Go on a solo trip, thank me later

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

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

When was the last time you did nothing?

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

Daring to be present

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

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

Life is more important than work

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

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

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

Do what’s important to you

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

Let your mind run wild

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

The most important thing…

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

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

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: 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.

A Romantic Weekend Away in Byron Bay

Byron Bay… the ultimate escape from the stresses of reality. Not only is it a hippies dream but it is simply the dream getaway. Add a dose of romance and Byron suddenly becomes magical. This weekend I was lucky enough to escape reality for a few nights with my boyfriend, Mitch, and we had THE best time. So I thought I’d share a bit of what we got up to, where we ate and where we drank. So Voila! My first ever Romantic Travel Recommendation for BYRON BAY! 

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🚗 Road Trip

Byron is the perfect road trip destination. And it’s not some little road trip, this is the creme de la creme of epic road trips. It’s about 11 hours north of Wollongong so pack your snacks, get the tunes loaded and make sure you’ve got your comfy pants on. We stopped several times for food, water and toilet breaks, but you absolutely MUST stop at the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. As lame as it is (and yes – it’s extremely lame) it’s absolutely necessary to stop and capture this iconic photo! What a gem!

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🛏️ Airbnb

Nothing says romance like a little cute Airbnb. Mitch absolutely nailed this one. It was in a quiet street not far from the main street. Having your own space really makes it feel like you’re on holidays; couch, TV, kitchen… luxury! As you can see below; there’s plenty of cute and affordable options!

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👀 See & Do

There’s an abundance of things to see and do in Byron. It’s on the coast with stunning beaches and mountains close by. Though in 3 days we kept pretty busy seeing and doing lots of fabulous things!

🐚 Beach

Who goes to Byron without going to the beach? Despite the wind, we found a sheltered spot at Tallow Beach, and boy was it paradise. The water was still a bit chilly but it didn’t stop us from going for a quick dip and sunbake.

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View of Tallow beach from the Lighthouse

🌊 Lighthouse 

This iconic lighthouse marks the most Easterly point of Australia and has spectacular views of surrounding beaches and mountains. If you get up early enough, you may be able to find a park towards the top of the hill, otherwise prepare for a bit of a hike. Park at the bottom and make sure you’ve got your active wear on point. We took out coffees up, took some photos and were lucky enough to even see whales! Hands down an absolute must. Plus it’s pretty cute up there.

🐷 The Farm

I had never heard about this place until Mitch insisted we go there. Long story short, it’s a farm (duh) with a beautiful cafe/restaurant/flower store you can dine at where all the produce is locally sourced. The best part is that you can wander around and look at all of the animal! They even have Highland Cows! I repeat… hairy cows!!!! Such a cool and pretty random thing to do. The food and coffee was amazing and overall made for an epic morning out and about.

📚 Book Shop

My brother would kill me if I didn’t put this on my list of places to go in Byron Bay. This book store has so many amazing finds! It’s basically tradition to go there and buy a book. Plus, when you buy a new book, it means you can chill out and read it on the beach, in the park, on the couch… Just make sure you drop by and pick up a book to power that brain of yours.

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🍴 Eat & Drink

Byron Bay has some INCREDIBLE bars, restaurants and cafes. We were only there for 3 days, yet I feel that we definitely discovered some amazing places to eat and drink!

🥐 Top Shop

This place is an absolute MUST! Located at 65 Carlyle St, this corner cafe attracts all types (and their dogs). Their coffee is to die for and their brekky options are delicious! I’d absolutely recommend the mushrooms on toast (the bread is so fresh, crispy and delicious). Plus, make sure to grab a freshly baked croissant before you leave!

🍇 Folk

Located on 399 Ewingsdale Rd, next to the caravan park, is every Veggo and Vegans dream. We stopped here for some lunch and I can honestly say it was one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten! Chilled vibes, healthy and yummy food, what’s not to love?

🍷 St Elmo

This one is definitely for a special, romantic night out. This little tapas bar is located on 22 Fletcher St and is not to be missed. It’s a stunning wine and tapas bar with mouth watering food and probably the best wine I’ve ever had. The low candle lighting, beautiful wine and extraordinary food makes this place extremely special and perfect for date night.

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🍸 The Bolt Hole 

Looking for a sexy bar for the perfect Espresso Martini? Then look no further than this stunning little bar. Found on 9 Fletcher St, this is perfect for an intimate drink. Great vibes and honestly the BEST ESPRESSO MARTINIS EVER!!!

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🍝 The Balcony

This is iconic Byron Bay. Honestly, you can’t miss it.  On the corner of Lawson St & Jonson Street, you’ll find the perfect spot for some happy hour beers, to watch the sunset and the world pass by.

🍻 The Northern

One of the most iconic pubs in Byron, and maybe even Australia. You’ll hear the hustle and bustle before you find it on 35-43 Jonson St, and there’s good reason. Great location, great beer, amazing food. If my smile below doesn’t give it away, I was having a pretty damn good time with that beer!

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To top it off, Byron Bay really just has this lovely and relaxed atmosphere to it. Which makes a little romantic escape absolutely perfect. Coming back to work after a holiday is hard. But coming back to work after a holiday as amazing as this one is even harder, and I can’t thank Mitch enough for being an ultimate travel companion, beer drinking buddy and freakin amazing human.