When I was eight years old I walked up to my mother and asked, innocently, “Mama, can I please go to boarding school in Switzerland?”
The answer was, of course, no. To a little girl who was in the midst of devouring the novels “What Katy did” about a girl who went to boarding school, this was of course one of the most devastating moments of my little life. Why couldn’t I go away and have adventures? I don’t even really understand why I chose Switzerland. I mean, Katy was British. Maybe the idea of a language I was familiar with, mountains and being semi-close to family in Germany appealed to my strange eight year old brain?
Needless to say it would be 6 years later when I took my first “solo” journey away, travelling to Hawaii to sing. Then just two years later flying to South Africa and finally moving away at 18 to go to school approximately 4300kms away from my hometown. I then “shocked” my family by moving yet another 3500kms after I graduated.
I was always on the move. And by the way, no one was shocked about my decision to move. Maybe just a little confused at the location. Needless to say, on September 5, 2005 I landed at Heathrow with way too many suitcases and an apartment which I had never seen. The adventure began again.
Ten years later it doesn’t feel like time has past. I remember sitting in the Sloney Pony pub with Emily, celebrating our five year anniversary of London living and now, five years later I’ve since moved on and still cannot believe I have been entrusted with the life I have.
So, to mark this occasion I wanted to share ten lessons I learned. If you go here you can read about 30 lessons I wrote about on the eve of my birthday. These will be different…
You can do the impossible. There is nothing stopping you from changing your life. If you are reading this right now, you have the ability to change your life. You are reading this on your phone, tablet or PC. If you’re blessed enough to have any of these things, then you’re blessed. Find a way to make something happen for yourself that you have once deemed impossible. God has promised that all things are possible through Him. Some of these things you want to do will take hard work, some the right connections, some training, some money. What is your impossible? At one time mine was running 13.1 miles and not passing out. I did it. At one time my impossible was dropping 12 dress sizes. Done. At one time my impossible was moving across the world. Check. God sorted that one out nicely. Literally the only thing stopping you is you. And if there’s someone cheering you on, believing in you, don’t let that person go. You’re going to need them.
You will never be ready. A friend once told me that men will never get into a relationship until they’re ready. Apparently this is some magic moment that is individual to every man and no woman, no one in fact, can predict it. I’m guessing it’s like a switch? Who knows, but apparently no woman can make a man ready. Well, sadly, like in every area of our lives we’re probably not ever really ready. The job you want? Maybe you don’t have quite the skills, but you have the passion, drive and some knowledge. Apply anyway. You and your spouse may want a child and are financially able, but you may not be ready emotionally. We can try and try to prepare as much for any season or moment in our lives, but there will always be some aspect of our lives that can put a huge “NOT READY” stamp on our plans. That’s why we have God and the Holy Spirit. Pray, seek wisdom and jump. Ready isn’t a something you can force.
Do it scared, but never without peace. Kind of the same as the above…just going a bit deeper. When I realised that my time in London was coming to a close it was scary. I remember sitting in my teeny studio flat crying my eyes out trying to figure out why God was definitely telling me that my London season was over. I couldn’t understand or contemplate. I mean MY LIFE WAS THERE GOD…hello!?! However, as I prayed and sought His peace and wisdom, when it came time to first decide to apply for uni here in Sweden and then actually move, the fear never left. However, it was being suffocated by peace. His everlasting and extraordinary peace that passes understanding. The opposite of fear is not courage, it’s faith. Keep your faith in your saviour and the peace will come.
Haters going to hate. People do not like me. Crazy eh? A lot of people do not like you either. Actually both those statements are sort of untrue. It’s not that people do not like you, but likely they’re dealing with some thing in their lives, which is causing insecurity, jealousy, envy, whatever the ugliness and it’s manifesting itself in the form of some hatred.
Did I ever tell you that once a girl said I was too nice? Another person once tried to make others hate me because I was over performing at work. When we live in the favour of God and strive for a life of excellence you’re going to get some hate. God said in this life there would be troubles, but He has overcome it all. Wipe it off and keep on walking.
You will probably lose yourself along the way, have people around you who will help you back. Ever look in the mirror and not recognize yourself. Or perhaps some thoughts come into your head or even words out of your mouth and even you are surprised by the contents. This last season has been a psychological struggle for me. Being without work isn’t great in my books and not being busy leaves me with a lot of self reflection time. DO NOT LET ME REFLECT TOO MUCH. I drive myself insane. I am, along with many others, one of those people you don’t really have to scold or tell off or even help figure stuff out with. I self-analyse myself constantly, trying to understand my reason for doing something or whether my actions were in line. This means that without a job my little analytical brain was ON FULL SPEED AHEAD. Have you seen “Inside Out”? I would have loved to do that movie with my brain as the centre. Needless to say, in all this self reflection time I ended up over reflecting and losing myself in the process. Blame, insecurity, sadness, rejection…all crowded my thoughts. It wasn’t until I gave myself enough breathing room to let people in, who knew me and could hit me over the head with a book, that I found myself again.That and going back into HIS WORD, and losing myself in His love. When you feel yourself going connect with the one who created you and those who love you the most.
Reinvention is a key to life, but never lose your passion. When I landed in London I had baby bangs and short, blonde hair. Shortly after I dyed it copper, then blonde and purple, brown, blonde, red…the list goes on. I was a bit obsessed with constantly reinventing myself, at least physically, but along the way that reinvention saw itself manifest in my jobs. I have done a lot of things in the last ten years, but ultimately my passion has remained the same. For me, building relationships and helping others achieve their passions and goals is my passion in life, my purpose is to show people the love of God. This is my red thread when it comes to life. My jobs, where I volunteer, how I spend my downtime, the books I read, the conversations I have, they all revolve in some way around this. Everything I do somehow touches on this even if one day it looked like working in the media industry and the next it meant volunteering with a company to help grow their business. Don’t get bored, keep your passion passionate and see the difference you make in the world.
Taste the rainbow. There’s a great saying “Go one place every year that you’ve never been”. One of my favorite aspects of the last ten years is exploration. I’ve explored cities, countries and my own backyard. I’ve slept on airport floors, tasted champagne in Paris, swam in lagoons in Italy, found all my favourite coffee shops in Sweden, spoken a plethora of languages, met people from countries I didn’t know existed, all in the name of learning something new. I pray that this never stops, no matter what happens in the next season of life. Will I always be nomadic? Will I “settle down”? Will I marry a Swede, or an Australian? who knows. I just know that each day I want to “taste the rainbow” and know more of the world that God created.
Buy the shoes. Honestly, if you love something do it. Buy it. Explore it. Fine, be smart, don’t go into debt, but that aside, we have one life and if you really want to buy those red ruby slippers and dance on the Trocadero in Paris, at midnight, while the Eiffel Tower sparkles, do it.
But also, buy the shoes for someone else. Be generous. To whom much is given, much is expected. I’m getting a bit more serious now. A lot of what I have written is about you. Or about me. It’s about the person you’re trying to be to make a difference in this world. The thing is. We don’t live our lives in a bubble. We live our lives in relationship with others. Be generous with those around you. Look for the need. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you opportunities to see the need. I have a rule. Since I am currently not married with children I baby sit for free. If my friends need help. I am there. Not only do I figure that one day I will need someone else to watch my babies, but I have the time and resource now to bless someone else. What can you do? What is in your hands?
Invest in your future and in others futures. This is not about money. I decided, at 18, that by the time I was 30 I would speak 5 languages. I did it. Am I perfect at them? No…but I’m learning my 6th and can get by in a few more. This skill has and continues to help me and others in many ways. Last week in Paris a frantic Spanish woman came up to me for help and it was so fun to watch her face light up when I could direct her in her native tongue. By learning new skills we make our futures better equipped for the tasks and responsibilities that God has for us.
And invest in others…I love people so investing in them comes naturally. I have to stop there. Investing in people I like comes naturally. Investing in those who I love, but find more difficult to get on with naturally, well, that’s the goal of the next ten years. But back to it. We have all been given a step up by someone else. Whether it was a lesson, someone introduced you to someone who got you a job, or even someone helped you see what you didn’t know. We get places because of the people around us. I’ve learned that the best way to get more help is by helping those who are coming up behind you. I only stand where I am today because of the people who have gone before me (in all aspects of my life), so I can only humbly help others to pay back for all that I have been given.
God isn’t on top, He’s at the centre, He’s your everything. In the end it’s all about Him. I would never be where I am today if God wasn’t at the centre of my life. Now, He knows that he hasn’t always been there and I am sure I will continue to go through seasons where I have to adjust, but ultimately knowing that when God is at the centre of your life, of your everything than life is just that much better. It may not always be easy, but you will never, ever be alone.
Here’s to the next ten years…