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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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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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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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

Introversion and dinner parties; a recipe for disaster.

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As some of you may know I’ve written about my struggles with anxiety and introversion before, but today I’d like to touch on the nightmare of the dinner party. Upon invitation to a meal out, most people would look forward to it with a normal level of interest and excitement. Who doesn’t love wine, food and good conversation? This week I had to attend a going away dinner party for a girl from work, which was all fine and good – I was actually looking forward to catching up with my colleagues after almost 3 weeks away. Of course, I didn’t bank on people from higher management coming along – disappointing to say the least. Now we have to watch what we say and be on our best behaviour! Nobody enjoys dining with the big bosses, let’s be honest.

As I walked in and spotted that I was the first person there not in a ‘management’ type role, I immediately crawled into my shell. Excusing myself to the bathroom, I cursed myself for always having to be early to EVERYTHING. See, being early means you have to make awkward small chat as you wait for all the people who clearly have better things to do than be on time. I’ve actually never been able to understand people who are late, don’t they feel stressed that others are waiting for them? I cannot stand running late, so it seems I’ve committed myself to a life of being early and hiding in the toilet waiting for others to arrive. First world problems hey?

So moving on to the dinner party, and I sit myself on the end corner where I (hopefully) won’t have to talk to management or be put on the spot. WRONG. It seems the only thing Mr ______ knows about me is that I have a blog, which he likes to ask me about at every possible opportunity. So why not ask me about it in front of the entire table? What people don’t understand is that I’m not writing this blog to become famous, and I definitely don’t want to explain what I write about to a group of people I only know on a work basis when my blog is something really, really personal to me. I mean if you’re that interested, ask me what it’s called and google it or better yet – look at my resume or LinkedIn profile and you’ll find it. So as I slowly die under the spotlight of people waiting to hear what I write about, I spit out some random shit like ‘Oh you know, just life and Bali Belly etc’. CRINGE. KILL ME NOW. Somebody please take the microphone and close the curtains.

Thank god the cake arrives and we can stuff our faces, complain about how full we are and pay the bill. Home time!

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Photo credits – thepinkstagram & travelerspassion

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