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

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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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