A fierce redhead who loves nothing more than chatting about failures, occasional achievements, how to live life to the fullest, to be happy, explore far and wide with a sense of curiosity, empathy and adventure.
It’s my Nan’s 80th birthday today, and it was my Pop’s 86th birthday the other day. So this weekend we’re getting together to celebrate in style with champagne, food and family. Something I’ve heard since Nan’s 79th birthday has been “Aw I just can’t wait to be 80!” and “I will have finally made it when I’m 80” followed by “all my friends are in their 80’s and I just want to be able to say I’m 80 too!” (spoken in Nan’s iconic voice – if you know you know).
You could mistake my Patricia for a 17 year old anxiously and eagerly awaiting their 18th birthday. Her energy and excitement is infectious and it’s become a running theme in my day to day discussions – Nan’s anticipation for her 80th. My Nan is one of the kindest, most excitable and technologically savvy people I know. She’s renowned for many things: her caramel slice, her iconic voice, and when we drive out of the driveway, she won’t stop waving until it’s physically impossible to see each other – the best kind of send off you could imagine.
My Pop, often referred to as Jack or John – you get to choose, enjoys life’s simple pleasures. A good book, a good TV show, a good cuppa, a good biccie and a good cat or dog to pat and talk to. Pop is a man of few words, but when he does open up, it’s always surprising what kind of things he says. Despite having another woman’s name tattooed on his forearm (I think you inspired my interest in tattoos Pop – sorry I’m going to blame that one on you), Nan and Pop are gorgeous people who have taught me so much.
They have lived most of their lives in the same house in Toronto and I have the most vivid and precious memories of exploring the house, the backyard and the depths of ‘under the house,’ from when we were kids. Nan and Pop’s place was always a meeting place for Dad’s family so see my cousins and Aunties and Uncle. So I always look forward to going there and feel flooded with amazing memories.
26 Things I’ve Learned From and Love About My Nan and Pop
Get excited about ageing, not everyone has the privilege of turning another year older. If my Nan can be giddy with excitement about turning 80, then you can get excited about whatever age you’re turning
Ask and you might just receive. We were at the shops with Nan once and we asked for a tray of mangoes (far too many mangoes for three little kids). Nan bought the tray and it was one of the happiest days of my life
Trains are awesome
So are tattoos
Reach out to the people you love. You can always rely on Nan to leave a supportive comment on a Facebook photo of yours
It doesn’t matter how tall you are, Nan will find a way to wrap her arms around you
You’re never too old to pop a bottle of champagne and get cut off at the bar
There’s nothing like snuggling up next to a fireplace in winter
Nothing will ever come close to Nan’s caramel slice
You don’t need a car, you can get anywhere you need with kind people around you, determination and patience
You can smoke your whole life and still make it to 86 (though it’s probably not advised, it’s still a fun fact I like to remember)
There’s nothing like sitting in the sun on your balcony reading a book
Ordering stuff off the internet is addictive
Knitting is witchcraft and I don’t know how you do it so quickly
There’s nothing quite like one of Nan’s knitted creations
There’s no one quite like the Haynes’
Nothing beats hot chippies
Piggybacks are an effective form of transportation, though it might break your back
You can never have too many dogs
iToy is a form of cardio
There’s nothing Pop can’t fix
There’s nothing Nan can’t cook
A coffee down by the lake is one of the best things you can do
If I won the lotto I would buy an apartment on the lake for you (THEN you will have really made it)
Sometimes the simple things in life are the best
We’re so lucky to have the family we have, and thank you for being the leaders of our crazy Haynes bunch – we love you
Nan and Pop, thank you for your love, support and wisdom. I’m lucky to have benefited from 26 years of your influence. Pop, 86 is incredible. You have defied all the odds which just goes to show how truly stubborn us Haynes’ can be. And Nan, you’ve finally made it to 80! We love you and can’t wait to celebrate all the milestones coming your way (81, 82, 83). I’ll order the wine now!
For those of you who know the famous Peter Thompson, he hardly needs an introduction. But in case you haven’t had the pleasure, let me set the scene for you. My Grandad is many things, but in my mind he is first and foremost a storyteller. A great storyteller. And the key to a great storyteller is a fact checker – enter my gorgeous Grandma. Grandma has kept him accountable and kept him in line when he felt the need to take creative license with his stories.
Some of the other hats Grandad has worn is Dad, Grandad, Greatgrandad, entrepreneur, manager, public speaker, wood turner, friend, traveller, fixer-upper… the list is actually endless. Through these many hats, he has taught me a lot. As my Dad pointed out, he instilled an immense sense of pride in each of us and allowed us to strive and work towards excellence. I think this is where I developed crazy high standards of myself, because my Grandad believes I can do anything I set my mind to. I’m very grateful for this gift.
Memories of my Grandad when we were young include sitting and listening to his wild and crazy stories from his boarding school days in the Blue Mountains and being terrorised by Brother Malackey, to growing up in Corrimal, to driving a wooden caravan across the Nullarbor plain and getting stuck in a sandstorm.
Born in 1936, my Grandad has seen a lot, been through a lot and created a lot. And he’s created, well completed, a book of writing prompts. Towards the end of 2019, Grandad was diagnosed with cancer, an awful disease which he is bravely and strongly fighting. I knew I needed to capture some of his famous stories so I gifted him a book of writing prompts which he kindly gifted back to me for Christmas.
A few years ago, my Grandad wrote a blog post for a uni assignment, so I thought it was time to bring him back to the blog with some snippets of his stories, and his life.
Grandad… you’ve got too many stories to fit in one blog post. So while I busily type them up and craft them in a way that captures your adventures, cheekiness and energy, I thought I’d begin by sharing some of my favourite things about you and Grandma. I’m lucky I’ve had 26 years of knowing you both, though I don’t think anyone could have predicted my first beer would be before I learnt how to talk (see image above).
Here are 26 things I’ve learned from and love about you.
It’s perfectly acceptable to drink wine that comes from a cask
You can get by with just one eye (though using a gun made by yourself and your brother is not advised)
Learning is fun and cool
So is running fast and looking after your health (I’m still waiting on my pair of golden spikes for winning the 100m dash in my age group)
No matter how far or wide you move, your parents will always track you down and come for an extended visit
It’s important to stay on top of technological advancements so you can Facetime and avoid email scams
October Sky is the best movie ever made
Little Beach and Shoal Bay Beach are the best on earth
Marry someone you’re still obsessed with 65 years later, and deeply, madly, truly in love with
Being a storyteller is a great thing to be known for – it brings people together
Master the art of listening, especially if you end up with a storyteller (see point number 10)
There’s nothing quite like a nice cup of tea and a biccie
Be careful helping someone off the couch, you might just pull them onto the floor (I still can’t stop laughing about that one Grandma)
You can’t get rich off of spock found in the depths of Cooper Pedy
Something as iconic as the Warrnambool kiss can never be forgotton
Travel far and wide, take lots of pictures
The most traumatic thing you will go through is being stuck at preschool ‘All Day Mumma, All Day’
Gifting someone one of your pens is possibly the best gift I could give
Pickles belong on burgers – even though Grandma is willing to dive across the room to pull it off
No one has a better memory than Grandma (except maybe Elly)
Travelling around Australia in a caravan is the ultimate adventure
There’s nothing Grandad can’t fix
Shepard’s Pie is the ultimate comfort food
Asking questions and being curious is a great asset to have
It doesn’t matter how many days or months, you’re always there for a cuddle and to listen to my stories
That above all else, family is love and love is forever
So, Grandma and Grandad, thank you for taking the time to write down some of your stories, I know you’re still busily one-finger-typing the rest of your memoir, just as I’m busily typing out your stories (watch this space). You’ve been so generous with your storytelling so I thought it was my turn to remind you of how much you mean to me.
Can you believe it’s December?! We made it! Who would have thought we would finally be graced by the good vibes of Summer kicking in, daylight savings, and that sweet taste of optimism as 2021 approaches. November was an absolutely awesome month! With weekends filling up, people wanting to get out and about and the good vibes rolling in, I’ve been feeling like one of the best versions of myself. Surrounded by friends, family, getting outdoors, getting sweaty, I’ve been trying to enjoy everything as much as I possibly can – what else is life for?
On the 1st of December (yes I know this is a November favourites post but bear with me), I got two tattoos. I had been wanting some new tattoos for a long time now and had been putting it off for my next overseas adventure (I’ve got both of my other tattoos overseas – Ireland and Mexico – and was looking forward to adding Mongolia to that list). Suddenly three years had passed since my last one waiting for the right time, the right moment and the right adventure. I realised I don’t want to wait for this perfect situation to arise because as it currently stands, we won’t be jet setting anytime soon. And I guess this translates into so much more, why wait or delay what you really want? Perfection and the ‘right time’ may never come. So I took this as a sign to be proactive and chase what I want, create and control what I can. Which took me to a tattoo shop in Corrimal with my (amazing) boss where we got inked up.
I got a beautiful little swallow on my arm and the French word ‘insouciante.’ I absolutely love them and as I sit here typing, looking after them to make sure they heal properly, it’s a nice reminder that we have the power to take steps to create the life we want each and everyday. It starts with an idea so follow through, make that inquiry, ask questions, figure out what you want and run with it. I don’t want to waste my time waiting for my dream life, dream tattoo, dream [insert anything you want here]. Life is messy, unplanned and we’re all just winging it – now I’ve got some beautiful wings on my arm to remind me to take off and chase it.
Before we launch into the festivities of December, let’s have a look back at the month that was November.
Another month and another adventure to the beautiful Blue Mountains. With so many incredible hikes and adventures on its doorstep, each visit makes you feel like you’re entering a new world. This time we went adventuring down Wentworth Falls, complete with an icy swim at the bottom (I have literally never been colder in my life – be prepared). It’s always a joy spending some time away, especially with my sister and Dad. We survived the Valley of the Leeches (be careful if you decide to hike after a storm and everything is wet) and our legs were only half dead from the dreaded stairs!
Ocean Alley – the return of the gig
Sweet jesus, hallelujah! Gigs are back baby and what better way to ease back into it than to see Ocean Alley with my bestie Tish. While I may have completely sprung it on her, we had the best freakin time! Despite the sitting down and buying an ugly beer cooler (thanks Tish hehe), it was so incredibly amazing to see live music again. We both had a really profound moment of appreciation for all the gigs we’ve moshed around at prior to COVID, but also immense gratitude that we were able to actually go to a gig in 2020! Bring on more in 2021!
Basically I just wanted to share these photos that make me so damn happy. I’m so fortunate to have such beautiful people in my life. This year certainly hasn’t been easy but it’s meant the world that I can be silly, be fun, be adventurous and have legends to share it with!
Bloggers, vloggers and podders
Stuff the British Stole Marc Fennell can do no wrong and this podcast is no exception. If you’re a history nerd then this podcast is definitely for you. I know it’s a bold call with only two episodes out, but they are a great two episodes! I love that it makes you think about the British empire and the ‘contested history’ behind some of the most iconic artifacts now sitting in museums in the UK and around the world.
Omar Apollo Ooft hello Omar – thank you for bringing this beautiful album to my ears. While exploring Spotify I came across this album and dayum it is good. The perfect kind of album to listen to when you just want to chill out, feel a bit sexy and take it easy for the evening.
Clairo And also, hello there Clairo, why has it taken me so long to fall in love with your music?! It’s the perfect chilled afternoon album when you’re tidying your room and makes you feel like the ultimate protagonist in the story of your life.
Tired Lion As if I needed more good music this month, Tired Lion did a number on me and released this badass album. I’ve been playing their album when I’ve been going for my morning runs and it always motivates me to push harder and channel any negative emotion into my running. Singing this out loud will also just make you feel amazing!
The Odyssey If you’re looking for a cinematic French film then look no further. Based on the true story of Jacques Cousteau and his boat the Calypso, it tells the story of Jacques quest for adventure, exploration and money. Jacques invented the aqualung, whose invention took him to the depths of the ocean to explore a new world under the sea. It’s absolutely gorgeous and would highly recommend (there’s not too much dialogue so it’s not overwhelming in its French-ness). You can watch it on SBS On Demand.
Enola Holmes If you’re looking for a light, adventurous, wholesome movie to watch then look no further. I absolutely loved this movie and thought Millie Bobby Brown was an absolute delight in this. I love a spin on a classic story, especially when it has a badass lead woman!
Season 4, The Crown I have been waiting patiently for this season to come out and man can I tell you, it was certainly worth the wait. Like every other twenty-something, I’ve fallen in love with Princess Diana. I was also fascinated to learn more about Margaret Thatcher (of course, do your own research on the facts) and the way Gillian Andrews played her was so remarkable (your majesty). I loved the imagery of the Queen, Diana and Thatcher and thought they did a wonderful job and comparing and contrasting these dynamic women. Cannot wait for Season 5!
No is not enough, by Naomi Klein In the midst of the US Election, I felt compelled to find out how we got in this mess. I was drawn to Naomi’s book because of her incredible expertise and insight into climate change and policies, and brand superpower. The themes she touches on in this book are pretty incredible and paints a crystal clear image as to how Trump was elected in 2016. I may have been pessimistically trying to prepare myself for a world where his reign would continue but thank the lord Biden won. A fascinating look into capitalism, the climate crisis, the rise of brands and ‘super marketing,’ and how it intersects with 21st Century politics.
Believe Me, by JP Delaney My sister has been raving on about this book for what feels like years, so I finally picked it up and read it. To her credit, it is actually quite interesting and certainly keeps you on your feet. I’m not usually drawn to suspenseful books so it’s not something I’d usually go for, but I’m glad my sister insisted. It was easy to read, had me questioning how it was going to turn out and I quite enjoyed it – thanks Elly!
The Coconut Children, by Vivian Pham I’ve heard so much about this book and when I was looking for an Aussie fiction book to read I just couldn’t go past it. Set in Cabramatta, it tells the story of young Vietnamese-Australian teenagers navigating high school, family, relationships and culture. I absolutely loved it and would LOVE to see this turned into a Netflix miniseries! Plus Vivian Pham wrote this book while she was still at high school! THE TALENT!
Fujifilm Instax Polaroid camera Honestly this little beauty continues to deliver the goods. I know a lot of people seem to save it for special occasions but honestly, whip is out at your next dinner/drinks/walk/thing you’re doing, and snap some pics. They’re such a lovely way to capture a moment, share them with friends, and pop them on your wall. Can’t get enough and I can’t stop taking little snaps with this beauty!
Well November, what a month you’ve been. Let’s keep the good vibes going into December. Let’s go slow and calm, let’s seek joy and happiness, let go of the stress and anxiety and let December be the best month yet! I hope you all stay safe, happy and healthy over the festive period. Go easy on yourself, take the pressure off and just enjoy the end of the craziest year!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
It’s pretty af (adds a bright pop of purple to each plate)
It’s crunchy af (makes you feel healthy and full)
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)
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.