Reflecting back on the past 12 months I cant help but think how lucky I am. To have the opportunities I have and so many things to be grateful for. Life is as always, ever-changing and definitely throws up some curve balls and serves out some shit sandwiches. As much as we don’t like or feel ready for change or difficult times these are the situations that provide us with the opportunity to learn, grow and help others.

Some of my favourite books over the past 12 months that I have learned from have been:

  • “The obstacle is the way” by Ryan Holiday- I love his work on stoicism and how it can change your perspective, your behaviour and your will to persist in tough times. His books are awesome and so is his blog .
  • “The power of now” by Erkarht Tolle- A real game-changer for me, some of the words really jumped off the page. I had some massive breakthroughs with my anxiety and instantly cured myself of persistent headaches I have had since my early teens by learning how to give myself “mind-breaks” described in his book.
  • “A mother’s story” by Rosie Batty- A heart breaking reminder that domestic violence leaves so many scars and victims. An amazing woman and tragic story.

Things I have learned:

“If you want to be free you have to stop being silent”

As many of you know the past twelve months has seen some work changes for me. Leaving my parent’s business in 2016 is one of the saddest and proudest moments of my life. For so much of my life I have hidden or stayed silent on things that I have known to be wrong but been too afraid or ashamed to tell. Making the decision to speak to others about the history of domestic violence in my family was a difficult one but one I don’t regret. They say the truth will set you free. While it made it obvious that any future career within my parents business was no longer viable I bought myself something infinitely more valuable- peace of mind, and the opportunity to break free from that cycle and pursue my own path. History continues to show that those that find the courage to stand up, speak up and set new standards help to make the world a better place.

“Domestic and family violence affects many people”

Since speaking out about my own experience of domestic violence- of which I still feel I have been remarkably restrained and respectful- I am amazed at how many people have connected with me to share their own stories and experiences or survival and of the horrors that domestic and family violence (DFV) create. Thank you to all of those people and thank you to all of the people who have stood by me and supported me and my family throughout the process. It is a horrible cycle that affects soooo many people, for such a long time and one I am grateful to be free of. Some awesome quotes (with links) and food for thought:

“…Disrespecting women does not always result in violence against
women. But all violence against women begins with disrespecting women,”-

Malcolm Turnbull, current Prime Minister of Australia. 

  • I have learned that men that commit acts of domestic violence (in all its forms) don’t have anger issues, they have control issues, and that without voluntary effort to change their behaviour there is next to no hope of breaking the cycle of violence.

“We don’t realise we do it … raising questions like, ‘Why doesn’t she leave?’ when in fact that is a pivotal time that you can be murdered,” she said. “We should really be considering the perpetrator’s behaviour, that we actually spend most of our time discussing and criticising and judging the victim, [while] the perpetrator remains out of conversation and discussion.”Why would that be, that we place the onus of safety onto the victim’s shoulders, expecting them to seek refuge and hide and find safety rather than looking at the perpetrator’s behaviour and getting them to stop being violent.”-

Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year 2015

  • I have also learned that women within the cycle of violence typically believe themselves to be fully on top of the situation. They believe they are the only one available to help their troubled man and don’t require “help”. Despite this they are in a dangerous situation and require support.

The statistics on domestic and family violence speak for themselves. We all have a part to play in stopping the cycle. For help or information regarding domestic violence call the Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732. Or go to www.1800respect.org.au

“Life is short”

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Last year really sucked. In March 2016 one of our club legends and one of Australia’s best dads, role models and sportsmen, Grahame Buckley, died while at rowing training. A month later one of our major surfboat sponsors was brutally murdered while on a date in Sydney. And in October 2016 one of my closest mates, Simon Stennett, aged 34 years, died when his heart just stopped. Words cannot describe the grief and sadness that occurs when we lose those we love. As always my thoughts remain with the Buckley, Collins and Stennett families. If I can draw any message from this it’s that life is short. Don’t put things off! Be an awesome person, take care of those you love and chase your dreams every day! Where is your bucket list? Get started today!

“I am totally insecure and I’m learning how to be ok with that!”

I took myself to the doctors last year for a check up as I was feeling pretty flat. I described some of the symptoms and she referred me to a local pyschologist. There’s something about a piece of paper with your name on it and the words “anxiety and depression” that makes you feel like you’ve really fucked something up. I’m sorry but there is still a stigma. I sat in the psychologist office wondering what would happen next. She was friendly and took notes as I described why I was there. Then she calmly turned to me and showed me the notes:

“So the reason you are feeling stressed and anxious is because you are managing a new preschool that has gone from 0-100 in under 12 months, two of your close friends have died, your parents are going through a domestic violence court case and you have two children under 3 years in your house?”

Uh, yeah. Reality check. I’m not superman. From this starting point I have learned so much about myself. Like how to breathe (literally- its amazing). Like I have a huge ego. I can be arrogant, moody, vague and flippant. Why? Because I’m insecure. Managing my anxiety has started with me realising that I am anxious a lot of the time. Overthinking is fairly normal but when it becomes a habit its not healthy. I’m learning to be comfortable with my own company. It’s pretty cool and I hope it shows. Life is not about struggle. Inner peace is possible we just have to trust the loving voice rather than the fearful voice inside us.

As I mentioned above not much in life is certain. We don’t get to choose or control everything that happens to us. Life can suck. But if we can find the opportunity to learn, grow and use these situations as strength to help others we can find enormous satisfaction and inner peace.

Thank you to my wife, children, family and friends as well as my colleagues, kids and all those that have supported me over the past 12 months (and 32 years!).

Thank you.

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