Death, the community and life.

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Yesterday I took my Nana to a funeral, not only because I didn’t want her to attend alone, but because I wanted to do the right thing and pay my respects to both the fallen and her family. Not to compare anyone’s departure from this life as less significant than another’s, but this was a lady whose sudden passing sent shockwaves through the small community we call home. St Francis Xavier Church was packed to capacity in what could only be described as an outpouring of both grief and love, from everyone this woman had touched in her lifetime. From the immediate family and friends, to the students whom she had taught to respect the ivory keys of her first love – piano, to people like my Nana who simply knew her as a lady in her swimming class, the feeling in this house of God was palpable.

As I sat there listening to her children condense their mother’s life story into a heart warming yet brief tale, I felt oddly surreal. Standing before me were clearly devastated people, trying to come to terms with the completely unexpected exit of their mother. How do you go to sleep one day and wake up the next without your parent? How do you put aside all those dreams of introducing your own children one day to your mother? How do you suddenly go from being able to call her for advice from anything to cooking, washing and shitty colleagues, to having to pause for a second and wonder who you can call instead? These children of hers were incredible, having the strength to stand there in front of a packed Church and recount happy memories of times with their mother. Put aside their grief and try, try so hard to focus on the positives. It really made me stop and think about the uncertainty of life, and how important it is to cherish all those small insignificant moments. The nights spent inside cooking, laughing together and sharing a bottle of wine. The moments of frustration when you stub your toe, or your puppy chews another shoe. This is life, every single day that passes we are another step closer to our own exit from the world, and I sure as hell don’t want to miss a thing.

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Happiness, a double-edged sword.

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I’m so happy right now (well not literally right now – I’ve got a mild headache and would rather be in bed), but figuratively, in my life right now – I’m happy. Claps from the audience! You did it girl! Well yes, yes and thank you. But happiness is terrifying! It could all come undone at any moment, life could suddenly turn upside down and then what would I do?

Shhh girl, that’s just the anxiety talking.

This week though I was thrown a curveball by one of my Nana’s friends passing away, a lady who was only in her 60’s with a huge family, massive impact on the community and strong involvement in schools and the music scene in my hometown. It was just so sudden, shocking and final. Death is something I’ve been fairly fortunate to avoid thus far in my life, and I’m so thankful for that. I know I will have my fair share in the future, and it scares the shit out of me. How will I react? Where will I be? Who will I lean on for support? I play these questions out in my mind constantly, like I can somehow control the outcome if I think about it enough. How stupid. If anything, it’s given me a huge kick up the bum to stop worrying about the little things, and spend valuable time with my family.

On a lighter note, would you like to know why I’m happy? It’s because I’m done living in the shadows of fear and worry. I’m done working in a red-tape environment where I can’t be myself or let my talents shine. I feel like I’ve finally found my voice, and I’m so excited. In two weeks I’ll be starting a new role as Marketing and Communications Officer at redhotblue Creative Agency, a role which will allow me to do everything I enjoy – writing, events, brainstorming crazy ideas… the list goes on. I just can’t wait to get started and throw myself into creative projects, where I can finally channel all these wacky ideas in my head into something tangible. The past 12 months have gone so fast, in a series of fantastic holidays with my wonderful boyfriend (and even more fantastic nights in, cooking and drinking red wine). The birth of my beautiful dachshund Charlotte and the chaos of raising a puppy. Family, friends and laughter. I feel like now is my time, and I’ve never been more ready.

Cheers to that 🙂

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Finding stillness in the chaos.

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Today I took a moment in time to just sit on a log at the beach, with my dog, and breathe. Soaking in the sunshine, listening to the waves, touching the soft sand with my toes and inhaling that fresh, salty air. I could only steal a moment in time to myself amongst what has been a chaotic few weeks, but that moment was a simple re-fresh for the soul. With our litter of puppies turning 5 weeks old today, it’s an understatement to say things have been absolutely exhausting. You think raising one puppy is enough? Try 5 times the amount of poo and wee to clean up, 5 times the mouths to feed, but I won’t deny it – 5 times the love. It has been tiring, smelly and sleepless, but overall – amazing – and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve been wearing myself pretty thin lately and that strain has shown in my relationships with family, friends and colleagues. I would love to spend all day with my Nana and Pop like I used to, reading the paper, making endless cups of tea and chatting about the weather, but I simply don’t have the time. I would love to actually want to catch up with friends and feel that yearning for a get together, but as it happens now I’m always completely exhausted and running on fumes. I’d also love to be a more present girlfriend, but I’m on a constant cycle of cooking, washing clothes and doing the dishes. SIGH. Do I just sound like every normal person trying to fit their personal life around their work life while still getting enough sleep, exercise and healthy food in? I seriously don’t know how people do it… and I don’t even have children yet!

So from this day onward, I’m going to look at ways of reducing the clutter and chaos in my life so I can have more moments in time like today at the beach. I don’t want to be running around only offering an exhausted and less-than-enthusiastic version of myself to the world. I want to feel energised, excited, and present. I know the simple things often make us the happiest – a home cooked meal with fresh herbs, an afternoon walk through the park, or a good book. Yes, I know this, but am I taking the time to appreciate? I think we can all aim to do a little better and practise the mantra ‘less is more’. Who would agree?

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Look after yourself first, and everything else will fall into place.

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I’ve just ordered what looks to be a fantastic memoir about a lawyer in New York who had a psychotic breakdown, convinced himself his life was being filmed as part of a TV show, and his subsequent journey through mental health rehabilitation (Gorilla and the Bird):

Book Trailer & Media

Why would I order such a book you might ask? Wouldn’t my usual taste for unsolved murder mysteries and espionage be enough? Well, I was incredibly moved by an excerpt from this mans memoir, as it was a startling reminder of how close I had become to being in the same position. When you’re experiencing various stressors in life and not taking control of anything, you very rapidly find yourself going from ‘busy’ to ‘on the brink of crazy’, and only significant changes to your lifestyle will get you back on track.

While I haven’t read the full memoir yet, I did gain an insight into this mans descent into what can only be described as hell on earth. Trying to reason with yourself when you’re not mentally healthy is hard enough, let alone trying to explain how you’re feeling to family and friends. All you want to do is hide in bed in a dark room, close your eyes and never have to face the world again. Every single thing – whether it’s cooking a meal, going for a drive or walking into an appointment, gives you anxiety and seems like a mammoth effort. I remember trying to stay calm in the middle of a shopping centre, focusing on moving one leg at a time until I was out in the fresh air. When you’re in the beginning stages of a panic attack, every single sound is amplified and makes the whole experience 10 times worse. Imagine you’re inside a water bottle, being tossed around a violent ocean… you’re dizzy, disorientated and terrified. Yep, I never want to go back to the dark place I was in for months – but what I do know is that change is possible, and you can regain your footing on the earth.

Hoping you all have a great week and find something to smile about 🙂

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Puppies, chocolate and red wine. And so this is Easter…

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Well how on earth did we make it through a quarter of the year in what seemed like the blink of an eye? I don’t even think I’ve gotten over my hangover from New Year’s yet and I’ve managed to fly down to Brisbane and Byron Bay, squeeze in a night or 2 in the Whitsunday’s, move in with the boyfriend, break my little toe, watch my herb garden blossom, and most importantly help my beautiful Dachshund give birth to 5 new puppies just in time for Easter! BREATHE. JUST BREATHE.

Or should I say more red wine please? No seriously, ever since returning from the Margaret River wine region in November it’s all I can drink. I won’t even look at whites, spirits, liqueurs, or cocktails. Red, Red Wine, thank you and good night.

Okay back to the puppies… Because seriously, what’s more ‘Easter’ appropriate than celebrating new life? In what was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had thus far, I had the privilege of assisting our darling Audrey push out 3 baby girls, and 2 handsome boys from 1am to 5am on Sunday March 25th. And in even more important news, I’m keeping one! After seeing little Charlotte hanging out of her mum in the birthing sac for an hour, worrying that all the blood pooling in this sac was surely going to result in a stillborn, I finally got to see her take those first breaths and felt an immediate connection. Holding something so precious and fragile in your bare hand, watching it squeak, wriggle and stretch is just incredible. This is what it’s all about. Birth, love and life.

Time has honestly just flown by these past 3 months, and I’m suddenly finding myself asking ‘What am I doing?’. I’ve been living in my hometown now for nearly 18 months surrounded by family, I’ve got a lovely boyfriend who has let me into his home (with all of my candles, shells and Balinese hangers), and I’ve made some new friends through work. I couldn’t be more happier, and it’s such a vast comparison to this time a year ago when I was just starting a new job, filled with daily anxiety and depression, struggling to forgive myself for packing it in and moving home. I now know there’s absolutely no shame in saying enough is enough, and when one door closes… well you know the rest. The one thing I’m looking forward to this year is working on my writing and creative outlets, as I’ve definitely let this slide lately. Things like doing the dishes and catching up on sleep have taken precedence over the things I enjoy, and there’s no time like the present to get back on track.

Hoping you all have a wonderful Easter filled with family, loved ones and a little indulgence 🙂

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Keep it simple, stupid.

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Many of you would have heard this statement here and there throughout life, applied to a whole variety of situations. But have you ever stopped for a second to think about what it actually means? Apparently the original ‘KISS’ acronym was used as a principal in the U.S. Army for reducing complicated systems to more simple designs. Makes sense right? So instead of getting bogged down in the pointless worries we face in our day to day lives – how about we start keeping it simple, stupid.

Yesterday I had what we like to refer to in the Western World as a ‘sickie’ (although I prefer to say ‘mental health day’). To be fair, I was actually hitting a wall with flu symptoms and complete exhaustion, and spent most of the day going between my bed and the couch for naps with my puppy. Sometimes a day off from all obligations and people is a complete saviour, not only for your physical health but just as importantly for your state of mind. Today I’m feeling a thousand times better, but I’ve still kept it simple. A short walk on the beach followed by a coffee while I watered the plants, and now I’m sitting here writing in a cool breeze. In hindsight though, letting myself get to that point of exhaustion where I needed to call in sick was not healthy, and that’s because I wasn’t keeping it simple at all.

Last week in between working a shift based roster, I was also house-sitting for 2 dogs, attended my first yoga class in a few years, had a pretty painful acupuncture session, was trying to cook healthy and keep up to date with the TV show I was hooked on, all while trying to be ‘present’ in my relationship for a boyfriend who is only home 2 weeks a month. To put it simply, I was wrecked. I was mentally drained, physically aching, and could have quite easily slept for a week. So is it any wonder that come Sunday night at work, I went through a box of tissues and no joke sneezed at least 200 times? Why do we continue to drive ourselves into the ground with over-commitments and an unhealthy obsession with technology, when we should be focused on lifestyle choices that keep us nourished and energised?

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Healthy eating
  • Learning new things
  • Travel
  • Creativity

These are the things that matter to me, and I’m making a promise to myself to remember just one thing…

Keep it simple, stupid.

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Photo credits – theportraitpr0ject & ubudhood

Why does nostalgia give us the warm and fuzzies?

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You hear it now and again, that funny saying ‘Everything old is new again’… So what does it actually mean? For tangible things like fashion, music and décor it obviously references the continuous cycle that we go through as a society, with ‘trends’ coming and going through the decades. A social media ‘influencer’ will wear a 70’s style outfit and low and behold, every 16-24 year old is suddenly dressing like Stevie Nicks and taking up smoking. For futuristic thinkers caught up in a tech bubble lifestyle, there’s no time for the past. For me personally, I think it’s a beautiful thing to look backwards – as long as you know when it’s time to come home.

I could easily spend my weekends wandering through Antique markets, imagining the lives of all the people who have parted ways with their little trinkets, velvet couches and wooden stools. How many cups of tea were shared amongst these porcelain sets? How many bedtime stories were told across these fading books? How many loved ones were lost? The feeling of nostalgia one gets while surrounded by memories, objects and things is hard to describe. It’s like a warm bath, a long awaited hug, or a roast meal. It’s a sense of comfort, contentment and appreciation. It’s a moment to be grateful for, and a moment to just BE in. No distractions, no emails to answer, and nobody waiting on you.

Every time my Nana has a garage sale I shed a silent tear for the things she’s giving away. For the Encyclopaedia’s I grew up looking at, now gathering dust on the shelves. For the bright orange containers, green vases and cane chairs. For everything that was my childhood, and hers, that will now be someone else’s. But I guess that’s the beauty of it – what’s old is new again. Objects are funny things – they go from family to family, house to house, all the while remaining the same (with a little wear and tear), while people change and move on. I look forward to the day where I can pass on items from my childhood to my own grandchildren, and explain the history behind them. While they might not completely understand, I hope I can transport them there for just a moment. For now though, I hope to live more presently in the now and appreciate what time I have.

“How could she feel nostalgia when he was right in front of her? How can you suffer from the absence of a person who is present?

You can suffer nostalgia in the presence of the beloved if you glimpse a future where the beloved is no more”
Milan Kundera

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Photo credits – bryanadamc & theseafiles