The last seven days have seen me running back and forth quite a bit- I’ll never get used to being so busy but I suppose I’d better try! I spent a week at the apartment in Parramatta with my family and then went back up to the Blue Mountains over the weekend. Now that a finish date is well in sight for my room renovation project, I’m starting to feel at home and much more relaxed and comfortable than at first. The painters have come over quite a few times over the last month and have now just about finished with the room, save for a second coat of white paint on the inside of my wardrobe. It’s safe to say that we really put their skills to the test, presenting them with a very bright and colourful room to flip! It now resembles the peaceful, bohemian oasis of my dreams and I couldn’t be more pleasant. When my grandparents bought the house, the rooms each had different themes. There is a room with angel wallpaper, another painted in lush retro shades and mine previously had clouds on the walls and stickers that made up a dark starry night sky on the ceiling.
This week I challenged myself to pick out the plants I had envisioned for the space. It took a few outings here and there to get it right but I now have a large fiddle leaf fig tree, which I’ve unfortunately heard is very hard to take care of and some mini greenery in a terrarium. There’s a succulent and a leafy plant. I’ve always liked the sleek, modern and streamlined look of terrariums but can’t stand the fake plastic ones they sell at most homeware stores. I’d much rather put in some extra effort and time to create my own. In the spirit of that, I went to my favourite place Adairs the other day and picked up a vase that should really compliment the space. It’s in the style of a terracotta bust and looks like an ordinary statue at first glance. I was able to fill it with soil as it’s completely hollow inside, right to the very bottom. What I like about this is that I can always fix up the soil levels as my plants grow and start to shoot up more. Anyhow, it’s adorable because it looks like she has hair. My family keep joking that my bust is a mini me- she even imitates my signature hairstyle and really rocks it if I do say so myself. Love a good low chignon bun. Either way, it reminds me of the way we blossom and thrive as people when our minds are healthy! A very important visual metaphor and a daily reminder to prioritise self care and love, no matter the circumstance.
As for social time, my mum and I went to a beautiful inner city area called Leichhardt on Thursday. We had a mini photoshoot there, stopped in at a couple of homewares stores and then found a cafe to eat at. We ordered a simple spread of eggs, avocado + fetta on toast and sourdough pancakes, which did turn out to be pretty extra. They had a salted caramel and pear ganache with pistachios. To balance the meal I had a green juice too. It had spinach, apple, berries, cucumber and more, if I remember correctly. It was incredibly refreshing and reminded me of my love for health foods and fuelling my body with nature’s goodies. It proved to be a great refresh and reset for my system which can become overloaded easily! I’ll always enjoy a good takeout here and there but sometimes it’s what I live on!
Leichhardt is a residential suburb best known as the hub of Sydney’s Italian community. Norton Street and Marion Street buzz with cafes, trattorias and bakeries and thousands of people visit the annual Italian Festa Food festival every October. The Italian Forum is an open-air shopping mall with designer fashions and Tuscan architecture. Small bookshops, indie cinemas and cosy wine bars add to the European vibe.
Onto other news, I finally ordered the art kit I need for college the week after next. My start date is fast approaching and it’s finally seeming real that I’ll be a college student. I’m still processing so many unknowns but I’m keen to begin this new chapter of my journey and finally do my talents and abilities justice. For so long I’d felt like my skills were misplaced, misunderstood and under appreciated and now I’ll finally be putting them to use. I’ll no longer struggle with feeling as if I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time and expending effort where there will be no real return. At this point it’s full steam ahead. I was procrastinating ordering my supplies because I was worried about the cost being exorbitant but some things just are what they are. I received a stationery list the other week and definitely felt overwhelmed as I gave it a look over. There was mention of a few stores affiliated with the Billy Blue College of Design program that offered special discounts to students. I had a look around a landed upon a set kit that was readily compiled, saving me a lot of time and apparently, more than twenty five percent of the original cost too.
Something else I’d needed was a new bag too. I picked up an absolute steal from Fossil, a luxury brand selling leather goodies and jewellery. I’m so excited to have one of their incredible pieces. Instead of plowing ahead and buying the bag at retail price, I found a seller on Amazon who offered fifty percent off. There are a few features to this bag that I think I’ll really enjoy. I can see myself using it for many different occasions and outings as it can be converted into a side/tote bag, backpack and handbag, depending on what you need at the time.
What I’m really waiting in anticipation for though is news of the thirty percent scholarship I applied for with college. I got the ten percent I’d also applied for but every extra bit counts. They’ve been slow to check applications but my fingers remain crossed! I think I did well and I’d like to believe they do too. The best thing I can do is keep positive and not dwell on it too much, although I’ll reach out to my course advisor to make sure I’m kept in the loop.
To finish off my week, I went to dinner for my aunty’s mum’s birthday. She’s such a wonderful lady and has had my grandma, mum, brother and I over for the past two christmases as well. It was great to catch up with her once more and celebrate a special occasion. We dined at a spot that was completely new to me, known as Emu Hall. It has quite the heritage and was built in eighteen twenty five by a man called James Tobias Ryan. It was to be a home for his family. He was a prominent and active community member and instrumental in the development of Emu Plains and its neighbouring area of Penrith. He was a well known sports enthusiast, auctioneer, ploughman, butcher and part of the State Legislative Assembly. At the time, such a lavish building indicated new wealth in the area. Emu Hall was set up with a large balustrade and verandah that wrapped around its’ southern and eastern sides, large windows, french doors, freestanding servant quarters, brick stables, a workshop, formal gardens and wine cellar. It sat upon an acre of land.
Last year it was named Sydney’s best restaurant so, naturally, I was thrilled to be enjoying a meal there. We ordered a woodfire pizza with a Napoli base, feta, balsamic onion, pumpkin, rocket, cherry tomato and sweet potato crisps + bruschetta with tomato, olives, prosciutto, onion, feta, basil and a balsamic glaze. Another incredible main was the pita stand with lamb skewers, bread, hummus, tzatziki, rocket, zaatar, mint, tomato, pomegranate, fetta cheese and chips. Everything was so flavourful and just cooked to perfection!
To start your week off on a good note, I’d like to leave you with a couple of the emails I received from Morgan Harper Nichols email list. She has an app where she shares inspirational and encouraging wallpapers and musings, all of which bring a smile to my face and peace to my heart. I hope they’ll have the same effect on you.
No more holding my breath, overthinking every step. No more spending whole days, holding back, wondering what they will say. Something new is stirring inside of me and this is where I take the leap. I’m kind of afraid but here I go anyway. I let the Light in. No more hiding. I will open up the door and let the sun sweep the floor. Shadows broken, I’m broken open. No more hiding away: It’s time to be seen by the Light. It’s time to grow wild in the Light.
One of the hardest things in life is to allow yourself to be seen. It’s hard to be vulnerable and share your true emotions and say the things that your heart has been longing to say. Whether you’re sharing publicly or even opening up to a friend or family member – perhaps you have felt that feeling of your heart racing, as you finally get the courage to say what you’ve been trying to say for so long. Maybe you have felt a lump in your throat, before you gave the speech. Or before you said, “I love you.” Perhaps it’s hard to press publish, because the inner critic is so loud in your mind, to the point that you fear the other critics that will join in it mocking you, making fun of you, making you think less of yourself.
You wonder who might scroll through social media and misunderstand or judge something that you’ve shared. There are a million reasons to stay in the shadows. But there is a reason to come into the Light. When you choose to step forth, whatever that looks like in your life, you are giving someone else courage to do the same. When you say I love you, you open up the door for that other person to be honest about their feelings. And even if that answer is not what you want it to be, at least now you know the truth. At least now the truth isn’t hiding behind nuances, and being afraid to speak openly and honestly.
Stepping into the Light is a hard place to be. And at the same time, when you see the sunflower bend its’ back so that its’ natural internal rhythms can follow the sun, you will be reminded that being in the Light is necessary for growth. One of my favorite movie scenes of all time actually comes from the Pixar film Toy Story 4. There’s a moment when the character Bo Peep is encouraging another character to literally step into the Light. And what she says to the character is to step out of the shadows and into the light – but not too much. And what I love about that line is that she gave permission for this character to step forward, but in a way that they were able to in that moment, because they were coming from a place of having been broken. They were coming from a place of being afraid to put themselves out there again because they had been hurt.
So this is where grace comes in. You are allowed to inch into the Light. If you have been thinking about sharing your story, you don’t have to start with everything that has ever happened in your life since childhood. You can share about your newfound love of iPhone photography and how you have been learning to use what you have to create something beautiful. You can talk about the different recipes that you’re trying and how you’re enjoying working with these ingredients and learning about them.
I think a lot of times when we think about telling our story and coming into the light and not hiding in the shadows, we think that we have to immediately jump into the deep end. We forget that we are allowed to dip our toes in the shallow end. We forget that before we rode a bike with two wheels, we had two extra wheels on the side to train us and prepare us to balance ourselves. So wherever it is in your life that you have been afraid or hesitant or reluctant or doubtful about saying what you’ve been wanting to say or about stepping forward with courage, take heart. Breathe deep and remember that this takes time. It takes a lifetime and that is absolutely okay. What matters is that you remember: you are not meant to hide away. Open up the door, let the sunlight sweep the floor and let Light find you, again and again and again.
I am not sure how you feel about yourself when you look back on old photographs or comb through your memories, but I do know you were meant to change. I do know you were not meant to stay the same for every stage of your life. You were meant to grow. You were meant to meet new people, travel to new places, and learn valuable new lessons. This does not mean you deserved the pain you went through. It means that, because you were somehow able to keep breathing and keep going anyway, you were able to change. And that is beautiful. You were able to be shaped into someone stronger and wiser than you ever thought you’d be, even though you did not ask for those things. You were able to find bold, rebellious joy, anyway, that showed up despite the chaos of it all, it gave you strength to carry on.
This is important to remember because oftentimes we are not really trying to get stronger. We are not searching for mountains off in the distance to climb. All we want is to make it through what we’re currently going through without the added pressure of journeying on toward some mountain range in the distance. We just want peace right where we are. We want clarity for our goals and dreams. Safety in our relationships. Time and energy to make it through the day without feeling exhausted. But yet, no matter how hard we try to stand on stable ground, there is something that is always changing. The river through the forest beneath our feet always brings something before us that we were not expecting. And just like that, the time we wish we could have spent on self-care is time we have to spend trying to survive. The time we wish we could have spent working on goals is now spent trying to manage the new list of responsibilities we now have. The time we wish we could have spent on building a healthy relationship is time spent worrying about the security of the relationship itself. One day, inevitably, we look back and we wonder where all the time has gone. What happened to the version of ourselves that was young and free, and ready to take on the world?
It is here, that you must have grace for yourself to see that it is not all on your shoulders to make sense of all the ways the years have shaped you. Some of the greatest change you experienced in your life was beyond your control, and if it is there that you need to grieve what was, you are free to do that. Perhaps your time was taken for granted. Maybe something precious was taken from you at a young age, and you were made to feel like it was your fault. An unexpected loss produced unexpected change in your body or in your environment. You had to move across the country because of what happened. You had to give up on dreams to support someone else.
None of these things were your fault. It can be so tempting to look back and have your first thought be how much you let yourself go or messed up your future by doing such or such thing. The truth is that there have always been so many factors that caused you to change in the way you did. No matter where you are right now and how it compares to where you wish you were, you are worthy of the journey it takes to find peace about the past. Through it all, you are still here, and that’s proof that there is more to you than yesterday. There is time still, grace, and room to be restored. Inhale this healing truth. Exhale with hope for the future.