Get Excited About Ageing And Other Life Lessons I’ve Learned

It’s my Nan’s 80th birthday today, and it was my Pop’s 86th birthday the other day. So this weekend we’re getting together to celebrate in style with champagne, food and family. Something I’ve heard since Nan’s 79th birthday has been “Aw I just can’t wait to be 80!” and “I will have finally made it when I’m 80” followed by “all my friends are in their 80’s and I just want to be able to say I’m 80 too!” (spoken in Nan’s iconic voice – if you know you know).

You could mistake my Patricia for a 17 year old anxiously and eagerly awaiting their 18th birthday. Her energy and excitement is infectious and it’s become a running theme in my day to day discussions – Nan’s anticipation for her 80th. My Nan is one of the kindest, most excitable and technologically savvy people I know. She’s renowned for many things: her caramel slice, her iconic voice, and when we drive out of the driveway, she won’t stop waving until it’s physically impossible to see each other – the best kind of send off you could imagine.

My Pop, often referred to as Jack or John – you get to choose, enjoys life’s simple pleasures. A good book, a good TV show, a good cuppa, a good biccie and a good cat or dog to pat and talk to. Pop is a man of few words, but when he does open up, it’s always surprising what kind of things he says. Despite having another woman’s name tattooed on his forearm (I think you inspired my interest in tattoos Pop – sorry I’m going to blame that one on you), Nan and Pop are gorgeous people who have taught me so much.

They have lived most of their lives in the same house in Toronto and I have the most vivid and precious memories of exploring the house, the backyard and the depths of ‘under the house,’ from when we were kids. Nan and Pop’s place was always a meeting place for Dad’s family so see my cousins and Aunties and Uncle. So I always look forward to going there and feel flooded with amazing memories.

I recently wrote a post about 26 things I’ve learned from my Grandma and Grandad (my Mum’s parents), and with a milestone birthday like 80 and 86, I thought it was the perfect occasion to share 26 things I’ve learned from my Nan and Pop – because I’ve known them for my 26 years on earth.

26 Things I’ve Learned From and Love About My Nan and Pop

  1. Get excited about ageing, not everyone has the privilege of turning another year older. If my Nan can be giddy with excitement about turning 80, then you can get excited about whatever age you’re turning
  2. Ask and you might just receive. We were at the shops with Nan once and we asked for a tray of mangoes (far too many mangoes for three little kids). Nan bought the tray and it was one of the happiest days of my life
  3. Trains are awesome
  4. So are tattoos
  5. Reach out to the people you love. You can always rely on Nan to leave a supportive comment on a Facebook photo of yours
  6. It doesn’t matter how tall you are, Nan will find a way to wrap her arms around you
  7. You’re never too old to pop a bottle of champagne and get cut off at the bar
  8. There’s nothing like snuggling up next to a fireplace in winter
  9. Nothing will ever come close to Nan’s caramel slice
  10. You don’t need a car, you can get anywhere you need with kind people around you, determination and patience
  11. You can smoke your whole life and still make it to 86 (though it’s probably not advised, it’s still a fun fact I like to remember)
  12. There’s nothing like sitting in the sun on your balcony reading a book
  13. Ordering stuff off the internet is addictive
  14. Knitting is witchcraft and I don’t know how you do it so quickly
  15. There’s nothing quite like one of Nan’s knitted creations
  16. There’s no one quite like the Haynes’
  17. Nothing beats hot chippies
  18. Piggybacks are an effective form of transportation, though it might break your back
  19. You can never have too many dogs
  20. iToy is a form of cardio
  21. There’s nothing Pop can’t fix
  22. There’s nothing Nan can’t cook
  23. A coffee down by the lake is one of the best things you can do
  24. If I won the lotto I would buy an apartment on the lake for you (THEN you will have really made it)
  25. Sometimes the simple things in life are the best
  26. We’re so lucky to have the family we have, and thank you for being the leaders of our crazy Haynes bunch – we love you

Nan and Pop, thank you for your love, support and wisdom. I’m lucky to have benefited from 26 years of your influence. Pop, 86 is incredible. You have defied all the odds which just goes to show how truly stubborn us Haynes’ can be. And Nan, you’ve finally made it to 80! We love you and can’t wait to celebrate all the milestones coming your way (81, 82, 83). I’ll order the wine now!

Stories from my grandad: PART I

For those of you who know the famous Peter Thompson, he hardly needs an introduction. But in case you haven’t had the pleasure, let me set the scene for you. My Grandad is many things, but in my mind he is first and foremost a storyteller. A great storyteller. And the key to a great storyteller is a fact checker – enter my gorgeous Grandma. Grandma has kept him accountable and kept him in line when he felt the need to take creative license with his stories.

Some of the other hats Grandad has worn is Dad, Grandad, Greatgrandad, entrepreneur, manager, public speaker, wood turner, friend, traveller, fixer-upper… the list is actually endless. Through these many hats, he has taught me a lot. As my Dad pointed out, he instilled an immense sense of pride in each of us and allowed us to strive and work towards excellence. I think this is where I developed crazy high standards of myself, because my Grandad believes I can do anything I set my mind to. I’m very grateful for this gift.

Memories of my Grandad when we were young include sitting and listening to his wild and crazy stories from his boarding school days in the Blue Mountains and being terrorised by Brother Malackey, to growing up in Corrimal, to driving a wooden caravan across the Nullarbor plain and getting stuck in a sandstorm.

Born in 1936, my Grandad has seen a lot, been through a lot and created a lot. And he’s created, well completed, a book of writing prompts. Towards the end of 2019, Grandad was diagnosed with cancer, an awful disease which he is bravely and strongly fighting. I knew I needed to capture some of his famous stories so I gifted him a book of writing prompts which he kindly gifted back to me for Christmas.

A few years ago, my Grandad wrote a blog post for a uni assignment, so I thought it was time to bring him back to the blog with some snippets of his stories, and his life.

Grandad… you’ve got too many stories to fit in one blog post. So while I busily type them up and craft them in a way that captures your adventures, cheekiness and energy, I thought I’d begin by sharing some of my favourite things about you and Grandma. I’m lucky I’ve had 26 years of knowing you both, though I don’t think anyone could have predicted my first beer would be before I learnt how to talk (see image above).

Here are 26 things I’ve learned from and love about you.

  1. It’s perfectly acceptable to drink wine that comes from a cask
  2. You can get by with just one eye (though using a gun made by yourself and your brother is not advised)
  3. Learning is fun and cool
  4. So is running fast and looking after your health (I’m still waiting on my pair of golden spikes for winning the 100m dash in my age group)
  5. No matter how far or wide you move, your parents will always track you down and come for an extended visit
  6. It’s important to stay on top of technological advancements so you can Facetime and avoid email scams
  7. October Sky is the best movie ever made
  8. Little Beach and Shoal Bay Beach are the best on earth
  9. Marry someone you’re still obsessed with 65 years later, and deeply, madly, truly in love with
  10. Being a storyteller is a great thing to be known for – it brings people together
  11. Master the art of listening, especially if you end up with a storyteller (see point number 10)
  12. There’s nothing quite like a nice cup of tea and a biccie
  13. Be careful helping someone off the couch, you might just pull them onto the floor (I still can’t stop laughing about that one Grandma)
  14. You can’t get rich off of spock found in the depths of Cooper Pedy
  15. Something as iconic as the Warrnambool kiss can never be forgotton
  16. Travel far and wide, take lots of pictures
  17. The most traumatic thing you will go through is being stuck at preschool ‘All Day Mumma, All Day’
  18. Gifting someone one of your pens is possibly the best gift I could give
  19. Pickles belong on burgers – even though Grandma is willing to dive across the room to pull it off
  20. No one has a better memory than Grandma (except maybe Elly)
  21. Travelling around Australia in a caravan is the ultimate adventure
  22. There’s nothing Grandad can’t fix
  23. Shepard’s Pie is the ultimate comfort food
  24. Asking questions and being curious is a great asset to have
  25. It doesn’t matter how many days or months, you’re always there for a cuddle and to listen to my stories
  26. That above all else, family is love and love is forever

So, Grandma and Grandad, thank you for taking the time to write down some of your stories, I know you’re still busily one-finger-typing the rest of your memoir, just as I’m busily typing out your stories (watch this space). You’ve been so generous with your storytelling so I thought it was my turn to remind you of how much you mean to me.

Navigating Uncertainty and Workplace Insecurity

I recently found out that I’m losing my job. Which honestly didn’t come as a surprise given the economic impact that has hit higher education institutions across Australia. And whilst I am so grateful to have maintained my job throughout the pandemic, and realise how fortunate and lucky I have been to have a consistent income throughout this time – especially when millennials have been disproportionately impacted by job loss across Australia – it still sucks.

I’ve been working at UOW for almost 7 years, which is crazy to say. I studied there, worked there, created a network, friendships and a second family there. So it’s pretty crushing when you hear that the rug is being pulled out from under you. At this time, we’re still figuring out what this all means, and logistically what it will look like. One thing is for certain, there will be job cuts and our little work family is being broken up.

So how do you navigate times of immense stress, especially when your job and associated income is on the line? With so many questions, and little to no answers, how do you know which way is up? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers, but here are a few things that have helped me over the past few months navigate job insecurity and shifting uncertaintly.

Talk, rant, express yourself

Keeping all of these thoughts, feelings and emotions in, no matter how big or small they may seem, will not help you. If you have a colleague or friend that you trust and know that you can be completely open with, this is the person to call.

It’s important to do this because once you’ve said everything you need to say on the topic – you can move on. You’ve released it into the universe, let the universe take that stress from you now.

Control what you can

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that there’s a lot in the world out of our control. And whilst decisions are being made around you and it feels like you have no control over your career, life and path, realise that you do have control over what you do next and how you react.

I won’t lie, I spent several days being incredibly upset and in shock processing these changes. But after speaking to a friend, she reminded me that all we can do is control how we respond and carry ourselves forward. By shifting my attitude and perspective slightly, to look at opportunities available, it completely re-framed how I felt about the change.

Support your colleagues

While it might seem overwhelming being bombarded with Webex messages or emails with ‘are you ok?’ it’s nice to know that I have not only colleagues, but friends out there who care about me. It makes me feel like what I have contributed and what I bring to the organisation matters and hasn’t gone unnoticed.

So reach out, even if you’re not sure what to say, just knowing that someone is there to listen and is going through it with you is sometimes enough to not feel alone.

Have a day or two off

Sick leave and mental health days exist for a reason. When you experience change and an overwhelming sense of what feels like rejection or ‘not-good-enough-itis’ the emotional response results in physical responses. After I was told the news I was absolutely exhausted for several days afterwards. My body flooded with adrenaline and then crashed. I took a few days to feel it all, put things in perspective, and think about what was important to me.

This meant I could come back to work feeling more positive and inspired and actually motivated me to bring my best self to work.

Get sweaty

Go for a run, walk, swim, anything to get your heart pumping. I’m always surprised at how good I feel after a run and how I’m actually not able to think about all the stresses in life because I’m too busy concentrating on breathing.

Plus, channeling your energy into moving your body, physically releasing that stress that’s built up is hugely beneficial.

It’s shit and it’s ok

I’ve come to realise that anxiety, stress and shit times aren’t an Olympic sport. There’s no ‘winner’ (or in this case, loser). While yes, I can realise and acknowledge my luck and privileged position within society and be grateful for that, it doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to complain, cry or be affected by such a significant change in my life.

Change + challenges = growth

While it might be hard to see at the time, challenges and change we go through make us stronger, more resilient and help us grow. I know that it can sometimes feel like you’re running uphill, not making any progress, but maybe this hill will be even bigger and better than the last one.

*

At the end of the day, when all of this is said and done, I am more than my job. I am a whole, complex person with interests, hobbies, friends that actually define me.

There’s always a time to dig deep, work hard and hustle, but during times of stress and change, your own goal should be prioritising your health and wellbeing. Take time to reset, focus on what’s important to you, think about your next move, control what you can and let go of what you can’t.

To all my friends and colleagues who have been through, and are going through change, we’ve got this.

Chasing dreams and wanting different things

There’s certainly no such thing as a perfect break up. As the name suggests, when something breaks it often hurts. Something shatters and you have to be careful not to cut yourself as you pick up the fragments of broken glass. Perhaps it’s called a break ‘up’ because afterwards, everything is up in the air. You question everything. Your future, your beliefs, what you really want in life. You’re looking at all these pieces that have delicately been interconnected for several years hurtling through the air and all you can do is watch and hope you don’t get too hurt.

Sometimes break ups are defined by betrayal, anger or deceit (I’ve been there). Sometimes it’s moving, taking up that dream job interstate or having to return home once your visa expires (also been there). But what happens if there’s no catalyst for your break up? What if, one day you look at each other and you realise, you just want different things?

This is the situation I found myself in a few months ago. And let me tell you, it was extremely difficult. Rewind a few months before that and I was actually planning on packing up my life and moving to Mongolia to work (it’s a long story – basically I found myself a dream opportunity and it happened to be in Ulaanbaatar). Balancing these two desires – the desire to maintain your relationship and follow your dreams – is challenging enough under normal circumstances. It’s even harder when you admit and accept the path you’re on could take you somewhere like Mongolia (and honestly if not Mongolia, Vietnam, Japan, Canada or France). What’s even harder than that, is the moment your partner looks at you and says ‘that’s not what I want.’

When COVID-19 happened and the world went into lockdown, suddenly everything I believed in, was working for, and deeply cared about -travel, adventure, curiosity, connection – felt torn away. My whole life I’d been told that my life was mine to control (ha how naive). That if you worked hard, you could achieve anything (ha how privileged). From a young age, I came to realise that my love of travel was something more than a two-week holiday to the Gold Coast or Bali. It was an identity, a badge that I wore with pride. It was something that I felt defined me, down to my core belief systems.

I’ve been doing this for the majority of my life. From a young age, we moved around Australia (NSW > South Australia > Queensland > NSW), I turned 16 in New Zealand on exchange (my first ever overseas trip over 10 years ago!). I’ve been lucky enough to live around the world, London, France, Canada, Mexico, and I hope there’s many more opportunities like that to come. Mongolia was nearly added to the list.

I always wondered why it was that I was so drawn to travel and living overseas. After all, when your partner doesn’t want the same thing as you, it inherently makes you question why you want those things. Is it just to take photos for Instagram? Is it to spend drunk nights bar hopping around foreign cities? Is it to escape the stress of ‘reality’ in Australia? It wasn’t really until travel was off the table that I reflected on why it was so important to me.

For me, it aligns to deeply with my values of connection, adventure, living a life of purpose, curiosity and constantly learning. Of course, there are always other ways to seek out these things – all of which are equally exciting and valid in their own right. But for me I have never felt more ‘me’ than when I’ve been in a foreign country. When I’ve been fiercely independent, lost in new streets and knew that it was entirely up to me to navigate and shape the life I wanted in this new place.

I am so fortunate that I’ve been able to have the opportunities I’ve had. I’m so lucky and I’ve done nothing to deserve it. Once you get a taste for chasing your dreams, it’s hard to let go.

Which brings me to the moment when we looked at each other late one night, the ghost of my near move to Mongolia, the growing inevitability of a move to Sydney to be closer to work, and the realisation that Sydney and Mongolia meant more than just different living situations. She said the words first. I fought it. I blinked back tears. I didn’t want to accept it. But she had so simply and sweetly voiced what we had both obviously been thinking. Our paths were taking us in different directions, and we realised it was more than just wanting to live in different places.

It’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all. But I tell you, loss fucking sucks. There’s not much worse than coming to terms with the fact that your romantic relationship is coming to an end. But I think something that would be worse is staying in a relationship, not chasing your dreams and end up regretting it – or even worse – resenting the other person. There’s no right or wrong choice, it’s just the choices you have in front of you at any given time.

COVID and the huge shift the world has felt has made me realise what is deeply important to me. My non negotiables. The dreams that are so big they scare me. It was an overdue reminder that life is so fucking short. We’re only on this earth for such a limited amount of time, and I honestly couldn’t bare it if I didn’t at least pursue or explore what is deeply burning within me.

What just might be the hardest part of this breakup is the question of love. Where does it go? Just because you want different things, doesn’t mean that you suddenly don’t love the other person. In fact, I think by accepting the fact that you’re on different paths, and actively choosing to navigate this tricky space with respect, shows how much you love them. Is the hardest breakup, not one filled with hate and betrayal, but one filled with love?

In these times, where things feel uncertain, overwhelming and just plain crazy, know what your values are, explore what your dreams are and hold on tight. Sometimes the hardest thing you’ll have to do is put all of your faith in yourself, but honestly, what if you actually get what you dreamed of? Again, it’s better to chase a dream and not reach it, than have no dream at all.

Of course, I am saddened by the end of this beautiful relationship. But I am delighted that the relationship continues as a caring and respectful friendship, and I am so grateful for all of the memories and experiences we shared together. No one knows what’s coming next, heck I don’t even know if 2020 knows what’s coming next, but I truly believe it will be great. I am determined and I’m chasing that dream.

6 Things I’ve Learnt From Seeing A Psychologist

Last year I started seeing a psychologist. And before you think ‘big deal,’ ‘why should I care,’ ‘what,’ – it is a big deal and I’m damn proud of it. It takes courage to ask for help. It takes commitment, it takes money, it takes a generous mental health care plan to make it affordable, it takes vulnerability and it takes a leap of faith. It requires the thinking ‘maybe this could work.’

I started seeing my psychologist about 12 months ago for a whole range of reasons that I won’t go into. But I must admit, I was very skeptical at first. I always thought I was tough enough to get through anything myself or didn’t need help. But I’ve come to realise that everyone needs support every now and then. That life can be tricky and sometimes you need a roadmap and the tools to get you through it. That sometimes you need an outsider to see you clearly, and help you understand more about yourself.

So, a few sessions, a few breakdowns and a few lessons later, here are a few things I’ve learnt from my psychologist.

Understanding my values

I’d say the biggest takeaway from my psych was coming to understand my values. To identify them can be challenging, and sometimes it’s not until you’re grappling with things that you know are not your values. I narrowed mine down to 8.

  1. having a sense of accomplishment
  2. being honest
  3. being courageous
  4. being loyal
  5. feeling good about myself
  6. striving to be a better person
  7. relationships filled with love and affection
  8. living a life filled with purpose

By knowing what your values are, it helps guides your decisions and helps you live in accordance to your values. And to keep you centred.

Self compassion is key

I’ve learnt that I have this habit of putting everyone else’s needs before mine. And whilst I pride myself on being kind and generous, learning to put my own needs first is something I’m trying to learn and implement.

Whenever I was struggling or feeling upset, I would always downplay what I was going through and say it wasn’t a big deal, or that other people had it worse than me. It’s a skill to be able to acknowledge and respect the feelings I’m going through, whilst also acknowledging my privilege. But mental health is not a pain Olympics. There is not a ‘worse than’ winner, there is simply a spectrum which fluctuates immensely.

Learning how to be self compassionate has been a huge learning curve and is something I’m still working on. My takeaway is this – however you feel – greet it, acknowledge it, act on it and simply let it exist. It doesn’t need to be compared or devalued, just simply felt.

Make time for yourself

Sure, I may have only committed a few hours to these appointments across the year, but I feel that this left a bigger mark and highlighted the importance of taking time out to look after yourself. Whether it’s a mental health day (or a wellbeing day – as I like to call it), spending a Friday night in, calling your family just to say hello, buying some pizza, getting your nails done, spending a day reading a book – you don’t owe anyone anything, and it’s completely OK to put yourself first.

Balancing being present and looking forward to the future

If anyone knows me, they know that I always have something planned, something in the works to look forward, and that’s usually a holiday or adventure (thanks COVID). Sometimes I get too caught up with planning and organising, that I overlook what I have right now.

But saying that, during COVID I’ve been Miss Present. Taking it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, because thinking about the future was too daunting. But now it’s July? And whilst I’ve appreciated the slower pace and more meaningful engagement of being present, I’ve failed to look forward and set goals for what I want to achieve. My worst nightmare would literally be waking up and I’m 90 years old thinking, ‘where did my life go?’

So it’s all a balancing act. Being able to accept the now and run with it, but also to make small goals that are aligned to your values, so that when the going gets tough, you’re on a path that you’re happy with.

Being real and vulnerable is hard

Let’s be honest, opening up old wounds is pretty traumatic. The way my psychologist put it was my thoughts and experiences have kind of been shoved into a linen closet. You know when you’re pushing to get that towel in and you shut the door, put your back against it and hope it stays in there? Yea that was my mind.

When you start digging deep and opening up, the doors smash open and the towels, sheets and random tennis balls all flood out, creating a huge mess all over the floor. It hurts, it’s emotional, it’s hard and it feels like you’re getting nowhere. When you start talking about it, you’re slowly folding it up and putting it back in with kindness and care.

Go slow

I somehow got into a bad habit of being busy. Weekends booked out months in advance, running from one thing to the next, feeling pressured to do things, see people and omg it’s exhausting. From working out what my values are and recognising that quality time, self-development and living a fulfilled life does not equate to ‘busy.’

Take the time to go slow, balance the now with the future, say no if you don’t feel like it, get in the ocean, make no plans and go easy on yourself.

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I’m incredibly lucky to be able to access a psychologist to look after my mental health. It’s something I never thought I would do, it was something I was scared to do, but it’s also one of the bravest things I’ve done. Make sure to look after yourself, especially during these hard times. Reach out to your mates and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This is not business as usual

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that ‘the disease that shall not be named’ is posing a much bigger threat to society than initially anticipated. COVID-19 has shown us how connected our world is and has shown that borders, policies or political leaders, cannot stop it.

And while we’ve been stumbling our way through it all, panic buying toilet paper and pasta, we’ve all been acting like business as usual, with a side of panic. The stats and data are there, this thing is dangerous and threatens the vulnerable. THIS IS NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL.

This means that we can’t keep doing what we’ve always done. We need to be critical, creative and caring. We need to think outside the box, make sacrifices and ultimately adopt a level of discomfort and uncertainty for the foreseeable future.

So I’m interrupting business as usual with some ideas and tips on how to navigate this difficult time without losing your mind, with realising there’s enough toilet paper for everyone, and holding on to what’s left of our humanity.

The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats it’s most vulnerable members

Gandhi

There are many people around the world who are doing it tough in this difficult time. Everyone is struggling to adjust and adapt to this new reality, no one was prepared.

Be kind and patient. Assume that everyone is doing their best. Talk to loved ones and reach out, even if they seem fine, remember, this is not business as usual.

It’s OK to turn off news notifications and block alerts from social media. This doesn’t mean you’re being ignorant, it means that you’re trying to preserve yourself. This is a marathon.

Take care of yourself and the people around you. Wash your hands. Drink plenty of water. Invent a new way to give your housemate a hug.

Practice gratitude for the things you do have. Internet, access to information, clear blue skies (for the first time in months), a community, clean water, Netflix.

Remember that your inconveniences and hurdles, could be saving lives. Though I must admit, stressing about toilet paper is extremely inconvenient, I’m reminding myself that the world will not fall apart without it. Yes it sucks that your travel plans are affected, that party, festival, wedding is cancelled, but it will come when the time is right.

It’s normal to be anxious and concerned. Whilst no one knows what the next few months will bring, we all need to realise that we’re in this together. We will figure it out, we will respond, we will learn and we will grow.

We will get through this, but let’s keep our kindness and humanity in tact.

Finding your voice and racing to learn

There’s not many people who can get me panicked that I’ll miss a train at 6:30 in the morning, except for my friends. And on Sunday 8th March, International Women’s Day, I spent some quality time with some strong women that I’m lucky enough to call my friends.

Zina and I had tickets to the All About Women Festival in Sydney. It was our second year attending so I think this is the start of a new and exciting tradition for us.

Race to learn

We attended a session featuring the deity Flex Mami and iconic Clementine Ford all about ‘finding your voice,’ especially in the digital sphere. Just two seats away was my amazing colleague and I knew we’d have a lot to talk about when we returned to the office.

The conversation ebbed and flowed between why we may or may not need to find a strong online voice for ourselves, where our voices develop from and what drives us to voice our opinions and experiences.

“We always race to speak, but we don’t always race to learn and understand.”

Flex Mami

I thought that the biggest take away for me was that some of us are lucky to have a platform, my blog is one of mine. And that with a platform comes a responsibility.

My colleague asked me yesterday at work what was my purpose in life – I know, just small talk.

After thinking about it for some time, now, in the stage of my life I’m currently in, I replied, ‘to learn all that I can.’

I believe, what Clementine and Flex showed was vulnerability in not knowing things, in making mistakes and growing and evolving their ideas and values.

“No one finds their voice or comes into this world as a perfectly politically correct person.”

Clementine Ford

We’re all on this journey together, and this International Women’s Day, with the theme being Each for Equal, is really resonated that we’re all trying to do our best and understand this crazy world and our position in it.

So, what about my voice?

At 25 I know that I’ve got a voice. I know how to use it. I’ve perhaps used it irrationally before. And I’ve said things that I perhaps regret or shouldn’t have said.

But I’m aware of this. I feel so aware of my views, values and voice and I’m always questioning why I think, react and behave this way. I think what’s next for me is refining my voice. Cutting out all the shit, all the nonsense, all of the stuff that does not spark joy, and use my voice wisely.

I want to race to learn, rather than race to speak. Because I think when we learn and take our time, is when we grow and create magic.


A huge shoutout to the incredible women in my life who have shown me the way, and played a pivotal part in me finding more voice. To my family, friends, colleagues, role models, acquaintances… to the people who listen to me, support me and lift me… thank you.

This world is a better place with you in it.

Seeking discomfort

Maybe it’s Mercury in Retrograde, but maybe it means that something exciting is coming… I just have to find my way through it all.

I think it started at the turn on the new year. Entering a new year, a new decade, I felt myself starting to yearn for something big. I am very happy in my life right now don’t get me wrong – I guess it was more of a realisation that if I don’t do all of the things I want to do now, then when will I do it?

For example, I have said I’ve wanted to go to Tasmania for the last three years. I keep talking about it, imagining it, researching it, making plans, and guess what… I still haven’t gone to Tasmania. And if I don’t make my wants and needs a priority, maybe I’ll never go.

I feel like 2020 is a big year and that it’s the year for saying yes to something that scares the shit out of you. I feel that I’m in a great spot, a comfortable spot. I’ve created an amazing environment in my workplace, I’m friends with my colleagues, I’m good at what I do and I’ve been getting coffee from the same guy nearly everyday for 6 years, I live in a nice place with amazing people, I know all the good coffee spots around town… but I am afraid.

I am afraid of becoming too comfortable. I never want to take this comfort for granted, but I’m also not ready for my ‘once in a life time’ comfortable life. I’m 25 years old. Yes I could be engaged, saving to buy a house, heck, even popping out a kid or two. And while maybe that’s coming for me one day, I am currently seeking discomfort.

So this year I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Well, in several different rings. In several different locations, and industries, and positions… let’s just say there’s a lot of hats floating around with my name out there.

And maybe it’s asking too much to expect those hats to land perfectly aligned, perfectly timed, and in preference of where I would like to wear those hats… yep – I know I’m dreaming.

I guess in my current quest for discomfort, I’m bloody uncomfortable. I have to make hard decisions to make and need to dig deep to think about what I really want in life. Seeking discomfort doesn’t mean I’m not grateful and completely in love with my life as it currently stands. It just means that I’m ready for the next challenge, and maybe it’s time for me to step up.

Sometimes, all you can do is throw your hat in the ring and bask in the discomfort of not knowing where it will land.


In the spirit of seeking discomfort, this is the first in a new blogging series. I want to write more, be more open and connect with people who might be experiencing similar challenges, experiences in life.

So make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out on an update.


Recommendations

🎧She’s On The Money
Their latest episode ‘I see it, I like it, I want it, I got (credit card) debt,’ is a brilliant and important conversation about our society’s view of credit cards. It was a bit scary because they said several things that I have explicitly thought myself like ‘I’ll pay it off,’ ‘I only put necessary items on credit,’ etc. but the truth is, personal debt in Australia is crazy. We have one of the highest rates in the world and I have one. I don’t know if it’s me just trying to justify my use, but…. they’re not evil, I think it’s just a wake up call for me to reflect on my spending habits and think about what I buy on credit and how I could navigate my spending in a smarter way.

📺Liar
Whislt this TV series isn’t the most gripping, best acted show I’ve seen, the framing of this show is incredible. It will make you think about your biases, and turn them on their head. In the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein verdict, I think this is incredibly important. The end of Episode 3 will have your mouth wide open in disbelief.

The subtle art of saying no

Have you ever been asked to do something that you really don’t want to? And you spent hours, if not days, trying to conjure up an excuse as to why you can’t do it? And not just any excuse, but a plausible excuse. Family events, a friend’s birthday, a reunion, a prior commitment at a prior venue that you simply could not skip on. Alternatively, we begrudgingly say yes and complain that we have to participate in this random thing that we’ve been asked to do, so that we don’t offend the person asking us.

We’ve all been there. Making up excuses, searching for excuses, before finally giving. But to be quite frank, I’m pretty sick of doing things that I don’t want to do. What better excuse of not doing something than simply, ‘I don’t want to.’

Image result for i'm busy gif

I think from a young age, we are programmed to please people. Especially as a woman, we’re expected to be obedient, to play along, and do whatever it is to please the people around us. It means sacrificing our time, energy and effort to keep the peace and keep everyone happy. Whilst this isn’t the end of the world, and saying yes can be a great thing, there’s something terrifyingly empowering about saying no.

Image result for no thank you gif

This is not only apparent in our personal lives, but also in our professional ones. As a young professional, I have been brought up in an environment where I feel the need to prove myself. That I couldn’t possibly have earned my position because I’m too young. So I find myself holding incredibly high expectations of myself, pushing myself and putting my hand up for everything to prove how deserving I am of having the opportunity to have this job. This is a pretty self-destructive notion that will quickly lead to burnout and feeling unrecognised for the extra work you’re pushing yourself to do.

I used to think that saying no was saying no to new opportunities, to miss out on growing, to limit yourself and ultimately hold yourself back. And whilst sometimes saying yes to things that make you feel uncomfortable is freakin awesome and does facilitate growth, saying no doesn’t mean you miss out on that opportunity.

I’ve recently come to understand that time is one of the most precious things we have. And it’s important to protect it at all costs. As our lives get busier and busier, our weekends get booked out months in advance and seeing friends becomes a series of cancellations and rescheduling, the last thing you want to be doing is spending your precious time doing things that you don’t really want to do.

I’ve found myself asking, how the heck do I say no? To a friend, a family member, a colleague, a boss, a partner… so here are some little phrases and sayings.

  • That’s not really my scene
  • Thanks but there’s other things I’d rather be doing
  • That’s not really up my alley
  • I’m going to have a ‘me day’ instead
  • Can you elaborate on why you need me to do it specifically?
  • Can I think about it and get back to you?
  • I can’t commit to this at the moment

At the end of the day, saying no is an empowering thing. Saying no can set new boundaries. It can challenge people and get them to seriously think about what they’re asking you. It is self-care by honouring and respecting your time. And at the end of the day, you’re just one person. You can’t possibly do everything for everyone, and if you can, then maybe it’s time to start putting yourself first. Say yes to saying no!

I’ll be there for you: What friendship looks like to me

Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said “I’m here for you” and proved it.

While listening to the Shameless podcast, the girls were discussing performative friendship on social media. And it was only last weekend, when it was another friends birthday, I thought to myself ‘do I really need to post another photo?‘ It’s not that I don’t like that friend or that I didn’t have any nice photos together. It was that I felt an overwhelming duty to do so. And as I’m describing this, I’m sure you know the exact social phenomenon I’m referring to. It’s your friends birthday so you post an old picture of the two of you on your stories, or if you really love them, on your feed. Or, going one step further, making a collage of photos and posting on their Facebook timeline. Wow. And whilst I’ve enjoyed doing this for friends over the past few years, I can’t help but think… why? Apart from a few seconds of humour, embarrassment or entertainment, it disappears in 24 hours. Which got me thinking… what does friendship look like to me?

This inspired me to reflect. And I thought about what I value in friendship and what friendship means to me, how it has shaped me and if I’m a good friend at all! Interestingly enough, I feel that my values around friendship (and I guess in life more generally) begins with my star sign (yep, basic bitch right here, but hear me out). I’m a cancer and strongly identify with being a cancer. Emotional, creative, an extroverted-introvert, I wear my heart of my sleeve, I’m an empath, sensitive, sometimes unpredictable, but if we form a connection and relationship, I’ll fight for it to the death. These attitudes transfer to my friendships, I believe I can make friends with nearly anyone, and that no matter what others think, I will always know the true value of our friendship.

High School: BFFL

When you’re at high school, you think your friends are friends for life. They’re your crew and you ain’t ever leaving their side. Until you do, and you grow, and you meet new people, and you make new friends, and you realise that some of your high school friends no longer serve you in the way it used to. The friendships that last, and surprise you in ways you could have never expected, are the ones that will grow and continue to serve you in the best way possible. The others will drift off, usually without you even knowing.

University: Soulmate

Then you get to uni, you make a whole new family of friends and you think these friends are ‘the ones.’ As a friendship group, you go through so much together, and get a real taste of adulthood. You ‘love’ your friends, you can’t imagine your life without them and that your crew that goes out to sing karaoke and heads to the beach for a hungover swim will be like this forever. And just when you think you’ve found your crew for life, you graduate, people continue to grow, they move away, you grow apart and you figure out, again, that friendship is an ever changing force that will continue to challenge and support you.

Professional: Still figuring it out

And then you adjust to full time work. Your friendship circles become a little smaller, and it becomes a little easier to spend a night in, than heading out. And I am completely guilty of this. I need a lot of ‘me’ time and down time to reset. Adjusting to full time work is pretty exhausting, and that’s why I find myself bolting straight to my room after work and throwing myself on the bed to stare at the ceiling for 30 minutes. It’s my little after work routine and I seriously love it.

Nomadic, true friendships

When I think about my best friends, the people I would have at my wedding, fly across the world to be with if they asked for my help, give my left arm to, they’re the people that I don’t see or speak to everyday. And I think it’s because loyalty is something that doesn’t require constant maintenance. It’s like the Great Wall of China, built on a solid foundation and it will stand the test of times. I think these deep feelings of loyalty and friendship began when I was quite young.

Growing up, my family and I moved several times around Australia. Moving schools, saying goodbye to old friends and working up the courage to make some new ones. Back then, I’d write long letters to my old school friends about my gross new school uniform, what the popular girls looked like and how the snacks at the canteen compared (serious stuff). So over time, I became accustomed to my friends not always being physically close, but knowing that at any time, I could send them a letter with a life update and I’d get one in return about the boy they liked or how annoying their little sister was. I knew they were always there for me, as I was for them.

Adulting: Relationships that serve one another

Fast forward to my adult life, I enjoy moving, meeting new people, trying new things and making new memories. I know that not everyone will be around forever and that friendships change. And for me, the most successful friendships I have, are the ones that are a little like that beautiful little cactus on my window sill. It doesn’t take much to keep a strong friendship alive, because it’s tough af. Unlike the needy succulents sitting next to it that often require a lot of love, attention, water (but not too much. Those suckers are temperamental). Sure, those friendships can serve a purpose and help me grow, but at the end of the day, they’re not going to flourish on their own.

I like to think about life in retrospect. So, when I’m 30 what do I hoped to have achieve? And when I’m 60? On my deathbed? The thing that is reoccurring throughout all of these milestones, is that I want to be surrounded by positive, exciting, challenging, genuine and brave people. And for me, I want there to be as many people in this group as possible. People who bring out the absolute best in me, and in return, hopefully I can help them become the best version of themselves. I don’t believe there’s such thing as too many friends. There’s such thing as too many succulents that’s for sure.But the end of the day, I just want a few soulmates, far and wide, who will catch me when I fall and give me boost forward when I’m heading towards the stars. Oh and to share a cocktail or coffee with every so often.

Thankyou to the people who make me ‘me.’ I love you.