Life’s silly little hiccups…

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Friday night I got home from work, stepped on the scales and had a meltdown, which subsequently resulted in me screaming down the phone at my boyfriend (who was a few hundred kilometres away in a coal mining pit), ‘WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME I WAS FAT’, to which he of course replied that I looked beautiful to him. Flash back to last Wednesday night, when I put my 4-month old dachshund up onto the bed for cuddles, and she subsequently vomited a large chunk of undigested mince all over the nice new linen. Fast forward to this morning, when I’ve woken up with a gigantic volcano of a pimple on my neck, pulsating with disgusting lava and making me feel like a MONSTER.

What do all these things have in common?

They actually don’t matter, in the grand scheme of life. I repeat – THEY DO NOT MATTER.

I’ve honestly never been so happy. I’ve finally landed a kick-ass job which I absolutely love, I’ve got an amazingly supportive boyfriend, a gorgeous fur baby, and I’m surrounded by my family, the beach and good vibes. Sure, I’m terrified that something bad must be around the corner. I’ve never had so many positive things going on in the one year – there’s gotta be a catch. BUT, I’m trying to just enjoy the moment and go with the flow. Yes my clothes are a little tight and I’m going through a bad skin patch, but those things don’t define me. My quirky personality, random thought process, love for Thai cooking, reading, animals and a million other things are what makes me, me.

This pimple ain’t gonna ruin my day! An old friend once gave me a little book titled ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff’. It’s something I try and remember when I’m having mini-meltdowns, and it really works. If you pause for just a second, catch yourself in the mirror and put this worry into perspective, you will actually chuckle at the pointlessness of it 🙂

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‘Tis the season to be merry… So what does it mean to you?

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Christmas means something entirely different to everyone on the planet, whether you’re well off or struggling, young or old, in love or heart broken. Depending on your current circumstances, your fading memories and your near and dearest, the ‘silly season’ is more than just a day in December. For two women in my life, one of them my boss and one of them a close friend, both of them have sadly lost their fathers this year. I imagine Christmas will take on a completely different meaning from here on in, with the sadness of them not being there a constant reminder of the fragility of life. For those of us with large extended families, half and step siblings, cousins, aunties and grandparents, it can be an overwhelming time to make sure you’ve got everyone something under the tree. There’s also the annual decision making of whose house is designated for roast pork festivities, and which parents won’t be seeing their children this year. Oh the drama!

But let’s just take a step back and appreciate Christmas for what it really is; a time to be grateful for everyone in your life, to show your love and support for those in need, and to live in the moment. Too many times we work like crazy until the big day, making sure everything is in order so that we can relax for a few days before jumping back into things come New Year. Too many times we run around the stores in a frenzy trying to tick everyone off the list, and end up regretting half the things we buy. Too many times we don’t even enjoy the day – it goes past us in a rush of people, gift wrapping and food leaving us completely exhausted by the end. When will we learn?

I can proudly say that as of today, December 3rd I’ve completed all my Christmas shopping and it’s sitting nicely wrapped under the tree. What the? I don’t even know how I managed this to be honest, I’ve been completely flat out with work and travel the past few weeks but somehow managed to find something unique and personal for all the loved ones in my life, which is a huge weight off my shoulders. Now that I’ve got that sorted, I’d actually like to look into ways in which I can donate or volunteer to those in need this Christmas, to make this time a little easier for them. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ”
Norman Vincent Peale

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Photo credits – threelittleblackbirds & ourmoodydays

G’day mate… What’s not to love about Australia?

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This month I’m lucky enough to be doing quite a lot of travel – from the small mining town of Moranbah in Regional Queensland, across to the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia, to the picturesque Whitsundays for my 28th birthday. To be honest I’ve been living out of a bag all year, dividing my time between Nana’s, Mum’s and the boyfriends house, so spending the next few weeks living out of a suitcase is going to be pretty normal. What am I most looking forward to? Seeing what this beautiful country has to offer and discovering local secrets. You can’t just sit in your lounge room watching life go past on a TV screen, you’ve got to get out and enjoy it… and that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

So here I am 4 days into my ‘rural’ experience in Moranbah, about 2 hours drive inland from Mackay. A town that was built to accommodate families working in the coal mining industry, full of reliable locals and tradies in high visability work wear. There’s a certain peace to the town, an orderly silence and comfortable pace. People keep saying to me I’ll get sick of it, and maybe I would. But since I’m only here for a week I plan on making the most of it, exploring the outskirts and getting a glimpse of this multi-billion dollar industry: coal mining. To say you live in a regional area fuelled by the mining industry is one thing, but to see it in action is another. My boyfriend took me for a drive into the centre of his mine site, a trip which took nearly half an hour alone and that’s only covering half of it. To see an operation of such epic proportions is pretty eye-opening. This gigantic earth moving equipment is like something out of a Star Wars movie, and while I don’t feel that comfortable actually seeing the ground ripped up and displaced, it’s something I appreciate being shown.

Next on my tour will be a 6 hour flight over to Perth, Western Australia for my third visit. I honestly cannot get enough of this stunning place, from the gorgeous coastline to the funky suburban cafes, to the bushland wineries and gourmet cuisine, Perth has something for everyone. I’ll be catching up with one of my oldest friends over there, someone who has had my back since about Grade 5. We’ve gone through big life changes together and sometimes fall out of touch, but every time we get together it’s as if nothing has changed. We’ve booked a dinner and drinks cruise along the Swan River, and a half day wine tour (with cheese and chocolate stops along the way!). If you haven’t ever thought about including Perth on your bucket list, I strongly recommend you do. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Lastly I’ll be wrapping up the year by celebrating my birthday with 2 nights in Airlie Beach, a quaint coastal community known as the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. My plans include cocktails on the water, and not a whole lot more. This time last year I was in a really bad place, so I’m incredibly grateful to be feeling this optimistic and excited about things. There’s nothing quite like the support of family, friends and your partner to lift you up, but ultimately the fighting spirit must come from within – the most challenging and important lesson I’ve learnt from this year. Thank you to everyone who has made my year 100 times better than the last, and looking forward to more wonderful times ahead 🙂

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The hardest part.

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It’s weird how just a few moments in time can completely alter your course, rattle your world and take so long to recover from. For me this moment happened about 9 months ago. I was driving along a familiar stretch of road when I started losing all feeling in my hands, arms and face. Hyperventilating and not having a readily available area to pull over in, it took all my strength to focus on making it to the closest side street. By this point I had no idea what was happening to me, nothing seemed to be functioning and I was terrified. Little did I know that I was having a regular old panic attack, something that happens to hundreds of people every day. It wasn’t until I had calmed down that I realised what had happened, and then the tears started – embarrassed and scared would be an understatement.

While I understand this might be a regular occurrence in some people’s lives, or might not seem like that big of a deal – I can assure you it was traumatic enough for me. Having never experienced the severe symptoms of a panic attack, I was completely unprepared for what happened. It’s also hard for me to say what triggered it – I had never been scared of driving, but work was in an extremely stressful period and I think this was weighing heavily on me at the time. Needless to say those few minutes in time completely shattered my confidence. Simple tasks like driving to the next suburb become an ordeal, as every time I went past the spot where my attack had begun I recalled it in vivid detail. I avoided highways for 8 months, thinking that if I had a similar occurrence then I wouldn’t be able to pull over so easily.  I was so frustrated that I had lost my confidence in something I took for granted – simply getting from A to B had become a nightmare. When friends wanted to catch up, I would ask if we could meet in the city close to where I lived so that I could either walk or catch a train. These little sacrifices did nothing for my confidence, and I honestly couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It wasn’t until I had moved home to be closer to my family that I truly started the process of healing. In a supportive and loving environment, I was able to slowly get my confidence back. I had no choice but to drive every day, whether it was going between my Mum and Nana’s homes (20 minutes apart with some 80km/hour sections), or picking my sister up from school, I slowly became familiar with my car again through repetition and positivity. On a recent road trip to visit family, I volunteered to drive the first 4 hours on the highway. For the first hour I felt sick – I had avoided anything like this for so many months. When we made it I was so proud of my simple achievement, something that was so monumental in my own little world.

I can now honestly say that 9 months later, I have 95% of my confidence back and will happily get in my car without worry or thought of the panic attack that had ruled my life for so long. I took to daily meditation and breathing exercises to stay calm, while also giving me the tools to manage daily stressors. I also head to the beach most afternoons for a walk, an activity that gives me so much peace and happiness. Wandering along the shore with your toes in the water is very therapeutic, not to mention just listening to the ever flowing ocean currents. Not to sound like a complete loony but I find that floating also really helps! Whenever I get the chance to head to the pool or beach, I’ll float as many times as I can – there’s just something about closing your eyes and letting the waves gently hold you.

I have written this blog post in the hope that people understand what I’ve been going through, but also to be a voice for those too afraid to speak up. It’s really, really scary to go through mental health issues, and even scarier thinking you are alone. But at the end of the day we need to remember that EVERYONE is going through something, and talking about it with those you trust is an important part of the healing process.

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Photo credits – folkscenery & rusticbones