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Open-Hearted Living – beautiful… and an absolute bitch!

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Welcome back!

Ahead of the second season of Behind the Hashtag, I’ve been revisiting all my previous articles; they are a powerful reminder of the journey I started some years ago. Many of the struggles I faced make more sense to me now.

Since I last shared an article with you all, it’s been a time of incredible growth, AND you can bet your sweet ass that growth has NOT been comfortable. No question, it has most definitely been worth it, though I’ll never pretend it’s been easy.

Most annoyingly, I have come to accept that growth can never stop. If we want to experience all that life offers growth must be part of that journey. Acknowledging that truth also means understanding that I don’t have to LIKE something to accept it.

The Behind the Hashtag season one cliffhanger ending had me “wrestling a greased pig in the dark”, a term I borrowed from Bréne Brown to describe personal growth. In hindsight, I needed to step away and make enough sense of what I was working through before writing about it – hoping that would allow the shared experience to be vaguely useful to the Behind the Hashtag community when I returned. Being useful is the hope and intention of all the writing I share.

I’ve been working on the struggle between my head and my heart – and what a Game of Thrones-level battle that turned out to be! At times, it is fun and funny but also brutal and very difficult. Thankfully, I did not do this alone; to say it took a village would be an understatement – this was a global support effort from family, friends, fellowship, therapy and even a horse (more on that later). And yes, I do realise how high maintenance this makes me sound … all I can do is own that, be incredibly grateful and pay it forward in any way I can.

So, I return once again from a place of “Love and Loss”, where this journey began in honour of my late friend Chrissie, who always wanted me to get started with blogging. I still hear Chrissie’s encouragement and down-to-earth advice as I reflect on life. However, this particular return to writing is a very different version from the first one. Behind the Hashtag came back into my heart on a day when I was processing the death of my dad and, at the same time, ending another relationship which had been beautiful and powerful but ultimately would not be healthy for me in the long term.   

Love and loss indeed – but a moment where I was the most open-hearted I think I’ve ever been in my life. A moment when I realised that the armour I’d built and held around my heart for years had quietly fallen away, one final large chunk of armour came off when I least expected it amid grief, and I simply did not see it coming. It was emotionally raw, and I felt exposed in a way I had never experienced before. It was both beautiful and a complete bitch, to be honest.   

What helped me was having the humility to accept that this really was the cost of admission to a happy and honest life. An open heart isn’t always going to feel happy. An honest heart, however, would always be healthy. I could celebrate that being a people pleaser was now firmly in my past. I was willing to do whatever it took to live the life I had worked so very hard to build – even when that felt difficult and painful in the moment.

In the coming weeks and months, I’d love to share the recent chapter I’ve been living through. The past year, in particular, has had the most incredible adventures, brutally difficult life events, some of the most glorious fun I’ve ever had and, above all, given me an understanding of how I have been getting in my own way for most of my life! As Taylor Swift sings in her song Anti-Hero…” It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me…”

I’m looking forward to taking the journey with you all and hopefully opening YOUR hearts along the way.

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