10 Things I Know For Sure At 37 (Well, Kinda)

Cassie Roma Wordpress

I turned 37 this week. Holy moly, THIRTY SEVEN!

This means that I’ve now outlived Hank, Jesus, & Marilyn in terms of years spent on this spinning rock we call home.

I won’t lie to you, 36 was an interesting trip around the sun for me. I had some amazingly high highs, & some killer lows. My family grew closer, my friendships grew stronger. I married my best friend & soulmate! I traveled home to California three times, spoke at some of the world’s most prestigious industry events, & was elected Chair to an amazing Pride organization. I still have to pinch myself when it comes to how lucky I’ve been.

That said, it’d be remiss of me not to take a moment to nod to the lows that happened, too. You know those moments in life when you think “I couldn’t possibly handle another kick to the guts.” & then another one happens? And another. And another… ad infinitum.

Yeah, I got kicked a lot. Right in my soft bits. I also had some unsteadiness in my own identity. I guess you could say that I fell upon some rough times. Author & researcher Brené Brown called her own ‘rough time’ (AKA an early-midlife crisis) an unraveling.

So, I’ll say it: Last year, I unraveled.

In fact, if my journey through this world is seen in the light of being a knitted sweater of sorts – yes, an awkwardly ugly-yet-amazing Christmas sweater is just fine with me – last year was the year in which I tugged a loose string far too firmly & everything came undone. I’ve always had a knack for keeping myself on my toes!

And, as a true adult does when struggling, I found myself the most kick-ass of professionals (yassssss, counselling FTW) to help me learn to re-knit myself together. I’m no sweater, yet. But at least all of the necessary parts are right here in my lap waiting to be spun together in time.

So, without further ado, below are 10 things I know for certain heading into my 37thyear that I’d like to share. Hopefully these lessons are familiar to you, & maybe a little bit helpful, too.

  1. Grey hair, it’s there – embrace it (or colour over it)
    I’ll level with you here, there’s no EASY WAY to find your first grey hair (or have your spouse/child/BFF find it.) There just isn’t. I can deal with smile lines, laugh wrinkles, & diminishing eyesight… but the hair change? Wow. It’s a beautiful reminder of how lucky we are to age. But, it’s also a bit of a wake-up call. Time to really buckle down & enjoy the journey, kid. Now’s YOUR time.
  2. Glasses are cool
    Hair changes. Eyesight changes. Waistline changes. And, the older we are, the cooler we look in glasses. Seriously, this is a proven, data-driven fact. Once you’re in your 30’s, you go from a nerd-bird to a cool-cat overnight simply by wearing corrective lenses. I have embraced the four-eyed-factor of my life & have many a pair of tortoise shell glasses filling my days & bringing me literal clarity. Win-win!
  3. Self-care (book in time for this)
    If you’re not prioritizing your own health (physical, mental, spiritual), you’re not doing time management right. Have too many meetings to meditate? Too many errands to be able to exercise? Nah. Recalibrate. You are your most important person (if you’re not, you should be), & you deserve time to take care of you in the ways you want/need. If you’re super busy at work/home like I am, book in time for you. Early in the morning, late at night, or sometime during the day – you’re worth 30 minutes of you, daily.
  4. Exercise more (seriously, book in time for this)
    Get up & move. Seriously, move your body as much as you can. Remember that feeling of being a kid & running, sprinting, jumping, playing, & sleeping like a rock? Yeah, it was the best! As adults, lots of us have forgotten how to move our bodies. How to spend time on doing things we’re built to do – like walking, jumping, lifting things (no, you don’t have to become an Olympic weight lifter…but it is a fun sport!) etc. Moving your body helps to temper your mind. Make time to move. I promise it’ll be the best time you spend all day!
  5. Who are you? Who, who? Who, who?
    Someone recently asked me “How much of you are you filling your days with?” when I did the math the answer was shocking. None, really. I had forgotten who I was, & how to tease out small selfish pleasures from moments in the day. Now? I take time daily to walk & think. To listen to music. To write poetry. And, simply, to re-discover the beauty of childhood imagination & play that has been dulled down with the marching on of time.

  6. Family matters
    More than anything, family matters. I know most people think this is a big “No duh!” statement – but you’d be surprised at how many folks I know that are pulling long hours, emailing whilst at home, spending time on stuff that seems important…that really isn’t. Our modern culture tells us stories about success that include forsaking everything in the pursuit of money, title, & status. I’m here to call bullshit on all of it. The only thing that’ll matter when you’re being buried is how much you loved the people who loved you back. Spend time on family – chosen or given – & you’ll find that success is in the eyes of the people who need you most looking back at you smiling.

  7. Being a good spouse means being 100% you
    I’m not gonna beat around the bush on this one. I’ve been a spouse to two people now. The first person I was married to taught me a lot about love, giving, & being selfless. He is kind, he is worthy, & he is a big part of who I am still. Marrying so young, I know now that I didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted to become. For a decade I floated through life seemingly at the whimsy of the tides. As I came into maturity, I started to uncover who I was becoming. When confronted with the truth, I realized that I wasn’t meant to be married anymore. I wasn’t fully me – which meant I’d never fully be the spouse I could be if I were 100% myself. Fast forward to marriage number two, I am now fully aware of who I am. And, I am a much better spouse & partner for it. I don’t get caught up in my own head anymore or stay quiet when I want to speak. Being a good spouse, it seems, means knowing who you are & accepting yourself enough to accept another. Ah, love!
  1. Know when to listen & when to speak up
    We have two ears & one mouth – use them in proportion. This little bit of advice was handed to me as a small child & I have tried to live my life by this mantra. Sometimes it works, sometimes my mouth outruns my brain. But, after 37 years of learning how to interact with others, I know how important it is to listen…and I mean really listen to others. Listening without the intent to reply is a skill that takes time to build. As does having the courage to speak your truth when it feels scary to do so. The precarious balance of knowing when to speak/send that email/reply to that text vs simply listen & take in another’s opinion is an interesting one indeed. 
  1. Read Maya Angelou
    Every morning I find a passage, poem, or quote by Maya Angelou to help ground me for the day. Her strength, passion for kindness, drive to be courageous, & ability to weave words together fills my soul. Having someone to look to as a human North Star is so important for me when it comes to staying balanced & in the moment. More than reading her words & hearing her voice inside of my own head, hearing her speak her words & taste them before she speaks them is magical. Her kind of magic, even just a moment of it, is what the world needs more of.

  2. Practice thankfulness by the minute
    Not by the hour, the day, the week, or the year… practice thankfulness by the minute. Spread kindness around like it’s the air that you breathe. Share both as far & wide as you can. And, even when you’re at your lowest point – remember that the simplest of actions (a smile, compliment, or kind email) can make someone’s entire world a brighter shade of happy. Saying ‘Thank you.” & writing down the things that you’re thankful for daily also help you remember just how many silver linings there are – even in the angriest, darkest of rainclouds.

Wandering And Pondering, Slowing Down to The Speed of Life

Goodbye, Commute. Hello, ‘Me Time.’

I recently had three weeks at home between jobs. Well, really, only one week between them – but I spent the last two weeks at my old job tying up projects from home. But that’s all beside the point.

What I got, was three weeks of not having to fight traffic, rush out of the house, or stress about running from meeting to meeting without time to eat, drink, or pee (AKA the trifecta of natural losses stemming from most corporate cultures these days.)

I know it wouldn’t surprise you to know that a professional life without traffic, timeframes, interruption (open-plan offices can be both the best thing & the worst all at once), or the need to wear anything other than activewear is good for both mind & body.

But, I’ll say it here anyhow:  whoa nelly, a few weeks of working to my own timeframe, at my own pace, & with the ability to exercise & ponder was amazing.

When I set out for some “me time” between jobs, my goal was to do nothing. And, to do a lot of it, at that. All of those copy-paste days of waking up, getting out the door, driving to work, sitting through meetings that could’ve been emails, driving home, sleeping…wash, rinse, repeat… oftentimes, fill a soul they do not.

For me, the goal of doing nothing was the pinnacle of re-setting. Though, as it turned out, my idea of nothing became doing a lot of somethings. And, looking back on it now, I’ve learned some good lessons when it comes to the art of slowing down to the speed of life.

Meditation in Motion
What have I learned about slowing down, then? Well, firstly I’ve learned that walking – or rather, wandering – without reason or end goal is the most cathartic thing for me when it comes to clearing my mind & moving my body.

I so love wandering. I walked every, single, day for three weeks & felt a huge shift both mentally & physically for me. I put my phone away & looked at flowers. I relished in the sunlight on my arms & legs. I sat near the ocean.

I went to cafes & eaves dropped on little old ladies (man, they’re the queens of the Gossip!)  In all, some days I walked over 30kms. Never did I have a day under 15kms. And, the wander + ponder gift I was given by time cleansed my soul happily & helped my mind wander creatively.

There’s peace in allowing your brain to wander freely. When you realize that there’s life beyond office politics, chasing numbers, & exhausting yourself to the point of tipping over – you put more onus on chasing memories.  We’re all only ever here for a short time. We might as well make it a good time. Right?

Wandering for the sake of it is akin to re-learning to play. At some point, as adults, we deprioritize playing. Some of us (I’m guilty of this at times) forget to play at all – or we create an internal narrative that playfulness at work will be seen as weakness. Pish tosh to that crap. My goal moving forward? Play more. Laugh more. Connect more.

What a blessing to have time to play without boundaries. With the only reason for it being to have fun & be joyous. I believe 110% that there needs to be more time built into corporate life for people to work play, physical movement, & the space for thinking into a day.

Slowing Down Means Speeding Up – Creatively
Between & during walks – & whilst getting myself ready for speaking events & workshops (that I also shoehorned into my “me time”), I listened to hours upon hours of podcasts with topics ranging from the science of happinessto building engaged teams to LGBTQ+ rights conversations & beyond.

By listening to other people, other points of view, & diving deeper into topics & conversations that interest me, I was able to think deeply. To ponder. To pontificate. Most mornings my friend Wendy would come for walks with me & we’d end up with no ears between us (because, ya know, we talked them off of each other).

What I found from having more unstructured learning, more fluid conversations, & more time to dive deep into different topics – is that my creative mind flourished. It’s almost as if the walls of big business act as force-fields against creativity. Really though, it’s not the walls that cause many of us to think inside of the proverbial box, it’s the constraints on time.

Creativity & cleverness both take time. For amazing work to happen – we need air to breathe, time to settle in, & space to evolve. And, a knowledge that speed does not equal best results by any means.

Just as we nurture those we love, we must learn to nurture ourselves & our own ways of working. We must honour the individuality inherent in each other, because the ways in which I work best won’t always be the same as the ways in which you feel most free to do your best.

By binging the TED Radio Hour with Guy Raz, Queery with the amazing host Cameron Esposito, & a handful of other amazing podcasts – I filled my mind day in & day out. And, in doing so, I felt myself becoming more & more interested in the world around me.

Slowing down, for me, was a reawakening of sorts.

No Phone, Who Dis?
One thing that happened the last week of my “break” was that I became homeless as far as mobile phone plans go.

For a full 8 days I had no data on my phone (don’t get me started on the absolute highway robbery of telcos in New Zealand when it comes to top ups on pre-pay plans – $120 literally got me ten minutes on my phone – & I’m still seeing red about it). Day one & two were the most difficult for a tech-addict like myself.

It’s amazing how often we all pick up our phone & look at it for no reason. And I mean NO REASON AT ALL. We’ve hardwired ourselves to have our little BFF in our pockets or on our person at all times. And, I’m being real here, there were moments where I almost struggled to put my phone in my backpack & just leave it there.

By day three, everyone who needed to get in contact with me (or might need to) knew I had no connectivity unless I was at home with wifi or in another public place with wifi.

The freedom of knowing I wouldn’t hear the dull pings of emails, text messages, DMs, or social media notifications while I walked was awe-inspiring. I was no longer on anyone else’s timeframe. I made the rules in my day around when I would check emails, when I’d answer messages, & when I felt like turning back on to the tech.

What I’ve found since heading back to an office setting this week is that I’m the odd bird out (this is usual in most places) because I tend to now forget to bring my phone with me to meetings. The output? Being present. Taking in conversations – & remembering them.

I spend more time ideating, having better conversations, & am enjoying the heck out of my time in a new environment. A lot of it, I reckon, is due to the fact that I’m not tethered to a device that makes me feel like I’m living my life around other people’s to-do lists.

Winning!

Ye Olde Wrap-Up
So, what’s the point of all of these words? Why praise the art of wandering aimlessly?
Easy: we all need to do more wandering & pondering.

We live in a world where the exaltation of busy  is the way in which we comport ourselves day in & day out. I reckon we all need to ask for (perhaps even demand) time to slow down to the speed of the wind in the flowers, the bees in the trees, & the cadence of lyrical gossip that flows from the mouths of old ladies in cafes at lunchtime.

When we allow ourselves to do nothing – something becomes of it. If time is our most precious resource, we need to be kinder in doling it out to ourselves on a daily basis. We also need to be able to realize when we’re moving too fast, too often.

Climbing off the hamster wheel of life & running beside it – then out the door – is the best way to stay hungry, creative, & able.

I hope you’re able to enjoy slowing down soon, you deserve it!

 

Living Your Life On Purpose: A Busy Person’s Guide To Ultimate Fulfilment

It’s 11am on a Tuesday in Auckland, New Zealand & I’ve just flown in from Los Angeles. Before you ask, no, I didn’t do the literal flying. The pilots did, obvs (*insert Dad Joke about tired wings from all that flying here*)

Right now my mind, body, & soul are balanced. Why? Well, for almost every second of the twelve hours I spent winging my way back to reality, I thought about freedom.

All kinds of freedom.

Freedom of choice is huge for me – when I feel super fenced in, I usually feel that way because I don’t feel in control of my time, my decisions, or my future. Having freedom of choice is integral to me being able to live my life purposefully.

Freedom be myself – it goes without saying that there’s a difference between acceptance & inclusion. So often we have to hide parts of ourselves to fit into a certain culture. From where I stand right now, being me is more important than the alternative.

Freedom to accept my present situation – we’re all right where we’re meant to be, even if we don’t like everything about it. I’m one of those super annoying rose-coloured-glasses people who can find good in 99.9% of situations I’m in. Being able to accept the good & the bad means I’m free. Worst case scenario, you change & struggle & grow. Right?

And by rights, the freedom to change who I am & what I believe in.

So I took the time, Team.
The time to ponder, question, struggle, grow & change.
Time is such a precious gift – how lucky I was to have had some to be able to dig deep.

On this trip, I had many a plane, train & Uber ride in which to embrace my wandering mind. I don’t know about you, but it’s been a REALLY LONG TIME since I allowed my mind to wander beyond the realm of doing. I’m consistently pushing myself to do more, create more, be more… but I never allow myself the time to wander without reason.

Last week, wander I did.

Four of the five days I was on the ground in California, I walked half marathons. Not purposefully mind you (which is ironic considering the title of this article, but roll with me). I never set out thinking I’d walk a crazy distance each day – I only set out thinking that, no matter how uncomfortable it was, I would allow my mind to wander. I’d allow myself the gift of discovery. I’d be kind to my body with nourishing food.

Walking near the Pacific Ocean, I dove deep into my own mind. One major blessing I had was that I had no data on my phone & there was little access to WiFi. So, after habitually taking my phone out of my pocket about 20 times to aimlessly look through it – I trained my mind to stop. I put my phone in my backpack (NERD ALERT! At least it wasn’t a fanny-pack/bum-bag) & took out a pen & paper.

As I walked, if an idea hit me, I wrote it down. Scribbled remnants of clear-minded creativity. For the first time in 15 years I wrote poetry. A tickle in my soul said write. So I did. And, while my first poem was rusty, the 15th was/is pretty damn good.

I watched people a lot. Observed families on vacations. Saw Germans jump into the sea for the first time – flailing arms overwhelmed with excitement & adventure. I watched young people busy falling in love watching sunsets (totally not in a creepy way, sheesh). And, I looked on as sporty joggers made their way from Manhattan Beach Pier to Hermosa Beach & back (still not creepy).

The output of a few days of not being on a deadline to create, shift gears, & strategise? A whole lot of beautiful, jumbled, actionable clarity around where I am, who I am, & where I’d like to go in life in the next few years.

The reality of being back on home soil though, is that I’m absolutely frightened about losing this newfound momentum. I’m nervous I’ll forget who I am at my core. But, let’s be honest… that ain’t gonna happen on my clock.

Whilst walking, scribbling, & not being a creepy watcher-of-all-the-people, I wrote down some thoughts on living life purposefully. On finding fulfilment everyday. And, in building in time for creative & deep thinking.

These next tips & tricks are absolutely do-able.

They’re free for us all, too! And, if you’re like me & find yourself at a bit of a cross-roads (oh no, does this mean I’m getting old?) you might just feel better about the cross-road itself after reading through.

Right, here we go…

  • Smile More
    This is a seemingly (ahem, misleadingly) simple ‘hack’ when it comes to living life more purposefully & feeling fulfilled on the regular. Smiling is, in all actuality, a self-fulfilling prophecy for happiness in both the psychological & physiological sense. When you smile, even if you really don’t feel like it, your body sends all kinds of happy juju-vibes into your bloodstream & you end up happier. Weird, right? But, science makes this so (& maybe a bit of magic, too). Smiling more isn’t just about you either. It’s about the happy juju-vibes you’re able to spread to others. And, if the world needs more of anything, it’s happy juju-vibes. Plus, selfishly, making others feel better about themselves is my ultimate fuel. Having the tank consistently filled through kindness rocks. So, while it may seem super simple, just do it. Smile more. Smile often. Smile until your cheeks need a rest.

 

  • Do Unto Others
    If you haven’t heard this saying before… where the heck have you been? I absolutely live my life by this motto & always have. Oftentimes overused & underdelivered upon, these words have had a profound effect on me at many junctures throughout my life. Like a nagging voice in the back of my own head, these words act as tenets to my existence & consistently force me to think beyond my own self, beyond my own frame of reference, beyond even my own narrative around a journey. By purposefully acting on a kindness first viewpoint on life, I find my sense of fulfilment is topped up daily. If you live with a viewpoint that your actions & words do matter to others, then you live more completely. When you do unto others you get back what you give. Even when there’s nothing in it for you in the moment other than even a quiet moment to skite around being the better person, good begets good. Do more good to others & more will come to you. Ah yes, a prefer recipe for fulfilment.

 

  • Get Used To Being Disconnected (observe people)
    We’re always on. Always connected. Always buzzing, pinging, & beeping. And, we’re addicted (for the most part) to our mobile devices. That little red notification button is more addicting that crack – seriously it is! So it’s no surprise that droves of uber-and-over-connected people are learning to turn off. There are retreats in all corners of the world literally dedicated to turning off your phone & learning how to work through the silence that settles in your mind & soul when you don’t have something in your hand shouting out to you constantly to consume. I for one can tell you I am a fully-fledged member of the majority of people who’re too connected. I’m shit at just being in the moment. And, my goal in life is to become less shit at being present. Yesterday, walking on the beach without anything in my hands, I realised that my little baby is now a 12yr old independent (& beautifully stroppy) young woman. I blinked & she grew up. Sure I have 300,000 photos of her on Facebook, but looking back, I have only a few dozen deep memories of her childhood that happened without a camera in hand. Since returning home, I’ve put some tactics into play around disconnecting. At work I leave my phone on my desk & take my apple watch off in meetings. At home I leave my phone & computer in different rooms to where the family is. I’m not going to lie, it’s a struggle to not have my technological safety blanket with me at all times… but good god, it’s freeing to be always in the moment. Looking into the eyes of people you care for is magic. What you see reflected back might just get you through the toughest days you’ll ever face.

 

  • Listen More (to yourself, to others, & to the universe)
    This tip dives deeper than simply turning your listening ears on. While most of us are always in a hyped-up state of working through answers to pauses in conversations instead of listening to hear – we are all facing a crisis of understanding why it is we do what we do. Listening is multi-faceted & especially feels foreign if you’ve been sipping the Kool Aid of oneupmanship for years & years. Listening to yourself is extremely important to living more purposefully. What is your gut telling you about a situation, a project, or an opportunity? Tune in to your intuition & you’ll grow & change faster than you could ever imagine. Also, listen to others. What are the people who love you telling you? What’s not actually getting through? For me, it’s that I am worthy. I am good enough to follow my dreams. Sure it’s scary, but my beloveds have my back. Why not take a risk. Why not just jump? Beyond humans, listening to the universe (yeah, yeah, I know it sounds super hippy-esque, but roll with me here) is one of the best things you’ll ever do when working towards more fulfilment. Stop, observe, try new things. What’s coming your way? What’s not? And, what can you do to help shape fate? When you take the time to listen more, you get back more. And, you’re able to be more to others. Listening ears/soul, ON!

 

  • Try, Fail, Learn, Grow, Repeat ad infinitum
    At what age or juncture in life do we go from being invincible (remember being 5yrs old, dressing as Super Woman, & flying out of windows?) to being afraid to try at all for fear of failing? Why does growing up usually mean praying at the pew of comfort when it comes at expense of adventure? Personally, I’ve always fought against getting comfortable. For me, comfortable usually delivers a hearty dose of boredom. And believe you me, when my inspiration tank is empty, my wheels turn towards other avenues & ventures. As far as living a truly purposeful & remarkable life goes, the best & worst times usually blend into one & the same because it is in those moments of discomfort than we learn the most. It is in these moments that we grow. My life mantra is that we must all at least try. If you want to play tambourine on stage with Elton John, you’ve gotta at least buy a ticket to the concert, right? And, even if you get on stage & don’t happen to have a tambourine handy (damn it, Cass!) … at least you’ve tried & know better for next time. From a professional sense, I’ve always pushed myself into roles that scare me a little bit. Selfishly, I want to grow. I want to stretch. I want to help others. To do this I need to stay in motion. Standing still is safe, sure. But it’s also boring. If you’re looking for purpose, if you know what drives you, get out & try. Learn to be okay with failure. Learn, grow, & get back on that horse. I promise you, you’ll look back on this very moment in a year or 10 years & be so damn proud of yourself for moving forward.

And there you have it. Tried & true ways to dive deep into what drives you & to put them into action.

If you’ve got your own methods for not only finding your purpose, but ensuring you stick to the things that matter to you most, please comment below or shoot me an email.

I’m always happy to learn from others!

As always, thank you for reading.

#KindnessRocks #KindnessRevolution

Forever Friday, How To Keep Those Pre-Weekend Vibes Alive All Week

Friday. FriYAY. Saturday Jr.

Whatever you call it, Friday is our collective Bae Day. Hard not to love even the thought of it rolling around again (especially if you’re sitting on Sunday night or Monday morning), right?

With a typical work week, we give different meanings & values to each day. C’mon, we all do it. We have to, simply to survive!

Monday’s can seem overwhelming, but they’re a turn of the ignition on a new week. Tuesdays are scientifically (supposedly) our most productive days. Wednesdays are “hump days” because, whew, we’ve hit the middle of the week & are gunning for weekend vibes. Thursdays… well, they’re pretty cool. They’re like Tuesday with a taste of Friday.

And then there’s beautiful, beautiful, Friday.

A day whose most popular associated acronym literally thanks a higher power for another pre-Saturday rolling around again. TGIF, indeedy!

And, try as you might to escape it, almost all of us who work a typical 40 hour week for a living, live for Friday night & that roll-on-weekend-Momma-needs-a-break-and-most-likely-a-strong-margarita feeling

So here, in no particular order, I’m serving you up some ways to keep a little taste of Friday alive all week long (through the lens of each week day.)

MONDAY:
The first thing we could all do to bring a Friday Feeling to each day would be to maximise our efficiency at work.

SNOOZE! What a boring thing to suggest, right?
Nah. Wrong.

Think about it. How long do we spend mucking about with emails first thing on a Monday? How long do we spend in meetings about meetings that eventuate in more meetings about meetings we have repeating at the beginning of each week. Meetings where we achieve very little actual actual output?

Too long, I reckon.

I can’t stand busy-work. It bores me & is a super-highway with cars screaming down it at breakneck speed with the end destination being Disengagement City. I thrive on having clear direction, scoped projects, & knowing where to best spend my energy & time.

So, for Monday here’s my tip:
Make Monday YOUR DAY & use it to set the week up for success. Prioritize your work & your calendar. Set yourself some tasks. Stick to a plan.

Then… have a margarita. Monday Margaritas are the best!

TUESDAY
Ah Tuesday, our little steam engine of the week. You’re not Monday, which is a blessing for most, & you’re also the day we really get stuck into the doing part of the hard work – well most of us.

I reckon Tuesdays are ready-made for injecting a bit of Friday Feelz into from the outset. If you’ve got your week sussed on Monday, then you’re clear on where you’re going & how you’ll get there by the time the weekend rolls around.

So on Tuesday, the tip is simple:
Go hard. And, if you can, tell at least one joke to an unsuspecting colleague. The more cringeworthy & gfaw-inducing your punchline, the better.

Everyone will be busy, busy, busy doing worker bee things. A well placed Dad Joke brings a bit of Friday & a bit of snort-worthy giggles to the office.

WEDNESDAY
Ah there you are, middle ‘o the week! Over the hump, we’re headed blissfully downhill. Deep breath, we can all see, taste, & feel Friday growing closer & closer. Wednesday is a great day – really, it is.

I like to start adding Friday Feels into the middle of the week. Wistfully glancing forward towards a brighter, weekend vibe. Wednesdays usually fly by for me. It’s like I blink & they’re over.

Most likely because this is the day where the most meetings happen. Wednesday is right smack-dab in the middle of our own self-imposed time limits to finish projects or move them forward. So it’s about this time we get quite the wiggle on in the productivity stakes.

Injecting Friday into Hump Day? Here’s my tip:
It’s easy, you’re headed downhill, baby! Turn on some music, do a little dance, & keep that head up.

Thursday’s only a day away now.

THURSDAY
Yassssss, we’re almost there team. Seriously. The prize is waiting to be grabbed with both hands… and it’s only one more day of hard yakka away.

I actually adore Thursdays. Thor’s Day, as it were. I always feel a bit pumped, like the people on Venice Beach with arms the size of tree-trunks, getting this close to the end of the week has this little gym-junkie raring to get a few more sets (AKA ‘meetings & projects’) in before mañana rolls around.

Thursdays are full of pizzaz, productivity, & peace of mind in knowing that Bae Day is close enough to touch.

And, so we rock it, don’t we team? Injecting Friday into a Thursday… easy as:
Just roll with it. Take the knocks with a smile. Sprint until your legs give out. You’re almost there.

FRIYAY!
We made it.

Yasssssss! How do we then go about Injecting more Friday into Friday?

That sounds crazy. Absurd. Ridiculous even… but I reckon we should. Enjoy a day of casual dress. Take even a small lunch break & really make it ‘your time’ to start winding down – or up. Because if you’re like me, you don’t take lunch breaks every other day – even though you should – so TGIF is the day to do it.

Why celebrate a day just because it’s nearer the weekend than other days? Because, life is short & the weeks fly by. Don your sexy-as rose coloured glasses & pay the Pied Piper of Happiness. You deserve it!

Bring on the freakin’ weekend, or summat.

There you have it, Team. A few tips to inject Friday Feelings into the rest of the week. Whether you take these to heart – or simply just remember to slow down every now & again throughout the work week to re-set, re-energize, & re-organize.

We all work so hard & live busy lives. Perhaps the best way to live at all times is to take time to simply reflect & be thankful.

Friday, I know one thing’s for certain, I’m thankful for YOU!

The #MeToo Movement Matters, So Does Your Reaction To It

I hope you feel uncomfortable, uneasy, and understandably upset while reading this.

Super uncomfortable, even. Uncomfortable enough to want to click away to something more jaunty, more on-the-surface. Less laden with hurt, and less truth-filled. But, fight the discomfort. Keep reading.

Why? Because I want you to change, even in the smallest way. I want you to quiet that voice in your head that automatically puts this blog into ‘another story of men treating women badly’ bucket. And, I want you to care enough by the time you reach the last word to actually do something about sexual predatory behavior against women.

I want you to feel uncomfortable as you read this for a litany reasons. So many reasons. And, if one thing comes of you reading or sharing a story like this, I hope that  you’re able to empathize with, or start to understand how I (and many women) feel in public when we leave the fortress of our own safe spaces – that is, if we’re among those who have safe spaces at all.

Put simply, when we’re out in the world full of rushing, commuting, hustling, working, moving people – we’re at risk. Constantly.

This is our world today.

A world where men still belittle, sexualise, harass, stifle, and expect women ‘just take it.’ Openly. Randomly. Continually. At work and at home – and beyond. And, before we start off with the ‘not all men’ argument, I’ll put this right up front: I know not all men objectify and harass women. Good men are all around, but most good men don’t speak out. Don’t act out. Don’t stand up against daily micromoments of sexual harassment. I, for one, have been lucky to have grown up with – and in adulthood been surrounded by – good, strong, kind men. I’m under no illusion that some men truly do work hard to ensure women are safe. Because of this, I love men as I love women. As equals. As friends. As colleagues. But, I’m also a realist. We’re not equals. Not by a country mile. Not yet.

Let’s get real.

Men objectify women constantly – even when they don’t know they’re doing it. It happens in small moments, in big moments, and in the moments in between where a long glance, a throw-away statement, or a slight unwarranted touch still go unmentioned or unnoticed. It’s in-built into even the most liberal of societies that masculinity, at its core, is synonymous with being somehow bigger, brawnier, and entitled than women. And these traits transcend physical size (Believe me, I know. I’m a big woman.)

As you read this, and as you read article after article about Trump, Weinstein, and other depraved men, I want you to feel lots of things, but mostly gross. Gross because my story is average. In the great bell-curve of humanity, my experience and existence is akin to that of most other women. Right in the middle – but to both ends of the extreme curve, too – we have similar stories to tell. That in itself is gross. I also want you to feel as gross as I did when an old man on public transport in Rome thought that dry-humping me in public was okay. As gross as I do every time a man puts his body in my personal space and touches me without consent. As gross as I do every time I speak, type, post, or otherwise communicate while having to wonder ‘will this be read as flirting?’

I want you to feel the fear of walking alone after dark. And the intense anger I have to internalize when I walk to work in the morning while men in trucks lean out of their windows shouting degrading, disgusting words in my direction. You want to see my tits? That’s too bad. It ain’t happening, asshole. There’s a reason I’m wearing three layers on a hot day. You like my legs? Well I’d like it if you kept that to yourself. I’d rather you, Mr Catcaller (and all of your friends who laugh & think that public harassment is okay), knew just how intrusive your jeering looks, non-consensual touching, and degrading words make me feel.

I also want the other guys in said trucks to shut their friends up. To make everyday sexual harassment taboo. If you don’t speak up, out, or against – you’re part of the problem.

If you’re still here, keep reading.

If you’re online at all, I’m sure you’ve noticed the #MeToo posts across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter this week. Hundreds of thousands (perhaps, by now, millions) of women are using this succinct, powerful hashtag to show just how prevalent sexual harassment and abuse is against women. It’s disheartening. It’s scary. It’s banal in that we need to keep coming up with impactful ways to show just how widespread the mistreatment of women and girls in EVERY DAY LIFE is. Last night I thought about the #MeToo hashtag. I thought about my mother, my daughter, my fiancee, my friends, my colleagues, my heroes… and I realized that I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t have a story about male predatory behavior.

Not. A. Single. Woman.

In thinking long and hard on the subject, and in trying to find ways to make meaningful discourse commonplace across the world – I retreated to the place I always retreat when I’m feeling ponderous. My own head. I started writing this blog before every putting pen to paper, and hands to keyboard. I thought about the innumerable times I’ve been harassed, felt unsafe, and been talked down to because of my gender. The unwanted gropes in rugby clubs. The unwarranted catcalls and professional moments of being called Sweetie while being talked over by men. I hoped beyond hope that my own daughter would suffer less vile behavior over the course of her lifetime. I hope.

It’s fair to say that I don’t know how to force a change in male behavior or shift the narrative around poison views of masculinity that drive such behavior. But, I have some ideas on where to start.

What follows are a few things we can all do to stop the normalization of sexual harassment. Hopefully, together, we’ll not see another generation of #MeToo posts. But, the cynic in me, sadly, thinks we will.

1. (Dudes) Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

In the world we’re living in today, masculinity is judged in thousands of different ways – and most of them all lead back to sexual conquest. In fact, potentially all of them do. That means that even the idea of standing up for equality for women, and in treating them as equals goes against everything society says makes a man. My take is simple. Get uncomfortable in your own skin. Actively challenge how you measure your own worth as a man – and as a human. Dig into learning about what bothers/scares/worries/belittles women in interactions at work, in public, at home. Read blogs by women who have been raped, assaulted, or harassed. Don’t click away. Feel anger on the behalf of those who’ve been hurt, yet see their words as harrowing. Also, know that painful memories are shared with in hopes of stopping similar behavior in others. The truth of the matter is this: women feel uncomfortable almost all of the time. Those who say they don’t are either magical unicorns who never leave the house, or are absolutely drinking the proverbial Kool Aid of patriarchy. Here’s a quick win, don’t get all up in my grill. Don’t think it’s okay to put your body in my space without express consent. Don’t exacerbate the problem at work and come up to my desk, or any woman’s desk, and put your foot up on my chair so that your crotch is in my face. Don’t. Do. This. I’ll call you out on it. Loudly. It’s gross. It’s in appropriate.

2. Be hyper-aware.

Be aware of your body. Your voice. Your aura. Your manspread. As women, we’re aware of all of this all of the time. We know how much space we’re allowed to take up. We know how much we’re supposed to say in meetings before being spoken over or not spoken to at all. Be hyper-aware of the fact that all women have, in one way or another, been objectified (if not worse) by a man.  And every time it happens, it hurts. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Treat all women like you’d treat The Rock. I mean, you wouldn’t inappropriately touch, fondle, catcall or speak down to (or over) Dwayne Johnson would you? Not if you valued your life and physical well-being you wouldn’t! Not only would The Rock immediately let you know of his displeasure, he’d probably go to great ends to make sure you never displeased him so again. Also, an important fact to be aware of is that most women really like most men. We do. But just because we laugh at a funny joke or smile at you, doesn’t mean we want to go to bed with you. Most often, we only want to interact as equals. Be aware.

3. Stand up, Act Up, Speak Up

If your friends are the idiots leaning out of car windows wolf-whistling and shouting obscene sexual profanities at women while they walk or jog in public, and you don’t shut them down or speak out – then you’re an active part of the problem. If you’re in meetings at work where women are spoken over, call others out on this and make space for female voices to be heard and acted upon. And, if you see someone who is uncomfortably close to a woman and feel her discomfort, help. Do something. Don’t just shrug and move on. To be better, you need to do better. Act better. Speak out more. Standing up for women is a great first step in bucking a centuries-long tradition of belittling them. We all have the ability to do this in moments both big and small, day in and day out. We’re all in charge of our actions and reactions. Take ownership. Even the smallest actions you take powerful ones.

While the above is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to changing how society views sexual harassment and equality, I think there are some good nuggets to chew through when it comes to making sure women are respected in daily life – not harassed.

Women, we need to speak up, too.

Loudly. I know it’s scary, and it’s hard being that b*tch who calls people out on their bullshit. But we need to do it. The onus falls on us to act in solidarity. This doesn’t mean we all need to go out and burn our bras (but oh, a life without bras!), it simply means we need to be vigilant. We need to actively speak about our consent or non-consent. We need to yell right back at the catcallers if that’s what it takes. If all we do is giggle at jokes that men in power tell (jokes that are meant to put us in a subservient, cliche, weak position),then we’re propagating the problems as much as our male counterparts are. We all need to work together on this one, Team. We need to read more, learn more, act more, speak more, do more. Be more.

I hope this made you feel uncomfortable, uneasy, and understandably upset.

I felt that way writing it. I feel that way living it.

#MeToo

Growing Older, Wildly

I need to start off by saying that this is a second attempt at writing on this topic. Previous to this iteration, I had eight-thousand fabulous/inspirational/hilarious/perfectly woven together words filling a blank page. So smug at FINALLY writing something of merit (or so I thought), my blog sputtered, spun-out, & died on me.  Hoping against hope that a draft had been saved (it hadn't), I'm now left with four words on a mostly blank page and a belly-full of regret. C'mon Cass, you know to hit 'save' often. GAH!

With all of this said, please note, that this second attempt might be as good as the first, or simply okay. It might also turn out to be complete crap. You decide. Writing is my favorite indulgence and salve at present, so I'll try again. And, this time, hit save more often as we go along.

Right, here we go…

Last weekend was my birthday. For someone who doesn't really 'do' birthdays (my own), I had a full 48 hours of spoiling, treats, selfish indulgence, and friend-and-family-filled frivolity  that was truly magical. There were lots of laughs, frozen cocktails, and moments of introspection amongst the din of celebration.

At one point, mid-meal in a fave little cafe in Ponsonby, I looked around the table filled to the brim with my beloveds. My favorites. My soul-people. And, I took it all in. The sights, sounds, tastes, and slight cocktail-buzz of the moment filled my gooey heart to bursting-point. And, I hate to admit this, I cried. Happy tears.

You see, we all blaze our own paths in life. And, mine's been a trip – that's for sure. From a young age, I've always done what's best for the people I care for. I've toed imaginary lines drawn in the sand of societal propriety while calmly placing my own desires and wants to one side to ensure the happiness, growth, and fulfillment of those around me. I've always grown 'older and wiser' with each year that passes – but not this year.

This year has been a time to find my feet. To walk, crawl, run, stumble, jump, and skip as far as I can… even if my feet have had to go backwards or sideways to eventually end up moving me forward.

Getting all introspective, I've decided that my next trip around the sun will not be about my feet anymore (at size 11, they're big enough, thank you!), it'll be about finding my wings and growing older wildly. This change in the way I take myself into each new day has been a long time coming.

I've spent a lot of time coming to terms with me. Learning to not just like who I've become over the years – but to love who I am now, and who I will be. All awkwardness, fear, hesitation, and bold brazenness that I am, I will accept and wildly put out into the universe with hopes of connection, laughter, and growth.

With so many lessons under my belt over these past 36 years, I've got a few tips/life hacks to share with you if you're looking at ways to genuinely get super comfy in your own skin (and I mean wearing-life-like-a-fluffy-smurf-onesie-comfy.) A lot of what I've learned is fairly cliche/common sense. But, like most things, it's easier to understand HOW to do something, than it is to actually get moving on DOING the thing.

When you start DOING, you open yourself up to failure and hurt. And, the journey to accept and share your imperfections will be a tough one at times. Shining brighter in a beam of vulnerability is, in my mind, better than staying locked up behind a mask of intrusive perfection. I hope you get something out of the below – and maybe even the above – and if you've got your own life lessons for growing older wildly, please let me know what they are!

Be your best you.
How wishy-washy does this sound? Seriously. But, it's true. There are times when we all have to actively try (super hard) to quiet our own inner-voice. You know the one. It's tinged with self-doubt and criticism and will only ever pull you down. But you need building up! To start moving forward, you need to be your best version of you, while accepting imperfections are just part of being human. Whether it's finding time in a day to meditate, looking at yourself in the mirror and finding something you love about your look each morning, or simply maintaining physical fitness – just do something positive for you. Guilt-free. No interruptions. Just know that you're on the road to happiness when you're comfortable being unapologetically you.
 

  • Apologize & forgive.
    Team, it seems so simple, but it's not. The easiest way to be free of guilt/anger/regret is to own your mistakes . We all fuck things up. We all make mistakes – most of the time, unintentionally. Putting ego and pride aside is hard. Really hard. But once you start to simply say "I'm sorry." (and mean it) you'll find your relationships become stronger, your foundation of support unmovable. In the same vein as apologizing, comes forgiveness. When someone else owns their mistakes, remember how you'd like to have your words of contrition received – and receive theirs in kind. We're all fighting our own battles. Forgive, let go, say you're sorry… and live happier for it.

 

  • Accept praise readily.
    This has been something a lot of us struggle with, accepting praise. From childhood, I've had to consciously tell myself to just say "Thank you." when someone says something nice to me or about me. The truth of the matter is that, more often than not, when someone praises or compliments me – I feel the need to belittle myself and my achievements in an effort to dampen them down, to seem less braggadocious. Where did this ugly habit creep into my world? At what age or juncture in our personal journeys do we learn that accepting praise can only happen if we ensure we shine – but not too brightly. I'm not sure of when or how, but one thing I am certain of is this: it's taken a while to poo-poo this approach to accepting and being thankful for praise. I am unrepentant in my ability to accept praise gracefully these days. Older, wilder, and thankful for kind words and gestures of others.

 

  • F*ck the critics.
    Obviously, not literally. As far as life strategies go, learning to silence the doubters, dickheads, and critics is a imperative to being comfortable and confident in your own being. It's also the hardest strategy to master, because it means not only silencing the opinions of others – but silencing your own inner-voice of doubt. In the past few years, my life has been turned upside-down, shaken, and then (still in disarray) placed neatly back right-side-up again. With all of the topsy-turviness of life, I've learned to quiet the opinions of people who don't bring growth, kindness, or positivity to my life. It's almost as simple as throwing a switch and deciding not to give a damn about someone's opinion of me. And, once you find that 'off' switch, it's just so much easier to just place everything that doesn't grow you in a Fuck-it bucket and move on. Critics? Who are they anyhow…

 

  • Wear what you want.
    Seriously. I'll keep this short and sweet. Wear what makes you feel good. Because, when you feel good you can take on just about anything.

  • Change constantly.
    Change is the best part about getting older. Call it evolution, growth, finding yourself… whatever you name it, it's change. And, it's beautiful. How boring would it be to live life without seeing/doing/experiencing something new? Beauty is in the small moments, the big KAHUNA about-faces, and in the cracks that let light and color into dark times. Don't fear the only consistent thing in life, learn to embrace it. And, love it. It's completely okay and normal to be afraid of upsetting the rhythm of life when you just start getting comfortable with routine. It's also completely okay to wait for the roller coaster to hit the pinnacle of the highest drop and throw your arms up and head back… taking in the force of free-falling with rapture and intrigue. No matter where you are in your journey, be all there. And, change it up a bit. If even just for giggles.

There you have it. A few life lessons as told by someone whose opinion is no more important than the next person in line. 36 trips around the sun have taught me to look at life as a joyous, sometimes sorrowful, journey. A precious gift to unpack, enjoy, and to dive into headfirst. Here's to growing older wildly. And loving every hedonistic, gentle, catastrophically amazing moment of it.

 

Photographs & Memories – June 2017 

Okay, okay… I’ve been fairly lax on the posting-my-best-photos-monthly front. Why? Because, busy.

Busy with work, with family, with travel & adventuring… basically, sneaky ‘ol Life got in the way of being bloggerific. And yeah, the ‘glorification of busy’ is a thing… so I need to stop using busy-ness as an excuse for not doing more of what I love. 🙂

That said, June was an amazing month in my world. And, I can’t wait to share some of our adventures with you! Work was fulfilling, family were/are happily settled, and I was blessed to travel to two beautiful, sunny, summery climes to escape New Zealand winter for two of the four weeks of the month. Speeding up, slowing down… enjoying a change of pace most days.

Winning!

Below are some of my fave images and memories from Queensland, Australia (if you ever have the chance to visit the Capricorn Coast & Great Keppel Island – do it!), and from home – ten sun-drenched days soaking up my people and culture in California.

Shades of turquoise and gold play havoc with my happiness in these images. And, smiling faces remain happy for all times.

Enjoy, Team. As always, if you’re keen to use my images, please reach out and ask.

Cass

Surf spotting, Huntington Beach style. This is, by far, my Happiest Place on Earth. Waves crashing, thrashing and gently finishing their journeys in soft sea foam blankets at the sandy shoreline.

Venice Beach, when you’re there… look up. Always look up. Blue on blue on blue…

No work. No shoes. No worries. And… no gravity? As long as the sun is shining, life’s shining too.

Skateboard serenity at Venice Beach. These cool cats are easy to watch for hours on end.

Absolutely blissing out.

I attended VidCon in Anaheim – it was a pleasure to meet so many people from different places, backgrounds, and dreamstyles. I enjoyed geeking out & spending time with each person who spent their time chatting to & laughing along with this tourist at home. Above is Hannah Hart, YouTuber/Author/TV powerhouse & all-around fabulous human. Let’s be honest – being a Momma & running the rat race means I didn’t have a clue about who most of the ‘stars’ were, but it was a fascinating experience & I’m already looking forward to the next VidCon!

This big geek! Nerding out before the VidCon extravaganza that was.

The Rainbow Hut on Great Keppel Island in Queensland, Australia. It felt like we stepped back in time to a place dripping in multi-colored, sun-drenched amazingness. Cannot wait to return!

This has to be THE ROOM with THE VIEW. Great Keppel Island Hideaways, I could’ve stayed on here for ages & ages… heavenly, mystical, & OTT on the natural beauty scale.

Toes in the water, salty jeans, and a smile permanently painted on. Talk about one heckuva arrivals & departures lounge.

Yeppoon sunrise. Heaven. Heaven. Heaven. #TakeMeBack

 

My Top Sixteen in 2016

Let’s be honest. From the moment Bowie died, the wheels started to fall off for 2016. The fact that the universe began tilting askew only ten days into the year should’ve been worrying at the time. And, with the beauty of hindsight to look back on, the passing of such a gargantuan icon so early meant more than many of us could’ve known at the time. 

Whether it was Bowie or just some kind of fu*ked up aura, from very early on in 2016 it was apparent that the highs were  going to be seriously high, and the lows were going to be the lowest many of us had ever known. For me, and I think for a lot of folks out there, I’ve been left with a calmness, a feeling of relief, that this year is over and a new year is beginning. This trip around the sun was mixture of saccharine sweet happiness, rotten milk, all wound up with a kick of vinegar and spice just to keep us honest.

January was celebrated, sun-drenched, and full to the brim with friends and family. A big ‘ol Californian contingent spent time vineyard hopping on Waiheke Island, and then played at being tourists around the North Island. A great start to a year that, with the gift of hindsight, was to become a superbly confusing, but beautiful, one.

We celebrated the birth of our beloved Sloane in February. Enjoyed Auckland Pride in Ponsonby. Played in the sunshine as often as we could. And then, we rocked through March. We became engaged in Melbourne. We celebrated. And then, spent time with our loved ones in April back home for a blink-and-your-missed-me moment, while I ticked a professional-bucket-list-item off in heading to San Diego to speak at the Social Media Marketing World Conference.

May and June were a blur. Of work, of life, of finances. I bought a house. Mended fences. Fell deeper in love. And, pushed buttons – challenging the status quo. Attempting to get others to believe in the value of Common Sense.

Together with family and friends, I stayed standing even when the world shook around, below, and above me. Sometimes I wondered if it was all worth it – it was, and is.

July was bliss. Home. California summer. Love. Las Vegas nights. Hollywood birthdays with new friends. Old friends rediscovered randomly on Santa Monica Blvd cross-walks. Wow, July. My favourite month became even more superb.

August came and went quickly. Which was a blessing in the end. Because, as I would find out, the meaty part of the year was still ahead of us – and, let’s not confuse this meaty bit with a prime cut of filet mignon, it was a dry, stinky jerky I’d soon be chewing on.

September and October brought uncertainty. Pain of loss. Loss of a belief in the goodness and fairness of others. Loss of trust. Loss of confidence. Loss of self. Had I not had my stunning fiancee, adoring baby girl, and friends & family who continually reaffirmed that ‘you are fine, you are capable, you are better than this time…’ I’m not sure I’d be writing this right now with any semblance of a positive spin.

A light in the darkness, our beloved nephew Oscar was born on the eve of another trip home to California to see my best friend of over 30 years marry her amazing Eddie. California was kind, gentle, loving, and soaked in sunlight. The trip home in October restored my faith in me. In my capabilities. In the solidifying of what matters most in life (hint, it’s the people you love most – not any of the other noise).

Late October, it was back to New Zealand, where I began a new adventure professionally. Meeting new people with big ideas, sparkling with passion as a business, and married to doing world-class work as a true team – I’d found my place and my people!

November, you were a superstar – save for a certain American presidential election which I have almost completely erased from my mind for the sake of keeping my sanity in check. If I ignore it, it’s not really real – right? My darling and I had an amazing birthday getaway on our beloved Waiheke Island and we spent the entire month laughing and dancing in the kitchen. Seriously! November, you’re my Boo.

But, all good things (I’m learning) must come to an end. Early December brought unexpected change. The wheels looked like they’d fall off. The ride got wobbly. Tears. Loss. Disappointment. But, after just having had a lot of change, I shook it off. And… joy, sunshine, happiness, thankfulness, and more were restored to my head and heart.

Looking back on 2016, it’s been a mixed bag. Not just for me, but for all of us. While I greeted each new day with energy and hope, I also felt an omnipresent wariness of life-lessons yet to be learned (or, learned again).Because of this, and keeping in the tradition of lists at the end of years, I’d like to share sixteen things I learned (or had reaffirmed) in twenty-sixteen.

In no particular order, here’s what I’ve got for you! Take the gritty, the pretty, the optimistic, the not-so-positive, the uplifting and mix them, mould them, and meld them to suit.

More than anything though, remember this one thing: 2017 is coming.

Sixteen lessons I’ve learned in 2016

1) Sometimes kindness will be echoed with deception, disappointment, and deceit – be kind anyways. Yep, some people are just dickheads. Plain and simple. No matter how kind, hard-working, loving, helpful, or patient you are – they’re only out for themselves. I learned this (again) a few times this year. But, ya know what? I decided it’s more important to cut loose the bad eggs without letting them cool my fire, calm my passion, or temper my kindness. Everyday is another day to practice being kind. If you can be one thing, that’s the one thing you should be. It’ll ensure you a life full of love, friendship, and strong connections with those who matter most.
2) Work is work – spend time in the office, be passionate, be firm, and always learn… but remember that family & friendship is everything. This one is pretty self-explanatory. In a world where we’re all ever-connected, and trying to climb that proverbial ladder, we often put our friendships, marriages, and important relationships last. If this year has taught me anything, it’s this: work is work. While you can be passionate and proud about what you do, it shouldn’t replace your time with family and friends. Finding a good work-life balance (or, rather, integration) isn’t always easy – you have to work at it. But, believe me, the important stuff is your time and your people. Invest there, too.
3) Saltwater is the best salve. Beaches, tears. The beach has been my saviour for many years. Whether on a Californian shore, swimming in the Mediterranean, or looking out across the Pacific attempting to see home on the other side – the ocean and the sand beneath my feet have always been the best way for me to find silence, and calm. There’s a quote about seawater and tears both being the most healing things in this world, and I for one can say this isn’t far from the truth. If you can find a beach, go sit near the water. Watch the power of a gentle tide. The ebb and flow – like the heartbeat of the earth itself. When you feel small, you’ll find your centre. Promise.
4) 3am is the perfect time of day to restart. And, to sweat. When I tell people I go to the gym at 3am (not everyday!) the answer is always “Oh my god, you’re crazy!” Well… nope. I’m not crazy at all. In fact, I know myself well enough to be able to damn any clock or set metric of time if it means I get to prioritise my health. One constant in my life has always been athletics. Dad had me catching pop-flies by the ripe old age of two. From there, my life was full of sports, of teams, and of learning to work with and alongside others. Exercise for me is more than just physical, it’s the clearing of the mind while the body takes over. A sweaty, sometimes uncomfortable type of meditation in motion. The time at which I do it? It’s not important. Doing it is what matters. And, right now as a mother, colleague, friend, fiancee and more… 3am is the time I can have for me. Just, me.
5) Taking time to think deeply, to feel immensely, and cry recklessly is important. We’re all so damn busy. All. The. Damn. Time. One of the most healing, balancing, and strengthening things you can do in our connected age is just stop. Smell the roses, if there are some, or just look out a window and think. Let your mind and your body ‘just be’ for a while – and you’ll be amazed at the clarity that comes with small, meditative moments to yourself. I find my silence in motion. Exercise, walking by the beach, hiking outdoors… just me, the breeze, and an hour to feel. A lot of the time I’ll take time to recognise and allow emotions to overwhelm me. Yucky, ugly crying. Loud, rowdy thoughts. Chilled, calm soul. Whatever you need to balance, do it.
6) It’s okay to ask for help. This one seems simple. In fact, it’s a piece of advice I happily delve out to friends and family alike. Often. But, when it comes to treating ourselves as well as we treat others, the rules oftentimes don’t apply. When it comes to asking for help though (be it financial, emotional, or otherwise), it’s important to allow yourself the ability to do so. Weakness is not inherent in realising you need extra hands to carry the weight of your world – it’s strength that comes with allowing others to help. For me, asking for help has gotten easier with time. Just as I love helping my friends, I’ve realised that my friends love helping me. So… in 2017, when you need a hand up, ask. It really does take a village.
7) It’s okay to trust other people at first glance – and keep trusting them – even if you’ve been burned before. Right, so this is a hard one for even me to swallow. This year’s come-to-Jesus moment happened all at once, when people I trusted broke our shared trust irreparably. After this happened, I found a voice inside my head whispering (sometimes shouting!) ‘DO NOT TRUST ANYONE ANYMORE!’ My head and my heart were trying to keep me safe. And, if I’m honest, I listened to both for a while. But, I found that not trusting people caused me to be completely unhappy. Completely un-me. At the heart of who I am lies a happy human. A person who believes in the good of people and the world. So, not trusting means not moving forward. And if you know me well, you know that sitting still + Cassie = not possible for long. A turning point for me came when I started a new adventure – and found a safety net in new plans, new adventures…and new people. People whom I trust completely. The moral of the story? Just because you’ve been burned before, doesn’t mean you can’t safely stand (or dance) next to the fire again. Be bold. Be brave. And, trust in the goodness of others. 
 
8) It’s also okay to change your mind. Often. Yep. It is. Believe me… I’ve changed my mind more times in the past year than I had in the previous 33.5 years combined. Why? Because I am a grown-ass adult woman who is allowed to consistently learn, evolve, change and mould myself into a better version of who I am now and will be in the future. Just because you feel like pizza for dinner on Wednesday, doesn’t mean you can’t have Thai on Thursday and Japanese on Friday. I highly recommend getting comfortable with recognising moments in which you might just need to suck up a bit of ego, and flip-flop on a choice. Be it a big or small moment, allowing yourself to change your mind also allows other people to see a bit more of your genuine self. Holding tight to outdated beliefs – or even just being hard-headed for the sake of it, won’t get you very far down the road of life. And, it won’t find you happiness. That’s for certain. So, in sticking with a theme I see materialising now, go easy on yourself. Allow the winds of change to carry you where they may – just adjust those sails when and where you can.
9) Justin Beiber really is a mastermind musically (yes, I went there #Belieber) – so are Gaga, Adele, George Ezra, Keith Urban, and Christine and the Queens. Music is a language unto itself. Transcending languages, cultures, and experiences – it’s the one thing that can serve to glue us silly humans together as one. That said, it seems like (this year in particular) there are a lot of music snobs about. How about this, snobs… why don’t we just let people like what they like, and spend time not hating on Beliebers, country music fans, hard-house aficionados, et al. This trip around the sun, for me, was one made amazing when we talk about music. I discovered a lot of new artists (new to me), and really went back to the soul of what I love in music – storytelling. Think about Queen’s lyrics. Bernie Taupin’s. George Michael’s. There’s a new revolution happening, and it’s luckily favouring singer-songwriters who can yield both a pen and electric/acoustic guitar. No matter the moment, there’s a song for it or memory to be made through music. So, whether you love Slipknot or Bach, just do you. Turn it up. And, soak it in.
10) Shit is going to happen. When it does, roll with the punches and start your hustle. Shit is, well, shitty. And, it happens a lot. But, so too do good times. This year has been a decisively weird one because it seems like most people had a rough year, but not many of us can really say why. I mean, good stuff happened. A lot of good stuff. Probably more good than bad, really. But, the bad just seemed to be omnipresent. More like someone constantly poking at a bruise than an occasional sprain or broken bone. Does that make sense? What I’ve learned from the universe constantly prodding at ouchy bruises this year is this: complaining doesn’t help any situation. Neither does sitting still and wishing anything bad away. It’s perfectly normal and okay to rage and mourn when bad shit happens – but only for a little while. After the fall, you stand up. And you hustle. What do I mean by hustle? You stop feeling sorry for yourself – at least outwardly. You start smiling (again, outwardly). You start believing in yourself – wholly. At 35 years old, I’m fairly adept at the old bob-and-weave when life throws a punch or two at me. But, when a punch lands squarely between my eyes, I wait for the little cartoon birdies to clear, and then get on with it. Because, motion begets motion. And, moving forward makes me happy.
11) Putting yourself first must always come first. True story. This one, though seemingly simplistic in theory, is a hard one. Especially if, like me, you’re a mom, wife, colleague, boss, friend, cousin, daughter… etc etc. Modern life is, as we all know, BUSY. And ohhhhhhh, how I detest the glorification of busy. Oftentimes it takes just as much intestinal fortitude to take time for oneself as it does to take on a big project. I had learned over the years, but especially in the past year, to never ever apologise for taking time to myself. For taking time to work on myself. To better myself. To find my centre and learn. I found out the hard way (almost burning out completely) that being the best me that I can be is the best way to give to others. As cliche as it sounds, putting me first some of the time, helps me put others first the rest of the time. And, I’m a much happier human for it.
12) Binge watching YouTube channels (erm, hello Hannah Hart and Lacie & Robin) is a perfectly apt use of time. I never really was in to YouTubers. Never binge-watched channels. Never really consumed shows on YouTube voraciously… until 2016. This year was a year of discovery for me (in more than one way, on more than one channel and platform), and in that I have learned a lot from simply binge-watching funny, interesting, insightful, silly, crazy, in-depth shows online. My two fave channels, are above. Hannah Hart, a newcomer into my realm of knowing, is a big star on the interwebs. She’s got millions upon millions of followers, has a new book out, and a movie, too! But, she’s just Hannah. And, I love that about her. Her content is refreshingly funny, self-deprecating, and genuine. Check her channel out if you have time – she’s constantly creating new stories and shows. Something’s bound to tickle your entertainment fancy with her. And, alongside Hannah, I love Lacie & Robin. Though they may not have millions upon millions of followers, they’re just as amazing storytellers and content creators. Gorgeous women through and through, I am more than proud to call them friends. And, am more than okay admitting I binge-watch their content when they release it like a true fangirl should. 🙂 People always say ‘use your time wisely’ and I reckon watching all of the ladies listed above is as good a use of time as any.
13) Getting out there on a limb means you’ll gather more fruit… or something like that. Simply put, you’ve got to put yourself out there every once and a while if you want to learn, grow, and move up in life. Staying comfortable is okay if your goals in life are centred on comfort. But, if you’ve got goals that’s bigger than where you are right now (or, by rights, smaller), then you need to do something different that what you’ve always done before. That means getting used to being uncomfortable. And learning how to mask discomfort with confidence – until confidence is all you know (I’m still working on this bit). Just putting yourself out there for a new job, a relationship, a friendship… anything… is difficult. But, once you take the first step or make the first move, you’ll find that things usually end up for the better.
14) Being the most genuine version of yourself is the only way to really find happiness. Really! This year was the year when I stopped giving a flying f*ck about the opinions of people who have no discernible effect on my life. And, in doing so, have become the happiest, best version of me I’ve ever been. Ever. Living in the most genuine, unapologetic, open, and giving way possible has been healing. Epiphany after epiphany has happened. And, I’ve connected more deeply than ever with people I love on more levels than I ever knew possible. Moral of the story: just be. Happiness follows suit.

15) Find a happy place – a consistently healing place – and go there, often. My happy place is the beach. Any beach. But, particularly, a beach on Waiheke Island near vineyards, restaurants, and endless hiking trails for long meditative walks while sipping strong coffee. When I feel lost, down, out of energy, or otherwise just in a funk, the ocean heals me. A few times this year, when I thought I was at breaking point, I simply got into my car and drove to the ocean. Most of the time I’d sit in my car, windows down so I could hear the waves crashing on the shore…and think. Just think. Most of the time I’d lose myself in feeling small. And a part of something larger. And then, quickly, realise that whatever worry was tugging at my heart wouldn’t stay forever. From that point on, I would start working through solutions to whatever problem needed solving. Emotional, financial – whatever it was, it could be built up, torn down, or sewn up securely at the beach.

16) Call your parents (and your grandparents, if you still are lucky enough to have them) regularly. Just chat. Connect. Love them. The more time that flies by, the less you have to spend on the people who love you best. Call Mom and Dad. FaceTime. Skpe. Text. Remember to let them know you’re thinking of them as much as they’re thinking of you. You’ll never regret taking the time to chat about everything and nothing at all. I promise.
2016, you’ve been a frenemy to many of us. Just this week my childhood crush, George Michael, was taken at 53yrs old. Along with Bowie, bookends of a year than can also now be put to rest with sadness and genuine adoration in equal parts. 
Here’s to a new trip around the sun. To balance, to you. To all of us.
Love and light.
Cass