I recently finished reading If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by the one and only Kelly Cutrone. This sassy, honest, unbelievably articulate and easy to read self-help/get-over-it book has taken me back to the headspace I was in during my final stretch in Australia. I spent the last few days down under in the islands of The Whitsundays, specifically in Airlie Beach.
Picture a vacation town where people from all over the world (Sweden, the UK, Canada, the USA, Italy) are taking a mental break from life as they know it back home, all appreciating something (views, wine, long reflective walks) in a place they may never again visit. This mental break is a temporary slice of joy, one that many of us so well deserve (and, equally, many of us do not). I, of course, was one of these people, finally getting to experience some headspace and me-time after working for three weeks straight.
Before I left on this adventure, I learned I am always so concerned with how the people around me are, that I forget to check in with myself. I dwell on the sadness of others and have slowly gotten used to the status-quo of sad-face-emoticons and broken <3’s, to the point where I too have become irked and frustrated, for problems that have nothing to do with my personal life. Not that my life is perfect (I have stresses, too)!
In my new favourite book, Cutrone, who is like the person Beyoncé pretends to be in her all-girl-power-all-business anthems, says:
“This is an important lesson to remember when you’re having a bad day, a bad month or a shitty year. Things will change: you won’t feel this way forever. And anyway, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul needs most. I believe you can’t feel real joy unless you’ve felt heartache. You can’t have a sense of victory unless you know what it means to fail. You can’t know what it’s like to feel holy until you know what it’s like to feel really fucking evil. And you can’t be birthed again until you’ve died.”
When I was in Airlie Beach, couples, friends and people on their own took endless amounts of time to appreciate how well they were feeling – the joy, the victory, the holiness and the beauty of being in their own spaces in a new place, far away from stresses and heartache (even if temporarily).
Though I couldn’t speak to each person about their story, I was able to capture quiet moments where many explorers stopped to reflect:
Enjoyment is something Cutrone allows for herself too, despite working tirelessly at People’s Revolution, raising her daughter and being featured on numerous top-tier television shows. The CEO and single mom who works over 14-hours daily, escapes to her country house each weekend with her daughter. For what purpose? For life.
You might be thinking, “This lady has it all!” However, as Cutrone points out in her book, if she had it all, she wouldn’t have to keep working. She also never once portrays her character as spoiled, either. A former meth addict who told fortunes and had a temporary recording contract, all events taking place at different stages in her life, Cutrone has been to hell and back (she often refers to this transformation as her rebirth), and is a better (and more honest) person for it.
Though it’s not exactly feasible to jump on a plane to Australia every time you feel overwhelmed (keep in mind, I was on the other side of the world for work. No, I did not choose Jason over Paris), it’s worth it to know that if we change our focus to the small beauties in life as opposed to our shitty stresses, our perception of self will change and therefore, so will our surroundings. Such is proven in If You Have to Cry, Go Outside.
As Cutrone has been known to say, “I believe that the universe constantly rearranges itself to support your idea of reality. If you’re always thinking, ‘Life sucks, and I suck,’ you’re definitely going to see a lot of dismal shit out there.”
Cheers to “dismal shit” and rearranging ourselves to realize life doesn’t really suck, though it does often pose quite the challenge. And, when life does start to appear suck-ish again, cheers to knowing what to do to make it through.