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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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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Why forcing yourself to converse is so important…

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I’ll just come right out and say it; my natural instinct is to run and hide, turn completely inwards and build things up in my mind. I’m not a natural conversationalist by any means, in fact a comfortable silence with loved ones is something I really enjoy. If someone invites me to a social gathering, I usually worry about the fact I’ll have to engage in small chat with strangers, something I assume poking needles in your eyes would feel like. I’m expected to be courteous, charming and interested while pushing down the screaming introvert within, and sometimes it’s just easier to decline. But at what cost to my growth and development as a human?

I have a girlfriend who calls me nearly every day for a chat, and every single time the phone rings my gut instinct is to not pick it up. Why? What the hell is wrong with me? Even though 9 times out of 10 I’ll feel better after chatting to her, bouncing ideas around and venting about life, I just can’t seem to learn. It’s incredibly frustrating and something I’m acknowledging right here and now that I’m committing to working on. I don’t expect to become a public speaker or the next biggest socialite, but I do hope to stop associating conversations with an ingrained flight response.

I assume this preference of mine was developed over the years from being an only child until I was 10, and from living mostly with my grandparents who aren’t big talkers either. Dinner was usually a silent affair over the 6pm news so my Pop could hear the stories of the day, and discussing your issues in any great depth was something not really done. If anything scandalous happened within the family it was conveyed in hushed whispers, so I suppose I’ve developed an intuitive response to internalise my feelings, or turn to diary (and blog) writing. I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with this, however if I should start a family of my own one day I’ll certainly be more conscious of these behaviours and encourage open discussion.

Would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions on how I can improve this tendency of mine… And hoping you have a great week 🙂

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Photo credits – rsa_mextures & yuugi83

My best friend is a dog, and I couldn’t be happier.

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There’s an age old saying that dogs are a man’s best friend, and I couldn’t agree more. Who needs human interaction and conversation, when there is an abundance of furry-faced creatures on earth ready to love you every single minute of every single day? I for one would be happier in a society where dogs are allowed to come grocery shopping with you (and taste test their food before you spend a fortune), or come to the hairdresser with you so you have something to pat instead of looking through trashy magazines. I know our gorgeous dachshund Audrey would love to come to the movies with me, curl up on a chair and nap in the darkness. At least I wouldn’t get judged for going alone seeing as I have approximately one friend left in my hometown at the moment, a new mum who doesn’t really have much time for nights at the cinema.

Seriously though – on my days off when someone asks me what I’ve got planned, the answer is usually ‘Oh I’ll just be hanging out with the puppy.’ This normally involves a sleep in and snuggles, lots of licking (on her behalf), lots of tickling (on my behalf), and generally just staring at each other wondering what the other is thinking. Then we’ll have a cup of tea under a blanket on the couch, typically followed by a mid-morning nap. Afternoons are usually spent together down at the beach jogging, looking for interesting shells and just enjoying the fresh air. Sunsets with her at the beach will forever hold a special place in my heart, both of us happy and content in the moment. Once a week or so I’ll subject the poor darling to a warm shower and shampoo so she doesn’t get too sandy, and even though she appears to hate it, I’m positive she’s thankful for feeling fresh once she’s dried off.

I honestly don’t care if it’s not normal to hang out with a dog so much or spend so much time thinking about them. It’s hardly an effort to ensure she has a happy life, in comparison to the joy she’s given me. On days where I literally don’t feel like talking to anyone, I’ll just lay in bed with her kissing her warm little belly and that’s about as comforting as life can get. I don’t think much compares to the endless amount of love that dogs can bring to your life, and when you get home and see their tails shaking around with pure joy – that’s precious.

” A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose ”

(Tom Wilson).

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Photo credits – anthropologie & folkgreen

Family… That crazy, chaotic carnival ride. 

When I think about family, I think about what a wild ride it is that we’re thrown on, with no choice in the matter and no escape in sight. By sheer luck (or in many cases, misfortune), we’re lumped together with this random assortment of people, of clashing personalities and mood swings. The majority of us are genetically linked in some way, but then there’s the half siblings, step siblings, step parents and so on. It’s a melting pot of diversity, choices, journeys and above all – love. 

It breaks my heart when I think of a close friend of mine, whose recently had a falling out with her family. She has her own reasons and nobody can fully understand that but her and those involved, but I do hope they can work it out and rebuild some kind of relationship. You see, there’s only 3 of them in the ‘immediate’ family which I think is what scares me the most – there’s no backup. Sometimes I think I’ve taken my large family for granted. If one were to suddenly pass away, I’d feel secure in the knowledge that we would all get each other through it. But family isn’t a numbers game. Every individual person matters and contributes something, whether that be small or large. The dynamics exist because of our interwoven stories, and those dynamics are constantly changing. Someone leaves, someone is introduced. The story goes on no matter who is left filling the chapters, and the memories last even longer. 

After my family road trip this weekend I’m feeling very blessed. We’re a tight bunch, and while there might be times of tension and times of laughter, I can sleep soundly at night knowing that no matter what – they’ll be there for me through thick and thin. There’s just some things you can’t rely on your friends for, or perhaps don’t want to involve them in. For this reason I think we should all express our gratitude on a daily basis, and make sure our loved ones know it. These are the people who see you at your worst, but don’t think any worse of you. They know you inside out even if you don’t believe it, and hold a little piece of your heart in theirs. 

So take a moment to count your blessings today, and tell your family how much they mean to you 🙂 

Photo credits – winterwillneverend & hannahargyle 

Why am I so uncomfortable about being in a hospital? 

I’m sitting here in a blandly furnished, freezing room watching my mother sleep in her hospital bed. Nurses, doctors and trainees keep bursting in every 15 minutes to fiddle with cords, take notes and speak in riddles so we actually have no idea what’s going on or who is running this show. The constant noise of beeping, machinery, phone calls and trolleys wheeling by in the hallway means no rest for anybody. How is one meant to recover here? Sleep is a powerful restorative tool yet my mother is being denied this essential part of life. I’m frustrated and maybe just a little scared. 

When a loved one is taken to hospital for whatever reason, every stupid little thing you were worrying about ceases to exist. That person who you thought you offended? Who cares. What are you going to eat for dinner? Toast and baked beans will do. What am I going to do tomorrow? Let’s just make it through today. Survival, comfort and care kicks in and you drop everything to make sure this person is ok, and that they know you’re there for them. As I packed her bag last night with essentials and favourite items, I realised how useless these things were. After all in a hospital you’d expect to have access to everything you need to survive. But there’s a lot more to life than simply being able to breathe. That book she was reading, her favourite pyjamas, her toothbrush… these everyday objects become sources of comfort in times of need. Anything that reminds us of home must play some role in the healing process, in my opinion anyway. 

As I sit here wrapped in a blanket, watching my mother sleep I’m suddenly aware of the fragility of life. When your body is hooked up to needles and machines, it really hits home that we aren’t here for long and we’re certainly not made of steel. Everything about this place is foreign to me. The sharp smell of sanitisation is an assault on the senses, the bright lights make you feel crazy and the hushed whispers only increase the displacement. I want her to come home. 

Of course, I am grateful for the caring staff. It takes strong minded people to work in this environment, where worried family members and constant double checking must be the norm. I just want everything to be ok and I am sick of waiting, but I need to remember – this isn’t about what I want or need. This is about my mother. And so I will sit here, all day and all night if I must. Because family is all we have at the end of the day, and for that my love has no limits. 

Photo credits – rsa_vsco & rsa_mextures

Does anyone really know the true meaning of Easter anymore?

 

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I for one, have definitely forgotten what the history of Easter is all about despite it being drilled into my head during 12 years of Catholic schooling. I know it’s something to do with Jesus, Good Friday and his rising from the dead… but that’s about as much as I can recall. Does it really matter though, I’m wondering? I did try and give up something for Lent (Pizza – lasting about 2 weeks), and I’m not smashing chocolate down my throat at any given chance (just the daily Connoisseur ice cream – amazing range of flavours and really worth a try). So I suppose I’m doing okay in the grand scheme of things. What’s it all about anyway?

To me, it’s a time of reflection. It’s now 4 months into the new year, and most of us are sitting here wondering how the hell it got to April when it was Christmas like 5 days ago? I don’t know if it’s just me, but time seriously keeps getting faster and faster. Regardless, we’ve had 4 months to hone our new year resolutions – whatever they may be. By now we have realised what works and what doesn’t, what was probably an unrealistic goal, and what we can aim to achieve in 2018 (which is just around the corner at the rate things are going). I actually saw a Christmas party package online the other day for a hotel. WTF!? Give us a chance to get over the hangover and pork-induced coma of Christmas 2016 for God’s sake!

It’s also a time for hanging out with the family like we’re all best mates and everything is La-di-da. I say this after being yelled at by my mother for stealing her clothes yet again (well really, if you’re going to have a baby at the age of 19 what can you expect? I’ll have those Lorna Jane pants thanks). Everyone at my house is currently having an afternoon nap after a big feed of nachos, then we’re taking the dachshund down to the beach so she can get mocked by all the gigantic dogs as she waddles her little legs around. SO DARN CUTE.

Anyways, I do hope that everyone celebrates the long weekend in whatever fashion suits them. Breathe, exhale, and appreciate the lovely in-between-seasons weather, because soon it will be Christmas again and we’ll be chucking a prawn on the barbie (for those of us in Australia at least).

“Hedwig didn’t return until the end of the Easter holidays. Percy’s letter was enclosed in a package of Easter eggs that Mrs. Weasley had sent. Both Harry’s and Ron’s were the size of dragon eggs, and full of home-made toffee. Hermione’s, however, was smaller than a chicken’s egg. Her face fell when she saw it.
“Your mum doesn’t read Witch’s Weekly, by any chance, does she, Ron?” she asked quietly.
“Yeah,” said Ron, whose mouth was full of toffee. “Gets it for the recipes.”
Hermione looked sadly at her tiny egg.” (J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). 

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Photo credits – roundrockfarm & babyanimalstagram