Category Archives: Ramblings

13 Things That Are Totally Going to Change You in Your 30s

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dance, dance, dance

dance, dance, dance

You are in your 30s. It came a lot quicker than you expected, right? Kaboom. After posting your pics and tweeting the occasion, you are finally home alone — and it hits you. You go to the mirror and stare at what might just possibly be baby crow’s feet creeping across your face. Oh my. So, you say to yourself, “Holy crap, YOU. ARE. 30.” (O.M.G.)

While these years may feel surprisingly more pressurized than your 20s, they will unexpectedly also bring the most personal growth in your life. The 30s will toss you surprise curveballs instead of easy-breezy pitches, and you might get caught staring. You’re no longer allowed to kick back in flip-flops on the bench — you’re in the big leagues, in cleats with a giant 3-0 on your back. This is where you find out who you are and who you really want on your team.

You squint, you swing and you run. You pay attention like never before, you look ahead and you ask yourself:

Is this where I thought I’d be? Is this where I am supposed to be?

And life starts to get a bit more complicated. Here is the good news:

YOU Version 3.0 is more of a SmartYou than you think. Why? Because in this decade you will be challenged, pushed and p—u—l—l—e—d in ways that would have baffled you in your 20s. You will be completely forced to grow. That is, if you choose to dress out for the game. And it’s my bet that you will. Here’s why.

13 Things That Are Totally Going to Change You in Your 30s

1) You will figure out who YOU really are and why you have gone through so much. You will reflect on your life and find it easier to claim your own path outside of the wishes of your parents, counselors or coaches. You will realize the difference between a mistake, a whim and a calling.

2) You will struggle with how you are going to start building a legacy in this life, versus the fear that you will not make a difference at all. You realize that you want to leave a mark on the world for more than just you — you start living for your children, your community and maybe even the world. And you wonder how you are going to do it. In this decade, you will see your calling more clearly, if you are open.

3) You will find great satisfaction and great frustration with all of the people that you are going to be taking care of (e.g., spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends). You will face many situations that throw you, but you learn how to adjust to life’s changes and those that need you. This will transform you, your time and your relationships.

4) You will feel real, in-your-face, make-you-cry stress about finances, love, career and family. You will start to understand what your parents were talking about all of those years. The good news is that this is the kind of necessary stress that life is made of — and where you find out what you are made of.

5) You will get off balance, on balance, off balance, on balance — and so on — because of all of the roles that you have to carry on the shoulders of your life. You will have to wear many hats, and you will often feel like a tightrope walker trying to stay the course, balancing the people and commitments in your life. This frustration will help you to see that one person can only handle so much and you will start to understand why setting boundaries is so critical.

6) You will feel more meaning in your life and begin to see love, career and family as part of your purpose — instead of part of your obligation. You will realize that with great love, also comes great pain, and you learn that it is worth it. On purpose.

7) You will start coming to terms with the fact that you are not going to live forever as you start losing important people in your life. Mortality becomes a brutal fact of life, and it changes you painfully, for the better.

8) You will see the world differently and embrace things that you would have run away from in your 20s. You will feel a higher sense of well-being, creativity and self-awareness as your experiences widen. I’m talking about values, experiences, goals and opinions that will (*gasp*) change. You will be very surprised by you.

9) You will realize that gathering mass amounts of friends is not as important as paying attention to those who are in your life for a reason, and those who should not be in your life at all. Your fringe friendships will fade, your closest relationships will deepen and some wonderfully surprising people will on-the-floor amaze you.

10) You will have life-changing “a-ha moments” that drastically change the direction of your life for the better. The underrated gift of wisdom comes with age, and you will be thrilled by it.

11) You will not feel as young and carefree as you did in your 20s, but you will learn to love feeling more grounded. As sad as it is to let go of the good ol’ days, you will appreciate being at the Adult Table. The food just tastes better. And you know how to order off of the menu.

12) You will figure out how to align who you truly are on the inside with what you are doing on the outside. You will figure out how to start accepting your limitations and your talents. You move toward making peace with the human experience and focus in on why you are truly here.

13) You will accept your previous struggles as life lessons and gain a greater sense of life purpose. Amen. It’s part of the beautiful game of life. Now play ball.

 

Credit: Karin L. Smithson, Ph.D

Writer | Speaker | Therapist | Columnist

www.DoctorKarin.com

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Be In A Relationship With Yourself

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Love Yourself First. And the World will Follow.

 

 

There comes a time in a lot of relationships when you miss the person you used to be. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love the person you’re currently with, and it doesn’t even mean that they don’t make you happy. And, anyway, the question you should be asking yourself isn’t if they make you happy but do you make you happy?

My good friend always tells me that relationships are always hard because of the compromise. “There’s always shit that you don’t want to do, or shit that you do want to do that you feel like you can’t because of the relationship,” she always tells me.

And it’s somewhat true: every relationship involves some degree of compromise, where you set aside certain pieces of yourself for the greater good of your relationship. But depending on which pieces of yourself you decide to stash away, it’s easy to feel annoyed, angry or even bitter that you felt like you had to hide that part of yourself in the first place.

That’s why you should be in a relationship with yourself — even when you’re already hot and heavy with someone else.

When you are in a relationship with yourself, you remember to do all the things you want to do, all those things that make you happy. You don’t put your wants, needs, and desires aside. You pursue them actively, right now.

Go on dates with yourself. Take yourself to the movies to see that movie you’ve always wanted to see, or treat yourself to that new brunch place you’ve heard so much about but that you haven’t had a chance to check out yet. When you go on dates with yourself, you remember to build a connection with your inner spirit and soul, and that alone will make you a much fuller person.

But don’t just go on dates with yourself or do the things you want to do —indulge yourself into your passions. If you love Italian culture, learn Italian and make that your hobby. If you want to be a DJ, figure out how to make that happen for yourself. The point is, feed your soul by following and developing your passions.

From time to time, step away and ask yourself if you are really happy where you are right now. Are you getting what you need from yourself? Is this how you imagined you life? Is there anything about it you want to change? Do you really see yourself working that same job over the net five years? Being in a relationship with yourself means always checking in with yourself, finding out what you need and pursuing that to the fullest.

Sometimes finding out what you need can be as simple as breaking your worst habits, those traits you have that get on your nerves but which you can’t seem to break. Or it can mean treating yourself the way a lover would — yes, even sexually! Make yourself feel as good as a lover might.

Masturbation is certainly about sexual release, but it’s also a way of learning to appreciate yourself. It’s so easy to give up and get angry when somebody doesn’t love us the way we need, or to zero in on our worst traits and habits without focusing on all the positive things about ourselves. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to hate ourselves. And the hardest? To love ourselves.

When you are in a relationship with yourself, you should love yourself unconditionally because that’s the hardest kind of love to develop. It’s like Samantha said on Sex and the City, that philosophical beacon of relationships and sex:

“I love you Richard but I love me more. I have been in a relationship with myself for 49 years and that’s the one I need to work on.”

The most important relationship you will ever be in is the one with yourself. After nasty break ups, divorces and heartbreaks, you will always be the last one standing.

Romancing With My Shadow

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Imagine putting all the bad thoughts and anger you have ever projected towards anyone, all the times you have judged somebody and any other unpleasant feelings you have ever repressed into a shadow…then set it right in front of you.

I have been lost in a dark sea of negative emotions the past 1.5 weeks.  Feeling weighed down by my heavy ego-controlled heart and overcome with anger, sadness and grief.  I really did not enjoy feeling this way so I decided to use this time wisely to re-think and re-evaluate my life. I mustered up all the faith and courage I had to face my pain and to take a closer and honest look at my heart and ask myself “What is wrong?”.  In looking to my heart, I did not expect to meet face to face with the monster that appeared to me last night.  That monster was my own Shadow self.

This previously unconscious shadow is seeking the light of awareness, and it is calling out for my help. That’s when the dance of romancing my Shadow can begin.  When I start romancing my Shadow, I seduce the Shadow figure out into awareness and explore it – Who is there? What is she trying to tell me? Why did she form? What does she need? How can I help her?

I will try and describe how it felt to meet my Shadow self…Imagine putting all the bad thoughts and anger you have ever projected towards anyone, all the times you have judged somebody and any other unpleasant feelings you have ever repressed into a shadow…then set it right in front of you.  Your own mirror of all the things you have ever been ashamed of or hated about yourself, right there inside you.  Your own karma created by none other than you. I wanted so badly to run, but I knew I could not run from me, and that was one of the most terrifying realisations I have ever had. I felt trapped by my own fears.  My heart was pounding, I was anxious and shaky.  I kept reminding myself over and over again to try to breathe and relax, but my stomach turned with a dark eerie sick feeling. And as I looked into the mirror in my bathroom, what was staring straight back at me was years and years of neglect, repression and unresolved pain. She was raging mad and I had kept her locked up, sealed, chained and denied like a prisoner – like I was ashamed she existed. At that moment, I was delivered the biggest piece of humble pie I have ever received. This is proof that the truth is not always pretty.

What would I do now that I have seen my awful and wounded ways so clearly?  Part of me could not stand to be in my own body consciously knowing these parts of myself.  I felt so guilty and ashamed at myself for hurting so many people with my mean and selfish ways.  How could I be so cruel and cold?  I knew I had to pull myself together and think rationally – and more importantly, from a loving space. Trust me, it was hard. Yet this was darkness and the perfect opportunity for light to shine through.

I needed to decide how I was going to handle this monstrous piece of myself.  I knew I could either condemn myself for all I had seen in my shadow, and let it take over my life, or I could use this experience as an opportunity to forgive and accept these ugly and neglected parts of myself I had hidden for what seemed like lifetimes.  I decided I would love and forgive these nasty parts of me.  I spent many tears feeling the repercussions of my own actions, and much time sending out etheric apologies to all the people I had wronged, silently asking for forgiveness.

I now know, first hand, how everything you do has an imprint on your life and the lives of others.  This imprint (or karma) stays with you until you are able to step up and take responsibility for your actions, rectify the situation and clear it.  With this new found awareness, I have taken a vow to do the best that I can to be wise and loving in all of my decisions – thinking of all those involved and acting with compassion and thoughtfulness.

I am my Shadow. My Shadow is free. Together, we have birthed into the Light.

“Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.  Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.”

–Rainer Maria Rilke

Bye Bye, PHD Shanghai.

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How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
– Winnie the Pooh

It is never easy on the last day of work – especially when for once in a long long time, you’re able to say, “Wow. My life is really good right now”, only for you to realise it’s time to take up another career challenge that’d require you to uproot and do something completely different. In my case, I’m leaving Shanghai after 6 years to return to London.

I am terrible with goodbyes in general. And it’s the reason why I have decided against a huge piss-up leaving do in favour for lunches and dinners with different work colleagues over the last 2 weeks. I feel I’m too old for getting drunk and pally with people I hardly ever say 5 words to (a month) and are only really at my party to make me look like I’m popular and/or for a free drink that the bosses will end up paying. Sod that.

Yesterday was my final day at PHD Shanghai. Or rather, last working day in China. Ever ever. I’ve been good and done the whole eating thing (the Chinese LOVE their food) with various colleagues and now it’s D-Day and all I want to do is to spend the entire day with my team. You know, with the people that actually helped made my career the way it is today. The people who would pull out all stops to ensure the work is done to a high standard. The people who are fiercely loyal to me even though sometimes, I do make mistakes and am not the most likeable person at work. The people who stuck around with me the last 3 years without ever considering leaving for greener pastures. The people who taught me how to be a better leader, a more compassionate person. The people whom I can never ever thank enough.

And as I now refocus my efforts in the next 3 weeks to packing and sorting out my move to London, I will look back with a lot of fondness and gratitude for all the people I’ve worked with in the past 6 years in Shanghai. From the ones who stood by me, to the ones who believed in me, to the one or two who almost caused me to lose my job and my dignity by defaming me in public, to the ones who might seem to play a small role (like the office cleaners, security guards) but have taught me humility and the appreciation that everyone has a role to play in this big ecosystem of Life. I want to thank each and everyone of you and I hope to take this “new me” and make something for myself in London. And when I do, please remember you’ve been a part of my success and will always be.

Today, give thanks to the people who have helped you along the way. Not just the ones who picked you up, but the also the ones who put you down – because without polarities, we would just be living in a world devoid of appreciation and gratitude.

Thank you, PHD Shanghai. You’ve been truly awesome. Thank you.

Kickstarting Someone’s Dream

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A proud backer of Jack Cheng’s “These Days”

Back in 2012, I backed US$35 on kickstarter.com with the intention to help make an aspiring US writer’s publishing dream come true. It was probably one of the top things I did in that year that makes me smile each time I think about it.

Titled “These Days”, Jack Cheng leads us into a world of startups and an examination of the human side of technology, of both the makers and the end users, who are often one and the same. It’s about finding happiness and fulfilment in the digital age; a meditation on time, memory and things gained and lost in an accelerating world.

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I love it when someone sends me a handwritten note.

And as if that wasn’t enough reason to back Jack (which it is, by the way), my name would also appear as one of the 961 Kickstarters backers – printed under the “Credits” section. Amazing.

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My name! Look! Yay!

Apart from the material gratification, it makes me happy to be a part of someone’s dream – in which a small contribution on my part helped turned that into a reality.

Lately, I have also been thinking a lot about a wonderful quote from Paulo Coelho, “When you want something, all the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Like many of kickstarter.com’s thousands, Jack had a dream. And because it was aligned with his vibration and life’s passion, he projected this dream right out to the far ends of the Universe and in turn, the Universe responded and gave him exactly what his heart asked for.

So when was the last time your heart felt a conviction so strong, so powerful, that you knew this would be the one thing that your soul yearns for? Perhaps it is time to dust off the layers of fatigue, past hurts and let go of the “you do not deserve this” limiting belief. If there is one thing you could do today, let it be about reinstating your personal power to become the beautiful person you were always meant to be but have forgotten. Let’s do this.

11 Simple Things We Forget to be Grateful For

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“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle

 

1. That your body, mind and soul aren’t perfect, but it’s because of this that you’re able to grow and have a journey filled with learning and experiencing miracles beyond your imagination.

2. That you have been able to attend school. Without having done so, you wouldn’t even be reading this right now. How often do we forget where we acquired the skills that allow us to live our everyday lives?

3. For any genuine friends or family you have, whether it is one person or twenty, because even just finding one person to love, or who loves you, is a miracle in and of itself.

4. If you don’t have to worry where your next meal is coming from. Congratulations, you’re among the most privileged people in the world.

5. That you can access clean water. Because, again, millions of people can’t.

6. And the Internet. You literally have a database of most (if not all) of the world’s knowledge right at your fingertips. There’s virtually nothing you can’t learn, research or find

7. That you’ve known suffering and loss, because…….

8. You have learnt (or will learn) great things from experiencing hardship. Ask anyone who has been to the depths and back, and….

9. If you’ve experienced heartbreak, rejection, loss or pain, it’s because you had something that meant something to you. What’s that saying? That the opposite of love is indifference. if you have the capability to be upset about something or someone, it means that at one point, you had things and people in your life that mattered (and probably still do).

10. If you’ve never had to know the realities of living in a war zone, slavery, or anything else that so many of our brothers and sisters have to face everyday.

11. And finally, that you have the ability to be grateful for all of these things. Because having a mind and heart that wants to recognise what there is to be grateful for in life is half the battle, so be grateful that you can consider yourself halfway there.

Now go have an uber awesome day x

My Karmic Relationship with Books

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I am very bad at getting rid of books. And this has been put to the ultimate test in my current need to excavate, dispose/keep and pack 6 years of my life in Shanghai into boxes for shipment to London.

 

A sentimental fool, I attach memories to my books and am probably the only person on this earth who has not succumbed to the convenience and ease of e-books and the Kindle. An ardent lover of the smell of paper, lugging a 1,440 pages paperback version of “War and Peace” in handbag makes me happy and inavertently attracts “Why would you ever do that?” reactions from people.

 

But moving day, alas, draws on apace, as doth the evil hour when I will have to take the shears to my sprawling collection in earnest. I suppose I could save the Penguin Classics by the simple expedient of shoving them into the shipment boxes. However, multiple copies with different cover designs and celebrity autobiographies I’ll admit, with a sigh of shamed relief, that I am never going to get round to reading (again) – charity shop it goes, my chicks.

 

The prospect of purging talismanic texts, though – books I’m unlikely ever to open again, but which I superstitiously believe exhale helpful knowledge or distilled memory – is harder. These finger-prickling, magical objects include the entire Paolo Coelho and George R.R. Martin collection, half a series of Robert Jordan’s (RIP) “Wheel of Time”, ancient stock bought secondhand or absent-mindedly liberated from school bookcases. There are also the treasured signed copies from authors, writers, poets, screenwriters (most notably Matt Groening) that bear an invisible warning of “OUT OF BOUNDS” to all unworthy hands. Plus a few study-guides to Photojournalism, Social Psychology and Creative Writing that I know I am never going to sit down and study them again, unless I slip through a timewarp and get the Pro Plus palpitations retaking my finals. But I might, in some unspecific emergency, still need them. And I love them, even unopened. I remember that some have careful, bowdlerising glosses, fitting rude and sparkling verse for the innocent eye of youth – some even resorting to asterisks in particularly racy sections. They are old, crumbly and useless, their dye comes off on your fingers, and they’re leaving my collection over my dead body.

Other books I could never consign to the recycling include half a dozen scribbled and maltreated Crystals guide books, bent backwards, frantically doodled and defaced into illegibility; entirely useless for reading, but transporting me instantly to my obsession of crystal healing and Feng Shui with one glimpse of their covers. Like the Creative Writing books, they are no longer texts so much as tiny time machines – handling them zips me back with a jolt to obsessions over fending off psychic attacks and bad luck. (it’s important to note that whilst crystals have special powers, daily clearing of one’s auric and etheric fields is important too. Me? Whacky? NEVER.)

 

So as I begin packing up my books – rather, sit cross-legged and read between guilty, frenetic bursts of packing – I know another pile of talismanic volumes will appear at my elbow. Which are your talismanic books, never opened now but never to be disposed of? And what do they represent?