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Posted in FAMILY, FRIENDSHIPS, Life, Travel, Uncategorized, WORK LIFE

Friendships and Families

Yes. This post is my rabbit hole. Please jump in with me and catch up on whats happened since my last post in December 2017. Besides that I will try and add some really good travel photos along the way from our spontaneous trip to New Zealand on New Years Eve.

I felt like Alice in Wonderland, falling for what seemed like an eternity into a dark and unknown place that I was uncertain I could return from. After all, real life isn’t a matter of clicking your sparkly red stilettos’ and finding yourself back in the familiar and warm embrace of whatever security blanket you have that keeps you from sinking. Real life is more like being trapped under the house, hiding behind the big curtain pretending to all powerful, or being caught up in some wild wind – riding nowhere with your face all gnarled up. Only some of the time mind you, but still.

 

I know we all find ourselves in these states of being from time to time, and mostly we get out of them ourselves with the people around us none the wiser. Often this is because we either keep our positivity mask on hoping it can all be magically transformed into some kind of blessing, or we stuff it down with our favourite Krispy Kreme so we can get on with being the ideal mother, wife, and best friend – because putting others first is commendable right? Wrong. Giving yourself the oxygen first puts you into a better position to be who you really are, and that is best for everyone.

 

Late last year I realised that all the sludge I had been trying to “get over” and “move on” from caught up with me after a very close relative took his own life. I was perplexed as to why I was so emotionally ruined by this event long after it happened, it certainly wasn’t a new event for me – I had lost a lot of loved ones to suicide and I have years of experience in death and dying from my previous role in palliative care. It was right for me to be very sad because he was a very important and loved part of our family, but this sadness was much deeper.

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I enlisted the help of a beautiful woman Emma Barbato (I’ve spoken about her before when she ran “Emazon”), and she helped me pick apart what was really going on. You see, this was just the straw, the catalyst to give me a reason to pull out and deal with all the primal trauma in my life. Along with some significant issues around abuse in my early years, I found that my biggest issue was that death I could do, but rejection I couldn’t. I had built up in my mind that rejection meant I wasn’t good enough – no matter how much of a troll the other person had been to me, somehow their poor behaviour was my fault. What a revelation it was for it to finally click in my head that I had to be enough for myself, set my boundaries, and stop making other peoples behaviour my problem.

Now that I have a somewhat solid grasp on what is the right thing to do for my life, I have been able to look after myself better. I started by making some changes to what I wanted my current and future relationships with friends and family to look like, and how they should function to ensure that it was mutually enriching. These changes did not come easy, and have been some of the most difficult decisions to make.

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  1. I began protecting my boundaries in my friendships. This meant that one friendship in particular had to be ceased, and was by far one of the worst experiences I’ve had in this process. Sometimes trying to separate a relationship (even with people you’ve been closest too, but had to for the well-being of everyone), can go horribly wrong. Still, I don’t regret for a second the amazing times and memories I hold dear of the better days of our friendship.
  2. Village gatherings because my goal was that I wanted to be part of something greater that just my beautiful little family, I wanted my family to be part of a bigger village so we could all be there to support each other. If you don’t have a ‘village’, who will share your stories and your memories when the children go out and build their own ‘village’? Our Sunday dinners are mostly regular and everyone brings something, other special occasions are also a time where whoever would like to sit at our table are welcome and we’ve been known to have a houseful.
  3. I began asking for what I need without guilt. This one was tougher that had thought it would be but it had to be done. I am allergic to chemicals,  strong washing detergents, perfumes and strong deodorants, and occasionally I end up with a horrible migraine, along with a sinus and chest infection from them. I can manage this issue at work, but my home should be the place I can take a break from it all in. So we have made our house a perfume/chemical free home. It has meant some missed visits and a few disgruntled friends – but after clearly explaining that you wouldn’t rub peanut butter or seafood over someone with allergies to them because it would intentionally cause harm – they began to see my point.
  4. We have begun to really nurture our friendships and relationships with each other by being present. There are a few things we have endeavoured to do to help this:
    1. Putting away our devices when we are in company with others, sure take a photo here and there when necessary, but if someone must have a social media fix make it mutual and short (5 mins), don’t sit there scrolling whilst someone is trying to spend time with you – it send the message that you would rather be somewhere else.
    2. Try to appreciate different viewpoints and values without judgement or the need to be right. This is a tough one because we view the world through our own biases and values, and its really easy to judge the actions of another. I am certainly far from immune from this and I’ve been actively trying to pull myself up and hold myself accountable for it.
    3. Treat people the way that THEY want to be treated, that is something that shows others that you really know them and care about their needs. Obviously don’t throw yourself to the wolves to do it, there is a big difference to doing this and being a doormat, but be mindful of what is important to the people you care about.
    4. I’ve been working on trying to focus on and grow the relationships I have, particularly the ones in which both parties care about the future of the relationship. This doesn’t mean you ditch the ones that suck your energy (you know the ones – you try to spend time together but they are always cancelling for something better, unconcerned that you have made them a priority at that time), you just pace yourself so you don’t get sucked into that vortex.

HANMER SPRINGS & FOREST

 

My husband and I have since been focusing our efforts also on our plan to move to England at the end of this year. So far I have been offered a job in the NHS Trust that I wanted, with the financial support that took some of the stress out of it, and the timing I wanted. Obviously I have accepted it, and I commence work mid December. For our family, our goal is to chase our dreams of travelling the rest of Europe, and striving for our own personal growth by drawing on the wealth of experience and knowledge the world has to offer.

No matter where you are in life, or what your life is filled with – always remember the importance of a village.

 

N.B. If you wish to follow the travel side of our life more in depth, please head to http://www.intrepidnurse.com – this will soon be brimming with travel gems, however my loyal followers here will still get our travel stuff peppered in to this blog.

THE RAPAKI TRACK

 

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Posted in Life events

Coming of Age

It’s finally time to sit for a moment and gather my thoughts. It’s time to reflect on this past year really, firstly because that is how long I have been dallying on getting back into writing for me, but secondly because it has been a wearisome year that has developed who I am as a mother, friend, wife, and human being in general. I’ve learnt a lot about myself this past year, and I’ve learnt a lot about my place in the world, and moving forward has been the most awkward and worthwhile experience of my 30s.

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– Me with my beautiful first-born Lauren as a baby

“…and suddenly you know…..it’s time to start trusting something new and trust the magic of beginnings” – unknown.

“Coming of age” is generally a term reserved for our children and their transition from being our child into adults in their own right. Often it is filled with excitement, but overshadowed with trepidation and uncertainty as they shift from being their mammas little girl, to a young adult with the expectation of responsibility and the ability to determine their own outcomes. I am certain that I am not alone in feeling that same sense of apprehension about letting the most precious part of me go and be her own person, experiencing and working through her own mistakes. At this moment I am living this with my eldest daughter, and although she is not yet 18 years old, she has worked hard to complete her final year of school which included an International Baccalaureate with a focus on high level subjects of theatre, biology, and psychology. It certainly has been a challenging year for both her and us, as we attempted blindly to help her navigate this education program, manage the emotional rollercoaster each term and held our breath as we awaited each results estimation, and of course the precious milestones that pepper our young ones’ last year of school.

“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title til much later” – Bob Goff.

Graduation was one of the proudest moments as a parent as I watched my beautiful baby girl walk up on stage and receive her certificate, with every elegance and grace. We had already had the joy of her last day of school, followed by the iconic moments of clap out and beach swim, and I’m thrilled that I was able to have time off work to soak up every single moment with her. As a working and studying mum, every one of these special moments are exceptionally valuable to me and to my husband and ones that we will not easily forget. The day of graduation (after finishing her last two exams that morning), we drove from make up artist to hair stylist to put some extra sparkle on my already stunning daughter, before arriving home to get dressed in her gown. That moment when doing up the back of her dress and shiny gold belt, I shed just a small tear and the woman who was standing in place of my little girl. The reality that she was no longer the little girl who was small enough to cuddle in my lap was tangible and terribly scary, but proud. I can now say with certainty that she had reached the end of high school intact – my job as a parent had worked.

This past year my daughter Lauren has become a P-Plater (Provisional driver – meaning she can now drive without us), had her first significant car accident that left me in a state of panic (she is however okay now and was not at fault), and of course most recently we presented her with her first car. Her sense of freedom has exploded and I’m certain we will be seeing less of her now she has her own means of transport, but her promises of maintaining her close relationships with her family reassures me. Lastly, she has been spending time with her first boyfriend but the only thing I can share (to protect his privacy), is that he is a wonderful young man whom we totally approve of). Now her job is to create the life she wants, and we can’t wait to see the adventures she gets up to.

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Coming of age is not only preserved for our kids, I also feel that as we get older we have times where life experiences and our own personal growth leads to our own coming of age. A transition to the next stage of our lives. Whilst our eldest graduating has been part of that for us, it is a myriad of other things that has led me here also.

Currently, we are making all the plans necessary for our move to England at the end of 2018, and its been a little bittersweet. We are super excited to be embarking on this amazing journey as a family, but the sadness of the impending goodbyes is ever present. We have so many dear, dear friends here in Australia and it is going to take commitment and dedication to nurture those relationships despite the distance and time differences. I have had to reconcile myself with the fact though that some of those people in my life will fade into fond memories when we leave, just as some have begun that process now of their own accord. It reminds me that no matter how busy I am with my job, my study, and my family, the friends that are dear to me need to know that they are – they are part of the tapestry of the life I love so much.

This year our family survived not only me working lots of hours, studying, and carrying out and presenting a research piece in Sydney, but we also survived a great heartache when we lost my husbands brother, and it shook us to our core. The sadness is still with us and whilst we still wish we had made more time to go and see him, its reminded us to cherish the opportunities we get to see the special people in our lives and to not take it for granted – none of us know if there will be a tomorrow. The tomorrows we do have are going to be great, throughout it all I am beginning to really know who I am and who I am not. What I am is a kick-arse nurse, mother, and friend who is enough – it’s what I am beginning to really accept that about myself and it feels good to be more certain of that. Knowing for certain that I am enough has been a work in progress, and also means I am more confident in standing up for my boundaries and beliefs in the face of others judgement. My focus this next year to further develop deep relationships with my friends and family, become more fearless, and challenge myself and my beliefs – so that I know for sure that I am being a leader in my own life.

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– The wonderful man I get to enjoy this life with, my husband

Ultimately, getting older and coming of age is a lifelong process and whilst my daughter is figuring out how to be an adult, I am enjoying getting older and closer to 40 – and I’m loving it. I am loving caring less about what people think, I am loving the courage I have to face my own flaws and question what lesson life’s shitty little events are trying to tell me, and I am loving the life of following our wildest dreams that my husband and I have created for ourselves – and hope our children have that courage too.

 

“What we know matters but who we are matters more.”
― Brené Brown

Posted in FITNESS, GOALS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS, HEALTH, MY JOURNEY

STATE OF COMMITMENT

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Ferocious Honesty. Wholehearted Truth. Plucky Candour. This is where my values belong and have for some time, sometimes getting suffocated by my own need to be a pillar of kindness, selflessness, and ever pleasing for the benefit of others. It does me no good you know, this habit of being everything for everyone, nor does it do anyone else any good. Despite being in a profession that is built on the premise of kindness, selflessness, and the best outcomes for others, that premise is nothing but an old whisper of the past – one in which nurses lived in, walked the halls til their feet bled, and were married to their vocation of selfless caring. Certain things had their place in that time, not so in this age where nurses are both men and women, mothers and fathers, and clinical specialists in their own fields with mountainous responsibilities to match. I guess that old whisper has always had a place in my mind – until now.

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For years I have been committed to everything and everyone but myself, myself has always been an afterthought and deep down I knew I would not be able to sustain it forever. At some point I was going to have to be self-caring, selfish, and put my needs first. I knew this because I say these same words to friends and colleagues who are in the same position, only not being courageous to take in on myself and stand firm in my own needs. That time is over, or will be soon as I take step by step in moulding my own life, my own career. This year I have embarked on so many things that threaten to take me out if I don’t heed my own words: research, a 2 year honours diploma, my certificate 4 in fitness, a new business centred around our long-term plan to move and work abroad, and for this my health has suffered with the lacking sleep and lacking time for my own physical fitness.

This year I have taken some steps to move away from things happening to me and into a place where things happen for me. Big difference. This move requires simple but somehow difficult steps. I’m still doing it no matter how hard the steps are. I was bold enough to ask my boss for one set day off each week so I could be mother to my two girls and be there one weekday day per week to do all those mummy chores – and I love those mummy things I really do, they will no longer be there for me to do much longer as my girls grow. I was worried that this was too big a request and that I would be denied, how wrong I was. I was granted this request with the complete understanding that I needed. I added to this my desire to work no more than 64 hours a fortnight unless I expressed the desire to on the odd occasion, or if it was dire to my workplace that I work up. That too has been put in place. I have a wonderful boss and whilst I trust and know that she looks out for her staffs’ best interests, I have a history of not feeling worthy enough – something I am really working on. It isn’t just my work life I have been working on – my physical health I have been too.

When I moved to the Sunshine Coast I had cancer, thyroid issues, chronic and severe allergy, serious and debilitating anxiety, complications from the cyst in my brain, and that was just the start of it. I was recommended by my GP a supplement I had shipped in from New Zealand that really made a big difference and I was able to stop all my prescribed medications, I gave up smoking, and lost a stack of weight. I was doing so well…until a fall at work and a slip on rocks at the beach left me with 2 fractures in my lower spine, nerve damage, and pain that is present even today. That really halted my training schedule and the weight began piling back on. Add to that a few trips to Europe and no desire to abstain from the local delicacies, a ton of self loathing about this, and I am far from where I was before. I am over the self loathing now, knowing that life happens to all of us and knowing that each day I have been doing my best just to stay afloat and keep moving forward. That said, I have also put in place changes to keep moving forward and climb the steep hill back to the fitness and wellbeing level I was at before – looming early menopause or not.

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When beginning back with my fitness journey (ughhhh – hate that word now but cant think of another), I had to be realistic in the fact that I am typical Obliger personality – no matter how much I practise not being that. So in order to get into the habit of self commitment, I have to work with it instead of against it. So I have done the following:

· Enlisted hubby to prepare healthy vegetarian meals using our fabbo cookbook

· Encouraged the kids to start thinking of all the vegetarian foods they can eat for good health and energy – and pack/choose themselves

· Earlier to bed for a good sleep – still working on this

· Monday morning walks at 530am followed by an ocean swim (ok paddle), with a friend who is also an obliger personality – and sticking to this routine no matter how I feel (I can always walk a little slower and not as far if I feel shite), and I have successfully kept this routine even if my friend doesn’t come

· Catching myself in moments of stress and taking a few deep breaths

· Actively trying to let go of the hurts others have inflicted on both me and my loved ones – still working on this

· Beginning a fitness challenge lasting 12 weeks with my beautiful inlaws from across the ditch in NZ…to make it a bit fun

I know I have a way to go before I am back where I was and in a forward motion again, but I am feeling confident in my state of commitment to myself.

Posted in Travel

SURPRISE! We went to Europe…and the kids had no idea!

“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.”

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We did something completely unique, something we normally do together as a whole family but felt would lack the wonder and amazement if we shared this secret with our children. We surprised our children with a family adventure to Europe…again. Only this time we stretched whatever truth we had and led them to believe they were going to visit family in New Zealand, when in fact they would be visiting family in England instead. We talked about all the adventures we would have in NZ, explored cost and locations, looked at pictures and vloggers, and we weren’t being entirely untruthful. After all, we were going to do these things – but not for a few more months when we actually did go to NZ – so really we weren’t lying at all…maybe only by omission.

It was a tough prank to pull, particularly when the climate difference is so enormous, and I had to leave room in my suitcase (and wallet) for the extra clothing they both may need. My travel agent was in on the surprise, as were my family, friends, and colleagues…only a few of whom needed a gentle nudge in the ribs to remind them to prevent their foot from entering their mouths. It almost killed me keeping this quiet and I was close to internal combustion I am sure. Never the less, we arrived at the morning of our departure with complete composure and not one hint of what was about to occur.

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Arriving at the airport we got ourselves a bite to eat and my much-loved peppermint tea, and gave the girls their surprise packages. Included were some metro maps, Eurostar confirmations, Paris accommodation confirmation, euros and pounds, and an oyster card for travel. Whilst my little one took a long time to figure it out, my teenager burst into long sobs of gratefulness and genuine surprise lasting a good 5 minutes, and not without many puzzled onlookers. “Are we really?….I cant believe this!….Oh my goodness…I DIDN’T PACK MY MAKEUP!!!” were just some of the comments that escaped her. It really was a priceless go-pro moment (that’s if I actually owned a go pro).

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The flight was much more uneventful that the last and oh…my sister in law actually didn’t know we were coming! We had kept that as a surprise too with the help of her best friend. That surprise was amazing – walking into the restaurant and being greeted with looks of shock was amazing! My poor sister in law had mostly one thought “how am I going to say goodbye when they leave” bless her soul.

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We had an amazing 3 weeks exploring England: Stonehenge, Pluckly (Darling Buds of May), Chatham Dockyards (Call The Midwife – including seeing some of the shooting of the series and meeting cast), and many other places. We did a couple of days in Paris again, because of course that is my favourite place, and stayed near the Sacre Couer. Did I mention we love Paris? And on our way home to Australia after a very sad goodbye with our family, we spent our 24hr layover in Abu Dhabi in a very lovely hotel. I must say that all in all, my stay in the AUE was eye opening and reminded us of the scare tactics media use to try to breed hate and fear. Our time there was lovely and customer service far exceeded anything I have ever experienced here in Australia, and we were treated with complete respect and care – I have decided that we don’t spend time watching, the news anymore and any website, company, or program that has an outcome of fear and hate, will no longer be watched, read, or supported by our family anymore. Life is too short for that rot!!!

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So, I know that I haven’t gone into great detail about our trip and I have much more to share, so head over to Intrepid Nurse on Facebook and Instagram, where you can see live video, photos, and more – like and share so we can grow our life and adventure stories, and so I can connect with yours. Intrepid Nurse will soon grow to be my main travel and nursing hub and this will remain my more personal family things. Intrepid Nurse will soon follow up with a fully functional website with reviews, videos, and more.

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Big question if you will – what have you learnt by travelling to new places?

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