A Few Good Men.

MINI BLOG POST

While I was overseas this past fortnight, news of the tragic & senseless death of an Australian woman at the hands of a male killer filtered through. Like every other tragedy of such a nature, my heart sank & I was grieved.

The repercussions & discussions surrounding the murder also began to filter through and though its highly unusual for me to make public comment on issues of the day, I’m going to and it probably won’t be grammatically correct or all that intellectual, a preface so you don’t inbox me with spelling mistakes and enlightened arguments 🤓

Note: this is in response to the public commentary, not the tragedy.

In the outpouring of grief, in the heat of the discussion & in the age we live in – we seem to have forgotten that for every predatory & depraved man, there are thousands that are good, noble and honest. For every true misogynist, there are hundreds more that inspire, defend and elevate. For every dishonourable act & sleazy comment, hundreds of thousands of men across this nation are treating their loved ones with fierce love, respect and deeply held integrity.

In recent years, a close friend of mine lost her brother in the most horrific and violent circumstances at the hands of a woman. He was blameless before God and his children, who were left fatherless. We did not hold all women to account, nor did we plead with mothers to raise kinder daughters. We lay the blame squarely at the foot of this woman. As it well should have been.

I understand the despair. I understand that it’s not fair, that it’s not right.

I also want to suggest that one mans depravity is not the fault of all men. The guilt does not lie with my brothers, they are my fiercest champions and protectors. Why should my father feel responsible? He raised strong & independent daughters. It’s not the fault of my male co-worker who arrives early & turns on my desk heater every morning. I don’t presume to know him well but he is kind, respectful and a great professional collaborator. Why would I treat him as anything less?

It might not be the forum or the platform but I truly want to salute you – the men in my life – and beg you not to be anything less than what you are. You are good men. Good, kind, protective, honest, trustworthy, hilarious, passionate men – each in your own right. And if you are deficient in any of these areas….congratulations. You’re human. Contrary to popular opinion, we are not morally superior nor is ‘the future female’. We can ALL do better. We can ALL grow.

I’m fairly well convinced that most of us can lay claim to at least #afewgoodmen that would die protecting us, should they be aware in the moment that we were in danger. Just as we are surrounded by fierce mothers, sisters, aunts and friends.

Can we not lift these ones up? Would it be so terribly difficult? Is it possible that it might bring LESS fear and MORE hope for the future should we be made aware of just how many GOOD men are occupying our neighbourhoods, our workplaces and our homes – unheroically going about the business of being decent, and coincidentally, male.

It’s a wild thought.

Disclaimer: Just in case you doubt such men exist, I present you with pictorial evidence.

Love & lots of blessings on your collective heads – Kath x

The High Maintenance Traveller.

The most humiliating moment of my professional life took place in the back of an airport bound cab, surrounded by colleagues I barely knew. It was post national conference in Sydney and I was sharing the cab with 3 other girls, all of us racing to the airport in an attempt to catch earlier flights home.
I get chronic motion sickness but someone else had jumped in the front and who wants to be high maintenance with people you don’t really know? I’d already missed the mark during one of those ridiculous ‘get to know you’ activities that I despise and told a story that I thought was funny, only to elicit gasps and murmurs of ‘that’s really sad’. This was shortly followed by an evening of ‘mandatory karaoke’ where reps from the different states were called up to sing together/against one another. I did not know the song well but I dutifully chimed in on the chorus and belted it out with what can only be described as gusto. I was sober. Many were not. Incredulously for one’s so tipsy, it lingered in people’s minds the next day. Now I was the ‘odd story karaoke girl with no actual marketing degree’ from country Victoria. I didn’t want to be any more conspicuous than I already was so I climbed in the back and inwardly reasoned with myself. It wasn’t a long trip, how bad could it possibly be?
It was bad. Really bad. It was hot in the cab. The driver continuously pumped his foot on and off the accelerator and by the time we were entering a very long tunnel, I knew the inevitable was going to happen and we had no means of stopping. My jaw was clenched shut afraid that if I opened my mouth, it would not be words that came out. I started to sweat.
The girl next to me glanced over and exclaimed ‘you don’t look so flash!’. I managed to murmur that I was going to vomit and the back seat sprang into action. My seat mate began ripping items out of a shopping bag and she thrust it to me with seconds to spare. I threw up my dignity into the paper bag as everyone watched on, equal parts empathy & horror. The girl sitting in front (who later became a great friend) refused to look around in case she went out in sympathy. The driver wound down all the windows and floored it, like that was going to help calm my churning stomach.
And then it got worse. The paper bag was not going to hold its contents. I had to request a second shopping bag and then hold it on my lap like a hand bag, all the way to the airport. My seat mate assured me that though I was violently ill, I did so remarkably quietly. It did not sooth my wounded pride.

Travel sickness and inner ear issues are a tough break for a girl who LOVES to travel. No reading in moving vehicles. No back to back flights. Polite and constant pleadings to sit in the front seat of buses and automobiles with firmly clenched teeth and eyes fixed on the road for the majority of every winding journey.
Despite all this, travel is actually still possible and even enjoyable for the well prepared and determined! Even more so if you are a little quirky and can handle people casually glancing at you twice before going about their business because, to be frank, you look off the rack bonkers in your efforts to remain in one piece.

Straying from my normal blogging format, here are a few of the tips and tricks I’ve gleaned over the years from packing hacks to motion sickness pills for the high maintenance traveller. (Note: not a paid post. Note about my note: I have no objections to being paid for this post.)

Let us first solve the motion sickness problem before we move on!

1. Travel Sickness Tablets: I have tried every heavily medicated and natural ginger based product on this continuously moving planet and the best thing I’ve ever discovered is Avomine. You can take it the night before you fly/drive to keep the queasiness at bay or in the moment to quiet a stomach in upheaval. On short business trips, I will often take just half a tablet to keep me functioning but alert as they do tend to make me drowsy. You can purchase Avomine at your local chemist for around $7-$8 a box. Well worth the investment!
2. earPlanes: These beauties are hugely underrated when used incorrectly! I did not bother to read the instructions when I first tried them because I thought, how hard can shoving something in your ear really be? Turns out there is a little bit of science to them and they are far more affective when used correctly. Wait until the cabin is sealed before popping them in. When the plane reaches cruising altitude, take them out. 1 hour before you land or just before descent commences, pop them back in. Do not touch them once they are in. They will make an incredible difference to the amount of pain and pressure you experience if you do this. Where I once used to experience debilitating pain on every descent and then subsequent blocked ears for several days afterwards, I now sometimes feel the pressure but there is no pain associated and my ears pop and adjust on landing. Fun Fact – they also work a treat if you want to deter over friendly seat mates. Pop those beauties in, sniff on a eucalyptus vapour inhaler to keep your sinuses clear and furiously chew gum. A guaranteed formula for keeping Chatty Cathy at bay. These can also be purchased at the chemist for around $12 – $14, or at the airport if you forget prior to departing.
3. Fly Legs Up:  Whilst we are on the topic of flying, let’s talk the dreaded long haul flight in economy. It’s a challenge. Even for short legged individuals such as myself. Enter the magical contraption that is the ‘Fly Legs Up’. (Side bar: I love that when naming this product, they went with a very literal interpretation.) Basically, it’s a little hammock that attaches to the drop down tray table in front of you. It is super adaptable so you can stretch out your legs or curl them up. No comprendo? Here is the link: http://www.flylegsup.com/
You must see it to believe it and then purchase one immediately. My friends have scoffed at how insane I must look assembling such a thing on a flight but hand on my heart, the last two flights I took it came up in conversation with my seat mates towards the end of my flight and they both exclaimed in surprise that they had not noticed me assemble it. Note: Some airlines won’t allow you to use them however this particular product does comply with FAA airline safety and compliance regulations.
4. Carry On: I have recently upgraded to a lovely rose pink satchel backpack mini (by Rains Journal) because practicality means not killing yourself dragging pretty but oversized luggage all over the globe. I simply refuse to travel without the following items in this bag and on my person, accessible at all times:

  • Chewing gum.
  • Hand Moisturizer.
  • Eucalyptus Vapour Inhaler: You will look truly unhinged but it keeps your sinuses clear before take off/landing and will help with any associated pressure.
  • Hand sanitizer & a packet of tissues: No less than ideal bathroom situation is unmanageable with these two items. Trust me!
  • Ipad or phone loaded with music and audio books: Don’t mock the audio book. Sometimes one does not want to (or cannot due to motion sickness) watch 8 hours of plane movies. When the music playlists are exhausted, the flight can suddenly feel very long. Enter Audio Books. They provide just enough entertainment that you can close your eyes and listen, if sleep evades you. They are also fantastic on long car trips. I travel every month for work and once I’ve performed all the songs to every musical in the privacy of my own vehicle, I can get a little antsy so Audio Books are my go to. I don’t recommend books with complicated story lines or shrouded in mystery if you still wish to concentrate on the road ahead! Something light and entertaining does the trick.
  • A paperback novel: I know I know….Kindles. I do purchase e-books but nothing beats an actual book.Fun Fact:Your paperback novel won’t run out of batteries.
  • A large scarf that can double as a light blanket or pillow: You will find 101 ways this accessory can come in handy when travelling.
  • Bathroom Bag: Arriving at the baggage carousel to discover your bag is not riding the merry go round is far less depressing when you have the basics on you. Toothbrush, tooth paste, rolled up underwear, face wipes etc.…. the basics will help you survive baggage catastrophe’s with at least a clean pair of knickers on and some resemblance of sanity!

5. Checked Baggage: If you prefer suitcases over backpack style luggage (which I do) I recently invested in one with four wheels, instead of two. It’s by Elle Luggage and is so cute, it instantly raises my cool factor by eleventy hundred percent. Why carry the weight of your recent shopping expedition when you can comfortably roll it beside you? You’re welcome.

So there you have it. 5 glorious quick tips from a high maintenance (but generally joyful) traveller. To share with me your tried and true products or travel hacks (which I would desperately love to hear) comment below or send me a message!

Ciao little loves xx

Rules of Engagement.

No dear ones. I’m not trying to slip you a sneaky message about my marital status.

This was originally a very different blog post, with a very different name. I was cranky. I had read something on social media that made me roll my eyes and I banged out a blog post entitled ‘Those pearls don’t make you classy’. And then I reflected on it for a couple of days and hit the delete button because it was kind of mean.

It’s presumptuous of me to think that anybody cares to read my reflections but I don’t play an instrument, recite slam poetry or do interpretive dance – so obscure blogging is my choice of creative outlet.

I’ve decided to blog with more regularity and if I’m going to blog often, I want to perhaps provide some guidelines to my rambles, if you will. Guidelines that will help you understand what kind of blog you’re (maybe, sometimes) reading. A set of pledges to you and to myself so that I don’t do the unfathomable and use this platform to respond to idiotic click bait.

So here we go. (I’ve run out of ways to segue into this, though I do recommend you digest this post with a cup of tea in hand. Or maybe even a glass of wine if you’re feeling foot loose and fancy free.)

Pledge One: This blog will probably mention my love of tea on a disturbingly regular basis. I do not apologise for this. One cannot help what they are passionate about.

Pledge Two: This blog will not always be preachy, though this post may be a little…. I also enjoy corn chips and any theatrical performance starring Anthony Warlow, including the 1998 ‘Main Event’ tour with John Farnham and Olivia Newton John.

Pledge Three: This blog is not, and will never be, a ‘tell all’ autobiography. The written word is powerful. Words in general are powerful. Having followed a plethora of other blogs with similar tags to mine for some time now, I often find myself wide eyed in wonder at what people are willing to share, not just about themselves, but about other people. Nothing and nobody appear to be off limits. Stories and experiences laid bare, seemingly harmless ‘personal anecdotes’ made public that deeply wound in private. I’m not talking about the broader narrative, you can’t tell a story about life without mentioning other people, unless you’re Tom Hanks clinging to a basketball or Sandra Bullock floating around space for a solid 91 minutes. I’m talking about my nearest and dearest. I’m talking about the people I have walked through life with, whom have wandered in and out of my life over the past 37 years or even those I once had relationship with that I no longer do.

Here’s my theory. The day I lay bare somebody else’s shortcomings for the world to judge is the day I slam the door shut on that relationship & declare it dead in the water. It’s the day I decide they are beyond hope, beyond rehabilitation, beyond restoration and beyond my forgiveness. If social media and the way of the world has taught us anything, it is that public condemnation and humiliation, no matter how great my personal pain, is never the key to someone else’s repentance. It just isn’t how Jesus works! Think of the woman caught sleeping with the fella that wasn’t her hubby in John 8. She was either cheating on her man or cheating with somebody else’s man and they dragged her out into the middle of a crowd and demanded Jesus deal with her. Put that in today’s context. Let’s throw her up on my social media wall, make it public, invite the world to hurl verbal rocks at her and then demand Jesus condemn her publicly. He didn’t then and He won’t now. No matter how deep my hurt, that decision will never be justified. Never. Jesus said to her “I do not condemn you. Go. From now on sin no more.” (Can I just sidetrack for like, a nanosecond. Notice He did not say “I do not condemn you. Go. Live YOUR truth because I am not judging you.” He did not condemn her in public, nor did He condemn her in private BUT He did empower her to make a choice to no longer sin. Do you get it? Think about it a moment. And…..moving on.)

The point of this second pledge my dear friends, family, loved ones, not so loved ones, horrendous past colleagues, future hindrances to my joy and well-being…..this blog will never be about publicly exposing you. It may occasionally be about publicly adoring you, but never exposing you. You’re welcome.

Pledge Four: This pledge may seem left field but I’ve been researching blogs and reading. Reading and shaking my head in some disbelief. So here goes – this blog will never speak negatively about another Christ centered church, denomination or movement. Ever. Period. Full stop. And I will no longer read blogs about it either. It is not a case of ‘sticking my head in the sand’. It’s a conscious choice. My opinions on such matters are a drop in the ocean. Of course I have opinions. We ALL have opinions. But God is bigger than personal belief systems formed over time. He is bigger than churches, movements and denominations. Romans 2. Read it. It’s super confronting but here is the bottom line (I’ll make it personal so you don’t think I’m talking about you).

When I judge others, I bring judgement on myself. I know this to be true. There are times I have cast that first stone, only for the inaccuracies in my own life to be revealed. Second of all, It’s Gods loving kindness that leads me to repentance. Not a 3000 word essay condemning the beliefs of a people that I actually do not have to be in relationship with. And if there is no relationship, then why make public comment? Not my circus, not my monkey. Move on. It comes down to restraint and the power of choice. But we don’t know much about personal responsibility and restraint in today’s day and age when it really is a marvelous thing! Perhaps most importantly & above all else is this truth in Rom 2:11 – There is no partiality with God.Just because I think I’m right, even if I am right, it does not make me more beloved by our Creator. Think about that. His heart is and always will be about leaving the ninety-nine to go after the one. When I screw up, He loves me. Even when that screw up causes another person hurt, He may not approve of my behaviour but He still loves me. And when I have been wounded, His heart is not only for my healing & restoration but also for the person responsible for the hurt. He is judge and jury. He will hold people to account. I am mistaken if I think my little blog that less than 1,600 people have read in the space of three years is the platform He will use to deliver truth and condemnation to nations. Bottom line. Do not ask me to make comment on such matters nor eagerly wait for me to build up to a glorious expose. It will never happen.

Pledge Five: I will strive to bring something to the table that is life giving and I don’t just mean in the form of tea recommendations but if I can digress for just a moment…tea really is life. It will also be fun. Fun, ridiculous and probably a little bit batty.

There you have it. The crux of what this blog will not be, leaving so much more room for what it CAN be! If my posts begin to contradict the above pledges, assume I’ve been kidnapped, that I’m writing against my will and send help immediately. And donuts.

To the faithful few friends still reading – love you and like you. A lot. To any new readers wanting to join this jolly band of misfits – welcome aboard. It’s a very very small band and though the role of obscure blogger is taken, feel free to throw your hat in the ring for the position of interpretive back up dancer. We are sadly lacking in the free movement department.

Kath xx

Eat, Pray, Love. (Whatever.)

Holy Smokes – it’s been 9 months since I last blogged! (Note to reader: all my posts start with such an exclamation because I’m the worst, most inconsistent blogger in the history of bloggers the world over so it really is no longer a valid introduction and I shall cease – henceforth.)

I’m sort of back and wondering just how on earth to re-gain my mojo after withdrawing from the Social Media scene (and pretty much all life as we know it) for a significant period of time.

Even as I type I’m trying to decide what angle to come at this because SO MUCH has happened yet when applying the bigger picture….not much has happened! Hence the silence on the blog front. I had nothing to write about. Literally nothing. I hit a big fat rut where I went to work and I came home and I participated in the mandatory aspects of life when I really preferred to just not. The days turned into weeks, the weeks rolled into months and I slowly realized that my life was becoming a blur of work and sleep. I was not participating well in this thing called life and I grew a little despondent. (Side bar: I grew a lot despondent. I watched episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. And I enjoyed it. There. I said it. Forgive me Father for I have surely strayed from the path of the sane & logical….) 

I was never going to publicly admit or put down on paper that I was battling my own version of anxiety and depression. Name a reason, I thought it. “What will people think? How humiliating. I always preach a message of joy in the Lord and contentment – where the hell is my joy & contentment? I’ve never struggled with it before. Hormones? Yep. Anxiety? Absolutely not. I’m way to old to fall into that now. I don’t have anything to be depressed about, I have a great life. Sure, I have flat days but I’m not that flat that I can’t function….” until I realized that I actually wasn’t functioning well. And for someone that doesn’t like to fail….hello cycle of vicious anxiety. Some mornings I would sit on the edge of my bed after a shower, unable to get dressed and willing my heart to stop pounding & racing, simply at the thought of having to engage in life. I would have hot flushes in the middle of business meetings where my palms would sweat and my brain would scramble mid-sentence, thought or idea. Most days I would fall into bed at night exhausted from doing the bare minimum of living. Sound melodramatic? I have a pretty accommodating personality but If I had a pet peeve it would be unnecessary drama in every day life – and suddenly this was my reality and my very own private hell.

(Gee whizikers….this post took a turn when I started typing…let’s roll with it shall we and see where it goes?!)

What I didn’t realize was that because I had never experienced this before, it was very situational and with time & with the right input and the right people around my life – this wasn’t a life sentence. Healing would come. The lights would come back on, my heart would no longer race at random and inconvenient moments, interest in the world around me would spark once again and dreams for the future would be restored.

Can I tell you one of the most frustrating things well meaning people said during this time in my life? “Just do what makes you happy. You need to look after you.”  Can I just take a moment to respectfully address this concept?

Fact: I was kind of depressed. Fact: I was extremely vulnerable therefore my feelings got hurt very easily. Fact: Life was no longer engaging. It was passing me by.

The thought of living a life with the only end goal being ‘do what makes me happy and look after me’ was entirely & utterly depressing. Every time someone said it, I would go home and cry my heart out. Sure, I understood the general sentiment. But every time I did something that was not for me, that was outward focused, I would be cautioned by a well meaning soul that I needed to slow down and think about myself.

Do you know how long I had already spent thinking about myself? I’ll tell you. A lot of time. To much time. I was consumed by my own hurts and feelings and sending myself kind of batty.

Sure, my life could do with some more adventure – I did have a tendency to be performance oriented and work a bit hard.  Taking a Cooking or Samba Class would certainly bring a smile to my face and bring an element of joy, a welcome break in a busy week but to what end? I was lacking a sense of purpose. I had gotten knocked off course and a 12 week cooking class absorbed in the world of butter, vinaigrette’s and pickled jams wasn’t going to resolve that or fill the void.

And if we are going to get philosophical, there had to be more to life than just being happy, right? If there wasn’t, then what the hell had I been doing for the last 37 years? Even though I knew it was not their intent, every time someone said it to me it felt like a slap in the face and kind of invalidated all my experiences and my life choices to date. Experiences that actually had brought me a great deal of joy and contentment. I created a narrative in my mind that said ‘these people think I’m a push over and that I have no will power or ability to make good life choices’. 

Let me share with you some of the wise advice I didn’t know I needed until it was delivered by some of the best people I know. It is somewhat contrary to what all the self help books are telling the kids these days but it catapulted me out of myself and back into the land of the living.

I didn’t know I needed some fiercely loving but firm words of truth to pull me out of where I was at and to help me see that some of the thinking patterns about myself were unhealthy. It takes guts and love for someone to see your despair and be willing to speak truth into your life despite the risk of you alienating them. Once the horror of truly being seen had washed over me and the immediate spark of anger out of self preservation had subsided, I sat down and took stock.  There was truth in their words and I needed to participate in the process of change. I didn’t know I needed encouragement that I wasn’t a total failure, that I was needed and valued and even wanted. And I needed it consistently even though my pride would argue otherwise. Where there is truth – there must be love. And I was getting both in spades. I didn’t know I needed someone to tell me ‘Kath, you have more to offer this life. You have something to give and only you can give it.’ Deep calls unto deep. Telling me just to be happy only validated my fear that I didn’t have anything else of value to offer this life. I didn’t know I needed to be reminded that God had a plan and no amount of heartache or drama or self imposed sanctions could knock that off course. As Lisa Bevere so aptly says ‘If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this. You, my beautiful friend, are not that powerful.’ I didn’t know I needed to be told that there was the time & grace to heal and that this wasn’t forever. I had time. Better days were coming, my future was bright. It was time to begin to unpack all the chaos going on internally and allow someone to speak into that and allow God to get in and around my heart.

That is not to discount professional help. If you need help – sit down with your Doctor and start the process. Coming off the back of a 12 month long illness, I was aware that my lack of physical health had contributed to the downward spiral in my mental health. These things can’t be messed around with. But I also knew I needed to start talking again and dealing with the heart issues.

We live in a world that has created such a strong sense of self preservation, for fear of not measuring up or for fear of getting hurt or simply because we have been doing it on our own for so long, its hard to let go and trust. We can default to ‘doing only what makes us happy’. But happy is a feeling. We can’t always be happy. We can’t replace trouble, grief or heartache chasing fleeting moments of happy. If we could, then my habit of emotional eating would have successfully filled the void a long time ago! These things must be felt, acknowledged and dealt with so we can move through to the other side. Life is happening and it’s full of challenges and ups and downs and happiness 24/7 is simply not attainable.

However peace is. Peace in the eye of the storm. It’s something I’m still working towards because that means absolute reliance in my ever loving Creator instead of in my self.

Do you know what else is achievable? Finding purpose. Finding a reason to lift your eyes from your self and to invest into the life of another. We were never created to be lone rangers – relationships is where it’s at. You may not always ‘feel’ happy – but you will experience and actively participate in this thing called life. You will overcome challenges, you will find joy & contentment, you will experience heartache and sadness, you will develop resilience, you will learn new things and you will do it with people you love and who love you.

Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

P.S – apparently in the scenario above I’m taking a cooking class with the CWA. Which could explain why the concept did not bring me joy. Note to self : Dream Bigger.

Kath x

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!