Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Vlog; Speaking Face to Face about Depression


video

I have always envied those who have the courage to speak in public. I studied to be a teacher and the only reason that I am not teaching today is because I am terrified of public speaking. I have even tried to overcome my fear by attending professional development courses. These helped to change the way I speak about my feelings associated with public speaking from being "nervous"to "excited and stimulated". 

While I have thoroughly enjoyed writing about my experience with mental health, my ultimate aim is to be able to share my story in front of groups of people. 

I know words and writing can be extremely powerful, but I truly believe that writing does "lose"some of it's emotive power if you can't see the expressions on the persons face. We know that we can often misinterpret things written on facebook, via text or email because you might take "words the wrong way", so I really want to be able to speak openly about my experience to add depth, power, and personality to my experience so that people know I am a real person, who has truly lived this experience and survived, and not some computer generated person who is someone making up their story.

I can hide behind my ipad while writing, and I can shelter my tears and emotions from public view, but it's time to step out of my comfort zone and begin to talk, face to face, about my experience.

Here's my first attempt at tackling this challenge.

Today you get to see the raw emotion on my face.

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxxx 

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Has Australia Lost It's Identity?

There's been recent debates over what it means to be Australian and some have even been lead to believe that there's no one unifying culture within the beloved land down under but I think that's a load of horse shit.

Yes you might  struggle to see a carefully  constructed cork screw wearing hat providing shade to an old bloke with a beer guts hanging out over stubby shorts who  endearingly speaking wears a wife beater and thongs down the street in many metropolitan areas but you only have to wait for the 26 th of January for people of all shapes, sizes and colors to proudly wear the Union Jack and southern cross across their shoulders.

While the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Oprah house and the Gold Coast theme parks bring hours of entertain for the brave to climb, slide, and ride around, it's the natural beauty across a vast and beautiful country that mesmerizes even the citizens of this beautiful land.

It's sometimes crazy to think of the diversity within which Australians create a home.

The  lifestyles to which one becomes accustomed to and idolizes changes from state to state, region to region and even town to town.

While some Aussies couldn't bare the thought of living too far from the ocean where they spend summer launching their boats in hope of emptying the eskies of beer and replacing them with fresh fish, others couldn't think of anything worse then swimming in the salty sea and rinsing out sand from every crevice in their bodies.

No they'd prefer to watch the beautiful sun sets as they bring relief to a land so dry that the morning dew is often the only natural moisture that gently persuades the living out of  hibernation.

Those from the outback go in search for quietly kept hidden gems in the form of waterholes filled to the brim with yabbies, preferring to cool off in the refreshingly calm and silky waters that leave your skin glistening and fresh.

Then there's the river folk who love nothing more then burying their chairs deep into the river banks clutches, as they spend their days being pulled behind a boat with their music blasting underneath the shade and protection of the ever weary weeping willows and Australians old faithful gum trees.

Those living up north in the far right hand corner of the continent couldn't stand the thought of the dry, hot, thirsty Southern sun. They prefer the moisture filed air that brings to life the palm, coconut and mango trees that create one big massive oasis in an otherwise try continent. The beaches are death traps in summer with more bombs aka jelly fish then  landmines throughout the whole of  Vietnam. Instead locals cool off underneath waterfalls that sprinkle their share of life's precious resource across the rocks that lie in their path.

The residents down in tassie devour the fresh seafood down at the port in Hobart and road trip around the perimeter of their scenic mini  continent in search for hidden torquesese waters to bath their warm bodies within. Although right down south they are protected from the hot dry northerlies that inflict their heat on their fellow citizens across the Tasman Sea and the sticky hot air of the North, their air is much more cooler and refreshing, bringing vitality and life to the fauna and flora.

Some Aussies hug the coastline in favor of the fresh salty sea breezes while others prefer the openness of the wide desert plains.

Few reside in quiet country towns opting for the simple pleasures in life and making a living off of the land they love and respect while the masses call the big city lights home preferring the comforting sound of the buzzing traffic and loving life caught in the momentum of change.

Those who live in the cities embrace the diversity of the many different cultures, cuisines, festivals, accessories and stories that are a direct product and gift from others who have seen, experienced, and grown from the knowledge and understanding of other places, beliefs and attitudes.

Country folk are often less exposed to different nationalities and ways of life yet they still maintain an open mind and love to travel around the world to share in the culture of others.

These are the features that I love about Australia; the diversity, respect, toleration and thirst to learn from different cultures and  environments, lifestyles and ways of living within one big country.

So being Australian is less about the way you look and more about your attitude and respect, love and admiration for a country so beautiful and diverse that it encompasses all kinds of people from different backgrounds with varying priorities, beliefs and educations.

To try and fit all Australians into one stereotype and identity is only  detrimental to the  differences that make Australia so unique.

Whether you're black, white, pink or green, it doesn't matter and it certainly doesn't define whether you are Australian or not, it's your love and respect for your country, the land and it's people as well as an understanding of its history and the appreciation and respect for those who have fought to protect our country that makes you Australian.

So whether you cool off in the river, sea or a water hole or no matter if you eat lamb on a bbq, webber, spit or not at all and even if you don't walk around in a bikini or stubbies and prefer to be more modest with a shirt or hijib and reside in the desert, by the sea or in a metrpolois you can still be a proud Australian.

It's not how you look it's how you feel, behave and think about ones country.

What do you think?

Is there one  identity?

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxx

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Honey I Shrunk my Clothes

Apparently machines don't have feelings but I think my washing machine has it in for me.

I even try to make it s life easy by sorting the whites from colors, pre soaking stained items, choosing the prettiest smelling summer scents washing powder and  whistling while filling it full, but still, it continues to rub me the wrong way.

It has the ultimate power; it shrinks my clothes. I'm sure of it. Last summer they fit perfectly as I pranced around in my colorful short shorts embracing the sunshine sprinkling my skin with its rays.

This year I'm  uncomfortably sucking in my belly and muttering little curses under my breath as I squeeze into the same shorts with raw  determination that they will indeed fit only to find that I've grown a muffin top and camel toe.

As I look into the mirror twisting and turning to see the rear view image I realize that my bum cheeks have gotten hungry and have managed to devour the bottom half of my shorts exposing my chubby cheeks for the world to see.

Not to mention the little dimples that have decided that now would be a great time to stamp their authority on my thighs.

People think that dimples look cute on cheeks but they fail to add in the word face.... While dimples may look cutesy woosey on face cheeks dimples on butt cheeks just look plan nasty which results in grown women cursing little stick thin giggling insects with no cellulite in sight.

But despite these glaringly obvious reasons not to leave the house in those shorts you still do because you don't want to give the washing machine the   satisfaction that it has won and torn to shreads your confidence.

Instead, you suck in despite the button digging into your skin and your failed attempts to grasp the minimal material left to be able to wiggle down your bottom to cover the smiling dimples and you try to strut the extra junk in your trunk with confidence.

Stuff you washing machine... you're not winning this time.

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xx

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Positive Talk

Never undermine the power of positive feedback.

Some times we re so busy in our little world's that we forget to take a look up from what we're focusing on to see just how grateful we are for our life and the people in it.

So whether it be a friend, colleague, stranger or family member, I dare you to take a look around and find one thing or person you are grateful for and let them know.

You'll make their day and they'll be filled with warm fuzzies.


Today I am grateful for work mates who make me laugh and who can share in my joy of 90s music and terrible singing!

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxxx

Saturday, 18 January 2014

My Inspiration

One of life's greatest gifts is being given a heart of another to love, nurture, care for and protect.

Today's inspiration is the person who I have given my heart to; my husband.

They say opposites attract and when we first started dating it was definitely a case of the bad boy charm wooing me, a sweet and innocent girl.

Micks larikan ways were mistaken with misconceptions that he was intelligently challenged.

But I now know that his humor protected the heart that he found so hard at the time to share.

Once I looked past his facade I found a guy who has the biggest of hearts and who would do anything to protect those who he loves.

He is by far the biggest inspiration in my life and I wouldn't be the person I am today with out him by my side.

My husband gives me the courage to share my story via my blog. He has taught me to believe in my voice and to silence out those that are less encouraging. He's taught me not to care about what people think but to just be myself.

I turn to him for truthful advice and to provide a shelter when life becomes too busy.

His presence alone calms me.

He's taught me how to relax and switch off after a hectic day, the strength it takes to stand by someone you love when they are ill, how to cook, what to do if a zombie apocalypse ever came to town, how to handle a car in the gravel, that one must laugh at themselves and that money can be found in the street ie not to worry about it because you can always earn more the next week.

I hope that I can love and care for someone as well as my husband did when I was ill. I could only hope that his family look through the same admiring eyes that mine look at him for his strength and the better person that he makes me.

I'd like to think that I have as strong a work ethic as he does and that others can see that just the way others praise my husband to me.

My  husband is incredibly generous with his time and will drop everything to lend a helping hand.

He's intelligent and forward thinking.

Michael makes me laugh with his witty and often dirty sense of humor.

He loves to stir people up and to get a bite from people.

He doesn't care about the little things that others become strung up upon.

My husband is incredibly strong both mentally and physically.

Sometimes I wished that I could delve inside of his head to see how he was feeling and coping while I was sick. I know there's things he'll never be able to put into words and that he wouldn't want to share  because of the pain, but I'm so grateful that he stood by my side when others would've ran a mile.

I can only hope that my husband feels just as loved and as cared for as he makes me feel.

I'm one of the lucky ones who Michael has shown his complete self to. There's things he shares and shows me that no one else will ever see and the same goes with me.

Sometimes he shows glimpses of his incredibly soft side to others, and as we become older his more caring side is coming out more and more like just the other day he suggested sending flowers to one of my best friends.

I love that so much about him.

My husband inspires me, challenges, protects and loves me, and he does this on top of being a great friend, loving family member, hard worker, do it yourself man, renovater, my personal chef, footy and  basketball player and much more.

I hope one day that I can be half the person he is.


To my husband, thank you for seeing all of my flaws and helping me to accept them and for loving me when sometimes I struggle to love myself.


To other people out there, don't forget to tell your partner how and why they inspire you because it's sure to make them feel special.

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxx

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Our focuses for 2014

I'm always excited to start the new year with new focuses, good intentions and the knowledge that new experiences will present themselves.

2013 was the year that we were becoming husband and wife so we spent the year focusing on moving back to the country and saving our money to be able to share our special day with those closest to us.

Our main focus for 2014 is being able to have an exciting, adventurous first year of marriage.

We have some very exciting domestic trips on the cards including a baby shower in Adelaide and meeting our good friends first baby, a road trip to Coober Pedy to catch up with friends, my husband's annual pilgrimage to the Nullabour fishing with the boys, a girls shopping trip to Melbourne that same long weekend and  potentially going to Cairns to spend Christmas with my mother in law.

We're also superly excited to be heading on our much awaited honeymoon to New Zealand for 3 weeks of driving around like crazoes in a Winnebago!!!

We have an action packed adventure planned with a fishing charter in the Bay of Islands, cruising through the Waitomo Cave in a tube seeing the glow worms, relaxing in the hot pools in Rotorua, sipping wine in the Marlborough wine region, flying in a helicopter up to the Fox Glacier and trekking down, white water rafting in Queenstown and floating down Milford Sound on a nature cruise!!!

Our second biggest focus is to start renovating our home in our country town.

We've gone back and forwards deciding on whether we should bulldoze our little shack and start fresh over renovating and plenty of people have offered advice but my husband and I aren't afraid of a challenge so bring it on!!!

The house needs plenty of TLC but we have to be careful not to  over capitalize too so we're going to do a whole heap of DIY, searching on the Internet for pre loved goodies and offering beer and food in return for trusty mates rates.

We're hoping to have a shed built, verandah on the back and new concrete slab down by the end of the year!!!

We've had a builder around to draw up some plans so once that's done we can submit them for Council approval and then once we're back from our honeymoon it'll be head down bum up renovating!

My husband and I are pretty proud of our ability to save and to achieve our focuses so we're pretty pumped to look back on 2014 knowing we've given them a fair crack.

Renovating means spending quality time with my husband achieving our personal goals and seeing our hard earned money and effort right before our eyes. It's hard work, exhausting and incredibly expensive but it's also very rewarding.

Best of all I love how handy my husband is and working together as a team to create a home we re proud of.

Our third focus would be our families. It's crazy how your priorities change over your life. When we lived in Adelaide and away from our families, our friends were our priority. We'd do everything together and we had so many amazing times on wine tours, trying new restaurants, going out on the town, drinking, poker nights and so much more! Now that we have moved home closer to our parents and siblings, as well as our beautiful niece, we love nothing more then dinner dates, Sunday roasts, beach missions, camping trips, Wednesday night snitty night at the pub and quality time with our family. We're incredibly lucky that we are very close to both sides and we always have so much fun with them all. It's nice to know that you can be your complete self and supported with sometimes minimum effort when they are around. Our friends are still incredibly important but we definitely value time with our family too.

So here's to a fabulous year of holidays, adventures, laughs, quality time with friends and family and achieving our renovating goals!!!

What focuses do you have for 2014?

Look after yourself and those around you,
Kirsty xxx

Saturday, 11 January 2014

My Inspiration

It's crazy to think that even as children we have Inspirations and people who we recognize as worthy candidates to aspire to one day when we grow up.

Today's  special inspiration is someone who I have known since birth and who continues to inspire me today; my Aunty.

It's weird calling her my Aunty though because we're so close that she feels more like a best friend or sister.

You see my mum is the oldest of 4 girls and my Aunty Paula is the youngest, so me and her are only 12 years apart and so is she and my mum.

I remember as a child looking up to her for moving away from home and starting her life in Adelaide, while choosing to study teaching.

Eventually she became a mum at 24, built a house and has since popped out 3 other beautiful children while still working part time as a teacher.

Neither of my parents went to uni so when I needed advice on what to study I turned to her.

In my first year at University she took me under her wing and we shared the same roof as she taught me the ropes both around Adelaide during the day and partying up a storm at night. So many people would think that she was taking me out as the bigger sister on my first night legally on the town!!

I could tell her anything and we'd have some great laughs, shopping expeditions and also many d and ms.

It was this relationship that we built that definitely shone brightly while I was sick.

It was my Aunty who would visit me in hospital and take me for walks. She'd pick me up for the day to try and bring some normality back into my life.

While my family was having a meltdown she tried to stand strong with my husband. She would stop everything at school if she got a call to say I wasn't doing too well.

There are things she saw, moments she held those closest to me up and times when even she, the strongest of strong, broke down, but she never gave up on me.

When I was feeling better and returning to work slowly she'd pick me up to do some retail therapy as a reward for facing my anxiety and going back to work. She d meet me in the city for coffee and would go out of her way to show me I was loved and cared for.

The crazy thing is that my depression has humbled both of us and opened our eyes to an illness so challenging and horrible that it's changed our views on life.

We used to be such stress heads who would spend hours perfecting lesson plans or writing assignments. We cared too much about what others thought and we'd get caught up in people's bitchiness.

But going through my depression together has definitely put our health and happiness first and we've learnt to let go of the stresses that don't matter.

My Aunty is a great mum, an amazing teacher, a family member who recognizes that we must invest time and effort into relationships, a person who I look up to and admire and one of my best friends.

When we re together people must think we're such nut jobs because we're loud, out of control, giggling goober!

I miss her so much and I'm so proud of her own anxieties that she's been conquering.

I'm so blessed to have her in my life.

So to Aunty Paula thank you for being there through life's ups and downs and for letting me be apart of your children's lives.

I know this post is going to make you cry and will bring back some painful memories but hopefully above all, it shows you how special you are to me. I hope one day my niece looks up to me with the same admiring eyes that i look up to you.

To other people out there; don't take your family for granted just because they are blood; often your family are the ones who will stick by you through thick and thin and they deserve your respect,  forgiveness and love just like you'd treat a friend.

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxx

Monday, 6 January 2014

Working with Depression

Some would wonder how people suffering from mental illnesses function, let alone pull it together at work.

Let's face it, healthy people struggle through Mondayitus, hump day, or any day starting with the word work day, let alone if you're struggling with an internal battle between negative forces in your brain, making even getting out of bed the toughest of fights.

It's crazy isn't it... thinking that 1 in 5 battle from a mental health illness yet they invisibly slip into their daily routines, showing up for work and silently bowing their head down low so to go unnoticed even though inside their minds they feel as though there's a bright flashing arrow above their heads announcing that they are in struggle town.

It's difficult to describe to some one who hasn't been there, the feeling of a great weight literally pushing down your shoulders so that it as an audious task just to put one foot in front of the other.

So it's difficult to ever describe being trapped inside of your own mind, and creating a prison with bars so closely welded together that you struggle to grip the iron rods for support.

The great weight and heavy thinking makes it near  impossible to function full stop, let alone at work.

I would know, I've been there.

When I think back to how I coped at work the answer is simple; I didn't.

I went from being a go getter,  initiative driver, full of energy, generous team player to someone who could barely have the courage to open my email inbox in sheer terror and anxiety that I'd give the wrong advice or that I'd be  overwhelmed by the number of unread emails waiting for my reply.

Just leaving the house felt like a mission, so by the time I rocked up at work, on the occasions that I did, I was already exhausted from the lack of sleep I'd had plus my body  constantly producing adrenaline because it was in full flight mode.

My anxiety crept up on me slowly. It started with the stress and normal anxious feelings that come with starting a new role and taking on bigger  responsibilities. But soon my stress turned to worry, then panic and as I became more tired from a lack of sleep, I lost concentration, started feeling dizzy, lacked judgment, became too drained to talk, and eventually started cringing when someone would ask me a question or how I was doing.

I lost my very own voice and control over my emotions.

My colleagues were absolutely amazing. They could see that I wasn't my normal self and they gathered around to support me.  Tasks that I used to compete in 10 minutes could take me an hour and they would have to explain things to me at least 3 times before I  understood because the first time my anxiety clouded my mind making understanding near impossible, the second time I'd manage to breath a little more to start to hear what they'd say and the final time I could make  mental notes and set off to try and turn them into actions.

It really must of been incredibly hard for my colleagues and manager to stay patient when my productivity was at an all time low and to see me so on edge.

I really am so grateful for their support and I have no idea how people out there suffering manage to continue to show up to work and carry on with their roles while they are struggling with their own internal battle.

Eventually I started calling in sick. First, a day at a time. Each night I'd set my alarm knowing full well that I would spend the night tossing and turning and that when it'd ring in the morning I wouldn't have slept and I'd be left feeling frustrated and frazzled.

Soon I was texting my manager every single day with an apology for being a no show.

I went and saw my doctor and counselor.

I met with my manager over coffee outside of work. We decided that it'd be best for me to take some time off. I desperately wanted to feel well again. I knew that I could do the job. I loved my team and the company that I worked for but I'd lost faith in my own ability.

I was my own worst nightmare.

Having time off gave me thinking time. This is one of the hard things with mental health. You are unwell yes. You need time off to regroup yes. You start over thinking things yes. You feel like a failure because you cant even get out of bed let alone dressed showered and presentable for work. Negative thoughts become your best friend until you hide away together in your own little safe haven. Yet you know, deep down, that you must face your demons to get better. But your demons feel so real and scary. You lose the will to fight because you don't have the energy to stop the thoughts.

That's when your colleagues, managers, support workers, friends and family must step in.

They must drag you to appointments for help.

They must force you to meet with your manager to discuss your health.

They must help you to take your medication and to get you out of the house.

You will feel numb.

You'll feel useless.

But it'll be helping even though you can't see it.

You feel as though you're going to be fired; why would they want to have someone as terrible as you in their work place?

You convince yourself that they're better off without you.

I just pray that you have supportive colleagues and that you take baby steps to let them know that right now you're sick and need some extra support.

You might be amazed by their  understanding. Mental health affects so many people so chances are that they themselves have suffered or they know someone who has.

It is their job to protect their workers health and wellbeing.

If you need time off then so be it.

Be kind to yourself.

Let your medication take its time to work.

Celebrate the small wins like getting to work.

Take your lunch break and go for a walk.

Eat healthily even if you have to buy lunch because you can't be bothered making it.

Go to the toilet just to breath if you find yourself feeling flustered and breathless.

But be honest with your bosses; they will be the ones who will help and understand if you require a lighter work load until you find your feet. They'll make time for you to go to appointments and will understand if you can't come to work some days.

If your boss struggles to understand then try to help them.

For you're not useless, you're more then capable and you won the position in the first place. Everyone has things come up in their life that will one day affect their ability to work, this may just be your little hiccup.

Working while suffering is incredibly difficult, made more so if you stay silent.

Speak up, be honest and be kind to yourself for you are a valuable team player.

To managers out there, you may need to provide a little more framework and guidance for people who are suffering. They may need to take time to go to  appointments and some days may be better then others. Try to reassure the worker that their role is safe and that they won't be fired because no doubt that's what's playing on their mind. You also may need to reduce their work load for a little while but things will get better.

To colleagues, you may find yourself repeating instructions and answering the same questions time and time again but please be patient. If you find that your work mate is staying inside of their office and not leaving during lunch try to coax them out for a walk even if you have to go with them.

Time and  patience will help to heal this person as well as  constant positive reinforcement.

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxx

Sunday, 5 January 2014

My Inspirations

My Inspirations are everyday people who have massive hearts of gold and who, without even knowing, have truly touched and changed my life.

Today's inspiration is a little lady who believed in my ability right from the first time we meet... in a job interview.

I was so nervous, but somehow her relaxed manner and warm greating helped to calm my nerves.

While I didn't win the position that I had applied for, this lady asked me to do some casual work for the company.

At this point in my career I didn't even know how to answer an office phone! She took me under her wing as her little apprentice and taught me so much, particularly about how one should manage.

When the  opportunities arose for promotions it was her that guided me and gave me the confidence to apply.

Her name is Siobhan. Siobhan was a shining light at the end of a dark tunnel for me when I fell ill with my depression. It must of been so hard for her to watch her bright and outgoing apprentice turn into a quiet, self doubting shadow of her former self.

But she stood strong and helped me to seek the guidance that I needed in a support officer.

When I fell so ill that I could barely function, she supported me in having time off.

When I was starting to find my feet again, Siobhan helped me to create a return to work plan where I'd start 3 days a week for a couple of hours each time until I built back up to full time work over a 10 week plan.

Her amazing support, one on one meetings, non  judgment, management and genuine caring was what helped me to return to full time work in roughly 6 weeks after 3 months off and still battling severe crippling anxiety.

I still remember my first day back at work so clearly. I must have entered the sliding front doors 100 times before that day, but my anxiety made it feel like a marathon to approach and walk in. My throat was in my stomach and I felt like vomiting. My head was screaming run because I was panicking. I remember seeing  Siobhan a friendly familiar face inside and thinking no, I can do this.

I'm so grateful for her help during this time.

Her belief in me is what got me through and back to work. She saw something in me right from the beginning and she never gave up on me when others would've fired my butt! Siobhan helped others to understand my situation while still maintaining confidentiality.

Siobhan is everything a manager should be; open to new ideas, willing to give new initiatives a go, approachable, flexible yet firm, incredibly intelligent and friendly.

I'm proud to now call her a friend. Not only is she a great manager bit she's also an awesome mum to two children who she conceived via IVF and very bravely wrote about for my blog.

She loves her g and ts and I really miss her laugh and presence.

So to Siobhan, you kick started my career and taught me how far a Bachelor of Arts could get you with hard work and determination. You have set the bar so high for my current and future managers. You deserve every success that comes your way.

To other managers out there, you could certainly learn a lot from  Siobhan a approach to helping colleagues with a mental illness.

And to my readers, I hope you have a positive experience like I did returning to work after being ill. Don't jump to conclusions that your work place won't understand or help because there are some real Angels out there!

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxxx

Love

Love is the greatest gift that you can give to another human being.

There are many different kinds of love.

You may love a child so much that you want to squeeze their little cheeks and eat them up for their cuteness, developing personality and funny little actions fill your heart with  simple contentness to sit and admire humans ability to create life.

Love differs for your parents in a bond that was formed at birth and changes with your knowledge and understanding of the world, which you once viewed through their eyes and now you view through your own lenses of experiences.

There's a love you have for your siblings, which, despite each others differences and rather honest opinions, you'd protect against anyone or anything that threatens their happiness.

Friendships blossom over time to create a deep mutual understanding for each others strengths and weaknesses creating a love different to blood but equally as special. Your admiration for them grows as you see them making decisions that turns them into educators, travelers, husband's and wives, parents and people in search for happiness, acceptance and belonging.

Over your lifetime you will fall in love with places, people and things, and over time your priorities we change and you ll develop a love for new things that you discover along life's journey.

But perhaps most importantly, is the love you grow and share for your partner. Be that a man or woman, finding love is one of the most special joys in life.

Love changes over time from courtship, flirting and physical attraction to a deep understanding of another's personality traits, achievements and life goals.

As time goes on, so your love grows stronger.

Life's challenges tests your love to find its strength, and often either breaks a bond or strengthens the fibres that holds the intertwined lives together.

Sharing your deepest secrets, biggest fears, craziest thoughts and major experiences creates a new level of love and  understanding for why one may act the way they do.

And love is strengthened through the decision to commit each others lives together as one, to help each other achieve their goals and dreams as you combine finances, thoughts, and knowledge to create a powerful team.

Just when you think your love couldn't become any stronger, you marry the person who captured your heart, and then you see them through a completely different lenses. They become part of you, and they share in your love for your family, friends and each other.

You share a last name and you work together to achieve great things.

There is so much beauty in love.

A simple kiss, hug or gesture from someone you love can totally change your day.

Love can help to heal wounds.

It can provide comfort for when you have love you are never alone.

Love makes you see the good in the world.

It proves that no amount of money, or no career or big achievement is quite the same without having people around you who love you to share your excitement with.

Love can do crazy things to people.

We all strive to be loved and we all feel content when others show their affection towards us.

So whether it be family, friend or partner love, there's no doubting the beauty and emotions that go with it.

Love is free and everyone has the ability to love. We just need to show it a whole lot more so that people know that no matter how horrible things may get, they have one thing to hold on to, the greatest gift in life, love.

When you find love you must hold onto it tightly and treat it with respect, kindness and admiration, for love will grow stronger with these gestures and you'll be surprised by how much happiness can come from love.

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxx