So, i'm turning THIRTY on Sunday...

How do I feel about that? Mixed emotions! I had a BIG party planned for Saturday, I spent YEARS planning it and this week it all turned to S#!T - thanks coronavirus!

I admit i've had somewhat of a mid life crisis over the past 6 months about turning the big three-O! My twenties were filled with so many incredible experiences and hard lessons that have made me the woman I am today... sounds so lame but it's true! I fell pregnant and birthed two incredible little boys! I got married, started my own business, became Aunty Liss. I also lived with my best friend for two years and together we had so much fun and made some awesome memories. But let's be real for a moment we sure don't reach thirty without experiencing heartache and some hard life lessons. I’ve looked forward to my thirties with anticipation thinking I’d be "grown up" by now and know exactly who I am... you know I probably dreamt I would have a big beach house and million dollars in the bank too but that hasn't happened yet either!

Having gone through a decade of the biggest changes and moments in my life, I’m excited for what feels will be an even better season of life (when we overcome COVID-19) simply because I understand myself so much better now! I know exactly what I want and what’s important to me. I understand what I'm good at and what i'm not so good at. Birthdays and new years are always a time of reflection for me and in an attempt to remember that I’m wiser now, here’s 30 lessons I’ve learned in THIRTY years. Enjoy!

  1. Never prioritize your work over the people you love. It's just a job! If you don't have your family, what do you have?
  2. Apologise, even if years (or a decade) have passed. Do it for the right reasons though, for them. Not for you.
  3. Friends come into your life for a reason. It's ok when a friendship has run its course, it's no ones fault.
  4. Marriage is for grown ups. We are constantly growing and changing, did you know you can have several different marriages to the same one person throughout your life? My husband and I are on our "second marriage" to one another and it is so different and better than our first. You'll face challenges, want to give up at times but that is exactly why marriage is for grown ups. Choose to grow together!
  5. Find something you love, get really good at it and share it with people.
  6. Practice gratitude every day. Today I am grateful for the food and medicines in our home during this time of uncertainty, I am grateful for two healthy children and I am grateful my husband's job is pretty secure right now and he can work from home.
  7. You will lose people you love, it will hurt and may not make sense but with time I promise it WILL get easier.
  8. Genuine forgiveness can be life changing. You don't even have to express it to the person who wronged you, but just feel it. It is incredibly healing.
  9. Losing weight is important for your health and not just your dress size. The older I get the less concerned I am about my lumps and bumps. Sure I feel uncomfortable and would love to lose 5kg but I'm more worried about what's going on inside my body right now. It really is about gradual lifestyle changes, it won't happen overnight!
  10. Trust your intuition, it's usually right. I don't ignore it anymore!
  11. Some things are worth celebrating.
  12. There is only so much you can plan in life and even then it may not work out, so be flexible. Uh coronavirus! That was so not what I had planned this year. See ya awesome 30th birthday party, bye bye vow renewal in Denmark. Oh and my business, well expect to see A LOT of blogging from me because I won't be photographing as many portraits this year! Together we will get through it though.
  13. Comparing yourself to others only hurts YOU, block out the noise and understand no one can be you, you have something to offer and you ARE good enough! I only recently understood this a couple months ago. I was comparing myself to other photographers and absolutely tearing myself apart thinking I wasn't good enough and I may as well just quit. Like complete mental and emotional breakdown! So unhealthy and completely unlike me. I was doing this in all aspects of my life, thinking I wasn't enough for my boys, for my husband, as a sister and as a daughter. In the words of our PM Scott Morrison yesterday morning "STOP IT! JUST STOP IT!"
  14. Try different cuisines, you may find you actually love them! I didn't want to know about foreign cuisines until I was around 23 and preferred to stick to what I knew! I even travelled to Singapore a few times and Koh Samui only eating western food! Yes, maccas, burgers, fries, chicken schnitzels in asian countries! Uh it kills me now to think of all the delicious food I could have been eating on those adventures instead! My husband encouraged me to try vietnamese, thai, chinese, japanese and indian foods when we started dating and now I LOVE them much more than western foods. Should have listened to my Mumma when I was growing up, "you don't know unless you try it" right?
  15. Everyone is going through something, so always be kind! Ask your friends, your family - are you ok? How are you doing and pay attention! Be there for them and offer support. I have a little facebook group with four photographer friends from down south and last week we all vented and shared the struggles we were currently facing in our personal lives, you know parenting, work, self care etc. If we hadn't have shared those struggles with one another that night I never would have known they were doing it tough and only just hanging in there! We all felt so much better afterwards knowing we weren't alone. That support, just talking and being heard really helps. If a stranger is rude, think first... maybe they are having a rough day? We don't know what others are going through so choose to be kind.
  16. I'm not a dog person. I'm sorry I really am trying but it's just not naturally in me. I didn't grow up with dogs, I don't like their slobber or jumping up at me. I can appreciate and care for dogs, I do love my dog and I will pat her and give the occasional cuddle but I just know and have now accepted that i'm simply not a "dog person". She gets tonnes of love from hubby and the boys. They are obsessed with her so trust me she is not missing out on love! Maybe i'm just a cat person instead?
  17. Age is only a number. Have friends of all ages and from different walks of life. One of my dearest friends is 65, we met at work years ago and she is one of the coolest people I know! Despite her having twice as much life experience as me we actually have a lot in common and she totally gets me. I can talk to her about anything and she has opened up alot to me too. Age really is just a number and I truly value our friendship.
  18. I hate social media. Be present people! Put the phone away and say hello to the elder waiting at the bus stop instead. They may be lonely and actually have a really interesting story to share. You may make their day!
  19. Print your photos, that's what cameras were invented for! Hard drives and usbs will fail - eventually. I have been stressing in recent months and I mean STRESSING! I must print all of our family photos, like yesterday! I still haven't printed Elijah's newborn photos or any from his life to date - he is almost four and I'm terrified of losing the digitals! Print your photos guys before you lose them! PLEASE!
  20. Stand up for yourself and what you believe in, never apologise for it.
  21. Wine tastes 100x better from high quality glassware. Before I was a photographer I was EA to the Director at a cigar lounge and organised Riedel wine tastings for our keepholders. I too thought it was snobbery until the Director of Riedel Australia came out and demonstrated how the glasses were used. I tested the glasses myself one evening and now I refuse to drink wine out of anything but the correct Riedel glass. I'm telling you it keeps the flavours in harmony and tastes 100x better! Try it if you don't believe me!
  22. We really don't need meat at every meal, it's not sustainable or necessarily good for us either. We have started eating much less meat and are really enjoying this lifestyle change. Don't get me wrong we love fish, lamb, pork and the occasional bolognese or steak. But replacing just a few meals a week with plant based dinners has really made a big difference to how we feel and our bank balance is thanking us too!
  23. Make the effort to compliment others when you see them. I noticed recently this is something I've always done without realising it. I see someone at the shops or a friend and find something to compliment them on. Whether it be what they are wearing or their hair style, perhaps even a quality about them I love. It can give people an instant lift and is a great way to start a conversation with a stranger.
  24. You will look in the mirror one day and discover you have aged. It's ok, just don't cry yourself to sleep over it like I did. True story, that is exactly what happened a couple of months ago the night I found a grey hair! I had a complete meltdown fearing my youth was gone forever! Tears streaming down my face in bed while my husband was trying to sleep. I got in trouble and told to get over it! Apparently thirty is still young!
  25. Don't spend your life thinking about the past, focus on today and tomorrow instead.
  26. Speak up and stand up for yourself. Don't let others dictate your life, surround yourself with positive and motivating people instead.
  27. Save for a rainy day. I admit i'm not very good at saving! I feel i'm responsible with spending now and have a minimalist approach (as in I only buy things I love and know I will get a good return on investment) but I did not begin to learn about money until my mid 20's and was very irresponsible before then. We will most certainly be educating our boys from a young age to ensure they make good decisions and become financially independent as adults.
  28. Minimalism is life changing emotionally, physically and financially. Watch documentaries, you tube videos and read books on it. I'm telling you we do not need so much stuff! Get rid of it and you will feel so much lighter and happier, I promise!
  29. Morning sickness is hard, parenting is even harder. OMG so hard! I admit my pregnancies were rough, especially the first and it may be naive but I honestly never expected to have a child with behavioural issues. Parenting is so hard! I remember judging parents before I became a mother thinking to myself "oh I would never let my kid do that" at the shops or a restaurant etc. How wrong was I? I now have so much empathy for parents struggling in public and at home with their children. If I see a mother struggling I just want to give her a big hug and tell her she is doing the best she can in this moment, we are all here with you! Sure the whole toddler and teenage stages I expect that and could deal with it, but not the challenges we have faced as parents of a child with special needs and I hear about it all too often from friends in similar situations and in support groups online. No one prepares you for that and there really isn't a lot of support unless you've been through it yourself... it is hard to relate and understand. It's worth it though isn't it? For the 10 things that go wrong in the day, those wars and tantrums and tears it is so worth it for that moment you see your child smile or you hear their laugh, or they cuddle you or say something that blows your mind. Motherhood is the hardest job in the world but it is also the most rewarding and important job in the world. Like marriage, I think my kids are "growing me up".
  30. Finally, I hate exercise! I loathe it! Done, end of story. But I am working on it.

So that's it, thirty lessons I learned by 30! I will leave you with this quote by one of my favourite people in this world...

“We live in a youth-obsessed culture that is constantly trying to tell us that if we are not young, and we’re not glowing, and we’re not hot, that we don’t matter. I refuse to let a system or a culture or a distorted view of reality tell me that I don’t matter. I know that only by owning who and what you are can you start to step into the fullness of life. Every year should be teaching us all something valuable. Whether you get the lesson is really up to you.” - Oprah Winfrey, in “O, the Oprah Magazine” 2011