A Beautiful Week

Being thankful in the Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Being thankful in the Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Is Christmas Really Just Another Day?

This year I was (un)lucky enough to work a split shift on Christmas. Working in hospitality, we were exceptionally busy, being both mentally and physically exhausting. Whilst the joy of public holiday rates kept me going, I couldn’t help but feel a slight pang of sadness flood through me when people said ‘aw you poor thing, having to work on Christmas,’ before finishing with a ‘oh well, it’s just another day isn’t it?’ And that got me thinking… is it?

Our Christmas Tree 2014
Our Christmas Tree 2014

For as long as I can remember, Christmas has been filled with tinsel, presents, big lunches that send us into a food coma, being with family, taking pictures and playing with our new and exciting gifts (by the way, this year I got a selfie stick and have had WAY too much fun playing with it). I have spent 18 Christmas’ with my family until last year where I was overseas celebrating Christmas with my London family at Clarendon 9, and on my 20th Christmas I was woken up early (as usual) couldn’t wipe the smile off my face at the stunning view of our Christmas tree (as usual) and then put on my work uniform and left my loving family at home to enjoy the rest of the day (not as usual). Work was busy (as usual for this time of year) and before I knew it, I was lost in a mountain of dishes, momentarily thinking, ‘yep, just another day at work.’

Our Christmas Feast in London 2013
Our Christmas Feast in London 2013

This got me thinking about how much emphasis we put on certain days of the year. What seems like another Wednesday is suddenly filled with Turkey, Tinsel and Presents… what seems like another Saturday is your birthday and suddenly you’re a year older (and apparently a year wiser), and another Friday means that you can’t eat meat and stock up on chocolate.

Whilst I tried to get through my split shift with the thought that yes, it’s just another day and I’m getting paid twice as much to do the same job… I couldn’t help thinking of my family at home. And that’s why I can’t accept the statement that all the customers said to me that day ‘Christmas is just another day.’ Because (sadly) there’s not many other days of the year that we come together as friends and families, surprise each other, talk, explore, open up, laugh, drink, eat, eat and eat and just enjoy a lovely day off with the people we love.

My (short) Christmas with my family 2014
My (short) Christmas with my family 2014

So would I work another Christmas? Absolutely… the money was freakin’ amazing! But in future, I’d definitely make sure there’s more time to relax and spend time with my family on a special day that we all get to spend with each other.

xxx A

Our little Christmas Tree in London 2013
Our little Christmas Tree in London 2013

Room Decorating 101

Bedrooms should give you inspiration, should allow you to relax, motivate you to get out of bed and welcome you to a sound sleep at the end of the day. I’ve tried to take on advice of DIY magazines, stylists, blogs by sticking to a theme, a colour scheme, a purpose etc, but it always felt forced and unnatural. And now I’ve figured out the way to decorate my room which makes me never want to leave my room!

Current pictures on my wall
Current pictures on my wall

When I’ve got a big blank white boring wall, I feel dull, boring and uninspired. So, I print off my favourite photographs from the past year, of friends, family and places, take a trip down to the travel agent (or a few), rip out some beautiful pictures, scramble through my box of memories from the year (I keep anything from concert tickets, maps, foreign currency, to business cards) and pick out my favourites. Once I’ve collected bright beautiful things, I get to blu tacking and stick everything to my wall. The end result is very rewarding, colourful, inspiring and beautiful!

Don’t be afraid to get messy with it, stick up anything that makes you happy, because what’s the point in having photo albums filled with beautiful photos hidden away in a cupboard, when you can have them on display that will leave guests and yourself hypnotised!

My room in London
My room in London
Organising pictures! (a lot of them)
Organising pictures! (a lot of them)

The Hardest Things About Packing (and Moving on in Life)

As the year draws to a close, so does this chapter of my life; living at a university residence. Whilst I’ve met some incredible people, done some awesome things and drank and awful amount of goon, I’m glad to move onto the next and currently unknown chapter. As I lay on my bed, walls cast with the shadow of my travel photos that lined them, bags, clothes and mess everywhere… this is not the first time I’ve packed my life into bags. Yet the same questions, uncertainties and feelings overcome me. So here’s the hardest things I’m confronted with whilst packing up my life yet again.

Create the most beautiful life you can imagine! ~ photo from http://dearcrissy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/quote-about-the-future.jpg
Create the most beautiful life you can imagine! ~
photo from http://dearcrissy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/quote-about-the-future.jpg

What does the future hold?

Whilst not even tarot cards can accurately tell me this, it’s a bit unsettling having so many options and decisions to make for my immediate and distant future. Where will I live? Who with? Do I need to start looking for a house now? Or maybe just a room? What about my job? How am I going to afford Christmas presents? Can I go to this party? Or will I be working? What do I want to achieve? Countless questions flood my mind. The thing that gives me hope is that I’ve experienced this before (when I was leaving London) and I know that if you make the most of every opportunity, learn and grow from every experience and refuse to give up, then wonderful things will happen. You just need to first believe and then do it. The present and future is in our hands.

Is this the end?

The end of some things… yes. And thankfully, goodbye single bed, see ya later noise/alcohol bans, adios cookie thieves and au revoir to the thousands of lizards! The hardest thing, particularly leaving London, is imagining your life without certain people, places and the little things you’re used to, and the saddening fact that you don’t know when you’ll see them again. A big thing that I dealt with leaving London was the fear of losing the new London Adelaide. I was proud of everything I achieved and had become and was scared that it would disappear when I moved back to Australia. Sometimes I still feel like I’m dealing with an identity crises, however over time, you adjust. It’s almost like you get to recreate yourself again. The picture below shows how much I changed last year and even comparing myself to the photo from last year, I’ve changed a lot from that girl too. We have to create the life we want and inevitably we’ll change. Yet some things will never end, the unique and special friendships (especially those that cross borders), the memories, the lessons learnt and the feeling of creating a home.  With every ending, comes a new beginning, and they are always exciting (and your friends will want to hear all about it).

February 2013 & December 2013 (St. Andrews, Scotland) More than just my clothes changed
February 2013 & December 2013 (St. Andrews, Scotland)
More than just my clothes changed

How am I going to move all of this stuff?

I don’t know how, but I just accumulate so much stuff! It’s not until you start packing and thinking about transporting everything you own, you truly realise it. Luckily, my parents are helping me do this (thank god). When I moved back to Australia from London, I had to fit my life into 30kgs! (miraculously I did it). And with all the of the stuff you accumulated over your time somewhere, attached to each thing is a specific memory that you just have to hold on to!

My best friend trying to pack all of her stuff. Proved to be challenging yet possible.
My best friend trying to pack all of her stuff. Proved to be challenging yet possible.

Reflection, reflection, reflection 

Maybe it’s just me, but I take forever to pack because I look through things, I reminisce, I decide if I want to keep it or not, I organise things, toss thing and look at things a bit more. While I pack, I can’t help but reflect on the year that has been, how I’ve changed, grown and learned. I then listen to sad and soppy music and look at photos, thinking back to all the good times. And once I’m done reflecting (and sobbing), I think forward to next year and how I want to change, what I want to achieve, fix, excel at, get involved in. Once I do this, I get a buzz of excitement and just want to get it all started!

What gets me through?

Even though packing up your life and moving on can be difficult (and you will no doubt need an adjustment period), the thing that gets me through is hop for the future, that I can make each year, month, day, bigger and better than the last. Knowing that my friends and family love and support me (and will even help me move all of my stuff). Knowing that I have goals and dreams to aspire to, and that the actions I take now are a step towards those dreams. Knowing that each night the sun will set and each morning the sun will rise, shining new light on a new day. I know it’s incredibly clichéd, but it’s true.

xxx

A

After each sunset, there will be a sunrise
After each sunset, there will be a sunrise

My Secrets to Confidence

Confidence comes in all shapes and sizes. Hopeful of joining a gym, courageous to apply for that job, brave to deliver a speech, bold in your outfit and fearless in life! Confidence is a key element that we’re all expected to have, yet why is it that we talk ourselves down and doubting our ability? We all have insecurities, we all have weaknesses, yet it’s how we accept them, deal with them and conquer them so that nothing, especially yourself stands in your way.

I would describe myself as a confident person, yet from time to time I give in to those dark uncertainties and it can all get a bit overwhelming really. However, I have found some ways to help me be more confident in my thoughts and actions.

Slow down every now and again to embrace beauty around you
Slow down every now and again to embrace beauty around you – Rome

Smile – It instantly makes you feel a little bit better I promise! Also laughing or singing helps break down those nerves and negative thoughts circling your mind. It will also make people around you feel more comfortable and relaxed. A smile really can go a long way!

Think about your strengths and skills – Take a moment to think about all the wonderful and exquisite things you can do. Maybe you can play all of Ed Sheeran’s album on guitar, a really fast reader/typer, good at remembering people’s names, keeping things tidy/clean, taking initiative or responsibility… the options are endless! If you’re ever in doubt, focus on your skills and strengths and how you can use them to your advantage to help you achieve what you want.

Embrace what you love – Personally, I love writing, listening to music, going to the beach, going on coffee dates with my friends, travelling… the list goes on. It’s important to take time out and focus on yourself, what you want and what you love. Engaging with these activities will also give you that motivation and self-confidence that will automatically make you happy and feel better about yourself and your capabilities.

Surround yourself with positivity
Surround yourself with positivity

Accept and grow from your weaknesses – We all have them, I’m not the most committed student when it comes to exams, I try and take on too many tasks at once and cannot for the life of me keep my room clean! (that, I can’t change). The first thing is to be aware of aspects of your life you can improve on and how you can do that. For example, trying to go to sleep before midnight, having a diary to write all of your due dates in and focusing on things your truly passionate about. Even if you take baby steps, at least you’re closer to growing and moving on.

Think Positively! – Whilst it might be hard to stay positive sometimes, I strongly believe that positive people attract positive energy.

‘Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.’ ~Peter T. McIntyre

Set Goals (and make them BIG) – I find it helpful to set goals to work towards. All throughout high school, I just wanted to go to Paris, and I made that happen by getting a job, planning, investigating and being absolutely determined to make it happen! Like the quote above says, be fearless! Go out and grab life! Like the classic cheesy quote ‘if you miss reaching for the moon, at least you’ll be among the stars.’ Opportunities are everywhere if you have the courage to seek them.

Take the plunge – Yes it might be scary, seem impossible, be overwhelming etc. etc. etc… but what if… it works? What if you accomplish your dreams? And what if you take the world by storm? You cannot truly gain without a little risk. Put yourself out there and just do it!

xxx A

Take the plunge!
Take the plunge! – Greek Islands

Getting My Fix

Sourced from http://piccsy.com/2013/07/one-ocean-one-breath
Sourced from http://piccsy.com/2013/07/one-ocean-one-breath

I find it ever so empowering to believe in the power, strength and never ending ocean.

Its chameleon colours stimulate our eyes.

The sweet smell of salt tickles our taste buds.

Its silky waters glide over our skin invigorating us with life and meaning.

It sings to us a symphony of sounds from the highest wave to the lowest crevasse.

You never fail to ignite a fire within me. As I submerge myself into your cool waters, my body becomes numb. Such an exhilarating feeling… not to feel. I am vulnerable and lost. I come to you with my questions, my worries, my dreams… hoping you can help me make sense of it all.  The world sometimes blurs past me. I may nod politely and listen intently, trying ever so hard to pay attention. But there’s something else that grasps my spirit. It may be the glorious warmth of the sun or the encouraging breezes of the wind… I hear waves crashing as a reminder than when I am lost, you will be there to guide my way. My lungs burn as sea water drips down my throat, your magic creating the sparks deep within my heart that sometimes dim in this dark world. I am weightless. In these moments, I am invincible. My mind is clear. I am free.

I emerge from your sanctuary and inhale your fresh salty air. I can’ t help but smile as you push me towards the shore.

The sunshine kisses my skin and my spirit. Your song twirls around in my mind as I trudge back to life. You energize me, your name tattooed across my heart reminding me that happiness is never too far away.

x

1 New Friend Request

‘Hey, yea I’m from (insert country here).’
‘Oh really? I want to go there one day.’
‘Ah well add me and when you come hit me up.

I’ve had this conversation so many times. And my facebook friends keep growing in number as you meet people from everywhere across the globe. There are so many places that I do wish to visit in the world and yes if you’ll let me crash on your lounge and take me out to your favourite bar, let’s do it. However, I just recently got to thinking about all the people you meet through your travels, you might have an amazing time with them, and you may never see them again, but you’ll always see their status updates and keep up to date on their life.

My Romanian/German friends overlooking the Danube River - Budapest, Hungary
My Romanian/German friends overlooking the Danube River – Budapest, Hungary

 Twenty years ago, you would’ve had a great time out with some cool people, went your separate ways, never saw them again, and they may cross your mind a few years later as you reminisce.
But now due to facebook, a night out turns into a virtual connection lasting a lifetime.
And it gets me thinking about what it really means to be someone’s friend, beyond a friendship request.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love scrolling down my news feed and seeing things in all different languages, with pictures from the snow, mountains or beaches. And I love the fact that at some point in our two very different lives, our paths crossed, we smiled at each other and formed a bond. The unfortunate thing really is, I still know everything that’s happening to you in your life, but I genuinely don’t know if I’ll ever see you again. And you’ll see what’s happening in this person’s life for years to come.
So how do you cut people out of your life now? You really can’t. Whereas 20 years ago, if you outgrew someone, that was it. But now it’s all so personal and people take great offence to being blocked or deleted. Life definitely needs those buttons to filter out those people who are no good for you, but does it have to be so public? It’s such a relief when you do realise that you don’t need certain people in your life and you can cut them out, but until then your friend requests keep rolling in.

The coolest roomates you could ask for in a hostel, French, Slovenian, American and German friends - Edinburgh, Scotland
The coolest roomates you could ask for in a hostel, French, Slovenian, American and German friends – Edinburgh, Scotland

Some of my closest friends that I have the fondest memories with , are people that you share intimate moments with. Whether it’s telling them your secrets, going on an adventure together, staying up until 3am just talking about nothing in particular, calling them when you’re in trouble and just someone to hug and who makes you feel at home. And it’s just a bonus if you can crash on their lounge when you go traveling to their home country. But it’s those relationships that last beyond that one night out, you message them, have your little inside jokes, have numerous photos with them and you’re already planning when you can see eachother again. You don’t necessarily have to talk everyday or skype once a week, but when you do talk, it’s like it was yesterday. And when you talk, you’re not telling them everything you’ve done for the past month, instead just having a general conversation filled with laughter that doesn’t really make sense.

My American friends at the Cliffs of Moher - Ireland
My American friends at the Cliffs of Moher – Ireland

It’s crazy how social media has changed friendships especially within the travel community, because back in the day if you really wanted to keep in touch with someone special, you would get their home address, print off some pictures, write a letter and send it across the world which could take weeks. But now everything is instantaneous. Night out. Take some photos. Have a good chat. Discuss future travel plans. ‘Oh add me.’ And done, you’re now friends for life, where that friendship once wouldn’t have exceeded that night.

And I’m not saying in any way that this is a bad thing at all, it’s fantastic. 20 years ago it would’ve been impossible to have pen pals from Brazil, America, Canada, Scotland, France, Sweden, China… all at the same time. I am so thankful for all the incredible people I’ve met in my travels from all across the world, and I probably follow you on facebook, Instagram or twitter. I wish you all of the best in your lives and really do hope I get to crash on your lounge at some point and my offer is always there, if you’re ever in Australia, please do come a visit. Until then keep the status updates, snapchats, tweets and posts coming.

Ciao

p.s (everyone in these photos are truly incredible! we shared some amazing times together and these photos are just a small reminder of the memories i’ll carry with my for life).