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 

The chapters of life; A tale of many parts.

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As we transition into a new season full of cool breezes, morning coffee’s and afternoon reflections, I smile and remind myself that this too shall pass. Like the chapters in a book, life is an intricate weaving of stories… of characters coming and going, some fading into the distance like a long forgotten dream, and some remaining till the very end.

I suppose whenever you go through periods of transition, it’s a very definite closing of a certain chapter of your life – I suppose those times are always going to be both very upsetting and also very exciting by their very nature, because things are changing and you don’t know what’s going to happen. (Daniel Radcliffe).

 As I sit here writing this blog, thinking about how far I’ve come in the last few months in creating my new chapter and escaping from the last, I must remember that all our chapters – both the good and the bad, carry meaning and lessons in this crazy journey of life. I can’t simply erase one chapter because I didn’t like it, or because the memories and wounds still ache from time to time. We are the sum of all our parts, and each experience makes us a better person – this is something I do firmly believe.

Embarking on new career opportunities has given me fresh hope… that I will find something that makes me leap out of bed in the morning and feel proud of, work that actually helps people and has a positive impact on their lives. For too long I slaved under the protocols of a soul-less money making wheel, just another number in the game. I’d turn up to work feeling like a zombie, carrying out mind-numbing tasks with zero enthusiasm and judging the people who cared about this job. Didn’t they want some real satisfaction from a career? Didn’t they want to help less fortunate people, or work in a creative and stimulating environment? Well the truth is, I shouldn’t have been worrying about what other people wanted from life – everyone is completely different and NOBODY can or should be told what to do. My only regret is that it took me so long to get out of that rut, but now that I’m free and feeling the sun shine on my face once more, I can appreciate how this chapter has made me stronger, wiser and ready for the next.

So as I sit here listening to the gentle rustle of wind passing through the trees, smelling the fresh cake my Nana is baking and sipping a warm mug of tea, I’m filled with a sudden rush of butterflies to the stomach. Excitement, wonder and appreciation for life’s chapters are something that evaded me for most of last year, and I couldn’t be more happy to be seeing the world in colours once more 🙂

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Photo credits – folk_boy & anthropologie

Choosing yourself: Thoughts on being the most authentic you, every day.

 

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We here it time and time again; ‘be yourself’, ‘don’t follow the crowd’, and ‘think outside of the box’. While this is all well and good, sometimes it can be hard figuring out who our authentic selves really are, from a lifetime of learning to conform to certain behaviours and activities. We go through school in a regimented fashion, each having to learn the same things in the same way, and sit the same exams, even though numerous studies have shown we all learn in different ways. Some people can grasp something from pure theory alone, some need to engage in the practise time and time again to get the hang of it. Some people prefer group learning and team activities, while some people cope better with minimal engagement and more quiet time. We’re told to express ourselves and be original, but at the same time we’re expected to follow societal norms and fit in. No wonder it’s confusing and most of us are completely lost as to our true callings in life!

As someone who has recently resigned from working in a large international company, where regimented procedures and red tape was a constant barrier to creativity, I know first hand how frustrating this can be. How can we come up with unique and exciting ideas when they have to pass through various tiers of management to get approved, and then need to be dulled down so as not to appear ‘risky’ or offend people? Sure there are some benefits to working in a huge company, but in my mind the downfalls greatly outweigh the positives. Small companies have much more freedom when it comes to being creative, acting on sporadic ideas, and being flexible. Yes, they may not have the funds or backing to get them from A to B in a hurry, but I think I’d much prefer having creative input into a position than having to follow guidelines and protocol.

As the great Albert Einstein once said, ‘I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking’, I think we all need to take a leaf out of his book and stop following the crowd. Don’t worry about people judging you – 9 times out of 10 they’re just wishing they had the guts to act on their own dreams. ‘Speak your truth even if your voice shakes’, is another one I like to use because it’s so true. Yes, it’s scary putting yourself out there. You might get criticised, you might make mistakes, you might fail. BUT at least you’re doing something! It’s all trial and error on this journey and we only have the one lifetime to feed our curiosity and most importantly, be our authentic selves 🙂

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Photo credits – mimibaileyny & georgiestclair

In my own good time…

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How many times in life have friends, family or colleagues tried to get you to do something – whether it’s a new restaurant, TV show or book, or perhaps something health related or ‘for your own good’? They mean well of course, but there’s just this innate reflex in me to be stubborn and do the opposite, despite knowing deep down that they’re probably right and have my best interests at heart. So what does this say about me? That I’m only human I think, and that we each have to tread our own path, make our own mistakes, and arrive at our own conclusions.

We’ve all been there before. Someone has recommended something, a year or two later we try it… and absolutely love it. Why didn’t we do this before!? We tell our friends and family, and someone says ‘I told you to do that years ago’. Well… yes, you did. But I was stubborn (or maybe just stupid), and wanted to discover my own things. So why can’t we listen to people we actually trust to make good recommendations? I think it comes down to a silly sense of pride. WE want to be the ones to unexpectedly find trendy new cafes, or stumble across fantastic books we can’t put down. WE want to be the original source of information, and spread the word. It’s ridiculous isn’t it?

So many times I have finally started watching a new TV show from a friends suggestion, and become completely engrossed in the story line. Game of Thrones, True Blood, The Killing, Dexter, The Tudors… the list could go on forever. Had I listened to the people who knew me best, who knew what I would love, then perhaps I could have brought this enjoyment into my life a little sooner!

As I get a little older (and hopefully wiser), I intend to genuinely take on board anything my loved ones suggest to me. I do think that it’s important for us to take our own time in making positive changes to our lifestyle however, when it comes to more serious referrals. Anything health related – whether it be physical, mental or emotional, is something that we need to decide for ourselves so we aren’t filled with resentment or regrets. It is absolutely important that we genuinely listen to these suggestions, and make changes if our actions are negatively impacting anyone around us. I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you (Joyce Meyer). 

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Photo credits – vzcomacro & tuesdayswithpaulo

On picking yourself up, again.

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I’m writing this blog today because I’m feeling particularly glum. After an exhausting weekend and a crappy job interview on Friday, all I feel like doing is laying in a dark corner for a few hours. So do I listen to what my body wants, or keep on keeping on?

Life is all about the ebb and flow of the tide. There will be days where everything seems easy, breezy and carefree, and there will be days where you feel like it’s all too hard. Your emotions will go up and down, round and round. Your family and friends will drive you nuts one day, and be your life support the next. This is it – this is life and it’s not about that end destination, it’s about the wild ride in between. For so long I didn’t even notice the quote stuck on my Nana’s fridge, it was only recently that I paused to read it.

For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one (Souza). 

How utterly succinct.

I don’t know if any of my readers believe in astrology or tarot cards (and to be honest I don’t care if you think they’re ridiculous), but I follow Doreen Virtue on Instagram daily. To be more accurate – I look forward with great anticipation to her daily tarot card, and while I’m not silly enough to believe they are directed at me (she does have thousands of followers), the point of the exercise is to take the meaning behind each card and apply it to my life circumstances. In a way, I use these daily affirmations to reflect on my feelings, actions and reactions that day, and to think about ways in which I can positively manage those thoughts. I don’t think there’s anything harmful about self-reflection, as long as you don’t beat yourself up over it – use the time to benefit your own journey.

In conclusion I think when you’re feeling a bit down, do yourself a favour and listen to your body. Take some time out for yourself to breathe, decompress and compose yourself. Do whatever you need to do – whether that’s having a cup of tea, going for a run or calling your Mum. You don’t have to feel guilty about taking time out for yourself – everyone should be doing it more often so we don’t run ourselves into the ground. With that being said, I think I’ll go boil the kettle 🙂

 

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Photo credits – portraits_mf & helloemilie

Let’s just see what happens.

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It comes up time and time again – the belief that our generation has too many options for our own good. We don’t stay in jobs or even career paths long, always searching for the next big thing. We’re worried about missing out on things but can’t enjoy what we’re currently doing. We like to be ‘free’ but are told we need a plan. Sometimes, it all just gets a little too much. How was I meant to know in Grade 12 what I wanted to study and pursue for the rest of my life, without barely having any life experience? Wouldn’t it be easier if we just had to choose between being a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker?

These are the questions that I have been reflecting upon lately in trying to figure out my next move. I did the degrees, the internships and the work experience, but somehow came out on the bottom not knowing if this was enough to satisfy me until I’m grey and withered. They say that if you do what you love, then you’ll never have to work another day in your life. While that’s all great and all, how do we know what we love until we’ve tested the waters? I’m not completely in the dark here. I know I’m not built to be a pushy sales person, or an athlete. I know I like writing, expressing myself and seeing the bigger picture. I know I don’t like red tape and strict rules, I like to be flexible and believe all scenarios are different. I know I like the outdoors, but also appreciate a nice cup of tea and quiet time. Can’t I just put all these things into Google and be told what suits me best!?

Well, yes and no. Career websites do try and help you with surveys and personality tests (tried and tested INFP here according to the Myers-Briggs theory), which apparently means I like to communicate through metaphors and fictional characters.“Where INFPs will not thrive is in a high-stress, team-heavy, busy environment that burdens them with bureaucracy and tedium. INFPs need to be able to work with creativity and consideration…” Well, THAT I figured out all on my own. But where does that leave me?

This is why I’ve come home to be with my family for a while, to take a ‘gap year’ of sorts. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing – enjoying the ocean, playing with the animals, enjoying my family, reading and writing, and fingers crossed I’ll have a stroke of inspiration and know what my next step is. At the very least all I can do is try something out – as they say “When you know, you know.” Until then, happy days 🙂

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Photo credits – storyofsage & visualsofearth

The edge of something good

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Do you ever feel like you’re standing on the edge of something, some kind of adventure or next chapter but at the same time you are unsure as to what that might be? That’s my current gut feeling, and the only way I can explain it is a butterfly in the stomach ready to be unleashed but waiting for the right moment. It’s like I know my next step is just around the corner, but I’m waiting for a sign or direction before I dive headfirst.

I’m a firm believer in trusting your gut instincts, and when you feel right about something then by all means stick with it. Don’t listen to other people, don’t be swayed from your purpose (unless of course you’re planning to harm someone intentionally, then please seek medical advice ASAP). What I am talking about is your spiritual path, that whole ‘life is about the journey not the destination’ belief. You really don’t have to explain your decisions or answer to anyone when you know deep down that what you are doing is right for you, at this moment in time.

I’ve recently had some major life overhauls, quit my job and moved home to live with my family for a couple of months. I’ve left a career behind and all my friends, but I’ve never felt so sure that this is the right decision for me right now. I feel safe, loved and supported at home with my family and what’s better than that? Sometimes you just need a little down time, an escape from everything that’s become your ‘normal’. This time has allowed me to process the friendships I genuinely value, and take up hobbies that I had let die over the last few years. Not to mention the undervalued art of animal therapy that I have been indulging in since coming home, with 3 cats and a puppy around who could ever be lonely?

What I’m saying is, do what’s best for you on your individual journey in life. If you have a niggling feeling in your gut that you aren’t meant to be where you are right now, then don’t let it consume you. Do something about it! I waited too long to quit a job I hated and to get away from toxic people. I let these things take such a negative hold over my life that I suffered severe anxiety and health issues for months, and it wasn’t until I was finally free of this situation that I realised how dangerously close I had come to a mental breakdown. I’m so grateful for my beautiful family, for taking me in and loving me unconditionally.

While I know the road ahead will still be full of challenges, I feel comfortable saying to myself that I am now where I need to be in order to get better. And I don’t have to defend that choice to anyone.

Photo credit – @paulasynphoto