Today I am honoured to share with you something incredibly special; an interview that has touched me deeply and moved me beyond words – no mean feat considering how much I love to talk. Friday Fab Foodie Friend is back and this time I chose to interview an old high-school friend, Barbara.
Barbara and I have known each other for almost four years now, meeting when she moved to my school in Year 11. The first thing I noticed about Barbara is how incredibly intelligent, disciplined and humble she was; she was an admirable student. Over time I gradually got to know Barbara and one day I told her about my blog, which she promptly started following (thanks Barb!). Over the next two years Barbara and I had many discussions about health and wellness and I had the pleasure of witnessing a little spark ignite within her. However, as you will find out during this interview, Year 12 and the pressures of school also took their toll on Barbara. I too witnessed this.
Fast-forward one year and I get a message out of the blue from Barbara saying how much she has been loving my blog posts lately. As always, I was humbled and grateful for her kind words and loving support. We began messaging (or writing essays…) back and forth and I discovered that Barbara (who I haven’t seen since we left school) has done a complete 180 of self-discovery to become one kick-ass health, wellness and spirituality warrior, AND now a published poetry blogger (she writes the most beautiful pieces EVER). So, having found out about Barbara’s new outlook on life I asked her if she would like to do an interview and she immediately agreed. A week later I received the following interview back, and it brought me to tears…
I build each one of my songs
Out of glass
So you can see me inside them
Or you could just leave the image of me
In the background, I guess
And watch your own reflection
by Ani Di Franco
I’m in love with this poem I just found yesterday. I wanted to start with it as a metaphor for what I have loved and learned about from Erica’s blog posts – her ‘songs’. Thank you for letting us ‘see you inside them’ . You’re blog has inspired me to question, be open, think, laugh and cook! But most of all, has made me ‘watch my own reflection superimpose…’ I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to share my own ‘song’ with you all. I have little experience with this, but I will try my best to write them out of ‘glass’, so that you might see a bit of yourself in me!
- Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently doing in life?
I was born in Queensland, lived in two different states, and have come around full circle, back to the sunshine state, as a 19 year young student studying Medical Science at Griffith University! After 2 years I will be starting a 4 year Medicine degree.
Last year I decided to take a Gap year in 2015, hoping to get into Med School, after realising Chemical Engineering was absolutely not for me. During that time, I learned how to relax (LOL) became extremely close with my parents, learned to cook, tutored maths, travelled to Perth and New Zealand, built a website for my tennis club (check it out at wgtc.com.au!) and really started getting into the health, wellbeing scene with Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Dr Christiane Northrup, Caroline Myss, Sadhguru, and too many others! I first found out about Louise Hay through Erica’s blog, so my journey is a tribute to BBH!
- What are your passions? What do you love to do/talk about?
I am a passionate player of table tennis, I love creating watercolour paintings, piano songs and poems. I love to sing. I love to cook and of course eat healthy food. I absolutely love reading philosophies about living life and well being. I love to meditate the universe. I love talking about people’s favourite songs/ youtube videos. I love making macramé, staring into fractals and thinking in metaphors…
Actually…I love to think in metaphors so much so, that I have JUST started a blog dedicated to my poetry, ponderings and prose. Check it out at https://thinkinginmetaphors.wordpress.com/ !!! I’m so excited to share with you my thoughts about life and everything in between!
- What kick-started your interest in health and wellness? Was it a turning point moment or a gradual transition?
The turning points in my life were conversations. Conversations with my parents and brothers, conversations with friends and school teachers and of course, with Erica. I am so grateful for all these conversations, for being listened to and listening to other ideas.
As most do, my journey towards health and wellness started from a place of dis-ease. Amongst other things, I developed an unhealthy obsession and addiction with studying, which worsened as time went on. I have always loved school but it became the source of much suffering. In constantly striving to do the very best I could, I reached a neurotic extreme, as Wayne Dyer describes:
“Throughout our lives we hear, “I don’t really care how well you do, as long as you do your best.” Examine this idea and you may come to a different conclusion. You don’t really have to do your best, in fact, your best is something you can never measure or even know. You can drive yourself to neurotic extremes with this idea of always having to do your best. You’re best leaves no room for improvement. It means you have to go all out, 100% every single time you do anything! When you remove the stigma of having to perform at a given level, you remove the ego’s need to be judged better than others. You’re better off to simply do and enjoy and be willing to learn. Stop imposing on yourself and your children that you must do your best. Experiment with tasks that seem to flow from your inner prompting. Detach from your need to measure whether your efforts have been worthwhile…see how peaceful you feel when you’re not being tested. When you’re allowed to just be.”
I tried my “best” in school – I became sleep deprived, depressed and highly anxious. In middle school, you probably couldn’t tell that I had reached this dark “neurotic extreme”. I felt the need to hide it. It began to feel normal. One of the few times I reflected on how I was feeling, was when a teacher asked how I was going. I joked, “I feel like a robot!” I was a robot! What a great metaphor! I was punching out straight A+ 100% assignments and grades, but feeling utterly empty inside. I was obsessed. I didn’t stop. I was suffering for a grade.
I moved schools in Year 11 to study certain subjects my old school was not offering. Because I didn’t want to move schools, my first lesson in wellness was about change: We can’t heal if we’re not willing to change. (David Bowie’s song ‘Changes’ is one of my favourites!) What’s more, my Yr 11 Research Project completely unintentionally and organically ended up being about “How students can cope with their academic stressors” I really do believe that the universe has a way of telling us exactly what we need to know at exactly the right time. I was also recommended ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck for my research. That book was utterly life changing for me – It really was divine intervention – a must read for EVERYONE!
I had a mind shift after reading “Mindset”. Suddenly all the puzzling moments of anxiety, guilt and fear in my life fell into place right before me. I literally felt as though a bright light was suddenly switched on in my head. It got me hooked on psychology, mental health and how our thoughts shape our experiences. My new school encouraged gratitude and wellbeing. The culture was relaxed yet studious. And, of course I met Erica! Oh, this girl! I envied her guts! I am constantly in awe of her. I first found out about Louise Hay through this blog and I began to dabble here and there in these new ideas…
After Year 12 in my gap year, I began to listen to Louise Hay more frequently. This began my journey of healing my relationships and some chronic digestive issues. I began cooking for myself and learning about nutrition. I fell in love with healthy food, and the wonder that is the human body. I shared this journey ever so closely with mum, and I cannot even begin to tell you the transformation she has had. This is only just the beginning, and I am so excited to see what is yet to unfold!
- In your opinion what is a healthy lifestyle?
A healthy life style is when you are coping well with living. I love the image of a “Wellness Wheel” corresponding to different areas in our lives that we can learn to cope with, nurture and grow, to live out the best possible version of ourselves. I was introduced to this idea of a wheel by Erica’s mum in a Year 12 seminar – If the segments on that wheel are not in balance, then we just can’t roll and flow with life smoothly! What a great metaphor!
Also, a healthy lifestyle is for life. I would like to think that by the time I am old and grey, I have nurtured loving relationships, kept my mind, body and spirit active, expressed myself authentically, nourished my body with glorious food, and shared and inspired this way of life in others.
- Describe your average day – what do you do, eat, wear, create?
I wake up to laughing kookaburras and parrots at 6:30am every morning! Depending on how boisterous they are, I’ll either sleep in, go to the gym, or start my day with some stretches, shower and have breakfast – usually an egg muffin/frittatas or a quinoa and banana smoothie!
I’ll slip on an easy dress and sandals – because on most mornings I just don’t have the brain power to co-ordinate outfits! I’ll walk 15 minutes to Uni and sing as loud I can on the way! After a day of lectures, tutorials and labs, I come home, eat and study (but not at the same time! I can’t multitask when it comes to food!) I like to finish the day with a lemon and ginger tea and have recently started putting my Legs Up The Wall – it really is as magical as Erica describes it in her blog post!
- What is your favourite way to move and be active?
Table tennis! I love it because it works the body and mind. Not only are trainings a great cardio work out, but I find it to be a very meditative sport. The ball is going so fast that sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and act purely on impulse! It’s a fairly low impact sport, so I can definitely see myself playing when I’m old and grey! I also love love love walking on the beach early in the morning…sometimes with my eyes closed! You’ll be surprised how hard it is to walk in a straight line!
7. What do you like to do in your down time or to relax?
Steaming hot bubble bath. Scented candles. Bath playlist. THE ULTIMATE. Sit at a piano, just play and sing as loud as I want. Chill with my pet rabbit, Munchie! Or if I have a good couple of hours, I’ll paint a watercolour painting. I also love to make a big pot of cinnamon tea and chat with mum!
- What is a quote that resonates with you at the moment?
“You are hiding in your mind, working all the time, trying to make it better then you got it. And you been spending all your time, searching for a sign that’s never gonna look the way you want it”
This quote from a John Mayer song, “If I ever get around to living” reminds me to be grateful for everything and everyone in my life. Live in the present moment. And most of all, it reminds me to go with the flow, release all future expectations and attachments to outcomes.
- What is your philosophy or approach to life? Do you have a personal motto or mantra?
I do now! I have taken this from a book I am reading this very moment called “The Power To Transform: Leadership that Brings Learning and Schooling to Life.” Today I skipped to the end of the book (don’t judge!) and to my delight Stephanie Marshall had written a beautiful, heart felt letter – a final vision for her grandchildren. The letter is too long to type out but every word is officially my life philosophy. Here is her 10th and last note:
- Remember that contrary to the voices, images, sounds, and messages that surround and bombard you, your life is about:
Your integrity, not your position
Your voice, not your power
Your name, not your title
Your calling, not your career
Your legacy, not your success
This is exactly what Wayne Dyer teaches us when he says to not let our EGO Edge God Out. Live in spirit. Live an inspired life by letting go of the ego. My first ever blog post relates to this idea! It sums up what I have dedicate my blog to.
10. Top 3 favourite foods?
- FRITTATAS! With avocado!
- Homemade peppermint Ice-cream!
- Every and any kind of soup… with quinoa!
- What is one health/wellness/spirituality film or book that you would recommend to everyone?
I can’t pick just one! Here are three: Mindset by Carol Dweck, Heal Your Life by Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer’s “Change Your Thoughts, Change your Life: Living the wisdom of the Dao. They were with me from the start, so I must recommend!
If you can’t get your hands on a book, jump on Youtube and listening to audio books, podcasts, movies, interviews and anything that takes your fancy! Speaking of what takes your fancy…I also challenge you to go into an op shop or second hand book stall with the intention to find the perfect book for you! Don’t force anything. Just gravitate to an area slowly, pick a book and see what you find! I got it into my head to do this in a 2nd hand book pile in New Zealand – it’s a great story… Stay tuned, I might write about it in a blog post!
- What is your advice to someone who would like to make positive health changes in their life?
Affirm: I have already begun the healing process – I loved this one by Louise Hay when I was just starting out. Invest the time and energy in you. No one will do the work for you. Take your time. Laugh. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be gentle with yourself, especially when starting out. Enjoy the process. You are so worth it. Its all about progress not perfection!
- What is the best thing that has happened today?
OH WOW! So today I get a call from my friend – “Hey Barb, open up! I’m out side your door and I’ve brought someone along!” This surprise visit ends up turning into a crazy jamming/singing/piano session with two amazing friends! I discovered that one of my friends has an amazing singing voice! It was all too much fun! All I can say is… Youtube, watch out! I am also so grateful for my roommate who bought the piano and pedal! I’m just in awe of how this all came to be.
- Other than a healthy lifestyle, what do you think are three keys to health and happiness?
- Control your thoughts
If you saw a blood sucking mosquito land on you, do you sit there and watch it suck the life blood out of you? Or do you slap that sucker on the spot? (I try to practice reverence for all life, so I might just shoo it away or wear Aerogaurd) But what the Youtuber, Humble the Poet’s analogy was trying to say, is to stop negative thoughts the moment they enter our mind – don’t let them suck the life blood out of you! This is my favourite way of thinking about it!
- Learn how to love yourself
You don’t let those mosquitoes suck the life out of you because you love yourself. Stop draining yourself! (See Louise Hay) RE PROGRAM with affirmations and mirror work! You literally become a different person.
- Learn how to be grateful
Write at least one grateful sentence everyday. Even be grateful for those mosquitoes. They are there to teach you the way. Challenge your family members to think of the single most thing they are grateful for – it really is the ultimate “how to” let love flow in your life.
- Anything else you would like to add? A recipe you would like to share?
I love to free style cook – I cook in bulk for Uni, so I’m definitely a “just throw all it in” kinda gal! I love making frittatas/egg muffins for the week in advance – they’re great on the go anytime of the day! Egg muffins are basically baked omelettes!
- Chop Faveggies (favourite veggies!!) Mushrooms, onion, pumpkin, kale, corn – ANYTHING!
- Flavour egg with SPICES! Garlic powder, pepper thyme, oregano – ANYTHING!
- Put your faveggies in a muffin tray, bar mix the egg until fluffy, pour immediately, and bang it in the oven!
- When you can start to smell the aromas in your kitchen, its usually ready!
I would also say, get a good knife (I chop a lot!), a rice cooker (to make the perfect quinoa every time!!) and a bar mixer/blender!
As you can see Barbara is one incredible, game-changing young woman. I am so grateful to have her in my life (which I make sure she knows too) and I am so honoured to be able to share a little bit of her story – her ‘song’ – with you today. It also gives me so much hope for the future to know that there are other med students out there (a.k.a. future doctors) who are so in touch with the greater, spiritual side to life – this can only be a good thing for the future of our health care system.
SO, what did you think? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments you have for either Barbara or I below, or Contact Me and I will forward it to Barbara if need be. Oh, and be sure to head over to her blog and give her some love and support (and prepare to have your mind blow by her insights).
Have a wonderful Friday and weekend peeps!
Infinite love, Erica x