30 December, 2014

2015: The Year Of The ?

Well it's almost that time again. Time to bid farewell to another year. Can you believe it's already here again? The time just seems to be flying by! 2014 has been a pretty fantastic year for me. Not only did I return to the US for Tiki Oasis and a month-long holiday, I also managed to visit Japan for a week and attend the Mooneyes Christmas Party. A lot of other great things have happened this year too. I've found a great place to live, a nice house with lovely people and I'm really happy there. We even have a dog! I'm still loving my job and in the last half of the year my responsibilities have really stepped up, keeping things interesting and giving me new things to aim for. My family are doing great things in their lives - travel, renovations, personal and work achievements. I can see a lot of my friends achieving, or working towards achieving, big things and it's making them happy. There is a lot of good to see in this year.
There have been a few not so great things personally as well as in terms of world events, but that is always inevitable. What's important about these situations is how we deal with them and the way we do or don't let them affect us. I must admit, for the last few weeks, I've felt a rock on my chest. A pervading sadness that I can't explain yet can't seem to shake, that creeps its way into the quiet moments and makes me question myself, my decisions and even those close to me at times. It's just that little voice in my head, being a bit of a meanie. But only if I let it. And I have been trying very hard not to let it. Thankfully, I'm winning. Mostly. For me it is a fight very much worth fighting. Because when I feel like this, I am not me. I am a naturally happy, positive, upbeat, bubbly, funny kind of person who easily finds the joy in the little things. I'm easy going, don't stress the small stuff and am generally just happy to go with the flow.
Lately, I haven't felt like many of those things at all. But I've got my butt-kicking boots on and I'm not letting it take over. Sure that little voice takes its pot shots, and occasionally I can feel myself actually starting to listen to it. But never for long. I crank up the volume on my constructive thoughts, try to be more realistic of my expectations of myself and others and combat it with more positive thoughts. I'm sure it won't last long. It never does. I'm not sure if it's just this time of year, or if it's post-holiday blues compounded by two or hormones or, heck the hole in the ozone layer. I can't really explain it. But imma keep on keeping on and look to the New Year for a breath of fresh air. It's the first year in a little while where I have no big plans. No big trip in the works, no grand schemes - it's a blank canvas really.
I'm actually quite looking forward to that. Sometimes I think I can get so caught up in what is going to be that I am not truly valuing what currently is. I get so caught up in travel plans and social commitments that I'm not really noticing myself, my own health and wellbeing. Life in the fast lane can be fun, but it also gets very tiring and it's important to me that I don't lose sight of what's important. So this year is MY year. Not to take over the world. To simply reclaim my life. To make more purposeful choices, to truly re-connect with friends and family, to focus on looking after my physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. To truly learn to say no and not feel bad about it. To opt for quality rather than quantity. To take deep breaths. To spend more time alone, rather than trying to fill the gaps in my days, my weeks, with distractions.
I have no idea what 2015 has in store for me, but whatever it may be, I'm going to be at my optimum so I can tackle it head on and make the most of it. Because if there's one thing this year has taught me, it's that life is too short to neglect yourself, your relationships or your aspirations.
Don't wait. The time is now.

23 December, 2014

A Christmas Reflection

I know I’m yet to do the wrap up of my Japan trip but I’ve decided to save that for next week or maybe even a little later. I wanted to share my Christmas message with you first. I would have posted about my Japan trip last week, but after the events that unfolded in Martin Place in Sydney it just didn’t seem right.

A week later and unfortunately there has been more tragedy. The unthinkable up in Cairns as well as some sad news a little closer to home. Perhaps I’m just hormonal and emotional, but I have really been feeling this sadness. I guess everything seems amplified at this time of year. It’s a time that focuses on happiness, togetherness, friends and family and to see these awful things happening now, they just seem so much worse.

But that isn’t my point. I don’t want to depress you. It’s almost Christmas and we should be happy, not sad. This time of year can be difficult for people for all kinds of reasons. So whether you’re apart from your family, are struggling financially or just find the expectation of the celebration a bit overwhelming, I just want to say that the best gift of all is to be kind to yourself.

Tis the season to be jolly. And that doesn’t just mean making everyone else happy at the expense of your own. You have to care of yourself in order to be the best mother/wife/sister/brother/friend you can be. Start small. Allow yourself some quiet time. Even if it means walking out to the letterbox to collect the mail by yourself, taking your time and noticing the lovely gardens of your street. Or treating yourself to something you really enjoy. It could be as simple as a coffee and cake or even a dress or new pair of shoes.

That’s all well and good but that doesn’t put food on the table or presents under the tree I hear you say. And right you are. If you are struggling financially this Christmas, there are lots of places that can help. Check with local churches, community groups and charities for a hand when it comes to Christmas dinner. But remember, your love and care and attention is what really matter most to those you love. And love is free.

There are plenty of things you can do and gifts you can give that show how much you care about someone, without having to spend money. The Bloggess has some excellent ideas including making them a YouTube ‘mixed tape’ of songs that remind you of them, making a Pinterest board just for them or even just borrowing some of their favourite books from the library and reading to them. That’s something they will remember and truly treasure long after the batteries wear out of whatever new toy is out.

Christmas doesn’t have to be a religious holiday. It doesn’t have to be an expensive holiday and it doesn’t have to be a stressful holiday. Quite the opposite in fact. It should be a rewarding holiday that gives you a chance to re-connect with those you love, spend quality time together and remind you of everything in your life to be grateful for. And in case you need a little help remembering all those things to be grateful for, I recommend volunteering with a charity.

Whether you’re serving up Christmas dinner to families who can’t manage their own or delivering presents to families who would otherwise have nothing under the tree come Christmas morning, it will truly make you appreciate what you do have and will remind you of everything that is good in the world. Which despite what we can sometimes tell ourselves, far outweighs the bad.

It’s certainly been a year of ups and downs, but I have achieved so much this year and I truly am so happy with the direction my life is heading. Most of all, I’m so grateful to everyone who has stuck with the blog and supported me so much this year.

An extra special thank you to Stars and Swallows, Megan Rizzo Photography, Western Wac, and Atomic Cherry for their sponsorship and continued support of the blog. Without them I wouldn’t be able to bring you some of the fantastic content and giveaways I’ve had this year. It also just means a lot that these guys are in my corner, backing me up, saying ‘I believe in you’ and the same goes for you reading this.

So thank you, and here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015. Much love to you and your families.

Merry Christmas

02 December, 2014

Turning Japanese

The countdown is well and truly on! Well actually, it's almost over! Tomorrow is my last day at work and then Thursday morning I fly out for Japan!! I am SO excited! Even though we are only going for a week, I'm just buzzing with anticipation about what this trip will hold. I am really excited about travelling somewhere so different, so out of my comfort zone. A non-Western culture, a non-English speaking destination. Different food, different customs, different everything. What an adventure it's going to be!
Originally we were going to go next year and go for 2 weeks but its highly possible that this year will be the last year that the Mooneyes Hot Rod Show will be held in Yokohama so we had to get in this year, just in case. It means we'll miss a little of the sightseeing we originally had planned such as Mt Fuji, but true to form we're still cramming heaps of stuff in. It just means we'll have to come back again another time to see the rest. What a shame, right?
This year's theme is Enchanted World of Colour and I cannot wait to see the amazing paint jobs! I am especially excited to see Iron Orchid in real life! That's the glorious blue and purple 1934 Ford 5-Window Coupe by Galpin Auto Sports you can see up the top of the poster there. I know there will be plenty more jaw-dropping cars to check out, but I've drooled over this baby in magazines for a while so to see her in person is going to be amazing.
Our main sightseeing is Kosoku-Ji Temple and the Buddha Statue at Kamakura, the Enoshima Shrine and Dragon Island Caves, Shibuya and the 'Biggest Intersection in the Universe', the Robot Bar, a Tiki Bar, Hamamatsu, traditional markets, Electric City, Harajuku, a Samurai Ship cruise of Tokyo Bay, Sakuragicho, Sankei-en Garden Kanagawa, China Town, Imperial Palace, Odaiba, Bullet Train, Odawara and of course, Mooneyes in there as well! It's a demanding schedule but you can bet we'll make the most of our time there!
I've got my awesome new coat ready to brave the cold and I've been brushing up on my Japanese. I've got my passport ready and all my money converted to Yen and I'm all ready to go. I've got a tattoo booked while I'm over there as well, which was an interesting experience in itself, but I've seen the design and it's so pretty. Will be interesting to see what it's like actually getting it tattooed.
I'm packed. I'm ready. I'm excited!