That elusive thing called happiness.
I was walking along the harbour in Sydney, taking in the sights and sounds of the city, and I suddenly recognised the somewhat unfamiliar feeling bubbling up from inside me and spreading out through my fingers and toes. And I smiled.
It was happiness! And it felt awesome.
I credit my recent trip to Sydney for the launch of the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers competition for my flirtation with fun.
How long has it been since I’ve spent a few hours walking, just for the hell of it? Not to get somewhere fast, or for the exercise, but to see something new?
How long has it been since I’ve shopped for things other than groceries, prescriptions, school supplies, or badly-needed clothes for fast-growing kids?
For being a tourist?
For looking at the world around me, instead of just rushing through it?
Far too long. Clearly.
Part of the reason for my joy, I realised, was that whilst sightseeing and window-shopping, I was being totally Mindful.
So much of my journey from depression to healing has involved Mindfulness.
Embracing life: The good and the bad. Breathing, feeling, listening, living.
Not worrying about the past or fussing about the future. Living completely in the moment.
And I did it in Sydney.
How far I’ve come since my marriage separation left me homeless, depressed, betrayed, confused, and abused! A shadow of my former self, quivering with doubt.
On my first work trip away from home following my marriage break-up, I was so crippled with anxiety I did not leave my hotel room for the duration of a two-night stay in Sydney.
I got into a cab at the airport, checked into my hotel, attended a conference and awards night, then got back into a cab, returned to the airport, and flew home.
Need I mention, that I could not afford a cab? And in the past had mostly used public transport? Quite easily and stress-free.
After arriving at my hotel, I was so anxious at being out of my comfort zone that I could not leave the building, even though it was situated on top of a fabulous shopping centre.
Seriously, I could have been anywhere. I did not see Sydney at all.
This was so not me.
I’m a Sagittarian, I was born to travel. I’ve lived and worked all over the world.
I’ve navigated my way across countries. Stepped on and off planes, trains, buses, and automobiles. I’ve made myself understood in countries knowing only a smattering of the local language. And I don’t think I’ve ever been fearful.
(Except maybe for one time in Athens, but that’s another story.)
So venturing out in Sydney on my own and (gradually) feeling totally relaxed and happy, was a huge deal. HUGE!
And you, dear readers, have all played a part in my recovery. For my trip to Sydney was all due to social media.
When I started Maid In Australia early last year, I never imagined my little blog would bring me so much pleasure. (Steady on, not that kind of pleasure!)
Blogging and tweeting has been a way for me to rediscover my writing voice, and share my journey. More importantly, it’s put me in touch with some of the funniest, wisest, talented, and kindest people I’ve ever met.
It’s brought me to Sydney twice now. Once for the inaugural Aussie Bloggers’ Conference, and again for the launch of the Kidspot/Ford Territory Top 50 Bloggers Competition. I am still in shock that I am one of the finalists.
What is even more valuable than the honour of being a Top 50 Blogger, is the friendship and mentoring I’ve received from other bloggers.
They have commiserated with me when things are shit, and celebrated when life is good.
They’ve generously shared knowledge and advice; they’ve helped me technically and practically; and one of them, the lovely Eden Riley, even gave me a camera when she saw that my own was crap.
They’ve accepted me: Faults, overshares, a distinct lack of merkins, and all.
And slowly, that acceptance has fed my self-confidence. Which in turn made me brave enough to travel to Sydney and turn up to a party on my own. A party where I knew hardly anyone.
It was something which would have been too intimidating a year ago, and it was tops.
Even better, when I had some time to myself later, I didn’t lock myself in my hotel room. I went outside and played tourist. (It did take some deep breathing, and a close look at the map, but I did it!)
Usually, when I’m in Sydney, it’s a flying, working visit. I’ve never had time, or made the time, to enjoy the city.
Or the confidence.
I’d forgotten how travelling brings the spirit alive.
How experiencing something different or new, in a refreshingly unfamiliar environment, makes you more aware of sights, sounds, and tastes of the world around you.
How it keeps you in the moment. Mindful.
And this trip, Sydney totally did it for me!
Readers, have you ever done anything that scared you?
Maid In Australia's visit to Sydney was sponsored by the award-winning, boutique tourism PR firm, Infront Communications, the Mantra Group, and the BreakFree On George Hotel.
Heading towards Darling Harbour
Isn't it gorgeous? Near the Maritime Museum, where I once appeared at a writer's festival. (Pre the crippling anxiety days).
Loving the Aussie flag!
Sleeping, not planking
That's a saucy-sounding cocktail list!
There's always something happening in a big city. Here is Channel 10 recording an outside broadcast.
But this family enjoying fish and chips are more interested in the view!
Time to head back to the hotel ...