonder if its only at the end that we can fully grasp the bigger picture of our lives and what it all meant. The people and places suddenly make sense. Hindsight can be a wonderful thing.
6. If I feel lousy, I must do something for someone else.
Whether that be a simple text message, sending a card, making a meal…
7. When depressed, I have to do the opposite of what I am feeling compelled to do.
If I feel like having a glass of wine, I have to have water. If I feel like eating nothing but crap, I will make soup. If I feel like climbing into bed, I will go for a walk. It speaks to the rebel within to defy the black dog’s compulsions.
8. Listen to other people, only when what they are saying resonates with you.
If I had listened to other people and taken their simplistic advice throughout the years, Raphie would have been kaput a long time ago! Nothing wrong with listening to yourself first and foremost!
9. Stop and rest.
You cant notice majesty when rushing around. You were made to be in this world, not do in this world. When I make time to stop and have a cuppa with a friend, walk or play with my child, my day is so much more pleasant and my head contains more clarity.
10. Ask yourself what it is that you want to happen.
Sometimes, I feel shocked when I enquire this of myself. Without unrefined goals and purpose, we can float along in a sea of inertia, overflowing with everyone’s input but our own.
11. Life can be bloody hard and really silly at times.
Find people who make you laugh, and whom you adore. At the end of it all, love is what’s real.
12. It’s okay to be angry.
Use it as a mighty force for change. Righteous indignation is a great energy to unfurl when we witness injustice. There are things happening here on earth that just aren’t right. We are allowed to be peeved. I was pissed off every day during my stint in rehab to learn how to walk, and it helped!
13. Be kind to yourself.
I think we are both stronger and more fragile than we give ourselves credit for. No more negative self-talk!

September 3rd. #ProjectPositive, Friendship

I was always referred to as an eccentric kid, who danced to the beat of her own drum. Group games and sports never interested me, and I was in fact scared of groups of people. I kept my own counsel, and observed. I loved the fringe-dwellers at school, those who also danced to their own music. I was welcomed to join the “crowd,” though never felt the need to. There were times when friendships ran hot and cold, and someone wouldn’t be my friend anymore after not doing what they commanded. It mystified and hurt me. By the time I was fourteen, I was a loved member of a friendship group I found on the streets. They were from different schools, though all had damaged homes. They were mother hens to this troubled chick, making sure I ate, and that I felt loved. When I was taken to the clinic, I lost my support base. I knew nobody, and was very alone. It didn’t take long for friendships to come into my sphere again. In a clinic, the fa├žade of “the crowd” has been stripped away and there is a rawness that is as exquisite as it is confronting. No fake smiles or small talk. Straight into why you want to die, and what will make living bearable for you. Holding a friend’s bowl, whilst she dry-retches and sponging her forehead. Holding a wounded girl in your arms whilst she sobs. The sort of emotional intimacy it would take years to build up, is accomplished in five minutes. I hated this place, though I loved the people. My friends didn’t just break into pieces one day. It took years of chiselling and whittling to provide the circumstances in which they happened to be admitted. They tried to spare me my fate. They could see it happening, could see him circling. They would have done anything. They tried.
After several months in hospital, I went home after the fall. I had no friends, for my peers had gotten on with their lives and I had been forever changed. The next three years were spent doing correspondence school, seeing doctors and police officers. It was a strange existence, though one I am grateful for. When one isn’t exposed to a myriad of people each day, one gets to know oneself intimately. The downside was that when I went out into the world at eighteen, I thought everybody was lovely and had good intent. Some didn’t. Some wanted to use me, drain me, wound me. I had to learn to protect my heart whilst collecting friendships. When one comes across a forever friend, you know you have found a treasure. No need to hide. Love and support are offered in abundance. I love all my friendships, and wish I could see these dear people on a daily basis. I try to catch up whenever I can. When one has known profound loneliness and isolation, it makes you appreciate your companions all the more. Each is a gossamer thread in the tapestry of my life, contributing detail. I try to be a good friend, and when their heart’s break, mine does too. My dearest wish is that they all know how loved and treasured they are. It has taken a long while to find them all, but now that I have, I feel humbled. You cant orchestrate the natural coming together of individuals. Part of the joy is seeing it unravel over time. I love you all, my friends. All unique; the dreamers, artists, writers, doers of good. You have sustained me, and helped tie the loose ends of my life into a beautiful bow. I will try and be worthy of your kindness.

September 1st-I love my face because…

My beautiful friend Anastasia, over at http://anastasiaamour.com/projectpositive/ has a wondrous venture, called #Project Positive! Each day during September, there will be a prompt, Today it is the face. I love my face because it is capable of smiling and the skin around my eyes is capable of creasing when I break into a wide grin. That is remarkable. My face has been bruised and punched; my lips have been split open, as has my head. My face has healed and restored, and is capable of fronting up, and facing this world. A few years ago, this face had extensive plastic surgery for removal of tumours.
There was a chance that the nerves may be partially paralysed. I was not concerned. My little girl was unafraid, for she saw her mother’s spirit peeking out of those swollen eyes. I was under twilight sedation during surgery, and had extraordinary epiphanies, which I needed to bang on about. I was warned that unless I shut up, I would have to be knocked out cold, as the surgeon was trying to do a flap repair near my mouth. I didn’t stop talking, so was indeed knocked out cold! I love this cheeky, impudent face. Splashing it with cold water each morning, feeling winter’s frost and a Sydney summer upon it’s skin. I love that when my face was battered and bruised, my child looked into my eyes, and said “oh, there you are.”