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

 

Trying to understand people is impossible.

 

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If you, like me, have wasted countless hours of your life trying to understand why someone has acted in the way that they have, then you aren’t alone. I’ve spent days analysing situations, messages, emails, behaviours – you name it. Simply trying to understand why someone has said this or done that, drives me absolutely insane. It’s something that I’ve really struggled with my whole life, just trying to connect all the dots and make sense of peoples decisions. The truth is though – nobody can ever really understand how people think, or someone’s entire life of experiences that add up to them choosing to act one way instead of another.

There are hundreds of variables influencing people at every moment of the day, each of them firing away at rapid speed without us even being aware. From little decisions like choosing what to have for lunch, to big decisions like applying for jobs and moving house, we all come to our conclusions after a series of elements like past experiences, friends and families opinions, media influences, emotions and a million other things come into play. How could we ever possibly aim to understand people if this is the case? We can’t, and that’s something I need to accept before I waste any more time trying.

One of my big ones was people who are always late. ALWAYS late. WHYYYY ? I just couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just plan their day around the time they KNEW they had to be somewhere, to ensure they had enough time to get there etc etc. Didn’t they feel guilty for making other people wait? I know I feel absolutely panicked and sick when I (rarely) keep someone waiting, and apologise profusely for doing so. But nope, some people just breeze on in at any time they like without seeming to care. I still don’t understand it, but it doesn’t bother me as much anymore. I have a little more life experience to appreciate that everyone is different, and that I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of their day. They’ll get there when they get there, and I can be a little more forgiving (as long as it’s not something super important like a wedding – though this one remains to be seen).

Assuming that people will want to do certain activities with you, or that they are free at the same times as you is also a big mood-killer. SO many times in my life I’ve planned things in my head with certain people, to be left disappointed and lonely when they’ve low and behold got other plans or simply don’t feel like doing the same thing as me. This one is something I still struggle with, and it’s completely self-induced. Nobody is a mind reader – the other person in my planned scenario will usually have no idea that I’ve connected A, B and C to mean that because I’m free on Sunday morning then we can both go out for breakfast followed by a morning stroll. Assuming things about people or how events will unfold is the worst thing you can do, because it is always a recipe for disaster – or at the very least leaves you feeling like a sad control freak.

So take a step back, and check yourself before you wreck yourself.

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Photo credits – depthobsessed & maxfromtax.

Green with envy – the pitfalls of jealousy.

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I’ve fallen into the trap of social media envy lately – that ridiculous self-imposed jealousy you feel when endlessly scrolling through happy snaps of people travelling and living (seemingly) fabulous lives. And even though we all know the version of people portrayed on social media isn’t real, there’s some part of us that still feels down when we see images of gloriously tanned people, sipping on cocktails by the beach in exotic destinations. So why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we even bother looking on social media sites when we know, more times than not, they leave us feeling like our own little bubbles somehow aren’t as wonderful or glamorous as others?

For me, I think I’m personally suffering from some mild seasonal depression as well. Winter in Australia is officially upon us which means no bikinis, no little sundresses, and no swimming (unless you’re really adventurous, or just drunk). Life in summer is what makes my soul sing… give me sweat, sand and sunshine every day over snotty noses and socks. So as I sit here in ugg boots with a eucalyptus oil diffuser cleansing the air, I can’t help but feel a little envious of those basking in summer on the other side of the world. I’ve recently been bombarded with images of friends in far off places like Mexico and Cuba, looking like they’re having the time of their lives. Meanwhile I’m stuck here in a small town, with less friends that I can count on one hand, working in a pretty mundane job.

But I’ll stop myself right there and metaphorically slap myself on the face, because in actual fact – I’m setting myself up for a wonderful future. I’ve returned home for a ‘gap year’ of my own choice, and in 4 months I’ve managed to save $7,000.00 in a casual job which is something I should be really proud of. I’ve (slowly) recovered from some debilitating anxiety issues, and while I know there’s still a long road ahead in this regard I’m fully committed and positive it’s something I can now manage. And lastly, I’m going to Bali in a few weeks for a holiday with my beautiful friends, where I’ll be doing the exact same thing – creating social media envy for others. And while this is not my intention of course, it’s become part and parcel in our digitally connected world, and something we must all learn to live with.

So let’s give ourselves a break from feeding the jealous monster within that sometimes wreaks damage on our happiness, and commit to living in the moment – especially the moments in between those ‘happy snaps’ posted on social media. Those are the real moments – the raw, honest and authentic experiences we all go through. Cheers to that 🙂

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Photo credits – amin_ramzi & hvmansouls

 

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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