Falling into range.

Body mass index. Name a more feared set of words when it comes to the weight loss world. I’ll wait… (although I would accept that ‘gimme fifty burpees‘ may come close).

Sitting in with my doctor back in January for my once yearly, much detested, checkup – we started talking about weight. Partly because I’d happen to found a bit more of it than I should have over Christmas (or the whole of 2018 for that matter) and partly because there is even more reason to lose it as I age closer to my midlife crisis point.

Being the daughter of my father gave me a lot of great things in life, but in terms of hereditary gifts – the ol’ “Eddie” genes as we call them, didn’t leave me much to brag about.

My father is the third generation on the ‘Eddie’ side to have suffered a heart attack by the age of 50… and inclusive of his own brother, my uncle, one year ago… the only one to have survived. This means, I’m next in the firing line with the only advantage now being that I know it’s coming.

My doctor kindly pointed out that we had an opportunity to change the odds in our favour if I was willing to make a few new choices and give myself the best chance at seeing 50 years (oh, god!) through. Undoubtedly I wasn’t all that excited about more lettuce in my diet, but he had a good point and I’m not one for ignoring good logic.

Now, breaking every womanly instinct and manner, I’ll tell you I weighed 79.8kg as I looked down at the scales between my toes that day – which for me, is the largest I’ve ever been in my young life. The horror must have been written all over my face as I had sat back down, because my doctor smiled gently and said, “Try to look at it this way…It’s the perfect starting point”.

And while I felt a little like bursting into tears the whole drive home, something seemed to click inside me driven by a sense of determination to not be the girl who had a chance to change and didn’t. No one wants to feel large, and I really did that day.

At a height of 166cm, my increase in weight had ensured my falling out of range from the green healthy bar into alarmingly orange ‘overweight’ area. And as a side note, I truely believe the person who created the BMI charts was male, because no female would have ever named the next range up from healthy, “overweight” – it’s far too harsh. But whether I liked it or not, it was a universal truth thanks to every BMI calculator out there, and perhaps the obtusely orange overweight indicator staring me in the face was the kickstart I needed.

My doctor had said the weight loss didn’t have to be drastic, or immediate, but to just aim for 75kg at first and see what happens. According to the BMI chart, ‘Healthy’ for my body sits somewhere between 50 and 68kg apparently – which seems like a lot, because it is. And I think there has to be room in there for common sense, because when it comes to being healthy, I feel like this can never be rightly limited to a numerical boundary. There are different aspects to being healthy, and not all of them revolve around weighing in at a certain amount. While my goal is to lose weight because I do need to (doctors orders, not just mine!), more than anything else, I’m just trying to fall back into healthy – in more ways than the BMI chart dictates.

So now, in my year of ‘happy and healthy’, I’m choosing to do things a little differently than anything I’ve done before. I’m introducing five habits to my life in the aim to establish a health as the motivator, and weight loss as it’s beneficiary. The goal is to find a cohesive regime for my body that doesn’t focus on getting to a specific numeric weight, but rather editing the edges of my daily routine to change unhealthy habits into better ones, and to see that transform into a healthier body – inside, outside and love-handles included.

FIVE HABITS TO CHANGE A LIFE

  1. plan and schedule
    This is a big one for me, and perhaps simultaneously the easiest. Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I am a planner. I love lists and schedules, I live daily by them and love the structure they give to my life. But being a nurse means no two weeks are the same. It can be hard to fall into a rhythm or routine when my work life is both sporadic and unpredictable, interwoven with night shifts. So sitting down every Sunday night for an hour, be it at home after dinner, or on my tea break at work, I plan my week ahead. This helps me allocate time to exercise and plan meals for the next seven days. It gives me a road map to follow, and once I have it, I find an odd comfort in having a game plan. It also works to relieve a lot of the stress I have around all the things I want to do in providing a time for them. Planning and scheduling makes me productive and accountable, and I love it.
  2. do 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day
    I think of this habit as a way of becoming a better dog-mum first and foremost. Being the owner of two golden retrievers means there is always plenty of energy in the house. From the moment I arrive home from work, Igloo and Millie are running loops around me. It’s not always easy to want to go for a walk – especially after a long day. But the reality is that I’m a better dog-mum if I do. The added bonus? It’s the extra exercise I need too. I’m starting out with something easy and achievable. Jumping into trend-led workouts has never really stuck for me, so by starting out with something that’s catered more to the little golden loves in my life makes it an easy starting point. The more intense stuff I can integrate later. And the more I do it, the more I actually find walking to be therapeutic. It’s fresh air, at sunset, with the ones I love most (my Mr. included). It’s fast becoming one of my favourite things to do.
  3. keep a food diary
    Now not to advocate for counting calories as such, but logging my meals into My Fitness Pal, has helped me to decipher what foods are actually not as good as they seem! It also has helped me work out better portion sizes and keeps me in check when it comes to meals and avoiding overeating. It’s human nature to feel better about eating a Krispy Creme when you can’t see the calories that accompany the iced-wonder, but when you have to account for it later, you start to really think about whether it’s worth it. I am loving being held accountable for what I eat, and with the gentle push the app provides, I’m making healthier choices when it comes to food. Its rewarding to be able to look back at your day and realise you gave your body the nourishment it thrives on. And it’s even more rewarding when your body starts to feel it too.
  4. get enough sleep
    I used to be notorious for not getting enough sleep. As I said before, it’s hard enough being a nurse to find routine, but sometimes finding enough hours to sleep between one shift to the other can be even harder. Then there’s errands, housework, and the weekly parental dinners – and before long, sleep becomes almost illusive (especially so when you have a racing mind like mine bursting with ideas and plans). So lately I’ve been making conscious effort to go to sleep earlier, I aim for 8 hours and feel so much better when I achieve it. The extra z’s also help with my digestion and I find myself less bloated in the mornings. The body just works better on a good night’s sleep – and although I already knew this to be a fact, feeling the difference really seals the deal.
  5. make your own meals
    Over the years, I’ve always been a fan of easy meals. Off the shelf, processed, cook for 20 minutes and voila! But often these meals provide little nutrition and altogether, turn out to only add to the waistline. A couple of months ago, I found a website called DietDoctor which is a Keto Diet based collection of recipes. And while I don’t exactly use the website for it’s intended purpose as I don’t plan on sticking to the fad diet, I do love that the recipes on there are low carb. It has been such a game changer when it comes to choosing healthier meal options, and when they taste as good as they do – there’s really no turning back to all things processed. There are ingredients in some of the recipes I’d never even think to use, and with the intended use of healthy fats over saturated ones, you barely feel like you’ve missed out on anything at all – which gets the tick of approval from my Mr. We’ve picked up a few favourites so far like Chicken Pesto Casserole, and Cheese Garlic Stuffed Chicken Breast, but with more than 50 more recipes yet to investigate, we’ve got dinner sorted for quite a while to come.

And thats my five habits! While they aren’t big changes to my everyday life, they are are giving me a good foundation to start building a healthy life upon. I can already see the changes in my thought patterns and energy levels. I’m less emotional, and more driven to make these second-nature. And this week weighing in at 76.5kg, affirms that something is working.

So here’s to healthy habits, happiness and seeing any challenge life throws at you as the perfect starting point.

d x

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#39

At this point in my life, my strengths and weakness are becoming pretty clear. And not that I like to focus on my weaknesses by any means, but this blog entry relies on one of my biggest – balance.

Since I was little, my balance has never been my strong point. I can elegantly trip over my own feet standing still, and while that sounds like a unique talent, I assure you it’s never been beneficial.

I’ve tried everything from skateboarding to surfing, but I’ve just never been able to figure it out. Perhaps I’ve never really given it enough of a go, but after watching a documentary on bones at the age of sixteen, the fear of falling with my wrists out first has ever since had me fear unbalancing the wellbeing of my radius’.

But as all things go in my life, this determined bundle of ambition I call myself can’t seem to ever give up on the hope of one day not being capable of losing balance on flat ground (or in a room full of people at Pilates).

The thing is though, if you don’t keep trying, you never will learn something new. And I’ve grown to learn that the moment you believe you can’t do something, is the moment you quite literally can’t.

I met someone the other day who told me she couldn’t snorkel because she hadn’t ever had lessons. Now I’m not sure I’ve met one person who’s ever actually had a snorkelling lesson, so I was confused by the notion at the time. Put the mask on, breathe through the tube, swim. Granted it takes some getting used to at first, but I’ve always thought the process to be pretty straight forward.

The entirety of our trip at Isla De Potipot in northern Philippines, she refused to snorkel the beautiful reefs surrounding the island because she’d already made up her mind that she couldn’t. She was scared she would fail at it, and despite us all offering to teach her how, she declined.

And the more I think about it, the more it really stands out to me as a lesson on never imprisoning yourself in accordance to what you think is not possible. She missed out on a whole under water wonderland that day, and while she had every right to make that decision – I just couldn’t understand it.

So I guess when it comes to balance, why should the fact that I have none of it mean I should corner myself in. The reality is, I’m happy to fall off, over or out, if it means experiencing something new. Sometimes you just have to give something a chance and see where it takes you. To hell with the wellbeing of my radial bones, right?

Ergo, bucket list #39. Learning to stand-up paddle board (SUP, as it will from here on be abbreviated to).

It’s always been something I’ve wanted to try. I live close to the beach, and on the ocean’s softer days, it’s home to many people aboard SUPs. To stand on the roof of the ocean, under blue skies and sunshine, had always struck me as being the dream.

On the fourth day of being at Moreton Island last year, we had woken up to a windless morning. The sea was calm, and clear. So my Mr. and I decided to hire a couple of SUPs and give it ago. The added bonus was that I figured falling off into water, would turn out to be a much softer break fall than concrete.

I must admit that while I knew my balance and lack thereof, would keep things interesting, I didn’t anticipate just how hard it would be to stand up, let alone remain upright.

In the time it had taken my Mr. to help me push my board out, head back to the beach, grab his board, head back out, stand up and paddle over the small breaking waves – I had barely accomplished kneeling on all fours.

He could barely control his laughter in between shouting encouragement my way as I put on a show that could only be likened to Bambi’s first steps. With wobbly legs and a whole degree of arm-waving, I finally stood up after far longer than I care to admit.

From there things got easier. Turns out standing up was the hardest part for me, the rest was relatively straight forward. While the occasionally lump in the ocean unsettled my balance, I never fell off. However I will admit to a fair bit of yelling, “Don’t come near me!” and some use of my oar as a jarring stick whenever my Mr. would teasingly come too close for comfort.

After we had paddled ourselves up the beach and back, we decided to spend the rest of our last hired hour laying on our boards. From the depths of the clear blue waters, we had been spotted by a pod of playful dolphins. Sitting on my sup with a smile as wide as my face plastered on, I watched them swim, dancing through the ocean as if it had been rehearsed especially just for us.

If I could SUP and swim with dolphins everyday, I would – because I’m really not sure how it ever gets any better than that, even if it does take me a small lifetime to stand up.

Balance or no balance, never let your weaknesses define what your capable of. There’s always a way if you will it. You can always do something extraordinary.

#39: Learn to Stand-up Paddleboard – Check!

d x

#66

When I was 12 years old, I broke my wrist riding a scooter down a hill. Granted that it could have been partly my fault given I had been sitting on the foot ledge rather than riding it properly, but you just couldn’t have convinced a younger me that this wouldn’t have ended in disaster at the time. Nevertheless, one fleeting 15 second ride led to a 6 hour wait in hospital and whole lot of not swimming in the middle of summer thanks to one very unfashionable cast.

When I was 13 years old, Dad let me drive the family run-around car back into the garage after we had finished washing it. It was one of those things that sounded like a good idea at the time, but later left you thinking why on earth did we do that. Because there were two things that went terribly wrong in the space of a few seconds. The first was that I forgot where the brake was; the second was that my soap-covered feet had little grip. Slipping on the accelerator was bad, crashing at a decent speed into the foundation wall of our two story house was worse, but forgetting where the brake was and plowing straight back into the wall a second time was downright priceless (in the most expensive way). This stunt also landed me in the emergency ward with a nasty gash to my forehead, and the requirement of a tetanus injection.

When I was 14 years old, I let my friend teach me how to ride her motorbike. I’d never ridden one before, nor did I really know how they worked – so naturally, this also seemed like a good idea. I actually hadn’t been doing too badly, the worst only happened when we decided to stop. You see, there’s a throttle on the handlebar and if you relax your wrist in the form of twisting down (don’t ask me how), you can find yourself tangled in a barb-wire fence pretty quickly with half a metal barb sticking out of your ankle, and a rather large third degree burn curtesy of the exhaust. Back to the hospital, and eight weekly burn dressings later – I never touched another motorbike.

When I was 15 years old, I let a boy push me down a grass hill in a shopping trolley. Was I sober? Yes. Was I smart? Not that day. Hitting a rock halfway down caused the trolley to capsize to the left crushing my elbow under both the trolley and myself. The stomach-turning crunch of my poor bones landed me a return trip to hospital, this time for a surgery and nine months of rehab. I still can’t look at shopping trolleys without cringing.

The point of these three stories is to show you that things with wheels and me, well we’ve never really gotten along. I purposely have never taken on a skateboard for obviously reasons, and have more than a few misfortunes to tell when it comes to my cars. The reality is, there would be less havoc in my life if the wheel had never been invented. But the greater good prevails, and as it turns out, they’re pretty useful in anyone else’s opinion.

But despite having sworn off wheels for the most part, there has always been one more set of wheels I’ve always wanted to try…

At #66 on the bucket list was to ride an adventure ATV, and call me crazy, but despite my unfortunate history with all things round – I’ve always been mentally prepared for the injury I would surely entailed completing this bucket list item.

When planning our trip to Moreton Island last year in November, I stumbled across an advertisement for riding beach ATV’s through the islands notorious sand dunes. Better to stack it on a balmy sand island rather than out in a balinese jungle, I thought. So I convinced my Mr. in no time (who is most definitely pro-theinventionofwheels, and master of all of them!) and we booked it in.

In an unlikely turn of events, I can confirm I managed to ride one without injury or a hospital admission… maybe wheels have taken pity on me and my battle scars after all. In fact, in comparison to the three tourists riding in front of my Mr. and I, who undoubtedly were more of a liability than even me, I think I did quite well. And I most certainly enjoyed every second of racing through the sandy figure-eights built low into the sand dunes, and over the tops of the berms.

Moreton Island is such a beautiful part of the Australian coastline, and to see it from behind the handle-bars of an ATV was such a great experience. Zooming along the shoreline on the beach at sunset is something I will remember as being one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen. Even with the most wonderful of descriptive words, I couldn’t out-do seeing this place in person. It’s just simply something you’ll need to add to your own bucket list.

There is video proof of my successful ATV adventure in my latest holiday vlog, so if you wanted to check it out in live motion, you can click here.

And as for my war with wheels? Well, I’d like to believe that perhaps we finally made peace in paradise.

#66 – Ride an Adventure ATV: Check!

d x

 

 

 

#5 and #52: Philippines 2018 (Helping Children Smile Medical Mission)

First of all – I have to make an apology for taking such a long time to write this blog! There’s been a whole lot of work, and a new tiny-pawed furry addition to the family since finally landing back in Australia last month, so my hands have been kept somewhat hostage…but more on that in my next blog!

Second of all – Philippines!

I’ve been really struggling to find the right word to describe my trip to the Philippines. In reply to most people, I use the word amazing with a gushing enthusiasm and a widen-eyed conviction of the word. But even then, I know this is still an understatement. Because it was just so much more than that.

For those that have been following Life, She Wrote, you will have known that this year’s addition to Bucket List #5 came with it’s own special purpose – but for those that are new to the story, you can read about it here.

Having looked forward to trip since finding out I would be apart of it back in September, I couldn’t believe it had come round so quickly. The end of February was nearing as we all met up at a hotel near the airport in preparation for the three flights ahead of us the next morning. I had met most people prior to trip, but there were a few I hadn’t and it was nice to sit down with everyone, putting faces to names over wine, cheese and Thai.

It was still dark when our early-morning alarms sounded at 4am and we eagerly threw on our team t-shirts (bright blue and not easily missed in a crowd), making our way to the airport. With thirty-something luggage bags in tow carrying various pieces of equipment and monitors, we hustled into the group check-in and busily set about labelling and weighing bags. If I thought the amount of bags we had then and there was extravagant, I had another thing coming for me when we finally did arrive in Vigan (but that’s getting ahead of myself).

The first leg of the trip was flying into Sydney, where we met up with the two surgeons and two anaesthetists, and one other member of the team. Choosing to go it alone at the Duty Free, I managed to get myself utterly lost between terminals an hour later – but I’ll blame that on the airlines changing the terminal departure and those big electronic boards displaying way too many flights to Manilla (was there really that many people departing to Manilla?). Nevertheless, we all boarded on time and I was quite happy not to be left sitting back at terminal 34 on my lonesome.

Touching down in Manilla was a relatively smooth process. We quickly caught a bus to the hotel, with our priorities set on food, sleep and a quick 7-Eleven pitstop. I don’t remember falling asleep that night, I just figured I must have switched out as soon as my head hit that pillow and woken up 6 hours later.

After a traditional buffet breakfast we checked out and made our way back to the Manilla airport to catch our next flight to Laoag. It was a quick flight, landing beside one of the smallest airports I’ve ever seen. The little brick building, covered in pink flowering vines, could be walked end-to-end in less than five minutes.  But with a large sign welcoming Helping Children Smile to the Philippines, we felt right at home.

We collected ourselves, and our many pieces of luggage, into a large coach bus which carted us on a two hour journey to Vigan – our final stop for the trip and the location of the hospital we would be performing surgery at. We stopped midway at a small village supplier for afternoon tea where we we lucky enough to try some local food. Any food at this point was a god-send after having only had a pork bun since breakfast!

We arrived at our hotel in Vigan late that afternoon and quickly changed before heading into town to see the hospital. Having never been on a mission before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect – but the hospital appeared in relatively good condition in comparison to pictures I’d seen from previous mission trips. We toured the theatre rooms, recovery and the shed-like room that would be our ward. Everyone seemed pretty happy with it’s prospects and so we went to check on the luggage. Well in addition to the bags we had brought over, there was at least a dozen more to fill three ward rooms full. How we could have ever needed this much, I’ll never quite know – but it was our way to ensuring we never had to place any cost upon the hospital by only using our own equipment and supplies.

It was still light out when we ventured back to the hotel, so we snuck in a quick swim in the pool and laughed hysterically at those game enough to take on the waterslide that ended at least a metre above the water. There were plenty bruises and red marks all round to tell the tale of that endevour.

 

The next six days were a bit of a blur. But after setting up our recovery room on Monday, we were straight to work with two surgeries that afternoon. Back home, recovery spans across almost a whole floor catering for well over twenty patients. In Vigan, the recovery room was no more than 4 metres by 4 metres, perhaps smaller. It had two small beds either side of the room, with a cupboard in the corner and a cabinet full of drugs at the tail-end. We commandeered two small tables and set them up between each bed, tetras-packing them with our equipment. And we made-do. Theatre was much the same, simplistic, but functional – and from all accounts, better than expected.

It was such a rush to see it all play out, and then to be a part of it. Carrying the children in their hands, the anaesthetic nurse would rush out of the OT into our small recovery placing the child onto one of the beds. In a swift rush, the pulse oximeter and oxygen mask would be connected and we would intently monitor their small airways until they woke.

Waking up from the anaesthetic in the Philippines was a little rougher than at home, and so as soon as our little ones opened their eyes, we would whisk them off the trolleys and into our arms to rock and soothe. Their were plenty of wrigglers and plenty of tears, but that all got a little better as soon as mum arrived to hold there hands. After a quick dose of pain relief and a drink of water, we let them return to the ward.

Upstairs in the ward, it became a noisy collection of people after the third day. Families consisting of parents, siblings, uncles and aunties would squeeze into the same bed offering support to the children, becoming the ultimate nursing team. We would leave instructions for the parents in regards to pain relief; how much and how often, each night and return each morning to do a quick round and see how they had progressed.

The children were beautiful. And again, this too feels to be a rather large understatement. I fell in love with them the moment I met them. Their tiny faces that lit up the moment you gave them a smile, or handed them something as little as a toy car, had my heart bursting at it’s seams. These children were just so grateful for the things that many children here take for granted, and I couldn’t help but be in awe of their strength despite their circumstances.

Before each surgery we would adorn them with a little material cape made by volunteers here in Australia, and help them believe in superheroes. We would place little coins called ‘lucky money’ in their hands when they went to sleep, and would make sure they woke up with the lucky money still there. It was these little things that made surgery feel a little less frightening, and helped them feel a little more brave.

 

The differences to the their lips and palates were remarkable, and being a part of a process that changed each of their lives in the most unbelievable way has undoubtedly changed my perspective on my own world immensely.

After six days, we had performed over thirty operations. The hospital had kindly provided food each day and made every sacrifice possible to ensure our operations went smoothly. We were truly spoilt to have been able to work in Vigan, and were treated to dinner each night in the small town by different members of the Vigan Rotary Club.

On our last few days, we had enough downtime to do some exploring throughout the Provence of Vigan, a budding city on the tourist hot-spot list. From Dancing Fountain Shows to historical 17th Century walkways, monumental buildings to heritage listed sites – we were privileged to see so much in such a short time frame. And as we drunk a San Miguel (apple flavoured, for me) Beer at sunset on the beach, I think each one of us counted ourselves as lucky to have been on this trip.

After a heart wrenching clinic morning, checking up on the kids after their surgeries and waving goodbye to the children that had changed our lives perhaps even more so than we had changed theirs, we packed our bags and set off on the long journey home.

There aren’t enough words to describe the fullness of my heart, or the awe I have in the strength of these little ones and their parents. I am so proud to have been able to work alongside some of the most amazing clinicians and to have had the opportunity to utilise my own nursing career in a corner of the world that really needed it.

This trip has taught me that there is so much kindness, courage and generosity still to be shared in this world, and that it sometimes comes most from those who have far less than you.

For more information about the Helping Children Smile Organisation, or to donate to the cause for next year’s mission, click here. I cannot express how much of a difference surgery for these children makes in simple tasks such as eating and speaking, nor the happiness it brings to a part of the world who truely appreciate it.

For more details about visiting Vigan and Manilla, where to go and what to do – head over to The Travel Log!

And to have a sneak peak at the trip, the children we operated on and the places we managed to visit after-hours all in colour motion, you can head to my YouTube Channel!

This has been the most rewarding bucket list ‘check’ yet, and I really do hope to go again next year!

#5: Travel to a new place every year and #52: Volunteer in a Third World Country – double check!

d x

2018: The little things.

Welcome to 2018. A fresh new 365 days to live boldly bolstered by the memories, triumphs and downfalls of those before it. I for one, feel like this new year caught seamlessly onto the last thread of 2017 and continued to weave it’s story. 2017 was a really good year for the most part, and I didn’t quite feel the need to “leave it behind” or run from it. I was ready to just simply keep on living, no matter its numerical standpoint in a calendrical world.

For the first time since K.B passed away, we celebrated new years. Not how we used to when she was here. There weren’t any midnight dashes down to the ocean to watch the fireworks from the shoreline, or planking competitions. We didn’t have a group of strangers turn up to the apartment to party with us, or spend the next day drowning in exhaustion and hot potato gems. No, it wasn’t like it used to be – though those new years will always be the most cherished.

Instead, I think after all these years, we were finally ready to celebrate it a new way. And I think she would be happy to know that in the midst of the fireworks, although we missed her still incredibly, we found a new way to love her and the bright sparks at the same time.

We welcomed 2018 in camping under the stars on the beach, something I know K.B would have approved of immensely. With a light breeze just strong enough to pierce through the summer balminess, we set a box of fireworks alight and watched them disperse in the black night sky above us. The ocean cooed in response, wildly crashing upon the sand and I took it all in.

With perhaps more clarity than I’ve ever had on a new years eve before, I realised I had been chasing this feeling of contentment all year long. My chest felt light and my thoughts were clear as I sat around the campfire listening to the campsites next door count down to last seconds. It was like taking a breath of air for the first time in a long time, and hitting an internal re-fresh. And in that moment that I knew just how much the little things matter.

Christmas last year showed me how to be present in the little things, and new years eve taught me what to do with them.

You see they tell you that it’s the little things that matter. And it’s true. They do.

But I think what matters more, is what you do with them.

Little things can be good, awe-inspiring, the start of the next big thing. But little things can also be sad, inconvenient, and sorrowing. Being present in those moments teaches you understand their significance, but it’s what you then choose to do with them that’s important.

Notice the things that make you happy, chase them and crave to find them in your mundane everyday routine. Remember them and cherish them. Don’t know where to find them? Start with that coffee your Mr. bought you on his way home from work, or the way your golden retriever spends ten minutes rolling around on his back for entertainment in a bliss all of his own. Then notice how a flower grows to face the sunlight, and how the little old man looked at his sweetheart on the park bench next to him. Find the little things that are good and let them guide you. There’s plenty of good left in the world to be found, you just have to let yourself see it.

And as for the little things that trouble you? Well, it’s easy. It always has been. Let them go.

I recently read a letter from a young woman who passed away last week after a long battle with cancer. She was only 25. In amongst the reflection* upon her life and the things she wished for herself and others, she remarked upon the little things.

She said that people spend too much time focusing on the little things that plague their minds with worry or heartache. And that it’s not until you’ve been given finite amount of time to live that you realise that those things aren’t what’s important.

When you’re told that there’s not much time left, you start to wish your biggest issue wasn’t that your body was giving up on you, but that instead it was just terrible traffic on your way to work this morning, or a bad night’s sleep.

Because the bottom line is that it shouldn’t matter if the hairdresser cut your hair too short, or you have cellulite on your arse – these are not the things that should consume you. These are small things. And they are insignificant in the big scheme of things.

She had it completely right. And I can’t help but want to take her last worldly advice and run with it. Because if there’s anything I think I’m starting to understand in this lifetime, it’s that true happiness stems from gratitude. And I think gratitude comes from knowing how to deal with the little things. So that’s where I’m starting.

This year, it’s about the little things. And I truely think this is the biggest lesson you could  ever learn. Learn it with me if you’d like!

Wishing you the best for 2018, always.

d x

[* Holly Butcher’s Reflection: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/dying-womans-inspirational-and-moving-final-letter-goes-viral/news-story/89c6036ccdcde5c0522a23a5c10265eb %5D

Christmas Day: Scrubbed + Gloved

It’s been a big two weeks for me over Christmas this year, and almost feel as if they have sailed right by me in the blink of an eye. Does this only get worse the older I get? Please comfort my heart and say no! Any faster and we might find ourselves skipping straight to January entirely next year.

Having had the last two years off from work over my favourite holiday season, it was well and truely my turn to pull on the Christmas-owl scrubs and latex gloves, and hit the ground running on the surgical floor this year. I worked eight days straight over Christmas and felt it pinch at my heart a little at first. For a girl who adores everything covered in tinsel and sparkling fairy lights, it was hard to be inside the walls of the hospital and not with family.

But the reward of bursting in the ward’s doors with jingling reindeer ears on Christmas day morning and putting a smile on the patient’s faces there was more than I could ever have deserved for dreading in the first place. In fact, if I’m honest, I rather enjoyed spending Christmas day at work (and that’s not just the one too many rum balls clouding my memory!).

It was as if everyone brought in a bit of Christmas in with them, and shared it with those that thought they wouldn’t feel it this year. It was a day full of so many smiles, and so much warmth. It was as if we all came together to spread a special sort of cheer as far and wide across the ward as we could. I can’t really explain it any more than that, but it was like nothing else and there was this underlying understanding of the immense need for kindness.

I walked out of the hospital on Christmas afternoon with a heart so thankful for being able to bring a little happiness into the hearts of the patients I cared for. It made me realise how much I really love being a nurse. Despite the exploding stomas, the leaking drains, and the confused little old men who magically harness the strength of ten horses as they take a swing at you – I wouldn’t have chosen to do anything else.

And I’ve come to realise that you have to learn to love all these moments in your life. Even the ones spent in the hospital on Christmas day. Because it’s not about what you’re doing on days like this, or any normal day of the year for that matter – it’s about what you turn it into and what you take away from it.

I think this next year is going to be about enjoying the little things. About be present in every moment, and truely aware of the beauty that surrounds me. I already know its there, but in 2018, I want to feel it. I want to turn it into a happiness others can share in.

For me, I think this means finding peace of mind. All too often, I find myself worrying and getting stressed over the smallest of things. I let it shape how I feel, I let dictate how I act and the words that I construct. I don’t want to spend any more moments from here on feeling frustrated by the all the things I can’t change and the circumstances I once thought were less than ideal. I don’t want to feel clouded over in my mind, blind to good things. I want want my happy-heart moments to be present in every day I breathe.

Working this year over Christmas taught me a lot about what really matters. It’s not about things going to plan, or having the picture perfect day. It’s not about being task-orientated to point that the to-do lists takeover, or being organised at every turn. It’s about learning to laugh at the things that didn’t go to plan, and the days where it rained on your picnic. It’s about putting the to-do list on hold to lookup and smile at downpour instead. And I plan to bring this new-turn-old-proverb-epiphany into the New Year.

I hope everybody had such a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed it thoroughly however it was spent. Stay safe and loved as we turn our eyes to 2018, I have a feeling it’s going to be a big year!

d x

Letting go.

If there is one thing I’ve come to really realise this year, it’s that life is constantly changing. I used to think of life as having chapters that would change seamlessly into the next at the catalyst of a big life alteration.

Like when I graduated high school and entered the ‘real’ world, and then again when I walked out of the cafe for the last time as a waitress to start my career as a nurse. And then of course once more when a close friend of mine passed away and almost everything changed.

I used to think that those kind of moments were the distinctive page turns into new chapters of my life, because they were all so large and significant events. But I now have come to realise that sometimes life chapters change subtly, without warning and without a big moment.

This year my life has changed, and I haven’t really taken a moment to accept that until now.

I was spending this morning organising a few things before my Mr. woke from his everlasting slumber to take me out to our usual Tuesday breakfast date, and in a moment of nostalgia, I had decided to look back through some of my blog posts from earlier this year.

As a person, I haven’t changed a great deal. Still determined as ever to make a difference, finding various adventures to get lost upon and new hobbies to take up. Even my surroundings haven’t changed. I still live in the same place and travel for the most part, to the same places. I still drink vanilla lattes and recklessly shop online, a bad combination turn a predicament I often find myself in at 2am in the morning on night shift.

Yes, I am rather the same. But It just seems to have been the people around me that have changed instead. And most surprisingly it’s been some of the people I counted on to always be there, who have undoubtedly left in pursuit of a life that no longer includes me.

And when I look back, there was no big moment that these people walked out of my life. There wasn’t a huge fight, or a dramatic parting. No one moved overseas or passed away. We just drifted, for whatever reason. And now it seems so odd to finish this year without them, or even that my life in it’s new chapter doesn’t include them.

I suppose in hindsight, I subconciously knew it was happening at the time. It was that surging ache in my heart for no longer being the person they turned to for advice or even a pick-me-up mid-week. And when I really sink my teeth into it, I’ve probably been putting off letting go of that chapter for a long time now. Angry in the idea of even having to accept that my life will never quite go back to being like that. Fearful to so conclusively close the prior chapter of my life.

But without doing that, I can’t keep writing my own story. And more importantly, it isn’t healthy to carry around that hurt and fear anymore, and it’s exhausting to hope something will return to it’s humble beginnings. I have to let go.

This new chapter includes new friendships, and new weekly traditions. And I absolutely love it for what it is, but it’s different.

And while I miss my old friendships fiercely, I’ve come to realise that sometimes you don’t need a lot of friends. Just a few close ones. Quality over quantity, you know how it goes.

I  may not have the people in my life that I once used to, but there’s reasons for that, even if I don’t entirely understand them right now. So I’m conclusively closing that chapter and choose to look back at it with a fondness for the memories it holds.

I didn’t see it coming, but it’s here. This is the new chapter. It’s wasn’t a life changing moment that catapulted me into it and I’m not even sure yet what this new chapter will be about, but everything from here is shaped differently now because the people around me are different. And finally, I’m okay with that.

d x

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