During the glow of new year optimism I managed to finally wash everything in my clothes hamper. Those pesky whites, the lace skirts…even the dress with the sequins that legitimately needs to be hand washed (not my makeshift hand washing consisting of individual bra bags on the gentle cycle). I then ironed everything and put it away. …Well, I attempted to – except I ran out of coat hangers. Some tops, dresses and skirts were already sharing!  I had a problem and it was time to do something. First week back, 3rd of January, I walked into work and pledged to the ladies at work I would not repeat an item until March. I had to collect their jaws from the floor on the way to the next meeting. How would I keep track? Everything was now ironed! And now here I am in March. How did I go? What did I learn from my 8 week challenge? I have waayyy too many clothes. I really missed wearing my favourites and my Christmas presents from my sister. Even an 8 week challenge couldn’t stop me from buying a cute Marcs skirt on sale! Eeekkk. The black business skirt I bought in August 2012 for my first ‘office job’ still fits and it’s actually great. I rediscovered a bunch of things I had totally forgotten I owned. The slightly too tight size 6 Review dress I bought on sale for $99 2 years ago is now definitely zipper-likely-to-bust tight now and its cost per wear is still very hiiiiigh. I really did not miss ironing my week’s worth of work clothes on a Sunday night. I lost a lot of time during the mornings lying in my towel on my bed overwhelmed by the decision. A staple style makes for easy outfits. Choosing a new outfit was exhausting…particularly with slimmer pickings in Week 6-8. Making it ‘dress week’ or ‘skirt week’ made it soo much easier. A uniform of sorts! I love dresses and skirts, but with only 3 pairs of cropped pants, despite it being 80%+ humidity, I missed wearing pants. I foolishly found myself in jeans on a 30 degree, 85% humid day just because…pants. I loved being asked if an old dress was new…particularly when I avoided it because it was frumpy / tight / pink etc. I really don’t like pink. I realised my old favourite dress didn’t bring the same joy as it used to. And I longed to wear my new favourite. Guys have it soo much easier, particularly when I see them wander through the city with their 5 dry-cleaned shirts for the week. Could I get away with only 5 dresses? Hmmm. I need more shoes to go with all my dresses. #kidding. But seriously I think I wore about 6 pairs over the 8 weeks, with 1 pair of summer sandals at least 3 days each week. I could have gone at least another 2 weeks. Not.Even.Kidding.        which led me too…  Looking past the token Charity ‘bin’ option into more sustainable clothing recycling options. After 8 weeks I was left pretty embarrassed and confused. How did I get here?  I have a dozen dresses and skirts I have made myself. I fix items that break. I avoid buying from H&M, Cotton On, Zara and other retailers providing the means for the never-stopping fast fashion treadmill (Although frustratingly those same brands have actually some of the best ethical production ratings in Australia…although output volume, item life and environmental toll isn’t factored into the mix). But in reality, I’m the same as everyone else. I get bored easily, I struggle to let go and I really love Marcs (and their sales). And so with another move on the horizon, this past weekend I decided to clear things out. I took a bag to church on Sunday (*only half pictured) and many found lovely new homes. The dozen work tops I seldom wear. Gone. My old favourite dress. Gone. The crop pants that had been collecting dust. Gone. One of the ladies is off to India in a couple of weeks, so I’ll give a few items to her. But what about the rest? How do I avoid my carelessness + frivolous spending ending up costing the environment more? I did some research and worked out a plan. I now have 2 bags in my car. The few items left that are work environment friendly and good quality I’ll drop off for Suited to Success, and the rest will go to H&M. As for my sanity, I’m feeling much better post-wardrobe cleanout. Everyone has their own individual hanger, it’s not a battle to put things away and I have a dozen hangers spare! – – – And if you made it all the way down here, past all my self-talk to convince myself I need to do a Phase 2… What did I wear today? My new favourite dress of course. I call it my Queensland dress. 🙂 Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
It may be 4 days into 2018, but I’m hoping I’m still in the window to reflect on the year that was…before I launch too far into 2018. Last year I did an original ‘16 in 2016‘ and because I’m super lazy again, and this is largely for my own benefit, I’m going to do, wait for it, 17 reflections on 2017 – in no specific order. 1. Exploring Australia + New Zealand If there was any doubt where my cash went this year, the 26 flights might have something to do with it. I managed, 22 within Australia + 4 to/from New Zealand. Scrolling through Insta was fun to relive the adventures and I am constantly amazed at the diversity of the land bestowed to us. Despite having a country the size of all of Europe, Australians do a terrible job of exploring our own backyard. And that I did in 2017. (…and because my sister moved across the ditch, it got a couple of visits too.) Quick calculation of nights away = 52 January: Surfers Paradise (3), Melbourne (2) February: Sydney (3) March: Sydney (2) April: Sydney (5) May: Noosa (2) June: Rockhampton/Yeppoon (1), Mackay (2) July: Forster (4), Sydney (1), Queenstown (5) August: Sydney (5) September: October: Outback Queensland (3), Auckland (3), Sydney (1) November: December: Sydney (10) 2. Half Marathon A 2017 goal, I ticked this bad boy off in May up in Noosa. A minute shy of my sub-2 goal, alas. Never a runner, I would never thought running 21km would be achievable, let alone enjoyable. 3. Injury Unfortunately much of this year was juggling shin splints that progressed to stress fractures and continue to haunt me. It wasn’t until I couldn’t run that I realised how much I enjoyed it…and needed it to run out + process life. I accrued a nice physio bill…but, Mr Turnbull, still remain cost neutral without private health insurance. 4. Swimming + Cycling I swam laps of a pool for the first time in a decade, and the only time outside of my largely participatory efforts at school swimming carnivals. I’ve got a long way to go, but it’s strangely relaxing…amongst the overwhelming feeling of drowning from exhaustion mid-lap. I bought Laura’s bike and learnt to ride a road bike. After running, you can get so far on a bike over the same time! 5. Loss + loneliness I said goodbye to my last grandparent in April – my grandpa who was weeks shy of his 90th. I said goodbye to friends + family who moved away. I had a number of periods of sheer loneliness that took me by surprise. 6. New home After a few months of anxiety, I moved out and made a place of my own – possibly the best decision I made last year. I love my little apartment – it’ll be sad to say goodbye! 7. Insecurity Big girl pants were necessary on a number of occasions as I negotiated contract extensions and overcome a significant moment of job insecurity. 8. Tears Despite popular opinion, I can report the tear ducts are still functioning. The stone-hearted girl broke out in tears a number of times fare-welling Grandpa and, a first, late one night reading ‘Still Alice’. 9. Reading fail Aiming to read 17 books was an epic fail. I shamefully managed to complete very few… Big little lies, Liane Morriety Still Alice, Lisa Genova Dreams of my father, Barack Obama The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simpson The Girl from Aleppo, Nujeen Mustafa In progress: Mere Christianity, CS Lewis Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis Option B, Sheryl Sandberg Prayer, Tim Keller 1984, George Orwell Buyology, Martin Lindstrom Nudge, Richard Thaler + Cass Sunsteen Thrive, Ariana Huffington 10. Netflix + Movies This list is way too long to list and directly contributed to the above reading failure…although I’m glad 3 Australian movies made it on my list this year. 11. Buying local and less Although challenging to track, I aspired to shop from local stores and markets wear possible. There were pockets were i slipped back to my online ways, particularly in the lead to Christmas. But by the very nature of avoiding chain stores, I bought much less…particularly clothing (except Marcs) 12. Leaving church “I’m thinking about leaving church.” I had way too many of conversations that started with this line last year, from the valid to the hurtful. Leaving church isn’t easy for anyone – the person leaving nor the people left behind. Unfortunately I found myself exhausted for various periods challenging and/or encouraging friends I’m at church with and others at various others through the process. (Don’t get me wrong, there are very valid reasons to leave churches, but also some lazy reasons too). 13. Gym Yes, this anti-gym evangelist i-hate-commercialised-exercise joined a gym. It was was time to build strength after completing my half marathon in hope of a ripped back and toned arms… yet to be seen. (As are any pull-ups.) 14. Mel + animals. A gallery. Cute animals, it’ll win every time…or just a photo of someone so completely terrified that it’s hilarious. Instagram was proof.    15. Answered prayer Ask me and I’ll happily share. From healing to housemates, jobs to joy. 16. 17. New adventures Although a mic-drop was contemplated back in September when the paperwork came through, I’m looking forward to new adventures in 2018. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Today would have been my Grandpa’s 90th birthday. As a kid I thought my grandpa would live forever, perhaps not forever, but his death seemed a long way off. He worked as a doctor until he was 80, travelled to Thailand twice during his final decade, drove across Sydney for committee meetings and chauffeuring his friends to doctor’s appointments, he dabbled in Facebook and ensured he always had a working printer so he could (first print, then) read his emails. He was invincible to me, as a child and then as an adult. As he neared the milestone, we started thinking about how we could celebrate such an occasion. Unfortunately we celebrated his life a few weeks ago at a thanksgiving service, without him. It’s a shame all those who came gathered in his absence, what a joy it would have been for him to have everyone in one place. It’s widely known I’m not a feelings person, but truth is I am. I am just absolutely terrible at expressing and processing them, so supressing them is just the easier option. This afternoon I listened to a recording my cousin made of one of his last conversations with Grandpa. I had had it for almost 6 weeks, but I wasn’t ready to hear his voice, his laugh. It was hard to listen to. I’m thankful I live in a suburb people regularly walk the streets with an absent mind. Listening to Grandpa speak about this life on the recording, and hearing others speak of his life at his thanksgiving service (and the recording we’ve been pulling together), I look up to him. I place him on a Philippians 2 pedestal, one of his favourite passages of scripture. In his 70-year medical career, 15 years in the Thai mission field, and then near 60 years as a Father and near 30 as a Grandfather, he exemplified humility and gentleness. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests by each of you to the interests of others.” As I child I remember his devotion to the Word, reading it in bed before he rose for the day. His affection for my Grandmother was evident in each reference to her as “Darling” (even when expressed in haste). He watched sporting games, sat through countless awards ceremonies and graduations. He was the calm spirit standing on the edge of the room, looking and befriending the outsider. He gave Christmas gifts to the one who was forgotten. I wonder if I got any part of his genes, knowing full well I got an overdose of initiative and tenacity from my paternal grandmother. Reflecting on his life make me reflect on my own, although I have not reached even a third of the length walked this earth for. But I also see the peril in placing Grandpa on such a pedestal. And I know he would loathe such a thing. In the recording he went so far as to share a story of how he wasn’t supposed to get into Sydney Uni’s medical school. The rules changed and and extra 150 students snuck in without meeting the minimum requirements. He also shared he would have failed his gynaecology exam, should not a fellow student had told him answer as they passed in the hallways prior to the exam. He admitted he wasn’t good enough. I also know from my own father their relationship wasn’t perfect. He was a flawed man, like us all, but he has now been made perfect in Christ. Grandpa is now with Jesus in the highest place. Although he lived nearly 90 years on this earth, what feels like eternity for a even me at 26, he is now truly living eternally. I’m thankful we have the recording, as hard as it was to hear his laugh knowing he’s no longer here. I’m sad I didn’t take time to ask more questions. How comforting it was hear him breakdown as he shared the love, peace and joy found in the Spirit. One of the last times I saw Grandpa I had flown to Sydney on a whim. I sat in his hospital room while he slept. Eventually it came time to leave. Although plagued with delusion in his final days, he broke free from it to pass on the ‘Lord’s travelling mercies’ before apologising: “I’m sorry I wasn’t better company”. Grandpa, you were wonderful company. Happy (earthly) birthday, but what a wonderful everlasting life I know you’re now enjoying. At his thanksgiving service last month, I said the following prayer on behalf of his 17 grandchildren. I stand by it. Heavenly father, We give you great thanks that you are good and your love endures forever. Thank you for giving life to your son and our grandfather Arthur and your grace and mercy shown to him at the cross. Thank you that as we remember the life he had here and give thanks, we know he is now home and at rest with you. We know the love of you as our Heavenly Father from the example he was to us. As young ones we knew love from endless supplies of ice cream and sausages in summer and a forgiving spirit when more water was outside the swimming pool than in. As adults we remember his wit, but also his wisdom shared and constant support for our endeavours. We remember and give thanks for his humility and faithfulness. A man of prayer and devotion – he was always quick to share his indebtedness to you and your blessings on his life with us. Thank you for your spirit at work in his heart. Many of us are now embarking on our own adventures of marriage. We thank you for the 50-plus years of love and sacrifice Grandpa showed our Grandma, particularly in her final years of illness. In times of struggle and pain, he loved her in everyway – with patience and gentleness. We praise you for the steadfast love and generosity he had and the model it was for us. As we now grieve the loss of his gentle and witty presence with us, we turn our eyes to Jesus, the one his life pointed to. Grandpa is now free from pain and spared from the brokenness of this world. Thank you for holding him in your care for nearly 90 years. But while we remember, love and give thanks for the faithful man he was, we acknowledge he was not perfect but made perfect in your son, Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. We have joy that he is now at home in your presence because he sought after you. We look forward to the day when the world would be made new and those who call upon your Son’s name will be saved. We long for Jesus to return to make all things new and to be reunited with our Grandfather but ultimately you, our heavenly father. To you be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.           Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
  Twelve months on and I’m in exactly the same place I was last year – a Surfers Paradise beachfront apartment. I’m even with the same four friends. We are again front and centre for the New Year fireworks. But although I’m physically in the same place, a year on I’m very much in a different place to where I was last year. 2015 was a tough year. But 2016 has been a year of restoration. It was also year of new friendships, adventures and learning. Here’s to the year that was: 1. A newfound love of dancing I was the girl who sat on the outskirts of the room as soon as the dancing began. But this year, I decided I didn’t care what I looked like I was going to enjoy dancing. And like that, I now do. The Melanie of 2015 would not have danced the night away in a Cuban Government run bar in rural Vinales with two sweaty, hands-y Cuban men with gorgeous blue eyes that melted my heart. 2. A nostalgia for my long locks but the excitement of short hair Oh how lovely it was…10% of the time. 3. A love of running Two years ago I couldn’t run 2km, but this year I ran 14km (on a swollen bruised ankle because I wasn’t giving up!). I push myself to get to a weekly community running group and once there I’m pushed to keep running. The burn of my legs is soon forgotten on reflection and achievement of the distance they’ve carried me. 4. A Growth Group who point each other to Jesus We become a conglomerate of the people we hang out with and I’m thankful for my gospel-focussed community. Over delicious food and vino, we’ve talked pride, elections, sex, and supported each other through illness, homesickness, death, farewells and welcome together. Thank you for pointing me to the grace and hope found in Christ. 5. A new church I arrived at Creek Road with a pretty rocky foundation and trust in ‘church’. But this year, through transparent and empowering pastors and persistent prayer, by grace the brokenness and hurt is healed. I look forward to church. 6. New friends New friendships formed over mutual love of TV shows + good food + wine (Did I hear you say ‘Tapas and Tequila Tuesday?’) 7. A patience with professional work I had 4 managers in 2016. I also had 9 team members in my immediate 3-4 person team. Change is constant and with patience and persistence I’ve learnt to push myself forward, learning from all those around me – whoever it is. Work life is a jungle gym and it’s the adventure and the challenge climbing it that brings contentment. 8. Appreciation for solo time (but still a craving for people) A perfect Friday night is either drinking and laughing with friends at a great bar in town or enjoying a glass of vino on the couch watching Netflix. I enjoy both equally and I have no qualms choosing one over the other. I’ve come to enjoy the small moments of solitude. 9. My family history In May I visited Bundaberg and toured my great, great grandparents house. I later started reading my family history book going back to the 18th Century. Through trials and successes, generations have gone forward putting Christ at the centre of their lives. However, it also served as a reminder for how quickly a generation can slip from the faith and serve their own interests. 10. Friendship with sisters For the first time in five years, Jen was in the same city as me. Weekend BBQs, Monday night netball, shopping adventures. As for Laura, we enjoyed another negative temperature snuggle session in Jindy and wrestling matches that now end with me begging for mercy. 11. The rejuvenation of weekend adventures Until October, it has been 1.5 years since I’d had more than 3 days away (a week off for the rite of passage: wisdom teeth doesn’t count). Here’s to weekends at Cabarita Beach, Straddie, Rainbow Beach, Kangaroo Valley, Bundaberg, Lady Musgrave Island, Perisher, Springbrook NP, Lamington NP, Tamborine NP, Glasshouse Mountains, Gold Coast. 12. BNE visitors Shout out to Lanes + Sutherlands, Lisa, Rachel + Lydia, USYD gang, Kelsey, Laura, Anna, Ashleigh for visiting. 13. Home? I drove home from 2 weeks in Sydney this week. It had been 6 months since I’d visited and I longed for it. But visiting and then driving back, I’ve realised Sydney doesn’t feel like home anymore. But I’m not sure Brisbane is yet either? 14. World travels  “Why Cuba?” they asked. “Be safe,” they said. “Why not?” I said. “How much,” I didn’t ask. It was an expensive holiday, but it’s a huge reward to plan, save, book and then escape to a far away land. And Cuba, well it’s just a fascinating place. As for Mexico, take me back. Tomorrow. 15. Dyson There’s a point in life when you realise you’re getting old. That moment for me has come. In addition to my growing family of kitchen appliances, washing machine and a comfortable (brand) new couch, I really want a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Preferably one of those stand up cordless ones. 16. “So I guess we’ll be in touch” Thanks to 2016 I have learnt some good ways and some bad ways to end a first date. And “So I guess we’ll be in touch” is not favourable. And with that, and the Tweed Heads fireworks in the background #daylightsavings, I say thank you and good bye 2016!     Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
And like that it’s been a year since I moved to Brisbane. A year since I convinced some QLDers to give this New South Welshmen a job during an 8am interview after 3 days of skiing. A year since mum and I cruised up the M1 stopping in Coffs overnight to watch the ever important Bachelor finale. A year since I left all the junk of 2015 behind and arrived in Brisvegas knowing only three people. And what a great year it’s been. Following on from a friend who wrote a ‘You know you’ve lived in [place] for [length of time] when…’ post a few months ago, I’ve decided to celebrate the milestone with a version of my own. Sadly mine won’t start with “Eating the relatives of your first pet is no longer traumatising.” Thank goodness I moved to BNE and not Peru! Praying for you Anna 🙂 Here goes. You know you’ve been living in Brisbane 12 months when: You’re wondering when winter happened. Perhaps it was that day when I needed a coat? Driving more than 20 minutes is an investment not to be undertaken without careful consideration You fill your fuel tank maybe once a month You’re attempting to transition to a morning person in preparation for another summer of 4am sunrises It’s 9pm on a Saturday night and you start thinking about heading home #nannalyfe Buying fresh produce at supermarkets seems criminal when there are farmers markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The crazy special you discovered at the markets = flavour of the week. Hello 3 broccoli for $1, 1kg of strawberries for $3, massive pineapple for $2, 6 avocadoes for $1, boxes of mangoes. Ah so good. A long commute is being stopped at all 3 sets of lights on the walk home! You’ve stopped honking when cars are slow off the lights. They’re a little slower up here. You no longer rush (except when leaving the house every morning). Again, a little more laid back. Sunscreen goes with you everywhere, but you still manage to get sunburnt. You switch collecting coats and scarfs for hats. You start making connections between the few friends you do have #smalltown Your drink of choice is becoming closer and closer to beer You’re learning to drink real fast but even then your bev-ie ends up sitting in a puddle #condensation Eating inside seems counterintuitive…except in February. Gimme air conditioning please. Your skin glows November through March (aka sweat) You moisturise once a week before #sweat everywhere. Bikram Yoga isn’t something you pay for, but a free provision for all activities in summer Running along a river > Running along suburban streets Airport pick ups are stress-free, and, well, free You start complaining about traffic when you have to wait more than 1 cycle at traffic lights #srsly You develop an unhealthy affair with brownies (looking at you I heart brownies) and any hot cinnamon donuts (It’s okay, they’re usually gluten free, vegan etc so practically healthy) You strike up conversation with anyone, anytime #bigcountrytown The few overcast days each month send you into a depressed state (Hello 283 days annual sunshine) Despite walking it everyday, the (only) hill walking home is torture every single afternoon. (You’ll know this already if I’ve ever called you walking home!) The possums and brush turkeys in your backyard (3km from the CBD) are practically pets You attempt to plan social gatherings and wonder why no one’s available because there’s a game on A sea of maroon jerseys is now just part of furniture You drive into the city and street park on weekends and Fridays after 7pm #winning You drive everywhere because even if you have to pay, it’s never more than $2/hr. #cha-ching You love your new church family and miss them when you’re out gallivanting around You just miss the familiarity and history with old friends It hurts to see friends having fun without you #fomo The arrival of a text from a Sydney-friend can make a lonely night bearable. But you know you’ll always be a Sydney-sider when: You had to unfollow Gelato Messina on Instagram because the cravings were too much to handle. (But #providence, they’re moving in South Bank next month) You roll your eyes every time someone complains about traffic in Brisbane. #nothingonSydney The Story Bridge remains a laughing stock You can actually merge lanes, parallel park and just drive in general like a normal human who knows where they’re going You chuckle when people complain and/or nervous about visiting Sydney #sobusy You’re astounded by supermarkets closing at 5.30pm on weekends Your heart breaks at the sight of Brisbane salaries You get places fast because #assertiveness You really just don’t get what’s so great about maroon. Blue is so more aesthetically pleasing. You still follow NSW politics because Mike Baird SMH remains a daily news haunt Cyclists on the road really are super annoying You see any photo of Sydney Harbour and you stop everything you’re doing and just take it all in. That’s my hometown. You still refer to it as ‘home’ or visiting as ‘going home’ It’s gone quickly, but then reflecting on all that the 12 months has held, it doesn’t feel so quick at all. But as for another 12 months in BNE? We’ll see. #jks. I’m not going anywhere… for now at least. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)