magical stories : Toni Short
Posted on March 21 2019
This is the first in a series of magical stories told by the women who are living them.
My intention is to hold space for women to talk about subjects that are mostly kept private or not talked about openly. Hearing what goes on behind the scenes in real life (as opposed to what we show on social media or talk about on a regular basis) gives us a connection on a deeper level & lets us learn from what others have experienced & conquered. For example, I've known Toni for many years and I learned a lot that I'd never known about her from having this conversation!
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Toni Short is a stellar event director & multi-talented creative.
Originally from Australia, she has lived & worked all over the world. Toni is now based in NYC, where she founded & runs Shortlist Agency.
The following is a recent convo I had with Toni, exploring the boundaries of what it means to live on her own terms in all aspects of life.
You just returned from a beach trip in Mexico. How has that influenced your current state of mind?
Beautiful question. It helped me see that I can really live the life that I want by just doing it and trusting. Balancing play, work, nourishing my body, connecting with people, learning new things - can be done in every day life if you just believe and do it. It was easy for me to take my work calls while I was away and make sure things happened. I can do it from somewhere else and I'm not going to get in trouble. The mindset that anything I want is available to me, that's what shifted.
What's inspiring you currently?
Going down this creative path that I've never consciously gone down.. In my past life in the event world I was creative as part of the puzzle, but I never really thought that's what I was or who I was. I just did it, the logistics and planning was always what I thought I was leading with but it was very mixed in with the creative. And now I'm learning singing, writing, dancing.. things that are creative first. They're whole new muscles in actually learning how to do them, but at the same time having the confidence to go for it first rather than as a creative element. I've been taking singing lessons every week, making up songs just because it feels good, helps me work through and heal. To have the courage to just do that straight away rather than thinking you have to do something more ' official' or formal, strict or real.
What are you passionate about putting into the world or creating?
I have so many feelings over what happened in my life in different situations and I didn't feel I was able to express them either to that person, situation, to myself even. Being able to write about it in a way that I can get it out but it sort of feels removed or separate to me because it's on paper. Being able to actually talk about the things I'm feeling without feeling judged or getting in trouble.
You've mentioned getting in trouble a couple times. What's behind that?
That's the programming that I operated on prior to this point. Anything that was out of the ordinary or not official in the same direction that I've always gone, or not considered a professional job. The thinking that if I do other things I'll ruin my business, fail, and not go anywhere, if I actually follow my creative pursuits. Which actually may end up being the most revenue generating & fulfilling for me because that's where my passion is. But that's naughty because older generations taught us that we had to just stick on these things and just suffer through it versus following your heart for what you want to do. Today I truly believe that we can do what we want and make money from it & live the life we want if we follow what we love.
So you're learning to let yourself off the hook from getting in trouble.
Yeah, I think giving myself permission, and also just not even going there mentally to think that it's something that could get me in trouble. Instead of thinking of people on different levels, realizing that everybody is making shit up. Every CEO, every boss. They're all just making it up. We can all make it up and just go for it.
In what ways have you witnessed yourself become more powerful?
On a very practical level. watching myself really doing what I want to do based on how I feel at the time. Like, if I have to be somewhere.. do I feel like going? Does it feel right? Am I aligned? Knowing I would turn up on divine timing, this mental switch of 'whatever time I turn up is going to be fine.' So I think it's come through deadlines, boundaries of conversations, writing the full truth and how I feel about everybody. What I can't say in person comes out in my writing.
Healing my body, bringing my periods back - learning how to eat again, practicing & manifesting for what it would be like having a baby and traveling with a baby.
Allowing people to care for me a little bit. If I can't care for myself first then how can anyone else care for me? All my day needed to be was eating enough, sleeping enough, resting enough.. almost back to basics. I watched my body get healthy, my blood get healthy, following the signs of where is something that isn't flowing and.. what healers can help me if I'm open to it? It's been a lot of fun.
How would you describe your relationship with your body at this moment?
Magical. I make sure to have what I need to feed myself, and everything from healing with float baths, healing people, to having naked time by myself. Some days if I feel frantic I take a break to lay in the sunshine. Thinking about how things would shift & slow down to have a baby. How would I still care for myself and still create, make money, feed others in my circle creatively. It has been so beautiful to watch it get fit, healthy, to bring my periods back, to watch my body have enough strength to carry me through what I've been going through. All the emotional shit that I've been working through after my last relationship... if my body wasn't in the state that it is, I wouldn't have made it through in the way that I did.
It's been a journey to do things for myself at the same time as running my own business, to realize that things will go on. I've been continuing a lot of the things that (at the time) I thought I was only getting through my last relationship.. that he was only bringing the value in certain ways. But those areas of my life actually got better when he left because I was doing it all for myself. I've seen huge imprints of manifestations for everything I've visioned, that I pictured showing up for myself. If it wasn't coming from someone else I made sure to do it for myself. Now I'll take a bath and massage every inch of my body, sometimes even for an hour.
What's your history with your moon cycle? What kind of information did you get as a teen or when you first learned about it?
I don't think anyone ever talked to me about it. I genuinely didn't know until recently that you couldn't get pregnant while you're having your period. I don't recall any education period. Definitely no conversations with my mom. I remember wanting to get my period so badly that I drew with lipstick in my undies and my mom was like 'This is not it". Then it came when I was 12 or 13. I first had sex when I was 14 and was on birth control from 15 or 16, for a long time. I used to time my pills so I would skip bleeding, for many years... maybe even for 10 years! I felt so cool because I didn't have to deal with my period.
A handful of years ago I got off the pill, it was a conscious decision. I wanted to think about having babies and I wanted to start bringing in the energy. Using other forms of protection made it feel not needed any more.
My cycle was still pretty normal, I'd always have some pain on the first day, like my hips were opening, but didn't really know what was actually happening and how it was working.
When I first got into my last relationship I started smoking (weed), and working out more. The first loss of my period started in 2016, and that's really when I realized I wasn't eating enough for the amount I was working out. I would smoke and then go train with a trainer, I cellularly adjusted the makeup of my body by going so hard. I would go 10x harder and my body would get a chance to recover through the relaxation and different things I was building in. But I just didn't have enough body fat to sustain my cycle. I got a body fat test and it was 6.3% or something, where athletes are 8 or 10. It was ridiculously, unhealthily low. And nothing was intentional. I've always had a journey with eating that I eat a lot, I get hungry.. but then if I get busy or then it would be 2AM and I hadn't eaten, plus adding in exercise.
That was the first step for me in motherhood mentality. If I'm going to feed a baby, then I need to be able to feed me. Not only that, but there is no baby if there is no me and there is no period. It started to really become clear when I put all these pieces together. Through eating I got back on track after 8 months and my period came back for about 5 months, then went away again which I think was emotionally related and my body shutting down for protection. Because of what was happening in my relationship, I went into survival mode. Through dance and therapy and coming to the realization of what was going on, I started to get help in different areas and then my immune system and all the pieces came back. Last November it came back, then again lightly at the Pisces moon in March, and the pisces moon in August, and then now. I think it's been about flushing the poison that was inside of me, rebalancing all the things, working with different healers, along with eating & also bed rest. I stopped exercising as much as I was and my acupuncturist advised more restorative activity rather than boxing or training hard.
What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
I started to see days that I'd be more creative & days when it was so hard to be, and now I realize it's different parts of my cycle. These days I track my fluid, symptoms, temperature. I'm at such a different level than I've ever been, and it's a big deal to have my period back. It was an emotional journey to not have it for so long. A couple years ago I started to notice the face I made when I washed my self - almost with a grimace on my face and washing my self very hard, intensely.. it makes me think of mentalities that were passed on generationally, my mum not being totally happy with her body, & showing me by her actions that privates are not something to be touched. By giving myself full body massages with oil, learning to touch myself through massage & etc., being curious about my own body.. all these things that we're taught are bad. And now I love it, because again having gone through and gotten my period back, there's such a beauty to it now. And now having the awareness of, how does my body feel at this time of the month? How is my brain affected? Am I feeling tired? For me, it's about tuning in & trusting that what's happening is happening for a reason.
Learning about this made me not feel crazy when I'm sitting at my desk not able to do things. I sit there and force myself. Sometimes I don't want to go out. Some moments I was feeling sad and I just wanted to be alone. It was about honoring the waves that my hormones went through, even though I wasn't bleeding. It was a lot of trust to still honor the down times, the introspective times and the outward times even though I wasn't bleeding.
Is there anything you can think of that you wish existed for your cycle?
Since I've started using a thermometer (to track basal temp daily), I have a cycle app that I have to type in the thermometer reading. I wish it could automatically get (the information) in there without me having to go to the app and type it in.
Education to girls, all levels of women because ones that missed it as a kid definitely need it. Something to look at understanding the colors your body makes, somewhere it can be recorded and put together. Looking at contraception, rhythm methods. How to be a sexually active strong woman without having to block your womanage, how to learn more and understand your body on a deeper level. How to be present with the changes. Learning the difference between pregnancy signs and pre-menstrual symptoms.
When I lost my period, my fertility acupuncturist said it was because there was an imbalance. I didn't even know what these hormones were, how did they get imbalanced and how can I bring them back into balance? And also trusting to listen for what my body needs, like sleep. For me too, having rest to let my body recuperate from all the.. punishment that it had.
Is there any advice you would give yourself if you could go back in time?
Just learn about yourself as much as you can. Learn about your body. Learn about what you love and follow it. Trust yourself. Know that everybody is making everything up.
Do things your own way, go with what feels good and don't think about it too much. It's not that deep.
I spent so much of my life thinking things had to be done a certain way or I would get in trouble or it has to be specifically like that.
In a dance class recently I realized that everyone was interpreting it their own way, and everyone was so busy watching themselves.. nobody's even looking at me. It gave me the freedom to go in there and follow my instincts without worrying what other people were thinking of me.
Talking to other women is a really powerful thing. Sharing with other women.. I think my whole life I've been scared to talk about stuff like this because you think someone will judge you or tell you how to do things. I think there's so much power in it because we're all going through similar things, and to just be really honest with how we're feeling and what's happening. I found that in my career that shift was life-changing, once I started connecting with other women on the same level and actually talking about what our challenges are. Now I realize that we're all doing it - we're all bosses of something. I used to think everyone else was 'up here' and I was 'down here', and I realized that no, we're the ones who are doing it. We're all going through similar experiences but no one really talks about it.
These days I consider it an important part of my job just to be me, which is be relaxed, be comfortable, be knowledgeable, share, open, speak up, say what I feel, speak the truth, give connections and do what I do. Now my striving in life is to shift that into every other part of daily life.
That's something I've noticed too, when you notice yourself not reacting to something that used to bother you. Sometimes I wonder if I'm feeling less, or maybe it's just that I'm taking it all in and going with it. I wonder if I lost something, and maybe what I lost is the drama. Can things just be easy? Can it just happen? Does it have to be this big thing or this story?
That's zero fucks. Are things really that deep? All these things I thought I had to go to, or to be on time for. Now it's like, I'm here and I'm present, let's do this.