On ‘Dating’ Yourself

I have just arrived back from a couple of days at the beach. Solo camping is something I have been finding myself doing more and more frequently over the past couple of years. I love the whole process; planning a trip and choosing a location, loading up my camper, setting out with a playlist full of podcasts for the journey, arriving, setting up and of course, exploring. It is a completely selfish exercise,  laden with self-indulgence. Something purely for me. In my everyday life I cope with my fair share of stress while caring for my daughter. These solo camping windows of solitude are like beacons on my wellbeing radar. I navigate towards them whenever possible and take the time…no rather make the time for myself before it passes me by.

It is tempting to invite others, yet I always hold back.

It is my space alone and it feels sacred to me. This trip I got to pondering how solo holidaying is a little like dating yourself…

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Picture all of the fun things you would do on dates with your love and then imagine doing all of those those things just for You.

How would this make you feel?

Spoiled? Indulged? Pampered? Loved? Nurtured? Safe?

Yes, for me it is all of these things. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing these things with my love but when she is on the other side of the world skipping town for a weekend date by the sea is not really an option. Should I not go? Should I put my life on pause until we are together again? Absolutely not. I consider my sojourns ‘research’ for places to enjoy when we are together. In the meantime, it really does feel like I am dating myself.

Which is an extremely good thing!

Why wouldn’t I want to hang out with myself? I am funny, kind, serious, thoughtful and practical. I have good company within myself. I can laugh at my own jokes, which makes me the perfect audience for myself!

Traveling alone, I sometimes get strange looks and a darting glance towards the space around me from passers by, looking for my ‘significant other’. Indeed, as I was beach strolling yesterday I think I saw about one person on their own for every ten or so couples.

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There is so much to be said for traveling alone!

There is no one to rely on so you have to get things done, especially when things don’t go to plan. This inevitably makes you strong. Sometimes physically, but mostly mentally. You realise to a greater extent what you like and don’t like. What you will and will not spend time on. What experiences you hope to share with others and those which you prefer to keep primarily for you.

When camping alone I cook for myself. This rarely happens when I am at home alone. When traveling alone I will treat myself to things that I wouldn’t otherwise do in my regular routine – an extra long walk around dinnertime? Yes! Extended pondering whilst staring at the waves? You bet! Lingering over the paper and a chai for so much longer than usual? Absolutely!

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‘Dating’ yourself is so much more than treating yourself. It is about feeding your soul with the things that align with who you are and what brings you pleasure. The act of recognising these things and consciously choosing to foster them is so high up on my self love scale that I feel giddy just thinking about it. We so often do things for others and neglect our own needs, yearnings or desires. Feeding your soul with self love is where wellbeing shifts for me from an overused word into something real, something of value and something that will propel us forward to be the very best versions of ourselves, for ourselves. Don’t we all deserve a bit of that?

Luna xo

Resting for Wellbeing

I have a confession: I spent the entire weekend in bed.

Did I have a stomach upset? No.

The flu perhaps? No. 

Was I grieving the loss of something intrinsically important to me? No.

I was Resting.

I say resting with a capital ‘R’ because sometimes I think we neglect to remember just how important resting is. By being ‘in bed’ I don’t actually mean under the covers sleeping (I’m pretty good at sleeping but not that good). I was lying in late, getting up for sustenance and hygiene (the hindrance of being human at times!) and then returning to lounge further; reading and writing, planning in my journal, daydreaming, napping, catching up on a few of my favourite vloggers and discovering some interesting new blogs to read. I read the entire Sunday newspaper from start to finish including all the lift outs.

It was positively Blissful.

It had been a hectic two weeks spent running around after my 15-year-old daughter who has a condition. Last week she had an appointment –  Every. Single. Day. Whilst the logistics of this are challenging to fit into any given day, I have become quite accomplished at the art of getting from A to B to C in speedy time. What was so exhausting was the emotional strain I was under. I had been holding everything together for others and letting my self-care wilt away, much like the unwatered pot plant in the kitchen. Ahh, Monstera Tragicosa, what will become of you? 

I don’t know what it is about resting that elicits a feeling of guilt for me. I had one such moment on the second day of the Rest-In, deep into my second leg of old school Sunday newspaper reading when my older daughter came in to ask me something. I jolted with surprise and quickly positioned a textbook near me so it had looked like I had been studying all along. What on earth was that all about?!

Am I worried about letting the values of hard work and effort I have tried so hard to instill in my daughters slide? Maybe.

Will she think I am lazy? Maybe.

Will she become lazy herself? Probably not.

Will that reflect back on me as a parent? Who knows.

What is it about taking time out for yourself that makes it seem so… sneaky, so forbidden?

I started to reflect that perhaps I should be looking at it from another angle. Taking time out for self-care, rejuvenation and replenishment of one’s mind, body and spirit are crucial for wellbeing. This is exactly what I would want for her! Heading into her final year of high school I absolutely want her to have strategies and a feeling of encouragement to take time out if she needs to. Western culture has become so deeply embedded with a kind of ‘busyness glorification’ that it feels so taboo when one goes against it. To purposely knock back offers of socializing and outings in favour of staying in to process the excessive amounts of stimuli we are exposed every single day.

We all need replenishment. This is part of being human. Feeling guilty should never even come into the equation.

When my daughters were in primary school one of their teachers created a space in the corner of the classroom, shielded away from the tables and chairs. She called this the ‘Chill-ax Space’ and kids could go there to zone out, chill, and just generally process stuff. I love the concept of having a designated space solely for ‘chill-axing’ and carry that memory with me now when life is overloading my plate.

I’m off to water my Monstera..

Luna xo

 

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The Ups and Ups of a Long Distance Relationship

Three and a half years ago I met her. The One I Love.

Touring the UK with my mum and brother, she was an unexpected appearance in my recently fractured world.

“We can make this work.” She ponders as we avoid counting the minutes that we have left together at Heathrow Airport.

“I don’t know…I have so little to offer..” My voice trailing off as the reality of the vast distance between London and Melbourne began to sink in. 16,893 kilometers to be exact.

“You have SO much to offer!” We stand in silence and despair at the thought of parting.

With the concept of physical distance beginning to dissolve, being replaced with the closeness one feels in the heart when emotionally connected through a dimension physical distance does not occupy, I began to see that maybe this could work. We could have a chance at this. It need not be the end, especially as it really did feel like the beginning…

Jump forward three and a half years and I wonder in awe at how we have come this far.

Have we bridged the gap? No.

Is there a move scheduled sometime soon? Nope.

BUT!

We see each other every few months for a few weeks at a time, minimum. The world and it’s noise ceases to exist and only we are present in our glorious bubble of love. We condense our ‘dates’ into blocks (and have a bloody good time with that, let me tell you!).  When we are together we laugh, chill, go out, stay in, sleep late, eat delicious food, drink way too much and go places that we really want to share with each other. We read funny things and share them, in real time!

What about when you are apart I hear you ask?

We skype and text message everyday. And send lovely (and ridiculous) snail mail and special deliveries. We share our online music.

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Anything else that brings you comfort when you are apart? 

Well since you asked..

I know she can’t smell me when I skip a shower some days.

Garlic consumption is no longer an issue. For either of us.

I can eat at weird times (or not at all) and not feel guilty that I am depriving her of her daily nutritional intake.

There is a bucket load of time to work on personal goals, study and plan for when we are next together. This has to be a good thing, right? Yes!

I can research new places to go when we are next together, add to my list and watch it grow.

Netflix binging. It’s only natural that not all our viewing tastes align. Say no more.

There is no limit to the amount of sport one can listen to. Or choose not to listen to!

The cat sleeps on my bed (again, shh..).

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Ridiculous snail mail! (Postcard courtesy of Chit Chat Design UK)

In all seriousness, what I appreciate most of all about being apart is the abundance of time for personal growth and working on achieving goals. Knowing that I can invest time in myself which will help me to become a better person, which in turn will bring us closer to being where we want to be, whenever that happens to be. There is something so wonderful about working hard for something that is so important to you (i.e. your future life), and enjoying your time together along the way.

I know that it won’t always be this way and I have every faith that we will somehow bridge that gap the separates us at times. Until then, there is much work to do to make sure I am in the best possible place when that time presents itself announcing that it is in fact right.

Be well out there, whether you are near or far from your love, if you are yet to meet them, or your love is yourself (as it should be for all of us!).

Luna xo

The Importance of Queer Role Models when Coming Out

With Midsumma currently on in Melbourne, I find it interesting to reflect on how coming out can open one’s eyes to the presence (or at times, lack of) queer role models that we can look to for guidance, support and validation.

In early 2015, I came out to my husband and children. I was in my late thirties at the time. Yes, I guess you could say I am ‘one of those type of persons’. You know, the one who is married, has a happy family and then, BOOM! Out of nowhere completely shakes up her world and that of all those around her. “Why didn’t she know before?” “How could we not see it?” and my personal favourite “Oh, yeah, that actually makes a lot of sense!”

Coming out at this age was the most heartbreaking experience of my life because it meant dismantling the family unit I was in that was so close and so strong. Yet, I knew I would not be true to my authentic self if I continued to remain in a situation that was unrepresentative of who I actually was. Fast forward to looking at the world through my fresh queer eyes that everyone else was aware of too. This was completely foreign to me. Somehow I had thought that coming out would be the end of all my problems, and subsequently the beginning of a smooth existence without the wrinkles of deceit. Which to be fair, it basically was in the scheme of things, yet one thing was lacking. The presence of any queer role models in my world. I think my go to’s were Ellen and the gay couple who lived in our neighbourhood. All of my friends were in heterosexual relationships, and had children and families of their own. I felt completely isolated.

Coming out with no support from ‘your tribe’ is tough. No matter how amazing your family and friends are, there needs to be validation from people who share the same components that make up You. I remember at the time searching hard for similarly aged role models who I could relate to and coming up with zilch. And then do you know what happened? I started to find validation and support in younger people. My daughters who were in their teens began to talk about their friends who identified as queer. I looked to younger people in the media who were being so open and honest and unashamedly true to being themselves. It was empowering and validating. I felt not like some outcast of her world, but more like someone who was yet to arrive to her world. As my awareness of role models around me grew, from the political arena to the entertainment industry, so too did my experiences with real life role models. Again, the first to appear were people in my daughters’ age group. Their completely accepting and open natures made me speechless and so grateful to have them in my world. How wonderful to be a young person today and growing up without a lot of the undercurrents of homophobia that existed when I was a teenager. I know undercurrents (and outright blatant currents!) still exist, but so much has also dropped away. Yes indeed. How wonderful.

As my interactions with real life, younger role models grew, so too did role models more my same age, they just took a little longer to appear. From teachers to the people in my local cafe. From friends of friends to colleagues. Humans are indeed herd creatures. We function best when we are accepted by our ‘group’. Being able to find support among your peers is vital, especially when those peers know, and I mean really know the place you are coming from. The unspoken understanding of being different to the majority of the population. This comes from the look in a person’s eyes, no spoken words are necessary.

As Melbournians gear up for Pride on Sunday, I hope you are in a good place, with contact to positive role models that bring you validation and a sense of comfort and acceptance within yourself.

Take care out there,

Love Luna xo

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Self care in times of stress

It feels so good to rise to the surface and breathe once again after an all-consuming month of assignments and exams which mark the end of my first year of uni as a non-school leaver. Whilst I absolutely LOVE studying, I have found the pressure involved with end of semester requirements quite overwhelming at times. Being a more ‘vintage’ individual, there are increased demands to navigate through – home/study balance, raising teenagers and work issues to start. This is a gentle reminder to take time out in times of heightened pressure to just.. Be. Breathe a little. Give thanks for all that is good in life. Just an hour a day has been my aim, yet sometimes even this has been unachievable. In which case, even ten minutes will work wonders.

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Take that extra long shower. Download a new playlist to zone out to. Enjoy the superior chai in the ‘Cafe of good vibes’. Walk alone in nature without earphones. Message your loved one with silly banter. Pull out 3.5 weeds from the garden and be proud with this effort. Grounding is brilliant. Even just sitting on the grass with a cup of tea for 10 minutes can recharge oneself for the next intensive session of fact absorbing/essay creation.

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Take time to just be and tune out. Fuel your body with healthy foods that will bring the rewards of increased energy and focus for learning. It will soon all be over, and there IS life after exams. Actually, that is exactly what life IS. Exams are just a stepping stone to move from this chapter to the next and are not in fact ‘life’. Remember who is important and take time out of the study schedule to maintain contact. Connections are what count. Connections are what keep us going most of all in times of high stress.

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Be well,

Luna xx