My journey through veganism – and back.

I spent three years of my life as a vegan. And I loved it.

I loved learning about the positive impact that veganism has – on the environment, on the animals, on ourselves. 

I devoured all the information I could, from documentaries to studies, to speeches. It was Gary Yourofsky’s youtube video, The Best Speech You Will Ever Hear that gave me the final push to make the plunge.

I was passionate, educated, and just trying to do my very best.

Veganism resonated, and still does, with my very core. The idea of doing no harm, and of treating the precious beings around us and earth, our home, with peace and kindness, means everything to me.

Theoretically, and in an ideal world, I would still be vegan. I would do no harm, none at all, and everything would be perfect.

However, life has a funny way of knowing our plans and intentions, and throwing a spanner, or sometimes a handful, into the works.

Mental illnesses, and the recovery from them, have a knack of influencing everything you do. Whether that be behaving in a particular way, having to tell some thoughts to shut up on the daily, or perhaps making choices that you brain doesn’t agree with. When people are mentally ill, they don’t become their illness, as that isn’t who they are, but rather they are influenced by it to varying degrees.

The eating disorder likes to sabotage things that are important to me. As it turns out, veganism was just another avenue that the eating disorder could run it’s nasty, slimy little slither down.

Although I promised everyone that my intentions were pure, that this was a new opportunity for me to start afresh and eat well, nobody really believed me, and understandably so. 

I tried my best. I really did. And for three years too. 

However, when you have an eating disorder which is based upon restriction and secrecy, deception and lies, largely removing safe foods from an already small list, can be detrimental. 

I do want to make to clear that veganism did not cause, or set-off, or provoke the eating disorder. I was unwell for years before being vegan, and if it hadn’t been cutting out dairy and animal products, it would have been something else.

However, it’s important to repair what was broken in the past, and to do so, I had to learn how to eat again. From scratch. Everything I was afraid of.

Recovery from an eating disorder means challenging, hundreds of times each day, the voice in your head which tells you “no”, which holds you back, which restrains you. 

Recovery for me involved learning how to eat foods that others had prepared for me, not being able to analyse the ingredients or how it was prepared. It involved learning how to not have to read the labels and ingredients lists before I ate anything. It involved learning to eat a wide range of foods, and learning what I truly disliked, or what didn’t sit right with me, rather than what is founded in fear and anxiety.

Part of recovery means ensuring to myself that my intentions with veganism and vegetarianism are pure. Honesty is of upmost importance. This meant that I have to eat all the foods I was afraid of, such as dairy and eggs, so that my brain could heal and the eating disorder could slowly be smothered out.

The fear of judgement from other people when I first switched back from being vegan to vegetarian, was outstanding. Everyone knew that I was vegan, and had been for a long time; it was part of who I was. However, everybody also knew, though in a slightly different way, about my silent struggle with the eating disorder. Perhaps that’s why everyone was so kind and supportive as they eventually found out about the change. There were some questions, merely out of curiousity and good intent, and it was hard to answer. But I think my honesty about recovery was well recieved. I am so grateful for the lack of judgement, and the magnitude of support.

And what a weird coincidence! I just took a break from writing this piece, and a coworker asked “you used to be vegan right, but now you are vegetarian?” and then “why did you change?” And as per usual I got a bit nervous and my heart beat a little faster, but it was completely okay and accepted. He was just thrilled I could eat ice cream now!

I am so very close to being able to say I’ve done it, I’ve won; I’ve fought the impossible battle of an eating disorder and come out the other side. And in doing so, I’ve had to do some hard things. Things that I don’t like or agree with, but they are necessary and right for my personal situation. Good things come from doing what is tough, rather than what is easy, uncomplicated – unchanged. Inertia is a human experience too.

My experience with veganism taught me that we cannot be perfect. That being the “perfect vegan” does not exist, and that every choice we make regardless of the label, all adds up in the long run. It’s the actions you take in the day-to-day, the intentions you have, and the willingness to care for your brain, as well as the animals, which is what matters.

So, that’s me. I’m Kaitlyn, and I’m an ex-vegan – a vegetarian now – who is just trying to do her best. One day, when I am truly, fully well, and when I can trust my brain enough to know that my intentions are clear, I will return. But for today, I just have to put in the hard yards, and do what I’ve got to do.

A reason to recover (number one billion).

WordPress is prompting, encouraging eagerly to “share your story here” but this particular story is a really difficult one to share.

It’s one that is close to my heart, that has shattered me and broke me in ways I never knew possible. It’s also one that I don’t know if it is right to share.

However in saying that, it is part of my story, part of me in some way, and I’m trying to learn not to be so darn ashamed all the time. I yearn for honesty – to share openly and with vulnerability – as this is where I’m at in recovery.

I’m at the stage where I’m trying to stop running. The stage where you learn to stand still, strong, in the face of all the old gusts of wind trying to force you to bend, break.

Before I begin, I must say that what’s to come discusses miscarriage, pregnancy loss and self-harm. Remember to put yourself first, and please stop reading if it won’t serve your recovery.

About two and a half years ago, I was a broken, confused, and very, very lost person.

I was 20, had just dropped out of university due to being too unwell to attend, and was deep in the hardest slog of recovery from the eating disorder. I spent the next eight months working incredibly hard to gain back all that I had lost – weight, energy, friends, the ability to learn and understand, and most importantly, my life.

I moved in with love of my life, my now-husband, and had enrolled to begin a new course at a different university. A brand new start all round. Things were looking up. I was learning how to be stable in my eating disorder recovery, though still struggled immensely with self-harm and anxiety.

In the weeks leading up to beginning my new degree, I felt a bit different, a bit “off” you could say, and was experiencing symptoms that weren’t normal for my cycle. Despite not believing that it could be a possibility at all, I took a pregnancy test just as a precaution, so that our minds could be at ease.

We were not prepared for the result.

Those two, little purple lines, a positive, changed life as we know it.

We were terrified, confused and shocked to say the least. We always, always would use contraception, so were baffled at how it could have happened. No form of contraception is fully 100%, but it’s not the sort of tiny chance that you think would happen to you.

Until it does.

How could it all be real?

However, the positive result lines were not the only marks that caused immense feeling. Days earlier, in one of my many, messy episodes of intense self-harm, I had slashed into my stomach, leaving behind superficial trenches of hate, of hurt.

Right across where our apple seed sized baby was growing.

I don’t think I have ever hated myself as much as when I realised what I had done.

background, blur, bokeh

A few days later, I woke to the sound of my alarm going off, waking me to begin my first day of classes, in my brand new course.

Immediately, I felt that something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel nauseous, as I had every day before. All my pregnancy symptoms were gone. As nice as it was to feel normal again, it was confusing, so I took another pregnancy test.

This one came back negative, meaning that my body had stopped producing hCG, the pregnancy hormone.

As if with perfect timing, blood flowed, and I lost our baby.

What I didn’t know, or expect, or anything, because nobody really talks about early miscarriages, is that it takes days. It takes days for your body to pass the pregnancy tissue, to empty your womb out, and that it’s a really, really hard thing to go through.

When researching early pregnancy loss, I found out that miscarriages are actually really common. One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, and most of the time nobody really knows why. It’s just part of life, sadly.

One of the most difficult parts of it all to deal with is the guilt.

The guilt for feeling afraid of your pregnancy, especially because it was unplanned. We were young, financially struggling, and I was still unwell with mental illnesses. I feel the need to point out, though it really doesn’t matter, that although I am staunchly pro-choice, I wouldn’t have chosen an abortion. However the thought of bringing a child into our lives was still, nevertheless, incredibly frightening. And that’s something that it’s hard not to feel guilty about.

Then there was all the guilt about the ruins I had turned my body into, merely months earlier, from the eating disorder. That this could have been the reason for our baby leaving us.

There was also the guilt about all of the self-harm, all of the time and energy spent into tearing myself apart, all while unknowingly pregnant. What if the baby knew how much it’s mother hated herself, and left because of that?

Although we don’t know the reason for the miscarriage, it could have been anything really (and logically I know that, I promise), and in a way it has really influenced my recovery.

I think back about how ill I had been, both before that time and during, and I am astounded that person was me.

It has made me determined to be the best I can be. To work on my mental health, which in turn helps my physical health. To be the most well and healthy I can be, so that when we are ready, we can welcome our baby with open arms.

Sometimes we think of what could have been, and although painful, it’s comforting in a way. We like to think of that baby just visiting, popping in to say “hello, I’m waiting for you”, and that they will come back when the time is right.

All these experiences, they have broken, torn and ripped through me. But in a way, they have given me the opportunity to build strength, to work on being resilient, and heal, for when we do have our own family.

You maybe have seen me mention babies a few times on here, and that’s because the prospect of them makes me so excited. I am filled with so much joy and hope, at the thought of becoming a Mum, and same with my husband at becoming a Dad.

We are so excited to meet our future babies.

Liebster Award Nomination

Honestly, the way that 2018 is surprising me so far is turning out a little spooky! I feel so thankful for these incredibly kind gestures that have come my way this year so far. Blogging is proving to be hard-work, but in saying that, incredibly rewarding and beautiful too. When sharing these vulnerable pieces of ourselves, it’s really amazing to find out that someone is reading along, and that your words matter.

And for that, I would love to thank Becca, from Missing In Sight, for nominating this little corner of the internet for the Liebster Award! She is a sweet soul, who writes wonderfully about her experiences with mental health. You can check out her most recent post here. Our blogging community is lucky to have her!


The rules are:

  1. Create a new post thanking the person who nominated you.
  2. Provide a link to their blog.
  3. Include the award graphic.
  4. Answer the questions provided.
  5. Nominate 10 recently followed bloggers and share your post with them, so they can see it.
  6. Make a new set of 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

My questions from Missing In Sight are:

1. What is the most unusual item that can be found in your home/room?  What do you think it says about your personality that you own this item? We have a 5ft tall, wooden giraffe called Rutherford (after the New Zealand physicist) standing in our living room, because giraffes are my husband’s favourite animals!

2. Whom do you most admire and why? I most admire my husband for his kindness, unconditional love, and generosity with his time and energy. He is everything to me.

3. If someone was to play you in a movie, who would it be? Amy Poehler, hands down.

 4. What would be the name of your movie from #3? Haha, something that includes the words “life”, “messy”, “awkward” and “sometimes funny”.

 5. What is the best material gift someone has given you? My engagement ring.

6. You have to give up one thing that you love for the rest of your life. What is it? Probably crunchy peanut butter, but as long as my dog can still have it! It’s her favourite very rare, very occasional, treat!

 7. You win a large amount of money in the lottery.  Do you keep working at your job or retire? Why? Keep working, because otherwise I would get bored, but be able to financially support us while looking for a more meaningful and fulfilling job.

 8. How many days could you last in solitary confinement? How would you do it? Not very long at all. I’m an introvert, so although I don’t mind being alone for a bit, I don’t think I would handle feeling trapped or imprisoned too well.

 9. What’s your idea of a good time? A few of my closest people, the beach, no time restrictions. Just being free.

 10. What’s one thing you would rather pay someone else to do than yourself? Why? Parallel parking. Need I say more?

11. What is your greatest pet peeve? How would you handle it? People that are rude and nasty to customer service staff. I’ve got zero time or energy for them.

My questions for my nominees are:

  1. What is your favourite song and why?
  2. Where is the best place you have ever been?
  3. What is something truly amazing that you have seen?
  4. Who is your role model?
  5. If you were only able to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  6. What’s a weird dream you have had recently?
  7. How has your day been today?
  8. How did you come up with your blog’s name?
  9. Describe yourself in three words.
  10. Of your own blog posts, what one is your favourite (and please link it, so we can have a read!)?
  11. Where would you most like to travel to?

My nominations for the Liebster Award are:

Kalyn Courier

A Pause, Not An End;

Questions From A Teenager

Karlena Clifford

Building Special Memories

Samantha Mohun

Ease The Ride

Bear Finding Balance

Penny For My Thoughts

I have only begun to follow each of these blogs very recently, yet I admire their honesty and authenticity in our blogging world. I’m looking forward to watching their blogs grow, and reading about their adventures. Thank-you for sharing your stories with us, and sending lots of hugs your way!

The Mystery Blogger Award Nomination

All these sweet, little surprises are flying my way so far this year! I’m so excited for how this blog is growing and changing and shimmying about. The wonderful Girl With The Paw Print Tattoo nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award. Thank-you, so very much, for this incredibly kind gesture! She writes honestly and genuinely about her experiences, and overall is a thoughtful, kind, and strong human bean. You can check out here blog here; it’s one of my favourites!

The Mystery Blogger Award:

“It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.”
Created by Okoto Enigma.

The rules are:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
  • Share a link to your best post(s).

My questions from Girl With The Paw Print Tattoo are:

1. If you could be any famous person in history, who would you want to be? Probably either Jane Goodall, or David Attenborough, not that they are really “in history”, but they are too cool to not choose.

2. Would you rather lose all of your money and valuables or all of the pictures you have ever taken? This one had me stumped. Maybe all the pictures I have ever taken?

3. What would be the absolute worst name you could give your child? I think the word that I dislike the most is probably “rancid”, even writing it makes me feel icky, so we’ll go with that.

4. If you could be a fictional character in any book, who would you be and from what book? Hands down Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter series.

5. Can you recommend your favorite movies to me that you think I might enjoy? It depends on what kind of movies you like! For a drama, Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!, an analogy about environmental destruction, was incredibly moving and meaningful. In recommending this, however, I must also warn that while it is an incredible film, it’s disturbing and cruel to view, so I definitely don’t recommend watching it if it could be harmful to anyone’s journey. For something a bit more light-hearted, we have watched Jake Kasdan’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle recently, and it is both funny and adventurous; a definite favourite.

Three things about me are:

  1. My absolute favourite native bird is Petroica macrocephala (check it out, they are the cutest little fellas), ever since my ecology class went on a field trip to the forest and mountains last year. One morning we got up really early, and went hiking to watch the sunrise. These sweet creatures were up too, and I cannot describe how incredible these moments were – watching the sunrise through the fog on the mountains, with them dancing about – it really was something else.
  2. My favourite song is To Build a Home, by The Cinematic Orchestra, followed closely by Home, by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. The make me really happy and also want to cry, all at once. The best songs are those with too many feelings, right?
  3. Swimming in the ocean is something I adore with my whole heart. I have so many good memories of essentially growing up in the sea with my friends, and it is something that will always remain special to me.

Apparently my best post is My 2018 bullet journal, but my favourite post to write was definitely On the brink of being recovered – a little piece of my soul is there.

My nominations for the Mystery Blogger Award are:

Midnight Wanderer

My Anxiety Matters

Crushing Walls

Sea of Words

From This Window

Each of these blogs (and the beautiful souls behind them) produces wonderful, honest content, which is such a privilege to read. I want to thank them for sharing their stories with the blogging world; hearing the experiences of others is vast and brilliant.

My questions for my nominees:

  1. What is your favourite song and why?
  2. How has your blogging changed since you first began?
  3. Where is your most favourite place?
  4. If there was a movie about you, who would you want to play your character?
  5. What is your favourite word and why?

I am looking forward to reading answers, but I completely understand if these awards aren’t your jam, or if you don’t have time! I hope everybody is having a good day today, wherever in the world you have your feet planted.

The Awesome Blogger Award Nomination

This is such a lovely surprise to receive on the second day of this brand new year! The wonderful Ashley from Mental Health At Home nominated me for the Awesome Blogger Award. It is such a kind and thoughtful gesture of her. Thank-you so very much, Ashley! If you don’t keep up with her blog already, I definitely recommend it, as she offers a unique perspective through both her professional and personal experiences, on mental health.

The Awesome Blogger Award:

“This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.”
Created by Miss Maggie @ Dreaming of Guatemala

The rules are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader
  • Answer the questions your nominator gave you
  • Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers
  • Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer
  • Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated


My questions from Ashley are:

  1. What color eye-shadow? To be honest, I don’t own any eye-shadow, and I don’t think I have even ever worn it! Makeup isn’t really my forte, but I definitely admire it as an art for other people.
  2. Do you like sandwiches? (If yes, please describe favorite!) Yes, definitely! Probably something with falafel, hummus, and lots of veggies would be my favourite.
  3. Flats or heels?  I spend more time in flats, but I love heels too!
  4. How much water do you drink every day, on average? Definitely not enough! Probably about 1L per day, but I’m trying to increase this.
  5. What is the best coffee you’ve ever had? I’m not a coffee-drinker, so I’m not the best person to answer this, however at work I am at coffee-maker.
  6. How do you feel about the smell of rain? I love the smell of rain. It’s fresh and beautiful. However, when we can smell the rain here in New Zealand, it usually means that we are at about 90% or above humidity, so that’s a bit less nice.
  7. If there is one blog you think I must follow, which is it? I can’t limit it to just one, so please refer to the blogs I nominate later on in this post.
  8. Corn chips or potato chips? Corn chips.
  9. Number one thing you want to do before summer 2018. I would love to go swimming as much as possible. It’s already summer over here, and I haven’t been into the ocean yet which is unusual for me.
  10. How long have you been blogging? A little less than 2 months. I’m just a newbie in the blogging world!

The blogs, and the beautiful people behind the blogs, that I am nominating for the Awesome Blogger Award are:

Revenge of Eve

Alys Journals

Nicole’s Journey

Braving Mental Illness

Girl with the Paw Print Tattoo

Each of these people shares openly and authentically about their lives and life experiences. I admire them, and their writing greatly! I am thankful for their words and stories that they share into the blogging world, and I read their blogs daily. Thank-you, to each of them, for enriching our beautiful community.

My questions for my nominees:

  1. What is something you are excited and looking forward to?
  2. Why did you begin blogging?
  3. Are you open about your blog in your life, or is it a secret?
  4. What is your favourite book and why?
  5. What is your favourite season and why?
  6. Do you have any goals for this year?
  7. What has been something good about today?
  8. What do you do in your spare time?
  9. What do you do when you feel down or sad?
  10. Where, or what, does home mean to you?

I’m looking forward to reading your answers, and thank-you all, once again, for sharing so openly and honestly in our blogging world.

Happy 2018!

A review of 2017.

This year has been beautiful, extraordinary, healing and empowering. It has also been a year of growth, of learning how to be strong, and of tackling things head on. I am so very grateful for 2017. It has been my favourite year yet. Since it’s the last day of the year, I’m going to share some little (ish!) but meaningful parts of this past year.

Getting married! This year started off extremely exciting (also extremely stressful) with our wedding and honeymoon in February. We spent all of January preparing, from making decorations and our own flower bouquets, to organising all the more logistical aspects. Planning a wedding is tough work! However, our special day was more wonderful than we ever could have hoped, and we were lucky enough to be surrounded by all the people we love. We have so much gratitude for the special people in our lives. Our wedding wasn’t expensive nor luxurious – our venue was a community hall and park – but I can’t imagine or would want it any other way.

University. This year was the furthest I have ever made it at university! I have now completed two years of my three-year degree, and next year is my final year. Previously I had completed 1.5 years at university before I had to leave due to my failing mental health, so making it through this second year in one piece was a milestone. This year I also got to give a few presentations in front of my classes, and although it was nerve-wracking at the time, I really enjoyed it, and can feel my confidence growing for public speaking. During April we went on a four-day field trip to the forest and mountains, and had an incredible experience. All thanks to recovery (it’s funny what adequate nutrition and good coping mechanisms can do), I also somehow managed to get the best grades I have ever gotten, which was a nice surprise, but something I’m trying not to base my entire academic worth upon.

Therapy. And recovery too! Aside from a very brief stint in therapy last year, this year has marked my official beginning of therapy, and consequently, recovery from anxiety and panic attacks. The skills I have gotten to learn in therapy have proved to be invaluable for not only anxiety and panic attacks, which was the initial reason I started going, but also for many other aspects of my mental health as well. My therapist is incredibly wonderful and helpful, and the endless hours spent in her office throughout the year have truly changed my life. Getting my medication switched from an SSRI to an SNRI has also made a world of difference. To begin with, therapy was terrifying, but now I am beginning to see that staying unwell is far more scary than learning to heal ever could be.

Work. Although not much has changed at work this year, I have noticed a definite change in my confidence and levels of anxiety at work. I have also made a couple of wonderful friends there who I am so thankful for.

Running. During July, August and September I began and completed the Couch to 5K program, which was wonderful! I went from barely being able to run for more than a few minutes, to running for much longer stretches at a time, and seeing a huge change in my fitness level. Running has also been extremely helpful with coping with anxiety.

Blogging and writing. November saw the beginning of this little blog, With Being Alive, a place to share an honest and authentic account about the world of living with, and recovering from mental illnesses. I have had a few blogs in the past (Tumblr was a crutch for anonymously getting what was in my head, out, during my teenage years), but nothing as open and vulnerable as this. I am so thankful for the wonderfully supportive community I have found here! They inspire and enlighten me each day.

Overall, I am grateful for 2017, and for all that it taught me. Who knows what 2018 will hold?

The universe, changes, & 2018.

So much is changing for us in 2018. It’s scary and exciting, and really scary again, all at once. Next year is looming; ready and full. Moving across the country, building a house, graduation, and new jobs are all on the horizon. Well, it’s all in our plans anyway. But things don’t always go directly to plan, do they? Regardless, whatever happens, it will be new and different, as current ways are coming to the end of their season.

All of these proposed changes ignite my anxiety, small flames littering my brain, burning up hope and excitement. Drops of dread form in their place, robbing me of the ability to see these changes as good; as flowing towards a new season of life. I’m anxious about finding a job within my field, moving away from my family and friends, and graduating from university. I don’t feel ready to be doing all these things. Although it is important that I remember that they aren’t happening just yet, and that I still have plenty of time to work on what will help me cope with these changes.

abstract, art, blur

Working on building a positive self-esteem, and raising my confidence, seem like the right steps to take in preparation. Also, continuing to practice mindfulness and to work on my recovery will help immensely. This year, in the short amount of time I have been going to therapy, I have come up in leaps and bounds. I don’t feel like a shell anymore. I have hope that I am not the mental illnesses; that I have my own voice now. If my recovery has come so far, just this year, then this makes me excited for how hard I can work on it next year too. There is so much more becoming to do.

In one year, it’s likely that I will be sitting, hopefully still typing away in this little corner of the internet, but in a different house. That house will be almost 700 km away. I hope to be more content, more resilient, and more loving. I hope to be more appreciative and more confident. I hope to be achieving my mental health goals (more on those soon).

However, some things will stay the same. And they will become the warm arms of home, and of safety. My beautiful husband will still be by my side. Our dog, Ruby, will be nestled by our feet. Our family will still be our family, and our friends will still be our friends. These things aren’t going anywhere. Home is where the heart is, after all.

For now, I’m trusting in the universe. Back when I was religious, I would have prayed. But I do not have a space for religion anymore. Everything I love, and trust, is within the universe, and it’s spectacular nature. People, the trees, rivers, mountains, moments and animals. I believe in these because they give me hope. They are not perfect and nor am I. But through every change, they have been by my side, and brought light into the darkness countless times.

Universe, thank-you for 2017. I trust in you, and the changes that will arise as life ebbs and flows, in 2018.

Expecting nothing and accepting everything today.

Today I woke up feeling a little flat. You know those days where there is nothing in particular wrong, but it’s like you have deflated a little? Just a bit hrmpfh. It didn’t help that I was waking up to face a ten hour shift at work, a place which is currently in a state of shambling chaos with Christmas just around the corner. I am indeed a fan of Christmas and the holiday season, but this is mildly stifled by a lack of air conditioning, guady mall decorations and too many grumpy customers. And so, it only makes sense that I was feeling a little flat, because I had already subconsciously flattened how I expected my day to go. I had automatically decided that work would be long, overly warm and tedious. Looking back, this is unfair and silly of me, to place these expectations of how my day would go, which only serves to dampen and dull how the day will actually go.

I’m not sure if all of this makes much sense. A week or two ago, I wrote about how my therapist introduced me to expecting nothing and accepting everything. Today, I decided to try and put it into practise. And what better day to start with, than one I had already accidently decided wouldn’t be that great?

My aim for the day was to keep drawing my thoughts back to neutrality; to have no expectations and just take everything as it arrived. To begin with, I practiced Autogenic Training, something I’ve been trying to get into the habit of lately. Autogenic Training is about training different parts of your body to relax, as you ask them too. Apparently it takes a while to get it right, and although I have only been doing it for a short amount of time, today I noticed it getting easier. If nothing else, it’s a good way to practice being present and focussing on what is actually happening.

While I was waiting at the bus stop this morning, an old lady came and sat next to me. She immediately started chatting about how she was going on holiday next week, and how she was meeting a friend at a gift shop later, and how warm it is in Brisbane at the moment. It was really nice to connect with a stranger for a small moment, and it felt good that we each got to brighten each other’s day.

Then, I stepped onto the bus, walked down the aisle, and picked a seat. As I sat down, I saw a man running towards me, and to my surprise it was my Great Uncle! We talked about our mutual love of David  Attenborough (although my Great Uncle does believe that the creatures of the deep sea should be left in peace, and not be showcased in a documentary), how neither of us are Star Wars fans, and he pointed out which house he used to steal clippings of their garden from! He is a person I don’t get to see very often, apart from the very occassional family gathering. It was really lovely to reconnect for the duration of a short bus journey with. Although anxiety was being all loud and fussy (quite obnoxious of it really), I did my best, and an ordinary bus journey became something a bit more special.

Work was indeed long and busy, but it wasn’t all bad. It was great to spend time with a bunch of the lovely people I work with, amongst dealing with the actual work as well. The anxiety skulked around, but I made a solid effort to practice small moments of mindfulness throughout the day, and ended up having some pretty cool conversations.

When I eventually got home, my husband and I continued wrapping the last of our Christmas presents (wrapping is one of the best parts about Christmas, right?), and then we made copious amounts of vegan nachoes, and snuggled in bed watching one of our favourite series – Fresh Meat

I’m working on not using my phone right before I go to sleep, so I read a bit of Elizabeth Knox’s Wake, a wonderful New Zealand, gorey dystopian novel (it’s so spectacularly Kiwi!), and wrote down my accomplishment and gratitude lists for the day.

Today was a good day. It was difficult to stay in the whole realm of expecting nothing and accepting everything, and I definitely wasn’t perfect at it. But it was a start, nevertheless, and today was all the more better because of it.

Expecting nothing and accepting everything.

Anxiety and I. We go hand in hand together, some of it necessary, but the majority ridiculous and suffocating. My anxiety and I go through life, with anxiety expecting only ever the worst, and I accepting not very much at all. Or sometimes it’s the other way around. I expect perfection of myself, to be not flawed, and to reach this impossibly high standard of being “good enough”, while my anxiety accepts everything that doesn’t go as planned, or goes wrong, being due to my own flaws. It’s a difficult conundrum.

And then (all thanks to therapy of course; have I ever mentioned how much it has helped me?) here came along a smart guy by the name of Anthony Hopkins. Don’t know who he is? Just think of Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs. Aside from playing cannibals in horror films, he also has a pretty rad philosophy for life:

“I expect nothing and accept everything.”

Imagine living by this. Accepting everything that happens, and expecting nothing in particular. Merely going through life without the limitations of expectations. How freeing would that be? By all means, still work hard and set goals and aim to live your best life. But our time and energy would not be given to what we believe should happen, and to how we believe we should be performing. This is a waste, as it does not work to change, nor be constructive. Anything good that arises is an unexpected, beautiful joy. And I think we will find that these are closer than we could have ever foreseen.

Golden Hour Photo

The same also works in an opposite way. By have zero expectations, what usually we give negative expectations to, will also, in turn, surprise us. People, situations and interactions, they cannot disappoint us and thus deplete our energy. This doesn’t mean expecting the worst, but rather just not even creating expectations in the first place, and then accepting the outcome.

Within this philosophy, the outcomes of what we do not have control over, simply are as they exist. They hold no power over us, and we do not succumb to the value of mere expectations. Try your best, and accept what happens as a result. Either way, you will either be pleasantly surprised, or feeling neutral, and accepting of the outcome for what it is.

dawn, dust, landscape

However, thinking in this process is difficult and challenging. We have so many expectations every day, most of which we don’t realise are restraining us. We fight outcomes, wasting our energy on what cannot be changed. I am trying to work towards a mindset more centred around expecting nothing and accepting everything, and this is a work in progress. For a start, having the mantra “I expect nothing and accept everything” feels like a good place to begin. I am also going to try and become more aware of my expectations of everything; others, myself and the world. By realizing expectations, and acknowledging how they do not serve me, I think that will help me to change. Continuing to work on the anxiety is also a step in the right direction, as anxiety constantly expects negativity and for me to not be good enough. Therefore, as the anxiety lessens, so too will all these expectations I throw around.

Within this way of thinking, expectations do not hold power over us, and we are not victims to them. Similarly, we become more resilient creatures; able to stand back up and keep trying in the face of adversity. We accept the flow of life, and are moving forward with it, rather than battling against it.

Myths of being “good enough”.

From a young age we are told to “just do your best.” But what actually is our best? We are led to believe that doing our best means giving everything we come across our everything – and I mean everything. As people, our health, time and energy are some of the most valuable resources we have. Yet we continue to pour ourselves until we run empty, with nourishment seen as a weakness.

At the same time, there seems to be the idea floating around (and by floating around, I mean Constantly Bombarding My Brain And Probably Yours Too), that to be a good and successful person, “doing your best” must be constant and ever rising. This means that doing your best and being a Successful Person, involves giving all of your time, health and energy to the enterprise that will endow such successes.

Black String Lights

Several myths exist as to what being a good person actually entails:

Myth 1) The less sleep the better. Somewhere along the line, we got it into our head that pulling all-nighters and surviving off energy drinks into the wee hours of the morning, multiple days a week, is quite a marvelous idea. All-nighters are not a good thing, nor are kind to one of our most precious organs; the brain. All-nighters are far more indicative of simply not doing work during the day instead, or perhaps overloading ourselves with too much, rather than success, and unprecedented hard work. Sleep is good. Sleep is healthy. That’s why beds exist, and why babies sleep lots, and why your eyes start closing on their own when you really want them to stay open. Listen to your body. It always lets you know what it needs.

Myth 2) The less energy the better. Welcome to the world of dieting, and to the world of tea that makes you run to the bathroom a weird amount. Living off specially designed shakes, permanently counting calories, and depriving yourself of what you are craving, is not healthy. It is dangerous that it has become normalised. Trying to live life in a child sized body is simply impossible, for our bodies grow to accommodate our growing lives. We need energy to live. All less energy equates to is less living. We are too full of life to be doing things by halves.

Myth 3) The more busyness the better. A full to the brim planner and zero down time means success, right? Wrong. Depleting ourselves to zero time and time again, with no time to regenerate, will only end in crashing and burning somewhere down the track. We are creatures of balance, and we need time to work hard, time to play, and time to rest. Success is not running on empty.

Myth 4) Emotion is undesirable. Everywhere we look, men are told not to cry, and women are told to not be so bossy. Feel what you feel, and talk about it. Suppression does not led to connections or growth. Dishonesty and shame is all that arises. We have emotions for a reason; to feel. Without them, life would be bland and boring. We do not need to be afraid of what makes us, us.

Myth 5) We are not good enough. There are entire, billion dollar industries based upon the assumption that we will continue to not believe we are good enough, and that we require change towards a particular ideal. This is a lie, based solely upon money, and tearing each other and ourselves down. Our insecurities mean nothing without the comparisons we hold them to. And within this myth, perfection cannot be reached. We are good enough because we are human, and because we try hard to do good in the world around us. Anything else does not determine if we are good enough yet or not. We already are.

abstract, art, background

How did all these myths arise? It seems that somewhere along the way we have confused being good enough, with being everything all at once, and in that, with being perfect. Let’s break it down – being a good person does not mean being a perfect person. This is because perfect people don’t exist, but good ones do. Striving for something unattainable will only leave us on the ground. And we will never be the best we can be if being perfect is the only goal. Let’s be wild, free, kind and courageous instead. We will be able to soar far higher on these wings.

Our health, time and energy are the building blocks to all that we do, and to all we can be. Looking after them, and acknowledging and embracing our imperfect humanness can go a long way. Perhaps instead this is success, and being good enough. Being brave enough to be ourselves.