18 Jan The Renaissance Woman
Quite often we hear about the Renaissance man and how he is a jack-of-all-trades, interested in the finer things and can still get shit done.
I am a Renaissance woman.
I have been thinking lately about myself, reflecting on what it means to be me. What is important? What will I no longer apologize for? What is non-negotiable? What paths lead me to this place? Who is the woman I am meant to be?
So often as women we are depicted as maidens who require saving, or someone who needs another to do the heavy lifting. We are depicted as naggers, ‘know-it-all’s’, or worse – the bossy bitch.
I want to change this. I want to change this perception, and I do feel that there is a shift in the subconscious, where we no longer need to explain our choices.
Some may call it feminism, or women’s rights – I call that shit out. I am sassy, I am bold, I swear, I like being nice, and showing gratitude, I have manners, I’m creative, and I no longer want to be a shadow in someone else’s chosen path. I want my own path, and the freedom to walk it at my own pace.
My adult life started earlier than most and right from the get go Men, who got shit done, surrounded me. They drank, they swore, and they did not need to apologise. They were successful, and they worked hard for their success and their families. These Men wore, as badges of honour, the hours they put into their businesses and their spoils were for all to see.
I idolised them but never felt part of the club. I was more a plaything or court jester on the sidelines. Any suggestions or ideas I had were seen as “cute”. I learnt as much as I could, including how to speak to people of power, and that everybody underneath is a human being.
I also learnt how to drink.
After a few creative jaunts, I went on to enter the Hospitality Industry. I started as a waitress and ended up filling in for a missing Chef. My boldness in saying “I can do that” proved out to be right – as I could do it. This little sentence has formed many of the major decisions in my life. Only on reflection, do I now see that at every pivotal moment in my life this sentence has been muttered in my mind.
I worked hard as a Chef and once again was surrounded by Men in the kitchens of fine dining Italian restaurants in Sydney. Once again, they worked hard and drank hard. This time though I was noticed. I got shit done. I got shit done with quality work behind it. I loved working in the kitchens; they were dirty, hot, fast and loud. Utter perfection.
I was still seen as a woman, but as a Chef first. No heavy lifting, no mains sections, though I did get up to hot entrée.
I loved it. I absolutely loved it. By my last stint I was in charge of the daily rotating antipasto plate and my sole job each day was to create an amazing plate using bits and pieces left in the cool room from the other sections. Duck neck sausage with chutney; pan roasted quails, salads, pickles and curing; hand made pasta and sauces. Everything was my decision, my choice. Finally freedom!
Then it all changed. The Men who were supposed to look after us abused their power and my world came crashing down.
My world was turned upside down and I had to find a way out.
I started running my uncle’s café in Newtown. A definite change of pace. I still worked hard but I craved the all-or-nothing of cooking in a fine dining restaurant. This was my first realisation of sacrifice.
As women who choose to become mothers – or sometimes it is not a conscious choice – either way, we are thrust into the world of sacrifice.
We were so young, we were in love, and we decided that this was earlier than expected but, the right thing for us. Ruby changed everything.
I was so independent, got shit done and took care of my own life – and here I was asking for someone to support me.
Sacrifice came and it was not easy for me to step into the role. I loved being a Mum, just not being reliant on another for my wellbeing.
Sacrifice. Sacrificing my body, my lifestyle and my habits. Many of my habits were not healthy, though they were still mine by choice.
I loved the absolute freedom of my twenties and it felt like a massive handbrake had been pulled on my life.
Acceptance of my new role came slowly, but fiercely. All of a sudden I was the Mum sewing, planting a garden, mowing the lawn, fixing stuff. I had found a new thing to focus on. I was an Earth mother in all incarnations. I had chickens, I op-shopped, I had compost, I made chutney and we ate things I had grown or made from scratch.
Then we moved. Sacrifice. Not my career, not my decision.
I regrouped, made friends and morphed yet again. Got fit, ran for the first time since I was a kid, swam, competed, and became the Fit Mum. The one who woke early and changed my eating habits. Lost 20kg and started going to the gym. Found friends I still cherish in the most unlikely of sports. Had a crush on another. Felt frustrated as I could feel the woman I was becoming was like a dream, just out of reach. Not quite there.
Here I found professional goals, I was valued as a person of experience and tried my hand at many opportunities not available to me before. I felt valued as Nicole for the first time in a long time. Not Mum or Wife, but Nicole.
Professional change and moved again. Not my career, not my decision.
This time we came home. MY home. And here I will stay. After a few years of settling again, I got fitter, worked harder and started my own business. I challenged more and honed my cooking yet again.
Then tragedy x 2 struck our family.
Now, it’s the girls and me. I have my business and I have my side project. Working hard but it is just me. Am I enough? Am I pretty enough? Thin enough? Young enough? Funny enough? Cool enough? Doubt and self-conscious thoughts swirled through my mind.
Who was my muse? If cooking was my thing, who was I cooking for? Who was I being creative for? I needed love in my life and my heart and something to strive for.
Then over the course of a couple of days everything changed. I was enough. I was more than enough. I am my muse. I am the one I am impressing. Anybody else coming in to my life is for my pleasure, not where I receive my happiness. Not where I receive my self worth. All of a sudden I can be enough for me.
I am unwavering in my standards now. I know what I want from life and I know what I deserve in return.
I am all of which I have collected on my road to here.
Yes I can mow a lawn
I love running with my dog
I love my friends, many and far that they are
I love the beach
I can fix things, and make things and put together furniture
I can paint
I can fish
I can cook and cook well
I can make a coffee
I am creative
I have a flourishing garden and veggie patch
Yes I do yoga and often
I love animals
I like to be clean and have a clean house
I can make fire
I can roll a joint
I love manners and good grammar
I love kissing so much, so so much
I love the ocean, deep, cool and fierce
I love my kids and their differences
I can sew
I swear like a mofo
I love love love gansta rap and old school hiphop
I love dancing
I love good wine, I love gin and I love rum
I am a Tiger mother over my children
I can run, swim and hike
I love adventure and I love travel, and those that have
I love learning, growing and stretching my mind and ideas
I am loving in the relationships with my family and those close to me
I am courageous and make my own decisions
I make my own money
I make decisions everyday for the wellbeing of my family and I am the standard for which they can set theirs.
“Happiness is the joy you feel striving for your potential.”
Today, at this moment I have joy. I am enough. I am me and no one else.