Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories

I’ve been sitting on this for a while now. Like, over year. I’ve been working on it and getting really excited, then doubting myself and letting my fear of failure get the better of me, which has seen this project shelved nd revived several times.

Long story short, after a bit of a rough time, I came to some big realisations, one of which was that I love to document life and stories, and not just my own. After thinking about how many things fear has held me back from and then talking to my sister about it, I thought I’d just give it a go; say hello to Ordinary People, Extraordinary Dreamer.

https://ordinarypeopleextraordinarystoriesblog.wordpress.com/

 

Developing as an offshoot from this blog, I wanted to find a way to not only tell my story, but to give a voice to everyone else’s, too. This is, pure and simple, a platform for every ‘ordinary’ person to voice their extraordinary stories. Because we all have them.

Taking inspiration from modern documentarians and projects like Humans of New York and NoLa Beings (who give a real voice to the every day faces of their cities) and Seph Lawless (who captures with brutal honesty the state of once-great cities and monuments that have now fallen from grace), as well as photographers like Zoe Leonard and (much older) Eugene Atget (who have been able to authentically capture ordinary moments forever), this is my way of contributing to the documentary of this time that is my present and will some day, inevitably, become history.

And the most important thing to preserve, I think, is the every day, ‘ordinary’ people, who we find out actually aren’t so ordinary after all…

 

The site will be launching soon, but in the mean time, I’m putting the call out to anyone who might be interested in contributing their story 🙂 If you think that might be you, click on over to the new site for more information about how to submit your story!

Want to fail-proof your New Year’s Resolutions? Look to the moon.

So, it’s almost 2 weeks into January. I bet most of you set some resolutions, goals, aims, whatever you want to call them. I bet this isn’t the first year you’ve done it. And I bet some of you are already wavering on those lofty goals. That’s human nature – when we go all in and face a setback, it’s easy to throw in the towel. But it doesn’t have to be that way; I’ve found a way of setting my “resolutions” and goals that has meant that I’ve actually been achieving them, and it’s so much easier than I thought it’d be. Allow me to elaborate, because this might help you, too…

A little over a year ago, I came across this blog post written by the lovely Vanessa, and she instantly had my attention. She wrote beautifully about the meaning and importance of the cycles of the moon in her life, and it resonated with me incredibly strongly. After expressing interest in how she incorporated the moon phases in her life, Vanessa also kindly sent me an email, explaining a little more about how she lives by the moon. After a bit more reading of my own, I learned that as the moon goes through several phases while it orbits the earth, it is believed that each phase is a “good time” to do certain things or ask certain questions of yourself, starting on a new goal/dream/desire each new moon.

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It really hit me then – this was what I needed in my life. I’ve always been a goal setter, a list maker, a checker, someone who needs a target to aim for. I’m need my compass set in the directions of my dreams at all times, otherwise I’m totally lost. But it’s always been hard for me to know when to set aside to sit down and re-assess where I’m at – like most people, I tended not to do this until I was so lost and spun out of control, that 10 minutes of contemplation just wouldn’t cut it.

I’ve spent the last year living by the moon phases. And, unlike previous years, I’ve actually achieved a hell of a lot more than ever before; my typically unrealistic New Year’s resolutions hadn’t all fallen by the wayside a few weeks into 2016. By December 31st 2016, I had a lot to be proud of; physically, mentally, emotionally, materially, I’d made progress.

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There is a truckload of information on meanings and methods available online (just Google “moon phases”), so I won’t give you all of the opinions and options out there – instead, I just wanted to write about what’s working for me.

 

First, I like to write each phase of the moon into my diary, so it’s front of mind. This will obviously be different depending on where you live, but I find this calendar to be pretty helpful.

Then, when I open my diary on January 12th and see I’ve written in there that it’s a full moon night, I set aside a bit of time before I go to bed to sit quietly (maybe outside under the moon if the weather is working with me, or up in my book nook), light some candles or incense, and reflect.

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As I wrote before, it’s believed that specific moon phases align with specific situations and questions, and I did a lot of reading  about what was best to focus on in each phase. Again, there are a lot of different ideas out there, but I combined and condensed a few sources that made sense to me, and came up with the following list of questions; on each moon phase, I mull over the corresponding questions and write down anything I want to come back to…

NEW MOON
– a time of conception, new beginnings and starting new projects
what do you want to start? what are your goals? what do you desire?

 *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

CRESCENT MOON
– resolve is tested, time to grow and overcome fears
what do you fear? what do you need to guarantee the survival of your vision?

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

FIRST QUARTER MOON
– a time to decide who you are and where you intend to go, time to reach a major turning point but facing outer resistance
– set your intentions and create an action plan

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

GIBBOUS MOON
– a time of waiting, a period of adjustment as you adapt to reality and limitations, time to gain perspective and see where changes can be made
–  what isn’t working? how can it be fixed?

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

FULL MOON
– re-evaluate and come to a compromise between expectations and reality, any difficulties are learning opportunities whether you succeed or fail
– what difficulties have you encountered? what of your original goals have you manifested?

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

DISSEMINATING MOON
– time for introspection and review, ask questions, share ideas, gain clarity, time to deal with the outcome whether you’ve achieved your goals or not
– review your original goal; are there any questions that need to be asked and answered? is there anything that no longer serves you that you can let go?

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    * 

THIRD QUARTER MOON
– do you enlarge, rethink or replace your original vision? pull things apart and see them from a broader point of view, search for meaning
– review your original goal – enlarge, rethink or review? have you let go of the things you needed to?

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

BALSAMIC MOON
– time to stop striving and rest/retreat, grieve any losses and let things come to their natural end
– spend some time alone to reflect on the cycle, consider what is coming to an end, clean your physical space, rest

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And that’s the bare bones of it. If you’re really into it and astrology is your jam, you may want to create a more elaborate ritual. If you’re not really into the “hippy dippy” stuff, you may want to just use this more as a goal setting guide. But whichever way you want to look at it, I’ve found that being guided by the moon phases has made it so much easier to break down what I want and work out how to get it. It’s forced me to slow down, think things through, focus, ask the right questions of myself, and commit to my goals (after all, each moon cycle only lasts 4 weeks before you can “reset” your goals).

Through my eyes: doorways of Tokyo

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Monday morning. Bleh. You’re meant to feel well rested and ready to take on the week on Monday mornings; as I type this on Sunday night, I know that’s probably not gonna be the case.

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The past few weeks have been a little stressful. Mum and dad have been travelling (yes, I’m one of those kids who worry about their parents). We had Christmas. A sibling struggling with her health. Trying to do the work of three people alone (in an unexpectedly busy period) while the others took annual leave. Adjusting to some new medication. A few migraines. Lots of social engagements. Health issues. A seemingly never ending to do list. And it all came to a head this week, the busiest one I’ve had in recent memory. I’m spent.

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After spending the morning on the road, checking out Anglesea’s Riverside Market, enjoying some tea in the sunshine, and celebrating my beautiful little niece’s birthday, the washing and dishes are now done, house tidied up, dinner (and lunch leftovers) cooked, and I’m kicking back with a pile of travel magazines by my side to flick through after I’ve written this.

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Following a (just) stifled anxiety attack earlier today, I got to thinking about the things that calm me. Reading, writing, scrolling through the Instagram feeds that inspire me, taking photographs, being in new places, visiting chaotic markets, travelling… Funny that an anxious introvert finds so much comfort in foreign, often busy places. I thought of the last trip, to Tokyo, which was so good for me.

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Walking around, alone, with just my camera and my thoughts was relaxing, therapeutic. And some of the photos I most enjoy taking when I’m travelling are of doorways.

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I love the idea that I have no idea what lies behind them; the possibilities of the stories contained within are endless. And, as the owner of a fairly active imagination, that fascinates me..

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But today, it’s Monday again. I’ve got home made okonomiyaki for lunch and 73 sleeps until my next adventure. Sometimes busy gets uncomfortable, but that’s what life is all about. It’s about being busy and uncomfortable and stressed and overwhelmed, but also about the opportunity to learn and imagine and discover, to find your own peace and joy in amongst the mayhem. And I’m grateful for the chance to prove myself worthy of it every morning 🙂 Happy Monday! xo

On Career Crises – from The Book of Life

Have you heard of The School of Life? I first heard of it a few years ago – my sister told me about a friend of hers who was travelling to London (where their HQ is based) to attend the “school” for 2 weeks, I think it was. The School of Life focuses on developing emotional intelligence, addressing every day issues that a lot of people have issues with. Things like finding love, achieving calm, changing the world, little things like that. They’ve now expanded around the world to cities as diverse as Paris, Belgrade, Melbourne and Tel Aviv, as well as selling some beautiful products online.

Another little something they do is The Book of Life; in their own words,

The Book of Life is being written by many people over a long time; it keeps changing and evolving. It is filled with images and films as well as texts. By floating online, it can grow a bit every day or so, as new things come along and it can be equally accessible all around the world, at any time, for free.

And the best part about it is that you can subscribe online and get a bit of the book emailed to you each week; I love that time of the week 🙂 Anyway, last week, one of the links in the email was to this particular piece – On Career Crisis, from chapter 2 (WORK). It’s a really interesting piece, and one I’d recommend to most people – instead of regurgitating it all here, though, I thought I’d touch on some of the more interesting parts…

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While I’m certainly not going through a career crisis, I am feeling a little stuck. I’ve never looked at work or career in the same way as most people. I’ve never been too bothered about having a “career;” having accepted early on that my passions would most likely never be my career, I settled on looking for jobs that would enable me to earn enough money and allow me to work reasonable enough hours that I could pursue my passions outside of work. This is mostly because my parents are incredibly hard working and sensible people; while they’ve always encouraged us to dream and chase those dreams with abandon, they’ve also always encouraged us to be sensible about it – no sense in being a homeless, penniless writer. That may have been romantic a few centuries back, but now that’s just irresponsible and silly.

 

I’ll come back to that, but first, here’s how that piece opens:

In 1700, in Western Europe, there were some 400 different kinds of jobs you could choose from. Nowadays, there are approximately 500,000. No wonder if we sometimes have a bit of trouble settling on what we might want to do.

For most of history, the majority of humans have believed that this life is not the only chance we get to fulfill ourselves. There will be other lives beyond death, in which we will be able to correct the errors made here on earth. Career anxiety stems – in part – from a growing inability to believe in next lives.

An average life might be – only – 600,000 hours long. Identifying fulfilling work requires a judicious blending of fear and haste – with self-examination and patience.

We pin our hopes for happiness on Love and Work. And yet in relation to both, refuse to plan methodically, to understand ourselves thoroughly, to train relentlessly and to go into therapy before we act. We worship instinct in precisely the wrong places.

Got your attention yet?! As it continues, questions are posed. I’ll run you through some of them, and attempt, as I go, to answer them as honestly as I know how.

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All parents unwittingly (or not) create a sense that certain jobs are not possible for their children: because the jobs are too lowly, or too high – or just because people in our family don’t do that kind of thing. Reflect on 10 occupations that might have been plausible but were (psychologically) off the table back home.
– Writer
– Journalist
– Photographer
– Artist
– Jedi (actually, dad may have been right about that one…)
– Egyptologist
– Historian
– Archaeologist
– Airforce pilot
Back to my earlier point about my parents, they did passively discourage a lot of these paths, because they wanted to me look at fields where work would always be available, so that I could always have the best chance at being employed and therefore never know financial hardship. So I can’t be too mad at them for that. At the same time, part of my soul would love to know what it’s like to earn money and recognition in the fields I’m most passionate about…

Which of these are you – in the end – best at: numbers, words, images, people?
Words. Always.
And, luckily, I’ve always had a lot of recognition and  encouragement to write from my parents.

Every successful business is at heart an attempt to solve someone’s problem: what are – for  you – mankind’s most interesting problems?
– The lack of happiness so many people suffer from, despite the fact that a lot of us have and know more now than we ever have.
– Restricting self-beliefs that we all have – how much is our potential held back by them?
– How so much of the world still suffers from poverty, hunger, racism, sexism, problems that should have been eradicated decades ago.
– The frequent lack of connectedness between us all. Also, solutions to breaking down some of the barriers by something as simple as food, which has the power to connect so many.
– The fact that everyone has a story, and that they should all be shared – every story shared is more knowledge that comes into the world.

If I was forced to run a shop, it would sell…
Books and home made cookies and tea. And you wouldn’t have to force me into it; running a second hand book and tea shop where I bake and sell cookies daily is a massive dream of mine. If anyone has the financial backing to make this happen before my 50s, I’d love to hear from you hehe

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There is NOTHING wrong with being real

I’ve still got one last post on the fantastic places I enjoyed over my birthday weekend, but I’m going to interrupt that programming for one moment to touch on something that I think is kind of important…

I posted this photo on Instagram on Tuesday night:
IMG_3799After talking to a fellow blogger today about the dangers of social media’s creation of fake perfection, talking to my soul doctor about the pressure to achieve impossible standards, and reading a line in the @girlspo_positive book about how social media often shows us only our peers’ highlight reels, I wanted to put it out there that there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being real.
This is me, the unfiltered, unmade-up, end of the day, real me. It is unbrushed hair and PJs. It’s no make up. It’s insomnia and depression and anxiety. It’s dad’s freckles. It’s clumsy and insecure and unable to sit still. Its mistakes and lessons learnt and completely human. And that’s ok.
Keep posting the beautiful photos because it’s always good to look back and remember the perfect moments. But don’t think you have to delete the imperfect moments; those are the ones that make you real.

I did it in a moment of slight madness (since me mental health has taken a bit of a hit, I really don’t have many photos of me anymore) and was surprised at the really positive responses that came at me, including a very good friend posting her own photo and “be real” message the next day. The reactions this photo generated made me think that we have some real problems if being real is no longer the norm and garners such praise…

When I took this photo on Tuesday night, it had been a long day. I was still recovering from the whirlwind birthday weekend that ended up playing out despite my initial reservations and protests. Monday, my actual birthday, presented some challenges centering mostly around food, which were compounded by some of the relationships in my life. Tuesday was a full work day, punctuated by a quick tea/coffee date with fellow blogger Lisa from Lisa Eats World.

I can’t remember who I heard this from, but I remember being at some kind of bloggy event a while ago and someone saying that if you read something interesting from someone you find fascinating and inspiring, reach out and see if they want to grab a coffee with you. Just before going to Japan, I read Lisa’s post about how she quit her job to become a full time freelance writer, instead of it being just something she dabbled in on the side. I was intrigued at this lady who was brave enough to do something I’d always dreamed of, and wanted to find out more, so I sent her an email and we decided to catch up when I got back from Japan. Among other things, Lisa and I spoke about how dangerous social media can be in creating false impressions. I’m no longer on Facebook in large part because of the constant “keeping up with the Jones'” attitude so many people had started taking and the competition to have the most publically perfect life. Not for me, thanks.

A few hours later, I had an appointment with my “soul doctor” (AKA my psychologist), and it was a good one. There was a lot of helpful information to come out of the session, including this absolute best piece of advice I think I’ve ever heard from a medical professional: “you need to be kinder to yourself and learn to accept your new lifestyle, and everything that comes with it.” This was on the back of my answer to the question of how often do you exercise – “every day!” I said, without hesitation, almost surprised at being asked. Without working out every day, how could I possibly control the damage that eating would do to me?? My soul doctor smiled at me and told me gently that I didn’t need to do that anymore. That exercise should be something you do because you love your body and want to keep it healthy, not to punish it for fueling itself. Anyway, that got me thinking – accept my new lifestyle. I didn’t need to be a fitness freak anymore, that’s not my job now, nor is it my passion. I have permission to let that go. I don’t have to look like a perfect little gym bunny anymore. I can be more “real.”

After that, I got home and sat down to my Girlspo+ workbook, and happened to be up to the chapter on comparisons. Reading the line about how are always comparing ourselves to everyone else’s highlights reels hit me hard, because it’s SO true. No one ever posts the unglamorous, embarrassing, real life shit on their social media accounts, because we want to present images to the world that show how fabulous our lives are. I hope that’s not how I come across, because I’ll be the first to admit my life is anything but glamorous. So I posted this picture.

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This was me at around 10pm Tuesday night, after everything that had come before that point.
This is me, for real.
This is no filter (how hard that was!), no make up, no straightened hair.
This is a full day on 5 hours sleep.
This is the rash on my neck that pops up when I get stressed and anxious, and the corresponding rash that presents in bleeding welts all over my scalp.
This is depression and anxiety and disordered eating and insomnia.
This is a daughter and sister and wife and friend.
This is bingeing and purging and dieting, over and again.
This is laughing with friends over the stupidest jokes.
This is crying with them when they’ve been hurt.
This is 12 tattoos and stretch marks and cellulite and surgery scars.
This is my dad’s freckles and my grandmother’s auburn hair.
This is a wealth of knowledge from reading more books than you could imagine.
This is a dream to travel and explore and learn.
This is trying to turn it all around.
This is a determined smile knowing that all the hard work is starting to pay off.
This is a tired smile knowing that I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to live tomorrow, all over again.

Behind every few pictures of the beautiful homemade meals that pop up on my Instagram, there’s been an epic fuck up, like an oven set to grill instead of bake (seriously).
Behind every amazing travel shot, there has been nights out with friends missed, extra work undertaken, and wearing the same clothes year in year out to save the money to get there and take that shot (again, seriously, I’ve had this skirt since year 10…).
Behind almost every incredible burger and cupcake you see, there has most likely been a lot of self-hatred and harmful behaviour and thoughts afterwards.
Behind all those lovely cups and pots of tea, there’s often been tears or anxiety attacks that have led to their necessity.
Behind all the books you see me reading, there’s an underlying need to escape reality.
Behind every photo of my tattooed legs, there is an insecure girl who doesn’t believe the unadorned parts of herself are worth recording or being seen.

But all those fuck ups and sacrifices and anxiety attacks and scars add up to a real person. Not a pretty, perfectly curated life for and on social media, but an actual living, breathing human. And the whole point of this rant is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with posting the beautiful shots that we work so hard for. Keep posting the money shots of the sunsets in foreign lands – you worked hard to earn that! Post those gorgeous new shoes you worked hard to earn the money for. Post the gym shots that show off the body you put the hours of sweat in to earn. But don’t think that you need to delete every imperfect moment that led up to those shots, because those moments are your life.

Post some of those real moments while you keep posting the beautiful, perfect ones. Because those perfect shots are only possible because of all the imperfect moments that came before them. Those perfect captures are the moments created by your sacrifices and hardships and fuck ups, and they make you REAL, and that’s not something you should ever feel the need to delete.

Blessed: how a Melbourne girl finally acknowledges her birthday

I’m writing this post from the comfort of my couch, the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries on in the background, and my fur baby curled up by my side. It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m pretty tired; it’s been a massive weekend. And the next few weeks aren’t going to be any quieter – Christmas parties, birthdays, weddings, dinners with friends… and tomorrow, another birthday for me.

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I’ve been pretty determined to ignore this birthday. It’s one of those big, ugly ones. Thirty. Blehh. It’s not so much the age that disturbs me – I neither look nor act my age (although I really hate that feeling I’ve been getting more and more frequently that the best years of my life are flying by and I’m not making the most of them…). It’s not the fact that I don’t have a big, fancy career title. Or that I’m childless. All things considered, I’m actually pretty happy with my choices and path in life. But that nasty depression/anxiety/disordered eating cocktail, some bumpy family ties, and my eternal predisposition to  instinctively go through life unnoticed has meant that I really didn’t want any acknowledgement or fanfare this year. No parties, no cakes, no gifts.

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I reluctantly agreed to a small lunch on the Saturday with just my family and in-laws to mark the occasion, on the proviso that there’d be no cake or singing or any of that crap. Seeing as we’d be out for lunch and had no big celebratory plans for the night, I decided to book a hotel room in the city for husband and I – getting lost in a busy city always relaxes me.

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A few weeks after that was all organised, I hesitantly, at my patient husband’s suggestion, texted my my four best friends to see if they’d maybe want to have dinner with me on Friday night – I felt like SUCH a twat asking them to mark my birthday with a dinner, because I really don’t feel worthy of celebration. But the girls were all excited, so I started to get a little excited, too..

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Just before last weekend, I started getting a little anxious about it all. With more going on than I’d care to admit, I knew it was time to take the advice I always tried so hard to ignore, and just slow down and take a breath. I applied for a day of annual leave from work so I could mark this birthday on my own, privately, in a way that I could only do alone and that would make sense only to me. So, on Thursday morning, I got up and enjoyed a cup of tea and a little bit of muesli. Then, I made my way to a tram stop and caught a tram to my favourite part of Melbourne (Fitzroy and Collingwood), where I did something very uncharacteristic of me; I indulged in some of my favourite things, slowly and deliberately. I ordered myself a pastry for morning tea, without a panic attack, even though I hadn’t worked out at 5.45am that morning. I sat and enjoyed it with a pot of tea while I spent some time on my favourite hobby – writing.

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After that, I did something even more out of character – I got a manicure and pedicure. It took me the best part of the pamper session to actually relax and enjoy it. I didn’t force myself to eat because it was “lunch time;” I walked around, slowly and aimlessly, and waited until I was actually hungry. I wrote a little more over lunch. I decided to get some new tattoos. Then, I eventually made my way to another cafe for another pot of tea. I ordered a chocolate chip cookie, too, because it was exactly what I felt like. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a pastry and a cookie on the same day, let alone on a day when I hadn’t worked out for at least at hour…

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That last stop was the one I needed most that day. I sat down with a hot pot of tea, that chocolate chip cookie, and a notebook that’s been sitting on my little desk at home for the last few months, with the words “THE RECOVERY DIARIES” scrawled up its spine. It’s the little notebook I write notes in that might help me along my path to be happier and healthier. Notes from books like “The Happiness Handbook” by Dr Timothy Sharp, snippets of information and quotes from Brene Brown, points from Nia Shanks’ latest e-book, notes from the Girlspo+ workbook, and other random bits and pieces. Anyway, on Thursday afternoon with my tea and cookie, I started to think about where I’m at and where I want to be, and I started writing; my birthday gift to myself (other than the new shoes, hotel night, tattoos and matcha cronut) was actually investing the time to give myself a bit more direction for the weeks and months leading up to my next birthday.

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I’m a great planner, but my low confidence and self-esteem means that I’m not always great at following through (certainly not always, but undeniably more and more often, I’m inclined to just give up when I think I’m not good enough to actually achieve something). I’m an efficient organiser, but I struggle to focus (instead of having the confidence to develop one or two main passions, I tend to try everything in the hopes that maybe I’ll be good enough at one of them). Everything’s hunky dory in theory, but in practice, anxiety often gets the best of me and I never get the chance to put my step by step plans into place. So Thursday afternoon was the time I’d finally set aside to start working on a realistic game plan.

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I realised a few other things things year in the lead up to the birthday:
— I’m only human. There is only so much I can do. And that’s ok.
— My mother is also only human. We are really, truly, undeniably polar opposites, and that’s ok, too. Circumstances and situations over many years that are more complicated than any standard therapist’s pay grade dictate that our relationship will never be less than complicated, and that is ok.
— I’ll always feel like I need to be strong around my dad, who I absolutely love to bits. I will always feel like it’s my job to assure him that I’m ok, even when I’m not. And I know I’m not fooling him, but he also respects me enough to allow me the dignity to carry on working things out myself without interruption.
— I cannot wear every single hat every single day. I need to learn when to let shit go. Just because I was a black belt martial artist and a dancer and a pianist and a personal trainer and a blogger and tried to be a runner and took up yoga and wanted to learn to cook from 15 different cook books at one point or another in my life, does not mean I still need to do everything. My passions and goals are allowed to evolve and change.
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— It’s ok to say no to people I just don’t connect with, events I don’t feel comfortable attending, things I don’t want to do.
— I also need to make more of an effort to find my tribe and attend events that I really do want to be at, even through anxiety. Because why should anyone else make an effort with me if I don’t put any effort in myself?
— I’ve got a long way to go before I have this disordered eating business under control. But even one step forward and two steps back is a type of progress.
— Marrying my best friend was the best thing I could have possibly done. Whether we make it to our fiftieth wedding anniversary or end up divorced in a few years, I wouldn’t change what we’ve had for anything. He’s had my back from day one (God only knows why), and we’ve experienced the highest highs and lowest lows together. We’ve both had lofty dreams which we’d never have achieved without each others’ support. He can handle me at my worst, and can bring out my best.
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— I might not have a massive group of friends anymore, but the ones I do have are some of the strongest, most beautiful women in the world. They’re girls with balls, with goals, with dreams, with more to talk about than a spray tan appointments and the new heels they’re breaking in. These are women that have been there for me and have allowed me the honour of being there for them. A soul mate isn’t necessarily a spouse – while my husband is my best friend and one of my soul mates, the small group of women I have the privilege to call my friends are my soul mates, too 🙂
— At the end of the day, when my time is up, no one else is gonna give a shit about what I did. No one is going to congratulate me for either working non stop or taking lots of time off to travel the world. No one is going to high 5 me for either having three children or deciding to stay childless and pursue my own dreams. So I need to stop giving a shit about what everyone thinks now, because none of them are going to be there at the end of it all.
– Does it make you happy? Do it more. Does it make you sad? Stop doing it. Simple.

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So, I’m gonna call it a night now guys, counting my blessings for this amazing weekend and one of the best birthdays I’ve actually had in a while, despite all of my protesting… And throughout the week, I’m going to have some suggestions on places to visit in your own Melbourne backyard, places to enjoy a meal at with your friends, and some ways to treat yourself if you’re feeling a bit flat and in need of a pre-holiday season perk up – because you shouldn’t wait until your birthday to make yourself a priority 🙂 xo

I believe the time has come for me to re-introduce myself…

For someone who rarely struggles to find something to write about, I’m finding it really hard to know where to start this post… If you’ve been reading for a while now, you’ll know that I’m struggling a bit at the moment. I’m not the same person I was 18 months ago when I started writing here, and given that this space is more or less my “journal” of sorts and I’ve always written my way through hard times, I think that’s something I need to acknowledge here.

Before I go on, I realise that the honesty in the post might lose me some “followers,” and that’s OK. If some of what I write about makes you feel uncomfortable, or you’re just plain not interested in it, that’s perfectly fine. That said, I also can’t ignore what is increasingly an enormous part of myself and my life, and I’m pretty sure I can’t keep faking it to you guys either 🙂

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So, allow me to re-introduce myself…
Hi, I’m Jess :)I work in corporate travel by day and moonlight as a food & travel blogger.
I love to travel, I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love to write.
I live in Melbourne and love this city to bits.
I’m a bookworm, a tea enthusiast and a market fiend.
I’m a classic shy little introvert, and as such have seriously honed my skills in “faking it” and keeping up a happy, confident facade in public.
I’m currently dealing depression, anxiety and disordered eating.

Depression has been part of my life since I was about 16 years old. I think anxiety has been around for a while as well, I just haven’t known what to call it. The disordered eating is relatively new to the party. They’re all really hard, in their own ways.

It’s hard to wake up some mornings feeling as if a dark cloud has formed over your bed while you’re sleeping. It’s hard to get out of bed at 5.30am after only a few hours broken sleep so you can exercise before work, every morning, no excuses. It’s hard trying to explain and defend over and over again why you can’t just “be happy” when you have a perfectly lovely life, and there’s really “nothing wrong” with you and so many other people have it so much worse than you do. It’s hard wondering what the hell is wrong with you and having no rational reasoning behind it.

It’s hard to come home feeling miserable and flat with absolutely no explanation for your husband other than “I’m just having a blue day…” It’s hard knowing that you’re putting him through such a hard time. It’s so hard to feel like such a burden to the one person who’s been through it all with you for the past eleven years and still feel like you’re no closer to being “better,” when all you want in the world is to be better for them. It’s incredible to see how strong he always is, without hesitation or complaint, which makes it harder still to have one of those days; you just want the pressure to be taken off him from now on. 

It’s hard when your family don’t know or understand what you’re going through. It’s hard to realise that you haven’t got many friends left, because not many people are willing to stick around when you’re going through this shit. It’s hard to keep up a brave face in front of the amazing friends you do have left even when they do know what you’re going through. It’s hard driving to meet a friend for brunch and panicking the whole way there. It’s hard sitting in the cafe with your “happy happy food blogger OMG I love all of the food!” face on when you’re freaking out inside. It’s hard sometimes to post happy and upbeat writing on my blog when my heart is breaking. It’d be harder not having this space and place to write at all though – it’s a big part of what keeps me sane on the bad days!

It’s hard to be so scared of food some days when you’ve always loved it. It’s hard to be invited to lovely meals out that you can’t totally enjoy because you’ve spent two hours studying the menu for the “healthiest” option, then freak out completely when you get there and order the “unhealthiest” option possible, plus sides, plus dessert. It’s hard to come home feeling like a failure, and continuing to eat because you’ve already ruined everything anyway. It’s hard to feel so ill you can’t sleep. It’s hard to throw it all up. And as if that’s not all hard enough, throw in lactose and fructose intolerance!

It’s hard to realise that you really just can’t handle it on your own anymore, and that if you really do want that happily ever after, you’re going to have to enlist help. It’s hard making that first contact with a “professional.” It’s even harder turning up to that first appointment. Hardest of all is looking at a complete stranger, kind as they may be, and still trying to smile through the tears as you tell them that you just don’t know what to do anymore. That you’re depressed and anxious and you really don’t want to be. That despite your degree in exercise science and decade working in the health and wellness industry, you’ve still somehow become one of “those” women who hate their bodies and often binge and throw up and “restrict” calories. It’s really, really hard to own that. And it’s really hard to share that to God-only-knows how many strangers.

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I think it’s silly and unfair and dishonest for me to keep writing here as if there’s nothing wrong, as if my life is a shiny, perfect bundle of travelling and adventuring and cooking and eating (side note: it feels unbelievably good getting all of that off my chest! I’ve hated the last few weeks feeling like an imposter here!); that’s what I’m working towards, but we’re not quite there yet 🙂

I also wanted to tell you guys that while I may start to write a little more about this side of my life (now that I’ve actually acknowledged both to you guys and to myself what’s really going on), this is still going to be first and foremost a food and travel blog. Writing is my solace. Travel is what sets me free. Food can go either way, but I’m hoping that with a bit of help, I’ll be able to add that back to the “good” column! So if you’re just here for recipes and suggestions on places to eat at and things to add to your bucket list, don’t worry; those posts are gonna keep on coming!

Anyway, a huge thank you to everyone who is still following my adventures on here – it still amazes and humbles me so much to know that there are people out there who are still interested in what I have to say! And the online blogging community is amazingly supportive, which I’m super grateful for 🙂 To anyone else who’s fighting their own battle right now, my thoughts are with you guys – never be afraid to reach out for help, because there’s something better out there if you do! But right now, I’m kinda tired so I think I’m gonna try to get some sleep… Here’s to more tea, more travel, more books and better days coming!

xoxo

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