Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend.

Holy Mother of Pearl. It’s been 4 months since I lasted posted.

Like any good (insert: infuriating) story, allow me to recap the entire last episode of my life for those that missed it so that we can get to the next thrilling episode in the longest most agonizing way possible.

Re-Cap in 250 words or less

The last time I posted I was tucked up on my bed in NZ, living the dream of the unemployed having spent almost 3 months convalescing, post chronic illness. I was pretty well by this point and I embarked on the daunting task of job hunting. Keep in mind that I’d been unemployed for almost 12 months & was surviving on a bit of freelance work here and there so I assumed the task was going to take time, energy and patience. The quandary was whether I sought work in NZ or home so I applied for a couple of jobs in both countries. The first job I applied for was back home. A marketing job in the tourism industry in regional Victoria. These kind of jobs don’t come up often and I’d always had a passion for tourism so I threw my hat in the ring!

To hurry this story along a little and stay true to the definition of re-cap…the next thing I knew, I was cutting my trip short by 2 weeks and flying home having secured my dream job via a Skype interview!

Home again, home again, jigity jig.

When you go through a looooong season of hardship in your personal, professional, mental or physical health, you learn a lot about yourself as an individual. When you go through hardship in every one of those area’s simultaneously, you learn some truly astonishing things. It’s the good, the bad and the ugly all rolled into one giant, messy, emotional ball of something resembling your former life.

My biggest takeaway from the last 12 months? There is a difference between challenge and struggle.

Confused? Let me break it down for you. No, I’m not going to rap. I’m literally going to break this concept down with dictionary definitions to support my theory and everything.

Challenge: Something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort; Difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it.

Struggle: To be coping with the inability to perform well or to win; contend with difficulty: a forceful or violent effort to get free of restraint or resist attack.

My pattern in life has been to equate struggle with challenge. Example: When I’m faced with, let’s say a challenge in my relationships, I struggle through because the internal dialogue is strong. “What is the right thing here, what should I be doing, how should I be reacting, did I do that right, I stuffed that up, why am I struggling at all, what did I do wrong, that’s probably my fault”…. you get the picture.

What was an ordinary challenge or life hurdle – something that would take a bit of ‘special effort’ on my part to overcome, becomes ‘the inability to perform well or to win’ because I don’t like to fail. It takes ‘forceful & violent effort’ to proceed because I’ve applied a sense ‘not winning/not getting it right’ and whirled myself right on down the rabbit hole.

The truth is, there is nothing wrong with challenge. There is actually nothing wrong with a bit of stress or pressure. We all know the story about how diamonds are made.  Heat and pressure. How we react to that challenge, to the heat and pressure, is very telling and strongly determines the outcome.

How did I start to affect this change? I’m so glad you asked, faithful few that didn’t check out at the re-cap.

(Note: This advice is coming from a completely unqualified individual with zero professional understanding of the subject matter, so please go right ahead and quote brazenly & liberally from this blog post with confidence as to it’s legitimacy…)

For starters I’ve stopped using the word ‘Struggle’ where I can. I’m working on not applying a negative connotation to a normal life situation or a challenge that can be overcome. Let me number off the rest of my excellent pearls of wisdom:

  1. Make a conscious decision to not entertain any destructive narrative bombarding your brain. Finding a way to process and deal with the internal dialogue, so that you don’t drive yourself insane, is an important factor in moving forward. Personally, I wrote things down. All the fears, anxieties, questions that would keep me up at night, problems with no apparent solutions – I wrote them all down, I placed my hand on the page and I earnestly committed it all to my heavenly Father. Then I firmly closed my journal & refused to entertain the narrative any further. I did this every day as a way of learning to not borrow trouble because I’m a worrier. I’m an over-thinker and it gets me into trouble! I forced myself to find every positive and good thing and I dwelt on that. It’s not about blindly giving yourself over to something with mindless positivity – it’s about re-training your mind. What we dwell on affects our brains, our emotions and even our general health & well-being.
  2. The gift of choice is a powerful thing. Engage it and use it. I’m hesitant to say this but….some people are addicted to drama. They live in a heightened state of emotion, intensity and ultimately, confusion. You need to start activating your God given will and remove yourself from such situations. It is not healthy and it will not help you grow or move forward. If this is not you but there are people around you that live in this constant state, you need to take a step back and find some calm. Things in life happen to cause upset, anxiety, stress, fear, hurt and grief but they are events that pass with time and our hearts and minds have the capacity to heal. It’s not a lifestyle. Go back to step one if you need help to quiet your mind! Find an activity or outlet such as running, dancing, boxing, walking, prayer, driving around in your car with the music blaring – anything that is a healthy outlet for you to release stress & pressure. Diamonds don’t stay in the heat & pressure forever. After intense heat & pressure they are rushed to the earth’s surface to cool. This step is just as important as the heating and the pressure!
  3. Actively work on & invest in your relationships. Thinking outside of yourself and giving energy to something or someone other than what is going on in your life will fast track growth and healing. I have no scientific fact to prove this but I know it to be true! We can be so self-centered and consumed by our own circumstances. Do we really know what is going on in the lives of the people around us? What is it that you have or that is within you that you can share with another to enrich their life or make their life a little easier? Be the answer for someone else! Be the support network, the friend and confidant that you would want in a time of need. Which leads me to my last point…
  4. To despise yourself and who you are is a luxury that you just can’t afford if you truly want change. You were made with intent, on purpose, by an ever loving Creator who doesn’t make mistakes. We all have something to offer and give in this lifetime. Peeling back the layers that can set hard around our hearts over time, who are you at the core of your being? Don’t let people, or the hardships that life sometimes presents, tell you that you are to hard, incapable of change, that it’s to late or that you will never be enough. That is not who you are and it’s a narrative that needs to change and that CAN change.

You have the capacity to make a fresh start. You have the ability to forgive and let go of the past. You absolutely can make good life choices that will set you on the path to recovery and purpose so go for it!! I believe in you, I truly do!

My final thought? Upon reflection, it just might be true after all that diamonds are a girls best friend. (Note to reader: All offers of diamonds to symbolize the truth of this post will be humbly and gratefully accepted.)

Ciao my little loves x

Red Sky in the Morning…

New year, new blog post! **Insert obligatory well wishes here**

Settled down indoors amongst a wealth of cushions, because Wellington has rained for 3 days straight now, I started flicking through my 2016 journal. I’m a believer in journaling and getting down your thoughts, feelings, fears, frustrations, joys and ramblings. It’s like this blog but way more private & humiliating when you read back over it.

I’m going to stray from my usual format and share with you a page from my journal. Did you just sit up in eager anticipation? Sit back down, first I’m going to cast your minds back to 3 weeks ago when I landed here in Windy Welly…..

What I didn’t share with you all was that I arrived on my friends doorstep on the 10th Dec, sunburnt and recovering from a severe case of Ross River Fever. For the month prior I had come to a complete standstill after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. I don’t remember being bitten, just a vague awareness that my arms were achy and I was exhausted for a fortnight in the lead up to my Grandpa’s funeral. It had been a big year and the 8 weeks prior to this had been intense as I supported a very sick friend. I dismissed it as tiredness and grief but took some time out after the funeral to sleep and refresh. Instead of refreshing, I woke up 3 days later barely able to move. My joints were so swollen I couldn’t get any of my rings past my knuckles. My wrists & elbows ached constantly and my shoulders clicked and grated with every movement. It was like I had aged overnight and I walked with slow and painful steps, my feet ballooning to the point that most of my shoes suddenly didn’t fit. For 10 days I clasped my wrists in despair, lathered my body in deep heat and popped pain killers that failed to take the edge off. Then I broke out in a rash that left my feet and ankles looking like fat rolls of Salami. Test after test came back clear and apart from a high inflammation count and a sluggish liver, I was healthy. The Doctor put it down to stress. I had after all, had an overwhelming couple of months and just lost my 2nd job that year. I was mortified that my body was reacting in such a way to stress and vowed to take better care of myself. I cancelled all my plans & responsibilities and with the help of friends and family, the pre-planned trip to New Zealand was hurriedly brought forward.

Slowly I began to feel better and though solid sleep still eluded me, the aches and pains ceased and I began to regain the use of my hands and feet without moving like I was an 88 year old woman.

The Friday before I flew out the Doctor rang, my Ross River Tests were finally in and I’d tested positive. I had no idea what it was so after a phone consultation I jumped online and researched the symptoms. It was exactly what I’d been experiencing and a sense of relief flooded my being. I know you aren’t meant to feel that way when you hear you’ve been sick but there was a reason I’d been unwell and I would get better. A month in and I was recovering just fine.

Not 24 hours after I arrived in Wellington I came down with a bout of Gastro. Not only had I arrived at my friends with the residual effects of a mosquito born disease, now I was violently throwing up and doing “other things” in her toilet. In the midst of it I remember praying that as I ‘purged’ every bug, infection, virus and disease would go with it. I’ve slept like the dead ever since and every morning I wake up with an intense sense of relief that my body is mending and healing.

So as I sit here reading my journal and reflecting on the past 12 months, I can see remnants of my despair leap off the pages. Yet one page captures my attention. I think it must have been written after I’d spent some time in prayer that day. I haven’t edited or embellished, I want to be true to what I wrote in that moment.

Tues 25th Oct 2016

When you let go of the need to control other people’s responses, you set them free and self free. Resentment cannot build because you have released them from your own obligations.

He is teaching you to lift your eyes and navigate the storm. It’s not clicking because all you see is the damage from the storm. Keep your eyes and heart set on course. If you navigate by the storm then you will end up FAR off course. Follow the compass, follow the pattern, follow the set path. Trust HE will bring you AND others through.

The seasons surely change. They always change in God. Always.

You are not alone in the boat.

I don’t want to over explain or elaborate. I think that you, dear reader, can reflect on this or take it with a grain of salt as you wish.

I will leave you with this – heading into 2017, you are not alone in the boat. We can fight against the waves, we can loose our way and get knocked off course but days of calm and rest are coming where the wind will be at your back and it will push you into the next season of your life. You won’t be in the eye of the storm forever because the seasons surely change. They always change in God. Always.

Until next month!

Kath x

A Tale of Two Cities. Named Wellington.

“Can I have another Shiraz?” the lady squished into the window seat yells over me to the passing Air Hostess. She has her head phones on and doesn’t realise just how loud she is talking. It’s a tight squeeze. Shiraz, let’s call her Shaz, is to my left and a lovely lady carrying two inappropriately ginormous cane baskets along with her handbag is to my right in the aisle seat. She sheepishly explains that her Aunt gave them to her and she now has to lug them across the country. I’m squished in the middle of row 30, the very last row on the plane, and we are feeling every bump and air pocket. Between the three of us, we look a little eccentric because I am chewing gum at a rate of knots with bright blue earplugs poking out of my ears, a travel pillow oddly tucked under my chin. I’ve taken a travel sickness tablet so I keep drifting off to sleep and then jolting awake as my head nods to the left or right. The jolt is accompanied by a kind of sharp intake of breath, sometimes a little snore/snort. It’s classy and attractive and no wonder Shaz is on her third bottle of wine.

15 minutes out from Wellington New Zealand and we hit turbulence. The plane drops, rattles and shakes for minutes on end as we make our descent. Shaz has just poured her bottle into a plastic cup and is desperately trying to preserve every last drop. It’s not working. Row 30 looks like a crime scene. Red Wine is literally leaping out of her cup, down the side of the plane and all over her legs. It’s like the cup is bottomless. I don’t know where all the liquid is coming from. It’s a magical plastic cup of wine that keeps refilling and spilling. Chewing furiously on my gum I watch wide eyed as she lifts the cup to her lips. I’ve pulled my legs as far away from her as possible and I’m leaning in to Basket Lady who is calmly watching a movie. She hasn’t blinked an eyelid as we lurch and roll. She is almost Zen like. A calm, zen, delightful, basket carrying lady who either doesn’t mind or hasn’t noticed the drama unfolding next to her nor the fact that I’m almost in her lap.

Red Wine drips down the chin of Shaz as she attempts several large gulps.The plane takes another dip and her cup is finally and gloriously emptied. It’s like an ‘I Love Lucy’ sketch. She is remarkably unaware of how comical it is to watch her mop up the side of the plane with a dripping wet serviette. She unexpectedly looks over and smiles, giving herself a pat on the back for not getting a single drop on me. I haven’t realised until this point that her desperate attempts to scull were with my white loafers in mind and I’m deeply thankful for her selfless act and a little bit sorry I didn’t offer her a wet wipe that I remembered a little to late that I was carrying.

So here I am. In Wellington New Zealand for the next 12 weeks instead of Wellington Shire Australia. Freelancing, blogging, refreshing and embarking on my own version of ‘Wild’ or ‘Eat Pray Love’ (a book I hated with intensity) and on kind of a journey of self discovery. Actually scratch that. It’s more of a journey of God Discovery. Taking a breath and re-tuning my heart to hear from my ever loving Creator. I’ll keep you posted on said discoveries…

Ciao xx

Or if you’re reading this Shaz…Cheers!

Status: Single.

Listen up my Singleton Friends, this one is for you.

I’ve had so many interesting conversations with my fellow citizens of Single Town this past couple of weeks that I decided ‘Status: Single’ was going to be my next blog post. It’s an #awkward one because you can only write about what you know so if you aren’t a fan of the TMI then click the little at the top of the screen now cos this one gets a little bit personal and don’t tell me I didn’t warn you….

I am single. SURPRISE! Said nobody that I know. Ever. Except the girl who does my nails. She asks me every time I go in there. Which is roughly every 3 weeks. I can feel her disappointment & concern seeping through her handy work into the very foundation of my nail beds.

I am not a Nun. SURPRISE! Said a lot of people. As a Single Christian Woman at the tender age of 35 ½ years, it appears to come as a surprise to many that I am neither pining for a husband nor given up and married myself to the church. Or God. What is it that Nuns actually do? Do they marry the Church or Christ? Note to self: research this further in case I decide on a change of career…

So here are my observations having lived 35 ½ years on this planet as an unmarried woman but with a deep faith in God, broken down into 3 handy points with their very own Sub Headings.

There are things that are just plain awkward for Single People to answer when they are put on the spot by well meaning but socially unaware Not Single People they don’t really know.

The Weird Justification Conversation.
Not Single Person: What do you think of Bob?
Single Person: Great guy but I just don’t feel like we connect on any particular level.
Not Single Person: Why not?

BUZZ. Wrong answer. I’m never even sure what that next question means! Am I now meant to list all the negative or unappealing attributes about Bob? Bob is great, Bob is a delight. Bob earns lots of money. Why do I now have to justify not being attracted to Bob? Poor Bob! It’s not his fault.

The Unexpected Introduction to Reproduction
Not Single Person with Kids: When are you going to have kids? Have you considered what you’re going to do now that, you know, you’re getting older?

I have actually been asked this question. Several times. I have yet to formulate an appropriate response. Do you think I am not aware of my age? Am I meant to rush home & start researching how to freeze my eggs? Do you want me to cry? Have a nervous breakdown? Steal a baby perhaps?

The Patronising Knee Pat
Not Single Person at a Wedding: *pat pat on the knee* Don’t you worry, your time will come. *sad but reassuring smile*

Thank You for that very unhelpful, completely not required moment of unnecessary sympathy.

Middle Aged & Single doesn’t equal Beaten Down & Dismal.

This is not a feminist statement. It’s a fact. God created us. He created us to be Beautiful, Strong and Resilient and He gave us the resources to be just that.

Most of us have lived good, joyful, purposeful and adventurous lives. We won’t break if somebody else has a baby or falls in love or gets married. We are capable of separating our own wants & desires from the lives of other people so that we don’t feel resentment, jealousy or discontent when the life of another is enriched. We celebrate. We laugh. We buy a new dress for the party.

Of course, there are times we may feel lonely. There are times we think it would be nice to come home to someone. There are times that we wonder if we will ever meet someone that is compatible in the way in which we need and desire. BUT mostly, we are O.K!

For some it’s easy. For others it isn’t. And I don’t undermine those experiences because it hasn’t been 35 years of pure contentment. There are times I’ve wished things could have worked out differently. There are times I’ve wondered what is wrong with me, why everyone around me is able to find someone to journey through life with and what it is about me that lacks appeal. There are times I’ve grieved for what might never be. And I’ve sometimes tried to change. To fit in. To relax my standards and expectations because after all “you can’t be too fussy”. Like there is an age limit to having standards before you have to just let it all go!

Do you want to know the ultimate deal breaker for many men? Love Jesus with all your heart. It goes down a treat. You suddenly become ‘too strong’ or ‘too independent’ or ‘too Christian’. You can be Christian as long as you have no conviction. I’ve thought about what that life might look like. I figure if a woman isn’t expected to give up her dreams of making the Olympics, climbing the corporate ladder or becoming a Judge then I can hang onto my faith with both hands and feet.

The Issue of the Fine Line

There is a fine line between swearing off men & owning 10 cats and finding that place of contentment. Because no matter where we are at in life, there needs to be a level of contentment.

It was a quandary I faced the year I turned 30. It wasn’t like there hadn’t been possibilities or ideas or crushes but nothing had eventuated. So I sorted it out with God one day. I said to Him ‘Right. You and I both know I am going to honour You with my life, with my choices, with my future and with the man I marry, if there is in fact a man out there for me to marry. So if that time is not now, maybe that time is never but if it’s not now then I cannot feel Lonely, Lack or like I’ve been ripped off. Because there is none of that in Your plan for my life. The road might be bumpy but You did not create me to feel lonely or like the plan is flawed. So take it away. Every feeling of loneliness, every feeling of lack, every feeling of disappointment and let me know that You are there and You are in control’.

Hand on my heart, the conversation went something like that. With tears and snot and everything.

And He did. He continually meets me right where I’m at. There are times other thoughts & feelings might creep in but I know how to work through it and overcome. Probably because I’ve had a lot of practise and they say practise makes perfect but mainly because He made me to be Beautiful, Resilient & Strong. He has a plan and the plan isn’t always about the Man! The plan is bigger, more intricate, more colourful and more exciting than anything I could have imagined for myself. Just ask the 2005 me that stood on top of The Great Wall of China after working for 3 weeks in an Orphanage in Wuhan. Or the 2011 me that aced her Silver Marketing Exams when she didn’t think she was that smart. Don’t ask the 2003 me. She had a perm.

Have I given up the ghost? Nope. There is always the dream and the hope of what might be in amongst all the other chaos and adventure. Am I pretty bloody happy with the way life is going? Yes.

“Ma’am have you been drinking?”

The police officer looked at me suspiciously through the car window as I tried my best to smile engagingly. Clearly it didn’t have the desired affect because he assumed I was drunk. I’ll add ‘engaging smile = sloshed looking’ to the list of reasons I’m possibly still single. It was, to be frank, a bugger of a speeding ticket and one I plan to fight due to the lack of clear signage & my impeccable driving record.

But none of that is relevant to this post. In fact, I haven’t posted in a while and I’m beginning to wonder if this blog lacks focus. Lacks direction. Lacks purpose. So I’m here to ask you, are blogs meant to be goal oriented?! Are they meant to have focus, direction and a purpose?!

In a desperate bid for material I threw it open to my Facebook friends. You’ll be really glad I updated you on the speeding ticket when you see what they gave me to work with. Amongst the legit gems, here are some of the more…questionable suggestions:

1. What is it like to have a less than perfect dad but you think he is perfect anyway? (Yep. Thanks dad. Good to know he follows my feed). 

2. The deliciousness of KFC chicken.

3. The working title “How many buckets?”

4. What truly defines the perfect cup of tea? (Actually, scratch that. That’s a good one. I could write about that. I talk about that.)

5. Trolley rage. A sensitive topic trolley rage. Many people weighed in on this with one friend even suggesting that ‘a trot is probably the best pace’. I might need to write about people who clock other people’s trolley speed at the supermarket…and even as I’m typing I think it’s a fantastic idea and this needs to be explored further. Stat.

Supermarket Cops. They could direct traffic, fine people for not keeping to the left & trying to overtake as you turn the corner. They could ensure squeaky wheel trollies are kept out of our aisles and that shoppers don’t decide to ‘park’ in the middle of the fresh fruit section for a long & neighbourly chat. They could set up speed cameras. We will all think they are scanning groceries and then WHAM. They’ve clocked the reckless child high on coke (a-cola) who rammed you in the heels in aisle 3. It’s a ground breaking concept. Do you think it’s taking it to far to have an announcement come over the PA “Put down the quinoa. Yes, you in the yoga pants. Put it down, put your hands in the air and slowly back away.” 

No? See me either. I think it would be a real public service. I want to add something about checkout personnel half your age calling you ‘darl’ but I’m unsure if instant dismissal is really ‘time that fits the crime’ so to speak….

Stay tuned, next week we just might explore the working title ‘how many buckets’ in 200 words or less. Much less. In fact I think we’ve pretty much covered it. Good talk. 

Ciao xx 

Hawaii Five-no

So here’s a quick one. 

Last night I had to come to terms with a very sad fact while watching Hawaii Five-0. Im not actually destined to marry Lieutenant Steve McGarrett after all. You know when you’re crushing on someone and then you have a proper conversation with them and you think ‘what the heck?’. I had the same kind of epiphany. 

Here are my five reasons why….see what I did there, Five No’s? Ok, moving on….

1. He spends his weekends hiking. I do not. I spend my weekends eating out with friends and watching him hike on Netflix.

2. He takes his lady friends on surfing, snorkeling & deep sea diving dates. I can’t even pick up those coloured rings from the bottom of the pool. 

3. He is a workaholic & gets shot at every day of the week. It would cause serious friction in our relationship.

4. I don’t live in Hawaii, I’ve never been to Hawaii and I have no plans to become the victim of a horrendous crime whilst holidaying in Hawaii so the chances of us ever meeting are really slim. 

5. HE ISN’T REAL. 

#NewBeginnings. I’ll catch you when I have something profound to say. For real next time. 

Oy with the poodles already x 

Yours Sincerely…..

Hello Mrs Hargreaves, do you have that piece of cake in hand as discussed? Excellent. I hope it’s scrumptious. 

I’ve been waiting for some kind of life changing event to happen so I could blog about it…even though all the blogs on how to successfully blog say don’t do that, write regularly….

Lo and behold, something happened today. Or more to the point, didn’t happen. I didn’t get a rejection letter in reply to a job application. I didn’t get the job but I didn’t get a letter. Or a call. Or a courtesy email. Not even of the automated & generic variety. And it drives me nuts. 

Recently I interviewed for a job & the panel said someone would call me by the Friday. There was a hold up with the decision making process and the senior manager called to keep me in the loop. Not HR, not his assistant, the boss rang. I’d have gladly taken a call from anyone but that right there is management setting the standard. His thought process was he didn’t want me to be concerned over the weekend. Even though I didn’t get the job, I thanked him profusely. All in all, it was such a positive experience. 

Lack of communication has got to be the number one killer of employee retention in any workplace. That isn’t an official stat. Just the results of the poll I personally conducted. Of myself. So that means 100% of people polled agreed that lack of communication in the workplace is the number one killer. Second on the list was unwashed dishes in the communal kitchen sink. Third on the list, pens & scissors constantly going walk about. Am I right fellow admin professionals, or am I right? People actually killing other people wasn’t in the top five. Surprising seeings I polled me and I’ve worked with some horrendous individuals….

When management are poor communicators I think it produces two things, the first being utter mayhem. And secondly, sincere frustration amongst team members who are simply looking for proper direction. 

It acts like a wet blanket thrown over the fire of proactive & dedicated staff. Slowly the flames flicker out & all that’s left is a pile of burnt out old wood. And do you know what my fine reader friends? It’s a company’s most valuable asset that’s been burnt to the ground. 

Listen up team leaders, managers & CEO’s: 

For all the technology that has been incorporated into our daily lives, our homes and workplaces and for all the technology still to come, people will always be your most valuable asset. Build your people. Be accountable for your presence, your absence and your decisions. Learn to communicate if it’s not a skill you possess. You can be the smartest person in the room. You can know the intricacies of your business without breaking a sweat. You can be a generally great human who always buys the good brand of biscuits for the tea room. But if you don’t learn to communicate well with your people you will lose them, no matter how good your intentions were. Clear direction. Clear expectations. That’s all honest, hard working & proactive worker bees like myself, want. And a pay rise. Clear expectations and a pay rise. 

I live by the mantra ‘be an employee of choice’. You’ve no idea how many of us there are out here in employee land who strive to be great at what we do, knowing full well its all for someone else’s gain! Employ us, direct us & respect us. You’ll have employees for life.

Yours etc…

Ps: the scariest part about blog post number 3 is any #GrammarFails.