from where I’m sitting.

She is sitting in the passenger seat, looking right at me as I perfectly serenade her with the entire second chorus of our favourite song. As I start telling her about my passion for flying and for travel, I can tell she is no longer paying attention.

He is sitting in the driver’s seat and I am listening to him sing each word so confidently, yet so wrong; his fingertips playing an invisible drum set on the steering wheel. Carefully, I watch his jaw clench; cheek pulsing as it tenses. His eyes light up as he talks about his passions for flying and for travel. Sitting there, staring at him, I can’t help but freeze.

She is sitting in the passenger seat and I doubt she has even blinked in the last five minutes I have been talking. It’s obvious that her mind is elsewhere. She has that goofy smile plastered on her face; clearly losing interest in the current conversation. Though I keep talking, because I know it’s not often that I get to say much when I am with her. While she is lost for words, I may as well take my chance.

He is sitting in the driver’s seat and he knows as good as anyone that I am hard to shut up, but for once in my life I am speechless. Frozen, with a goofy smile plastered on my face, I take in every bit of him. His entire face is gleaming and it is the most beautiful thing. He speaks so passionately. His motivation and drive inspire me as I look at him, proud to call him mine.

She is sitting in the passenger seat and I am beginning to seriously wonder if this woman can fall asleep with her eyes open. I start talking more about the places I want to visit with her. Surely this couldn’t bore her, I’m talking about her now! I tell her how this world is so incredibly big, but together, anything is possible.

He is sitting in the driver’s seat, continuing to talk with that sparkle in his eye. He has no idea just how much my heart longs to be his forever.  He looks over at me every once in a while and I can’t help but think, he is everything I never knew I needed. He sees the entire world as something incredibly big that he can conquer and yet if he had asked me what I see my world as, the answer would be him.

I didn’t mention a name, but you thought of someone didn’t you?

Keep smiling. x

The Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Melbourne

Beyond the Surface: 5 Life Lessons from the Ocean

The ocean is a mysterious, yet intriguing part of nature that continuously surprises me with the analogies it presents. I have learnt a lot from the ocean by simply sitting and watching the waves touch the shore.

To be honest, if the ocean was a person, I think it would make a pretty good role model. If we applied these lessons to our everyday living, what would a life like that look like?

lesson 1: rejection builds character.

No matter how many times it gets pushed back and rejected, without fail it returns each time. A personality filled with persistence, courage, strength and resilience that stands up for its beliefs.

I see a life where we are not scared of rejection. A life where we are constantly trying and never giving up despite the challenges and the outcome. A life in which love is limitless. Where we aim to love others like we have been loved. To love our friends unconditionally, but also love those who have hurt us; to show love toward our enemies.

lesson 2: everyone is going through something.

Perhaps the calmness of the ocean’s surface tells its own beautiful story too. On a cloudless day filled with blue skies, the water reflects the serene atmosphere. However, beneath the surface, the invisible depths create a darkness that echoes a quiet, distant and lost place, almost forgotten.

I see a life where we don’t take things for face value. Where we stop judging others for their appearance, occupation, skin colour, level of education, income and background. Where we begin accepting others for who they are and embracing our differences, rather than faulting them. A life without competition or inequity, where we are all positioned on an equal and fair playing field, lacking pedestals in which human beings are placed above other human beings.

lesson 3: your feelings do not need to be justified.

Or maybe the rough waves that angrily beat against the shore. The clouds cover the sun, the darkness arrives and the storm hits in full force. The waves climb high while the wind creates a cooler atmosphere and the ocean insists it is left alone, before it eventually calms down once again.

I see a life where we are allowed to be upset. Where our feelings are not criticised and we don’t feel like we have to act a certain way. A life where we can be open, honest and transparent. Where we can feel hurt, upset, angry and frustrated and not feel bad about it. Where we can talk about our emotions openly, but also listen to others.

A life in which those who are struggling are given a voice, rather than silenced. Where we are not shut down for having an opinion, but given the opportunity to share those perspectives. A life where we can overcome challenges together, by listening and supporting one another.

lesson 4: stop seeking validation. you are enough.

What about the way the ocean remains beautiful no matter the situation. Whether you are sitting on the sand awe-struck by its beauty or whether you are chatting away with friends or reading a book, its beauty remains.

I see a life where beauty is not defined by the amount of likes on an Instagram photo or the social media following acquired. A life in which being quietly confident is seen to be beautiful, rather than the attention received from pride and arrogance. Where this quiet confidence trumps a loud, unapologetic ego.

lesson 5: let go of what is holding you back.

The incredible vastness of the ocean and the way it stretches further than the eye can see. The horizon and the way the sky never fails to kiss the ocean. The mystery of what lies beyond. There is something about the unknown that can be rather intimidating, yet captivating all at once.

I see a life where we are excited about the future and the potential for new opportunities, instead of dwelling on the past and not rising above heartache and challenges. Where the unknown is epitomised by the ability to grow as an individual, rather than a scary hurdle we would prefer not to face.

So if the ocean was a person, would you want to be its friend? Me too.

Keep smiling. x

How to be happy: rule #1

As a Communications student majoring in Digital and Social Media, it is safe to say that I spend a lot of time talking about, learning about and of course using Facebook, Instagram, you name it. The other day I was on Instagram and came across this quote:

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

It is so true. We are continuously trapped in this vicious cycle of comparing ourselves with other people. Simply thinking that their social media profile is full of amazing, flawless pictures automatically means that their life must be perfect and they’ve got it all together, right? Wrong.

I think we tend to forget how much of a superficial world we live in today. And I’m writing to myself here as well. Almost every picture you see is edited in one way or another. One filter can cover all the blemishes, or hey if you’re not wearing makeup that day, just resort to the old-fashioned black and white – they’ll never be able to tell. But this isn’t the main problem. Social media is a perfect way for us as individuals to share our life with others with a simple click of a button. The thing that we often forget, is that we only share what we want to share – we get to pick and choose what parts of our life other people get to see. This is the same for that girl, or guy, you have been stalking on Instagram for the last twenty minutes. We filter through (pun intended) the thirty-two almost identical selfies and pick the one we like the best.

Don’t compare your life with another person’s newsfeed. Just like you, they are probably only sharing the parts of their life that will get them the most ‘likes’. I am not saying this is a bad thing or you should delete all of your social media accounts because they are from the devil. If that was the case, I think I am studying the wrong degree. Rather, I want this to be an encouragement, even just for one person, to be open-minded and consider that what you are seeing doesn’t necessarily depict what is going on in their ‘behind-the-scenes’. Everyone experiences ups and downs in life, because spoiler alert – that’s life. Just because you’re not seeing it on their newsfeed, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. So next time you are scrolling through your different social media accounts, keep that in mind, because one of the best rules to being happy is to stop comparing yourself to others.

I heard a pastor say during his sermon the other day that although it is still an issue, money is no longer the primary roadblock getting in the way of our relationship with God. Instead, it is this growing trend of narcissism. WE ultimately drive the wedge further between God and us. 

“Don’t become so well-adjusted and conform to the pattern of this world that you fit into it without even thinking” – Romans 12:2 (NIV & MSG). 

We focus too much on ourselves that we forget that all of this is just temporary. The love of God and his promise of life with Him – now that’s something that lasts forever.

Keep smiling. x

Little things make a difference.

Do you ever sit at a set of traffic lights and look at the car in the lane beside you or in front of you and just wonder what they might be doing today or where they are going? Do you ever sit at a bus stop or a restaurant and make up different scenarios about the people seated near you? Do you ever wonder if they are okay or what their story is?

Or maybe I’m completely wack and it’s just me.

I remember one day I was on the bus on my way home from school. There was a girl sitting a few seats in front of me; she was staring out the window and by the looks of the high pile of textbooks and folders next to her, she was possibly in Year 12. The girl was sitting by herself and seemed to be trapped inside her own bubble of thoughts as she stared outside with her earphones in. Music turned up. World turned off.

I began thinking, I wonder how she is coping with all that school work. I didn’t know this girl from a bar of soap (pause – I have never understood that saying, but it sounded good so meh), she was a complete stranger to me. I didn’t know her story. I didn’t know whether she was going through a rough patch at the time or whether she was absoultely loving life.

Either way, I decided I should pray for her. A short, simple prayer. The cool thing with prayer is that it doesn’t matter how casual, how short or how silly you may think it is; God still listens and He still cares. All I said was, “Hey God, I pray that you be with the girl on the bus with the pile of books. I don’t know what’s going on in her life at the moment, but I ask that you fill her life with your love.” 

A few minutes later she collected her things and before she got off the bus, she randomly turned around and looked down the aisle of the bus, then smiled at me and hopped off.
I am not trying to convince you that my small prayer ‘made’ the girl turn around and smile at me, but I do challenge you to think about it.

Last night we had Speech Night at school and I was voted School Captain with one of my closest friends in my grade. I was absolutely stoked and am so excited for what 2014 has in store for us. When I got home, I received a message from a girl that is in the year below me at school. The message said, “Hey congrats on getting school captain! You definitely deserved it and will do a great job! Glad I voted for you.” To be perfectly honest, I had never really made an effort to talk to this girl at school other than a quick ‘hello’ walking between classes. I sent her a message back saying thank you and told her how much it meant to me.

However, her next message made me really stop and think how important doing small things for others is. “I remember thinking how nice you were after you pulled my collar up on the textiles excursion 🙂 you seem really nice the times we have talked so I’m glad you got chosen.”

We might not realise it made an impact while we are doing it or saying it, but it can honestly change someone’s mood on a day. I hope these stories have inspired you to take a few minutes out of each and every day to do something small for someone else; whether that be holding the elevator door open just a few extra seconds to let that lady with a shopping trolley through or giving a $5 note to a homeless person on the street. 

This video sums up perfecetly how our small good deeds can create a flow on effect. 

Keep smiling. x

The happy butterflies.

So I had a go at writing a shorty story; enjoy.

“Katie, darling, you have cancer.” It was exactly a year ago today that I was told I would only be alive for another six months. But here I am, seventeen years old and still managing to cope. Each day another piece being added to the puzzle of my life. The only thing that scares me is that I know my puzzle has one hundred pieces, and I have already pieced together ninety-nine. There are tubes attached to me everywhere and there is no escaping them. Each tube clings to me like a thirsty leach. I feel uncomfortable, but I suppose I am used to it now.

Mum walks through the doors and sits down beside my hospital bed. I am going to miss her. She is one of the most incredible women in the world and she means everything to me. After Dad walked out on her eight years ago, things have been really hard for both of us, especially this. Mum encourages me, she supports me and she is the strongest person I have ever met. I can still remember her waking up at four o’clock one morning to drive me two hours away for my Under 10s dance concert. She did my hair and makeup when we arrived and I was so excited. I told her I was starting to get nervous and she rubbed my tummy and said, “It’s okay sweetie, that means the butterflies are happy!” She kissed me on my forehead and hugged me tightly. My dance was over before I could say the word ‘ballet’. I came first and Mum treated me to ice-cream at the park nearby. I sat on the swings as she pushed me. I was swinging so high it practically felt like I was flying. Back and forth, back and forth. I remember telling her, “Stop! Too fast! The wind is going to freeze my eyeballs open forever!” I jumped off, “Mum it’s your turn!” I pushed as hard as I could and she made it barely a few centimetres off the ground. She laughed at me with her hearty, contagious laugh. I stood there staring at her and crossed my arms, furrowing my eyebrows and exaggerating a frown. Next thing I knew, we were both rolling on the ground in stitches. I miss those days when life was care-free. When school wasn’t so hectic. When I had time to partake in dancing competitions; or rather, when both Mum and Dad had time to even come and watch. Those days when Mum and Dad were happy together, completely in love. Those days when I could laugh with Mum about the silliest things. Those days when I didn’t have cancer.

I look around the room, from Mum to all the cards and gifts that have accumulated over the past year. There’s a picture frame sitting beside my bed with a photo of my best friend and I at our Year 10 formal. Emma has been there for me through everything; from breakups with boys to last minute sleepovers on school nights. We have been friends since preschool and she knows every little detail about me; we are practically related. I can remember our formal, it was the best night. We both had helped each other pick out an outfit. We took nothing short of a thousand photos before we left her house for the formal. I don’t know how we managed to pose differently in every photo, but we did. However, this picture would have to be my favourite. It was actually accidental. We put the camera on self-timer, but as we leant in to take the photo we knocked heads and began laughing. The next day as we were looking at all the pictures we took, we realised that the camera had still taken the photo while we were laughing. It was the most genuine sort of ‘happy’ I had ever seen and it beat any of the peace signs, pouts, attempted winks and assortment of other poses. 

My eyes wander around, taking it all in once again. The greenish-blue hospital-coloured curtains are pulled back letting me see the breath-taking view of the beautiful garden outside. An old, tattered seat surrounded by small, prickly rose bushes overlooks a duck pond painted green by the hundreds of lily pads afloat. An elderly couple sit down and watch the ducks swim past, gracefully dunking their heads under the water and coming up at different intervals to take a breath. The man has a few slices of bread in his hand and gently rips it apart, giving them to his wife who scatters them generously on the grass in front of them. Within seconds, the elderly couple are the new popular attraction of the garden. However, the woman soon finds the twenty-odd ducks surrounding her feet and nibbling at her toes a bit too overwhelming and tries shooing them, before clinging to her husband’s arm and waddling away. Somehow, this made me smile.

I have always loved seeing elderly couples still together and so in love. After seeing my parent’s marriage crumble in front of my eyes, it makes me believe that anything is possible if you fight for it. I suppose it’s a reality check from the world today. Love is so beautiful, yet can be the cause of so much pain. If two people are so passionate about one another, then love really can last forever. Just as these thoughts flood my mind, Riley walks in. My train of thought goes completely out the window. He smiles at me; his dimples staring me right in the eyes. I am going to miss his cheeky smile, his dark brown hair and his warm eyes. He leans over and kisses me on the cheek. I can still remember the day he asked me to be his girlfriend just over two years ago at my favourite theme park. I was shaking and speechless. Not because I didn’t know what to say or because I didn’t want to be his girlfriend, but instead the fact that it was straight after we had walked off my first ever roller coaster ride. Obviously, once I caught my breath, I said yes. I guess from then on life has been a roller coaster ride in itself. Probably the longest and scariest one as well. It’s been full of ups and downs, twists, curves, spirals and times when I’ve been thrown completely upside down, but thankfully my Mum, Emma, Riley and God have all been there for me. They are the handlebars that I hold on to. I need them.

The doctor just walked in the door, a clipboard nestled under his arm and a pen in his hand. This was it, the test results were back. I hold tightly onto Riley’s hand. Was this going to be the last puzzle piece? “Mum, I’m nervous,” I whisper. I look at Mum sitting next to me. She smiles at me; her eyes full of hope, “Katie, don’t worry okay? Everything will be alright. The butterflies are always happy, remember?” I nod, wanting more than anything for her to be right. I mean, Mum’s are always right, aren’t they? I say a prayer and silently hope that the butterflies stay happy for another six months. I am not quite ready to fly away just yet.

Keep smiling. x