Oh what a year!

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Generally New Years Eve is spent creating resolutions for the coming year. For me, today meant having a little freak out because I have no idea what next year brings. Literally no idea!

I am absolutely stoked to be saying goodbye to 2016. Worst year of my life! A year that saw me mentally, emotionally and financially at my lowest. A year that was filled with tears and heartbreak and mistreatment from others. A year full of change. A year full of downright horrible-ness!!

This year was also a year of personal triumph, resilience, perseverance, and of survival. A year that I leant fully on God and he got me through. That is one thing about tough times, you tend to discover who you really are. When everything else is stripped back and you have only God to depend on, you realise that is all you really need.

2016 also brought support from others, especially my parents. Some new friendships and some old ones rekindled. Friendship and support that helped me through, beautiful words of kindness and hugs when I needed them. I am so grateful to all those who were there for me this year.

As I sit here wanting for 2017 to be one where I can make a difference, I am also worried about making the wrong choices for my future. I’m worried about experiencing another horrid year and about not living up to expectations I have put on myself or that I think others might have for me. But I think I’ll have to take each day as it comes, be myself and see what the wind blows my way.

I’m not one for making New Years resolutions because I reckon they put too much pressure on you if you muck up. But this coming year I’m going to make some New Years goals instead I think! I plan on putting God first and trying my hardest to follow his plans (whatever they are and however scary they might be). I plan on being a person who others can count on. I plan on completing some more study, my Masters to be precise. Which is the part of next year I am finding the scariest! I hated uni the first time round, but it feels like the only thing that has really presented itself – so here goes!

Hopefully this time next year I will be writing about the things I have achieved and not about how gosh darn hard it has been to have gotten through this year! 2016 was the year of survival but I am hoping 2017 will be the year of prospering.

Even though this year has sucked big time, I am still blown away by how blessed I am! I have a fabulous family & caring friends, I live in a great country and have so many things available to me with such ease. And most of all I have a God who has everything sorted.

Bring on the scary, exciting-ness of 2017!

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But I’m scared!

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Picture this…

It’s past midnight and I’m well and truly asleep. A noice wakes me and my heart starts beating a million miles an hour. I’m on my own, so there shouldn’t be any noise. There it is again! It’s a rustling sound and it’s coming from the kitchen. I grab my hockey stick and head towards it, but the floor outside my room creaks and my legs stop. They’re glued to the carpet. I try to slow my breathing so I can hear over my heartbeat. Adrenaline is coursing through by whole body and I’m ready to start crying. I’m thinking ‘what am I going to do? Clobber someone over the head with my hockey stick? I can’t do that!’. What do I do? I am so scared…

I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Fight, Flight, Freeze response? It’s what our brain does when it thinks we are in danger. It will either attack to protect us or those around us, flee from the danger or freeze you in place.

Now I know my story above sounds pretty scary and how lucky am I to have survived a burglar!? How brave was I to confront the source of the sound? Turns out the sound I heard was just a bunch of cockroaches having a party in my kitchen. Not really scary hey? Boy, did I feel silly! Especially after turning on every single light in my house just to double check (even after I discovered it was just roaches). The thing is my brain didn’t know that it was just some gross bugs but it tried to protect me anyway.

Sometimes in life we get scared, though not always of something tangible. It might be the unknown or a memory of something or being worried something similar to a scary time will happen again. And here’s what I have learnt, our brain protects us whenever it perceives that we are in danger. So a loud noise might reignite the reaction in our brain or a smell similar to something from when we were scared in the past might trigger that same feeling of fear.

I am in a bit of a limbo stage in my life at the moment and I am scared of what next step to make. Now my brain is not trying to protect me from danger by giving me super human strength or super fast running legs. It is however making me think A LOT! It is mulling over every possibility of what my future could possibly look like to ensure I am ready for whatever comes at me. Isn’t our brain amazing?!

I am scared none-the-less though. I am scared of making the wrong choice. I am scared of sucking at whichever path I choose and I am scared of putting myself back out there and being treated like crap again. But here’s the thing, if I just stay here in this limbo stage I think I might lose my mind from boredom! And sitting around in my house, being too scared to make that next step is not what God wants for me. He wants me to be brave, like I was that night when I went to discover what the noise was.

He wants me to step out in faith. As Nike says to Just Do It. He will show me if that wasn’t the right step by closing that door. And then I go to the next door, and the next and the next until I find that ‘thing’ that God has in store for me. Being scared shouldn’t stop me from trying! It might make me pause but it’s up to me to push past the many possibilities my brain has conjured up and have a go.

Now I could say ‘don’t be scared’ but I won’t because we will all feel scared at some point and it’s all part of our super clever brain trying to keep us safe. I will say though,  listen to your brain when it gives you that little niggle that something doesn’t feel quite right. But be brave and try not to let fear stop you from living your life!

Sing and be merry!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Step into Christmas. Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Have a holy jolly Christmas. And all other carols!

I am really getting into the carols this year and I thought to get you all ready and excited I would share my top 10 Christmas carols of this year. Then you can start a playlist of your own and play it non-stop for the next 10 days (although I have been playing my Christmas songs playlist solidly for at least 4 weeks now!!)

Now it has been very hard for me to choose only 10 (mostly because my Spotify playlist it 191 songs and growing!)…so here goes!

10. ‘Up On The House Top’ by The Jackson 5

9. ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ by Wizzard – I really do!

8. ‘Sleigh Ride’ by Human Nature & Jessica Mauboy

7. ‘White Christmas’ by The Drifters

6. ‘Silver Bells’ by Michael Buble & Naturally 7

5. ‘Step Into Christmas’ by The Puppini Sisters

4. ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham! – couldn’t miss out this classic!

3. ‘Jingle Bells’ by Michael Buble & The Puppini Sisters

2. ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ by Michael Buble

And 1. All Christmas songs by Pentatonix. That counts right? It was just too hard choose!

I hope this has inspired you to get into the Christmas spirit and dust off the ol’ singing voice! Let me know your favourites.

While Christmas really is the most wonderful time, don’t forget there is more to it than all the twinkly lights, presents & food babies. Enjoy time with family – whether they are your immediate family or an adopted one – and share the love. But remember the love that was given to all of us on Christmas Day many thousands of years ago.

Merry Christmas to you all xx

 

 

Remember or forget?

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Being that the year is drawing to a close, one might be forgiven for reminiscing over the year that has been 2016. This has also gotten me thinking about the years that came before that and what occurred during them as well.

I know that many people say – ‘leave the past in the past’ or ‘don’t let your past define you’ – and I think that dwelling on what has already happened is not the best option. Although, I do think it is important to remember what your life has been up until this moment as it has made you who you are.

There is a lot to learn and to remember from the past. There are moments of laughter and celebration. Moments of broken hearts that made me want to give up. Moments shared with friends or conquered on my own. Moments that have shaped me. Moments that have all happened in the past.

Yes, the past is done and there is absolutely nothing we can do to change our choices, take away our memories or even erase our embarrassing hairdos. So let’s store them all away so we can think back to how all of these times have made us who we are. And make sure we don’t repeat certain things!

Whether you have experienced something really tough or been hurt by someone else. Had a great adventure with a friend or achieved something you didn’t think you could on your own. These moments all played a part in creating the glorious person YOU are this very second – scars and all!

Use your past to keep you grounded and remind you of the bad choices you may have made so you don’t repeat them. The crappy things that have happened to you so you can avoid those situations where possible. The people who treated you badly so you don’t treat others that way. The things you have achieved and how that felt so you can strive to feel that way again.

So I don’t know about you but I am definitely not letting my past consume me! I am going to use it as a springboard for being the best person I can be though!! Someone wonderful told me recently, when you feel like the roof is pressing down, use it as the floor for your next story – a platform if you will – that leads you onwards and upwards.

The past may be hard, we have all experienced things that we don’t want to revisit. But they happened, as crappy as they were, they happened. I’m sure there’s also some amazing experiences too, so focus on them!

So what do you think? Will you remember or will you forget?

Saying goodbye

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Goodbyes are not easy, especially when they aren’t expected. Whether it be to a person, a place, an experience or a season of your life. But when you think about it, how lucky are we to have known someone or experienced something in our life that is so hard to say goodbye to. Surely the memories are worth it!

The last little while has been hard for me. I left my teaching job quite abruptly due to a bunch of reasons and didn’t get to do the goodbye thing. These last few months I’ve been recovering from the stress of it all and I haven’t had a chance to really remember.

Remember the good times I had. Remember the aspects of my job that I loved. Remember the wonderful people I worked with. Remember the families I got to know over the past two and a half years. Remember the children, the children that eternally have my heart and currently monopolise my thoughts, wondering how they are and if they miss me.

But I have been lucky enough to catch up with a couple of the families and almost all of the staff I worked with. How lovely that has been! What wonderful people I hope to have in my life for a long time to come. Seeing all these people has reminded me of the things I loved, the things I miss and has forced me to say goodbye.

Goodbye to who I was there and goodbye to what happened. Sometimes though, it’s not the goodbyes that hurt it’s the flashbacks that follow. It’s nice to be reminded of the good times but sometimes that just makes it hurt more, makes you miss it more. Reminds you of the crappy stuff you went through too.

Although I know I made the right decision for myself, I have realised that I miss it. I miss Early Childhood and I miss being part of something that impacts a child’s future. I miss always having paint or glue on me somewhere. I miss making resources. I miss reading stories. I miss eating cakes made of sand. I miss it all! I have had to say goodbye to that for a little while, which is hard. Sometimes goodbyes are just ‘see you later’. That’s what I hope for being a teacher.

Goodbyes are hard, because sometimes they mean letting go of something. Moving on. Maybe it’s a relationship that is no longer healthy or a friendship that has become one-sided. Maybe it’s a plan you had. Maybe it’s something that you don’t want to move on from.

But you know what they say…”If you love something let it go. If it comes back to you it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, it never was, and it’s not meant to be”.

It’s just me

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I’ve been living on my own for the last month, after living with housemates for the past 6 or so years. And it has been really lovely, I’ve been able to just be for a while but it has also given me a lot of time to think about my life and about me.

Being single is all I have ever known (except for that 6 hour relationship I had in year 7 where I didn’t talk to or see my “boyfriend”) and you know what? I like being single! I don’t know why there are so many people so obsessed with being in a relationship. I mean, yes, I want to be a ‘we’ but why can’t I enjoy being single until that day comes? Why is it that people struggle to be on their own?

I mean, come on – I can not shave my legs for a week and no-one complains! (except the kids at work who discover I have spikes!). I think I have learnt so much being on my own, I have been able to know myself better and become really sure of what I want when I do become an ‘us’. I have also been able to learn more about who I am in God. I think – actually I know, that if I had been a ‘we’ before now I would not have been able to grow as much as I have. If I had had a boyfriend going through my HSC or through uni I think I would have probably flunked as I know how distracted I get when I just have a crush. I would have missed out on some really important opportunities for growth in my life.

A girl I know from my hometown wrote a book called One Single Purpose and it has really helped me on this journey of being a single gal. It has a lot of reminders about why you should enjoy the stage you are at. It has a lot of stories that make me feel like it is ok that I am 26 and single because there are amazing things in store for me no matter my age and no matter my Facebook relationship status. Whether they be on my own or with someone else, I’m not sure yet.

Don’t get me wrong I want to be a Mrs, but I have had to accept that God has other plans for me right now and I would have missed them if I was too busy drooling over Mr tall, dark and handsome. It is a struggle that I have to work through all the time, when I get distracted by cuties I have to mentally say to myself “I am not here to find a husband. I am here for this particular experience”. It sounds really silly when I write it but it really is something I have to make myself do because God didn’t put me on this earth just to be part of an ‘us’ – that may be something he has in store for me down the track (and gosh I hope he does!) – but it’s not the only thing he has planned.

Sometimes I question why I am still single because it’s something I have always wanted, to be a ‘we’. It really hurts sometimes – like, is there something about me that is the reason why? (watching The Bachelorette while I write this probably doesn’t help!) I have to stop myself and say “It will happen when it is meant to happen” and gee I hope it’s amazing when it does!

For right now, at this point in life’s journey I am trying really hard to embrace who I am. To not become too focused on becoming an ‘us’ but to really enjoy being 26 and enjoy being single.

Take care.

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Looking after yourself is so important! Over these last few months I have learnt just how crucial it is to your wellbeing that you stop and take a moment for yourself, especially when life it tough. And truthfully, when isn’t it?!

After chatting with a beautiful friend the other day about how she was feeling burnt out and losing her love of something she enjoys and is really good at, I started thinking back on decisions I’ve made in the past to push my own needs to the bottom of the pile and deal with everything else first. I learnt the hard way that if you don’t take care of yourself – all aspect of yourself – then stuff gets so much harder, you feel overwhelmed and life is not what it could be. You’re just going through the motions, gliding through in autopilot.

After going through a really crappy season of my own life I’ve been provided with some overdue R&R time, I’ve been able to do some things I really enjoy as well as think about what I want out of life. Doing these things has gone a long way towards improving my mental, emotional and physical health. I have been able to put me first which is not my natural go-to move!

So here are my top tips for taking care of yourself…

  1. Laugh! I have put this first because I love to laugh and it truly makes things better. Having a good laugh makes the crappy stuff feel a little easier to handle. Whether it’s laughing with a friend or watching a crazy cat video or remembering something funny that happened the other day – it all helps! Scientifically there are also a bunch of health benefits, laughing is actually good for your health!!
  2. Make the time to do something you enjoy. This can be hard when life is busy. You feel selfish for taking that time but in the long run I think it is really beneficial, for you and those around you. Being able to relax and reset gives you the oomph you need to give your all in whatever it is you’re doing. So whatever it is – painting, reading, gardening, having a bubble bath, doing a puzzle, working on your car, baking a cake, going for a walk or listening to music – do it! Do it for as long as you can (even if that is not much) but try and set aside a chunk of regular time, maybe once a week, that you can really get into whatever it is you enjoy.
  3. Move your butt! This is one that I really struggle with but whenever I get my heart rate up I feel so much better. And I am sure my body thanks me for it!
  4. Get amongst nature. Spending time in the sun (be sun safe kids!) or in nature is always something I enjoy. Not only do you get to see some amazing creations – flowers, birds, animals, insects; but your body actually benefits from it (science backs me up on that one too!)! I’ve seen it in kids, when they are outside they are learning so much and resetting their minds and their bodies. The smells and sounds and things they can touch are so different from the stuff that is inside and they benefit from it! It is the same for adults, our inner being needs nature to be happier overall.
  5. Do something for someone else. This one gives me all the positive feels when I purposefully do something for someone else and I think that the world would be a much better place if we all thought of others more. Is there someone in your world having a tough time? Can you write them a card, make them dinner, mow their lawn or shout them a coffee? Is there a charity you really like that could use some help making phone calls or doing some shredding? Take a minute to think of what you can do for others and I think you’ll find that you feel better afterwards.
  6. Spend time with people you enjoy being with. Whether it is friends or family, spend as much time as you can with people who really add to your life. Not in a creepy, stalker way but in a ‘I like to spend time with you’ way 🙂 If there are people who are not bringing anything positive to your life then spend a moment to evaluate if they belong and deserve your time. This can be hard but I think it is worth it. Now I know that there are people who you might not have a choice about (like a colleague, family member or friends’ partner) and I am definitely not saying you tell them to stick it and never see them again! But make the choice to spend your precious time with those who you truly enjoy being with.

Now I know there are tonnes more ways to take care of yourself, as everyone enjoys different stuff, and I am certainly not an expert on any of it! But I think it is really important that we make a conscious effort to do at least one of these and put ourselves first once in a while. Is there any others that you find help you to relax?

Take a deep breath, find something just for you and enjoy your life.