Travelling solo to New York

New York; the city of dreams, possibilities and the place I wanted my renewed, fresh passport to visit. After a rough year, my travel bugged mind had set a goal to do a solo trip, take away all my worries and experience the joys of seeing The Big Apple. Let’s just say, it didn’t however start out as I had anticipated. First of all, I’d forgotten to apply for a visa ( I know, I’m crazy!), so when I ended up getting to the check in counter I was confronted by a confused staff member, a stunned look on my face and a bucket load of anxiety. Luckily, after all the panic, I ended up acquiring one, threw my bags on the baggage carrier, waved goodbye to my family, and scurried onto that plane in excitement over what was yet to come.

That plane took off, wheels skipped off the ground and the wings flew high in the sky. This sugary, sentimental feeling only lasted lets just say an hour until the reality of flying internationally set in. Glued to my seat in that plane with nowhere to go freaked me out, squished in like sardines in a can and pillows that felt as though my head was resting on concrete. I don’t particularly like flying, but that shouldn’t come as a shock to people who know me best. I had envisioned countless times of those wheels hitting the tarmac and I would spring out of my chair, claim my bags and head off to my adventure. It suddenly dawned on me I had a while to go and little did I know the journey to New York would prove to be a challenging one.

I arrived at LAX airport for my connecting flight to the big city but was left with a feeling of bewilderment, fear and a whole lot of security, control measures and rope to contain people through border security. “Next!” The word that I heard repeatedly over 2 hours interrogating people left, right and centre. The funny thing is that with all the people lessening before me, I started questioning myself and hoped they wouldn’t assume I’d committed some heinous crime, even though I hadn’t and deport me back to Australia. Your head seems to assume worse case scenario and mine did just that. “Next!” This time it was my turn and I’d come face to face with the man who would let me into the country or send me back to where I came from. A number of questions were asked and although I was able to answer them, they were said with a shake in my voice and a slight stammer. “Welcome to America!” He slams down the stamp on my passport and I ran to my connecting flight relieved that was over.

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Touchdown; I was here in Manhattan and little did I know it was not only the jetlag that hit me, but the scorching, unbearable humidity that presented itself to me. While I was trying not to pass out in a jumper, ripped jeans and sneakers, I couldn’t believe I was here and what a city New York was. The cutest terrace houses, the beautiful parks, the food carts, the busy roads and the coolest, quirkiest shops I had ever seen. Unfortunately, the time difference managed to hit me like a steam train, and I had a head that felt as though it was being squashed together by two vices. A walk back to my hotel was my only option and I’d have one heck of a sleep and dream of waking up ready to take on this city.

Next day I grabbed as many maps as I possibly could, jotted down where I wanted to go, tied up my sneakers, grabbed my bag and headed out the door with a giddy grin on my face. First stop, Central Park. ‘Oh my God! This is where Home Alone was shot. ‘Call me crazy but with the amount of movies shot in this city, it was hard to contain my excitement seeing these places with my own two eyes. Speaking of crazy, I ‘d never experienced weather like that; searing heat burning through my cornea like the sun had erupted. Although the heat was intense, I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful bridges, gardens, people rowing in the cutest rivers, beautifully decorated buildings from a distance and the sweetest, most decorated monuments. With all this walking, I had built up quite an appetite. Let’s just say I don’t splurge when I travel. New York was such a good place to grab food on the go for such a reasonable price. Food carts with hot dogs, burgers, chips, basically anything imaginable you wanted, they had it. Most of the time I took advantage of them, and I never sat down for a proper meal. This was mainly due to the fact that I was scared of tipping, and sitting down and ordering food by myself is slightly awkward and I wanted to just walk and walk as much as I could.

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I was staying on the Upper West Side and let me just say Manhattan was everything I had pictured and more. I found myself mesmerized by the old buildings, the vintage vibes, coffee shops and the closeness of everything. Stories of how bad the coffee was from people who had previously been here confused me. I was drinking so many beautiful cups of coffee at amazing roasteries. I stopped by most mornings at a particular food cart, ordered an egg roll and a brewed coffee placed in a paper bag and walked to Central Park to enjoy the sights and smells. All I could think of was wow this is pretty cool living like the locals.

Monumental places that had made my bucket list I now had the chance to tick off. The Met which was on another creative level, The National Museum of Natural History filled with historical details, The Empire State Building displayed breathtaking sights, Times Square which was illuminated with the brightest of lights, theatres, possibilities and talent, and 1920s buildings that were sustained in such a way you felt as though you had been transported back in time. I had moments where I would stand in the middle of the city and watch how this city performed and moved. Rushes of yellow would dart across my eyes and I’d see so many taxis driving past, blaring their horns like there was no tomorrow, but all I could think of was this is what makes New York the city it is. At times, I could feel my feet blistering on the back of my ankles, but there was so much to explore that I didn’t care. I’d stop by in the afternoons by coffee shops and sit down with a muffin or donut and just take the time to people watch. I’d make my way to the other side of Manhattan over to the Upper East Side. Bright yellow school buses travelling alongside white, clean, crisp buildings created this sense of realism that I had only seen in my dreams for years. I had to explore this area. This place wanted me to just lose myself in it and I did just that. Madison avenue was streamlined with shops and hidden, independent stores, and the food, oh my god, the food was unimaginable. I remember sitting outside in this deli cafe, gorging on macarons and a baguette and I was in heaven. Absolute heaven.

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Pizza places were my go to for dinner and the slices were as big as your head with the biggest selection of toppings. I’d walk through Central Park with my bright white pizza box, proud as punch and I’d go to my hotel, open the box, let the cheese droop over and devour this crusty creation. Maccas was also my lazy excuse for dinner at times, and Starbucks my lazy excuse for coffee, which was literally on every corner, and I mean literally. Hey a girl sometimes likes her comfort things, and although I didn’t particularly get home sick I wanted to see how the Americans did it.

I took so many pictures like a typical tourist does, but the hard thing being a solo traveler is that you don’t have the familiarity you do when you’re with someone else. It’s just you and your wild imagination and the views in sight waiting for that camera to click. I heckled people so many times to get them to take my photo, and obviously I only approached people that looked friendly to me. I mean I didn’t exactly want someone to take my picture then steal my phone straight afterwards. Common sense was in order and you need it in times especially when you’re just relying on yourself. Checking into hotels, phoning cabs, knowing how the hell you’re going to get back to your original location, airport transfers and finding your way around the city was a challenge. The great thing, was that it was a challenge. It scared me but in a good way. My senses were heightened, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I faced my fears and I could do things I would never usually do by myself, but I did.

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My second location where I stayed was in Chinatown and I found this at first to be incredibly overwhelming. Dragging a suitcase through these narrow streets with people everywhere proved to be difficult. I could feel my arm muscles tensing up as I was trying to drag these tiny suitcase wheels up hills, yet trying to avoid hitting anyone while attempting to navigate myself to my hotel. It was a challenge. I got lost so many times and the streets seemed to merge together. After looking bewildered and refreshing my phone over and over again with locations and directions, I’d finally conquered these streets and at last I could see the name of my hotel. The relief was unreal.

I had 2 days to see as many places as I could before I flew home. My legs were ready and I’d sling that bag over my shoulder ready to do some sightseeing. I say this though , I’ll admit to having incredible anxiety in this particular location. Because the streets were so crowded, I found it hard to leave my hotel room being that it was so quiet and cosy. Still, what could I see in my hotel room when there were bustling crowds, culture and sights I’d never seen before. Chinatown was like no other place. I had this urge to run up the stairs attached to every single building, taste all the street food, laugh with the locals and be immersed with the colours and sounds it offered. Walking, walking, walking that’s all I seemed to do and my feet took me places. I found my way out of Chinatown and made my way to Soho, which if anyone loves vintage shops, art like places, deli foods and the feel for fashion this was the place to be. I had to visit every shop, smell every scent and lose myself in those cobblestone streets. Shop doors swung open, and I would light up finding something different every time I stepped into stores. I can’t even count how many times I’d have to use my phone to track my location. Unless you knew this place extremely well, it felt like a rabbit warrant.

Little Italy was a place I stumbled upon that my feet took me to. I could feel festival vibes and food stalls that were all lined up with the most beautiful Italian food, with colourful banners all stretched and lined up across the street. I had to try something. Bolognaise! I mean, too bad we can’t send food through technology because I wanted family and friends back home to taste what I was tasting. Rich, glorious, simple food was all I needed and I was consuming it like a champion. After a full stomach ,my legs took me next to Greenwich village and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the apartment of friends. Apparently I wasn’t the only one as one corner was surrounded by tourists like me taking pictures of this place. Greenwich village had a particular quietness to it compared to the rest of New York. You could just wander and you wouldn’t have to worry about a crowd full of people around you. It was serene, laced with boutiques and pizza places that filled the city with charm.

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Next day, my final day I left slightly late but headed towards Brooklyn. Brooklyn Bridge was a sight and walking across that structure was a mammoth task, but so worth the sights it provided. Although the bridge was consumed with tourists and the busyness was at another level, I had the chance to look over and see the statue of liberty, the harbor and the Hudson River. As I had walked over for about an hour in the searing heat, across timber surfaces I had finally reached Brooklyn. What a step back in time. I loved the old brick warehouses, the harbor lookouts, the vintage 1920s feel, the quietness and the hilly streets. Brooklyn had ice-cream shops and a killer view of the bridges and the opposite side of New York. I couldn’t help but ask a local for a photo. I immersed myself as much as I could in Brooklyn and headed back across the bridge, back over to grab one last ice-cream, back to Chinatown to find my hotel, and the night would arrive to which I would have one final sleep until I would have to leave this place.

The next day I would fly out back home and dream of the reality that presented itself in New York. Let’s just say solo travelling has its perks and its cons. I mean I had an amazing trip, but not having that company at times was difficult. Being able to do your own thing though was great and I never stopped moving because I didn’t have to wait for anyone. It was just me. Obviously another con was that New York isn’t cheap and I tried to find the most affordable hotels in great locations. My one regret was that I didn’t try Air BnBs. I stayed in some amazing places but I will start by saying, the service was not my top 10 greatest impressions of New York. At times this busy city presented itself with people on the go constantly, rude staff who depended on tips, but didn’t particularly earn it and being a solo traveler I craved interaction and small talk at times. I would say to anyone contemplating solo travelling to do it, because it’s like nothing else and it challenged me in so many ways and I grew just from stepping out of my comfort zone. Live life and travel with a full heart, be open to possibilities and seek out the greatest places filled with the most wondrous destinations.

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The Power of Vulnerability

There’s a secret box I carry around with me. No one can see it, hear it or feel it but I know it exists. For me, the word vulnerable had always left a bad taste in my mouth. How could people wear their ‘heart on their sleeves’ or go through mountains of tissues watching some tear jerker movie? I didn’t get it. I wasn’t cold inside. Infact I’m an incredibly emotional person. Maybe this box had always been my safety net and the reason why I found it hard to part with it. It’d become so habitual for me to take those emotions, pull it from every fibre in my being, place it in the box, and store it away.

My question is why are some people less or more vulnerable than others? Why are some walls so high that some people struggle to bring them down?  Maybe for many of us the sharp pain between the shoulder blades had left a scar so deep, that being stabbed in the back had created trust issues over the years. Maybe that’s why villains got such a bad rep. Did anyone take the time to ask why they were the way they were? Being vulnerable is stigmatising. There’s a sense of judgement we’re all afraid of when we let our guards down. To be mocked, critiqued and judged is something we all despise. To pick that person/s to show your layers to, is nerve wracking as hell but freeing if it’s the right person.

Society has this way of portraying people in a certain light. Many of us turn a blind eye to the homeless if they ask for money, because it’s easier to disregard getting emotionally involved or feel some form of empathy towards them.  We’re less likely to be compassionate in public, then we are behind closed doors. Why? Are we embarrassed? Maybe it’s too exposing or raw for people to see this vulnerability. Perhaps there’s a reason why many of us wear a mask when people probe too hard. It’s scary. No one wants to see bits of their heart shattered across the floor, or get too overwhelmed or bogged down with human emotions. It’s emotionally taxing and debilitating. It’s easier to put someone at arms length then To deal with their intricacies. I’ve always found it easier to disregard my own emotions and focus on someone else’s. But the thing is we all crave the same thing: connection. It’s the foundation we all live by, the basis on why we choose things, who we choose and for what reasons.

Why is it we open up to certain people and not to others? Is there a chink, a strain, a distrust towards specific people we feel the need not to go anywhere near? Throughout the years I had always found myself drawn towards people who were more misunderstood, unusual, unmistakenly different but were referred to as cold or hard. I just knew them as people who had formed a thick shell around their body like a shield to protect them from getting hurt. While many thought they were just emotionless, I found once getting to know them and forming empathy towards them that they were the warmest, kindest people I’d ever met.

By listening to people’s stories, their heartaches, failures and achievements, we seek to understand more about humans. To reach out in terms of need makes you strong, not weak and I think for many of us we’re  afraid to ask for help because it portrays some form of weakness. It doesn’t. To put on this superhero cape and pretend we can do it all, is an idealistic way of living. Trust your instincts, learn to be empathetic and know that being vulnerable has a power behind it. Learn to listen more, because when we listen we hear, we learn, we understand.

 

Vintage feels 

For as long as I can remember second hand shopping was always a big part of my family life. We weren’t the wealthiest of families but that never phased me. For us it has always been about the social responsibility we felt we needed to contribute to society in a positive light. To recycle,reuse, understand the cyclic movement of buying and distributing garments to charity shops etc really helps the environment and many other factors. I feel like you can find the coolest things in charity shops and to know the money spent goes to helping those with disadvantages makes you feel good inside.

Winter feels 



With the cold weather kicking in here, people tend to think winter is all about black. I disagree. A pop of colour, fluffy sleeves, and my current obsession velvet will get you through the winter.

Get up, get out and kick ass!

 

I was a keen master of the eye roll. Whenever someone mentioned fitness, I would immediately feel the muscles in my eyes working into overtime to throw them back into their sockets. I never understood how people could wear spandex, feel comfortable in it and let along fork out cash to buy the stuff. I had always formed this stereotype in my head, and this cynical view towards fitness,  that little did I know I’d eventually become one of them.

In my younger years my uncoordinated ways were at an all time high. Flexibility tests were in the negatives, the vault was a danger zone and ballet classes was a hopeful way to end my two left feet. It didn’t. Eventually my natural instinct turned to unpredictable sports that involved whacking the crap out of something. Allowing my body to push itself into unknown terrorities  worked and I never had to deal with the embarrassment of aerobics in high school ever again. This mindset though left me as I got older and I lost that consistency I once had, which all just happened to change a few years ago. There came a  time (like many) that I’d wake up, throw my awoken body on to the scales and stare obnoxiously at the numbers staring back at me. It was like watching the shortest horror movie occurring and neon numbers was my hidden killer.  First off all, let me just say through a loud speaker phone and the vocal talents of pavarotti ‘Do not go by the digits.’ Go by how the clothes fit, how good you feel and the energy you have on a daily basis.

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Here’s the thing about working out: if you don’t have the mental capacity and readiness to do it, you ain’t going to get anywhere. For me ,walking and stretching  is my go to form of exercise. I feel a form of meditative state when I walk. Every movement is felt and every step is made and I feel like I can push my body hard without the need for any form of equipment. Pushing my body on a daily basis has burned fat, helped me gained muscle, improved the clarity of my mind and allowed me to become stronger mentally and physically. Constant movement has always been a huge importance to me. If you consistently move your body in a progressive manner, you’ll see results.

Exercise is one thing, but changing the way we look at our food is another. It’s a mindset, a lifestyle and a way of living. Cutting back on food, eating when you’re hungry, portion control and allowing your body to breathe in between is vital and key to losing weight. People have this notion that if they just eat superfoods, that they will suddenly transform into this superhuman. That’s not realistic. Your body needs a bit of everything, and like scales it’s all about balance in order to charge up and perform on a daily basis.

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I don’t exercise to improve the size of my head, skyrocket my vanity levels or steal a glance at every mirror I get so I can flex my muscles at. No, I do it for health reasons, for being able to perform at optimum levels and to feel good about myself. Be the change you want to see, whatever it may be. Set goals, stick to them, make them achievable and get up, get out and kick ass.

Why you can’t pull off everything, but that’s ok.

 

They say you can pull off anything just by putting it on. I’m sure most of us mere mortals would disagree with this statement. There have been many a times when a garment has screamed try me on; you’ve gone to lock yourself in the change room, pull it off the coat hanger and stare in the mirror, when you discover in fact that beautiful garment has now transformed itself into a sack. I think the worst moments take place when a retailer knocks on the door, passes you a pair of jeans only to discover that they’ve handed you two sizes too small and in order to fit them you’d need to starve yourself for a year. You try your best to squeeze into them in a deniable fashion, and when you hear that voice behind the door to ask how they look, your first reaction is to feign happiness and lie through your teeth .

I feel as though an issue with how we perceive fashion lies in fashion magazines. You see these perfect proportions, dripped in the finest of fabrics and the perfect layout of accessories that you could only dream of having. You think well hey if they can pull it off, I must be able to as well.  The problem with this is it’s a manufactured image with limitations for everyday people.  I’ve always had this notion when I was a naive teen that to be fashionable meant following the trends. As I learnt the hard way there are some things I cannot pull off, but I’m ok with that. Turtlenecks make me look like a stumpy tree, yellow makes me look like a dead canary and AAA vintage Italian shoes will never fit my foot….like ever.

Fashion; it’s about all experimenting. Those fashion icons who rocked an outfit; Cher’s Bob Mackie get ups, Audrey Hepburn’s LBDs and Jane Berkin’s flared jeans and luxe knits were all worn in such a way that it brought inspiration to people’s eyes. They wore it with confidence. It was and is about taking a piece, understanding your body and imagining that catwalk every time your foot steps on to that unsteady, cracked concrete. I exaggerate! But in all honesty this is the platform my feet touch on a daily basis. Maybe it’s the vanity in me speaking, but you’ll never catch me stepping out in a pair of thongs. It’s just not me.

I don’t do girly girl. I wish I was one of those braid wearing, bohemian dressed girls who pull off flower crowns like it’s their way of living. That’s not something that would suit me though.  And the truth is, you shouldn’t try to dress in a way society expects you to dress. Take a piece and make it your own. Make it crazy, dress it up, dress it down and own everything inch of that fabric. Style evolves and imagination is endless, so don’t feel faint hearted  if that piece you’ve been keeping your eye on in a glossy magazine doesn’t work for you. Chances are it’s shining bright on a glistening hanger somewhere. For me, thrift shops will always be my go to destination and I will forever have a love for vintage tees, 80s shirts and high waisted ripped jeans.

My Food Story

There’s a bowl full of porridge in front me and I can feel my grandfathers stare boaring into my head. My sister is opposite me across the other side of the table. I look over at her, fearing that what we have in front of us will at one point have to be consumed. It did not look appetising. Let’s just say my grandfather could not cook, but when he did you ate it without fuss, otherwise there’d be hell to pay. In about 5 minutes that bowl was empty. My senses had been purposely blocked out and I’d never thrown back food so fast before in my life. My sister on the other hand, sat there with her arms crossed with no movement and not even a spoon to her hand. I glare over at her and mouth just eat it. She didn’t. Let’s just say it didn’t end well. That was one memory I particularly dont reminisce about.

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My real food journey began when I was very young and I think back to holding this green,scaly shell of a vegetable which was an avocado. I used to throw it around like mini cannon balls, rub it all over my face and feel the squishyness between my gums. This was the first food I’d ever tasted and it was heavenly. My clothes were always filthy and I enjoyed nothing else but getting messy with it. I used to wear a yellow bill plastic bib which was my own saviour and form of superhero powers. I needed this, because I’d get that bad that my mum used to have to put me outside, plonk me in a highchair and I’d end up feeding the birds. I’d get into such a state that she’d literally have to hose me down by the end of it.

To be open minded, to understand food from different cultures and the different variations that food possessed was an important factor my mother taught us growing up.  The oven door would open every night and the most amazing smells and aromas would waft throughout the room. There was always this special touch she added to her meals. The woman in my life had all possessed a certain touch with food. It was that love, that knowledge and a confidence they all exuded. To be a powerforce towards the ingredients and recipes and trust their judgement was something I found admirational.  No one could whip up a coleslaw the way my nana could or bake a cake the way my grandmother did. This was a skill I wanted to learn and a gift I wanted to receive.

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Throughout my schooling era, I was spoilt for choice when it came to lunchtime . I’d  open up my lunchbox, my eyes would widen and there inside was a selection of incredible food. I’d gorge on it like there was no tomorrow. I’d always had a fast metabolism and a big appetite, but I never became gluttonous or abused it to the sense that I took it for granted. It has always been a priority or me to understand that food is beyond the taste. It’s the texture, the feel, the colours and the science behind it. To mould flavours together and have them react and bind in such a way, is beyond comprehending. I remember when I walked the streets of France and I stumbled upon this little bakery down an alleyway. This patisserie shop was filled with the dantiest little pastries topped with the most amazing produce I’d ever seen. Pastry rolled with the softest butter, that when you bit into it , it’d melt through your palette and your senses would be elevated to another level.

This last year has redefined how I view food. Putting myself back into the study world to learn the art of patisserie, has opened up my eyes. To take particular ingredients and combine them at different temperatures, sequences and force has reset my mindset. The science, the maths , but overall the amazing outcome that comes when it all works together is staggering. With the embedded words on my brain that if I don’t do something with food then I’m wasting my talent from a past teacher, it ignites a fire within me.  For me, food has always been a way of bringing people together, creating memories and arousing senses. It takes you to a place you never thought your palette could comprehend. Embracing flavour combinations, and understanding how acidity, saltiness and sweetness all come together to form a taste , excites me every time I pick up an edible delicacy. We should all appreciate every single morsel and take the time to heighten the senses with every single bite. Like they say with all foodies, you don’t eat to live, you live to eat.

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Feminsim

Devil woman, emotionless and cold hearted! These are some of the words I’ve been called throughout my life. But this isn’t about feeling sorry for myself. No, not at all! Its about redefining how people perceive you. I started my youth being a massive introvert. Obviously in retrospect that came with being a pushover. I hated having all these emotions and thoughts buried in my head and I didn’t know how to express them. I wanted to, but I found myself mistrusting how people would react to them. As I got older though I emerged as my own person and found my voice. If someone belittled me, I could back myself. If someone debated with me, I could intelligently use my words. Expressing myself was a form of empowerment.  Sure, at times it’d get me into trouble; sometimes having verbal diarrhoea and putting my foot in it was not such a good idea. This form of empowerment though has placed me into a stereotype that I despise at times.

Femininity to me means feeling proud to be a woman, loving yourself and using your voice to challenge views, opinions and modern day issues.  In today’s age, femininity is misconstrued and my androgynous personality puts me into an unusual position. “Hey Cel, you’re one of the guys!” First of all I hate when anyone ever says this to me. I don’t act like a dude, talk like a man or behave even remotely like one. But when I use my voice, or raise my opinion, I’m automatically placed into a category I don’t want to be. To hear this is like saying if a woman is empowered and uses her voice, she’s considered less feminine. If a man cries, is he suddenly considered a woman? To redefine society’s standards is so important more than ever. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve or let my guard down too much, but when I do my emotions run very deep.  People have layers and we only see one surface until we try to get to the core of who someone is.

To me, feminism is a right, a movement,a power and something we should all acknowledge and not judge based on differences. It’s to respect and support each other, understanding that each one of us is different but no one of us is less feminine than each other.

My life in music

 I’m  looking out towards a sea of people glancing back at me and I’ve never experienced nerves like this in my life. My  5 year old body feels paralysed and I feel as though I’ve been glued down to the wooden bench I’m sitting on. I look down at my ukulele and I can feel the strings on my fingers. My nana had bought me this a year ago and my mum had this crazy notion to push me into joining the music program. Funnily enough, the ukulele was the only instrument you could play in my school. So there I was, stuck with 5 other like minded musicians, sitting on the front steps of my primary school about to play hits like she’ll be coming round the mountain to a bunch of randoms I’d never seen before. Was I petrified? You better believe it! I wanted to run, hide and crawl into a cave where no one could find me.  This was it though; me ,my Fluoro green flat hat, denim overalls, my ukulele and a crowd full of people.

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My hand drops down on the strings and the first strum appears to be the shakiest. I can sense the nerves of the other players, knowing they feel the same nerves as I do. I look out towards the crowd and I see eyes looking at me so clearly, but I know I have to regain my focus and concentrate on playing the chords. We’re halfway through the piece and  I start to feel myself playing with more confidence. The crowd starts to become hazy and I can feel myself breathing slower.  Sure, I’ll be honest in saying this wasn’t the most incredible, mind blowing performance anyone had ever seen. But I was doing it! Maybe notes were out of tune and I was out of time but I didn’t care. I was one with the ukulele and the ukulele was one with me.

A few years later after that, I never thought I’d play an instrument again. That was until one of my friends started playing the cello. Sure, I was happy for her that she was playing, but I never thought anything of it. She tried her best to convince me to join the music program at school and I looked at her like uhhh girl you’re crazy.  Deep down subconsciously though I wanted to play again, but I knew I wasn’t the greatest at reading music which scared me. You see,  there are those gifted people who can sight read and pick it up with a flick of a switch.  I however was not one of them! I eventually got worn down and later found myself surrounded by violins, violas, cellos and double basses. I was playing alongside people who had professional lessons and practiced 4 times a week at home. That to me was intimidating. My parents didn’t have that kinda money and I wanted to show people that I was good enough. So I practiced and I practiced and I practiced some more. Sure, I didn’t have the most prettiest looking cello, but boy did it produce a beautiful sound. I had never found something so powerful that I could take my emotions and express them through this instrument. My androgynous personality had found its match.

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I however had embarrassing moments where I felt like the black sheep at times. My teacher would have to stop performances at times due to the fact that i would aggressively move my bow too much,  and it would look as though I could’ve taken off. She was one of the most passionate people though. I wanted to learn so much from her even though most people misunderstood her. She gave us music pieces that challenged me so much, but I loved the challenge and I wanted to perform as best as I could. Throughout the years I found myself experiencing music camps, performing at schools and universities at some of the most remote places. These were all of the experiences that I treasure so much.

I found myself sharing this love of music with my grandfather who was an opera singer.  On the day of his funeral, his music was played throughout the church and I’ve never felt such a rush of emotions throughout my body.  I sometimes sit by myself and listen to Pavarotti and Andrea boccelli which reminds me so much of him. To this day I can still hear his voice and  I’m so grateful for the passion and love he had for music.

 

 

 

Weekend accessories 

Whatever you have planned this weekend or any weekend, it’s always good to have those little extra things on you. Whether it be outside walking with a hat, a pretty little charm bracelet, a cute pair of slides, a killer bag,  a statement belt or a vintage watch they’re all great to have throughout the weekend. I love big chunky rings with clutch bags with a few embellishments on them when I’m going out.

Have a killer weekend everyone!

The Power of Learning  

I grew up in New Zealand and for me making friends was so difficult. I was awkward, weird and I felt different to all the other kids. Because of this I turned to books. Learning was incredibly important to me and it became something I really enjoyed doing. I became this nerdy little kid who had such admiration for all my teachers and every morning I used to run into school and show them eagerly my homework.

I had this one teacher who was so artistic that she inspired me to open my mind to not only logic, but to fantasy,  adventure and all types of art. Knowledge isn’t just reading books and knowing facts. It’s taking that information and creating your own opinion or take on it. Anyone can read factual evidence  and throw information at people like they’re a ‘know-it-all’, but the fact is that it doesn’t make you smart.

I always believe that to be a better person, you can’t be stuck in your ways. I find so many people saying nope I won’t try that or I’d probably hate that. You don’t know until you try. My interests have evolved over time. There are things I thought I’d never love or be inspired by.  I love things now I didn’t previously, so it just goes to show we’re constantly evolving, growing and learning to love different things.

The lucky thing is I’ve always had someone to encourage me to try something. My mum used to throw me into so many things when I was young. From ballet (I was terrible), to karate, art classes, and my personal favourite yachting where I spontaneously thought it’d be funny to push one girl into the water. I never went back. I had friends who encouraged me to take up playing an instrument or play tennis and I was always extremely grateful for their persistence.

Knowledge is power and I think personally girls today feel like to be smart isn’t attractive. With more emphasis on how we look, dress and act I think being smart and learning is such an important aspect of someone. The brain is the sexiest organ and I feel as though if you can have an intelligent conversation with someone, they become ever more attractive.

Throughout the years I’ve studied quite a bit. From event management, where I landed an amazing internship with a tennis association. That was a reality check to see first hand what’d it’s really like working within the sports industry. I used to be out in the searing heat putting up heavy scoring boards while coaches would yell at me to move out of the way. Then I studied makeup which was an interesting journey. Firstly we know our  faces better than anyone else so putting on makeup becomes habitual to us. Putting makeup on someone else’s face is completely different. Although how I applied makeup was apparently not how the pros did it, I hated people doing my makeup. I ended up looking like a raccoon with overly done contour.  Also the fact that while I was getting made up like a drag queen, my face severely broke out.

This year I’ve decided to do patisserie and I’m honestly enjoying it. There’s so much precision and skills involved that it’s like nothing else I’ve ever done. So while humanity puts this label on people being too old to try or learn different things, it’s  all bullishit

You’re never too old or young to try things. I’m always a believer to learn as much as you can and you never know the things you might find you love. Value your opinion, back yourself and read all that you can! Life is an adventure!

Body 

I’m just going to say it I have never been the smallest girl. I’ve always been a little bit  stocky,  and some days I might come across as more masculine because of my figure. I was always really good at sports because I wasn’t fine boned,  and I would go in there and throw my body around. Not because I wanted to but because I could.

I was always envious of those girls who were petite, and they could literally eat anything and they wouldn’t put on any weight. I love my food. There’s no doubt about that. But I do know I have to watch what I eat at times. That’s not saying I have the tiniest meals and only live off lettuce leaves. I just know I have to limit myself at times to not indulge in particular things.

I’ve probably turned into a bit of a fitness fanatic at present, but I feel fitter and better for it. I know I won’t ever be a size 8, but for my body shape it wouldn’t look right on me at all. I say embrace curves if that’s your normal shape and if you’re petitie  embrace your shape as well because we’re all different and we’re all unique. That’s what makes us all amazing humans. There’s nothing sexier than someone who knows their body and works what they’ve got. Confidence is key!

Immune system boosters

When I was young I had a pretty weak immune system. I had problems with shingles and psoriasis and it didn’t help the fact I was an extremely anxious kid. I was also a really bad sleeper and I used to to get sick quite a lot. It got to a point where I needed something in order to keep me in a calm state of mind and to help my immune system. My family has always been practicing alternative medicine and I say if you can try the natural way first and it works then what’s the harm.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve obviously calmed down a lot and I’m not as anxious. I still take alternative medicine and I can say I rarely get sick because of the list of products I’m about to list.

Molasses 

I used to take a tablespoon of molasses on a daily basis. It’s the healthiest form of sugar cane out there and although I hate the taste of it, it contains so many great benefits.  There are  vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium included in molasses. It’s great for the immune system, acne and digestion and if you don’t like the taste, it can be added to hot water and  sipped like a tea.

Prune juice

Prune juice is one of the greatest benefits for digestion. They’re high in fibre and in potassium and it assists with heart rhythm, blood pressure,nerve impulses and muscle contractions. Prune juice is also great for fatigue because it also contains a good source of iron. Dried prunes have also been proven to help lower colon diseases.

Greek yoghurt

Greek yoghurt is packed with probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can help boost your immune system. They help fight against bad digestion, worms and bad bacteria in your stomach. Greek yogurt contains b12 which the body needs for red cells to form and  assists with brain function. The thing I love about Greek yogurt also is that it’s actually delicious and you can incorporate it into your diet in so many ways.

Chinese herbs

I remember this man in New Zealand used to own the most amazing place filled with Chinese herbs. I used to visit frequently and try different forms of Chinese herbs and the benefits were amazing. This type of medicine dates back at least 2000 years and is natural as it stimulates the body’s own healing mechanisms. Common Chinese herbal medicines include astragalus root,green tea, reishi mushrooms, goji berry, ginkgo biloba, ginseng and the list goes on. These benefits are that it lowers inflammation and protects against cancer. It reduces chronic pain and headaches, balances hormones and improves brain function. It also improves liver health, reduces stress and helps with sleep.

Zinc

Although zinc is a type of metal, it’s only needed in small amounts. It assists with growth and repair and it acts as an anti inflammatory agent. It’s present within all bodily tissue and is needed for health cell production. It’s one of the best things to take when anyone suffers from chronic fatigue. Zinc is possibly the greatest thing to take to fights off colds and symptoms of illnesses.

Chlorophyll

This is my go to when I have a bad stomach or poor digestion. Chlorophyll is a type of plant pigment responsible for the absorption of light in photosynthesis. It’s found in all green plants and assists with weight loss, digestion, hormone balance and has helped people fight cancer. This is one of those natural detox liquids where it flushes away all that bad bacteria and cleanses your whole system.

Flaxseed oil

One of the best things to take for digestion,skin and heart health. Flaxseed oil is loaded with healthy omega 3 fatty acids. It aids for weight loss, reduces eczema and assists in collagen production which in turn reduces cellulite. You can take these in liquid or tablet form and can assist with the everyday dietary needs.

Colloidal silver

Colloidal silver is made up of 99.99% fine silver and manufactured in purified water. It has amazing anti inflammatory benefits which include sinus infections,viruses and colds. Silver can attach to bacteria cell membranes directly and fight off bad bacteria. Being that it is an anti bacteria formula, it’s also amazing at healing wounds and skin health. For any ear or eye infections, a little bit can be placed inside and help the problem.

Olive leaf extract

This is honestly my number 1 go to formula when I can feel my immune system weakening. This 100% natural product is one of the best things to relieve colds and it’s naturally high in antioxidants. It also helps with cardiovascular support and offers anti fungal,antiviral and antibacterial activities. Any type of bug or respiratory infections I grab the olive leaf,drink a capsule and it works instantly.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the greatest immune boosters. Your body produces vitamin d naturally when exposed to sunlight and being out in the sun has proved to reduce depression. It makes your bones stronger and improves resistance against certain diseases. Being outside absorbing that sunlight can help with the brain and nervous system. It’s also great for your body being outside getting that natural oxygen.

Weekend skirts



These 2 bec and bridge skirts are some of my favourite skirts. They are a light crepe like texture and they are perfect for every body shape. Polka dots are always on trend and you can wear this kind of skirt during the day or at night. It’s a cute girly skirt which you can pair with any kind of shoe.

I have noticed that flowy skirts are making a comeback and I’m not the girliest person ever but putting on a flowy skirt makes me feel a little bit more feminine and I love that. These skirts would look so cute at night with a black or a nude heel. I believe in versatile classic pieces and for me these kind of skirts never date.

Bec and Bridge is such an established brand in Australia and although they are slightly pricey, sometimes it’s worth it for the quality. I love teaming patterns with something simple. In this case I’d keep the top simple with either or black or a white t-shirt and maybe a denim jacket with loafers. It’s creating that balance,  but fashion should always make sense and clothes should always compliment each other.

Shoes



Pretty much my problem is buying too many pairs of shoes but you gotta have the right shoe for the right outfit. Am I right? I’ve accumulated all types of different types of shoes over the years. Most of them are vintage or I’ve found some at bargain prices in second hand stores. My favourite is probably the loafers because you can dress them up or down and they’re such a classic shoe. I’ve had a couple of Russell and Bromley pairs because they last so long and the leather is amazing quality and they fit my foot so well. Boots are fantastic to wear in winter if you wanna add some grunge or street style to an outfit. I’ve recently bought myself a low pair of docs and omg not only are they so comfortable and durable, I feel like they add an edge of London street style to an outfit. Converse are just a necessity as they’re not only versatile, they tone down a look and I personally love wearing them with denim skirts and wrapping a denim jacket around my waist.  I also love a refined shoe like Salvatore Ferragamo because they never date and they add an air of sophistication to a look. I think you can have a basic look but it’s the shoes that will finish it off for you. Always depends on your mood and how you feel on the day i think.

Denim

Denim…who doesn’t love denim? I live in denim and I’m rarely not wearing it. Massive fan of vintage jeans especially, probably cos I love the worn look. Distressed jeans are a winner and the more rips the better I say. I love when vintage Levi jeans have been redone into denim skirts. Some of the brands I love are ksubi because the details are incredible and the fit is on point. Levis are another one because they’re so versatile and classic. Nobody jeans because of the colours and they have such good stretch to them. Last but not least is Dr Denim because these are honestly like a second skin and they fit your body like a glove.

Favourite vintage shops in Brisbane

For anyone who knows me knows I’m a massive second hand /vintage lover. It’s always exciting knowing that there’s a story behind who’s worn a particular garment beforehand. I love searching through the racks, not knowing what I might find and that’s the beauty of it. Some days I might find an amazing designer piece or a quirky retro piece that I know nobody else on the street will be wearing. It’s the individuality. It’s the expressionism and the enjoyment of it all. Brisbane holds some great vintage places and these are some of my favourite.

Revamp fashions

This little shop is located in Blocksidge arcade in Adelaide St in Brisbane’s cbd. The lady who runs this shop is incredibly lovely and she offers beautiful second hand designer items. Reasonably priced depending on the designer and pretty much everytime I’ve been in she’s either having 20% off everything or a $20 rack. Highly recommend checking this place out.

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http://www.mustdobrisbane.com/shop-vintage/revamp-fashion-brisbane-cbd

SWOP

This shop is located in West end and offers some amazing quirky things. From harley tees to suede jackets, this place is laden with classic indie pieces. I’ve found an amazing pair or Italian leather shoes for $20. Such reasonably priced clothing and such great quality items. Also every Friday they have an exchange booth where you bring in your clothes and swap them with others. Limit is for one bag with 40 items. This is such a great idea and an awesome way of community involvement.

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http://www.swop.net.au/

Endeavour at Paddington 

As soon as you step into this place it’s filled with the most amazing retro pieces. Located in Paddington this store also places the most amazing disco beats. Although some pieces are quite overpriced, it’s a matter of really sorting through things. The clothes are all quite colourful and this store offers so many different textures. From leather to silk, to Terry towelling to denim, there’s an endless amount of variety to choose from. There’s some really cool jewellery in this place. They offer amazing charm bracelets and clip on earrings to blingy looking rings so you really get everything in one store.

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https://www.weekendnotes.com/endeavour-foundation-paddington/

Ra Ra superstar 

Another vintage store located in Paddington, this cute place is hidden away down a little alleyway. So much denim and so many amazing basics. There’s tie dye t-shirts to choose from and linen dresses and incredible jackets that you’d only find in an 80s music video. They’re bringing back shoulder pads, crazy prints, painted pants and bright shirts. Absolutely love this place. They also have a variety of clothes they make themselves from handmade fabric and they’re just cute outfits which anyone can wear.

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https://www.rarasuperstar.com/

 

My top 5 cult beauty products

So I’m sure like any makeup lover we all have our go to products. It’s funny though what someone else might love, for someone else it might not work. That’s the beauty (no pun intended) of trying different things. But those times that someone suggests to try a product, within moments you can’t imagine life without it. When a magazine throws in a free sample product I’m grabbing that magazine so fast. I’m guilty of flicking straight to the beauty section of magazines just to see the latest instalments of the beauty world. Half of the time the products cost more than an arm and a leg but hey if I can find at least a product just as good but cheaper I’ll do just that. I’m going to list my favourite everyday go to, can’t live without products.

First one is maybelline`s colossal big shot mascara. This mascara makes your eyelashes all fluttery like and it adds so much great length and volume your eyes just pop. Maybelline mascaras are a favourite of mine because they have so many different options for different eyes. It’s not one of those mascaras that have hardly any product and makes your eyes look like the legs of daddy long legs. It lengthens and holds all day I won’t stop using it.


Loreal has this amazing trio contouring blush and it’s so beautifully pigmented. It has this beautiful pink flush to it and because it has this glittery like highlighter to it, it adds this beautiful glow to the cheeks. I swirl all colours together just to add more shine and it stays on all day. The thing I love about l’oréal is they’re so reasonably priced and although it’s a drugstore item, the quality is basically like a high end product.

Modelco has always been a favourite of mine. Personally I think they were so underestimated until Hayley Baldwin put her name on it. I love the packaging of these products. Most of all I love the colour of this lipstick. Nudes are always hard to match your skin type and it’s important to wear the right shade so you don’t look washed out. This is in the shade bossa nova and it has just the right amount in it, but still has those fleshy tones. This stays on so well and it has just the right amount of moisture in it.

Does this one even need an introduction? I mean cmon it’s nars! This bronzer in Laguna is just pwoar. It’s not so chalky and it has some a beautiful natural colour that it almost blends in effortlessly to your face. It’s such a build able bronzer and doesn’t make you look like you have a line of orange peel around your face. Yes, it may be a bit pricier than most bronzers but I honestly think this should be a staple item in anyone’s beauty bag.


Lastly, another Maybelline product is the hyper sharp winged eyeliner. The tip of this eyeliner is so sharp and glides so well. This product has lasted so long and it doesn’t dry out. It’s always so annoying when you buy eyeliners and they dry out so fast and then you have to throw it away within a couple of weeks. This doesn’t smudge and the precision on this product is perfect. It’s also the perfect black and makes your eyes pop.