Mardi Gras 2016: Glitz, Glamour and Glitter

“We cannot all succeed, when half of us are held back.” ~ Malala Yousafzai 

Mardi Gras 2016. What a magical day and night! After the amazing fun I had last year – I wasn’t sure that I could top it again this year. (You can read about my experience here). But lone and behold, 2016 delivered! It was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time! I dressed up as a pirate, complete with fishnet stocking, frizzed hair and glitter galore. We went to Sydney in a massive group and it was so great to spend time with some amazing people.

The amount of acceptance, love and joy shown at Mardi Gras exemplifies the absolute urgent need for equality. This is not a political, religious or moral issue. It is about love. Self love, loving others and accepting and respecting the love that others share. Australia, let’s stop being a international embarrassment. How are we supposed to grow as a nation when we can’t even grant a human need like love to all.

So I thought the best way to show you all of the love felt is to show you some of our bedazzled photos!

Happy Mardi Gras!

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Happy Mardi Gras!

Who’s To Blame?

So it seem like everyone lost their sh*t when Essena O’Neill ‘quit social media.’ In a vulnerable and honest youtube video she uploaded last week, the 19 year old confessed how ever since she was 12 years old, she’s been obsessed with being the ‘it’ girl. With hundreds of thousands of Instagram, Youtube and Facebook followers, O’Neill had it all. Or at least, she made it look like she had it all. She confesses to staging photos, not having to pay for designer clothes and being critical of her body and appearance, all to get the one good Instagram shot. The main message behind her ‘confession’ is Social Media is a Lie! But is it?

I’ve written about our portrayal of the ‘Ultimate Self’ here, expressing that we should be aiming to create more intimate and genuine connections with one another. And I genuinely believe that social media has the power and capacity to do this. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter… these platforms have revolutionised the way in which we communicate and revolutionised our world. Literally! Twitter had immense mobilizing power during the Arab Spring and we see activism and hashtags crossing our screens daily, allowing us to speak up about issues that matter to us. So to hear the social media is a lie, is somewhat confronting and unnerving to myself as a content producer and a consumer of social media. I’m not defending social media or trying to attack Essena for her statements, but I think it’s important to think about what we can do as users of social media to create a better way of interacting with others and a more genuine and real world.

Self reflection is crucial. Source
Self reflection is crucial. Source

Self approval is the most important thing.

The world we live in is extremely judgemental. Whether we like it or not, we subconsciously judge people on what they wear, how they talk or the way they present themselves. We’re not going to be able to change that overnight. But the thing that we can change is the way we view ourselves. What’s the point in impressing others when we’re not truly content with ourselves? There is no point. If we constantly thrive off of societies approval, then we’re setting ourselves up for failure. And if, like me, you like running your ideas and thoughts by people, then make sure you surround yourself with people who share your values and are here to support you. Whether it’s a housemate, your Mum or your colleague, getting the approval from someone you truly know and care about is so genuine that it motivate you to keep going.

Be true to yourself. 

Stemming from self approval, is just being true to yourself. At the end of the day, all we have is ourselves. Happiness is more than just an emotion, it’s a lifestyle. Doing things that make you happy, excited and full of life is so much more fulfilling than a superficial high that you get from likes. Stick to your values and know your limits but don’t be afraid to push them. At the end of the day, if you surround yourself with things that make you deeply happy, then you really can’t go wrong. Like the pictures says below ‘ let your smile change the world!’

Resilience and persistance are the key. Source
Resilience and persistence are the key. Source

Isn’t everything we see curated?

You don’t look up pictures of Paris and see it’s dark, dodgy and below average alleyways… you see the Eiffel Tower. Artists put their best work on display, musicians play their hits and we share our best photos. It’s not exactly something new that

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Life isn’t just a picture with a Valencia filter over it. Things go wrong. Life happens. And things certainly don’t go according to plan. Admitting that you may be struggling a little bit is the best way to ensure that you get the support that you need. Asking for help doesn’t mean that you’re weak or vulnerable. In fact, it means that you have the strength and bravery to work on yourself and seek to grow as a person.

With great power comes great responsibility.

To quote Spiderman here, with great power comes great responsibility. And not just social responsibility but personal responsibility to look after yourself. Following on from everything else I’ve covered, being true to yourself, surrounding yourself with positivity and accepting yourself for who you are. Social media is powerful so it only makes sense that people using it, use it with care.

Photography and social media should inspire creativity. Source
Photography and social media should inspire creativity. Source

So what does this have to do with social media?

Social media can either be a destructive or uniting force. It should be used to innovate, inspire and create. It’s a way of sharing our thoughts, opinions, emotions and values to our friends and the rest of the world. If we let ourselves get caught up in a superficial world of likes and editing the real you out of photos, we’re only setting ourselves up for failure. Through blogging and engaging in social media I’ve been able to not only express my ideas and connect with people across the world, but I’ve also been able to grow and evolve as a person.

It’s how we use it! 

But is social media really to blame here? Isn’t is us, as content creators, the ones abusing the power of social media? Are we the lie? Are we just trying to fit the mould of what society wants us to be at the price of our own happiness? Let’s use social media to our advantage. Let’s be strong together and create the change we want to see in the world. If we start with our own happiness, then it will be much easier to spread happiness and lead a fulfilling and genuine life.

Social media is only a lie, if we allow it to be.

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: OCTOBER

October… I’m glad you’re over. With the wrath of university taking it’s toll, it was a tough one… but I made it. So… recap on the month that I’m glad is over.

Do It In A Dress

This month, myself and an awesome group of young leaders participated in the One Girl campaign Do It In A Dress. We raised over $8000 to go directly towards educating girls in Sierra Leone. If you want to learn more about this amazing campaign working hard to fight such a huge social injustice we have in this world, you can read here. 

Doin it in a dress at uni
Doin it in a dress at uni

Fox and the Hound

So I may be a bit biased because my friend is in the band… but they’re honestly great! I love supporting local talent but I know it won’t be long before these boys make it big internationally.

Speaking of music….

This SONG!!!! Sia you’ve done it again. I’ve listened to this song probably a billion times and I just can’t get enough. Her vocals are absolutely incredible! If you need to get pumped or inspired… blast this on repeat and I promise you’ll feel ready to take on the world!

Netflix

What else are you supposed to do when you’re tied down with uni work? Procrastinate!!! And Netflix offers endless opportunities for procrastination. This month I finished watching Narcos  and Sense8. I also started watching Orphan Black (I know, I know… I don’t know how I do it, I just do). Such quality shows and I’d definitely recommend them all!

Making my promo video

So I have this friend. She’s ridiculously talented. And she made a promo video for my blog. Whilst we’re still fine tuning it and super excited to release it as soon as possible, I still can’t get over the amazing fun we had shooting it!!! We spent a whole day galavanting around Wollongong and the South Coast. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I couldn’t of asked for anyone better to spend it with!

Promo video fun
Promo video fun

Halloween Formal

Every session at college we have a formal. Sometimes we get fancy, and other times we get freaky. My best friend and I went as an angel and devil duo. There was glitter EVERYWHERE!!! Had such a great night!

Zina and I rockin the classic duo
Zina and I rockin the classic duo

Oxfam Presentation for Global Climate Change Week

This month I was lucky enough to represent and speak on behalf of Oxfam at the University of Wollongong’s Global Climate Change Week regarding the relationship between Climate Change and Food Security. It was such a great opportunity and experience to speak in front of nearly 60 people who are all concerned and passionate about Climate Change and creating change.

Map displaying the countries most vulnerable to the effects of Climate Change. Extreme weather = extreme poverty. Let's be the change we want to see!
Map displaying the countries most vulnerable to the effects of Climate Change. Extreme weather = extreme poverty. Let’s be the change we want to see!

Home

For the first time in months, I finally made it home for the October Long Weekend! And home definitely provided me with the goods. Sunshine, family and adventure!!!

Beautiful Port Stephens
Beautiful Port Stephens

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: MAY

I hate to start on a serious note, but honestly, where the hell did May disappear to? How is it June tomorrow?! How and why?! The only good thing about it being June is that in 15 days, I’ll be finished with Autumn session 2015! F*ck yea! Looking back, May has been a pretty hectic, busy and great month, so here’s a few of my favourite things from the month that has been.

THIS SONG! Yes I’m totally guilty of a bit of r’n’b love and this song is my awesome go to get pumped song for the month!

Alt-J and Asgeir concert + random Sydney sesh. Cheap cocktails, awesome fancy Japanese food, one of the best bands I’ve seen live, followed by a cheeky dance sesh at Scubar, this night was filled with epicness.

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Bacon and Maple Syrup Pancakes on rooftops. Yes, I know you’re probably screwing your face up right now but OMG it’s a game changer! Not only is the food amazing, the coffee is on point and the vibe is so chilled at Humber! Definitely a must for all!

Deliciousness on a plate!
Deliciousness on a plate!

Live Below the Line Challenge. Ok so definitely not my favourite week of May but definitely the most rewarding which left me feeling accomplished, successful and making a positive difference in the world. Living off of $2 is quite difficult for the tastebuds, but believe it or not, it can be done. I managed to raise approximately $350 and my team, a massive $7000 to go towards world hunger and fighting poverty.

https://www.livebelowtheline.com.au/me/ahaynes

VIVID Harbour Cruise. It was the best night ever! Feeling glam with my glam friends in a glam city! On a boat cruising around Sydney Harbour for 3 hours, with the Opera House, Bridge and building dazzled with brilliant lights, Sydney was definitely showing off.

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Wish I Was Here. An interesting, confusing and lovely movie.

I hope you all had a great month and I hope June is even bigger and better!

xxx A

Pinterest: Motivation & Happiness Central!

I’ve recently jumped on the Pinterest wagon, and for the past 24 hours, I’ve been hooked. This little discovery couldn’t have come at a better time in my life too. Recently I’ve felt like I’ve lit several different fuses. I’m working part time, trying to excel in my studies, volunteering for leadership programs all whilst trying to maintain a social life, and I’m not entirely sure if those fuses are leading towards a bomb or fireworks. After spending quite literally the past 24 hours of Pinterest, I’ve been immersing myself in colourful, beautiful, weird, wonderful and quirky images which has only been fuelling my appetite for everything life is throwing at me. Motivating and inspiring me to push myself, my limits and my state of mind of what is possible.

‘If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely’ – Roald Dahl

I’m a firm believer in surrounding yourself with positive things and people. Sometimes in life, we just need to stop being sad and start being happy and I am choosing to be happy and to turn those fuses into the biggest and brightest fireworks this world has ever seen.

If you too would like a daily dose of some motivation and happiness, check out my Happiness board here. I hope it makes you laugh and smile as much as I did. 

A snapshot of my Pinterest account.

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Peace, love and happiness to all

xxx A

An Essential Guide To London

Lately I’ve been asked a lot from my lucky jet setter friends, ‘what are the essential things to do and see in London?’ I usually reply with ‘depends if you want to see the touristy London, or the real London?’ And whilst I only lived in London for a year and am still no expert on the real London, here’s my list of awesome things that you must see and do in the fabulous city of history and culture, LONDON!

Don't be afraid to do some sight seeing at night! You get a beautiful different perspective on things minus all the tourists.
Don’t be afraid to do some sight seeing at night! You get a beautiful different perspective on things minus all the tourists.

Photo Ops

1. Big Ben. Of course.

2. The Red Telephone Box. Again. Of course. And don’t worry, they’re EVERYWHERE!

'Ello Govna
‘Ello Govna

3. Piccadilly Circus TDK neon signs. Kind of unmissable if you venture into the city.

4. Tower Bridge. So much history and beauty. Get a good shot from the Southbank.

996021_731518820196469_1823809950_n 5. Buckingham Palace. Obviously.

Culture

1. Camden (Markets). Pretty much one of my favourite parts of London. You can walk around aimlessly for hours and find a good feed and bargain along the way. With music, buskers and weird and wonderful things everywhere, it’s a must see. Plus an amazing music scene! Amy Winehouse ring any bells? This was her territory.

Camden with my girl
Camden with my girl

2. Brick Lane. Possibly one of the coolest places ever. Located in East London and just a short walk from Liverpool Street, Brick Lane is a hipsters paradise. Amazing pop up food stalls, underground vintage markets (I bought my pair of Converse from there for 20pounds), street performers and AMAZING Indian cuisine. If you want cheap and authentic Indian then this it the place to go. Hidden between the high rises of Liverpool Street, it really is a hidden gem.

3. Covent Garden. Beautiful restaurants and a few little markets hidden around, conveniently located right in the middle of the city.

Food

1. Carnaby Street. Lots of cute little restaurants and bars scattered along the street it’s a great find and a lot of fun.

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2. Any markets. Camden, Brick Lane, Southbank, Notting Hill, Borough Markets…

3. Browns for High Tea. If you’re in London then you must indulge and have a high tea experience. I was fortunate enough to go with some family members and it was a simply divine dining experience.

Expensive but beautiful little cakes
Expensive but beautiful little cakes

Galleries and Museums

1. The British Museum. I went here about 4 or 5 times and still didn’t see everything! Make sure you don’t miss Cleopatras Mummy or the Rosetta Stone.

2. The National Gallery. Prime location, overlooking Trafalgar Square. Again, a day simply is not enough but my (biased) recommendation is checking out the Romantic’s artwork.

3. The National Portrait Gallery. Adjacent to the National Gallery, it’s worth the detour to spend an hour or two here. When I visited, there was an exhibition on Miss Marilyn Monroe and I was in love.

Chillin in Trafalgar Square
Chillin in Trafalgar Square

History

1. The Tower of London. If you want to dive deep into 13th Century London, this is the place to do it!

2. Shakespeare’s Globe. If you’re a poetry/literature nut like me then you’ll probably swoon when you see it. If you’re not too keen on paying super high prices, every now and again they have deals on tickets.

3. John Keats House in Hamstead Heath. Again, if you’re an English Romantic Literature fan… you CANNOT miss this. I studied John Keats in English at high school and have since had a fascination of him and his work. Being at his actual house and in the surrounding neighbourhood was so inspiring and overwhelming, I may have shed a tear or two.

Swooning over Mr Keats
Swooning over Mr Keats

A Little Something Extra

1. The Heron Tower. Located just near Liverpool Street tube station is this fabulous 40 floor tower. If you dress up pretty nicely and say to the guy at the door ‘I’m just going up for drinks’ then he’ll let you past. Press number 38 and you’ll shoot up in a glass elevator. Up the top of the building is something spectacular. An amazing 5star bar, a sushi restaurant and a fantastic view (which is free). I’ve been up there a few time and not purchased anything, just to check out the view and it’s splendid every time. If you feel like splurging, why not enjoy a glass of wine whilst overlooking the spectacular city.

Some of the view from the Herron Tower
Some of the view from the Herron Tower

Things to give a miss

1. The Tate Modern. OK if you love modern art… go for it. Even with my open mind, I still didn’t get it. Any of it.

2. The London Eye. Look at it from a distance. It’s not worth wasting the time in the huge line or money.

3. Changing of the Guard. I never went and I’m glad I saved myself a few painful hours. There’s waaaaaay too many people, you can’t really see anything and it’s all rather uneventful.

Do you have any recommendations?

xxx A

Ultimate Selfie vs. the Ultimate Self

The saying ‘there’s more than meets the eye’ is relevant to today’s society more than ever. The phenomenon of Facebook promised us the gift of connecting to friends and ultimately, getting to know people on a more personal level. But how realistic was that promise? Whilst we all may have thought Facebook had the best intentions, not only have we deceived each other, but ourselves.

So why is it that we think we know a person (on Facebook) and then realise that in person, they’re not the person you think they are. I believe it’s because on Facebook/any other social media website, we post our ‘ultimate selves’ aka our Mr. Brightside selves. We post pretty pictures, write a witty status, put a few hashtags in there and tell everyone about how awesome our saturday night was.

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Spongebob may not care, but your real friends do

The things that we neglect to post online is the other 20 photos we took in order to get that perfect shot, we sat there for 10 minutes thinking of the perfect way to say something and don’t tell the world about the epic hangover we get on a Sunday morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% guilty of this promotion of my ‘ultimate self.’ But lately I’ve been questioning why we do this? We complain that people don’t know the real us but the truth is that we don’t even know the real us, and even if we do, we don’t share it with anyone because we won’t get enough likes that way.

My sister and I
My sister and I. This was posted on Facebook as a family appreciation post. However what I neglected to acknowledge was my anxiousness about moving to a new place with new people and sadness about saying goodbye to my family.

We never seem to put out to the world when we need help, or need a shoulder to lean on, and maybe that’s a reason that we can’t get the help we need. I’m not saying that overnight the world will change and we’ll suddenly stop producing a false image of ourselves online, but I really do believe that if we start to make more intimate, genuine and caring relationships, then we can all live in a better world and live a happier life.

xxx A

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21 Thoughts You Have On Your First Night In A New Place

A new year, a new place to live. On the weekend I moved onto a new university campus, one with a little more freedom and independence. So far I’ve only met two of my (awesome) housemates and am still learning my way around the house and surrounding area. And until you’re completely settled in to a place, there’s a few things that always seem to run through my mind for the first couple of nights. I’m sure others have experienced this too right?

A sneak peak of my new room
A sneak peak of my new room

1- Where are my pyjamas?

2- How do I use this shower/microwave/washing machine?

3- Where are the light switches

4- INTERNET!!!

5- I have nothing to wear because all of my clothes are creased

6- Is it acceptable to run from the shower to my room in a towel?

7-  Where should I put my undies and bras?

8- What’s that (windows been closed for too long it’s kinda dusty and needs some life in it) smell?

9- What’s that sound?

10- I don’t have any moisturiser!

11- Does my poster look better above my bed or on my wardrobe?

12- I don’t have any blu tack for my poster!

13- How long does it take to defrost frozen chicken?

14- Where are the frying pans?

15- Should I turn the hall lights off at night?

16- I only have double A batteries and need triple A

17- My housemates seem cool… I hope I seem cool?

18- What’s that guys name again?

19- Do I have to wear a bra?

20- What’s my address again?

21- When’s it time for beers?

Let me know if these random thoughts aren’t so random when moving to a new place in the comments below!

xxx A

Have We Lost Our Ability to Talk to Strangers?

Yesterday, whilst waiting for my mum to pick me up from the train station, I took a seat on a 4 person bench where a guy was seated at the other side. He had his earphones plugged in and nervously looked at me once or twice. I was struggling with eating an icy-pole given that it was so hot outside, and trying to keep my cool as my frosty fruit dribbled down my arm. A few times I almost went to start a conversation, but I didn’t… I held back and focused all my attention to slurping at my icy pole, that thinking back on it, even if I did start a conversation, he would’ve thought I was strange and completely incompetent of eating an ice cream.

Which led me to thinking… have I lost my ability to talk to strangers? By the time his mate came and picked him up and Mr (pretty cute) bench guy was driving away, I felt like I had lost more by not starting a conversation, than if I had talked to him and made a fool of myself.

A group of people I met in a bar in Edinburgh, Scotland
A group of people I met in a bar in Edinburgh, Scotland

I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t. I’m not exactly a shy person, and when I was overseas travelling, I would talk to anyone and everyone. My conscience tells me it was because I was too focused on eating my ice cream, but I think deep down, it was because I was slipping into my ‘routine’ life where I stay neatly in my comfort zone and can sit at a bench with strangers in silence and be OK with that. I also think another part of me was nervous. I remember a thought crossing my mind ‘what if he thinks I’m strange/boring/weird/any adjective.’ He had his earphones in, and his head buried in his phone, where I then reached for my phone and started aimlessly scrolling through my newsfeed so that the silence wouldn’t be awkward. We automatically created a barrier (being on another planet with our phones) that we completely blocked the potential of engaging in simple conversation.

By the time my mum had picked me up, I had already began to beat my self up for not starting a conversation with him, or even just saying hello. Because at the end of the day, the odds are we were never going to see eachother again, he wouldn’t think I was crazy or a psycho, and who knows, we could’ve had a really lovely conversation… (and then added eachother on Facebook, see eachother at the same station a week later, exchanged numbers, had a dinner date, get married, have kids and live happily ever after….) Haha OK so that only happens in movies.

2 English girls I met in Versailles, France
2 English girls I met in Versailles, France

Regardless, striking up a conversation with a stranger was something that I really liked about myself when I was travelling the world. And I met the most incredible people because of it. But I feel like I’ve fallen back into that state of mind where ‘all strangers are serial killers, trying to rob you or rape you.’ And the truth is that there are some truly remarkable people in our every day lives that we just haven’t had the opportunity of meeting yet. And starting off with a simple ‘hello, how are you?’ is a way of doing that.

This random bench guy probably hasn’t given this whole slightly awkward encounter another thought, but my not talking regret has sparked something in me that I’m determined to change. I don’t want to miss any opportunity in life. Whether it be the chance to travel someplace new, go camping, learn an instrument or even talk to a guy on a bench, and I feel that starting with a small ‘hello’ can lead to bigger and better things.

Challenge – So for the next month, I’m going to break my cosy little comfort zone and meet someone new/new people. Why? Because even if they turn out to be a bit psycho… I’ll know that I’m not crazy for not starting a little conversation.

xxx

A

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