When Faith Has It’s Crisis

I always considered my faith pretty unshakeable.

If I get knocked down, I get back up swinging. My dad would laughingly tell you about the times when, as a child, I would tell God off for not doing exactly what I asked him to do. I guess I can be a bit tenacious.

But this isn’t about how well I think I can weather the storms of life. Quite the opposite actually. This is me, chatting with you about something I think every one of us goes through. I only just went through it so it’s fresh and real and still a touch raw. I think you’ll be able to relate, and maybe even find a bit of encouragement, because even though I thought it might kill me, I’m still here and I’m still whole (mostly) and after almost a year of silence, I’m still writing.

A year and a half ago, my husband and I left Sydney to begin our newest season of life in LA. Dan wanted to pursue drumming and I wanted to do whatever I could get my hands on that felt slightly creative and slightly administrative. But when Dan’s visa was delayed, we found ourselves leaving home and driving to Melbourne, not flying out of country. We didn’t know how long we’d be there, but like any wise couple with zero information to go on, we decided it would only be 3 weeks. Two months later, and without my hubby, I flew to Minnesota to spend time with my family and help my parents with my disabled sister. It was another 3 months before Dan could join me permanently.

With stars in our eyes we made our plans to move to LA, only to realize that my parents (who had decided to move to Sacramento, CA) would not be able to move across country on their own with my sister. So we put our plans on hold, meager as they were, and made ourselves useful.

By this time, we were beginning to have our doubts. LA was in our hearts, but it seemed further off than ever. Every time we made a step towards it, we felt like we were being pushed back away. Surely, if it was meant to be, it would have happened by now? I mean, it had been 8 months at this point since leaving Sydney. Eight months of trying to get somewhere and not getting any traction. Granted, helping family was our choice, but it’s not like we had huge things lined up for us in LA that we put aside. It felt like we had this dream, but no way of achieving it.

So we make it to Sacramento, and honestly, it was the most promising moment of this whole journey. A mere 5 hours from LA! Now our faith was finally proving itself. All this hard work and believing would pay off with big things ahead for us. Then the news came. My sister would be without care except for my parents until the county had assessed her themselves. This meant that my parents would need to care for her 24/7 with zero help from anyone for the next 6 months. She didn’t even have medical insurance in case of an emergency. This was a big blow for my parents who are both 60 and missionaries overseas. Dan and I discussed it and knew that only one thing was right. We had to stay and help. We let LA go once again, and this time we thought it might be for good. I wish I could say that once we made that decision, God came through and everything was just great. But that wouldn’t help anyone, because most of us go through a time where we make big sacrifices and expect big things, but all we get is normal, everyday life. And it’s hard. It’s hard to believe in anything except what you’re seeing each day. It’s hard to think that anything could change.

Those days in Sacramento were the toughest days of my life. Luckily we met some amazing people and made lasting friendships, but each day was a challenge. A challenge to my faith, to my belief that if I trusted God for something that he would do it, even when it looked like he wouldn’t. They were my lonliest days, away from my friends in Sydney and LA. There were times that everything felt so bleak and dark that I didn’t know if I’d ever truly feel happy and light again. I gave up on everything. Forget LA. It wasn’t meant to be. God wasn’t going to do it. Forget a big future and dreams and hopes. Just settle and get comfortable because what you have now is all you’re going to have ever.

Then one day it just kind of changed. I couldn’t tell you what it was. I wasn’t happier or more hopeful, I just knew it was time to go. LA was ahead of us and it was time to go there. Dan knew it too and we made our plans. Everything fell into place. It was the simplest move I’ve ever made. We suddenly found ourselves where we wanted to be. We didn’t have the work we planned for but after more than a year of waiting to move, we didn’t really care what the work looked like. I was so excited, I thought now everything would be perfect. God owed me this anyway, after all he’d put me through. Somehow in all the craziness of life, I noticed some changes to my body. I was late, with the world’s sorest boobs (yes, I asked everyone in the entire world) and I was beyond grumpy. Or crying. Or grumpy. Nope, crying. Yeah, it was a bit crazy. To me, this could be the perfect icing on the cake. I’ve been wanting a baby for years but it’s just never been the right time. I embraced this idea full heartedly now. I even let God know that this was a great way to pay me back for all the hell I’d gone through the last year and a half. This was the way to show me how much he loved me.

And just like that it was over. Whatever changes were happening, quickly left my body in a painful and teary way. I sobbed for days. My suspicions were confirmed. God didn’t love me. In fact he hated me. If he loved me, why would he put me through this right after everything else I’d been through? Hadn’t it been enough? He’d already broken down my pride and my self reliance. He’d taken away every close friend so that I only had him. He’d forced me to survive through the desert, where promises are as rare as ponds. He’d stripped me of my entitlement (or so I thought) and shown me what real trust means. And now he pulled this? I couldn’t do it. It was too far, even for him. I decided in that moment that I didn’t want to serve a God who did that to his people. I didn’t go to church for the next 2 weeks. I couldn’t. How could I face all those people and pretend like everything was ok when I felt like I had nothing left? I mean, I still believed in God. You can’t be angry with someone you don’t believe in. But I wouldn’t actively trust him. Not anymore.

I wish I could say that I had this massive miracle moment that changed everything. I didn’t. I cried a lot and felt alone and like I should never have left Sydney. I felt like something had died in me and I’d never be able to revive it. But all the while I had my amazing husband by my side, in as much pain as me, but willing to hold me up as much as I would let him.

One day on the way to work, I decided to put on Christian radio. Now don’t judge me, but I hate Christian radio. It’s cheesy, not my style and sometimes feels fake (I said don’t judge me!). But I wanted it on for some reason so I put it on, and I heard Darlene Zschech talk about trusting God through her battle with cancer. And it hit me. Right then and there in my car, I knew that God wasn’t picking on me. He didn’t hate me. We ALL go through this at some point in our lives. Every last one of us. It feels unfair and wrong (and I kind of think it is) but it’s what we face as humans. I began to think of the homeless in my city, my beautiful LA. The things they faced on a daily basis whether from their own decisions or circumstances beyond their control. And I began to be thankful. Thankful for my life, my husband, my LA dreams that still hadn’t fully been realized. I became thankful to a God who loved me so much that he forgave my mistakes before I’d even made them. Who put me here at this time and in this place to show love to those around me. Who gave me good, wholesome parents who have been married nearly 40 years, and have shown me true love that I might know how to love.

No it wasn’t a miracle, but it was a moment. A moment that got me through the hardest moments. I write this now with tears in my eyes because though it may not seem like much to you, it’s everything to me. I made it through. I still have my faith. I’m ok and I’m happy. Really, truly happy. I wish I could say I was super strong and super cool the whole time. Like, yeah, no big deal getting through that. But you know, I think it’s ok to question it all sometimes. To know why you believe what you believe. And I still don’t have any answers. I don’t know why God chose this route for us, or why we chose parts of it for ourselves, except that it felt like the right thing to do. I don’t know why we suffer or why things work out the way they do. I only know that I’m loved. And for right now, that’s enough.

So now you know why it took us so long to get to LA (or maybe why you didn’t see me around for the last little bit). And you know that whatever things you face, you’ll get through them. Not because I say so, but because you say so. And when you think you can’t do it anymore, you somehow do. And that’s part of being human, isn’t it? Being stronger than you realized.

People or Drones?

Yesterday I went to Costco.

If you’ve ever set foot inside one of their warehouse stores, you know exactly what the rest of this blog is going to be about. It’s a whole different world inside those walls. I thought I was only going in for a few food items, but it turns out I was willingly submitting myself to rigorous psychological testing. I was pitted against my own kind, doing battle to get the best deal on tinned chicken. I was racing through aisles trying to avoid moms with 7 kids in tow, taking up a whole lane. I was forced to stare into the eyes of angry middle aged women who thought I was there to fight them over 75 pound bags of bacon.

I lost track of time in there. I was only picking up 5 items so it shouldn’t have taken me more than 15 minutes, but I’m not even sure I came out of the store on the same day I went in. My exit paths were repeatedly blocked by little old men with patio furniture sets, carts filled to the brim with 3,000,000 count vitamin bottles and bags of lettuce that took 2 people to lift. Didn’t their mom’s ever teach them good manners, to be polite and not block others? Did these people even have moms or were they actually factory manufactured drones, built for the sole purpose of testing my human kindness and goodwill? I’m still unsure of that answer.

When I finally breathed the free air again and began my 17 mile trek through the carpark to my car, I realised something. I hate people. Oh, don’t worry, I don’t hate people in the real world. I just hate them in Costco World. But it’s ok, because they all hate me too. It’s what you agree to when you pull out that little membership card and show it to the guy at the entrance who doesn’t even look at you. You agree to hate everyone inside those walls and blame them for anything that has ever gone wrong in your world and in THE world.

Of course, this is completely ridiculous. Why would people go to a store and be rude or angry at other shoppers who are just trying to do the same exact thing that they’re doing? Common sense would say that we’re all in this together and we just have to each be polite to others and it will be a pleasant experience all around. But Costco World doesn’t have the space on it’s massive warehouse shelves for common sense.

But to be honest, it’s not just Costco that’s created this culture of ruthless selfishness for itself. Think of the last time you queued up to get good seats at the movies or a concert. People will do almost anything to ensure they get the seats they want. People be cray. Straight up cray.

The thing is, I didn’t WANT to hate anyone. It was just kind of thrust upon me (right around the same time I got into a 5 cart pile up in the milk aisle). And I sort of believe that no one else wanted to hate anyone either. We were all just trying to do our groceries in peace, but there were so many other humans around, it was impossible. What a funny thought. I would be a nice person if it weren’t for other people being around. Or maybe if they were just nice to me first. I actually stopped looking at them as people and more as obstacles to be bypassed, and I know that they viewed me the same way. I didn’t see a lady taking her grandchild out to the shops, picking up nice treats for a school holiday’s sleepover. I saw a giant cart blocking the eggs. How could I get around it in the shortest amount of time possible so I could get out of this hell hole?!

I don’t know if I learned anything from this trip to Costco, except that I’ll never go back (except in the horrible flashbacks that keep hitting me throughout the day). But I did realise that I can work on seeing people as people. With stories. With dreams. With lives that matter and count. Instead of just seeing something in my way, I can choose to smile, be kind and have the manners I was taught to have, even if no one around me has them.

I could also just go burn my local Costco to the ground. We’ll see.

LA

So many people to treat like… people.

Because Resolutions Like to Have Fun Too

I read a psychology website article today that said New Year’s resolutions don’t work.

We’ve heard it for years, right? I mean, I’m not even sure I know anyone who makes resolutions anymore. They’re geared to fail. Anyone who has worked in a job that uses S.M.A.R.T. goals knows that if you want to actually reach the goals you have set out for yourself then they have to be measurable, attainable, realistic etc etc… and New Year’s resolutions are none of those things. In fact, most people keep their resolution to work out more for approximately 8 whole days. Yes, a whopping 8 days! Is that even worth the shame of having to squeeze into those terrible spandex-y workout pants that make you feel like you understand the pain a sausage goes through… I think not.

So that made me decide to make some New Year’s resolutions. I know what you’re thinking, “she’s just going to list a bunch of non resolutions like ‘I resolve to not make resolutions'”. No, don’t worry, those people annoy me too. How can you resolve to not resolve? Think about your words, people! I’m not going to lump myself in with them this time around. I’m going to make some real, honest resolutions. That’s crazy, though, right? I mean, I did just list off only a couple of the numerous reasons why resolutions don’t work. So either I have undiagnosed multiple personality syndrome (Web MD confirmed that I’m perfectly sane.. although my symptoms might be a rare form of cancer) or I’m contradicting myself.

Well, the thing is, I’ve never actually made a New Year’s resolution before. Truly. I have never watched the ball drop in Times Square or seen the fireworks over Sydney harbour and then said to myself “This year I’m going to do (insert resolution) better”. It hasn’t even crossed my mind. Maybe because of the multiple articles telling me that it’s not going to work anyway. Well, while that is true for most cases, I’ve decided that this year I’m going to do something different. My brain knows that resolutions are utter rubbish, but I also know that if you do the same thing every year, you can expect the same results every year. So to start off 2015 right, I’ve got some goals in mind (some of which may be a bit absurd, but if you don’t go big, you should go home, right?).

1. Go to Disneyland

Disneyland

Yes, the place where dreams come true. I’d like to go to Disneyland this year and be a big, crazy kid. And eat copious amounts of over priced food. And go on every single ride that I can fit on.

2. Write and Write Better

TypewriterAnd write better on a typewriter. Because nothing says writer like outdated, hard to fix equipment.

3. Buy “Back to the Future” Nikes

Nike

Sure, they’re ugly, but they’re self-tying shoes. And if that’s good enough for Marty McFly, then it’s sure as hell good enough for me.

4. Get a Bigger Dictionary

No Ragrets Tattoo

Just to ensure that this is a year with no ragrets.

5. Buy a Baby Owl

Baby Owl

Because nothing as cute as this has ever existed before or will ever exist again.

6. Sell Psycho Bird Creature

Grown Owl

Because we didn’t know it would turn into this. And it’s angry.

7. Watch Back to the Future

Back to the Future

Because it’s 2015 people and we have a movie trilogy from 30 years ago that’s about 2015! Come on, what’s more fun than realizing that we had dreams as the human race that were never achieved?! I don’t know about you, but I’m still holding out for hover boards. And Doc Brown’s car.

When The World Forgets To Play Fair

You know those friends who talk all about fate and destiny and things that are meant to be?

Yeah, I have a few of them too. And I’m usually all about it. Except fate, destiny and I are in a fight right now. I’m not saying we’ll never be friends again, but at the moment, they have some serious apologising to do.

So the thing is, Dan and I have made some major plans for our lives. They’ve included big changes, like moving to another country. We’ve felt like we’re right on track and that this is really the direction we want our lives to go in. So fate and destiny should be like our bestest friends. Fate and destiny should be braiding our hair and telling us all about the super cute guy at school who looked at them once and asked for a pencil.

But instead, I’m sitting half a world away from my husband, hoping to see him in the next month. This wasn’t in the cards! We were supposed to be living in L.A., working awesome jobs, saving up for a house and a future full of organic produce and sustainably sourced chocolate. We were supposed to be happy and together. Not living in different countries with a part time job just to “get by”. Things were meant to work out the exact way we planned them. The. Exact. Way.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually bitter or angry. I’ve progressed past those feelings quite nicely, thank you. In fact, I’ve gone through a whole myriad of feelings ranging from confusion to acceptance. I’ve worked through each one as the weeks have slowly ticked by, as we’ve waited for Dan’s visa to be approved so we could actually live like normal people. No, no I’m not angry anymore. I’ve actually learnt something amidst this season of nothingness. I’ve learnt that the world doesn’t always play fair. Sometimes, things don’t work out. Sometimes, the U.S. Consulate tells you on the day you are meant to be receiving a visa, that instead it’s been delayed by 2 months because they’re backed up. Sometimes, when they finally do look at your case, they set a visa interview date for months later. And guess what? You get over it. No, seriously. You really do.

Here’s the thing. Stuff doesn’t always work out. Sure, you’ve researched everything, you’ve organised life down to the second, you’ve planned for EVERY possible outcome. But then, it doesn’t work out. Frustrating, right? But you’ll survive. In fact, you’ll be more resilient. And if you’re really smart, you’ll become a better person because of it. See, I felt powerless in this whole situation, but the reality is that I was given 2 choices. Door number 1 had a big dose of anger, bitterness, resentment and regret behind it. Door number 2 had growth behind it. That’s it. Just growth. And not the cool kind of growth that you get when you get a promotion in your job (you know, “capacity stretching”). Nope. This kind of growth is unseen by everyone except you and your very closest people. It’s “character building” growth. Ewww. I hate even typing it. It’s SO clique, right? It’s the kind of thing your mom says to you when she just wants you to do something, like “eat your broccoli because it makes you strong”. It’s like “suck it up and accept that life isn’t fair all the time, because you’ll grow your character“. Ugh, I just gagged a bit.

But. We all need to continually grow no matter age or background or prominence in life. Hey, I get it. Who wants to learn to speak with less negativity, or to truly see the good in people, or to be happy no matter what the bank account says? How boooooooooooring. But the happiest people in life have learnt these things. They might not be the richest people or have the world’s coolest job, but they have a close family, good friends and they know that when life throws a curve ball, it’s not personal. It happens to everyone. Some more than others, but still, it’s not a personal attack.

It’s just life. And it’s beautiful even in the ugly, messy, crazy.

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Merry Christmas from us to you, wherever in the world you find yourself.

The Truth

It’s time I ‘fess up.

I have been recently touting the wonders of being at peace with oneself and with others and with the world. I’ve written long paragraphs (with lots of little inserts) about my routines and daily disciplines to bring about said peace. I’ve talked on joy, keeping good friendships, having a wonderful dad, eating right, sleeping well and how to survive PMS. After reading through a few of these little essays, I thought to myself “I should get to know this chick. She seems to have a good grasp on things!” And quickly realising that this sort of conversation bordered on schizophrenia, I immediately stopped talking to myself and thought I better set the records straight.

So, not only do I not have it all together… I’m a worrier. I know, crazy. Please take a moment to pick yourself up off the floor. I nearly fell out of my chair even saying it.

See, here’s the thing. Most people don’t confess that they worry too much. They usually try to cover it up with excuses about why they need to worry that amount. At least, that’s what I’ve been doing. But wait, there’s more. Not only do I worry, but I’ve also become good mates with Worry’s best friend, Anxiety. They’re practically inseparable, so once you invite one in, you’re obligated to invite the other.

Most days, I don’t even notice how my worry starts. I’ll be going about my day with Worry far in the back of my mind. Just a tiny black dot in the vast colour of this world we live in. But in case you haven’t noticed, Worry has a LOUD voice. He doesn’t know how to whisper. And it only takes one sentence to throw out a whole day. Let me illustrate.

Janice- *living a very normal life*

Worry- “Oh hey there, Janice. I wonder how your husband’s drive home from work will be? Imagine if he had one of those horrific car accidents and died at the scene of the crash.”

Janice- “That’s crazy! Who even thinks like that?!”

Worry- *Shrugs*

Janice- “No, that would never happen. Then again, doesn’t everyone say it’ll never happen to them? I should text him to see if he’s ok. No, wait. If I text him, I could be the cause of his accident! Imagine he texts me back that he’s fine and says he loves me, then BAM! Game over!!”

Doorbell rings. Enter Anxiety.

Janice- “Oh. Hi, Anxiety.” (Special note: Anxiety and Janice don’t really like each other, even though they hang out a lot)

Anxiety- “How’s your hubby doing?”

Janice- “Why are you asking that? Do you think something’s happened to him?!”

Anxiety- *Shrugs*

Janice- *Beginning slow downward spiral of destructive worry + anxiety until hubby arrives home completely safe and Janice refuses to stop hugging him and looking at him as if he’s resurrected from the grave*

Ok, so maybe your “worry spiral” doesn’t look exactly like this- I’ll admit this is a bit more extreme than the actual process for me. But it has the basic elements involved. I start off feeling normal like every other day, then a little thought peeks through. And within minutes that thought has grown into a black hole that sucks all peace right into it. Anxiety slides right into the equation without the smallest hiccup. Suddenly I’ve gone from miss “At Peace With Myself and The World” to miss “Dear God, I’m Going to Lose Everything That I Love Right This Very Second!!!!”

So, I’ve recognised this destructive habit. I’ve spoken about it. I’ve thought about it. Now what? My husband would tell me to “just stop thinking that way”. Ha, it’s like he doesn’t even know he’s married to a woman! I don’t “just stop” anything except a diet or shaving my legs. When it comes to my thought life… well, let’s just say that takes a “little” more work. It actually takes daily work. As in, every single day I have to decide not to worry. Yes, decide. Like, I really do have a choice in this. That realisation alone was food for thought for about a month. Once I got over the inner struggle of whether I truly have a choice to worry or not, I decided to exercise that choice. This is one of those works in progress that I’m guessing is going to take my whole life to work out. But it does actually work! Sometimes.

I’m telling the truth here. I mean, the blog is called the truth, so I can’t pretend. Locking the door on Worry works, but sometimes getting to that lock before Worry’s got his foot in the door can be hard. And once he pushes his way in, there’s no keeping Anxiety out. I’m extremely lucky to have a husband who doesn’t worry about anything. He’s the most calm, even headed person I’ve ever met (unless he’s hungry, in which case I suggest you keep your distance). Any time I find myself trying to push worry back out the door, hubby jumps in and pushes with me. He’s taught me that you can worry about anything in the whole wide world, but that doesn’t mean anything at all. Just because it pops into your head, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Worrying literally takes the good “right now” and makes it the bad “what if”. It robs you of the moments you’re living in. It’s a dirty little thief who should have to wear that title on it’s head as a warning to everyone who comes near. But worry is also a rotten sneak. It shrouds itself in wisdom and good advice so that you think it’s helpful instead of hindering.

But this is my line in the sand. This is me saying (insert your favourite sassy mama voice here), “Dear Worry, I’ve got my eye on you. You may think I don’t notice you trying to pick the lock on the door, but I do, and I won’t have it. Not this time. You might find your way in from time to time (I’m forgetful with locks) but don’t make yourself comfortable. We are not friends. We are not acquaintances. And as for your little friend, Anxiety, you can tell him I don’t want to see him anymore either. Sincerely, Janice (and Dan!)”

Ahh, doesn’t that feel better? A little lighter. A little more headspace. Sure, Worry is sitting just outside on the doorstep, but he’s no longer invited in. And Anxiety? Well, let’s just say he pops in from time to time unannounced, but he is ALWAYS thrown back out.

photo

Worry free.

The Best Laid Plans

I have goals for my future.

You know, the kind that look like making a certain amount of money by a certain date. Or owning a home by such and such year. Or paying off a student loan 3 years earlier than estimated (yeah, missed that goal already). They are goals that are meant to drive my everyday life, to inspire me to push through, to map out a good future for my husband and me.

Most of my goals have become crap. I say crap, because I’m not willing to use strong language on the internet. But you get my point. The goals that I have set for myself each year have almost all fallen apart by the end of the year. There are various reasons for this crappyness. My husband changed jobs to become a full time drummer. I changed jobs to be happier but that happiness came with a major pay cut. I managed to crash our car into a non moving object because a large christmas beetle fell onto my lap. I laugh now, but boy, you should have seen the hysterics then.

Each year, I’d look back and think “man, you failed this year, didn’t you?” And then I’d think, “this year will be different!” Guess what? It wasn’t different. Some major changes in our lives would inevitably mean financial change, which always meant financial short fall.

This has consumed me. Not in an obsessive, crazy lady with too many cats kind of way. But it has been at the back of my mind constantly- when I knew I had to make a career change for my benefit, despite the pay cut; when my husband told me that we needed to move to L.A. for his music; when I agreed that was the best way forward for us. Each change has reminded me that my goals in life were not being met. That I was failing at being a successful human being. That people would look at our lives and think “those guys chased a lot of dreams and what do they have to show for it?”

Have you ever measured the success of your life by financial markers? How’s that going for you? Yeah, same. It doesn’t work. Don’t get me wrong, we should have goals and plans for our futures and we should work towards them so as not to waste a minute of this too short life. BUT what happens when life doesn’t play along? What happens when a young married couple falls pregnant in the middle of their growing careers? What happens when your job is made redundant and you were expecting a promotion? What happens when the bush fires reach your house? Are you a failure now too? Because life doesn’t always play along.

Look, I’m young. I don’t have all the experience of my parents yet. I don’t have the answers to all my questions and I certainly don’t believe every question has an answer. But I’ve learnt something. In the changes, in the short fall, in the ever constant pressure to “be successful”- I’ve learnt that I’m using the wrong measuring stick.

What if my finances don’t dictate my success? Because I’ve had a lot of successes and failures in my life and only a handful of them involve money. My biggest win was marrying my husband. That had nothing to do with an account balance. My success story involves learning patience when my Italian heritage would say I don’t need it. It involves trusting when I can’t see what the road ahead even looks like. It involves being at peace with myself and with the world despite factors that would say “you have depression” or “you have anxiety” or “you can’t recover from that, it will be with you for life”. Oh really? Well, I’d like to say here is my success story. It may not have dollar signs attached to it, but I’ve learnt that dollar signs are a very shallow way to mark the journey of my life. I have deeper signs. I have lasting signs. And they won’t fluctuate with what job I’m in or what house I’ve bought.

I will have these things for the rest of my life. I will have peace. Joy. A loving and constant relationship with my husband. Open communication lines with my friends and family. Love from all those I know. Genuine compassion for those around me. Patience that goes beyond my own understanding, despite troubles (especially those caused by other people). I will have a full and happy life. And I don’t care how much money I make in the mean time.

So for all you dreamers (you know who you are!), don’t you dare let money be the measure for your future. Don’t let it tell you whether you’re successful or not. Because it doesn’t have that right. You go ahead and dream. Better yet, do. And don’t let a single thing hold you back. Learn patience. Learn peace (yes, it can be learnt). Learn to love, really, truly love. And don’t be scared! Money is nothing to be afraid of. It’s a speck in the sea of possibilities that lay before you. So, go.

image

Living free

The Quiet

Remember when I told myself I’d blog at least 3 times a week?

Of course you don’t. It was in my head. But I haven’t kept that promise anyway. You know how it is- life gets busy, there’s no time, the little pleasures must be sacrificed. All of a sudden, you go from doing the things you love to doing the things you must. The balance tips towards the need rather than the want. Welcome to adulthood.

I’ve said before that we must find the inspiration to create. That it can’t always be sacrificed just because of tiredness. That there must be some sort of balance between work deadlines and the things that make you happiest. I’ve said it, but I haven’t necessarily followed my own advice. Until now.

Against my own will I’ve been forced to slow down. To embrace the quiet. To once again do what I love without the fear of due dates, paperwork or even a job in general. My husband and I are in The Quiet Season. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? You should try it- it’s the scariest thing you’ll ever do. We have quit our jobs, we have sold off everything we own minus 3 suitcases of our dearest possessions.. we have decided to move to America. To Los Angeles. To the absolute unknown.

We were meant to leave a week ago, but the joys of obtaining my husband’s visa are extending themselves for a little longer. We are literally on the edge, waiting for the final approval so that we can go to the Promised Land. There’s no knowing how long it could take. It could be tomorrow or it could be in a month. This is The Quiet Season for that exact reason. We can’t work because we might be leaving immediately. We can’t spend and enjoy ourselves because we might be here for a while and we need to budget wisely. We are both gone and still here. We are neither departed nor settled. 

So you would think that we would spend this strange, intermediate time doing what we love. I can say that is the case now, but it took a while for it to be that way (which is why I’m only now blogging about it!). We often found ourselves trying to waste time to pass the day. As if that would make this transition more welcome. But now.. well, we are learning. It’s in these Quiet Seasons that you have to take inventory of your life. Choose what’s important. Choose what will help launch you into the next exciting adventure. Choose to build your life rather than spend it. 

If you can find it within yourself to indulge me a little longer, I’ll quickly tell you the things we have now decided are important and worth building to help us through our transitory period.

1. Sleep

Yes that’s right. Sleep. You’d think it’s the most unimportant part of life, but it’s vital. I think clearest and most effectively when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, becoming lazy and sleeping away each day would be a massive waste. 

2. Eating right

What better way to start a new season than by feeling well and eating right? If I’m going to launch into our LA adventure and be able to give it my all, I have to be feeding my body what it needs. Which brings on the next point.

3. Exercise

I have the time. There’s no reason to put this one off. I’ve exercised every day of this Quiet Season so that when I get to America, I’m already in that habit and can continue to build something that will benefit me the rest of my life.

4. Create LOVE to create!

Instead of forcing myself to create, why not cultivate a love for it? Sure, there are times when creating is done more from habit than from love, but if I truly love it, I’ll do it whether I feel like it or not. 

 

My hope is that this blog would help you if you find yourself in a season where you aren’t quite doing what you’d love to be doing or you’re not quite where you’d like to be. Don’t give up. Put in the daily disciplines that you need to sustain yourself and keep pursuing that dream. Those that achieve their dreams aren’t the smartest or most talented, but the ones who persevere.

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Taking a little time to enjoy the view

Dad’s Top Tips

I have an amazing dad.

He’s funny and smart and driven and even has some good advice to give to anyone willing to listen to him. I’ve decided recently to listen to him. I mean, I’ve always been a pretty good kid, it’s just that I’m finding that all those things he used to say to me actually have real meaning in my life now. I used to get angry at him for constantly telling me the same things, not knowing that I would come back to those simple statements years later, and they would have so much gold in them.

To be fair to all those who would also like some good dad advice, I’m sharing my 3 favourite dad quotes and why they mean so much to me now.

 

1. Put that back where it belongs when you’re done with it

This is one of those phrases that, as a kid, you hardly even hear and rarely ever listen to. As a parent, it’s one you get tired of saying over and over again with little or no result. For me, this has a few layers of meaning, and it’s become much deeper than just remembering to put things away.

Firstly, it has taught me to take responsibility for things. My dad didn’t just say this statement- he would actually come find me and ask me why the thing wasn’t put back where it belonged. I would get so annoyed because I had merely forgotten, but that wasn’t a good excuse with my dad. He believed that if you used something, whether it was your own personal item or someone else’s, you took care of that thing. You put enough importance upon it, that you wouldn’t simply forget about it and let it get rained on outside or left to collect dust where it had fallen behind the couch. To this day, people easily and readily lend me their belongings because I have proven time and again that I will return them when I said, in the condition that they were given to me in. I have become trustworthy simply by teaching myself to remember things and not letting them slip through the cracks of my life.

Secondly, it has taught me the above principle, but with people. There are many people that come in and out of my life, but I mustn’t leave them where they don’t belong. That can mean that I take care not to use them for what they can offer me (whether job promotions, free help, their awesome belongings, etc) then walk out of their lives, leaving them depleted and not in the condition that they were given to me. It can also mean that I don’t drag people along in my life, taking them places that they were never meant to go. I don’t mean physically, but emotionally. We all have that one friend that we say “sorry to dump this on you but you’re so easy to talk to!”. That’s a lovely friendship to have if they’re on board and can find the same relief in you. Otherwise, you may be using someone and not putting them back properly.

 

2. Don’t talk so much

 I was quite the chatter box as a child. If I’m honest, I still struggle to shut up at times. When my dad used to say this to me, it had the tendency to hurt my feelings, but now that I’m older I can see the wisdom in it. It’s taught me to be a better listener, not just listening so I can find the gap in the conversation to start talking again. But really listening to people. It’s taught me that I don’t have to have an answer, smart remark, comforting word or humorous line to say at every moment. In fact, most people appreciate the company rather than the words spoken, so I can rest assured in the fact that my active listening will do loads more than any “words of wisdom” I could try to conjure up. Of course, there are times to speak, but as a recovering chatter box, I don’t need to be told about those.

I’ve also learnt to hold my tongue. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s truly changed my life. There have been countless times that I’ve wanted to say some scathing remark (usually filled with righteous indignation) but after holding my tongue for a few minutes, I’ve realised that had I said that remark, I would have belly flopped into an ocean of arguments that would have changed nothing in that person’s life. Instead of rising up out of anger when ignorance rears it’s head, I’ve chosen to live my life in a way that causes people to take notice and want change. That’s always been more effective than words and arguments anyway.

 

3. Turn everything off before you leave

I have every inclination to be an air head. I’ll forget anything from the mundane key ring to the seriously important off switch on the straightener. But my dad didn’t give me many chances to practice this ability. He always asked me if I’d turned everything off before I left the house. Even when I moved out. This usually drew a very exasperated “yes, dad” but there were a few times it elicited a more explicit word whilst remembering the thing I had left on. While this is a great habit to cultivate so that you have fewer risks of burning your house down, it also has the added benefit of forcing you to remember things (similar to putting things back where they belong). Instead of leaving me to be the forgetful friend who manages to wreak havoc on others lives and time, my dad chose to build those habits out of my life. I’m now the friend who remembers coffee dates (most days), has only locked herself out of her house once in her entire life and has never caused a fire by leaving the stove or heater on. I actually have less drama in my life because my dad told me to remember.

I can honestly say that I have friends who are happy to be in my life because I don’t have the detrimental habits that I used to have as a teenager. Sure, I’m still working quite a few out, but I know that if I ever get stuck, I can just ask my dad for another top tip.

Thanks pops.

 

Mom and Dad

My parents- the 2 crazies responsible for me.

The Traffic Report

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Traffic is an ever changing part of our day to day lives, but it has trends that run through it. Because of this, I’m able to predict with accuracy what traffic will be like for the week ahead based on environmental, educational, recreational and nonsensical factors. These predictions are what make up “The Traffic Report”.

 

TUESDAY.

On this day, around 3pm the asteroid 2014 KH39 will pass through the sky, coming within 272,460 miles of the Earth. Of course, an asteroid so near our planet has the potential of causing widespread panic- panic that will most likely manifest itself as “careful” driving. This will include slowing down at green lights for no apparent reason; putting the indicator on 5 blocks from the actual turn; or driving a “safe” 20 kph under the limit. We all know that these are sure-fire ways to ensure that the asteroid doesn’t hit us.

 

WEDNESDAY.

Protesters have recently been taking to the trees to make their stance against deforestation due to coal mining. Today, this may cause some motorists to become distracted and look up instead of at the road, meaning that they will be more prone to swerving recklessly into your lane. The chances of this happening are significantly higher if there’s a taxi involved. 

 

THURSDAY.

Allergy season is still upon us, and on this day, allergens are expected to be high enough to cause long time sufferers to feel discomfort and symptoms (like every other day). This may mean that some drivers will be caught so tightly in a sneeze cycle that they won’t be getting enough oxygen to their brains. Low oxygen levels can have a negative effect on alertness, meaning that these drivers will most likely speed up and slow down continuously on the highway. Any time that you try to pass these drivers, they will match your speed. Once behind them, they will slow down significantly. But please, have some grace with them. They can’t stop sneezing. 

 

FRIDAY.

Last week on this very day, I Wanna Marry Harry premiered on Australian TV. Due to either a loss in translation or a misunderstanding of the show, some female foreigners (especially Americans) will be on the road today looking for Prince Harry. Their behaviour may include (but is not limited to) slowing down to a near stop to park, then changing their minds suddenly and speeding off; pulling out directly in front of you, but only doing 40 in a 60; and/ or tailgating you while you’re in the slow lane, even though the fast lane is clear. Be advised: do not approach these women or try to explain the situation to them. You will only make it worse by telling them that Harry isn’t looking for someone to marry him. Or that he’s not even in Australia right now. 

 

WEEKEND.

The weekend is for sports. Sports from rugby to netball to soccer will be played today by juveniles and professionals alike. Many people love going to these sports, or at the very least love supporting their little ones in school matches. These people have nothing on their minds but getting to the game or getting their child to their game. Every road rule is voided on these days, so please, do not try to enforce or follow them. You are safest at home- away from sidewalks, footpaths, soccer fields, car parks or anywhere that sporting people may be congregating. 

 

And as always, try to be nice to the other humans out there. Smile when you’d rather use another gesture. At least we know that we’re the good drivers, which is solace enough, right? Safe driving, friends. 

The Traffic Report

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Due to the high quantities of entertaining and frustrating traffic scenarios that I am blessed to be a part of each and every day, I have started a traffic report. Why on a Monday? Because anyone can tell you what’s happening with the traffic right this moment, but I’m going to predict what traffic will be like for the rest of your week. 

Now, this isn’t exactly scientific, but I’d like to think that after years of driving experience (and an uncanny ability to get stuck behind the worst drivers) I can now predict with great accuracy how drivers will behave during the week. So, please, gird yourself with the knowledge I am going to bestow upon you. It may even help you during rush hour. 

 

TUESDAY.

As you already know, this Tuesday is National Cellophane Tape Day in America. This means that there will be some drivers who are so thankful for this invention that they become forgetful and/or distracted, thus leaving their right hand indicator on while in the left hand lane, causing most people (including your kind self) so slow down to let them in. They will never merge right.

 

WEDNESDAY.

Today, schools all across the nation will be open. Teenagers, SUV driving mums and still-slightly-drunk uni students will be on the roads. Don’t make any sudden movements or lane changes near them. They spook easily and react wildly to even the slightest antagonisation, so keeping to your lane is best. They most likely will not keep to theirs, even when you’re passing them.

 

THURSDAY.

Thursday’s weather is meant to be warm and sunny. Typically, this type of weather causes drivers to become sun blind, meaning that they cannot clearly see their speedometer. When that phenomenon happens, they tend to drive almost exactly 10 under the limit. They usually stay in the fast or passing lane while doing this, probably because the sun beams have also caused temporary paralysis. The inability to move their steering wheel means that you will have to either tailgate them closely to prove your point or speed around them at the next possible opening.

 

FRIDAY.

Friday is National Work Half the Day day.. ok it’s not, but you will find that no matter how early you leave work on this day, you will be immediately stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Do NOT panic. Whilst others may be honking their horns and screaming words out their windows that you can only roughly translate, you will take a few deep breaths, find your inner calm and choose to let the next person in line actually merge onto the highway like they’re supposed to. After all, there’s a system for a reason, right?

 

WEEKEND.

Saturdays and Sundays were never meant for anything but relaxing with friends and family. Which is why everyone on the road will either be on their way to a birthday party, weekend kids’ sports game or a lovely get together at the local cafe. They will be in no rush to get there. They will be serene and content- so much so that they will disregard most road rules, merging when they feel it’s right, driving the speed limit that they have settled in their hearts to drive and even waiting patiently for a park outside their favourite cafe, no matter how much it blocks an entire lane of traffic.

 

BONUS: MONDAY.

I normally wouldn’t comment on Monday traffic as it’s my day off during the week and I tend to hole up inside my house, venturing out for food only when the gnawing hunger becomes too much to ignore.

But this Monday is special. It is forecasted to rain on Monday. Most of you already know what that means and are contriving all sorts of sicknesses to avoid the glories of such a day. Rain during rush hour apparently turns all tar into glass. I know, it’s shocking. If you don’t drive with utmost caution on this glass, you’ll surely die, so most drivers choose instead to not even touch their accelerators, lest such a move should cause irrevocable damage to their being. I have never experienced this damage to my own self, but apparently it has happened enough times to cause widespread panic.

 

In all seriousness, let’s be careful this week, be nice to our fellow humans (that’s right, they are human, just like us) and maybe even do something kind during rush hour just to prove that we’re not all morons on the road. Safe driving, friends.