On knowing when enough is enough.

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In the past few weeks I’ve developed, shall we say, a ‘backbone’ when it comes to standing up for myself in situations where I’ve felt my self-worth is being questioned, and damn it feels good. We’ve all encountered people who make us feel insignificant – whether that be by making us feel stupid, or not good enough, or easily replaceable. It’s a terrible feeling, thinking that everything you’ve worked for, all of your values and beliefs, and all of your personality traits are being questioned by someone else, someone who has made you feel inferior. But have they actually made you feel this way? 9 times out of 10, the reason we’re left feeling inferior as a reaction to somebody’s actions is because of pre-existing insecurities, which actually have nothing to do with this person at all.

Not to get too specific (because I don’t want to start World War 3), someone recently came into my personal space and it totally rattled me. The first few days were all rosy and sweet, with compliments being thrown and polite chit chat unfolding. And then all of a sudden, the cracks began to appear. Little things here and there were mentioned – nothing direct – and I started feeling completely unworthy of this person’s time. I started feeling like everything I said or did was being analysed, or that I was explaining myself terribly, and it came with the embarrassingly reactive behaviour of then trying to impress this person. Let me get one thing straight with you, it makes me sick to the stomach trying to impress people. I absolutely hate it. I find it awkward, totally unnatural and far from genuine. How people possess the ‘gift of the gab’ is beyond me, my attitude is you either like me or you don’t and I’m not going to work for it. So to find myself in a situation where I felt like I had to try and impress somebody was a total whack to my self-esteem, and I refuse to let that happen again.

Just this past weekend at work I had an irate guest, shouting at me and waving his hands (a full spectacle I assure you), which culminated in him telling me to shut up as I tried to calm him down and assist. Something in me clicked and I said to him (politely of course), that I was trying to help him and he needed to stop being so rude to me. BOOM. It was as if Beyoncé herself had arrived, the curtains had risen and I was alive. Assertiveness is something that never came easily to me – I was always the one who caved to people’s requests, said yes to more than I could handle and let people walk all over me. But not anymore, and let me tell you it felt GOOOOD to assert myself. It felt even better when said guest came down and apologised to me for being so rude, which I accepted graciously of course.

So I’m telling you this – do not let anyone ‘make’ you feel less than you are worth, and have the courage to stand up for yourself. The only person you need to wow is the person standing in your shoes, and the only person you should be analysing is yourself – not to beat yourself down, but to continue to learn and grow from experiences, and be the best version of yourself.

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Hugs from old friends; That warm, fuzzy feeling.

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I just came back from a brief getaway to Brisbane and Byron Bay with my partner, a trip full of catch-ups and gourmet dining. Along the way we managed to catch up with family (on his side), and some old friends of mine which was really, really lovely. There’s nothing quite like locking eyes with a friend across a room, and that knowing smile comes across your faces. The memories come flooding back, the laughter and good times you shared, and no matter how long it’s been you can pick up right where you left off. You don’t have to explain what you’ve been doing the past few months, why you might have been a little absent here and there because you know, deep down that these type of friendships last forever. These are the people who might piss themselves laughing if you fall over, but also help you bury a body if needed (fingers crossed it never comes to that!).

I’ve met many people in my working career and can honestly say I’ve never found such a tight knit group of friends that have managed to stay in touch. We all worked together about 4-5 years ago in varying positions and time frames, but having that one unifying bond has provided a life time of smiles. I think the real reason we’ve stayed so close is because our work environment was team-focused rather than individual-focused. There was a real sense of camaraderie and trust because in our line of work (front office team for a large hotel), you absolutely needed each other to get the job done. Since then I’ve worked in office environments where it’s every man for himself, and that sense of unity is sorely missed.

What I will say is this – cherish your friendships and maintain them. It doesn’t have to be a daily, weekly or even monthly check-in, but staying somewhat in touch through social media these days certainly makes it easier. Nothing can ever replace that face-to-face interaction though, so making the time and effort now and again to get together is absolutely worth it 🙂

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How chance meetings can really open your eyes…

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Just this week I went to a remedial massage lady in my hometown for some back and neck relief, and the experience completely rattled me. That’s to say, it rattled me in a good way (and not in the ‘Oh they massaged my bottom and it felt really strange’ way). I had previously noticed her advertisement while in the same area a couple of weeks ago and put it to the back of my mind, but just the other day it popped up again and I thought ‘Why not’. I’d given everything from chiropractic, bowen therapy and acupuncture a go, I might as well try something new.

Well let me say, if you’re after complete silence in a massage treatment then this is not your lady. I had unknowingly signed myself up for an hour-long counselling session, a chat with a stranger that was completely unexpected but overwhelmingly therapeutic. I left this massage treatment feeling completely refreshed, both mentally and physically. I had been going to Chinese treatments for the past few months where the only words uttered were ‘Ooo you are tight’ and ‘This too hard miss?’, so experiencing a wonderful massage coupled with some words of wisdom went hand in hand (pun intended).

Now it just so happened that this particular lady is also studying to be an addiction counsellor, and although I felt guilty for expressing my concerns over a loved one struggling through their own form of substance abuse, getting it off my chest provided some much needed clarity. In fact this lovely lady who I’d only known for about 45 minutes at this point, was able to give me some sound advice for helping my loved one, or at least trying to. Isn’t it amazing how crossing paths with someone can provide you with exactly what you were (unknowingly) looking for? I’m so grateful for that one hour session, not only for the benefits of the massage itself, but for the mental relief and unburdening of my thoughts. Opening up to people can be intimidating, but try to remember at the end of it all – we’re only human, and we were built to connect.

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Why does nostalgia give us the warm and fuzzies?

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You hear it now and again, that funny saying ‘Everything old is new again’… So what does it actually mean? For tangible things like fashion, music and décor it obviously references the continuous cycle that we go through as a society, with ‘trends’ coming and going through the decades. A social media ‘influencer’ will wear a 70’s style outfit and low and behold, every 16-24 year old is suddenly dressing like Stevie Nicks and taking up smoking. For futuristic thinkers caught up in a tech bubble lifestyle, there’s no time for the past. For me personally, I think it’s a beautiful thing to look backwards – as long as you know when it’s time to come home.

I could easily spend my weekends wandering through Antique markets, imagining the lives of all the people who have parted ways with their little trinkets, velvet couches and wooden stools. How many cups of tea were shared amongst these porcelain sets? How many bedtime stories were told across these fading books? How many loved ones were lost? The feeling of nostalgia one gets while surrounded by memories, objects and things is hard to describe. It’s like a warm bath, a long awaited hug, or a roast meal. It’s a sense of comfort, contentment and appreciation. It’s a moment to be grateful for, and a moment to just BE in. No distractions, no emails to answer, and nobody waiting on you.

Every time my Nana has a garage sale I shed a silent tear for the things she’s giving away. For the Encyclopaedia’s I grew up looking at, now gathering dust on the shelves. For the bright orange containers, green vases and cane chairs. For everything that was my childhood, and hers, that will now be someone else’s. But I guess that’s the beauty of it – what’s old is new again. Objects are funny things – they go from family to family, house to house, all the while remaining the same (with a little wear and tear), while people change and move on. I look forward to the day where I can pass on items from my childhood to my own grandchildren, and explain the history behind them. While they might not completely understand, I hope I can transport them there for just a moment. For now though, I hope to live more presently in the now and appreciate what time I have.

“How could she feel nostalgia when he was right in front of her? How can you suffer from the absence of a person who is present?

You can suffer nostalgia in the presence of the beloved if you glimpse a future where the beloved is no more”
Milan Kundera

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Photo credits – bryanadamc & theseafiles

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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Photo credits – stylemagazines & minimalliving

Why bottling things up hurts nobody but yourself.

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This last week I’ve felt a significant weight lift of my shoulders, and you know why? Because I’ve TALKED to people. I’ve opened up about how I’m feeling to a few trusted sources, and regarding a few different things in my life, and it feels GOOD. As someone who is most definitely an introvert, and who enjoys solitary activities like writing, reading and listening to ‘depressing’ music, opening up to people doesn’t really come naturally. Sure, I might come across as an open book sometimes because when I’m feeling nervous I tend to overshare – but usually about trivial things like how long I’ve let my leg hair get before shaving (or other bodily functions… you get the idea). But when it comes to those terrifying innermost thoughts, the ones that are always there simmering under the surface, opening up to people can seem a little daunting – but in the end, SO worth it.

Everybody needs to vent about things from time to time – it’s how we connect as humans and discuss events / people / behaviours, and come to understandings of situations in our mind. After the year I’ve been through, I strongly believe that having someone you can talk to whether that be a paid professional, family member or friend, is absolutely necessary to maintaining your mental health. As the past few years of stress started bogging me down (work related, relationship related and health related), I really began to ball up all my feelings and thoughts into this anxiety ridden state of fear. Fear of change, fear of things remaining how they were, fear of what people would think of me – you name it, I was scared about it. I was completely and utterly stuck. I had a friend who was constantly telling me to go talk to someone, that it would help me figure things out. Of course, I didn’t listen to her at the time (because when do people ever do what they’re told, even when they know it’s probably right)? Ironically enough, that person and I are no longer friends, but I did go and start talking to someone and that small step of courage catapulted me out of my fear and into the light.

What I can say is this; no good will ever come from you trying to get through tough times on your own, and there is no defeat in asking for help. We aren’t built to withstand the storm alone – we live in communities where everyone has a story, and everyone has the ability to open up to each other. If you can see someone is going through a rough patch, kindly let them know that your arms are open. Gently push them in the right direction but remember, the choice to start talking is ultimately up to them and they must come to that decision of their own accord.

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
Herman Melville

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Photo credits – lauramakabresku & fihn

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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Photo credits – lensofourlives & hellolunchlady