Have you ever met one of your idols? One of those people that – maybe unbeknownst to them – had a major transformative effect on your life. A few days ago I did just that when I worked backstage at the launch of Jessica Ainscough’s book Make Peace With Your Plate and, of course, met one of my heroes Jessica Ainscough.
While I have interviewed her before (here) this was our first face-to-face meeting and I was a little excited and a smidge nervous. My dalliances with ‘celebrity’ have been renowned for their outrageous uncoolness. Back in my party days I literally tackled every Big Brother evictee I met (of which there were 8). I was once walking to a Josh Pyke concert and he walked past me. On sight, I stopped dead in my tracks and fell over backwards (my husband has still not let me live that one down). I also cried when I met super-brain journalist Jana Wendt and mumbled something along the lines of “intelligence… you goddess… me… good… clever”.
So yeah. Being in the room with the likes of Jess, Melissa Ambrosini, Drapht, Wes Carr and the Earth Events girls could have gone one of a million ways – some explosive, all embarrassing. But when I did finally bump into this talented group of people I was served my first of many lessons of the night…
1. Your idols are just people
Your heroes are totally normal people. “Inspirational”, “glowing”, “gracious”? Sure! But also, “daughter”, “girlfriend” and “potty mouth”. No matter how perfect and impressive you believe someone to be, we all start off with pretty much the same biological make-up. All of us have great days, not-so-great days, wins and losses. Everyone makes mistakes. (though I feel the need to point out that – really – there are no mistakes).
My point is, rather than idolisation – which is a breeding ground for fear and comparison – lets choose inspiration. We are no different to the people we aim to emulate and when we decide that we are, we subconsciously place limitations on ourselves. We all have the same chance to achieve perfect health or happiness or wealth or whatever it is you desire and admire. The only difference between successful and not is a positive mindset and action.
** This being said I would like to note that Jess – in the flesh – did live up to every drop of admiration and love I had for her. She was impossibly lovely, welcoming and funny and it was so cute to gaze around the room and just see everybody sitting there with goofy grins beaming at her. So even though she is ‘just a person’ she is a pretty top notch one!
2. Presence is the key to happiness
Touchingly Jess spoke about the loss of her mother late last year, which was the reason she had to postpone her tour. She spoke about how during the dark days, her mind would jump between the past and the future and it was creating fear in her.
fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
So really fear is just the unpleasant sensation that occurs when you are thinking of something that could happen or you are lamenting something that did. So, fear is created when your mind is elsewhere than the here and now. Jess said that the only way she got through her loss was by keeping her mind focused only on what was happening right now. It reminded me of that ubiquitous mantra that is scrawled and stuck around my house, on my fridge, in my wallet…
If you can’t change it, then there is no use in worry.
If you can change it, there is no need to worry”.
And though Jess was talking about the importance of ‘presence’ in relation to a time of grief and uncertainty she reiterated that it is also a tool that needs to be used in our everyday lives.
Exercise for example: if you literally focus on what your body is doing right at that moment as opposed to dreading the entire 5km run, you will be amazed at how far you can push it. Jess related it to a day of trekking in the Himalayas where she had to spend 9 hours straight climbing a set of steep stairs. If she had been told at the beginning of the day that she needed to conquer that challenge she said she would have stayed in the teahouse. But because she focused on one step at a time – she managed it.
Point is… when the entire staircase looks bloody terrifying just look at the next step. Then the next. Then the next. Until you are at the top.
3. Always Choose Love over Fear
While we are on the subject of fear; Every single decision we make in life is motivated by one of two things. Our two deepest emotions; fear and love.
Receiving a terminal diagnosis would be a time where it would be bloody easy to base every decision on fear. Jess told how, in those first months and years, she did make her choices based on fear. She resented the hand she had been dealt. She was frustrated that “her friends were still normal, but she was so odd”. After the next diagnosis (what she called her second freight train) Jess decided to change tack. She would embrace her fate and stop hating every step of her new life.
As soon as she accepted life and flowed with it, miraculous things happened. She started feeling better, being healthy got easier, she created her blog which then took off, she met an amazing band of soul sisters, wrote a book, bought a dream house – the list goes on.
This all sounds completely woo woo. New-age spirituality that is fluffy and airy-fairy. But it is what it is and facts don’t need to sound like they came from a scientific journal to be credible and correct. And the fact is that when you approach things with love, it permeates through all areas of your life. Choosing to exercise because you love your body and want to feel healthy, for example, will always be more effective than running for miles a day because you hate your body and want to lose 5kgs.
Fear messes with your mind. Every time you notice it, try and turn it around.
There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.
~ Ritu Ghatourey
4. Drapht is a bloody legend!
Paul Reid – AKA Drapht; Aussie hip hop royalty – was a total and welcome surprise. Most famous for this insanely catchy song he took to the couch and visibly blew the audiences mind. With soft-mannered spunk he spoke candidly about how adopting a positive mindset has transformed his life; from no radio play to Aria-winner to trail-blazing business owner (he owns uber-trendy organic restaurant Solomons Cafe in Mount Lawley – GO THERE!).
He painted the picture or an angsty young man with an autoimmune disease and a party-hard lifestyle. After seeing the Oprah episode about The Secret he changed his life, started experimenting with vision boards and the law of attraction. All of a sudden his previously unplayed songs had significant radio play… went to #10 in the hottest 100… went platinum… won an Aria. Then came his switch to organic and whole foods, managing his autoimmune disease naturally and eventually giving up all alcohol. (He has got me seriously considering teetotalling – for reals!).
Basically, he is just one of those ridiculously knowledgeable people that leads by example and makes you want to take life by the balls and live it to the best of your ability. Oh and he is a total sweetheart.
5. You have to start somewhere!
I was under the impression that perhaps Jess and Melissa and all those other admirable health icons were born health-freaks. Just those types of people with a predisposition to healthier options. You know the sort. The types that as children would choose chick-peas over chocolate, every time.
It always made me feel slightly disadvantaged on my wellness journey (or at least gave me a stellar excuse to fall off the wagon). But no. Everyone on the stage shared a remarkably similar journey; they had to hit rock bottom and were seriously unhealthy before they started. Whether it was cancer, drugs, anxiety, depression, auto-immune disease – they all started somewhere.
So wherever you are… just start! It doesn’t matter how long you think the journey will be, just get going. Remember presence.
6. Connect with awesome people often.
The energy in the room with 300 or so wellness warriors was intoxicating. So many good vibes buzzing around an entire room of like-minded people. I walked away with a full heart. If you have these sorts of relationships in your life, nurture them. If you don’t? Find them! Strike up a convo with the girl your mat is always next to in yoga, talk to the guy on the table next to you reading the same book, invite that person you always bump into out for a tea. If you feel pulled to someone or something, explore it.