Gratitude Journal Day 3 – Hometown

Gratitude Journal Day 3 – Hometown

I actually don’t have one? I would say that Brisbane is home, but there certainly is not a suburb or town that I would equate with ‘hometown’.

By the time I was ten we had moved ten times and I was already up to my fifth school. To define a home ‘town’ is too tricky. So instead, I will write about home.

Home was always where Mum was. We had learned from a young age never to have too much attachment to a place, a room, a tree or a house. Our home was our family, wherever our roots were at any one time.

Home was where the sounds of music blasted when Mum was cleaning or cooking. Home was where the smell of Dad’s work shirts and Mum’s perfume was. Home was where the three kids fought tooth and nail for the first/last/longest shower. Home was where after dinner the three of us would battle over who was doing the washing up, the wiping up and the cleaning of the table and chairs and benches (washing up was the best because you were in and then OUT – I hated drying up).

Home is where our good mornings, goodnights, Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas’ were said. It is where our dogs, Lucy and Gina were. It is where the five of us built our lives, and more importantly, lived our lives.

Home is where we would steam our faces over Tupperware bowls with Eucalyptus oils when we were sick, or fight to the death over finishing the cake batter from these same bowls. Home is where the house phone cord would be dragged from one room to another, the curly curd under a closed door – teenage conversations ongoing throughout the night.

Home is where I dragged my suitcases of saved magazines from residence to residence throughout all of those years. It is where I would rearrange my bedroom as many times as possible. Where I would adorn every wall/ceiling and cupboard with posters. Where there was always a huntsman to find before it found you.

It was where the air conditioner was only used on Christmas Day. Where caramel sliced was sneaked from the fridge at all hours of the night. Where coffees were zapped in the microwave and corned beef was only made outside. It was where there was a mad dash to the spinach quiches

Home was where Chrismas carols were blasted from the TV and Christmas presents brought out to be placed under the tree. Where little hands would reach in the dark to Christmas sacks to try and work out if Santa had made it, and what had he left.

Where Sunday pikelet mix was made, Monopoly games were played and loud, happy and mental laughing occurred.

Home was and is where my family is. Always.

x Courtney x

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Gratitude Journal Day 1 – Family

About my family – who they are and why I am grateful for them.

I have a very small immediate family, there are four of us and we are fiercely protective of one another. There used to be five of us, but things change and disease can get in the way. It was a phenomenally rocky time. If I am honest, we all still struggle with it in our own individual ways each and every day.

I am thankful for my four. I have two siblings who would set this world on fire for one another and a Mother who has no idea how incredibly strong and amazing she is.

My family taught me to work for what I wanted. To be aware of how lucky we are to live where we do. To appreciate time with those you love, and to never expect anything. A sense of entitlement was not something which was bestowed amongst us. We valued each and every treat we ever received, we never complained about our parents being out of sight, because we knew that they were working hard to provide for us.

We all went through something uniquely traumatic and devastating, we came out the other side and met each other there, though our journeys were all different – we may have all entered the abyss together, but we all emerged from separate tunnels. Kicking, screaming, shocked. I have to tell you, for anyone who ever mutters the sentence ‘touched by cancer’ – take yourself away, rethink your sentence and have another go. There is no light touching involved. It is a demolition derby, created by fear and doubt and terror, wrapped up in an all-consuming and suffocating blanket of sadness. Followed by years and years of grief.

My family is kick-arse and I am thankful for all of them.

My Brother is a rock at all times, he may have intentionally moved as far away as he possibly could, prefers animals to people and is the only 27-year old I know who has no social media, but he is absolutely everything any and all of us need.

My Sister is the chalk to my cheese. We could not be any more different, and yet our similarities define us. We know what is and what is not important. We don’t hide anything under any rug. We rip that rug from the ground and expose all of the hurts and annoyances. We all speak a different language, have our own standing point and our own battles to fight, but if the battle comes from outside of our circle – then you will get all four of us defending who we are.

We are funny. We are arseholes. Our sense of humour is unique. Our Mum has barely been able to follow a conversation between her three children for twenty years. Nobody can quote a movie the way we can. We all have our Mother’s chin, tenacity, humour and resilience. We have our father’s approach to life (go now, look later), his looks and his confidence where it is rarely deserved. We love like both of them loved each other. We are the product of our parents and their love for us – our Grandparents had nothing to do with it. Our Mum and Dad made the choice every day to mark their own path, create new roles and display how they felt love should be displayed.

My family is small, but there is more love that could possibly be understood. We may be less one, but together we are five. Our spirit is unique, we are at the end of our family name, we all have different goals and adventures, but our love is the same.

Always.

x Courtney x

30 Day Gratitude Challenge

Life happens. Life gets in the way.

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Work.

Family.

Friends.

Bills.

Relationships.

Mental Health.

Physical Health.

Self-Worth.

The world.

Life happens, and life gets in the way.

How blessed we are to live it, to wake up each day and know that we get another chance, another 24 hours.

I have been having some pretty shocking struggles in the last six or so months. So rather than sitting here struggling to think of topics to write about, working out what rabbit hole to send my mind down instead of circling the drain – where to go intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Instead of uncertainty, confusion and the back and forth nonsense, I am going to focus on a 30 Day Gratitude Challenge.

Wish me luck, and please tag me in your comments or share my posts and let me know what you think.

x Courtney Gaye x

Father’s Day – when your Dad is no longer here <3

Today is the eleventh Father’s Day without my Dad and on Thursday it will be the eleventh anniversary since he passed. I almost lock myself into a room the week leading up to Father’s Day. Every t.v ad, social media, shop signs, the radio. It’s everywhere.

Is it Father’s Day for those of us without Dad’s? Guess what? – for all of us out there who don’t have our father’s anymore – its still Father’s Day for our dads too.

Dad. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for being my hero and warrior when I was little. Thank you for giving me your height and confidence, but not so much for the skin and feet.

Thank you for teaching me how to ride a bike on the cricket pitch when I was 5, and how to read a clock/watch when I was 6. Thank you for teaching me the art of telling stories and having a laugh.

Thank you for showing me how important family is, it took us a while but my sister and I are now the very best of friends.

Dad, thank you for instilling in me pride for being Australian, for being tall and for looking different to others. I miss you saying “pacifically” instead of specifically, I miss how cranky you would get when you would bust us cheating at monopoly.

My brother has so many of your traits. As does my sister. But I got your looks. I have your tenacity, Irish-Australian temper, stubbornness and confidence but I also share your fears and concerns for the world. How DO we keep our loved ones safe? WHY is the world such a mess? I too am dwarfed by the same things you were.

I have travelled the world, knowing you didn’t get a chance to. I still go for your footy team, I was sad when they stopped making spearmint leave lollies and I laugh whenever I see the classifieds ads. Every now and then I watch a Clint Eastwood movie and eat a cheese and jam sandwich – just for you.

Dad, I love you and miss you. We all do. You were gone too soon. We are doing our best to make you proud of us. I hope you’re happy and although not in person, in your own way watching over us.

Love, your eldest daughter.

Courtney

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Why I love being a Bonus (Step) Mum

The expectation when you are growing up is to meet the guy/girl of your dreams, and build your life together. For some people (not all), that dream extends to having children. To building a family, and loving that family, hard.

While I was growing up, I never had those marriage fantasies. I dreamt of far away places, of travel, of writing or creating movies. There was a small period of time where I actually tried to change my name to something horribly embarrassing. Most people laughed at me, my best friend Meagan backed me and immediately started rolling with it. Because she is amazing.

The thing is, I didn’t dream of my wedding. I didn’t dream of the family. The white-picket fence. Being pregnant. They all seemed like great things but they just weren’t on my ‘list’.

I had boyfriends. I had love stories. I had break ups. I did the thing. I have a lot of wonderful memories. The love of my life was always travel. I would work myself into the ground, saving every $ I had. Creating travel plans. Dreaming of my escape and throttling those holidays by the neck when I was on leave.

When I started to head towards thirty, something changed. I wanted that special someone. I wanted the text messages and the calls. The cuddles and the kisses. Holding hands. Being nauseatingly in-love in public, pissing-off all who saw.

I made a list. My now-Husband doesn’t know about the list. Because let’s face it, the list is something all of us girls keep hidden. Whether it’s in your diary, on your blog, in your notes, on your phone or just in your head. We ALL have the list. If you say you don’t, then you’re lying.

For me, my list looked something like this.

Taller than me. Has a job. Brown hair. Kind eyes. Great sense of humour. Likes to travel. Is honest. Is respectful. Hasn’t been married. Doesn’t have kids.

Your list might look like mine, or it may not. No judgement, #womensupportingwomen.

On my 27th birthday, I was out with my girlfriends, far from home. I met a man. He was the perfect man for me. We hit it off straight away. To say it was love at first sight, is an understatement. I KNEW this was the man I was going to marry.

The list wasn’t so much as a role-call as it was a guide. Find a man who doesn’t treat you like shit and wants to hang out with you and only you. The rest, was completely negotiable.

Fast-forward five years and I’m a Step-Mum. My dream man has two kids. Two gorgeous, intelligent, funny and loving kids. It was an adjustment. It wasn’t easy. For any of us. There are many extenuating factors when it comes to being a step-parent.

As much as you love them, you haven’t been a part of their firsts. You haven’t watched them grow. They aren’t yours. Now before you read that as a negative, I need for you to know that it isn’t. It’s anything but. Being a step parent is hard. It’s challenging, heart breaking and rewarding. All at the same time.

Do you know why this love feels insanely pure? It feels pure because there is no biological link. Your steppies are not a part of you. You are not biologically wired to love one another. The maternal instinct cannot be compared to that of a mother. That would not be fair. Unfortunately we have Cinderella to thank for the awful banshee portrayal of a step-mum. Step-dads are painted as self-serving, violent or cruel. Step-mums are painted as jealous, baron, nasty bitches.

We aren’t. When you choose to love children that aren’t yours- it shows dedication, commitment and intentional love. They are an extension of the person you love. When you look closely, you see the physical similarities, you also see the biological traits which do not match your partner. A reminder of where and from whom they were created.

You know what though? Children are innocent. Children do not choose where they come from. They don’t choose their future and they certainly cannot be expected to navigate the complexities that blended families bring.

So, in a painfully long-winded post, let me tell you this. Never shy away from a challenge. Never think that someone with children has “baggage”. You are only doing yourself a disservice. It means you have someone who can love others more than they love themselves. They are raising, loving and protecting kids and that is noble and attractive as HELL.

So….

To my two bonus-kids. I love you. I am proud of you and I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. Consider me part of your cheerleading team. We all want the best for you both. I love your Dad and I love you. I could not be prouder to call you my bonus-kids xxxx

Are you a step-parent, are you a step-kid? I want to know!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

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Be a sunflower, stand strong and follow the sun!

A post dedicated to my beautiful little sister, CG <3.

IMG_9206South-East Queensland has had some super cheeky weather of late. Typically February is the hottest, muggiest and most unpleasant month of the year for me. However, I actually wore a cardiagan last week which is unheard of!

So here we have bee, gloriously skipping along thinking for some reason or another Australia has decided NOT too cook us all alive. It turns out we have been lied to. Australia has been tricking us!

On Saturday I finally decided to head out West and go on the famed ‘Sunflower Trail’. I have left it much too late in the season but I just have not been able to go out west before this weekend.

Southern Queensland country = sunflowers. I have long wanted to visit them myself. When I lived in Central Queensland, we would often drive from Dysart out to Emerald and the sunflowers would face us on the way there and by the time we made the drive home in the afternoon, their beautiful yellow faces would be looking at us again on the way home. It is one of my favourite memories!

The most ideal time to go sunflower hunting in South East/West Queensland is December to February – BUT – I would say Feb is just a smidge too late. If you follow the ‘gram, you would have seen Jan as peak season for 🌻🌻.

Our trip started in South Brisbane and we drove our towards Toowoomba, with a couple of stops for coffee/loos/cuddles with my little (nearly) four year old Niece 😊.

Once we hit Toowoomba after a couple of hours we grabbed some lunch / picnic food and continued our drive out to Nobby, QLD. This took us another forty or so minutes. It was HOT!

IMG_9160We had our picnic in Nobby and had a lovely older gentleman come up and explain the towns history and he pointed out all of his favourite buildings. I think one of the sweetest things in the world is the pride locals take in their smaller communities. We had he pleasure of growing up out West and it’s there that you truly appreciate the saying “salt of the Earth” people. Have a chat with someone if you can, you will always walk away more knowledgeable and with a friendly smile and a wave.

After our lunch and playground evacuation negotiation skills with little L, we drove another five or so minutes out of town to the sunflower fields. Unfortunately we were far too late. They had dropped their last petals and were no longer beaming up at the sun.

IMG_9286At first we were disappointed but really, we had had an amazing day together and we knew we were pushing our luck given it was mid-Feb.

We jumped back in the car (which was no longer red and was more a unique dusty-brown shade) and as we were about to turn around we thought we would maybe just dive a little further.

Another five mins down the toad and we found some sunflowers! Not too many but more than we thought we would! One last little field. We walked up and down the edge of the field, took some pics, watched the cute bees and imagined the hardships our Aussie farmers face each season.

If I could mention something though (and I’m going to), it’s for travellers, grammers and visitors to be respectful. These are not wild sunflowers. These are farms. There are wonderful, hard-working people behind these crops. Don’t just stomp your way through the fields, grabbing the flowers and forgetting that this is someone’s crop. Be respectful. This is private property. If we could explain this to a four year old – then I think your group of ten stomping all over the field with drones and selfie sticks can also work that one out?

IMG_9260Ideally we would so this trip again in January. We would leave earlier in the morning and not pick the middle of the day. However in saying that, for a last minute spontaneous trip out west – I think it went pretty well!

See you next season Sunflowers 🌻.

x C x

For more info on our beautiful Southern Queensland Country click here.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and items, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

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Sweet little Sunday <3

On Sunday, it was my gorgeous younger sisters birthday. Somehow the stars aligned and the majority of us were all free to hang out. I live in Brisbane, my Mum lives down the coast and my sister lives about half way. So sometimes it can be pretty hard to find the time to catch up!We decided that a family bike ride was on the cards and much to my surprise my cruiser somehow fit into the back of my little Mazda 3 and I was able to get it to mums. I think sometimes it’s hard to remember that some of the more simple pleasures is just quality time with those you love, riding your bikes around a beautiful headland and just spending some time together!The Gold Coast had really turned the weather on for the day – a beautiful and sunny 29 degrees. A light breeze and not too many people out. Our ages ranging from 62 through to 16 months and our rising abilities ranging just as drastically (and not at all age-congruent. 😂😂😂).It was a simple way to spend the day but it was wonderful and exactly what we all needed xxx

How did you spend your weekend?

x C x

Christmas in Sydney!

Christmas morning we woke up to the madness that is Santa and present deliveries, lollies and excitement in deciding which of Santa’s goodies will be making it to Grandma’s for Christmas day!DSC08075

We had the car packed and a fresh bag of fancy croissants and were on the road by 9am and heading out to the western suburbs. Once we got to our destination it was time for celebratory drinks and cuddles and putting the family gifts under the Christmas tree.

I had the excellent idea to have matching Christmas t-shirts, which quite frankly has to be one of my better ideas to date! 🙂

Christmas was filled with far too much food, amazing drinks, a sea of Christmas paper and presents for days!

As I was away from my family for the day, I needed to have a bit of my families Christmas tradition and so I decided to cook my annual Christmas ham.

IMG_8086Quite a bit of pressure to pull of the perfect Christmas ham in front of 16 members of another family!

Thankfully it worked out beautifully and even though my sister has referred to me as a #hamwhore – I truly believe it was worth the risk ;).

IMG_8223Christmas went off without a hitch – the kids came home with a truck load of presents, I scored a new 24mm pancake camera lens for my Canon and G loved his new GoPro!

A wonderful day and a reminder that Christmas is about each other and good times and we cannot afford to forget the reason for the season :).

I don’t think there is anything in this world quite as cute as my husband with his Grandma Ivy – just gorgeous ❤ x

x C x

Grief: Even when I know what’s coming, I’m never prepared for how it feels.

Grief. It’s a bastard of an emotion. I’m currently on my commute to work (read: public transport of all methods), and I’ve spent the entire journey crying. 

Those hot, heavy, sorrow filled tears. I am sorry if you know the tears I am talking about. They rarely come with anything less than destructive and devastating memories. 

Thank goodness for dark sunglasses and everyone else absorbed with their phones, otherwise this would be spectacle. 

Ten years ago, everyone around me would have noticed. Ten years ago people read books on the bus and texted. We weren’t completely absorbed by our phones. Today I am thankful for the destractiob. I too can be lost in my phone. Ten years ago (almost…) we lost our Father. Our families Husband, Father to three and friend to all died. 

Our father had been ill for some time, but this is not what took him. Which was so cruel as he had worked so hard to fight his sickness for so long. To then die after a routine procedure in hospital – 1200km away from his family. I can’t imagine. 

Yes. It has almost been ten years. So why am I sitting on a bus today crying? Why have I spent the last three days crying? 

I have this every year as it approached the date. Every year. However today and this week, I am less in control than I normally am. 

My heart hurts. My soul is aching. For ten years I have fought to keep my head above water, me and mine. My small family. Just the four of us. Fighting to keep going, fighting to stay above the water. Fighting the world. Fighting each other. Hurting. 

It’s a cruel twist of fate that the anniversary of dad’s passing is always the same week as Father’s Day, here in Australia. How f*cking cruel is that? The first anniversary was ON Father’s Day. 

All else aside – I seem to have lost my strength. I’ve hit this ten year mark and I’m out of steam. I’m so desperately sad. I miss him. He wasn’t at my wedding. He hasn’t met his grandchildren. So many life events. I am crying not for me but for him. You aren’t meant to die at 50. I know plenty of people do – and I guess I have always used this as a coping mechanism. 

He had a good life. 

People die much younger. 

We loved him and he knew that. 

I had a great childhood. 

Etc. 

It’s not helping this week. My sadness is palpable. Breathing hurts. When my alarm went off this morning I started crying again. When I showered last night the water was so hot that all I could think was “did they use warm water when they washed dads body? Did they wash it?”. That’s morose I know. Here I am though. 

So what do I do? How do you deal with long-term grief? Why has it hit me now? Is it the ten – year mark? Does life-healing work? Where do I go? Who can actually help with this?

Please help me. If you know how I should try to deal with these feelings (psychologist?, kineseologist?, yoga?). I don’t know. 

Sending love & thanks. M

Lucy

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