The accidental new beginning

It’s been a while since I’ve had the inspiration to write. Not for any particular reason, sometimes life just takes a little while to sink in before you realise there’s more to the story. I’m a youth/care worker now, my little sister is married, I passed my initial police tests and I’m starting some cool volunteer stuff! I did some travel, I came back from that travel…still in a relationship (yay!).

So where are we at? I started my new job today. I work at a youth justice residence…which in short is a place where teens are sent when they’ve committed a crime but they’re not quite bad enough to be sent to prison…or they’re on their way there it’s just that the way the legal system works they come to us for a period of their time.

Why?

It’s a good question. How did I go from being a journalist to marketing to youth work? Honestly…I don’t know.

I could tell you it’s because I ran out of challenges in my life. Or I could tell you it’s the only job I could get. Or perhaps it’s because I want to get the best experience possible for my youth work career. But to be entirely honest, while those are all absolutely 100 per cent true, it’s not THE reason.

I could have found myself a well paying office job processing invoices or answering a phone. I could have worked at a supermarket or at a cafe. I could have gone overseas to work. I could have moved cities.

But I made myself a promise while I was travelling the first time. I’ve been home just over a year now and I haven’t forgotten it.

“If you’re not part of the solution, you have little right to complain about the problem. Don’t ever sit and wait for someone else to do what you can do and don’t ever doubt your ability to go one step further than you thought you could. Oh, and don’t run away because you’re scared you can’t do it.”

So I decided, while I was crying and yelling at my laptop in my hotel room in Zimbabwe, that life wasn’t about me. All I could think while I was travelling is how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful country…and how much I wanted to work to keep it that way. We honestly have no true comprehension of how lucky we are. And I’m sure people have heard that all before, but that for me was the first time I believed it.

And so yes, while my career moves and life changes have been somewhat socking, unexpected, and certainly taken me by surprise, I know I’m where I’m meant to be.

I want to improve people’s lives, I want to work with people everyone else has given up on, I want to be part of the solution. And while my life has certainly been a stark contrast to some of these kids, I do get that when you hit rock bottom you learn a hell of a lot about yourself…and it’s actually where you make some of the most important decisions of your life. It’s not where you are, it’s what you do in those moments that define your life.

In this past 18 months my life has been an exceptional roller coaster. I’ve gone from a promising journalism career to a rather odd looking youth work one. I’ve walked away from an unhealthy relationship into what has been the most unexpected blessing of a person. I have had sky high ‘my life is the best’ moments to rock bottom ‘what the hell am I meant to do?’ moments.

I was told I could never have a writing career because I couldn’t spell…so I went and had one. And got the degree to prove it. I never thought I could learn another language, but I passed journalism shorthand in 8 months. I have never been able to run…but I just passed a 2.4km run in 11mins and 43seconds.

At 23 I’ve not only achieved everything I wanted to by the end of my life, I’m onto the next thing(s). And the exciting part about that, is I have no clue where this will take me! I’ve already achieved that…so it’s all about making the most out of it. I was going to say enjoyment, but not everything that is good is enjoyable.

I can tell you right now, I never in a million years thought I could actually work with youth. But here I am, in one of the most challenging positions I could have imagined, and I’m ready for it.

I’m a firm believer in ‘if you’re not being challenged, you’re not growing’. Challenges come in all forms. For the past three months it’s been my greatest challenge to accept redundancy, and just wait for a job. I applied for about 30. I had three interviews, the first I didn’t get the job, the second I never heard back, and the third is the job I’m in now. Each week I’d get two-three “we’re sorry to inform you…” emails from failed job applications. I’m just as broke as I was when I came back from travel a year ago. I felt in many ways I’d made zero progress. What I realise now, is how much that humbled me. Sometimes you have to be at rock bottom to accept what your picture of life is, is only a tiny little piece of the picture, or actually someone else’s entirely.

This job is bloody hard. And there will never be a day of work where I forget that. I also spend 95 per cent of my shift wondering what the hell I am doing.

But I’m here. This is the door that opened and I won’t cheat myself out of life by wondering what that nice well paid office job might feel like. Because some people love that and are meant for that. I’m not…and I’m coming to terms with what that means for my life.

You owe it to yourself to give life everything you’ve got. Leave nothing on the table at the end of it because you have one. People tell me to slow down. I think the problem is too many people go so fast they do not stop to take it all in, to realise the journey they’re on. It’s a whole other ball game to simply do many things. You can do many things and still take it all in; still appreciate each moment for what it is. Don’t deny yourself the chance and freedom to just do it…to live it. And give it your whole heart. It might be hard. Life doesn’t always feel good, or easy, nor kind to you. But that doesn’t or shouldn’t change your perspective on it.

People often seem surprised by my life choices…but I can tell your right now no one is more surprised than I am.

Tonight I sat listening to one of the other staff members tell me fascinating stories about his life. For a brief moment I took in everything around me and thought ‘yep, that’s right, you really are working in a youth justice residence’. I laughed, because while I’m an anxious person who likes to plan, I also kind of love the ‘surprise!’ this is my life.

The unknown can be fun when you realise everything is uncertain…and that’s ok.

Oh yeah…and I bought a beehive! I’m a bee keeper too…just for fun (with Sam. We bought two…).

Till next time (hopefully I’ll write again before I make another random career move).

Even one step is still movement

“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” – Bell Hooks, All About Love

It’s been a struggle street as anyone who’s read my blog lately will know. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. You all come here for a laugh or a bit of information and I’ve been shoving pity parties in your face for months.

Never the less, I am back.

While I’m still wallowing in moments of ‘I CAN’T DO THIS’…I’ve decided it’s time to get the big girl pants on and be brave.

That might sound a little sarcastic. It’s not meant to.

Here’s the thing about not only changing my complete life direction, but also wanting a job that I can throw every ounce of spare energy into; it’s daunting. I’m living in a space of constant pushing; constant needing to be more, do more, achieve more, learn more.

To make big moves you have to take big steps.

And sometimes, that’s damn terrifying.

Ok, ok, here’s what that looks like for me right now. Jobs. There are jobs every three or so weeks that come up which I think ‘YES, THAT IS WHAT I WANT!’

But, there is always a list of necessary requirements. Most jobs I feel as though I could fit that, I could do that and/or I have the skills and have previously achieved it.

But with every job that makes me think ‘YES’, is a little voice that goes ‘oh but you can’t do that!’

Sush little voice, it’s not your turn right now.

Here’s what being brave looks like: I’ve written copious cover letters. I have edited, rewritten and I have attempted to perfect my CV. Now, I need to send that. I need to click apply and just do it.

It sounds easy.

But it’s the first step toward ‘YES, I’m doing life a different way now’.

I don’t actually have a ‘plan’. I couldn’t give you my ideal job description without changing it about five times and adding in almost every skill I have into a job description I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist.

What I do know: I want to make a change in people’s lives and I have the skills, and at the very least the determination and energy, to do that.

And that voice is the one that needs to be heard.

If I don’t get an interview, so what? If I don’t get the job? So what. I’m still taking the first step toward the possibility. And that’s something I constantly remind myself of…it’s not a failure if it’s not successful, it’s just not the right time and the right thing.

There will be another thing and a right time. Patience.

Making big life changes is terrifying and anyone who has ever just up and said ‘enough is enough I’m making something of myself’ knows what that feels like. It’s not that I didn’t have a great job in the past, it’s not that I don’t have a good one now. It’s that I’m searching for the job I want to stay up till midnight working on.

I know, I’m mad right?

But when someone asked the other day what my 10 year vision was I said (among other things) to have a job I enjoyed so much, I wanted to work over 50 hours a week doing it.

I have energy and I’m incredibly ambitious. Not for myself, but because I have a vision for what I want this country to look like…so I’m pretty determined to go after that and make it happen.

But with that comes drive and energy I didn’t realise I actually had in me…unless we’re talking about running. I never have enough energy or drive for that.

However, it’s easy to be ‘busy’ doing things that don’t actually get you any further. I used to hate being bored because I hated having the time for thoughts to take over and self doubt to creep in. I often avoided being alone with silence because silence can be a very terrifying thing.

You might be wondering why I began this blog with the quote I did…

Because learning to be alone for me, was the first step toward making changes that I always wanted to make, but was far to afraid to make them. People were a little perplexed as to why I wanted to go hiking in Austria alone. It’s a country people from New Zealand don’t venture to much. Hiking in Autumn is an odd thing to do. And it’s pretty remote and few people speak English.

I knew it’s what I needed.

I needed to be alone to learn to support myself, love myself, and process thoughts in a positive way. I needed to lean on myself first so when I lent on other people it wasn’t because I needed to avoid myself, it would be because I need them as the person they are with the skills they have. And a mountain in the middle of Austria is a pretty great way to do that.

What do I want to do? I’m not 100 per cent sure. What do I want to achieve? Now that I am very sure of. And being alone gave me time to realise the honest truth of that: what I was doing, wasn’t even close to achieving what I wanted to achieve.

And that might have lead to the end of a relationship, landing on my parents door and bunking down back at home for a year and being jobless periodically…but you know what…it was still worth it.

Now instead of being busy doing things for the sake of being busy…I’m doing things that have a purpose and a point and will hopefully point me in the right direction.

Even one step is still movement.

I’m an ideas person and I’ve started allowing myself to follow ideas. I need to get a diary for jotting them all down. But in the past it’s been pretty easy to say ‘well actually nah, that’s not worth doing.’

I mean I still probably have at least five ideas a day that really aren’t useful. However, I’ve stopped being annoyed at myself for that. Ideas good or bad are great. It means I’m thinking in such a way that can create change.

So that’s my positive vibes for Friday. I hope you’re all as pumped as I am for the weekend! I’m taking Monday off to spend it at the mountain because sometimes it’s good to make time for having fun for the sake of it.

Till next time x

Let’s talk about the hard stuff

It’s been a tough week. I’m not entirely sure what went wrong, the wheels just started to wobble early on and it just seemed to be a steady downhill ride and they fell off. Considering I think I coped pretty well. I got back up and carried on putting out fire after fire at work, attempting to justify myself without getting on the defensive. I haven’t had a chance to see my pony, so that’s probably added to my lack of energy. I’m fighting a chest thing. I don’t know what it is, all I know is I can’t run…and it’s driving me nuts not being able to train properly. I received less than ideal news about my thyroid from my recent scan.

There have been some great positives to this week with volunteer work opportunities and a teaching opportunity with a pony club. So I’m excited and clinging dearly onto those little highs.

Last week I wrote a blog, which I then deleted from Facebook. It covered a pretty sensitive topic: suicide. I decided I wasn’t in the right mind frame really to talk about it and I was pretty concerned about how people close to me might read it and take it in a way I didn’t mean.

But I’m back. And since suicide has been in the news almost every single day since I deleted it, I decided to buck up and get back on here and talk. That’s what I started this blog for right?

From the beginning: I’ve struggled with depression since I was young. I was probably about 14 when I first realised I wasn’t coping like most people cope and I described the feeling to a close friend as ‘the dark bubble’. It was only way I could describe it at the time. I’m not even sure if the idea of depression crossed my mind then. But I did know something wasn’t right.

Depression and a bunch of other stuff that tends to go hand in hand with it runs in my family. I’ve never been diagnosed by a doctor. I think I’ve probably only ever actually identified it openly with words as depression twice in my life, once with my friend with whom I called it ‘the dark bubble’ and once in casual conversation with my mother. Otherwise, it can just sit in the back of my mind.

Why I’ve been subject to a fairly shitty thing could be down to a number of reasons: over active thyroid (I have a toxic thyroid nodule) issues almost always go hand in hand with mental health and depression, it’s in my family, or I have a personality which is partial to it.

Pick a reason.

To be honest it actually doesn’t matter for what I want to talk about.

Suicidal thoughts.

That word is one that’s not particularly easy to type and I’ve only ever once said it in conversation about myself…and that was last week to my partner.

I post regularly on a FB pg called YouthNet and every article just about has something to do with people needing to open up and talk about these issues, “People need to talk about mental health issues and suicide; it needs to be something we are not afraid to deal with.” That’s what most of the articles say. And I get right in there and say “YES!”

Yet I never speak about it personally.

Why? Because I’m afraid. What if my family starts to worry about me? I’ve survived 100 per cent of my days so far, I know I will be fine. What if a future employer comes across this and thinks I won’t be able to work properly? What if something thinks I have a ‘mental health disorder’ and they don’t want me to be part of their organisation? What if Sam’s friends and family don’t like me anymore? What if people think there is something wrong with me?

And that right there, is exactly the reason we have a massive issue with suicide and depression in our country.

Isolation and fear mean people do not want to talk about it. Not when it’s to do with them.

When I was 14 I remember very clearly plotting out all the different ways to die, narrowing them down into my top two. And whenever I hear someone has died that way it hits a nerve…every single time. Back then it gave me a sense of control over myself and my life. I felt like if I had the option to escape, then it was always my choice to continue. And that took a massive weight off my shoulders.

I often would stop eating. Never enough to be of a major concern and it had absolutely nothing to do with my weight. I probably didn’t realise what I was doing until this year when shit hit the fan when I came back from overseas and I found myself skipping meal after meal.

I saw it this way: I couldn’t control how I felt, but I could sure as hell control a) whether I had to live through it and b) I could punish my body by with holding food. I punished it because it wouldn’t work like other peoples. It was anxious, it was too skinny, it was struggling with things most people found easy.

One day mum knew someone who committed suicide. She told me about it. I saw the pain on her face, the sadness, the hurt, the ‘why?!’

I think it was probably the reason I understood death was in fact final. It was not just an escape, it was over for good. And while it’s easy to say ‘well, yeah? Duh.’ It’s actually a concept that’s hard to grasp when you’ve never seen the effects of death or the reality of it. That is why we need to talk to our children about it.

By about 15 I started to feel ok and by 16 I can’t remember any suicidal thoughts. I never said anything when I was younger and I’m not entirely sure why. I think because, while I knew most people don’t think that way, I was really fine. I didn’t want to die. At the end of the day it was about control.

Life has had many, many up and downs since then but while I’ve suffered moments of depression, I haven’t had any overwhelming thoughts about death. So I never really worried about it. It became a moment in time that could easily be forgotten. I was young, hormones were changing.

I’ve put a lot of it down to things like my thyroid, my diet etc. And it was the reason for a lot of the issues. But it’s not the reason for all of it. I don’t know the reason.

So it took me by surprise when last week, out of nowhere, in the midst of life feeling pretty darn good, I found myself back in those moments when I was 14. “What’s the best way out?”

And it was then that I had to actually accept this is something bigger than me. People don’t just ‘get over it’ and moments of depression, of wanting out, strike out of nowhere and there is very little one can do about it.

Someone came up to me on Sunday and asked, “Are you ok? You seem a little off.”

I replied with “Yeah, I’m fine.” I mean, I don’t really know how to just sort of lay “Oh yeah, nah, I’m struggling with suicidal thoughts out of nowhere that I can’t explain and I’m really fine, but also feeling like complete shit.”

Laying that on someone makes it real.

No I don’t want out. I love my life. I love being alive. I love the people I am with and my friends, my family are some of the best around.

But that doesn’t stop those thoughts creeping in.

And that is my message. You have absolutely no idea what is going on in someone’s life. There have been moments in mine where it really was all turning to shit and I was feeling like  I was living in some joke that went wrong, yet it looks fine. It looks good.

Doesn’t mean it is.

And just because someone may have an amazing life with what seems to be no reason to be upset. They can be struggling. They can be fighting their biggest internal battle and you do not know that.

Some of my friends have had no idea the extent of my thoughts last week. But they are the reason I’m feeling resilient and pretty good this week, even though it’s been a crappy one. I know they’re there for me, they want to support me, they want to make sure I’m ok without having to make me feel like I’m ‘different’ or ‘weak’. I’m not different and I’m far from weak. This is not a struggle only I struggle with and I think the news this past week has made that pretty clear to New Zealand.

Let’s stop making people feel like they need to ‘toughen up’. Let’s stop ignoring teenagers when they aren’t coping and telling them ‘you’re only young, what do you have to worry about?’

We need to stop treating people like they’re less of a person because they struggle with something they cannot control.

Knowing people care, a smile in a coffee shop, a hug from an acquaintance at church, a wine with the girls. I didn’t want to get out of bed so Sam brought me breakfast in bed. And then gave me no choice to get up. Having my friend and her husband send me some absolutely amazing encouragement…that’s what gets me motivated in those moments. No one needed to take on my burden – that doesn’t help anyone, but just knowing someone had taken a moment of their time to care about me, that’s what I needed.

For me, when I’m struggling often I seem really bubbly, I seem happy. But there a moments I’ll stare off into nowhere. I’m not sure why that is. It’s just me. When I’m not struggling, I can have a bad day and I’ll look sad, I’ll feel sad. But that’s sadness.

Moments of depression feel as if you are in sinking sand, it’s the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, it’s the dread of the day, it’s the not seeing a way out from the moment of darkness you’re in.

One of the most powerful quotes I have read came from a site called The Broken Borderline (follow her on FB).

If the photo hasn’t loaded on your screen it says this: “The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any other abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from a window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘don’t and ‘hang on’ can really understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to be personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

For me personally, those flames have never been close enough for me to do anything other than weigh up the options. And that has been my mission for a long time; make sure those flames never do get close enough.

I have surrounded myself with amazing, caring people who complement me. I have quit things in life that drag me down and make me feel like I’m worthless. I have taken on volunteer projects and have found ways to make sure every single day I know, without a doubt, that I am valued, I am loved, I am wanted, and I belong.

Most importantly, I belong.

And that is why I came back from my travels with an absolute certain drive that I wanted to be in a position to help. To make sure people do not EVER feel like they do not belong in their own lives. That they are WANTED, LOVED, VALUED. And most importantly, that there are people who do GET what it feels like to feel the flames and want desperately to escape the terrible thoughts that surround your mind. The darkness that wraps itself around you and makes its home in your tears, anger and frustration.

It does get better. I can promise that. But I will admit it is still at times a struggle, but every single moment I wake up in the morning and I am glad to be here. That is a victory. And I know that. The struggle is worth it.

I’m studying psychology because I want to fix it. I started, to be honest, because I actually wanted to understand how to fix myself. But now I feel like it’s bigger than me. And because of that I try to find at least one thing in my day that went either well, or that I am thankful for. It can even be the lady at the supermarket who helped me with a smile.

I cling onto just about anything good. Because I do understand what it’s like not to feel anything good. And because of that, I really do appreciate what good feels like.

So to end I just want to say be kind, be loving, be the kind of person you’d want to meet on a bad day. Buy someone a drink or a coffee, make the time to send a text to someone on your mind. Don’t ever stop caring about other humans; create an environment around you where people can be open. People should not be afraid to be open in whatever forum they want to be.

Just writing a post like this is a massive step for me. Talking, even with a very guarded mindset to my partner about it was also massive.

But as everything in my life…it’s one step at a time. One step toward loving it, toward coping with it, toward just being a bloody good person.

Be a community. Love as a community. Because you have no idea who may very well need you.

You are valued, you are amazing, you are one of a kind, and please stay around because the world needs people like you.

If you know someone struggling, what this video from the other night on TVNZ. It really is worth a watch for everyone…

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/ondemand/the-hard-stuff-with-nigel-latta/09-08-2016/series-2-episode-8

Also, have a scroll through these pretty real and wonderful quotes from The Broken Borderline pg.

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Much love x

 

Pros, cons, failure

Growing up is a weird thing; it just sort of happens without really thinking about it. I mean sure, most of the time I’m thinking to myself ‘I am definitely not adult enough to deal with this’, but then there are moments where I suddenly realise I am an adult, and I’m actually doing it just fine. How can I tell I’m adulting well? Firstly, I am incredibly particular about wine, babies no longer scare me (I’m still highly skeptical I should ever actually be allowed to bring one up), I am capable of looking after multiple small people at once, I know life does not stop and start with marriage, relationships, or even having children…but those things are cool too, I’ve come to appreciate money…by that I mean the fact that I turn up to a place each day and do stuff and they then give me money so I can live, I am learning how to think about and navigate the idea of a mortgage, a house, where I want to live… and I have learnt just how fragile life is, and I appreciate that fact. Oh and I’ve also come to learn and accept shit happens to all of us.

I don’t feel grown up, but to honest I don’t know if anyone ever feels ‘grown up’, I think it’s more a feeling of comfortable experience that leads you to have a little more faith each year that in most situations you will, regardless of how you may feel at the time, be ok. I was going to put ‘survive’, but there’s really no guarantee of that.

My little cat had his vaccinations today. In order to get him into the cat cage I coxed him with food first into a small space. He then quickly realised something was not right and quickly escaped. I came back five minutes later to see he had given into his desire for food (animal like its owner) and I swiftly blocked the cat door with various washing baskets. He then escaped from the other door as I tried to enter with the cat cage and my attempts at a human barricade failed miserably. I then spent 10 minutes chasing him up and down the house until he finally gave in to his desire for pats and I captured him once and for all. His poor defeated meows were heart breaking as I loaded him into the car for mum to take him with her to the clinic (she’s a vet nurse). Admittedly the only time I’ve ever put him in a cage prior was to move him from one place to another…so right now he’s sitting in a cage at the clinic thinking this is his new home and he’s been transported to some kind of jail for a crime in which he does not know. I will sweep in and rescue him and he shall love me forever…and hopefully forget all about this mornings antics.

I have two weeks until my psychology exam. I have finally accepted there is no possible way for me to learn everything I need to learn. So, I’ve decided I will simply learn five chapters REALLY well so ace that part of the exam. I’d love to say this is a strategy well thought through, however it’s really a last ditch effort not to fail this whole thing.

But I can always try again.

Really what I’m telling myself is it is not the end of the world, I have wasted $700 in worse ways, it will be fine, I have wine, and if I have to try again I’ll just try again. Simple, right?

Adulting at its finest right there.

What I’m coming to learn this year is to just chill out. That might seem strange to those in my life who understand I operate at a million miles an hour and every single weekend in June is booked…however, I am learning to stop putting on the pressure, stop trying to overachieve, to move a million miles an hour. Just take one step, as it comes. For me, there are often many steps that come all at once…so if I apply that statement to my life it looks like madness.

But on the days I feel frustrated I’m not going anywhere fast enough, I just remind myself how much I wanted this; to have a warm home close to family, to have my own cat, to have a job that keeps me busy and earns me money but doesn’t give me nightmares, so I have time to study and enjoy that study. This is what I wanted when I sat in that little home in France and pictured life. It just didn’t happen how I expected it to. But this is really lovely.

It’s raining. I love rain. I love studying when it’s raining. Soon I’ll have a gym with a spa and I can provide myself with motivation for the gym with that. It’s winter, it’s snuggly weather, it’s raining, I’m studying something I love, I have a cat, I have plans for a house, I want to live in the country, I have a good job. It’s all about perspective…

Because when I got on here I was going to complain how stressed and didn’t want to study, how my head hurts because I have a headache because it’s always so damn cold, how it’s raining so I don’t want to go outside or to the gym, and I have no money for my dream home or my dream travel.

It’s really easy to get stuck feeling like it’s falling apart or like something else would be better. Of course it would, because it always looks great when you’re not living it. You can’t have all the pros without the cons and you rarely see the cons when it’s not your life.

I’m wearing my favourite sweater today, it’s raining, and I’m going to go home and snuggle my cat and study with a hot cup of tea. I might even take an Instagram shot of it all so people think my life is amazeballs.

Sorry, this blog had potentially a little too much sarcasm in it.

 

Don’t dig your heals in and hold the door frame

I’ve been trying to hold back tears at work this morning. My throat is a little bit sore and my tummy isn’t loving me today so it could just be I’m getting sick and being emotional comes from that. But it’s a very strange mix of happy emotions and sad. As I sat looking at my Instagram (bet there hasn’t been an emotion inducing sentence quite like that before), I couldn’t help but be a little in love with my life and incredibly sad that things are moving on.

While I was travelling I noticed something about the way I viewed the world; I began to fall in love with how things smelt, how they felt, with the perfectly imperfectness of it. I fell in love with cloudy, rainy days in the mountains, with the bad smells in the markets in Cambodia, with the loneliness of travelling Vietnam by myself, with the stupid bike with the flat tire and plastic seat that caused chaffing. All the things that were wrong made it something. I loved the perfect things, but I was in love with the imperfect ones. They were what tested my character and what I noticed made the biggest changes in my personality.

I can’t deny the statement of ‘I was a different person when I came home’. It’s so cliché I haven’t wanted to use that so far. But I can’t think of any way around it. I was a much harder person, my heart had a much smaller capacity to love, and my walls refused to allow me the luxury of being in love with anything.

The world is an incredible thing to be in love with.

So where does all the emotion today come from? Well, when I came back from that trip, life was anything but perfect and it was anything but what I expected, but I loved it. I don’t think I’ve ever just relaxed, let my walls down, let my guard down and enjoyed where life was going like I did then. It’s normal I want to keep hold of that.

But things are changing, in great, wonderful, spectacular ways, but they’re different. That photo on my Instagram, a really lovely imperfect black and white shot of my besty and I on our last walk before she heads away, captured all of that. It captured how incredible being in love with the imperfect is – with the things that catch you off guard, that surprise you from nowhere.

I’m fighting back tears she’s leaving. And I’m incredibly happy that I feel that way. It means I’ve learnt to care deeply and not to shut off because it’s hard to say goodbye.

It’s easy to get caught up in life and just keep moving; we rarely stop to appreciate the moment of change, or how far we’ve come.

It’s not easy to move on from things you’ve left behind. Actually, it’s really bloody hard.

I spent several years looking on Facebook at people horse riding and competing. It was torture to see them doing what I expected to be doing. But just because it was hard to move on didn’t mean it was what I was meant to be doing it. It just meant it meant something to me. I loved competing, but there came a time where that wasn’t where I was headed anymore. It’s not my journey, it’s someone else’s. It’s what I thought was mine. But it wasn’t. It’s prepared me for many, many more journeys though.

When I watched my best friend get married and my little sister get engaged I struggled. That was the journey I wanted to be on, what I thought was what I was meant to be doing. But I was wrong at the time. It doesn’t mean it won’t be my journey, it’s just not where I was meant to be at the time. I struggled because it meant something to me, not because what I wanted was right.

Now I sit and see journalists ace stories, I see people doing my job well, I see people winning and making waves and I hear of good stories and I pine after it. I wanted it so badly to be me. But I know, deep down, where I’m headed now is where I am meant to be heading. I miss it, because it meant something, not because it’s where I should be now.

And there are days I still miss the farm. I still see photos of life back then and I miss it. I still get along with Alex. The last time we spoke it was like old friends catching up. But that doesn’t mean it was right. It’s not what either of us needed any longer. And sometimes I struggle with that because it meant something to me.

We all struggle to move on because it meant something. But staying put and chasing the past does not get that back. It doesn’t make it right.

We want to run back to what is familiar and comfortable when times are tough. When we see great change ahead it’s normal to want to run and hide under our blankets and let life stay where it is; where it’s comfortable.

Making things happen, being something, achieving something, satisfaction, love, being in love, travel… all of it is incredible, all of it is within our reach…but don’t ever expect it to feel comfortable.

You’re stepping outside of a comfort zone, that’s how you get somewhere. It’s never going to feel comfortable.

I imagined life to be much more ‘collected’ – a series of events which take place in a controlled chronological order. But it’s not at all. It’s often an unpredictable series of events, at times the events don’t always make sense. But you’ll look back one day and realise what those stepping stones, those branches that smacked you in the face, that mud which held you back, those roots you tripped over… were there for.

When you’re feeling the least comfortable, when you know deep down moving on is right, achieving is right, but you’re still stuck wanting what is familiar, think to yourself, back to a time in your life you struggled to let go and just think, what would life be like if it had never changed from then? Would you really still be happy if it had stayed exactly the same?

Would I be happy if things had stayed the same? No way.

I wouldn’t have a boyfriend who twirls me around the supermarket or turns up to work with flowers. I wouldn’t have had the balls to apply for the police, to start running, to study psychology. Heck, if life had stayed as wonderful as it first was when I started my job as a journalist I never would have left, I never would have gone overseas. Things change because we need them to, not always because we want them to.

Am I 100 per cent happy with where I am right now? No way. But I am in love with my life in every imperfect detail and every day I wake up proud of how far I have come and excited about what I can achieve… even the things I have no comprehension of right now. God’s got it.

But I struggle still to let go completely, to move on entirely, and to trust that there is a season for everything.

Who doesn’t?

So on that note, I’m off to continue eating my popcorn and sipping my tea, waiting for that 2pm to come around and for me to race out of here in search of weekend freedom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy-go-lucky

The count down to Canada has begun! It’s less than a week before I fly out of the country and I’m still yet to figure out what on earth I’m packing. Sickness has found me once again in the form of a cold and all sorts of average feelings. But I had it coming really, my body doesn’t love take aways, no sleep, and alcohol for over a week! Running around in the rain probably didn’t help either. Never the less I’m now taking the hint and sleeping as much as is humanly possible while still working and occasionally eating. Ugh, I must be getting old. I’m now adding ‘don’t drink vodka’ to my New Years resolution list. Lately I seem to swing between wanting to cuddle up in bed with a good book and my cat and wanting to go clubbing all night and never sleep. I’m some weird combination of grown up and someone trying to relive their teenage years.

When I began 2015 my only new years resolution was to be ‘unapologetically me’. At the time I wasn’t entirely sure what that looked like, all I knew is I was tired of trying to make people happy or impress them and either putting on or shutting down parts of who I was to achieve that. I’d actually forgotten about it when I made 2016’s resolutions, until the other night. I was sitting with one of my best friends when he turned to me after a moment of silence and said “I’ve never met anyone who is so good at being themselves as you are”. It’s funny because I rarely stop to think about what I come across to people as. I know from feedback on my blog that each person reads what I write differently, and I really enjoy that, but I haven’t often stopped to think about how my friends perceive me or my life for that matter.

Quite often I get so focused and just doing my thing I don’t get the chance to congratulate myself on how far I’ve come or pat myself on the back for things I’ve achieved.

I have indeed managed to become unapologetically me and I now know what that looks like: me being me without trying – the people who like who I am, stay and those who don’t, leave. I really like who I am as a result of it and while it’s meant losing a few major people in my life, I’ve made even better friends and become closer to the some of ones I already had.

Part of my being me plan was to live life large; start saying yes more and getting out of my comfort zone. After travelling like I did I thought comfort zones were a thing of the past and getting out of them was a piece of cake. I was wrong, like I usually am, and I’ve found being single one of the hardest things to get used to in terms of meeting guys and striking up conversation with people. I don’t think many people realise just how comforting it is to have that one ‘person’ there for them and how little you rely on other people when in a relationship. Suddenly now I’m single I rely on people like I never have before. I need my friends around me; I need people to laugh with, have nights out with, talk to about random things in my day, share exciting things with, all the little things I shared in a relationship I’ve found other people to share them with. But that, until now, was a very daunting thing. And it still is at times. My happiness is reliant on a lot of different people, I’m still feeling vulnerable, those people can and will move and change and carry on with their own lives just like I will with mine…and I have no say about that. It’s scary. The unknown is scary.

But it’s also exciting. I’m learning to just enjoy the now and the people I have right now. I never thought I’d care about people or want to help people the way I do now. I’ve found the more I go through and the more I see in life the more determined I am to get alongside other people; face life together.

I had another friend point out the other day that I “do so many cool exciting things all the time”. Again, I’d never stopped to think about it. But I suppose when I add up the travelling, the hobbies, the nights out, I am in fact living life large. I’m enjoying every moment of it and I’m grabbing it by the horns. Instead of thinking about it, I’m just doing it. And I think that’s the best way to approach it.

I’ve become a happy-go-lucky people person and that was never something I expected. I looked at people who loved life and frolicked in genuine happiness with a bunch of amazing friends as foreign objects. I honestly had no idea how people did that. Yet just like that, I’m one of those people. When I say just like that I don’t really mean I closed my eyes one night and woke a up different person. I think it’s more a case of the deeper the sadness and hurt you face and the more you see of the world, the more you make the most of the good times and the faster you recover in the bad. It’s not that you ever really stop being sad about the really sad things, you just carry them around in a different way. I’m doing a terrible job of explaining this, but hopefully you get the jist.

So I’m going to stop there before I ramble on into oblivion. Bring on another 12 hour sleep night, healthy food, staying out of the rain, and having cuddles with my cat.

#Icanbeagrownupsometimes

24. ways to love life (and be strange)

Today is the kind of day I spend watching movie trailers rather than a whole movie. It’s not because I don’t like watching whole movies, there’s just some days I sit still for too long and my brain is like, ‘Well the least you can do is not do the same thing for long periods of time while sitting still’. And I say, ‘alright, let’s just watch movie trailers and make up the endings’. I should not be left alone.

This sickness has taken over my body. I was getting annoyed about it until I realised that I’ve only been home a little over eight weeks and that’s probably not enough time for my immune system to have got on board with the winter bugs all you people are now immune too. Ah the downfalls of skipping winter.

My little brother and I had a chat today as he was procrastinating and decided to keep me company. He announced, while I was whinging about being older but not caring, “Well, you are closer to 40 than you are to being born.” And I looked at him with a sudden realisation that, that, is indeed very true. It shouldn’t be as frightening as it is. But some days I wake up and think to myself, “I’m sure I’m still 20 and the last two years have been a strange and really realistic nightmare.” But sadly I am wrong. And they are real.

It began to sink in when I thought about my five year life goals. I don’t have set plans now, just goals, and I was like, yeah, five years is a good aim for a house and possibly a little bit of land and another cat. Maybe I’ll travel three of four times as well. THEN, it hit me. I’ll be 27 in five years. 27. THAT’S NOT FAR AWAY.

I also realised I have a little brother who is going to be 17 in a few months. And a sister who’s talking about buying a house with her boyfriend. Me? I’m dreaming about my next trip overseas and what kind of coffee I’m ordering for work.

My biggest problem right now is I’ve taken to sleeping in the middle of my bed… and now there’s an indent and it’s uneven and that bothers me considerably.

Being single is a strange world to navigate after so much time spent in a relationship. For starters, there’s all these strange rules about talking to people… and I’m all like ‘But, but, I just want to talk ’cause they’re cool?!’ And people are like ‘Whoa, but you can’t just TALK, you have to FLIRT, and you have to be hard to get and stuff!’ And I’m like ‘SHUT UP INTERNET, WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!’

So I’m instead buying a world map and picking places to travel and loving my cat who comes to see me once a day for food… and talking to people I think are cool when I want. And I might seem strange. And that’s because I really am strange.

My little brother weighed in on this topic and after making me feel old, made me feel a bit better by saying, “Just be you.” And I thought that was sweet. He’s right though. It may mean I end up alone with 10 horses and 50 cats after travelling the world three times over. But what’s so wrong with that? I’ll figure it out. But I decided to write a few ‘rules’ of my own to tell the internet just what I think of it’s ‘being single’ advice.

  1. Say strange things because it’s fun
  2. If someone can talk about food for more than two sentences, they’re going to be a good person to talk to.
  3. Speak to people when you want to speak to them, not just when you’re lonely.
  4. People will stop talking to you sometimes, and you’re going to be really quite ok with that.
  5. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you have to hide a personality trait to be accepted.
  6. Speak using GIF’s on Facebook chat. It’s great fun.
  7. Never stop wondering what more life could offer and going after it.
  8. Keep it simple. It is what it is. STOP OVER THINKING LIFE.
  9. Dance randomly
  10. Sing loudly (in public so people give you funny looks)
  11. Fall in love with parts of your life you’d forgotten were so good
  12. Love the people you have and appreciate them for the crazy humans they are.
  13. Don’t cry when you kill the pot plant…buy another one and try again.
  14. Be a little bit more of yourself each day
  15. Pet an animal daily
  16. Set goals you’d have never thought about before
  17. Exercise regularly…push yourself beyond what you’ve previously been capable of.
  18. Go out and look damn good
  19. Be excited for someone about something that’s important to them.
  20. Run along the beach in the middle of the night with alcohol and friends (alone would just be weird).
  21. Buy yourself a present because you damn well can.
  22. Ask people random questions when you meet them and have fun watching their surprised reactions.
  23. Eat chocolate, drink wine.
  24. Never underestimate the power of laughter!

And there you have it.

Enjoy fellow blog readers!

 

#itsbetterthanalright

How my body has felt over the past month: “Ok, you need to rest, recover from jetlag. I said rest. No, alcohol is not rest. Stop it. I mean it. You need more than 6 hours sleep. Seriously. Stop. Stop what you are doing and drink some damn water girl. Ok, that really is enough alcohol now. I said stop. OK I REALLY MEAN I NOW STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND REST AND DAMN WELL GET SOME SLEEP WOMAN!”

I’m sick. The kind of miserable sick that makes me want to curl up with my favourite teddy, a hot lemon drink, and lots and lots of cold and flu tablets until my body decides to come out from hibernation. It’s my first week of work and I woke up this morning with no voice. Thankfully by 8am I had regained my voice and I can now speak in one tone, only one, without it sounding like I’m sick. Pretty much that means anything beyond a basic conversation is out. I managed to make it to work, get to the pharmacy, buy drugs that cost me two hours pay so I could stay at work and pretend I’m not sick.

I have my official title now! I’m a client liaison and marketing co-ordinator person. Heavens only knows what that means… but pretty much I’ve established I do research on where we can be improving our reach, I talk to clients and make sure they have what they need and pass them onto the relevant people, and I help the marketing team wherever necessary. In a nutshell that’s what it is anyway. That and making sure the coffee pot is always full, the bench is wiped down (I still to this day, two weeks into the job, have no idea how the guys in the office manage to get coffee from one end of the bench to the other… they don’t even make the coffee… ), make sure the office is organised, do the stationary order, which is really quite fun, and answer phones.

I also started in the show home last night as a show home hostess… basically I get to sit in a really nice new house and talk to people who come through about it about the house and the business. I get to know things like what colour it is, how high the ceilings are, what kind of carpet it has, and all the stuff about the business I’ve grown up learning. It’s amazing what you retain from eves dropping as a child…

Then there is also the communications work which has seen me get over my fear of pitching new business to potential clients.

If you’d asked me a year ago what I’d be doing this wouldn’t have been what I would have pictured, but it’s really great. I’m actually remarkably happy with life at the moment. One of the three guys I work with in the office asked me… for the first time I might add… what was going on in my world. I said, “Nothing really, it’s good”. He looked at me surprised and said, “Well that’s good there’s no complaints”. Nope. Nothing to complain about here. And I thought about it for a moment, that despite how sick I am (and yes I know I’m complaining on here… I’M ALLOWED), and how rather broken I’ve been feeling lately about the break up, or how annoyed I am I can’t ride every day yet, or how windy Tauranga is, or how ridiculous the traffic is, life is great. It sure as hell has been a lot worse and could still be a lot worse. I think, having hit a pretty low low last year, I have realised how simple it can be to put foot in front of the other and keep on keeping on. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

Difflam spray and Coldrex definitely helps with that. I think I might actually become addicted to Difflam, is that possible? It tastes so delicious.

I’m also coming to this point where the idea of being in a new relationship is actually freaky. It’s not like a ‘oh I just want to be single for a while’, because I do want to do that, but it’s this kind of weird feeling of how do I be with anyone else when I’ve been with one person for so many years? And it’s not even that many years. Four years is just a blip in terms of an entire life span. But it feels like forever because I’m only 22… so it’s a fifth of my life (I think, I’m bad at maths). I can be a really weird person at times…I’m like this energetic, optimistic, freakishly excitable soul in a pessimistic, worn out, sarcastic body. And then there are all the health problems that I know I’m on top of but it might not stay that way and I could legitimately turn a bit crazy. And that freaks me out. So imagine how I feel about talking to someone else about that? IT’S JUST ALL SO COMPLICATED.

So I’m rolling with #single. But then on the other hand I’m all like #lovingflirting and I swing dramatically between the two. Then I also occasionally go with #imgoingtobealoneforever and #sobbinginmylonliness but also #lookatallthispaceinmybedforME and #noonetoanswerto.

You can see how this might be a bit confusing at times?

It doesn’t help that when I get sick I get delusional. So right now I know I’m making very strange statements and I should be kept away from my blog but there is no one to stop me blogging and so I’m going to post it anyway! Sigh.

So life is this… a great mix of new people, new adventures, getting back into jumping my horse, making goals, having dreams, enjoying working, loving the beach, and also struggling daily with feeling lost, alone, angry, and hurt. But I have great friends and I know it’s on the up. Things are just how they are, there’s nothing I can do to change that. I’m not sad about life being different, it’s just different. And that sometimes takes a bit of adjusting.

Moving cities has also been a challenge and I regularly miss the Waikato and wonder if I made the right choice moving back. But I did. I know I did. Even if NO ONE IN THIS CITY CAN DRIVE PROPERLY…I get to be close to family and friends and once things slow down a bit and I have routine in the new year… I can start planning my next adventures. Because I have a whole life ahead of me to live them in. So time to start working and saving and dreaming.

#itsbetterthanalright

I’m mad, utterly mad

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I stole this picture of my sisters instagram…mainly because I spilt a cup of coffee on my phone so it now refuses to upload photos I take. Whatever, that’s cool. I’ve spent the last few days in Hamilton looking after the little sis who’s had an operation (she’s fine, nothing major). It’s strange being, once again, back in the house I moved into a year ago. I can’t believe how much I’ve achieved in one year and how different things are now! I’ve been rather adamant about not being one of those people who come back from travelling and say ‘I’ve changed’. But I can’t help it. I’m different. I’m still every bit me but I’m the me I’ve ignored for a long time. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on here, but before I came back and walked into what turned into a blind-siding flip of my life, there was this moment in France.

Tom had left to spend the afternoon at the pub and I’d opted to have a me day. I’d just finished watching the rugby and I went to do the dishes only to find the sink totally blocked. I’ve had a blocked sink while I’ve been flatting, a number of times, I should probably stop expecting food to fit down it… but every time I’d called someone to fix it. Not because I couldn’t fix it, but it was easier to just get someone to do it for me. But stuck in a house with no internet, no one around to bounce ideas off, nothing. I had nothing. I’ll admit it took me an hour to realise there was a part of the pipe under the sink I could unscrew to empty the blockage (into a bucket of course, I’m smart sometimes), but there was this strange sense of achievement as I watched the water empty out and my problem vanish. I did it all myself. I’d always been able to do it myself, I just never thought I could.

So I was standing in this little kitchen in a house in the middle of a quiet, well actually silent, street in the middle of a small North West town in France. I stood and I laughed and I laughed until I couldn’t stop. And I suddenly realised all the things I was worried about, all the things in life that stopped me chasing my dreams; none of it mattered. I was going to be just fine. I was fine on my own.

I don’t know why I had that moment, perhaps I subconsciously knew more about my unravelling life than I cared to admit, but from that moment I haven’t felt the fear I used to about my life.

There are a lot of things you learn travelling: how to get yourself un-lost with no help and no maps without the use of English, how to order food with a dietary requirement without using language…the list of stuff goes on. But there are these incredible moments like in Vietnam, I went out around 10pm in Hoi An, it’s a small beach town that’s insanely pretty, and I just wandered around. The street was lit with these large lanterns, people talked loudly, some rode around on bikes, floating candles shone in different colours across the canal. It was one of the moment beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Or when I was in Ho Chi Minh city and a group of girls took me around in the evening. There’s this big street just for people to hang out and walk up and down. Buildings tower over it with bright neon lights and offices lit up. People gather to sing and drink coffee and just be there. In a city full of rush and business they’re just there because they can be. And as I rode around on the back of their motorbikes in a monsoon shower I couldn’t help but realise just how incredible life is. For the first time in my life I stopped worrying about what the future might look like and I started loving my now. And I kept loving my now the whole way around the world.

I never want to lose that, the feeling of freedom and bliss that life is going to be just fine.

So the other night at 11pm I ran off to the beach just to talk and dance and run and do cartwheels (which I fail at). Because life is amazing and it’s so easy to get caught up in what we ‘should’ be or what it ‘should’ look like. I don’t want to lose the craziness or the spontaneous fun I had travelling just because I’m home. New Zealand is an incredible country and life should be lived in the same manner people travel in; just have fun. I’m young and even when I’m not, I’m still entitled to enjoy the little things in life, to embrace my crazy mad side. I’m mad, utterly mad.

And I love it.

One, two, three, run.

I woke up rather angry today. Like all days I wake up with the rage of a fire breathing dragon locked in a cave I went for a run, did some push ups and even some sit up for good measure, then some weird leg raise thingy the trainer at the gym taught me that makes my hamstrings burn with a similar pain to that of a bed of biting ants in Asia.

Life has stopped spiralling out of control. It’s like a tornado that rips through and then when it stops, you’re sort of left standing wondering where on earth you start the clean up. That’s me right now. Standing, wondering a) where I start and b) excited I get to put it back how I want it. So last week I picked a starting point. I’ve started part time work and even gave myself a cool sounding title. My car is still a mess, I still have another a few boxes to unpack and a car to vacuum, but it’s a start. I started. Today is the first day I’ve actually had alone. So far I’ve spent the last few weeks with close friends or family and while I have my little brother here still…I may have possibly over reacted to the dishwasher not being unstacked again and food all over the bench…again. Man I sound like a mother. Sigh. In spite of that I’m actually loving being able to get to know Josh (little brother). I left home when he was only 11, so now at 16 and a completely different person to me, it’s a lot of fun hanging out. Though he managed to kick my butt at the driving rage the other day…I however just don’t seem to have the same skill at killing golf balls.

Josh was talking to myself and Tom yesterday about growing up and the fact that Tom was top in his class at school. Then we all looked at each other and Josh just had this terrifying looking on face of ‘I really hope I don’t end up like you both in six years time’. Then we all laughed. Unemployed, broke, and single definitely doesn’t look so appealing from a 16 year olds point of view I guess. But hey, as I described it to him in some attempt to make life seem less depressing the older you get, life isn’t all about having everything you want or going the way you expect. It’s just about having fun and making the most of the cards you’re dealt and despite what I may think sometimes, I’ve been dealt some pretty great ones.

I, however, don’t like to take my own advice when it comes to the fact I still can’t horse ride and I’m incredibly bitter about that fact. Then I remind myself I was snowboarding in Austria and it doesn’t seem like such a bad decision after all. Because of it though, I have taken up running and can now make it to 1.8km without dying! Before all you runners start laughing, for those of us who consider running to be a form of optional torture, that’s a big deal. Last week I struggled with 1km alone and the plan is in 12 months time I will run 5 of those suckers like they were yesterdays news.

Thankfully I have Nikole to drag me up the Papamoa hills each week and plan wonderful mountain hikes so that goal is actually attainable. I’ve also made strange agreements like “I’ll run up this 1.7km hill that currently still kills me at a walk by the end of next year”. Mad. I am a mad woman. But my weight is great, I feel fantastic, I’m getting a terribly uneven tan, my tailbone only hurts 50 per cent of the day, and my horse is so fat I’m going to start leading her up hills with me when I run…who needs a dog! And I have a fantastic part time job that makes me feel like a real human again. Now it’s time to dust off that CV apply for a few more positions, keep my fitness training up, and see where life takes me!

So I still have my bad days, break ups aren’t nice and the feeling of betrayal, pain, anger, sadness, and the ‘what could I have done better’ doesn’t go away over night. It’s not something I blame on one person and I think part of me still can’t quite comprehend things are different after four years. But they are and life goes on. This beautiful, incredible life goes on and I want to be part of it.

I am part of it.