close-up image of girl holding yellow flower

5 Things You Need to Start Doing Before It’s Too Late

“Life is fragile.”
“You only live once.”
“No regrets.”

You’ve heard it all before, right? But have you really stopped to actually mull over these powerful words that have become so blatantly cliche?

Within the last couple of months, I have watched the news reporting about a 19-year-old learner driver who was killed in a car accident beside her father. I have found out about close family members or friends of mine, and even friends of friends that have been diagnosed with cancer. I have sat next to a friend who scrolled through Facebook to read that a person they know has had a tragic accident and at only 15 years old, died suddenly.

So when we start to reflect on these sorts of stories we hear, the cliches start to echo a hard truth to swallow. That life is incredibly fragile. It becomes something even harder to digest when circumstances happen to loved ones and people that we know.

My boyfriend and a close friend of ours were talking about this recently and it left me really shaken up for the rest of the night. I sat in bed thinking all about this concept of one day leaving those around us and sometimes, it unfortunately happens without any warning.

Something that I have realised in this process is that I want to make five intentional changes in my life moving forward:

1. Hug people tighter

I’m not saying hold on an extra few seconds at your work Christmas party as you say thank you to your boss (because that’s weird). I’m talking about those closest to you. Your partner. Your kids. Your extended family. Your friends.

Don’t be embarrassed about group hugs (tip: if everyone looks the same direction, it’s not as awkward). Give a little squeeze when you embrace people. Hug them tighter. Hold on a little longer. When your sister goes to pull away, tell her, “nope, I’m not done yet”.

2. Say the ‘L’ word more

Stop being so hesitant about telling someone you love them. I believe it is the most beautiful and powerful thing you can do. It’s often the extended family and friends that we don’t really bother saying the ‘L’ word to. I’m saying, do it.

When you’re saying goodbye to your friend that you caught up for breakfast with, shout a little ‘love ya’ as you hug them goodbye. Send a random text throughout the day to your partner reminding them of how proud you are of them and how much you love them. Tell your grandma when you visit her next that you love her.

3. Pick up the phone

Often we don’t get to spend that much time seeing our family, but in a world where telephones have been used since 1876, there really is no excuse to keep in contact with them. And if they live overseas, don’t worry, social media has you covered!

But as great as emails, texts and checking on their Facebook status updates every once in a while is, physically picking up the phone to hear their voice and have a genuine catch-up is what really matters.

4. Never go to bed angry

I remember my boyfriend and I had an argument one day. It was over something really silly and it didn’t last very long at all. However, the one thing that stood out to me was the part where he made sure we were okay, that everything was sorted and we were on the same page before the day ended.

Life is too short to be holding grudges and losing sleep over something that can most likely be solved by communicating about it openly. Make sure you are happy with the last thing you said to someone before you say goodbye or leave. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life regretting how things ended.

5. Make an effort, always

Make an effort. Not sometimes. Not when you hear that your distant cousin is terminally ill. Not when you find out your friend from high school has only six months to live. But always. If they would mean a lot to you if they were gone, start making sure they know they mean a lot to you now.

This is easier said than done, of course. Sometimes we lose touch with people and other times, we just aren’t that close to a person in the first place, but their situation has tugged on your heart and you are left sending them positive thoughts and prayers.

Often, we are thinking about those people and care about them a heck of a lot, we just don’t have the time to actually tell them. But perhaps we need to start prioritising our lives better.

Trust me, I get it. I have been there and I still do all of that. But something I am challenging myself with lately is to not only start recognising the relationships I have with people in my life, but appreciating them also. Being intentional about our relationships with others and actively seeking opportunities to share that with them is so important.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t wait until it is too late. Go tell someone you love them. Go give someone a squeeze. Go ring your grandma.

Keep smiling. x

what I learnt from singing with strangers.

Have you ever had one of those weird experiences while driving? You’re driving on the freeway. It’s 100km/hr. There’s this one car cruising at 90, so you decide to overtake. Fast forward a few minutes and the stranger has magically decided to drive the speed limit. Now they’ve overtaken you and within a matter of seconds, you’re tailgating them. Before you know it, it’s this game of leap frog. It’s awkward, hey?

Or my personal favourite – you’re matching speed with another car and awkwardly make eye contact. One of you speeds up, but then suddenly you’re both stopped at the same set of lights.  Yep, can confirm I feel you cringing from here.

GIF of Homer Simpson slowly disappearing into a bush.

Well, I have one to add to my list. One that had never happened before. The other day, I was driving by myself and had stopped at a set of lights. I looked in the rear view mirror at the car behind me to find a young couple absolutely belting out a banger.

Usually, I would smirk a little and exhale slightly at this sort of behaviour, because I know well and truly that it would be something I would do. However, this situation deserved something so much more. Their passion and enthusiasm were somewhat invigorating.

Naturally, I wondered what song they were listening to that required such aggressive dance moves. I began channel surfing, flicking through the frequencies trying to determine the song that, unbeknownst to the pair of strangers, they were performing for me. Eventually, I reached The Edge 96.1 and Dessert by Dawin was playing.

Now, if you know the song – this next part will make more sense. Confident that I had tuned in to the correct backing track to their lip sync battle, I lingered a moment on the station. As I continued watching, eagerly awaiting the chorus – the couple delivered precisely what I had been waiting for. Right on time with the boop bup dippity dup, doopy dip dup” part, they reached their peak performance.

Would you believe me if I said, that this wasn’t even the best part? The lights turned green and I figured that was the last time I was ever going to see the dancing pair. Little did I know that we would stop beside each other at the next set of lights.

As I glanced over at the other lane, I looked over at them both smiling (the boyfriend low-key head banging at this stage). They caught me watching, so I knew this could go two ways: I either pretend like I wasn’t some creepy chick staring at their mini rave party to save embarrassment, or I do the only sane thing any normal person would do – start head banging as well.

Obviously, I immediately chose the latter. I began singing and dancing along and the couple quickly realised that I was listening to the same song. Their smiles grew even larger than I thought possible. Who knew sitting in traffic could actually be fun?

Other than being hilarious, the whole experience of singing with these strangers made me think. Perhaps the kind of attitude that I have and the type of energy that follows, not only impacts me. I have the opportunity to share my gratitude, thoughts and positive energy with those I come in contact with. Likewise, when I’m not feeling overly happy and bubbly or I have had a bad day, others see that negative energy and I am potentially feeding theirs too.

I’m not saying that we should never show that we are anything but happy. Rather, I’m saying, how about we start actively recognising how our attitude can positively or negatively impact not only our perspective but others, too.

The people we choose to be friends with generally share common values and interests. We naturally gravitate toward people who make us feel comfortable. It makes sense. To feel supported, encouraged, loved and happy. Who wouldn’t want to feel all of those things? After all, they do say, “your vibe attracts your tribe”.

They also say that “the grass is always greener where you water it”. But something that I have realised is that people are the same. Fill yourself with negative things and you will wither, but surround yourself with good people and their positivity will be a catalyst for your growth.

So I want to ask you this: if we have the ability to unintentionally make someone’s day, imagine the difference we could make if we all intentionally tried to spread positivity. With everyone actively seeking opportunities to make someone smile, laugh or turn their entire day around – imagine how different the world would be.

Sure, we might not be able to change the world, but you can make a difference in someone’s life which could mean the world to them. And I think that’s pretty damn special. I want to be that kind of world changer. Who’s with me?

Keep smiling. x

pay it forward.

So I will be honest, this week has been pretty chaotic. There is a lot going on and I have been an emotional wreck. However, amid all of the chaos that life has been throwing at me lately, there are a few things that have happened throughout the week that I am trying to focus on in an attempt to realign my attention on positive situations that outweigh the negative and ultimately change my attitude as a result. 
A few days ago my Nan was at a bus stop in Parramatta when she found a mobile phone sitting on the bench next to her. Instead of just handing it into the information or security desk, she decided to take it home and then ring up my sister and I. She told us that the screen was black, so we told her to press the circular button down the bottom. Please, take a guess as to just how well that went. Yeah, terribly. We gave her instructions to see whether the phone was turned on and unlocked, but note to self: teaching your eighty-one year old grandmother the basics of an iPhone over the phone is as difficult as getting out of a pair of jeans that are two sizes too small…while the zipper is still up…and you are wearing a belt – ya feel me?
Instead, we decided to do ourselves a favour and drive over to my Nan’s house the next day, check the phone and see if we could locate the owner. The entire time, we were joking about whether we would get some money as a reward if we could pull it off – however, I use the term ‘joking’ loosely, because deep down I think we both were somewhat serious.
We used our detective skills to discover that it was a teenage soccer player who had flown all the way from New Zealand with his football team and accidentally left his phone at the bus stop. We tried ringing his contacts labelled ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’, but every contact was an overseas number and we were unable to reach them. At this point, my Nan just said, “Why don’t you wipe everything off the phone and just use it for yourselves. You won’t find him and it’s his fault for losing it”. Aimee and I just laughed. Challenge accepted.
In the end, we successfully found his girlfriend on Facebook and messaged her from my account letting her know what had happened. It was this part that was the most rewarding, because I was able to start a friendship with someone in a completely different country – yay friends! We spoke for a bit, helping each other out in the endeavour to get her boyfriend’s phone back to him as soon as possible. We contacted the manager of his football club and were able to drop his phone off at the Leagues Club he was playing at. The manager asked us if we would like anything in return, like a football jersey, but Dad just responded with “No mate, thanks all the same, but we just wanted to pay it forward.”
I was at work at the time, but when Dad told me what he had said, I was left a little disappointed at the fact we could have scored a free Parra jersey, but moreso, it taught me a lesson. We should do good things just for the heck of it. Not for what we might get out of it, the potential reward or our own benefit. I guess it all comes down to intention. And let’s be real, at the start, my intention wasn’t great – but hey, neither was my Nan’s to be perfectly honest. That said, I’m so grateful that we didn’t give up on finding the owner. It’s not only so rewarding just finding the person and being able to return the lost phone, but being able to use the experience to get to know someone in another country and make a friend, no monetary reward could beat that – that was priceless.
Keep smiling. x