27 Feb

Pushing Through By Letting Go

If you’re going to push through what can at times feel like never ending barriers to your joy, you’ll need to accept the way you feel as normal, whatever the way you feel is.

Frustration. Sadness. Melancholy. Worry. Boredom. Listlessness. These are moods, and sometimes not the response to something that’s happened we interpret them to be – they can be caused by a biological or chemical imbalance in us, rather than a circumstance happening to us.

Learning to be with our feelings and emotions, training ourselves to understand our thoughts and moods is so important in our growth and evolution. Self-understanding can help us avoid impulsive decisions and reactive choices which can undo our prior work and create unnecessary chaos and disorder.

It’s possible to sit with feelings of dissatisfaction, fear and frustration, and simply allow them to come to us, then through us, without our interpreting them as calls to action until we have had time to assess the facts and take an objective assessment.

When I was going through cancer treatment, I experienced more fear and loneliness than ever I had. I spent two months away from my family having radiotherapy as there was no facility where we lived. This time spent largely alone with my own thoughts and feelings was the first prolonged period like that I’d had in my life up to the age of 33. What I learned about myself – and about how to stand outside my thoughts and feelings, knowing they were not me, but a product of many things – has helped me so much since. I know how to be alone with my moods. I know how to sit with fear and sadness, even the inexplicable kind. And I understand also that even when we go through horrible circumstances and suffering, joy and happiness is possible. This is the gift I was given in my cancer experience – to see the possibility of joy in me, despite the imminent threat of suffering, and even death. Nothing scares me now. Not a damn thing.

Learning to sit with our own thoughts and not react to them immediately is a valuable skill and puts us in good stead across the whole of our life. We are not our thoughts. Like our art, our choices, our decisions, they are a product of us. You know, the hardest part of facing cancer is realizing that when it boils down to it, the cancer is made of you. And it’s the same with our thoughts. We get so caught up with fighting them, or surrendering to them, we forget about having compassion, because they are made of us, by us, often without our even being able to help it very much.

Give yourself a break. Sit gently with your thoughts and feelings and remember they are made of you – even your sadness, fear and anger. Hold your thoughts patiently with compassion, and as they come to you, allow them to come through you. Give your rational, mindful self time to process them. Don’t act until you’ve listened to yourself cycle through the response, the feeling, the rationale and the reasoning. Because you will. And eventually, your wisdom will join with your intuition in the quiet afterspace, and you’ll know exactly what to do.

You’ll know exactly what to do.

25 Feb

Ten Most Common Myths About Success

THE TEN MOST COMMON MYTHS ABOUT SUCCESS:

1. It will look exactly the way you fantasized success would look like. Every i dotted, every t crossed. Every bill up to date, every day filled with gratifying accomplishments and win after win.

Fact: Success won’t necessarily look like a solution to your problems. It usually presents as simply a new set of challenges to be addressed in place of your old challenges. Instead of trying to attain a state of perfection in which all problems are solved, aim to learn from every challenge and failure, breaking old patterns and moving your business and skills forwards and upwards.

2. It will not be stressful, but rather all our stress will go away because of it.

Every set of challenges brings stress as we consider and imagine the possible negative consequences of our actions and inactions, weighing those with the benefits. No initiative can break new ground without our growing into each situation with courage and common sense. Self-care and rest are imperative for stress management. We look after ourselves first, then look after our business. Entrepreneurship is not a cure for stress and workaholism, and neither are it’s fruits. Rather, it’s a classroom where we learn to balance outside interest with self-interest.

3. You won’t make mistakes or take risks that go badly.

You will. Learn from them, take responsibility for them, make good, and move on.

4. Everyone will love both you and everything you do, and broadcast your success to others without a trace of envy or malice.

They won’t. Do it anyway.

5. Most people will notice your little wins, and maybe even comment on them with occasional supportive hurrahs.

They won’t. Do it anyway.

6. Someone will notice. Just a little bit.

Maybe, but don’t count on it. Do it anyway.

7. You won’t care if no one notices you and what you’re doing.

You will care. It will hurt and you will be discouraged, angry and want to give up. Don’t.

8. You will have a really big pile of money.

Let’s hope so. But piles of money do not solve problems. They simply bring different ones.

9. Money will inevitably follow because you’re doing what you love, without your caring if it does or not because of your perpetual state of ecstatic bliss at being able to work at what you enjoy despite the long hours, exhausting effort and largely invisible state in which you accomplish small miracles on a daily basis.

Maybe. Probably not, but perhaps. Probably eventually. In any case, just keep going. Wherever “there” is for you, head for that. Overshoot a little, even. It can’t hurt.

10. Success is the point.

Where is this “there” you keep saying you’ll arrive at one day? What’s your goal – do you know what or where it is? What does success actually look like for you? Are you certain you’re not aiming for someone else’s picture of it? How will you know you’ve achieved it? Perhaps you already have? Maybe being on the way is the way?

So many of us wallow in discontent in our endeavors simply because we don’t have a clear definition of success which rings true for us. Once we have defined our motives, run a reality check on our values and expectations and put some clever strategies in place to protect our resources and our energies, we can begin to move more steadily along the plane of progress. Success may be less a place to arrive at than it is a way of being in where and what we have and are now. Success is attitude rather than altitude. Aim high, but carry snacks and take time to enjoy the view.

Jo Hilder

21 Feb

Your Business Is A Safe Space, And It’s Up To You To Keep It

You’ve heard me speak about safe spaces before, about creating, holding and keeping them. Your venture, enterprise or business is a kind of safe space, into which you invite others who become your customers, patrons, tribe and/or ambassadors. Your skill as a micro business owner operator is to know how to create and safe space, and learn and keep the guidelines which make it a place where the best of people can prosper.

But here’s something many small business owners and operators neglect, or even deliberately overlook.

Your space isn’t safe if it isn’t also safe for you.

For some months after we opened a year ago, a woman would come into the shop quite regularly, not to purchase anything, but mostly to download her problems. She would try on clothing, look around, ask for items to be put on hold, but I don’t remember if she actually purchased anything in all that time. After a while, whenever she entered the shop I would feel anxious and know I would need to be careful not to find myself standing for an hour listening to her unpack her terrible story to me, or to my mum, who helps out. No doubt, she was going through a hard time, however she did disclose she was seeing a qualified mental health professional to help her deal with it. Knowing she was supported certainly helped me draw a line behind which I knew I needed to stay, or I was at risk of being drained every time this person came into my space.

The last time she was in the shop was to ask me to hold an item **again** for her, with the list of terrible things that happened this week which she felt justified my removing the item from sale for another period of time. To clarify, we don’t hold items, I don’t have the room to store them, and we turn items over so quickly it’s simply not tenable. But her sad story and the long telling of it had moved my poor mum to agree simply to placate her and hasten her leaving the shop, as she was more than a handful, and it took all our patience and skill to provide a competent service to her, and any other customers who happened to be in the shop at the time. So she came in to read me her long list of sad reasons I needed to bend store policy and keep the item off the rack for her, and I gently told her that the item needed to be purchased today or would be returned to stock. After all, I run a shop, I conduct transactions. The customers inclement circumstances may at times impact the nature of these transactions, but at my discretion. That’s the skill of holding space. It’s called boundaries. And as the space holder and keeper, if you don’t set boundaries and make them clear, someone will walk right up and start making demands which make you wish you thought about boundaries approximately ten years ago.

So I told this customer, no. I’m returning the item to the rack today. You may purchase it now, or tomorrow, or next week. However, it isn’t going in my back room again.

What followed was a further litany of reasons I had to acquiesce to her request, mainly because of terrible things she was experiencing in her personal life right now. It felt uncomfortable. I was being manipulated. She was using her own misfortune, pain and unhappiness to get what she wanted from me. And she was not asking for my understanding. She was demanding I obey her. At volume. With wild arm movements. And a finger pointed in my face.

And it is at this point my focus shifts from making safe space for her, and keeping it for myself.

I did not need to ask her to leave, thank goodness, because in a split second of clarity she apparently realized she was becoming hysterical over a shirt, and so she threw one last aspersion at me and left.

I was going to ask her to leave. I felt threatened, and I was being verbally attacked. Her response to the situation was uncivil and disproportionate. Whilst I empathize with her circumstances, I’m not her counselor, nor am I obliged to provide her with additional services or favours because of them. She is not welcome to come back, because in my space, there are boundaries, and I am the one who keeps them. My customers, both the ones who come to conduct appropriate business, and those who don’t, need to know this.

If the space isn’t safe for us as well as for our customers, the space isn’t safe at all.

Comments and responses welcome.

20 Feb

It’s Okay To Be A Woman Who Doesn’t Enjoy Going To Women’s Gatherings And Events

What happens when you like the company and support of other women, but you’re not interested in joining a “circle” or being part of a group?

Nothing happens.

Look, I know there are times we women crave the support and connection we can only receive from other women. There’s nothing like it when you’re feeling isolated or perhaps even victimized by circumstances or situations. When you have young children, for example, or in abuse situations. Finding others who share similar experiences to us can be so valuable for our social, emotional and mental health, even our physical safety.

We chicks need to stick together.

But as a fifty year old woman, personally I’m growing more comfortable with my own company as I grow older. Combine this with some frankly horrible experiences in the past, and I’m now quite selfish with my private time, and find less and less I need the company or community of other women in a concentrated social situation.

My closest friends know this about me. I like it when we can just hang out and talk about real stuff. I don’t like small talk. Funny how most of us don’t, or say we don’t, and yet we willingly perpetuate these situations where the conversation is stunted and will never move beyond the level of surface chatter.

I may seem like the kind of person who would enjoy going to events and being part of women’s circles and groups. But I’m going to be brave here and admit I don’t. I was involved for over thirty years in various spiritual communities of different sizes in many places, including online, and I’ve seen and been through enough. I am the kind of person who can’t simply “attend” – and inevitably I end up as that person who is “too much”. Too intense, too overbearing, too wanting to be involved, help, make it better, bring my thing and be part of it. And sometimes my “too much” was welcomed, engaged with, rostered on and given all the avenues it so deeply desired to run down, because that’s how creativity works, right? But I understand now that the particular requirements of the paradigm I chose do not honor artists, because artists are free-thinkers, explorers and wilderness dwellers. So I broke up my long term relationship with evangelical Christianity, and followed my heart out beyond the walls.

I spent a little while gathering up the lost and lonely disenfranchised before realizing the adage of being healed from what truly hurt us lest we bleed on those who didn’t cut us is so very and sadly true. Trying to convince the deeply institutionalized they can survive independently without being all clumped up together under the banner of being “like-minded” was like trying to cut my own head off with a bread knife – pointless, and painful. So I stopped rescuing people from group-think and went my way, demonized, resentful and happy to be the bad guy if it meant I got to spend more time by myself.

By this time, I’d learned it was okay to be alone, to be thought of poorly, to not have a group of like-minded people around me, and to pick and choose when, where and how I engaged with “community”. Which turns out to be infrequently, wherever I like and however I like. I don’t go everywhere I’m invited, and never, ever do I go where someone tells me “God needs you and what you have to offer, Jo.”

God does not “need” me, or what I have, and I’m not “robbing” God of either by staying in one place and not arriving at another. That’s pretty sick spiritual codependency bull crap right there.

But I digress.

It’s okay to not want to be involved in social huddles or special events carefully thought out to appeal to you, even if they really, really do. It’s all right to not want to form new ties with different people and incite in oneself new feelings of belonging or longing, or obligation. It’s okay to not want to join a circle, go to a group, network, or give your energy to new and different things. It’s all right to like your own company, mind your own business, and not turn up to things. Beware of FOMO* – it’s a real thing.

*(fear of missing out)

I say all this because there are so many events on we could all get along to, events designed to enrich, inform and enlighten us, and they absolutely could, should we decide to go there. But you know what? Also, no. You don’t have to. You’re not “needed” by God or anyone else to fill a gap or take a position. Does that concern or upset you? Maybe that’s a bit of work to take on right now. There is no lack in the bigger scheme, all is in balance, you are enough. Go, if you like, don’t, if you will. The you who decides to become part of that business, spiritual or social community is a whole person going in, and won’t be more whole coming out. You’re okay, and it’s okay to like your own company.

Cheers,

JO x

19 Feb

Why Your Purpose Is Not The Same As A “Hustle”.

I’m not keen on the term “hustle” used relating to small business. Actually, I despise it.
See the graphic shared with this post for why.

Words matter. The smaller the enterprise, the greater the meaning and impact little things have on your mindset and actions.
When you’re a micro-business, perceptions about you, and that you have, are not lessened by your size – they’re magnified.
Your intention setting matters. Your motivation matters. Your purpose and goals matter.

Think carefully about your definition(s) of what you do, even if you only ever kept these to yourself. Calling your business a “hustle” is virtually describing it and what you do as definitively lacking integrity, as categorically self-centred rather than broadly focused, as using guile and gaining advantage by a kind of “white” deceit. If you were to tell a client your service to them was a “hustle”, what do you think they will surmise?

My business is not a hustle. I’m not practicing sleight of hand here, nor am I doing some kind of commerce-burlesque behind giant red feathers to get people to part with their dosh. When you do dealings with me, what you see is what you get. Integrity is important to me, and so I don’t give my business my “all” – I keep some of myself back for me, protecting it carefully, so what I do give is honest and sustainable. My values are plain to see. I care about people, and I want them to become more of who they truly are, whilst I, through my business, do the same. That is not a hustle. That’s purpose.

My challenge to you, little business owner, as you navigate your way in the sea of entrepreneurship. Think about whether you can keep up the “hustle” you’re supposed to want, or you’d prefer to get up each day living the dream you know you do.

14 Feb

Tired Is Not A Life Skill.

They say it like it’s a badge of honour, as if pushing through our exhaustion, or hanging on when we want to let go is some sort of achievement of itself. But sometimes letting go is exactly what’s needed, even if just for a time. Stepping away, or even just taking a rest, may be essential for our own health and that of our interest or enterprise.

There are no such thing as “tireless” advocates, entrepreneurs, artists, activists or human beings. We all get bored, frustrated, jaded, angry, exhausted and disillusioned. And these are legitimate feelings and experiences we can learn from, and which sometimes must be obeyed. Tirelessness, relentless activity, keeping on as if we had something to prove, these can be toxic to us and the things and people we love. Listening to our bodies and to our intuition, reading the signals of circumstances and seasons, knowing when it’s time to hold on and time to let go, these things are wisdom, and sometimes we learn the hard way. The term “tireless” sounds great in magazine articles and podium introductions, but it’s not real. We tire, and only we can give ourselves permission to accept we do, and take rest in whatever form is necessary.
“Tireless” is not a life skill or an achievement of itself. You are allowed to become frustrated, jaded and exhausted. You are allowed to stop and do something different, or differently. Don’t be tempted into relentless activity by the desire to be known as a “tireless” achiever. Give yourself a break, friend.

09 Feb

The Illuminati Of The Peri-Menopausal

I’ve just read in the Sunday paper about this “new” phenomenon of the female mid-life crisis. Apparently, up until quite recently, middle-aged women didn’t actually have crises. Try telling that to past generations of women who had only Valium or insanity to retreat to when their husbands took up “working late” and heading off for “weekend conferences interstate”. If you ask me, the only precursor I know of for many of the crises women suffer from is having ever known or lived with men. But I digress.

There is something that happens to women when they leave their late thirties. It’s not so much a crisis, however, as it is a revelation. Unlike many men, women don’t wake up at the age of forty and wonder why the world doesn’t understand and appreciate them – they wake up and realise they don’t understand and appreciate themselves.

From the ages of about eighteen to thirty-eight, most women believe they will never be as good as everyone else in the world, including other women. We spend our teenage years unable to see our own inherent beauty and vitality. We try all through our twenties to be sexy as our duty to men, and at the same time smart and successful as our duty to our liberationist forebears. We enter our thirties believing that by this age, we should have the perfect body, children, husband, home and career because for crying out loud, we have been at it for about fifteen years and we should have gotten it right by now. Told in our childhoods we had the right never to be violated, oppressed or abused by anyone, by our late thirties we sadly discover most of us have been anyway. Then we reach our forties. Our husbands leave us, our children rebel against us, and our bodies betray us. The “all” we are supposed to have is divided up in court settlements, sent to family counseling and lopped off along with a course of chemotherapy.

In middle-age, many women realise they have expected too much from themselves. By this time we absolutely know that we can’t have everything. We have come to realise that what we have now will probably be what we have when we’re sixty, except it may all be closer to the ground. We’ve also learned that we can’t be all things to everyone else, so we stop trying. Most of us have had at least one health scare, or at least lost someone very close to us. Forced to change our view of life, we now accept we are not immortal or bulletproof. We know we’re not young any more, but we also know we’re not old…just yet. Middle-aged women don’t generally rush out and buy sports cars and get young lovers, although some do. More often, we simply take a look at what we do have, and decide to make the most of it in whatever time we think we have left.

Some decide that what they have at forty is a body they have kept cellulite-free and size double D for twenty years, and venture out to see how much trouble it can get them into. Others decide the reasons they didn’t write or paint or travel or study when they were younger no longer exist, i.e.: they no longer believe they are dull, stupid and responsible for the happiness of others, so they take the limitations off themselves and go for it. A woman’s mid-life realisations often are more of a crisis to others around them than they are to themselves. Some middle-aged women come to accept that they possibly only have a few years left with the capacity for cognitive and intelligent conversation, so they decide to leave their monosyllabic house-mate in his recliner with a TV dinner, and head off to a book club or lecture theatre instead. One could see how this might cause problems.

Unlike most men, women often have less to lose anyway. Middle-aged women are less likely to see their assets as an extension of their egos, because this generation of women are accustomed to earning less, and sacrificing what they do have for their families. Middle-aged women will fight as hard to keep her family together, seeing that as part of her identity, as a man might exert in leaving it to prove his.

Middle-aged women have been largely invisible in our society. It’s taken a re-emergence of us as a force – albeit in tattoo parlours and universities – for that society to even acknowledge we do exist. And then, they have the hide to dismiss us as menopausal shrews; as nothing more than the demographic responsible for the unhappiness of a whole generation of brilliant, misunderstood and apparently incredibly good-looking middle-aged men. May I point out that even the most successful Self-Made Man came out of a woman’s body at some point?

This female mid-life crisis thing they are trying to label us with is a ruse, a myth and a lie. There is something going on, but I can tell you, it’s no crisis – it’s more of an enlightenment. As for me, yes, I’ve had my nose pierced and got myself three large tattoos since I turned forty. Yes, I’ve dreadlocked my hair and bought skinny jeans – in a size 14. Yes, I went roller-skating last Sunday and I refuse to wear Cottontails. But let me tell you, if you don’t like the look of my cellulite, you’re standing way too close to my butt. Just hand over the pink slip to your V8 pal, and no one gets hurt.

 

08 Feb

My Darling, Your Arms Look Fine :)

I’m baffled by the practically universal belief of women that the top six inches of their arms, if exposed, will stop traffic, cause tsunamis, bring Satan screaming up from Hades or at the very least, elicit inevitable horror, judgement and disapproval from fellow human beings. Despite my honest and enthusiastic appraisal and encouragement, it seems impossible to convince many women their upper arms are anything less than hideous and they owe it to society to keep them hidden from sight.

I call bullshit.

Firstly, your arms look like arms. Everyone’s arms are different. Yours look like yours.

Secondly, what the hell is it with “flabby arms”? Why are these a problem? Why do women feel they owe society upper arms that don’t jiggle? I don’t get it.

Thirdly, nobody is looking at your upper arms. If you’re looking at other peoples upper arms and disapproving, that says everything about you and nothing about them. And vice versa. No one actually cares about your arms. No one.

Finally, arms are not decoration. They are for waving around when we talk and grabbing our kids and grandkids with so we can hug them, for wrapping around our lovers and swinging in the air when we dance. They are connected to our hands and those suckers are pretty much the most useful appendage we have. The tops of our arms are just below our shoulders, where we have carried every burden and concern and sorrow we’ve ever had, and where our children have sat and seen the big wide world ahead. Damn, girl, you need to be loving your arms, all of them. Your upper arms are wonderful, delicious, gorgeous and strong. Give them some sugar and don’t be ashamed of them. Wear less sleeves and show the world you are proud of your body and all its capable of. Here’s to upper arm love!!!!
????????????❤️??? #upperarms #flabbyarms #getyourarmsout #loveyourbody

07 Feb

Be By Yourself.

I like being by myself. It wasn’t always so. Once, I hated isolation. It seemed like evidence I was doing something wrong. I blame the “naughty corner” idea – not that my folks were big advocates of sending me to my room if I did something wrong, but I reckon the idea of using alone-time as a punishment has taught generations of us that our own company is shameful and punitive, rather than special and beneficial.

I know now I can’t function without large chunks of being by myself. I need time to think, to feel, to undo and do and wind and unwind. My best growth has occurred in my most silent, unseen moments. I once was a creature of being seen and heard, of attention and crowds and constant company. I craved the attention and affirmation and proximity of others. But now, I do my best work by myself.

I feel my feelings and think my thoughts. I ruminate, undoing the ways and beliefs of my past, holding myself with compassion and patience as I break apart my ideas and work at healing my wounds. Without aloneness, these actions can’t occur. I love my friends, I treasure my family, but I crave my own company most. To be best friends with oneself surely is one of life’s most beautiful reconciliations.

06 Feb

Do Awesome Broken

We hold the broken pieces in our hands and say to ourselves, well, dang. Assuming we need to put it all back together again the way it was makes us feel tired before we even begin. Plans, projects, ideas, relationships. All now lined up on a mental and emotional shelf we reserve for anything we feel we failed at and need to get around to fixing, a testament of shame, proof we still haven’t got our act together, still aren’t good enough, still can’t get it right even when we know it counts.

But what if we just sat with the broken pieces, just held them with compassion and love, and accepted them as things of beauty of themselves. What if we resisted the pull to work once again at everything that fell apart or failed? What if we simply accepted some things we loved and treasured are now in pieces? What if we just let it be?

Not everything we begin and which doesn’t last forever has lost its beauty and value. Not all our breakages and failures are evidence we are unworthy and not good enough. Not everything that’s broken needs to become a trophy of our shame.

Let it be.

Knowing how to give respect and honor to the things that broke, that didn’t last, which didn’t work or stay together or weather the storm is part of growing and knowing. Being at ease with the broken things is as important as believing we deserve all the goodness and abundance coming our way.

We can do awesome, and we can do it broken. We can be awesome broken.

Jo Hilder

02 Feb

The Literal and Digraceful Fallout Of The Marie Kondo Movement

This is a pic taken at my local favorite op shop yesterday morning. This has been a major issue for a while – the dump and run philosophy of middle class Australians to dealing with their excess household goods – but the escalation being seen can surely be linked to the Kondo craze sweeping Australia. I checked out this particular pile of refuse and it was broken toys, dirty clothing, and other unsaleable rubbish. If any of it was useful when it was dumped, exposure to the elements rendered it useless. This will all go in the rubbish. Maybe that’s where it belonged in the first place. I’m not drawing a direct correlation between this filthy act and the Kondo movement, however, I believe most people who decide to simplify and get rid of that which does not “spark joy” don’t give enough thought to where those objects will go or what good they might do if thoughtfully directed. The “out of sight, out of mind” mentality which leads people to behave like this is not sustainable, and is actually not legal either. NOTHING IS DISPOSABLE. And op shops are not receptacles for abandoned household goods, particularly those which are dirty, broken or useless.

THE CORRECT WAY TO DONATE YOUR GOODS IS TO SORT OUT THE RUBBISH AND DISPOSE OF IT PROPERLY. Then, wash and pack the suitable items, then bring to the charity during business hours. Preferably, hand the goods personally to a human being so you have to look them in the eye and hold your head up knowing you’ve done the right thing by donating appropriate goods in clean, suitable condition.

If you feel the compulsion to dump and run, you bloody well know you did the wrong thing way before you ever opened your car boot and threw that rubbish at the charity door.

Kondo your damn brains out for all I care – but make sure you’re paying some mind to where your unwanted and unneeded goods will go, and in what condition. Charities have enough to deal with. They’re meant to be supporting the less fortunate in society, not cleaning up after those of us who have more than enough.

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