Happy Australia Day! What I love about living in Straya

In the words of one of my husband’s good friends (who sadly passed away a few years ago), “how good’s Australia?!” While tomorrow’s Australia Day means a lot of different things to different people, to me, it essentially represents the time to take pause and celebrate the good fortune living here has afforded my family and I.

My family are of Italian origin. Like many other Italians of their generation, my grandparents came to Australia looking to create a better life for themselves and their young families. In turn, I, like many others of my generation, have had the blessing of growing up in not only one of the most stable, but also one of the most multicultural countries in the world.

I feel absolutely blessed to be a grown woman who has the best of both worlds. Comparing upbringings with my husband, we had a lot of differences. While he grew up at the park with backyard BBQs, interacting only really with his immediate family, and kicking the footy around with the neighbours, I was lunching on Lygon St with my extended family most weekends, bottling tomato sauce with one set of grandparents, and learning to pluck and gut chickens with the other (yes, really). He was eating ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch; I had mortadella and provolone. He went to AFL games with his parents; we went to mass read in Italian with our grandparents. That was the Italian side.

We also had some similarities, from the Aussie part of my upbringing – party food favourites included meat pies with the lids torn off and filled with tomato sauce (ketchup), sausage rolls dunked in tomato sauce, and BBQd sausages in bread, also smothered in tomato sauce. We both learnt to swim as early as we could walk and enjoyed lots of family beach holidays, and we enjoyed frequent walks down to the milk bar with a handful of coins with which to buy a handful of lollies. And you know what else?

 

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Things that make being an Aussie fun…
– We live on a giant island. That means we’re generally never more than a few hours from the beach, the forest or the mountains.
– Tim Tams, lamingtons, ANZAC biscuits, Cherry Ripe, fairy bread, Fantales.
– Chris Hemsworth, Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger.
– You can use the same words to describe a mate and an enemy; it’s all in the tone you use.
– Everyone’s name can be shortened somehow. And the already really short names are better lengthened. Everyone must have a nickname.
– We’re also bloody lazy and shorten as many words as possible. We have breaky, not breakfast. Your wife is your darl, not your darling. You’ll be wanting another bev, not a beverage. And you’ll need to fire up the barbie, not the barbecue.
– Everyone knows the first verse of the national anthem, no one has a clue what the next verse is. And that’s ok, because the first verse is the only one that ever gets played.
– We’re totally cool with our national heroes being a bushranger and a race horse.
– Travelling to Asia is great – I just got to and from Tokyo with a nice, fat suitcase for about AUD$550.00.
– At one stage in the 1950s, a bloke made the Guinness Book of World Records for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. He went on the become our country’s Prime Minister.

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Frustrating things about living here…
– Groceries cost a bloody fortune.
– Don’t even think about taking your date to the movies for under $50. Just for tickets.
– The weather is demented. Last week, Melbourne had a 42°C (107°F) day, followed by a 17°C (62°F) day… ??!
– Bushfires and floods are a very real threat.
– Just about every animal in this country can kill you. Sharks, crocodiles, snakes, spiders… Even the cute ones. Kangaroos are violent AF and koalas have chlamydia.
– Who’s even running the country today?
– Melbourne’s public transport situation. No trains from the airport to the city. Nor do they run on time. Embarrassing.
– We have several sports that qualify as “footy.” You have to be specific.
– Travelling anywhere but South East Asia is a bitch. 14 hours Melbourne to LA, or around 22 hours to Europe. Bleh..

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But, fun (and absurd) stuff aside, living here has blessed me with a good life. I was born into a country where women are more equal to men than in many other parts of the world. I grew up taking for granted the fact that I had a full education, because I never knew until much older than many women don’t automatically get that. In turn, that education has afforded me to work hard enough to earn the money to buy my own home and travel extensively.

That’s another thing – I can work. I am lucky to live in a country where women are not expected to stay at home and have children at a young age. I am able to come at go at my leisure, without male accompaniment. I am able to spend my money as I wish, dress as I wish, get tattooed and wear make up and drive and play sports.

I was blessed enough to be born into this country with a very stable economy and government, where coups and war and the such have not affected my generation first hand. I have the ability to step out of my home in the morning without fear of bombs and shootings and soldiers confronting me.

I have the honour of sharing this country with hundreds of other nationalities and cultures and lifestyles. I have friends who are Asian and European, gay and straight, Catholic and atheist. Walking down the main street near my home, I can get Japanese, Indian, Fijian, Macedonian, Turkish and Italian food. I share a community with these people, and everyone exists harmoniously. I see a little old Greek lady purchasing apples from an Italian grocer from a young Vietnamese girl manning the cash register.  They smile and chat and know each others’ names, somehow communicating with smiles through heavy accents and big age gaps. It doesn’t matter. I know not every area is like this, but the area I live in is, and I am blessed to be a part of it.

I have the privilege of living in a country where education and health care are readily available. I can turn on my kitchen tap and automatically have clean, safe drinking water. I can jump on a train and be in a big, fascinating, beautiful city within 20 minutes. Or I can walk a few hundred metres and have a picnic by a lake in a beautiful park.

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We truly are the lucky country. I know that as the world struggles through tough times, we’ll inevitably feel it here, too. But we’ve been through tough times before, and the Aussie battler spirit will get us through, as it always has. If you’re a fellow Aussie, I hope you celebrate a little tomorrow, and appreciate just how good we have it here 🙂 And if you’ve not visited before, we’d love to have you! We know we’re a long way from everywhere else, but we promise it’s worth the trip!

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Through my eyes: doorways of Tokyo

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Monday morning. Bleh. You’re meant to feel well rested and ready to take on the week on Monday mornings; as I type this on Sunday night, I know that’s probably not gonna be the case.

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The past few weeks have been a little stressful. Mum and dad have been travelling (yes, I’m one of those kids who worry about their parents). We had Christmas. A sibling struggling with her health. Trying to do the work of three people alone (in an unexpectedly busy period) while the others took annual leave. Adjusting to some new medication. A few migraines. Lots of social engagements. Health issues. A seemingly never ending to do list. And it all came to a head this week, the busiest one I’ve had in recent memory. I’m spent.

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After spending the morning on the road, checking out Anglesea’s Riverside Market, enjoying some tea in the sunshine, and celebrating my beautiful little niece’s birthday, the washing and dishes are now done, house tidied up, dinner (and lunch leftovers) cooked, and I’m kicking back with a pile of travel magazines by my side to flick through after I’ve written this.

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Following a (just) stifled anxiety attack earlier today, I got to thinking about the things that calm me. Reading, writing, scrolling through the Instagram feeds that inspire me, taking photographs, being in new places, visiting chaotic markets, travelling… Funny that an anxious introvert finds so much comfort in foreign, often busy places. I thought of the last trip, to Tokyo, which was so good for me.

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Walking around, alone, with just my camera and my thoughts was relaxing, therapeutic. And some of the photos I most enjoy taking when I’m travelling are of doorways.

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I love the idea that I have no idea what lies behind them; the possibilities of the stories contained within are endless. And, as the owner of a fairly active imagination, that fascinates me..

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But today, it’s Monday again. I’ve got home made okonomiyaki for lunch and 73 sleeps until my next adventure. Sometimes busy gets uncomfortable, but that’s what life is all about. It’s about being busy and uncomfortable and stressed and overwhelmed, but also about the opportunity to learn and imagine and discover, to find your own peace and joy in amongst the mayhem. And I’m grateful for the chance to prove myself worthy of it every morning 🙂 Happy Monday! xo

Eat. Travel. Blog. The 2015 highlights :)

Holy wow, 2015 is over… I never believed mum when I’d hear her say “the older you get, the quicker it goes!” I hate to admit it, but she’s kinda right… It simultaneously feels like it was only a few weeks ago/it was all a big dream that we were on our way to America for our mega-trip, but it was this time last year we were half way through it all!

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It’s been a pretty big year for me. Among other things, this year has seen me:
– turn thirty  >_<
– travel to America, Canada, Mexico and Japan
– get closer to some friends and finally shed some toxic ones
– start a new job
– finally acknowledge my depression/anxiety/disordered eating and get help for it all
– acquire a few new tattoos
– complete my first 5km fun run, and a consequential 8km run
– thoroughly enjoy Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club
– discover that I’m lactose and fructose intolerant
– start getting back to who I used to be

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It’s been big. It’s been fun. It’s been challenging. It’s been heart breaking and joy bringing and all the rest of it. Because that’s what life is. The other thing 2015 gave me was the opportunity to write. I love blogging; I love being able to do what I love, whenever I want. And the fact that there are so many of you out there interested enough in what I have to say to read along means more than you can possibly imagine! From the bottom of my heart, thank you all so much for reading along from time to time; I’ve been writing and recording since I was old enough to put pen to paper, and I’ll continue to do so for as long as I can still hold a pen in my hand 🙂

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I thought that I’d follow suit with so many other bloggers and take a little walk down memory lane at some of my most popular posts over the last year…

It seems that my readers enjoy my food review posts the most, with these Melbourne eats getting the most views:
1. Yu-U
2. Kustom Burgers
3. Supernormal
4. Cheshire
5. Mamor
6. Bad Boys
7. Leyalina
8. Addict Food & Coffee
9. Mankoushe
10. Good Ovening

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For the record, my favourite Melbourne eats of the year are a little different; my favourites were, in no particular order:
1. Lievita
2. Sookie La La
3. Rockwell & Sons
4. Gypsy & Pig
5. 1090
6. The Gem
7. Shortstop Donuts
8. Addict Food & Coffee
9. Tipo 00
10. Two Little Pigs

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This year’s most popular international eats looked like this:
1. Bangkok’s ice cream truck
2. Nong Ploy, Koh Samui
3. The Halal Guys, New York City
4. Eataly, Chicago
5. Momofuku, Toronto
6. Ben’s Chili Bowl, Washington DC
7. Eggslut & Tumbras, Los Angeles
8. Shake Shack / In-N-Out
9. Central Grocery, New Orleans
10. Kanga, Toronto

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Again, my favourites looked a little different:
1. The Joint, New Orleans
2. Four & Twenty Blackbirds, New York City
3. Tartine Bakery, San Francisco
4. The Great Burger, Tokyo
5. Tsukiji Fish Market sushi, Tokyo
6. Yummy Yummy, San Francisco
7. Momofuku, Toronto
8. The Halal Guys, New York City
9. Au Cheval, Chicago
10. Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

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Recipes weren’t as popular as reviews, but the most viewed recipes were:
** Pork, macadamia, cranberry & sage sausage rolls – even though this wasn’t a 2015, it had over 350 more views than the next most popular recipe this year!! Amazing!
1. Red beans & rice
2. Poached egg & polenta
3. Tea infused porridge
4. Peanut butter granola
5. Zucchini choc chip cake
6. Quick 6 ingredient cookies
7. Coconut matcha porridge
8. Spring onion zucchini omelette
9. Cornbread pudding
10. Roy Choi’s ketchup fried rice

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And just for the record, the recipes I enjoyed most this year were:
1. 6 ingredient fried rice
2. Microwave matcha pudding cakes
3. Cranberry gingerbread granola
4. Coconut pandan oat & matcha chia parfait
5. Cornbread pudding
6. Crispy salted sage, hazelnut and cacao nib cookies
7. Olive oil chocolate zucchini cake
8. Fluffy protein pancakes
9. Chocolate pretzels
10. Tea infused porridge

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Your favourite travel related posts?
1. Dong Xuan Night Market, Hanoi, Vietnam
2. 10 Books Every Traveller Must Read
3. Through my eyes: Nutella crepes in Phuket, Thailand
4. Through my eyes: Santa Monica & Venice Beach, Los Angeles
5. Victorian mini-breaks: How to spend a weekend in Beechworth part 1
6. The New Orleans School of Cooking
7. USAdventure days 26-33- New York
8. TBT: Crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
9. Pure freedom: cruising Isla Mujeres
10. iPhoto essay: The Californian Redwoods, Warburton

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And my favourite travel experiences this year (other than those 10)?
1. “Finding myself” in St Louis Cemetery #1, New Orleans
2. Inside the hospital of Alcatraz
3. Through my eyes: Jomyo-in Temple, Tokyo
4. Through my eyesL crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at sundown
5. Through my eyesL New Orleans, 10 years post-Katrina
6. Urban paradise: Milton Lee Olive Park, Chicago
7. Toronto Islands, Canada
8. Through my eyes: The streets of Kagurazaka, Japan
9. Greystone Mansion & Park, Los Angeles
10. Flashback Friday: A night at the Temple of Edfu, Egypt

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And last but not least, because I do my very best to keep it as real as possible on here, the most viewed personal musing posts this year have been:
1. Sometimes you DO get to choose your family
2. I believe the time has come for me to re-introduce myself
3. The importance of pizza and a strong father-daughter relationship
4. Welcome to my book nook
5. You’re not alone
6. Wanderlust 108: Melbourne 2015
7. Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? [Escape part 2]
8. S2, Ep2: Eat. Travel. Blog. It’s been a big weekend
9. Ways to keep your love & friendships strong: Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club
10. There is NOTHING wrong with being real

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From the bottom of my heart guys, thank you so much for reading this year 🙂 Writing is my biggest love and passion in life. It’s what I’ve always done, truly, since I was as young as I can remember. I write primarily for me, but having other people read and appreciate my work is absolutely the biggest, kindest compliment I have ever been paid. So, whether you’ve been reading most days or just read one or two posts this year, thank you so so much 🙂

Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year’s Eve saying farewell the year that has been, saying thank you for the lessons learnt, and getting ready to take on 2016 with reckless abandon xoxo

Blessed: how a Melbourne girl finally acknowledges her birthday

I’m writing this post from the comfort of my couch, the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries on in the background, and my fur baby curled up by my side. It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m pretty tired; it’s been a massive weekend. And the next few weeks aren’t going to be any quieter – Christmas parties, birthdays, weddings, dinners with friends… and tomorrow, another birthday for me.

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I’ve been pretty determined to ignore this birthday. It’s one of those big, ugly ones. Thirty. Blehh. It’s not so much the age that disturbs me – I neither look nor act my age (although I really hate that feeling I’ve been getting more and more frequently that the best years of my life are flying by and I’m not making the most of them…). It’s not the fact that I don’t have a big, fancy career title. Or that I’m childless. All things considered, I’m actually pretty happy with my choices and path in life. But that nasty depression/anxiety/disordered eating cocktail, some bumpy family ties, and my eternal predisposition to  instinctively go through life unnoticed has meant that I really didn’t want any acknowledgement or fanfare this year. No parties, no cakes, no gifts.

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I reluctantly agreed to a small lunch on the Saturday with just my family and in-laws to mark the occasion, on the proviso that there’d be no cake or singing or any of that crap. Seeing as we’d be out for lunch and had no big celebratory plans for the night, I decided to book a hotel room in the city for husband and I – getting lost in a busy city always relaxes me.

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A few weeks after that was all organised, I hesitantly, at my patient husband’s suggestion, texted my my four best friends to see if they’d maybe want to have dinner with me on Friday night – I felt like SUCH a twat asking them to mark my birthday with a dinner, because I really don’t feel worthy of celebration. But the girls were all excited, so I started to get a little excited, too..

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Just before last weekend, I started getting a little anxious about it all. With more going on than I’d care to admit, I knew it was time to take the advice I always tried so hard to ignore, and just slow down and take a breath. I applied for a day of annual leave from work so I could mark this birthday on my own, privately, in a way that I could only do alone and that would make sense only to me. So, on Thursday morning, I got up and enjoyed a cup of tea and a little bit of muesli. Then, I made my way to a tram stop and caught a tram to my favourite part of Melbourne (Fitzroy and Collingwood), where I did something very uncharacteristic of me; I indulged in some of my favourite things, slowly and deliberately. I ordered myself a pastry for morning tea, without a panic attack, even though I hadn’t worked out at 5.45am that morning. I sat and enjoyed it with a pot of tea while I spent some time on my favourite hobby – writing.

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After that, I did something even more out of character – I got a manicure and pedicure. It took me the best part of the pamper session to actually relax and enjoy it. I didn’t force myself to eat because it was “lunch time;” I walked around, slowly and aimlessly, and waited until I was actually hungry. I wrote a little more over lunch. I decided to get some new tattoos. Then, I eventually made my way to another cafe for another pot of tea. I ordered a chocolate chip cookie, too, because it was exactly what I felt like. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a pastry and a cookie on the same day, let alone on a day when I hadn’t worked out for at least at hour…

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That last stop was the one I needed most that day. I sat down with a hot pot of tea, that chocolate chip cookie, and a notebook that’s been sitting on my little desk at home for the last few months, with the words “THE RECOVERY DIARIES” scrawled up its spine. It’s the little notebook I write notes in that might help me along my path to be happier and healthier. Notes from books like “The Happiness Handbook” by Dr Timothy Sharp, snippets of information and quotes from Brene Brown, points from Nia Shanks’ latest e-book, notes from the Girlspo+ workbook, and other random bits and pieces. Anyway, on Thursday afternoon with my tea and cookie, I started to think about where I’m at and where I want to be, and I started writing; my birthday gift to myself (other than the new shoes, hotel night, tattoos and matcha cronut) was actually investing the time to give myself a bit more direction for the weeks and months leading up to my next birthday.

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I’m a great planner, but my low confidence and self-esteem means that I’m not always great at following through (certainly not always, but undeniably more and more often, I’m inclined to just give up when I think I’m not good enough to actually achieve something). I’m an efficient organiser, but I struggle to focus (instead of having the confidence to develop one or two main passions, I tend to try everything in the hopes that maybe I’ll be good enough at one of them). Everything’s hunky dory in theory, but in practice, anxiety often gets the best of me and I never get the chance to put my step by step plans into place. So Thursday afternoon was the time I’d finally set aside to start working on a realistic game plan.

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I realised a few other things things year in the lead up to the birthday:
— I’m only human. There is only so much I can do. And that’s ok.
— My mother is also only human. We are really, truly, undeniably polar opposites, and that’s ok, too. Circumstances and situations over many years that are more complicated than any standard therapist’s pay grade dictate that our relationship will never be less than complicated, and that is ok.
— I’ll always feel like I need to be strong around my dad, who I absolutely love to bits. I will always feel like it’s my job to assure him that I’m ok, even when I’m not. And I know I’m not fooling him, but he also respects me enough to allow me the dignity to carry on working things out myself without interruption.
— I cannot wear every single hat every single day. I need to learn when to let shit go. Just because I was a black belt martial artist and a dancer and a pianist and a personal trainer and a blogger and tried to be a runner and took up yoga and wanted to learn to cook from 15 different cook books at one point or another in my life, does not mean I still need to do everything. My passions and goals are allowed to evolve and change.
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— It’s ok to say no to people I just don’t connect with, events I don’t feel comfortable attending, things I don’t want to do.
— I also need to make more of an effort to find my tribe and attend events that I really do want to be at, even through anxiety. Because why should anyone else make an effort with me if I don’t put any effort in myself?
— I’ve got a long way to go before I have this disordered eating business under control. But even one step forward and two steps back is a type of progress.
— Marrying my best friend was the best thing I could have possibly done. Whether we make it to our fiftieth wedding anniversary or end up divorced in a few years, I wouldn’t change what we’ve had for anything. He’s had my back from day one (God only knows why), and we’ve experienced the highest highs and lowest lows together. We’ve both had lofty dreams which we’d never have achieved without each others’ support. He can handle me at my worst, and can bring out my best.
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— I might not have a massive group of friends anymore, but the ones I do have are some of the strongest, most beautiful women in the world. They’re girls with balls, with goals, with dreams, with more to talk about than a spray tan appointments and the new heels they’re breaking in. These are women that have been there for me and have allowed me the honour of being there for them. A soul mate isn’t necessarily a spouse – while my husband is my best friend and one of my soul mates, the small group of women I have the privilege to call my friends are my soul mates, too 🙂
— At the end of the day, when my time is up, no one else is gonna give a shit about what I did. No one is going to congratulate me for either working non stop or taking lots of time off to travel the world. No one is going to high 5 me for either having three children or deciding to stay childless and pursue my own dreams. So I need to stop giving a shit about what everyone thinks now, because none of them are going to be there at the end of it all.
– Does it make you happy? Do it more. Does it make you sad? Stop doing it. Simple.

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So, I’m gonna call it a night now guys, counting my blessings for this amazing weekend and one of the best birthdays I’ve actually had in a while, despite all of my protesting… And throughout the week, I’m going to have some suggestions on places to visit in your own Melbourne backyard, places to enjoy a meal at with your friends, and some ways to treat yourself if you’re feeling a bit flat and in need of a pre-holiday season perk up – because you shouldn’t wait until your birthday to make yourself a priority 🙂 xo

Extraordinary routines: What does your day look like?


When I posted my Lamington Tea recipe earlier this week, I mentioned that I’d taken inspiration from a recipe I saw on the newly discovered Extraordinary Routines site. If you haven’t visited yet, what it’s all about in their own words is:

Extraordinary Routines is an interview project dedicated to discovering the daily routines of artists, writers, designers, thinkers, entrepreneurs and the countless individuals who bring a unique spirit to the world around them.

From morning rituals, sleeping habits and exercise regimes, to creative spaces to creative slumps, we zoom in on the lives of the dreamers, the makers and the doers to find out exactly how they make their lives extraordinary.

Having spent a bit more time voyeuristically reading through interviews one night this week, I found myself intrigued by all of these routines and the creative minds that lived them each day. It got me thinking about that ABOUT paragraph above, from their website, about how these people structure their days to make their lives extraordinary.

We all have our habits and routines to get us through each day. We have to; without a routine of some description, most of us would probably never actually leave our homes in the morning! And whether we admit it or not (and I will, readily), it really is interesting to find out how other people do it. Whether they’re in a profession or living a life we covet and we want to know what they’re doing to keep themselves in that position, or it’s someone doing something we’d never consider doing ourselves but are interested in nonetheless, or just another “regular, every day” person like ourselves, it is truly fascinating to learn about someone else’s routine. Maybe we pick up little things that we’d like to incorporate into our days, maybe we find out that someone else is doing the same thing that we’d doing for different reasons, maybe we learn to look at something that we’re currently doing and consider mundane and boring in a new light. So, I decided to share my (week)daily routine, too (weekends are too hard!); I don’t flatter myself to think I’m an “extraordinary” person doing incredible things or that my routine is particularly magical, but at the same time, I don’t think that the routines of us more “ordinary” folk are necessarily any less fascinating than the entrepreneurs and high flyers of the world!

 

 

05:30 – 06:00
Wake up and work out – depending on the day, it’ll be running, strength training and/or yoga.

06:45
Get showered and dressed for work.
Have a scroll through Instagram with a cup of green tea and a bit of fruit to hold me over until I get to work to eat breakfast.

07:30
Off to the station to catch a train to work, AKA time to put in my headphones, read a book and tune out for half an hour.

08:45
Having been at work for around half an hour or so, checked my emails and worked out what needs to be done for the morning, I have breaky (overnight oats at the moment) at my desk while I get started.

13:00
Lunch break! I eat lunch while I’m working away at my desk so that I can actually take my break out of the office. Most of my colleagues have their lunch break in the office kitchen and don’t actually leave the building during the day for longer than it takes to have a quick smoke break or to grab take away to bring back and eat… I really don’t know how they manage to spend all day in the one building and the same atmosphere, I need that half an hour break to leave the work environment and get out into the “real” world to recharge myself so desperately!  If I don’t have any errands to run, my lunch breaks are spent in cafes with a pot of tea, reading or writing. It’s the time out I need to break up my day, even if it’s only half an hour; it’s my half hour to do something that makes me happy!

16:30 – 17:00
Finish work and back to the station to catch a train home, AKA another half an hour to tune out with my music and book.

17:45
Prepare overnight oats for tomorrow morning’s breaky.
Get clothes for work tomorrow ready (biggest time saver ever – if I had to actually consider what to wear each morning, I’d never leave the house!).
Start getting dinner ready.

18:30 – 19:00
Dinner time!

19:00
Depending on the day, we might take Marley to the park for a run, sometimes I’ll have a quick yoga and/or stretch session, flip open the laptop to write or read through my favourite blogs, kick back and watch TV, read whatever book I’m currently on, get a load of laundry done… You get the idea!

20:30
Make a cup of tea to enjoy on the couch watching a bit of TV with Marley and husband if he’s home. Currently on Foxtel’s IQ to watch include re-runs of old Castle, Criminal Minds and No Reservations episodes, MasterChef, Australia’s Next Top Model (I get hooked on that shit every season!), The Vampire Diaries, Revenge and Wayward Pines.
Check my diary/to do list for tomorrow.

21:45
I know it seems pretty early, but I always try to crawl into bed with something to read by then in the hope that doing something relaxing away from distractions will encourage my chronic insomnia will let me fall asleep before 11pm! I have horribly broken sleep as it is, and while I can function off 5 hours sleep for extended periods, I certainly don’t enjoy it!

 

 

So there you go – what most of my Mondays – Fridays look like! What does your day look like??

Another year, another birthday…

Another year passes, and another birthday with it. I feel like “celebrating” my birthday less and less every year, it just doesn’t seem very important to me anymore… I can’t really say why, I can’t say it’s that “I’m just not where I thought I’d be at this age” because I’ve never had a plan for where I wanted to be at any point in my life! I haven’t got it l figured out – far, far from it. I don’t know it all – most days I feel like I know nothing. There are a few things I’ve managed to work out so far, so in “celebration” of the last birthday I’ll celebrate in my 20s, here are the 29 things I know for sure…

1. Makeup is not for me, and no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be the girl who rocks red lipstick. I’ll also never be able to walk properly in heels.
2. I’m actually really good at saving money when I have a goal, preferably travel, on the horizon.
3. My freckles will always make me look younger than I am and therefore usually lead people to underestimate me.
4. I will never master the art of packing lightly. That said, I would happily live the rest of my life out of a suitcase if it meant I could spend my life travelling.
5. I will always spill food on my clothes. Always.
6. If there are 90s tunes playing, I will always sing along, even if I’m in public, whether it be 2Pac or the Spice Girls or anything in between.
7. I’ll never be as skinny as I want to be because I love food way too much, so I’d better start learning to love the body I have.
8. I’m an absolutely horrible housewife – I cannot vacuum or mop to save my life.
9. “Unconditional love” got a new meaning for me when Marley came into my life – he may be a midget Beaglier, but he was my heart’s missing puzzle piece.
10. If I’m not working on at least 3 projects outside of my “real job,” my soul freaks out.
11. If I take on too much, my body will shut down.
12. Depression is hard, and anyone who feels the need to tell me to “stop complaining and just be happy, heaps of people have it worse than you!” simply does not understand and therefore I should stop giving any weight to their opinions.
13. Unless it is incredibly interesting, I have the attention span of a goldfish.
14. I am physically incapable of leaving the house without a book, a notebook and a few pens in my bag.
15. Books will always be my escape and my solace; writing will always soothe my soul.
16. Being married is hard work, but it’s infinitely easier when you marry your best friend.
17. I may not have a big friendship group anymore, but the few real friends that I do have are the ones that is trust with not only my life, but with my heart, too.
18. If it’s at least 20% off, I truly believe that I’m no longer spending money; I’m saving money.
19. I don’t want kids.
20. I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.
21. The older I get, the lower my tolerance levels get for idiots. And racists. And sexists. And people who complain about their awful first world problems. And people against gay marriage. And all the other imbeciles out there.
22. I can’t work in silence – without music constantly filling my ears, I’m nothing.
23. I love the strange pain of being tattooed. It’s oddly comforting.
24. I’d be only a sad little shell of the self that I am today without my husband. It completely defies my logic that this man has stood by me for the past 10 years, never once failing to have my back, pushing me every damn day to be a better person, supporting every insane thing I try to do, seeing me at my absolute worst and still loving me more than anyone has any right to be loved.
25. If I’m coming home after a night on the drink, there had better be a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter in the pantry, because I won’t go to bed without it. I’ll also need it in the morning as a hangover cure.
26. I’m pretty sure I’m lactose intolerant after a few recent ice cream incidents. I wish I could say that stops me eating more ice cream than I should. In my defense, I have switched to soy milk…
27. You can’t choose your family, but you can choose whether or not you give up on them or keep trying to pull them together.
28. The knowledge that eating raw cookie dough and cake batter will make me sick will never stop me from eating it by the spoonful.
29. Even though I didn’t want to celebrate this year, I’ve got an amazing group of people in my life who made it a great weekend anyway!

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We live in a wonderful world…

 

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Sometimes I think we all need this reminder. That despite the shit that goes on, and there really is some horrible shit going on in the world at the moment, it is fundamentally wonderful. There is beauty and charm and adventure to be found, and it’s generally going to be found when the universe somehow knows you most need it.

We may, for the most part, be more wealthy, more healthy, more educated and more advantaged than many previous generations. But we’re also dealing with a more complicated life – we’re dealing with not only the struggles of our parents and grandparents – going to work to make a living that’ll enable us to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, a world on the brink of political upheaval and war, hunger, poverty, environmental issues – but the problems of our generations, too.

Ware dealing with the power of social media, for better or worse. We’re dealing with higher incidences of obesity, heart disease, food intolerances and allergies like anaphylaxis and coeliac disease. Mental illnesses and eating disorders are a lot more prevalent, and body image issues, self hatred, self confidence issues and the like affect more of us than we’re probably willing to admit. Drug and alcohol abuse are big problems, and smoking, despite what people know, is still going on. Bullying is still an issue that kids are dealing with every day at school, racism is still unnecessarily and issue, as is sexism.

We’re under enormous pressure to live a perfect life, to live up to the expectations that engulf us, and so we spend more time applying filters to make our lives look perfect, rather than spending time on ourselves, practising self love and self care, being kind to one another, trying to improve the world we live in; it’s easier to just pretend like everything is already perfect.  We’re missing out on life because we’re too busy with our noses glued to our phones, we’re too busy making believe. We’re missing the beauty and the charm and the adventure, at a time where we need it most.

So, here’s my challenge for the rest of the week. And the rest of the month. And hopefully, honestly, for the rest of my life. A challenge to me, and to anyone else who’s sick of living half-heartedly. I know I’m particularly guilty of spending months planning travels on the other side of the world, daydreaming about how wonderful things could be once I finally escape my “normal, boring day-to-day” life, forgetting that I actually can find wonder and adventure in my every day life. And if wonder and beauty and charm and adventure are the things that make life living, shouldn’t we find ways to bring them into life every day, and not just when we are travelling? Maybe then we won’t feel the need to escape our lives, so much as the need to live them.

For the rest of this week, let’s all open our eyes. Let’s put our phones and tablets away, let’s ignore the media and the photo shopped perfection everywhere we look, let’s stop trying to make everything look perfect for ourselves, let’s forget our hurts and our woes, and look at the world with refreshed eyes that aren’t tainted by the news, our insecurities, and our friends’ social media feeds. Let’s look for adventures in the every day, and find ways to make every day special. And let’s not feel the need to immediately share our special finds on our social media accounts (not all of them, anyway – as important and lovely as it is to inspire others, sometimes it’s nice to keep a few special moments just for yourself!). Stop and look a little closer for a few seconds at those flowers you walk past in your neighbour’s garden every morning on your way to your car. Smile at the lady who waits tables at the cafe you walk past on the way to your office. Go to a coffee shop on your lunch break, on your own, without any distractions like your phone or MP3 player – order a cuppa and just BE for half an hour. Take a different route on your walk. Find something exciting to share with someone else, something that you’d have never noticed, hiding in plain sight.

Let’s bring back the adventure and the excitement to life, because there really is no end to the adventures we have if we simply open our eyes, minds and hearts to them 🙂 xo