Tribe Kate

I am going to start this blog with an apology for the cultural appropriation in the image above. So often it is the case, when people appropriate, they are drawn to beauty without really considering cultural significance.

Tribes are all about cultural significance in its’ many and varied facets. And what I really want to know is the significance of my tribe, my people, the ones I feel a soul bond with.

So I know that I have mentioned that the last time I set about embarking on the Freedom Plan with Natalie Sisson I hadn’t entirely realised the importance of my tribe. In the wake of the Freedom Plan it became increasingly obvious that I needed one – that the one I had needed to shift; that freedom only comes with those people that enable you to boldly take steps in the direction of your dreams.

There are so many free-hearted and truly wonderful people out there that actually it is a wonder that we aren’t all surrounded by them. But maybe we are? Maybe we just haven’t seen who will and who won’t back us?

The reality is that a lot of what I thought was real fell away when I started to push against the boundaries. And for a while I felt as if I was free-falling – that there was nothing and noone for me to grasp onto. Just a deep emptiness. But I still believed. Sometimes I only believed because others told me to and they believed in me. For a while their faith was my faith.

My tribe are the people who are drawn to freedom, who care what it means, who question the status quo, who stand up and say what needs to be said – politely, but they will stand, even when it’s awkward. They are the kind of gritty souls who would fight for you tooth and nail because they have a deeply protective instinct and an innate sense of justice.

After spending years around nay-sayers and those who would have you believe that you can’t carve your own path I would say this: if they tell you it’s a pipe dream, tell them the pipe is theirs – and they can stick it in their pipe and smoke it! If that fails to impact then perhaps offering a hot cup of shut the f**k up might just do it.

Alternatively you could bless them and wish them on their merry way. I am sure that all are probably acceptable depending on who it is you’re dealing with. I just don’t want to die with regrets. And living and loving as fully as possible – not recklessly or foolishly – but open-heartedly with conscious intention, is what I passionately long to do.

So this is day 6 of the 10 day blog challenge  and Natalie has suggested mentioning who we would choose as 2 mentors. So I would choose Natalie! Because I completely believe in what she is setting out to do and think she is a legend. I would also choose another dear friend of mine who raises her beautiful family with grace and adventure at the heart of all they do.

One year on from embarking on the Freedom Plan I am amazed at how much has changed. As my tribe grows and becomes a more authentic support network I can see what it feels like to be a cherished part of a community and I have to say, I like it. A lot.

Kate’s Daily Success Plan

My daily success plan involves acknowledging that Facebook is critical to how I operate and organise my time (aka I’m a Faddict – yes, a Facebook addict) – I organise my social events through it and use it to connect with community. However, I am a big fan of Natalie Sisson who has suggested that we try the Pomodoro technique.

This excites me because my focus is really limited to 25minute intervals regardless of whether I am using this technique and I think attempting to force my brain to do longer sessions results in an all out brain rebellion. It says to me, “No. There are so many other awesome things to do – like chat to friends or plan holidays.”

But no brain! You will not make me unproductive! You will be tamed by the positively perfect Pomodoro. I even own an egg timer and will use it with reckless glee and abandon to ensure that I can train my brain to focus for this bite-sized life changing strategy.

Because daily success comes from each small step. And when the steps are this small I feel much less afraid to take them. This is my daily success plan – one Pomodoro step at a time!

Superkate 4 EVA

The truth is that this has been a journey too. Because the super me wants to love the real me but sometimes it seems like there is so much distance between them. Some days I feel amazing and on others I want to curl into a little ball and hide under the blankets.

While this has happened a couple of times the great news is that there are some pretty amazing super friends around me who pull me through the times when the “a little bit too real” Kate shows up. And I have an arsenal of strategies myself.

So, when I am struggling I call in those voices that make me feel better. I usually tend to try to start with Superkate but sometimes she seems to be busy on a mission. From there I try to ground myself – be present and aware of the things around me.

I also like that my incredible psychologist told me that tears actually contain stress releasing hormones. So next time someone tells you crying isn’t helpful you can tell them that actually, scientifically it is. It’s an option. But mostly, talking to the people who believe in me is what gets me through.

I asked my best friend what my super power was and he said it was building relationships. And I think he might be right. And the reality is that we are all social creatures and need to hear the voices in the dark that remind us that we can be that super version of ourselves! So really Superkate is a conglomeration of all of the people who have made her what she is today.

Some people even have a word for it – ubuntu – I am who I am because of who we all are.

Perfect Day

It is amazing to me but when I tried this challenge a year ago it was so hard for me think about what my perfect day might look like. So much has shifted. As if by focussing on freedom it has changed the alignment of my life. The why has a how. And the day can be perfect.

I wake up in the arms of the man I love. I spend time with him as we stretch and make our way into meditation. The sun is shining and there is a cool gentle breeze. We know that the sun will be on our skin for so much of the day as the lifestyle we have created together means that we can enjoy the sunlight, fresh air (in the beach or mountains – both are near by) – and movement.

It’s about levels. Being met on all of them and feeling that we can create, in each day, the full expression of our being and intention. I feel that he has the skills and abilities to bring our shared vision to reality. To make the vision plain and that together we can create a reality that blows our minds.

All of that has taken place, as we make eye contact and there is instant satisfaction at the reflection of so much purpose and understanding. And then the day begins in our minds. We have established our intent for the day.

We are getting into the light. Nourishing our bodies and minds and finding thrilling challenges to take up and adventures to go on. We live and work near and with people that we trust and admire and who have a mutual respect for us and our values. Every day is new and we look forward with anticipation while being completely content in each moment.

Then there is a knock at the door and my beautiful child comes to see us and hug us and cover our faces in kisses as we become a mess of arms and hearts. Life is good and we are all fulfilled, glowing, and walking the paths to our destinies.

My Why?

The truth is that freedom and love motivate me, intrinsically. I look into the faces of the people I love and I am driven. But it goes deeper than that. It links back to my sense of social justice, of creativity being highly important and what makes us inherently human – and how the two go hand in hand to create solutions to most of our major challenges.

Over time I have seen that the solutions to most of the issues we face are right in front of us – if we can embrace change. However, as I discovered the hard way, it’s not just about the ‘me’ but about the ‘we’.

When it comes down to it, how satisfying I find life is related to how open the people around me are to embracing life – in all of it’s ‘liveliness’. Of being open to living that is not from a script; choosing solutions to the problems we face because it means we get to fill ourselves with joy, and happiness, and a type of spontaneity that leads to deep satisfaction.

Really, it’s about being able to be real. In real moments. With people that I love who want to face life’s challenges, the bigger picture, and the tiny moments that make life precious.

The big picture is bigger than I imagined though and I have always felt a need to challenge the status quo and do what it takes to create the kind of world I want my child to live in. Until recently I had been frustrated. Now I can see that there are solutions. Real solutions, with real people.

And I, for one, couldn’t be happier. My why has finally discovered my how.

Challenge/d?

So as part of the 10 day blog challenge with Natalie Sisson I am going to admit that it is not so much the challenge as me being challenged that prevented me from starting on time! I was having such a brilliant weekend that I didn’t check a single email and little reminders flitted by without me really registering them.

How can that be you ask? I’m not entirely sure but I think it’s fair to say that I am quite easily distracted. Facebook is actually such a time-suck for me that I have gotten to the point where I automatically log-in to the app even if my intention was to pick up my phone and do something else entirely.

And that I am actually quite thrilled with my life at the moment. I am enjoying the people and processes happening around me.

Over the weekend I was also thrilled to meet Natalie herself! And the team that helped her to make the recent Problogging conference a success. It’s true that any type of success requires dedication and so I will aim to be diligent from here in.

Diligently having fun and diligently working. Documenting what is important to me and facing the challenges.

heARTspace

The past few months have been interesting, and glorious, and difficult. I have been immersed in what it means to create an authentic personal brand – what that looks like, feels like, what it will do for others? And I have faced significant personal challenges.

We have been struggling with an ongoing situation that started with one little incident. An occasion where we heard someone talking down to our autistic son. Being angry at him for asking an innocent question when they thought we weren’t there.

It was clear there was no understanding or training around autism or sensory sensitivity. As a consequence it affected whether or not he could be in care and whether or not we could continue to be physically present in our respective workplaces.

We outsourced a lot of stuff and hired a private nanny. And then found out that it’s not always the easiest of arrangements to keep – when you can only offer a few hours a day – and your Nanny has other charges and occasionally gets sick. We thought our workplaces would provide family friendly flexibility….. When in reality, I cannot even begin to express my disappointment.

Despite the challenges that we were facing with care and supporting our son my work suddenly seemed intent on ensuring that I couldn’t perform my role unless I was sat on a chair in my office from 9 to 5. This is despite the fact that I had offered long-term flexibility. My role involved community engagement – and community does not engage 9 to 5. They have events – they want you to be there.

I had significantly increased the size and efficiency of the service by providing relevant and useful feedback and common sense responses to the issues that were barriers to our clients. Apparently this was less important than whether or not I sat in a particular space. Why?

The need to be sat, on your backside, in a completely uninspiring (in fact the room I was in had been noted to cause serious lung infections in everyone who had sat in it) space was utterly ridiculous and not in any way related to the performance of my role. I left hoping that there would be significant change in my new role and in the place I had left – as I had let them know the situation was less than ideal.

To this day it seems as if nothing has really changed. To go to a new role where I had clarified that I needed to ensure it was family friendly (a stipulation I had insisted on prior to taking the role) and find that they hadn’t even heard the term, came as a mild shock.

I had been wanting freedom for some time – to create another way to support my family, and then to find that it is necessary – because workplaces are too inflexible – made me really question the types of environments we are forcing people and families to participate in. It seems desperately unhealthy, unhelpful, and to be completely frank, toxic.

My passion for creativity has been quite stifled since the birth of my son. I don’t blame him for that. I blame a culture that hasn’t yet learned to prioritise the needs of our young people. And no, I don’t think parents are solely responsible for the disastrous way we have decided to sideline those needs. Surely we have a collective responsibility to ensure we all do the right thing.

We question why there is such a high suicide rate among young people. When I sit in front of a Head of Department in a major arts organisation in Australia and hear her say that I cannot spend time taking my son to school in his first week of Grade 1 because “she doesn’t have that luxury” I have no doubt that the statistics we see are innately connected to the callous heartlessness of self-interested, and pressurised individuals.

It directly relates to our inability to sit with young people and teach them to be okay in their difficult times. When they will only seek out the support of someone they know intimately, because quietly, they feel they are dying on the inside.

People who put petty “performance issues” before the needs of a child to feel safe, attached, connected – to not have anxiety that is spiralling out of control – these people are a problem – and indeed they are the ones who need to be managed. It makes me think, “Wow, we are a country in crisis. A country that has become so fixated on protocol that we have lost sight of what we are here for and that we all have an investment in; the young people who will form the future”.

I feel mildly nauseated that this person is given money while (or perhaps for) maintaining her desperately ignorant opinions. What we all need is heARTspace, creativity,  room to breathe, appropriate flexible support for families, lifestyle solutions that meet the needs of families (instead of frustrating them) and an understanding that everyone is different – and this should be celebrated, not stifled!

Thankfully I am surrounded by a team of awesome folk who I have met along my journey. Gratefully they have a clue and are deeply passionate about the social issues we face and the fact that collaboratively we can make a difference. So now that the chips are down it’s time to back myself and my team.

Watch this space!