Hey GEM’s – hope you’re good. Our fabulous columnist Nikki Newman is back with another thought provoking piece. Last time around Nikki wrote about facing her fears in her brilliant Facing The Fashionistas posting. We got an amazing response to the piece and many of you wanted to know what happened next…
Take it away Nikki…!
So following my last posting a couple of weeks ago I did indeed travel to Dubai for the final of the fashion illustration contest I was shortlisted for: I faced the fashionistas, had a blast, but sadly didn’t win overall.
But you know what, I really didn’t lose at all – I had the experience of a lifetime. Who knows what will come of it in a solid ‘work’ sense. I made contacts that would never have crossed my path had I not pushed past those fears and entered in the first place. Plus on a ‘life’ level, there are a ton of reasons this whole thing was so right for me and actually really enhancing, here are a few of them…
I got some ME TIME in DUBAI – double whammy! Dubai is a spectacular city where everything is larger than life. I got to spend 24 hours on my own, doing what I pleased: eating, browsing shops, drooling over Jimmy Choos and drinking wine.
Before the trip some girlfriends had asked if I was taking the family, when I replied that my husband had said it would be good for me to go on my own, they each went very quiet and stared wistfully into the middle distance; it was then that I knew I was onto a good thing.
My little drawing, on display, in the world’s largest mall, in Dubai, for two weeks!
My family is proud of me – ok, I like to think they are anyway, but after some pretty dark times, they know what this means to me. Plus, my son’s been telling everyone that mommy’s going to be in a magazine – sweetheart!
I have a fabulous story to tell – When I’m old and gray, living in some retirement home by the sea, I’ll be sharing the story, well-worn magazine in hand, with just about anybody who’ll listen.
We all got cute goody bags of expensive pamper products – I had to include this one: I’m a girl, I’m always impressed by pretty, squeezy bottles of delicious smelling lotions and potions, and yes, they are most definitely life enhancing!
I met some great people – the magazine staff, full of praise and thanks; Mohammad the taxi driver working in Dubai to support his wife and kids back home in Pakistan; and everyone else along the way – people who were welcoming, warm and generous enough to share some of their stories with me.
It was the right time for me – Reflecting on my last post, I’ve realised that maybe if I had done this kind of thing when I was younger, I wouldn’t have known how to keep it all in perspective and how to handle not winning; it may have dented my confidence rather than boosted it.
Which brings me to the purpose of this posting. I’ve learned so much in recent years about holding things loosely in order to handle them well. Too tight a hold, too desperate a grasp, and the thing that often breaks is you.
This isn’t to say you should hold back on the passion but just keep faith that just because this or that didn’t happen, it doesn’t mean it’s all over. It just means there’s something else you’re going to go on to do. And I think it’s only age and experience that shows us that. For that reason, this whole thing happened at the right time for me.
You see a few days after I returned from my trip I saw a news item about the 25th Anniversary of the Back to the Future movie (NOW I feel old!) When talk turned to Michael J Fox’s life with Parkinson’s Disease, he humbly explained, ‘Everybody’s got their own bag of hammers, this one just happens to be mine’. It wasn’t a ‘shut-up and put-up’ kind of comment; it felt warmer, more human, more grounded than that.
Michael’s comments struck a chord with me because after returning from the competition I was laid up dealing with my own ‘bag of hammers’ – a particularly bad flare-up of an illness I’ve had in my life since 2006, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and I was wishing it wasn’t so.
I had been improving, getting some normality back over recent months, so this was a shock. Though, if I’m honest, I had noticed the warning signs – the burning pain and spasms in my muscles, the momentary paralysis in my hands, the nausea – and deep down I knew I had been taking a risk in the first place with my full-on trip to Dubai. But once home, against all the hard lessons I’d learned over the years, I had tried to pretend it wasn’t happening and so in the process made things worse for myself.
It took my husband, aka my compass, to pull me up on my behaviour and set me off in the right direction. He questioned me, frustration clear in his voice: haven’t you been here before? Haven’t you learned anything? Of course, he was right. I knew what I had to do to give myself a chance of lifting from this. I wanted to be working – painting and writing; I wanted to sort a Halloween costume for my son, and share my adventures with my friends over a glass of wine. But those things could not happen, not for now, and however much I didn’t want it to be this way, it was.
As crazy as it might sound, I am relieved I did not win. The prize – travel, workshops, magazine work – sounds AMAZING, but too much for me and the way my life is right now, with my bag of hammers in tow! Yes, I hope to capitalize on the contacts I made but in a way that works for me.
Acceptance and having faith are powerful things. It’s not about passively giving-up but an acceptance that not every opportunity is right for us right now. A ‘failure’ for one person may be a success in another’s eyes, or quite simply what is the right fit. Teenage Nikki may have struggled with that one.
How about you? Have you lost out on something but found it was the right thing for you in the end? What strategies do you use to help you see the good in a situation? And what is your ‘bag of hammers?’ I’d love to hear your comments…