nat lue copyright Baggage Reclaim

On Sunday I turned 36, which I celebrated with a party on Saturday. As it turned midnight, I was singing Return of the Mack on the karaoke machine (we have a Lucky Voice set which means we can have impromptu karaoke sessions) plus earlier in the evening, one of my best buddies and I pulled off Push It, Superwoman and Not Gon’ Cry (the last two made me think of many a BR reader). Thanks for the birthday wishes – some of you have very good memories! As always, here is my annual birthday lessons post…

  1. You can limit the impact of bullshit in your life by ensuring that you always circle back to your own values and keep your feet firmly in reality. Truth economy can really only flourish where there’s an inclination to live in the past or to spend too much time betting on potential.
  2. Stop seeking the Brady Bunch fantasy or expecting parents to step up in adulthood. Many of us are seeking an ideal with our families that just isn’t realistic and we can end up feeling unnecessary shame as if family members being flawed and even inadequately parenting us, is some cross we have to bear for the rest of our days. If 35 has taught me anything, it’s that many of the issues that run in families are bigger than ‘us’ and we only see this when we lose the rose tinted glasses and recognise that ‘younger self’ within us that still wants approval and the fantasy. I would love for my parents and extended family to be different but it would be a misappropriation of my energy to spend even another day trying to make them change when I can get on with the business of being me. Does it hurt sometimes? Absolutely but that passes and it certainly hurts far less than pursuing a fantasy.
  3. Just because you’re willing to suppress your true identity, needs, expectations etc, for somebody, it doesn’t mean that 1) they should reciprocate to the same extent or that 2) they’re selfish if they don’t. We have no business selling our soul in the first place and it’s an invalid contract. We must respect ourselves and our own values and not give ourselves away as if it’s going cheap. That’s not love; it’s self-abuse.
  4. “That’s not mine – that’s yours. I’m giving it back.” When I went through grief over my father and his family last year, my acupuncturist taught me to say this whenever negativity about other people’s BS started circulating in my head or there was negative self-talk. It’s really handy when you’re on your own after an argument or your mind is doing overtime.
  5. Life is about lessons and application. Sure you can take the lessons and ‘heed’ them but the proof of how much you’re heeding them is with the ‘spot checks’ and ‘pop quizzes’ that life throws you in the form of new experiences to put your knowledge to the test. It would be great if the person or people that prompted those lessons changed and disappeared but how the hell would you know if you learned the lesson? How would you grow as a person? I know that a few of you are putting your hands in the fire at the moment (you know who you are!) – this is your opportunity to do right by you.
  6. Adulthood is about taking over the role of ‘raising’ you and unlearning any unproductive messaging and habits. It’s a journey where through experiences both good and bad, we get to discover who we are, tweak and to truly ascend into being responsible for ourselves, a responsibility I might add that we’ve all had since the start of adulthood. Sometimes our childhoods have been difficult and it feels like we’ve been responsible for far too long and we want someone else to take over. Be careful – this is the opening for unhealthy relationships. Yes it’s unfair that we didn’t get to be the child we would have hoped or have the parents we wanted but we have to step up and do for us what we would have wanted.
  7. When you’re feeling down, don’t turn how you feel into a permanent statement of how you’ll always feel or how things will always be. This too shall pass.
  8. Sometimes word association or a good visual can keep you out of trouble. I’ve shared this video of the baby in Meet The Fockers saying ‘Assssssss…..hole’ with a few people who have been involved with some incredibly shady types. Now when they get the dodgy call or text, the first thing that pops into their head is ‘Asssssssss…..hole’. My other favourite clip is Whoopi Goldberg’s Oda Mae Brown character in Ghost. For those of you who are putting your hand in the fire yet again, think of Whoopi telling you that you’re in danger.
  9. Even if you don’t express how you truly feel, it’s still felt and stored somewhere and you only have so much capacity for toxic ‘baggage’ before it pollutes you and you become consumed by anger that in turn will get misdirected and could potentially lead to depression. You are human. You feel. You’re not a receptacle for other people’s bullshit or for carrying negativity about you. You matter. I’ve learned to welcome my feelings both good and ‘bad’ without judging me. Sure it takes practice but it also means that you truly recognise and enjoy when you feel good.
  10. If you haven’t got your back, you haven’t got an emotional backbone. You’re like a house with no exterior coating to protect you from the elements. You need to have your own back before you start looking to throw you under a bus for others. Funny enough, once you have your own back, busting yourself up to accommodate others becomes a major no-no.
  11. Comparison is a form of judgment. You’re judging you and you’re also judging the other party.
  12. People tell me that they’re ‘failures’ because they couldn’t make a shady relationship work or they spotted that somebody was unavailable or not what they originally thought; erm, that’s a success.
  13. Some people don’t have the experience or the depth in their empathy reserves to ‘get’ you or understand your position. It’s most important to recognise your own feelings and position and don’t spend your life looking for validation.
  14. People unfold. What you know on day 0 or feel in your pants or your imagination is not all that there is to know. People unfold and that’s only going to be a problem if you decide who a person is in a hot minute and/or you’re unwilling to heed the feedback from unfolding and persist in trying to ‘make’ them into something that doesn’t exist.
  15. It’s all very well feeling frustrated with people for not respecting your boundaries but you also need to ensure that you’re respecting that same boundary with you. I was really peeved with someone who sent a message at an inappropriate time that I felt ‘compelled’ to respond to but I had to admit that I would never have known about that message at the inappropriate time if I hadn’t been looking at an inappropriate time plus my response could have waited.
  16. There’s no need to villanise a person. You don’t have to hate someone or for them to be ‘all bad’ in order to know that the situation cannot continue as is or that you need to distance yourself from them. What you do need to do is to stay on a low BS diet so that you don’t get amnesia or start romanticising the ‘good points’ or ‘good times’. If you have to talk about good points and times, it means that you’re ignoring the full picture.
  17. Even when a person won’t admit their issues, often the people around them are a dead giveaway due to the way in which they engage with this particular person or how they talk about them. When you see a grown up’s parents /siblings / friends covering up for this person, being in denial or even attacking you, that tells you in no uncertain terms that something’s smelling a bit funky in Shady Town.
  18. Choose your battles. Being a grown up and not wanting to have constant drama in my life has forced me to question whether an issue is worth me getting all Dynasty and shoulder pads at dawn. It’s important for us to have levels. I have levels 1-5 and when I do a quick mental assessment of where something falls on that scale, I’m only going to hog up my day / time over it if it falls into level 4 or 5 and even then, because drama is not my purpose or hook, I’m eager to get that drama situation moved along. Of course I’ll note something and if it crops up again, then I will address it.
  19. If you get reduced to feeling like a child with certain people, look at where you’re assigning these people too much power and ensure that you’re not treating them like a parent or some other authority from your past in a quest to right the wrongs of the past.
  20. Comparison is a self-esteem depresser. When you start comparing, switch over to considering what you’ve done differently in the last few months, year, 5, 10 years, because this shows you where you’ve grown. Comparing is really only of use if you’re going to use it in a positive manner to grow.
  21. Genuine empathy leaves respect of you and the other person intact. Over-empathy disrespects one or both of you and removes responsibility from at least one of you. It also allows in far too much BS because ultimately, over-empathy is not about putting you in that person’s shoes – it’s about letting your imagination run wild mixed in with pity.
  22. Life is too frickin short to spend it trying to make a person take on your values. That’s trying to force someone to change. Respecting your values and being authentic is about aligning yourself with people who share your values not compromise them.
  23. Life and your wants isn’t about sticking them in the proverbial microwave and heating in less than a minute. Real relationships, real connections, really genuinely getting to know people isn’t something that happens in a hot minute. If you feel like you ‘can’t’ walk away after a few days or weeks, it’s time to assess what you’re truly attached to, because it’s not the person.
  24. Always trust your gut. It might just be giving you a word of caution and prompting you to stop, look and listen. You don’t get ‘gut smart’ by not going through the process of listening to it to find out what it’s trying to tell you and learning from each experience.
  25. Stop ‘chaperoning’ people’s assholery on the off-chance that you’re there when karma comes knocking. It’s a waste of your life. It’s not up to you to decide on or monitor a person’s fate or punishment. Karma doesn’t work on your beat.
  26. If you wouldn’t ‘help’ if you didn’t think that you were going to be rewarded in some way, don’t do it. That’s not help – that’s people pleasing with an unspoken contract that will leave you disappointed.
  27. Stop feeding the ‘worry fish’. Remember that worry (and fear, comparison, anxiety etc) is like goldfish – it doesn’t know when it’s full and will eat whatever you feed it. I also read somewhere that worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.
  28. When people go away for a few days or a week and declare that they’ve ‘changed’, the proof is in the months ahead, not the honeymoon. If a person has truly changed, it’s something that they would recognise several months down the line when reflecting, not in a mere matter of days. When someone declares ‘quick change’, it’s like, Really? Shit, if you could change that bloody quickly, why didn’t you do it before? And er, doesn’t that mean you can change back just as quickly? Doh!
  29. Even if you make other people’s business your business, it’s still none of your business. We live in a time when we get too involved in other people’s stuff, including in the lives of celebrities. Really, it’s time we focused on our own lives. We need to keep healthy boundaries and not use other people’s issues as a distraction from our own.
  30. You wouldn’t kick a child, pet or friend each time they put a foot wrong so why do this to yourself? If there’s one thing that my daughters have taught me, it’s about the need to practice the things I do for them for myself. The compassion, the patience, the wanting to see them grow instead of cutting with excessive criticism.
  31. Sometimes the truth hurts but it’s a lot easier to recover from the truth than it is to recover from lies that persist.
  32. Personal development isn’t a temporary project with a ‘happy ending’ payout; self-esteem is a journey where you get plenty of on the job training. It’s up to you to create and cultivate what and who you say you are and want to be.
  33. When you lead a double life (or even triple or multiple lives), not only do people not get to know you due to the ‘mask(s)’ you wear, but they won’t and cannot know that you’re struggling and in need.
  34. We can’t be distant but still expect everything that comes with closeness. Love doesn’t happen with emotional, physical, mental and spiritual distance. We can keep ourselves safe from harm by never leaving our homes but then we’re unavailable for life. We can put up walls to protect ourselves from being vulnerable but then we rule ourselves out of a mutually fulfilling relationship with an available partner.
  35. What you prioritise is what will be the priority. If you prioritise fear, it will dominate. If you lead with sex, it will be a primarily sexual relationship. If you lead with appearance and other superficial stuff, it will be a superficial relationship. If you lead with ambiguity, it will be ambiguous and passive aggressive. If you lead with the need for mutual love, care, trust and respect along with shared values, you won’t accept less than that.
  36. Don’t pretend that you don’t matter. Don’t silence you, because not only will you regret the lack of representation in your life, but one day you will erupt, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon. A person can only take so much suppression. While the eruption may prove to be cleansing, I see all too often that it backfires due to shame over the reaction. Allow you to matter right now and going forwards.

Your thoughts?

Holiday update

I finished Orange Is The New BlackI can totally see how that ending happened. Nuff said. Missing the series dearly.

I’m going camping with my girls at Camp Bestival from Friday to Sunday. Haven’t camped since I was a teen when I camped every summer at beautiful Brittas Bay in Wicklow. Have borrowed a tent (assembling should be hilarious) and am going with my homies @bumpwearclaire and her 3.5 week old (seriously) and 3 year old plus @geekisnewchic and @lucycdavies her kids and campervan. I suspect my assistant Kate will be hiding as we’re trying to hustle her husband into assembling our tents. Haha. It’s guaranteed to be nuts and yes we’re packing mojito ingredients.

It’s full-on summer holidays and rain so I’m being forced not to do very much as the girls are keeping me busy enough – yay!

I’m loving being on a break! I’ve been having mega naps and pottering about. Don’t worry – I won’t enjoy the break too much!

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