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Reflections… How one year can change your world.

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I got a chill this morning realising the date; October 15th. On October 15th exactly one year ago I had a sleepless night, plagued with dread over what the morning would bring – that torturous walk to work, each step bringing me closer to my personal hell on earth. A million new emails to deal with, meetings to force myself to smile through, two-faced people with vindictive agendas, the constant phone calls and demands, endless paperwork…. It makes me sick just thinking about it. On October 15th in the wee hours of the morning as I lay there waiting for the darkness to lift, I decided enough was enough. My body had been letting me know for months that this level of stress was not manageable, but I’d ignored the signs. I’d ignored the increasingly tight chest, the pounding heart, the constant headaches and stomach cramps, the shaking hands and the dizziness. Until something finally snapped inside me on October 15th, and I quit my job. I quit something I’d moved city for, gone to University for, and made sacrifices for. And I’ve never looked back.

Well, something like that. To say I’ve never looked back would be somewhat of a lie, as I eventually did have to look back in order to move forward. To say I was naïve in thinking my sudden freedom would equal happiness would be a bit of an understatement. Sure, I had an immense pressure lifted off my shoulders. I had nobody to answer to, no where to be and no obligations. Unless you’re either very wealthy or very lazy though, there’s only so much time for ‘freedom’ that is realistically achievable. After the initial luxury and glimmer wears off, you notice a small yearning to belong creeping up on you once more. Apart from actually needing to earn some money to survive, you start wanting to be part of a team again. To rebuild yourself up and achieve something. So here I find myself exactly a year later, part of a great team in the town I grew up in. My family, boyfriend, animals and the beach (all the important things in my life), are within a stones throw away and I couldn’t be more content.

To say it hasn’t been hard work to get here would be a lie, because the first 6 months after I quit that job were really low. Some days I struggled just to function. Normal things like cooking breakfast, going grocery shopping and talking on the phone became these mammoth tasks to me. I actually had to mentally prepare myself for the tiniest of activities, things we do on a regular basis with no second thought. My anxiety levels were completely ruining my life and I felt like hiding in bed all day in the darkness, somewhere I felt safe. But that’s no way to live and I committed myself to getting better, day by day, with no time frame in mind. And I did. Slowly – very slowly, I noticed myself thinking less and less about my anxiety, something that used to be on my mind 24/7. I’d catch myself doing simple things like driving across a bridge or going to an appointment without panicking, something that felt like a huge achievement in my eyes. Spending time with the 3 cats and puppy in our family, long walks on the beach, meditating, movie nights with my step dad and cooking with my nana – simple, small things – literally were my God send. I’d been missing out on all these things and didn’t realise how desperately I’d craved this normalcy, this break from the rat race of living in the city and working in a corporate environment.

Some people know what works for them early on in life, whereas some go through struggles to eventually find their peace. I don’t know where I’ll be one year from now, but I’m grateful every day to be here. Because right here, right now, I’m okay.

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Underneath, it’s all the Same Love.

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I sincerely hope that any Australian’s who have voted ‘No’ in the Australian Marriage Postal Survey, are feeling ashamed. I hope that last night as we watched the NRL pledge their support for Same Sex Marriage at the Grand Final in Sydney, that those people who voted No were squirming in their chairs. Watching the performance of ‘Same Love’ by Macklemore at last night’s final, I was covered in goose bumps and moved to tears. As the screens around the stadium pledged messages of support, rainbow coloured smoke covered the stage and children danced, I couldn’t help but feel an upsurge of emotion. If one of the most influential and ‘macho’ organisations in Australia, the NRL, could pledge their support for same sex marriage, then what the hell is wrong with the rest of you?

As a straight person, I realise I don’t have as much reason to fight for equality as those that this law will actually affect, but I certainly am proud to support Same Love. Having made countless homosexual friends over my lifetime, the majority of which are in long, loving relationships, I do feel a certain responsibility to fight with AND for them. Why the hell shouldn’t they have the same rights as me? Why do I have the privilege of being able to stand in front of my family and friends and make an ‘official’ commitment to my loved one, and they do not? How are my relationships and those of my other straight friends any more important than those of my gay friends? The fact that we even need to pledge our support and debate this as a nation is just a ridiculous embarrassment, based on archaic scriptures about marriage being between a ‘man and a woman’. This is 20-fucking-17! Wake up and smell the roses.

If your son or daughter committed suicide because of their feelings towards someone of the same gender, and what that means in society, then that’s a crying shame. But that is the reality of it. People are actually KILLING themselves over this issue…. let that sink in for a second.

We all know that when we develop feelings for someone, 99% of the time there is nothing we can do about it. Feelings are not something we have any control over. They are unexplained, magical moments in time where we are inexplicably drawn to another person, be it a man or a woman. We simply don’t get to decide who we fall in love with, and in a progressive first world country like Australia where freedom, opportunities and rights are abundant, this same sex marriage debate is simply a national disgrace. I understand that people may not have had much exposure to those in same sex relationships, and therefore may not understand how exceedingly NORMAL they are – in fact they are just like you and I. They wake up, go to work, have hobbies, win awards and take their dogs to the beach. They just happen to like people of the same gender. SHOCK! HORROR! SIRENS IN THE DISTANCE! Seriously, why should we even bat an eyelid to that?

To the people who voted No, shame on you.

On losing yourself in a relationship…

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Having just gotten into my first serious relationship – something I literally can’t stop grinning about, I can’t help but feel a little wary of losing my identity and interests amid the excitement of wanting to hang out with this person ALL the time. I’m sure everyone who has transitioned from single life into the dating phase and then ‘made it official’, has gone through similar concerns. You’ve suddenly gone from spending all your weekends with family (and having deep and meaningful sessions with your pets), to wondering what those other people in your life are up to because you’ve been so busy with this new person. So many places to see! So many cafes to try! I know…. I sound like an ungrateful brat. OF COURSE, I’m completely stoked to actually have someone to do things with (and snuggles are what life is made for)… all I’m saying is I don’t want to lose myself, which is apparently pretty easy to do.

I’ve seen it happen to friends and colleagues time and time again. They get a boyfriend or girlfriend, and suddenly they’re spending every second night together and then weekends too. It’s all they can talk about, they literally don’t care about anything else that’s going on in other peoples lives let alone the world, and they can’t go anywhere without bringing their new boo. It’s exhausting trying to have a conversation with someone in a new relationship, because no matter what the subject they will always find a way to relate it to their person of interest. And believe me, I GET IT. New relationships are insanely exciting –  they’re a mixture of nerves, emotions, thrills, adventures and more. It’s a chance for you to relate to someone on a deeper level than your friends and family, and that human connection is something we all crave. I want someone to hold my hand when I’m scared or upset, to make me a coffee when I’m tired, and to surprise me with little gestures. I want to do the same in return for my special someone, but I also want to be the best version of myself for a healthy relationship to work – and that involves taking some me time.

So while I can’t wait to see my boyfriend again (it feels so weird saying that), I’m going to make sure that I’m also paying myself some respect by doing the things that I love to do. Going down to the beach for a coffee with my dog, reading a book and listening to my favourite music – these are the small things that keep us sane. Whatever your interests may be, remember that before you became part of a relationship – you were a living, breathing individual. You had thoughts, friends, family and dreams. Don’t let them go! Nothing in life is certain, and at the end of the day we’ve got to be strong for ourselves  🙂

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Photo credits – rose_and_heart & visualambassadors

Happiness is infectious, so let it happen.

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There’s no other way to explain what this feeling is inside me, this slow building train of excitement and nerves (but mostly excitement), other than a feeling of contentment and dare I say it – happiness. I’m almost scared to write this post because I don’t want to jinx myself, or for something bad to happen and for me to swallow my words. But I just can’t deny it – for the first time in a long time I’m feeling really positive, and it’s a wonderful feeling.

I was just catching up with friends a few weeks ago in my old city, people I hadn’t seen in about 9 months. Understandably I was a little apprehensive going into my catch up – what would they think of me, would we pick up where we left off, and a million other questions running through my head. Of course upon seeing them all these stupid doubts and questions went out the door as we hugged and grinned like puppies, exchanging hello’s and stories from the year that has been. In that moment I was genuinely happy… it was written all over me. One friend even took a secret video of me smiling and chatting away, and showed me later. I almost didn’t recognise the happy person in that video, and I was blown away by how far I’ve come in the past few months.

To say it’s been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. It’s been a slow moving horse and cart at times, and a speed boat at others. It’s been one step forward and two steps back, then three steps forward when I sometimes wasn’t ready. It’s been hours on the floor just trying to steady my breathing, and hours on the beach embracing the sunshine. It’s been days in hiding, avoiding phone calls, and weeks of loneliness. It’s been endless moments of joy with my puppy, and heart wrenching guilt when I leave her. It’s been me, pouring my heart out into words on this blog. Not wanting any validation or praise, just a space where I can express myself easily. This is me, and I don’t care whether you like it or not.

Thank you to my amazing support network of family, friends and animals for your endless love. We all need someone to hold our hand from time to time, and there’s no shame in reaching out. The only person you’re harming is yourself if you choose to ride the wave alone – just remember, we’re all in this together 🙂

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Photo credits – abeautifulmess & ourcolourdays

Introversion and dinner parties; a recipe for disaster.

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As some of you may know I’ve written about my struggles with anxiety and introversion before, but today I’d like to touch on the nightmare of the dinner party. Upon invitation to a meal out, most people would look forward to it with a normal level of interest and excitement. Who doesn’t love wine, food and good conversation? This week I had to attend a going away dinner party for a girl from work, which was all fine and good – I was actually looking forward to catching up with my colleagues after almost 3 weeks away. Of course, I didn’t bank on people from higher management coming along – disappointing to say the least. Now we have to watch what we say and be on our best behaviour! Nobody enjoys dining with the big bosses, let’s be honest.

As I walked in and spotted that I was the first person there not in a ‘management’ type role, I immediately crawled into my shell. Excusing myself to the bathroom, I cursed myself for always having to be early to EVERYTHING. See, being early means you have to make awkward small chat as you wait for all the people who clearly have better things to do than be on time. I’ve actually never been able to understand people who are late, don’t they feel stressed that others are waiting for them? I cannot stand running late, so it seems I’ve committed myself to a life of being early and hiding in the toilet waiting for others to arrive. First world problems hey?

So moving on to the dinner party, and I sit myself on the end corner where I (hopefully) won’t have to talk to management or be put on the spot. WRONG. It seems the only thing Mr ______ knows about me is that I have a blog, which he likes to ask me about at every possible opportunity. So why not ask me about it in front of the entire table? What people don’t understand is that I’m not writing this blog to become famous, and I definitely don’t want to explain what I write about to a group of people I only know on a work basis when my blog is something really, really personal to me. I mean if you’re that interested, ask me what it’s called and google it or better yet – look at my resume or LinkedIn profile and you’ll find it. So as I slowly die under the spotlight of people waiting to hear what I write about, I spit out some random shit like ‘Oh you know, just life and Bali Belly etc’. CRINGE. KILL ME NOW. Somebody please take the microphone and close the curtains.

Thank god the cake arrives and we can stuff our faces, complain about how full we are and pay the bill. Home time!

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Photo credits – thepinkstagram & travelerspassion

After wanderlust, comes a yearning for home.

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I’m sitting here rugged up in bed, having just returned home from a trip to Indonesia. It’s been 6 days since I landed back in Australia and I’m still completely exhausted… in fact I could quite easily sleep all day. I can honestly say though that I had the most amazing time in Bali and can’t wait to go back, one day. But for now – the comfort, routine and normality of being home is all I’m craving. Does anyone else feel the same? Yes, travel is awesome. Seeing new things, tasting exotic foods and pushing your boundaries is wonderful for self-growth and certainly broadens your mind, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of touching back down in your home country.

I realise I might sound like a boring old sod writing this, and maybe I do have some more boundary pushing to do in life. I’ve never been one of those people excited by the thought of back-packing or travelling for months on end, living on the road and not knowing where their next cup of tea is coming from. Call me narrow-minded or whatever you like, but some of us just like the simple things in life – a hot shower, clean underwear and comfortable bed. I tried the hostel thing last year in San Francisco and absolutely hated it. Sharing a bunk bed with complete strangers, everyone bothering the others with their noises and travel schedules, having to constantly lock your items up… not my idea of a good time. So many of my friends though have absolutely loved their hostel experiences, and I suppose I would have enjoyed it more had I not been travelling on my own. Sharing moments and adventures with friends is considerably more enjoyable than having to ask strangers to take your picture, but I did make the most of it.

As I sit here looking back at all my great pictures from Bali, I can’t help but smile. I’m proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things – snorkelling in the open ocean, getting on a scooter (probably just stupid, but none the less fun), getting my feet sucked by tiny little fish… these are the memories that will stick with me for a lifetime. Yes, my body now feels like it’s been hit by a train. Bali Belly, the flu and jet lag have all hit me in the past fortnight and I’m looking forward to the day I bounce out of bed with energy. For now though, I’ll light a candle, boil the kettle and rest my weary head. Until next time, wanderlust.

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Photo credits – pr0ject_uno & bohodestiny

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 😊