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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Underneath, it’s all the Same Love.

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I sincerely hope that any Australian’s who have voted ‘No’ in the Australian Marriage Postal Survey, are feeling ashamed. I hope that last night as we watched the NRL pledge their support for Same Sex Marriage at the Grand Final in Sydney, that those people who voted No were squirming in their chairs. Watching the performance of ‘Same Love’ by Macklemore at last night’s final, I was covered in goose bumps and moved to tears. As the screens around the stadium pledged messages of support, rainbow coloured smoke covered the stage and children danced, I couldn’t help but feel an upsurge of emotion. If one of the most influential and ‘macho’ organisations in Australia, the NRL, could pledge their support for same sex marriage, then what the hell is wrong with the rest of you?

As a straight person, I realise I don’t have as much reason to fight for equality as those that this law will actually affect, but I certainly am proud to support Same Love. Having made countless homosexual friends over my lifetime, the majority of which are in long, loving relationships, I do feel a certain responsibility to fight with AND for them. Why the hell shouldn’t they have the same rights as me? Why do I have the privilege of being able to stand in front of my family and friends and make an ‘official’ commitment to my loved one, and they do not? How are my relationships and those of my other straight friends any more important than those of my gay friends? The fact that we even need to pledge our support and debate this as a nation is just a ridiculous embarrassment, based on archaic scriptures about marriage being between a ‘man and a woman’. This is 20-fucking-17! Wake up and smell the roses.

If your son or daughter committed suicide because of their feelings towards someone of the same gender, and what that means in society, then that’s a crying shame. But that is the reality of it. People are actually KILLING themselves over this issue…. let that sink in for a second.

We all know that when we develop feelings for someone, 99% of the time there is nothing we can do about it. Feelings are not something we have any control over. They are unexplained, magical moments in time where we are inexplicably drawn to another person, be it a man or a woman. We simply don’t get to decide who we fall in love with, and in a progressive first world country like Australia where freedom, opportunities and rights are abundant, this same sex marriage debate is simply a national disgrace. I understand that people may not have had much exposure to those in same sex relationships, and therefore may not understand how exceedingly NORMAL they are – in fact they are just like you and I. They wake up, go to work, have hobbies, win awards and take their dogs to the beach. They just happen to like people of the same gender. SHOCK! HORROR! SIRENS IN THE DISTANCE! Seriously, why should we even bat an eyelid to that?

To the people who voted No, shame on you.

On losing yourself in a relationship…

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Having just gotten into my first serious relationship – something I literally can’t stop grinning about, I can’t help but feel a little wary of losing my identity and interests amid the excitement of wanting to hang out with this person ALL the time. I’m sure everyone who has transitioned from single life into the dating phase and then ‘made it official’, has gone through similar concerns. You’ve suddenly gone from spending all your weekends with family (and having deep and meaningful sessions with your pets), to wondering what those other people in your life are up to because you’ve been so busy with this new person. So many places to see! So many cafes to try! I know…. I sound like an ungrateful brat. OF COURSE, I’m completely stoked to actually have someone to do things with (and snuggles are what life is made for)… all I’m saying is I don’t want to lose myself, which is apparently pretty easy to do.

I’ve seen it happen to friends and colleagues time and time again. They get a boyfriend or girlfriend, and suddenly they’re spending every second night together and then weekends too. It’s all they can talk about, they literally don’t care about anything else that’s going on in other peoples lives let alone the world, and they can’t go anywhere without bringing their new boo. It’s exhausting trying to have a conversation with someone in a new relationship, because no matter what the subject they will always find a way to relate it to their person of interest. And believe me, I GET IT. New relationships are insanely exciting –  they’re a mixture of nerves, emotions, thrills, adventures and more. It’s a chance for you to relate to someone on a deeper level than your friends and family, and that human connection is something we all crave. I want someone to hold my hand when I’m scared or upset, to make me a coffee when I’m tired, and to surprise me with little gestures. I want to do the same in return for my special someone, but I also want to be the best version of myself for a healthy relationship to work – and that involves taking some me time.

So while I can’t wait to see my boyfriend again (it feels so weird saying that), I’m going to make sure that I’m also paying myself some respect by doing the things that I love to do. Going down to the beach for a coffee with my dog, reading a book and listening to my favourite music – these are the small things that keep us sane. Whatever your interests may be, remember that before you became part of a relationship – you were a living, breathing individual. You had thoughts, friends, family and dreams. Don’t let them go! Nothing in life is certain, and at the end of the day we’ve got to be strong for ourselves  🙂

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Photo credits – rose_and_heart & visualambassadors

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 

Waiting for the eye to pass…

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As I sit here in the midst of Tropical Cyclone Debbie crossing the Queensland Coast, bunkered down with my Nana and Pop in our 1960’s (and probably asbestos ridden) house, a few things have come to mind. With the ferocious wind roaring outside and ripping the yard to bits, I can’t help but feel a little shaken, and stirred. It was a long, tense night tossing and turning in bed, trying to drown out the noise of our home rattling amidst various bangs and brief silences. We had our emergency bags packed and ready with the essentials – tea, coffee and sugar being of the outmost importance. For what crisis in life can’t be aided and slightly sweetened by a good, hot brew?

The reality of losing our home is something that’s hard to think about, but ever so possible. This is where I came home to after being born 27 years ago in the Mackay Base Hospital. I had my first birthday here, multiple Christmas lunches, BBQ’s, family memories and happy times. This house has been in our family since 1966 and has seen a lot of things. Despite my Nana and Pop never officially owning their own dog, there have been over 8 wonderful dogs pass through their doors (and 3 resting at peace in the back yard). They have always opened their doors to family and friends, with the promise of a hearty meal and warm cup of tea at regular intervals during the day. This is where I’ve come back to every school and university holiday break, with nothing beating the smell of Nana cooking scrambled eggs in the morning to wake me up.

I’m so lucky and blessed to have grown up with these wonderful family memories, and wish I could pause time to keep my grandparents in this moment forever. But as we all know, life goes on and one day I must inevitably accept that they won’t be here. Until then though, I’ll cherish my time with them, and rest peacefully knowing I’ve got somewhere to call home.

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Photo credits – airpixels & theophelia_

And they called it puppy love…

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I must admit, I’ve been totally and completely converted into a dog person in a matter of weeks thanks to the addition of @audrey_the_sausage (follow her on instagram!) to our family. The cutest and cuddliest chocolate dachshund you ever did see, she arrived into my life at exactly the right time and I’m ever so grateful.

For years I’ve been all about the cats, the fluffy ones with huge eyes who just gaze at you and purr… who massage your tummy when you’re trying to sleep…. Yes, I still love them. But I didn’t quite realise my heart would explode with love for dear Audrey, who often leaves a puddle on the floor from excitement at seeing you each day. If that isn’t love then I don’t know what is.

Growing up I was always too concerned about getting dog saliva or hair all over me to take notice of the gorgeous bundles of joy that I’ve now come to love. SO glad I’ve gotten over that, I’ll now happily roll around on the floor with Audrey and appreciate snuggles 24/7. I love all her moods, especially sleepy Audrey. Her eyes can barely stay open so I just sit there holding her little paw, singing to her like a newborn child. Catholic hymns are my go to! WTF has happened to me?

For years, studies have shown the benefits to humans of having animals in their life; simply patting a dog is known to increase your endorphins. And how could anyone say that we don’t bring joy to their lives? When I see Audrey almost wriggle out of her skin with happiness in the morning, I just know that is pure joy. Recently I watched a documentary on dogs who are bred into fighting pits, absolutely gut-wrenching viewing (The Champions – available on Netflix). Most states in the US have a law where any dogs rescued from such fighting pits are put down out of fear for society. There are however, a handful of wonderful organisations dedicated to rehabilitating these dogs into loving family homes which is fantastic to see.

I could write for hours about how full my heart is after meeting Audrey, but I think the most important thing to note is that we should cherish these human/animal relationships for as long as they last. Treat all animals with respect and love, and they will return it to you tenfold.

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Photo credit – earthspirit