The past week was full of a lot of important and meaningful days for me. Some hold significance for whole communities and some are simply significant to me, but they have culminated and left me feeling heavy…in a good way. I share a lot about One Wave, the nonprofit surf organization, that I have become a part of since I moved to Sydney a year ago. Every Friday I head to Bondi Beach in my Fluro gear and meet up with the most genuine group of people I have met here in Sydney. We have a group chat about mental health, share stories of struggle and inspiration, bring it in for a group hug and then the surfers head out to the ocean and the yogis practice on the beach. I got involved simply because I saw a Facebook event for sunrise yoga on Bondi beach when I first moved there. I have stayed involved because not only do I love the sunrise beach yoga but I love being supported and reminded how truly important mental health awareness is. Not to mention, I’ve met some of my closest friends there and every Friday we go to brunch together and check in on each other’s week in the most fulfilling and honest way. Everyone who attends is in some way affected by mental health (either in their own experiences or the experiences of loved ones close to them) so it gives me a very safe space to discuss my struggles and to be there for my friends who also are struggling.
Last week, One Wave teamed up with long standing mental health advocates R U OK for R U OK Day. Even though it wasn’t Friday, our community rallied to the beach in fluro (heavy on the yellow for RU OK) and shared stories about mental health and how important it is to ask the simple question, are you okay? So many people are scared to admit they are struggling or they are too busy helping others to think about themselves. Suicide remains one of the leading causes of death in young people globally and especially in countries like Australia and the United States. We formed a giant R U OK with surf boards on the sand and then they paddled out and formed it again in the water. I feel so connected and purposeful since becoming a part of the One Wave community and I love that my passion for mental health can be translated to my current community even though I am so far away from home. Too many people remain silent because they are afraid to seem weak, negative or crazy but truthfully staying silent is what makes you feel trapped in the negativity.
The day after R U OK day, I started my morning back on the beach for Fluro Friday with the One Wave crew and participated in a photography project with a friend that I met at a Fluro Friday months before. The project is centered around how suicide affects the lives of others close to it. It is an honor to be featured in the project and I am excited that I have yet another way to spread my message. The following day was World Suicide Prevention day and then the anniversary of September 11th. Needless to say, it’s been a heavy week. But heavy in the best way possible. I find it fascinating how people are so reluctant to talk about subject matters that are painful, powerful, but undoubtedly important. Why should we brush over the surface of matters instead of diving in deep? My boyfriend is so beneficial for me because I can definitely get a little too deep,too often and he brings me back to the ground and reminds me to stay light hearted about life. But who is to say we can’t have both?
That’s what I love about Fluro Friday and One Wave. Every week we have vulnerable, soul bearing conversations but we also have a ton of fun, take ridiculous photos, and laugh a lot. Instead of running from what matters to you, what if you face it head on? What if you could talk to your coworkers, your husband or your friends about things that matter to you instead of what series you’re watching on Netflix or the weather? Why do people want to watch stupid Youtube videos of people getting injured and spend hours looking at memes instead of fueling their brain with something positive, uplifting and beneficial? The amount of time wasted on things that are meaningless truly shocks me. I’m not saying people don’t need guilty pleasures and mindless fun sometimes, but when that is what consumes your reality consistently, it’s time to reevaluate your priorities.
The more time I spend talking to people, connecting to new friends, sharing my struggles, voicing my opinions, physically challenging my body and my mind, the more I realize how satisfying that is for me. Being a voice for things that matter in a world plagued with complaints, violence, surface level living and unfathomable suffering is a job not enough people take on. I was watching a video by Gary Vaynerchuk about how there are plenty of positive, motivated, inspiring people in this world, it is just simply that the negative ones are louder. We need to make compassion louder. We need to make good energy louder. We need to make standing up for what you believe in LOUDER instead of just going through the motions and just accepting that “it is the way it is.” Shouldn’t we all have something that we are willing to get loud and heavy about?
Maybe you don’t know what you believe in or what you stand for, but if that’s the case shouldn’t you be fighting like hell to figure that out? Maybe you stand for kindness and compassion. Maybe you stand for helping those who can’t help themselves. I think people spend too much time worrying about finding their “passion” and not enough time feeling it out. When you do a job or an activity that you are good at and that brings you happiness, you feel joy. You feel flow. You feel satisfied. You feel on top of the world. DO THINGS and if they feel good, keep them. When they don’t make you feel good, don’t do them again. If you hate drinking why are you spending all your precious personal time at the bar or the club on the weekends? If you enjoy it, more power to you. But if you are doing it simply because that’s what your friends do or out of boredom, you should find a better and less expensive hobby and find friends who enjoy that new hobby too.
Something magical happens when you don’t spend every Saturday and Sunday hungover, you can actually get out in the world and enjoy your life. For me that means going for hikes, going to the beach, traveling to new cities or trying out fabulous restaurants. I love food festivals and new workout experiences. I love running in races and going to concerts. I love reading my book and writing by any body of water and eating a lot. I love having heart to hearts with friends. I do enjoy a glass or two (okay, or three) of wine in the sunshine, but I genuinely don’t enjoy partying the night away at a bar. I used to. But I don’t anymore. The day I gave myself permission to evolve was the day I started living. I don’t know exactly where I am going but I know it involves great depth. I know it involves talking to people and learning from people. I know it involves getting others to face their truths and find more from their life. I know that I can make positivity louder in my own life and in the lives of others.
Don’t be afraid of depth. Don’t be shy about what you feel. Don’t be shy about not knowing what your passion is. Go with what feels right and constantly seek more of it. Don’t accept the status quo of being half alive, half involved, half motivated or half jaded. The most important thing I have found is to feel heavy, feel fully, feel deeply and find others who feel like you do. Every Fluro Friday an older gentleman walks by on the beach and gives us his “words of wisdom”last week he said: “If at first someone doesn’t seem friendly, show them how.” Simple and ridiculously corny, but ironically true. If you want more love in the world, love. If you want more compassion, be compassionate. If you want more freedom, act free. If you want the tough conversations to happen about mental health, suicide, terrorism, or violence, start the conversation. Don’t cower away from heavy situations. Build up the strength to pick them up. You’ll find once you do, you lift that weight for everyone around you. The ripple effect is real. The weight of the world isn’t heavy when we all lift it up. Cheers, to living loud and heavy.
* All photos are mine, from the One Wave FB page or courtesy of my friend at DB Photography (FB) @picsbydb (IG)