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Coping with anxiety on holidays… 

As some of you may know I’m currently holidaying in beautiful Indonesia, exploring Bali and making ticks on my bucket list. And as some of you may also know, I’ve written about my battles with anxiety over the past year or so with raw honesty. So because I’m spending my afternoons sipping cocktails and watching incredible sunsets, then surely I’m not feeling anxious at all, right? Wrong. As anyone who has travelled to a developing country would know, the sudden change in lifestyle habits (exotic cuisines, increased alcohol intake, hygiene concerns etc etc), is enough to make even a normal person feel slightly uncomfortable. So how do you think I’m feeling, as someone who has worked extremely hard to overcome anxiety issues in the past year? More than a little uncomfortable at times is the answer, but I’m not going to let it ruin my holiday that’s for sure! 

I think the key lies in knowing when you absolutely need your down time, but also knowing when you might just need a little push from your friends and out of your comfort zone. I’m so happy to say I tried snorkelling in the open ocean yesterday, something I’ve always wanted to do. Yes, I was scared. As someone who practices regular meditation, not being able to breathe through my nose due to the snorkelling mask was really uncomfortable. But I did it! I jumped in that water despite convincing myself that sharks and other terrifying ocean creatures were lurking close by, and I’m so proud of myself. I’ve also taken a ride on a scooter through the hectic and bustling traffic, and had my feet sucked by tiny little fish – a very weird feeling I must say. These are things I was absolutely hesitant about at first, but a little encouragement from my friends was all I needed to find my inner courage. 

Then there are days like today, when Bali Belly has set in with full force (I’ll spare you the details). I didn’t want to get out of bed or face the day. I just felt like hiding, crying and somehow clicking my fingers and waking up to find myself back home in the comforts of my regular surroundings. But that’s not living is it! Things happen when you travel and it’s all part of the experience. Fingers crossed I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling fresh as a daisy, and ready to keep exploring this wonderful country 😊

And now I know why people keep coming back to Bali… 

I’m currently in the luscious, charming village area of Ubud, Indonesia on my first Balinese experience – and can say without a doubt that I’ll be back, at least twice more. Countless people told me before I flew over that I’d love it, and they weren’t wrong. Who couldn’t love the chaos of scooters crisscrossing through every alleyway, monkeys casually strolling around completely integrated in the local life, and the pitter patter of rain softly sweeping through the canopy of trees? And that’s just the start of it. 

As I lay here nestled in a king size bed under a softly billowing mosquito net, listening to the fish pond gently humming outside, I can’t help but feel content. Although I might have the rumble of something kindly referred to as ‘Bali Belly’, I’m still excited to keep tasting the authentic (and cheap!) cuisines. Poached prawn and papaya salad, crispy skin chicken with lemongrass and chilli, and sticky black rice pudding are just some of the delicious items I have tried so far. Entree, main and dessert last night cost me approximately 20 Australian dollars, which is at least half of what I’d pay back home. This is the real deal though so I’m more than happy to tip generously and support the welcoming and gracious locals in any way I can. After all, we’re on their turf now and respect can go a long way. 

Outside of every shop front and dwelling are beautiful offerings of flowers and incense, which tourists avoid trampling on at all costs. These gorgeous baskets of petals are an absolute feast for the eyes, though I’m sure their meaning goes a little further than decorative value. Drifting off now for a little afternoon nap, with nothing else planned for the day except a dip in the pool and perhaps a massage. Ahhh, life isn’t so bad 🙂 

Does creativity mostly stem from darkness?

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I’m NOT writing anymore, and wondering why this is the case. When I first started this blog in January, I was writing around 3 – 4 blog posts a week. I simply couldn’t stop. I had so much bottled up inside of me that was flowing out – emotions, rage, guilt, regret, sadness. It was like someone had finally turned the tap on inside of me, and years of built up sewerage was spilling out so I channeled it the best way I knew how – through words. Everyone has their own way of expressing their inner thoughts. Some resort to alcohol, drugs and violence, while some turn to creative pursuits – art, dance, music, photography and writing to name a few. I’ve been wondering though, as I’ve noticed a significant decrease in my once torturous feelings of anxiety, why I don’t feel like writing as much anymore, and if anyone else can relate?

When you think about some of the famous artists and creatives of our time, there is usually a back story of hidden pain and secrets as well. Edgar Allen Poe, Vincent van Gogh, Charles Dickens and many others have been documented to have experienced mental health struggles. I can’t help but wonder if in a lot of cases, our most creative works come from a place of sadness and helplessness within? Many of the greatest musicians and song writers have referenced their ‘best sellers’ as having been recorded in some of their darkest times. There seems to be a pretty significant connection between common struggles (depression, anxiety, mood swings, relationship break downs, deaths and so on), where the person works through their feelings via creative expression.

I know for certain that when I’m feeling ‘normal’ – which in my case I would equate with getting through the day with a fairly consistent mood, and not being plagued by frequent periods of anxiety or nervousness, that I don’t particularly feel like writing. In fact I usually have to be experiencing a pretty ‘down’ day to sit down and let the words come pouring out, which is a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand I’m over the moon that my darkness seems to be lifting, but on the other hand I’m sad because I get a lot of enjoyment from writing. What am I meant to write about if I’m feeling normal, or even (dare I say it), happy? That seems like such a silly thing to worry about, I know. I think it’s stemmed from my unhealthy relationship with ‘morbid’ news stories in the media, where for some unknown reason I am drawn to read horrifying stories of murder, kidnapping and tragedies on a regular basis. Of course this is not an uncommon fascination – it has been well documented that as a society these days we are hungry for such stories, and that they both terrify and intrigue us.

I’ll wrap my musings up today with a quote from Jack Beal;

Keep painting your demons. 

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Photo credits – ourcolourdays & ourmoodydays

Remember, you’re exactly where you need to be right now.

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I saw someone post this quote on Instagram today, and I thought how perfect it was for how I’m currently feeling.

You are right where you need to be.

Sometimes I wish I could tattoo this to my forehead when I’m getting carried away in my thoughts, reminiscing on past times or wishing away the time looking forward to some future event. Mindfulness is key to maintaining your sanity in this fast-paced world, where our thoughts are constantly bombarded with worries, emotions, fears, guilt trips, dreams, memories and more. I woke up a little melancholy today, July the 8th in sunny Queensland, where Winter means shorts and a T-shirt with a cool breeze on your back. The Lucky Country right? So I allowed myself 15 minutes of snooze time in bed to wallow in my sadness, before getting up and committing to embracing this day.

I’m honestly believing more and more that happiness can be a choice, a small pledge within yourself to simply power through with a positive attitude. Sure, I’m feeling down about a couple of things – but in the grand scheme of life, am I going to care about them in a years time? Absolutely not. It’s hard to maintain that attitude 24/7 of course, but constantly checking in with yourself especially when you’re feeling glum can help shed a little perspective on the situation. I spent the morning wandering through the Botanic Gardens, simply enjoying the peace of nature, birds singing, sun on my neck and nowhere to be. Getting outdoors is a wonderful mood booster for the soul. Trust me, I know sometimes when you’re feeling completely lethargic, comfortable in your track suit pants and socks, and the last thing you feel like doing is donning some active wear and joggers. But just push yourself to try it… 9 times out of 10 you’ll come home feeling more energetic and clear-headed.

I’ve got a friend who comes to town every 2 months and we always have a little catch up, something that has been an unexpected delight. You see the friend is actually the partner of one of my closest friends, and up until we started catching up on our own the relationship had always been a little more reserved, or courteous I suppose. Now that we’ve established our own friendship though outside of the barriers of knowing each other through someone else, it’s been a lovely little addition to my circle. Anyway the point of me writing about him, is not only to emphasise that good company can often come from unexpected places, but that letting people in can broaden your perspectives as well. On one of his visits we went to Cape Hillsborough, a beach area famous for attracting kangaroos right on the brink of dawn. As we sat on the sand watching the first rays of sunlight pierce the ocean, he told me to just listen to all the types of birds singing. I honestly hadn’t even noticed the birds until he said that – to me they had become background noise. But upon tuning in to the calls of nature, I was totally surprised at just how many different sounds we could hear.

Mindfulness – it’s about appreciating the moment, getting lost in the moment and being grateful for this moment.

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Photo credits – arthurlitau & folksouls

 

Trying to understand people is impossible.

 

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If you, like me, have wasted countless hours of your life trying to understand why someone has acted in the way that they have, then you aren’t alone. I’ve spent days analysing situations, messages, emails, behaviours – you name it. Simply trying to understand why someone has said this or done that, drives me absolutely insane. It’s something that I’ve really struggled with my whole life, just trying to connect all the dots and make sense of peoples decisions. The truth is though – nobody can ever really understand how people think, or someone’s entire life of experiences that add up to them choosing to act one way instead of another.

There are hundreds of variables influencing people at every moment of the day, each of them firing away at rapid speed without us even being aware. From little decisions like choosing what to have for lunch, to big decisions like applying for jobs and moving house, we all come to our conclusions after a series of elements like past experiences, friends and families opinions, media influences, emotions and a million other things come into play. How could we ever possibly aim to understand people if this is the case? We can’t, and that’s something I need to accept before I waste any more time trying.

One of my big ones was people who are always late. ALWAYS late. WHYYYY ? I just couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just plan their day around the time they KNEW they had to be somewhere, to ensure they had enough time to get there etc etc. Didn’t they feel guilty for making other people wait? I know I feel absolutely panicked and sick when I (rarely) keep someone waiting, and apologise profusely for doing so. But nope, some people just breeze on in at any time they like without seeming to care. I still don’t understand it, but it doesn’t bother me as much anymore. I have a little more life experience to appreciate that everyone is different, and that I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of their day. They’ll get there when they get there, and I can be a little more forgiving (as long as it’s not something super important like a wedding – though this one remains to be seen).

Assuming that people will want to do certain activities with you, or that they are free at the same times as you is also a big mood-killer. SO many times in my life I’ve planned things in my head with certain people, to be left disappointed and lonely when they’ve low and behold got other plans or simply don’t feel like doing the same thing as me. This one is something I still struggle with, and it’s completely self-induced. Nobody is a mind reader – the other person in my planned scenario will usually have no idea that I’ve connected A, B and C to mean that because I’m free on Sunday morning then we can both go out for breakfast followed by a morning stroll. Assuming things about people or how events will unfold is the worst thing you can do, because it is always a recipe for disaster – or at the very least leaves you feeling like a sad control freak.

So take a step back, and check yourself before you wreck yourself.

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Photo credits – depthobsessed & maxfromtax.

Green with envy – the pitfalls of jealousy.

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I’ve fallen into the trap of social media envy lately – that ridiculous self-imposed jealousy you feel when endlessly scrolling through happy snaps of people travelling and living (seemingly) fabulous lives. And even though we all know the version of people portrayed on social media isn’t real, there’s some part of us that still feels down when we see images of gloriously tanned people, sipping on cocktails by the beach in exotic destinations. So why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we even bother looking on social media sites when we know, more times than not, they leave us feeling like our own little bubbles somehow aren’t as wonderful or glamorous as others?

For me, I think I’m personally suffering from some mild seasonal depression as well. Winter in Australia is officially upon us which means no bikinis, no little sundresses, and no swimming (unless you’re really adventurous, or just drunk). Life in summer is what makes my soul sing… give me sweat, sand and sunshine every day over snotty noses and socks. So as I sit here in ugg boots with a eucalyptus oil diffuser cleansing the air, I can’t help but feel a little envious of those basking in summer on the other side of the world. I’ve recently been bombarded with images of friends in far off places like Mexico and Cuba, looking like they’re having the time of their lives. Meanwhile I’m stuck here in a small town, with less friends that I can count on one hand, working in a pretty mundane job.

But I’ll stop myself right there and metaphorically slap myself on the face, because in actual fact – I’m setting myself up for a wonderful future. I’ve returned home for a ‘gap year’ of my own choice, and in 4 months I’ve managed to save $7,000.00 in a casual job which is something I should be really proud of. I’ve (slowly) recovered from some debilitating anxiety issues, and while I know there’s still a long road ahead in this regard I’m fully committed and positive it’s something I can now manage. And lastly, I’m going to Bali in a few weeks for a holiday with my beautiful friends, where I’ll be doing the exact same thing – creating social media envy for others. And while this is not my intention of course, it’s become part and parcel in our digitally connected world, and something we must all learn to live with.

So let’s give ourselves a break from feeding the jealous monster within that sometimes wreaks damage on our happiness, and commit to living in the moment – especially the moments in between those ‘happy snaps’ posted on social media. Those are the real moments – the raw, honest and authentic experiences we all go through. Cheers to that 🙂

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Photo credits – amin_ramzi & hvmansouls

 

Life is unpredictable, so smile and take one day at a time.

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I’ve been seeing so much trauma on the news lately; tragedies and terrorism, murders and child abductions, natural disasters and everything in between. It’s come to a point that I almost want to shield myself from the constant coverage and treat myself to a little ‘media blackout’. You can’t be exposed to so much sadness without it affecting the way you live, and I certainly don’t want to go through life with the fear that at any second something awful is about to happen to me. Because in reality, we have no control over how we’re going to exit this world. I might make it to 100 years old and die peacefully in my sleep, or I might get hit by a falling coconut tomorrow and succumb to horrific head injuries. Who knows?

6 months into 2017 and I’m already feeling happier than I have in quite a few years, but I still have days where silly little worries consume me. I’m sure we all do. My grandparents are concerned about me going to Bali in a few weeks, as statistically a lot of tourists do fall into danger there – murders, alcohol poisoning, vehicle crashes and drowning to name a few. But when you think about it, most countries are not without their dangers and you certainly shouldn’t let fear prevent you from travelling. I want to experience the world, embrace other cultures and taste exotic foods. I want to see new landscapes, talk to different people and create wonderful memories. Of course I’ll have my wits about me, but there’s only so much careful planning you can do… and I think there’s a certain beauty about letting go and riding the wave. We can’t wire ourselves to constantly move from A to B and have contingency plans for everything – spontaneity, impulsiveness and random decisions are the spice of life.

Every day my Nana checks the funeral notices in the local paper to see if anyone she’s known has passed away. While this makes me a little sad, I think it keeps her aware of just how precious life is, and subsequently leads her to make the most of every day. She’s constantly on the go and caring for us family members, rarely taking time out for herself. Her joyful attitude and caring nature are an inspiration to me every day, and I can only hope that I’ll be half as an incredible mother and grandmother as her one day. So here’s to making every moment count, spreading love and happiness, and being the best possible version of yourself 🙂

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