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My blog is my escape, where my passion for people & writing come together to create something special. Be inspired. Be encouraged. Be blessed. Much love & keep smiling. x

Thursday, December 31, 2015

twenty fifteen.

As the year has quickly come to an end, I am left reflecting on the lessons I have once again learnt and trust me, 2015 has taught me the most.

1. Trust carefully.
This year I have acknowledged the fact that I trust people way too easily. The reality is that people will disappoint you - it's harsh, but it's true and unfortunately it's taken a few of these experiences for me to realise this. When you trust someone, you let down your walls and it is this vulnerability that can be so easily taken advantage of.

2. People come and go.
I see the people we encounter and connect with as one of two things: a message in a bottle or an anchor. They either come into your life merely to teach you a lesson, then just as quickly they drift and move on to be picked up by someone else; or they support, love and encourage you, holding you down when your seas get rough. God will bring people into your life that are meant to be there and they can be a blessing or a lesson; sometimes even both, but just at different times. He can also take people out of your life just as quickly, but just remember that ultimately, He sees the bigger picture and He knows what He is doing.

3. It's okay not to be okay.
We all have 'those' days and I have had my fair share this year alone. 2015 has been an emotional roller coaster and I have realised that I am a lot stronger than I thought. But, of course, that only lasts a while, because as soon as you think you are getting your life back together, something else decides to laugh in your face and go 'ha, not yet'. You're allowed to wake up and feel like crap. You're allowed to want to be alone and cry. You're allowed to have those days. Don't feel guilty for not feeling okay. Just don't forget that a bad day doesn't mean you have a bad life. Don't let a single situation you are facing determine your attitude toward everything else. Not all situations need a reaction. Amid all of the chaos, ask yourself whether the situation that's making you feel this way will matter this time next week, next month, next year? Don't let someone or something small and insignificant use up your energy unnecessarily and as a result, hinder your happiness.

4. Just do you.
One of the biggest killers of happiness is constantly comparing yourself with other people, whether that be people we actually know or those Instagram Famous 'celebrities' that pay for followers and look like they have the 'perfect life'. Real talk: society's standards are messed. I'll be honest, I couldn't count the amount of times I have compared my appearance to others on one hand, let alone two. It's a huge insecurity of mine and I struggle with it daily, but who is to say what the definition of beauty is? I know, it is as cliche as my Year 10 creative writing piece for English, but sometimes the only way we understand it is to hear it a million times. Not only do I compare myself to others, but I am also guilty of being a people-pleaser. I get really uncomfortable and upset when I know that people aren't happy with me and more than anything, I hate losing friends over situations that could have been well and truly avoided. If this is sounding familiar then my one piece of advice is just do you. It's easier said than done and for me it's a work-in-progress, but I won't stop trying to be the best version of me I can.

5. Find your passion.
I love writing, if you can't half tell. I also love food: eating it, that is - cooking and cleaning are not quite my thing (just ask my family - on a scale from gourmet to burns toast, I am the latter). But how can you find your passion by staying within the realms of your comfort zone? Try new things. Go on adventures. Fill up the car, grab a few friends and drive places you have never been before. Go camping. Learn a new language. Don't listen to TLC and go chase those waterfalls. Solo-travel. Go on a mission trip. Make a bucket list and actually tick things off! What's stopping you from doing what you love? What's stopping you from finding your passion? And once you find that thing that makes you happy, hold onto it and don't ever let it go.

So whether you have had an amazing year or you are keen to put this one away and start fresh with 2016, take this time to reflect on the memories, the challenges and the adventures that you have experienced this year. I can guarantee that you aren't the same person you were this time last year. We are constantly growing and maturing and it is our choice how we let these experiences impact us - positively or negatively. What are you choosing?

Keep smiling. x

Thursday, December 24, 2015

presence.

It has taken me a while to acknowledge the fact that it is actually Christmas again. Like what just happened? Did I not wake up from my food coma of Christmas 2014 and just skip all of this year or something? Please tell me I'm not the only one. 

Even with all of the Christmas carols, the candy canes, the tinsel, the corny Bon Bon jokes (which I really appreciate, mind you), the fake snow, the lights and the omnipresent Santa Clause that can magically be at every single shopping centre AT THE SAME TIME - childhood ruined; even with all of these things surrounding me, I just couldn't convince myself that it was Christmas.

But this morning, in the spirit of Christmas Eve, my sister and I decided to sit down and finally watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas for the first time (cue eye rolling, gasping and an exaggerated chorus of 'whaaaat!'), yesssss I know, first time, pathetic right? Needless to say, it was so worth the wait. And also, sidenote: how did parents show their children that movie? That big, hairy, green thing is pretty scary. However, amid all the wonderful puns, the hilarious innuendos and the cringe-worthy noses on those Who's in Whoville, the underlying meaning is so, so much more.

Working at a supermarket, it is so clear how commercialised Christmas has become. It is all about those things I listed above - the commodities and the superficial things - you know, the things that don't last; those things you like this year, but are "sooo 2015" when you are writing your new list the following year.

Presents are great, don't get me wrong. It's fun giving and receiving gifts, but we need to recognise and acknowledge the reason behind why we are celebrating. This world is a broken place; it's not difficult to see that, because unfortunately it is everywhere we turn. Yet if we turn to Jesus, he sees through all of that. He came into our broken world in an attempt to create a beautiful mosaic of all our shattered pieces. That's the best gift of all.

So this Christmas, I encourage you to remember the reason why we celebrate and for me, the Grinch has reminded me that rather than focusing on the presents under the tree this year, I am going to focus on being present in the lives of those I love instead. Spending this time with family is something so special and we often take it for granted. It is through connecting with the people closest to us that we have the potential to share the love of God with others. Trust me, you'll find a lot more joy in relationships than you will in any materialistic thing. Presents. Presence. You choose.

Keep smiling. x

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

pay it forward.

So I will be honest, this week has been pretty chaotic. There is a lot going on and I have been an emotional wreck. However, amid all of the chaos that life has been throwing at me lately, there are a few things that have happened throughout the week that I am trying to focus on in an attempt to realign my attention on positive situations that outweigh the negative and ultimately change my attitude as a result. 

A few days ago my Nan was at a bus stop in Parramatta when she found a mobile phone sitting on the bench next to her. Instead of just handing it into the information or security desk, she decided to take it home and then ring up my sister and I. She told us that the screen was black, so we told her to press the circular button down the bottom. Please, take a guess as to just how well that went. Yeah, terribly. We gave her instructions to see whether the phone was turned on and unlocked, but note to self: teaching your eighty-one year old grandmother the basics of an iPhone over the phone is as difficult as getting out of a pair of jeans that are two sizes too small...while the zipper is still up...and you are wearing a belt - ya feel me?

Instead, we decided to do ourselves a favour and drive over to my Nan's house the next day, check the phone and see if we could locate the owner. The entire time, we were joking about whether we would get some money as a reward if we could pull it off - however, I use the term 'joking' loosely, because deep down I think we both were somewhat serious.

We used our detective skills to discover that it was a teenage soccer player who had flown all the way from New Zealand with his football team and accidentally left his phone at the bus stop. We tried ringing his contacts labelled 'Mum' and 'Dad', but every contact was an overseas number and we were unable to reach them. At this point, my Nan just said, "Why don't you wipe everything off the phone and just use it for yourselves. You won't find him and it's his fault for losing it". Aimee and I just laughed. Challenge accepted.

In the end, we successfully found his girlfriend on Facebook and messaged her from my account letting her know what had happened. It was this part that was the most rewarding, because I was able to start a friendship with someone in a completely different country - yay friends! We spoke for a bit, helping each other out in the endeavour to get her boyfriend's phone back to him as soon as possible. We contacted the manager of his football club and were able to drop his phone off at the Leagues Club he was playing at. The manager asked us if we would like anything in return, like a football jersey, but Dad just responded with "No mate, thanks all the same, but we just wanted to pay it forward."

I was at work at the time, but when Dad told me what he had said, I was left a little disappointed at the fact we could have scored a free Parra jersey, but moreso, it taught me a lesson. We should do good things just for the heck of it. Not for what we might get out of it, the potential reward or our own benefit. I guess it all comes down to intention. And let's be real, at the start, my intention wasn't great - but hey, neither was my Nan's to be perfectly honest. That said, I'm so grateful that we didn't give up on finding the owner. It's not only so rewarding just finding the person and being able to return the lost phone, but being able to use the experience to get to know someone in another country and make a friend, no monetary reward could beat that - that was priceless.

Keep smiling. x

Friday, December 4, 2015

win/win

"Granddad, who is God? Where is He?"
"God sits in a house, a massive house, far beyond our imagination. This house has an infinite number of windows...infinite means that when you think they are finished, there's always another one and then another one again. Each person on Earth looks through a different window, seeing God in a slightly different way from a slightly different angle, but they all look at God."
I am scared of three things: spiders, heights and the ocean. But my biggest fear is making it to Heaven and finding out that the people I love haven't made it. I think the thing that scares me the most about that is the fact that I could have changed that; that I had the potential to change their mind, to influence them and to show them how much God loves them.

One of the most attractive and admirable qualities of a person, I believe, is being open-minded. Religion can be a difficult topic. Everyone has an opinion and it is how others react to these opinions that possess many positive and negative connotations. This year I started my first year of Uni and working part-time. These new environments have allowed me to surround myself with new experiences in which I have been given opportunities to have conversations with work colleagues or other Uni students about religion. When people ask you questions about what you believe it's terrifying, but it is also exciting at the same time. It's terrifying because you feel a sense of vulnerability - your defenses are down and you are sharing a part of you with someone else and naturally, that can create space for potential prejudice. However, sharing your ideas, thoughts, opinions and beliefs with other people can be exciting because you have the opportunity to challenge others to be open-minded and not take their opinions as the be-all and end-all.

For me, believing in God is an obvious choice. When you think about it, realistically it's a win/win decision. In the end, if it all pans out and God and Heaven is for real, then we get eternal life! And if it turns out that it wasn't all what is was talked up to be, then what do we lose? Nothing. I don't know about you, but I know what I'm choosing.

Keep smiling. x