Soapbox Warrior 2

Recently some people did some shitty stuff to me. Some of it was because I told them that I have a brain injury. I told them this in the spirit of friendship and openness, in an attempt to strengthen the relationship we all shared. I did it because I wanted them to like me and understand me. WRONG! It didn’t make them understand me, it didn’t cause them to like me, in fact, they never had, and they used the story I told them, my personal story, my traumatic story, to serve purposes I will never understand. Basically, they were big ol’ meanies, people who these days I like to refer to with a word starting with the letting “C” followed by three letters, one of them a “U”, another “N” and another “T” and when there’s more than one of these types of people, the last letter is “S”.

The stuff with the big ol’ meanies made me revisit for the first time in a long time how hard it can be to live with a brain injury. It immediately made me aware that other people must struggle with exactly what I was experiencing and that really sucks because it’s not bloody fair.

I was inspired to write a Soapbox Warrior talk about it and I presented it to my friends in my brain injury support group in Bundaberg yesterday. I love this group of people. We “get” each other in a way that can only arise from a connection borne of shared adversity and courage. Some of us in the group are carers for those who are living with the challenge of being brain injured, some of us have lost those close to us and others are reassembling our lives after something random and unexpected sideswiped us on some average Tuesday: stroke, car accident, brain cancer, hit-and-run, aneurysm or workplace injury. Some of us struggle with speech, some with mobility, most of us with memory, but none of us deserve to be treated with discrimination. Many of us feel “invisible” because that’s what brain injury is: the invisible disability. That’s what my talk is about. My awesome friend Leeanne took this video and because I don’t have a sound system, it’s hard to hear.  Click here for transcript.

 

Don’t let your voice be silent.

Be vulnerable and you can change the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knives in my Back

It’s hard to see the world for what it really is. It’s hard to learn that people who you believed in weren’t worthy of your time, let alone your belief. These things will never be easy, often they are downright sad, but nothing lasts forever and you can get through hurt and betrayal and come out the other side pumping your fist as long as you:

Do what you know is right and never, never give up.

After I’d taken all the knives from my back just recently – which, by the way took a considerable amount of time to do seeing there were so many of them – I was sad and I was even a bit angry, but not much. Mostly I was shocked to learn that people I’d thought were my friends had never been my friends, then I just started to feel really, really sorry for them. Not only had they missed the whole point of getting to know someone, they’re missing out on being happy because they’re insecure and take that feeling of insecurity out on anyone who does seem secure. All they have to do to fix this is to take responsibility for their own feelings. Not complicated, but not necessarily easy.

These people told me I was a bad person, that I was selfish and insinuated that I was dangerous. I know they only did this to protect their emotional position (this happens when people have limited emotional intelligence and no sense of accountability), but it was still hurtful. It’s ok to be hurt though. You know why? Because I’m human, just like everyone else and guess what? Humans have emotions and of course I’m going to get hurt by someone telling me that I’m a bad person, when I know I’m not, especially when that person had been acting like they “had my back” right from the start.

They did have my back, I guess, just in a way I’d not seen coming; putting multiple knives into it. They recruited others to get a knife in my back whenever they got the chance and before I knew it, I was bleeding like a little bitch all over the place. What a mess I had to clean up! It didn’t take me long though, only a day and I bounced right back. That’s what you can do when you’ve been challenging yourself your whole life with impossible feats of endurance and will.

That’s what I’m getting at here: if you start challenging yourself everyday, when the shit hits the fan you will be better able to cope with the stink raining down all around you and after the crap stops flying, you won’t feel bad for long or even at all, but only as long as you stick to what’s right and never capitulate. If you’ve done nothing wrong, there’s no need to back down, but don’t involve yourself in acts of destructive revenge. Smart revenge is perfectly acceptable. What I mean here is that if someone has committed an offence against you, you should report them to the appropriate authority. I also mean that it’s ok to say “NO” to someone and I also mean it’s ok to expect to be treated humanely and without threat in your workplace, home or in public. It’s ok to want to be safe, accepted and valued for who you are as a person.

This has been a great opportunity to learn some awesome life lessons. The cool guy I’m married to said to me, “the best lessons come by the hardest roads.” You can never see that in the moment, but once you’ve developed a bankroll of resilience, the lessons come soon after. The lesson I learnt here is that I’m too honest. In the spirit of openness I overshared with these people and they used that information against me, which is something I would never do to someone, but other people are driven by different values than me and it’s likely I will never understand that, but that’s ok because I love mysteries.

Be bold now and when you need boldness it will arrive on its own

 

mountain bike crash text.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

The Time Traveller

This past week I discovered how to travel through time. The wormhole I discovered works for travelling to the past and the future. Pretty cool.

So, I had to do something difficult this week. I had to stand and fight. I’ve always been a fighter, but then I’ve nearly always run or I haven’t had to run because the fight was at a distance. This fight is not like that at all; it’s in my face and it’s there all the time. It’s something I’ve deliberately chosen not to run from. It’s scary because I don’t know what’s going to happen next. It sure as shit makes me bloody uncomfortable, but that’s ok, cos guess what? Being uncomfortable is just a feeling and feelings can’t actually hurt you, especially when you’re standing up for what’s right.

This fight has provided me an awesome opportunity to visit the past. I was able to reflect back on many of my experiences where I had blamed myself for what had happened. It was my fault because I did the wrong thing, I’d told myself so many times, but through the lens of what is unfolding I can see that it wasn’t always my fault and that I rarely did do the wrong thing, but I’d been blaming myself for it nonetheless.

I went back to those experiences and saw them for what they were: not my fault, not my wrongdoing and it gave me freedom and peace of mind to see them for what they actually were; the transgressions of others for the most part; something over which I had and continue to have no control.

Not only did I get to reshape the past, but standing and fighting will no doubt shape the future. I am travelling to my future and making a mark on where life will take me by doing this hard thing, this difficult thing, this uncomfortable thing, this right thing.

I credit this whole adventure thing with my decision to stand and fight against formidable and resourceful opponents. I’ve looked back on the hard things I’ve done in my life: walking almost 400km on my own carrying a 22kg pack, getting up on a platform in the Queen Street Mall and giving a talk about embracing discomfort, hosting the Women’s Adventure Film Tour and basically just hitting home runs off the curve balls that life seems to love sending my way.

Being adventurous and being willing to embrace discomfort has given me the fortitude to tackle whatever life throws at me.

Bring It

 

boxer-2758887_1920

 

Soapbox Warrior 1

An awesome friend and I went to Brisbane last week to see one of our favourite bands, Mumford & Sons. We hung out in the Queen Street Mall for a bit and I thought it was a great opportunity to see how much I could scare the pants off myself and also make my awesome friend totally uncomfortable in the process!

I jumped up onto a big wooden bench and gave a talk for six minutes about the transformative power of being uncomfortable:

talk queen st mall jan 2018

I gave the same talk the day before in Bundaberg, but the reaction there was weird: it was like I didn’t exist, even though I was shouting at the top of my lungs and there were two ladies from the council setting up an art project right near where I was screeching. They didn’t look in my direction at all and neither did anyone else, well, that I could tell anyway. “See?” I said to the cool guy, “I told you I have the super power of invisibility!”

In the mall though, people stampeded on and on, but there were quite a number of them who stopped momentarily and one man even stayed until I’d finished talking so he could congratulate me and shake my hand. That made me feel pretty damn good! Invisible: Bundaberg, Invincible: Brisbane. Together: Courageous and unstoppable! A good set of super powers if I do say so myself.

I got scared doing the talk both times, but both times I didn’t implode. Doing stuff like this makes me feel like I own the sky. It’s a pretty cool feeling and cooler still is that the sky is so damn huge that we can all own a little bit for ourselves; the asking price: a tiny piece of your comfort zone.

Speech Transcript

Step onto the path and courage will find you

 

 

 

 

 

He got broken

For sale: One slightly used-up husband. Still goes, but needs some small and large repairs. Major units still functional. Heart pea-sized but has good beating capacity, if not a bit slow. Will come good with some encouragement, but only on Tuesdays. Good manners, mostly good hygiene. Domesticated. $50 ono.

There’s this cool guy I’m married to and I kind of broke him the other day! I took him on a hike. I wrote the above in my journal at the end of the 39km.

We went to Fraser Island and hiked from Kingfisher Bay Resort on the Western side of the island to Lake McKenzie, then onto Central Station and retraced our way back to Kingfisher two days later. He mostly got broken on the last day. I didn’t make the poor fella do it all in one day!

He’s mostly recovered now. Maybe I won’t even sell him, but who can tell what the future holds. I hope he’ll come on more hikes with me. If I can persuade him of that, then he might get to stay.

It was a good reminder that I have totally lost touch with what it’s like to start from ground zero and that not everyone is ok with walking at 7km/hr carrying a hefty pack. Oops, my bad!

Wake

Adventure

Sleep

Repeat

(but make sure you can repeat and are not dead from adventuring too hard)

 

 

 

 

“I saw ’em wasted”

I went to a party the other night. It was pretty cool. I danced and danced and danced and then I danced some more. Cotton Eye Joe was the best song of the night. Yeeharr!

From the dance floor I saw the cool guy I’m married to talking to a dude I didn’t know, so I went and said hello. The dude was very drunk. He and the cool guy had known each other for a long time, so they were reminiscing about the good ol’ days. Someone asked about music and the drunk dude and the cool guy were very excited to realise that they both loved Hilltop Hoods, with The Nosebleed Section being both their favourite song. I can’t exactly recall how the conversation unfolded, but it went in general direction of getting wasted and how great being wasted is. “I saw ’em wasted!” The drunk dude exclaimed when we were discussing Hilltop Hoods and their live shows. Someone must have said something about the high cost of seeing live music due to expensive alcoholic beverages and the associated problems the consumption of such beverages bring when it comes to transportation and waking up the next day for work. “Did you ever consider that you don’t actually need to be drunk or to even drink any alcohol at all to have a good time?” I asked. The drunk dude looked at me momentarily like he didn’t understand, but in the end he said, “I like to have a few beers to relax.”

If someone can help me understand this, I’d really love an explanation! Does that mean that people who don’t drink alcohol are unable to relax? Does that mean that people who aren’t drunk can’t have a banger of a night out? I think it might mean that society has generally accepted that any event, especially of an evening, is only made enjoyable by the consumption of alcohol.

When I used to drink I thought the same kind of thing as the drunk dude. I believed that to have a good time I had to be drunk. I bought into this because I saw it all around me and I never stopped to question it, not once. If I’m really honest, I guess I was a bit afraid to give being sober a go. I didn’t want to invest a heap of money in a ticket for a concert and not enjoy it because I was sober. I didn’t want to be left out and I wanted to continue to hold the title of “life of the party”.

Only when I stopped drinking did I discover that the best nights out I’ve ever had have happened when I was totally sober. I couldn’t dance for 4 hours straight when I was drunk. I couldn’t get up the next morning and go climb a mountain. I couldn’t drive myself home, all the way from Brisbane (4 hours away) if I was drunk. I couldn’t save a shitload of money if I was drunk and I couldn’t be sure of living a long and healthy life if all I cared about when I went out was getting drunk.

I’m not saying that everyone who drinks was like I was or is like the drunk dude from the party, but have you ever stopped to think about why it is that you drink? Have you ever stopped to think that it could be a different and maybe better experience if you decide to go sober for a change.

Steve Jobs said, “in your life you only get to do so many things.” What things will you choose? Will you choose to only “see ’em wasted” or will you choose to see things as they are and enjoy the experience in all it’s glory? Will you choose to be the life of the party, but for a different reason, and ultimately will you choose to dance like this all night long:

Theodolite and Back

It was around the 20km mark that I started to question my sanity. “Why did I ever think this was a good idea?” I asked a big hairy biker dude who had crossed over to my side of the road to check out the beach. Of course he had no idea what the hell I was on about and looked at me sideways and said, “What? Going for a run?” (I’m not sure who runs in hiking boots but hey, whatever makes your hair blow back). “Nah, a bloody long walk. It’s 33km,” I said and I could see him shift ever so slightly away from me as though I’d just revealed that I had a necrotic skin disease of the airborne variety. He laughed an uncomfortable laugh and made to walk off, perhaps back to his bike to ride the flock away from me, although he beeped as he rode past me later on his Harley.

It’s hard to accept that other people don’t necessarily care about the things that are important to me. I get so caught up in something being the nexus of the universe that it seems perfectly natural that every other person on the planet would feel the same way. After all, who doesn’t want to find the nexus of the universe, but when I tell someone about something I’ve done or something I’m excited about and they just go, “oh, ok” and go back to swiping on their phone, or talking about what happened on the latest instalment of some boring TV series  it’s a good reminder that just because it’s important to me, doesn’t mean it’s important to other people.

Walking a long way is important to me. I usually like to do it while carrying a monster of a pack, but on the 33km walk to Theodolite Creek and back I only had a small day pack that weighed around 5kg. I can’t even really call it a hike. It was too flat, the pack was too light and I had fish, chips and a chocolate milkshake at the local takeaway shop.  Milkshakes are one thing I fantasise about when I’m on a hike. I usually get involved with telling myself stories outloud about the kinds of food and drink I would like to drive into my face. It really takes away from the fact that I feel like I’m dying, but it doesn’t help my hunger, in fact nothing does, not even food!

I’d never walked as far as 33km in one day before. I think 22km was it. If I hadn’t tried this I would never have realised how far it’s possible to walk in one day. It made me wonder what could be possible if I pushed myself and tried new stuff whenever the idea came to mind or whenever the opportunity arose.

The world is an unbelievable place and even people who think they know a thing or two about life can be catapulted into outer space every now and then when they cross paths with an enigmatic stranger, push themselves further than they thought possible or keep at something even if it feels like they’re failing. These experiences give life a new and exciting edge and will foster the desire to gain similar experiences again and again. Before you know it, you’re living right inside an ever-expanding circle of adventure where it only matters what’s important to you, not what’s important to the world at large.

The enigmatic stranger…just kidding, it’s Jon Bernthal. I guess TV shows are good for something after all.