Me and my ninja (Mandy Smiler) nearly died laughing, because #truth 🤷🏼♀️
Cheryl is part of our tribe. Cheryl knows me well.
And you know how many times Cheryl and I have met in person?
She’s well known in the world of plain language, and I followed and fan-girled over her for a few years, and we connected on LinkedIn eventually, then we met at a conference.
But she knows me so much better than how we could know each other from meeting that one time, because #socialmedia.
I consider her a friend, and she GETS ME.
The power of social media
I once got a job teaching at a French university because a plain language colleague on Twitter recommended me. We had never met. But she knew me, my work, and my reputation because of #socialmedia.
LinkedIn, the world of the #notfacebook, naysaying, professional police. I use LinkedIn however the fuck I want. And I have a solid tribe of other professionals who feel the same way. Police our LinkedIn use and tell us “it’s not Facebook” and we will block your ass – and not quietly.
My world is richer because this tribe of mine around the world will randomly tag me in shit:
@ShellyDaviesCom – this might be your soul sister
Hey @ShellyDaviesCom – wanna weigh in on this?
Don’t let @ShellyDaviesCom see this 🤣
This brings me joy.
It’s not because I feel popular or well-liked.
It’s because people GET ME.
And because they get me, I feel known. I feel connected. I feel a strong sense of belonging.
And I have MADE THAT for myself.
You can, too.
You need to show yourself (authentically)
You need to show yourself (knowing you’re not for everyone)
You need to show yourself (without fear)
I mentioned Mandy Smiler earlier and there’s a reason for that.
Almost 4 years ago I hired her as my Life Ninja – aka assistant. I thought I was hiring admin support, and I was. But together over these years we’ve discovered her absolute gift: she knows how to help people SHOW THEMSELVES TO THE WORLD.
To me she’ll always be known as Shelly’s Ninja, cos that’s how it all started (and yes, I’m still keeping her skills for myself too!) But now, as Ninja-Savvy Socials, her business is giving other people the gift she gave me – the ability to show yourself to the world.
Authentically, powerfully, in a way that attracts YOUR tribe.
Attracting your tribe
Want to invite the right customers and surround yourself with likeminded people?
You should talk to her. See here for more about what she does.
Yes, we all know social media can be noisy and destructive.
BUT if you make it work for you, it can be SO powerful and bring you joy.
Don’t let the evidence you’re a good parent, slip past unnoticed.
My children know that if I could go back I would not have chosen to be a parent. This is not the same thing as saying I don’t want them. They are (especially currently – keep reading) an absolute joy, and they’ve made me a good person. I would not give them back, NOW.
Instead, I tell them, it means that if I had ANY idea how painful and hard and soul-destroying I’d find parenting, I wouldn’t have done it.
It’s the pain that’s the worst part – their pain.
Empathy and parenting
Lil’ old empath me cannot handle their fucking pain. It’s too much.
I want them to be happy, but alas, it’s not a parent’s job to make their children happy. It’s our job to raise adults who can be functional and resourceful in the world – and by doing so, make their own happy.
And that kind of adult emerges from a child who’s had to tolerate enough times of being unhappy, because you say NO to them and have boundaries and shit like that. That’s the way it goes.
Anyway, I sat down late last year to list the evidence that I am, in spite of all the “evidence” to the contrary that I can find AT THE DROP OF A HAT, a freaking good mum. Not to sit down and write about how in my time machine, I’d be child-free (and a selfish bitch, for the record. But that’s another post).
Because while the “evidence” that I suck as a parent – that I’m a failure in all the worst ways – has legs and wings and stands ten feet tall and bellows at 100 decibels, the evidence that I’ve done not a half-decent but an amazing job, can slip past unnoticed. And I’m completely over that bullshit. So I sat down one day and took stock.
Here’s what I came up with on that day:
I have a 22-year-old son who still calls me as one of his main emotional support people. And when I tell him I love him, he replies with, “Love you too, mate.” He addresses servers and shop assistants by their first name. He has a firm handshake and looks people in the eye. He’s set a career path for himself. He sings like an angel and plays multiple musical instruments. He’s faced his demons and he keeps getting up each day and trying to be a good human and a good dad. I couldn’t be more proud.
My 16-year-old daughter is milking full time. She gets herself up every day and leaves the house just after 4am to drive 40 minutes to the farm where she got herself a job, in a cowshed with mostly other women, milking 800 cows. She comes home, covered in cow shit, with sparkling eyes. She’s living her best life. She does dishes without being asked. She calls me when I’m travelling to liaise about meals and groceries for the household. She always notices when someone in her orbit is struggling. She reports to me every day on the “adulty” things she did, especially when it’s about her relationship. She is self-reflective and articulate. Holy fuck.
My 15-year-old is incredibly pissed that she’s not old enough to get her driver’s licence yet, because she thinks she’s every bit as capable as her sister, and she’s right. She got herself her first job completely on her own and didn’t even tell me when she had an interview. She saves money like her life depends on it. She plans. To go to art school in California. She doesn’t know yet how that’ll happen with the USD$150k/year price tag, but she’s set her mind to it. And I don’t doubt her ability to do that. This year, as an introvert who struggles to articulate her emotions out loud, she worked her way out of an abusive relationship like a BOSS, setting boundaries and then honouring them. Even more, a month or so later she got angry enough to punch the kid in the face. Yes – violence is wrong. And fuck, I was so proud of her.
My 23-year-old chose me. That is actually some of the evidence that I’m a good mum. Because she chose me, and she told me off for saying I’m a bad mum. In fact, she wrote me a list of why I needed to stop saying I’m a bad mum because that was offensive to her – see below. That list rocked my world. That and many years of therapy around parenting and my struggles and guilt and attitudes around it.
So I’ll share it with you.
This list is from the perspective of someone who doesn’t take the simplest things for granted. She gets up each day and keeps herself alive, and is GOOD and KIND and SMART and STRONG even when her life could easily have shaped her so differently.
That was huge for me. It forced me to acknowledge that I had done some things right.
You’re allowed to say it – PARENTING IS FUCKING HARD
And finally, a shout out to Emily Writes and friends, because I had also just finished reading Is it bedtime yet? and it was the most glorious, loving, real, raw, accepting and forgiving thing I’d read in a long, long time. If you’re about to have a baby or if you have babies or someone else in your world does, and they need to hear that PARENTING IS FUCKING HARD and that’s NORMAL, you need to buy them that book. And probably the next book too.
Here’s an idea for you:
What’s the area in your life that you are best at punishing yourself about? What’s that part of your life that you feel literally SURROUNDED with things to beat yourself over the head with, because there is SO MUCH EVIDENCE that you suck at it? That you’ve failed? What’s your shame?
Because how about this…. What if you write a list of every. Tiny. Piece. Of evidence. That you’re NOT failing at that thing?
I’ve just had 3 days of filming, and that’s something I’ve never experienced before. I adored it. It was intense. I feel shattered and exhilarated. And as the camera crew drove away, my brain said, Aaaaaand next!
It started cataloguing all the things that need to be done now that that’s over, and I’ve got time and headspace and it’s quiet. My brain thinks that means, Must get caught up.
Get my head back into that client work
Sweep the house
Make some phone calls
PLAN WHAT’S NEXT, aaaaaaaaaand, GO!
It is true that most of those things will need to get done at some stage.
What’s also true is that right now, after a really intense 3 days of being ON, taking some time to just breathe is not only completely appropriate but probably a whole lot healthier than just jumping straight into what’s next.
So I sit here, on the deck with my coffee, and just pause. Reflect. Let the intensity and high energy fade away. Feel it dissipating.
Pause or pressure
So I’m wondering if right now, as you read this, if you need to either take a few breaths right now, or if you need to look ahead in your day and decide at what moment you’d be able to do that. When will it be needed?
When can you consciously, purposefully, pause?
I think I’m mostly speaking to the mums – the ones who still think about self-care only occasionally and when the idea pops into their heads, and they go, Oh, that’s right, I should take some time for me.
I’m excited to be teaming up again with the amazing humans at the Dairy Women’s Network (thanks Fonterra!). We’re hitting the road nationwide for daytime writing workshops and keynote dinner events and I can’t wait to see you live and in person!
Like when I picked up 3 young guys hitchhiking and I had just started blasting Lizzo and I said I hoped they could sing like a large back woman. Two of the guys pointed at the other and he said, “Oh yeah. I am definitely that bitch” (it’s a Lizzo reference, if you didn’t know). I belly laughed and had to fist-bump him. Best come-back!
Riding an inflatable pink flamingo while drinking iced coffee. Long story. But it was FUN.
Walking by water with my headphones in listening to P!nk or Six60 with the sun on my skin. That is SHEER JOY for me.
Just dancing while I wash the dishes. Turning up the music and moving my body. That feels sooooooo good.