Today I finished simply.

HIGH POINT: Celebrating a new beginning

LOW POINT: Quoting Rihanna

BIGGEST LEARNING:  Women are here to be seen.  Our only role is to keep dusting off the layers that stop this from happening.

There is so much I wished to share on this, the final day; my biggest learnings, all that I’m grateful for, who exactly am I now compared to back then, was I actually able to answer the question ‘what is it like to be submissive to a man?!?’….I even began this post 3 different times but nothing felt quite right.

With so many avenues I could’ve gone down to celebrate this ending, all I really wanted to say was: it’s only just begun.

Two days ago I sat in a room full of women and realised that being a woman is not about learning anything new or becoming more submissive/nurturing/dainty/delicate/pink-lace wearing girlie…it’s simply about radiating as much of ourselves as we can at any given moment.

And that process is a lifelong experience.

So before I press pause on this particular experience, there are a couple of things I do know for sure:

  1. I will keep writing
  2. I am already a uniquely feminine woman

And in answer to the very first question that I posed on the homepage of this blog, ‘How to be a woman.com?!?’  Perhaps the great poet that is Rihanna sums it up perfectly when she says very simply, ‘Shine bright like a diamond.’

Or if you prefer, the Bangles when they said ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’.  Either one works for me.

Today I filled in the blanks.

HIGH POINT: Appreciating (yet again!) how much deeper my experience can be when I let go of outcomes

LOW POINT: Extra dishes to wash

BIGGEST LEARNING: I’d still make a terrible chef but at least I can appreciate the art form a little better

A couple of months ago I was over at a girlfriends house while she prepared food.  As I sat and watched (yes, I did offer to help first), I found myself astonished by the care and time she took to put together the meal.  She pulled out beautiful plates, delicate side bowls, sprinkled on garnishes, dabbed on spices and generally made (in my mind at the time) a simple process unnecessarily long and complex.

I was also secretly starving and wishing that she’d just hand me a bowl, a spoon and a blender.  Needless to say, it was quite a lesson in how other people do things.

I like completion.  I enjoy the relief of knowing that a task is done and all the edges rounded off.  I dislike ‘wasting’ time on beautifying and buffing those edges.  One look at my hair and you’ll know that to be true.

Each day over this past month I have been tempted  to hurry through to the ‘publish’ button once my final line has been written.  After all, that’s the whole point right?  Complete one blog a day for thirty-days?  Press publish each day before midnight?  Yes, they certainly may be the goals, but like so many destinations, it’s about who you become along the way.

Thanks to this challenge (and an influential creator friend of mine), I am learning the beauty of slowing down to appreciate the detours and unexpected stopovers that make any road trip worthwhile.

Just like a Middle Ages stonemason building a grand cathedral (yes, the last book I read was ‘Pillars of the Earth’),  the final structure will not stand without cement to hold it together.  The cathedrals of our life; relationships, work, family, playtime, adventure, will also not endure if we don’t inject something of substance into the blank spaces.

That is, without care, love, compassion, joy, meaning, depth, purpose…what does it matter if we reach California in time for the Little Miss Sunshine pageant?

Inside this blog the process is straight forward; how can I make a statement more impactful, bold, precise?  How can I drive my message home with even greater clarity?  How can I say the same thing from a different angle?  How can I insert even more fun, play, emotion, drama?

Outside in my life, this new practice is not so simple.  It is however, infinitely valuable.

Over the past 29-days I have experienced my own detours by way of:

  • Relaxed phone conversations that last hours rather than minutes (without even a glance at the clock)
  • Finding the fun and the funny whenever possible
  • Pulling out my version of the fancy silverware
  • Listening with far more than my ears
  • Using coriander
  • Dressing up when I don’t need to
  • Responding to texts, questions and comments with consideration for the other person – rather than an eagerness to get to the result
  • Pausing and contemplating before speaking in general
  • Giving more value to others
  • Asking in each moment: how can I bring even more to this?
  • Lingering hugs (see Day 28)
  • More touching

Just like so many of my greatest learnings here, I am astounded by how such small changes have led to such vast differences in my overall experience.

So here’s a massive cheers to pulling out the fine china, getting dressed up for dinner and forgetting to turn the oven on because the conversation was far more interesting.

Who knows, one day I might even have the hairstyle to prove it.

Today I shared just a little more.

HIGH POINT: Greeting a new friend

LOW POINT:  Seriously, ‘…tiny little bubbles popping’?  Please tell me I didn’t write that.

BIGGEST LEARNING: Small external shifts are indicators of big internal change

This morning I was blessed with a fine reminder of just how far I’ve journeyed, not just over these past 30-days but throughout the past three years.

A gorgeously beautiful woman that I’d never met walked into an event I was managing and without thought or pause, I strode directly over and embraced her.  It was the most natural gesture in the world.

Not only that, once that first friendly clinch was complete, this woman and I hurdled straight over small talk and travelled quickly into the juicy zone of men, dating and feminine/masculine polarity.  Not only was it interesting surface content, we dove deep to personal (and ever more juicy) experiences with no hesitation.

I’ll be clear here: hugging/sharing/general touching of strangers didn’t used to be my thing – man or woman.  I  was one of those people who infinitely preferred air kisses and manly handshakes to the potential awkwardness of an embrace. Heaven forbid I actually let anyone into my world!  As my dear brother once remarked; if I were a castle, I’d have a very well guarded, crocodile infested moat surrounding myself.

Or in the language of Star Wars: my deflector shields were always up and fully operational.

Now?   I find myself eagerly embracing hugs (pun intended) and all forms of connection as essential to a life worth living.

In that moment this morning I knew instinctively that this woman was someone worth allying with – and I have already been rewarded with a new friendship that is rich, fulfilling and playful.

This is by no means an isolated occurrence.  More and more and I find myself parting with ridiculously personal information, looking people in the eye without a hint of self-consiousness (and a whole lot of curiosity), and ending countless conversations with ‘I love you.’  My 31-year old self has no idea who I am.

In those moments – be prepared for a Hallmark flash of gushiness here –  it has felt as though tiny little bubbles are popping inside and the only possible expression is through authentic touch or verbalising the first heartfelt comment that bursts forth or sometimes, in random uncontrollable (snorty) laughter.

My tightly wound left-brain is starting to freak out just a little bit.

The most delight-filled aspect to all of this is that there’s no end to this hugging/connecting/giggling/gooey-filled goodness!  Now that I’ve started down this rabbit hole, I can see that this exploration will be vast, expansive and limitless.

I wouldn’t say the moat is gone just yet, but I have built a rather sturdy bridge.

 

Today I created quickly.

HIGH POINT: When I press publish on this blog with time to spare!

LOW POINT:  Knowing that this is one thing I can’t outsource 

BIGGEST LEARNING:  Do the ironing before inspiring greatness

This whole blogging exercise is all well and good – right up until you’re on a tight schedule and doing your best to create a 400 word masterpiece in minutes.

Say something profound!  Give rise to greatness!  Verbalise some rare insight that will alter someone’s life forever!  Just don’t take too long about it. We’re on a deadline here.

So creative mind of mine, I ask you: what uncommon slice of wisdom do you have for me today?  What gem of understanding will you pull up from the cloudy depths?

……??

Dangit!  Where are you when I need you!

FOCUS!  Stop thinking about ironing and sleep and shopping lists and emails and Star Wars.  Look at the screen.  Be amazing – but do it now.  We’ve got places to be!

Hmm…should I try channelling some literary great?  Or perhaps cheat the game again with another of my lists?

I’ve retired from my online search addiction so I can’t even Google ‘How do I  innovate in 30-minutes or less?’

This is getting silly.  I’m no JK Rowling sitting in her hotel room while the world waits for Harry Potter #7.  For starters, I could never have  hatched a character so delightfully despicable as Dolores Umbridge.

Is there an off-switch to the left-brain by any chance?

Wasn’t I just talking yesterday about how relaxed and un-busy my life was?  What was I thinking?!

Oh dear, this is not going to plan at all.  Lucky for me the ‘haters’ have been pretty silent on this blog.

So that’s it I guess.  On this, Day 27,  I’ll just have to settle for a mildly inventive hunt for original thought.

Wonder if I have time for a nana nap?

Today I stopped being busy.

HIGH POINT: Dancing around the room – less the silly hat this time around

LOW POINT: Trying to inject fun into doing laundry

BIGGEST LEARNING: I’m too busy having fun to be busy

This morning while reading ‘Game of Thrones’ over coffee in a local beachside cafe, a patron came inside and said – patronisingly – to the wait staff: ‘If you two aren’t too busy doing nothing, could you show me how to open this umbrella?’

That pricked up my ears on a number of levels.  Having worked in hospitality for a number of years, I was taken right back to those moments when I would’ve happily thrown a tray of filled pint glasses over certain customers.  The part that intrigued me more though was his equating of busy, with worthwhile.

That is if you’re not busy, then you mustn’t be doing anything of value.

In reality, the two female staff were ‘busy’ having a wonderful moment of connection as they got ready for the day ahead.  I looked around and there were no customers waiting, no tables to be cleared and the place was otherwise clean.  I’m sure they could’ve found something to do but for the sake of taking a couple of minutes for shared conversation, I’m pretty sure their roster of duties could wait.

This game of ‘who’s the busiest wins’ is something that fascinates me.  Being busy has taken on some magical element to our lives without which, we mustn’t be important.  If I’m not busy doing something, then who am I?!

I’m just so busy!

Oh man, I’ve been sooo busy!

Could I BE any busier?!

Over the past 12-month months I’ve been observing this notion within myself because I’ll be honest, my life is pretty darn relaxed – now.  This week alone I have been able to share deliciously long conversations with close girlfriends, lay on the beach, play with the dogs, take afternoon naps and spend as much time as I enjoy doing things purely for pleasure.

If you’re noticing a somewhat self-congratulatory tone, you’d be absolutely right!  I’m pretty darn proud of myself for being able to live the life I do.

Every day I have time to meditate, drink coffee, connect with friends on Facebook….oh, and I probably should add at this point that I still get plenty of the ‘busy’ stuff done.  In fact when I sit down to work, it’s done in far less time and with infinitely less effort.  Most of the time anyway….I’m still human.

Yet frequently I have found myself feeling guilty over my easy lifestyle.  In fact there have been days when I’ve become aware of myself slotting in unnecessary activities, just so that I can fill what feels like wasted space.

So I had to ask myself the question, if I weren’t so busy, what would I do with my time?  A year ago I didn’t have an answer, now I do.

I have fun – and as much of it as I can.  In fact, fun has become such a main driver that not only does it flow through my ‘playtime’, but I do my best to not take on any work unless I know it will be fun for me to do.

We no longer merely survive in an industrial age with sixteen hour days and a dinner of gruel and tepid water (OK, so maybe I’ve read too much Dickens).  We thrive in a time where yes, work is important but not mutually exclusive to relaxation and enjoyment and goofiness and basic contentment and dancing round the room wearing a silly hat.

It really is OK to sit on the couch and…no, that’s it!  Just sit.

So this is me officially giving up my place at the busy table.  Time for a nap.