The Happiness Planner; A diary with a difference.

FeaturedThe Happiness Planner; A diary with a difference.

I’m a pretty happy and positive person generally, but I can’t be the only one  who accidentally takes their life for granted and lets small, silly things get them down without even realising it. So, this year I asked for The Happiness Planner for Christmas in the hopes that it would help me remember and appreciate every moment of what is set to be one of the best years of my life so far. (remember the whole quitting my job to live on a bat with my aussie lover thing?) So January 2nd, I popped my new present in my suitcase and flew off down under.

First off let me say I love the choice of name for this journal. “The Happiness Planner“, far too often we think happiness is this huge looming destination we trudge towards our whole lives, struggling to get to, but no… happiness is created and it’s in every single day. I love that whoever made this journal believes you can plan to be a happier person and wants to encourages us to do that!

It makes you think before you even get to January 1st
There’s ten sections to fill in at the beginning of the journal. First, it asks you to think about your strengths and weaknesses and what you want to focus on this year, then you’re made to record all things you’ve already achieved that you’re proud of. I felt really great after completing these sections and I hadn’t even started the diary yet!

A quote for every day of the year
I hear about positive affirmations being a real game changer in peoples lives, but i’m just not that great at getting up in the morning. Let alone getting up ten minutes earlier to tell myself i’m “cool” and life is “great”. One of the lovely things about this planner is that at the top of every page it has a really awesome quote that gets you thinking. And I mean good ones… none of this ” 2+2 is 4, but 1 + 3 is also 4, more than one path leads to the same place…” WHAT. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN.
Nah, none of that. How about “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.“- Maya Angelou. Super simple nuggets of inspiration that, let’s face it, sometimes you just need to hear.

Pull out sheets to keep close to you
In the front pocket you’ll find pull out sheets to fill in. These are a more permanent reminder of what you ultimately want and you can take some real time filling them in. They ask you to think about your ‘Goals’ (actual goals not HASHTAGGOALS) and ‘bucket list’ among other things. I half filled mine in and then stuck them near my mirror to keep my focused on what I am trying to achieve. Once I tick off a few i’ll write more, that way I can see what i’ve achieved while still pushing myself daily.

Hopes and reflection
Each day there’s a “what I hope for tomorrow” section. Ooh I just love this. It’s the sort of optimistic daydreaming you did as a kid as you fell asleep all snuggled up in bed, thinking about what tomorrow would bring. Equally as lovely is the “reflection” section at the end of each month.Here, you think back on the last 30 days and decide what your happiest moments were, what you struggled with, and how you overcame it.
Time flies by so quickly now, that it’s so easy to completely forget what I did, (think back to January’s happiest moment… it was only a month ago, and it’s almost impossible!?) so having that section to read back on is a great little idea.

All in all this diary is a mood lifting secret weapon to have tucked under your arm. It doesnt matter how crap your day was, you could have spent twelve hours getting screamed at at work by your boss and it’ll still make you dig to find those little pockets of happiness, even if it was just 5 minutes to yourself on the tube with a great book. Everyone should have one of these. We all need a little more happiness in our lives.

 

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Phubbing? Nah, i’m just enjoying now.

Phubbing? Nah, i’m just enjoying now.

We’re the millennials. The 90’s and late 80’s babies stuck between a generation that worked traditionally in a less connected world and a (younger wtf?) digital generation who are grabbing opportunities to work in newly developed fields they’ve grown up with. We’re the generation that adults tut at for spending too much time on our phones. For taking more time snapping photos than of looking at them afterwards. We’re too engrossed in our “digital age”, it’s not “good for us”. The thing is, we’re the only generation that will get this sort of reaction. When our kids are on their phones we’ll understand how they feel.

Don’t get me wrong. Staring at your phone more than you stare at nature isn’t a good life choice. Typing more than you talk isn’t either, and it’s important to be aware of this, but don’t- under any circumstances- let anyone take the uniqueness of your generation away from you.
The new buzzword is ‘phubbing’; meaning ‘snubbing someone to look at your phone’, and sure, if you’ve gone round to your Nanna’s house for a cuppa yet stare at your phone most of the visit, then yes you’re phubbing… but whatever new fangled word they’ve come up with at the end of the day it just comes down to being rude or not. On the other hand, if you’re staring at your phone for your whole commute, I get you. Sometimes we use phones as escapism, not because we hate social interaction but simply to make a boring situation more bearable.

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Like anything in life, it’s about balance. But don’t feel bad about enjoying yourself. In the same way that the 60’s were defined by freelove and experimental festivals, now is magical for this. Just because this experience is behind a screen doesn’t mean it’s any less worth having. Spoil yourself with the new and exciting toys of now, of making your own movies on a GoPro, of sending snapchats to friends across the globe you would otherwise never see or work remotely from anywhere. Who before Generation Y could take inspiration instantly from millions of people around the world, or learn a whole new career from their bedroom? Yes, screens are less sociable and we all have a job to do to make sure we don’t isolate ourselves. But don’t let anyone make you feel bad for enjoying the uniqueness of the incredible leaps forward that were made while you grew up beside them. This time will never come back and just like we remember past generations for what defined them, people will remember the 2000’s for innovation no one thought possible. Enjoy that, and don’t let anyone take away from you, the uniqueness of now.

 

 

The best bits: Bush camping. Ducks like gin, and snakes will shoot up your butt.

The best bits: Bush camping. Ducks like gin, and snakes will shoot up your butt.

This weekend was wonderful. Me and my best boy hopped into his Holden Apollo Wagon and zipped a couple of hours north to Black Diamond lake; an old converted coal mine where the water is the brightest blue from the limestone. It’s so beautiful that for a whole day I wasn’t even worrying about crocodiles or poisonous amoebas that fly into your nose and eat your brain (‘STRAYA). The only thing was, I grew up land locked. I don’t know how to operate a camping stove and will say things like “THERE’S SOMETHING ON ME I KNOW THERE’S SOMETHING ON ME” when near grass, so bush camping was a whole new experience for me and at first I was a little worried I wouldn’t even enjoy it that much. But slap my thigh and call me Gary was I wrong.


There were five ducks who did everything together at the lake, and I mean everything. Besties for life. When I woke up they would standing there silently waiting to be fed, they’d do laps around the lake wing to wing, waddle up to stare and me and Jordy while we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner. And while I was snapchatting I spotted them behind me in the frame. But most importantly of all, they hung out with me while I drank half a bottle of gin. The whole time. We shot the shit, talked about life. They ate ants in the soil and I sang to them a little. Then I proceeded to play a fun drinking game: Drink two fingers every time they quack and down your drink each time they all simultaneously waddle away looking perturbed at nothing.

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Gin with my duckles


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If you’re in desperate need of a number 1 or- a god forbid- a number 2, you’re going to have to squat in the bush… and that means a snake is going to shoot right up your butt hole. That’s just science. You’re in Australia and you’ve shoved your heinie into the danger zone. Snake right up the butt.
A good tip is to bounce violently while peeing. And also shout if possible. If you have a blow torch or a tazer to hand that can be a welcome and helpful weapon… just make sure you don’t pee in an open area or your boyfriend will film you screaming, bouncing and pissing everywhere while you try to run away from blow flies and avoid butt snakes.

(Video not included how ever much I want to show you. No one wants to see a twenty four year old projectile peeing while crying.)


….while drunk. Fresh water is teaming with critters- especially at night time. Look up what could be around where you are, grab a torch, and a net and get out there in your knicky-knocks. We caught freshwater Marron while suitably drunk and it was a thrill like no other. I can’t explain to you the drunk excitement of chasing a prawn type dude who’s running backwards away from you in a lake in the middle of the night. It’s a very specific kind of joy. Alternatively, if you’re camping at the beach grab a few beers and go crabbing on the shore. Or just look for squid and little nocturnal fishies with a torch. It’s super fuckin’ fun and if you catch enough you can have a fresh seafood midnight snack on the campfire.

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Swim with my duckles

When you wake up in a car in 40 degree heat, a little hungover because of all the gin you consumed while talking to 5 ducks about why you think it’s really unfair woman are expected to be hairless, you’re going to feel a little rough. I popped open the trunk, took four bleary eyed steps forward and was floating around in a blue lagoon. When people say “this is the life”, they’re lying. THAT was the life. Add in Van Morrison on the car stereo and the sound of my boyfriend sizzling up some sausages for breakfast, and I’d have to say that bush camping was the highlight of my entire trip.

Can we all stop saying “Man up” and “grow some balls” please?

Can we all stop saying “Man up” and “grow some balls” please?

After reading this article on the phrases women hear growing up that contribute to sexualising them and eventually inequality (interesting read), just like Carrie Bradshaw, “I got to thinking”…
I’ve never gone for the macho men. I’ve never found ego or arrogance attractive. Maybe it’s an instinctual/self preservation thing, because generally those two character traits don’t usually add up to respect and happiness within a relationship. I’ve always surrounded myself with sensitive, confident, fair men.

Unfortunately though, the definition of a man for too long has been about strength, dominance and control; “manliness”. Not kindness, care or understanding. Too many guys aren’t proud to be defined by softer adjectives.

Somewhere along the line the word “man” evolved from the name of a certain gender, into a word used to assert strength and dominance: “be a man“.

We talk about equality for women. A lot. Quite rightly so, there’s a long way to go and a lot of people with outdated opinions that need dragging from the 80’s into now, so that’s important. But we should talk a little about/to men too. There’s a couple of phrases that slip out in conversation constantly that do nothing but subconsciously tell guys they should be dominating, strong manly men, and if they’re not then they’re weak. Fuck that shit.

1. Definition via Urban Dictionary:
“Man up”
Take control, take control of a (the) situation, be strong.

Tell a guy to “man up” and you’re just using the male equivalent of telling a woman to “be a real woman”, and I doubt people would say that. Apart from Donald Trump. “Man up” says “You’re being too much of a girl about this. Take charge, like a real man would.” A phrase pushing men to be “macho” while subtly insulting women. Ooh.

2. Definition via Urban Dictionary:
“Grow some balls”

Telling someone they don’t have the balls that they SHOULD have to do something. Encouraging them to be manly.

“Grow a pair of testicles and be a man. Not one of those weak ass humans with out a ballsack. Y’know… women.” The holy grail of derogatory comments that one; insulting both sexes at once. Or more delightfully “don’t be a pussy”.  But to be fair, as Betty White said “Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” Boom.

My slight annoyance with these phrases is that while we talk about female stereotyping we ignore that young boys all over the world are being laughed at for not being “manly” enough, for  doing something “like a girl“, which only turns a young boy- already insecure about his masculinity- into a man who feels the need to prove he’s macho, and that never ends well.

When the little lad who paints his nails and picks out a ballerina doll from the store is told to man up enough times, he’ll stop thinking it’s okay to be who he is (i’ve seen this happen). When a sensitive, sweet 13 year old kid who doesn’t really want join in teasing some kid is told to man up and stop being a pussy, maybe that sensitive side of him will be lost while he tries to prove he’s tough enough instead.

I’m lucky enough that my father, boyfriend and closest male friends are the kind of men that are quietly confident and comfortable with who they are. They don’t need to assert their manliness, and it’s obvious that they’ve always seen women as equal. From the phrases they use, the way they act, and how, naturally, they don’t stoop to easy, every day sexist comments for comedic value (that so many well meaning guys do without even thinking) see: “the old ball and chain” etc

Habits are hard to break, especially when they’re a whole generations, but in my mind one of the things that would go a long way in removing gender stereotypes (and therefore maybe help us reach equality) would be removing outdated phrases like this from our vocabulary. They don’t feel like a big deal… they’re not really that insulting, but the more off-the-cuff sexist and cliche phrases we all use in conversation the more we perpetuate that kind of culture without even knowing.

Before I go, i’ll leave you with this lovely poem by Nayyirah Waheed:

i want more ‘men” 
with flowers falling from their skin. 
more water in their eyes. 
more tremble in their bodies. 
more women in their hearts 
than 
on their hands. 
more softness in their height. 
more honesty in their voice. 
more wonder. 
more humility in their feet.

 

Bali best bits: Eggs, monkeys and waterfalls.

Bali best bits: Eggs, monkeys and waterfalls.

All I knew about Bali before I went was that my friend Hannah looked great in a bikini there and if you drink the water you’ll lose control of your bodily functions and boff everywhere. The first is true, the second not so much.

Here’s my best bits of mental Seminyak and the ever so dreamy Ubud.

1. Walking down the main street in Ubud, you’ll see a tiny little wooden sign saying “Sari Organik”, turn right and walk up a gravel hill and you’ll see two men sitting on a wall.
Buy a coconut off them for 1,000 rupiah. (50p) He’ll chop off the top and you can drink the sweet water inside during the 20 minute walk through the rice paddies.
 On the dusty path you’ll pass shacks full of paintings, trinkets, hats and jewellery, before seeing a raised wooden cafe surrounded by lush banana leaves.
This place serves delicious vegetarian all organic food from soups and sandwiches to salads and the classic nasi goreng.  It’s pretty inexpensive and main dishes work out at about 4 quidsies. There’s no wifi here to make sure you take in the beautiful scenery and enjoy your food.
One thing to remember is that as its open there’s no air con and Bali is often 90% humidity so either walk down early in the morning or in the afternoon to avoid sweating so much you refill your coconut.

2. When me and my boyfriend booked tickets to Bali he casually threw into conversation that I could meet and hold an orangutan there. I immediately sunk into my chair, with my hand over my mouth and cried like a four year old.
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When I was ten years old (OKAY EIGHTEEN) i’d sit and sob at nature TV shows because I wanted to meet a monkey. And this was really happening.
If you’ve seen Kristin Bell’s Sloth Meltdown that should give you a good gage of where i’m at with baby orangutans.
Fast forward to Bali, and after travelling from Seminyak to Ubud we found out the only place I could meet one was Bali Marine and Safari Park… and we were too far away to get to it. After the devastation subsided, I settled for Ubud Monkey Forest.
These Monkeys are smaller and feistier and you can’t spoon them. But you can feed them bananas and that’s enough for me.
It’s 40,000 rupiah to get in which works out as around twenty pounds, and bananas are a fiver for a bunch. An hour will give you enough time to walk around this ancient forest full of old relics where the monkeys just aren’t scared of humans. The babies may even come and sit on you, but look out for the big ones who will jump on you when they see you’ve got bananas. Shitifying.

11227590_593800764096470_4158929801217689959_o.jpg3. In Legian, not far from Seminyak there’s a chilled out joint called Fat bowl. This place serves the. best. pasta. dish. I’ve. ever. eaten. The type of pasta that you basically make out with while you eat it. That you think about for days after. That after you get back from Bali, you spend 3 hours on the computer, drunk, trying to find the recipe for. I also don’t have a picture of it because I ate it too fast.

This was a silky, lemon grassy, coconutty, creamy sauce with a hint of chilli and soft prawns that fall apart in your mouth, wrapped up in al dente fettuccine that tastes like slivers of silky ribbon bursting with creamy delicate flavours that are so unusual you wish they’d never end ohmygod. Everyone on Trip Advisor is losing their shit saying it’s “one of the best meals i’ve ever had”, “to die for” and “amazing”. Seriously, I’m in Perth, but pass me a gin and a snorkel i’d swim to Indonesia for another bowl of this.

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Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 11.06.24 am.png4. On our drive back to Seminyak from Bali we stopped off at Tegenungan Village to take a dip in the famous waterfall. This place was beautiful. A couple of hundred steps will lead you down into an opening where the noise of the water is astounding, you can swim in the rocky lagoon or sit on the rocks in the cave behind the waterfall. The force of the water is so strong you can’t even get underneath the waterfall… which is probably a good thing because it’d probably turn you inside out. You can also climb up to the top of the waterfall where theres a natural pool and chill out there.

I want to do everything I want. And that’s okay.

I want to do everything I want. And that’s okay.

When I was a kid my parents used to say it was like having a “firework going off inside the house”. At four years old in Tel Aviv, we were in a lift with two old men, by the time the doors had opened for us to get out, I was chatting to them both. One was patting my head and the other was crying laughing. I don’t remember this, but my parents always site it. I love people and I love life. I am a disgustingly positive person. Yeah, I have down days and I get pissed off about stuff, but in general I’m happy. I think the world’s amazing. Like, what the fuck? We’re little bits of meat running around on a big rock floating the sky. Come on! That’s enough for me. That’s magic!

Life is exciting. I don’t mean my life, but just life. Or it can be if you look for it. People teach you things, places are there to explore and there’s an unlimited amount of cities and towns to discover. I could never get bored on this earth. It’s magical. It’s all ours.
For the first time, (money permitting) anything is possible. Try telling your Grandmother back in the 50’s that she could go anywhere in the world, work and get paid from there. Try telling your Grandfather back then that he could travel to Australia from London in a day. We’re lucky enough to be in a generation where the old rules don’t apply and that excites the shit out of me.

However, being this excited means I literally want to do everything. I’ll hear an amazing song and think “I need to get back on the drums and write a song” then feel disappointed I haven’t already done it. I see a painting and think “I need to buy tons of paint and paint canvases again like I used to in college” then i’ll see a leather jacket and be desperate to open an online shop with handprinted lather jackets. In each of these instances it’s not a want it’s like i’m already sad that I know I won’t get around to it and i’m annoyed that I haven’t been doing it for years. In 2015 I was starting to feel unfulfilled and I didn’t want to stew in that.

That’s why I quit my job and why I came to Australia to start my year. I’ve got the degree. I’ve started the career now I can give myself time to do all the things I want to do.

So, here was the To Do list I wrote for Australia and Bali.
Greece will come later.

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Let’s all appreciate that the most important thing on my list was to touch a monkey.

In London I was trying to make room for the things I wanted to do. Like Elizabeth Gilbert author of Big Magic says, when it comes to personal projects; “You don’t stop doing the stuff you don’t like, it’s much harder than that, you need to learn how start saying no to things you DO want to do, with the recognition that you have only one life, and you don’t have time and energy for everything.”

She’s was right. There wasn’t enough time in the day to just do all the stuff I love. I’d skip a workout to do stuff at home, or say no to a night with my friends if I wanted to work out the next day, get home late from work with no time to even think about creative projects.

So I came here to have the time.

Forgetting she was talking about cocaine and vodka, hopefully the words of Kate Moss will be more relevant to me this year;

When her mum told her sternly “Katie, you can’t have fun all the time“, she famously replied with, “Why not? Why can’t I have fun all the time?”

And why? Why can’t we? Even if just for a while?

Live your life by cut-to moments.

Live your life by cut-to moments.

“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans” – John Lennon

You know how when you spend so much time with someone you don’t necessarily notice changes in them? When something happens gradually- a rising tide, a year floating on by like a cool breeze or a layer of Fake Tan fading so slowly you almost don’t notice you’re back to being almost translucent- you don’t really notice until months later when suddenly you see it objectively as if someone’s shown you a before and after. It’s weird, because you’d think spending so much time so close to someone would mean you’d really pick up on what’s going on with them and how they’re growing or changing… but nah, the opposite is true, which is why it makes sense that you wouldn’t notice changes in yourself as clearly either. I mean, you spend you’re entire life with yourself (it’s these kind of insightful sentences that I read back and wonder why I’m not already the voice of my generation. Jesus Christ.)
It’s like that time I didn’t notice at any point that i’d put on over a stone in freshers until I noticed my tits happily resting on my stomach while watching Friends, then saw the crumbs of the 3 cheese toasties I’d consumed resting on said tits. Or my youngest cousin enrolling in uni despite the fact I’m seriously 100% sure she’s still 8 years old, lying on my chest and smashing me in the face with toy farm animals.

Where does time go? And how do we sometimes stop noticing what’s right in front of us until, like Rattata, it’s fully evolved and waiting to fight us in digglets cave? AND WHY COULD I NEVER PASS THAT LEVEL.

So sure, it can be benign things like age or weight but it can also be huge changes in your life that you’ve been too busy working towards and have somehow taken for granted and because I am the big fat queen of barf inducing positivity, the thing I’d like to draw attention to is achievements. So much can happen to and you never really take the time to look how far you’ve come… usually because it’s happened. Even things we desperately wished for become normal and acceptable simply because they’re happening to us and when we’re living it, it’s just, well… life.
But HEY, that’s not cool! Enough wanky stuff happens every day- losing stuff, men shouting “SMILE DARLING”, a dog not being entirely up for a cuddle- that when you’ve done something fucking awesome, you should be your own biggest cheerleader. After all no one else will do that job for you and really, your opinion of yourself is the most important one.

I was riffing (not sure if that’s the right context but I’m owning it) with my big sister, The Steve, and she came out with a phrase that i’ve been using in my head for years “cut to…”. Now this may have been followed by “…me 10 jäger bombs down talking to a cat” but, pretend she was talking about how far she’s come in her career… thinking of it like that gives you a real sense of perspective. It’s a mental before and after that does a fucking brilliant job of ensuring you don’t take your life for granted. I like to imagine it as a sort of movie scene selection thing. A Clueless-esque “Josh? I would never go for Josh. He’s so… just… Ew.” Cut to her full-on pashing Josh at the end of the movie. It’s a little similar to Facebook’s “On this day” feature except it doesn’t make you want to kill yourself.

Definition:
Verb: “Cut to” –
Used to jump directly to another moment in ones life, usually to highlight changes between said points.

“I’m going to eat a plant based diet from now on. Cut to me at 3am eating a bowl of pasta and cheese using bread as a spoon.”

Or, more enjoyably:

“I remember sitting eating breakfast drawing, thinking all I want to do is be an artist. Cut to now, I paint all day and love my job.”

My personal cut-to came this week when I remembered sitting at my desk in London about to tell my bosses I was leaving my job to travel, cut to me walking through the paddy fields in Bali, drinking from a coconut realising I had completely lost concept of what day it was.

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I was like, holy shit, I actually went through with what I said I’d do. That’s pretty cool. And more than that I was proud of myself from how much ive changed. From a stressed 5-year-plan type to a live for the day and smile kinda person, I feel like a whole new gal who don’t need no man! (see: “job’).
So, include cut-to’s in your cerebral vocab and start applying it to different areas of your life. Your health, relationships, personal achievements or personal growth and it’ll make you look at your life objectively and realise how awesome you actually are and how far you’ve come (woo!).

Cut to: this picture I accidentally took of a smiling fish the other day.

Because I had to get this in somehow.

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An ode to Aussies. And one in particular.

An ode to Aussies. And one in particular.

In the words of Ricky Gervais, “Australians all seem so positive & well balanced. Is that possible to have a whole chilled out nation?” 

In order to work this out, let’s rewind. “Timehop” and “On this day” do a bloody good job at forcing me to rewind. When I look back I mostly see images of myself working towards my dream job; Me and Jenn in uni working late delirious, me and Jenn travelling to London portfolio crits at Agencies… etc.

You go Gina, two for you Gina.

Then something happened, a fork in the road in 2012, what Pocahontas was describing as “just around the river bend” was my first break up. It happened in November, I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, as the clock striked 12am on New Years eve I escaped my cheering singing family, walked to the pub toilet and cried. Jenn convinced me to travel to Budapest Party hostels to get over it. (See post here about that magical place) and there, I made friends from all over the world, a huge portion of which are Aussies who I adore. Within this group I met a guy who had postponed his flight specifically to meet me after he’d seen me on Facebook, he was obviously Aussie, and I am definitely English. Bit of an issue there. However, he was adorable and I immediately wanted to be around him in whatever capacity possible. After a holiday romance and letting off a whole lot of steam, Jenn and I flew back to England, moved to London and got a paid internship.

My first year in London I struggled with awful anxiety. I was interning, had no money, was working 10 hours a day and struggling to get to know a new boyfriend who was in a different country and who I only saw every 3 months. I spent most of my time worrying about what would happen in my relationship and what wouldn’t happen in my job. I remember sitting on the tube boiling hot, sweating and my mind screaming. I felt like I was going to be sick. I mean, I was underground so basically TRAPPED GUYS. I couldn’t do anything but sit still until it went. I sat there frozen and missed my stop by three stations.

I don’t think people realise that anxiety is actually completely debilitating at times and the worst part is you’re not entirely sure why it’s happening. I spent almost a year like this which resulted in my boyfriend flying from his job in Greece, to see me after months of being apart. I said I wasn’t happy. I was going out with someone who was never there I was terrified of the future. I have to focus on my career. We sat in Costa and cried for an hour. He said he’d move to London. I said no, too much pressure. He insisted.

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And now, HEY it’s November 2015! Jordy’s been living here for a year, my anxiety’s basically gone, i’ve quit the job I worked so hard to get, to go travelling for a year and i’m the happiest i’ve ever been. I’m pretty sure the reason for this is due to me living my life more like Jordy does.

He essentially turned me from someone who worried about their five year plan every single day to someone who doesn’t know where their money is going to come from and isn’t even worried about it.

It’s because he’s a wonderful person, but it’s also because he’s an Aussie.

He did it without ever having a conversation with me about my worries. He teaches by example.

Australians (well, all the Australians I know) have a great outlook on life, they’re a pretty laid back group of people, and in the process of spending so much time with Jordy, who is a typical Aussie sea dog, i’ve found myself a happier, more laid back person.

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Here’s five thing’s i’ve learned from Jordy, backed up by the Aussies I know.

  1.  Make the most of the outdoors. The reason we Londoners have the highest anxiety in the UK is because we get so involved in the daily grind (whether you love it or not) that we forget to slow down. We don’t have enough space. Most Londoners will escape from the city every now and again for just that reason.
    Australians have it easier, living in a hot and sunny climate sure, but even a bundled up walk in the woods will do you a world of good.
  2. Nothing is more important than mates. Always be ready for new ones. Aussies seriously have their mates backs. They’re like a tribe. Maybe because it’s such an enormous country for such a small population, friendships are made and generally grow together. Whatever the reason, they’re fiercely loyal and probably due to the amount of exploring they do, are also extremely social. They know how to meet people and how to make you feel like you’ve known them for years.
  3. There’s always time for an adventure. There’s only 23 million Aussies, which is 0.33% of the global population, yet most major country in the world are swarming with them. Aus isn’t the most convenient place to travel to and from, but that doesn’t stop them… they just need to explore. And it’s not just travelling… road trips up and down the coast, surf trips, exploring the landscape around them, they’ve got itchy feet and need to see the world. No wonder they seem so fulfilled.
  4. Work hard. There’s a reason why so many Aussies land jobs over here. Their work ethic is second to none. It could be something to do with working in harsher conditions down under (outside work, labouring, working in the mines), or the incentive of more money, but when they do a job, they do it properly.
  5. Play hard. Aussies can drink, ooohohohoho can they drink. This however, comes more from the insistence to enjoy their life and have fun than from a much jibed-at ‘cultural alcoholism’. Fun is important to them, yet we see it as a frivolous luxury. If you insist on playing hard in your twenties in London, you can be mistaken for not being “serious about your career” which we all know is entirely untrue, man alive can you have fun and work hard in London.So to answer Gervais, yes it is possible to have an entire chilled out nation, if we follow this advice; Chill out. Don’t worry about the future and don’t think about the past. Live for the day and have a fackin’ ripper time mate.

Table for one: Why Masturdating is good for you.

Table for one: Why Masturdating is good for you.

“Masturdating”:
Going out alone.
i.e. Seeing a movie by yourself, going to a restaurant alone.

“Dude I saw No Country for Old Men twice by myself. I’m addicted to chronic masturdating.”

I met up with an ex this time last year. I say ex, he was more someone I fancied when I was 16 and “went out with” regardless of not knowing what a boyfriend was (HAHAH DONT SNOG ME THATS GROSS). It was a great reunion. He’s a good guy and we laughed for hours, we talked like old friends do into the wee hours of the morning- discussing old school mates, what we’d done since and what had changed. His new love, and mine.

You’ve completely come out of your shell… you’re so confident now” he exclaimed.

My immediate response was “Nah, i’ve always been like this…” because in my mind I had. But alas, i’m not sure this was entirely true. It’s only by looking back that we realise how far we’ve actually come to being a fully functioning human adult (woo!) and since that conversation, i’ve often looked back trying to work out if he was right. Quelle surprise! Obviously, he was… I mean hey, this is one of the major reasons why meeting up with old friends is so great; you realise how much has happened in between.

There’s a whole bunch of different things that have forced me to grow up and turn into the quietly confident person i’m hopefully becoming; boyfriends, new jobs, social experiences, difficult friendships and so on and so forth… but one of them, to me, is extremely important because I have to do all it myself.

Being alone.

I’m not talking about being single, even though I whole heartedly agree that it’s important to be happy with being alone in that respect too. I’m talking here about being physically alone.

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I used to work as a cocktail waitress when I was in uni and I often turned up early (what the hell has happened to me) for work. There was a restaurant next door so i’d often pop in and have dinner on my own before I started my shift. I thought nothing of it until a guy from my year in uni who happened to be a waiter there came over and clapped me on the back “are you waiting for someone or have you been stood up?” These, apparently where the only two possible scenarios. This guy was neither a dick nor an idiot, but his immediate reaction was that I couldn’t possibly be eating alone by choice. That option didn’t even factor into his thought process.

Spending enough time by yourself and being okay with it has always been seen as an introverts game. They don’t like being in social crowds all the time right? Wallflowers love reading in coffee shops and going to the cinema alone right? Possibly, but so do I, and I’m just about the loudest most social person you’ll meet. Being comfortable alone is for everyone.

I’m excited to move to Greece, meet new people and go on adventures with strangers who will become friends, but i’m also excited about spending time on my own, blogging and eating at tavernas alone, because some of the most important things you learn about yourself are learnt in the spaces between the madness, the noise and the hectic work/social life you’ll inevitably have as a twenty something. In the last 5 years i’ve realised that the only way to be stable, happy and develop mentally and healthily as an adult is to know what i’m like, what I think, what I want to do/be/have in life and that only comes from paying attention to yourself… and how can you do that if you don’t set aside time with yourself? Eenmaal the Worlds first solo dining experience totally get where i’m coming from.

I’m pretty big on the idea (and I think i’m fair in saying that most people are) that the most unhealthy way to live is to not face your problems, to ignore warning signs and to not talk about how you feel and use the support systems around you. But before that even comes into play, you need to know how to recognise the issues and unhealthy habits that are making you unhappy before you can even try to begin to solve them. It might sound super simple “obviously i’d recognise if I was doing something that makes me unhappy GINA GOD” but it’s really not. Sometimes you don’t even know you’re doing it. Sometimes something that is making you temporarily happy is making you unhappy in the long run. The only way to avoid this is to spend time alone. With yourself. On your own, and I don’t mean for a night or an evening to prove to yourself you can do it, I mean being comfortable doing it as a life habit. Getting to know yourself. Reading books you love, books you hate and thinking about why you hate them. Sitting silently in a restaurant eating quietly on your own and genuinely not giving two shits that people think you’ve been stood up.

Someone who can go to the cinema alone or eat dinner alone is someone who knows exactly who they are and are comfortable with themselves. That’s the type of person I’d want to be around, and hopefully after filling up a Nandos card full of dates with myself, that’s the person I’m becoming.

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London: Five things i’ll miss.

London: Five things i’ll miss.

I spent a lot of time as a kid in cities… Paris and New York particularly, but as a teen from up north, the thought of moving down south to live in  London just didn’t appeal to me. However, now that i’m going to travel Greece I’m realising now much i’m going to miss the big smoke and all of it’s quirks. To be honest, there’s no city quite like London.


Breakfast
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If you’re anything like me, you slide out of bed hungover on a Saturday with such an insatiable craving for a specific kind of breakfast you might as well be a chef in her third trimester.

The London Menu:
Every type of egg possible,
Breakfast burritos,
Maple bacon pancakes a la New York,
A fry up for £4.00,
(Pretty much) every cereal ever made,
Coffee and brunch in the company of cats

…and the list goes on. It doesn’t matter what you fancy, London has every breakfast you could ever imagine, and if there’s one thing i’m gonna miss it’s grabbing my best friend and devouring Eggs Benedict while pissing ourselves over last nights embarrassments.

Last Minute Nights Out
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There’s always something going on here. London Cocktail Week is just about over, but we’re gonna have to plaster on our makeup to cover the hangove,r because oh look, FRIEZE Art has just popped up! Oh, there’s an after party you say? I couldn’t possibly, i’ve only  just about moved on from the excitement that was London Fashion week *cut to me dancing to Nicki Minaj at 8pm with a gin*.

Yes, it may not be great for your liver and yes you may not be able to do your best work on Monday, but jesus christ London is a good night out. After 2 years of living here i’m still discovering countless amazing little bars, pubs and underground lairs like i’m Pan from the friggin’ Labyrinth. Plus, if like me you’re looking naaat so good from the night before getting ready is half the fun of going out… and hey, you’re in London! Book a blow dry to come to your work or run to Topshop on Oxford Street, grab a dress, keep the label on and give it back the next day! (I don’t do this) (read: BECAUSE I ALWAYS SPILL WINE ON IT)

THIS GUY.
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BECAUSE WHERE ELSE CAN YOU SEE A 7 YEAR OLD READING THE FINANCIAL TIMES IN AN ANORAK LIKE HE’S GOING TO BUY SHARES.
(picture taken with the permission of his lovely ma, who was also into shares)

Soho *crying emoji*

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I can’t talk up Soho enough. It’s the love of my life. I’ll miss walking to work every morning past record shops that have been there for 50 years, grabbing a coffee from a bike shop full of aussies or pissing myself at the house next to Wardour that has “THIS IS NOT A BROTHEL THERE ARE NO PROSITUTES HERE” engraved on the door.
The road off where I work is the cover of “What’s the story morning glory” by Oasis, Our local Italian lunch spot down the road is Bar Italia, a tiny Trattoria that has been passed on through three generations of the same family. John Hurt and Rupert Everett are just some of the interesting and obscure characters that wobble in for a slice of pizza on a Friday. This place just has so many stories. Queen, Elton John, David Bowie and the Beatles recorded here. And it helps that i’ve spotted Sacha Baron Coen, Eddie Izzard, Graham Norton, Rupert Grint, Meryl Streep, Kit Harrington and DUMBLEDOR on these few streets either having a pint in the sun like I was, or on their way to make TV, Movie or Radio history. There’s just a serious vibe about this place, and it’s what i’ll miss about London the most.

Dogs on the Tube

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There’s one thing I won’t miss and that’s the inability to talk to a stranger in London. Averting eye contact on the tube or the hostility people have towards tourists who stand in the way etc etc. It’s just not nice. WHY CAN’T BE ALL BE FRIENDS? Ahem. There’s one thing though, that completely smashes down this barrier and that’s a dog on the tube. We’re a city of dog lovers and there’s million of these cuties around (that you can now BORROW). If TFL put a puppy in each carriage your commute would be 80% better, because it’s impossible not to exchange a smile and a scrunched nose with the stranger opposite you when a snuffly puppy is confused by the moving of the carriage, or licking a sniff necked banker and his loafers.

I love you so much you big beautiful smokey scary city that I call home. I’ll miss you, London. Line up the Gin’s for when I get home.

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