JULY 2022 – MY STORY & PURSUIT OF LIFE-BALANCE, CARE, & WELLNESS
This is my first official blog and I have included some of my life story and journey so far.
A question I have often pondered is “What is good life-balance?”. It occurred to me a few years ago that it can be quite different for each person depending on their natural personality, their life experiences, the environment around them, and other factors including the season or transitional phase they are in. From observation in society, it seems many people tend to struggle to have good sustainable life-balance. Some excel in one or more areas of life to the detriment of other areas. For example. Someone might appear to be very successful in their business but their relationships with family and friends have suffered. Another thing to consider is the fact that success without integrity and authenticity is not true success. Especially if it goes against a person’s conscience, values, and beliefs.
There are also many things in life that can entice us in the moment or over time, and distort our priorities and values, some of these are – consumerism, materialism, hyper-individualism, obsessive power seeking, and instant gratification through unhealthy pleasure. But these are fleeting and can be destructive to people’s lives. Some people idolize marriage and have unrealistic expectations only to feel let down and fully discouraged when it doesn’t go the way they want. Others spend so much time trying to please other people in their social lives, or don’t think of consequences in their lifestyle choices, but then their work can suffer, and they can lose their jobs for being unreliable. So, what is the balance? What is a healthy lifestyle? How can we optimize wellness? What if there is past trauma or burnout and we can be triggered from that? Is self-care appropriate or is it selfish?
Well, this is a segue into some of my own life experiences and what I’ve learnt in my journey so far.
As a child, for some reason I used to get a lot of ear infections as well as headaches. I’m not entirely sure why, but I do have some theories which I won’t go into here. When I was about 8 or 9, I experienced some trauma in my life, but I didn’t tell anyone about it. I carried the burden alone right up until I was about 21 until I finally shared it with my then girlfriend. She had also been through much trauma so we could relate to each other even though somewhat different types of traumas. This has fuelled my compassion for others, thankfully I didn’t become consumed by bitterness and cynical towards others from it, but it certainly did have negative impacts on my life in several ways including emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. Self-loathing was a common theme in my life, and I still have some vulnerable moments even now. It has been said that “Hurting people hurt other people”, However, I have come along way with restoration thanks to the love and grace of God in my life and some lovely people who have made a positive impact on me. Eventually some good counselling helped me profoundly as well! It is very common for people who have suffered trauma and abuse in their lives to struggle with shame and self-loathing, and many turn to drugs, excessive alcohol, or other addictions which can even include workaholism, to suppress their problems and pain. When there are not enough protective factors and too many risk factors in our lives it can really force us into despair and destructive behaviour. Perhaps that is a reason why I really connected with the Guns N’ Roses album ‘Appetite for Destruction’. While there is some amazing rock n’ roll musicianship on the album, there certainly is a destructive theme behind it. But it was an outlet for me dealing with my inner pain in my youth, listening to the music loudly.
Moving on from that, looking at physical issues in my life, at 14 after 7 years of Indoor Cricket with a bad bowling action, I had developed chronic back pain which also impacted my nervous system. I didn’t correct it unfortunately even after some physio and chiropractic sessions. Then at 16 I got Ross River Virus from mosquitoes which caused me chronic fatigue symptoms and polyarthritis. All this combined made it hard to compete well in athletics and had a negative impact on my ability to play guitar too, which I started at age 15. I also started binge drinking at 15 and struggled to cope with stress and anxiety at school with most of the different subjects that I didn’t have much interest in. I couldn’t focus on the studies and exams very well, suffering from some brain fog and physical pain and discomfort. I wasn’t eating very well either. Thankfully I was still quite physically active but didn’t do enough stretching which would’ve helped relieve arthritic and muscular pain profoundly. I didn’t really have a spiritual connection to God or appreciated peace in nature either and felt like I had no real identity or any real connection, meaning or purpose. That been said, I started to feel some compassion for other people who seemed to be struggling in life and thus began being an empathetic listening ear on occasions which helped me in a way cope with my own struggles and pain.
I experienced heartbreak twice from the same girl I fell for in my youth. Once when we were 17 in high school when I finally told her how I felt, and again when we were 19 and she started seeing my then best-mate. I liked her from the start of high school in year 8, but I cared so much about our friendship that I didn’t want to mess it up by telling her how I really felt about her. I think another big reason is that I struggled with self-loathing and wanted to become a better person before I pursued her. Unfortunately, at the time, it was too late, she did have feelings for me for a while but started seeing someone else because she gave up on me. When that relationship eventually ended, it only took 2 days, and she was then with my best-mate who knew I was still crazy about her. At 19, I was unemployed, depressed, and anxious about life. I felt like I had no hope, no meaning, and no purpose. However, eventually I enrolled in a Cert III in Hospitality and then a Traineeship in Hospitality before getting a job at the Hilton. Even though I had some inner pain not dealt with, I was able to progress in learning and working and making some better decisions, although I still suppressed pain through binge drinking and then seeking instant gratification through pleasure.
There were some other autoimmune issues I had in my 20s, but I pushed through. While being the banquet bar manager at the Hilton, I joined an originals band and we won a 1999 rock awards which I was so stoked about, but the band didn’t last. Not long after I left the Hilton, I became a Nightclub manager at a Tavern and started booking bands. I played a few songs with the cover bands which led to me leaving that job, starting a covers band, and new casual job at Sirromet Winery where I worked for almost 12 years. I started to feel like I had some meaning and purpose, to entertain people and enjoy playing songs live, as well as serving people at Sirromet in the restaurant as a waiter, and as a bar-tender at Music Festivals there. I enjoyed connecting with people. After lots of crazy times away with the band at Port Douglas, Airlie Beach, and Singapore etc, and years of late nights doing music gigs around SE QLD, eventually I started to feel life becoming meaningless again and it wasn’t fulfilling. My health was suffering too and in about 2008 I couldn’t hardly sing at all; I thought it was nodules, but it was chronic inflammation in my throat from acid reflux and lack of proper digestion.
I eventually started getting health advice from a naturopath and changed my lifestyle which somewhat helped. After much soul searching and research, and discussions with patient Christians, I was born-again spiritually in December 2009 which has had the biggest positive impact on my sense of identity and purpose. But over time I still burnt out working so hard, which caused me more health issues. In 2013 I got a full-time job as a ministry worker in a church and stopped doing late music gigs, but again I worked too hard along with too much volunteering (in my own strength) and I burnt out. There was another huge heartbreak from someone I worked with during the burn out time which made it even worse! I had tried many things to improve my health which did make a positive difference, but because I was feeling somewhat better, I thought I could handle the workload. I started to really understand that my life was simply way out of balance. After a much-needed relaxing holiday of 24 days, I went back to work refreshed and I aspired to find better life-balance and some self-care, hence I didn’t take on as much work and volunteering and I started looking after myself better. I also found cleansing/fasting quite helpful to relieve inflammation. I had 9 sessions with a Core Health Coach named Cameron which was quite helpful, and then went through a holistic health, nutrition and dentistry program through Eric Davis and Nutrition Diagnostics. This helped me profoundly, especially after replacing some amalgam mercury fillings and regular detoxing and learning what to eat and how to cook meals ideal for my personal body chemistry.
Along with other factors, I discovered that there can be many toxins in our water, air, soil, and food these days, it is easy to develop sensitivities to different food and drinks and the environment. Avoiding vegetable oils and processed foods and refined sugar was a big improvement to my health. I started using more natural products rather than chemicals too. I soon realized that detoxing, good food and water consumption, physical exercise, intellectual exercise via reading and videos, appropriate sunlight, walks among nature, quality time with loved ones, less time on technology, better sleep, fulfilling work and volunteering without burning out, caring for others and sharing each other’s burdens, healthy emotional releasing, forgiveness, better financial stewardship, more natural medicine and treatments rather than drugs and medical treatments, more spiritual connection and identity; all this has had a profound benefit on my overall health and wellness.
The other thing I realized is that unhealthy and unnecessary stress and fear can really impact us in several ways too, including our immune systems. I believe we need to lower that kind of stress, establish, and sustain good life-balance, and build our immune systems and resilience to overcome life obstacles etc. Of course, there are still ups and downs and seasons of struggles even if we have learnt good life-balance etc; especially if under major financial and emotional stress for example. Furthermore, I believe in the importance of ‘self-care’ including humbly receiving care and support from others, along with ‘care for others’ which is good for our souls and for building authentic caring community. But there can be times when our tanks are empty, and we need healing and support before we can offer support and care for others. I learnt that self-care with right motives is certainly not selfish!
Aspiring to gain holistic health is so important in our lives and can be for the lives of those around us too. I’ve certainly had some very challenging times financially, emotionally, physically, and psychologically since I became more aware of holistic health, but I keep learning and I keep aspiring to seek and sustain good life balance, care, wellness, and wholeness for the way I’m wired, no matter what happens in life. My strong relationship with God and faith in Jesus is my anchor for this, but I respect we are all on our own journey in life and many people don’t share the same faith and beliefs as me. That been said, I don’t like being called religious, it’s more about relationship with Father God, being a follower of Jesus, and living life by the Spirit in freedom. I have written passionate songs about this.
As mentioned earlier, life balance can look profoundly different for each person; however, I do believe there is a foundation of factors and facets in our lives (I have a 10-faceted holistic life coaching program for this) we can work through and build on to discover what is best for each of us according to our personal needs, while also considering the collective needs of community. I had lots of meaning and purpose when I was providing live music at about 70 different Aged Care homes around Brisbane 2017 to 2020, it was such a blessing to be a blessing to others, especially for the frail and lonely elderly widows. I believe when we are aligned with our values, giftings, constructive desires, aims and goals, we can have greater fulfillment and a more thriving and diverse community. We can find common unity in community along with learning from each other’s strengths etc to build up the community and society. Something else I’ve noticed is that sometimes anxiety and depression can be overcome through genuine connection in caring community and developing real meaning and purpose in life. Sometimes other deeper healing is needed too of course.
So, with all that been said, (much more I could say), I will wrap up this blog post with some of my heart behind what I am passionate about. With my life experience and qualifications – Cert IV Chaplaincy Care (Commendation for High Achievement), Diploma of Youth Work, Life Coaching Certificate; continuing personal and professional development; and Music etc; through my website, I offer different services in a variety of areas according to my heart’s values, desires, giftings, experience, skills, goals, and considering good life balance, care, and wellness. I hope and pray to be a blessing to many people! In future I might end up with more focus in one or two areas, but for now I am offering multiple services and a few programs.
My Life Coaching Holistic Program is adapted from the Wellness Wheel (W.W) which I learnt about in my Chaplaincy Care and Youth Work studies based on Bill Hettler’s 6 Dimensions of Wellness 1976, (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, occupational, with the W.W adding financial and environmental). After completing a Life Coaching course, I slightly modified those 8 aspects and included more aspects to make what I call ‘10 facets of Life Balance, Care, and Wellness’. I modified Social – adding Relational, and I combined Occupational with Financial. I also combined Environmental with Communal and Societal. The extras are – Personality, love language, habits, and behaviours. – Vocational, calling, passion, strengths, and intelligences. – Self-care, sleep, relaxation, stress management, and leisure. They can overlap with each other of course. I’m excited to be working with people on this program, as I endeavour to empower them to make their own positive decisions in different areas in their lives, integrating holistically! With any specifics beyond my capacity and knowledge, I can offer some resources to consider and referrals if needed. (Referral example – Financial advisor, or a Mental health expert). I do not treat any illnesses or claim to provide any cures etc.
I am a School Chaplain and I already do some Youth Mentoring/Coaching along with some Guitar Tutoring. I also offer Chaplaincy Care for those who just need a compassionate listening ear to share their burdens with to help lighten their load. This can possibly lead them to get to the place where they can look at some options and goals moving forward with some Life Coaching if they choose. The International Coach Federation (ICF), defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”. I know I still have plenty of room for growth and I continue to move towards my own full potential. If someone has a strength in an area that I don’t, there could be an opportunity to do some bartering/trading of services which I think is a great way to help each other in community when done well, to build each other up. I’m also involved weekly at a local Health & Wellness Retreat, and I enjoyed relaxing and learning more there during my holiday in January 2022.
I value all people no matter what their background is and believe every person has purpose and potential to explore and enhance if they find the right support and empowerment. I have seen people have fully transformed lives, come out of the darkness and into the light! I have certain values and beliefs, but I respect the rights of others to have their own values and beliefs or views that might be quite different to mine. I love to be a helping hand: supporting, encouraging, and empowering people towards their full potential and to overcome obstacles and barriers. Some of my core values are to share love, peace, joy, hope, and developing authentic caring and thriving diverse community. I love to use music to connect with and relate to people of all generations too.
I currently live in the Noosa Hinterland close to my parents and I treasure whenever I have quality time with them, even when we have some contrasting views! My main love language is quality time and I love to connect deeply with family and friends, but also even sometimes with people I meet for the first time. I have spent too much time in the past feeling isolated from family and friends due to work etc and have learnt from that, I’m slightly extroverted (or an ambivert) but I truly believe even the most introverted people need some connection in authentic caring community. I also strongly believe that every young person needs a good role model outside of their family, like a mentor or life coach or chaplain. If in my late teens and my 20s someone took me through a life-coaching program like my holistic program, I truly believe it would’ve had a profoundly positive effect on my life and prevented many bad choices. But I believe God has restored me and can even use some of my bad choices in the past that I have learnt from, to relate to and help others.
Another thing to consider is that even some people who seem happy on the outside can have a dark side and need help to overcome. And many young people feel worthless and helpless if they’re not academic according to school curriculum and might need some empowerment to find their strengths and to move towards their full potential. In fact, I believe people from any age can benefit from Life Coaching when it has a holistic framework or if it is on a specialized topic/niche relevant to them. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to make a positive difference in the lives of other people, whether online or in person!