It’s my birthday in a few days, on the 8th, and when birthday’s come around it’s reasonable that you would start thinking of what you were doing last year and, if you’re feeling particularly deep, think about life in general. Woahhhhhh…. heavy! Yea, it’s heavy, but it’s true you guys.

Last year’s birthday was a pretty brilliant one for me. Matt and my birthday’s are six days apart, so we always try to be overseas for them as it’s our favourite way to celebrate. Be. Elsewhere. So, last year we found ourselves on the remote Indonesian island of Sumbawa with two very good friends and Matt’s little brother, the perfect people to spend a holiday with. The days rolled into each other and we lost track of time; exploring, swimming, surfing, eating and having fun each day. On my birthday we trekked to a waterfall in the jungle, had an delicious dinner overlooking the beach then put on an amateur fireworks display on a secluded beach. It was perfect.

This year, we’re in New Zealand. On the day we’ll wake up early to get up to Treble Cone Snow Field and watch the sunrise, then spend the day snowboarding. I’m excited! Mostly because I can’t snowboard so I’ll probably be butt-scooting around like the uncoordinated fool I am.

Birthday’s are a funny thing, when you’re younger they mean something totally different. It’s about cake, friends, presents, parties and being a bit wild. For me, that’s changed a lot and now they feel like post markers, a reminder to stop and take stock of what’s happened over the last year and notice the changes.

On Sunday evening I caught up with some people I haven’t seen in a long time. I haven’t seen most of them since before I left my office job, over a year ago. Each one of them said the same thing after talking to me, they said, “You look different… I mean, you look like you, but different. Why is that? What have you done?” At first I thought I’d stuffed up my make-up, maybe gone a little too heavy on the blush. But, after a quick trip to the bathroom to check, I realised it wasn’t that. It took me a while to realise, but I figured it out…. I look different because I’m happy.

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My face is no longer the face of a person having their very soul sucked out of them day to day in a rat-cage/office building. Oh no. My face is the person who is free and happy. These old friends only knew me as the miserable person with bags under their eyes, an air of frustration around them and a general tiredness. Now I’ve got a spring in my step, I’m outwardly brighter and, if I’m being honest, sometimes I’m so relaxed I fall into a micro-sleep without realising it.

Let me take a second to clarify that this is in no way a brag, humble or otherwise. This is the story of a person who was on the shitty side of the fence and clawed their way over to the happy side and wants everyone else to know how good it feels so they can come over to Happyville too. Come on over, you guys, it’s the bomb over here.

Since my 27th birthday I’ve had to make some big decisions. Some of them were scary, like Matt and I deciding it was time for him to leave his job. This decision forced a lot of others and brought up a lot of fears…. there was the possibility we could not have enough income to pay our bills, there was a chance we wouldn’t be happy living away from the city and there was the very real fear that things wouldn’t grow with LGB and it could all fail.

These fears were all valid and I’m glad they came up, so we could consider them and then ignore them. Every decision Matt and I have made has come with one question attached to it, “Will this make us happy?” If the answer is yes, then we do it. Every decision that has been made has been to make us happy and we haven’t gotten a single one wrong, how can you when you’re making choices solely to benefit yourself and what you want out of life? It’s just not possible to stuff that up. “This thing is going to fill my heart with love and happiness. I shall do it and it shall be great.” It’s that simple.

It’s hard to realise the power opening yourself up will have on every other aspect of your life. Those moments of being completely vulnerable and saying, “I’m terrified I won’t have enough money, but I’m doing this for my happiness and I don’t care what happens, I want this,” are the most powerful. It’s your soul, your heart and your mind all working together to say, “I’m ready.” From there, everything flows and connects.

Phoebe Lee Shotover Jet Queenstown Travel Blogger New Zealand

The changes I feel in myself since this time last year are immense. Every aspect of myself feels peaceful, connected and in-tune. More than that, I feel happy pretty much all the time. Of course there are those moments when you stub your toe on the coffee table or find your cat took a spite-dump on the rug to punish you for going away, which isn’t really happiness-inducing, but if those are the worst things that happen in my day, I’m okay with that.

One of the things I’m most proud of learning this past 12 months is my own self-worth and value. It took a really long time for me to take ownership of my worth, I used to look for it in other people, allowing their opinion to impact how I felt about myself. I also seriously doubted my own abilities and whether or not I was smart enough or deserving enough to have what I wanted in life.

These things weighed heavily on me and it has taken 12 months of working on my heart, learning, adjusting and being mindfully aware of how I treat myself to make a change. It is 12 months very well spent. I know now, deep in my heart and soul, right down into my bones, that I am entitled to happiness, simply by being alive. Just as you are and every person you know is too.

I’m really thankful for all the hard things that have come into my life over the past year, they’ve come at just the right time, forcing me to learn lessons I would have avoided otherwise. I’m also incredibly grateful for every single moment of happiness I’ve experienced. I’m thankful for the lovely people who read, share, follow and comment on Little Grey Box. I’m thankful for the wonderful people from hotel groups, tourism boards and media agencies who want to work with me. I’m also appreciative of the hard work I’ve put in and the big decisions I’ve made this last year. Past me has really taken good care of current me.

I never thought I would find something I was passionate enough about to commit to and give my all, but I have and it feels amazing and I never knew it was possible. If you’re reading this and you feel lost like I used to, just know it is within you to change. You have everything you need to change, it’s already within you. You are deserving of happiness, you are wonderful and you can do it.

Phoebe Lee Blogger Australia Queensland Brisbane TravelPhoebe Lee is a writer, award-winning blogger and travel lover sharing helpful travel tips, insight and reviews for regular people. Follow her adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and on InstagramFacebook and YouTube.

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