[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and with all the hype that usually comes with it, you’re probably beginning to wonder whether you’ll receive a Valentine’s Day card, flowers or chocolates. Even although you try not to get sucked in by it, you are surrounded by reminders: the shops are overflowing with red hearts, bunches of roses, chocolates and cards. The radio and the television are constantly poking your consciousness with reminders. Restaurants are advertising special Valentine dinners and jewellery stores are luring shoppers in to buy that perfect symbol of love. Everywhere you look there are constant reminders.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Despite your best efforts, perhaps you’re wondering whether you have a secret admirer and how exciting it would be to receive a surprise token of love and admiration. Let’s be honest, our deepest fantasies of romantic love are readily fuelled by days like St Valentine’s Day.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]But there’s another side to Valentine’s Day that is far more sobering, stark and stifling. Valentine’s Day is the perfect breeding ground for self-criticism. I can remember being in high school and hating Valentine’s Day. Going to school wondering if I’d get a Valentine’s Day message or card. (It was a day for fundraising at school so you could buy a card or flower and have it delivered to someone you liked at school). In the five years I spent in high school I probably received one. Not a very encouraging measure of my desirability or worth as a romantic love. In fact it made me feel awfully inadequate.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]When I was older, it didn’t improve much. If you weren’t in a relationship, well Valentine’s Day was even more painful. It was sort of proof that you weren’t shaping up in the romantic arena of life. Even if you were in a relationship, if your partner didn’t adequately show their love on Valentine’s Day, you again felt unworthy. So basically Valentine’s Day was just a day to feel bad about yourself.[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”https://happinessofpursuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Hearts.jpg” image_width=”200″ image_height=”200″ crop=”false” svg=”false” lightbox=”false” group=”_general” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”right” margin_bottom=”10″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Of course, what I am writing here is my own opinion and you may not agree with anything I’m saying. But I am writing this in the hope of easing maybe one person’s self- criticism on Valentine’s Day.
This is My Valentine to You:
Valentine’s Day is Not a Measure of Your Worth.
Yes, I probably don’t even know you, so your inner critic is shouting, “how can she say that, she hasn’t even met you!”
I don’t have to meet you to know.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Let me ask you this:
Why do we feel all warm and fuzzy when we see a clumsy puppy, a furry wide-eyed kitten, a fluffy little chick or a tiny little baby? What have they done to deserve this reaction from us?
We don’t expect them to be beautiful models, high achievers, rich and famous, able to sit and stay at the age of six weeks or lay an egg immediately. We have no expectations. Absolutely nothing. They are living, breathing miracles of life. We feel warm and fuzzy just because they exist.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”35″]That is why I say Valentine’s Day is not a Measure of Your Worth. The fact that you exist is what makes you worthy. You are a breathing, living miracle of life and that makes you precious. Love yourself this Valentine’s Day, even if you don’t get flowers, chocolates or cards. None of these things can take action or make a difference in the world. You can and you do. Make someone smile, share a hug, a laugh, talk to a stranger. Take action to celebrate being alive. Now that is a measure of your worth.[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”https://happinessofpursuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/heart-in-hands.jpg” image_width=”1248″ image_height=”631″ crop=”true” svg=”false” lightbox=”false” group=”_general” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”center” margin_bottom=”10″][mk_image src=”https://happinessofpursuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Screen-Shot-2015-01-29-at-5.21.46-pm.png” image_width=”150″ image_height=”150″ crop=”true” svg=”false” lightbox=”false” group=”_general” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”center” margin_bottom=”10″][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Meet Melissa, a remarkable young woman. Melissa has had her fair share of challenges and 2014 was particularly difficult. She was faced with making some heart wrenching decisions that would change her life forever. This is Melissa’s story and she’s sharing it with us, hoping to inspire others who may face challenges too.
What’s your background?
I left school at 15, having not completed year 10. I started working for a health insurance company, scanning cheques and sorting mail. 11 years have passed (I am now 26), and my motivation and drive for success never faltered. I studied during the evening and proved myself through my work during the day. I am now an IT and Change Professional working as a Consultant in the Oil and Gas industry. I have also had the opportunity to travel the world, purchase properties and enjoy some of the other aspects of life that make me happy, including writing, volunteering with wildlife and competing in triathlons.
Until recently, I couldn’t say that I was successful in all aspects of my life. The most challenging journey for me was being a partner and then wife in an incompatible relationship. After a couple of years of self-doubt and increasing levels of darkness and despair, I listened to my heart and decided to stay true to my philosophy of life. I challenged myself to take the biggest leap of faith I could imagine. It is important to note that I would not have changed a thing about my past, for this part of my life has allowed me to grow so much as a person and has enabled me to overcome my greatest challenges.
You took a leap of faith. Did you ever wonder if you were doing the right thing?
I’ve taken two leaps of faith! One in search of happiness, and one to firmly cement my journey to success, happiness and fulfilment.
When I took my first leap of faith, I was not just leaving an unhappy marriage, I was leaping into the unknown. Society has written a checklist dictating that I should find a man, get married and settle down. I was throwing the checklist away, not knowing whether I would find someone to share my life with.
The discussion I had with myself went something like this:
You can choose to live a life of mediocrity and tick boxes. You can compromise and choose to make another person happy. You can do what society says is acceptable. This is an easy option. Your other option is to seek true happiness and fulfillment by unshackling the chains holding you down and forcing you into a life that won’t be lived for you. You can choose to find happiness and fulfillment within yourself, and choose the right path for you. You can write your own checklist and rip up the one that had been handed to you. What do you choose?’
I chose Life. Life then gave me the gift of someone that is brave enough to dream with me and walk along the same path, hand in hand.
Throughout the separation, I never questioned whether I was doing the right thing for me. From the moment I packed up my car and left with only my most important things, I knew that this was the path I needed to walk. Where I struggled was whether it was the right thing for him, I chose to be alone, but I left him alone. One day I truly hope that he too finds his kindred spirit and he can live the life that he always wanted for himself.
That brings me to the second leap of faith I am about to take! I am about to embark on a journey that will see my partner Clint and I pursuing our dream to live a life on the land, respecting her through organic (and biodynamic) crop and vineyard development. We are going to set up a sustainable and thriving business in the country, an environment that will see our future children and family thrive. What I risk is losing all that I have built financially and having to re-build from scratch. Why are we doing this? Because this is our dream. Only we can challenge ourselves to pursue it.
How did you make it happen?
There was a final tipping point, that one day where I just could not take it anymore. What led to that moment, the moment when I walked through the front door in tears, telling him that I was unhappy and I needed to leave, was a slow decline in happiness over a couple of years. I planned on leaving a number of times, but I always found a reason to hold back. I thought about his feelings, our finances, what I would do with no future certainty. I kept thinking that I could fix this, there was a problem with me and I had to fix it. I even tried bringing a fur baby (a kitten) into our lives, to give us something to bond over, and something to keep me happy at home. It didn’t work.
How did I make it happen? It was not about following a plan, it was about accepting that this is just the way it has to be. It was accepting that there wasn’t a problem with me mentally – sometimes things just don’t work out the way you planned it, despite your best efforts. This acceptance gave me the strength that I needed to take that next step.
What was your biggest challenge and what have you learnt along the way?
My biggest challenge was the internal battle that I was having with myself. I was battling what I should be doing versus what my heart was telling me I needed to do. Seems simple in theory but listening to my heart was the key to overcoming this battle.
With the marriage break down, it was initially the fear of the unknown. I had a path set before me which I was planning on ripping up, in place of something completely unknown.
The decision was not made lightly as there is nothing I dislike more than causing unhappiness for others, especially in order to achieve happiness for myself. For a long time I thought that I would be far too selfish if I chose to leave. It was later that I realized that we would both never be happy if I stayed. By leaving, I had given us both a chance of truly being happy.
The biggest thing that I have learnt is ensuring that I stay true to who I am and what is important to me. You can try and compromise for others, but the inner you will escape one way or the other. Once I accepted and embraced the inner me – warts and all – I started asking the right questions about what I truly want out of life. I first had to identify what I was truly passionate about before I could embrace it and allow it to keep me on the right path.
By enduring through these dark times, I am now truly able to appreciate all the beautiful things in my life. Through knowing darkness, I can truly soak up the light. I am also pleased to advise that I am now in a perfectly compatible relationship with Clint.
Who is your role model and why?
I don’t have one role model but draw little bits of inspiration from all the beautiful people who have changed my life and the world.
The first true leader that I worked for, Pep, had many challenges as he rose into leadership. He not only gave me enough confidence to believe in myself and set me up for career success, he inspired me with his career journey.
When it comes to achieving great things, it is hard for me to look past Richard Branson. He rose from humble beginnings, was not afraid to pursue his dream, and would not think twice about risking it all for something he truly believes in.
It is not only the grand and great things that matter, but enjoying and appreciating the beauty that comes from the smallest things. My sister taught me to live and love every moment.
My most important role model is my love and partner in crime, Clint. He has challenged me to dream big and will ultimately drive me to ensuring that we achieve our dreams.
How has pursuing your passions changed your life?
For the first time, I truly feel like I have reason and purpose. I think big. I do not listen to ‘can’t’ but instead ask ‘how can I?’ I do not dwell on things or feel sorry for myself. I ask myself what is throwing me off balance, or holding me back from my goals, and I correct it.
My life is not just another convergence of atoms, which worked together to create consciousness, which will later dissipate and reform. My life is a gift and I will leave my mark on the world by staying true to my values and building something beautiful.
What’s next for you? What does the future hold?
The immediate future holds a puppy, a farm, a “tree change” and a new business. We are very excited about starting our organic vineyard and truffiere in the beautiful South West of WA. Our future sees us continuing a beautiful journey to achieving success and fulfillment. We are not looking forward to the end of the road, but savoring every amazing moment of the journey.
Wisdom for others:
What advice would you give anyone who dreams of following their passion?
Challenge them to ask a similar question that I asked myself:
‘You can choose to live a life of mediocrity and tick boxes. You can compromise. You can choose the easy option. Your other option is to challenge yourself to seek true happiness and fulfillment by chasing your dreams. What do you choose?’
Ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ You will end up in the same position that you are in now perhaps? You need to rebuild? Well you built yourself up to this point once and I am sure you could do it again if necessary; however it won’t be necessary to re-build. It won’t be necessary because with enough passion, drive and determination, you can achieve anything!
How do you think each of us can live the fullest life possible?
No more excuses, no more easy ways out, no more blaming others. You are the master of your own destiny. Challenge yourself to seek out what you are passionate about, dare to dream, then embrace it and live it! Don’t be afraid to fight for it, for nothing handed to you is earned, the harder you fight, the greater the reward.
A Bit of Fun:
Walking up a row of vines and turning around to see a look of freedom, contentment, passion and the thrill of the challenge rush through my partner’s eyes. I saw a dream in the making.
Biggest passion in life:
I am passionate about living a life filled with adventure, challenge and excitement. I am passionate about sustainable and healthy living and, most of all, I am passionate about living my life with – and being constantly challenged by – Clint, my partner.
Best bit of advice you have ever received:
The most important thing is happiness. (“Thanks Dad”). I’ve added to this by stating that success is happiness, fulfillment is success, and happiness paves the path to fulfillment.
Most inspiring film you’ve seen:
Unfortunately I don’t tend to watch films that are terribly inspiring. That’s a good challenge to me… Seek one out by visiting an art house cinema on occasion.
Most inspiring book you’ve read:
Paul Coelho, The Alchemist. Like a piece of art, there are many perceptions of truth as to the true meaning behind what was written. I read this book at the beginning of my journey of rediscovering myself. Turned out my treasure was just a message away, but the journey I embarked on was pivotal in order for me to appreciate the gold waiting for me around the corner.
Best light-bulb moment:
The realization that no matter how hard you work for an organization, you are just a number and you mean nothing in the scheme of things. You can leave an organization and be missed for a day but your friends and family will love you always. Being made redundant from an organization that had me earmarked as tomorrow’s leader solidified my desire to set up my own family business and to ensure that I have all of my priorities in the right order.
Anything is possible… what’s your wish?
I wish to be successful in building my dream of developing a successful winery and a sustainable, healthy and wealthy lifestyle for my family. To me, nothing that is handed to you is earned, so I do wish for the journey and challenges that I will be faced with and then, ultimately, to earn enough money, in order for me to pursue my other dream. A dream of being able to rescue abused and exploited animals across Asia, Africa and South America, in order to provide them with quality care and a home. I would then seek to develop a program that would enable me to release as many wild animals back to their real homes as possible. I could wish for something grander, but I believe that a real wish is one that I can make a reality.
Philosophy you live by:
Plan for tomorrow but live for today. Don’t plant a flower just for you; plant a tree so that all the beautiful people around you can bask under the shade of the canopy. Always stay true and honest and never compromise your values or who you are.
Quote you live by:
Over the next few years, we aim to establish our organic vineyard and build a sustainable self-sufficient lifestyle that respects the land. An old Indian Proverb, which I first read in my early primary school years, will be a quote that I live by:
When the Last Tree is Cut Down,
The Last Fish Eaten
And the Last Stream Poisoned,
You will Realize that you
Cannot Eat Money.
I received an email last night from Dennis. He shared his heartfelt response to my post about Rhode of the Rove yesterday, and asked me share this with all of you:
Once or twice, or at least not many times in our lives, we come across people who touch our lives. Be it through the inspiration they give us, or admiration of what they have achieved. In some cases, it’s how they may have benefited the lives of others less fortunate or more fortunate.
Just having your life touched in one of these ways by someone, adds value to your life. I think that being touched will touch someone else’s life in a chain that will be repeated again and again – if you understand what I mean. Since living in Perth, I have been surrounded by more people that have touched my life, than ever before. Most of these people I have met through cycling, even although some of them don’t actually cycle with me. If it weren’t for cycling, I would not have made their acquaintance.
As the saying goes: “You cannot fly with eagles if you walk with turkeys.” Well then, at the moment I am in an outer orbit space flight! All of us that are involved in our group of cyclists, the rove and other little things we do, I consider to be, of a very high caliber. Each one of them has added value to my life by touching it in some way.
So, I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are reading this, then you are in that group of people I am talking about and I am saying thanks to you for being you and being associated with our group of friends, fellow cyclists, and colleagues.
Thank you Dennis, for sharing this. Your thoughts and sentiments are exactly what Happiness of Pursuits is all about. It’s a place for inspiration, sharing and learning. We all have something to learn and we all have something to teach.
I encourage you all to look around. You don’t have to look far to see how many remarkable people surround you: Ordinary people doing remarkable things. It’s fantastic to be able to share this and feel touched, encouraged and inspired. Like Dennis said so well, it has a ripple effect and it’s one small way in which we can have a positive influence in the world.
If you have a story you’d like to share or a few words like Dennis, please go ahead, Happiness of Pursuits is for everyone. You can contact me by email like Dennis did or you can leave a comment at the end of the post you like or on our facebook page.
I don’t know about your family but when it comes to my own it’s amazing how similar yet different we all are. I’ve given this a lot of thought and the only metaphor for explaning it that makes sense to me is that we are like varieties of fruit inhabiting the same fruit bowl: one of us is an orange, another a pear, someone is a banana, or an avocado, or a lemon or lime, an apple or a grape. Yes, we are all fruit but boy are we different!
Being so different and inhabiting the same “bowl”, can make for very difficult relationships and misunderstandings. I know that so often I have felt this way in my family and I’m sure my brothers and sisters and others have felt the same way. It’s just so hard to explain what it’s like to be a strawberry to a pineapple.
Just to complicate things even more, when we add our partners to the bowl, we might introduce another really exotic or unusual fruit – never before an inhabitant of the bowl: a lychee, quince, kiwi fruit or dragon fruit.
Now stop and think for a minute…. how bland and boring would a fruit bowl be if it only had oranges in it? How long would it hold your interest? There would be no interesting shapes, colours, textures or smells. It would just be mwah.. I can’t even think of a word to describe just how dull it would be.
So let’s make an effort to welcome all fruit in the bowl:
- We are different and that is something to celebrate.
- We don’t have to compete because we are different.
- We all belong.
- We may not understand each other very well, but we can acknowledge and respect that we are bound by our humanity.
- Be who you were born to be.
- Let others be who they were born to be.
- Share the space of the fruit bowl, it’s a wonderful, sensory, exciting, colourful place.
Over to you …..
If you were a fruit, what kind of fruit would you be?
Ask a family member what kind fruit they would be?
Let’s share what we learn…
What I love most about travelling to other countries is that all your senses awaken and become fully engaged. Wherever you go, you experience an array of pungent smells, amazing sights, unfamiliar sounds and incomprehensible languages. You feel the difference in the quality of the air – whether it’s humid and sticky or cold and dry. Travelling feeds an intense awareness as you devour a new environment through your senses. It’s an intoxicating feeling of being vibrantly alive.
Travelling was a hot topic at a party on Saturday night, as I listened to friends reminiscing about the days when they lived in the UK. They spoke appreciatively of bygone days when Paris, Rome, Barcelona or Prague was an easy weekend getaway. Imagine how awesome it would be! That’s definitely not possible living in the remotest city in the world. In fact, I regularly have to put up with my internal Resident Critic complaining that it’s pretty difficult to travel when you live in the “arse end” of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love living here and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world – there is truly no place like home. Actually, I’m convinced that being the remotest city in the world is what makes it such a great place!
So what do you do if you love to travel but you can’t just hop on a plane and be in another country for the weekend? I think Sir Francis Bacon summed it up pretty well:
If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain. *
Well that’s exactly what we did yesterday. If travelling is all about sensory experience then we can do that here. We grew up surrounded by Portuguese cuisine and culture, so it’s vividly familiar to us. We’ve been to Portugal and Madeira and have many memories and photos of our wonderful experiences there. Together, my hubby and I re-created some of our favourite Portuguese seafood while we sipped good wine and listened to the Gypsy Kings – music that is typical in the Portuguese restaurants we loved. Sunday was a mini Portuguese holiday of sensory delights. Who knows where we might go next!
* Saying arises from the story of Muhammad, as retold by Francis Bacon, in Essays, 1625.