31 Years…but who’s counting..?

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Yesterday was my birthday. 31 years ago was the beginning of my life.

For 31 years I have walked the path of figuring out what I want to do with my life. I have studied many interesting things, read more books than I can remember, discovered my love for writing, and photography, and yet there are still many things I would like to do. But what is my life’s purpose? I am still not sure. I do know I want it to be wildly creative and passionate and daring. I want to set forth and pour all my creativity out into the world, have it flood and splash out into all the cracks and nooks that need filling. I want to help others, extend a hand to support others, with the support I myself didn’t have at times.

I want to trail-blaze a path of my own sparkly stars.

For 31 years I have roamed the earth, bitten by the travel bug as a child. My childhood is filled with memories camping on the beach, road trips during long summer holidays, and an overseas trip to the country of my birth. This instilled in me a desire to travel more widely, to explore, to discover and let curiosity lead me to whatever I might find. My travels have been educational, inspirational, at times confronting and eye-opening, but I have loved every single moment of my life on the road.

My gypsy soul lives for adventure, and I know it will never give up craving the taste for freedom.

For 31 years I have lived in my body, this body which has been absolutely everywhere with me, my shadow, my life partner. For a long time, we have had a rocky relationship, a battle of wills, which I have often grudgingly won, with my food obsessions and picky eating. Over time, slowly, I am learning to love all of it,the lumps and bumps and Latino curves which seem to be popping up all over the place since I turned 30. I like to tell myself it was all the delish food I stuffed my face with in Central America, but one day soon I might have to concede and admit it may be genetics after all! I have to thank it for keeping on going, and not giving up on me.

It is in this body I have taught myself to become a woman.

For 31 years I have been a friend, and for part of it, a girlfriend. I have met many people along the way. Some of who have played an instrumental part to transform me into the person I am today, others who were put into my life for a reason and a season, to develop in me strength and character, and create a belief in myself that I am strong and I am ‘me’. I have met my soul friends, those I couldn’t live without, who enrich my life every single day with their kind words and beautiful smiles. I also look forward to meeting new soul friends, and spinning new memories into webs of enduring friendship.

The important people have stayed, many have gone. And that’s ok.

Romantic love has come and gone numerous times, and despite the disappointments, I choose to put the past behind me with a smile on my face and search for my happy ending.

I believe in Prince Charming, and very happy endings.

Through all these months, days, hours – I have lived, loved, fought private battles, and come out through the other side stronger and more determined than ever. My happy times, my sorrows, the times where nothing has happened at all.

I am proud of my 31 years. Here’s to the next 31.

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A Simple Lunch…in 15 Minutes

Ricotta Fritters

I love food! Preparing it, cooking it, poring over cookbooks, taking extended trips to the supermarket to poke and prod and obsess about ingredient quality, and continuously looking for ways to modify existing recipes. Perhaps I was a chef in a different lifetime!

Having a spare Sunday today, I decided to delve into my 15-minute meals by Jamie Oliver cookbook, to try one of the recipes and see if I can really come up with a great meal in 15 minutes.

Choosing the ricotta fritters was not easy, as everything in this book is beautifully styled and photographed, and looks mouth watering-ly simple with basic ingredients that can easily be found in the kitchen.

But choose I did, and found myself whipping these up in no time! Fresh ricotta,an egg, parmesan,and a dash of lemon zest…deceptively simple and absolutely delicious once they emerged from the fry pan a few minutes later. And once they were placed on the bed of tomato passata and black olives, a fresh basil leaf from the garden was all that was needed to complete this simple and beautiful lunch dish.

Fresh, nutritious food really is this simple – all in 15 minutes.

Life’s a Beach

Feet in Sand

Yesterday was a beautiful Sydney summer evening, so me and my dear friend took ourselves to the beach for a girly catch-up and ice-cream eating on the shore.  There is something so therapeutic about the way the sand slips in-between toes,  wind blows salt spray through hair, and twilight creeps across the sky that just puts a smile on my face and makes me feel at ease with the world and my place in it. It’s nights like this that I will remember in years to come, the nights where I know what freedom really feels like –  a freedom that expresses itself in the curve of the ice-cream cone, in the laugh of the funny story, the clouds racing across the sky.

Bondi

The many nights just like this is when I feel most grateful – grateful to be alive, to feel, to live, to love, in all the ways and forms I choose. To see the world spread out before me like a magic carpet, woven with all the intricacies of life – the lumps and bumps and valleys and mountains.

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There is creativity to be found around every corner. Coming across the unexpected is a rich treasure, the opportunity to see and experience something new in a different way. Being able to understand that other’s perspectives may be different to mine, but to somehow see the pieces make perfect sense, in their very new and thrilling way.

Karol

Taking the time to laugh, and remembering to see the beauty in each and every situation. Especially when I find myself wearing a blue cartoon character painted on the wall as a hat.

Ship

I found an old book last year in a second-hand bookstore by the ocean, and there is a quote between its pages, which this hand-painted little ship on the beach front wall reminded me: “Be courageous. Even tiny craft brave mighty storms to voyage far” – Steve Parish.

Life’s a beach. A very beautiful beach.

Another book please… and a cup of tea.

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I have always liked reading a lot of books. A lot and a lot of books, but lately I have found myself reading more and more of them, almost like I have developed a voracious appetite for them that I can’t seem to satisfy. And the interesting thing is that they are not necessarily new books, but books which I have previously read and now seem to want to read again- need to read again-surrounding myself with them like a security blanket.

Last week I bought myself the complete set of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies, and have started to work my way through them again – I feel like I am coming back to a very old friend. I first read these books when I was living in Scotland and was looking for some direction and much-needed reassurance in my life, and I found all those things and more among the re-telling of her fascinating and illustrious life.

Perhaps that is why I am coming back to them. Perhaps there is something in them that I need to nourish myself with a second time, some part which needs to hear the wisdom of a woman who has lived through so much, whose life can almost be seen as a road-map to those who come after her. To be inspired by her strength, to rejoice in her triumphs, and share in her sorrows.

All of this…with a gorgeous cup of tea.

 

No Job, No worries! A mini-plan for surviving unemployment

I am now officially one of those people endlessly looking for the next career opportunity, after experiencing some wonderful travelling time.

While I spend my days at home, furtively going through dozens of job ads, it got me to thinking of all the wonderful things I could be doing to get my mind of the often-frustrating task of searching for work.

So I’ve come up with a list of all the things that could be done, in the meantime, to help nourish the soul, to soothe the inner need, to look after me, and you!, while the search continues.

Exercise: While most people are too tired or time-poor to exercise daily with busy schedules and hectic lives, unemployment is a perfect time to keep at peak physical fitness. After all, there are endless hours to stretch before you during the day, so even if you are not a morning exerciser, there is still mid-afternoon or evening work outs to be had. It’s not all about going to the gym either, as I have discovered – you can more than easily fit in a walk or a jog around your own neighbourhood for some good cardio sessions, or work-out to dance clips (or boxing!) on Youtube when no one else is home! For toning, there are plenty of work out plans that require little or no equipment other than your own bodyweight. Admittedly, this is something I need to work on. I can sometimes be the laziest caterpillar on the tree.

Naps and sleep-ins: Just not too many! My belief is that this is a good opportunity to get back into a regular sleep pattern and take advantage of the fact you can sleep in a little later than the rest of the world. Good sleep will also help with stress levels- if you sleep well, you feel well. Many people with busy lives do not get enough sleep, and when you do finally become employed and busy again, it will probably become one of the first things to go! And besides, who doesn’t love a cheeky sleep- in when you know everyone else is waking up to go to work? Enjoy it while you can, snuggly underneath the warm bed clothes.

Prepare yourself healthy meals and drinks: Really take the time to prepare some good, decent food, with wholesome ingredients, freshly prepared. When else are you going to have the time to spend in the kitchen? Re-acquaint yourself with all those wonderful pieces of shiny metal on your bench top if you haven’t already ( hello there, juicer!) and whip up some delicious meals and juices. Like sleep, your body will thank you for it, helping you better cope with stress levels. Drink more water. Herbal tea works wonders too, including the stomach-relaxing chamomile, and Rooibos. Wean yourself off the copious amounts of caffeine.

Sitting in the sun: Having the opportunity to sit in the sun is my favourite thing to do. I’m not advocating sitting in the sun and baking for the sake of getting a fried looking sun-tan. I’m talking a good sit, for 10-15 minutes maximum, while sitting on the grass, feeling the goodness of nature wash over you while your body soaks up the much needed sunshine to help with Vitamin D production, which is vital for maintaining those feel-good chemicals pumping through your body.

Thinking of your unemployment as an opportunity to grow: This one is hard. This is one that could challenge even the most positive person in moments of self-doubt and frustration. I know it happens to me. A lot. Am I good enough? Why is it not happening yet? What if I never end up finding a job again? These are all questions that have gone through my mind at some point over the last few weeks, and yes it is difficult to not be over-run by doubt and self-pity. But neither do I think it is healthy nor does it do your self-esteem any favours. It could be an opportunity to reflect and think, what do I really want? Take a step back and figure out what it is that you really want to dedicate your precious time to.

Read more books: This is a favourite! Because I read books. A lot of books. And now I have a lot of time to indulge my habit. You can read after breakfast, in between job applications, or just because you need a break curled up on the couch. Bliss.

Take yourself on little adventures: Art galleries, museums, cafes, gardens, or even a simple walk around an interesting neighbourhood are all cheapie and free ways to keep yourself inspired and entertained.

Think of creative ways to bring in extra cash: Now is the time to start the new Etsy shop you always dreamed of. Start a new online business,sell some excess things you have lying about the house that you no longer want to make some extra cash if you need it.

Study something! There are lots of free resources online to help keep your mind active. Open Culture, and TED Talks are brilliant places to start. Open Culture offers more than 800 free university courses online through podcasts and videos, as well as a wealth of other resources. Ted Talks is great for motivation and inspiration, and many a night I have spent watching the videos and learning a whole host of fascinating things I had no idea about.

As much as I’d like to say the above will lead to a positive ending fairly soon, finding my dream job, there are no guarantees. But by choosing to keep myself positive, happy, and healthy, I will hopefully be in a better place when it does happen. Little things do indeed build up to big things. Everything will be ok in the end. And if you are going through the same thing, they will be OK for you too.

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Never let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.

Come! Rome with me

The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. – Gilbert K. Chesterton  

While sorting hundreds of photos from my recent 2 month trip to Central America, it made me nostalgic for all the other trips I have taken in the last couple of years. Paris, Barcelona, New York, San Francisco….places I had dreamed of visiting, and had made a reality. One of the most memorable places I have been in recent times has been Rome. I had always wanted to visit this large and romantic sprawling city, walk her alleyways, get lost among historical ruins, delicious smells emanating from tiny, hole-in-the-wall cafes, and visions of Italian men flashing smiles as they whiz by on scooters. There is so much inspiration to be found in the crumbling Roman buildings, the bursts of colour at every turn, letting your own two feet lead you on an adventure.

So, on this beautiful twilit Sydney evening, whilst sitting in the back garden, I am taking a little trip down memory lane. I hope you enjoy the sights as much as I did, and may it inspire a little bit of Rome wherever you may find yourself.

Il Palatino

Il Palatino

Flowers climbing on a wall..creeping upwards, their fragrance filling up the garden with their sweetness.

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These pretty bubble-gum pink flowers, which I imagined myself wearing in my hair

Sitting in the beautiful warm sunny gardens of the Palatino, which became one of my favourite places to relax and watch life go by.

Sitting in the beautiful warm sunny gardens of the Palatino, which became one of my favourite places to relax and watch life go by.

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Jewel colours at the Casa di Augusto

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Follow the rocky Roman road, wherever it may lead you.

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Green is the prime colour of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises. -Pedro Calderon de la Barca

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Il Foro. I got ‘lost’ wandering the ancient ruins of the old Roman Forum, seeming to rise in the last afternoon sun.

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The beautiful, crumbling Colosseum

I loved this beautiful piazza. Full of people laughing, photographing each other, these lions were the centre piece.

I loved this beautiful piazza. Full of people laughing, photographing each other, these lions were the centre piece.

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I ‘accidently’ stumbled across the Trevi Fountain while on a mission to find it, having got lost numerous times, misreading my map and taking many wrong turns. But suddenlythere it was in all its glory – and of course I tossed a coin into the water and made a wish!

Castel Sant’Angelo and the river Tevere.