The subtle art of saying no

Have you ever been asked to do something that you really don’t want to? And you spent hours, if not days, trying to conjure up an excuse as to why you can’t do it? And not just any excuse, but a plausible excuse. Family events, a friend’s birthday, a reunion, a prior commitment at a prior venue that you simply could not skip on. Alternatively, we begrudgingly say yes and complain that we have to participate in this random thing that we’ve been asked to do, so that we don’t offend the person asking us.

We’ve all been there. Making up excuses, searching for excuses, before finally giving. But to be quite frank, I’m pretty sick of doing things that I don’t want to do. What better excuse of not doing something than simply, ‘I don’t want to.’

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I think from a young age, we are programmed to please people. Especially as a woman, we’re expected to be obedient, to play along, and do whatever it is to please the people around us. It means sacrificing our time, energy and effort to keep the peace and keep everyone happy. Whilst this isn’t the end of the world, and saying yes can be a great thing, there’s something terrifyingly empowering about saying no.

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This is not only apparent in our personal lives, but also in our professional ones. As a young professional, I have been brought up in an environment where I feel the need to prove myself. That I couldn’t possibly have earned my position because I’m too young. So I find myself holding incredibly high expectations of myself, pushing myself and putting my hand up for everything to prove how deserving I am of having the opportunity to have this job. This is a pretty self-destructive notion that will quickly lead to burnout and feeling unrecognised for the extra work you’re pushing yourself to do.

I used to think that saying no was saying no to new opportunities, to miss out on growing, to limit yourself and ultimately hold yourself back. And whilst sometimes saying yes to things that make you feel uncomfortable is freakin awesome and does facilitate growth, saying no doesn’t mean you miss out on that opportunity.

I’ve recently come to understand that time is one of the most precious things we have. And it’s important to protect it at all costs. As our lives get busier and busier, our weekends get booked out months in advance and seeing friends becomes a series of cancellations and rescheduling, the last thing you want to be doing is spending your precious time doing things that you don’t really want to do.

I’ve found myself asking, how the heck do I say no? To a friend, a family member, a colleague, a boss, a partner… so here are some little phrases and sayings.

  • That’s not really my scene
  • Thanks but there’s other things I’d rather be doing
  • That’s not really up my alley
  • I’m going to have a ‘me day’ instead
  • Can you elaborate on why you need me to do it specifically?
  • Can I think about it and get back to you?
  • I can’t commit to this at the moment

At the end of the day, saying no is an empowering thing. Saying no can set new boundaries. It can challenge people and get them to seriously think about what they’re asking you. It is self-care by honouring and respecting your time. And at the end of the day, you’re just one person. You can’t possibly do everything for everyone, and if you can, then maybe it’s time to start putting yourself first. Say yes to saying no!

What I’ve Learnt in 24 years

So it’s my birthday month which means I am queen and center of attention (as if it’s not like that every other month). So whilst I’m on my high horse feeling all wise and regal like Beyonce (one can only dream), I have done a serious amount of reflecting on my past 24 years on earth. I’m turning 24! 24!! What the heck?!

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Aren’t 24 year olds meant to have their life together? Aren’t they meant to have acne free skin and know what they want to do with their career? Aren’t they meant to be saving for a deposit on a house and know how to bake cakes from scratch? Well maybe I’m not your average 24 year old and I’m more concerned with where to find the best espresso martini, adding new stamps to my passport and spending an afternoon sinking beers. But believe it or not, I have come to learn some valuable lessons during my 8760 days on earth and I thought I’d share them with you.

✈️ Travel far and travel wide

I am SO incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to travel to 24 counties in 24 years (wow that’s a coincidence!). It’s something that I hope to always be able to do and cherish. Travel has taken me skiing in Austria to diving in Belize, I’ve immersed myself in French culture and became somewhat fluent in the language, I stayed with Mayans in Guatemala and learnt sewing, hiked a volcano in Iceland, partied in Prague, got a tattoo in Mexico, road tripped around California, called Canada home, sipped Sangria in Spain and survived toilet troubles in Thailand. These experiences have shaped me as a person. They’ve influenced my ideas, values and aspirations. They’ve taught me that the world is a beautiful place and has inspired me to learn as much as I can about it. They’ve confronted me with the harsh realities on inequality, poverty and political instability. And they’ve most importantly made me realise that I am a global citizen. I care about what’s happening in the world and I want to create a better one for us. Travel is the best education and I hope to keep on learning.

🔑 Honesty and Respect are key

For nearly as long as I can remember, there’s only been two things I’ve ever asked for from anyone; honesty and respect. And the two are interconnected. They’re the two basic things I try to show everyone in the hope that they return the favour and go about our lives peacefully. I’ve found that this has taken me far in life. It’s kept me grounded, kind, cautious and compassionate. I’ll always carry these values with me and maybe you might even try it out for yourself. Along the way you’ll find you’re more honest with yourself and in turn, have a new found respect and love for yourself.

👋 Don’t waste your time on people that don’t value you

How many hours, days, weeks have you spent worrying about texting someone, not getting a reply or tip toeing around a delicate situation? If you’ve ever played the dating game, then I’m sure you’ve experienced this situation before. I cannot tell you how liberating it is to simply reject this notion altogether! It’s pointless! If someone really won’t text you back, are they really worth your time? Hell no! You deserve to be with someone who wants to text you, see you, hang out with you, kiss you… not someone who is ‘too cool to text.’ Fuck that life is too damn short.

🍸Tequila shots are never a good idea

I thought maybe by now I would have realised that tequila is the devil hidden at the bottom of a shot glass. Alas, I continue to indulge in the devils games and wake up with a killer hangover. On that note, hangovers get WORSE! Worse I tell you! Does this mean I’ll stop drinking or doing shots of tequila? Nope. It just means the complaining will increase – I warned you!

On the topic of alcohol, espresso martinis are always a good idea and beers are your friend. Maybe I’ll learn one day!

💋 Being sexual doesn’t make you a slut

I remember growing up thinking that sex was an inherently shameful, dirty thing. That if you had sex you shouldn’t be proud of it or talk about it with people. Maybe that’s why I love talking about all things love, relationships and sex because I feel a little bit cheeky doing so. But in my 24 years, I’ve come to realise that sex, nudity and being sexual is a completely natural, beautiful thing. It’s a shame that we live in a society that still places so much pressure on people (especially girls) around these topics.

For me personally, I feel incredibly empowered by my naked body. I feel stronger as a woman once I’ve taken the time to understand and enjoy sex. And once I embraced my sexuality, I became an even better version of myself. Sex doesn’t make you a slut. Society gives people that label and I say fuck that label. There’s nothing more sexy than a woman who is confident in herself.

❤️ Look after yourself

Listening to yourself,  is an art form that we’re always trying to perfect. Listening to your gut instinct and following your heart is SOOO important and I wish I started doing it earlier. That way you can never let yourself down.

Looking after yourself means being brave enough to say, hey – I think I just need a night to myself. Or to cook a nice hearty meal for yourself, take yourself out for lunch, buy a new dress, something that is for you and no one else. It’s being selfish every now and again to reset, realign and remind yourself just how amazing you are.

👗 Yes, not all men but yes all women

As a woman I’m often painfully reminded of the inequality, discrimination, assault and fear experienced by all women at some point in our lives. Whether it’s walking home from work after dark, going for a girls night out, waiting for a bus, women experience sexual harassment on a daily occurrence. The sadder reality is the number of women who experience violence, assault, rape and abuse. Gender inequality is entrenched in our society.

From a young age we are taught to believe that men are stronger, more powerful and more important. For decades women have been frightened into line. Until one badass realised just how strong, powerful and important women are and said that we have had enough. While we continue this important fight for equality, I have sadly heard far too many stories of women remaining silent, scared and afraid. I don’t want to live in a world where I see powerful women reduced to a statistic. I want my sisters of the world to be able to go to school, play sport, get paid the same as a man for the same job, travel safely on public transport, not be called ’emotional’ when calling someone out and be believed when she states someone has violated her body. But most importantly, I want a future where we can live without fear. Yes, not all men do this, but yes ALL WOMEN have experienced this and it’s time it changed. It’s a sad thing to learn, but it sure is powerfully motivating not to sit still.

😨 Do things that scare you

I think I’ve come to realise that this has an entirely different meaning to what I originally thought it meant. I thought it meant go skydiving, bungee jumping or backpacking around Europe. All of which are pretty awesome and pretty scary. But now I interpret this as everyday choices and decisions that challenge you to question yourself and your abilities.

This year I’m doing my Honours thesis in International Studies and damn am I scared. I’m scared I’m not smart enough, I’m not capable, scared I will let my supervisor down, let myself down, scared I have no original thoughts and scared that I know nothing.

This year I’ve also started a new relationship, which is hella scary. I was scared that people would think it was too soon, that I wasn’t serious, that I was lost.  I’m scared of getting hurt and betrayed again, I’m scared of loss and I’m scared of loving someone so much.

These things are scary and yes there is the possibility that I might get hurt or might not get the mark I want. But don’t you think it’s worth the risk if you instead produce a thesis you’re proud of, or end up falling in love? It’s hard, heck sometimes impossible to get those negative voices out of your head. But those negative voices aren’t going to get you that mark, or help you fall in love. It’s these everyday scary choices that allow us to find something pretty damn magical (and I’m not talking about my thesis here). Life is scary because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to anyone. You have to listen to your heart, take that leap and hopefully you’ll fly.

🌊 The Ocean is nature’s medicine

If I’m ever feeling down, worried, sick, anxious… I go for a walk or a swim and nature has a magical power of taking it all away. It’s so reassuring to know that no matter what life throws at me, I have my own personal therapist right out my window. It’s something I’ve tried to make more and more time for lately. Being at one with the earth, taking a deep breath, feeling the sun on your face and realising your place in the world. Sometimes there’s not better feeling.

🌞 Happiness really is the most important thing

You light up the whole room when you’re happy. Your energy is contagious, your smile infectious and light unstoppable! It’s easy to get caught in the trap of work, study, work out… ticking things off your list to earn money. And whilst money is important, it’s true what they say, it really can’t buy happiness.

Happiness comes from real, unbreakable connections with people. It comes from sharing intimate moments, thoughts or emotions. It comes from taking the time to clear your mind, look up at the sky and smile. Whether it’s little or big things, investing in your happiness is the easiest way to guarantee your life is fucking amazing.

💪 Be fierce and unapologetically YOU

There’s only one of you on earth. Yep, just 1 in over 7 BILLION! You’ve been given this life, this body, this mind, and this chance for a reason. Make the most of it! Carpe fucking Diem! Live every day with as much energy and excitement as you can give it. Take risks, believe in people, believe in yourself! Do you really want to spend your precious s wanting, wishing, longing for something you don’t have or can’t have? If you can change it, go and grab it. And if you can’t change it, embrace it, flaunt it. Show the world what you’ve got and don’t hold back for anyone. The biggest thing I’ve learnt is that I am Adelaide, red hair and all, and I will live a purposeful, passionate life.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts…. let me know in the comments or on social media!
Until next time – Ciao

 

An Open Letter to My Friends

The past few months have been pretty challenging. A bit of a bumpy ride with some ups and downs and what can we say… such is life. I like to think I’m pretty strong and resilient, but I think I’ve come to realise that this strength is ignited by the people around me I’m lucky enough to call my friends. It’s funny when you move out of home, away from your family, that you strive to create a ‘family’ of your own. To surround yourself with people that push you, inspire you, lookout for you and cuddle you.

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You’re so passionate and interesting.

Like seriously, you guys are doing such incredibly awesome things! Whether it’s planning to work at a summer camp in Canada, babysit your niece, learn Spanish, learn to surf, experimenting with photography, rock climb, secretly talented at karaoke, volunteer with a community organisation, teach dancing, make rings from old spoons, volunteer in Nepal, know how to twerk, road trip around Australia in a van, doing your thesis, intern in the Netherlands… you are all involved in such interesting projects that continuously inspire me. I always want to hear about everything you’re doing because it pushes me to be a better person, to try new things and just get involved to make the most out of life!

You listen to me rant and preach.

Whether I’m happy or sad, angry or passionate, you nod your head and listen to my thoughts and feelings. I generally don’t filter anything I say, it goes straight from my brain to my mouth. Talking things through is how I try and make sense of my feelings and the world around me. The fact that you want to listen and make sense of this nonsense with me, makes me feel so accepted and wanted. It’s completely amazing!

You’re always down to get a coffee or a beer.

We all know that friendship is built on a foundation of coffee or beer (or tea, or juice, or cider, or vodka for my friends that don’t like coffee or beer – side note, you still cannot be trusted). There’s nothing like pressing pause on life and taking a few minutes to sit back and sit across from someone you care about to talk shit.

Time is unstoppable and so is true friendship.

Whether it’s been an hour or a year, you know that you can kick off right where you started. This is especially a shout out for those friends I only get to see a few times a year… or even once a year (Jess… why do you have to live the dream in Europe?!). It’s so crazy that throughout all of these years our friendship has not only survived but strengthened, and after everything we go through in a year, you still make time for me once a year to spend time together and catch up. Even the people I live around the corner from, you understand that I’m busy and have commitments and sometimes need to spend some time alone or focusing on some other priorities, and the fact that you are so supportive of that is so incredible.

You live in the coolest places (which I will one day come and visit).

Somehow some of my best friends live on the other side of the world. When I stop to think about where they all are I get so excited that I know people from the most incredible parts of the world; Canada, America, Mexico, England, France, Italy, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand, Brazil, Columbia, Albania, Nepal, Morocco, Hong Kong… honestly I love meeting people from all over the world and the fact that I get to call you my friend is so freakin aweseome.

Work friends understand each other on a next level.

This is a shout out to all of my work friends. The people I see every day and are there to complain to, talk to and grab coffee with. We problem solve, deal with workplace politics together and keep each other updated on one another’s lives. I never thought I’d be so lucky to work with such kind, caring and considerate people. The fact that these people make going to work exciting is pretty damn amazing and I want you to know what a positive impact you make on people’s work lives (which is really important).

You intervene and pull me up for my wrongdoings.

I know I’m not perfect and that I make mistakes. But having friends who love you so much and are brave enough to sit you down and have an honest, genuine discussion about things you’re doing that may not be quite right, is the definition of consideration and respect. It’s not an easy conversation but the fact that you’re putting my wellbeing above any awkward thoughts of feelings you may have is ridiculously generous. I can say that in these moments I’ve had overwhelming gratitude for these people and their words and kindness that I’ll never forget.

You stick your hands down my throat when I need to throw up.

OK so that’s only happened once, and that friend knows that she’s the ultimate human because I don’t know anyone else who would sacrifice a night of dancing for drunk, can’t navigate us home, Adelaide (thanks girl).

Bottom line is that I honestly don’t know where I would be without each and every one of you. I feel like that sentence doesn’t even begin to grasp just how much you all mean to me. I mean it in the sincerest way possible, that you have all helped shape me to be the person I am. It’s incredible to know such inspiring, positive, kick ass people from all around the world and I feel so honoured to have such beautiful relationships with each and every one of you. I want you to know that I am here for you, I love you and let’s take this world by storm.

 

 

 

Navigating Uncertainty and Workplace Insecurity

I recently found out that I’m losing my job. Which honestly didn’t come as a surprise given the economic impact that has hit higher education institutions across Australia. And whilst I am so grateful to have maintained my job throughout the pandemic, and realise how fortunate and lucky I have been to have a consistent income throughout this time – especially when millennials have been disproportionately impacted by job loss across Australia – it still sucks.

I’ve been working at UOW for almost 7 years, which is crazy to say. I studied there, worked there, created a network, friendships and a second family there. So it’s pretty crushing when you hear that the rug is being pulled out from under you. At this time, we’re still figuring out what this all means, and logistically what it will look like. One thing is for certain, there will be job cuts and our little work family is being broken up.

So how do you navigate times of immense stress, especially when your job and associated income is on the line? With so many questions, and little to no answers, how do you know which way is up? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers, but here are a few things that have helped me over the past few months navigate job insecurity and shifting uncertaintly.

Talk, rant, express yourself

Keeping all of these thoughts, feelings and emotions in, no matter how big or small they may seem, will not help you. If you have a colleague or friend that you trust and know that you can be completely open with, this is the person to call.

It’s important to do this because once you’ve said everything you need to say on the topic – you can move on. You’ve released it into the universe, let the universe take that stress from you now.

Control what you can

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that there’s a lot in the world out of our control. And whilst decisions are being made around you and it feels like you have no control over your career, life and path, realise that you do have control over what you do next and how you react.

I won’t lie, I spent several days being incredibly upset and in shock processing these changes. But after speaking to a friend, she reminded me that all we can do is control how we respond and carry ourselves forward. By shifting my attitude and perspective slightly, to look at opportunities available, it completely re-framed how I felt about the change.

Support your colleagues

While it might seem overwhelming being bombarded with Webex messages or emails with ‘are you ok?’ it’s nice to know that I have not only colleagues, but friends out there who care about me. It makes me feel like what I have contributed and what I bring to the organisation matters and hasn’t gone unnoticed.

So reach out, even if you’re not sure what to say, just knowing that someone is there to listen and is going through it with you is sometimes enough to not feel alone.

Have a day or two off

Sick leave and mental health days exist for a reason. When you experience change and an overwhelming sense of what feels like rejection or ‘not-good-enough-itis’ the emotional response results in physical responses. After I was told the news I was absolutely exhausted for several days afterwards. My body flooded with adrenaline and then crashed. I took a few days to feel it all, put things in perspective, and think about what was important to me.

This meant I could come back to work feeling more positive and inspired and actually motivated me to bring my best self to work.

Get sweaty

Go for a run, walk, swim, anything to get your heart pumping. I’m always surprised at how good I feel after a run and how I’m actually not able to think about all the stresses in life because I’m too busy concentrating on breathing.

Plus, channeling your energy into moving your body, physically releasing that stress that’s built up is hugely beneficial.

It’s shit and it’s ok

I’ve come to realise that anxiety, stress and shit times aren’t an Olympic sport. There’s no ‘winner’ (or in this case, loser). While yes, I can realise and acknowledge my luck and privileged position within society and be grateful for that, it doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to complain, cry or be affected by such a significant change in my life.

Change + challenges = growth

While it might be hard to see at the time, challenges and change we go through make us stronger, more resilient and help us grow. I know that it can sometimes feel like you’re running uphill, not making any progress, but maybe this hill will be even bigger and better than the last one.

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At the end of the day, when all of this is said and done, I am more than my job. I am a whole, complex person with interests, hobbies, friends that actually define me.

There’s always a time to dig deep, work hard and hustle, but during times of stress and change, your own goal should be prioritising your health and wellbeing. Take time to reset, focus on what’s important to you, think about your next move, control what you can and let go of what you can’t.

To all my friends and colleagues who have been through, and are going through change, we’ve got this.

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: OCTOBER 2020


Thank you for coming October, what an absolute smash hit of a month. Daylight savings is here, the days are getting longer and warmer, and everyone seems to be running around with some extra spring in their step. This is the first month things have started to feel ‘normal,’ and I say ‘normal’ in quotations because I recognise the immense privilege that comes from being able to work from home and not be under a strict lockdown. We still have a long way to go in this global pandemic and complacency is the enemy. I’m so lucky to live in a safe environment and I’m so damn grateful to have the opportunity to meet up with friends, travel regionally, and figure out what this ‘new normal’ looks like.

I think our world, or if not, our psyche has completely altered after the events of 2020, and it’s still not over. I ran into a friend this morning getting coffee. I hadn’t seen her in several years and when retelling what I’d been up to this year, I realised that I had gravitated towards comfort and cosyness. And I realised a lot of my turmoil is a result of being frustrated with myself that I’ve accepted comfort in my mid-twenties. But this month has taught me that there’s ways to push your comfort zone to keep growing, while operating within a space of comfort and safety. I don’t think I’ve quite figured it out yet, and I’m certainly still on that journey – but you know me, I’ll let you know how I go.

But before we jump into the unknowns of the future that triggers an existential crisis in all of us, let’s have a look at this comfortable/push the comfort zone month that was October.

October Long Weekend

Hallelujah – thank you for blessing us with a long weekend topped with AMAZING weather! I had honestly been looking forward to this long weekend for months and honestly, it was everything I wanted (and needed) and more. I spent the weekend with my long time best friends, in Newcastle and Port Stephens, exploring rock pools and caves, drinking beer and soaking up sunshine. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it, but seriously couldn’t have been more happy and grateful to spend a weekend with amazing people.

A Solo Vacay

If you missed it, I spent three nights at an airbnb on the Central Coast on my own. It was just what I needed, do some soul searching, It was so refreshing to go slow and put myself first. Do what I wanted, when I wanted – which mainly consisted of getting up early for a run, grabbing a coffee, spending hours by the pool, drinking wine and reading books. If you haven’t been already, I would absolutely recommend checking out Ettalong Beach and Palm Beach (you can get between the two via a quick 30min ferry), the perfect destination for a little getaway.

Blue Mountains 2.0

Back to the mountains we went! After our last visit, with zero visibility at the three sisters, it was a pretty amazing sight on the Friday afternoon when we arrived, to head on down and take in the amazing view. After a picnic with pizza and beers and a good nights sleep, we headed off on a 13km hike. There’s nothing quite like being out in nature, having some good old chats and exploring more of what this beautiful country has to offer. To top it off, we spent our afternoon drinking and eating pizza. I always appreciate the balance I get from a weekend away with my fam.

Shenanigans

It’s imperative to have shenanigans each and every month – so here’s to the shenanigans we got up to this month. From countless sunrise swims, to eating pizza watching punk bands in Sydney, from North Gong schnitty’s to dog walks, from hikes to nights out in Newcastle, this month has been pretty damn awesome. I’ve never felt more myself and whilst I’m not exactly thrilled that all of my weekends are literally filling up weeks in advance, I’m so grateful for the good times with old friends and new ones.

Books

So I somehow read 6 books over the course of the month; The House of Spirits, by Isabelle Allende, Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles andThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid were great reads and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them. But these three books are my, as this post goes, my favourites.

Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
I saw the trailer for Rebecca on Netflix and it looked epic. So I ran down to the book store and picked up this beauty. I absolutely loved it – I read it in a few days and honestly couldn’t put it down. The writing was stunning and the character development was incredible. I was so gripped and absolutely loved it. I watched the Netflix movie and while it is visually gorgeous, I feel it missed the grit that this book captures.

Book Club: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier - Henpicked

Call Me By Your Name, André Aciman
This book was the Summer holiday whimsical read I needed. I read it in a day and I honestly was transported. It felt like I was in Italy, I could almost feel the sweat drip down the back of my neck. It perfectly captured that feeling of Summer romance and holiday flings. That feeling of lust, curiosity, desire, intensity, getting to know someone, exploration and connection. I couldn’t recommend this more and I absolutely loved it.

Call Me By Your Name eBook: Aciman, Andre: Amazon.com.au: Kindle Store

The Dry, Jane Harper
I picked this one up from the local library and wow. Something I loved about this book was the pace, which may sound a little strange, but it just flowed so organically. I loved the themes it covered and it was great reading a book about regional Australia. I read it in a few days and it was absolutely awesome. A movie adaptation is due to be released this year and I cannot wait to watch it!

The Dry (Aaron Falk, #1) by Jane Harper

Flicks

Season 4 of the Good Fight
Yes yes yes! It’s back baby! This show is seriously AMAZING! I’ve been looking forward to this coming out for AGES! It’s on Stan and thank me later.

The Good Fight' Season 4 Review | IndieWire

Tunes

Middle Kids
Sometimes you just have an album on repeat for weeks on end, and all of Middle Kids’ albums have been soundtracks to my months. Honestly, I have nothing to say but how damn great are they?! Bring back gigs and festivals – I cannot wait.

Cigarettes After Sex
Ooft, this album is so sensual and gorgeous. I’ve recently adopted a pretty great night time routine than involves diffusing lavender oil, reading my book and playing this album until I fall asleep. Add this one to your list when you want some zen.

Product

Lanolips, mint
If I wasn’t already obsessed with Lanolips, enter the minty version. Seriously I cannot leave the house without lip balm – it’s an addiction I know – but damn this feels and tastes amazing all day long. You can pick it up from Mecca.

Lanolips 101 Ointment Multi-Balm Minty - Lanolips | MECCA

October has been one of the best months of the year. It feels amazing to feel a little more like myself, a little more adventurous and a little more sure of what I want and where I’m going. And I’m fucking blessed to have amazing people around me to support me on the way. November, let’s see what you’ve got.

Go on a solo trip, thank me later

We all know that 2020 has been a pretty tumultuous year. Things have been moving so quickly yet painstakingly slow. Everyone and everything is uncertain, and the world has changed in ways we didn’t see coming. So when it came to taking a week off work, the only thing that could possibly be nearly as enticing as an overseas holiday, is the thought of spending a few nights, by myself.

Since my return and my attempt to remain in the hazy, daydream of a cloud I felt I was floating on, lots of people have asked me about my time away. The overwhelming majority of people were shook that I would book an airbnb to myself, quickly followed by, ‘wow that sounds serene.’ I’m here to tell you – it was serene and these are the reasons you should book a little getaway for yourself as soon as possible.

When was the last time you did nothing?

Seriously, think about it. When was the last time you didn’t have somewhere to be, someone to meet, some timeline or deadline? When you can do what you want, when you want. When was the last time you laid on a pool chair and gazed up at the clouds floating overhead? Where you watched how the light turned from orange to pink? When you felt the cool change wash over you body as the sun set? When was the last time you just let time pass? No podcasts, no music, no phone calls, no pressure?

Daring to be present

There’s a lot of talk about being present and gratitude. Which can often take the back seat when we are stressed at work and in life. Being truly present can be scary, especially if you’re on your own. Sitting with and facing all the thoughts and feelings that you had pushed away, or weren’t quite ready to confront. It’s emotional, it take courage and it’s truly transformative.

What kind of cult did I sign up to where I thought that work was the be all and end all of everything?

Life is more important than work

What kind of cult did I sign up to where I thought that work was the be all and end all of everything? Having worked from home since March, there’s been a blurring of professional and personal life. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for my job, for the people I work with and the fact that I’m able to work from home. But in 2020, work has become stressful, tiring, exhausting and taken over (it’s literally taken over my dining room). Why is the thought of turning on ‘out of office’ emails for a few days so radical?

By stepping away and taking a deep breath, I’ve realised the crazy idea that life is fucking important. Put yourself first. In 10 years time will your boss remember the time you stayed back an extra hour? Unlikely. Get your work done, work hard, make yourself proud, then log the fuck off and get outside to enjoy your life.

If you need a day off, take it. If you need to take an extra long lunch, do it. Work-life balance is supposed to be give and take, but work is greedy. Take time back for yourself.

Do what’s important to you

The best thing about a solo trip away, is that you don’t need to think about what anyone else wants to do. No compromising on whether you want Italian or Japanese, no having to wait around or rush along, no having to consider anyone but yourself. In life we’re always juggling what we want along with what other people want. What makes other people happy. Well forget about it darling, this trip is all about you and making yourself happy. Want to sleep in til 10am and get a bacon and egg roll for brekky? Do it! Want to go for a 10km walk? Do it! The moral of the story is that you get to do whatever you want to do. You’ll be surprised at how foreign and good it feels.

Let your mind run wild

I realised that I didn’t speak to anyone except the person I ordered coffee from, for 3 days. How did I fill the time you ask? How did I not go crazy? I let my mind run wild. I felt like a kid again, someone who was coming up with crazy, big ideas, who was looking at things with a fresh perspective, someone who was curious and driven. In everyday life, we’re so bound by time, deadlines an commitments… suddenly having none of those meant that my mind could explore thoughts and ideas I hadn’t had the chance. And not just explore but actually change the way in which I fundamentally think about things (like why do I try so hard for everyone to like me?).

The most important thing…

Now that I’ve convinced you that you need to book a solo trip away, let me just say this. Look after yourself. Stay safe and prioritise yourself. It’s not often we’re given permission to do so, but sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to take deep, true care of yourself. 3 nights away was perfect, I think if I spent an additional 3 nights away, I would have got even more clarity from my past and directing me in the right direction for the future.

Do yourself a favour, book a solo trip. You’re welcome.

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: SEPTEMBER 2020

Wow, what a month September has been?! It was absolutely jam packed with weekends away, shenanigans, soul-searching, mischief and good times. The weather is slowly warming up, the sunrises are getting a little too early and the hope and optimism of Spring has well and truly settled in. As I write this, I am utterly exhausted. I feel like my uterus is attempting to escape my body and take my soul along with it (I love being a woman sometimes), my hips are killing me, my hayfever is at an all time high and I’m honestly surprised my eyes aren’t square after the intense amount of hours I’ve been putting into work.

Needless to say, I’m pretty damn excited for the upcoming long weekend and the following week where I’m actually taking leave. I’ve been so overdue for time off and a break that I feel like I’m literally staggering to the finish line. It’s just around the corner… one last push and we’re there baby! But before we welcome October, let’s have a look at this crazy wicked month that was September!

Port Stephens

If I’ve talked to you in the past month, you would know I LOVE JUMPING OFF THINGS INTO WATER! Honestly, is there any better feeling in the world?! I recently spent a weekend back home and my brother and sister were there (which is a rare occurrence to get us all together). We went adventuring around some rock pools and honestly – I just have a new found appreciation for my home town. The weather totally put it on for us and we spent our afternoons jumping off rocks, swimming around and sliding over seaweed. I’m already so excited to head back to the Bay over the October long weekend.

Sydney

Wow, who would have thought that heading for a night out in Sydney would seem so trivial?! So what better excuse than Chantelle’s 25th birthday?! We got a hotel room in Sydney, I put on a fake tan, heels, and headed out to spend too much money on cocktails! We ended up at a karaoke bar at 1:30am and damn, what a great time! There’s nothing quite like getting dressed up and heading out with great people!

Blue Mountains

Wow – I cannot believe it’s been so many years since visiting the Blue Mountains which are literally on Sydney’s doorstep. I hopped on a train after work to head to Wentworth Falls. The train trip up was spectacular and when I rolled into Wentworth Falls, there was a thick layer of fog settled on the town which gave me creepy Harry Potter vibes – I kept checking to make sure there were no dementors behind me. I met up with Dad and Elly to head to our cute little house with an cute enormous garden.

After an incident with a tick (oh Elly), Dad cooked up a big ol BBQ before we headed to grab a coffee and off to Hanging Rock. An 11km round trip, this hike was AMAZING! Honestly – despite a confronting weather forecast, the weather literally shone through and delivered the goods.

I was completely blown away by how jaw droppingly beautiful it was. The rock faces were glowing orange and the sheer drop was utterly terrifying. To add to the terror, Dad and I decided to literally jump across to Hanging Rock to terrify ourselves further (ok – it was just me – but hey I did it).

After our death defying jump, we headed back to munch into some wine and cheese. It was such a lovely way to spend an afternoon. With the heaters on, red wine, BBQ lamb and veggies and good old giggles. Very grateful to have been able to take the time away to get out in nature and spend some time with my family.

Shenanigans

There’s always room for shenanigans. From sleepovers to drag queen bingo, to sunrise swims, from grinding at work to an attempted sober September… I’m grateful for everyone who made this month so lovely and special.

Touch footy

Illawarriors what an unexpected, challenging and fun season. As I mentioned in last month’s post, I started playing on a mixed touch team. It was certainly one of the most challenging and anxiety inducing things I’ve done in a long time (check out my blog post from last year when I started playing and freaked out because I didn’t know how to be bad at things) but after every single game, I felt elated! Our last two games we actually won which led to this cool little victory shot. I absolutely love being able to get out and about, get sweaty, play as a team, learn something new, push myself, and hang out with some awesome people!

Books

The Radium Girls
My lovely friend Dylan gave this to me for my birthday and I’m so glad I got to sink my teeth into a book and a historical event I knew absolutely nothing about. This book tells the story of dozens of young women who worked in factories who used radium to paint the dials onto watch faces. They adopted a technique called the ‘lip, dip, paint’ which saw them putting the unknowingly toxic substance into their mouths hundreds of times. The worst part was that the company knew of the risks and health effects of radium, and put the company’s profits above the safety of their employees. Devastatingly, dozens of young women’s bodies literally disintegrated. The story is absolutely horrific but tells the fighting tale of them battling for justice and employee protection in the workplace.

The Space Between
Hello my name is Adelaide and I am a basic bitch who is obsessed with the Shameless Podcast and everything Michelle and Zara touch. It was really a matter of when I was going to read it, so I was pretty stoked when Chantelle came home with it in hand – I quickly put my hand up to borrow it. I smashed through this book in 2 days and yes it really is as good as it’s hyped up to be.

There are a lot of fantastic essays in here, but I was really drawn to and inspired by the section on careers and jobs. I feel that there is so much pressure, especially on twenty-somethings to know what they want, hustle, grind and sacrifice everything to pursue those dreams. I loved this book and would certainly recommend it to anyone trying their best in this big bad world.

Tunes

Sea Girls
Oooh this album is so damn good. I’ve had it on repeat this past month, especially their song Shake. Do you ever picture yourself standing on a stage with a microphone in hand singing to hundreds of thousands of people? haha yea me either…. but if I did, I would certainly be rocking out to this song!

TV Shows

How To Get Away With Murder, Season 5
Oh, my, god! I can’t remember ever watching a show that made my heart race so fast. Season 5 is a smash hit if I might say. By now, we know how it works, someone is dead and you spend the whole time praying that it’s not Oliver! But seriously, these characters are so well developed and I’ve never been so emotionally invested in whether or not someone is alive or not. Now – how the heck do I watch Season 6?! You can watch Season 5 on Netflix.

How to Get Away with Murder Season 5 Trailer (HD) - YouTube

On the sauce
Shaun Micalleff – otherwise known as Australia’s George Clooney – looks at Australia’s drinking culture in this hilarious and somewhat concerning three part documentary. As someone who attempted sober September (I blame you Chantelle and you’re too-many-cocktails-birthday-event), I couldn’t have watched this at a better time. I would absolutely recommend, it’s eye opening, insightful and will certainly make you think twice before you reach for that next glass of wine or bottle of beer. You can watch it on ABC’s iView.

Flicks

Mary Shelley
So gothic literature was one of my favourite topics in my high school English class. I think I convinced myself that my English Extension 2 class would be to me what the Swiss Alps were to Mary Shelley and I would write the next masterpiece to shake the world (I wonder how that turned out?) I remember learning about this incredible 19 year old who wrote this book and was fascinated by her. This movie is a really beautiful insight into her painful and difficult life. There are so many incredible themes I could dive into – but the biggest takeaway for me was this immense sense of loss, loneliness and guilt that Mary carried around with her from when she was a baby. You can watch this on SBS On Demand.

Snowpiercer
On the topic of light and optimistic films (hello sarcasm) enter Snowpiercer. Set in a dystopian future where the climate has killed off all human beings except those on a train, circling the world and stuck in their carriage and class. Directed by Oscar winning Bong Joon-ho, this is a terrifying look into class and the structure of our society. One of the most terrifying phrases is that “we must occupy our preordained positions and we must keep in our places.” You can catch this on Stan.

On The Basis of Sex
Given the global grief felt after the passing of Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, it seemed only fitting to watch this film. If you already know a thing or two about RBG, then this won’t be a surprise to you. Instead you will feel inspired and motivated by her determination and relentless efforts to stand up against the way things were. One of my favourite lines was when she cited “the Court should never be influenced by the weather of the day but inevitably they will be influenced by the climate of the era.” And what an era and climate RBG set, let’s hope that the next Supreme Court Justice upholds this value…

Bloggers, podders and vlogger

The Hookup
Talking about all things love and f*cking. Seriously this podcast is probably my dream job, to talk to interesting, diverse, confident people about topics that society has somehow determined is too taboo or too risque to talk about. I loved their recent episode titled ‘I think I’m bi, what next?’ I love how their episodes dive deep on topics and really get you thinking about why you think certain ways.

The Hook Up Podcast - ABC Radio

Product

I’ve tried my fair share of clay masks but this one certainly takes the cake. The Origins Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay is not only affordable (yay) but I’ve noticeably seen improvements in my skin since using it weekly. It feels absolutely divine and tightens as it dries. Certainly a great product to go with your Sunday night pamper sesh. You can pick it up from Sephora here.

Original Skin™ Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay | Origins

The recommendation you didn’t ask for, but you needed to hear

Red cabbage
Yes – welcome to my TED Talk about why red cabbage is the absolute bomb. I apologise to my housemates who have literally heard me go on non-stop about this delicious ball of goodness for the past month, but seriously – is this the most underrated vegetable on earth?

Here are 5 reasons red cabbage is the best thing you will put in your mouth this month;

  1. It’s pretty af (adds a bright pop of purple to each plate)
  2. It’s crunchy af (makes you feel healthy and full)
  3. It’s versatile af (put it in a salad raw, chuck in in a stir fry with soy sauce and honey, or drizzle some vinegar on it, red cabbage can take your taste buds around the world)
  4. It’s healthy af (it’s packed with Vitamin C and is a great source of fiber, vitamin A and potassium. You can read all about why purple foods are better for your brain, but in short; it helps reduce inflammation, blood pressure and can improve connections between neurons in areas of the brain associated with learning and memory)
  5. It’s cheap af (pick up a red cabbage from coles for a few dollars and watch it last you all week).

In conclusion – get some red cabbage!

Sweet and Sour German Red Cabbage Recipe | SimplyRecipes.com

So what an exciting month it’s been – red cabbage and all. I am sooooo looking forward to October and a few weekends away, some time off, smashing some books, getting in the ocean, getting out and about running, and saying yes to some fun things along the way. Bring it on!

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: AUGUST 2020

Well see ya later August and hello Springtime! What an interesting month August turned out to be. Adjusting to an immense physical and emotional emptiness has been a huge adjustment. But it’s also given me a lot of time and space to think, reflect and dig deep about what’s important to me and why. I think I’ve seen more sunrises this month than I have any other. I’ve probably also drank more than I have any other (hello sober September!) It’s been a bit of a blur but I’m so damn proud I made it through.

Canberra

So I realised it had been an awkward amount of time since I’d seen my (not-so) little brother down in Canberra. So why not make a weekend of it and tag along with your fam and bestie. Why the fuck did I go to Canberra in the middle of winter?! Damn it was freezing. Lucky we had some good food and good beer to keep us occupied. Note to self – Isaac, next time you’re coming to Wollongong!

Hiking and nature vibes

Sometimes you just gotta get out into nature and soak up some damn sunshine! Luckily around Wollongong we are #blessed with some gorgeous hikes. Even better, when you’ve got your Dad and besties with ya, it makes it even more enjoyable. The one i did with my Dad is called Drawing Room Rocks (not far from Berry) and the other is the Wodi Wodi track (just down from Stanwell Park). They both have amazing vistas of the ocean and surrounding valleys. Top it off with a coffee and feed at a cool lil cafe and you’ve got my heart!

Playing touch

It’s touch season! I somehow got roped into/volunteered myself to get involved in playing on a mixed touch team this season. Gosh I forgot how much I love team sports. I’ve played a few games to date and I haven’t had a panic attack (#winning). I’m getting better and more confident with each game, and it’s so great to get out and about with a bunch of awesome people. Ticks the social box and get physical box which is a win win for me! Go Illawarriors!

Palmerston (NT) - Touch Football Australia

Flicks

Why Women Kill
Lucy Liu, need I say more?! This show is epic! It’s a slow burn that tells the stories of three different women across three different decades, connected by the house they all lived in at their respective time. Following the 50s, 80s and teens (guys what are we calling 2010-2019?!), this show unpicks some incredible storylines and develops the characters beautifully. It’s a dark comedy (don’t worry – not slashy at all) and the storylines just hook you in where you have to keep watching to find out how it all plays out. You can watch Season 1 on SBS On Demand.

Salisbury Poisonings
Did the world just somehow forget that the most toxic substance on earth was loose in an English town in 2018?! Damn, this show is epic! With only 4 episodes, you’ll easily smash it out over a weekend. I remember when this happened and was it felt like a real life spy show was unfolding in front of our eyes. Watching this show and they way they recount what happened is so intelligent and gripping. It’s also funny how ‘normal’ it all looks after our response to COVID-19. In 2018, full body hazmat suits, masks and public health, really wasn’t widely talked about. Wow – watch it on SBS On Demand.

Books

The Dictionary of Lost Words, by Pip Williams
I absolutely adored this book. Set in the late 1800’s early 1900’s, it tells the story of a young girl who grows up on in the shed they compile the first Oxford English dictionary. It’s so fascinating to be transported back in time and think about how people communicated, what words meant, and how exclusionary they were/are. If you love a book about an underdog, love, curiosity and words, then you will love this book.

The Dictionary of Lost Words | BIG W

Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown
Ah good old Brene Brown? Where would I be without her wisdom and ability to easily communicate complex concepts? I think I could have highlighted every other page. Honestly it’s jam packed filled with so much great content, wisdom and advice that it’s almost too much to soak in at once. It’s certainly a book I’ll be referring back to often. Thank you Tish for the recommendation. If you’re looking for how to dig in deep and confront your feelings (rather than hiding from them like I tend to do), then this book is for you.

The Gifts of Imperfection – Bethel Store

Tunes

The Killers
Do you ever have those moments where you literally forget a band exists? And then, out of the blue, one of their bangers comes on and a whirlwind of goodness just flashes right back to you? That’s what happened the other day when Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll came on and wow I was TRANSPORTED! So my recommendation is to go back 10 years ago and listen to those albums that you used to lose your mind to. Another reminder why music is good for the soul.

Podcasts

The Cut
The Cut is back baby! Hallelujah! This was one of my FAVOURITE podcasts last year and then they, well, cut it. I’m so glad they came to their senses and decided to revamp it. Two episodes in and I’m loving the new host, the topics they’re covering are awesome and – ah I’m just really excited that this podcast is back in my life!

The Cut Returns With a New Weekly Podcast

Product

Hawaiian tropic
This product smells AMAZING!!! Honestly their sunscreen makes you want to put it everywhere at all times, because after all, sun safety is sexy. Plus, if like me you’re basically incapable of tanning, be sure to pick up their gradual tan lotion too. It feels so good on your skin and again, smells amazing! Anything that promotes protecting your skin, hydrating it and getting your tan from a can (or a bottle), then I’m about it!

Buy Silk Hydration Lotion SPF50+ 180 mL by Hawaiian Tropic Online |  Priceline

Well August, what a ride. I’m very much looking forward to September and taking it easy. I’m looking forward to taking a step back from drinking and challenging myself to set new goals and kick them too!

Port Stephens: The most magical place on earth

There’s few places on earth I would refer to as truly magical. The South of Iceland, the mountains of Guatemala, the South West coast of Australia, the turquoise waters of Belize… they’re all pretty magical. But one place that I was lucky enough to grow up in, and somewhat call home to this day, is Port Stephens… and let me tell you, it’s pretty damn magical.

Located three hours north of Sydney, this peninsula is the perfect destination for your next weekend away. Here’s some reasons to add it to your next weekend getaway!

Summit Mount Tomaree

Hands down one of the best views I’ve ever encountered. At the end of Shoal Bay beach is this great little hike that is sure to get your blood pumping. The reward is totally worth the sweat, plus your Insta game will be poppin! Top it off by running down via the World War Two gun emplacements and going for a quick dip on Shoal Bay beach #thedream

Murray’s Brewery

If you’re looking for a place to spend a sun soaked afternoon, while discovering some of the tastiest beers you’ll come across, then look no further than Murray’s. Most weekends they have live music and their pizza’s are an absolute must! My go to is either the Angry Man or Whale Ale.

Little Nel’s

If you’re looking for an epic place for brunch, then look no further. The coffee is superb and their menu instantly induces saliva. Be sure to get in early, it gets pretty busy – and for a good reason!

Spot some wildlife

You are spoiled for choice when it comes to wildlife in Port Stephens. You’ll often spot a koala up a tree and kangaroos on the golf course, but where Port Stephens is really lucky is its sea life. There are over 100 resident dolphins that cruise the calm bays, and in winter there are dozens of whales that grace the coast. You don’t even have to head out on a boat to experience the beauty of these creatures. From a headland or beach, you just might be lucky enough to catch a tale or flipper of some of these beautiful animals.

Bannisters

If you’re looking for a place to spend your afternoon sipping cocktails and snacking on some tasty food, look no further. Complete with a gorgeous pool and elevated in the tree tops, this is the place to take a group of friends and watch the sky change colour as the sun sets. For kick ons, head down to Cheeky Dog for a more relaxed, pub vibe.

Birubi beach

Home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest moving sand dunes, the 32km beach connects Port Stephens to Newcastle. It’s a stunning place to watch sunrise and pick up a coffee at Crest. There’s some gorgeous rock pools to explore and if you’re adventurous, you can venture into Tin City, across the dunes and even check out the shipwreck. 4WD and a permit are a must!

Country club

After you’ve finished jumping off the jetty, head to the infamous Country Club for a few cold brewskies. After a recent renovation, it’s become a little Coogie Beach Pavillion. It was always a cult favourite of ours in high school, and let me tell you, there’s no where else I’d rather be on Christmas Eve. The CC is certainly where it’s at.

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Sit back, relax and stay a while ✨

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Samurai Beach

Who doesn’t love a good nude beach? The suitably named Samurai Beach is certainly one to add to your list. You can get their via 4WD through a pretty hectic track or you can walk along One Mile Beach, climb over some rocks and strip off. With any nude beach, comes the couples in their 50’s who are too confident, but if you can look past that, then you’re in for a good time!

I guess the age old saying is true, sometimes, there really is no place like home.

Chasing dreams and wanting different things

There’s certainly no such thing as a perfect break up. As the name suggests, when something breaks it often hurts. Something shatters and you have to be careful not to cut yourself as you pick up the fragments of broken glass. Perhaps it’s called a break ‘up’ because afterwards, everything is up in the air. You question everything. Your future, your beliefs, what you really want in life. You’re looking at all these pieces that have delicately been interconnected for several years hurtling through the air and all you can do is watch and hope you don’t get too hurt.

Sometimes break ups are defined by betrayal, anger or deceit (I’ve been there). Sometimes it’s moving, taking up that dream job interstate or having to return home once your visa expires (also been there). But what happens if there’s no catalyst for your break up? What if, one day you look at each other and you realise, you just want different things?

This is the situation I found myself in a few months ago. And let me tell you, it was extremely difficult. Rewind a few months before that and I was actually planning on packing up my life and moving to Mongolia to work (it’s a long story – basically I found myself a dream opportunity and it happened to be in Ulaanbaatar). Balancing these two desires – the desire to maintain your relationship and follow your dreams – is challenging enough under normal circumstances. It’s even harder when you admit and accept the path you’re on could take you somewhere like Mongolia (and honestly if not Mongolia, Vietnam, Japan, Canada or France). What’s even harder than that, is the moment your partner looks at you and says ‘that’s not what I want.’

When COVID-19 happened and the world went into lockdown, suddenly everything I believed in, was working for, and deeply cared about -travel, adventure, curiosity, connection – felt torn away. My whole life I’d been told that my life was mine to control (ha how naive). That if you worked hard, you could achieve anything (ha how privileged). From a young age, I came to realise that my love of travel was something more than a two-week holiday to the Gold Coast or Bali. It was an identity, a badge that I wore with pride. It was something that I felt defined me, down to my core belief systems.

I’ve been doing this for the majority of my life. From a young age, we moved around Australia (NSW > South Australia > Queensland > NSW), I turned 16 in New Zealand on exchange (my first ever overseas trip over 10 years ago!). I’ve been lucky enough to live around the world, London, France, Canada, Mexico, and I hope there’s many more opportunities like that to come. Mongolia was nearly added to the list.

I always wondered why it was that I was so drawn to travel and living overseas. After all, when your partner doesn’t want the same thing as you, it inherently makes you question why you want those things. Is it just to take photos for Instagram? Is it to spend drunk nights bar hopping around foreign cities? Is it to escape the stress of ‘reality’ in Australia? It wasn’t really until travel was off the table that I reflected on why it was so important to me.

For me, it aligns to deeply with my values of connection, adventure, living a life of purpose, curiosity and constantly learning. Of course, there are always other ways to seek out these things – all of which are equally exciting and valid in their own right. But for me I have never felt more ‘me’ than when I’ve been in a foreign country. When I’ve been fiercely independent, lost in new streets and knew that it was entirely up to me to navigate and shape the life I wanted in this new place.

I am so fortunate that I’ve been able to have the opportunities I’ve had. I’m so lucky and I’ve done nothing to deserve it. Once you get a taste for chasing your dreams, it’s hard to let go.

Which brings me to the moment when we looked at each other late one night, the ghost of my near move to Mongolia, the growing inevitability of a move to Sydney to be closer to work, and the realisation that Sydney and Mongolia meant more than just different living situations. She said the words first. I fought it. I blinked back tears. I didn’t want to accept it. But she had so simply and sweetly voiced what we had both obviously been thinking. Our paths were taking us in different directions, and we realised it was more than just wanting to live in different places.

It’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all. But I tell you, loss fucking sucks. There’s not much worse than coming to terms with the fact that your romantic relationship is coming to an end. But I think something that would be worse is staying in a relationship, not chasing your dreams and end up regretting it – or even worse – resenting the other person. There’s no right or wrong choice, it’s just the choices you have in front of you at any given time.

COVID and the huge shift the world has felt has made me realise what is deeply important to me. My non negotiables. The dreams that are so big they scare me. It was an overdue reminder that life is so fucking short. We’re only on this earth for such a limited amount of time, and I honestly couldn’t bare it if I didn’t at least pursue or explore what is deeply burning within me.

What just might be the hardest part of this breakup is the question of love. Where does it go? Just because you want different things, doesn’t mean that you suddenly don’t love the other person. In fact, I think by accepting the fact that you’re on different paths, and actively choosing to navigate this tricky space with respect, shows how much you love them. Is the hardest breakup, not one filled with hate and betrayal, but one filled with love?

In these times, where things feel uncertain, overwhelming and just plain crazy, know what your values are, explore what your dreams are and hold on tight. Sometimes the hardest thing you’ll have to do is put all of your faith in yourself, but honestly, what if you actually get what you dreamed of? Again, it’s better to chase a dream and not reach it, than have no dream at all.

Of course, I am saddened by the end of this beautiful relationship. But I am delighted that the relationship continues as a caring and respectful friendship, and I am so grateful for all of the memories and experiences we shared together. No one knows what’s coming next, heck I don’t even know if 2020 knows what’s coming next, but I truly believe it will be great. I am determined and I’m chasing that dream.

These are a few of my favourite things: July 2020

Welcome to my birthday month! Yep, I think in 2020 I’m entitled to a birthday month, so here we are. What a rollercoaster of a time. I went for a little weekend away to Terrigal and Newcastle to visit my family, celebrated my birthday over a week or two, went for numerous sunrise swims and lost myself in a delightful book. This month was not without it’s downs. As some of you may already know, Soph and I are going our separate ways, so as you could imagine, it’s been an uncertain, emotional and challenging time. But as I sit here, soaking up the winter sun, looking forward to a casual beer or two tonight, I can only look to the future with optimism, positivity and hope. I mean, surely this year can’t get any worse? Right? (touch wood).

A Central Coast Adventure

Just before things took (another) turn for the worst, I was able to get away to Terrigal and Newcastle to spend a few days with friends and family. We were treated to some glorious weather and my sister even convinced me to head out and about for a swim. For a moment, I think I was even able to trick myself into thinking I was in France. Mum, Elly and I were window shopping through the streets of Terrigal when we stumbled upon a restaurant that was basically screaming at us to take a seat on their patio, order a bottle of wine and spend a few hours at. So we gave in to the pressure and did just that.

Wow! We had an absolutely glorious afternoon enjoying our wine, snacking on chippies and just chatting. Hello Euro-Summer vibes.

Then it was up to Newcastle where I set up my work from home station at Dad’s place. I caught up with one of my mates from high school to hear about his recent engagement(!) and enjoyed (suffered) some early morning runs (so early that it’s still pitch black outside).

A South Coast Adventure

I somehow picked the perfect weekend to go down to the South Coast for a little birthday getaway. With myself and 13 friends, we packed our cars (literally – jam packed them) and headed for Narrawallee. We booked an incredible Airbnb across the road from the beach. Filled with gin, beer, champagne, sunrise swims and way too much laughter, I had THE BEST TIME! What a way to bring in 26! (and yes can you believe it? I’m freaking 26 y’all!)

I even mysteriously woke up without a hangover! Hello maturity. But in all seriousness, I am so grateful for the people who made my birthday so special. The people who make me laugh so much until it hurts, the people who I haven’t seen in years and the people I live with. My friends are seriously out of this world and I’m so grateful to all of you – near and far – who make me feel loved each and every day.

Birthday shenanigans

What is a birthday without a few shenanigans. As I mentioned, my birthday consists of a whole month. So here are some pics of some good times shared with friends.

Quick aside – how frickin cool is my pearl satin shirt? I totally splurged to treat myself for my birthday and I seriously have no regrets at all!

Books

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towls
So in my mission to read books from around the world, I picked out this not so little beast. At a mighty 450 pages, this is well above my usual 300 page novel, but wow was it easy to rip through it. The writing is like nothing I’ve ever read. It’s mischevious, it’s poetic, it’s witty and it’s observant. By observant, I mean you are taken into the thoughts and perspectives of ‘the Count,’ a Russian aristocrat who is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol hotel in Moscow. If he steps foot outside, he will be shot. Spanning decades, this historical fiction takes you through the inner workings of the Count in a deeply personal and hilarious way. Would absolutely recommend if you want to feel as though you’ve made a best friend at the Metropol hotel.

Gentleman in Moscow Book Club Questions: 10 Questions That Are ...

Tunes

Total eclipse of the heart, Bonnie Tyler
Not exactly a new release but it certainly has been on repeat for the past few weeks! How flipping good is this song?! Such a great way to let out all those emotions by belting out a banger. On another note – 80s power ballads are such a vibe and are absolutely essential during a rough emotional time.

Folklore, Taylor Swift
Yes I am a basic bitch and totally lost it when I hear the new Taylor Swift album was dropping. What an indie, heartbreak, chill album it is. I’m considering it like an additional birthday gift from Taylor to me!

Flicks

Before Sunrise series
Before sunrise is one of my FAVOURITE movies ever! The series starts in 1994 when Celine and Jessie meet on a train in Europe. Celine is heading back to Paris, and Jessie is jumping off the train in Vienna before flying back to the US. Taking a chance, Jessie asks Celine to get off the train with him and so begins one of the most whimsical love stories I’ve ever consumed. We smashed through watching the series (set 10 years apart from eachother) and each time I watch it I get something new out of it. The dialogue feels completely organic and unscripted and it just makes me fall in love with storytelling, connection and wander.

Traveling Scene to Scene in the Streets of Vienna, Before Sunrise ...

The Girl In The Fog
If you’re ever looking for an interesting and left of centre movie, check out SBS On Demand! They have such an amazing selection, especially of foreign films. One day while searching for a movie, I cam across The Girl in the Fog – an Italian movie. I have to admit, I usually lean towards French films so I decided to go crazy and test out this Italian one. Wow. It’s a slow burn but it really got me thinking and I was really invested in the cinematography – plus was trying to figure out what happened to the teenager who went missing in a small village in the north of Italy.

Bloggers, podders and vloggers

The High Low
I’ve been loving this podcast so much! I’ve been tuning in and out for several months, but an episode that talked about the Greenland Shark absolutely won me over (I’d highly recommend looking up the Greenland Shark – it’s awesome and groww). Hosted by Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, they chat about the highs and lows of life, pop culture and news. Firstly, I flippin love their accents. I am completely engrossed when they speak and I forget to listen to what they’re actually saying. But most importantly I love their perspectives, their vocabulary, the breadth of the content they consume and talk about and the issues they raise. Ah! I just love it!

Say Hello to The High Low | Papier

Product

My Mum absolutely spoiled me for my birthday and she treated me to this Sunday Rile C.E.O Glow Vitamin C + Tumeric Face Oil. Wow hello luxury! I’ve been experimenting with Vitamin C serums lately and I love them! They leave your skin feeling so dewy, glowy and honestly, fucking radiant. This face oil is next level though. It sits well under makeup, it smells delicious and feels incredible on your face!

If you’re looking to treat someone to something fancy, I would add this one to your basket.

Sunday Riley C.E.O Glow Vitamin C + Turmeric Face Oil

While this month certainly has been bittersweet, it sure was good. I’m truly grateful for all that I have and the people I have around me. Sure, I’m scared, confused and I’ve never been so unsure of uncertain about the future (thanks COVID) but maybe this is the fresh start, the new leaf I needed to challenge me to dig deep, keep growing and get shit done.

6 Things I’ve Learnt From Seeing A Psychologist

Last year I started seeing a psychologist. And before you think ‘big deal,’ ‘why should I care,’ ‘what,’ – it is a big deal and I’m damn proud of it. It takes courage to ask for help. It takes commitment, it takes money, it takes a generous mental health care plan to make it affordable, it takes vulnerability and it takes a leap of faith. It requires the thinking ‘maybe this could work.’

I started seeing my psychologist about 12 months ago for a whole range of reasons that I won’t go into. But I must admit, I was very skeptical at first. I always thought I was tough enough to get through anything myself or didn’t need help. But I’ve come to realise that everyone needs support every now and then. That life can be tricky and sometimes you need a roadmap and the tools to get you through it. That sometimes you need an outsider to see you clearly, and help you understand more about yourself.

So, a few sessions, a few breakdowns and a few lessons later, here are a few things I’ve learnt from my psychologist.

Understanding my values

I’d say the biggest takeaway from my psych was coming to understand my values. To identify them can be challenging, and sometimes it’s not until you’re grappling with things that you know are not your values. I narrowed mine down to 8.

  1. having a sense of accomplishment
  2. being honest
  3. being courageous
  4. being loyal
  5. feeling good about myself
  6. striving to be a better person
  7. relationships filled with love and affection
  8. living a life filled with purpose

By knowing what your values are, it helps guides your decisions and helps you live in accordance to your values. And to keep you centred.

Self compassion is key

I’ve learnt that I have this habit of putting everyone else’s needs before mine. And whilst I pride myself on being kind and generous, learning to put my own needs first is something I’m trying to learn and implement.

Whenever I was struggling or feeling upset, I would always downplay what I was going through and say it wasn’t a big deal, or that other people had it worse than me. It’s a skill to be able to acknowledge and respect the feelings I’m going through, whilst also acknowledging my privilege. But mental health is not a pain Olympics. There is not a ‘worse than’ winner, there is simply a spectrum which fluctuates immensely.

Learning how to be self compassionate has been a huge learning curve and is something I’m still working on. My takeaway is this – however you feel – greet it, acknowledge it, act on it and simply let it exist. It doesn’t need to be compared or devalued, just simply felt.

Make time for yourself

Sure, I may have only committed a few hours to these appointments across the year, but I feel that this left a bigger mark and highlighted the importance of taking time out to look after yourself. Whether it’s a mental health day (or a wellbeing day – as I like to call it), spending a Friday night in, calling your family just to say hello, buying some pizza, getting your nails done, spending a day reading a book – you don’t owe anyone anything, and it’s completely OK to put yourself first.

Balancing being present and looking forward to the future

If anyone knows me, they know that I always have something planned, something in the works to look forward, and that’s usually a holiday or adventure (thanks COVID). Sometimes I get too caught up with planning and organising, that I overlook what I have right now.

But saying that, during COVID I’ve been Miss Present. Taking it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, because thinking about the future was too daunting. But now it’s July? And whilst I’ve appreciated the slower pace and more meaningful engagement of being present, I’ve failed to look forward and set goals for what I want to achieve. My worst nightmare would literally be waking up and I’m 90 years old thinking, ‘where did my life go?’

So it’s all a balancing act. Being able to accept the now and run with it, but also to make small goals that are aligned to your values, so that when the going gets tough, you’re on a path that you’re happy with.

Being real and vulnerable is hard

Let’s be honest, opening up old wounds is pretty traumatic. The way my psychologist put it was my thoughts and experiences have kind of been shoved into a linen closet. You know when you’re pushing to get that towel in and you shut the door, put your back against it and hope it stays in there? Yea that was my mind.

When you start digging deep and opening up, the doors smash open and the towels, sheets and random tennis balls all flood out, creating a huge mess all over the floor. It hurts, it’s emotional, it’s hard and it feels like you’re getting nowhere. When you start talking about it, you’re slowly folding it up and putting it back in with kindness and care.

Go slow

I somehow got into a bad habit of being busy. Weekends booked out months in advance, running from one thing to the next, feeling pressured to do things, see people and omg it’s exhausting. From working out what my values are and recognising that quality time, self-development and living a fulfilled life does not equate to ‘busy.’

Take the time to go slow, balance the now with the future, say no if you don’t feel like it, get in the ocean, make no plans and go easy on yourself.

***

I’m incredibly lucky to be able to access a psychologist to look after my mental health. It’s something I never thought I would do, it was something I was scared to do, but it’s also one of the bravest things I’ve done. Make sure to look after yourself, especially during these hard times. Reach out to your mates and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: JUNE 2020

Ah 2020. The good thing is, I don’t think it can get much worse. Between a huge restructure at work, losing work, the end of a relationship and working out living arrangements, it’s been a challenging month. I’m ok and I’m at peace with the direction everything is moving. It’s always the straw that breaks the camels back so it’s been the tiniest things that set me over the edge, but all in all, I’m doing ok. Despite the challenges and setbacks, I’ve been really lucky to have the support of friends and family to guide me through.

Earlier in the year, when things were a bit out of control, I started thinking ‘ok, just one day at a time,’ but now it’s suddenly July? While it’s important to focus on the now and work on what’s in front of you, sometimes you need to look ahead to take control of what you want in life. Whether it’s booking a weekend away, going to visit a friend or going for a long walk on the beach, balancing now and the future can be difficult but when you get it right, things start to feel normal again.

Working from ‘home’ home

After a big shake up at work, and after working from home for several months, something had to change. So I went ‘home’ home, up to Port Stephens to work for a week up there. It did me the world of good! Being able to finally separate work from my living space, be around family and catch up with old friends, it was just what I needed. Plus, with Mum living somewhere so beautiful, the motivation was certainly running high!

Adventures at home

Elizabeth then came down to Wollongong for a weekend and we were determined to make the most of the gorgeous weather and get out and about. We did the Kiama – Gerringong coastal walk, which is absolutely gorgeous but far out it’s a long walk!

The next day we headed on a little adventure to Bowral. We were lucky enough to find a spot for lunch because damn it was busy. I guess that’s what happens after people have been locked up for a few months, they jump at the first opportunity to get out and about!

I then had a visit from Dad before he moved off to start a new job, and was also paid a visit by the lovely Chloe. Of course, there were a few sunrise walks, swims and coffees in there with friends around the good old lighthouse which in all honesty, is the best start to the day anyone could ask for. Soph and I also conquered Sublime (which I haven’t done in a while) and my calves are still killing me from it! I’m glad I had her there to keep me going.

A surprise

So my friend Steph had a brilliant plan to go and surprise Chantelle down in her gorgeous home in Broulee! So Steph, Jas and I hopped in the car and road tripped down the south coast to surprise lil Chantelle. I think we got her pretty good! The whole weekend was simply gorgeous! We walked along the beach and explored her area, we got coffee and watched pelicans, spotted whales and attempted to ride rip sticks, and then cuddled up by the fire with wine and snacks. We even braved it and jumped in the water for a quick dip! To top it all off, we got a delicious meat pie in Mogo before we came back to Wollongong. It was a much needed getaway and I was so stoked to spend a night away with beautiful people.

Books

A Long Petal Of The Sea, by Isabel Allende
I really wanted to commit to reading books from around the world to learn more about the lived experiences – especially of women- in all corners of the globe. So when I cam across this book, telling the story about the Spanish refugees that boarded a ship commissioned by Pablo Neruda to Chile, I knew I had to learn about this fascinating part of history.

REVIEW: A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende - The Booktopian

Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo
Yes, yes, YES! A book about women’s sexuality and desire. Enough said. As the name implies, it tells the story of three women and explores their journey to find love, confidence and truth.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo review — sex in the USA | Saturday ...

How We Disappeared, by Jing-Jing Lee
This is a heartbreaking story of a woman’s experience in Japanese occupied Singapore and the horrendous abuse she endured as a comfort girl. Again, this was a part of history that I didn’t know much about and I was seriously captivated by her story. It’s an incredible book about war, trauma, family and healing and would absolutely recommend it.

Review: How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee – Retrospect Journal

Flicks

The Farewell
This is a must see-film and is a movie I’ve been thinking about for weeks since seeing it. It tells a story of a young woman who returns to her family roots in China who must comply in keeping a secret from her Grandma about her Grandma’s health. It’s a beautiful exploration of culture, tradition, philosophy and family, and it is simply stunning. My question for you is…. would you tell?

Bloggers, Vloggers and Podders

Kara and Nate
I’ve been following these guys for a long time now and I have been loving their vlogs from their trip to Antarctica! It’s been a great way to escape and follow their journey from earlier in the year to the incredible world of the Antarctic.

Quotes

So 2020 has basically been summed up by uncertainty. And as someone who usually prides themselves on being spontaneous, adventurous and willing to dive into the unknown, the encroachment of uncertainty in my ‘normal’ everyday life has been pretty intense. I love this little reminder that uncertainty and challenges bring with it growth and strength.

So, the remainder of 2020 – listen up! It will be better, I will be stronger, I will connect with myself and people around me, I will set goals and push myself, I will go slow and take time to do things that are important to me. Deep breath, let’s do this.