Growing up, I was short. Not just kind of short, I was noticeably smaller than every other kid in my class. This had never been an issue until I sat next to two boys in the 4th grade. Looking back they were probably flirting as best as 4th grade boys know how, but they teased me each day about how small I was. They constantly compared me to others and so I started to wonder why I wasn’t as tall as the people around me. I suddenly found that something that I couldn’t control, made me feel not good enough.
This ‘height dilemma’ followed me into soccer league in the 5th grade. When I would kick the ball down the field, it felt like giants from the other team were going to run me over. At this point, the two boys were no longer in my class and therefore my ear every day. Being small is something that I started to come to terms with and accept about myself. My unenthused attitude towards soccer became less about me being small, and more that I seemed to go through the motions because I didn’t know what else I could do.
Leading up to end of soccer season, my parents arrived home from an expo and told me that they found something they think I would be excited about. They met two coaches from a cheerleading gym that were starting a youth team. I had always seen cheerleading on TV and the thought of it excited me. I signed up for tryouts.
At tryouts we had the normal meet and greets, and then I heard the thing I cringed at the most. “Please lineup up from tallest to shortest.”
I made my way over to the far left corner and stood at the end of the line. Waiting in anticipation to see why we were lined up, I heard something that would change the course of not only the next 8 years, but my life. I was told that I would be a flyer.
A flyer is one of the girls that gets thrown in the air. (video of me back in the day). This turned into not only my passion in life, but allowed me to own who I am, short and all, and be proud to be me.
I look back on that story as an adult and ask myself, what am I currently trying to fit into because it seems like the normal thing to do? Where am I trying to fit in, rather than owning who I am? Soccer wasn’t something that I loved, but was unaware that I could use my gifts (or height) to my advantage doing something that I was passionate about.
Here are a few thought questions.
What am I currently doing? Am I passionate about it?
Not just because you think you should be, but because it lights you up.
What can I own about myself?
It doesn’t need to be a physical trait like my story. It could be a personality trait that you try to dim – maybe you’re loud and outgoing, and people are always telling you to ‘shh’. Or perhaps you’re extraordinarily creative and aren’t using those talents to the fullest.
I went for it. I went for it hard. I went for it open-hearted and ready for new possibilities.
When you hear the words ‘go for it’ that could mean anything for you and changes from person to person. You might hear ‘go for it’ and you think of the person you want to say I love you to for the first time. You might hear ‘go for it’ and that means quit the job and book the flight.
We all have different ideas that we attach the idea of ‘going for it’ to. But let me ask you this, have you stopped ‘going for it’?
I’ve had times in my life when I stopped going for it. The energy became stagnant; I no longer took leaps or risks. Even worse, I sometimes tricked myself into thinking that I had taken so many risks that I couldn’t bare to take another one again. Too scared to open my heart up, too scared to say yes to a multitude of things.
I had forgotten what it felt like to go into the unknown, and that was the problem.
My list above: the musical auditions, asking a guy to a school dance, and stepping onto the plane for an unknown adventure have something in common. They happened one after the other (with a few years in between). I didn’t feel the courage to finally step onto the plane and go on a completely unknown adventure because It was the first time I had taken a leap, I had the courage because it was my 10th, 12th, 20th or so time.
If you feel your energy getting stagnant or that you don’t feel ready to take a risk or say yes to something, say yes to anything that feels unknown or outside your comfort zone (with discernment of course). But say YES. Go into the unknown.
Get comfortable saying yes to things you’d love to do, without knowing if it will all work out. It often works out better or takes you on a different path; one that is more meant for you than you could imagine. Just start saying yes. When you get out of your comfort zone, you get out of your own way and change up your energy while opening yourself up for new possibilities to come in.
The big leaps don’t happen by chance, they happen because there were a series of other leaps behind it.
After being on Milos with Ash Katch, there were four days before meeting up with my friends in Italy. While wondering where to go next, a friend messaged me saying,”Go to Paros!” Being open to new adventures, I looked into Paros and realised that not only did it seem like a beautiful island, but it also had a small airport with flights going to Athens. I jumped at the chance to explore another Greek island and took the ferry from Milos to Paros.
This was the first time during my Euro-trip where I was traveling alone. While I had a bit of fear that perhaps I would be lonely at times, I was exhilarated. The two towns that I stayed in were Naoussa and Parikia – at Marisa Rooms. Both totally different from one another and equally filled with incredible sights, food, and people.
Naoussa is a village in Paros that feels like magic. It’s filled with delicious boutique restaurants, bars and shops. I could’ve kept wandering there forever.
SoSouro is where I spent a lot of my time. They made delicious juices and toast, and was the perfect place for working remote. I sat at one of the outdoor tables for hours writing, dreaming and watching the world go by. If you’re looking for a place to work from, I highly recommend it here – the wifi was awesome and the location was a dream.
After breakfast at SouSouRo, I wandered the streets, walked into different shops and spoke to boutique owners. From traveling around the Greek islands, a common theme was that creatives from Athens often go to the islands and open bars or boutiques during high season. As soon as I saw the outside of Jazmin, I was drawn in. It’s filled with custom made perfumes, essential oils and natural cosmetics.
After 4 nights in Naoussa, I took a taxi ride over to the port town of Parikia. I couldn’t believe that I was only 20 minutes away from Naoussa and the vibe and feel of the town was completely different. Both beautiful to get lost in. I couldn’t wait to see what Parikia had in store.
I pulled up to a beautiful Greek building with vines and hibiscus flowers wrapping around it. I had arrived at Marisa Rooms. It seemed like everywhere I went in Paros, I felt a sense of peace and ease. Parikia had this energy of excitement and a bustle that I liked. A lot more 20-something year olds were about and it felt electric. Marisa herself brought out a map and circled everywhere I should check out while in Parikia.
Do ever come across a site or brand and you can feel it? There’s something about it where you feel the soul behind it. That’s how we felt when we were introduced to Rebecca and Damien’s site, Warndu.
Warndu is an online shop and brand aka an Australian Native Foods Revolution. Warndu is all about reconnecting with the native (Australian) foods and contributing to the regeneration of culture, tradition, health and community. As Rebecca and Damien are experts in food and community, they collaborated to create a brand filled with products that are not only helping you to eat good, native foods, but to feel good all the while.
Meet Rebeca Sullivan…
Where are you in the world?
Sitting under a rainbow. Currently Adelaide. Off to Byron Bay next week then Cairns for some Native Foods work then off to London for a month to speak at a food festival and photograph my next four books.
When did your idea for Warndu first come about?
When I came to the sad realisation that I had been in my career promoting local foods for over 8 years and never tried anything truly local (Australian Native Foods).
What impact would you love to make with Warndu?
Reconciliation through food. Thats huge I know but if we can achieve that even on a micro level we will be happy. We want to ensure every Australian has tasted something ‘local’.
How did you go about creating the products?
Trial and error. New flavours meant I had to start with a blank canvas. I read, asked questions of people in the industry, and just tried things until they worked.
Once your products were ready to go and your website live, how did you go about getting the word out?
Word of mouth, social media and tastings where possible is how we have done it to date. But we have a long way to go.
If fear ever shows up in your life or business, how do you move past it?
I am good at letting shit go. Thats probably my biggest strength. I have failed on numerous occasions and rather than let it cripple me, I take it on the chin, learn from it and move on. I teach entrepreneurship at Le Cordon Bleu and its the first thing I tell my students. Fear will stop you from living your dream. You have to learn to let that go straight away.
Because you and Damien collaborated on Warndu, how is it working with someone and would you recommend others to collaborate with another person when getting their ideas off the ground?
More ideas the better I say! Collaboration is what I live by and we all should. We miss opportunities if we aren’t open to it.
What’s on the horizon this year for Warndu?
We are working hard on launching our bone broths (roo, barramundi and native greens) so that you can have them at home, planting our own native mini farm and launching some new products for your pantry!
More about Rebecca
Rebecca Sullivan is a self-taught cook and has worked with some of the world’s best food producers, academics, activists, and chefs. As food curator, activist, food writer, urban farmer and entrepreneur, Rebecca has worked on many a projects any food lover would envy, from launching the Real Food Festival in London to working on Slow Food Nation in San Francisco, farming coffee in Uganda to teaching scientists the art of communications in the Maldives for the United Nations. Rebecca recently completed her Masters in International Rural Development and Sustainable Agriculture at the Royal Agricultural College in Gloucestershire, UK during which she focused on food security and a sustainable food future and is now undertaking another Masters in Food History at the University of Adelaide.
As a few of our #RadLivin speakers and friends got started through one of our favourite programs, Dreamstarter by ING Direct, we wanted to sit down with some new faces and hear how they got started.
We spoke with the legend Jarrod Wheatley, Founder of SAMA(Street Art Murals Australia), to chat about making ideas happen, saying yes to risks, and collaborating with the local community.
SAMA works with young artists to transform their creative energy into constructive forms of street art, as well as helping senior artists on professional development.
In 2015, he launched his Dreamstarter crowdfunding campaign for his Street Art Walk project. Because the project was heavily created for the community, Jarrod found that crowdfunding was not only a positive way to raise funds for his idea, but to build up a positive relationship and support from the community. SAMA is not only about supporting young people’s artistic talents through a positive outlet, but changing the way people see spray art.
Where are you in the world?
Ho Chi Mihn (getting some good food) in transit to Frankfurt. But I live in Surry Hills, Sydney.
How do you follow your bliss?
I am very fortunate to be able to pursue my purpose as part of my paid work. I would not describe this feeling as bliss. It is not always easy, in fact it is often the most difficult thing I do. It is, however, deeply satisfying. I make decisions based on how to most effectively serve the cause I am trying to support/achieve. Often this leads me into spaces of negotiating with government behinds the scenes rather than painting murals or working with young people. This has particularly been the case with Professional Individualised Care (PIC). Even though I love my work and I truly cannot think of one thing I would rather do more, when I think of “bliss” I think of my friends, family and especially my partner.
When did the idea for SAMA first come about and why is it so important to you?
I am a curious person and see opportunity everywhere. I didn’t so much as go looking for SAMA (streetartmurals.com.au) or PIC (mypic.org.au) but recognised something I thought that needed to be done. With SAMA it was simply that there was a subculture that wanted to paint art and there were little opportunities to do so legally. While many in society saw graffiti as a problem, I saw it as an asset. Something that added to the vibrancy of our urban environments, and most importantly expressed a voice that is not often heard in the mainstream. People also wanted to commission murals, so SAMA acts as the link to make this happen and then takes the profits and invests them in community projects as a charity. This is often called a “strengths-based approach. Find the opportunity in the area others find issues.
Aside from receiving funds to get SAMA off the ground, what was the most positive thing about crowd funding and would you recommend it to other people with big ideas?
I presume you are referring to the Street Art Walk project that we funded with a Dreamstarter campaign. SAMA had already been running for a number of years but the Street Art Walk was our most ambitious project at that point. Over 30 murals totaling over 3,000 square meters painted in a weekend from local and international artists.
My opinion of crowdfunding – to me it is primarly an awareness raising tool. It is about getting community engagement and investment behind your project. Raising money is important however there are many ways to do that – profits from the business wing of SAMA, grants, philanthropy etc. Crowdfunding’s unique selling point is that you are getting the community that cares about your cause engaged and supporting your project. We raised around $20,000 in small donations from the community that cares about free public art and graffiti, where the artists are painting what they want, not just what a business will commission. Dreamstarter were great, they had the right partners and know-how and I would definitely recommend them. This is definitely a great way to get an project of a the ground.
Have you ever been afraid to take a risk whether with SAMA or life and how did you move past it?
I tend to think to myself, “will I regret giving this a go”? The answer is always no. Then I take the challenge on, and if I start to think “I’ve done it again, what have I done!” I am already committed and just see it through with persistence. It is like you develop mussel memory for being on your ‘learning edge’. I tend to live on that edge, not so challenged that I fall off, but never so comfortable that I am not being really pushed to do something new and grow.
I think it is normal to doubt yourself sometimes when you do something new. I try not to invest any energy in that feeling. I recognise it, name it, then trust that the decision I made to take it on was the right one and move forward.
There are often deep, and sometimes real, reasons why we fear taking risks. Take them seriously, maybe speak about them with a mentor or psychologist. People are capable of amazing things, often the biggest barrier is our mind. Prioritise time to keep on top of it and your project will benefit.
What advice could you give to someone who knows what they love to do, but haven’t yet gone for it?
I am probably not telling people anything new here but here goes:
It isn’t easy, but still do it. If you are ‘failing’ at anything it at least means you are trying to do something.
People partner with ‘opportunity’ not ‘ideas’ in my experience. Stop speaking about it like something you want to make happen, instead make plans for it to happen. Others will be far more likely to get involved and help. This is connected to ‘momentum’. Get it and keep it. That means just trying and trying different ways to make progress.
Try and cut down on escapism, TV etc. We all have our own way to relax wich is fine but this will free up a lot of time to do things the nourish your vision. Also seeing less ads can only help 🙂
Be thankful of the privilege and people you have. Tell someone you love them today. Everything is easier to do with support of those around us.
The world needs people to make a positive difference. If not you then who? Connecting with a purpose increases wellbeing and all in all leads to a more interesting, happy life I think.