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

Down days keep us sane, so let us have them…

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This picture is the perfect example of how I felt today… LEAVE ME THE F@*K ALONE. We all have days like this, where we just can’t do human interaction. We can’t go to work, we can’t get out of our pyjamas, we can’t cook a healthy meal so we order pizza and drink coffee in bed, snuggling the fur babies and pretending we don’t have responsibilities. Of course, we could actually do all of those things if we forced ourselves – but would we be any better for it? I’m convinced there’s a reason for down days, in that they give us a chance to rest, regroup and connect with ourselves. After all, we usually emerge the next day feeling fresh and ready to tackle the world again, so what’s the harm?

I was meant to be working for my 6th day in a row today, but was absolutely exhausted last night – both mentally and physically. Battling a constant runny nose and allergies, headaches and neck tension, it got to 2am and I thought ‘I can’t do this’. There’s nothing quite like the relief of calling into work sick… you actually feel a weight lift off your chest and suddenly the world is your oyster. What am I going to do today!? The world is so much more colourful when you’re actually meant to be at work, it’s like this guilty pleasure you’re indulging in. And you know what – everyone does it because we actually need it. Humans are not designed to sit in an office all day staring at a computer screen drumming away. It’s not natural, and it’s certainly not the reason we’re here (in my opinion anyway).

On down days I also tend to avoid all social interaction with friends, which is why I simply could not answer phone calls today (sorry to the friend who called – it’s not you, it’s me). The LAST thing I feel like doing on my day off is having small chat! I want to read my book, indulge in bad food and spend most of the day horizontal with socks on. If it’s an emergency – sure, I’ll be there. But other than that, please leave me alone and let me have some me time. It’s so precious! I will be such a better person tomorrow because of my ONE DAY OFF, so be gone with the judgement and take a leaf from my book 🙂

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Photo credits – maison.chloeyeur & paintandhaven

Friendships – Why do we need them?

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I’ve just come back from a lovely coffee date with a girlfriend, a first time mother of a gorgeous little girl. We catch up two or three times a month over a warm brew, and every time we’re both bursting to the brim with exciting new information to tell each other – health tips, great podcasts or small town gossip. As I sit here today reflecting on our conversation I can’t help but feel content, and grateful, for long lasting friendships.

I can honestly say that all of my friendships have stood the test of time, and I’m pretty proud of it. I’ve known two of my closest friends since around Grade 4, having gone through all the fun teenage things like pimples, boys and silly fights together. Thrown in there was of course, the sad things too – moving cities, break ups, deaths, and the inevitable highs and lows of maintaining a friendship that’s spanned nearly two decades. Ultimately though, it’s pretty amazing knowing someone for that long and still having stuff to talk about. We know each other inside out and back to front, but still surprise each other sometimes – and that’s important I think. We all need to grow, spread our wings and fly.

Then there’s the crazy bunch of people I met at University in the last 8-10 years, who have all stuck by my side through hilarious stories and chapters in life. The share-housing, the pizza nights, the drunken nights, the ones who’ve held my hair back as I’m hurling into a toilet. The ones who’ve travelled all over the world, but when we get together again it’s like no time has passed, and you can pick up right where you left off. The thing I like about this bunch is that we’re all from regional Queensland – Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton and Mackay. Our dynamics as a group are wonderful, and I’m looking forward to what our future holds with a smile on my face.

Lastly there’s the odd assortment of people I’ve met through working in the hotel industry over the last four years, a random bunch of people thrown together with one goal – good customer service. These are the people that see how you react under intense pressure, deadlines and difficult guests. They see you stressed out, put on the spot and can’t help but scrutinise your professionalism, thinking patterns and workplace habits. Getting together outside of the workplace is always interesting – you’ve known each other in one dimension only, and seeing them in ‘free dress’ and talking without boundaries is always a bit of an eye-opener. Ultimately though, you can pick out the ones you’ll click with from an early stage. Once you’ve farted in front of them, commented on their smelly shoes or revealed how you think the guy in the bar is super cute, the friendship is solid.

I think it’s incredibly important to have a variety of friendships from all walks of life, to give us the social outlets we need as humans. That personal connection with people is essential to personal development – we need to feel ‘included’ in certain circles and feel like we’re part of something, contributing to society. I’m truly grateful for all the people who’ve stuck around over the years, and while I sometimes might become reclusive or distant while dealing with my own issues, I’ll always come back with an open hand.

You know who you are 🙂

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Photo credits – hubs_united & multefitt

Only you can fix your broken window.

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I’ve come to realise in the last few years that most people in life are far too busy worrying about their own problems, to try in any tangible way to help ‘fix’ yours. Yes we all offer words of support, throwing out lines of advice here and there, but in reality we are all too consumed with our own shit to spare any energy in helping others. The fire to change something in your life has got to come from within, otherwise you’ll never get there. Unless you are severely impaired by some form of mental or health related illness, you’ve just got to help yourself. People will be there to give you a kick up the ass and try to motivate you, but ultimately it comes down to lighting your own fire – and that usually takes a trip to rock bottom first.

We’ve all been in a situation where we feel helpless, alone, down and unmotivated. It might be after a break up, or looking for a new job, or home. It might be after a death or traumatic incident, or something little like a fight with a friend. Sometimes in life, you just feel glum – shit happens, and you can’t be bothered getting off the couch. Your family and friends will try and lift your spirits, suggesting outings and exercise. The endorphins will make you feel wonderful! Going outside is the last thing you feel like doing… until, one day, something inside you changes. Nobody is pestering you to cheer up, or asking you out for coffee, and suddenly you think – maybe I can do this. And that’s all it takes – that little spark of confidence, that little burst of positive thinking.

I know first hand what it’s like to go through this. I had loved ones telling me for months to quit my stressful job, and move away from a city I’d grown to despise. It honestly went in one ear and out the other, because I was SCARED. I felt completely trapped, stuck in a dark existence where every day depleted me of energy just trying to make it through. I was filled with ‘what if’ scenarios, bogged down by too many options and not enough courage, but ultimately just scared… 6 months later I look back to that period and wonder how I let it get so bad. Life is far too short to waste trapped in a mediocre job, missing your family and pretending to be okay. All it took was a firm decision, a step of courage and a moment of honesty. I-CANT-DO-THIS-ANYMORE. Let the chips fall where they may, but I was out of there – and haven’t looked back. Finally, I had done SOMETHING for myself. Something, anything was better than NOTHING.

And so I felt like a complete idiot this week when chatting to one of my close friends about how down he has been feeling. Here I was, offering out advice and suggesting things that had helped me – when I should have just listened. Nobody wants to hear what they should be doing – they’re not stupid. They know fully well what they should be doing to get out of their rut, but it takes time to come to that moment of clarity of your own free will – and that’s what makes all the difference 🙂

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Photo credits – aureta & thebest_windowsdoors

Why I changed my opinion on taking your own life.

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I grew up for years with the personal opinion that the act of suicide was the most selfish thing you could do. I used to think everything from ‘How could you do that to your family?’, ‘How could you leave your body in that state for someone else to find?’, and ‘How could you leave your loved ones with the burden of guilt, regret and never knowing why?’. These are just some of the things I wished I could ask people who were successful with their suicide attempts. Not necessarily why did they do it, but more a case of how could they? I simply couldn’t understand how someone could be in that dire of a state, and in that much darkness, that they could legitimately not see a way out.

Having never been personally affected by a loved one taking their own life, and having never felt suicidal myself, I feel somewhat inadequate to even write about this – but mental health is something I do feel incredibly passionate about. I recently watched an eye-opening documentary on ABC titled ‘You Can’t Ask That’, where a range of suicide survivors were interviewed on all the questions people secretly want to ask. For example – how did you do it, did you feel guilty, who saved you… etc etc. For me the question of guilt was something I was extremely interested in, but in fact none of the people interviewed said they felt any guilt at all. They were in such a cloud of despair, that they honestly thought removing themselves from life was going to make their loved ones happier, and obviously rid themselves of their own pain.

Hearing survivors talk about their experience first hand was something that made me do a complete 180 on my opinion. Admittedly, I was on the path to changing how I felt about it from my own experiences with anxiety – whilst I’ve never even been close to having suicidal thoughts, I’ve had some really bad days with overwhelming anxiety where I’ve desperately wanted those feelings to stop. So I can now see how someone could fall deeper and deeper into that well of hopelessness, and can’t see a way out. Yes – everyone always says the help is there… they just had to ask. But hindsight is a bitch isn’t it?

I’ve also been reading a lot about postpartum depression, and have tonight just watched a documentary on it titled ‘When the Bough Breaks‘ – a really raw, honest view on something that affects a lot of women. I guess I have been interested in this condition as part of recovering from my issues with anxiety, and as a woman I have a natural fear that this is perhaps something I will go through should I have a child one day. The hormonal and emotional experience of childbirth coupled with sleep deprivation, existing mental health issues and lack of support are all red flags for postpartum depression, and I think the mothers who have spoken up to discuss their journeys are incredibly brave.

Hoping this post hasn’t offended anyone, I am merely discussing my own thoughts and feelings – feel free to comment 🙂

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Photo credits – dullbluelight & maxfromtax

When you stop running, doors start opening.

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I’m writing this post tonight as I reflect on the people I’ve met recently through work, who’ve opened up to me rather quickly about their own personal battles. I don’t know if it’s because A) They feel like they can trust me or B) They just want someone to talk to. It’s probably a mixture of both, and don’t get me wrong – I’m more than happy to listen and engage in deep conversation early on into meeting people. None of this small chat about the weather! Let’s get right down to the nitty gritty. But I can’t help but feel a little guilty for initially trying to appear as someone I’m not. You see after the awful year I had in 2016, I wanted this job to be a fresh start where I could leave all my past behind. I wanted to be cool, calm and collected. I wanted to leave my personal life at home and be the ultimate professional on the job. But after my recent conversations with these colleagues, I’ve realised how much humans crave that connection – and how important it really is.

I spent all my energy last year trying to cover up the fact that I simply was not okay. I wasn’t okay going into those meetings, or making those cold calls. I wasn’t okay with that workload, or with that pressure, and I most certainly wasn’t okay with pretending I cared about such meaningless tasks. So this year I told myself that I would focus on me, and what I really wanted. I would take a less stressful job where I didn’t know anyone, and they wouldn’t know how close I’d come to rock bottom. I didn’t have to disclose the battles I’d come through, and I intended on staying that way. I’d come from a workplace culture of keeping your mouth shut and carrying on – you were a cog in the wheel and every cog was replaceable. So I tried, for as long as I could to keep my cool – but as many of you will know that became impossible.

Since meeting the staff in my new job and having them open up to me about their own battles (be it sexual identity issues, domestic violence or mental health problems), I’ve realised that it’s OKAY to be honest with people straight up. We don’t have to wear this mask we create for ourselves, and we don’t have to be ashamed of whatever we’ve gone through. We should feel empowered to be transparent, be trusting, and lean on each other. After all we are in this job together, and how can we really perform to the best of our abilities if we don’t know each others triggers and weak spots?

From now on I intend to be completely honest with my colleagues, both current and future. I’m done with pretending to be someone I’m not, and you can either take it or leave it. We’re all unique individuals with our own stories of perseverance, and we should lift each other up – not bring each other down.

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Photo credits – maison.chloeyeur & hautepunchmag