April Sun

For the first time in over a year, I am currently on a week’s leave from work.

Why? Well, I thought it best to do it now when things are pretty quiet after Easter, as to not put my co-workers in jeopardy while they fill in for me.

What am I planning on doing this week, I hear you ask? At this stage…nothing. I plan on reading, writing, catching up on my favourite TV shows and spending time just breathing…doesn’t that sound spectacular?

After I began my job last year after  month off due to my redundancy, I was refreshed and had no desire for the rest of 2016 to take time off. Of course, there were a few moments where I had wished I could – when things got to be a bit stressful or when my personal wellbeing wasn’t at it’s best – but I carried on.

At the start of this year for about 2.5 months, my life revolved around work. My role as a receptionist in a community college during peak enrolment period really tested my patience and my ability to solve problems quickly and without fuss. It was a demanding time period, yet as I said to a fellow co-worker, I didn’t notice just how busy we were until things started to die down and the pace returned to normal.

I was exhausted. Absolutely spent. Drained from so much customer contact, from answering 100+ phone calls every day for months. Really…over it. Thankfully, my boss noticed my deflation and recommended I plan some time off. Now, I know how lucky I am regarding this – not all bosses will suggest their staff take a week off just to recharge. I saw my opportunity, weighed it against the fact that I hadn’t taken more than a weekend off (and even in some cases, I had worked multiple weekends during that busy period) in over a year and agreed.

Now, here I am. Day 2 of my official days off. Not counting the Easter long weekend, which has already left me refreshed.

I adore this time of the year. April in Australia brings on a cool change, while keeping the sunny days we love. Mornings are brighter, evenings darker earlier and sunsets much more photographic. It’s all so relaxing and cosy.

For Good Friday this year, my family and I packed up our cars and headed to our local lake for some fish and chips by the water. It was such a beautiful, cloudless day looking out onto the water.

I cherish time with my family the older I get as it’s not s regular as it once was. My childhood memories are full of family drives to the lake; piling into the car with our walkmans and Barbie dolls and setting off on an adventure across town. The drive always seemed so long – now we’re there in the blink of an eye. It’s like that with so many things these days in comparison to days gone by. I miss those days immensely.


Easter was relatively quiet. I ventured out of the house Sunday afternoon to see Beauty and the Beast at the cinema with my Mum, sister and Zia (that’s Aunty in Italian if you weren’t aware). As the original Beauty and the Beast cartoon was and is one of my all-time favourite films, I was a bit wary as to how I would enjoy the film, but I was left pleasantly surprised! Highly recommended to those who love Disney, magic, music and romance!

Autumn is all about nature stripping itself of the past as it makes way for new and exciting things. Beautiful things. It can get dark and cold, but it’s all how you look at it. Much the same can be said about our lives and the way we choose to live them.

We can run ourselves down and not do anything to pick back up again, or we can take a break to stop and take the reigns again and prepare whatever is coming next. It’s a time for change, growth and rebirth.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what the rest of Autumn has to offer.

Hoping you all had a spectacular long weekend, regardless of what you celebrated – I would love to hear all about your adventures!

Love Advice – You Complete Yourself

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We’ve grown up in a world where finding a partner to spend the rest of our lives with is viewed as the ideal. Romantic comedies and Disney movies alike tell us that if we want our lives to be better and happier, ending up with someone is the way to do it.

There comes a point if you’re single like me and you’ve hit a certain age, realising that you haven’t found the person of your dreams can be incredibly upsetting and worrying. You find yourself comparing your life and love life to that of your friends/family, thinking that time may be running out for you.

I have some news for you: time is not running out. The fairy-tale is far from over.

In fact, in this fairy-tale, the Princess doesn’t need a prince or princess in order to live happily ever after. The Princess does need to accept that they don’t need to share their life with someone else to feel complete (no matter what Jerry Maguire may have told you).

Finding love should not be a sport. It should not be a race. I wish that I had grown up with fairy-tales about women who found their own happily ever afters through their own self-acceptance and courage. Women who were open to love and ready for relationships, but who were also focused on other important things in life such as a satisfying career or fulfilment with her relationship with her closest friends.

If you are feeling like you’re waiting for your true love to find you, you’re not alone. Know that you are open to love, new experiences and to the prospect of finding someone to fits into your already amazing life.

The most important thing in our lives is self happiness – start by loving yourself some more and who knows just who might be around the corner.

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How Reading My Teenage Diary Helped Me With Self Acceptance

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It’s amazing what reminiscing about the past can do for your current self.

Over the weekend, in between cleaning, I came across my collection of diaries/journals I kept from age 10-21. I used them to write about anything and everything. From the boys I had a crush on, to my thoughts on friends/family and the moments in my life which caused me great heartache or joy. I guess I’ve always loved to write.

Reading entries from 10 year old me to 21 year old me, it became incredibly apparent to me how much I have grown as a person. Of course, 10 year old me would be different to 26 year old me, that’s kind of a given (and a hope). The thing that surprised me was just how much I have matured from 21-26. How my views on life/love have changed. Most importantly, how my views on myself have changed. Reading diary entries from my 20 year old self was almost as if I was reading writing from someone else.

I feel like my most important years for growth (so far) have been ages 18-22. When high school ended and I began working, trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I began drifting away from certain friends and also making new ones. I also experienced some extremely happy times and some incredibly sad times between those ages. They were years I think many people will agree were formative and although some days were tough to get through, I now realise, looking back, that I needed those days and those years to move closer to self acceptance.

18 year old me honestly believed she needed to find love and get married/have babies by the time she was 25-30. 26 year old me is single and although she’d love to find love, marriage/babies is the furthest thing from her mind. 20 year old me was so content with finding a job which she could do forever. 26 year old me realises not all jobs are meant to last for years and even the ones you only get to work at for a few months will teach you something about people and a lot about yourself.

19 year old me was so hurt by people she didn’t even know. She was so intent on pleasing everyone and fixing everybody’s problems, even when they didn’t necessarily need her to help. 26 year old me has (only recently) realised that she cannot help anyone without first helping herself and loving herself/taking herself to the best of her ability.

Then there’s Teenage Me. I don’t even know where to start with her! I will say that when you’re 14, friends mean everything to you and in a different way than they do in adulthood. 14 year old me trusted people so easily, confided in the wrong people and got her heart broken by ‘friends’ who were honestly probably just as selfish as she was. 26 year old me still trusts people too easily, but knows when to keep her mouth shut regarding things she doesn’t want the world knowing about. She may not have as many friends as she did in high school (who does though?) but the ones she does have would be there for her at the drop of a hat.

The person I used to be, or the people I used to be, all lead me to be the woman I am today. No matter how embarrassing some of my old diary entries are – let me tell you, there are doozies – they truly remind me how far I have come in life and how much I have learned about myself and my capabilities as an individual over the years.

Usually I talk about moving forward and keeping the past in the past. I still think that this is an important way to get through life’s struggles, but sometimes it’s important to look back and marvel at how far you’ve come. Read an old diary, look through scrapbooks, smile at old photos and even read old letters from friends you may have forgotten you had. Then, turn your attention back to the You of today and hopefully you’ll see how far you’ve come and how much more you have left to achieve for yourself.

Sometimes, in order to continue down the path of self-acceptance, we need to look behind us every now and then.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing, don’t you agree? Did you keep a diary/journal as a teen? How have you changed through the years?

Keep growing,

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Never Stop Feeling

 

It’s so hard to remain true to ourselves some days.

Just when we feel like we’ve grown up enough to be okay with the person we are and the personality we embody, this year especially seems to have tried to harden us up more than we possibly ask to be.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who grew up as a relatively shy, quiet child and had comments from family and friends alike on how ‘soft’ and ‘gentle’ I was right through my teen years. Truth be told, I never took the comments as an insult, if they were intended that way. The way I was raised definitely connects to who I am today and how I possibly come across to others personality-wise.

But I realise that others aren’t as lucky as I was. There are children out there being told to toughen up, speak louder and be the boss more than they want to. There are little girls and boys who just want to sit on the sidelines and are actually content in doing so. Teenagers who would rather go to a soccer game and cheer from the sidelines, than actually play the game. It saddens me that sometimes the world can be so heavy on us and these young people change who they are to either fit in with friends or to stop ridicule from their own family/friends.

It’s so hard to be yourself in a world where so much is happening every single day. With new tragedy being reported on our televisions/phones/computers 24/7. It’s almost as if the world wants us to harden up and just accept that we need to let these horrible events roll off our shoulders and be desensitised to it all.

That scares me. What will people be like in 10 years time if we become so used to tragedy? Will we just post a photo on Instagram and then get on with our days, knowing there are people living through horror?

The point of this post is to really reiterate the fact that it’s okay to feel. It’s okay to be affected by the death of a celebrity, or a terror attack in a foreign country, or the news of mistreatment of animals by humans, or anything else that makes you feel something.

It is okay to be emotional about someone or something that doesn’t directly affect you. It is okay to express that emotion by writing about it, or talking about it with people who you are close to. We shouldn’t have to keep the things that cause us heartache to ourselves. Because although some things may not affect some, they can affect others incredibly deeply.

Don’t lose your softness. Feel things. Express yourself. No matter how old you get – it’s okay to be who you truly want to be and not who others expect you to be.

Stay true to yourselves and feel everything. The world is so much more than what we turn our backs to every day.

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Life Advice – 5 ways I harness my anxiety

After a less-than-positive day, I wanted to use my personal struggle with anxiety issues as a basis for this post.

Today was planned to be a very productive day, and from the moment my eyes opened this morning, I knew it would not be going according to schedule.

Anxiety of any form makes life incredibly difficult. Most days it is undetectable by others that I am struggling. And then there are days where it is out there, at it’s worst and available for the whole world to see.

This isn’t going to be the story about my past issues with anxiety, or a deep description of how it feels on my worst days to battle such a illness. The truth is: if you suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, you already know what it feels like.

I wanted to take what I have learned about harnessing my anxiety issues. I use the word ‘harness’ as that is exactly what we need to do – take the reins of the thing trying to control our emotions and our body and steer our anxiety to a safe place.

 

1.. Breathe

This is one I am sure you’ve heard before during moments where someone else can recognise you’re feeling overwhelmed. However, if you learn how to breathe for relaxation purposes, it can be incredibly calming.

There are YouTube videos which can help you with learning how to focus on your breathing during anxious times as well as an amazing app which I have been using for the past year. Taking a few minutes at the beginning of your day to (try) and centre yourself, your thoughts and your mind can really effect your overall wellbeing positively.

 

2.. Time Out

Not everyone has the ability to drop everything and take a sick day. However, taking time out during your day to be alone can be extremely helpful in clearing your mind and recharging your body. Whether it’s taking an hour in the morning to read, or spending some time in the evening watching an episode of your favourite TV show; doing ‘nothing’ and isolating yourself for a small time can really help defuse an anxious period.

 

3.. Write It Down

Having a place to write down how you feel on a daily basis can be really cathartic and also very helpful in the event of seeking help from a professional as you have your thoughts/feelings written down for reference. Don’t be afraid to be honest with how you feel on a daily basis, even trying to write down what setting/event you may have been exposed to during moments where your anxiety is heightened. Just as important, write about times when you’re feeling better, and how you might have been able to get your anxiety under control.

 

4.. Work Out

Now, I’m not one to tell you to get on the treadmill for 30 minutes, followed by a pilates session every morning…but, sometimes moving and working out does help with releasing tension, focusing on yourself and gaining some endorphins from whatever makes you work up a sweat. Try and find 20 minutes a day to go for a walk outside (fresh air does wonders for the soul), or put on a work out DVD or find a video on YouTube to follow which might be entertaining to try.

 

5.. Talk To Someone

As much as the thought of talking to a complete stranger about our anxiety and personal issues seems frightening (and, well, it is for the first session), getting help is sometimes exactly what we need to find a better path for us to continue learning about ourselves.

Speaking as someone who has seen a counsellor before, sometimes all you may need is someone you don’t know to tell you that how you are feeling is okay. Knowing that you are not the only one feeling the way you are can be comforting and also can be incredibly beneficial when you are seeking help.

If you are after someone to talk to over the phone, whether it’s due to an urgent matter, or you don’t wish to be seen face-to-face, there are also phone helplines which are designed to speak with people any time of the day or night (and they are usually a free call, too).

 

Your mental health is important. How you feel on a daily basis is important. My hope is that the next generation are able to speak out about their anxiety issues with more support and understanding that the generations before us.

You are never alone in your struggle and please remember that it is never too late to reach out if you think you need a helping hand in harnessing your anxiety issues, no matter how big or small they may seem.

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Life Advice – starting over

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If you had told me this time last year that I would be accepting redundancy from my job next week, I would have slapped you in the face and called you a liar.

It’s amazing not only how much things around us can change in the space of a year or a month or even a week; but how our reactions can change as well. Our confidence levels can increase or drop and our ability to make somewhat difficult decisions can be relatively easy.

Looking forward at the coming months, I know that I will find another job. When or where is yet to be seen, but I am looking at things in a positive way. This is my chance to start fresh and start over. Sometimes all it takes is 1 thing in our lives to be out of whack for us to decide to take a new path. Whether that path is still being paved or whether we know exactly what is coming next, starting over can be daunting. But it can also be incredibly empowering.

Take matters into your own hands and make the decision to try and be positive. I say try because we all have days where we just don’t understand why certain things had to happen to us. I have questioned “Why?” so many times over the past month and have cried over the choices I have had to make more than a few times. But there is only so much moping than you can do before you realise you are achieving nothing by focusing on negativity. Stand tall, look forward and know that things will be alright in the long run.

Sometimes it can take a major lifestyle change in order for us to really start over. Whether it’s changing jobs, moving to a new city, dealing with the passing of a loved one or going through the breakdown of a relationship, these things can help us decide to begin a new path.

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Personally, I have been setting goals for myself now that I know I will most probably be without a job next month. I want to focus more on health/fitness, get outside in the sunshine more, write more and spend more time improving myself for nobody’s benefit but my own. Setting goals for yourself during times of change can be incredibly beneficial for your wellbeing. It is so easy to fall into a slump and not want to do anything, but picking yourself up and writing a simple list of what you want to achieve – whether they be daily, weekly or long-term goals – can be so helpful on getting yourself back on that path that’s being paved.

Another awesome thing about starting over is making the decision to change something about yourself. Whether you decide to dye your hair a different colour, or cut it off, sometimes the best way to start over is to make that change in your appearance. We all know of people who have cut their hair after a major life event has occured – how liberated do they always look? Do something different – wear a different shade of lipstick, wear different shoes, swap skirts for pants…change it up!

This is OUR TIME to feel liberated and motivated for our next chapter. There is nobody standing in your way of achieving your goals but you! Push past those times where starting over can feel like you’re stuck in a car without gas and get yourself to that service station for a tune-up!

If you are currently starting a new chapter in life, just know that you are not alone. Things will be okay – keep paving that path and eventually you will arrive at your next destination.

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Life Advice – you are not ‘running behind’ on life

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It seems simple enough: we grow up being told we need to stick to a certain plan which was mapped out for us by our parents. We go to school, get a job and eventually some of us go to university. And then we follow a plan which we think  was mapped by ourselves, when we are actually looking to our friends/people around the same age of us for comparison that we are doing well on our journeys.

In recent times I have found that I have been looking around at other people’s lives a lot and, in turn, comparing what I am doing to what others are doing.

My achievements and strengths seemed to diminish while comparing myself to others. I realized that while a lot of my friends have moved out of home and bought their own homes this past year, I am still at home with my family.

Isn’t it funny how comparing ourselves to others can sometimes bring out our most negative side?

After some thinking about my life and whether I am happy with things the way they are at the moment, I came to this conclusion: just because people around you are moving forward, it does not mean that you have to as well. It is perfectly okay to be comfortable with the life you have, especially if you are happy with your current situation.

Living on my own is definitely a goal I have set for myself for the coming year. It is a goal I have set primarily for my own benefit and not because I want to be like my friends. (Although, seeing some of my friends new homes has definitely given me inspiration for my future home!)

It is important to make your life decisions based on what YOU want and need. Comparing yourself to friends is sometimes not realistic to what you are able to achieve.

Take a moment and write down your goals for the next 5 years. Some may be big goals and some may be small. Next, write down what you will need to do in order to achieve those goals. For example; you may need to save more money, or get a second job, look into taking some kind of course, or do research online…there are many steps to be taken in order to achieve your goals.

Just because you are not doing what everyone else is doing, it doesn’t mean you are behind on life. There is no set guideline for how we should live our lives throughout our twenties. Things go wrong, plans fall through and I guarantee that we do not usually end up in the same place we started by the time we turn thirty.

It’s scary and it’s hard, but if you stay true to yourself and to your goals and ambitions, your life will work itself out eventually. Who knows, your friends may be looking at you and wishing they had your life!

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Life Advice – stay present

It’s so hard not to dwell on the past or worry about the future.

Staying true and present within ourselves and living with what each day gives us can be hard, but I have recently found that living this way helps keep my anxiety at bay.

We cannot change what has happened in the past, we can only learn from our mistakes and remember the moments that made us feel truly alive and carry those lessons with us throughout daily life.

Be open to change, welcome challenges and take a moment each day to remember your goals for yourself. Be there for your loved ones but also recognize when things are weighing you down and take a step back if need be.

Who we are makes a difference and sometimes it may seem like the whole world is against us. Hold your head high, take a deep breath and move forward, for what is still to come, we do not know and that is incredibly exciting.

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Life Advice – how change can be positive

I have always called myself the Pollyanna of my workplace.

With a positive, optimistic outlook on life, I have always managed to take a negative situation and spin it into a somewhat positive situation. It’s something I take pride in – the ability to see the bigger picture over the here and now.

However, in recent weeks after deciding to take a voluntary redundancy from my job – which currently will leave me unemployed within a month – trying to remain positive and optimistic has been hard.

Change can be a wonderful thing if you are able to look at it as a good thing. Most endings bring new beginnings, and while I couldn’t see it for a while, I know my job ending leaves me open to a new chapter. Not just a new professional chapter, but a new chapter in life if that is what I want.

It can be so easy to fall into a negative slump. Trust me when I say that I have been there many times and it is hard to hold my head high and look further down the road to where things may get better.

Important things I try to ask myself during times of important life changes are:

  • “How do you feel now the decision has been made?” 

I was once told that the feeling of relief after making a very difficult decision is a sign that it was the right one. My recent decision to take redundancy was a hard one, but once things were finalized and the weight was lifted off my shoulders, I felt a huge wave of relief. Trust those feelings.

  • “Think of life this time 6 months ago – how much has changed in such a short amount of time? How can life change again in another 6 months or even a year?”

Looking into the future is something I try not to do too often as it can cause stress and worrying about things that probably will never happen. However, in times of change I like to think of how much positive change can occur in such a short space of time. It happens every day and sometimes we do not take enough time to appreciate just how far we have come and what barriers we have broken in order to get to the place we are right now. Keep your thoughts positive and perspective optimistic.

  • “Am I open to the world and whatever positive changes are about to come my way or am I shutting myself off, blocking any possible change that may be trying to make its way through to me?”

I am a big believer in being in-tune with the world around us. If we shut ourselves away and let negativity take over our minds and bodies, how do we expect those around us to help us? Not just friends and family, but everybody. We are all connected by energy and we all are drawn to certain people because of the energy they radiate. If we want good things to happen, we need to be open to it. Sometimes things we think are too far out of our reach just need to know you truly want them before they make themselves known.

  • “Who in my life can help me through times of negativity?”

Staying positive through times of change can get hard. Some days are harder than others. It is important to have people surrounding us who we can count on for support and confiding. Whether that is a parent, friend, work college or counselor, it is important to offload and receive validation that our thoughts and feelings are understood. There are even telephone hotlines you may wish to call who offer free counselling support 24/7 if things get to be too much.

  • “How can I help guide myself through times of negativity affected by change?”

Because we have to live with ourselves all day, every day. And if we can recognise that things aren’t so great at the moment, it is important for us to also recognise ways that we may be able to make things better. Whether it is treating yourself to a pedicure, or watching your favourite movie, or going for a walk in the sunshine while your favourite song plays on your ipod…there are endless things you can do to make yourself feel better.

Take a moment to focus on your breathing techniques. There are some amazing apps which assist in regulating breathing during times of stress. Sometimes 5 minutes a day of focused breathing can make a world of difference.

Wise words from my favourite lady, Miss Swift.

Change can be incredibly scary but you never have to go through it alone. Try to see the bigger picture and remain as positive as possible. If things get too much, it is also OK to let things out and if you need to cry or get angry or eat a pint of ice cream to feel somewhat better – I recommend it!

Lastly, if you are experiencing some kind of uncertain change at the moment, I hope things go well for you soon. Life is interesting in the way good things happen to people and sometimes you need to experience low moments before you can soar back into those incredible heights.

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