Wednesday, 31 March 2010

There are spies among us!

I recently learned that there are a number of people that have started to 'secretly' follow Project Grace 2010. It all came out during a conversation at the gym...

I was doing chest presses, which is not unlike the memory of pushing away a slobbering drunken man who lunges at you on the dance floor while you're boogie-ing around a pile of handbags, when I heard "Grace!"

I looked around thinking, who knows me here?

It was the gorgeous Jess, a staff member of the gym whom I befriended just days before tearing up my butt muscle. I hadn't seen her since the injury and felt a pang of shame come over me as my cheeks flushed (the ones on my face).

I approached her during my 60-second rest between sets, to say hello (as opposed to shouting it over the chorus of manly grunts). I imagined an inquisition over why I hadn't been around for a while and quickly thought of a succinct sentence to explain my absence. Just because my bum was off limits, it didn't stop my arms from working - but I couldn't help feel like I did the days I got out of P.E. (school sport) because of my period. I admit, I am guilty. I milked it for all it was worth.

ANYWAY... it didn't turn out like I had imagined.

Jess' face beamed like a child receiving a present; a great package enveloped in brightly coloured wrapping. She said something along the lines of, "I LOVE your blog, I've been following it every day and look forward to reading it over my cup of morning coffee" (morning Jess, how's the coffee?)

What? I thought, quicker than I could say it, before she continued...

"I've been emailing my friends to tell them about it and we all love it"

We? Who's We? There's a We? still thinking, while trying to formulate words.

"Are you serious?" I managed to blurt out.

Then Jess proceeded to explain that my words have been capturing what readers (you) are thinking and feeling, and thus providing a form of entertainment that I never knew possible.



So if you are one of those cheeky monkey spies who enjoys dropping into my life, please don't be shy say hello - I won't reveal your identity.

Apparently there's a way you can leave comments anonymously so you don't have to publicly declare yourself (if you still want to remain under cover). It would be so nice to hear from you and I'd love to know where you're from. Perhaps you could sign off in code something like first name + name of friend + city + country. OMG I'm so excited about starting a secret club with secret codes. This is like all my Get Smart fantasies coming true!

Until tomorrow, may you never miss it by 'that' much.

Grace xx

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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Does my wrist look big in this?

The oddest thing happened to me at the gym today...

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that my bum has healed (alleluia) and I'm back doing the things I love (or at least tell myself I love on days when it's grey, miserable and would rather be curled up on the couch hoping back to back episodes of Dr.Phil and Oprah will be the ultimate pick-me-up).

ANYWAY... I was warming up on the treadmill when my watch began to irritate me. It was jumping up and down like a 2 year old on red cordial; 'twas the result of being loose.


Has my watch got bigger? Or is it that my wrist has become smaller?

Upon closer inspection, I noticed that there's not much meat on my wrist in the first instance. This got me thinking (yet again), why would my body opt to burn the fat off my wrist when there's an abundance of it on my belly, hips and butt? (not to mention my second chin, which I'd be delighted if it were to do a 'David Copperfield disappearing act' as one is quite enough).

Then I wondered, are wrists considered sexy? Would having slender wrists make someone the happiest person in the world? Could I become so obsessed with my shrinking wrists that when contemplating a new jewellery item (say, the silver bangle pictured), would I require the honest appraisal from my girlfriends by asking "Does my wrist look big in this?"

I left the gym laughing, thinking it was so funny that my wrists are loosing millimetres while the other parts of my body watch with envy. Hopefully, while I'm asleep tonight, my wrist will have a conversation with all the other body parts and let them in on a little secret - which I hope takes place when my boobs are nowhere within earshot!

Until tomorrow, remember to laugh at the quirkiness of such things.

Grace xx

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Monday, 29 March 2010

Mt. Fabulous At Forty

Today, somebody asked me "What do you do?"

I was keen to blurt out "I'm a Self Expressionist" after my recent occupation declaration (refer to blog). Though, in all honesty, I found saying it so much more difficult than writing it.

Instead, I distilled my current activity into just a few words "I'm taking time out".

I then proceeded to talk about Project Grace 2010. While it might sound like it's 'just a blog' to the unacquainted, it's more than that. Much more.

Project Grace 2010 is a daily commitment that I make 1, to myself and 2, to you.

While my goal is to recreate, redefine and rebuild the me that I want to be (by the time I turn 40), this space is also a forum where I'm free to be me for all to see... and encourage you to be you, even if it's only privately (looks like I've had a bout of Zia Graceism - aka Dr. Seuss-itis).

I am not trying to sell you anything. I'm not trying to convince you of anything. There's nothing secret or sneaky underlying this - there are no ulterior motives*.

This daily act of introspection, reflection and enquiry, combined with inspiration, wisdom and humour, is my method. My way of honouring myself, and preparing me for what is to be my fourth decade.

Though I do not know the altitude or gradient of Mt. Fabulous At Forty, I do know that putting one foot in front of the other will take me there. With each step, I look around and take in the view. I can see where I've come from and look forward to where I'm going to.

Until tomorrow, may there be no mountains high enough or no valleys low enough to keep you from fabulousness.

Grace xx

*BTW, any links to outside websites are to 'fill you in' so you know what I'm talking about. In this instance, there are growing number of readers who don't know me outside of this blog... and maybe saying "Huh? What's Zia Graceism?" - so it's for you. If you are struck by intrigue, you can find out more about me and my alter ego outside of this space.

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Make room for surprises

Remember how I told you I won $15,000 in a body transformation challenge in 2002?

Well this weekend, I started sorting out photos (which is taking me SOOOOOOOOO much longer than anticipated) and look what I found ->

So let me tell you about that night...

It was after 5pm on a Friday night when I answered a knock at the door. I opened it and was temporarily blinded by a camera light (I thought I was in a Nappy San ad). I was asked if I was Grace Mimmo, to which I answered yes, and then came the news... I was runner up and had won $15,000 cash.


$15,000 cash!

I received a silver briefcase full of money. The multicoloured notes made me want to party - but I was trapped (oh woe is me). No, truly. The banks were closed and I wasn't going to leave it home unattended... and seeing as though I didn't have any handcuffs laying about (my sex life wasn't so kinky back then - not to say it is now - oh never mind!)

ANYWAY, I thought going to out with sliver briefcase was 1. a bit suspicious and 2. a lot awkward. So instead, I declared a party at my house.

I called everyone I could think of to help be celebrate, but everybody had plans. Plans? Surely they could be renegotiated, I just won $15,000!

So we called our friends from Adelaide and told them we booked the last flight to Melbourne. They had one hour to travel 55km (34 miles) to get to the airport, which they did.

So the moral of the story is, leave room in your diaries for unexpected surprises - who knows when you'll be asked to celebrate one of life's magical moments.

Until tomorrow, be spontaneous!

Grace xx

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Saturday, 27 March 2010

The most inspiring family I know

Yesterday my friend Ryan celebrated what he described as his 34th lap of the sun.

Though I must confess, he didn't do it all by himself; he was riding on the coattails of planet Earth that did most of the hard work for him.

Ryan and his clan are currently doing a six month sabbatical in Spain. This is not the first time the family have uprooted themselves from the comforts of their own home to experience life elsewhere.

In 2004, they relocated to Nanaimo (Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada) for a period of two years. It was during this time that I realised the only thing stopping me from being anywhere in the world, was me.

If anybody could find an excuse not to travel, it would surely be a family of four with two children under the age of six. What might appear as insurmountable odds for some, turned into comic challenges for these transient vagabonds.

At the end of their sojourn, they spent three months travelling around the north American continent in 'Wicket', their beloved Dodge mini van (aka caravan of courage). With tales of freezing overnighters in the back of the car (a result of boycotting overpriced holiday parks) combined with their staple diet of porridge (which Jesse fought against with dry retching horror), loaves of bread, roast chicken and ranch dressing, one might be inclined to ask "Why do all that again?"

The answer is simple: Adventure.

Life is made up of experiences, which transform into our most potent possessions - our memories.

When it's time for us to go - we cannot take our house, our cars, our jewellery, our 'toys' and our collection of worldly objects. All we are left with, and what we leave behind, are memories. Our memories belong to us and those we share them with. We cannot be separated from them, they are ours to keep. They cannot be stolen, traded or sold. They remain with us till our final hour.

To Ryan, Jo, Zach and Jess, thank you for being a huge part of my life. Our amazing adventures are now some of my most fondest memories. From our time together in Canada (namely Stobie Pole, Fengi and ice cream the size of babies heads), to our Nubsical journey with our buddy, Mr. Tingwell - not to mention last night's hilarious long distance video call (pictured). You guys rock and continue to be an inspiration to me. Olé!

And to you, reading this blog... be sure to create great memories, for they will surely be the most valuable treasures of your life. Start a new adventure today.

Until tomorrow, "¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!"

Grace xx

ps. If you want to follow this family's adventure blog, just click here.
BTW did you know that it's 17,310km (10,670miles) between Madrid and Melbourne? Our 'space age' technology never ceases to astound me;
N-V-T-S nuts!

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Friday, 26 March 2010

If I could talk to the animals

If I could talk to the animals, what would I say?

I'd say "I love your coat!" but wouldn't ask where they got it from.

If we were close, I might say "wow-wee, your breath's a bit pungent" but I wouldn't offer them a mint.

If they could talk to me, they might say "Love your glasses, can I sniff them?" but they wouldn't wait for me to answer.

It's times like these you need a camera because no one would ever believe such a conversation took place.

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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Snowed under

Have you noticed my blogs have been getting longer...?

I have.

While I've enjoyed this new platform of self expressionism, it's starting to tip the scales to the point of imbalance. One could say, I'm beginning to get snowed under.

So how do I re-balance my life whilst still honouring my commitment to Project Grace 2010?


I post a stunning photo with the intention to inspire you.

So in keeping with today's theme, here's a photo of me trekking in Sagarmatha* National Park, Nepal, in 2006. It was the day after we'd been literally snowed under.

After two weeks of trekking, we reached Gorak Shep (approximately 5,200m / 17,000ft altitude) just as a snow storm hit. After a restless night's sleep, we were advised to abort our plans and follow a 'yak train' down to safety, for there was no telling how long we might be stuck there.

With only a short two-hour trek to our target (Base Camp) we had a mental battle of 'should we stay or should we go'. We decided to heed local advice and retreat.

We were consoled to learn that Gorak Shep was in fact Edmond Hilary's original base camp when he first summited Everest, and our premature trek back to Lukla was rewarded with stunning vistas. What was once dry, dusty, barren terrain (we were above the tree line) turned into a magical white wonderland which, as the photo will attest, was absolutely stunning.

So without further ado, I shall bid you adieu.

Until tomorrow,
Grace xx

* Sagarmatha is what the Nepalese people call Mt. Everest; it means 'Goddess of the sky'.

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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Excuse me while I fix your life

Don't you just wish that you had a personal fairy, who is completely at your disposal, that could just whisk in solutions and wipe out problems?

There's so much new age literature, websites, DVD's, seminars and workshops claiming that we do in fact have such a fairy... it's called THE UNIVERSE. Some claim it's a secret, but is it really (a secret)? ... and is it really real?

We are to hold the vision and feel the emotions as though we already have it in the present, and voila - it becomes a reality... but does it?

When I first found out about 'The Secret', I had so much evidence to prove, without a doubt, that it worked; prime car park positions, people serendipitously coming into my life and the sudden materialisation of money when I needed it most (albeit $2 on an Instant Scratchie).

But now I wonder... is discovering the laws of attraction like discovering how many people drive the same car as yours the moment you purchase it? And just as you stop noticing your car's doppelganger at every traffic light over time, you cease to notice 'the secret' at work. And just because you stop seeing it, you stop believing in it... is that what happens?

Perhaps I'm being impatient.

Many years have passed since I was to be on the cover of TIME magazine for being the first children's author in history to sell over 1.8million copies of her first book in its first year. I was to have received a royalty cheque of $1.8million that would set up my eco-organic healing retreat specifically aimed at treating diseases created by self-repression (read that again).

The retreat was my version of an ashram, where people were not excluded by their finances and would contribute to the growing of food and maintenance of the property. It was located somewhere in Queensland, or Bali (that detail was negotiable), where the mountains met the sea. A joyful yet disciplined place, where it was mandatory to participate in activities like karaoke, finger painting and dress ups.

I was to have had a miraculous conception that lead to the natural birth of a healthy baby (or babies, also negotiable). I was to document my baby miracle in an inspirational tell-all book, which was featured on Oprah's Book Club (not to mention becoming a New York Times bestseller). I was then invited on the Oprah Winfrey show where audience members were instructed to reach under their seats to receive their free copy of my fabulous book.

As you've probably deduced, I had a detailed vision which, incidentally, covered the walls of my pre-renovated bathroom. I'd study the wall every time I had 'business to attend to' with absolute certainty it would manifest.

Then there came a point when I felt foolish. After time, and a series of setbacks, I reached a point where I began to feel the same embarrassment as I did the day I found out that believing in Santa Claus was for children. How could I be duped - again?

Hold on. Let's look at this more closely. So long as children keep believing in Santa, they keep receiving... does Santa's true identity really matter to the child that continues to receive what they're wishing for? Hmmm....

So if you are a fairy, or know a fairy, who has a bit of time to fill and several wishes to grant, I'd love to receive a visit. Nothing would please me more right now, than hearing the magic words, "Your wish is my command" or even better, "Please excuse me while I fix your life" ... I'd say, "Go right ahead, be my guest!"

With thanks and fairy dust to you.

Until tomorrow,
Grace xx

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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Does every cloud have a silver lining?
In memory of James Williamson

I'd planned to write a light-hearted upbeat piece after yesterday's pensive post.

I was looking at my current state of affairs, trying to find the funny side of having a parking ticket, overdue bill notice and a sink full of dishes.

No sooner did I come up with the title 'Dark side of the spoon' (which I thought was a stroke of genius) when I noticed Patrick staring at his phone, his face depleted of joy.

"James Williamson died at the Cape Epic" he said in a stunned, monotone.
"James? The same James we met at the Greek restaurant?"
"Yes, same James"

Both in complete shock, our hearts sank. We were, and are, in disbelief.

Patrick and I met the wonderful, friendly, down-to-earth, sweet James one week before he was to fly to South Africa to compete in the Cape Epic. We were moved by James' gentle and joyful nature, vowing to catch up with him when he returned (you know when you meet someone special and say "I'd like to be friends with that person" and then imagine how you would form such a friendship? Well, that was our experience with James).

James (it's so hard to say) was 26 years of age and editor of Enduro magazine. He'd been a World Champion mountain biker, which I only found out today after Googling the cause (which is still unknown - he was unable to be roused by his team mate in the morning). James was so unassuming I had no idea he was a champion, and yet I'm not surprised that he was.

James was so, so, so lovely... and so, so, so young.

What I want to know is, does every cloud have a silver lining?

As much as I've searched, I just can't seem to find it today.

James was excited about his trip to South Africa, it was something he'd looked forward to for a long time. While we're expected to 'look at the bright side' of the situation and be thankful that he was happy and got to live out his dream, I can't help feel that this is all too premature. Someone so lovely is surely needed on Earth a little bit longer (if not a lot longer).

All I feel is sadness. Sadness and loss. Remarkable considering I'd only spent a few hours sitting across the table from him; such was the impression he'd left on me (I feel indulgent expressing my upset and cannot fathom what his girlfriend, family and friends are feeling right now).

Do we always have to see the bright side of everything? Can't we just be sad because some things are just plain sad. I totally appreciate how we don't want to get bogged by sorrow. I know we're encouraged to move on. I can see how being 'stuck' can play havoc with our lives. But surely it's okay to be sad when something like this happens, isn't it?

Sometimes I feel that constant optimism can be tiring and, to be honest, a little fake if we can't honour the times when things upset us.

While many new age dialogues are worthy of consideration, I question the subject of death. We're told that sadness comes from our attitude and the stories we tell ourselves. That by changing our meaning of death, we'd somehow change our emotional response to it. We're told there are cultures where death is celebrated - where are they? I've never seen them and wonder if it's all a myth.

What I have seen, are dogs lamenting over the loss of a loved one. I have heard their weeping wails, I have seen their long faces and I have felt their distress. I ask my self - is that because they have a negative attitude? Are they just responding to the stories they tell themselves? Do they need to change their meaning of death? My answer is - I think not.

I've concluded that it's okay to be upset by death. Dare I say, it's normal.

Sometimes, I think it's okay to not feel you have to be strong. I think it's okay to cry. I think it's okay to be sad. I think it's okay not to have explanations or answers. I think it's okay if things don't make sense. The secret is, not to get 'stuck' in the weakness, the tears, the sorrow, the unexplained un-knowingness and the senselessness.

There is a time for grief, a time for mourning, and a time for moving on.

To all the family, friends and colleagues of James Williamson, and to Niki, I feel for your loss. I hope your path to healing and resolve is swift. To James, may your spirit ride on forever.

Until tomorrow, a place in time where we assume we'll be...

Grace xx

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Monday, 22 March 2010

My life as a boat

Today I was a tourist in my own backyard.

I spent the day with my gran in-law, who is visiting from Adelaide. We headed for the coast and our only plan was to let the day unfold before us.

The journey took us to the Bellarine Peninsula, south west of Melbourne. It's a place often bypassed by eager tourists (myself included) rushing towards the Great Ocean Road.

The day was perfect. Brilliant blue sky, water like glass and golden beaches that twinkled in the sun. It was heaven.

I brought my camera to snap a few memoirs, when I came across this boat (pictured above).

The image took my breath away. This small vessel bobbing on the water reminds me of us, our human experience... and a story I often tell myself.

We are birthed (or should I say berthed?), and our great voyage begins.

As we sail through life, we experience the full spectrum of what it is to be alive. The grey dull days and wild tumultuous storms soon make way for blissfully calm moments, where life is beautiful and time stands still.

When we find ourselves in the midst of a tempest, we have to remind ourselves that it is transient. Hold on. The clouds will part and the sun will shine. In the meantime, ride the waves and weather the storm.

This is something I came to repeat many times over when I encountered my own 'Groundhog Day'. I felt stuck in the treacherous Cape Horn, whose notoriously hazardous waters are dubbed to be a sailors' graveyard. My little boat metaphor became my mantra to keep Mr. Grim Reaper at bay.

And you know what? The skies did clear, and the waves did calm. As a result, I have become a better sailor and skilful navigator. I manage to dodge more storms today than when I was first at the helm and with each new day, I become wiser.

And another thing...

I learned that no matter how dinged up we get along the way, there's always a safe harbour we can pull into. Our holes can be plugged, the damage repaired and the weaknesses reinforced.

I've also come to the realisation that Project Grace 2010 is such a harbour. Maintenance and repair work is currently underway in preparation to celebrate 40 years sailing.

Until tomorrow... may you sail safely, avoid the storms and take time to explore your own backyard.

Grace xx

PS. I'm particularly touched by this post as I (and a number of people I love) have been directly impacted by depression. There are many worldwide initiatives to help people deal with this debilitating condition. Whilst my 'little boat on the seas' metaphor was (and is) a valuable self-coaching technique, it was not the only means that got me through. There are many safe harbours out there so please seek them, reach out and take time to heal.

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Sunday, 21 March 2010

An APPLE a day keeps the doctor away.

Today I am going to go on an outing with my gran in-law... so I'm keeping it brief.

We are heading towards the coast to get a much needed soul-lift.

Something about the sea that makes us both feel good - it'll be our 'apple' for today.

That got me thinking about all those wise old sayings our elders say, like 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away' ... and here's what I came up with - Grace style.

Appreciation and gratitude is the best possible attitude. Always look for at least one thing to be grateful for each day - a healthy attitude equals a healthy life.

Practice patience. Whether you're in a queue or running late, nothing's worth being irate. Patience really is a virtue - aim for it daily.

Pleasure's found in purpose. Find purpose in everything you do and pleasure's bound to follow too - promise!

Let it be. Allowing something to just be, is certainly to set you free. The Beatles sang these "words of wisdom" - make it your mantra.

Eat well. Nourishing your body, nourishes your soul - so grab yourself a salad bowl. With this in mind, redefine what a 'treat' is - for me it's Meg's big salad in Ubud, Bali.

Until tomorrow, may you continue to be the apple of my eye!

Grace xx

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Saturday, 20 March 2010

Hey Mr. Tambourine Man

After yesterday's post, I received several emails and Facebook messages asking me to tell the 'tambourine story', so here it is...

Sometime in the early millennium, and before my mojo showed signs of extinguishing, I found myself at Mt. Hotham alpine resort for the opening of the ski season (yes, we do get snow downunder).

The locals declared the abundance of snow was a good start to the season - though some (like me) may have argued that it was too much, as there was consequently a perilous amount of black ice on the roads.

One night a small group of us went out for dinner to celebrate the Queen's birthday (as that's the official holiday weekend that marks the beginning of the season, even though it's nowhere near Her Majesty's real birthday, nor were we really celebrating it).

After a fabulous meal and a few Jägermeister digestives, I started to relax and - let's face it - got a little tipsy.

There was a live band playing, which stirred my inner rock star. Before I knew it, I had made my way from the dance floor onto the stage and was rocking, tambourine in hand, with the lead singer. Reports state that I robbed him of said instrument, but did such a good job at entertaining the audience (and band members) that I earned my place on stage.

I was shaking my booty, slapping it hard with the stolen goods. I sensed a growing feeling discomfort (from the self-imposed tambourine spanking, not from the theft or playing in front of a full house of unsuspecting groovers) so I turned the other cheek (haha).

Surprisingly, the tambourine grew heavier to the point that it felt like I was shaking an antique coal iron weighing 25kg (55 pounds). I switched from hand to hand, attempting to make it lighter by briefly resting in a cleverly disguised clap'n'shuffle motion.

At the end of the night I felt my biceps were the size of the Incredible Hulk's, and my face was probably a similar colour. I was escorted home by my husband (then boyfriend) - but sadly his usual lightening-fast reflexes were not lightening fast enough to save me from what followed...

The moment I stepped outside I was smacked in the face by the iced cold air, and thumped in the back of the head by an ice cold pavement - I'd slipped on black ice, and came crashing down with a thud. Ouch.

The next morning I woke up with a pounding headache, though couldn't distinguish whether it was from the black ice incident or the Jägermeister.

I headed for the shower and when I gripped the door handle, I winced with pain. I looked at my hands and they were blackened with bruises (whoever knew your hands could bruise...???). I inspected my body for further damage and discovered I had matching bruises on both hips and butt cheeks - I looked like I had been wrestling with a rhinoceros.

From that moment on, I had a new found respect for tambourines and those who play them... not to mention equal respect for black ice and Jägermeister.

Until tomorrow, may you rock the star within - minus the bruising.

Grace xx

ps. I Googled tambourine images and came across this fabulous comic artist Natalie Dee (see pic). Please check out her website and have a chuckle, very quirky.

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Friday, 19 March 2010

The Gemini Within

Do you ever feel that you have a split personality?

There's a part of you that's safe, conservative, careful, sensible and, quite frankly, a little dull. You have brilliant ideas, but are too shit scared to do anything about it - like painting the living room wall hot pink, then you settle for sage.

You purchase classic clothing items because they either 'never go out of style' or 'go with everything' - then a few months later, you want to shoot yourself when you can't put a whimsical outfit together. You are reliable, responsible and dead set serious.

You never admit it openly, but you're also a bit of a scrooge.

You really get pissed off over splitting bills when you've only had soft drinks (even though mineral water is triple the price of the house red). You can never leave behind cute hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles, not to mention miniature jam jars (don't laugh boys, we know you can't say no to free bar snacks, despite the high probability of them being contaminated by urine).

Then there's the other part of you... the part that is totally outrageous.

You go shopping with complete abandon and make reckless purchases - like a multi thousand dollar entertainment system with universal remote control (for guess who?) or a petite, totally impractical and hideously overpriced beaded clutch (aka glorified make up bag) that you'll only ever use for weddings, and that's okay, because it looks gorgeous and you simply must have it (lads, your role here is to carry our camera, purse, keys and mobile phone).

You generally like to stay in control, but when you let your hair down - watch out - you are over the top! A loud, flamboyant, colourful and spontaneous risk-taker; you care less about what people think and try harder to make people laugh. You are generous and money is no object.

What you once found terrifying - i.e. a camera, microphone or tambourine (I have a whole story about that) is now your best friend. You become suspiciously better at flirting, playing billiards and speaking a foreign language. You may easily be enticed to cross-dress and, should you ever find yourself in Munich during Oktoberfest, stand on a table and sing 'Ein Prosit' - then piss yourself and end up on YouTube (thankfully that part was not me).

Is it normal to have two completely opposite facets to your personality? And if so, how do we manage it?

When I was in the wine industry, I discovered that drinking was a key that unlocked the playful, liberated and carefree side of me. But since becoming a virtual teetotaller, I found that part of me didn't get out to play much, and consequently I had become rather miserable.

What I'm learning is that yes, it is normal to have two distinct sides to our personalities (perhaps even more). Managing it is simply allowing it to be.

The less we suppress ourselves, the less our need to 'let our hair down' and the less extreme these personality traits are. The key to inner tranquility is to express all facets of our personality, without mood enhancers. It's the bringing together of both sides that gives us balance and a healthy spirit.

Perhaps our focus on being 'adults' has made us forget what it is like to truly have fun and play - and the only thing outrageous is, exactly that.

Until tomorrow, may you celebrate the Gemini within.

Grace xx

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Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Day I Lost My Mojo

Yesterday I had a meeting with a friend whom I've known since navy blazers worn over a white Tshirt and Levi 501 jeans were considered a revolution.

We worked together at Country Road; Dan would transform basic window displays into stop-in-your-track works of art, while I would transform "Just looking thanks" browsers into "I'll have five of those" customers.

Dan has gone on to establishing one of Melbourne's progressive design houses and has recently started following my blog. After declaring I was an entertaining writer "with great energy" (thanks Dan), he asked if I would consider assisting on a project, to which I enthusiastically obliged.

Dan, the man, defined 'mojo' before Austin Powers popularised it. Stylish, witty, entertaining and creatively brilliant, Dan would no doubt impress (and perhaps even give a few pointers) to fashionisto Carson Kressley.

What I discovered during the course of our meeting, was that Dan was mirroring what I was experiencing. Somewhere a long the way, we'd lost our mojos. Though interestingly, I could still see it in him, and he could still see it in me.

That got me thinking... how do we loose our mojos?

It doesn't happen instantly; not like loosing a pet. You'd be phoning the lost mojo emergency centre, stalking the neighbourhood trying to locate it, posting signs on street poles (see pic) and so on.

Loosing your mojo is like getting a small splinter in your tyre as you zoom through life at thrilling speed. You barely notice it. Day by day your mojo deflates, till one day your wheel struggles to turn (too bad the spare tyre around your waist doesn't quite replace your missing mojo!).

I can't remember the day I lost my mojo - and I don't think it really matters. What does matter, is knowing how to get it back.

Firstly, you have to remove the splinter in the first place (emphasising the first-ness)... and my bet is that splinter is you, and what you think of you.

Secondly, you need to pump mojo magic back into yourself, which you can do via a number of ways: *Please note: mojo is best built by experiences, not possessions
  1. Revisit some of the things you loved to do when your mojo was swinging (particularly if you're baffled as to why you ever stopped doing it). If you're too embarrassed to do it publicly, start by doing it at home alone with the blinds down!

  2. Start something new that inspires the mojo in you. Learn a language, an instrument, a craft, an exotic (or erotic) dance. Something that takes place weekly is good at building mojo, especially if it's something you've always wanted to do.

  3. Hang out more with those that see the mojo in you - they will remind you of who you really are and who you want to be. Warning: Beware the mojo vampires, they will suck the mojo out of you before you can dial 000 (that's 911 to my American and Canadian friends).

  4. Reflect on your mojo-ic history and honour it. Look at photos of yourself, your creations, your achievements and basically anything that represents you at your best. Warning: DO NOT lament over what you've lost - celebrate your successes. Reconnecting with yourself in a healthy way will help the mojo flow back into your life. Be inspired by who you are - reflection is to remind you of your fabulousness.

  5. Create a mojo-ful future that excites you, inspires you and gets the mojo juices flowing. Book that overseas trip, enrol in that course or write the first chapter of your book.
Until tomorrow, may your mojo forever be by your side.

Grace xx

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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

FRAGILE: Handle with Care

Sometimes life throws us curve balls. Just when we think we're on the right track, everything is chugging along nicely - we hit a bump in the road.

I have hit such a bump.

Though my injured right butt cheek's recovering, it's feeling 'fragile'... and so, it seems, is my spirit.

After flying high on the wings of empowerment and 'getting my shit together' - here I find myself feeling lost once more.

How can this be?

Then I realised that a recovering human spirit is not unlike a recovering addict... and a recovering butt cheek.

Like an addict, I had damaged my spirit (and consequently my body) by becoming hooked on abusing myself. My poisons were; harsh self criticism and 'illicit foods' (for me that stands for anything with a high Glycemic Index, as I'm bordering insulin resistance).

Since embarking on Project Grace 2010, I've enjoyed the benefits of being 'clean' - free of damaging toxic thoughts and actions. However I have found the demons are quick to raise their ugly heads as soon as an opportunity presents itself.

This time something is different.

This time, I know I have a choice.

Instead of heading down that dark road to self-hatred, I am choosing something else.

I am choosing to say: It's okay...
It's okay to have a setback - it's not the end of the road. You're not a bad person. Your recovering spirit is as fragile as your recovering butt - handle with care and you'll soon be over it.
And with that I sign off with a smile and the words of Katherine Scarlett O'Hara.
"After all... tomorrow is another day"
Until then,
Grace xx

ps. BTW Will's been a little distant, though (thankfully) hasn't completely abandoned me. It's a bit like being in the presence of somebody too busy SMS'ing someone else to notice you've tripped up and could do with a little assistance. You can be sure that I'll be having a word with Will Power as soon as I've hit 'publish post'.

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Tuesday, 16 March 2010

What am I?...???

After breaking my butt yesterday (okay, it's not broken - it just feels that way) I went to see a sports masseur to see if the pain could be massaged away (as it turns out, it can't).

I was required to fill in a form for first-time patients. When I got to the question that asked for occupation (I immediately thought of my friend the 'professional opera singer' and had a chuckle to myself) I paused for a long while and wondered...

What am I?...???

I am rather tired of our society's necessity to label people - it's so constrictive.

Whether it be filling in forms or responding to the standard "so what do you do for a crust?" (it's one of the first questions you learn in a new language) I discovered that people are generally not interested in details, they just want a one word answer - a label, if you will.

Lately, I'd been using the label 'author' in the mild hope that it may spark an enthusiastic enquiry into what I'd authored (about a 10% strike rate in written forms - not that impressive - and about a 99% success rate in face to face conversation - better).

But truly, I'm MORE than that!

I'm also a digital creator, marketing director, production manager, event organiser, PR officer, performer, public speaker, graphic designer, copywriter, creative director, strategist, life artist, photographer and not to mention blogger extraordinaire! I am all these things and more.

As my pen hovered above the form, I thought about Project Grace 2010. If I am to create the me I want to be, then I'll start by 'labelling' myself accordingly. So with that, I penned the words: Self Expressionist.

Yes that's right, I am a Self Expressionist!

I occupy my time with all the things that make me ME.

So what is it that makes you YOU?

Are you over the labels that people place on you?

Do you want to create yourself to be what you want to be, rather than continue with what you're expected to be?

Would love to hear from you.

Until tomorrow, express yourself truthfully.

Grace xx

ps. In case you wanted to know more about today's picture (and even if you don't) - it's one of my book characters Nubsy McNoodle - she wanted to know what a Spoodle was, hence all the question marks.

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Monday, 15 March 2010

A real pain in the arse

Thanks to Will, I couldn't get to the gym fast enough today. I woke up early - sans alarm - and started my day with gusto.

It was the perfect autumn morning; gorgeous blue sky, gentle breeze with a delightfully refreshing crispness in the air. Happily, I pedalled along the road thinking 'life is sweet'.

I was greeted with smiles so big that I wondered if the gym staff had organised a surprise party to celebrate the reunion between Will and I... then I realised that no one knows about this blog (yet).

I jumped on the treadmill to do my first 20-minute cardio workout before starting on weights (I also do 20-minutes after weights because, quite frankly, I rock... and it's part of my program).

It was 'leg day' today...

Just to explain, the design of my weight program is called 'super set' - and no, despite it being an apt term, it has nothing to do with my breasts.

Typically one does three sets per exercise before moving onto another. Super-setting, however, means you string together a number of exercises doing one set of each (be it on pin-loaded contraptions or free weights) before repeating the process till you've done three sets of each exercise - does that make sense?

The other feature of this program is that I'm to do low(ish) weights and high repetitions (16-20) to keep my heart rate reasonably high. It's more about endurance and toning than bulk and brute strength.

... after my first set of 20 leg presses (which I have been steadily climbing from 20kg to 50kg) I quickly moved onto the lunges and after my first one, I felt what could only be described as twang!

"Noooooo!!!" was my first thought... "no, not now, I've only just got Will back... sh*t, bummer, phuck," was the general conversation I was having with myself. I examined the pain and determined it was in my right glutes (the gym term for butt muscles) that shot down into my hamstring.

I limped over to the counter, right hand on right butt cheek, and asked what I should do. The general consensus was not to make matters worse by stressing it any further, go home, get a massage and see a sports therapist. Great.

I have no idea what I've done other than I can't walk up or down stairs bearing weight on my right leg. I have made an appointment to see a sports massage therapist this afternoon and I hope it's only a minor inconvenience, albeit a real pain in the arse.

Until tomorrow,
Grace xx

ps. Happy to consider all recovery tips and advice... I don't want to break Will's spirit - I fear our renewed relationship may be fragile.

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Sunday, 14 March 2010

Will and Grace

Today I'd like to talk about a side of me that I've had a troubled relationship with. Please allow me to introduce you to Will - Will Power.

Will and I once enjoyed a very healthy and mutually respectful relationship. Will was always by my side - ready to stand up for me when I couldn't stand up for myself.

If it weren't for Will, I would never have won $15,000 in a body transformation challenge back in 2002 (see pic below) - nor would I have had the courage to launch my children's book in 2007... but that's another story.

It was a comfort knowing I could rely on Will. Always at my side and stepping in at any sign of weakness, Will was dependably there to save me from myself.

But something happened.

Over the last few years, Will had proven to be rather unreliable and, until now, I'd never bothered to ask why. Instead, I became despondent. Having felt that Will had abandoned me, I began taking a series of regrettable actions and inaction, which lead me to the unenviable point of 'losing myself'.

Whatever happened to my friend and saviour Will Power?

Thankfully, Will has been dropping past more regularly since I embarked on Project Grace 2010. Today, while I was at the gym, Will and I had a long overdue conversation. Just in case you have images of me talking to myself while the gym manager dialled up the dudes in white coats - this was all taking part in my head while I was licking the sweat from my upper lip, which I might add was deliciously salty.

I discovered that Will became wounded several years ago and has been battling just to stay alive. There were moments when Will would gain strength only to crumble whenever there was a bump in the road.

I discovered that Will was like a muscle and if not used, would atrophy. The more Will is exercised, the stronger Will would become.

Going to the gym to build my muscle's strength and endurance is also doing wonders for Will. The two of us, side-by-side, are unstoppable. As I become stronger, so does Will... and vice versa.

Thankfully, our relationship is healing. With each day and in every moment I connect with my wonderful long lost friend, Will Power, I feel anything is possible... and with that, I am happy.

May the love and strength of Will Power be with you too.

Until tomorrow,

Grace xx

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Saturday, 13 March 2010

Fringe benefits

Not sure if you know, but I'm studying French at the moment. I'm off to France in July to host a tour of non-riding New Zealanders at the one and only Le Tour de France - I'm so excited!

I've been watching French films, practising French phrases and researching French properties for sale. I'm hooked.

This brings me to my hairstyle.

I love bobs (hairstyles, not breasts - read it again). My mum was a hairdresser and I had a keen eye for stylish do's and in her era of beehives and French rolls, the bob really did rock.

I've had bobs at various stages throughout my life and I have to say, I'm always happier when I'm donning one. They're short enough to be practical and long enough to feel feminine. Perfectly me.

I went one step further with my latest 'do and had a very short fringe cut (well, actually, I cut my own fringe... then had the hairdresser tidy it up). People have commented saying it takes courage, it was a gutsy move, they wish they could do that to their hair and so on. But truly, what's the big deal? It's only hair - it'll grow back!

Then it got me thinking...

Maybe I am a lot braver than I think I am. My decision to have a bob with a short fringe was primarily a practical one; less hair equals less products, reduced washing and drying time and no-frills maintenance. Too easy. But yet for some, the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

If you (or your partner) have been held back by fear when it comes to your ideal hairdo - take it from me, the risks are worth taking. If it all goes pear-shaped, so what? It will grow back (BTW when I lived in London, mine went mushroom-shaped and I became known as Champignon, which I think is kind of cute... and French). Worse case scenario - get a wig!

By being 'brave', I've got a practical, easy to manage hairdo that I love... and the fact that it looks très chic is a bonus... one might say, is a fringe benefit. I know, I know.... I know.

Until tomorrow,
Grace :-)

ps. I want to acknowledge two amazing and SUPER-brave women who did The World's Greatest Shave this year - Marilyn who dyed her hair green and Nikki who did a 'Sinead O'Connor' and lopped off all her dreads to go completely bald - you girls are amazing!

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Friday, 12 March 2010

Beauty has its price

I received a really interesting reply to my last blog about the perception of beauty. It went something like this (okay, it went exactly like this):
"The tricky thing about weight is the bloody battle is mostly in our heads and what we are told is "beautiful" - I prefer those African tribes that love a woman of the saggy boob – the saggier the sexier!! Some tribes even find attached earlobes the oh-la-la of the lusting world – so much more civilised and interesting then Victoria Beckham and the gaggle of food avoiders we westerners idolise! "
This got me Google-ing African tribal cultures, which eventually led me to this video (above).

Instead of rejoicing a culture that reveres fat women, I was actually disturbed at how they force feed girls to achieve their desired result. I guess in our culture, it would be like feeding girls celery sticks till they vomited in order to make them thin (apparently celery has a negative calorie value as it takes more energy to digest that what they contain)... or worse, stop feeding them all together.

This got me thinking about global cultures and their quest for attaining beauty... and then I started to wonder, is it only women who are paying the price...?

I would be so interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Until tomorrow,

ps. Have decided to blog on weekends, though vowed to keep them short!

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Thursday, 11 March 2010

From hippo to gazelle

I've been attracting a great deal of interesting, insightful and stirring feedback over the last few days... particularly in reference to feeling like a hippo, which really struck me (the comments, not the hippo).

The general consensus was that I was being too hard on myself and that I would only continue to attract things that made me unhappy if I kept putting those thoughts 'out there'... and this blog is OUT THERE!

My response to that is; Project Grace 2010 is providing me a forum to air my thoughts and feelings honestly as I go through this transformational journey to the big '4-0'. I am not censoring myself. I am being authentically me as I tread this path.

Sadly, being me means that at times I am hard on myself. I can berate myself so heavily that I truly struggle to get out of bed. I have more days like that than I care to admit... and by not admitting it, I suffer alone and in silence.

Interestingly my recent 'down day' was short lived, which is great considering the genesis of this project sprung out of a series of 'down weeks'. Having discussed my state openly gave me freedom. Sharing it with you gave me perspective. Before long I was able to laugh at myself... in a way that is healthy - not brutal... and move on.

I was back at the gym early today and I felt brilliant. Physiologically I could not have changed all that much in two days, but emotionally I have. I did not feel like a hippo, I felt like a gazelle - and the floor-to-ceiling mirrors were also kind as they showed me someone who looked fabulous.

How we feel about ourselves is a state of mind. No matter what our age, height, weight, looks, wealth, health, education, intellect or abilities - it's what we tell ourselves about ourselves that shape our views.

I can't help wondering... had I refrained from being honest with you, how much more of my soul would I have eroded with these self-loathing judgements ...?

Thank you for emailing, messaging, commenting and phoning to tell me that I'm not as bad as I think I am. Thank you for sticking up for me when all I wanted to do was beat me. Thank you for reminding me why I am good enough to have you in my life. Thank you. Thank you.

Until tomorrow,
Grace xx

ps. I was instructed to stop posting 'fat ugly' photos of me and 3-tonne bovines. Instead, I am to post nothing but beautiful, inspiring pictures of the way I visualise myself to be. I was also encouraged to use Photoshop in order to create positive images. Well if that's not waving a red flag to a bull I don't know what is. Knowing my whacky sense of humour ... I just COULDN'T resist the temptation (see pic). In the words of Cher, "If I could turn back time, if I could find a way..." Say no more.

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010


I did manage to get my sorry hippo self to the gym yesterday and felt so much better for it.

Though I often anguish over the thought of going, the reality is quite different.

When I'm there, I connect with myself in a way that my arse doesn't realise that it's massive - and I could almost go on believing that if it weren't for those bloody mirrors!

At the end of the day (or the beginning, or the middle) my time at the gym is just that - MY TIME. When I'm there, I'm there for me and not obliged to do anything for anyone else.

My renewed enthusiasm had me dressed and ready to go out the door with a spring in my step, despite it being autumn (haha, okay - not so funny). Then the phone rang. It was Pat asking me to send some information to a guy that wanted to write an article about him. This would not have been such an inconvenience if our server had been working and I was able to access the files easily. The sense of urgency in Pat's voice, together with the challenge head, ignited an instant 'Grace to the rescue' reaction.

Working at lightening speed I wrote a quick bio and did some magic tricks to send hi res photos within the tight deadline. Then... that familiar feeling of hating myself started resurfacing (like a hippo coming up for air).

I was angry at myself running around doing other things instead of following my initial plan of exercising, shopping, post office'ing, blogging, eating and studying before heading out to my course tonight. BTW, did I tell you I'm doing a web design course...? more on that later.

Totally furious with myself, I turned to you - yes YOU, the person reading this blog. I thought that if you are taking time out of your life to read this, then I'd better give you something good.

So I came up with 'SuperGrace' (see pic).

SuperGrace can rescue her husband and herself in the same day - she can do it all, no need to choose! She slices, dices and comes with a free set of steak knives - and that's not all - she can dress up like Richard Simmons just to put a smile on your face (and hers).

Signing off now... it's to the gym I go!!!

Until tomorrow,

SuperGrace xx

ps. Thanks Garrie for your words of encouragement - so happy to have my feet!

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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Feeling like a hippo

Do you ever have days where everything seems so much harder than it should be?

Have you ever just wanted to bury yourself under the covers and say, "call me when the sun's out"...?

Today is such a day for me... I'm feeling like a hippo. I just want to crawl to the bottom of my world and lie totally still so no one knows I'm here... I'll only resurface when I need to breathe... or will I...?

No I won't.

Instead, I'll drag my sorry butt out the door and visit my new lover - Gym! Perhaps getting sweaty and raising my heart rate will have me feeling less like a hippo and more like a gazelle... I'll keep you posted.

What do you do when you feel like a hippo?

Until tomorrow,
Grace :-)

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Monday, 8 March 2010

Why is it so hard to put yourself first?

I figured this has something to do with my genetic coding.

Descending from Italian heritage, it is beyond impolite to put yourself first. Words like evil, selfish, 'bestia' and 'putana' quickly spring to mind.

Why is it so difficult to put yourself first - is it wrong?

Does this chronic condition erode your soul so slowly that you don't even know it's having an impact on you?

I keep casting my mind back to the in-flight security instructions; fix oxygen mask on yourself before helping others - is this not an instruction for life?

What good are we to anyone if we are dead or dying?

The moment I started Project Grace 2010, I felt empowered. I had established a purpose, one that I was passionate about - to find the lost me before I reach 40 (hey that rhymes!). I became inspired and eagerly anticipated how my days would unfold - how could I challenge myself so I had something juicy to write?

Then I made a 'rule' - not to blog on weekends, thinking that I might lose myself in the process. Ironically, I lost myself because I stopped blogging.

You see, if I'm being honest with myself, the real reason I made this rule was to save my relationships. I thought that focussing on my project 7 days a week could pose a significant threat to the relationship with my husband, my parents, family and friends. I couldn't fathom turning my back on my responsibilities in favour of my blog - not that blogging takes a huge amount of time... but it does take focus and commitment to deliver.

Essentially, my rule translated to "other people are more important than my blog (which as you know is about my project, which is about restoring me) and I need to be available for them during the weekend".

Without realising what I'd done, I had devalued Project Grace 2010 and no longer made it priority - meaning I no longer made me a priority.

I found myself saying "yes" to things I didn't want to say yes to and with each obligatory promise and action, I could feel myself become more tired, uninspired and by the time I climbed into bed last night, I was completely miserable.

So is this how I lost myself?

With this new insight, I will continue to choose making Project Grace 2010 a priority despite my default setting of wanting to put others first (see pic). This is a new realm I am entering, one that is making me squirm on one hand and feel slightly elated on the other.

In the words of the great 80's duo Wham! "CHOOSE LIFE" to which I respond:

To you: "CHOOSE YOU"

To me: "CHOOSE ME"

Until tomorrow...

Love, hugs and freedom of choice,

Grace xx

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Friday, 5 March 2010

Top 5 parting thoughts for this weekend

One thing I've started to do since embarking on Project Grace 2010 is establishing boundaries - some may say creating rules.

These rules are purely for self preservation. No point losing this Grace while I'm in the process of looking for the things I loved about the old Grace (who is technically the young Grace - so how about I rename her, me, the former Grace? A concept inspired by The Artist Formerly Known As Prince).

One such rule is 'no blogging on weekends', which raises a problem. Our Saturday and Sunday is Friday and Saturday in the US, and I really like to have the days on my blog reading Monday to Friday. Am I being anal?

Butts aside, I'm going to give you something before bed (oi, mind out of the gutter you lot!) and give myself a mini project - and that is to find out how to change the time settings on this blog site so I can faithfully follow my rules. All tips welcome.

I'm going to leave you with what I've learned this week:

Top 5 parting thoughts for this weekend
  1. Don't be afraid to start a project on yourself. Remember the safety rule on airplanes - you must fit the oxygen mask on yourself before you attend to others (you're no good dead or dying).

  2. Give yourself the opportunity to be courageous in the face of your fears by saying "Phuck it, I'll do it anyway!" Start doing this at least once a week and aim to do it daily.

  3. Reconnect with yourself by revisiting the things you once loved. You may have a different appreciation or viewpoint, however you just might experience a magic moment when you connect, and realise why you loved it/them in the first place.

  4. Laughter is like a direct line to your soul and keeps you in the present moment. When you're laughing you're not thinking about the shopping list, what's for dinner, the bill that's due next week, the parcel you need to pick up from the post office and whether you can go another day on the same pair of undies 'cos your washing's a bit behind. Learning to laugh at yourself is freeing and empowering. Do it often.

  5. Never think you are alone, nor underestimate how much you influence the people around you. By publicly documenting my journey as I jumped off the edge (much like the bungee jumper in the photo), I have discovered a number of people feeling the same way and asking the same questions. By sharing our stories today, we provide others with insight into their own lives and without even realising it - we inspire someone's tomorrow.
Big love to all and happy weekend.

Grace xxoo

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