Metanoia

When we know who we are, we are more able to live with intention. As most of you already know, this past year has been a journey of rediscovery for me; who am I and where do I want to be in life? For a month now I have been super quiet, apologies! I’ve been reflecting on the past, finding out where I am at right now and mapping out what’s next for me.

After a lot of journaling over the Christmas/New Year break, some quality me time and catching up with a friend I have not had one on one time with in way too long, I had one of those light bulb moments. That moment people call an ‘Epiphany’, but I like to refer to it as ‘Metanoia’; the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life.

I found myself saying “I value who I am, I love my life, I know I am worthy and after ever hurdle look how much I have accomplished.” I can proudly say I am so content with where I am and who I am right now. For so long I have been trying so hard to get back to that girl I once knew, the one who I felt was taken away from me. I loved that version of me but I am not her anymore. I still hold onto her dreams, her values, her optimism but as life’s hurdles approach us, they shape us, move us and we grow.

If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

You may feel very secure in that pond you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know there is such a thing as an ocean. Holding onto something that is bad or good for now, may be the very reason why you don’t have anything better. Close your eyes and envision where you see your life in five years. Don’t get hung up on the details you feel you’re suppose to know (career, savings, marital status) but instead focus on the aspects of your future that are important. Do you see yourself in a new city, learning a new hobby or feeling a certain way? Can you ever be sure you are on the right path in life? What path do you see yourself on now, describe it to yourself. Did you have to make sacrifices to get there? What would you change?

Life isn’t fair, but its good. I find it great, but we all have our lows. When in doubt just take that next small step. Life is too short to fill your life with things and people that no longer serve greater purpose in your life. Burn candles, use the nice sheets, wear that fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special! Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful. And no matter how you feel, get up, get dressed and show up because those simple steps helped me more than you know and the best is yet to come.

I ask you this: Is there a difference between happiness and fulfillment? What does it take for you to be happy? What does it take for you to be fulfilled? Are the qualities the same?

Lost Girl.

So you’ve hit your mid 20’s, are you feeling as lost as I do? Things start to take place that make you realise your growing up, maturing and time is moving way too quickly. They start as little things like all the brunch dates, going to bed early and preferring to stay in on a Friday night (I’m legit on the couch with Better Homes & Gardens in the background and… loving it). Or they can be monumental, such as graduation, promotion or those friend’s weddings I keep harping on about.

I never went to University, I couldn’t make up my mind what to even study. I remember in Year 10 having those meetings with the careers advisors, being fed all the information about choosing the right subjects for the HSC and asking us what career path we wanting to pursue. If you were like me and started school younger than the majority, you came home to your parents feeling overwhelmed & consumed. “I’m fifteen years old and I need to have an idea of a career now!” I did not pursue either of the two career choices I had in mind. I’ve now been with the same amazing travel company for 5 years, I moved up the ranks quickly; I was an assistant manager at 21, manager at 22 and I’ve been a global consultant. My job has opened up so many opportunities especially at such a young age and now I get to see the world through new eyes multiple times a year. In the past five years alone I have been to 17 countries, some of those more than once and in three months’ time I will be off again. Seems amazing right? Well, I’m not gunna lie, it is!

But behind all my exciting adventures you see, my life has also consisted of incredible heartbreak (more on that another time), battling anger issues & anxiety, taking anti-depressants short term just to get through everyday life without losing my sh*t, gaining 12kg not once but TWICE in five years! I’ve lost long standing friendships and I’ve lost a best friend to suicide. Everyone has their battles and this is just some of my story. I’ve now moved back to my home town to work on me, to find the me I once knew but a better version. I have no true direction of where I want my life to go just yet but I know I am in a better place.

“She has been through hell. So believe me when I say, fear her when she looks into a fire and smiles” – e.corona

I’m a lucky one, I know I’m strong enough to tackle it all. Life keeps moving forward and so must I. Grow through what you go through. I had a good friend recently tag me in this:

“She made broken look beautiful & strong look invincible. She walked with the Universe on her shoulders & made it look like a pair of wings.” – Ariana Dancu

So if life has handed you some lemons as well, here are some things that make me feel a little bit better about being completely lost and starting over after twenty-five:

  1. There really is no rush; these years are totally acceptable to move back home, be single, be broke and have Mum cook for you (but be grateful!). Breathe it’s okay to take a few steps back to then move forward with your life.
  2. The smallest things can have the biggest impact. Don’t take things for granted, count your blessings.
  3. Appreciating little things. Family always want to see you, Mum loves cooking for you (which seriously is the best after years of cooking for yourself or lack of some nights), love the rainy days inside at home with a good book and coffee dates with friends.
  4. Learning to be patience with the struggles so you can enjoy the success that comes after.
  5. You’re twentysomething; it’s the perfect time to be reckless, adventurous and carefree.
  6. Going on dates – the good, the bad & the ugly. Trust me I have some epic stories and have met some amazing people.
  7. It’s a time to be fierce, be brave and take chances.

“Sometimes you just have to give yourself the pep talk like “hello, you’re a queen, don’t be sad, you’re going great and I love you.”

-you got this!

Nikki’s Top Travel Tips

Packing
Be realistic about what you actually will wear vs what you think you’ll wear. You don’t need 1/2 the gear you think you do to travel anywhere. We’ve all done it. It’s a right of passage for travelers to slowly become better at packing less. My first suitcase was filled to the brim and almost at its weight restriction. You can imagine how hard it was to lug cross country around Europe then having to pay to send stuff home. Lay out everything you need on the floor or bed and cut in half. Roll your clothes instead of folding, takes up way less room and less crinkles on your clothes. Fill dead space by rolling undies and socks and filling your shoes with them. Make sure you pack a spare pair of clothes in your carry on. So nice to have something fresh on hand after a long flight.

Patience Is Important
Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Life is much too short to be angry & annoyed all the time. Did you miss your bus? No worries, there will be another one. ATMs out of money? Great! Take an unplanned road trip over to the next town and explore. Sometimes freak-outs happen regardless.

Wake Up Early
Rise at sunrise to have the best attractions all to yourself while avoiding crowds. It’s also a magical time for photos due to soft diffused light, and usually easier to interact with locals.

Laugh At Yourself
You will definitely look like a fool many times when traveling to new places. Rather than get embarrassed, laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to screw up, and don’t take life so seriously.

Stash Extra Cash
Cash is king around the world. To cover your butt in an emergency, make sure to stash some in a few different places. I recommend at least a couple hundred dollars worth. If you lose your wallet, your card stops working, or the ATMs run out of money, you’ll be glad you did. Some of my favourite stash spots include socks, under shoe inserts, a toiletry bag, around the frame of a backpack, even sewn behind a patch on your bag.

Meet Local People
Make it a point to avoid other travelers from time to time and start conversations with local people. Basic English is spoken widely all over the world, so it’s easier to communicate with them than you might think, especially when you combine hand gestures and body language. Learn from those who live in the country you’re visiting. People enrich your travels more than sights do.

Pack A Scarf
This simple piece of cotton cloth is one of my most useful travel accessories with many different practical applications. It’s great for sun or wind protection, entering religious areas, a makeshift towel, carrying stuff around, an eye mask, and much more. I can’t tell you how many times a scarf has come in handy around the world.

Observe Daily Life
If you really want to get a feel for the pulse of a place, I recommend spending a few hours sitting in a park or on a busy street corner by yourself just watching day to day life happen in front of you. Slow down your thoughts and pay close attention to the details around you. The smells, the colours, human interactions, and sounds. You’ll see stuff you never noticed before.

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Take Lots Of Photos
You may only see these places & meet these people once in your lifetime. Remember them forever with plenty of photos. Don’t worry about looking like a “tourist”. Are you traveling to look cool? No one cares. Great photos are the ultimate souvenir. Just remember once you have your shot to get out from behind the lens and enjoy the view.

Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
Challenge yourself to try things. The more you do this, the more that anxiety will fade away. Not a hiker? Go on more hikes. Have trouble talking to strangers? Talk to everyone. Scared of weird food? Eat the weirdest thing you can find. The reason this works so well while traveling is because everything is already so different, what’s one more new/uncomfortable experience?

Back Everything Up
Keep both digital and physical copies of your passport, visas, driver’s license, birth certificate, insurance card, and important phone numbers ready to go in case of an emergency. Backup your files & photos on an external hard drive as well as online with software. Leave a copy with family here in Australia. This has saved me before.

Smile & Say Hello
Having trouble interacting with locals? Do people seem unfriendly? Maybe it’s your body language. One of my best travel tips is to make eye contact and smile as you walk by. If they smile back, say hello in the local language too. This is a fast way to make new friends. You can’t expect everyone to just walk around with a big stupid grin on their face. That’s your job. Usually all it takes is for you to initiate contact and they’ll open up.

Keep An Open Mind
Don’t judge the lifestyles of others if different from your own. Listen to opinions you don’t agree with. It’s arrogant to assume your views are correct and other people are wrong. Practice empathy and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Embrace different possibilities, opportunities, people, suggestions and interests. Ask questions. You don’t have to agree, but you may be surprised what you’ll learn.

Pack Ear Plugs/Noise Cancelling Headphones
This should actually be #1 on the list. I love my noise cancelling headphones! Muffle the sounds of crying babies, drunk Australians, barking dogs, honking horns, and more. A traveler’s best friend.

Don’t Be Afraid
The world is not nearly as dangerous as the media makes it out to be. Keep an eye out for sketchy situations but don’t let that be the focus of your whole trip. Use common sense and you’ll be ok. Most people are friendly, trustworthy, generous, and willing to help you out.

Get Lost On Purpose
If you want to see the parts of town where real people live & work, you need to go visit them. The best way to do this is on foot — without knowing exactly where you’re going. Write down the name of your hotel so you can catch a taxi back if needed, then just pick a direction and start walking. Don’t worry too much about stumbling into dangerous neighbourhoods either, as locals will generally warn you before you get that far.

Eat Local Food
Think you already know what Mexican food tastes like? You’re probably wrong. Taste a bit of everything when you travel, especially if you don’t know what it is. Ask local people for recommendations. Eat street food from vendors with big lines out front. I’ve been very sick only twice in all my travels & it wasn’t from street food. Don’t be scared of the food.

Keep Good Notes
When I first started traveling the world 12 years ago, I didn’t keep a good journal, and now I’m regretting it. Information like the names of people I met, conversations I had, feelings about a new experience, or what a particular town smelt like. If you ever want to write about your travels, these details are handy. I started handwriting everything in a travel journal from Typo. If you’re App-savvy use an incredible note-taking app called Evernote. It’s so useful for all kinds of applications — from planning trips to journaling about them later.

Don’t Plan Too Much
The truth is I have no idea what you’ll enjoy or who you’ll meet along the way. I thought I’d rocket through Paris & New York in a week but I could have had 2 weeks in both. My advice is to pick a starting point, 1 or 2 must-do activities, then just let the universe determine the rest.

Listen To Podcasts
Podcasts are awesome. It’s like creating your own personal radio station and filling it with shows and music you always want to listen to. I never thought I’d actually look forward to a 8 hour bus ride. But with podcasts, it’s possible (well, as long as the seats are comfortable). Time will fly by as you listen to incredible storytelling, fun music, or interviews with experts.

Treat Your Body Well
Travel can throw your body out of whack. When you’re moving from place to place it’s difficult to maintain a workout routine, and many of us slack off. Or we don’t sleep enough. Or we eat too many cupcakes.  Remember to be nice to your body. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat healthy, use sunscreen, and exercise often.

Stay In Touch
Remember to call your family & friends from time to time. Maybe surprise them and go old-school by sending a postcard (it’s in the mail, Mum!). Travel isn’t lonely, far from it. You constantly meet other people. But many of those relationships are fleeting. So maintaining a strong connection with the people who know you best is important.

Finally… Travel More
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the past 5 years in my job, it’s that many people love to tell me how lucky I am, while making excuses why they can’t travel. “It’s too expensive. They can’t get time off work.” When I suggest solutions to these “problems”, they still don’t take action. Why? Because they’re often hiding behind the true reason: they’re scared. Unfortunately most people who wait to travel the world never do. Just get out there more than you do now. Start with a weekend in a different state. Then maybe try a week in the country next door. The new car, remodeling project, and iPhone can wait. If you truly want to travel more, you can make it happen. It’s a big, beautiful, exciting, and fascinating world out there.

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It’s about QUALITY not QUANTITY.

I’m very picky with whom I give my energy to in my life and friends are no exception. As time goes on your circle decreases in size but it increases in value. Be with the people who know your worth. You don’t need too many people to be happy, just a few real ones who appreciate who you are.

The blunt friend…

She never shit talks me, if she has something to say I can count on her to lay it on me straight because talking behind her friend’s back just isn’t in her nature. She holds truth to the highest standard, but sometimes what she has to say isn’t what I always want to hear but it’s what I need to hear. She cracks me up every single day and how blessed was I to work with her by my side for 18 months. We can always have meaningful and nurturing discussions, if that wasn’t enough we would always have the most unforgettable nights out. This amazing girl has shown me that it is okay to stand up for myself and we support one another through the good and the bad without ever taking the other for granted.

The one who’s been around for a two decades…

We are comfortable with each other’s silence, we finish each other’s sentences and we go on trips of a lifetime together. The snapchats get uglier as time goes on, she knows all the deepest darkest secrets and she is the one my future hubby has to win over. She has been my therapist for more years than I can count and driving to one another’s house at midnight to comfort all the tears is never a burden. We have too many crazy stories that when they get retold we can’t speak, we just die of laughter. I can tell her anything without being judged. She’s the girl who has been through it all with me and still teaches me to never be afraid of love.

The girl who walked into my life and instantly we clicked…

Sometimes you meet a person through a friend or a boyfriend one night at a party and you just immediately click. This girl is a rare gem, cherish her! You’re comfortable with her like you’ve known each other your whole life and you don’t have to pretend to be anyone or anything you’re not. She is fierce, strong-willed and my voice of reason. We can go weeks without speaking or months without seeing each other, but when we do, we pick up like we just saw one another 3 days ago. She is my motivator and keeps me pumped to tackle whatever comes my way.

The sister I never had…

The day we were going meet I was so scared of her and I wanted to make a good impression, she was my boyfriend’s closest family member and yeah I wanted to win her over. The day we met, I knew she would play an important role in my life and has stuck by me for 8 years. Good friends with good hearts serve an incredible purpose in our lives and she is one of those. She needs me and I need her, spending time together goes way too quick. We don’t share the same genetic makeup but after all the sleep overs, heart to hearts, nights out and paying bills until our bank accounts cry, how could I not consider her family. She’s the one that if I murdered someone, I’d call to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor.

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I’m forever grateful for these chicks and I say to everyone else out there if you want to find out who’s a true friend, screw up or go through a challenging time and then see who sticks around. It’s because of these truly amazing girls, I laugh a little harder, cry a little less and smile a lot more.

Things I have learnt to keep a relationship alive.

Things I have learnt to keep a relationship alive.

Yes, I know I’m currently single but man have I learnt a lot from past relationships. Who hasn’t?! Some people think that being in a relationship in your early 20’s makes no sense at all. They assume you’re wasting away your youth; however I couldn’t disagree more. During this time it’s fun (and always should be no matter your age), you learn valuable lessons and you truly find what you need in a partner and what they need in you. Dating & Relationships should be an exciting time and you should never stop making effort for one another.  Here are some things I have learnt…

Making time for a “Date Night” 

Everyone is busy, I get it! Between being over-worked, having  family and social commitments, there is hardly time to fit in an episode of Netflix, let alone have quality time to spend with your partner. When was the last time you and your partner had a Date Night, just the two of you or put away your phones and switched off the TV to have quality time together? I love getting out of the house; I get cabin fever being cooped up all the time. But now and then I do also love a good night in with a movie, doona, a few bevvies and snacks. Date night doesn’t have to always be out of the house nor do you need to spend a fortune. Just carve time out to be focused on each other, once a week or fortnight. I saw on Pinterest this amazing Date Night idea, it a Date Night Jar. What an amazing way to avoid the “What do you wanna do?”, “I dunno, you?”
All you need is a Mason Jar, coloured icy-pole sticks and a Sharpie. Point to note: colour code to identify different categories and make a key on the inside of the jar lid. Make 100 date ideas; include what you love, what your partner loves and what you both love doing together. Better yet how about adding in a few of those Bucket List things you’ve always spoke about wanting to do. Now to categorise the dates; categories can be: Out of the House, Free, Indoor Activities and Outdoor Activities. For some amazing ideas click on link at the bottom of the page.

Set honest expectations from the start

Over the past 7 years of dating and relationships this would have to be in my opinion the most important rule when it comes to any kind of dating and that is to be clear on what your expectations are with the relationship. If you see it lasting for the long run, then make sure that your partner knows that. If you’re looking for someone just to have sex, then say that as well. Being honest with your expectations is fair on both of you, it shows confidence and respect. Too many of us by-pass this whole rule to avoid the awkwardness of not being on the same page and ending up alone. But I know I would rather be honest than to find out weeks later I have wasted my time and energy with someone who did not have the same feelings. Or even worse to actually be that person that lets the other cruise along, all the while they have more feelings on where this is heading.

You can still have friends

Never exclude yourself from your circle of friends to hang out with your partner 24/7. Your partner isn’t the only thing that’s important in your life. You still have other people who want to spend time with you. Be sure to keep up with your friends and do fun things together. They have been by your side for years and you need to give your partner space to keep the relationship fresh.

Nagging isn’t cool

We’ve all been told ‘chill’ and ‘stop nagging me’. If you’re anything like me I like sh*t done yesterday not tomorrow. I’ll admit it; I can be nag if I feel I am not being heard. Your partner will do things that piss you off, as you will to them. Don’t nag. This is immature and you will lose your partner’s respect for doing it. Openly and calmly discuss your opinion and why you feel the way you do. Say things when you think of them before they build up and you explode at your partner.

Keep your relationship semi-private

It’s ok to post a couple of cute pictures here and there on Instagram and Facebook, but the reality is that people really don’t want to see pictures of you kissing multiple times per day *cue the spew bucket*. While people may be happy about your relationship, they don’t want to hear about it 24/7.

Always be yourself and let your partner do the same

Let yourself and your special someone be themselves. You were attracted to this person for a reason, and there’s no need to try and change them. Never let someone try to change you; you are who you are, and if that’s not good enough for either of you, then lets be honest this isn’t really a relationship that’s going to work.

Communication is important

Open communication is critical in a long-lasting relationship. Each night, talk about your day, your concerns, your thoughts and your dreams with one another. There is nothing I love more than to reflect on my day with my partner, all the great things to celebrate and even the shitty things to help you wind down, re-focus and move forward. It can start to feel lonely not having someone to talk to at the end of the day, even just to be asked “How was your day babe?” can go along way. And always remember that when the other person is talking, be sure to listen and communicate your interests and feelings.

You need trust, but don’t be naive

Trust is the backbone of all relationships. Don’t hack your loved one’s phone, this isn’t going to solve anything. If you feel you have to do that, then question yourself “Why?” If situations arise make sure you trust only reliable sources and openly communicate with your partner.  On the flip side, don’t be naive about the situation either. You both deserve to be happy, and if things don’t work out, they don’t. Yeah, it will hurt but why put yourself through the pain and anxiety. There is someone out there who will treat you right.

Excitement

A relationship should inspire passion in both of you no matter what’s going on. When your partner walks through the door, are you excited to hold them in your arms? To kiss them? To want to do nothing but run your hands all over their body? Successful relationships turn on the passion at the start and never turn it off. Yes, of course it might cool slightly for periods of time – like after children are born – but it never dies completely, and it can always be rekindled.

Finally… be adventurous and enjoy your time together

You’re still in your 20s and you should be having as much fun as possible. Take time to do both of your favourite things. Be adventurous and try something new that you’ve both never done before. *cue the Bucket List dates from your Date Night Jar*. And remember don’t take yourself all too seriously.

DATE NIGHT JAR LINK

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Aside

Because I’m twentysomething.

Because I’m twentysomething.

When I was thirteen, I couldn’t wait to be eighteen.  And when I was sixteen, I planned to be married by age twenty-six & have two kids by thirty. I’ll always smile to myself when I think about how time changes things.

A funny thing happens about the time you turn twenty-five. People start asking about marriage and kids and houses. You begin to worry about savings, retirement, and health insurance.  You start spending your money on plates, pots, new tyres, right? And sometimes you start to compare your 25 years with everyone else’s. You wonder if you’re on the right track, if you’re falling behind, you start going to your friends’ weddings and buying baby gifts for second birthdays. Suddenly you realize you’re at the exact age that seemed so far away just five years ago.

The older I’ve gotten, the more aware I’ve become of how quick these years pass and the pressure to fit the mould of all of the rest of the twentyfivers. How easy is it to become controlled by our age and the expectation of what that signifies? Well I say forget the expectation, forget the moulds. Live your life the way you want to, rather than the way you think you are expected to. Especially if that means taking a big jump, even if it feels like a free fall.  Maybe quit your job and go back to school if that feels right, get married or don’t, chop off your hair,  change your mind,  travel, end a relationship that no longer serves you, become a different or better person, maybe move away or move back home.

While you’re in your twenties, I hope you buy a plane ticket to anywhere in the world, I hope you get lost wandering all of the streets, meet new people, have interesting conversations over warm cups of tea, drink out of mason jars while dancing barefoot in the grass, spend time with those who matter. Set your goals and change them, say goodbye to all of the things that have held you back or no longer serve purpose in your life and vow to keep moving forward. Experience everything you can. My biggest fear is looking back on my life when I’m 80 and thinking ‘shoulda, coulda but didn’t’.

I hope you aren’t held back because of a number and that you don’t rush into things because it feels like time is slipping by. Do what’s right for you.  Your age is your age, but more importantly, your life is your life, don’t change your journey so that it matches someone elses. We need to walk different paths so the whole world can be explored.