Anniversaries are funny things, aren’t they.

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I’ve had some one year anniversaries lately, in fact I usually do around this time of year. November and December always seem to be a huge period of change, whether that be moving house (or city), relationships ending or drifting apart, and career moves. In exactly one week it will be my 28th birthday, and I can’t think of a worse birthday I’ve had than last year. I know it sounds stupid, it’s just another day right? It doesn’t actually mean anything in the grand scheme of things. BUT… we’re conditioned to think we’re meant to be HAPPY on our birthdays. Grateful! Excited! The life of the party! Well, shit happens. Last year I’d just quit my job, just been dumped, and was facing daily battles with crippling anxiety (I’m talking panic attacks, chest pains, digestion problems and a huge fear of crowds, driving, bridges…. you name it). It was absolutely awful, and I spent the day trying to hold back tears and resist the urge to crawl into bed and hide in the dark. I remember laying on my balcony on the night of my 27th birthday, watching a thunderstorm and just feeling really sorry for myself. Woe is me…

How things change in a year! Had someone told me to keep my head up and stay positive, that this year I’d be spending my birthday in the beautiful Whitsundays with my boyfriend, sipping on cocktails in the tropical sun, I would not have believed them. Now I don’t want to jinx myself here as the birthday itself isn’t until next week, and plenty of things could happen between now and then, but that’s beside the point. My whole life has been flipped in a year and I could not be more grateful for the support I’ve had, and more proud of myself for soldiering through. I even spent 4 hours in a shopping centre with my sister this week! Had you have known me a year ago, this simple activity was near impossible. I remember my sister begging me to go Christmas shopping with her in December a year ago, and I lasted about 5 minutes in the centre before basically needing to run outside. The intense fear, crippling anxiety and struggle to breathe or think straight was completely overwhelming, not to mention feeling like a complete failure. This week alone I’ve been shopping multiple times (I absolutely love buying gifts for my family), and I’ve been completely fine with it. In my mind this is such a huge achievement, because a year ago I was honestly at a point where I didn’t think I could ever step foot in a shopping mall again.

So what I can say is this. If you are struggling through some tough times at the moment, hold onto the knowledge that things are more than likely going to change for the better, and sooner than you think. As one door closes, others really do open – you just have to have the courage to step through, and the strength to ask for help when you need it.

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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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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

Mental health: Baby steps, not a race.

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As you might know I’ve written about mental health before, and my struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. I felt drawn to write this blog tonight after talking to one of my close friends today, who has also been going through their own set of challenges. In fact when I think about it, 9 out of 10 people I know – be it close friends or family, have all opened up about their struggles with mental health. From anxiety, depression, stress, avoidance tendencies, loneliness, low self-esteem and health issues, almost everyone I know has been or is going through their own mental barriers to happiness and good health. So what’s the catch? Has today’s modern society simply become too difficult for us to manage? Or are we just more open about what’s going on inside our complex, crazy minds?

I think it’s a mixture of both. Yes, the modern world is now full of new stressors that human evolution is yet to catch up with. From technology overload, family breakdowns, threats of terrorism, nuclear war, increasingly extreme weather patterns and many more modern stressors, our bodies are subject to a wide variety of anxiety-inducing events than ever before. I personally believe that our mind’s are still only equipped to deal with the basic, ingrained worries that have served us for millions of years – worries over seeking food and shelter for our families, and threats from animals and the elements. Basic, caveman worries. Today we are faced with constant, varying levels of stress in everything we do from the moment we wake up, and I’ve noticed a definite increase in my loved ones simply not being able to handle it.

BUT, on the flip side – mental health stigma’s have definitely taken a big hit in recent years, with many celebrities and public figures opening up about their own challenges. This increasingly open dialogue about the range of issues created in our minds, has paved the way for people to express how they feel and seek help where possible. Yes, it is still hard to open up because it’s scary to admit to ourselves that we might need some guidance, let alone admit it to our family and friends. The workplace culture of long hours, eating lunch at your desk and unrealistic deadlines that I came from last year was a massive contributor to my anxiety issues, and I know many people feel the same but are scared to admit it. We don’t want to look weak, or get hauled into HR to discuss our performance, or worse – get fired. But we can’t keep working ourselves into the ground either – at some point, your health has got to come first and I’m so glad I finally accepted that. As I found in my case, acceptance is one of the most important steps to managing your issues. Yes there are days where I’m angry, sad or frustrated and think WHY ME? But the days where I simply acknowledge my anxiety is there, sitting on my shoulder not hurting anyone, are the days where it is so much more manageable. Learning to love yourself for who you are, instead of beating yourself up over it is very important in the healing process.

To all of my family, friends and readers I want you to know that you are not in this alone. More people than you realise are going through their own set of mental challenges – the trouble is that their ‘issues’ are usually invisible and well masked. We all learn ways of coping, hiding and avoiding but sooner or later the wall crumbles and we’re forced to pick up the pieces. Start the healing process now I say! Talk to someone, open up to whoever you feel safe with, practice meditation, exercise, eat healthy, get out into nature, light a candle and write in a journal – DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO. I’ve tried it all, and can honestly say a good balance of all these activities and a positive attitude makes a hell of a difference. Just remember it’s not a race – there will be setbacks and days where you feel like shit, but just persevere with baby steps.

A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results. (Wade Boggs).

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Photo credits – inkandarte & ourmoodydays

An open letter to women who belittle women.

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I’m truly sick of having to interact with women who are nasty, competitive and downright NOT about the sisterhood, whether it be through work circumstances or friendship circles. We all know one (or many). They’re typically insecure and mask it through being perfectionists, enjoy making you look bad, ‘dobbing’ you in for things, and always appear switched on at the right moments. They’d do anything to climb the ladder, manipulate the truth to frame themselves in a good light, and pull you up on tiny (un-important) things, while you meanwhile bite your tongue because really – who cares whether a document is folded this way or that in the grand scheme of things? Who cares whether a sentence is written in bold, italics or CAPITAL LETTERS? Absolutely nobody cares. What matters is that you are a kind person, do your job with honesty and integrity, and look out for each other. What would Beyonce think of your petty attitude? She’d see through that fake smile in a heartbeat and smite you down, that’s what!

I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet some truly beautiful women in my working life, both inside and out. These are the ones who won’t tell the boss when you make a small mistake, who’ll have your back when you’re feeling upset, who’ll be there with you at the end of a long day to have a glass of wine and tell each other tomorrow will be better. These are the ones you’d be happy to catch up with outside of work, and who you genuinely care about. Thank God for these women! They lift you up on hard days, they understand when you’re not feeling up to it, and they make those long days slightly more bearable. We spend a lot of our lives at work, so we need a strong sisterhood to hold our heads above water.

I’ve worked in some incredibly strong teams, and some incredibly fractured teams. The fractures usually intensify in time, making for an unpleasant mixture of tension and baited breath, waiting for the storm to explode. I know what I prefer, and I’m not going to play stupid games with two-faced personality types. Life is way too short to spend it competing with each other. There are enough problems in the world so give it a break and think about what actually matters!

‘There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.’

Madeleine K Albright. 

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Photo credits – popmyeyes & naydafernandez

It’s all in your mind.

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I’m starting to truly believe that ‘happiness’ is 95% a mindset and that I can decide to have a good day from the minute I wake up. You know those mornings when the alarm goes off, you stumble around the bathroom trying to wake up, and you think ‘today is going to be crap’? Well yes, since you’ve decided that it will be – it absolutely will be. You put yourself into that mind frame from the get go, so every experience you have that day is probably going to annoy you and contribute to your bad day vibe. It’s totally a decision though, and as I venture down the road of mindfulness activities, meditation and self-love I’ve begun to realise my mental processes need a complete overhaul.

Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not. Valerie Bertinelli. 

Of course there are going to be negative things that happen to you in life – deaths, break ups, job set backs and health issues. How we react to these happenings however, is a choice we can make on a daily basis. I’m not saying we need to deny ourselves of the natural process of being upset, grieving and finding meaning in an event – these things are absolutely important. What I’m saying is we can choose to have a positive outlook and at least approach the situation with love. We can say to ourselves ‘I will get through this’, instead of being miserable and dwelling in that dark place. Don’t get too comfortable in the place you’re at – challenge yourself to see the positives in every day, and make a mental check list of all the things you have to be grateful for.

I know I’ve still got a while to go before I’m choosing happiness every day. Sometimes it’s just easier to exist in a bad mood – especially if you’re tired, bored or worried about something. But accepting this as the norm is not healthy on a recurring basis, and certainly doesn’t allow for harmony in your mind/body/spirit. With that being said, I’m going to get a good nights sleep and tomorrow will be a good day 🙂

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Photo credits – ihavethisthingwithpink & shotzdelight

Interviews got me feeling blue…

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Yesterday I had a job interview. To say I completely bombed it would be a complete understatement… It was horrific. I even got the rejection email a couple of hours afterwards confirming it, so what can I say? Yes, I stuffed it up. I wanted the earth to swallow me up whole or to at least melt into the wall. FACE-PALM.

Who on earth decided that a formal panel of 3 interviewers in a stifled, white room was the best method at figuring out whether I’m going to nail the job? And WHO on earth decided that letting the next interviewee sit outside of said room, where I could see them waiting, was a good idea!? Yes, I was quite utterly crapping myself! I haven’t had an interview in 2 years, and I’m meant to waltz in guns-a-blazing and wow the pants of these straight-laced people with a few CHOICE words and my sales pitch. No thanks! Why couldn’t we have bonded over a cheese platter and bubbles, letting the conversation flow in a more natural way?

Surely I’m not the only person who finds the idea of a formal interview process completely unnatural. They probably had me pegged as the most boring, shy, untalented candidate from the minute I sat down. And fair enough – I couldn’t let my personality shine through in such forced conditions. I hate that we have to conform to such a generic process and impress potential employees under such stressful conditions. So what if I take a while to warm up to people? I can still do the job, and do it well. All I wanted was a chance.

Okay so now that it’s over, how can I move forward and regain my shattered confidence? Well, in hindsight – having an interview is good experience and will definitely make me better prepared for the next one. If I’m perfectly honest with myself, something in me knew that I wasn’t quite right for this particular job anyway. I think that if I had really wanted it, I would have fought harder for it and cast the nerves aside. Self-sabotage perhaps? Who knows. Either way, I wish the successful candidate all the best in their role. I will move forward with the knowledge that yesterday wasn’t my day, and I’ll be damned sure to make it rain for my next interview. You got this girl!

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Photo credits – ourmoodydays