REFLECTIONS

FRIENDSHIPS, personal growth, Travel

Nobody tells you how hard it is to climb out of a rabbit hole.

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Then again, the entire story of Alice in Wonderland was nonsensical and bizarre in every aspect, except of course that it seems to have been a mirror for my own life over this past 2 years. At times I feel like the construct of sanity is a ludicrous pipedream and that the quote “You are entirely bonkers, but I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are” is actually the reality

 

There is a quote in Alice’s story that I have always tried to stand by. “I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then”, and whilst I do agree with this sentiment, I believe it is important to acknowledge and pay respects to what was so you can move forward with what is. I can see clearly that I was so invested in my hurt, and my anger, and my need for closure, that I robbed myself of the opportunity for reflection. Reflection allows us to stand back and with fresh eyes and a fresh heart, and empathise with the painful parts, be grateful for the lovely parts, and allow true healing to occur.

 

Quite some time has passed, and I probably need to pick it all apart a little more to really gain some closure once and for all.  In December of 2017 I made the incredibly difficult decision to walk away from a friendship that was no longer in the best interests of either party, and it was the most gut wrenching things I have ever had to do, particularly because this person had been such a large part of my life. I thought I had dealt with it fully but since moving to England and having the opportunity to really evaluate my life and where it is going (maybe turning 40 does this to you), I can fully acknowledge that I didn’t properly address this and many other aspects of my life. One could say that I have spent the last 2 years trying to climb out of a rabbit hole that keeps crumbling away at the sides.

 

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This man has seen our family through so many ups and downs

As a family it has been a really rough year, having moved my husband and children to England for what was to be a 3-year adventure. What I didn’t know (or didn’t want to see), is that “every adventure [has] a first step” but is also followed by stumbles, trips, potholes, crappy hotels, strange people, and uncertainty. I wouldn’t go back and change my decision to do this, but maybe I would have gone about things a little differently but hey, nothing can be changed from this side of history but our perspective. Most recently we have considered coming home to Australia, and the strain on our family unit has almost drained us of everything except our dedication to each other – I am truly grateful for that. Fast forward to right now and I’ve chosen to spend my annual leave days writing again and reflecting on what needs attention and resolution.

 

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the beautiful relationship I had for the longest time with this person, because not everything should be forgotten when relationships break down. I remember the time I met this person (lets call her Kate), and the almost instant connection I felt with her, we had only been on the Sunshine Coast for a little over a year and had moved schools. I often come across as really confident, however I am just as shy and nervous about meeting new people as the rest of you – I have just learnt how to appear confident in social situations because as a nurse we are meeting new people and interacting in much more sensitive situations every day. Kate was one of the only people to really embrace me at this school and make me feel welcome, and it sparked a really beautiful friendship.

 

Over the years we knew each other Kate introduced me to blogging, and the writer that I have always been had suddenly found somewhere to just be me and delve into the world of the written word again. It’s always something I have loved since I was a little girls and my mother would always find me reading or writing – in fact my first ever idea for a career was to be an author and I was chosen to attend a paid-for writers camp where I was taught how to write in different formats and had the pleasure of meeting a great Australian children’s author. This area really did solidify our friendship a great deal.

 

 

 

We also bonded over our upbringing and experiences as young people in the church – turns out we went to the same church at similar times when we were young – and we had an understanding and compassion for those experiences. In fact, Kate was the one of only a couple of people I felt comfortable talking about the intricacies of my experiences as a young person with – both church related and other complex personal circumstances. Many Thursday nights were spent at a local coffee shop by the beach, talking about everything from husbands and children, to Miranda Hart and fruit friends. Mondays mornings at around 530am were reserved for walks at sunrise at the beach followed by the occasional swim (okay it was more me that did this part), but this started our week off with a positive note and our walk consisted of us sharing what when well the previous week, what didn’t go well, and what our focus was for the upcoming week. Our connection was food for the soul, and I felt refreshed spending time with her.

 

Quite suddenly the friendship began to shift and despite my best efforts to keep us and our families connected, Kate no longer had time to catch up with me and time between conversations (even social media ones) began to expand and lengthen. No longer were important life details shared, and when asked I was told that “everything is fine”. Suddenly our friendship was no longer a place a I felt safe having opposing views and this created the biggest gaping hole that despite my best efforts over a period of months, was unable to be repaired. At this time, I began recognising that this friendship was no longer serving either of us in a positive way, and I ended the friendship as kindly as I knew how to do and was not made lightly. It was met with resistance and I was eventually removed from the writing community that I had been part of because Kate felt that being her group, it was the best thing to do. However, there was no happy ending in this story – just two very hurt people – and I for one have not properly grieved for the ending of this friendship despite the fact that it was the right decision to make.

 

I recently watched a TEDx talk titled “Frientimacy: The 3 Requirements of All Healthy Friendships” by Shasta Nelson where she highlighted the loneliness within the space of friendships, and I realised that this is what had led to my decision. I had plenty of friendships, but what I needed was to feel connected in those friendships and when reflecting on this one in particular there was an essential component that was lacking. Shasta shared that Frientimacy “is a relationship where both parties feel seen in a safe and satisfying way” – and I too did not feel that way. Apparently, I am not the only one and this is becoming an issue worldwide because people lack the ability to reflect on their relationships, in particular friendships, and address that which is lacking.

 

In her talk Shasta talks about the three areas being POSITIVITY (the positive deposits you put into the friendship to keep the bucket full), CONSISTENCY (the cumulative hours spent in the friendship – rituals, those walks on the beach, coffee dates, phone conversations, messages, family catch ups – this builds trust but needs to be a two way street), and lastly and maybe the most importantly VULNERABILITY (sharing the wins in life, our history, our difficulties and struggles). Spending time with this knowledge has helped me to recognise that the lack of consistency and reduced vulnerability in our friendship all but decimated the tight bonds that had held us together for so long. Unfortunately, whilst you can recognise these, others may not until it is too late.

 

I don’t regret the decision I made, it was important for my own personal wellbeing and boundaries, but I miss the great parts of the friendship Kate and I had, and do acknowledge the underlining sadness and grief I have felt over the past two years but have tried to hide or cover with anger. I think all great things should be celebrated for what they were and should be given the opportunity to be grieved for when they are gone to give real closure. So, I guess that is where I am now, allowing myself to feel that and reminding myself of the important aspects of friendship so I can ensure that any breakdowns are dealt with openly in the best time for the preservation of mutually nourishing connections with others. I can say that it has been much more difficult being in a different country to maintain some of my friendships back in Australia, but I try to facetime, or write, or send care packages whenever I can and try to keep people updated about our daily life. Its those small and seemingly insignificant moments that build on the foundation of friendships and in fact any relationship.

 

Time spent in relationships is important so I leave you with one more quote from Alice in Wonderland “if you know Time as well as I do” said the Hatter, “you wouldn’t talk about wasting it” – so I am off to use my time wisely and have tea with someone special to me.

Friendships and Families

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

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.

NEW BRIGHTON & FAMILY FUN

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.

CHRISTCHURCH CITY CENTRE & BOTANICAL GARDENS

  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

 

WELCOME TO 2020 – Part 3

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Righto. Here is the last 10 goals for 2020…be sure to check out the last 2 posts from today for the rest of whats gone on in 2019, and what we are aiming for this year and why. I would also love to hear your goals for 2020 – comment below in the comments section or share your own blog post of your goals for this year.

 

11.  This year I really want to explore, understand, and challenge my beliefs. Sometimes we continue to believe something because that is what has always been true for us. Sometimes, this is a detriment to us and we can become stuck in old beliefs that no longer serve us and prevent us from truly engaging in the world around us. That’s not to say your beliefs are not valid, I’m just highlighting that sometimes we need to take a step back and look at why we believe something to ensure our reasons are just and our own.

12.  I would like to work on a legacy journal for each of my children, something that really refines what I want to leave behind of myself for them to take into the future and be able to reflect upon. A very dear friend of mine does this for those with or without terminal diagnosis and I truly believe that exploring these concepts from a place of love and not fear is a good idea. None of us know the day or the hour of our death and you only get to do it once – why not make it a positive experience for your loved ones through preparation. If you want to see what she does you can find her over at http://www.spiritualcare.com.au and I think what it is called is “Dignity Therapy”.

13.  I would like to begin to explore the area around where we live, I mean really close to where we live. To do this my thought is to go for a walk at least once a week, after all England is known for the right to basically roam free and their are incredible walks through peoples land that is signposted with the sign “public footpath”. You just need to stick to the worn path and respect that owners land, including ensuring gates are closed to prevent the livestock from wandering out.

14.  I would like to begin working on my planned e-book about the process of becoming an expat nurse, because when I came over there were so many unanswered questions and so many struggles that really were unnecessary given the right information. So much more preparation could have occurred prior to us leaving Australia had this information been available.

15.  People who know me well and of course my long term followers here know how much I love writing, but I also love sharing knowledge that can make life easier for others. That being said it is my goal this year to develop resources for nurses surrounding shift planners, check lists, and other printable documents that can help in a nurses day to day life, and will also likely include tutorials for getting through university and information on how to develop your essay.

16. This year it is time to step up into a Ward Sister role, my plan was to be in this role already by now but life on the ward has meant this has not happened as planned and agreed upon when I accepted the post. So this next few weeks will be dedicated to planning for my interview and ensuring all of my training is up to date. The process will be shared over on http://www.intrepidnurse.com and @anintrepidnurse on instagram.

17. Travel is one of the reasons we decided on coming here (of course developing our relationship with our family here is in the forefront) is our focus this year. So we have begun to plan our trips away already – we want to see more of Europe this year than we did last year. We leave for Malta within the next week so stay tuned over on the Intrepid Nurse instagram page for updates, but we also have Switzerland planned for Christmas. Apart from that we want to do a lot of little weekend trips away with Mackenzie (Lauren has her own adventures planned).

18. I want to write more to my family and friends back home, after all it is one of the most joyful things to receive a window free letter in the post. Out of everyone, my sister in law Suzie has been incredible with her hand written letters to me and I really look forward to and cherish them. When we were living on the coast we would spend time pouring out our hearts over a coffee or tea (or beer back in the day), and discussed the hard topics in life. Our conversations were always so rewarding and I miss her terribly. Now she does this through running letters she adds to until its long enough to send. Although I have also, I want to do it more – it helps us stay connected.

19. Embrace a more hygge lifestyle – hygge is basically the word used for an overall mood or ambience of coziness, comfort, and contentment. Based in Danish culture, we have already commenced this plan by laying out our loungeroom to be more open, less cluttered, and we are working on having plenty of soft cushions and blankets for the cooler months. I want to get the lighting right in our home to enourage more reading, enjoy playing records more whilst disconnecting from the digital world, and embracing each others company.

20.  Lastly but certainly not least, I want to experience the world around me more without the filter of preconceived ideas or expectations. I want to stop and smell, hear, and take in the sights of each place – these senses are all so important for building lasting memory. I want to experience things as new rather than knowing everything there is to know about something, somewhere, or someone, with no expectations either way. Then follow this up with being mindful of any attachment I place on being a certain way with life. I feel like setting expectations beforehand on how you will experience something takes away from the “newness” of that experience.

 

Well that is all for now, my fingers feel as though they will bleed at any moment from all the typing I have done this morning, but it has been entirely worth it. I apologise for my absence but welcome back and welcome to a brand new sparkly 2020.

WELCOME TO 2020 – Part 2

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Well hello there!!!

 

Hasn’t that been a rapid start to 2020, almost like the last 2 months have up and vanished into thin air! Since I have just recapped in the previous post “on with the show”…

I should let you in on a little secret, although all of those close in my life know this fact already this and I’m sure occasionally roll their eyes in despair when I make reference in everyday life. My family however are converted and join in now even without my help. The secret is that Miranda Hart is one of my favourite comedians, particularly her show Miranda.  I have long been wanting to do a list of goals for the year after listening to Gretchin Rubins Happier Podcast (she does this every year), and I wanted to choose a word to focus on, which is something I have done for quite some time now. Recently the last few years have proved to be very challenging and I have been distracted by life, not writing as much as I would like. Hopefully this will be the new beginning of a beautiful year of writing and sharing. So this years word for the year is…

REFINE

By “refine” I mean to improve my life by removing the impurities so to speak, to make it better that what it was. By this I intend to clarify my life by removing that which isn’t important to me and my family life – from my online interactions and viewing habits, to relationships, to thought patterns, to my physical environment. I’m not sure how on board my family are with this but they are mostly of similar mindset surrounding these concepts.

20 Goals for 2020

  1.  See Miranda Hart live. Okay so I didn’t actually make this as one of my goals for this year originally, only because I did not actually think it was possible being that her show was finished. What I didn’t know was that 2019 was the 10 year anniversary of the show airing for the first time and Miranda had a sneaky plan up her sleeve to do a 10 year anniversary show live at the Palladium in London. I saw the call for people to ballot for the tickets with only two tickets available per person, and it was only a draw – you weren’t guaranteed. All three of us adults put in the ballot and Kevin won two of the tickets – we didn’t know right away because it went to his junk mail folder – but I managed to get the evening off work and Lauren and I went. It was the most magical night of my life to be honest. We both cried and I will never forget it – we got to see the entire Miranda cast, McFly, Ronan Keating, Heather Small, the and the cast performances by a major choir and Mamma Mia. If you can, definitely go watch the show online – I am not sure where you can see it outside of the UK but I am sure you can find it in google. Side note: this actually happened in 2019 but I am sure it still counts).
  2. As a family we want to develop clear family traditions that will carry on throughout the generations that come after my husband and I. A significant area of importance in this is surrounding food and cooking and its history in our families. My mum has always been and still is an incredible cook so I want to teach my children how to make the best roast potatoes and jam drops just as my mum made them when I was a child. My husbands mother was an incredible cook also, and I want my girls to learn how to make her chocolate self saucing pudding – although I don’t actually have the recipe, I will have to do some digging. Lastly, my husbands brother Andrew was a chef before he passed away and we have some of his recipes that we want to learn this year.
  3. Independently I would like to increase my reading, something I used to love growing up and in my 20’s, it is something that has fallen by the wayside most recently amongst the busyness of everyday life. I truly believe in reading being the best way to change both your vocabulary and your thinking, but it also broadens your perspective. My goal this year is to read one new book a month, and on my list so far is: The art of doing nothing, Miranda Hart – Is it just me?, Brene Browns Rising strong, The Alchemist, and Feel the fear and do it anyway. What are your favourite reads?
  4. I really want to purge my data online – its abysmal  but my current unread emails stands at 3, 384, not something I am proud of but something I intend to resolve. This purging will require me to unsubscribe, unfollow, delete, and even block some of the sources of data that are infringing on the life I want to lead. This will have to of course encompass texts, email and social media together. Question – does anyone actually still find benefit in linkedin? Its these type of platforms I am considering deleting all together to be honest. The idea behind the need to purge my data is to “REFINE whats going in, so you can DEFINE whats coming out”. 
  5. I am making a commitment to dating my husband again, unfortunately for many this becomes less of a priority when you are living your day to day particularly when you are a shift working family – your “dates” are reduced to hellos in the hallway and it certainly doesn’t make for a connected relationship in the long term. This has always been important to us because with one child already almost out the door by the end of this year when she moves back to Australia, we have only a short number of years left with children at home. So many couples forget to focus on their spouse and marriage that when they are empty-nesters – they have nothing to talk about. We began this last week by going to see the movie Emma (also starring Miranda Hart – as delightful as a sweet muffin).
  6. We are going to join an orienteering club as a family when the weather is warmer (Okay I have decided this but not sure if my husband and children are aware – Kevin if you’re reading this thinking what the hey? I honestly was going to tell you, but hey – we get to show off our keen navigational skills, see the countryside, and meet new people!)
  7. Its time to get real with my you tube account and begin making my own videos. This is something I had intended to do when we first arrived but despite how confident I seem, it scares the jeebs out of me and I am truly not sure where to start. The videos will be mostly travel related – any hints on where to begin?
  8. I have an idea to explore all the services that the NHS has to offer the community by trying out some of them – there is a big focus on healthy lifestyles so I was thinking of doing the couch to 5k which is available as a podcast. Its good to get to know your employer and doing this will both help me but also help me understand what is on offer for my patients – I will not however be lining up for a colonoscopy – I am not that committed.
  9. This year I want to have a more positive impact on the environment, so when the warmer weather kicks in we plan on taking a bag to pick up rubbish on our walks – every little bit helps. It has shocked me just how much litter is on the roadsides and bushes here in England – quite sad really because it is such a beautiful country. Along side this we are trying to buy veges from the farmer with no packaging, waste less food by planning our meals, eat more vege meals, and use our beeswax wraps and reusable water bottles everywhere we go.
  10. Set aside individual time with each of my children, because I really want to nurture the relationship I have with each of them – they are only at home for such a short time and already with them getting older the relationship dynamics are changing rapidly. Investing in this now will bring a greater connection when they leave home and build their own lives. If you have any ideas on creative ways to do this I am all ears.

 

Okay so the list is long so I will leave it here and finish the last 10 in the next post. Feel free to share your goals for your year in the comments blow or over at the facebook pages Tailored Living Project or Intrepid Nurse.

WELCOME TO 2020 – Part 1

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Well hello there!!!

 

Hasn’t that been a rapid start to 2020, almost like the last 2 months have up and vanished into thin air! Now on some days off I thought it best to take some time to recap – or as Miranda Hart says “previously in my life”…

19 GEMS FROM 2019

  1. In January we found the perfect house for us to rent in Kent, England and moved in. Although with only two bedrooms it presented as much smaller than our 3 bedroom with study home back in Australia, it came with the benefits of being in a nice area, within walking distance to Mackenzie’s new school and public transport. The inclusion of a parking space at our front door was also one of the highlights, and lets be honest, the crowded-with-parked-cars look of the street made us feel a little like we were still on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.
  2. I commenced my OSCE training to make me proficient and prepared enough to sit the OSCE test, which is the test to be registered as a Registered Nurse in the UK. It was a tedious training course but completely necessary since you only get two very expensive shots at the exam.
  3. Kevin started a his first job in England only to find out on his first day that the company had lost the tender and he would likely have to find another job. In a situation where we are earning horrifically less than in Australia and our expenses are more, it was a massive blow and made us all a little nervous.
  4. After a short time off, Kevin landed his current job and was soon made permanent after working on a zero hour contract for a little while. He is still there and enjoying it, although he has been encouraged so to speak to take up his previous position – more money and sweet hours, but may involve a lot of time at a computer.
  5. We experienced our first falling of snow! Kevin, Lauren and I had previously experienced at least a little snowfall, but Mackenzie hadn’t and this was far more than I had ever seen. To be honest I was like a small child, excited and bouncing – the kids were almost as excited as me and Kevin just found the whole thing amusing.
  6. In February Lauren received a promotion at work in her retail job after only being there for a couple of months, and she was blossoming in her new career she had chosen whilst in England.
  7. We began in March having bbqs at the beach again, although they are somewhat different here in comparison to back home. Here it is a foil tray with charcoal beads inside and a thin steel wire rack on top, since they are one use only you never have to worry about cleaning but they come with a lot of smoke and I cringe at the waste.
  8. Lauren experienced heart break with her and her long time boyfriend deciding that their goals and dreams for life did not align and parting ways, I have never seen her more heartbroken before and it tore me apart to be honest. She did however take it all in her stride and see that it was for the best – I’m still a little jaded because I adore his mum – but we still adore her and her family and remain in contact.
  9. In June we experienced heart break and deep sadness for two reasons – firstly we lost Kevins dad on fathers day just as we arrived at a beautiful park to celebrate with a picnic, but also due to the emotional attack we received by a family member back in Australia that absolutely broke my husband and I. Unrelated, we decided not to go back for the funeral because of the enormous cost, and because we had said our goodbyes to him before we left knowing it would likely be the last time.
  10. I sat my OSCE test and although I thought I had failed and spent hours sobbing my little heart out, I had actually passed and was granted my nursing PIN to practise in England.
  11. In June we welcomed my beautiful friend Sandi with her mum and daughter to stay with us and explore England. Sandi had come over for my birthday the next month and arrived early enough to enjoy England, and her mum would be staying at our house with her daughter whilst we gallivanted around Paris for a week.
  12. In July I met my cherished friend Lyn in Paris for my 40th birthday with Sandi and my daughter Lauren, for a week of bliss. We enjoyed the usual sightseeing monuments and art exhibitions, along with eating loads of delicious food devoid of any guilt, and spent time with these incredible women in my life connecting on a deeper level.
  13. Lauren goes against all my motherly input and meets a boy on tinder – although he has been such a wonderful part of her life and certainly the type of partnership she needs in life. Someone to challenge her and her stubborn ways, they balance each other out and Jack has become a beautiful part of our lives.
  14. We went and explored Brighton for a couple of nights with my niece Tarryn and our daughter Mackenzie, such an incredible place to visit and so vibrant – we even had a fellow Aussie serve us afternoon tea! Then we explored Wales with our other niece Mia staying the first night in the most incredible place near the mountains, then the second night in an absolute dive complete with dirty knickers under the bed that Kevin so joyfully walked past and got caught on his foot…insert vomit here!
  15. In September we welcomed my cousins daughter Hayley (who is more like a niece to me) from Australia for a visit. It was so incredible having her here and spending time together – after growing up together their whole lives, her and Lauren are an absolutely hoot together! It was like having a little piece of home here with us.
  16. We did two trips to visit friends for different reasons but both worthwhile and memorable. The first was Mackenzie and I on our first solo flight together to Edinburgh Scotland to visit with our best friends Kath and her daughter Caiti. Although it was to fairwell one of their family members, there were many silver linings and we made such beautiful memories with the girls. The second was to one of Mackenzies friends in Ireland – she had made a friend who was in Australia temporarily and we were invited to visit when we moved to the UK. The trip was incredible and we really enjoyed getting to know them more and exploring Ireland.
  17. In November we welcomed one of my best friends daughter Raquel to stay with us a few weeks. Raquels mum and dad and I  met in hospital when the girls were born – they were born only 43 minutes apart and share the same birthday, and have been friends since birth. We managed a last minute weekend away with her and visited the Netherlands, Bruges Christmas Markets, and France – all by boat and car in only 2 days!!!
  18. In December we had the pleasure of hosting Laurens best friend Amr from Australia for a short time, honestly he is like the son I never had and we all enjoyed his company.
  19. We experience the craziness of our first new years eve in London – my goodness it is a dogs breakfast – totally insane. However it was nice to stay overnight in the city with Kevin and Mackenzie and explore a little. The NY Day Parade was the highlight of it all and went for the longest time.

Coming of Age

Life events

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

STATE OF COMMITMENT

FITNESS, GOALS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS, HEALTH, MY JOURNEY

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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.

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

Travel

“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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