I have written three children’s books that are short rhyming stories. They are all based in bedtime stories I made up for my son. You Talk Funny Too is about otherness and stepping into the shoes of another and seeing yourself from that perspective. Elephant World ponders the mysteries of space including ourselves within that space. Corn Dog Carter is a super silly action adventure about a girl with a dream, a lot of doubters, an ancient curse and an unlikely friendship. All three books are adorably and magically illustrated by my dear friend and fellow Aussie expat, Simone Wolowiec.
Please check them out on Amazon by clicking the covers below.
“I LOVE ME” POSTER
Some of my friends have asked me how I have the confidence to write or create anything and share my songs. And after thinking about it, it’s all about self appreciation. Not because I’m awesome or any of us are great in comparison to others, but instead that we are all spectacular. So I wrote this little piece in hope that someone be reminded to step back and see a perspective of self that allows them to fully appreciate their own being as well others.
A year ago, I did some soul searching which resulted in 7 questions that I ask myself any time I don’t feel great if you’re interested in the deeper version of this line of thinking.
My 7 Questions for Peace of Mind
I’ve always been a fairly positive person. I’m grateful for a childhood that through positive and negative experiences taught me to be grateful. Most notabley I think having the privilage of traveling to China when I was 12 years old and visiting an orphanage where they didn’t have enough money to keep all the disguarded baby girls alive, really stuck with me. It shocked the idea that I was lucky, permanently into me. However, despite regularly feeling lucky, of course I still had (and continue to have) personal struggles and bad days and none more so than in the past year and a half. But after some soul searching, reading, meditation, advice from friends and self observation… I have devised 7 simple questions that enable me to quickly get back to gratitude and peace of mind. I wrote them for myself. They weren’t written for an audience. I’m not a psychologist, I’m a songwriter. I only share them in the case that these questions might resonate with and/or help someone else.
Basically, at the earliest feeling of fear, anger, defensiveness, sadness or general dissatisfaction or anxiety, I ask myself these things.
1. AM I EXHAUSTED? Good sleep changes so much for me. It’s okay to be tired, sometimes it’s unavoidable. But recognize when you are feeling unwanted feelings because of your lack of patience due to tiredness, not because of any particular situation. If you are tired, sleep more. If you don’t have more time, do things that encourage better sleep like better nutrition and exercise and less caffeine, late night movies or listening to your blabbering mind.
2. AM I ACTIVELY ADDING TO MY SELF WORTH? When I do things that make me feel good and proud and connected to other humans as well as to the rest of the natural world and it’s natural order, I feel like my value system changes. That includes simply planning on how to do these things. When I feel isolated or useless, it is easy for me to feel hurt and insecure about personal events because my worth isn’t obvious to me at that moment. It’s easy to believe negativity about yourself when you don’t feel you are adding to your self worth. But when I feel like I am adding to my self worth through creativity or kindness or helpfulness through teaching, inspiring or encouraging others, those things that hurt me in my other state seem much less definitive. Hurt and insecurity become easy to overcome when compared to the awesomeness that we are all capable of. So add to your self worth. What qualities in people do you hold in high regard or simply enjoy? Do stuff that embodies those qualities. Create. Create with others. Encourage others. One simple true compliment can stick with a friend or stranger for a lifetime (useful and efficient!). Converse and laugh with others. We are social creatures and value being of use to our tribe.
3. AM I FORGETTING TO APPRECIATE WHAT I HAVE IN FRONT OF ME? Have gratitude for everything! The likelihood that you should be alive to experience any emotion is so miniscule that we should all feel like the luckiest self-aware clumps of matter in the universe. Instead I’m full of rage because someone is tailgating me on the freeway? No. Now I choose to be in awe of the freeway! Humans traveling at 75mph in metal boxes that we extracted from the Earth and pieced together! It’s amazing! That’s for mundane things, but it even applies to the seemingly big things too. In a relationship, as soon as an unwanted emotion is flared because of someone’s words or actions, my insecure mind wants to delve into every negative potential meaning of those words or actions and fuels it until I can picture full blown worst case scenario. Now, instead of reading into what a seemingly negative event might mean or might lead to, I focus on the positives of what I have right in front of me right now. And the reality is usually pretty awesome when I think about it for 2 seconds! Even when I feel pain now, whether it’s physical or emotional, appreciating pain as a biological mechanism that is trying to protect me makes me feel like my own body is looking out for me. I mentally thank the pain for warning me, and try to acknowledge whatever it is that the pain is trying to tell me. Having gratitude for its purpose and what it’s trying to tell you makes it much more bearable than trying to block it out. I firmly believe finding gratitude for everything is the key to happiness.
4. AM I ACKNOWLEDGING THAT EVERYTHING HAS A FLIP SIDE? Anything that has the power to make you feel the highest high, also holds the power to make you feel lowest low. So we have to ask ourselves what kind of highs do we want to enjoy in our lives and are we willing to accept and endure the flipside when it hits. We can protect ourselves from hurt by stepping off of life’s roller coaster and isolating ourselves, but then we also lose the fun, thrill, excitement and joy. Why not enjoy all of the good and simply accept that it is supposed to come with a whole lot of fear, unexpected twists and maybe even nausea. I want to feel awesome feelings, so now I know not to be surprised when there are failures or there is hurt. And in fact, failures just mean it’s working properly. Hurt means it’s worth it. I now have gratitude for the flip side for it is just a reminder of how awesome this particular thing in your life is. Relationship, creativity, career, anything.
5. COULD I HAVE MORE COMPASSION RIGHT NOW? When I feel like someone else is hurting my feelings, whether it is a loved one or a stranger, I now ask myself if they are doing it intentionally just to hurt me. Usually the answer is no. In the case of a relationship or friend, maybe something they say spikes my insecurity but when I think about it, I know they didn’t say it with that as the purpose. If I fight the insecurity and show compassion by listening, I can be then be grateful for their honesty instead of feeling defensive and hurt. Maybe I can read between the lines and observe and empathize with their internal hurt and suffering instead of focusing immediately on my own. In the case of a stranger, usually when a stranger does something to offend me, it’s in a very disconnected way. They were just doing right by them and it happened to affect me in an undesirable way. Sometimes it’s ignorance. Sometimes it’s plain meanspiritness. In any case, anyone else’s behavior is a reflection of their mental state and is not a reflection of you or how they feel about you so why get upset like it is? How you feel or react when someone acts or treats you poorly is also a reflection of your own mental state. Selfishness, arrogance and meanness are all born out of hurt and or low self worth. So when someone behaves that way I now try to show compassion by acknowledging it as such and simply not reacting on the same level. I firmly believe that no one in the history of humanity has ever had their shit together and been mean to another human.
6. AM I BEING COMPASSIONATE TO MYSELF? I am a human being, a living animal with complex instincts and chemical mechanisms used to navigate my natural world of which I am a product. My evolutionary goals are to survive and multiply and all of my thoughts and emotions derive from that. I can’t undo tens of thousands of years of hardwiring in my lifetime. So, since I am 100% a product of the natural world, 100% of all my reactions and emotions and thoughts are completely natural. It’s impossible for them not to be natural. Why beat yourself up or be hard on yourself for anything that is completely natural? This doesn’t mean that it is always healthy to act outwardly on every natural desire or frustration, doing so could probably very easily lead to more emotional turmoil. But we tend to spend too much time beating ourselves up internally for completely internal thoughts and feelings and perceived shortcomings when our present actions are typically commendable or at the very least not hurting anyone else. We should base our self worth more in our present actions and not at all in our internal thoughts and emotions. Because every single thing I feel and think and desire is completely natural and completely okay, no matter how dramatic, selfish or weird they may seem.
7. AM I OVERTHINKING THIS? Yes. Always. It’s okay. Let it go. Move on. Next. What a grand thing existence is. Now…