Everyone is beautiful after I have my Zoloft.

I have a divergent way of thinking, a certain manner of mood, a cyclic emotional pattern with a name given it by the culture I live – “bipolar disorder”. For me, this pattern is sometimes mental illness, because my thoughts and actions can become harmful for me and for others around me. This is the depression phase which can manifest as anxiety, oppressive sadness and pain, anger, and suicidal thoughts. Other times, bipolar is not making me sick, it’s making me a powerful creator. When this is happening, I can literally do anything I think of.

And I can think of an awful lot. Continue reading “Everyone is beautiful after I have my Zoloft.”

The Myth Of God, Good And Good Enough.

All through my teens and twenties, I was so desperate to prove I was good, and good enough.

Barely a teenager when I became a Christian and gave my heart to Jesus, I was so very desperate to have the deep, horrible feeling of not good enough washed away from me. I hoped to find peace in obedience and surrender, but in the years that followed peace was just as often mimicked in the numbness of substances, or drowned in the shallow desires of others, as it was revealed on my knees at the altar. Continue reading “The Myth Of God, Good And Good Enough.”

How To Move Forward In Your Life Without Blame.

Sometimes in life, when things are difficult or uncomfortable, or someone is being unkind or a dick, it’s necessary for us to choose our way through the situation and out the other side. We need to take stock and personal responsibility, and move forward to bring about change. And that’s fine. In fact, sometimes the only way a positive change will happen is if we facilitate it for ourselves.

But sometimes, everything seems fine and nobody is being a dick, but still we have a feeling it’s time to change. And no matter what we do, we can’t shake the feeling, though we try and pinpoint what’s wrong or who might be doing something to make us feel like we need to go or leave or change things up, we can’t. It can make no sense sometimes, the deep, unsettled feeling we want things to be different.
Continue reading “How To Move Forward In Your Life Without Blame.”

When you can go no further. Begin again.

Every new evolution of your self will come to a place where she believes she can go no further as she is.

And she will be right. She can go no further as she is. She will need to begin again, again.

In those moments, she’ll realize she needs to grow even more, walk even further along the path. The spiritual sojourner never arrives. She honors what was, gives thanks for what is, then greets with joy and confidence what will be.

Every ending is a running into the arms of your Mother self, a looking into the eyes of your Father self, falling back into the love you find, and recognizing God is there, with you, in you.

You are safe and at home with your self, my lovely one. All is well, and you are well.

You can begin again, my love. You can always begin again.

My True Face.

Is it even possible to take an honest photo of ourselves?

A few days ago, I published here a chapter from my upcoming book Do Awesome Broken on inspiration. My favourite part of that piece is this –

“Don’t seek greatness, expertise or uniqueness in the hopes it will inspire others. Your knowledge is useless if they don’t feel you’re accessible. Don’t bother trying to know more on your topic than anyone else, simply seek to grow your capacity to be honest and authentic and your willingness to be vulnerable. Nobody was ever encouraged by a lie, or a liar. When people feel they have connected with your true spirit, it will bring them to life in ways both you and they cannot even imagine.”

Over the past year, I have experienced more pain in my relationships than in the forty six or so years prior. Oh, I’ve had my share of marriage and family problems in the past, don’t you worry, I’ve not been wrapped up in cotton wool, but those conflicts and misunderstandings are kind of to be expected, right? But this is different.

In the past year, there has been pain I didn’t even think was possible to feel related to people I’m not related to. Over and over. And it still hasn’t stopped. I’m in it right now. It just keeps coming. And I am in pain.

When we’re in pain, well, when I’m in pain, my instinct isn’t to want to put myself anywhere where I can be hurt again. In fact, being in emotional pain makes a person want to hide from the world and other people. Thing is, I’m a writer. And I want my writing to be read. In a way, I want to be seen. I believe my work is to put my writing where people will read it. I believe deeply in the principles of inspiration, and it’s a process I wish to participate in as both a spiritual discipline, and a personal and professional vocation.

But to be honest, all my guts are telling me right now what I need to do is HIDE. When we are in pain, and that pain has not made us beautiful or transformed us into something better, we want to remain UNSEEN.

I don’t want to show you me, I don’t want you to see my face. I don’t want you to see my pain, or my ways of dealing with that pain, or how ugly I can be when I’m processing it. I don’t want to tell you the things people have said about me, or show you the ways they claim to have been failed by me, because I don’t want to be seen as a victim. That’s not my story. I want you to hear the story of my truth, truthfully told.

And the truth is this. I am not a victim of anyone, or anything. I am the facilitator of my experience. Things happen through me, not to me.

But this doesn’t mean some of those things don’t hurt like hell and make me want to….well, I don’t want to tell you all the things I’ve thought of in the dark, my friends.

I know you feel pain too, and you want to hide, and you don’t want people to see you, because pain feels ugly and shameful and tells us we are the only one, and nobody is as less-than or broken as we are. I know you, like me, sometimes feel everyone is way more fixed-up and together than you, and others have the answers and you do not.

I have a victim story, and it’s all I can do not to judge that story as less-than and wrong and shameful too.

Oh, I can’t even tell you how much I want to hide right now.

But I look into the eyes of my truest essence, my original, authentic self, my Small and Pure, and because I know her, because she is me, I see her pain and I know how much she wants to hide. And for the most part, I help her. I hold her and allow her to bury her little face in my breast, lay her head in my lap, and I say, hide here, with me, my love. You are safe, and you are loved. I will always love and protect my Small and Pure, because whether it is true or not, there are times when she feels all she has is me, and I will not challenge that belief while ever shame has her cornered in the dark. My work when she is swathed in shame is to bathe her in my love and acceptance and believe her, whatever she says to me, whether or not it is real, or just a reflection of her pain.

You are enough, I tell her, and you are good. You are safe, and everything is going to be all right.

But like all big people who comfort small, pure people, I do not know for sure it will be all right, but I know I am all right, and so it is true, even if I feel uncertain about what will happen next to both my Small and Pure, and me.

And I hold her face in my hands and I say, look at me, sweetheart.

Look at me. Show me your face. I want to see you.

To take the face and look into the eyes of a person in pain is to say, trust me, I see you, and I choose to see whoever you show me now, even if that face is uncertain, ashamed and afraid. It is a burgeoning trust. It is faith.

And it is in this way I lift my face from my shame and my pain, and I show you my face.

It isn’t what my self wants to do. I want to hide and show you what I’m good at, give you more clever writing and show you more pretty pictures. But that would not be the truth. And nobody was ever encouraged by a liar, or a lie.

This is my true face. This is the face of process. This is my actual life. This is an act of faith.

I have vowed in my work to tell the truth. I found a pretty photo of myself to share with you, but that is not the face of this day. So I decided to show you the face of this day.

This may be the end of my Facebook page. Lol.

Selah, my friends.
Jo xxxx

Don’t Worry About Helping Others.

You’re here on earth to do your thing, your own particular awesome, and that’s all. Your awesome is your work, and yours alone.

You’re going to want to help people with your awesome and that’s perfectly understandable. Most people hope the thing they do will make the world and other people happy and change something, or everything, for the better.

But sometimes doing your awesome, especially to begin with, doesn’t seem to help people very much. It can actually appear to others you’re being very selfish by doing it, and they may claim you’re making them feel hurt or angry or uncomfortable, which could be the opposite of what you wanted, or hoped to do.

Sometimes they’ll be angry or resentful because the thing you’re doing is challenging or confusing them. They may no longer be as sure about who you are, or feel safe around your thoughts, beliefs and values. Sometimes they’ll be resistant to your doing awesome just because it means you’re spending less time and energy fussing over them, and worrying about what they think of you. This can be very difficult, especially if the person who wants you to stop doing your awesome is using dirty tricks like shame and guilt to try and make you stop.

Because of this, sometimes you’ll try to make your awesome into something overtly helpful. Making it into a thing that directly helps others can be a form of validation. But this is too much weight for an awesome to bear, particularly at first. You need to simply do your work, and not worry about how other people perceive it, or what they expect it to do for them, or you. Resist the temptation to redeem your doing awesome by twisting it into a way of helping people simply because it feels self-centred to do what you want.

If you compromise your work by trying hard to make it altruistic or charitable rather than just letting it just unfold into the world and doing it with love in your heart, you’ll have all kinds of problems.

One of those problems will be others finding ways to stop you doing your awesome by involving you in complex strategies they invented to support avoiding doing their own.

Do not allow your beautiful, unique awesome to be manipulated into a rescue strategy for someone with a victim mentality.

Just do it. Make your work. Take your adventure. Be that thing. Whether it helps or inspires others cannot be the litmus test for its worth. Trust in your goodness, and in the love that exists in the place from whence you draw your inspiration. If you do it with love in your heart, it will help people. Your heart is good, so when you do what you do with love in your heart, it is good enough.

Jo Hilder
From “Don’t Worry About Helping People”, one chapter in Do Awesome Broken – Don’t wait until you’re all-fixed-up to create your most amazing life. (C) Jo Hilder.

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Tattoo Chronicles #3 – Never Forgotten

This is my third major tattoo. My strawberry vine.

I told you yesterday about my two totems being strawberries and dragonflies; strawberries because a tiny strawberry was my very first tattoo and a secret between Ben and I, and a dragonfly, because it symbolises new beginnings.

After Ben came home from rehab and we set about our new beginning, I decided it was time for some more ink.

Anyone who’s had more than one tattoo will tell you they’re highly addictive.

I drew up this design for my inner right forearm to symbolise our family coming back together.

A strawberry each for Ben and I.strawberry vine tattoo

And a blossom for each of our children. Four living, one no longer with us.

Our first boy was born in 1988, then another in 1992. Our girl baby came to us in 1994, after which we decided three was enough. Dorothy was conceived in 2001 and would’ve been our second child after Bens vasectomy reversal in 1999. Gabriel was conceived less than a year after that procedure and was still very young when I fell pregnant again.

But I was older, in my early thirties, and I remember I was not feeling completely well when I found out a new baby was coming. Still, we wanted more children and I was excited about the prospect of perhaps another girl, a sister for Daisy.

But she was not to be. I miscarried in my first trimester. I named her Dorothy. Dot for short, because she only ever was a little dot of a thing.

One strawberry each for Ben and I. And one blossom for each of our children, four living, and one never forgotten.

Tattoo Chronicles #1 – Survivor

My first tattoo. Got it in 2008, five years after surviving cancer.

I drew this design up myself, and the tattoo artist commented it was obvious I wasn’t a tattoo artist – too many fiddly little scrolls.survivor tattoo

I wanted this tattoo more than anything. I needed a permanent reminder to never take my body for granted, and always listen to it when it speaks to me. The non-hodgkins lymphoma was stage 3B by the time it was found, undiagnosed for seven months despite my repeatedly visiting a doctor asking for tests. I knew I was sick. He told me I was just tired and working too hard. I walked into my local hospital emergency department on July 17th 2003 and told them if I was going to die, I wanted to do it in their waiting room, not in my kitchen in front of my kids. They found the saucer sized tumour in my chest within an hour of my arrival. Rushed to a bigger hospital in an ambulance, then airlifted two days later to Sydney. Three months of chemotherapy and two of radiotherapy. I learned a lot about myself in that time.

First thing I learned is my body knows what sometimes my mind and will refuses to admit. I thought I was living a good life, but it was a cacophony of compromises. My body said, fine, go there if you like, but I’m not coming with you.

It took time for me to relearn my body’s signals and to rebuild the trust between it and me. Now, I ask it first before I do anything where it will be required to bear the weight of the consequences. Sometimes it says, hell yes! Sometimes it says, are you kidding? Sometimes my body says, look at your arm, girlfriend. And when I do, I’m sometimes reminded I am not made of iron and stone. I can break. But sometimes looking at my survivor tattoo reminds me I can do very hard things. It reminds me not to expect so little of my body.

And sometimes, my tattoo reminds me becoming a survivor requires one almost die, and then come back from that…..but there be a day when I will not come back. Is this that day? No. This is not that day. Today, I live. Every day, until that day. I live.

Selah, my friends.
Jo xxx