Life in an Elevator

Doesn’t it suck when you make friends with people and there’s a really good connection. You’ve even declared them bridesmaid or best man at your imaginary wedding and then suddenly they start drifting away and your standing on the river bank waving them off with a hanky.

I’ve never been very good at losing mates. When I make friends with people I invest a lot of my time, energy and emotions into the friendship. Hello, my name is Shaena and I’m an Empath 🙋🏽‍♀️! So when the friendships ends, fades away or we can no longer see each other I really feel it.

Recently though, as upsetting as I find it (with some more than others) I’ve looked at it from a different perspective. They say (who ‘they’ is I’m not entirely sure) that everyone in your life has a role. A purpose if you like. Some might have stuck around your entire lifetime to carry out that purpose. Others, will serve you and leave.

What’s not always clear is what that purpose is or was. I know for me I’m too busy trying to understand the ending to see the lesson I’ve learned from that person throughout our relationship. In other words we focus on the negative because us humans are such miserable sods, that we often miss what we’ve gained because we are too busy looking at what we lost.

As you may have guessed I’m going through this ‘loss’ at the moment and in trying to understand why I need to accept it I came up with an analogy. If you’ve been following my blog or have read any of my previous you’d posts you’ll know this girl loves an analogy.

Ok so, let’s say everyone of us has an elevator. The elevator is our life journey from birth to death. Whether you are going up or down is a whole other analogy but for arguments the elevator starts at ground (birth) and is going up.

Now your elevator, has a maximum capacity. Everyone’s elevator has a different maximum capacity and like any ordinary elevator that maximum is either in total number of people or weight; which ever maxes out first.

So the way I have decided to look at it is that as you are going up in your elevator there are different people with you in said elevator. Some from the ground floor all the way up and others enter and leave on different floors and remain in your elevator for differing durations. Some might even hop off on the 12th floor and then jump back in a few floors up. Like my best mate Claire from primary school. We drifted when we went to different senior schools but Claire and I reconnected a few years ago and she’s still in my elevator with me now, almost 30 years later!

So as you can see not everyone can stay with us for our entire journey. There just isn’t enough room. I think we get something from each person that joins us but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a good thing. Or at least not at the time. For example at the end of a romantic relationship you may have be suffering with heartbreak but you might also have learned more about what you want from a relationship. Or you might experience something with that person that you might not have had you not met them and this something might be something you benefit from later in life.

People are going to get into your elevator and they might stay for a while or they might jump off after two floors. You may want them gone, you may not. But what I’ve learned the hard way is that you have to let them go. Because if they exit and you are still holding onto them somehow, you are probably not going to notice the other person who just joined you on the next floor up. Also they might get stuck between floors and all of a sudden you’ve got a blood bath and murder charge on your hands and nobody needs that. Life is stressful enough!

Keeping hold of something or someone that is no longer serving you is taking away your time and energy from something else. You might not know what that something else is, but I’m pretty sure it’s waiting. If you fall out with a friend, go through a break up or lose someone for good you are of course allowed to miss them and feel sad; but don’t let it consume you to the point that you are missing out on living your life. Don’t be pining for your ex for too long because your soulmate might be right there and you’re too busy crying into your pillow every night to notice. Don’t try and cling onto friends that don’t have time for you anymore. If the connection is there, they’ll be back later I’m sure.

So have a look around you, see who’s in your elevator. Are you holding onto someone that you should probably let go of? Maybe your elevator feels a bit empty and you could do with letting a few people in? And one last thing. If there is someone who is taking up space and you really wish they would sod off. Maybe they have bad hygiene problems, maybe they are a racist bigot, or maybe you just don’t like them. Then you have every right to boot them off at the next floor.

Your elevator. Your life!

The Asian Equation

Do you know what’s worse than being a single woman in her 40s who lives at home with her parents, has mental health issues and an alcohol problem? A single woman in her 40s who lives at home with her parents, has mental health issues, an alcohol problem AND is Indian.

I mean when I look at my life situation it’s almost laughable. Single, never married, lives at home with her parents, unsuccessful career, ugly mental health history, ex-problem drinker gone sober, not a penny to her name…the list goes on.

I think I’ve been the talk of our sad little town since the day I brought home by first boyfriend at the age of 17, who by the way just happened to be white. Any of you who know my family now will be confused as to why this was an issue but life in our household was very different 20 odd years ago.

Anyway the details of that are irrelevant. My point is in the eyes of many I was the epitome of the black sheep. The failure. The shameful embarrassment. I often joked that if people were going to talk about me I’d give them something to talk about. I clearly didn’t think that would be the case but that bleeding universe is always listening and I obviously manifested my sad and pathetic fate.

Before I go on this has nothing to do with judgement from my parents. My Mum and Dad could not be more supportive if they tried. In the early days the choices me and my sisters made were a bit different then they would have initially hoped for. But they wanted for nothing more than our happiness so they supported us in everything.

I grew up like most people with the pressure of society weighing down heavy on shoulders. Do well at school, go to university, get a good job, get married, buy a house and give your parents some grandkids. I think we can all agree that this is a load of crap. But if you are anything like me you will have thought that but still kinda wanted it anyway. Now for me I had the added joy of being Indian. So take all of the stuff that society expects, stick brackets around them and there you have it, the Asian equation.

Now the theory behind this is two fold. Do what is expected but do it better than most. And do it the Indian way. As second generation immigrants we come from families that worked hard to give us the best start in life in a country that was not home. My parents wanted us to do well because they knew that as British Asians we would need to work that extra bit harder in order to be seen amongst our white peers. But the unspoken rules in most Indian families is to maintain your cultural traditions, go to university but come straight home after, find a respectable job and then get married to someone who is suitable, have children and don’t be the subject of any gossip. The End. This is obviously just a very short generalised version but in most cases not far from the truth.

I did not do that. I was not expected to do that. But that doesn’t mean the stigma didn’t exist. I think the worst part for me was perhaps I didn’t care what other people thought but I did care about what people may have been saying about my family; specifically my parents. There would have been rumours and gossip when me and my sisters all went off back packing on our own, when my sister married her white Australian husband, when we all moved overseas. Asian girls don’t do that sort of thing you see.

But even then my parents were proud of us. We were doing seemingly well, following what we through were our dreams and not causing too much of a nuisance. But black sheep Shaena over here decided it was time to shake things up a bit and what followed was ten years of hell for them and the rest of my family. My struggles with mental health started in my early 20s but I’d managed to keep them fairly under control. Things took a sharp turn when I was in Australia after I went through some difficult shit that my head and heart just couldn’t cope with. From that day on and for the next 8 years things were not pretty.

I’ve talked about my suicide attempts, hospital admissions, alcohol abuse before. I don’t hide away from it, I see no use in that. It may seem I talk about everything like it’s no big deal. It of course is. It’s a huge deal but I also know that it is way more common than you might think. Sometimes when we find ourselves drowning we think we are so far out at sea we can’t be saved. We don’t see the lifelines, in fact in some cases we don’t want to see them. We are drowning and we just think it might be easier to stop treading water, give in and sink.

You might be reading this thinking surely didn’t have it that bad. I didn’t. I know that, but when you are in the middle of all your failures, bad decisions, mistakes; feeling alone and insignificant, it is one hell of a horrible place. You can’t see past any of it and the voices inside your head won’t let you forget about. You spend the entire time trying to numb the pain and shut out the noise. It’s a bloody tiring past time I tell you.

The stigma around mental health however hard we try to erase it, still exists. More than we like to admit. Yes we talk about it more openly, but that doesn’t mean some people just don’t get it. And sadly, in Asian culture it’s still very much a taboo subject. I don’t know the exact reasons why but I think like most things not spoken about in our culture it comes down to shame. For a long time I’ve never really understood this but I realised today it’s always about one thing. Your marriage material rating.

I don’t think people would admit to it in this day and age but one of the biggest priorities in Asian culture is marriage. As a female that means you should ideally have the following:

• A good education;

• An aesthetically pleasing look (sorry, but it’s true!).

• A respectable family background (no skeletons).

• A good set of Indian culinary skills.

• An understanding of cultural traditions.

• A decent job.

These are just a few of the things that are taken into consideration. There are more of course and the importance of these will vary amongst families and communities. I am lucky, my family are more concerned with ‘is this person the right fit for you?’, and not ‘is this person the right fit for us?’ This does not however take away from the fact that in my culture this is what people look at and think about even if they don’t want to admit it.

So back to mental health; well I don’t think mentally unstable bodes well for matrimonial purposes. You might think I’m over reacting but I kid you not, if someone is known to have mental health issues they are looked upon as a bit crazy and no one wants that in the family because they will be the talk of the town. So that’s one black mark against me. And the drinking? Well, it’s not prohibited but it’s certainly not ideal if you’re a big party animal. Females drink, but mostly they do this discreetly and stick to lady like drinks. So to have a drinking problem well, that’s not just a black mark against my name, nah that’s just my name painted over in tar!

Thing is I don’t care about all this stuff. I’m not looking for a nice Indian family to marry into. I’m not looking for any family to marry into at all. In fact, it was the looking for things that triggered the mental health and alcohol issues. Looking to fit in (in a general sense), looking for acceptance, looking for love and looking for happiness. Looking for things outside of yourself leads is futile. It’s taken me a while and a shit tonne of pain and heartache (not just my own) to realise this. If you feel like something is missing, like there’s something more to find then stop for a minute and look inside yourself. There are lots of ways to do this and I have tried many of them. However this is not the post to discuss that. This is about me and my reign as Stigma Queen.

STIGMA (noun) – A mark disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person.

Who decided what is a disgrace and what isn’t? Who decided that not having a successful career, being unmarried by 40, not having kids, still living at home, who decided this was a disgrace? Who had the audacity to decide that mental illness, addiction, debt and the like is a disgrace? Clearly this is not the fault of a single person; instead its years and years of people’s opinions as to what is acceptable and what is not. It is also the result of a ‘them and us’ mentality, which we know is still very prevalent today.

This subject area is so big that I don’t know where it starts and ends. For me it started at a very young age. And it has gone on for too long. But it ends here and it ends now. Because for every black mark against my name is a story. A story, a lesson learned and a path forged. But it’s my story, my lesson and a path on my frickin journey so the rest of my community and the rest of the world can think whatever the f*ck they want.

A week of firsts

Last Monday I got up at the glorious time of 4am, packed up the car and set off for a week in sunny Scotland. Yes, sunny! We didn’t have a single drop of rain the entire week! Also we being, me and my parents. It was to be a week of firsts; my first sober holiday, my first sober birthday and my first long distance drive in over a year.

So, how was it? In a word; perfect. I honestly have nothing whatsoever to moan about. I wouldn’t change any of it…well except for maybe the amount of cake I ate. But what’s a birthday week without three kinds of cake hey? Gym workouts will be resuming tomorrow!

Aside from the stunning cottage we stayed in (Boltholecottage – highly recommend) the week was spent in the most beautiful of surroundings. We were literally staying at the top off what I can only describe as a very steep dirt track and there didn’t seem to be anything around us except fields and sheep. We didn’t do much while we were there. Seriously, we really didn’t. We went out for lunch a few times in nearby towns and I went for a walk one of the afternoons. That was it. The rest of the time was sat relaxing in front of the log fire and just enjoying our time together. And you know what? It was perfect.

My birthday lunch was a slightly fancy affair as we dined in the Clubhouse at Gleneagles golf resort. Funnily enough though as lovely as that meal was our other two lunches were just as good if not a bit better and I got to wear my converse and hoody, so you know…comfort over everything. 🤷🏽‍♀️😂

A few years ago I always imagined I’d be on holiday for my 40th. Somewhere sunny, a wine glass next to me for most of the day that mysteriously never found itself empty. With friends or if I couldnt find any friends, on my own. For the last few birthdays I am ashamed to admit that I did whatever I could to not spend too much of my birthday with my parents. Why? So I could drink as much as I wanted to without the glaring eyes of disappointment and judgment. Sad, isn’t it?

It was around April that I knew this time sobriety was not a phase. I thought about my birthday and how I would celebrate the big 4-0. The thought of not being able to drink did not bother me as much as I had thought it would. I had accepted that an alcohol free life was what lay ahead so if I’m honest I didn’t really make any big plans. At the time I did not foresee that the pandemic was still going to be playing such a part in our daily lives so I just thought I would do something low key with my friends or maybe just hang out with my parents.

Then sometime in June we were discussing holidays and how we’d had such a nice week at my friend’s caravan in Abersoch last year. My Dad started talking about how he really enjoyed previous visits to Scotland and had always wanted to go back; only now he didn’t think he was capable of doing such a long drive. So I said to him, ‘why don’t we go and I can drive?’. Nothing was set in stone and the subject just faded into the background for a few weeks until my Mum asked me if I had thought about what I wanted to do for my birthday. With us only just coming out of lockdown I told her I wasn’t too bothered about it and we could do something just the three of us. So she suggested that we look at going to Scotland for it if that was something I would like to do. Well, obviously I loved the idea and wasted no time at all in finding accommodation for us.

After that life just got busy for a few months. I had a lot going on with my business, training courses and voluntary work. And then all of a sudden holiday week came around and we were tootling along the M6 bound for Scotland.

My Dad started the drive but I took over around around Preston and drove the rest of the way. We of course stopped off a couple of time; once for breakfast and then again in Lockerbie. It wasn’t until we were a good 50 odd miles into Scottish roads that I realised I hadn’t driven for more than half an hour in almost a year. Not only that but I hadn’t been on the motorway for even longer than that AND I was now driving my parents new car. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal and to be honest it wasn’t in the general sense. But for me it was about trusting myself behind the wheel, knowing there was no way I was over the limit and for the first time in so long I was just able to enjoy the drive.

So there you have it, my week of sober and hangover free firsts. A holiday, a birthday and a very long drive; survived and unscathed. Next up, Christmas!

Mental illness, medication and me.

Today, a friend posted on Instagram about her recent struggles and how her mental health has deteriorated enough to warrant new medication. She was already taking anti anxiety meds and how now been put on an anti-depressant of sorts; I know this because I’ve been prescribed both in the past. Anyway having only known her a short time I have seen how she’s gone from being quite guarded about her struggles with alcohol and her mental health to opening up and sharing her journey in such a brave and beautiful way.

On the flip side I was talking to another one of my new sober pals this week and she was telling me about how bad her anxiety gets. I have suffered from anxiety in the past but nowhere near as severe as this. It made me sad for her. Knowing that your thoughts can become so intrusive and debilitating that you start to believe the most ridiculous things that then impact your daily life. Anxiety is not just getting stressed and worrying, it can be so much bigger and scarier then that. When I asked her if she had seen her GP about it, she said she was worried they would think she was crazy. I didn’t like that she would even consider using those words but then I remembered how I often used to call myself crazy when I was with friends. It was a way to make light of something that was actually pretty frightening and serious.

Anyway the point of this post is to actually tell you about my experience with mental health and medication. I’ve been on and off medication for about the last 10 years or so. I’ve been on a variety of different things, mostly antidepressants, occasionally meds for my anxiety and once I was even on a lovely cocktail of stuff for my depression, panic attacks and insomnia. Over the years my thoughts on taking medication for my mental health has varied. There are times when I’ve been prescribed something and been reluctant to take it. Times when I’ve been so desperate for some sort of respite for my mind and haven’t given my prescription a second thought. Almost every time though, when I have gotten to the point of stability, when my moods are less turbulent I’ve always slowly come off what ever I was taking. I think the reasons were based on a mix of the physical affects of the medication but also the idea of having to be on them.

I have been on my current meds for a little over 2 years now. I am taking Sertraline and up until last month I was on the maximum dose. Now bearing in mind that they probably weren’t even doing what they should have been doing while I was drinking, I’ve probably only really had the full benefits for the past 6 months. Still, I made the decision last month that I wanted to start decreasing my dose with the hope that eventually I will not need them. That was until a few days ago.

Glennon Doyle was someone I hadn’t heard of until earlier this year when I saw the front cover of her new book, Untamed plastered all over instagram. At first I thought it was just another quit-lit type affair which I’m not against but doesn’t quite float my boat all that much; so I didn’t really think anything of it. But more and more people were declaring it a ‘must read’, so last week I used one of my free credits and got the audible version. The verdict: not quit-lit, but instead a compilation of stories and life lessons which I think most of us would benefit from hearing about. There was a little too much motherhood talk in there; which obviously is no bad thing but just not something I can really relate to. Some people think it’s a bit heavy on religion but that part didn’t bother me, in fact I love learning about people’s faiths because I’m a bit weird like that. Anyway the point I am trying to get to is she talks about her mental health and medication. She made a really good point in that why would we decide to stop using something that is making us feel better. Surely the point is that it’s working and to stop it would leave you at risk of suffering again. This made me think about the times I’d come off my medication after months of feeling better only to relapse and sometimes find myself in even worse of a situation.

One thing I want to make clear is that I’m not someone who would opt for medication if there are other options. The idea of filling my body with chemicals I know very little about doesn’t bode well with me. And don’t worry the irony of that statement isn’t lost on me, I clearly didn’t include alcohol in that category for many years. But I live in different times now and having removed one of the biggest toxins from my life I am much more cautious about the other things that go into my body. So I am very much open to healing of a different nature and undergo regular reiki therapy courtesy of my lovely Dad and I practice meditation. And of course there’s what I believe to be one of the best medicines out there; the art of conversation. Therapy is in my opinion underrated and should be considered by everyone whether they think they need it or not. I think people would be pleasantly surprised by the benefits of talking to someone about their life, even if just to use the other person as a sounding board.

Basically what I think I’m trying to say is that don’t see medication as too much of a big deal when it comes to mental health. If you have tried alternatives and have seen little improvement then just be open to the idea. At least go and talk to the GP about it. They can’t force you to take anything and even I on many occasions have come home with a prescription and never had the medication dispensed because I’ve decided against it. So whilst I don’t think my mental health has ever been this good I have decided that I will stay on my lower dose for the time being…and possibly forever. Because right now, that coupled with the other things I do seems to be working really well. So I see no reason to change it.

The good, the bad and the…decide for yourself.

Are you thinking about network marketing? Have you been approached by people to join their team and company so you can build a business and become financially free? Or maybe you’re already involved but new to the game and are trying to suss things out.

Getting an honest account about network marketing can be difficult. There are the clear haters out there who have so much venom in their blood when it comes to anything MLM, you’d think that they’d been forced to sell their organs when in fact a lot of them haven’t even been involved. Then there are the ‘this business will change your life’ types. Who for the most part really do think it will because for them it probably has. But obviously it’s not as straightforward as they might make out.

Having recently stepped out of the MLM arena I wanted to share my experience and give you some pros and cons so you can take these into consideration when choosing to jump in…or jump out. The thoughts and opinions that follow are from three ex consultants (myself included) who were all within the same company. Myself and Ella joined I think at about the same time and were in the same wider team. As was Lauren (not her real name) although she had joined a few months before we did. This post is purely for guidance and advice and something we ourselves would have found useful before we stepped in.

WHY?

You’ll be asked this question over and over. What is your why? Why are you here? Why do you want this? Now this is a very important question because it isn’t easy so when the going gets tough you need a pretty solid reason to keep pushing you through. However, when you are struggling or your business isn’t growing as well as you’d like you might also be told that your why isn’t big enough. That your why should make you cry. When you first hear this it’s powerful and it’s a great motivator. But just be mindful that your reasons to be there are your reasons. You don’t need to change them to suit anybody but yourself.

OPINIONS OF OTHERS

This is a really hard one. And I personally think, and I know Ella and Lauren agree that you really need to shut off the outside noise. Everyone is going to have an opinion or a bit of advice when you join. You’ll be told by your mentors that these people and their opinions won’t pay your bills so don’t listen to them. That is of course true, but I think what I would suggest is that you gather as much genuine and factual evidence that you can. Find out the source of these opinions, do your research but ultimately go with your gut. If something doesn’t sit right with you or you’re unsure, then hold off. Wait until you are really sure. Because you’ll be told not to wait, what’s the big deal, it’s not even a big risk. But once you’re in things change very quickly. So just jump in if and when YOU want to.

STAY GROUNDED

No matter what you see, hear or experience. Keep your feet fully on the ground at all times. We cannot stress how important this is. The lifestyle that is offered is by no means out of reach and it is the stuff of dreams. Big massive fuck off dreams. But take one foot of the ground even slightly and you will get swept up in it all. Your ego will take over and before you know it you’ll have forgotten your ‘why’ and will see nothing more than fancy brunch meetings, taking selfies from your poolside ‘office’, walking the stage at annual conferences, flashy cars and 5 star holidays. Don’t get me wrong, that shit can and does happen…but only for a small perecentage. I’m talking less than 2%. Yep….really! And here’s why…

THE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

It looks level. They tell you it’s level. But it’s only really level on the surface. You can absolutely promote above your sponsor and anyone else above you because you can obviously make more sales and build a bigger team than them. BUT, the important factor I didn’t take into account (because I was told numerous times it wasn’t an issue) is your existing network of people when you join. We were told that our warm network was the best place to start for reaching out about the business and the products. By warm they mean, not your nearest and dearest but friends of friends, old acquaintances, people you see from time to time, the waitress you are always chatting to in your local coffee shop, your nail lady. Now it sounds cringey as hell but at the end of the day the business model does work and you never know who will benefit from the business or the products unless you ask. However if your warm network are not at all interested this is when the playing field starts to slope.

Going off my experience I joined when I had recently left my full time job, I had a fairly non existent social circle and I really didn’t have that many people to reach out to. So, after annoying my warm network for several months I had to go wider. And for me that meant total strangers, which again isn’t a bad thing but building up a relationship with someone new takes time so to avoid being spammy Sammy you can’t just shove the business in someone’s face as soon as you start chatting. So my advice is take a look at your network. If you are living a socialite life in a big city you will probably get off to a good start. If not, you can still make it work but be prepared for it to take longer and potentially reduce your sleeping hours to 5 hours a night.

IT WORKS IF YOU WORK

Sorry but I call bullshit. I personally worked my ass off and for me things just didn’t take off. Yes I had clients, yes I had interest in the business but ultimately it wasn’t enough. So you can put in all the effort you want but if you don’t come across the right kind of people, aren’t in the position financially to buy products for your own use as well as for people to try at product parties etc then you are already heading towards struggle town. They will tell you luck doesn’t come into it, but I’m afraid it does. I am sure every successful consultant paid their dues and put in some serious hustle but the second you have got an instagram profile that is influencer worthy and you can be seen dining in high end restaurants, holidaying on yachts then of course people will want what you have. And the strangers you personally reach out to are likely to watch from the sidelines for a while and inevitably go join a more successful looking consultant.

I WILL GUIDE YOU

This one is a funny one and I can’t say it was something that I was told. But I see a lot of consultants telling people that it doesn’t matter if they don’t understand how it all works or if they’ve never been involved in sales because they will ‘hold your hand’ and guide you every step of the way. This may happen in some teams, it did not happen in mine. Did I receive training and guidance, yes absolutely. Did anyone hold my hand, ummm not quite.

Not long after I joined the wider team WhatsApp group was restricted so only those who were admins in the group could post in the group. As a new consultant who obviously had lots of questions to ask this was a bit frustrating and I know I wasn’t the only one who thought this. We were also told that we should direct questions to our 3 way chat with our sponsor and mentor. This may have worked for some but my sponsor was based in Australia and my mentor very rarely read the messages let alone had time to respond. So when you needed a prompt answer the big group was ideal, but only for the admins. And in order to become an admin you had to have promoted to the first level. Yes I know, alarm bells should have been ringing at this point. Wait, it gets better. After chatting to a few of the other new consultants I thought it might be nice to start our own WhatsApp group so we could at least support each other and bounce ideas off of one another. This group was kindly reported to the head mistress…sorry I mean my mentor and she gave me a call to basically tell me off. At this point the alarm bell was being bashed against my head and yet I still continued.

Lauren makes a good point in that you were only really ever contacted directly by your mentor to see if you had signed up the latest training, booked in enough product parties etc. And Ella was told by her mentor that as she wasn’t reaching out to 50 new people a day she wasn’t worth giving the time and support to. What I think is evident is that the relationship you have with you mentor and upline makes a huge difference. I clearly didn’t have the best relationship with mine because when I asked if she would do an instagram live with me to help promote the business she declined and told me they were a waste of time. But I also know there are some excellent mentors out there. Approachable, supportive and don’t make you feel like just another number. Find them and you are edging closer to that 2% already.

If you have got this far I applaud your commitment. And you are probably wondering if there’s anything good about network marketing or if it’s all a big lie. It’s not, it can work and I know consultants that are killing it. In fact there are consultants I connected with when I started who were also new to the game and they are not only doing well but they are genuinely lovely people who I am still in touch with now. And Lauren also agrees that you really can meet some incredible people and build some fantastic friendships.

But our biggest contender in the positive corner is the self development journey you will go on. You will be encouraged to read and absorb as much personal growth material you can and I think that all three of us will say that none of this is a waste of time. How can it be? Working on your mindset, gaining perspective, thinking outside of the box and opening up your mind is never going to be a bad thing. You will learn things about yourself that will change the game. Whether that’s the game of network marketing or just the game in general. Either are respectable. For all three of us we learned enough to know that the company we were with was not for us. But we also learned a lot from our time with that company and that has allowed us to go in different directions which may not have happened had we not dipped our toe into network marketing at all.

So I think it’s safe to say none of us regret our decision to join. Nor do we regret our decision to leave. It was just a stepping stone in our journey that we are grateful for, each with our own reasons.

I write this post in the hope that someone reads it and takes the advice on board. It might just get lost in the blogging blackhole or it may find its way to someone who is struggling to decide and just needs some first hand knowledge.

Thank you and goodnight!

And it was all going so well…

Don’t you just hate it when things are going so well and all of a sudden, out of nowhere life, the universe, whatever you want to call it puts a stop to it? And it’s even worse when you have no explanation for it? Like, I seriously don’t have time for this bullshit. This week was meant to be full of productivity and progress, instead it’s been a bit like mouldy cheese. That might be the worst analogy ever but I think you know what I’m getting at.

For a start my early mornings haven’t been as early as I’d like and come to think of it my sleep has been a little bit disturbed lately too. So because my day has been starting later, I’ve been skipping bits of my morning routine just so I don’t get too behind with other things. And as a result that 30min slot I’d allocated for working out has been conveniently bypassed. But I’ll come back to that little faux pas in a bit.

Anyway after last weeks Arbonne revelation I decided that this week I was going to get stuck in with getting my coaching business off the ground and be proactive with all my Bee Sober ambassador stuff. Unfortunately my brain didn’t get that memo and just decided that this week it didn’t really want to do a fat lot. Every post I’ve tried to write, every email I’ve wanted to send and every idea I’ve had…all started well and then, nothing. I’ve parked so many things I’m almost out of coins for all the meters I’ve got running!

By hump day I’d all but given up. I’d spent all day helping my Dad decorate the front room, my head felt like it was going to explode by the evening. So much so that I had to cancel my walk with my mate Kass and instead I just crawled into bed at 8.30pm. I thought a good nights sleep would help but I was wrong.

Yesterday I woke up in wobble central. Not been there in a while. I kept tearing up over such small things and all I really wanted to do was nap. All day. I tried to focus on getting all my homework actions up to date from the business course I’m doing with Laura at the moment. The training videos from this week were so good and I really thought I knew exactly what I needed to do. And I did, except when I tried to write I just kept hitting brick walls over and over. Which infuriated me even more and in the midst of a teary rage I suddenly remembered I was still the size of a baby hippo and had failed miserably at doing any form of proper exercise. So in an effort to feel even a tiny sense of accomplishment I joined a gym.

Later that evening I battled on with writing content for my blog. There was something that had been tapping on the inside of my head for a week or so now and I thought by writing about it, it would stop said tapping. But again the words just seemed stuck. Where they’d gotten stuck I don’t know but they just weren’t coming. So I did what any coach does when they feel like they’re going nowhere…they call their own coach.

Laura has already gone above and beyond as a coach and often feels more like a very supportive and reliable friend. I didn’t want to take up too much of her time so I sent her a voice note asking for advice. Considering I started blubbing half way through she managed to figure out what I was saying and gave me some very helpful guidance and we worked through some stuff before I called it a night.

So was today any better? Ummm, it was actually but still far from really productive. I didn’t wake up until 7.30, it’s taken me all day to write this blog post (which isn’t really all that) and I’ve not done much else. BUT I did go to my first gym session in three years…yes, THREE years!

Sometimes even with the best intentions, with our plans all laid out in front of us life just doesn’t play ball. Things get in the way, our energy is off or quite simply we just can’t be arsed. What we need to remember is that a few days of feeling shitty and not getting it done isn’t going to make all that much difference in the long run. Focussing on what didn’t go well is just going to fuel the negativity so instead we need to try and shift that focus on what did go well.

I know it’s easier said then done because I lived in the land of negativity for years and couldn’t see a way out. But I learned to adapt my way of thinking, and although I need a reminder every now and again (we are all human) most of the time I know how to make that mindset shift. It takes patience, practice and perseverance but when you get there it really does take away so much shitty stress that so many of us put ourselves through when we really don’t need to.

If you’ve read this and know exactly where I’m coming from. If you’ve had similar days or weeks of feeling like you’re going nowhere fast and ended up hating on yourself for it. Then rest assured it’s not as bad as you think and I can help you see that too.

And guys!!! I went to the frickin gym! I worked out for a whole hour. AND I enjoyed it.

A positively positive pivot.

I don’t even know where to begin this post. I’m so full of gratitude, excitement, high energy vibes. All that really really good shit. I think I’ll just let the word vomit come out and not over think it. So here goes, get the bucket ready….

At the end of this month I will be changing direction. Well actually same direction, but I’m taking a more direct route. When I came back from India in May and started working with Laura we discussed where I wanted to go with my network marketing business and other goals. My online business was the focus at the time but I’d started toying with another idea and mentioned it to her as something I was considering in the future. And that was that really.

But a lot has changed, particularly in the last couple of weeks. I’ve got exciting new things happening, Laura’s magical powers have taken my vision and mindset up another notch and that future goal has suddenly become my current goal. Which I don’t want to be an annoying tease about but for now I just want to keep it to myself as I still need to figure a few things out.

But this post is mainly to talk to you about my Arbonne business. As of August 31st I will no longer be an Arbonne consultant. If you read my last post you will know that my energy and feelings around Arbonne were ever so slightly off (understatement). My experience was becoming a negative one and I didn’t want to get to a point of having to walk away from the company disgruntled, drained and resentful. My year in this business has had its ups and downs but what I want to be very clear about is that I do not for one second regret my decision to join.

People leave this industry for a lot of reasons. Not being successful is the biggest one. But personally I think that comes down to effort and not giving it enough time. Contrary to what my upline may think I worked my butt off and didn’t see the same kind of progress that others were seeing. And yes, everyone’s journey is their own but it just wasn’t happening for me and I think now I know why.

I think success comes from effort, faith and time. You need to work hard, trust in the process and give it time. But I think there’s one other major factor and that’s alignment. And don’t get me wrong I knew that if I didn’t feel connected to what I was doing on an energy level then not only would it be hard but it wouldn’t have been enjoyable. And for a time I did feel that connection, l really did. But things changed. I changed.

In the last couple of months the growth in my mindset and confidence has given me the courage to go after what I want and to speak my truth (hence the last blog post). But the more that I did this the more disconnected I started to feel from Arbonne. Doing the work became an effort. The vision was fading. And in all honesty it was draining my energy tank. But I’ll say it again, I have absolutely no regrets.

I’ve just had a message from a friend who has described this journey perfectly. It’s a train journey with connections. And my time on the Arbonne train has come to an end so I’m platform hopping and boarding the next one. And that’s just it, I couldn’t have gotten to where I am now without my Arbonne journey. You’ll often hear people in Arbonne talk about how life changing the opportunity can be. Well I wholeheartedly agree, except for me it wasn’t the dramatic life change I expected. It changed my life by starting me on my transformation journey. It opened my eyes to possibility, it helped me regain self worth and reminded me that I am enough.

So all I have for this company is gratitude. I am grateful for everything it has taught me, the people it’s brought into my life, the glow up it’s given me and so much more. But ultimately that world just wasn’t for me and I was only ever meant to pass through it and pick up a few things I needed on the way.

So for me now it’s time to board my next train. The destination will be revealed as soon as my train starts moving but for now just know I’m so bloody excited about this and I really hope you’ll stick with me as I move forward on my journey.

I’ll leave you with the wisest of words from my coach, Laura.

“Arbonne is now Argonne”. It was a typo actually but we both enjoyed how it turned out.

Who’s in charge here?

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all” ~ Oscar Wilde

No, but really. Who?

We are born. And then we die. And that time in between, somebody else is always in charge! Who the fuck decided that?!

I mean, I can see that having a more experienced human in charge of us until we can make our own decisions is a decent idea I suppose. Else we’d be eating dirt for years and I know I personally would have probably never learned to drive (reoccurring childhood dreams…terrifying!). But even then, who decided adult age? Who thought it was a good idea to let us run wild, doing what we wanted at 18? Why not let the older folk remain in charge until we were 25, 30? Okay, that’s ridiculous I know. But you see what I’m saying don’t you?

It doesn’t stop there either. Even when we are legally allowed to do what we want and make our own choices, there’s always still someone in charge. Your boss, your bosses boss, your dog, the custody officer, some knob head we voted in to be in charge. Like, how did all this even start? Who decided? Gahhhh, doesn’t it make you mad?!

Before I continue I’d just like to say I’m not mad at my dog. I love my dog. He’s a little shit. But I love him. A lot.

Ok, so what do we do? How do we take our power back? Because if you hadn’t noticed, we are so used to someone being in charge that we let people take over, tell us what to do, impact our decisions even when we don’t have to. Just have a think about everything you’ve done today; was it because you wanted to or because it’s just something you do because every does it or that’s just what you were told to do? It the same as doing things to keep others happy or because you feel you should. That again is you not being 100% in control of your decision.

I think for everyone it comes down to individual choice and priority. What matters to you the most and do you need to consider someone or something else when choosing how you live your life? For example, where you live. Let’s say you want to move to Australia; how much of that is in your control? I know that I’ve had friends who have not made a move like this because family have not wanted them to. But let’s say you’re single, no legal reasons why you have to stay in the country and there’s a job out there waiting for you. But family or friends or even your current employer are begging you to stay. And they are pulling on those hearts like you wouldn’t believe. We really need to follow our heart more than we follow other people’s. Why do we value their feelings more than our own?

I think it comes back to the impact of social conditioning. We are taught very early on to consider other people’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings etc. But at what point did that turn from a consideration to an obligation? People think you’re selfish for putting yourself first but I don’t think we do that enough. And I hate that we have to decide to ‘be selfish’ to follow our heart or do what’s best for us because it’s not selfish. It’s just us making a decision based on what WE want or need over what other people want or need.

Of course there’s a balance to all of this and if you can find it then great. But I really think there aren’t enough of us tipping the scales in our favour. We have our proportions all wrong.

I’m very quickly approaching 40 and I’m only just realising all of this now. On Sunday I had a lovely conversation with a new sober friend I met through this new Bee Sober initiative I’ve joined. She’s almost 20 years younger than me and we had lots to chat about. But what I loved the most was that everything I’m realising now, she’s realising too. And that fills me with a sense of hope I suppose, because that’s one person who has figured out that she’s in charge before it’s too late. Before she starts doing things to please others, taking on jobs because she thinks she should, putting her dreams on hold or worse; not following them because of what others might think.

Up until now I’ve had a lot of regrets in life. And I was terrified that’s all my life would end up. A big fat regret. But I swear every little thing; good and bad was just getting me ready. It was preparing me for my next chapter…sorry, book. My coach said book, which I think sounds fitting because chapters are a continuation of what’s come before. Well I want that story to end, I want to close that book and it can go back on the shelf and gather dust. Because it’s time for a whole new book. And the story will be of how I decided to take charge of me. A story of no regrets.

Why aren’t you crying anymore?

Because the goal posts have changed. Because the further along I get on this journey, the more I’m realising something. It’s all bullshit. Everything.

*Buckle up, this is a long one*

All that we learn. All that we are told. All that we believe. All that we think is right or wrong. All bigger than a pile of dinosaur crap. If I even begin to try and explain what I mean we’d end up going down a fuck off rabbit hole and I don’t know about you but I’ve only just pulled myself out of Britney’s one and don’t even get me started on online furniture stores!

What I will say is this. Intuition is the most underused power we have. That gut feeling is real and if we listening to it more I think we’d be living very different lives. How many times have you not trusted your gut enough and ended up seeking outside validation? Asking others for opinions? You cloud your conscience with outside noise and go against what you think or feel. And then you kick yourself after. Well, stop kicking yourself. Stop living with regret.

This week In my first module at the Boss Life Business Academy we covered the topic that most business training courses start off with. Why? Why are you here? Why that vision? Why you’re doing what you’re doing? But this time it was different. Laura (my coach) said that in a lot of cases when asked that question people are told that ‘if your why doesn’t make you cry it’s not big enough’. In other words it’s not going to be a strong enough driving force. At the start I felt that, I really did. And when I first really dug deep and ‘peeled back the layers’, the underlining ‘why’ did make me cry. But that was well over 8 months ago.

Am I crying now? No. Now I’m all fired up and quite honestly a bit pissed off. Because like I said, it’s all just BS. When I joined my network marketing company my eyes were opened massively to social conditioning, how society has put limitations on us without us even realising and how much we seek outside validation in almost everything. And it’s true, it really is. And it’s frustrating when you realise that the reason you’ve been miserable your entire life is because you tried to fit in when you didn’t have to.

But here’s the…I was going to write tea then and I stopped myself. I hate that phrase. Who invented it? I’ve said it myself I’ll admit but that’s what I mean, I was going to write it because it’s what everyone else says and I thought it would make me sound down with the kids. So enough of that shit. Where was I? Here’s the…fuck, now I don’t know what word fits. Let’s just move on…

You are now all of a sudden hearing all these new things and idealism’s and before you know it you’re following a new narrative. Just because this new mass of people are telling you this is ‘the new way, the better way’. I’m not saying they are wrong, in fact I completely agree with them but before you know it you get swept up in it all and you start to believe that this is the only way. When we know it’s not the only way. Because we were doing it differently before and had we not been told this we would have carried on in the old way. Miserable as fuck maybe. But we’d have carried on.

What I’m trying to say is the right thing and the right way is whatever you want it to be. You get to choose. If you choose the to work for someone else and it brings in enough money for you and your family to love the life you want then carry on. If that’s not your bag and you live for adventure and freedom then find a way to earn money as you travel the world. If you want extravagant and elaborate then you’re probably going to have have your fingers in more than one pie but if you’re ok with that then go for it my friend. You do you! Stop listening to the outside noise.

And me, my new why? I have a network marketing company that will get me to my end goal. I don’t think there’s anything bad about the business model. I love the products and only buy what I use. Because fact is they are expensive. But they also last ages, are incredible, do what they say on the tin and are good for us and the planet so I’m not going to argue over that. But I am building this business for one reason. Money. And if anyone says that’s not why they do this then they’re lying. Because it’s the money that will give me the opportunity to do what I really want to do. So no, I’m not in my dream life or career. I’m using this company to get me there. They tell you that this is your vehicle to get you where you want to go but fail to tell you that the vehicle has dual controls and if you let them they’ll take over. So I’m taking my vehicle back and doing things my way.

They say that most people in network marketing end up walking away having lost money. I actually understand where they’re coming from. You don’t HAVE to buy a bunch of products in this business but you are definitely encouraged to. If you don’t you’re told that you’re not serious enough about it, you’re not being a good brand ambassador, put it on a credit card you’ll make it back in no time’. Bullshit! This is your business do what the hell you want. I’m not saying you’re more likely to succeed but if spending money you don’t have on products makes you feel uncomfortable then don’t do it. If you’re told that not attending every team training call means you’re not showing up for your business, screw them! Only you know what is right for your business and you are entitled to do things your way. Don’t do things someone else’s way and then walk away pissed off that it didn’t work. That’s where the negativity comes from. If I walked away from this company even now I wouldn’t slag it off having not succeeded. Whatever the outcome my experience is my experience. My last company I worked for basically pushed me out because of my mental health. I think they call that discrimination! But I’m not there writing articles and posts on social media about how poisonous they are. They fucked up with me, not the entire work force.

And don’t do what I did and start spouting all the crap you’re fed because everyone is saying the same thing and it makes us all sound like a bunch of idiotic robots. Whether it’s true or not just stop. Use your own words. Listen and learn but then decide what you align with and share that to your people in your own way. Not the way your upline told you.

This is beginning to sound like I hate network marketing and the company I’m with. I don’t. Not at all. I enjoy what I do and making a success of this is anyone’s game and it gives you a whole bucket load of opportunity. But I don’t see it as the world I belong in. It’s just one that I found and one I get to pass through on my way to where I’m really going. And if anyone were to join me that’s what I’d tell them. You have to like the way the company model works and you have to like what you are offering people. But you still get to do this your way. I will not make you do anything you don’t want to. I will lead by example and by experience and it’s up to you how you choose to follow.

We’re in the rabbit hole aren’t we? Shit, sorry!

Ok one last thing as we head to above ground level and can breathe again normally.

One short life. That’s all we get on this planet. At least that’s what we know (don’t worry I’m staying clear of that rabbit hole). So please, don’t do yourself an injustice by doing things that don’t feel right for you. If you don’t like it then take that as a sign it’s not for you. No one has to just carry on regardless, if you stay stuck in your unfulfilled life for too long you’ll end up like me attending A.A. meetings on a Friday night. Just sayin…

So no, I’m not crying anymore. Because I haven’t got time to cry. I’m on a mission to get everyone to follow their OWN narrative

Em-proud

Yes it’s a word. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Okay don’t, it’s clearly not a word but I couldn’t decide between proud and empowered so I went with both.

I can’t remember the last time I felt genuinely proud of myself. Not just an ‘I did good’ or pat on the back type proud. But a fuck yeah, bring a tear to your own eye proud. I think maybe when I got my last ‘proper’ job there may have been a little internal jump for joy but not like this.

Yesterday marked 6 months since I last had an alcoholic beverage. Before that I was the lush of the group (the boozy kind not the fancy kind). Not that I was really part of any groups per se, more just the one who was always first at the bar, cracking open the first bottle or the first to finish her drink in most social situations. Those who knew me well though knew that I drank not just for merriment, but mostly because I was sad. The self loathing, you’re a piece of shit kinda sad.

For me, sobriety was always lurking; in my mind and in the hopes of others. Did I think I’d get to six months? Actually, yeah I didn’t think that would be a problem. What has surprised me is how easy and stress free I’ve found it. Now I’m not one for complacency and I know that sobriety becomes more challenging when you actually leave the house and surround yourself with ‘normal’ drinkers. This is not something I’ve actively avoided but lockdown has obviously made socialising difficult. And most of my good friends don’t live local to me. But in an effort to not become a hermit I need to find some sober people to hang out with.

So em-proud moment number 2! I joined a group called Bee Sober and I’m now the Ambassador for my local area which means I pretty much get to start my own group of likeminded ex-lushes and you know, do sober stuff together. I’m really excited about it, mostly because it means I’m getting braver. I’m feeling confident enough to say ‘yeah, I can do that’. I’m taking the lead on something because I want to and know I am capable. Look at me go! And it doesn’t stop there either!

Em-proud moment number 3! What do you do when the toxic energy in your life is coming from a source that encourages the removal of toxic vibes? You remove it of course. I stepped away from something big in my business last week. It was something I was led to believe I needed and wouldn’t succeed without. But as time went on I started to realise it was holding me back and having a detrimental affect on my business mindset. So I dug deep, found my empowerment spray, gave myself a quick spritz, got the backing of my coach (I’m still learning ok?!) and I waved goodbye to the toxicity. And wow did it feel good. So of course I was clearly buzzing and as the 6 month anniversary was rolling in I decided to take a few more big steps.

I’ve been toying with an idea for a few months now. Its something that has only come about because of my Arbonne business, my sobriety and from the massive personal growth spurt I’ve had. I’ve been through a lot of shit. I’m not trying to compete with anyone else and their shit, I just know mine pushed me to my limits on several occasions. And despite the attempts to give up on this one life I have, I’m still here. And not only here but I’m now not taking anymore shit. Or at least I’m trying not to. And that shit includes outside pressures, expectations, energy stealers, all that kind of BS that messes with your head. AND so for my em-proud moment number 4, I’m going to help the Shaena’s of the world, the lost souls who thought they’d done everything right only to end up hopeless and confused. I’m going to help women like me find their way, live life on their own terms and not take any shit. I’m going to make them em-proud!!! Although first I have to go do a course which starts in a few weeks, but yay me!

And yay to me being em-proud.

But I thought you were doing better?

So did I, so did I…

And I am, but doesn’t mean I don’t feel the not so good days. And now I really feel them. Like intensely. Without alcohol I feel everything.

This weekend something felt off. I didn’t start my day as I usually do. There was no meditating, no connecting with my higher self and no visualising a beach or a meadow. I figured one day ‘off’ wouldn’t hurt, except that it’s not something I need to take a day off from because I enjoy doing it so that was definitely a massive faux pas on my part.

So my day continued, I felt deeply un-zen like but Disney’s Aladdin was on TV so it wasn’t all that bad. After I’d finished my magic carpet ride I decided to pick up a drawing project I’d started when I was in India. When lockdown started I couldn’t get the art supplies (posh paper) I needed so I put it to one side and just assumed I’d find my wanna be artist vibe again at some point. Turns out some point was Saturday.

It was a pleasant couple of hours because the rents were in another room and I was blasting some killer tunes; and by killer I mean the likes of Carly Simon (you’re so vain) and The Boss (Badlands). I know, I know I have THE best taste in music. Born in the wrong decade possibly, but still!

It was my turn to cook dinner on Saturday so I made a start early because I quite like having the kitchen to myself. Nothing fancy, just a roast chicken dinner and a vegetable pie for my Dad. But I never keep things simple and of course had to make the pie from scratch (pastry included) and have proper roasties. We are not the traditional Sunday roast type people so on the odd occasion we do make a roast dinner we tend to go a bit overboard for a midweek (or in this case a Saturday night) dinner. So anyway, I cooked, we ate and then we retired to the drawing room and finished the evening with cigars and a single malt. Obviously not, in fact I think I barely sat around before I decided to go up to bed.

Having not meditated in the morning and with my head still in a bit of a funk I decided I’d give it another go. I’d also read something about a lion and gate being very significant in the astrology realm so I found something fitting on YouTube and closed my eyes and went on my search for the lion and the gate. For those who are interested this is the guided meditation I followed Lions Gate, I found the experience quite incredible actually so give it a try if it’s your thing.

Doing anything remotely relaxing at night time normally sends me off to the land of nod pretty quickly these days but on Saturday those bloody negativity gremlins started whispering in my ear didn’t they?! Little fuckers with their creepy sniggering and giggling. I needed a distraction so I consulted Amazon Prime and it came up with the goods. A very interesting documentary about the civil rights activist Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. Look it up, it’s an excellent watch – An Ordinary Hero. That was another big sign that I wasn’t feeling joyful as I tend to find comfort in dark depressing documentaries or episodes of Greys Anatomy that are particular sad when I feel like shit. So I watched about an hour before eventually falling asleep.

Yesterday morning I woke up and instead of learning my lesson from the day before I again decided not to doing any of my usual morning stuff. I didn’t even journal and I really should have. Because I knew what was bothering me and I needed to get it out my head before it started to fester and grow arms and legs. But I didn’t did I? No, because I’m an idiot.

I knew I wasn’t going to get anything productive done so I opted to chill in my room, finish watching my documentary and write content for my blog. None of that happened, instead I napped. It was a good nap. My mind rested and the gremlins stopped laughing at me for a little while.

Didn’t do much for the rest of the day. Went outside for a bit to collect worms for my mums compost bin. That was fun. I like worms. Watched a bit of TV, had dinner and then sat in the conservatory with Louis and finished my art project…again with some cracking tunes. I then ended up having a good cry because, well I’m not sure to be honest. I just felt like there was this immense pressure building up in me and I needed to let it out. So I cried. It helped.

I don’t want to go into what happened that put me in such a weird headspace all weekend. What I do want to say is that even when you’re in a stronger place mentally it doesn’t take much for something or someone to make you wobble. And for anyone who has struggled with their mental health, self sabotaging thoughts and anxiety you’ll know that a wobble can spiral very quickly. And 6 months ago I definitely would have spun out, fast. I would have resorted to alcohol which would have led to more self destructive behavior and I’d be feeling ten times worse today.

So yes, just because I’m doing better doesn’t mean I don’t get knocked down or hurt. Yes I’m stronger but I’m also still a very sensitive person. And life is particularly confusing right now so try not to be a shitty person. Especially to those that don’t deserve it.

Be a voice, not an echo

I’m trying to listen to my intuitive self more these days and it’s been telling me to speak my truth about this, so here goes…

It’s coming up to a year since I joined the network marketing industry, specifically Arbonne. Before I go any further I just want to say I have no regrets for joining, I love what I do and I’m fully behind the ethos of this company. What I do want to do though is share my thoughts and experience so far. And it’s going to be a no holds barred type of post. Honest and raw, but also 100% MY voice, sharing MY view point. These are purely my thoughts and no one else’s.

I feel like this industry is very much like marmite; you either love it, or you hate it. There are probably some who plod along in the middle of the road like clients or beneficiaries, but the majority are very much anti-MLM or ‘this is the best industry ever and I can’t believe it took me so long to jump on board’. So clearly I’m Team Love. But not for the reasons you might think. And not without a few sticking points which I’m going to share with you.

Like I said it’s been almost a year since I first heard about Arbonne. Although I got started towards the end of last year my mental health wasn’t the best so I had to put my venture on hold for a few months. At the time I had mixed feelings. I was relieved that I could step back because the intense excitement within my team and the community, although motivating was also a bit overwhelming. But I was also worried that I was going to get left behind. Which is a ridiculous thought to have because there is no behind or ahead; everyone is just on their own journey.

The phrase ‘stay in your lane’ is not uncommon in Arbonne. We are reminded that comparing yourself to others is nothing but detrimental to you and your business. Which of course is pretty obvious but we all know that society has conditioned us to keep checking to see where everyone else is at. Comparison is the thief of joy as they say. I’m so bored of hearing that phrase. I’ve said it myself many times I’m sure but ffs, we know!!! But we just can’t help it!!!!!

So with my blinkers on I did what was required during my little ‘career break’ to get myself back in a good head space. After which I jumped right back in with all four limbs, like a frog and this time I stopped looking sideways and focussed on the path ahead…for about a month before the sodding blinkers fell off I started looking around again. But that’s clearly something I need to work on.

So I was back in business (quite literally) and this time I was armed with a load of personal growth and valuable life lessons. I was also 3 months alcohol free which allowed me to find my own brain and think for myself, which is handy when you’re trying to build your own business. I also paid more attention to other people in the business, not for comparison but to observe and learn in order to figure out what kind of mentor I wanted to be. In this industry you can only reach a certain level of success on your own. In order to get get promoted further ‘up the ladder’ you need to build and lead a team. That’s why I’m not overly a fan of using the phrase ‘be your own boss’ when talking to potential consultants. Because yes you can decide your own hours, your working location etc but you are guided by your upline and you have to follow the company regulations. Now don’t get me wrong, this is no bad thing. In fact, it’s pretty brilliant if you think about it. It’s like you’re building a business without the hassle of figuring out all the back room stuff. You literally just have to talk to people, place online orders and the rest is taken care of. So why is it so simple and why do people earn lots of money for doing…not a lot? Well, what I’ve learned is, yes it’s a simple process but it’s definitely not easy. And the reason that consultants have the potential to earn so much money is because the organisation doesn’t pay out for high end advertising using celebs who don’t even use the products. They create the marketing material, send it to us and then we use it to give new and existing clients the lowdown on the products. We also use the products, so you’ve got real life people with real life results. They also don’t have to pay out for brick and mortar stores because everything is purchased online. And the difficulty comes from getting people to listen. For many reasons this industry has been tainted. By dodgy companies, people who haven’t been successful and those that just simply either don’t understand the business model or that think it’s ‘wrong’. But also and I hate to say it, a small percentage of consultants who work their business in a not so attractive way. I’m going to explain what I mean by that in a second, but here’s what I have to say about all the bad press in general. Nothing is perfect. Nothing. Every organisation has good and bad in them depending on who you listen to. I’m not saying ignore everything you hear. I’m saying listen, and then do the research before deciding for yourself.

Now back to the not so attractive ways of working the business. Firstly, a reminder that these are my perceptions and my perceptions only. There appear to be a lot of what I like to call MLM-robots in the industry. Because so many people join without any experience they rely on their upline/mentor team to show them the ropes. Which is fine, part of the deal is we get ‘on the job training’. The problem starts when the training, guidance and/or ‘how to’ examples are repeated over and over. People will only join you as a client or team member if you are genuine. And why are people going to believe that you’re genuine when you are spouting the exact same words as all of the other consultants in your wider team? I’m not saying what we are taught is wrong, far from it. What I’m saying is that the hunger for success is so strong that some consultants see how well their mentor has done and think they have to literally replicate to be successful themselves. That’s where the cringey messages and tactics come from. Now I totally hold my hands up because I was one of them at the start as well. I’d like to take this moment to apologise to everyone that had spammy Shaena in their inbox. I’m so sorry for being that girl. I’m sorry you had to suffer my ‘pass the vomit bucket’ messages. I just didn’t know back then, I was stupid. I was an idiot.

Ok, where was I? Yes so the robots, some of them are successful, some are not. What I don’t want to be is the person who is so desperate for that success that she loses her identity and forgets why she’s even doing this. I don’t want to be a sheep. They say this business is a numbers game and that after so many no’s, rejections, ghostings, verbal abuse etc you will get a ‘yes’. I believe that’s true but I don’t just want any yes. I want the right yes. I want the people that say yes to see me for who I am. I want my clients to know that I’m here to help them with their health and well-being. I want my consultants to know that I’m the kind of mentor that will help them play to their strengths, support them through the good and the bad and 100% respect their decisions and choices in terms of how they run their business. You’d think this was a given but believe me, it’s not!

This industry is tough because of the negativity that surrounds it, the robots and the fact that society like comfort and tradition. To a lot of people this isn’t a legitimate way to earn a living, they don’t trust buying from unconventional sources and it’s just not what they’re used to. Fear is what makes it hard for us, for me. People are scared of different so they won’t take a chance. My job is to educate them and show them a different way.

Many consultants are a lot further along in their business building venture than I am. Like I said each consultant is on their own journey. Obviously I am keen to progress and there are times I wish things were moving quicker. But then I stop and remind myself that for whatever reason THIS is my journey. The duration, the obstacles, the highlights, the breakdowns. They all have their purpose and I’m learning to accept and embrace that now.

But most importantly I’m learning that my voice is the most integral part in all of this. If I don’t speak my truth, if I don’t own my journey then I’ll just be a number. And I’ve been that number before, in organisations where you do as your told and you follow the rules. It’s suffocating and it can be soul destroying. The whole point of me doing this was to become my own person and do the things I’ve always wanted to.

I want to be the consultant that helps you become better. In which ever way you need to. I want to help you be happier, healthier and more hopeful. I don’t just want to be the girl that helped you order some skincare or got you a decent discount on ethical beauty products. I want to be more.

I want to be a voice. Not an echo.

A day in the life of… Part II

So we left off just after breakfast. Where I attempted to redeem myself with nutrition supplements and vitamins after my cheesy beans on toast…god that was good.

Now a little bit about my home life before I go on. As previously mentioned I live at home with my parents. This is something that for a long time I hated having to fess up to. But not anymore. You see I did move out, almost immediately after university. It was December 2004 and I’d just gotten my first proper job up in Manchester. For the next 4 years I flitted about a bit; Manchester, back to Liverpool (where I went to uni) and then all the way down to London. I then got a bit bored of working so sacked it all off and went backpacking on my own for 6 months. But that’s a whole other post in itself.

When I returned with my grubby backpack wearing hareem pants and a tonne of beaded jewellery; the recession resulted in me not being able to find a decent job. So I lived at home again for a couple of years, worked at the job centre for a bit before moving to Australia for 3 years. Summer 2013 I came back to the UK because my mental health was in a bad way and for that reason and a few others I’ve lived at home with my parents ever since. It’s been challenging for a variety of reasons and my health has impacted us all. But we are all still smiling…just! And without their love and never ending support I honestly would not be writing this today.

So back to my daily antics. Well in my parents eyes I don’t have a job. They know I ‘do Arbonne’ but they see it as something I’m doing for a bit of extra cash and to keep busy. If it hadn’t been for the positive impact this business has had on me and my mental health they’d be dead against it by now. Not because they don’t agree with what I’m doing but because they’re seeing how much time and energy I’m putting into this and I guess after they’ve watched me go through some seriously shitty times they don’t want to see me disappointed again. So they’re wary, but it’s from a place of concern and love.

Anyway the biggest challenge for me trying to build a business from home is getting my mum to understand that I can’t keep stopping what I’m doing to dry the dishes, whizz round with the Dyson or fold laundry. So we’ve come to an agreement that I do my ‘chores’ and start working at 10am from which time I am not to be interrupted. I mean of course that’s not really how it goes because even though the phone never rings for me I end up answering it. Or Dad needs help ordering something from amazon. But right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Meet my friend Dyson

So 10am comes and I make my energy brain boost cocktail (strawberry fizz and mind health) and crack on. The next 6 hours minus; about a billion toilet breaks, 3 or 4 Louis being needy moments and covering me in dog hair and of course lunch, I work.

My office…in the conservatory

Now what is work for me at the moment? Well, I start with brainstorming my content. Content for my Instagram, content for my blog and content for my business. When your business is online and you are trying to reach a target audience you need to put out valuable content. Things people relate to, things people can learn from or things people enjoy. I think so many of us are guilty of posting positive or inspirational quotes and I do that too. But that’s not going to help you connect with people, they need to read your words and hear your stories. And let me tell you, sharing that stuff is bloody hard. People are so judgemental it’s ridiculous. As authentic as you are there will always be someone out there who thinks you are boring or attention seeking or melodramatic. To share this kind of stuff you need to look past that and just hope to god your words will reach the right people.

What I’ve learned is that getting your face on camera and talking is probably a quicker way to connect with people. And I know that it’s not really a big deal, BUT I just hate doing it. It’s my biggest weakness. I know it’s stopping me progressing in my business and it’s something I really need to work on. Or just get over my damn self like Romi Neustadt told me to. Actually….I heard good things about Hypnotheraphy so if there are any experts out there please get in touch!

In amongst all of that content creating I’m constantly communicating. With new people, potential clients, people who need help/advice, those who want to know more about what I do and anyone who might want to team up with me for my blog. This is why I love what I do so much, making new connections is exciting and interesting. I’ve made some awesome friends over the last few months as well, true keepers I reckon.

So that’s my working day in a nutshell. There’s a lot more stuff going on like team training, doing my own learning and development but generally that’s how my day pans out until about 4 o clock-ish. I then head out for a walk with Louis which should be a great excuse for some exercise, except after 15mins or so and having had a shit Louis is not interested in walking anymore and we have to head home.

I can never get good photos on our walks so here’s one of him in the garden instead.

When we get back Louis gets fed and I’ll help my Mum with dinner. We all cook but Mum does the majority of it. She normally knocks up traditional Indian food so I’ll help her make the chapattis. My nights in the kitchen tend to result in a cracking fish pie or experimenting with plant based stuff.

Chapatti making

We currently eat together in the kitchen at around 7.30ish. I say currently because there was a time up until recently that we just ate when we felt like it, in front of the TV and not always at the same time. Now relations between us are better (because I’m no longer a nightmare) we try to eat together as much as we can. It’s nice, a time when we can catch up on our day. Which might sound silly with us all at home all day but we are all doing our own little things and dinner time is when we have a little debrief.

After dinner we tend to separate again. But as we are tidying up, doing the dishes etc and when I remember to; I make up my breakfast for the next morning. My favourite chocolate overnight protein oats.

I then head back to the conservatory while my parents are watching TV. Sometimes I carry on with a bit more ‘work’, maybe I’ll read one of my non-personal development books and of course I always have a flick through Netflix options. I used to watch a lot of Netflix, documentaries mostly, but I can’t seem to find any good ones anymore. Louis is fast asleep at this point, so there’s also a lot of time spent staring at him like the obsessed dog momma that I am.

A visit to Grey Sloane Memorial
He sleeps

The parents tend to head up to bed around 10ish and I follow shortly after I’ve kissed dog child goodnight.

I’m now a regular skin care enthusiast so I’ll do my little bedtime routine, clean my pegs and then crawl into bed. Again this used to be more Netflix time for me but these days the early mornings, the improved mental health and calmer mind means that after my head hits that pillow you can guarantee I’ll be out for the count in about 15 minutes or less. I never understood how people could do that, fall asleep within minutes of getting into bed. Now, that’s me and I bloody love it.

So there you have it. A day in the life of, a look through the keyhole and a pretty lack lustre description of my home life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m just a girl, finally finding her way in the world after going through some seriously shitty times. I’ll leave you with a picture of my home, the roof that’s been over my head for the past 33 years give or take. The house where so many memories were made…and where I’m now working towards my dreams.

Home

Authenticity or attention seeking ?

If I’m honest, I don’t even know anymore. I guess it’s subjective? I could post a picture on here where I think I look nice and some would think I’m trying to grab attention. I suppose I am in a way, but not necessarily because I’m all ‘look at me, like my photo’ but mostly because I want people to read my captions. Again, not for popularity purposes but because I think at least some of the stuff I have to say might be helpful to someone out there. And I think if we’re all honest a slightly more aesthetic photo is more likely to get someone to stop scrolling then one where I look like shite.

They say social media, (Instagram in particular) is a highlight reel of people’s lives and people only post what they want you to see, which I agree with to some extent. But I think it totally depends on what you are using it for. My Instagram has gone through phases. It started out as an app where I posted the occasional photo before transforming into quite a health and fitness page. That phase of my life was inconsistent to say the least. I was either all in or on the couch. And if I was on the couch my mental health struggles were often on fire, fuelled of course by alcohol. Either way at the time I thought I was being authentic. But was I really? I know for a fact everything I posted was real, but it’s more what I ‘chose’ not to post that puts a question mark over my integrity. The bad workouts, the unflattering angles, the sweat patches. The stuff that basically didn’t look so pretty or impressive, that was kinda neglected so maybe I did only show the highlight reel.

These days those who’ve followed me through my trials and tribulations will see that my Instagram is focussed on my lifestyle blog, my mental health and soberiety, my health and wellness business AND me just sharing a bunch of life lessons and lightbulb moments because….well because I believe that I have some things of value to offer people. Whether that be nuggets of wisdom, solutions to problems or even just a friendly face and an ear to listen. And I think this is the first time I’ve really appreciated what it is to be authentic. I think I can safely say that prior to February 11th of this year I wasn’t authentic. I wasn’t going around trying to be fake but my mental health was so bad at times, even I didn’t know who I really was. And I’m pretty sure if you don’t know who you are, you can’t be authentic.

When I stopped drinking on February 11th 2020, I started a new journey. One of self discovery, personal growth and just learning to understand myself better. Only now do I think I’m seeing my true self, and that’s why I think it’s only now I can say I’m being authentic. And I think when you achieve that level of authenticity you start to notice those around you that aren’t quite there yet. I’m seeing it everyday in my business, all over social media and even in people close to me. It’s not their fault, they might not even realise. And being true to the core, voicing YOUR beliefs, following your own path even if it means upsetting those around you is not easy! In fact it can be really fucking scary.

I saw a post on LinkedIn a few weeks back. Someone asked a question and it turned into quite a…I want to say debate but it was actually more like an excuse to take the piss out of people who show emotion. So the question was something along the lines of ‘why do people feel the need to cry on their social media?’. Now, there wasn’t much more said in the initial post but the comments…wow! Some of the words I saw: Attention seeking, no-one needs to see or hear that, have some dignity, why wouldn’t you just pick up the phone and call someone? Ridiculous, cringey, how embarrassing. These comments went on into the 100s! I was stunned and to be honest extremely fucked off by these responses. Someone’s tears could literally be a cry for help because they have no one else to turn to.

I try not to get into these keyboard battles but I took this one personally. So I rolled up my sleeves and started typing.

My response

I did get a response from the author of the post about it being jest but in today’s current climate, when mental health struggles are rife I didn’t see the funny side of it. What it did get me thinking about was the actually meaning of the phrase ‘attention seeking’. Am I right in thinking we use this with a negative connotation attached? Because that’s the only time I’ve ever heard it used. And when you think about it, all it means is looking to gain somebody’s attention. So really, this could be for all manner of reasons. You could be seeking attention because you’re in danger, or trying to get yourself noticed for your talents, it doesn’t necessarily have to be because you’re desperate for validation or want to have all eyes on you. And personally, I think showing that kind of raw emotion on social media whether it’s intentional or not is closer to authenticity then it is to attention seeking. Maybe I’m wrong?!

I’m noticing that this post does not have a clear direction. I don’t feel like it’s heading towards any big finale. Which I find disappointing. I always like to end with something poignant or dramatic. But perhaps this post doesn’t have a clear ending because there’s no clear answer. Being authentic is more than just being yourself. You have to know what that self is. And what I’ve learned is that through no fault of our own too many of us don’t really know who we are. Society has moulded us without us noticing and sometimes it takes a big life event (one that perhaps say involves wearing masks and staying indoors a lot) to make us stop and ask ourselves the questions. Am I being my authentic, true self? Am I attention seeking or just trying to stand out? Whatever your thoughts and opinions I think these are questions we need to ask ourselves…and probably more than once!

Excite your mouth with a bit of Boucha

As you may already know, earlier this year I decided to part ways with my dear friend alcohol. This isn’t the first time I’ve abstained but I feel like this will be the last. So, with this being a permanent lifestyle change I thought I’d better give myself some cushioning for the future occasions where I actually decide to leave the house and socialise.

Alcohol free options seem to have come a long way in recent years. I did fear that J20 or a pint of something fizzy on tap would be my only options if I didn’t fancy water. But…I was pleasantly surprised by all the stuff out there. Prosecco, beer, real ale, wine and a variety of spirits ALL 0-0.5%!

I’ve not felt the need to stock up but I’ve experimented a little so I know I have options. Wine was my drink of choice most of the time, a nice crisp Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. But I also liked me a nice Ale or G&T. Actually, who am I kidding, I’d drink most things. What I didn’t love was anything that was too sweet. I was never a Rosé kinda gal and the only cocktail I’d ever have in my hand was an espresso martini or a (strong) margarita.

So anyway, as I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram last week this popped up on someone’s story…

I saw the word refined and kombucha and I was sold. Firstly, I definitely thought of myself as a wine snob in my drinking days and I know that kombucha is meant to have a lot of health benefits with its enzymes and antioxidants so, for me it was a no brainer.

A little bit of background on Boucha. This classy beverage with a hint of boho chic (IMO), is the brainchild of Bryony Dunseith. Having given up alcohol herself in 2018, Bryony was struggling to find something to replace her love of wine that wasn’t overly processed or full of sugar. After trying Kombucha at the https://mindfuldrinkingfestival.com/ she was inspired to create a wine substitute following the kombucha process. After collaborating with experts in the field Boucha Kombucha was born.

So what is it? Well, it’s kombucha (fermented sweet green tea) with a sophisticated edge. I had my first experience yesterday and I have to say I was very impressed. Upon opening the bottle (and managing to not to let it fizz over!) the smell, or should I say aroma hit me straight away and took me right back to my village in India.

Ok, this might sound a little weird but if you’ve never heard of palm wine, it’s a drink made from the sap of certain types of palm trees. It’s something that’s quite common in countries…well, countries with palm trees. Anyway the aroma is distinctive and Boucha Kombucha smelled exactly like it. And for me this was exciting because I really like palm wine, or as we call it in Gujarat, Taadi.

The taste itself was right up my street. I’m not a wine connoisseur (despite thinking I am) so I don’t know know the right things to say in terms of description. But if I were to give it a go I’d say zesty, naturally fizzy with a soft tartness to it. It’s not like sucking on a lemon but it’s the kinda tangy that definitely tickles your taste buds.

So for taste I would give it a solid 8.5/10 but what I think gives it the extra brownie points is the fact it’s made with 100% natural ingredients, it’s organic and it’s vegan AND gluten free. And unlike so many other alternatives out there it comes in at 70 calories per bottle (500ml) thanks to it’s low sugar content.

And finally it’s for us dry drinkers! The alcohol content is 0.5% which admittedly I was unsure of at the start of my sobriety journey. But my uneducated self soon learned that an over ripe banana is likely to contain about the same amount of alcohol. So, for those who are open to alcohol ‘free’ alternatives you needn’t worry!

If like me (and Bryony) you once enjoyed a nice fine wine but are now looking for a healthy and alcohol ‘free’ alternative I definitely recommend you try Boucha Kombucha. You can get 3 bottles for £19.50 or larger cases are available. Head over to the website today to find out more and place your order.

Connect with me

“Social connection is such a basic feature of human experience that when we are deprived of it, we suffer.” ~ Leonard Mlodinow

No, I don’t mean send me a message. I mean, actually connect. Let me explain…

As a species we are not meant to live like lone wolves, we are hardwired for connection. The need to be social is in our make up. But I’m not talking social like going out with your mates on a midweek bender. No, I mean on a deeper level.

We want to be seen for we are. We want to be understood. And that only comes from a true connection, a meeting of minds or better still a meeting of souls.

When we lose someone in our life whether it’s at the end of [any kind of] relationship or saying goodbye forever it frickin hurts. Or does it? What is that feeling? We’ve all felt it at some point in our lives and we call it pain or hurt. But it’s not the same as feeling physical “my finger has fallen off” type pain is it? Turns out social pain is a thing…a real thing. So if you have to take time to heal from physical pain then why is it any different when you suffer the loss of a human connection?

Now I think there’s a whole heap of shit that needs exploring here but I want to go back to the ‘need’ rather than the ‘loss’. I think our need for connection is underestimated. I always used to think I was over reacting when I got jealous of people hanging out with friends or partners even if they were technically ‘staying in’ or ‘doing nothing’. For me, who was going home to her dog (momma loves you Louis) their none plans were still better than mine. And yes, I know it sounds pathetic. And yes, there were tiny violins everywhere. But it doesn’t take away from the fact I felt shit.

But now I know it was more than me just throwing myself a pity party. I mean, of course it was mostly that. But It was also my need as a person to have that human connection. Like we genuinely need it for health reasons, it’s been proven! It reduces anxiety, depression and low self esteem. Those who lack human connection are said to be prone to inflammation, heart problems, ageing and devastatingly, suicide.

And it’s more than just having someone to spend time with or talk to. We emanate those we connect with, consciously and subconsciously. So not only is it important to make and have connections, it’s important that we be aware of how those connections impact us.

Anyone keeping count of how many times I’ve used the word ‘connection’?

One final point on this subject which I’m now realising is HUGE is connections with a purpose. I worked 5 years in a job where I was surrounded by people all day. I made some very good friends there, but some connections weren’t as strong as I thought. But such is life. Now I’m self employed and with my business being an online one you might think connections are a scarcity. Well it’s actually the complete opposite. I may not be meeting people face to face every day but the connections I’m making are meaningful. They have depth because we are connecting over things like mental health, insecurities and sobriety. People assume that I just ‘sell products’, and you can call it that if you want. But it’s not really like that. My business is about making connections with people, getting to know them and finding out ways in which I can help them. It doesn’t always result in me selling a product and it doesn’t have to either. My aim is to help, in any way I can so if that’s just having a chat, offering suggestions or even signposting them to something else then that’s what I’ll do.

So like I said up top, connect with me. Whatever your reason I’m here to help you, listen to you, laugh with you and if you want to, put the world to rights with you! ✌🏽

Time’s Up Babe

People: What do you want to do later in life?

Me: I don’t really see myself as the career type. I just want to have lots of kids, maybe 5 and be an awesome Mum!

That really was my answer, because that’s what I wanted. I thought it’d be much easier than climbing the career ladder…clearly I was wrong. But at the time I thought having a successful career was a nice idea but it just didn’t feel right for me and felt like a lot of hard work which I frankly could not be fucked with. Saying that, I still went to university, got a degree and a masters, even landed myself a pretty decent grad job but my heart was never in all of that kinda stuff. I did it…well, because everyone else was doing it.

And I continued doing it, it being faking the career woman life. I mean the job part sucked ass but I lived and worked in some cool places and experienced some pretty awesome stuff so I just carried on. And if I’m honest I just thought I’d meet THE ONE at some point along the way and then I could reveal my true self and just be a baby making machine, you know?

But alas, it didn’t happen. My guy hasn’t come along yet, I say yet because one should always remain optimistic and the universe is always listening. A lesson I’ve only learned in recent months hence why my life thus far has been some what of a shit show. Anyway many of you might be thinking that I should stop moaning and there’s plenty of time. But you see, that’s the tea…my time is almost up.

I had an inkling for about a month or so but last week I spoke to the Doctor and my suspicions were right…menopause looms. I’m not quite there yet but it’s probably just around the corner.

So now what? Well, I don’t know really. Mother Nature is telling me I probably won’t be birthing a child so I guess that’s that. I mean I could go and find some random guy to knock me up but at this stage I very much doubt a one nighter is going to do it. And of course, that’s not the way I would want it to happen in an ideal world so…

I think I’m still processing. Up until now I’ve never really cared too much about my age. Since leaving university many moons ago I’ve always been the oldest in most of my friendship circles. But I didn’t feel much older than most of my friends and having been blessed with good genes I definitely didn’t look it either. But now, yeah now I guess I do feel kinda old.

The closer to 40 I got the conversations I had with myself about babies changed. There were times when I thought I didn’t want kids anymore. I’d gotten so used to being by myself and having that single gal freedom, did I even have time for a child? I mean, of course that was absolute bollocks. It’s not like I was living a glamorous life full of adventures. I was sat at home most of the time watching Netflix, drinking my feelings and talking to my dog.

Oh and you know what was really annoying and sometimes fairly soul crushing? The people who were somewhat lacking in tact and the ability to keep their nose out. My favourite lines were ‘you’re a natural, you’d make an excellent mother’ or ‘when are you going to have children?’. Ugh!

Anyway I guess for the most part I was trying to convince myself that maybe motherhood wasn’t for me. Maybe it isn’t. Who knows?! But what I do know is that the ability to make that choice for myself is fading. And that makes me really sad.

Brené Brown said…

God love this woman! She’s so freaking incredible. Like I would legit use her words in an argument. “You don’t know what you’re talking about bitch. Brené Brown said…so don’t you come over here, getting all up in my grill”.

I’ve just watched her Netflix show ‘Call to Courage’ for the 3rd time. Today I’m vision boarding so inspirational background noise is very much needed for this kind of activity. And yes before you read that again, I have a vision board. I stick cheesy motivational and uplifting quotes, along with pictures of goals and dreams on a board. And when I look at said board it brings me tremendous joy.

So back to Dr Brown and her wicked words of wisdom. Listening to her got me thinking. Why do we seek validation? Why do the opinions of others matter? And before you say you don’t care what other people think, you’re talking out of your ass. Because everyone does to some extent. And there are some opinions we should consider. What we need to not care about are the opinions and thoughts of people that don’t matter to us or as Brené says, are not in our ‘arena’.

I grew up in a Asian-British household. Both parents born and brought up in India before arriving in the UK in the 60s. We are not a religious family but I consider myself a Hindu and there are things about my culture I love. There are however, things I cannot stand. And that is the small minded, busy bodied nature of so many people in our community. And when I say community I don’t mean just people locally, I’m talking curtain twitchers all the way over in India!

Growing up me and my sisters were far from rebellious kids in compared to others our age. We worked hard at school, didn’t go out drinking in the park (mainly because we weren’t allowed out 😂) and were polite and (mostly) well behaved. But in our Asian community had we have been born into a more conservative family I’m pretty sure I’d have been banished in my late teens. Coming home with a white boyfriend at 17…outrageous! Once my parents recovered from their heart attacks my mum said she was more concerned with people talking about me. And so for me that’s when it started, that’s when the ‘what will people think’ seed was planted.

Over the next 20+ years it continued but like I said, we didn’t do things by the (Asian) book. We all went away to university, we all went backpacking, my sister married a white Australian dude after living with him for several years before getting wed. We all moved down under at one point and both me and my younger sister were unmarried at the time (still are) so that would have been a talking point I’m sure. And then of course there was my struggle with mental health and drinking. Basically, I’ve always been aware of judgment and negative opinions. I dont think I’ve let it impact my life that much but maybe on a subconscious level I have.

The need to fit in and belong is human nature. We are hardwired for connection. So when you’re highly sensitive in nature like me, that need to belong is heightened even more. So what do we do? We conform, hide parts of ourselves that people might judge, try and be like the others…just to fit in. Nobody wants to be different because from a young age we are conditioned to believe different is wrong.

It’s so incredibly sad that we are told to be brave and courageous through life. But then in the next breath it’s ‘don’t do anything too wild though, because what will people think?!’ It happens all of the time. ‘Follow your dreams…really, is that gonna work though?’ ‘Just be yourself…you might want to tone down the enthusiasm.’ ‘The world is your oyster…oh, are you sure you want to go there, I’ve heard things!’

Here’s the thing, courage and bravery is badass. Because it means putting yourself out there, showing up, taking a risk when the outcome is uncertain. It’s getting uncomfortable and opening yourself up to criticism and judgment. Letting yourself be seen for who you really are is vulnerability at its finest. And all of this goes against the majority. Because the majority won’t take the risk, they won’t choose passion over practicality, they would rather adapt to fit in than be the one who goes it alone.

There will always be opinions. There’ll always be judgment. And there’ll always be a majority. But what we should never do is listen to those who criticise but would never dream of doing anything risky.

So be courageous in your life. Go follow your dreams and find your passion. Because that kind of bravery will always be a better option then having to wonder ‘what if?’

A Sober Education

Who’d have thought? Not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips in 151 days. I am pretty proud of myself but not because of my incredible willpower or determination, because to be honest it’s not really been like that for me. Not this time around anyway. I can’t really explain why but I’ve not really had any cravings, moments of ‘my life is going to be so fucking boring now, why could I not just drink sensibly like all the normal people out there?’ or even felt the need to fill the giant vodka bottle sized gap in my life with alcohol free beverages. It’s actually been pretty smooth sailing….so far. I am under no illusion that this is going to be a doddle and I’m never going to think about alcohol again, because that’s just stupidity at its finest. I am yet to try sober socialising, I have my first sober birthday since I was 17 coming up in a few months (and it’s a big one!) and I’ve just realized that if I ever decide that looking for love is a good idea again I’m going to have to go on a sober date! FML!

Anyway I digress. So, proud. Yes I am. Why? Because it’s given me the opportunity to go back to school. Sober school that is. No, not the online one. The imaginary one I made up so I could be a student again. A student of life! I’ve just said that out loud and I sound like a twat, but stick with me here.

I’ve learned more in the last 5 months than I did at school, university or in any job I’ve had. It’s been an incredible journey so far, so many light bulb moments and epiphanies. When alcohol was my pal, I spent so much of my time confused, lost, misunderstood. In fact I didn’t even really understand myself if I’m honest. I didn’t know who I was and now looking back, I think I spent too much of my time trying to be like other people just to fit in. No bloody wonder I was depressed. Feeling like you don’t belong or unsure of your identity is not a nice place to be. It’s actually incredibly lonely and I think as a society we underestimate the impact loneliness has on people. You don’t have to be elderly to be lonely, in fact I think older people accept loneliness better than most. I know for me watching people in my life; friends, colleagues etc go about there day to day lives with their families, other friends, partners made me feel like shit. It’s not like I didn’t have friends I just didn’t have a regular crowd to hang out with so to speak. So I hung out on my own…well, maybe not completely alone. Had my buddy booze there with me didn’t I?!

So what’s so different now? Well, since me and alcohol parted ways I feel like it took with it the dark cloud that used it hang over me, so I can see so much better now the skies are clear. I can see myself again and as a result I’m more aware and less dismissive of the impact my thoughts and actions have on myself and others. Having this clarity and self awareness gives me a sense of control that I didn’t have before. I always thought I was in control and it was my decision to do the things I did but if I wasn’t myself, how could it have been?

I’ve also done a lot of soul searching since going sober…wait is it going or getting? Anyway I’m talking actual soul searching. The spiritual kind, where you try and connect with your higher self and see the bigger picture. I never thought all that stuff was a bunch of crap, but I also didn’t think it was for me. Turns out I was wrong. Not only is it very much me and has opened up a whole new world for me, but I actually think everyone could do with checking out their spiritual side. You don’t even need to meditate, just google soul vs ego and I promise you, you’ll find out a lot about yourself!

Having found spiritual Shaena my life is so much more peaceful and calm now. I get less irate about things and even if something really annoys me I try not to react, but instead pause and take a breath. I also have way more patience and I find myself enjoying the simplest of things. I can’t even remember the last time I was in a bad mood which is saying something considering my whole life used to be a bad mood.

There’s so much more I could say about sober life and I’m sure you’ll get plenty more snippets in future blog posts but the last thing I want to mention today is people. I have made the most incredible connections via Instagram, I’m honestly blown away. I’m no stranger to making friends online, a few years ago I was following this fitness program and connected with a few girls who were doing it too. I think that was in 2015, since then I’ve been to 2 of their weddings, had 2 weekend cottage breaks with them and there was even a trip to New York! Madness! Anyway the sober community on Instagram is so welcoming and supportive. Obviously you don’t click with every single person but in just a few months I can definitely say I’ve gained at least 5 new friends. It’s funny actually, so many people worry about their friendships changing when they decide to stop drinking. I get it, I was worried too. But it’s true what they say about people all having a different role in your life and not everyone is there to stay. When you make changes to your lifestyle, some people adapt and evolve with you but others, their role in your life comes to an end. And that’s ok, because chances are you new lifestyle choice will bring a whole bunch of new people into your life.

So here’s to 5 months and to my continued education at sober school.

Cheers!