This Christmas, take a minute to appreciate just how lucky you are.

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As I sit here in the comfort of my air conditioned lounge room on a Friday night, having just shared a lovely meal with my Grandparents, I have to pinch myself and smile. I am so darn lucky. How can I justify complaining about silly things like feeling tired, or having to go to work, when every night I get to sleep under a roof, and every fortnight I get paid? How can I complain about being hot when at the flick of a switch I can be cool, or go and jump in a pool? (That was absolutely not meant to rhyme by the way). Point being – the little things that annoy the majority of us, are the things that some people wish they could complain about.

This Christmas I challenge you (and myself) to stop and think before you go to complain about something relatively insignificant. There are people on every street, on every block, who don’t know how they are going to afford the rent this month. Who don’t have anything to buy their children. Who don’t know what they’re going to eat on Christmas, let alone tomorrow or the next day. Yes, you’re tired. You’re probably exhausted from working hard to ensure everything is done by Christmas so you can enjoy a couple of days off. You’re probably feeling guilty about over-indulging in festive treats and after-office drinks. You’re worried that your Mum won’t like the gift you got her, or that you got the kids the wrong colour. You’re wondering when you’ll have time to walk the dog, or buy the groceries. But just STOP for a minute and appreciate how lucky you are, because you really, really are.

Every day I feel so incredibly blessed to have my grandparents still with me, to share simple moments with them and (hopefully) learn from them as well. Watching my Pop grow to love the new puppy in our life, after initially not being too interested, has been a beautiful transition to see. Every time she comes over she runs straight to Pop’s feet for a belly rub, and the love between them is hard to miss. Seeing Nana fret over her too really melts my heart. From making sure she has a little bowl of water and plate of warmed mince, to worrying over her head getting sore from the way she sleeps with it all tucked into her belly, just really makes me smile. I could complain about little things like our puppy still having accidents in the house, or barking at the postman, but in all honesty she’s been a light in my life this year. It’s the small moments that count, and seeing the magic in every day has been something that I’ve learnt to appreciate.

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”

Bob Hope. 

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Don’t sweat the small stuff… And it’s all small stuff.

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A close friend once gave me a book entitled ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.’ It’s funny how you look back on things in life and wonder why you wasted so much time stressing over little things that didn’t really matter. Of course, they mattered at the time to you, and try as we might humans haven’t mastered the art of hindsight to apply it in real time. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learnt to stress less, live in the moment and let things happen naturally. Don’t get me wrong – this method of living is still a work in progress and I get caught up in ‘small stuff’ all the time, but the point is I’m trying. And that’s all we can really do, isn’t it?

The other night after a long (and hung-over) day at work, I was looking forward to a nice sleep in a comfortable bed, snuggling my little dachshund. Naturally, things didn’t go as planned. I got home late and in addition to my little Audrey smelling like the lamb bone she had been chewing on all day, she proceeded to go to the toilet all over the fresh sheets on my bed. What did I do? I could have been really upset and annoyed at her (and trust me I was for about 5 minutes), but after seeing her sad little eyes looking at me after getting yelled at, my heart melted and I realised that it didn’t matter. The sheets could be washed, and so could she. What mattered was that we were both happy to see each other, and she felt safe and protected in her home. Laugh it off I say. There’s absolutely no point getting worked up over things that aren’t even going to matter in 10 minutes.

“Where’d the days go, when all we did was play? And the stress that we were under wasn’t stress at all just a run and a jump into a harmless fall”
Paolo Nutini

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G’day mate… What’s not to love about Australia?

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This month I’m lucky enough to be doing quite a lot of travel – from the small mining town of Moranbah in Regional Queensland, across to the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia, to the picturesque Whitsundays for my 28th birthday. To be honest I’ve been living out of a bag all year, dividing my time between Nana’s, Mum’s and the boyfriends house, so spending the next few weeks living out of a suitcase is going to be pretty normal. What am I most looking forward to? Seeing what this beautiful country has to offer and discovering local secrets. You can’t just sit in your lounge room watching life go past on a TV screen, you’ve got to get out and enjoy it… and that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

So here I am 4 days into my ‘rural’ experience in Moranbah, about 2 hours drive inland from Mackay. A town that was built to accommodate families working in the coal mining industry, full of reliable locals and tradies in high visability work wear. There’s a certain peace to the town, an orderly silence and comfortable pace. People keep saying to me I’ll get sick of it, and maybe I would. But since I’m only here for a week I plan on making the most of it, exploring the outskirts and getting a glimpse of this multi-billion dollar industry: coal mining. To say you live in a regional area fuelled by the mining industry is one thing, but to see it in action is another. My boyfriend took me for a drive into the centre of his mine site, a trip which took nearly half an hour alone and that’s only covering half of it. To see an operation of such epic proportions is pretty eye-opening. This gigantic earth moving equipment is like something out of a Star Wars movie, and while I don’t feel that comfortable actually seeing the ground ripped up and displaced, it’s something I appreciate being shown.

Next on my tour will be a 6 hour flight over to Perth, Western Australia for my third visit. I honestly cannot get enough of this stunning place, from the gorgeous coastline to the funky suburban cafes, to the bushland wineries and gourmet cuisine, Perth has something for everyone. I’ll be catching up with one of my oldest friends over there, someone who has had my back since about Grade 5. We’ve gone through big life changes together and sometimes fall out of touch, but every time we get together it’s as if nothing has changed. We’ve booked a dinner and drinks cruise along the Swan River, and a half day wine tour (with cheese and chocolate stops along the way!). If you haven’t ever thought about including Perth on your bucket list, I strongly recommend you do. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Lastly I’ll be wrapping up the year by celebrating my birthday with 2 nights in Airlie Beach, a quaint coastal community known as the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. My plans include cocktails on the water, and not a whole lot more. This time last year I was in a really bad place, so I’m incredibly grateful to be feeling this optimistic and excited about things. There’s nothing quite like the support of family, friends and your partner to lift you up, but ultimately the fighting spirit must come from within – the most challenging and important lesson I’ve learnt from this year. Thank you to everyone who has made my year 100 times better than the last, and looking forward to more wonderful times ahead 🙂

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Can you smell it in the air?

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I always get antsy around this time of year. I get a whiff of Christmas approaching; of hot summer days (for those of us who live Down Under), of pools splashing and sand burning, of air cons working over time and flimsy dresses. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but it’s a feeling of nostalgia for past summers, and excitement for future ones. It’s a sense of me changing and things changing, and wanting everything to just pause for a moment so I can catch my breathe. November seems to be my month for change, where I realise the things I haven’t accomplished in the year, and smile at the things I have.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been flat out trying to maintain a balance between working, seeing my family and boyfriend, and spending time with my animals, but time really does fly as you get older! I’ve been feeling a little stretched out lately just trying to keep up with all these things, and not having enough time for me. For an introvert like myself, normal daily activities like training someone at work and catching up with friends are extremely draining, and if we don’t get that time to unwind… well, it’s not pretty. I feel like I’ve been rushing every day to squeeze a million things in, all the while feeling completely exhausted and wishing I could sleep for an entire day. Is this what adulthood is? Complaining that we’re tired every day and not doing anything about it?

I’m determined to not make the same mistakes that so many people make in life – accepting that their reality is the daily grind of a job they have no passion for, accepting that being exhausted is normal, and being completely oblivious to things that ACTUALLY matter. A girl I’ve been training at work told me she thought I was a little bit ‘hippie’ and quite bubbly this week, and I had to smile. Hippie, I’m fine with. Yes I’m into meditating and spirituality, so if that makes me a hippie then fine. Bubbly though? I don’t think she realised how utterly DRAINED I was from having to talk to someone for 8 hours a day, 5 days in a row! See I’m used to working alone which suits me perfectly fine, with the odd chat here and there to tenants and the postman. How do introverts ever find solace in a world where working in an office or shared space is the norm? I’ve been trying to work out what would be the best career path for me all year, and here I am with 2 months left to 2017 and still no answers.

Help please! Any advice would be greatly appreciated 🙂

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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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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

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