Inside Out

Like a lot of preconceptions, prison was completely different in reality. There were no steel bars and the view was beautiful from the manicured gardens.

The most visible differences from the world on the outside was the fact that these men all looked at their physical peak. Their exteriors were so well turned out.

Many of the men had girlfriends visiting but where were their dads, brothers and mates?  Is that the reason these men are here inside, there are no male role models for them? It seemed that could be the case.

Apparently the majority of prisoners do not even get visits so perhaps the gender of the visitor is in fact irrelevant, just knowing that someone cares should be enough? We all need a hand to hold no matter how strong we appear to be on the outside.

The correction centre had the disciplinary air of a school and yet these were grown men. You knew who was in charge and you certainly didn’t want to step out of line. There was also the obvious hierarchy amongst the prisoners which kept fear alive and eyes twitching.

For some this is just ‘fattening up for the next run’. There is no other way of life, no one to help them, no one that has penetrated their mental walls, nobody that has shown connection whilst they are on the inside.

What struck me most and I guess what we observe in everyday life is how lonely prison must be. But then so many of us choose to be lonely even when we are on the outside.

What I experienced was a tiny example of this walled society. A taste of the outside in or inside out!

Confessions of Sexpo Melbourne 2017

Sexpo The Truth

After every Sexpo I have written a confessions blog, this is not meant to shock but rather to normalise the subject of sex.  After all ignorance is definitely not bliss and knowledge is power, something that I have personally had to realise this year!

The first confession of Melbourne 2017 Sexpo was one of my own, to my children.  They had seen the build up to this amazing event, the flyers, the marketing and had started to ask questions, so I needed to be open and honest with them.  I explained that Sexpo is an exhibition surrounding the education of intimacy, relationships and our bodies.  I also explained that although I go to sell my book, for the most part I am talking and reassuring people that they are ‘normal’ whatever that is!  I told them both that their bodies and every function that they perform emotionally and physically is natural and wonderful. When I meet the wonderful patrons of Sexpo and we chat about our experiences, I have only ever been shocked about the amount of shame that we all carry around with us. I don’t want my children to feel shame, it’s such a useless waste of time almost as ridiculous as worry.

The first at my stand was Sam a wonderful Italian who although has lived in Aus for a very long time still had the nuances of a European.  He openly shared his experiences as a single man and his continued safety around women and couples that wanted to experiment with him. He was a joy, full of boyish charm and excitement at being so free to demonstrate his curiosity.

A wonderful Mexican guy came to talk to me with the most beautiful accent and looks similar to that of Rafael Nadal he explained how the girls he knew back home could never wear a skirt or dress in public as they would be harassed and maybe even assaulted. ‘It’s very safe here in Aus’ he said.

A man with Tourette’s syndrome was the next to chat, he was interested in the psychological stance I had used in Sharks & Lovers to discover different sides of me and similarly the characters.  He recommended some more pysch books for me to read which was awesome, I’m always looking for more inspiration.

The next guy resembled a character I always come across; his wife had recently died and ‘she was very proper’.  He explained that he wasn’t very experienced and he bought my book in hope of some insights into another life. I do hope it delivers and I look forward to his response.

I can’t write this without mentioning the wonderful woman from my previous blog who came to me with such a warm smile.  She bought her first vibrators this weekend after my encouragement!  Having lost her husband a few years previously and before that having suffered an assault she withdrew from intimacy. We talked for a long time about control and abuse but mainly our shared philosophy that we are all in charge of our own happiness, by the end we embraced having shared our stories so honestly and openly.

These are the moments you just cannot replicate outside of Sexpo.

A great girl came up and grabbed Sharks & Lovers and gave it to her sister, ‘You’re reading this!’ she said.  Her sister was off to London for Christmas and I’m sure she will enjoy some of the places that I explain in the book and hopefully she will get to visit them too!

The exhibitors were a delight as always and the wonderful Pricasso painted my portrait in exchange for my book, promising me we will start his memoir next year, I will keep him to that!

I can’t list everyone I talk to but I do know that all the conversations at Sexpo are creating intimate and inspiring connections.

So until Sydney mid ’18 or maybe closer depending on dates for the U.K and U.S, it will be an exciting year that’s for definite!

Stay tooned folks!!!

Xx

Unnecessary Humiliation 


Whilst revisiting Jung’s book Dreams, Memories, Reflections on holiday by the Murray River I stumbled across his remark of ‘unnecessary humiliation’ as Jung explored his anima and listened to a new voice. 

‘It is perfectly true that I have thought or felt this way at some time or other, but I don’t have to think or feel that way now. I need not accept this banality of mine in perpetuity; that is an unnecessary humiliation’

Reading this passage made me realise how many times I have unnecessary humiliated myself in my head. How many times do we revisit an experience with old emotions and not the new self that have grown to become? 

Jung has always been my hero because he documented his open heart and soul as well as his psyche and encourages us to do the same. You might not agree with some of his theories and philosophies but surely his open and honest attitude to life bares no greater guidance. 

Crazy Bitch


Sorry if I offend you but I have a little story to tell about this CB.

‘You have never met a Crazy Bitch like this before have you?’

This was the beginning of the new me, I had tried to be the dutiful wife and the Mary Poppins mother. All us mums had husbands that were disconnected and working away. Everyone else however seemed to hold it together so well and those that didn’t were talked about; 

‘I don’t know how she copes!’ Simply implying she isn’t. 

‘Oh it’s a hard time for them at the moment’ whilst plastered grins on the speakers faces hide a multitude of depression, infidelity and unhappiness.

My Mary Poppins costume just didn’t fit, I was popping out all over the place! I spent years trying to tuck myself back in until I realised my mortality, what a smack in the face that was! 

All of a sudden the flabby bits didn’t matter, it was my hard heart I needed to listen to. I had to stop pleasing, I had to stop pretending and most importantly I needed to look myself in the eye.

That’s when the truth turned up and the Crazy Bitch returned in full flow. I had to be me and accept that not everyone would like it, some people would find it scary…I still don’t know what to do with them! But most people are accepting of my new happiness.

The biggest compliment was from my big bro this week, he checks in with me and sometimes gives me a verbal slap. We take it in turns to be the adult. ‘I’ve seen other people grow into the person they should be’ he said. Wow that was nice. He also implied it’s hard for the people around them, I accept that.

When I spoke to one of my friends recently about the fragility of my marriage her response was ‘You’re very brave only one out of ten marriages I know are happy and they accept it, they don’t question it’. I don’t know who is right but I want to be happy, not right or wrong!

I have to be me, are you being you?

Honestly?

Urgent Writing from my Shadow


I urgently had to get to the cafe yesterday where I do a lot of my writing. It was busy because the wind outside was cold, the energy inside was enormous! I had no idea which project I was about to embark on as I opened my laptop and took a sip of my warm sweet latte.

I started with S.E.L.F (my writing tool that I have begun) and reread the piece that I wrote whilst on my road trip;

Sharon had been hiding in the cellar, she was petrified that the world would judge her and so she locked herself away. The lack of light had stunted her growth and she had regressed into a little girl, she thought this was her power and so this was the persona she threw out to the world.  However it was time for her to grow up and become a woman and so she decided to open the door from the cellar. As she climbed the thirteen steps the light hit her and immediatly she grew.  Like a new born she couldn’t see properly for a while, it took time for her eyes to adjust to this different perspective. It took months not weeks before she could stand tall again but one day she looked into the mirror and recognised the reflection, she smiled her eyes wider than ever before.

Immediately it evoked huge emotion and I realised that it was time to plan my Sexpo talk. The characters that I arrived at from Jung’s Individuation Process are so dear to me I cannot wait to share them. If just one person at the talk can relate, understand, smile, laugh or even hate one of my characters or me I feel I will have done my job. I just want to entice people’s emotional openness.

As I have said before I have never spoken to more than about ten people in a room so this is going to be an amazing experience.  At first I was nervous but now I can’t wait, it won’t be perfect and I’ll stumble but I’m starting to realise that is my strength. I don’t mind people watching me clown around trying to find my feet if it makes them smile, laugh and feel better about themselves.  I reckon even if people are laughing at me it means they are growing and have taken me into their heart. If they are anything like me, their brain will catch up eventually.

Sharks & Lovers can be downloaded here

Exercise Your Demons

Before They Exercise You


Enjoy all of your SELF because only the stifled emotions will push back harder. Wallow in the pain, feel the emotions that you want to hide, let them out. Don’t  throw daggers at yourself throw love in abundance because it will stick eventually.

Embrace all of your characters, love them and let them grow, let them see the light.  Prune them and then let them grow up perhaps up, up and away. Maybe up, up and within making you stronger. Wherever they go acknowledge them because they are or were a big part of you.

There is nothing within your SELF that you cannot understand because you experienced it and chose to keep hold of it. What did it teach you? What invaluable lesson did you learn? Pretty clever aren’t you, teaching yourself these lessons of life?

My novel Sharks and Lovers is available at Amazon Kobo and iBooks

S.E.L.F


Just like most writers I have many projects on the go and sometimes find my head spinning with which one to concentrate on. 

I thought I would take a little time to talk about my S.E.L.F book project as this has been left on the shelf for far too long.

When I started writing my novels I used Jung’s Individuation process to breakdown situations from the perspective of Self, Ego, Shadow, Persona and Animas. Then the characters grew and their opinions became stronger. I didn’t realise at the time of writing that even the sub characters fell into these five categories, (they were probably the parts of my self that I didn’t much like!).

Jung has always been my hero and teacher. His philosophies are always where I turn when I feel I am lost and don’t understand. Knowledge surely has to start with your self.

So my theory is that writing using Jung’s process can help gain many perspectives on situations, people and problems. It breaks things down into manageable bite size pieces and gives insights into many views. It really has been therapy for me and if it can help me I’m pretty sure it can help other people too. That is why I have written my S.E.L.F Writing Solution.

Having spoken to my wonderful therapist friend Renate she has given me lots of suggested reading which I cannot wait to start. She always manages to make you look at things differently which is sometimes a welcome relief. So I will be swotting up on Salvador Minuchin, Virginia Satir, Erik Erikson and Irvin Yalom and many more.

Watch this space for a very different book from Frankie, hmmmm now which one is she!?

Renate Hoffmann can also be found on LinkedIn. Thank you Renate