Happy places Vol. 1

IMG_1443

I moved into a new house 4 months ago. The first day I walked through the empty rooms my chest felt like it was going to burst. It is the first time I am living by myself, a dream of mine for the longest time. Happiness was the word that came to mind when I sprawled across the living room carpet, thanking and blessing God. But it also felt like peace, gratitude, and rest. A settling down into all the deep and full places. My happiness had a life of its own as it pressed me into the outer edges of myself, bursting free into all these different postures.

But then happiness doesn’t always need events to make a home with us. I, for one, carry pieces of it in my happy places:

1. Inside my cup of extra-hot hot chocolate on a cold wintry day

2. In my inbox. Some emails come filled with such love, and I can’t help but want to be with them and in them, drinking up every word

3. My Wednesday morning body balance class

4. Sleeping in on a Sunday

5. The quiet twilight of dawn and dusk

6. The old vintage photograph of the Eiffel Tower hanging in my living room

7. Getting completely lost in a book

8. Watching people in the everyday mundane

9. Writing

10. Finding that perfect seat on a bus

11. Inside my cup of tea at the end of the day. Tea makes everything better

12. My heart

12. Other people’s hearts

13. Flowers

14. Chocolate cake

15. Warm socks

16. The sun falling down on my skin

17. Beautiful smells

18. Scarves

19. Chemistry. Attraction

20. Comfortable shoes

21. Mountains

22. The sea

23. A good romance movie

24. A clean house

25. Big, big hugs

26. Knitted wear

27. Perfume. Makes me feel like a woman

28. Bath products that smell delicious

27. A hot shower

28. Bookstores. The smell and feel of books is a pleasure beyond words

29. Slipping in-between warm sheets

30. The quiet. Silence.

Except for Wednesdays, every morning I am up at 6.30. The house is quiet at that time and Dandenong Road which never really sleeps is coming fully alive again. I sit on my white bedroom rug and take in the morning. The silence settles around me into a comfortable knowing. A gratitude I cannot put into tangible words. I realise I’m happy, not because everything is perfect in my life because actually nothing is perfect in my life. I am happy because I choose to see where the blessings are and I see all the good that is good. I’m happy because in an unconceivable way, I am the best thing that has ever happened to me. Everything else is just a bonus.

Happiness is hard to unpack yet it is also the easiest thing to pick out in a room. But maybe our job is not to spend too much time trying to unpack it into bite sizes so we can understand its formula, because we waste so much precious time trying to pursue it. It is like that beloved friend that comes and goes whenever she feel like and refuses to be tethered. When we accept this friend as she is and not rely on her presence or absence to still be and do us, we understand what happiness is – it is everything and nothing all at the same time. It is that simple. It is that hard.

I don’t remember the day I stopped chasing happiness. I don’t remember where I was or what I was wearing. I don’t even remember the tumult that caused the shift in me. Usually I remember such things because they become stenciled to my being.

I do remember though that that was the day I realised that authenticity is more important to me than any happiness. So I let that dream go, and the beauty is that in letting go I have found a constant joy and wellbeing, for it is only when I am authentic that I am my best and happy self.

My house is not empty anymore. It is all filled up with things, trinkets and special things. Various colours ad textures coming together, sitting well together. It is beginning to take on my reflection. It is beginning to feel like home. But still, every-time I walk from one room to another my heart flutters a little and on some days, a lot, because I love this space so much. And I am happy because I get to share it first with the one person who has never left my side through it all. Me. She too, is my happy place.

Off guard moments

DSC_0439

I get on the bus this morning, my mind present yet far away. The morning is lovely. I think I’m going to watch the sky today. I have a book in my bag that I have loved on for weeks. Reading the last chapter though means saying goodbye and I don’t want to say goodbye. Read More

Fixing broken things

img_20161011_184532Thursday comes along and I do everything else but the one thing I am supposed to do. I turn my gaze away from all the piles of blank pages and rows of pens that sit on my desk. They all look pitifully at me, as if they know something I don’t. I have been avoiding writing. I have been avoiding breathing. Sometimes it hurts to breathe. Sometimes it hurts to be alive. And I want to escape myself – to stealthily crawl out of my skin and take some time out from feeling everything and nothing. Read More

Joie de vivre

img_0994

She smiled at me, her rosy cheeks instantly blooming red as the frosty morning air touched her face. Melbourne in winter can make even grown men hug themselves. She was wearing white and black crocodile shoes, a flowy gray scarf and a black winter coat. Her short black hair was cropped back, revealing a face that was unmissable. She was stunning. I was drawn to her, intrigued by the sureness of her steps and her confidence in apparel. What was she wearing? Read More

Beginning to arrive

 

 

IMG_1217

When doubt arrives at my house with his suitcases, I know trouble is brewing. He is not an easy guest to host. Sometimes I survive him by reading poetry. Lines of sentences on a page, a word here catching a word there, can be grounding to a soul steeped in never ending suppositions. Poetry gathers all the pieces of me that life strews allover the place, bringing me closer to myself in those times when the only thing I need is healing. It pulls all the parts of me together. It makes my heart start beating again and slowly I can recognise my limbs, my face, my lips, my voice. There is nothing more nourishing to my soul than words that fit. Words chiselled to hold me tight; to make magic inside of me.

Read More

34: Lessons from losing my hair

IMG_0570

I once was a girl, small and fragile. On the days we went to town, my mom would hold my hand so tightly, pulling me close, protecting me. I would sit on the bus with my curious big, brown eyes taking in everything. I would watch big people and dream about how and when I was going to be like them- a self written in the stars, bulletproof and perfect. Read More

Don’t hold me too tight

 

DSC_0425

Photo credit: Jo Chin

I thought I was doing the best thing for her.

I was wrapping my arms around her like it was all I was born to do. But she wriggled in my arms, restless and troubled.

Don’t hold me too tight all the time, she said.

I was offended. How could she say that to me? My own life resisting all the effort I went to to direct it in the path I wanted it to go. I took my arms away, determined to give up, determined to not care anymore about jobs, people, life paths, writing plans and schedules, timetables and goals. I had had it. Everything I did for my life seemed to come back empty-handed. It made no dent in the larger scheme of things. There were no earthquakes or explosions in all the purpose and intention I exhaled out into the world. This is how I saw it. So I refused to be comforted, not because I didn’t crave comfort…and assurance but because my heart shrivelled up inside of me and wanted nothing to do with all of it.  And I was at a loss. Have you ever been 33 going on 34? Have you ever lived with your all yet have nothing to show for it? Read More

Filling up

 

IMG_1015

Dear Girl with the big, wide eyes,

Once upon a time I thought I had so much to give. The way my heart used to swell up, so round and full had me convinced of that. There was always so much in there, pressing against the edges desperate for release. It became essential, the pouring out of myself, like breathing.

What do people need? I asked myself. People need love, and so love is what I gave. I stopped time and emptied pockets in order to lay hold of the last shreds of love in any given instance so it could be packaged and given away to a soul that needed it. Read More

Humans and love

IMG_0829

I want to write about love. The urge sits in my chest like the ground presses into the earth. Heavy, strong and pulling down as though it was meant to be. I get saturated with words that catch pieces of love, grabbing them from the air, here a little there a little as if greedy for something more concrete and shaped. But the picture of love emerges only as the pieces come together, only as experience arrives at my door. Love makes sense the more the pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

But how can we talk about love without talking about pain? Read More

Mirror mirror on the wall

20150828_130957

There was something about caressing the spines of the books that charged my heart back to life. It felt a lot like bolts of electricity travelling from the tips of my fingers, up my arm and into the parts of my being I hadn’t felt for a very long time. There was nothing strange about it. I love bookstores. I love being caved in by shelves of books upon books, worlds contained in characters and prose. I love the smell. I don’t even have to touch anything for it to hold onto me. It comes to settle on my skin simply because I’m there. Read More