My world feels like it has been rocked…

This week I heard the news of the apparent suicide of Robin Williams – this has totally rocked my world – I feel numb… (note I am still in denial with the word apparent.)
Robin William’s outer persona reflected (to me anyway) a confident, intelligent, successful person who had his whole life together.
I guess the news has rocked me as it feels like a kind of mirror that is being held up in my face…
My initial reaction was to post this on FB:

Just heard about Robin Williams – I am numb – reading all the wonderful messages – I wonder what might have happened had he seen and heard these before today? Don’t wait to tell people how wonderful they are… let them know today – please…

 Upon more reflection I reposted this…

I am rethinking my post about Robin Williams – sometimes when you are successful the pressure is greater to perform, be better and inspire all the time – the more people tell me how wonderful I am, the more I feel I will let them down if I am not fabulous. Brené Brown talks about vulnerability – when is this OK? Sometimes I feel that if I show emotions, break down, get angry, screw up etc, I am not the person everyone thinks I am. The pressure to perform is great… maybe what we need in this world is to be able to not be strong, be ok with the not so good stuff, the breakdown, the vulnerability…

So let me tell you about the real Karen Boyes…

I am highly energetic, passionate and possibly slightly zealous about quality education and ensuring children are becoming confident, caring, creative, life long learners. I am passionate about future focused practices for 21st Century learners, about ensuring our education system is preparing students for the real world, not just a life of tests and about authentic education, plus making a difference with professional and personal growth. Often I get so caught up in my work I forget to eat or sleep. My favourite colour is red – my kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, car and clothes are red. I have never owned red shoes – only black. My favourite food is cheesecake. I love rainbows and sunshine, anything that sparkles, candles, kayaking, snuggling by the fire and best of all hanging with my best friend Denny. I love feeling important and special. 

Here’s the bit you don’t know…
I have an addictive personality – I don’t drink alcohol because I’m afraid if I start I won’t stop. I eat the same food for lunch for about a year before I change to something new. I eat far too much sugar. I yell at my kids. Sometimes I just play Plants vs Zombies all night on the ipad, before that it was Candy Crush. I still worry that I disappoint my parents. I really do not like it when someone doesn’t like me and hate people getting cross at me. I live in fear of upsetting someone. I like being in control (OK you might have known that!). I do not have enough money to pay myself this week. I can’t put petrol in my car this week. I do the best with the gifts I have been given yet fear they are not enough.

Now I have written this it almost seems normal and maybe that is the point. The demons are actually self imposed, imaginary, although I fear they are real.

Here is another post on Facebook by Jeff Brown

Robin Williams is gone. Yet another whose gregarious social face did not reflect his inner world. We lose so many people everyday to unresolved pain that overwhelms their consciousness. Few are well-known. Most live anonymous lives. We must prioritize authentic revealing and emotional release in our world. We must slow down to see each other deeply and to share our inner worlds so that no one feels alone with their pain. There are so many of us here, yet so many suffer in isolation. We have to keep peeling the masks away. We have to keep sharing our truths. We have to.

Maybe I am my own worst enemy. Sometimes I wonder if my ability to think is a blessing or a curse. I over think, over process, over analyse…

I ponder the words from the song ‘Dancing Through Life’ in the musical Wicked …

Life is painless, for the brainless
Those who don’t try, never look foolish…

That time to not think, not care, just to be… that is exactly why I do yoga, a moving meditation that helps keep me calm and centred. It is also why the Arts are so important as well as creativity, movement, laughter, connection, love…

I’m exhausted from the daily grind, being a pioneer, seeing others follow and copy, the constant keeping up and keeping ahead. I’m not complaining, I’m deeply passionate and committed to my work, and it is a lonely and often taxing journey.

We are bombarded everyday with people asking “how are you?” and not really caring about the reply. We have been conditioned to give a positive response, even if it is not true. What if we all started being real, being authentic and caring about each other – really truly deeply love… How might we teach children this? My best guess is to model it – be ok with the sad, lonely, angry and all the emotions and happenings…

Another friend re-posted this today… We are All One, until we realise that another’s suffering is our suffering, the world will stay the same.

Yes it’s about lifting the mask and letting people in. Like Brene Brown says – being vulnerable. Of course, ironically, I now fear that writing this will make me appear less strong, lose credibility and in turn be a less likely choice to be invited to inspire teachers, students and speak at conferences. But that is a risk I am willing  to take. This topic is far too important.

Perhaps if there was good to come out of Robin Williams death, it is this conversation. Maybe this was part of his bigger purpose for being on this planet… Please continue the conversation…

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Published on Wednesday, August 13th, 2014, under Life lessons, Personal

Karen Tui Boyes is a champion for Life Long Learning across nations, industries and organisations. Winner of the NZ Educator of the Year 2017 and 2014 and the NZ Speaker of the Year award in 2013 & 2019, Karen is a sought after speaker who continually gets rave reviews from audiences around the world. Her dynamic style and highly informative content—which turns the latest educational research into easy-to-implement strategies and techniques — sets her apart from others in her field.

24 Responses to “My world feels like it has been rocked…”

  1. I loved reading every word of this! We have not connected deeply/closely however always in each others radar though distant …..i laughed at your reveal….at the moment I dont have a car…yet i am driving around in a BMW Z3 !!!!!!!!!!!! Perhaps true abundance lies in the fact that a client trusted me enough to loan it to me !!!!!!! In the past I would not have wanted folk to know my circumstances for fear of judgement….so always I have shown up looking good! Yet 2 years of illness brought me to my knees…..and i am at the same time richer than ever!

    Much love to you !
    Pat

  2. Anne Sturgess says:

    Karen, sharing your real self makes you even more approachable, credible and authentic. It’s important to know that the achievements of people we admire come at a price that they are prepared to pay because they passionately believe in the work they do and the messages they promote. Knowing this helps us understand that we all have a part to play in the work of those who are willing to put themselves ‘out there’ – we can be constructive and let the pioneers know that their willingness to share is bringing about the difference they hope for. Vulnerability accompanies intensity and great ability. Thank you for the amazing work you do and for being real.

  3. Paula Reynolds says:

    Thank you Karen for being brave – I now know there are others who feel the same as me! LOL I could actually relate to every word! x

  4. Matt Atkinson says:

    Very brave of you Karen, and very real. Speaking of real, you might remember the conversation we had one morning in KL last November about respecting and looking up to those who are more accomplished than ourselves. I talked about you and you admitted you had experienced the same scenario with Art. I knew you were real before, but especially when you were summoned to stand beside the red carpet to welcome the Malaysian PM’s wife to the HOM conference. You treated me as a peer and called me to join you, and when I hid behind that palm tree trying to stay out of the way, you saw me and with a smile you made the L (for loser) sign on your forehead and called me to be part of the ceremony. With that simple, jokingly light-hearted gesture I felt validated. That was real! You wouldn’t have said that to a stranger. I thought that was cool and I knew we were friends. You treated me as an equal and made me feel that I deserved to be in that space. I will forever respect you for that. Thank you for making me feel welcome as a person and as a contributor in the HOM community. Please, keep doing what you do. Oh, by the way…red rocks!

  5. Hi Karen, thanks for the revealing of the real Karen. Most of us humans have the same feelings and needs. I think that the trick is not to take ourselves too seriously. The saying goes something like this: “life is too serious to be taken too seriously”. My mum used to say to us kids “I will love you whatever the circumstances”. Maybe this took some of the pressure off me to be successful, although dad had high expectations. I suppose the question is “Whose life are we living?” Robyn Williams was a special man. Karen is a special woman.
    Karen, you are a gorgeous creature, truly loved by us all. Love Rodney

  6. Sally Saunders says:

    Thank you Karen, you have hit the spot in your blog … For me it is the feeling of never being good enough!!!! Swinging between over trying and giving up. In reality what/who is that that I have to be good enough for?
    You have gone out on a limb with your post and I think that what Robins death has made many of us do is to take a look at what our lives really mean to us. Thanks for sharing- a more authentic world is something we would all be better off with. 🙂

  7. Debbie Ryan says:

    Dearest Karen,
    you are like my business sister 🙂 and I can relate to all that you say…. but you know that already honey <3
    Life always was about being authentic nothings changed there, I think that honesty and being honestly reflective is probably one of the most human things we can do.

    Thanks for sharing my words ( I wrote those, that's how I feel about the world and my life at the moment, so much suffering, and actually it makes me sad that it takes the death of a star for some of us to realise that we are all human and vulnerable ) .
    Love ourselves, love others and be brave – be true and Be honest
    with much love Deb xxx

  8. Barb Dysart says:

    Hi Karen,
    It is so refreshing to read your blog.Robyn Williams was the actor I would choose to meet if I ever got the opportunity. Seeing him on stage on his last tour to NZ, was as close as I got.
    Your sharing makes you so much more approachable and human. I don’t normally comment on blogs, preferring to keep my thoughts to myself but you have inspired me. I think a pair of red shoes are definitely in order!
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Barb

  9. Rhonda says:

    Thank you for your courage Karen. As successful professional women we have so many demands and stresses in our lives and we feel the pressure to always hold it together and be what other people expect us to be…our professional self. Our personal self is sometimes less perfect. I am grateful for the people in my life who know this self and love me anyway.

  10. Wendy Sheridan-Smith says:

    Karen…deep breath…thank you! Thank you for trusting yourself enough to make the post, thank you for trusting us – the people who read your words and thank you for making it ok for me to admit I feel like this too. The masks we all wear hide so much and do so much damage.
    People always think that smiling means what it implies…my smile, “I’m fabulous”, my “what do you need”, my “no problem” mask the inside me – the scared, worried, stressed me who lies awake thinking of the what ifs, worrying about the people in my life and worrying about what others’ think of me. I don’t have a voice until I know what voice others’ want to hear.
    Kia kaha my friend – you are awesome no matter what xx

  11. Linda Guirey says:

    Karen your post was so good to read – it was real, poignant, and applicable to some many people. We do sometimes put people like you and I, speakers, educators, entertainers, actors on pedestals, we think they are super-human, always brave, courageous, successful – but we are also human and vulnerable. My life changed when I realised the power of my thoughts, when I realised I could be a MINI – a Master of Intentional Neurological Interference – getting rid of the thoughts that don’t serve me, and replacing them with ones that do. I was also free when I no longer compared myself to others, defined myself by what others thought I should be doing and followed my passion. Thank you Karen – for your vulnerability, because it will make a difference to others.

  12. Alix Davies says:

    It takes abig person to open up and admit to the fears many of us live with. If we all did that a wee bit more the pressure on all of us to excel would lessen. We are after all – human!

    Thoughts go to family and friends of those who find they cannot continue being just human.

    Thanks Karen

  13. Mandi says:

    Thankyou! I felt like I was reading about myself and had a sudden lightbulb moment about my ‘demons’. I too reacted strongly to Robin Williams’ death but didn’t know why until I read this. It all resonated so strongly and made me cry but I feel SO much better1 I don’t have to be perfect…..yay! and this has given me clarity and courage to just ‘be’ in the moment more often and to just enjoy. Thankyou again!

  14. Kate says:

    Hi Karen
    Read your blog and it was like reading about me! Well the vulnerabilities actually! Thank you for sharing and inspiring deeper thinking about being truthful in a sense that isn’t cool – I agree with others who have said it makes you even more appealing – perhaps we can all gain something from the sadness. Thanks for leading the way.
    Warmest regards
    Kate

  15. Karen you are always a real inspiration to me and to others in the teaching field. Your honesty is appreciated, too many cover up there inner feelings thinking that others will judge them badly just for being human. None of us is perfect, we have to continually strive to improve the personality traits that are lacking in us and we all know this is not easy.
    Good on you for your openness!
    Big hugs from me.

  16. Astarte says:

    Karen, thanks for this. OK, I don’t do those night-time ipad games (I suffer if I don’t get my sleep) but I do relate to your comments on vulnerability.
    I think it’s hard for the ‘apparent superwoman’ (and superman) to admit her (his) weaknesses, and the thing to remember through all that super-b.s. is that we are, none-the-less, human.
    Well done for being one of the first to publicly remind the world of this.
    P.S. To everyone, be assured that RW is still brilliant!

  17. jeanne lomax says:

    I have always liked you since you gave me a lift home from the airport when you really did not need to. I have always respected you professionally but I have this inside knowledge that you are kind and know when to offer to help someone. We all yell at our kids sometimes and boy, do they yell back at us!

  18. Karen Boyes says:

    I huge thanks to everyone who has commented and read my blog. It means a great deal to me. I actually feel overwhelmed with the comments. Taking the step to be publicly vulnerable is scary, especially when I know people see me as strong and inspirational. I’m just living my journey and hoping to positively affect people on the way. Thanks for the support, kindness and encouragement.
    Rainbows and sunshine
    Karen

  19. Keith Mason says:

    Nice one Karen…We meet several years ago and you keep popping up on my radar…I love the realness of your blog and this area is important to me.
    I believe you have shown the true definition of balance… Being conscious of your inner world..emotional, mental, and physical..and bringing that into awareness and balance with your outer world expression.
    This seems to be the basis of the current movement towards Consciousness..
    Robin Williams was an amazing man who had the skill of helping us laugh, cry and wonder about life…and like many of us we saw only what we wanted to see.
    Your blog allowed everyone to SEE all of you and what a gift that was to everyone…again Thank You for your courage to be vunerable and intimate with us all…You Rock !

  20. Teena Vincent says:

    Hi Karen,

    I too am still incredibly upset by the tragic loss of Robin Williams. He brought so much joy to others in such a selfless way even though he was experiencing depression. Do I think he planned his end…No!!…do I think something snapped him which he felt at the time he could no longer face….YES!! Mental illness can be so debilitating and can not truly be understood I don’t feel by anyone who hasn’t experienced the depths of the black hole that you sink into. Thank you for sharing your story Karen and helping me to see that the way I am is also experienced by many others – your words somehow made me feel more accepting of who I am. Reading your ‘bit we didn’t know’ was like reading something I had written about myself…even down to the addictive ipad games. It’s a real ‘All or Nothing’ mentality.. I find myself saying to my husband tell me when you need me as I don’t stop working until I am finished what I feel needs to be completed…the addictive ‘workaholic’ in me. Like you I have had to make a conscious effort to preserve work-life balance and look after my integrated wellness and exercise has been the key.

    The fact we have so much in common is perhaps why I am so drawn to you as a presenter and as a person. I related to you, your personality and your passion right from the very first time I heard you at a staff PD I attended. You inspire others because of the learning and knowledge you share and because you question and reflect about who you are, and what you can do to help others exceed their potential – you encourage us to strive to be the best we can be and provide the strategies and tools to help us on our journey. Thank you for keeping it REAL!! Forever inspired!!

    Teena

  21. Like everyone who has read Karen’s blog, I warmly acknowledge her honesty and too the fact that, also like everyone else, I’d have to make similar comments about doubts and limitations and struggles and commitment. This is our shared humanity. Robin Williams had this humanity with intensity. We now know that part of what was weighing on his mind was the onset of a very cruel disease, but who can doubt, given the brilliance and sensitivity of his mind and imagination and spirit, that he was particularly vulnerable to that final despair. The records show us that gifted individuals are especially vulnerable in this way. It is so important that in their earlier lives, beginning in early childhood and continuing through all the years at school and the rocky seas of adolescence, that we ensure our gifted children meet with the depth of understanding and insight that can help them to deal with this vulnerability and survive to share their talents with the world. How do we do this? Readers of this blog might be interested to know that nest April New Zealand will host a major symposium featuring ten of the leading international researchers and writers on the emotional, spiritual and ethical development of gifted individuals. I do urge you to check out the website which has the details of this symposium – http://www.giftedreach.org.nz. Meanwhile please let us all support our schools in providing for these children. As someone working in teacher education, I’m all too aware of how little opportunity teachers get to become better informed about this. Karen, I hope that means that somehow space will be found in the forthcoming Teachers Matter conference for this topic!

  22. Jade Valor says:

    This was great Karen. You have no idea how good it was to read that someone else was sick of having to wear ‘the mask’ – of courage, of strength, of feeling good when you’re not, knowing that most people don’t want to hear or can’t cope with the truth. I’ve recently been through breast cancer and I’m constantly being told, ‘you look great’, with the expectation that I must also be feeling great when, in fact, this is often not the case. I won’t even go into the many things you said that I can identify with – it would take up too much space. But I’m incredibly grateful for your openness.
    Robin Williams’ suicide shows us in the saddest possible way just exactly how little we know about the human psyche; how much is speculation and guesswork; how well we’ve learned to mask what we truly feel. How – in spite of the best intentions of those around us – we can be in so much pain.
    I’ve coped with depression, anxiety, PTSD for most of my life, and my saving grace has always been my creativity. Whether in music, theater, writing, crafts – it has made the difference between succumbing to the pain and being able to transform it in some way. It doesn’t make things easy, but bearable; it has its rewards. And, along with the few friends in my life with whom I can be completely open, it has been my saving grace.
    Blessings and thanks.

  23. Lynley Russek says:

    Hey Karen,

    Loved your blog, have always loved reading your blogs, this one in particular really touches me – and clearly does for others given the responses above. Thanks for being so real and modelling this – you open up hearts and conversations by doing this… if I was looking to get you into my school to run workshops etc this would only affirm my doing so even more! There are some things I can really relate to too – especially around expectations, and vulnerability, which I see as such a strength.
    Cheers Karen, now all we need it the All Blacks to beat the Wallabies on Saturday! I appreciate you writing this and sharing this.

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