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.

These are a few of my favourite things: MAY 2020

So it seems we’re getting in the swing of things? Are we? Kind of? I think we’re doing ok. It’s crazy to think that (in another life) I would have been heading to Mongolia to live and work for several months. Alas, the universe had other plans and the lounge room is proving to be pretty damn exciting. Nonetheless, we adjust, we adapt and we keep going.

This month has been a month of me putting up boundaries and standing by them. This has meant movie days, reading books, cooking food, going for long walks, taking it easy and going slow. And wow – going slow is pretty damn nice. I think I’d like to hold onto this way of life for a little while. One where my weekends aren’t always booked, where staying in my pjs all day is acceptable and putting myself first is always acceptable.

Home

Working from home is an interesting premise. Home becomes work and work becomes home. And when work becomes a bit too much to handle, it’s challenging to escape it all. So I thought I would take this working from home business, well, home. So I headed up to Newcastle and Port Stephens to visit family and work from home. I can’t say how refreshing it all was. Just to have some space and distance between everything going on. To reconnect with people I love and haven’t seen in a long time has been incredibly healing and therapeutic and I feel reset and ready to bring on the rest of 2020.

Fresh air and good times

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, when you’re in a rut, feeling down, feeling overwhelmed, anxious or just you know, living through a pandemic, get outdoors, connect with friends and loved ones. Be silly, be curious, take a moment and just feel it. Life isn’t always easy, it’s not always clear and it’s confusing af, but good people, good energy and good attitudes will take you a long way. And I’m forever grateful for the good eggs around me who I absolutely love.

BookS

Dear America, by Jose Antonio Vargas
This book is one of my favourite books I’ve ever read. I would completely recommend this for anyone who doesn’t quite understand what it means to be undocumented or is interested in immigration policy in the US. Jose is a journalist so the style of writing is easy to understand, it’s intriguing and takes you right into the life of someone who is American in every way, except by citizenship.

Dear America': Jose Antonio Vargas Documents His Life - The Atlantic

The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
I bought this book on an impulse off of Amazon – it was $8 and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for fiction and I thought… why not? Well this did not disappoint. It’s a beautiful tale told from the perspective of

Fall Book Preview – Modern Mrs. Darcy

Flicks

Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Oh my goodness, if you watch one French film this year make sure it’s this one. It is simply stunning. It’s so captivating, delicate and intimate. There’s not too much dialogue so it’s not an overwhelming amount of French to take in. Those eyes have stayed with me since watching the film and every time I see page 28 my heart skips a beat.

Bombshell
With a star studded line up, I usually like to be critical about it. Margot Robbie is an absolute babe and if that’s not reason enough, the scene that illustrates the disgusting abuse of power of men – I held my breath for the entire scene. It shows the subtle ways in which people with power abuse that power and manipulate strong women. It’s heart breaking but overall a big fuck you to ‘the man.’

Normal People
Yep, like every other basic bitch I jumped on the Normal People train and damn! Of course I read the book (and what a stunning book it is) but this series is absolutely gorgeous. I love how raw and real it is an wow, the on-screen chemistry is incredible! Apart from the fact that it made me want to runaway to Ireland, it’s a stunning watch.

Harry Potter
Wow – if like me, you were OBSESSED (and I repeat) OBSESSED with Harry Potter growing up, then do yourself a favour and re-watch these golden flicks! The first few are actually amazing! They’re so fast paced and you’ll be laughing and anticipating every line. Plus it will just make you happy! We all need a little bit of that right now.

Bloggers, Vloggers and Podders

Lone Fox
I don’t know why, but I have been addicted to watching DIY and renovation channels. I love Drew’s channel and it is seriously leaving me with the urge to paint a wall a vibrant colour and experiment with wallpaper! Plus he does some really cool DIY projects which I’m yet to try, but I bloody love watching!

Dying For Sex
This. Podcast. Is. A. MUST LISTEN! It’s about a woman, Molly, who is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. She leaves her unhappy marriage and ventures on a series of sexual escapades to feel alive. It’s a beautiful yet harrowing story of life and death, but most importantly of friendship.

#BlackLivesMatter

What’s worse than watching the world burn is the fact that we let it get to this in the first place. Inequality doesn’t just happen over night, it happens every single day and is embedded in systems, institutions, policies, actions, attitudes and values. I have done nothing to deserve the life that I was born into. Yet by mere luck and chance, I was born into a loving family, in a safe country, with access to education, healthcare and was encouraged to pursue my dreams. I was able to navigate life relatively seamlessly. And the fact that our friends, due to the mere colour of their skin, are denied the same human rights, are hunted in our streets and are deemed less valuable, is simply no the world I want to live in. It’s f*cked up and seriously, the system, the attitudes, the everyday choices that we each make that lead to this, need to change. Black and Indigenous lives matter.

A really inspiring quotes from Maya Angelou to close this board. (Critique) Education is KEY! You need to learn

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: MARCH + April2020

Wow, what a crazy few months hey? Congratulations on getting to this point. Seriously what a huge achievement it is just getting out of bed each day, signing onto your work emails and trying to get on with it. These past few weeks, months, have been mental and it sure hasn’t been easy. Though, I’m grateful for the health of my family and friends, my thoughts go out to those who are truly suffering in these dark times. I’m so very grateful for the people around me who have made the past few crazy weeks possible.

Whilst I’m taking it one day at a time right now, I thought it was important to reflect on the month or two that have been, and most importantly, share some recommendations. Because I for one know that I have been looking for content to completely dive into and try to take my mind off of the current situation.

Pre-COVID

I know it’s hard to remember what life before COVID looked like, but looking back on early March when it was safe to go to Sydney, go to bars and hang out in groups, I had a lot of fun doing so.

Zina and I got inspired at the All About Women Festival at the Sydney Opera House. I love that this has quickly become ‘our thing.’ We saw the incredible Flex Mami and Clementine Ford, and enjoyed some beers and a much needed catch up.

My sister came to visit on the coldest, wettest weekend of the past few months. Nonetheless, a mixture of stubbornness and adventure led us to Minamurra to go stand up paddle boarding. Little did we know it would be our last weekend we could enjoy cocktails out at bars, so we made the most of it. I’m so grateful for Elly coming to pay me a visit and having some fun together.

In the midst of it all

We’re all trying to figure out how to get through this. And there are several things that have been helping me get through.

Surprisingly, I’ve been getting up at 6am most days and going for a long walk, swim and adventure down the street to get a coffee. How beautiful has the weather been? The sunshine has seriously been giving me life and energy. The water has been absolutely incredible and getting out and about has truly kept me sane. Plus being able to go for a socially distant walk with a friend every now and then has really made this all bearable.

It seems that staying connected with friends and loved ones has never been easier, but I’m seriously awful at it. I’ve always been one to be independent and create relationships around me that keep me going. Making the time that I actually spend with them even more special. But with that being basically impossible now, I’ve jumped on the Zoom and Facetime bandwagon. Yep – I have been loving the occasional phone call and Facetime with friends. It’s even allowed me to reconnect with people I haven’t spoken to in years. Is it crazy that during this time my friendships may be doing better than ever?

📚Books

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
Wow, what an incredibly moving book. I’d say this is one of the best books I’ve read in recent times. It takes you on a sensory journey where you can nearly smell and feel her surroundings. You can almost feel her loss and loneliness and you are taken on a beautiful journey of self discovery, growth, independence and taking life into your own hands.

The Woman in the Window, by Gillian Flynn
I don’t usually read thrillers or books that are on the scary or suspenseful side. I read this book in a matter of days and loved it. It’s due to be released as a movie later this year starring Amy Adams and think it will be an incredible movie. Loved it!

My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Wow. What a page turner. I read this book in two days and seriously, wow. Just from reading the blurb, you know this book is dark. A forbidden relationship between a teacher and student told from Vanessa’s perspective. It’s haunting, mesmerising and tells an important story about consent, power, love and self-worth. As you could imagine, it can be quite triggering so make sure you’ve got someone to talk to afterwards.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell | 9780008342258 | Booktopia

🛍️Product

Clinique turnaround overnight moisturiser
So I’ve been looking for a night cream for a very long time and I’ve finally invested in this Clinique product. What’s wrong with me? Spending $65 on a nightcream… I have to admit it feels so incredible putting something so divine onto your skin each night, but I think when this runs out, I’ll resort to my sukin $25 night cream.

La Roche Posay’s hyaluronic acid
So upon doing a lot of research, I discovered that hyaluronic acid is one of the best things for your skin to help it stay hydrated and fight ageing. I use it morning and night and have found that my other products stay on my face better, and longer, plus my skin feels plump and amazing! Get it from Chemist Warehouse for $60.

Buy La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Serum 30ml · Australia

Tunes

Violent Soho’s ‘Everything is A-OK’
Yes yes yes! How did these guys know what we need right now? I swear good music is the only thing getting me through this crazy time. The only thing that sucks about this album is that we’re going to wait however long until we can see it live at a gig but wow that will be ever so satisfying when that day comes! Thanks lads for providing the goods!

Mysterious Girl, by Peter Andre
It’s scientifically impossible to be sad while this song is playing. I went down a weird rabbit hole recently in the reggae genre on Spotify and all I can say is thank you Spotify gods. Seriously, play it, sing the chorus and you will feel so damn good!

Spacey Jane
I have been loving this band and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t catch them earlier this year at unibar.

🎥 Flicks

Jojo Rabbit
I’m quickly realising that life is too damn short to watch shit movies. We recently got a Chrome Cast so I thought I would rent a YouTube movie, and get among all the good films that have come out in the past 12 months. Jojo Rabbit is a quirky fun movie and would definitely add it to your next Friday night in.

Little Women
I’m so happy I finally got to watch this! It’s such an iconic movie and the cast are just absolutely spectacular. Jo is the badass I aim to be and it was such a lovely, nostalgic moment. Though I must admit, I’m a sucker for the 94 version with Wynona Rider and Christian Bale, but this certainly hits all the love strings.

This has been ‘unprecedented times’ as everyone likes to keep putting it. I’ve stopped watching the news because I don’t have the mental capacity to take it all in. I’ve been taking every day one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. I’ve been stumbling over small talk when ordering food because it feels like a lifetime since I’ve held a non-work conversation. I’ve resorted to dying my own eyebrows and I wore jeans once and felt a sense of pride.

These times are tough. They don’t have to be productive, reflective or opportunistic – just something to survive. As much as I have come to resent the word unprecedented, this time truly is, and we should be proud that we’re getting through this.

Stay strong. Stay brave. Stay safe. Keep trying your best.

The best of the best: recommendations to get you through isolation

Well if there’s ever been a good time for quality content, it’s now. And before you think I’m about to recommend watching the basic bitch ‘Tiger King’ or try and convince you to ‘get on TikTok,’ (though you really should), this is the creme de la creme. The best of the best. This is what you need to get through isolation. This is, the ultimate recommendations post you’ve been waiting for!

Books

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens.

In isolation, we’re all wanting a little escape. We’ve explore the extent of our bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and want to be transported elsewhere. This book will truly transport you back in time and to a sensory stimulating setting. I was hooked and it made me fall in love with reading again.

For one more day, by Mitch Albom

I absolutely adore Mitch Albom and this book is particularly fitting given the challenging time we’re all facing. It explores the idea of having the chance to spend one more day with a loved one. It’s a gentle reminder for us to seize the day and reach out to loved ones because one day, we may be longing to have one more day, one more hour, one more conversation with someone we’re no longer able to.

Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent

Maybe there’s a theme with these books but it follows the story of a lonely young woman charged with murder in the 19th century in Iceland. If you love nature, are intrigued by the mysticism and historical fiction, you will love this. Based on the true event of the last execution in Iceland.

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

I’m not usually one for a 500+ page book but I assure you this one is totally worth it. Taking you back to Korea in the 1920s, this book spans several decades, several families and several beautiful stories. It explores themes of class, race, migration and I walked away from this book feeling that I had truly learnt something and that a part of this book and story will stay with me forever.

Podcasts

Dying For Sex

This 7 episode series tells the story of Molly, a 40-something woman who is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. So, she leaves her unhappy marriage, goes on a range of sex-capades and faces her trauma. The host is Nikki, her best friend and their relationship is so beautiful and felt so deeply throughout the whole series. It definitely tugs at the heart strings but i’s such a beautiful deconstruction of life, death and all things sex.

The Flight of Fancy

The closest thing to international travel we have, a podcast by some travel experts who share their tips, tricks and favourite experiences from their jet setting. I always wondered how a travel podcast would work when it relies so heavily on visual cues. But I think these guys do a great job of capturing the essence of travel from their adventures around the world. It’s certainly helping me plan and daydream for my next adventure – whenever it comes.

Flicks and movies

Parasite

There’s a reason this movie won best picture at this years Oscars. I assure you it’s one of the most gripping movies I’ve ever watched. Yes it’s in Korean and no that should not deter you from watching it. It’s a movie I keep thinking about and just wow. It’s pure joy, mystery, horror and shocking. And it’s now on Stan so there’s no excuse! You will be transfixed.

Sex Education

I freakin love this show. It’s such a vibrant, quirky, feel good, cringey series that revolves around, you guessed it, Sex. I just absolutely adore Eric and I want him to have his own spin off show or something because I honestly cannot get enough. It will make you laugh out loud and rethink your awkward sexual experiences. An. Absolute. Must.

Before Sunrise

If you’re daydreaming about travel and serendipitous encounters, this movie has you covered. Two strangers meet on a train and decide to get off together in Vienna. It beautifully captures those chance encounters when you’re young and you think the night will never end. It’s gorgeous and stars Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, what’s not to love? There’s also two more films that follow the same couple 10 years on, ‘Before Sunset’ and ‘Before Midnight.’

Modern Love

I was so skeptical at first. I thought it would be an awful rendition of crossover love stories that would just be cheesy tacky. Oh HELL NO! This series is stunning. With 6 stand alone episodes, it explores a variety of relationships in New York City and wow I was gripped from the very first episode. It’s unique, it’s raw, it’s real and it left me in tear. If you want a good cry and a reminder of why we love love, then this is for you!

Dead Poets Society

One of my favourite films of all time. It’s poetic, it’s beautiful, it’s enchanting and it will stick with you forever. This movie is why I got my carpe diem tattoo back when I was 18. It shaped me in ways I could never have imagined and you just absolutely need to watch it.

Anastasia

BEST. MOVIE. EVER. Enough said.

Products

Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Anti-Ageing Serum

I’ve recently introduced hyaluronic acid into my skincare routine and I honestly feel like I’ve already noticed a difference. A product that is designed to help your skin absorb and store moisture, this product by La Roche-Posay is gently, soothing and extremely hydrating. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone new in the skincare game (like me). Use morning and night. Oh and grab it from $60 at Chemist Warehouse.

Anti Drama Face Mask, Frank Body

I’ve been using this super hydrating, soft, gorgeous for over a year now and my face loves it! I use it on Sunday nights as part of my pamper me prep for the week routing and it’s so gentle, soft and gorgeous! Order it directly from the Frank Body website or pick it up at Mecca for $21.95

Gimme Brow Gel (mini)

In isolation, it’s all about the brows. I don’t care if I never wear makeup again, but I do not feel human if I don’t have my eyebrows filled in. This little beauty has worked wonders during isolation and wow, I can’t get enough. I use shade 3 because I’m a red head and basically don’t have eyebrows, so I like to really define my eyebrows. Plus it’s so tiny you could fit it in your pocket if you feel the need to fluff and fill your eyebrows on the go! Grab it from Sephora for $24.

Facial spray with aloe, cucumber and green tea, by Mario Badescu

My gorgeous friend Tishia gifted me this face spray for Christmas. And at first I didn’t think I would use it, but it has become a staple in my skincare routine. I use it every morning and night, and sometimes several times throughout the day. It’s soothing, hydrating and an essential in my collection. Pick it up from Mecca for $19

Activities

Coffee

I’ve come to realise that I simply cannot live without barista coffee. Yes I have a French press, no it’s not the same. Yes I’m a coffee snob, no I’m not sorry about it. I have come to treasure my morning outing to grab a coffee and waltz down the street! Treat yourself to a barista coffee – you deserve it!

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Puzzles

Wow I don’t know if I’ve ever encountered something so meditative. If you need to unwind, be present and accomplish something, get yourself a puzzle. I’ve smashed through several in isolation and found myself completely transfixed.

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Stretch. Move your body. Get your blood pumping! It feels so bloody good.

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Journaling

I don’t know about you, but my mind is kinda all over the place right now. Journaling gives me a sense of clarity, release and expression in a healthy way that I struggle to get anywhere else. I would absolutely recommend it if you’re feeling a bit frazzled, overwhelmed and lost.

Photo by Li Sun on Pexels.com

Organise and declutter

I’m kind of the queen of collecting sentimental things, and those things tend to… spread. So I’ve come to fucking love cleaning, organising and sorting bits and pieces of our house. When we lose control over most things in our life, organising your clothes or tupperware cupboard is completely satisfying.

Walk and talk

We’ve all been living for our morning walks right? I have been LIVING for my sunrise walk/run/swim + coffee combo. Add in a friends for a socially distant walk or give a friend a phone call and enjoy the old walk and walk.

Reminisce

Look, sometimes you can’t quite bring yourself to get out of bed. So why not scroll back through all the good times you’ve had. Find your fave travel experiences and write about them in your journal. Share them on socials or send them to your travel buddies. In all honesty, there’s nothing I love more than flicking through old photos and taking a trip down memory lane.

So now you know my absolute favourite things I watch, listen to, put on my face and lose track of time to. Now I want to know yours! Please share your ultimate recommendations with me in the comments below or on socials! Happy escaping!

This is not business as usual

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that ‘the disease that shall not be named’ is posing a much bigger threat to society than initially anticipated. COVID-19 has shown us how connected our world is and has shown that borders, policies or political leaders, cannot stop it.

And while we’ve been stumbling our way through it all, panic buying toilet paper and pasta, we’ve all been acting like business as usual, with a side of panic. The stats and data are there, this thing is dangerous and threatens the vulnerable. THIS IS NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL.

This means that we can’t keep doing what we’ve always done. We need to be critical, creative and caring. We need to think outside the box, make sacrifices and ultimately adopt a level of discomfort and uncertainty for the foreseeable future.

So I’m interrupting business as usual with some ideas and tips on how to navigate this difficult time without losing your mind, with realising there’s enough toilet paper for everyone, and holding on to what’s left of our humanity.

The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats it’s most vulnerable members

Gandhi

There are many people around the world who are doing it tough in this difficult time. Everyone is struggling to adjust and adapt to this new reality, no one was prepared.

Be kind and patient. Assume that everyone is doing their best. Talk to loved ones and reach out, even if they seem fine, remember, this is not business as usual.

It’s OK to turn off news notifications and block alerts from social media. This doesn’t mean you’re being ignorant, it means that you’re trying to preserve yourself. This is a marathon.

Take care of yourself and the people around you. Wash your hands. Drink plenty of water. Invent a new way to give your housemate a hug.

Practice gratitude for the things you do have. Internet, access to information, clear blue skies (for the first time in months), a community, clean water, Netflix.

Remember that your inconveniences and hurdles, could be saving lives. Though I must admit, stressing about toilet paper is extremely inconvenient, I’m reminding myself that the world will not fall apart without it. Yes it sucks that your travel plans are affected, that party, festival, wedding is cancelled, but it will come when the time is right.

It’s normal to be anxious and concerned. Whilst no one knows what the next few months will bring, we all need to realise that we’re in this together. We will figure it out, we will respond, we will learn and we will grow.

We will get through this, but let’s keep our kindness and humanity in tact.