My commitment to writing a new blog each day was overruled by the absolute exhaustion my body experienced. Plus typing while on the bus made me nauseous.
So now, in the comfort of my home office, my head is swimming with thoughts and emotions I want to get down on paper (computer screen). I plan to write several blogs, so this one will start with the wrap up of the last couple of days.
The Newcastle event was a hit, with millennial visionary Shauna Ryan as our guest for Q & A. My highlight of this night was meeting Jane Gardiner, fellow BIMGA and contributor to the Embrace Yourself book. If ever there is a woman that personifies living joyfully – it is Jane Gardiner. She was delightful from the moment she spotted Claire the big pink bus and ran down the road leaping and waving ecstatically, to the end of the evening when she was blowing kisses and dancing as we drove away. Next month, Jane and I will be debuting our swimsuit modelling careers with Cossie Confidence by Sequins and Sand with Anita. You can see by the photos of Jane and I here, we are going to be naturals at this!
Port Macquarie was the next event, where our very own Stacey McGregor was the guest for Q and A. Her talk was raw and honest, touched with so much emotion it got me crying. Not crying – bawling. Maybe it was exhaustion, maybe it was seeing someone I’d come to love dearly cry, maybe it was that her talk resonated with me. Yep I did the ugly cry. Stacey shared her story of becoming a fitness model and how it slowly led her down a path of obsessive calorie counting and an inevitable eating disorder. Tears overwhelmed her as she spoke of the moment she acknowledged she had a problem and the pain over the next two years as she struggled to get to a truly healthy state, body and soul. Stacey discussed how she’s seen a dynamic change in the modelling industry that she now has a successful career in, as a curvy model. She looks forward to the day that there is no distinction between straight sized models and curvy models – they are all just models! Stacey also gave the audience tips to take away such as getting in front of the camera – stop hiding behind it as many women do. One day your loved ones will be remembering you by those photos and they won’t care if the pic has ‘more chins than people’ in it (credit: Stacey McGregor).
Armidale was the next (very cold) stop. We set up at the Servies ready for around 200 local women to join the fun. Our very own Kate from Love, Food & Gratitude was our guest for Q and A. She shared the story of her near death experience and how it led her to a new appreciation for life, similar to the emotional talk Kate spoke of with our team on night one. As she was being wheeled into surgery, the only question in her head was “Did I love enough?” and her answer was “Yes I gave love to others in abundance, but no, I didn’t give myself enough love.”
It still gives me a lump in my throat thinking of that. Please – start loving yourself now. Time is ticking. This morning I spoke with my mother-in-law, who just finished reading Embrace Yourself and she told me of the impact it has had on her. It was a wake-up to just get living, stop worrying about the trivial stuff like your thighs rubbing together or your muffin-top. As Taryn says “Life is short and the bucket list is long!”
Our last night was in chilly Toowoomba, back in Queensland at last! There was definitely an air of excitement amongst us as we knew this would be the final show. Bittersweet was the word du jour. Ellen Briggs and Taryn were on fire with several impromptu jokes thrown in. We met champagne Prue, her alter-ego that comes out after a few glasses. I loved her almost as much as normal Prue.
When it was all over, we gathered for group photos and good-byes as Stacey was driving home to Brisbane that night and Ellen was leaving early in the morning. It’s hard to describe how bonded we were all feeling by that point, so I plan to write a blog purely about it next. It had been eight action-packed days that had pushed us all physically, yet at that moment I’d do it all over again in a heart-beat! If for no other reason, than to spend more time with that phenomenal group of women (and our brave men, Glen the film maker and Stu our bus driver). Thank you ladies – I’m forever changed by you all.
To read more blogs from the Embrace Yourself Tour – click here