question: what’s the deal with your divided life?”

Posted on July 27th, 2011

Every now and then I answer a question from a reader that I figure best to answer en masse…here’s one that struck me recently:

It’s come up a few times in comments on this blog. What’s the deal with my two speeds – my heels/red carpet/hair extensions/smile-for-cameras existence, and my live-in-the-hills/simple/non-shopping/biking/no makeup life? How do I do it? Does it tear me?

via 79ideas

It seems to confound a few people. Or suggest to some that I’m inconsistent.

Normally I don’t feel obliged to explain myself (should we ever if we’re not harming anyone?), but I have put some thought to the issue lately.

I think many of us have two speeds. Our busy, crazy self and then the self we try to come home to with friends and family and with ourselves.

I think many of us feel that somehow we need to be marrying the two. Uniting them. Or finding a middle ground between. We call this balance. We seek it.

I ask, though, is balance about finding a middle?

Or can balance be about dancing between the two, or three, or four aspects of ourselves? Can we not be all the things, authentically?

BUT, cry some, that’s fine if your values are consistent across the selves. I agree. And this part of the dance isn’t always easy.

I have struggled with this. For instance. I bang on about getting rid of toxic cosmetics from my life. But then there I am dolled up with half a tin of hairspray on my head in the various press pics. How does this sit with me, you ask (well, some of you do)?

These days, just fine, thanks. I accept we can only ever do our best. And I can’t do much about the dictates of my job (not immediately, anyway). So I make the changes where I can. I live in the trees on my own. And then pop down to Sydney to appear at red carpet events. This, too, is fine with me. The former allows me to do the latter. And vice versa, actually.

At this point, I defer to Walt Whitman:

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am vast, I contain multitudes.”

Yes, I contradict myself. But I’m vast. And I don’t really think finding a middle ground, or a commonality, is doing my different interests and speeds and passions justice.

Does this make me inauthentic or unreliable or a fraud? Hmmmm….maybe at times, in the toggling back and forth, my values can get a little confused. Or they can lag as I adjust.

BUT…this is a good thing. Because every time this happens, I’m forced to ask myself, “what are my true values again?”, “what counts?”, “what do I want to hang on to at both speeds?”.

I have to do this a bit. I seek quietness, but then my Twitter addiction can creep up and compromise things. When this happens, I regroup, refocus. And pull back from social media for a while until things feel right. I’ve learned through the double dance to work out what jobs matter to me. I don’t get too hoity about things…I now focus on great relationships and dealing with people who are a joy.

We can live divided lives. And we can use the division to be doubly real. And use the dance back and forth as a motivator to be grounded and authentic as often as possible.

Do you find the same dilemma? Do you give yourself a hard time for having two speeds? Do friends or peers?

 

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  • Sam

    Do you really have hair extensions? I love your hair

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    In some photos, yes. When shooting for long periods it helps hold shape (they’re not really extensions…they’re bulkers)

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  • beatrice

    I have to say, I have often read your blog and thought it was full of contradictions..which is fine..everyones life has light and dark. The thing is I cant stand the way you rant on like some newfound guru..moving to the hills of Byron..we have all been there Sarah at some stage in our lives only to realise that you cannot flee..the truth is always within.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Interesting take. I try to explore rather than rant. I’m no guru. But point taken.

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    Jess Reply:

    Nice one, Beatrice… Grow up! And if you don’t have anything nice to say…

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    Nina Reply:

    Ouchies. Don’t get why a person would hop on such a gorgeous, soul enriching site and be toxic.

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    J Reply:

    If I had a name like Beatrice, I’d be pissed off as well.

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    James Reply:

    I’m annoyed and frustrated at this sort of comment and while I don’t wish to engage in this unproductive behaviour/comments I do believe it’s important to remember that people are entitled to their opinions, whether people agree with them or not.

    I don’t really have a belief in censoring but I can only label this sort of comment, and some alike, as abusive. What is it in ourselves that illicit such strong comments and language, that’s what I’m more interested in, not the content…..it’s just content. The process however seems to be somewhat cyclical and repetitive, more often than not, on this blog. Why do people feel the need to rescue Sarah? Or maybe what is it in Sarah that consistently evokes rescuers? This process I find interesting, and somewhat frustrating.

    Why, Sarah, do you feel the need to explain or justify a label of contradictory behaviour/lifestyle? What’s going on for you now? I don’t want to know……….

    I have also sensed someone who has a somewhat ‘teaching/lecturing’ style in this blog. I felt frustrated and annoyed, maybe why I left the blog for a time. Then I realised I did the same thing……….my ego loved to lecture/impart my wisdom on whomever I could because of the journey I had chosen. The point is, it was something in me. Thanks for helping me explore that Sarah.

    James

    Sara Reply:

    Hi James…I was interested in your comment “Why do people feel the need to rescue Sarah? Or maybe what is it in Sarah that consistently evokes rescuers?”. I have jumped to Sarah’s defence on occassions and the reason being was I felt a sense of vunerability and my first reaction was to protect her. Because Sarah is so open and honest in her blogs, I feel like she is a close friend and I would respond exactly the same way to those I care about in real life.

    We all read into things differently. I might read a blog and think Sarah is going through a rough patch or feeling down. Someone else will read it and think she is feeling sorry for herself. It’s all open to interpretation.

    [Reply]

    Brooke Reply:

    Sara I had to have a little giggle when reading your reply. I too have felt defensive before about the people who have a dig, and I have also at times felt like Sarah could be a friend who seems to know me so intensely she almost knows me better than I know myself. What I love most is that Sarah’s honesty provokes me and so many other people to go deeper within themselves in a normal day than some of us would have ordinarily.

    Of course its all open to interpretation but as for Beatrice’s original comment that sparked these rebuttals, I ask you- whose life isn’t a little contradictory? That’s part of the fun- 2 steps forward, one step back. We live, we do, sometimes we do something that is a little backwards in our beliefs and then we learn and move on.

    Sarah please keep sharing your take on things. Its a pretty courageous to put your life in the spotlight in the sense that you do and well… we cant keep everyone happy.

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    Mia Reply:

    I actually haven’t noticed many people complain when a commenter simply disagrees with what Sarah has said in a post. You can say “I dont agree with what you have said, my experience has been such-and-such” and there doesnt seem to be much of a negative response. Healthy debate seems to be encouraged. However, its when it gets bitchy or nasty or personal that people tend to jump to someone else’s defense (not only on this blog but on others.) You can make a point without insulting people, which is where I think the readers get personally offended – nobody wants to read that shit!

    Just a theory.

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Hey all, love these comments. I don’t need rescuing at all. But I’m always touched when people ark up over comments that go that step too far. I honestly don’t mind when they do. I’ve created this space, I plant idea-bombs, I have to take what emerges. I’m a VERY fortunate person to be able to explore the stuff that matters to me and get real, passionate feedback. It makes me rise to the occasion, and to be honest with myself.
    I only get the shits when people complain about being on this site…my response is, just get off it. And when comments are so negative they drag everyone else down.
    Anyway, I make no apology for who I am or what I feel. But I don’t mind explaining myself as best as I can.

    Sara Reply:

    Sarah, we know you don’t need rescuing. It just seems to be a natural reaction some of us have!

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    Amy Reply:

    I agree with what Sarah says – if you don’t like the blog, then don’t read it!! If you choose to keep reading it (even though you disagree with her and don’t like her or the tone of the blog) and then feel the need to write abusive comments, it only suggests one thing: that you ENJOY criticising, hating, bringing people down. Pretty sad really. There’s nothing wrong with healthy debate, and I have voiced my opinions on this site when I’ve disagreed with something that Sarah has said, but I always try to say it in a respectful, constructive way. Sarah seems very open to constructive criticism, but has to draw the line when it comes to abuse.

    This is Sarah’s space, her blog… sure, she chooses to publish it on the internet where anyone can see it, but that doesn’t mean she deserves abuse. It’s a bit like someone opening up their home to visitors. If I was in someone’s home and disagreed with something they said, I would have no problem in voicing my opinions and engaging in a healthy debate. But I wouldn’t slam them for their lifestyle choices, and for sharing their thoughts and feelings.

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Sara, I know. And it’s really quite lovely you feel that way!

    steph Reply:

    to quote “we have all been there Sarah at some stage in our lives”, very much a sweeping generalisation, unless “we” is meaning “I”!!!

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  • http://www.theheartyheart.com Emma @ The Hearty Heart

    Such a relatable “struggle”…although, I agree, “use the division to be doubly real”. So empowering. I am a nutritionist as well, an outdoors lover and a hippie at heart. However, after living in Tokyo for several months this past year I have truly fallen in love with urban playgrounds. I love modernism, and yet find nothing more captivating than a campfire. There’s nothing wrong with duality, so long as you live fully in the moment when enjoying either. And as you said, “re group and refocus” when you feel the balance tipping too strongly in either direction. Thanks for the candid thoughts.

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  • Collette

    It is the same as having different people in your life. One person can not cater to all your needs, so we have several friends (or most of us do), who all offer different things, that appeal to the varying aspects of ourselves. Nothing sinister here.

    I love being at home with my children, but come Tuesdays and Thursdays I put on my suit, skip out the door to work, enjoy my latte in peace before I go in to the office, where I focus on my work all day – again, nothing sinister here.

    To suggest ‘you cannot flee’, that all sounds a bit conspiritorial!! Enjoy the different dimensions of your self – celebrate the difference. Personally, I’d get bored without a change of scenery.

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  • genevieve

    Emma and Collette have said it all, wisely. All I want to add is that I really enjoy your column on Sunday, and your efforts to offer a different perspective in that rather fluffy weekend mag are very inspiring, Sarah. You remind me of a columnist who used to write very well on the ‘two lives’ thing herself, Sharon Gray, in The Age a while back. I think some of her columns were republished in a book, but I just adored her – from Earthcore to Brighton to the bush and back again. Magic for those of us who like to hear the whole story and how it fits (or doesn’t quite fit) together. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    I’ve not come across Sharon Gray! Will look out for her book. Ta.

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  • Rosie B

    I think we all have different layers, different sides of ourselves that we need to express. I think sometimes it just comes across that you’re for just one idea or another. Why not just embrace it all? I hope this makes sense.

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  • Mia

    I admit to being one of those who have previoulsy questioned you on what I saw to be contradictions (i.e makeup vs natural). I don’t know why it irked me so much, but having read your article today, I have sat back and reflected.

    And you know what, the only Sarah I know is the one I’ read about in this blog. I’m sure you have many other personal values and beliefs you don’t share with us, and I will respect that.

    I love hearing about your journey and appreciate your openess. Being a public figure makes things twice as hard, as there will always be someone who tries to shoot you down. I don’t know how you handle criticism but you are human and I’m sure some of the things people say/write hurt. Just don’t apologise for who you are.

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  • Mia

    Absolutely I relate. Can I be the tattooed party girl who also get up early every morning to meditate, exercise and read on spirituality and philosophy? The girl who gives away most of her possessions but has maybe a few pairs of bright high heeled shoes? I dont see any problem with that. It’s my life and I’ll do as I please with it. It often irritates people that they cannot put me in a box, because people so love to put you in boxes, but I just find it amusing now. People who love me understand me and require no explanation, and everyone else doesnt matter – and I’d say you’d be the same Sarah.

    Although I think the better question for people to ask, is not why you do these things, but why they personally care. How is it any of their business how someone else chooses to live? Asking details cos you are curious is one thing but asking people to justify their life to you is a bit narcissistic and egotistical. I think it comes from their own lack of satisfaction with their own lives.

    Be as weird as you like, live without explanation – there are enough clones out there that the world needs its strange people now more than ever.

    “You cannot flee??” What sort of bullshit is that?

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    Gretta Reply:

    I just have to say– your comment makes so much sense to me, and is so intelligently written. I’m going to save it on my desktop in my “quotes” file. You sound mature and flat-out awesome. Go girl!

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  • http://www.mummysmiles.com Natalie

    I can’t fathom a life of no contradictions! Everyone has a front stage and a back stage – that’s life.
    And we learn from both.
    The more vast our experiences the more satisfying our life. There is a saying that goes something along the lines of not just living the length of your life, but the breadth of it too.
    Explore, play, do.

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  • viola

    I am a mass of contradictions and feel no need whatsoever to apologise for it! We are complex creatures, blessed with the ability to see multiple perspectives, feel myriad emotions, think one thing and do another… I feel it’s part of the richness of being human, the forward-motion of evolution if you like. The striving is the essential part, no? The ebb and flow of moving towards (or away!), rejudging, resteering… I honestly wonder if it is ever possible or necessary to come to a place of certainty and align that with every aspect of life. Isn’t that exactly when that very certainty will be rocked? Do enough, do what you can, relinquish control!

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  • http://www.womanincredible.com Kat Eden

    It’s nice that you explain yourself to your blog readers … although I don’t especially think you should have to :)

    I love what you say about living divided lives Sarah. I used to think that by saying something or promoting my beliefs on a topic I was therefore ‘bound’ to always living that way. What this led to is a rather unhealthy leaning toward secret ‘naughty’ food habits or days of sloth rather than just admitting that I’m not perfect! It wasn’t good for my sanity, and it wasn’t fair on anyone I was trying to inspire.

    These days I’m happy to admit I don’t practice everything I preach ALL the time. For me it’s about controlling the things you can control day to day, about making a stand for your beliefs most of the time, but also about admitting that when you DO make that effort you can happily let the health reigns slip from time to time. That’s what balance means to me :)

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    Mel Reply:

    Give yourself a break love. You look great just from your very tiny head shot. Nobody is perfect ever and nobody should expect more of you than you are. In fact perfectionists are really annoying, sometimes you just need to lay on the couch witha bag of marshmallows and enjoy the contradictions of life.

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  • http://www.alwaysorderdessert.com Alejandra

    I actually really like the different sides. It’s something that I experience a lot in my life. I just spent last weekend at a retreat in Vermont in this very quiet country village in the Okemo Valley surrounded by hills and miles and miles of lakes. We spent the weekend visiting farms, local producers, eating lovely family style meals at a long wood table featuring food grown or raised mere miles from the house, reading in the sunshine. There was no cell service, no television, barely any Internet. It was perfect and gorgeous and I could imagine myself living there; I actually started daydreaming about finding a house there from where my husband and I could work remotely and have a garden and a compost pile and perhaps even a cow. And then we drove back to New York, and as we crossed the bridge into the city and I could see the lights and the cabs and the madness I got excited and remembered again why I love it so here, too. I’m the same on the inside, preferring quiet weekends, the solitude of working alone from home, leaving my phone on silent for days at a time (much to the annoyance of all who know me), but then getting dolled up for the camera or an event when it comes up. I know that it’s absolutely possible to love both and to feel just as authentically YOU in both realities, as different and contradictory as they might be. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. In fact, I think it shows an ability and willingness to experience the many amazing aspects there are of this life and to pick and choose what is right for each of us at each moment.

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    Stephanie Reply:

    This is a good summary of what I was going to say, Alejandra! (Oh and your retreat sounds amazing!)

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    samantha Reply:

    Alejandra, Stephanie, I agree wholeheartedly!

    And really, haven’t people been doing this for eons? Alejandra’s reference to NYC makes me think of all the weekend homes in upstate and New England. And for that matter what about all the celebs that have their homes in Tennessee but work in / for Hollywood? I find this duality to be very common and wonderful and interesting.

    I will say, however, that Sarah has some health issues she is struggling with and it sounds that sometimes the glitzy part of her life is really, really hard on her. Maybe that is why the duality question comes up? Sarah, could this be it?

    I love this site and look forward to Sarah’s posts. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t come here. And I certainly wouldn’t take my time to share my opinion on a blog of a person that can “poof!!” be gone by just directing my browser elsewhere!

    Such silliness!
    Samantha

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Samantha, yes, the health issues play into it. And your pointing this out has ben good for me this morning!

  • pip

    Human beings are full of paradox, it’s what makes us interesting! It’s also what keeps us growing. If you believe the soul experiences life in order to evolve and expand, then it makes total sense that we would choose to live a varied life full of seemingly contradictory activities. It’s all about contrast don’t you think? I need time away from my children to be more fully present when I am with them. And you would probably gather moss in your tin shed if you didn’t come out and join the world every so often! You’re in such a fortunate position to be able to reach the masses with all that you are learning – please keep doing it! (even if it means a bit of hair spray abuse…) Pip xx

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  • Adam Cordner

    I see no dilemma.

    I have a few speeds and I am a walking contradiction, but maybe us fellas dont see the problem. Is there an expectation that women should be balanced? I know countless men who are constantly at two ends of the scale with no middle ground. I know for me that balance comes in the form of an escape or retreat of that having a contradiction actually leaves me feeling balanced with out having the need for a middle ground.

    “what’s the deal with your divided life?” this question bugs me because you can’t divide life, if you were a secrete Russian spy then maybe you could hide part of life (are you a spy? It’s always the hot ones who are). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what you’re doing, actually I would be disappointed if you didn’t live like you do.

    Do you want me the get the person who asked this?

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Good point – I think women do feel they have to be balanced…more so than men. I’ve read studies to this effect.

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  • http://www.colourfulwords.com.au/ Natalie

    Lovely post but no need to qualify your life. Do what you do (and you do it beautifully). xox

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  • Miche

    My favourite kind of people are those who are contradictory, so Sarah, I say continue to embrace that part of your nature and rock on being you! Contradictions make people – amongst other things – interesting, help them nurture wisdom, provide them a wealth of experience and allow them relate to people from all walks of life.
    I’m sure that the learnings & wisdom you choose to share in this blog aren’t right for all of your readers all of the time, but nor do they have to be. Kat is right – you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, but good on you for sharing by choosing to do so.
    I’d like to add a huge THANK YOU to you for writing this blog…..a friend put me onto it a couple of weeks ago. As a fellow AI sufferer (I’m 34 and was diagnosed with Grave’s disease 18 mths ago), I too have experienced the delightful journey of countless appointments with health practitioners – both traditional & non – food intolerance issues, dramatic weight loss & gain, a plethora of lovely side-effects and the struggle to find the “balance”. And yep, I’m a type-A, have always burnt the candle at both ends, illness was triggered by a traumatic break-up and I know my body was – & still is – forcing me to stop. If my current role allowed me a balance of living the best of both worlds between somewhere peaceful & “slow” & Sydney, I think I’d be a long way toward “better”, so I totally get where you’re coming from.
    On the AI front, let it be said that you are amazing for putting out there (& for free!) all of this information about food, practitioners/medical science, slowing down, yoga/meditation etc., particularly for people who haven’t sought answers beyond those of their GP’s/endocrinologist, for whatever reason. Had I not, I can’t imagine the state I would be in right now.
    It sounds ridiculous, but when I read your posts, I feel like I’ve been given a voice. One of the hardest things I’ve found about living with this illness is that nobody understands…..because you look fine and you seem happy and you can still function at work & play. So, when I read you, I feel like someone (lots of people it seems!) gets it.
    I love all of your other stuff too; your honesty, candidness & insight.
    So thanks a million times over – never stop writing.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Miche, I’m very glad! And it’s my pleasure.

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  • Jasmin

    Hi Sarah,
    When I read the heading my first thought was how could you do either without the other, if that at all makes sense!
    Really enjoying your blog and your journey, thank you xx

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  • Angie Parker

    Sarah: I like to think of you as having “range” and to me, that is superlative.
    Where’s the law that says you must be *this*…and if you’re *this*…you can ever be or feel ‘that?’ Go ahead…be your full, fabulous, limitless self. You inspire…and besides, “consistency it the hobgoblin of small minds!”

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    Angie Parker Reply:

    make that: “consistency IS the hobgoblin of small minds!”

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  • Anthony Porter

    It is nice and natural that people think of others and try to understand them and what is going on in their lives, but the other side of that is, we are free agents to do as we like and when we like it. That can be really troubling for those that are constantly sizing you up. Freedom is one of those fuzzy concepts that people love to talk about how wonderful it is, but when they meet someone that is different and really free and acts in a different or totally contradictory manner to what they expect they cannot handle it. We are free to do as we please.

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  • Kelly

    I’m with you on this Sarah – I have a few circles of friends who fulfil different ‘sides’ to me – I always thought this was strange but it’s really not. Thanks for the clarity and insight x

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  • Ele

    I think the most important thing is awareness. It’s the case with mindfullness meditation (you can never totally get rid of your thoughts, but the key is to be aware that they are there). Also with ego – Eckhardt Tolle says that if you are aware of your ego, that awareness is the first big step. Sometimes trying to do something about it is really just your ego talking/acting. I think you’ll know if you are doing something which is contradictory and not right or harming others (as opposed to being just contradictory). By having two sides to life, you get to talk about it, help others, and work out which is the best for you. I’ll never get rid of lipstick or perfume, but my beliefs about natural skincare, home cleaning products etc are so contradictory to what is contained in those lipsticks and perfumes. It is what it is.

    ps said this before, but going on this page from twitter, you can’t click the “notify me of followup comments via email” – it automatically clicks the sign up to the newsletter box instead. Thanks

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  • http://www.willowandblake.com erika

    I’ve been on the search for balance for quite some time, I even think about getting a tattoo of scales/see saw to represent my quest :)

    I have a crazy life with friends and work and going out amongst the city, and then there is part of me which wants to spend every minute on my own, away from the world, meditating, exercising, eating well and living a truly simple life.

    I really like your point about accepting both life styles and embracing them, rather than trying to find a middle ground. Looks like I’ve got a new goal, and that tattoo doesn’t have to be even – the scales/see saw can remain on a tilt :)

    Thanks Sarah I loved this post x

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  • http://missfloss.blogspot.com Rachelle

    I enjoyed and related to this post. Lucky you, only two speeds – I feel like I have about 6! Natural me, lazy me, career me, organised me, glamour me …the list seems to go on and on! We all have to adapt to what works at that time, to get you through, without compromising on your core self. The notion of ‘getting back to basics’ or ‘in touch with your inner self’ are examples of this. Whatever works, just stay true, whatever that truth is.

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  • http://www.mikewilde.com mike wilde

    Have struggled with this in the past.
    Difficult with Night/Day professions
    Important to stay grounded and get sleep .. duh !

    Interesting Post Sarah

    Reminded me of this …

    “My self-confidence comes from the fact that I have discovered my own dimensions. It does not behoove me to make myself smaller than I am.”
    — Edith Södergran

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  • Andrew

    I have occasionally wondered if the ‘real Sarah’ (if such a notion is even valid) is this wonderfully generative soul struggling to break out of this somewhat more narcissistic shell – especially given the fine line that can exist between self-examination and self-obsession; and between idealism and gradiosity. This sheds further light on the subject, and in a reassuring way (even if you did refer to yourself as ‘vast’, which I take as a paraphrased quote referring to us all).

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  • Jan

    Oh Sarah, you set yourself up perhaps without even realising it. After reading some of these comments, do you feel the need to justify yourself even more? It hurts to watch sometime.

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  • Pingback: Reach out…

  • Jane

    I’m the same Sarah, I’m the one with the hippie heart in corporate clothing. Does this mean I’m divided? I’m not sure it does. I’d say my core self is very much undivided but how I express that can take different forms, or lives, if you like. And you know, so what? We’re all contradictory but maybe some of us wear it on the outside and some don’t.

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  • http://oneaprilmorning.net Laura

    Sarah all I can say is that I adore you for creating this blog. I think you know that you touch people with your words every single day and you have a special talent for asking the questions that we all crave answers for.

    I don’t care what you do outside of this blog. I mean, I’m interested to hear about it, if you are willing to share. But I surely don’t begrudge you the right to live your life just as you like to live it.

    Isn’t that what we are all doing? Just trying to be happy and fulfilled, the best way we know how? So who are we to question or criticise others for their choices (when it harms exactly nobody)? It’s just crazy to me.

    Thank you Sarah, as always xx

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  • http://lifeinzigzags.blogspot.com/ Amanda

    Dear Sarah

    I love the debates that arise from your posts! I love that people get so involved in the issues you raised, and then involved in what others have said and the whole thing morphs into a different discussion altogether. Like this one that sort of morphs into a debate on the validity of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything”, which has little to do with the original post of a divided life.

    Thank you, Everyone who posted, for making me think. Hard. I felt the need to write about it too on my own blog. I still want to write about the divided me but I suppose I better go do my paying job for now and write about that later! r
    regards
    Amanda

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  • Christine

    I have 2 sides to me too: my nature loving/new age/organic/soil on my face and in my hair self and my all dolled up/flying through the city one too. The point is not to retreat fully from the world but to have rituals that keep you grounded in what’s real. For me it was unhealthy to be in the city all the time but I couldn’t run off to a cave to meditate forever by myself either. You don’t have to justify yourself Sarah but I’m glad you wrote this post, it is so brave of you.

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  • Amy

    I totally get this – I am also full of contradictions and I think that is what makes me so interesting! In fact, the reason I fell in love with my husband is that he knows all my ‘personalities’ and loves them all equally. One of the few people in the world who do. Many friends just love one or two parts of you…it is so important to have a life and mind that is so full that there will be contradictions when things don’t seamlessly overlap. Glad that you own yours, Sarah – it would be great if others could do the same, and accept the many facets that come with all people and their mad, weird personalities :)

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  • annemarie

    That spat up there (‘you’re fake!”; “no, she’s not!”; “sarah, what is it about YOU that needs rescuing?”) etc is bloody hilarious. I’ve seen other ones like that on this blog (the one where you mentioned some creep who stalked you on facebook and wrote to say he didn’t like how you scowled in childhood pics, to which a commenter replied to the effect of “that ruins this post for me, you meanie!”). I think it’s because of all the personal information you give. People think they know you and then feel justified in scolding/defending you, disliking you/loving you. This happens to everyone who has a personal blog, but it’s particularly hilarious when it’s such a sweet and well-intentioned blog that’s focused on self-awareness and health and other good stuff! I am sure you are wise enough to take this stuff with a pinch of salt. But I wanted to write in support anyway.

    As for the content of the post: I say that there’s no rest without activity. Why is the peaceful life better than the glitzy one in Sydney? It’s all the one for a young samurai!

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  • Stephanie

    I’m no spiritual guru by any stretch, but I was just reading Eckhart Tolle and the bit about separating one’s “life situation” from one’s “life.” The first is associated with time, etc., and what you need do in the world, with the second being the state of Being. Maybe it’s beside the point that the contradictions exist. That you are reaching for or can attain peace within yourself at various points in your existence seems to be the more important fact. I suppose people can come back with the argument that you’re a role model, that you have a responsibility to be somehow “consistent” in the way that you “deliver” on your values, but personally I think that’s putting way too much responsibility on your shoulders for other people’s issues. As for angry comments, I suspect, as I’m sure you do, that those simply come out of frustration. Whenever someone is upset with me these days I suspect that they likely see something in me that reminds them of something in themselves that is causing them unease. If I can reflect on my own past relationship with my mother…I can relate to this kind of reaction! Take care!! (Interesting piece, as always.)

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  • debbie

    Hi Sarah, interesting post. I think we can do all of those contradictory things and speeds in life but for me the accompanying and continual self-analysis of “am I being authentic? is this me?” is what does my head in. Acceptance that these shades of life just… are, I guess, and don’t necessarily mean anything or define us one way or another is the way I make peace with the contradictions (on my good days! on my bad days I forget that and get wound up in angst that I’m not being ‘me’). I’ve found the buddhism principle of no-self and what the yogic texts refer to as avidya helpful in this regard… they remind me that I am not my thoughts, my actions, my emotions which are always unpredictable and impermanent. So you’re surrounded by toxic hairspray one day and the Byron hinterland the next? Then life is interesting and varied and as others have pointed out, one probably deepens appreciation of the other (:

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  • Andrew

    As a further note, given your interest in the self extends beyond literature, also embracing psychological research (which adds rigor theories expounded by non-scientists), you may be interested in Hubert Herman’s research into The Dialogical Self, exploring the varying ways our different selves ‘converse’ with one another. Very relevant to your post and worth a look if you aren’t already familiar with the concept and related studies.

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  • http://the-dame.com The Dame

    I have two websites/businesses. On one hand, I am an Internet domintrix and fetish video producer. On the other, I write an inspiring advice website where I share knowledge intended to inspire. I’m constantly having to balance my focus between the two very different spheres of my life and that means I am never bored and always true to my different phasets of myself

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    Rob Reply:

    What’s with that photo though? Are you having a citric acid overdose from a lemon or what?!

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    Mel Reply:

    Is that not just a typical look at how cool and hot I am facebook shot? Facebook and related pics suckkkkk. Status update blah blah.

    [Reply]

    Jem Reply:

    BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. It’s the look of a domintrix!

    [Reply]

    E Reply:

    Wow. What shitty things to say about how someone looks

  • Gretta

    A lot of the “balance” talk and consistency just strikes me as trying to be as one-dimensional as possible and to fit into an identity that others can easily accept. i.e., if I am a (mom, teacher, doctor, whatever) then I will pare down all of the aspects of myself that don’t easily fit into the accepted persona for my “role”.

    To refuse this is to say that you are multi-dimensional and can’t be easily quantified. And in the reading that I have done of your wonderful blog, Sarah, you can’t be easily quantified. You are far from one-dimensional. You are brave, interesting, and intelligent.

    I don’t feel at all like you are trying to justify yourself. I feel like you have set up this blog as a place of vulnerability and open discussion, and that discussing issues such as these falls into the precedent already set.

    People seem to love a witch hunt- to love seeing signs of hypocrisy, contradiction, or oddities in someone else. Screw them, and go on with your kickass self!

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  • Lisa S

    I lovingly suggest to the person who sparked this particular debate with her less than positive comments that she herself may benefit from looking within and explore the nature of her resentment? I know I would love to be in a position to have the freedom to decide to move to a warm, relaxed environment! I may be wrong, but it is a spiritual law that when we are disturbed by something-anything-there is something wrong with us, not the other person and I have found that law to hold true. Anyway, my comment on the topic is that living by our core values is never b&w nor should it be. We are human. We are fallible. And as such we give ourselves permission to be uncertain, flexible. As an example, I love vegan food. I support the ethical principles of veganism and know many who are “hardcore” and 100% committed to the lifestyle. But for me, I also dearly cherish my relationships and if someone organised a catch up somewhere I absolutely cannot get a vegan meal then do I not go or sit there and eat nothing? No, because the time with them is more precious to me

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  • Lisa S

    ….cont. In that moment I choose to embrace the uncertainty and align my behaviour in that particular context to my values as they relate to relationships. Similarly, if Sarah chose to make her ideal living principles hard core and just stay in the hills and be anonymous, how would that benefit others? In the words of Marianne Williamson, ” our playing small does not serve the world.”

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    debbie Reply:

    Well said Lisa. I think you’ve summed it up perfectly.

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Love that Lisa, or as Buddha said, “you have to come down from the mountain”…not that I’m comparing myself with Buddha!

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  • Penny

    I don’t think it’s an issue at all and I don’t think i would be as interested in your take on things if you were strictly one or the other. I love the opportunity to get out of my jeans and sneakers and get glam for something but i wouldn’t want to do it everyday.

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  • Leigh

    Sarah, I am new to your blog, and besides the fact that I got addicted to your cycling page and read the first couple pages of posts (who knew I enjoyed bikes that much! I haven’t even been on a bike for two years!), this is the first post about you that I have read. I couldn’t believe how much I related… I was just describing this to a friend of mine two sundays ago!

    I always felt like I had multiple sides to myself, but I didn’t attribute it to me. I attributed it to growing up. After reading this post, however, I must reconsider. I am 23 years old, so I have had a lot of growing up in the last several years. When I was in high school, I acted one way. In college, another. And now I’ve been graduated for over a year and a half and I’m even more different. But then I go back to my 5 year high school reunion or I visit a friend from college and I’m back to my old self (whoever that was).

    I don’t think it’s just because I grew up. I think certain people just pull parts of my personality out of me. I am always whole heartedly me! I just have multiple sides! I don’t know, I guess what you said just shed a new light.

    I’m always open up to other people no matter how similar or different they are from me. I guess it’s time to be open to myself!

    Bottom line: Bravo! Love it :)

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  • Trish

    I would just like to say thank you for this post. I don’t have an AI disease but my A-type personality took me down the road of anxiety and agoraphobia which I have suffered from in varying degrees for a good part of the last decade.
    So I’ve spent a good deal of time trying to find or get a balance in my life which has not been successful as I think I am intrinsically a bit – well odd! Even though I acknowledge that I present a much more put together version of myself for the majority of the world to see, I thought that most people had it more together than I (even though they could be doing exactly the same thing as I!) so it is comforting that there are whole bunches of people that are slightly off kilter like I. And your post really resonates with me about doing the things I am passionate about, being kind to myself and not worrying about what people think of me as it is my opinion of me that counts!
    I am in the process of making big changes to my life that are definately about making my life better and sweeter :)

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Hoorah!

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  • tahlia

    some interesting thoughts

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  • http://www.MyMindCoach.com.au Kylie Ryan

    Hey Sarah, thanks for posting this. I too have a divided, seemingly contradictory life. On the one hand I am a therapist and coach helping women with their weight loss issues and self-esteem, on the other I am a songwriter and sometimes egotistical diva singer on stage in nightclubs and fancy events. I love this dichotomy and I think it helps bring out the wholeness of my character. And the insights I find on the stage I can bring to my one on one clients and most definitely vice versa. It is in the synthesis of our seemingly opposite points that true balance and happiness occur. I am so glad to hear you speak about this too. Enjoy your wholly rounded life! I enjoy watching it! :-)

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  • http://www.vitaminL.com.au Marla

    All this talk of city/country or fast/slow/ or glamourous/crunchy reminds me of yin and yang. It really applies to all aspects of life – nutrition, career, relationships doesn’t it?
    The key is knowing what works for you and being authentically yourself. There is no right or wrong.

    Have a LOVELY day everyone!!
    x Marla

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  • liz

    HI Sarah

    Thanks for this post, I think everyone would love the opportunity to be able to be completely true to themselves. Day to day life dictates to a degree what we can achieve in this, most have morgages and bills to pay which mean we need to put make up on every morning, go to the office and do what we do best to earn a living. I don’t think that makes us any less authentic but rather keeps us grounded in reality and appreciate when we can strip off the layers and have our ‘time out’ whether that be in Byron Bay (my favorite place in the whole wide world” or wherever is our little piece of heaven for us. Recently both my husband and I have had some really challenging health issues that have made us rethink our whole way of living and we are in the process of making some major changes in our lives. That doesn’t mean I can give up my work which pays our bills and live a totally organic life in somewhere like Byron, but it does mean I can get up early on a Sunday and go to the farmers market and buy organic fresh vegetables rather than 3 month old brocoli from my local Coles. It means I can investigate mineral make up rather than chemical laden stuff and investigate a whole “greener” way of life and make changes where I can and accept the reality that not everything is always going to be possible however much I might want it to be. There is a balance in everything in the world and our day to day lives are no different.
    A very dear friend put me onto your blog when I was particularly struggling with the whole concept that I was not invincable and not able to make my IBS go away just because I didn’t think this could possibly happen to me! Your blog has had several “lightbulb” moments for me since and I think you do a fantastic job so keep it up!

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  • mon

    Life isn’t just about pigeon-holing ourselves into one career, one outlook, one whatever. It’s about exploring life’s opportunities. Some like to live very structured lives while some of us lead a life of what some might call contradictions. I live and breath the ancient teachings of yoga, imparting that knowledge to students that attend my classes 6 days a week. what makes it real is that I do live a very ‘other’ life complete with family, travel, and other commitments. I am not going to live in a cave and live a monastic life just because my soul is fed and nourished wholeheartedly by my yoga, despite my ‘other’ life sometimes can be seen to be at odds with that. I never explain. Others expectations of me are just that and I refuse to live my life in a neat little box because it makes others feel ‘safe’ knowing how to label me, or where to put me!. Living life is what we all should be doing, with however many hat changes we need!!

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  • Jan

    Hey Sarah…for some reason the ‘comment’ option on todays bike blog isn’t working.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    I know… I”m trying to fix!

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  • Jan

    Thanks for update. All I wanted to say was you provided a brilliant bike rundown for a newbie rider like me. Also, I love how expressive you are with your arms/hands.

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  • Konca

    I really hate that this is what my first post on Sarah’s blog is going to be- but I’m having an insanely rough day with both ex-es miraculously emerging from nowhere and hurting me (one more directly than the other), and just wanted to ask everyone here for an opinion. Since I think a great mjajority here are incredibly thoughtful and understand nuance.

    I dated X for roughly six months and we had a great time together. We really complemented each other in a really strange way. (ie. we were an odd couple) But we were really happy together. I know he broke up with his fiance of about six years maybe two or three years ago, and he said I was the first person he dated seriously after her. I don’t know what went on between them though.

    Anyway, not the point. We broke up roughly two months ago, and I went over to his place today to pick up my things. He’d laid them on the table. But I got curious and wanted to check 1. if he was wearing the cufflinks that I’d gotten him to work today (okay quite random but was just wondering) and 2. if he’d kept our um toys.

    And then I found this list of all the women he’d ever slept with. And a score next to each of them. There was no criteria stated for the score, only a score. And then a breakdown by hair colour and acts.

    Good news: I was number two. Bad news: my score was 20, his ex-fiance who is now married and he’s not spoken to in ages 100. All the other women, below 10, or around there.

    My feelings – well, at least he spoke the truth. I was more important to him than all the other flings. But I actually feel hurt. He wants to meet up sometime soon.. I don’t know if it’s for a reconciliation or not because he’s been extra lovely/friendly. I don’t know if I should mention this.

    1. Is it really so bad that he made a list like this? Should I be upset?
    2. Should I mention that I actually saw this? I don’t know why I want to mention it, but I feel like I want to.

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    Jem Reply:

    Konca…don’t mean to sound harsh (esp as you’ve had a rough day), but WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING??? Move on. He sounds like the world’s biggest prick and serioulsy, why would you want to waste any time even thinking about him. PFFT

    Having said that, perhaps you could send him a list of all your ex boyfriends and rank them by d*ck size. Make sure he’s at the bottom.

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    Konca Reply:

    Jem, just soliciting opinions honestly.

    And list aside, he was a really amazing boyfriend. When we were together, he was really responsible, and made me feel really loved and cared about. And was just generally sweet and sensitive. He isn’t one of those frat, douchey boys which this list makes him seem. He is generally super restrained, one of the good-boy types and I feel like the fact that he even wrote it down is testimony to his nerdiness. I’m almost sorry that I stumbled upon his ‘thoughts’, kind of invading his privacy. I’m just wondering that yes, I think this list is really hurtful but I’m just wondering WHY it’s so wrong.

    [Reply]

    Mia Reply:

    Its wrong because reducing the women he dated to scores makes him at best incredibly judgemental, and at worst a total prick. What purpose could a list like that possibly serve..? Ew, just ew. Never again date someone with such poor taste. Ick.

    I like Jem’s list idea, that cracked me up.

    All your writing is about him – what he feels, what he wants, what he thinks, what matters to HIM. You might as well get WELCOME tattooed on your forehead if you’re gonna be such a doormat. You guys broke up. Its over. Move on. Get therapy if you wanna talk about it with someone or you are confused. Just dont meet up with him, dont call him, dont text him. Go out and get a real life that doesnt revolve around him and be happy. Good luck.

  • http://camillapeffer.wordpress.com camilla peffer

    I so desperately want to call you a hypocrite. I really do, but that would entail some hypocrisy on my part. I’m a vegan, but it’s impossible to be vegan 100% of the time. Am I a bad vegan for not telling others of veganism? Am I committing vegan blasephemy when I eat with meat-eaters? Or for owning cosmetics that are owned by companies that test on animals? Or for working in a restaurant that serves meat?
    No one can do a complete 180 overnight when it comes to making conscious and deliberate decisions to change their patterns. If (in your example) you want to get rid of toxic cosmetics, or in my case change your diet, the changes you make are a journey, with lots of tiny steps to make before you reach your goal. So onward march, I guess!

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  • Ruby

    Hi Sarah,
    I agree, I have two parts too, The one that is for work where I have to be serious, accountable and responsible.

    The other side is my personal side where I am feel comfortable with the people I trust and they see the more vunrable, funny side of me.

    I think we are all allowed to keep a side of our personality to ourselves and only show it to the people we trust and care about only.

    Just my humble opinion
    Ruby

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  • anne

    Ruby I so totally agree with you.

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  • Lisa

    Sarah, I just listened to a podcast of your radio interview today. Just some feedback, you say “you know” an awful lot.

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    Lisa Reply:

    And did you write the questions?

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  • Ellen

    Absolutely love this.
    We try to be conscious of living in our truth and being authentic, and loyal to our values and beliefs….even when our surroundings; our friends; our tangibles – our ‘stuff’ – isn’t perfectly in sync with our core.
    Does that make us bad people? Or just conscious people?
    It’s confronting to be so aware of things that aren’t a puzzle-perfect match with who you know you are; but like all confronting things, much better to accept and explore than run away.

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  • Tijana

    I found this post interesting as I’ve been thinking much the same myself lately… on the one hand i’m quiet, calm, sensitive and introverted, yet on the other i’m confident, outgoing, talkative and can put myself in any situation and come out on top. I couldn’t help but wonder if i’m insecure in who i am… if i’m two different people. But i’m also creative – and that creativity comes from the quiet, collective soul inside. I can never lose that creativity. It’s a part of who i am. But i can also never drown myself in that introvert that takes over when it beckons. The other side of me pulls me out and assimilates me back into society. Took this post to realise that. Thanks :)

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  • http://www.benmarden.com.au ben

    Hey Sarah,
    I to have wondered about my similar double life…having just spent a month away in Canberra, Sydney & Adelaide mostly to do with my work (pro photographer) I was so glad to get home!
    I also live alone in the hills and trees on the NSW far south coast. For me I think experiencing “the city” is good thing to remind me of how lucky I am to live where & how I do. (www.benmarden.com.au). I think too much time in any place will give you “cabin fever” :o)
    I just don’t care any more what anyone says about my chosen life style and actually get next to no criticism anymore.
    Looking forward to an MTB ride tomorrow, straight out my front gate…
    Thanks for your blog
    Ben

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  • http://unwrittenwarrior.tumblr.com Rochey

    “…I regroup, refocus. And pull back from social media for a while until things feel right.”— I certainly relate to this Sarah. I know I have a really divided life, one dedicated to being extrovertish and social, while the other one (which I struggle to take good care of all the time) introvertish and reclusive. Both personalities need to be expressed and nurtured, or else I will kind of fall apart or get lost.

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