Almost Two Months.

Day 54.

Almost two months.

Of juggling and wading and balancing and shifting.

Almost two months of going through the gamut of human emotion.

Almost two months of elation and sadness and confusion and productivity and exhaustion and positivity and cocooning and laughter and frustration.

I made a decision almost two months ago, one I didn’t even consciously realise at the time; this whole experience wasn’t going to happen to me — I was going to happen to it.

That if I couldn’t go anywhere, I’d instead go inside myself. And ask some questions.

Like why do I think the way I think? Am I using my full potential? What does success mean to me? What do I want to change? What habits do I want to foster? What stories do I tell myself? What really matters to me?

I have pages of questions and more pages of answers.

I have fostered new habits.

I have dug deep and I’m not nearly at the bottom.

I’ve realised there’s some things I miss about ‘normal’ life, but some I absolutely don’t.

There’s some things I can’t wait to get back to, and some things I never will.

I knew this period would offer growth, and clarity, but I didn’t realise quite how much.

I love getting uncomfortable — I’ve made a life out of it — but I haven’t often enough allowed the space for things to get really quiet. And really still.

Because that’s genuinely uncomfortable.

Sitting — still, silent — with yourself.

Now I do it on the daily.

And, almost two months on, I can say with absolute assurance that you will bloom if you take the time to water yourself.

Also — I’m still living in playsuits. 

Be Well, Be Kind, Be Brave.

I think now is as pertinent a time as ever to say a few things I’ve got on my mind:

Kindness begins and ends with us. Individually and collectively. Ditto consideration. And respect. Use yours liberally, without reservation. 

Panic is not a plan. Panic is not a plan. Say it louder, for the people in the back. 

It can be easy to get caught in the unrelenting news cycle, but refreshing your feed every five minutes is not helpful or healthy. Be informed, heed warnings and advice, be proactive, be responsible, aim to help flatten the curve. But switch off the TV. Close the apps. Then take a walk. Soak in some gorgeous autumn sunshine. Breathe. 

We’ve had a rough few months in Australia — robbed of a summer because it was in flames, every breath choked by smoke. That anger you had over that? That sadness? Don’t direct it into fear. Repurpose it and put love and money and hope into the many small towns that still need you. And if you want to direct anger anywhere, send it via Climate Act Now and put pressure on your local MP and the government to act on climate change. 

You’re allowed to feel however you want to feel. If that’s scared, anxious, concerned, in limbo, completely unaffected…you do you. There’s a wave of emotions out there right now and we’ve got to ride them. Just remember that kindness begins and ends with us. 

Finally, and maybe most importantly: if you haven’t already been living like you mean it, every day, it’s time to start. In fact, you’re overdue. Time is finite, nothing is guaranteed. Don’t wait for the disaster, the diagnosis, the pandemic, the problem. Your world, our world, can change at any moment, so please, I implore you, live like you mean it. Enjoy every moment. Do what you love. Be grateful for what you have. You already have more than you need. Do what you can for others, do what you can for you. Drown in life. Wildly. Bathe in it. Soak it in. Plunge it in love. Drench it in laughter. Nothing else matters. 

Once we’re on the other side of this, I’m popping this gold number back on and shouting you all a well deserved chilli margarita. 

Until then, be well, be kind, be brave. 

I love you all x

Choose Joy…

Around this time of year, people start wishing for it all to be over – the year, the day to day, the busyness of life. But I don’t want to plod my way across some imaginary finish line that marks the end of the year. I want to roll in with a bloody bang. And savour every last day. December isn’t a month to be wished away. This decade is never coming back. So this is your friendly reminder that you could die, at any time, or your entire world as you know it could change, at any given moment. Maybe, if you’re not already, it’s time to start living like you mean it. Living like this one precious life you have is fleeting. Maybe it’s time to stop telling yourself stories and start getting uncomfortable. Living in truth. Maybe it’s time to start choosing joy. Joy doesn’t just happen. It’s a decision you make about how you are going to live your life — and how you are going to respond to life. Here’s what I know: joy attracts joy. Here’s something else I know: who you surround yourself with is who you are. Who are you spending the rest of this year, this decade, with? My advice is to find people who speak your language, so you don’t have to spend a lifetime translating your spirit. The kind of people who understand what you do not say. The kind of people who light a fire in you. The ones who fill you with joy. Find one, or ten, of them. But more than anything, be one of them. The clock ticking over at New Year might signify a fresh start for some, but I don’t buy into that, and never have. You can reinvent yourself anytime you like. You can reflect, and reassess, on any day of the damn year. Fresh starts happen anytime you decide to embark on one. All you have is now. And, to me, that seems like a perfect place to start. Go be who you want to be. The person you need. Don’t put your happiness in a person, a possession or a profession. Joy is up to you. So is how you spend the last thirty-four days of this year. And any days you get beyond that. Find your joy — and keep choosing it every day.

Go And Make Your Life Beautiful.

“When I finally get…”

“Once I’ve bought…”

“When I finish…”

“Once I’ve done…”

Boring, wearisome words.

Lifeless excuses.

If you want to rob your life, of the good, and the great, of the grand, and the majestic, keep feeding yourself lies.

Wrap them up into a neat, safe, beige parcel and call them reasons.

Believe they’re what’s holding you back.

Believe they’re why you haven’t already.

Tirelessly wait for better days.

For “when I finally get…” and “once I’ve done…” and then, when you’ve got and you’ve done, you’ll realise the cost was living your one, precious life. Abandoning your dreams. Abandoning yourself.

You have everything you need – right now – to make your life beautiful. To do the things you love. To be the person you want to be.

You do not need to wait, or delay.

“When I…” and “once I…” are traps.

And you know they are.

Stop making excuses.

Stop waiting for the right time.

Stop wishing your life away.

I will say it again: you have everything you need – right now – to make your life beautiful.

Go and make your life beautiful.

Merry, Forever. Happy, Always.

I felt a lump swell in the base of my throat yesterday.

I instantly knew what it was.

I’ve felt it a couple of times this year already; in the days leading up to my birthday, and Father’s Day, and his birthday.

It’s unmistakable – a sharp bulge, that intensifies the more I try to quash it.

Gulp.

Gulp.

Gulp.

But it remains.

I wonder if it’ll be like this forever.

I suspect it might still be too early to know.

There’s been a lot of ‘firsts’ this year.

First without this, and first without that.

People say it gets easier with the seconds and thirds.

I’m not convinced.

Time passes, time heals. Maybe. But it doesn’t erase.

And I wouldn’t want it to.

So many years of saturated memories; tinsel flooded floorboards, and sunburn, tables overflowing with food, and cherry stained fingertips. Music permeating the walls. Laughter, over the crunch of wrapping paper.

For the most part, this Christmas won’t be all that different from any other.

There’ll just be one person missing.

It’s disconcerting how life ticks along, as though the people who once loomed so large were never there at all.

But of course they were.

I’ve got little interest in popping crackers or faking festivity over small talk with people I’ve no partiality to.

I just want to be around the people I love, that get it.

The ones that you don’t have to explain anything to, because they know.

It’s funny, what, and who, you’re drawn to after loss. The comfort you find in the familiar, the warmth in revisiting old memories, and with it, old feelings.

I like being close to that.

And as far away as possible from the rest of it.

It’s hard to describe – the immense sense of loss, the extensive gaping hole – because it is entirely at odds with – sublime happiness, genuine excitement – and here I am, occupied by all of them, at once.

It is both melancholic, and marvellous. Delicate, and misinterpreted. Complex, and cathartic. Light, and dark.

The lump comes.

And goes.

It’s unmistakable.

But maybe instead of trying to quash it, I’ll just let it linger.

It’s a nice reminder, in some ways.

To stay near the people, and do the things, that feel like light.

Not just for a season.

Merry, forever.

Happy, always.

As Good As Can Be Expected.

My Dad passed away two weeks ago.

People keep asking me how I’m going, as though they’re half expecting me to break in front of them.

I’m glad they ask.

I’ve realised it’s much nicer than not being asked.

How am I going?

I’m not sure.

Mostly I say, ‘as good as can be expected.’

I suppose that is true.

I’m not sure what the expectation is when you lose one of the most important, pivotal, beloved people in your life, but I feel like I’m doing as good as I can be – I’m waking up, and showering, and eating, and caring for my son, and driving my car, and running errands, and seeing family and friends, and cooking, and cleaning, and checking emails, and making phone calls, and planning, and doing all the little things people do that fill their days.

Some people don’t know what to say, which I somewhat understand, but here’s something else I’ve realised; it’s not that hard to say ‘I’m thinking of you’ or ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ or ‘I hope you are doing as good as can be expected’.

I have been showered in support, and love, and thoughts, and I feel them, wrapped around me. I am so appreciative of every single one of them.

But my Dad has died.

He’s gone.

And my life is forever changed.

Everything is kind of the same, but paradoxically, absolutely nothing is the same.

Nothing will be the way it used to be, ever again.

I am mostly fine, except for when I am not. I am mostly ok, except for when I am not.

Sometimes it slowly creeps up on me, like a looming dread in the pit of my stomach, and sometimes it hits me, bang out of nowhere, and I catch myself clutching my breath.

I’m as good as can be expected, but I am angry.

I’ve got a simmering rage inside me that I’m containing, but boy does it bubble. I’ve had to remind myself, every day, to ‘let it go’, that ‘it’s not worth it’, to ‘calm down’.

I’m as good as can be expected, but I feel robbed.

Robbed that Dad didn’t get enough time, that I didn’t get enough time, that we all didn’t get enough time. Robbed for what he’ll miss, for what I’ll miss, for what we’ll all miss.

It’s true that we don’t know our own strength until we need to; people have commended me for mine, which is lovely, but also slightly odd.

I’m ‘strong’ because being anything less seems like a disservice to Dad; to his honour, and legacy. I’m ‘strong’ because I have a child to raise, and a family to love, and being anything less seems like a disservice to them.

People see strength as ‘getting on with it’ – helping organise a funeral, and saying a eulogy without falling apart, and running yourself into the ground with errands, and doing as good as can be expected, and they say, ‘Good on her, look how strong she is,’ like you’re a show dog at a competition.

That is not strength.

That is autopilot, running on adrenalin.

Do you want to know what strength is?

Strength is not snapping someone’s neck in rage.

Strength is not losing your shit at someone else’s incompetence.

Strength is repeating the same story, over and over, to sympathising guests, when all you want to do is lie down in bed with the doona well above your head.

Strength is choosing not to be negative; choosing life, and beauty, and adventure, and wonder.

My Dad may have died, but that doesn’t give me the right to act like a dick.

So I am being as strong as I can, in the way I know how: by not being an arsehole. The world has enough of those.

Death evokes all sorts of feelings and reactions in people, and they’re all ok. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, or empathise. For the most part, people use it as an opportunity to think about themselves. At the centre of their own universe, they think of how death affects them. I’ve discovered, in this fortnight that feels like a year, who is really there for me, and who is not, who my true friends are, and who are just people I know.

There’s one small thing I’ve found exceptionally difficult: how quickly ‘is’ and ‘are’ become ‘was’ and ‘were’.

The instant change in tense is jarring.

And, there’s another thing: how the world just keeps spinning.

My Dad may have died, but that doesn’t mean the world stops.

I get that.

That is the way it should be.

It’s just a little unnerving, how everything goes on, swiftly, at full tilt.

It’s all very surreal; that this has happened, that this is life now.

I’m not convinced that anyone can truly know what it feels like to lose a parent, until they have lost one. And the well-wishes are pleasant, and the thoughts are kindly, but the advice is inordinate and borders on offensive. You either know, or you don’t, and if you don’t, you’re fortunate.

I’ve unwillingly become part of a club I don’t really want to be in but the other people are lovely, and they get it, and the biscuits are nice.

I’ve discovered there’s no real preparation for losing a loved one; whether it strikes you out of nowhere or you have a long lead-time – there’s no difference whatsoever. There’s only here or gone and until they are gone, they are here.

Predominantly, I understand there’s no right or wrong way to go about any of it. Being close to my family and friends has helped me, but some people might choose to shut off. I know that people mean well – and it’s better having people mean well than not having people at all. I recognise that, like with anything in life, there’s constant challenges and choices, and I get to choose my choices, and own them too. I acknowledge that grief is a bit like a wave, and I think I’ll be buoyed forever…

but I also know that I’ll still laugh

and love

and soar

and that the thirty-two years I got were better than thirty, or twenty-five, or ten, or none at all

and that so much of who I am is because of him.

So much. Of who I am. Is because. Of him.

Saturday.

Saturday

This café I’m in is bustling.

It’s humming with conversation and a coffee machine that hasn’t stopped once in forty-five minutes. There’s tapping coming from another laptop, but it’s nowhere near as vigorous as the sound coming from mine. ‘They’re happy taps,’ I think, and I know it’s true. People don’t bash away at a keyboard when they’re light of heart. They just don’t.

I order another coffee. ‘Strong, please,’ I say.

There’s a group of girls to my left. I haven’t quite nailed what they got up to last night, but I’ve pieced bits of it together, mainly from their steady stream of analysis on the night’s antics over the past half an hour. They’re laughing. Really laughing. ‘Good on them,’ I mutter. And I mean it.

The wind is flapping away at the sails outside, and a dog tied to a chair leg starts to bark. Four kids whizz past on scooters and a car alarm goes off somewhere in the distance.

It’s just another Saturday, in another week.

Except it’s not for me.

It’s the fourth Saturday, in the longest month of my life.

It’s the fourth Saturday since my world started to change.

And my brain won’t let up. Not from all the crowded thoughts.

Like whether this is how I will measure things now; because before seems different to this.

I think about how many days I spent writing emails, in the name of distraction and avoidance, instead of something straight from my heart and onto a page, and I count twenty-four.

Twenty-four days.

I have never gone that long.

Maybe it’s because I still don’t know what to say. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to say it.

The constant stream of people popping in for a takeaway coffee hasn’t let up. They roll in, and then out, hopping into their car or onto their bike, before they tick off their next Saturday errand, or go to the next place they need to be.

Soon enough I’ll close the lid on this laptop, then pay my bill, and walk out onto the street, and back home, before I hop in my car and go to the next place I need to be.

Saturday will turn into Sunday, and then Monday, and my to-do list will fill again, along with my inbox, and my phone will ring, and clothes will need to be washed, and dogs walked, and floors swept, and dinners cooked.

Everything keeps going.

Even though I’m a little bit broken.

Even though my world is splintered.

Everything keeps going.

And then Saturday will be here again.

Why I’ll Hop On The Bus. Every Damn Time.

Living life without fear, or comfort

I was chatting to my friend Steve the other night and we got talking about the idea of being ‘comfortable’.

I told him, without a moment’s hesitation, that I don’t do comfortable.

He nodded and said, ‘Comfortable makes me nervous.’

Me too, matey, me too.

I’ve been trying to pinpoint over the past couple of days exactly what it is that frightens me about the familiar; the routine, the security, the safety.

I haven’t quite got there, so I’m doing that thing I do when I try to figure something out; I free pour out of my brain onto a blank page and then post it online for the internet to read.

I get why comfortable is enticing; it’s relaxing, and comfy, and easy. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to, or needing to, be comfortable.

But I find myself sitting back, listening to people bang on about being comfortable, with my head slightly tilted to the right, thinking, ‘Yeah, not for me.’

I talk to a lot of people. And I see too many of them stifled by fear. And insecurity. And I think it sometimes stems from a desire to clutch onto what’s comfortable; the things they know, the people they know, the world they orbit.

It’s all very nice. It all makes perfect sense.

I just don’t think it’s enough for me.

I just don’t think I can even pretend it’s within me to be like that.

The other day, I went to a festival with my friends. We were waiting for our bus to depart the city that morning, and there was this guy, holding us up, because he was waiting for his friends to turn up and board the bus. For whatever reason, they were a no show.

I was looking at him out the window willing him to get on the damn bus. Partly because the sun was shining and I just wanted to be in the Yarra Valley already, but also because here was this fully grown adult, with the potential to have an amazing day right in front of him – literally a few steps in front of him – and he was going to miss out on that because his friends weren’t there.

‘Get on the bus, mate.’

He turned around and walked off.

One of my friends asked, ‘Would you get on the bus?’

Me and Teagan, my sister from another mister, replied, without a moment’s hesitation.

‘Absolutely.’

There is no doubt about it. With the upmost love and respect for my friends, if they left me standing in front of a bus, on my own, I would hop on it. I would hop on it, every single time, without question.

Maybe I’d have a dead boring day. Or maybe I’d find some people and talk. Maybe I’d learn something new. Maybe I’d make a new friend. Maybe I’d dance with them. Maybe the direction of my life would change in some remarkable way. Or maybe I’d just sit back and listen to some music in the sun and think, ‘Isn’t this lovely.’

I know that our natural inclination is to run to what’s warm and comfortable, but you’ve got to feel the cold sometimes. Every now and again, you’ve got to do things that completely terrify you. Well, you don’t have to, of course. But I know I do.

I purposely make myself do things I’m terrified of. Mostly because I know if I don’t, I risk becoming everything I know I don’t want to be. And because the other option – that comfortable one – is far more terrifying to me than anything else I could ever be afraid of.

Not allowing myself to fall into a trap of being comfortable has resulted in some pretty marvellous things. Like every now and again, I make myself walk into a room without the comfort of knowing a single person. Doing that is no big deal. But you’d be surprised at how many people won’t. I’ve made some great new friends this year. And they stem from that one, single action. From that one, single choice.

I’m still not exactly sure why comfort irks me. I’ll keep thinking and get back to you.

For now, what I think is that maybe life is just a series of choices we make. Maybe it’s as simple as choosing between getting on the bus, or staying well off it.

Whatever choice you make is fine, and it’s yours.

I just don’t think I’ll let the bus drive off without me. Even when I don’t really feel like hopping on. Even when the ride is sure to be bumpy. Even when the passengers don’t seem all that friendly. I’m going to keep getting on the bus. I want to see where the ride takes me.

I Like…

I Like...

I like being around people who make me hungry for life.

I like doing things without knowing how they’ll turn out.

I like tiny interesting choices, because I know they make all the difference.

I like dinner for breakfast.

I like talking to strangers.

I like celebrating every little victory, because I know that’s what makes a win.

I like dancing.

I like it when my blood races.

I like it when people randomly remember completely insignificant things about my life, because I can then put them in the ‘keeper’ file.

I like long dinners, with wine.

I like words, and how putting different ones next to each other creates a rhythm, without there being any need for music.

I like listening to people, and their stories, because it’s the best way I learn.

I like how once you’ve experienced something new, you can never go back.

I like honesty.

I like the seconds, between moments, where the unsaid lingers, because anything could happen.

I like optimism.

I like people who have the courage to be themselves, without any apologies or excuses.

I like being afraid, not all the time, but quite a bit of the time, because then I know I’m doing it right.

I like it when you want catch a wave, and there’s that brief moment where you can either get sucked under or ride it, and all you can taste is salt, and all you can hear is your heart pounding, ba ba bum, over and over in your ears, and then all of a sudden you soar, and it feels like you’re free, and everything slows down, and you look up to see the bright yellow sun, and it’s kind of blinding.

I really like that.

31 Things I Know, Now That I’m 31

1. When I was 16, I felt like I knew everything. Now that I’m 31, I know that I definitely don’t.

2. Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.’ As I get older, I see more and more people dying. Their bodies just haven’t realised it yet.

3. There’s nothing wrong with routine, or habit, but every now and again shake it up; take a different route, start the other way around, order a different drink. Just because.

4. Where possible, do things because you want to, not have to.

5. People change. It’s unreasonable to expect someone to be the same person for an entire lifetime.

6. Don’t make excuses.

7. A well-stocked freezer never disappoints. There will be nights when you’re cold and weary. Nights when your legs feel like lead. Nights when even thinking is too tiresome. These are the nights you defrost.

8. Different people will stir different things inside of you. That’s why your circle should be wide and varied.

9. We are guests of this world, this planet, and we don’t own shit; let’s all act accordingly.

10. People do the best that they can with what they have and what they know. But people can always do better.

11. Anything is possible. I mean Cadbury just put Vegemite in chocolate, so really.

12. Use everything; your best earrings, your favourite shoes, the expensive hand cream, the fancy gifts. Use ‘em all until they fray and run out and break.

13. Figure out what you’re not prepared to compromise on, ever, and don’t.

14. There’s very little black and white and a whole heap of grey.

15. If you have to choose between settling and running, run.

16. When a day ends and you’ve been scared and challenged and nervous, understand that’s not a bad day. That’s the very best type of day.

17. Live like you mean it.

18. When it all seems too hard, too big, too messy, wait until the sun sets and the sky goes midnight blue and the stars start twinkling. Then look up.

19. Love yourself first.

20. Someone recently shared some advice with me they’d once received, advice they live by: ‘just say yes’. So just say yes. To the things you want to do, to the things you don’t know how to do, to the things that scare you.

21. Throw yourself out of your comfort zone. Often.

22. Eat your greens.

23. You’ve just gotta listen to music every day.

24. There is enough of everything for everybody.

25. People will tell you to ‘be yourself’ but in order to do so, you’ve got to get really comfortable with who you genuinely are.

26. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.

27. One day you’re 20 and then you blink and you’re 30. Some days might be long but the years are short so if you can do something with them – something meaningful and good – then you should. Don’t let a decade pass only to wonder what could have been.

28. You will likely leave this world in a similar way to how you entered it; naked, screaming and gasping for air. I don’t know why people make the part in between those two events so difficult and pointless, but if you can help it, try not to be one of them.

29. Everyone is on this quest to find the blank white space where everything is neat and perfect and sorted and solid. And that’s great. But if you can get lost in the sticky for a while – that gooey, uncomfortable place that everyone’s running from – then you should. Get wildly lost.

30. Things are only ever as complicated as you make them.

31. To feel is to live. If you don’t feel it, you’re not living.