Who are you?

Stop burying the parts of yourself that you don’t understand…

The earth will just keep returning them until you plant them into something that will grow.

-April Green

There are quite a few parts to me that I don’t entirely understand. For such an enormous chunk of my life, I’ve kept those parts buried. My past, my thoughts, my dreams, my voice.

After much encouragement from my husband and friends, I decided to take this writing thing a step further and introduce my blog page which has enabled me to express who I am and how I feel through writing.

I refuse to filter my thoughts. I don’t sugarcoat the raw stuff and I most certainly never shelter from the emotional stuff.

In just a few short weeks, I have rediscovered the girl I’ve been hiding for far too long. The girl who used to sit in her bedroom for hours, drawing and creating poetry. The daydreaming stargazer, who was always very intact with her emotions.

Then one day, I just closed up. I lost that passion for expressing myself, because I was afraid.

I was afraid of being judged and not fitting in to a particular mould, more commonly associated with being “normal.”

This blog I’ve posted below, is one I wrote recently, but initially decided against publishing. It’s a pretty personal one and I guess I was hesitant to knock down all my walls and let everyone in.

But then, I’d never be able to prove my point. – To be brave, one must first be vulnerable.

We need to stop hiding. We need to love every part of ourselves – the quirky, the bad, the ugly and the sad. After all, It’s those unique things that make me, “me” and you, “you.”

So, without further ado, here’s my little story of where it all went wrong and then, made itself right, again…

When I was a girl,

I spent most of my childhood in my Grandparents’ garden. I would play amongst the gardenias and pick the pretty faced pansies from their garden bed. We’d make flower chains, hunt for four leaf clovers and climb high up in the tops of the trees.

My cousins and I, we would hunt for butterflies, make mud pies and create “soup” out of vegetables, dirt and peculiar things we would discover in my grandfathers garden.

I would chase floating dandelions from the garden out to the back paddock where I’d wish for the same thing every single time, “I wish for my grandparents to live forever!” and then, I’d disappear in to the long wild grass with my siblings, cousins and neighbourhood kids on a mission to explore and create.

When I was a girl,

I believed so fiercely in the magic of Christmas, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy that I refused to acknowledge my friends who would try to discourage me by telling me otherwise. I remember the day my mother broke me the news, fearing I’d enter high school still looking for Santa Clause in the sky. My heart broke into a million pieces and I cried for days.

When I was a girl,

We would spend our summer days at the local pool, lying on the hot concrete paths to get warm. We’d devour hot chips with tomato sauce followed by red frog lollies or Golden rough chocolates on the hill.

Friday evenings we’d take our sunburned bodies to the local roller skating rink where we’d just let go and skate for hours to the rhythm of Bon Jovi, blasting inside its walls.

When I was a girl,

We’d disappear all day on our bikes or our roller blades. We’d head off to the local corner shop for a giant bag of mixed lollies or a bubble o’bill. We’d spend all day building tree houses and cubbies and recording plays with our cardboard box video camera. It’d be dusk before we returned, or we’d succumb to our rumbling stomachs, whichever came first.

Our imagination was endless.

At night time, when they started destroying our paddock with development sites, we would climb up into the wooden rafters of the new homes where we’d share secrets under the stars.

My friends and I would head down to the river where we’d swing from the rope or jump from the cliffs or the bridge. The water was murky and filled with all sorts of things from dead cattle to shopping trolleys, but we didn’t care.

We were fearless.

When I was a teenager,

I experienced what loss was. Losing my Nana was one of the most paining memories of mine, to date. She was warm, affectionate and sweet. My grandfather (pappy) lost his soul mate. I still remember him that day, reeled over the kitchen bench, in pain. It was as though he’d had his heart torn from him and it went with nana when she left. Within a few years, he too, would leave this world to join her and life as we knew it would never be the same.

I remember their voices, their smells and the pattern of their heartbeats from when I’d nestle on their chest as a child. Pappy, smoking his Marlborough reds in his favourite chair and nana, humming a little song or “resting her eyes” after reading a chapter from one of her mills and boon novels.

It seemed that no amount of dandelion wishes could have saved them.

When I was a teenager,

I rebelled. I snuck out of windows and I began to drink at an early age. Memories were forgotten as quickly as they were made.

I dabbled with things other than alcohol and I went through depression which tossed me into a sea of darkness.

I was kicked out of home and taken in by a friend who picked me up and got me on my feet. I later joined the Defence Force to get myself on track and start a career.

When I was a teenager,

I’d continue to make poor decisions and put myself in stupid, vulnerable positions. Some mistakes would be at my own hand, which I’d find hard to live with and others were not my fault, yet it would take me years to speak to anyone and to finally accept that I wasn’t to blame.

When I was a teenager,

I’d finally meet a boy who would take my hand and guide me out of the devastation I’d come to know and then, piece by piece he’d start putting me back together. He would open my heart up and allow me to revisit my childhood memories because again, like once before, I was finally at peace. It was time to figure out who I was.

Today,

I am a woman who,

Has the fondest memories of a childhood, lived. Because I spent so much time outdoors during every season, I have learned to love and appreciate it all. The colours of the whispy leaves through autumn that dance from the trees, the warmth of the summer sun that prickles on my neck, the distinct smell of a summer storm approaching and the cool chill on my nose and cheeks during the winter. The aroma of the flowers in Spring get me all nostalgic and the scent of December Christmas beetles has me reveling in an almost childlike festive spirit all over again.

I am woman who,

Knows how she should be treated and how to treat others. I love my children, husband and friends and I am not afraid to let them know. I am convinced, actions speak louder than words which has led me to be extra affectionate with those I care for.

I am a woman who,

Understands what loss is and is fully aware that tomorrow is never promised to any of us.

I am a woman who,

Grew up with a cheeky and adventurous spirit which I’ve now carried with me into adulthood. I make mistakes and I do impulsive things, but I understand that life is short and we need to embrace our inner child – always.

I am a woman who,

Loves the sound of music and listening to the lyrics. I love sweet verses of poetry and quotes and stories about old-fashioned romance. I am raising my children to be inclusive and considerate and above all, to choose being kind over being right.

In a time where violence, terror, and suffering are at an all-time high, our focus on raising compassionate children should be paramount.

They are our future.

I am a woman who,

Will stop at nothing to protect those I love and have them know that they always matter.

I still wish on dandelions and stop to smell the roses. I love the feel of the rain on my skin and the distinct roughness of the tree bark beneath my fingertips.

I’ve no regrets, for that would mean given the option, I might go back to change the past. And why would I want to risk changing one little step? That one slight shift in my past might send a rippling effect to alter my future and everything as I know it, might be different.

I choose this.

When I’m an old lady,

I plan to be relaxing in a swing seat on the verandah of a beautiful old home, a wine in one hand and my husband’s hand in the other, soaking up the air and reliving it all.

Every fun moment. Every heartbreaking moment. Every wild moment. Every loving moment.

Every magic moment.

I know who I am. I am not ashamed of any part of me and I live this life with no regrets.

Look in the mirror and try to remember who you once were. Find your inner child and listen to their voice. Don’t let this world harden your heart or break your soul.

Embrace who you are before this sweet little taste of life you get, is over. Where did you start? What did you want? Where did it go wrong and what can you do to get back on track? How can you make it right?

figure it out.

“Who are you?”

Take a break from self-hate

Over the weekend I had a lot of different ideas about what I wanted to write about. My crazy mind drafted up close to 100 topics I felt a need to share. I “accidentally” polished off a bottle of Sav Blanc on Friday night, which I normally steer clear of these days (that’s another story) and at the latter part of the evening, I popped up some random post on my Instagram account regarding vanity and how superficial the world has become. I referred to a picture of my younger self in my Army uniform and compared it to a different version of myself during the height of my selfie-taking (and rather insecure) phase. I wanted to demonstrate how once, I seemed comfortable in my own skin – makeup free and untamed eyebrows yet, I wore an authentic smile, one which represented both pride and a curious lust for life.

I think my intention was to compare that photo to a time several years later, where I felt lost, unsure of myself and with a desperate need for validation disguised in the form of “likes” on a filtered, airbrushed (and most likely), filtered again, selfie and show the evolution of personal growth from then to the present day.

I deleted my Instagram post, because, at the peak of my “vino high” I was in fact, executing a false sense of confidence. I hinted that I was beyond the insecure phase and that I had somehow, woken up one day to discover the secret to self love and acceptance. I insinuated that I was now some kind of empowered “confident woman”.

Pffffffffffffffttttttttttttt

To be clear, am I confident? In some ways. Have I learned to accept myself for all my flaws? Not really. Do I still take selfies and wack on a filter? Well, yes, but these days I prefer to use my camera phone to capture events and memories rather than my face . I’ve also long dropped the airbrush tool. Thank goodness.

I have four children. I don’t want them to see me constantly in the bathroom with my face masques, makeup and fake tan. I wish they could see their mummy throw on a tshirt and track pants and head out to tackle the world, makeup free, rocking a “DGAF” smile. No matter how much I run this dream through my head though, I don’t think I’m anywhere close to making it a reality. I wear a slither of foundation to spin class for Pete’s sake! Yes, I KNOW it’s only going to sweat off and clog up my pores! My fake tan sometimes sweats through my light coloured tank tops too and I look like I’ve been rolling around in clay and smell like a rotting coconut. Ew.

It’s funny how it all works though. How many of us can see the beauty in others and aren’t afraid to let them know, “Your skin is beautiful” “You are such a caring friend” or “Congratulations on your promotion. You work hard and deserve it!” Accepting a compliment however, without being over-modest and shrugging it off or feeling the urge to respond by self-deprecating, is a challenge for many of us.

We can be successful, kind and compassionate. We might be raising articulate children, living a healthy lifestyle and outwardly, looking like we’ve dam well got it all worked out.

We can also have everyone fooled.

I don’t have to stand in front of a mirror to recite all of my physical “flaws.” I know each and every one better than the back of my hand. My head is too big for my body, my teeth are chipped and crooked, my nose is too wide, I have a double chin when I look down, I have scars all over my stomach, stretch marks on my boobs, cellulite on my thighs, I can’t wave excitedly, for fear of my “tuck shop lady” arms joining in on the party. My heels are so dam dry, they look like cracked mud plains. In fact, they’re so dry and cracked they look like an earth quake has erupted on each of my feet.. and they hurt when I walk. Yikes.

So that was kind of brutal.

Last night, I quietly cried to myself under the covers about something I recently felt excluded from. Childish, perhaps. I can beat myself up about things sometimes and I overthink and over assume and it can cause my heart all kinds of agony. I had my 6 year old daughter, Sophie next to me, and although it was pitch black and I thought I hadn’t made a sound, I felt her little hand reach out to me and touch my face. I don’t know how she knew or if she even did, but she gently patted my hair and held my face as though she could sense my sadness.

I wiped my tears and I snuggled close to her. I’m not even sure if she was awake or asleep, but that one little act reminded me of what my purpose in life is.

I am a a mother and I am loved. I am a wife and I am loved. I am a friend and I am loved. I am flawed, and still, I am loved.

And I love, right back.

I may pick my physical self to pieces which results in spending too much time in the bathroom but I am pretty content with the person I am on the inside.

This week, I have been truly overwhelmed by all the love and support I have received from family, friends and acquaintances surrounding my new blog. The encouraging and heart-felt words have really aspired me to take the reins and see this thing through. I can’t remember the last time Ive had a good dose of “determination” and how bloody amazing it feels to have some goals. Thank you.

Today, I’ve decided is the day that I stop picking myself apart and instead, I am going to transform every negative thought I’ve held of myself in to a positive one.

I might give myself a hard time about the 9 years I’ve spent out of the workforce instead of building a career, but instead, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend that time being a full time mumma and guiding my four children through to school age.

My feet are cracked and sore, but I’ve got two strong legs to stand on. My teeth are a little crooked, but I’m lucky enough to have good dental hygiene. I look like a bobble-head, but that head of mine is host to a creative mind. Ive got scars and stretch marks, but those are a constant reminder of my ultimate honour – being fortunate to carry and deliver four healthy children.

If I could flip myself inside out and put my heart out on display, you would see that every part of me is sincere and I would never be afraid to show that to the world.

I AM confident in my character.

I hope that for any of you who are reading my blog and who lack confidence and the inability to see what others see, can take something away from this. Together, let’s start practicing how to love ourselves and take care of ourselves. We don’t have to be cocky or over confident, but we do need to give ourselves a break from time to time.

I’m a work in progress. To some extent, I think we all are. Some of us are harder on ourselves than others and many of us are just better at focusing our attention, elsewhere.

I don’t know if I’ll ever hit the gym without a tiny bit of “something” on my face, and I can’t promise I won’t revert to hair extensions if these sparrow feathers of mine don’t hurry up and grow!!

And, while I work on my ability to genuinely accept a compliment on my appearance, I’ll continue to do my best at just being an all- around good human – and so should you! ❤️🙌🏼

If only, people could see their souls, instead of their faces in the mirrors they hold – Sulekha Pande