The Week that was.. December Week 3

Forever and a day – I have wanted to share more VIDEO on this little old blog of mine to even better connect with you, you beautiful soul, who shows up in this space with me to learn and laugh along with me in this crazy thing we call life. But forever and a day, just like you yourself sometimes let fear hold you back, I have let fear hold me back.

The crazy thing is, it’s not even fear like “what if no one watches it” or “what if I look silly” – I am by it’s very definition, silly, so I KNOW I will look silly haha. It’s just fear of finally committing to sitting in front of a camera and sharing more of what I want to share, or even knowing where to start when I SIT in front of that damn camera.

However, I have come to a beautiful – I don’t think I have seen it done anywhere which excites me – compromise. Driving in the car the other day with Morgan, laughing at some beautiful Direct Messages I was getting on my Instagram with the Instagram stories that I do (which are always just me goofing around in my daily life) – I said to my love in a moment of inspiration, “I am going to create a video each week of ‘the week that was’, made up of all my Instagram stories, and share it on the blog”. “Amazing idea baby” he said – and thus the weekly blog post of “The Week that Was”, was born.

I know many of you already follow me on Instagram – and I am so grateful for that, thank you for following along in this crazy world of Morgan and I’s – but I am also acutely aware, many do not. I am also acutely aware, much to some of our shock and surprise – some people don’t even HAVE Instagram (say whaaattttttt) – so this post is really for those 2 categories of people.

  1. The people that don’t have Instagram, and;
  2. The people who don’t follow Morgan or I on Instagram so this is all fresh content for them.

For those that DO follow me on Instagram already, you can just skim over this weekly post 😉 But of course if you still want to catch back up on the silliness that generally occurs by ALL means re watch. But for you guys, I promise I WILL start posting more vlogs, so blogs that are video’d vs written. As I DO know the power in them, and I WILL get over my own shit about it.

But for now, enjoy the new update to the blog / website in the weekly edition of…. The week that was.

 

What sincere authenticity is to me – and why I am obsessed with it.

Sitting on the ground yesterday in the beautiful Perth sunshine, I got chatting to one of Morgan and I’s friends on the street who’s clothes we are honoured to wash weekly. For the purposes of her privacy I am going to call her Sarah.

Sarah and I were catching up on each other’s week and she told me that she had just started to read 50 shades of Grey, and I was interested to hear what book she was up to as I too had read the series I told her. We started snorting with hysteria though as I went on to explain…

“Isn’t it funny though how you totally need your man around when you read it as they are absolute turn on books (*note, Sarah is in a loving relationship). Except you have just read about how wild and hot and steamy Christian and Anastasia are and then when you go to do it you’re still just Starfish”.

Cue tears streaming down our faces kind of laughing because we both knew it was true.

The conversation continued on just talking about the normal things of life, kids, family, relationships, you know – the usual kind of conversation you’d have with anyone.

Mid shift I walked over to the toilets laughing quietly to myself again about our conversation about the 50 shades of Grey books, which made me think about the countless other times I have had that conversation with so many women since reading the book in 2012 – women in parliament, good girlfriends over a wine, strangers when I used to see them reading it in parks.

And walking back over to where our friends and Morgan were sitting that sunny afternoon, it dawned on me that THAT is sincere authenticity.

Not the fact that I can talk about sex or ‘risky’ books with anyone – that’s not the point. But the fact that no matter who I am with, no matter what I am doing, no matter where I am – I can just show up as who I am and say the same thing in front of a friend on the street or a member of parliament.

Now – do not get me wrong. I am acutely aware that some conversations aren’t appropriate in front of a Priest (for respect) or a 4-year-old (due to age appropriateness) or a Prime Minister (for, well, I suppose for respect although I personally think they’re just normal human beings) – so I am not talking about that. I know that sometimes, sure what we say or how we can act does have to differ slightly person to person – but there is a huge distinction between managing respect and being sincerely authentic.

Managing Respect comes down to just knowing what volume to be at I believe, but still always living in to who you authentically. And by volume, I don’t mean that literally.

I’ll give you an example.

Back when I worked in Federal Politics, I used to always have to go in to what I called ‘the big boy meetings’ – with Ministers of portfolio’s, or CEO’s of big corporations (i.e Alan Joyce), you were constantly also meeting ex Prime Ministers (my favourite one being the time I got to have a chat with the Hon John Howard) and current Prime Ministers (who at the time was Opposition Leader – Tony Abbott).

Now. If you know me well, (or not even well, if you just follow me on social media recently or over the years), you know that I am a pretty crazy, cheeky, fun human who has an affinity for the word fuck, being silly and champagne, unicorns (yes, even at the age of 28) and hot chips– just to name a tiny aspect of me.

So when I would go in to these ‘big boy meeting’s’ I would always manage my respect, BUT I would show up sincerely authentically as myself.

What does that look like?

It means knowing that in some moments, sure, the word fuck is not the best option so to not use it. It’s listening more than talking sometimes, it’s showing the more mature side of you whilst ALL the while being wildly authentic.

So what does wild authenticity look like in a situation like that (parliament) whilst managing respect.

It looked like dressing up as a love heart on valentine’s day and handing out chocolates to all the federal members – because who doesn’t want a chocolate from a love heart on valentine’s day.

It looked like never ever taking myself too seriously at any and all ‘party’ functions and almost creating the loudest most fun, hilarious group situation where we could actually let our hair down, laugh and all show up with our sillier sides.

It meant having a drink with all the serious Shadow Ministers at the end of the sitting week and starting a “peaks and pits” of their week – going around in a circle sharing what we could do better, and what we did well that week (and for grown men & women who run our country to look forward to that session we used to do in the chairman’s lounge all waiting to fly home – was such a fun thing for me).

It meant telling Alan Joyce to his face that although I loved his airline, if we didn’t get chocolates back on the Thursday flight home I’d start a revolt (tongue in cheek) and get us all to start flying Virgin instead. (side note: guess who had chocolates back on the flight home by that Thursday night….. me.

You see – you can be respectful when you need to be – all huge examples above – but you can still ALWAYS, ALWAYS show up sincerely as yourself.

We are moving in to a world where authenticity is the new currency.

We are seeking authenticity over perfection.

We are asking for everyone around us to throw down their masks – and bare their souls.

We are obsessed with compassionate acts and unconditional love (well I am) – which is birthed from humanity stepping away from who they were told to be and stepping in to who they were born to be – authentic powerful beings.

We are hungry for freedom – authentic, delicious freedom.

The universe is calling forth a rebellion of a new kind – and more and more are listening to the call, not being able to resist the pull to put down their masks, light their own fire and step more in to their sincerely authentic selves.

And it’s beautiful and inspiring and extraordinary to watch.

Sincere authenticity IS the black and its here to stay, so don’t be afraid to step in to your own true divine self more and more.

It’s speaking up when your soul says to.

It’s owning who you are in front of a priest, a member of parliament or a homeless person.

It’s saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

It’s being exactly the same person as to who you are in ‘real life’ as to the person who you are showing up as online (side note; I always feel like I shouldn’t even need to say this one, but in 2017 I still do think that reminder needs to be in there).

It’s taking off every single last mask you have been holding on to, throwing it in to the fire and burning them once and for all.

It’s owning the bad ass extrovert parts of you along with the graceful and introvert parts.

It’s having the balls to live your boldest, grandest, most TRUE life – and if that means being the quietest librarian the world has ever seen or the most impactful world leader the world has ever known – BEAUTIFUL – just make sure you are showing up exactly as you are every.damn.day.

My only wish for you today though, is that you start somewhere – and I suggest that somewhere is in the next instance you go to crack a joke but don’t because you think it’s not ‘cool’ or you don’t speak up on a topic you’re actually red-hot passionate about – you actually DO instead, because THAT is who you are.

 

 

 

 

 

Images: here,

Overcoming resistance … I’m back (daily – almost)

It’s 8:44am and I am sitting here looking out over the beautiful marina in my cozy little neighbourhood about to start this blog piece with a fresh new commitment to writing, every.single.day.

But immediately, the inevitable happens, what happens every time I go to write. Resistance slowly and sneakily takes over – and without even realising it, just under 10 minutes has passed and I realised I have been sitting here scrolling Instagram.

I silently tell myself ENOUGH in my mind, put my phone down and start to write.

And here I am.

Back to my happy place. Writing. And here you are, back at maybe your happy place of exploring the internet, reading it. Which I am so eternally grateful for. Always.

I started writing on my blog – ‘this’ blog (it’s had a major re brand from lifesshinyprettythings to annaandmorgan is all) in May of 2011, so on 23rd May of this year, I will have been sharing my life in this space for 6 years. Back when I started, I had a commitment to write almost daily. I would work 10+ hour days in Federal Politics, (sometimes 18+ hours if it was a Parliamentary sitting week), but every night, still get home and go in to my home office which I still so lovingly dub my zen den, and write in this space. Why? Because I love to write, it was and is writing that makes me happy.

You know those books and quotes and eye catching phrases that talk about finding the things where you can be doing it for hours and hours on end but have barely even noticed the time? That is writing to me. It’s of showing up to a blank piece of paper and just beginning to type or write and seeing what comes out.

And yet, somewhere along the way in this last 6 years, my commitment to daily writing has become almost non existent. I journal, sure, privately and almost daily – but it used to be those journal pages that I would share online, instead of writing in a book privately, I would write it on this blank white paper on the screen, in this space, and that is what made this space (in my opinion) so special.

So I am back.

Because I am done with the excuses of I don’t have time, or every.other.tiny.little.excuse that I throw up in my mind daily when I keep telling myself to sit and open that laptop with no wifi and just write. With no interruptions and before I do anything else in my day.

I can’t promise it will be every day, well actually no – I can. I can promise it will be every day, but I can’t promise it’ll be published every day.

My commitment is to show up to my blank pieces of paper on my screen and write NO MATTER WHAT – some days it might be absolute verbal vomit on a page – other days it might be the most profound or craziest thing I have shared. Most posts will make the cut I am sure, but some won’t. Either way we are back on this journey together.

Gone (finally) are the feelings that every single thing I write has to be a lesson for you or 5 steps to blah or content that you NEED to take something away from.

No.

Now I so fully understand that the very practice of just showing up, daily, is a lesson for you in itself, to show up to the ONE thing YOU love, every single day, no matter what.

And the magic, the real magic of my writing and this space, is just that also, the fact that I DO show up as myself, always, and just share what’s on my heart – some days it may be lessons, other days I might be sharing the craziest day that happened whilst travelling the world, or hell, even talking about sex.

Just know this, I will write for as long as you show up to read, and even then, I will continue to write when you don’t.

I am so excited to go back on this journey with you, and can’t wait to see where it takes us both.

How to be healthy & happy 365 days of the year

I can’t tell you exactly when I started to have beliefs around food that I do today, but I can tell you it has been this way for a very, very long time.

Even before I was the size I am today and have the love and passion for nutrition and fitness that I do today, I always had a healthy MINDSET around food and my body. Habits, no, but mindset, yes.

The Anna you see today, as I have very well documented over the last 5 years since birthing my blog is a vastly different woman to the Anna several years ago, but I can confidently say one thing that has been strongly consistent in my life for a very very long time is how I feel about food and the relationship I have with it.

Back when I was 17kg heavier, and honestly truly believed that as long as I cooked something at home, that it was healthy (regardless if it was an extremely creamy pasta or a massive rice dish or a carb heavy plate smothered in gravy). I thought a home cooked meal was far healthier than say a McDonalds meal, and granted I was still right, but in terms of the nutrients I was getting from carb heavy / naughty home cooked meals I had absolutely no idea they actually weren’t that amazing for me. Morgan and I were guilty as charged as well for at least once or twice a week, crawling in to bed with a big glass of coke (a cola) and a packet of salt and vinegar chips and watching a movie together.

Needless to say it’s no surprise to anyone with a heart beat and some common sense why I was 17kg heavier. But here is the thing…

I was happy – until I wasn’t of course and at that point I set out to change my health and lose the weight and just feel better in general.

But even smashing back the foods and drinks I was, I almost never ever had ‘guilt’ around the food I was eating or hated on myself for it. I enjoyed eating my gravy covered dinners or big glasses of coke, and when I ate anything, I was genuinely hungry (I have never ever ever been an emotional eater) and I would choose things that I felt like and I also thoroughly enjoyed every meal.

I still look back at how I ate back then and how little I exercised (and when I say how little I exercised I mean, I didn’t exercise at ALL) and am shocked I wasn’t kg’s and kg’s and kg’s heavier – as I should have been.

BUT I truly believe I wasn’t, because even being a bigger size, even being un healthier even with such accidental disregard for my health – there was no guilt around food, just enjoyment.

That all changed however when one night, Morgan and I were having a party at the house with a few friends, and I was my usual at the time, weekend warrior, few ecstasy deep self – and I went inside by myself to put bathers on to have a spa with the girls. I remember putting some green bathers on in the bathroom really hurriedly and as I ran back out to go join the party I caught the reflection of myself in the mirror – and honestly didn’t recognise the girl staring back. It was the first time in my life, I didn’t vibe with the body I saw in the mirror.

{ The night I knew that I didn’t love the body I was in anymore and could do better }

That was a Saturday night, and by the following morning, Morgan and I had had a huge chat about our health and weight and decided to go do something about it.

By the Monday, we were attending our first weight watchers meeting to educate ourselves on food, being inspired with some healthy recipes and learning at the very least the basics around what healthy food looked like.

The next year we changed our habits and completely transformed our lives – Morgan loosing 23kg and me loosing 17kg (6kg of which came from major jaw surgery). But that is a story for another time.

That year though, the ONE thing that never changed (because our exercise and food habits absolutely changed) was my mindset around food.

Sure I had started to eat way way way differently and so so so much healthier – but everything I put in my mouth, I still totally honoured, and yet again, there was just no guilt with any food I ate. My body and mind and I had a great relationship with food and food had a great relationship with my body and mind.

Years and years followed, and the 17kg loss was maintained with struggle to be honest through a lot of gym exercise and being pretty strict with what I ate – STILL honouring food regardless though.

A year after that, come March 2013, which was when Isagenix found me and a whole new chapter and journey in my life began. My weight maintenance the last 3 ½ years has been the easiest thing ever but my enjoyment with food has increased tenfold. That 3 ½ year journey again is another story and one you can read snippets of in previous posts on this blog.

That’s not why we’re here today talking though, we are here for the following lesson.

Over the last 3 ½ years as I just mentioned above my enjoyment of food has increased – a lot, but my relationship with food has deepened even more divinely.

You see, I honour food. So.fucking.much.

I know that I know that I KNOW, that loving food and honouring each and every meal or thing I choose to put in my mouth to fuel me makes that food digest with ease and harmony.

Whenever I eat, more than ever today, I am so grateful for the meal in front of me, and I am choosing to eat or fuel my body with nutritious yummy food and never ever have guilt around what I eat.

That probably sounds easy when you know me and you know I fuel my body with a LOT of high quality nutrition and yummy food. It’s like well of course you don’t have guilt Anna you eat really well and have amazing habits (why thank you, yes, I do, and I’m really proud of that).

But here is the kicker.

I live, the most balanced life more than anyone I know.

So yes, I absolutely eat and fuel my body with nutritious healthy food, and have cleanse days and superfood smoothies, but I also don’t have a nickname “Anna hot chips champagne Richards” for no reason.

Not a week goes by that I am not also enjoying delicious cold glasses of French Champagne or hunting down the best hot chips either in my city or around the globe. OR just being SUPER honest, grabbing the odd cheeky chocolate bar from the shops when I run in to grab something.

Then there is the travel I do, and when I travel, I can also be honest and say my eating habits are more around enjoyment and finding gorgeous cafes than a strict food plan.

And yet, my body stays harmonised and toned and healthy and slim year round.

I’m not allergic to anything, I have no intolerances and I have never cut one thing out of my diet nor counted one calorie. Ever.

So how? HOW do I honestly maintain that kind of body amongst the crazy balance of salads but hot chips, water but champagne, cleanse days but non organic chocolate, or food prep but days off with burgers….

Well I believe it’s my RELATIONSHIP that I have with ALL food and how much I HONOUR it and ENJOY it.

I can sit and have a few crazy days where I need to rely on my food prep of rice, chicken and vegetables, then fly to Sydney for 3 days and have champagne most nights, too many hot chips to count and some salt and vinegar chips on the plane (there I said it) … Or I can have a week of perfect eating with my non negotiable cleanse days but then have guests come and spend 5 days celebrating life and success with champagne, lunches and dinners out and a relaxed exercise regime …. But not matter WHAT I DO, and no matter WHAT I EAT and no matter WHAT GOES IN TO MY MOUTH…….

I honour it so damn deeply. I have absolutely ZERO guilt around it. I ENJOY it all SO much and I never eat anything I don’t feel like or won’t absolutely love.

And that is what I TRULY believe keeps my body so harmonised and happy and healthy and toned year round. Because food that goes in to my mouth is eaten with gratitude and love, and digested with ease and harmony as I talk about how much I love it, or how yummy it is.

The other major aspect to this whole theory though is what I SAY about my body also. When I finish a meal, there is no guilt, which means I NEVER say things like…

“God I feel so fat”.

“Why did I just eat that?”

“Next time I go to order chips someone stop me”

“I feel so disgusting I so need to not eat the rest of the day”

… Or any other negative comment associated with my body.

(I do occasionally say I feel a LITTLE bloated if I do, but generally it’s freaking rare I actually do, and if I say I am it’s normally backed up by “but god it’s worth it for how delicious that meal was” – I am just trying to be REALLY honest with you guys so you REALLY get this point).

I always however talk about how delicious a meal was. How yum the hot chips were. How amazing that particular champagne was. How much of a good time I had laughing or talking with friends whilst I ate said meal or drank said champagne.

I truly, deeply, fundamentally believe that our thoughts and words DO shape our reality, and I know SO many others know this to be true also (and that’s because it IS true) and yet we seem to forget that that then extends to every single aspect of our co-creating reality. Including our beautiful body.

If you are going to constantly put your body down, or say you feel fat, or pick on the parts of your body that you hate or feel guilt every time you eat food – what do you honestly think is going to happen? Nothing? Because I can tell you that unfortunately your body is ALWAYS listening and responding. If you call it fat, it thinks its fat and I believe creates fat. If you pick on parts of your body you hate, negative energy is held in those areas only making that part of your body feel worse. If you feel guilt around food when you eat it, be it a big yummy chicken salad or your favourite treat (like hot chips!) then that guilt is held and becomes a stagnant energy in your body.

Point is, anything you say aloud, or even THINK….your body is always listening.

So what do you think happens to your body when you’re in a state of gratitude for all of your food. When you sincerely enjoy all of your food – be it extremely healthy or more of a treat meal. When you honour every meal that goes in to your body. When once youre done, you hold no guilt and only hold on to positive thoughts.

I can tell you;

You digest your food with harmony.

Your food does exactly what it needs to in the body.

Energy circulates through and around your body with ease.

You live in a state of fulfilment and hold on to no guilt.

You love your body and your body responds by loving you right back.

And it’s not just thinking and saying positive things when you’re eating either. No way. Let me assure you with absolute certainty that your body is always, ALWAYS listening.

You have to SHOW your body that you love it. You have to TELL your body that you love it. You have to DRESS your body like you love it. You have to live in to feelings of LOVE for your body.

This is a constant journey I am on still and a journey I know I’ll always be on, but a journey I am honoured to be on and treasure – one of loving and accepting the meat-suit I was so divinely gifted when I chose to come back to this earth this time around.

There are moments where I still have a negative thought about my body (of course) or I wake up after a big night of delicious food and drink with beautiful friends and I feel a little heavier or groggier than usual, and have a negative thought about my food choices or how I’m feeling in my body. But would you like to know what I do in those moments? Honestly? …

I put my hand on my stomach and my heart and I tell my body how beautiful she is, how much I honour her, how grateful for her I am and I just sit or lay in gratitude telling her how beautiful she is again and again and again until I genuinely feel the shift of me believing it – then I can carry on with whatever I was doing.

I tell my body how beautiful she is. I dress my body like I love her. I give my body food and drink (it’s why I love French champagne so much) that she loves. I move, walk and talk like I love my body. And you know what I get in return?

A body that so loves and nourishes me back.

You get to choose.

In every moment in every day, you are either choosing your thoughts that empower or disempower you, and it’s no different for when you are eating for or talking or thinking about your body.

There are no ‘5 steps to’ or ‘3 ways to change’ when it comes to your body + relationship with food. It’s just a conscious decision again, and again, and again and again to choose love. To choose to be grateful for every meal you sit down for. To choose to feel satisfied and happy after a meal. To choose to send your body love when you’re not necessarily feeling it or her. To choose to honour the food that goes in to your mouth.

It’s not always going to be a perfect this journey to self love of food and your body – but it’s a journey that is SO WORTH giving time and energy and a deeper level of commitment to, because you really DO only have one body for your time on earth, and I know so wildly and deeply, that loving and honour ‘her’ (or him) creates a far more beautiful and extraordinary time on planet earth than the opposite.

My wish for you is that you choose love today, is that you choose to honour your food today, and that you choose gratitude for your food today, and in the moments when you don’t you simply start again.

And I promise you – it’s worth it.

Love, Anna xoxoxo

Images: herehere

The discipline of letting go

Last week, I let go.

I let go of everything.

Sitting by the infinity pool looking at the infinite ocean feeling infinite love – I handed over ALL the B.S that has been holding me back because I’ve been letting it be centre stage for awhile.

I let go of fear around playing bigger (because playing bigger opens you up to bigger failure right? WRONG). I let it go.

I let go of the thought I actually was playing small (sense a theme here?) and realised I AM doing and being exactly what and who I am meant to be. So I let it go.

I let go of trying to figure it all out and accepted the fact that right here and now – all is as its meant to be. I had my breathe, my health, my happiness and realised a life of living in the present FEELS far more delicious than trying to figure out the future. I let it go.

I journaled and journaled and journaled and released that EVERYTHING is exactly as its meant to be as all my choices have lead me to this exact moment, and that exact moment was perfect.

MY job was just to keep expanding in to love and success and abundance (did I say love?) and inspire those around me to do the same.

Even the healer I see when I am in Bali got it. He tapped me in my heart space and said “ahhh, you have let go, you have realised that you finally can stop looking and start realising you’ve always had the answers” (there may have been some happy tears).

I have realised that all the things I focus on in my moments of doubt or uncertainty – like playing small or constantly thinking about what next what next (‘feelings around ‘not ever feeling stuck’) – were the exact things I was calling in to my life because I WAS focusing on them.

So to have truly let it all go, I can tell you that I honestly felt a clarity and lightness that I have never had before.

A TRUSTING – my soul letting me know ‘hey beautiful, finally you have let go and NOW we can have some fun, NOW we can unleash your true power and remember you never have to feel again the feelings that have been keeping you stuck”.

And that’s all great for me – but what about YOU?

What can YOU let go? What have you been focusing on in your life (consciously or subconcisouly) that energetically and physically has been holding you back.

Because I assure you, to let it go brings a grace and softness and lightness to your life like nothing else.

Trust that;

You are exactly who you are meant to be in this moment.

You are exactly where you are meant to be in this moment.

Once you accept that and let go of trying to CHANGE that – is when change actually comes.

So today – I wish you love and lightness as you let go of the things that have been consuming your thought and heart space – because I assure you, it feels really damn good.

What 12 years of Love and being in a Relationship has taught me

Sitting here in Bali, staring out over the infinite blue ocean on Morgan and I’s 2 year wedding anniversary I stared at this blank piece of paper, poised, ready to spill my heart on to the page for too many minutes this morning, not even knowing where to begin on the subject.

I have so much to say on Love and relationships but at the same time always feel in a space between ‘you have so much to learn young padwan’ and ‘how can you even begin to try to cover such a huge subject’.

So instead of being stuck, I thought I’d just start.

You see, Relationships and love IS somewhat (read; extremely) of a deep deep passion of mine. Observing (with love) them, being in one, helping others feel out their own, but something I rarely write about – which I know in my heart is about to change.

And what does a young girl like me know about love you might ask (primarily if you’re a new reader to the blog, and if you are, welcome). Well, Morgan and I just returned from Bali where we celebrated our 2-year wedding anniversary. It’s funny though, because even saying 2 years though feels odd to me, like we are so brand new and fresh again (albeit we are, having decided our marriage WOULD feel different and ‘new’) considering we have actually been in each others lives romantically, spiritually and emotionally for going on 12 years now.

At our engagement party, back in April 2012, we asked our guests to write some love advice for us to open and read on our 1 year wedding anniversary (as the ‘theme’ for your 1 year is paper) – however come last year we ended up having far too much fun out and about down south so never actually stopped on our day to read them.

us

This year however, we committed we would. So under the Bali sun, with some cold Veuve in hand we opened them all (some read with us on Facebook Live for the first time) – and here is what OTHERS (our nearest and dearest) advised us on love.

“When you wake in the morning, kiss and hug and be grateful for one another day together – life is precious”.

“Never go to bed angry”.

“Always remember to have time for each other”.

“Tell each other you love the other at least once a day”.

“Phone sex communication”. – HA!!!

“When the going gets tough, hold each other, look in to each others eyes and remember you still have your whole lives ahead of you”.

“Grow together”.

“Always remember that first moment that you set eyes upon one another”.

“When in doubt, sex it out”.

“Morgan, take the rubbish out, it’s the mans job to do the bin and take the wheelie bin out to the road”.

“Respect each other”.

“Don’t go to bed at night without sorting out any differences”.

“Happy wife, happy life”.

“Have date nights where you only focus on yourselves”.

“Laugh a lot, communicate often, don’t mention breaking up, and focus on the good in each other”.

“Always share everything with one another, regardless of how you’re feeling at the time, it’s important to draw on each others strengths in difficult times”.

“Don’t stop having sex at least once a week”.

“Love is all you need in the end”.

“Don’t forget to make love every now and then, fucking is okay for the rest of the time”.

“Remember Corinthians chapter 13 always – love is patient and love is kind”.

“No man has ever been shot for doing the dishes”.

“Send love letters”.

“Always make an effort to be sexy. Even if you don’t feel like it – never underestimate the magic of stilettos!”

Ok so apart from some very (fabulous and slightly predictable) hilarious sex pieces of advice (all of which I absolutely have to say are great pieces of advice) I feel it’s covered off all the generally prescribed and tried and trusted advice.

Not going to be angry – got it.

Date nights – for sure a staple in our relationship.

Respect one another – it’s one of our highest values so we are g.o.o.d there.

And so on and so forth.

But how about the stuff that REALLY makes a relationship work and the secret / not so secret (you decide) magic that comes from this.

Just show up wholly as you are and practice unconditional love (just do your best, it’s never going to be perfect).

There are so many depths and layers upon beautiful layers contained in just those 2 statements alone but the crux of it is this.

The fastest way to put a shitty vibe on or over a relationship (or marriage) and to start to feel disconnected is to start to try to change or force either partner in to being or feeling someone they are not.

Over the 12 years Morgan and I have been together (10 of which official, 12 we were just too young and dumb to work out who we were or what we wanted) 12 of them have seen us be different people at different times, have energy growth spurts before or after the other, disagree with certain people or things or directions the other has headed in and an avalanche of other differences and directions – but for 12 years we have loved each other unconditionally.

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That’s the greatest gift to bring in a relationship that I know for sure.

So you might be getting in to personal development courses sooner or more often than your partner – that’s ok, love him where his at.

Or maybe you have developed a rocking morning routine and your partner is still hitting snooze whilst you’re up and exercising in this new healthy lifestyle – this is your choice to now show up fully, allow him the grace to find his own journey with it.

Or maybe you are watching less TV in the evenings now and working on exciting projects to try to move your life forward and but your husband / bf is rocking out his PlayStation/Xbox still (this was a big one in our relationship). That’s COOL. That is what makes HIM happy, he loved you and didn’t put expectations on you when you used to sit and watch those same TV shows with him.

If you truly love your partner, speaking from experience – trust that he will find his own way to your new path eventually, but in his own way and especially in his own time.

Your job is just to keep showing up for YOURSELF and you’ll have a far greater impact just being a beautiful example than trying to force or coerce change.

When you can just show up in your relationship wholly as you are, beautiful parts of you, the not so beautiful parts of you, and hold space for your partner to do the same – that is unconditional love, THAT is creating magic in any relationship.

And here is the thing – it can sometimes (read; often) feel really messy living in to those two core fundamentals, and you might fail again and again and again (because I know I sure do) but remind yourself that life is never about perfection, its so beautifully about progress – and as long as you can consciously catch yourself and try your best for ‘next time’ – then you’ll have a love and relationship far greater than any Disney fairy-tale promised us as children.

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An open letter to all women, you need to read this…

85%.

The number of women saying they ‘opt out of important life activities, such as trying out for a team or club, and engaging with family or loved ones, when they don’t feel good about the way they look.

7/10.

The number of girls with low body esteem who say they won’t be assertive in their opinion or stick to their decision if they aren’t happy with the way they look.

9/10.

The number of women who will stop themselves from eating or will otherwise put their health at risk.

8/10.

The number of both women and girls who feel some pressure to never make mistakes or show weakness.

I recently read these statistics in the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report and was reduced to tears. I have no doubt that you will all agree, that these statistics are just so not ok.

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In 2016, to hear that women are holding themselves back from loved ones or stopping themselves from eating is not ok.

To also hear we’re then raising a generation of younger girls who are loosing their voice, all because they don’t feel good about themselves … is not ok.

It’s especially not ok to hear that 8/10 women and girls alike think they have to be perfect, that they can’t make mistakes or heaven forbid show weakness.

I stand here today to that whilst I have a beating heart, I will not let these statistics get any worse.

And I get it.

It’s all good and well for me to sit at my computer and write-up statistics and say they’re not ok, but what am I actually going to DO about it.

Well here’s the thing.

I believe the best way to combat women self-esteem issues, is to be a woman with HIGH self-esteem.

I believe the best way to show women how to truly love themselves, ALL of themselves, even their self perceived flaws – is to be a woman who truly does love herself, ALL of herself, even all of her self perceived flaws.

And I do.

I believe the best way to show women they DO NOT have to be perfect and it’s ok to be vulnerable and show weakness when it comes up, is to be a woman who IS NOT perfect and who shows up in life vulnerably and bares her weaknesses.

And I hope that I do that well too.

You might think that I live a bold and out there public life. And you’d be right. I do. And maybe now for those that have ever questioned it might start to understand it’s for good reason.

Because I realise that I have a LOT of work to do in this world, and I can’t do it whilst shutting up, letting statistics of women’s self-worth and worthiness get worse and worse – all the while being too scared to speak up to piss someone off or be misunderstood by haters. Fuck. THAT.

I am a woman who has worked HARD on herself. Extremely hard on herself.

I am a woman who has accepted that that work will never be done though, and personal development and self-love is a daily practice. I am a woman who has recognised however being on that journey, I still need to love myself through the process, every step of the way.

I am a woman who has fallen in love with her broken parts. The pain parts. The weak parts of herself that instead of shutting off from the world, I SHARE with the world.

I am a woman who see’s her flaws as unique, not something that has to be ‘fixed’ constantly.

I am a woman who has fallen in love with her perfectly imperfect self – and has a VOICE about that.

I am a woman not part of the 85% statistic who opt out of important life activities.

I am a woman not part of the 7/10 girls who don’t voice their opinion because of low self-esteem.

I am absolutely not one of the 9/10 women who stop themselves from eating due to low body confidence.

And I am especially not one of the 8/10 women who think they have to be perfect and never show weakness.

And I am PROUD of that.

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I refuse to live in a world where women have such low self-esteem and confidence that they take themselves out of living their boldest, grandest and brightest life.

You do not have to fit a particular mold of beautiful ladies.

You do not have to be a certain size or colour or age to BE beautiful ladies.

Exactly who you are, exactly how you are, is exactly who you’re meant to be.

We have GOT to stop looking to Instagram, and Facebook and tv’s and magazines to tell us what we’re meant to look like, what clothes we should own and what we need to do to our face and body to make ourselves beautiful.

News flash.

You already ARE beautiful.

There is a quote by J.Iron Word I have on my desktop to refer to whenever I need a bit of self-love ass kicking, and it says;

“She didn’t need to be saved. She needed to be found

and appreciated for exactly who she was”.

Double News Flash.

YOU are the only person who can find yourself.

YOU are the only person who can appreciate you for exactly who YOU are.

You want to know the sexiest most beautiful thing in the world on a woman?? HAPPINESS – which leads to CONFIDENCE…which ultimately just leads to more HAPPINESS.

One thing I know for sure, is that self-esteem and self-confidence is not an external ‘thing’ that can be found, it wholly and fully comes from within.

And something else I know for sure – is no matter how low a self-esteem you have, or self-worth issues you have – I have been in that gut wrenching shitty hole too and climbed VERY far out of it, and purely stand here today FOR you as a lighthouse of possibility.

I also recognise that it’s not just going to come down to us individually to work on ourselves to grow our self-esteem and self-confidence muscle.

We as a society can absolutely do better.

It’s going to come from ALL of us. All of the time.

It’s going to come from us stopping putting ALL of the blame on media, like they’re some evil thing out to get us and rip us down at any chance they get (which is a wholeeeee other blog post on it’s own), and start realizing that media operate on supply and demand. If the demand for portrayal of perfect women and ‘perfect’ sizing wasn’t so huge, they wouldn’t push it on our televisions and in our magazines so much.

It’s going to come from men loving their girlfriends / partners / wives better.

And more importantly, girlfriends / partners and wives loving THEMSELVES better.

It’s going to come from daring acts of self-love so grand we can flip the word selfish on its head. Make selfish a GOOD thing. Make self-love a NECESSITY not a ‘I’ll get to it on the brink of breakdown or burn out”.

I get that this isn’t something that is just going to ‘switch’ over night. Of course not.

I also get that it’s not something ‘easily’ fixed – but I also don’t believe its hard.

Ladies. We need to start loving ourselves MORE and doubting ourselves LESS.

There is a whole lotta hope though and a big solution to this ‘problem’, and it came from my favourite sentence in the report which was this;

7/10 women and 8/10 girls report feeling more confident or positive when they invest time in caring for themselves, taking time to care for their minds, body and appearance.

So you see ladies, as I said above – we HAVE to start loving ourselves more, and I mean physically love ourselves more.

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I have yelled from the roof tops about self-care routines since I started blogging back in 2011, knowing it was in fact the very thing to have set me on a path of self-love and worth.

Darlings. It’s time to stop saying ‘I don’t have time’, between work schedules and kids, or just crazy schedules and other commitments, and start making it a priority in your every day.

There are no rules to self-love practices either. It can look like whatever it needs to look like for you.

A walk. Or maybe some meditating. Or maybe it’s Journaling or sunrise and sunset beach sprints. Maybe it’s sweaty gym sessions or reading an uplifting book with a hot cup of jo every morning. It could be non negotiable bed times so you start getting more sleep.

It could be dry body brushing with a podcast on or long hot baths no matter what with beautiful essential oils every single night.

You see ladies, when you fill your own cup up first, you CAN step out in the world a little…fuller.

When you start to look after yourself as a matter of priority – magic can happen in your life. You start to look after yourself even better. You start to love on yourself more. You start to take care of YOU. And when you take care of YOU, self-confidence naturally rises, which turns your self-esteem UP.

Here is the other huge thing though, and something I hope you can get behind in a big way. I don’t think it comes down to just us as individuals either ladies, out there in a world that does very often try to tell us to be a certain woman we are not. It’s to remember that we are a sisterhood. As Constance Hall so beautifully refers to us – we are all Queens. So I believe, the other singular most powerful thing we can do as women on the quest of finding and growing our self-esteem and self-confidence through self-love – is hold other women in our lives accountable.

Check in. Ask the question. Make a plan with your girlfriends closest to you and hold each other accountable. Don’t let your fellow goddess go another day or week or month feeling like she doesn’t get to have the confidence she deserves to be exactly who she believes she can be.

And please just know this. That no matter where you are in your journey in trying to find yourself, to love yourself, and to gain more self-confidence – I am over here, ALWAYS… cheering you on, having your back and being a stand for you.

Love Anna,

XO

life

Dove Beauty Report and statistics found here: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-dove-research-finds-beauty-pressures-up-and-women-and-girls-calling-for-change-583743391.html

Images: here, here, herehere.

Corporate 9-5 Vs Network Marketing- A Former Skeptics Take

Hey everyone,  Its Morgan here!

Slight change of plans from the normal today. Its been some time since I posted on this blog, in fact, the last time was when I gave my account of our time in Amsterdam back in 2012!!  Anyway, Some recent events really got me thinking about this topic and prompted me to write this short post.  It started out as Facebook post and then the next thing I knew I had a couple of thousand words.  So I figured hey why not share it here?  I hope you enjoy it and find some value in it, i know it’s a little off topic from what you may to be use to but its something I’m really passionate about…… ENJOY!


Working from a café today I couldn’t help overhear a conversation going on behind me.   Some poor girl was being grilled in a job interview, to be fair she was doing a good job and holding her own.  She seemed bright and very bubbly, but sitting here listening to the language, the tone and general vibe of the convo made me feel a bit anxious.

One person trying so hard to Sell themselves  the other revelling in their self-perceived position of power.  Out comes the “Work Voice”, you know the one?  It’s similar to the one you put on as a kid when you’re answering the home telephone but you are in earshot of mum…….  “Hello Richards residence, Morgan Speaking!”  just the most fake thing you can think of.

The reason it made me feel so anxious though is because that was exactly how I felt working in corporate, going to corporate meetings and talking the corporate talk all day long.  Trust me, there is nothing more soul-destroying than working in a profession where you can’t really show up as yourself or say what you truly mean without fear of what your “boss” might think.  I would often think I wonder what would happen if I spoke honestly to my boss’s even for 30 seconds, how would they take it if gave them  an honest appraisal of their performance as a leader.   The answer being that most employers wouldn’t take it well and it would be reflected in my pay review and promotion prospects.

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I feel the same type of anxiety in airport lounges when high-flying harry big balls is sitting next me talking on the phone or talking to his staff.

Actually that just reminded me of a story.  A few weeks back Anna and I were waiting for a flight in Melbourne, we used our points to upgrade to business (we aren’t flashy dickheads, but when we can we upgrade).  Subsequently we were given access to the business lounge and we were sitting there on our laptops enjoying a red wine before our flight (Anna of course a Champagne) when a few moments later this guy in a suit comes in and sits just near us, entourage in tow.  This guy thought he was Harvey spectre (watch the show suits to understand that example) and he wanted everyone to know it.  Berating his staff for asking questions, talking down to them like they were dirt.  Not just quietly either, loudly, he didn’t just want the staff to know how important he was, he wanted everyone to in the room to.  I always try my best to be impeccable with my word whenever I can, not to judge people  but after listening to this guy for over an hour it was fairly safe to assume that this guy was, well, a massive dick.

I thought about John Maxwell’s 5 levels of leadership as I often do when I’m around this type of person. This guy was the definition of level 1-  TITLE.  People (his staff) only tolerated him because they believe they had no other choice because of his rank in the company.  But you know what I honestly felt? I honestly felt sorry for him, because one day his time and position of power will end and along with it his own self-worth.  When your own self-importance comes before developing others you can’t create legacy, once the power of your title is gone you are left with nothing.

But most of all I felt sorry for his staff, I knew that feeling of being made to feel second-rate by some A-hole on a power trip.

It made me wonder, why do people put up with that? Seriously, in any bar across any country in the world if one person spoke to another the same way as this guy did to his staff, fists would probably fly.  But because there is an exchange of time for money (that’s basically what a job is right?) we tolerate the worst people in world and we do this by choice?

I’m not saying that pursuing a traditional career is a bad idea, in fact I was speaking to a friend of ours the other night who has just landed his dream job in an incredible company.   He is super passionate and excited about the work he will be doing and the people he will be doing it with.

What I am saying however, is if you don’t love what you do, change it or at least takes steps to do something about it.

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Casual Friday AKA the day i left corporate and became a full-time Network Marketer

As I sit here in this café today listening to the girl being interviewed and reflecting on high flying harry big balls display in the lounge I found myself filled with so much gratitude for our chosen profession.  Anna and I are so fortunate to able to say that we love what we do now. Not only is it important to be our authentic selves, its critical for success.  We treat our team with respect and in turn we get it back in droves, but most importantly we treat people exactly the same when they enter our team, as when they are working in our team or if they decide to leave our team.  Yes network marketing isn’t perfect, and yes you still get the occasional knob but I ultimately have the say on whether or not I choose to work with them.  There are no high pressure interviews where you need to have a shiny CV full of qualifications and pre requisites that (lets face it) you probably lied about anyway.  It’s often said that it doesn’t matter if you have gone to Yale or come from Jail to have success in our profession.  Ultimately your success is measured (and paid on) the amount of people you help be successful and rise through the organisation, which is completely the opposite in the corporate world.

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Working from our local cafe in Fremantle

Now, I can already tell what some people will think as they read this “but morgan I had a friend who was involved in network marketing once and they were let down really badly”.  Which is a totally valid statement, yes in the past and even today people are let down by network marketing companies.  They are let down in the same way they are let down by bad restaurants, Taxi drivers who take the long route, publicly listed stock, airline companies, telephone companies, Investing money in the wrong shares,  mechanics and of course trades people and contractors who rip off their clients.  The worst by far are Plumbers! They show up late, they overcharge and not to mention the dreaded plumbers crack (what’s up with that?).  I remember a plumber charging me $1000 to fix my hot water system, I then found out from a friend a few months later it was an $180 job. The difference is 3 years later at 3am one morning, the toilet began overflowing. Now like most sane, rational people I didn’t throw my hands up in the air, tar all plumbing companies with the same brush and allow the turds to flow through my house.  I called any plumber that was available to come out and help fix the problem regardless of my past experience.

It frustrates me why people think that our profession and industry is somehow immune from the same type of stuff that happens in  any other industry?

Yes, unscrupulous companies come (and very quickly go), yes sometimes people with poor ethics find their way into our profession, but what profession doesn’t have the exact same problems?  If you pick any profession across any industry you will find the exact same thing, in the medical industry with dodgy doctors, in the legal system with corrupt judges and what about the people we trust to run our governments?  I’m not trying to make excuses for these companies, in fact I get as angry as the next person when people get let down by our industry, what I am trying to point out is that network marketing is just like any other industry.  There is the good and the bad.

Finding a good network marketing company is like finding a good plumber or mechanic.  Difficult, but not impossible, provided you know what to look for.  There is a whole swag of things to be mindful of that will help you cut through any BS, but that’s a whole other post for another time but its something I’m also really passionate about.

The common thing for many people is they seem to believe that if they purchase a product from a network marketing company they somehow are being duped or they are a sucker? Common sense time guys…….  If you pay for a membership at cost co and all you receive is a trolley full of groceries that you love every single month, are you being ripped off? If you are a member of a wine club and all you pay for and receive is a case of wine each month are you being taken for a ride? The answer of course is a NO!  Your membership allows you to purchase products at the best possible prices, you get products that meet your needs and you consume them on a regular basis.

Quality Network marketing companiess are no different! You find a product you love (MASSIVE HINT), make sure it has a money back guarantee (any decent company would back their own product, our company certainly does)  you pay a membership fee to receive the best possible price, you order the products and you consume them.  There never is an obligation to pursue the business (if there is run the other way), that’s because legitimate NWM companies MUST HAVE REAL CUSTOMERS in the exact same way that cost co does.

But for some reason when there is an opportunity to earn rebates and/or commissions by making referrals, peoples scepticism seeps in?  Like it sounds too good to be true?  The truth is, it’s not to be good to be true because it requires hard work, dedication and commitment just like anything where the rewards are high.  It’s no different to sharing a movie you love, a restaurant you had good service at or hotel that went above and beyond.  In fact most of us are doing it don’t even realise it!

Big companies like Apple and Samsung are already leveraging your networks, you just aren’t being paid for it.

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No thanks, Sounds like a pyramid scheme.

Network marketing has come of age, It’s no longer a question of viability or if it works, it does……. It’s the people who don’t.

The industry will continue to grow with or without you or me being a part of it, people will continue to buy quality products and distribute them to friends, families and total strangers.  My hope is that eventually common sense will prevail when it comes to the everyday person looking at our profession and even though it may not be for them, they understand that’s it is just another profession.  I’m not saying that’s its perfect, but if you hate working for knobs who treat you like dirt it’s a bloody good option.

Of course this is just an opinion post,  it’s up to the person reading this to make a decision on what they believe about network marketing. It may or may not be for you, but there is only one way to find out….

Image: here & here.

Dear Dad…

On the 2nd of January 2016, I lost my Dad.

We knew it was coming, he had terminal cancer after all, and had fought the really good strong fight for 2 years, but I still wasn’t ready for that call to come through. “His gone Anna”.

I had never been hit with so much grief in my life – and the pain you feel when loosing a parent (considering you come from their very being) is a physical pain like nothing you will have experienced before. My heart literally ached. I had a physical heaviness in my chest far greater than any panic attack I had ever suffered or sadness I had felt before.

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3 days after his loss, after sleeping – a lot – and being as disconnected as humanly possible, I collapsed in the kitchen whilst making myself a coffee from crying so much and letting the pain in my body take me over.

I had been speaking to Dad daily for over 6 months in the last stages of his decline. And in one of those calls less than 2 weeks before he passed, he said he knew the time was very much near, and he requested Morgan and I take one last trip – little did he know we were already coming (with my oldest brother Nate). We were planning on surprising him on his birthday the 4th January having booked flights for the 3rd January, but on the 2nd of January – he took his final breathes and left this earth plane.

I know that was a huge contributing factor to how much pain I was in. I knew Dad wanted to see us all one last time, and he just couldn’t hold out. Dad was the strongest (and craziest) man I knew – with a fighting spirit that sometimes didn’t seem human, 2 traits I know he gave me, so I knew he knew I was strong enough to see him in his final moments, I just think we didn’t get there fast enough.

And sure…. in the days following his death, I KNEW he wasn’t in pain anymore (which I was more grateful for than I can articulate), and I knew that ultimately I should be celebrating his life, not being so selfishly sad, and so picking myself back up off the floor on the day I felt the grief the most, I knew what I had to do.

I had to write.

So I sat in my office, sobbing heavily, un able to sit up properly or see clearly – and I wrote this letter to him. And by the end of signing off, I had stopped crying and for the first time in 3 days, was taking deep full breaths. And even though in the days to come I was still crying, the tears did lessen and the pain was becoming more bearable to move through.

So on this day, Fathers day, I was compelled to share my letter. Unedited and I am sure spelling mistakes and all.

7 months on and Dad visits me with White Feathers, I seem to only have moments of tears when I’m driving and I am more grateful than ever of the nature traits you instilled in me – but I still really do miss him.

Dad is a part of my life most don’t know about (other than my longest and closest of friends) – but is sharing this today shares a big part of my life from 18 – 28 years of age.

I live my life sharing all aspects of it to allow others to do the same. I openly share the bad times, the good times, the boring times, the normal times and today – I share another little part of me that means a lot, purely in the hope that openly sharing how deep I did grieve allows any other people the courage and space to share their own grief more openly.

But most of all – I share this to honour Dads legacy now his left this earth.

XO

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p.s if you have lost a parent no matter how young or old you are, I’d love to hear what you loved the most or miss the most yourself about them in the comments section. One thing I know for sure is that talking about it, writing about it and sharing it does feel better than holding it all in.


Dear Dad,

You’re gone now. Just like that.

And even though I saw it coming Dad, it still really, really hurts.

The day you chose to leave this earth, I think deep down I knew, even though I was hoping against all might it wouldn’t be. I woke up not feeling well and turned to Morgan saying I was so scared at any moment I’d get the call to say you’d taken your last breathe, and the very same day – you did, and I got the very call I was dreading.

I was so upset that I didn’t get to take the last flight I booked to say goodbye – but I know and hold on to you choosing for me to not see you like you were. Here, but already gone. Just know I would have been strong enough, because you gave me that fighting strength.

I know you are no longer in pain now, and that is what gives me the greatest peace of all. That, and knowing that you have returned to infinite love and divinity, or as you loved to tell me as often as you could “you’re returning to meet your maker”.

It hasn’t yet stopped my pain though, knowing you’re not in any anymore.

It’s a pain that feels heavy – a physical pain and heaviness right where my heart is and I know I shouldn’t be telling you this, you’re busy ‘up there’ now after all, but I think you would also love that I am letting you know. That was something I know you always loved about me – my ability to speak the truth (sometimes as you would cringe – ‘too truthful’ – but that’s your fault, I absolutely got that from you).

What is most upsetting though Dad, and still is a crushing pain daily that is the part I need to learn to live with the most, is that I can’t just jump on a plane and come and see you anymore, drinking too much coffee and eating too much fruit and nut chocolate with you when I did. It hurts that I can’t pick up the phone and call you every single day and hear your excited “hey baby girl” when I do. That’s what I’ll miss the most.

You and I were the lucky ones though Dad. Lucky in that I never had to get yelled at by you growing up or go through the moody teenage years with you or have you pretend to hate my boyfriends because we got to start our relationship when I was 18, and for the past almost 10 years we got to cram more stories and truth and love in to our lives than some dads and daughters do in a lifetime – so thank you for that.

I am grateful I got to love and respect you not just as a Dad either, but saw you for the individual you were wearing many hats, as a brother, a son, a grandfather and a man, trying to do the best he could with how he knew.

I will never forget the first time you had come to the school us kids were at and word spread around the playground you were there, a little boy came running up to tell 6 year old me, “Anna, Anna! Your dad is here?!!!” and without even having ever met you properly, running straight up to you and in to your arms without hesitation. I know that was one of your favourite memories too as you told the story to me often with the largest smile possible in my later years of life.

You always asked me why though, why, without even knowing you did I run with such confidence to you, and I think the answer lies in the truth of parenthood.

It’s because I chose you and mum as parents and you being my dad was a part of my truth I didn’t always have to understand to know it to be true. Even at 6 years old.

And sure you and mum chose each other when you got together but I chose you both too – I needed both of you in my life to teach me all that I had to learn to be my own person in this life.

Mum, who taught me every conceivable good and just thing in this world, like love, patience, determination, kindness, giving, respect – and you – who taught me the more wild and serious side of life, I’m grateful too your lessons came later on in my life, right when I was ready for them. You instilled in me my love of travel (genetics I swear), my penchant for swear words and how sometimes ‘fuck’ just does explain exactly what you need it too, my stubbornness – my god my stubbornness and my street smarts.

You AND mum, were and will always remain even though you’re now gone– the ying and yang to my life and all it’s lessons, and I am so grateful I chose you as my Dad.

My first memory of meeting you as an 18 year old after choosing to want to build a relationship with you and getting to build it however we pleased from day 1 was you asking if I had ever done acid, no dad, I replied, to which you in all your bad assery said “well, if you ever do want to do it I want to make sure I do it with you to make sure you’re ok” – ok big guy. I have to say, at 18, I figured out pretty fast I had a strange sure, but “cool” Dad.

I will never forget the first time Morgan met you either and the conversations that ensued the more he got to spend time with you over the years, but the lasting statement that could be his memory of ‘us’ is his understanding of me after meeting you. It was after one of our visits to you in 2014 sitting out together on the balcony at Charlottes house where you stayed the last years of your life, we said the same things, finished each others sentences, swore a lot when we were excited and were as stubborn as the other and when we left that day he told me that I made sense now – there was always a side to me (the bad assery / stubborn side shall we say Dad) that he couldn’t place and as soon as he met you, it clicked.

I remember getting the letter at Christmas 2013 to let us know they’d found black spots on your lungs and the prognosis wasn’t good at all. Stage 4 inoperable, untreatable Cancer – the outcome….terminal. I was sitting on the floor in my zen den at home and cried like I have never cried before – that is until I got the call you were gone 3 days ago. You didn’t know how long you had, you kept saying what your Dr told you “well how long is a piece of string” but one thing I had learned from you is you were a fighter and stubborn, both traits that saw you give us so much more of you than I think even your Dr’s expected. 2 years you lasted Dad. 2 years. I really don’t think anyone ever expected you to fight that long, but you did, and THAT is what I have learned the most from you and the legacy you leave behind in me – a fighting spirit. To live life on your own terms and never give up.

The last time I got to be with you in hospital we said at the exact same time “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” and that summed up your last few years to me. It didn’t matter how sick you got or how many times in my opinion, or the Dr’s you defied medical odds, you fought. And I’m so so grateful and so so glad you did, because I got two more years of stories, chats, advice and having you as ‘Dad’ in my life.

I’m sorry Morgan and I never got to give you a cuddle of our first born as I know you so hoped you would get but I am grateful that when we have our little one(s) they get a VERY special guardian angel looking after them. I have no doubt they’ll still feel the presence of your energy and love from above.

I am going to miss you Dad, really really miss you, but am grateful you’re at peace now, a peace I know you have been searching for in other things quite literally your whole life.

I promise to chat with you often still and that I will always be your ‘baby girl’

I hope they had the extra sugar for your coffee, a rad motorbike, extra copies of your favourite book; the bible (no doubt there are plenty of them though) and an endless supply of fruit and nut chocolate as soon as you arrived ‘up there’ 3 days ago and you live in infinite love and divinity as you so deserved.

Visit me in my dreams sometimes just so I can still hear your raspy laugh and strong certain voice no matter what words you have always spoken….

Love “your darling daughter”,

Anna xoxox

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India – A view through my eyes

India. The country bursting at the seems with people and traffic carrying a population of 1.1 billion people.

We had finally made it, and stepping off the plane it was like every sense was assaulted at once.

India immediately was like no other country I had visited before.

Sensing our energy, a young lady ahead of us turned around and asked if this was our first time to her country and when we in unison replied with a resounding ‘yes’ she laughed and said “well welcome to my country and I promise you will get used to the smell”.

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I have to say though, before we go on this adventure of words through India through my eyes, this country was one neither Morgan nor I ever had on our ‘ to visit’ list. In fact Morgan had told me since our travelling begun back in 2007 that India was somewhere he would never visit. So I actually loved our beautiful friends Mary and Jacob did decided to get married here otherwise we would have never gotten to experience what we have the last 10 days. I only look upon the whole experience with a deep gratitude and bursting heart of love – because of WHY we were there.

And that is really where my own journey started. I came with the biggest open heart and open mind considering here I was in a country I had never necessarily dreamed of coming to, with 30 of our closest friends a few of which who had been a couple of times who were absolutely in love with it.

The bride and groom to be had organised the most incredible 7 day wedding itinerary for us all where tours, places of interest, trains and every detail in between was planned out so we literally had to just pack and arrive. And as I write this, sitting in a small town in beautiful Jaipur, with the warm sun but chilly air all around me, I can say it was fundamentally the best thing they could have done as it helped us see India through their eyes and kept us all together for the week. We had the experience of all experiences, and being surrounded by 30 odd of literally your best friends, is something I will truly cherish forever.

Being rebels with a cause though, and needing to see some more of this country by ourselves, Morgan and I booked 3 nights in Varanasi before the wedding week to have an experience by ourselves.

Why Varanasi you might ask?

Well, since I was a little girl if you said India I would say; Ganges River.

It has always, to me, been the main thing I was attracted to in India. Taj Mahal sure, but it didn’t procure the same emotion or curiosity that the Ganges did, so when looking in to what town we could explore for 3 days by ourselves, I immediately looked in to the best city for the Ganges and time and time again landed on Varanasi.

Touching down in Varanasi, I knew we weren’t in Kansas City anymore.

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From the stares to the noise to the smell it truly was like nothing I had experienced in any other city or country I had travelled to before.

We organised our pre paid taxi (a big tip if you’re ever in India, always book pre paid taxi’s at the airport, much safer and cheaper) and ventured out in to the warm afternoon Indian sun.

The trip to our hotel was about 20km drive and it was 20km of culture shock.

I have experienced 3rd world before, one of my favourite places in the world is Bali (3rd world) and I have also been to Manila (Philippines – also 3rd world), but this, this was different. This was looking at humanity from a perspective (in my opinion and mine only) of over population and poverty and the affects that can have.

We drove past tiny mini ‘towns’ on the way in to the main city area of Varanasi with 8 – 11 people crammed in one room ‘homes’ where I could see dirty mats (not mattresses, just mats) or slightly raised ‘beds’ that were simply hessian bags and metal poles. That was the only sleeping place for the whole family, or for whomever lived in these tiny one-room homes.

I saw people going to the toilet (I’m not just talking about number one’s either) on the side of the road and dirt and dust and rubbish absolutely everywhere.

Arriving at our hotel, I honestly felt guilty, that whilst we got to go in to our warm bed and eat a plentiful meal that night and have the luxuries that coming from a Western 1st world country can afford you, there were literally homeless and poverty stricken men and women metres from our hotel.

That first night, I’m just going to be completely honest with you…. I cried.

I was overwhelmed and exhausted from just one afternoon of experiencing what I was seeing and hearing and smelling.

I cried because I wanted to do more though. Not at all from pity or sadness. It just felt almost wrong being in their country affording what we could and not being able to help everyone. Morgan through my tears gently reminded me though “baby, I understand your pain, but you didn’t come here to start a revolution, you came here for a wedding”. He was of course right (although I still believe I may go back to start a revolution) and that night as I climbed in to bed my nightly rituals of gratitude’s was pages and pages and pages long.

The next morning was the Ganges River tour we had booked and we were in the taxi driving the short drive by 6am. Having experienced Varanasi during the day, late afternoon and evening, to then experiencing it at 6am I have to say it felt like two different cities. The roads were empty, there was no one absolutely anywhere except the few homeless huddled around fires they’d lit on the side of the road and there was an energy I couldn’t put my finger on. A really surreal one.

Arriving to our destination we met our guide Baba (his real name was Deepak but he’d been given the nickname Baba as he was so knowledgeable) who was an amazing man with fantastic English and a huge smile.

Walking the short distance through the sleepy streets to arrive at the Ganges is something I truly will never ever, ever forget. It was an energy, a feeling and a magic that I will never be able to properly articulate and that first sight of ‘her’ before the sun had even risen, with a misty fog covering her entirety listening to the prayer calls all around us is truly something I am going to remember until my last breathe. And I have no doubt in to my next life.

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I will say this though…

You have to be ready for the Ganges. I do believe that. It’s a cultural experience like no other – why I say that is that river is their everything, it is their life. And with life, comes death, and you see a lot of that on the Ganges in the form of cremations. I knew that going, and it was something I actually was ready and curiously willing to experience, but it is such a rich and important part of their culture so if you aren’t necessarily ready to see a constant flow of dead bodies wrapped in cloth on bamboo stretches having their last bath, or drying out on the steps, or burning – Varanasi isn’t the city for you.

We had booked a private boat (you can do that through your hotel), and I have to say, being out on Mama Ganga, with just Morgan and myself, Baba and the lovely guy who rowed it, was extra special as it felt like ‘just us’.

Rowing silently down the river, seeing the locals come to life – bathing, praying, meditating and washing their clothes was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life. Even writing these words right now, there is a feeling in my chest of what I felt that morning and I trust and believe it will stay with me forever.

The energy, the energy the energy – everything is energy and energy is everything and on that river that morning I experienced an energy like nothing I had ever felt before. Morgan, who is still both slightly but very Mr sceptic when I talk so much about energy said over and over and over again “do you feel that?” “Are you feeling this?” which only made the whole experience even richer because I knew we both would walk away from that morning with that feeling connecting us until we were old and grey.

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Baba warned us before we got to the cremation site (there are 2 main areas where they cremate their dead) and said how much of a spiritual thing it was for their culture and people and how much respect we need to show it. No cameras, no phones, no nothing. He said something I so loved and respected – “this is not the cinemas, this is real life and I need you to respect that”. You NEVER have to tell us twice whilst travelling to respect certain aspects of that countries culture so we actually just put our phones off and away before he had even told us that (Note; I don’t think people even should have to be told to not film or take photos of such a sacred site but you would be surprised and disgusted – I was anyway – at how some tourists were still filming or taking photos. Baba tut tutted at them and turned to us disappointed and said ‘karma will get them).

We arrived right in front of the cremation site via Mama Ganga herself – and seeing the flames from the boat was an incredibly humbling indescribable feeling. I don’t think I would have done that particular area if I weren’t with a well-respected guide as he was able to take us through the whole experience and ensured we followed rules and rituals. I love travel, and I truly believe it IS the only thing you can buy, that makes you richer, and standing on those steps, learning about the life and death of Indian culture, I did feel all the richer for it.

The first dead body that was marched less than half a metre from me was absolutely a jolt to my system, just being totally honest, and I did think that maybe this was maybe too much. Maybe I wasn’t ready to experience more of this. I decided though, very quickly that this was a big reason why I was here and I wasn’t going to run from it. With life, does come death and this was an experience to live in to that like no other.

As they all brought the bodies to the cremation site they would chant in their local language something that translated to “god is true”, and body after body, you would hear ‘god is true’.

Once at the sight, they walk down the stairs to the river where they give the bodies ‘one last bath in the Ganges’. After that, the bodies are left to ‘dry’ with their feet facing the river propped up (they are still completely covered at this stage). At that stage the men all go to take a bath together in the Ganges (elsewhere to the cremation sight), and all must have their heads and beards shaved off, which is done to represent cleanliness. That really was an experience unto it’s self when walking the Ganges elsewhere to the cremation site, seeing families of men, all sitting along the ghat having their heads and beards completely shaved off.

Once that part of the ritual is complete, and all men are bathed in the Ganges, and cleanly shaven, they go back to the site to start the burning of the families body, Baba also told us, by this stage they believe the body is almost dry from it’s final bath.

We learned, it takes 300kg of wood to burn a body, they use butter to help the burning along (critical part baba said) and the body takes a few hours to burn. At this stage of standing right there amongst it all, we were seeing countless bodies taken off the bamboo stretches (always by the oldest son or if oldest son wasn’t possible, the next first male of the family) and wrapped in metres of white cotton. Then, the family placed the body on the 300kg of wood they have constructed (in a grave like structure) and once the body is on top, more wood is placed on top of it again. The oldest son (or male) then lights the fire, and they all go and stand and watch it burn for the next few hours.

And that, all happens over and over and over and over again, hundreds of times a day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The smoke can sometimes feel or be overwhelming and I have to say what some might be thinking, the smell isn’t as bad as you might think. It is more just the smell of burning wood and ash. I will say though, I did feel like even after I had showered a few times, and washed our clothes, I could still smell the distinctive smell.

Once I felt I had had enough, we moved on to go for a walk through the labyrinth of ‘streets’ (they were more like ally ways) in the city of Varanasi with Baba leading the way. Truth be told I did ask him to not show us ‘tourist’ Varanasi and to show us how he see’s it. And see it we did.

Walking through these tiny ally ways, seeing the real life of Varanasi people was another culture shock. The smells. The sights. The sounds. I ensured I was covered literally head to toe, and even wore a scarf around my head, but being in those secluded ally ways, being a ‘white skinned girl’ still attracted a lot of attention.

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We had the TRUE Varanasi experience in one day – how is that even possible you may ask? Well from 5am to 9pm we were out and about and exploring this beautiful but overwhelming city. We walked as many inner ally ways as possible, visited a traditional (and I have to say amazing) aroma therapist, the oldest and biggest pashmina and sari making building in the whole of Varanasi and even visited a guru healer (where by my reading was truly incredibly accurate).

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Later that night, after spending 12 hours with Baba already, we went back out on our private boat to see the cremation site in the evening and to also witness the evening ceremony – all from the comfort and safety of our boat.

Going home on night 2 I did still feel heaviness I am not sure I can explain to you properly.

Getting back to our hotel Morgan looked at me and sensing my quietness and emotion suggested we grab a bottle of red and de brief from our day. We sat and debated, talked, laughed and chatted about all that we had seen and experienced and again, when I went through my evening rituals of gratitude writing, this time, the pages were even longer.

The next day was spent exploring the city by ourselves and I have to say, the best thing we did was exploring the city first with a guide, as going out the 3rd day we had so much more confidence and knew where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. To be honest though, most of our day was spent sitting on the Ghats of the Ganges taking in the daily life of the Indian people of Varanasi.

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Departing Varanasi the next day I was so ready. Ready to see more of India. Ready to leave some of the heaviness behind. Ready to see all of our beautiful best friends and start the whole reason WHY we were there, which was Mary & Jacobs wedding.

We flew in to Delhi early afternoon and taxi’d it to our hotel amongst the crazy traffic of the capital of India (which by the way, is insane – but funnily enough, with barely if any road rules, really actually works!).

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I won’t go in to the next week moment by moment, as I truly would be writing a novel. Why? Because it was the most deeply experiential week of our lives, and why wouldn’t it be? Hanging out in a country where Morgan and I still didn’t fully understand, but alongside our best friends, with a sole purpose of love and adventure, is the kind of week we will never ever forget it.

Over the next 6 days though (the 7th day being the day of all days, the leaf wedding!!) we experienced a visit to a Sikh temple, Humayun’s Tomb, lunch at the Taj Hotel, train ride to Agra, visiting the Taj Mahal, exploring Red Fort, we watched our lovers play in a 20/20 match of cricket whilst we learned Bollywood dancing alongside them and shopped some more for Indian treasures. We explored Amber Fort (in Jaipur), had the Vedic readings of ALL-Vedic readings (the most accurate and life changing reading I will ever and have ever had in my life) and dined at an old palace under the stars.

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A memory from the above I will treasure forever is when a group of us got up at 6am in Jaipur to go and walk the river across from our hotel. Some of us were friends who’d we have known and loved for years, others, we had just met. But off we set to go and capture the sun rising and get some exercise in. Walking home from the morning walk and sunrise (which was absolutely beautiful) we were stopped by a complete stranger who spoke in extremely broken local language and English teaching us 4 lessons of life! He told us:

Eat half of what you think (as in what you think you should).

Drink twice as what you think (as in what you think you should).

Exercise 3 times as much as what you think (as in what you think you should).

And always, ALWAYS laugh.

When he said laugh, he proceeded to laugh louder than I have EVER heard anyone belly laugh. The belly laugh of all belly laughs. Leaning backwards with a red face – which of course made us all collapse in to laughter as well.

It really was one of those pinch me moments and I turned to everyone and said – “and THAT is why you should always be up before the sun rises, and should ALWAYS leave your hotel” and it’s true!! You can truly never know what adventure and incredible experience awaits.

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Morgan and I awoke on our 7th Day at the final hotel (having arrived the day before to a band drumming us a welcome and traditional welcome ceremony) with huge smiles on our faces. Today was the day, the day we got to witness some of our best friends promise their forever to each other. I have to say as well, awaking in the hotel we were staying in, which was the Samode Palace Garden Hotel, was pretty magical and spectacular.

We all had breakfast together (the bride and groom were at the Samode Palace Hotel getting ready already) and laughed our way through breakfast. EVERYTHING was a surprise for us. So we had no idea where the actual wedding was, we just knew we all had to be ready by 2pm and in the front area of the hotel to be bus’d to the location. So breakfast was also a time of great fun speculation!

2pm rolled around and true to respecting how big a day this was – we all were ready and assembled (and my god dolled up) for the big event. We were bus’d to a beautiful old Palace that had been converted to a Hotel, and were greeted by a band, camels and even a friendly elephant!! The day had begun! Moments later the party begun. Jacob and his gorgeous groomsmen arrived in a beautiful old car surrounded by a loud incredible band and we were motioned to follow them. Walking in to the palace, with music playing, flowers being thrown over us, an elephant in sight view, we all knew this was going to be a wedding like we had never experienced in our lives – and probably will never again!

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The rest of the day went by like a literal dream. Where they promised their forevers was in a room like nothing I had ever seen. Floor to wall paintings, flowers covering every inch of every surface, candles, and magic surrounded us. And then, well and then the bride herself arrived. I don’t think I have ever seen a group of guests gasp more than when we saw our beautiful Mary arrive to walk to her prince. Her dress, designed by one of our closest friends and superstar designers Steph Audino was literally the most beautiful dress I had ever seen (no cameras allowed which I love – so our phones were largely off!)

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The rest, as they say is history. And when I say history, I mean history. This wedding was the kind that goes down in the history books. From the location, to the dress, to the firework displays, to the surprise of moving locations (via camels may I add!!!!!!!!) to a then dessert rave type party for the reception where we all raged on to the very very wee hours of the night.

The wedding truly was and always will be remembered as one of ALL of the greatest nights of our lives, topped only by our own wedding of course.

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I left India the next day with a full heart of gratitude for the experience Mary & Jacob had gifted us by saying I do in India, but also a heart of deep understanding and respect due to a newfound level of gratitude. Granted, I needn’t have travelled the 30 hour trip to be grateful, but you cannot help leaving India without a deeper and greater respect FOR gratitude.

Landing home, truth be told, I actually got quite emotional (I started this piece in India, and am finishing this now a short hour after I have arrived home) I turned to Morgan with tears in my eyes saying I had never ever been so grateful to be home.

I was grateful I got to be the truest, deepest, biggest expression of myself instead of needing to be invisible as a woman in the Indian streets.

I was grateful for clean water. Being able to brush my teeth with the tap water, to being allowed to open my mouth in the shower, to drinking straight from the tap.

I was grateful to be able to wear what I wanted to wear!!!!! Shorts and a singlet if I wanted to, bikini’s if I wanted to, I was able to express myself fully and authentically through what I wore.

I was grateful for being served and acknowledged as a woman no matter what town or shop I went too.

I was grateful for the clean streets and clean air. Taking several huge and deep breathes as I exited the plane again I was overcome with emotion.

But above all, I was grateful I got to be grateful.

I thought I was grateful before, but I now realise I truly was not. Gratitude is our strongest miracle in our lives, and yet I realised how much I actually wasn’t conscious of in my life.

Running Water. Fresh Air. Clean Streets!! Having a voice, but no truly – having a voice. You being able to tell someone no or being served or not served because of your sex. Now being greeted with a smile everywhere I go and being asked what would I like (instead of all questions being directed to Morgan) I am deeply deeply grateful.

So as much as this post is about sharing our Indian experience through my eyes, with all the truth but deep love in my heart – it’s also a post about deep gratitude. And waking you up to take a look at how much you are truly practicing gratitude in your life.

Before India, I did my gratitude’s each morning and each night, but since coming home, I have vowed to do them throughout my day every day. When I pour myself a glass of clean water. When I take breathes of fresh air. When I am respected because I am simply a human, not because of the gender I was born. When I can step outside in whatever I want to wear. When I get to speak my voice no matter what.

So to India, thank you. So very much, for being a country of extreme contrasts, whilst being a country with deep spiritual meaning. For gifting me the most incredible week ever surrounded by all my best friends to witness the greatest gift of all – love, with our friends committing their lives to one another, and above all else, thank you for teaching me the greatest gift of all – gratitude.