CHASING YOUR DREAMS OR RUNNING FROM DEMONS?

This is the first in a series of posts by K.M Harris who is an aspiring Writer from New Zealand with connections to the Ngapuhi tribe, and tribes in the Bay of Plenty and East Coast regions. ‘Real experiences from real people’ is the kind of writing she enjoys producing and ‘reality reads’ is what she calls it.  I am delighted to have her on board as a guest blogger.

Before the start line.
‘Chasing your dreams or running from demons?’ is a quote I read off the back of an old man’s t-shirt at the start line of the 2013 Sydney Blackmores Half Marathon. Hundreds of people gathered at Milsons Point that crisp, early September spring morning for the start of what would be another leg-killing race, but nothing could’ve frozen me more than the words scribbled on that mans t-shirt.

‘Chasing your dreams or running from demons?’
The words spoke to me.
The words spoke to me loud and clear.
The words spoke to me loud and clear as if the Devil wanted to screw with my head right before the race like he’d kinda already done in the previous 3 years – and didn’t want me to forget it. To have a reality confront me in such a strong but subtle way, made me think how I’d not prepared myself for such a mental curveball, because the truth was, in that very moment, I was doing both; chasing my dreams in Sydney to pursue my creative writing, whilst secretly running from the demons that plagued me from my DIVORCE.

And #divorce and #running is why you – the reader – and I – the writer are here today. I’m here to share my journey of divorce paralleling my running adventures, in the hope that my story reaches out to HELP women (and men if it resonates with them) going through a separation or divorce, or even a major relationship break up. I can’t say my posts will have all the answers, but through my own lived experience, they will provide an insight to hopefully encourage and uplift you through your situation.

Doing a time-jump from 2013 to 2011 will take us both to the outdoor dining area of a home in Titrangi, New Zealand owned by a very good Army Sister of mine and her (now ex) husband. In mine and Julzi’s company was another dear Army Sister of ours who I hadn’t seen since I left the New Zealand Army in 2007.

Side note: yes, I am ex military. I joined the New Zealand Army in 2002 and after serving and working for them as a soldier and civilian at Linton Military Camp, decided to leave and move to Australia with my ex-husband to pursue the riches of the MINES.

Back to Titirangi to the glowing fire that flickered before Julzi, Aroha and I and our glasses of Muscato wine that we sipped….

I’m not sure if it were ‘liquid courage’ that prompted us to talk deeply about mine and Aroha’s separations, or if the depth of our hearts crying out was why we opened up, but we touched on our heartache situations that night and it really hit me hard. Months beforehand, I had searched the internet tirelessly for stories on women who had been through divorce because I wanted to HELP myself going through the lead up to mine…but found nothing!
Nothing.
Anywhere.

So the conversation I had with Julzi and Aroha that night provoked me to say ‘I want to write stories on women going through divorce to help other women going through it too’ because I knew I wasn’t the only woman in the world searching for such stories.

Fast forward to May 2012 where in the dining room of the place I was living at the time in Henderson, Auckland, I stood opening an envelope containing my divorce papers. My marriage was officially dissolved as per the court document in my hand from Western Australia where it was filed, and at 28 years old, one other thing became official too; I was BROKEN.

Yes, I broke down and wept on the spot almost as perfectly as what Hollywood would portray in a drama movie and yes, I didn’t go to work for a few days afterwards because I physically, mentally and emotionally couldn’t. The onset of depression at 28 years old was on its way to becoming RIFE in my LIFE.

But as much as I held the papers to the end of my life in my hands (at that point in time) little did I know that I actually cradled a golden ticket that in time, would show it’s real beauty to me. A week after I received my divorce papers, I began applying for work overseas so I could help myself through it away from my family and friends and everything that reminded me of my marriage. To be honest, I didn’t know what else to do because I’d tried counselling and had done the whole ‘apologising and owning my wrongs’ thing, but nothing seemed to help. On top of that, I really did want to write the stories I had mentioned to Julzi and Aroha, but knew New Zealand wasn’t the place to make that happen.

So in June 2012, after 3 weeks of doing medical tests and successfully gaining my maritime ticket to work on cruise ships, I left New Zealand permanently to work out of Sydney on P&O Cruises as Youth Security and eventually, a Ship Security Specialist. This incredible journey of connecting with international people whilst concurrently gaining some healing from the security team I became close to, eventually led me to setting up residence in Sydney, Australia where I have been since.

And that is why I say the quote I saw that September morning back in 2013, confronted me and resonated with me hugely, because after all I had been through, I truly was chasing my dreams and running from my demons.

Running and divorce (or long-term relationship break ups) are – in my opinion – very similar; both are painful, but depending on how you deal with them, both are extremely rewarding too. Like anything, it’s up to you as to how YOU look at it, and how you go through the process of getting through it.

A run – whether it be a few kilometres or an ultra marathon race – takes effort when trying to get to something as simple as the start line. The mind has to be in #starplayer mode, and you have to know that as much as it’s not going to be easy to run the distance, it’s going to be ‘ok’. The same is with a permanent relationship disconnection, it takes effort to get up everyday knowing your new journey is going to be WITHOUT that significant other person. Life won’t be the same anymore, and you will go through hills of heartache, plateaus of monotony, and slopes of the soul and spirit tumbling downhill. But you must know in your heart and mind, that everything will be ‘ok’ and the journey has it’s purpose and higher reason in your life.

So over the next few months, I want to share how my divorce parallels my actual love for running, and the physical, nutritional and recovery training I’ve already done, and am yet to do. As of this morning, I have a goal time of 1 hour, 45 minutes and 12 seconds to beat in a half marathon, and with every ounce of MANA I have in me, I am determined to CRUSH it. In the process, I hope my posts encourage you the reader, to work through your relationship break-up and hopefully get yourself outside in the fresh air to help find yourself in that way too. Put your technology on pause for an hour or two and GIVE yourself some selfish goodness by getting your heart rate up with a bit of exercise.

Lastly, please watch Simon Sineick’s TED talk on ‘How great leaders inspire action.’ He touches on doing things from a ‘WHY’ purpose instead of a ‘WHAT’ reason which when you watch it, will make total sense. I constantly go back to my ‘WHY’ all the time to make sure I’m doing right by me first and foremost, so with writing these posts for you, please know my ‘why’ purpose for doing so, is to genuinely help you through your situation.

On my business card, a quote by Norman B. Rice reads:Dare to reach out your hand into the Darkness, to pull another hand into the Light’ which I found on the internet in 2011 when I was searching for ‘reality reads’ on divorce. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t find any stories, but I did find that quote that’s resonated with me ever since.

So having pulled myself out of my Darkness into the Light, I hope to genuinely help you through yours. Now that I’ve overcome my demons, I think it’s fair to say 100%, that I’m on my way to chasing my DREAMS, so join me on my ‘race’ if you will…

As they say in the NZSAS – who dares, WINS!

With love and kindness always,

K.M Harris.

GIRLFRIENDS AND MISGUIDED ADVICE

If you are in the early phases of separation there will be some people you want to keep close by your side and there will be others that will no longer be a part of your life.

Everyone will have an opinion on what you should do, what they really thought of your partner and be particularly cautious of the ones who love to feed on gossip. The last thing you need to hear is someone saying things like ‘I always thought he/she was a jerk,’ ‘Did you know he tried to hit on me plenty of times?’ and the best one of all, ‘you’ll be fine, just get over it there are plenty more fish in the sea!’

If only it was that easy!

The fact is that any separation, no matter who decides to end the relationship, is a traumatic and confronting experience. It changes who you are, it changes many aspects of your life that you held dear, it causes you to question everything about yourself, your decisions, and it completely wipes out the timeline you had in your imagination of how and when all the things you had planned together would come to life. Now all you see in front of you is a blank wall with no idea of how to get over it, around it, or through it.

Most people these days know someone who has been through divorce and although family and good friends are so very important in your life now, it is time to remove the people from your life who simply have no idea of what it is like to walk in your shoes and hugely beneficial to connect with a few friends or acquaintances who do.  These are the people who will give you permission to spend the day curled up in bed, who will listen to you talk and talk about the same things over and over again without judgement, they will be the ones you can call late at night.  They will come over to spend the night and keep you company, get you laughing and smiling again. They will reassure you that there is nothing wrong with you and share the things that happened to them and encourage you to honour the grieving process and allow the body to do it’s healing in the way it has been designed to do.   Your body goes into shock and all the physical and emotional triggers that are designed to help you through any trauma will kick in to do what needs to be done to begin the grieving and healing process.

Time really does heal old wounds and life goes on, we manage to pull ourselves together, we learn more about who we are and just how strong and resilient we have become, we learn to ask for help when we need it, we learn to swallow our pride and seek financial assistance when we need it, we become experts at managing our budgets, we discover just how wonderful and supportive a select group of special people in our lives are and eventually we regroup, we begin to think about what we want to do with our lives, our work or careers or adding value to others in some way.

There are so many parts of who we are and for many women it’s not until we are no longer someones wife or partner that we have the opportunity to make these discoveries, our self-awareness becomes deeper, we begin to question our beliefs about relationships and other things we thought to be true, many begin a deeper spiritual practice, question why they are here, they realise the benefits of maintaining their health and fitness, giving back to their families and communities and begin to explore experiences that are new, challenging, fun and allowing the growth and expansion of themselves and their lives.

If you would like to chat to Jenny about anything at all, even your favourite wine click here to schedule a time https://calendly.com/jenny-smith-1/what-s-going-on-in-your-world

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WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR EFFECTIVE SELF LEADERSHIP?

As I began to think about writing this blog I went to my bookshelves and was astounded at how many books I have that are related in some way to ‘leadership’.   Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In – Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Stephen Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Ken Robinson The Element, Malcolm Gladwell Outliers to name a few and I’ll throw in The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz slightly off topic and yet fits beautifully and is one of my favourites.

What is self-leadership? What exactly does it mean?

Andrew Bryant in his book Self Leadership defines it as having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do and where you are going coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions and behaviour on the way to getting there.   All of this can be summed up as self-awareness and the maturity to take responsibility for your personal development, goals and outcomes.

Women come to me for help. The end of a relationship is a highly emotive time and there is not a great deal of difference in the emotional and physical responses from the stay at home mum with children, the women who have been married for 20+ years and professional women in those first 3 to 6 months. Divorce wipes people out, they can’t think straight, and many lose every inch of their self worth and confidence. Their lives have been turned upside down and they struggle to come to terms with the reality of a situation they never signed up for.

There is no way I could address all the different situations and circumstances that women come from and through because of the end of a relationship. Relationships do not fall into a common category simply because no two people involved in a relationship have the same personalities, beliefs, values or lifestyle choices as any other couple on the planet.

What role does self-leadership play in the lives of women going through divorce and conversely for those who are ready to step into a new relationship?

What’s the difference between the women who are able to get their lives back on track more quickly and those who stay stuck for years hanging onto their story?

In very simple terms the difference is this: the women who get on with their lives choose to create a different story.

This is where self-leadership falls nicely into this conversation.

Here are the three important components of effective self-leadership inspired by some brilliant writers and thinkers.

Self-leadership requires self-awareness

Women who move on with their lives more quickly after separation and divorce have a clear perception of their strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions.

They are willing to ask for help and they are coachable. By that I mean they use the tools and resources I teach them to take control of their emotional state on a daily basis. They want someone who will be honest with them and allow them to uncover their own answers to questions and solutions to their problems.

They are willing to let go of the things they cannot control, how other people act is always a trigger in separation and divorce situations. They are willing to accept that they have no control over what the other party might do or say knowing that they do have total control over themselves and how they respond.

Self awareness is many things including:

Listening to our internal dialogue and recognising when we are making judgements about other people, circumstances or situations based on the story we are telling ourselves, essentially making up shit!

It’s about knowing what questions to ask yourself to gain insight into the what, the why and the how of a situation.

It’s about being in control of your own mind, where you focus your attention, your emotions, your responses to situations and ultimately your behaviour.

When it comes to creating change in your life being in control of your thoughts comes first, the emotions, the language you use to describe a situation and the actions you take all follow on from your thoughts and will have a massive influence on how you view the world around you.

When it comes to facing those curved balls that life tends to throw our way from time to time self awareness is critical when it comes to managing yourself and your situation.

When it comes to wanting your life to be better or different in some way, knowing what it is you want and being absolutely clear about why you want it is essential for moving forward.

Self-leadership requires living according to your values and priorities.

Living according to your values and priorities will show up in your life on a daily basis.

Being fit and healthy is both a value and a priority and it will be evident in the choices you make about what you eat and as a priority it will influence how you plan your day.

Stephen Covey discusses our independent will as human beings that make self-leadership possible: “It is the ability to make decisions and choices and to act in accordance with these.” Successful self-leaders are those who live according to their values. They know what to say “yes” to and have clarity on what to say “no” to.

Self-leadership requires taking personal responsibility for your development.

Self-leadership requires a willingness to learn from the people around us. If creating amazing relationships is something we desire then we spend time finding out more about how we can do this, speaking to people, researching and getting very clear on what an amazing relationship looks like and feels like for us.

You can substitute any other quality or trait for the word relationship, wealth, freedom, contribution, independence, creativity, community, honesty, self-expression and so on.

We all have the ability to continually improve ourselves, our lives and in turn the lives of others. It is a journey and once to take that first step you soon discover that there is no end to this journey. As we grow into being more of who we really are without all the bullshit beliefs and lies that we have told ourselves, our dreams, goals and desires also expand.

Accept that there will be times when we fail, we fall in a heap, we struggle to continue, and yet we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and continue on the journey knowing that we have just taken one giant leap forward.

There is no taking away the heartache and pain we experience when it comes because of the challenges we face with separation and divorce, that’s a fact.

My clients know that once they have moved through the worst of the situation and out the other side, there is a whole world of new possibilities and opportunities waiting for them to discover. And that’s when we begin to create magic together.

To share your thoughts or your story please email me: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

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