‘Are you with Me?’

Do you have songs that you associate with? Songs that make you happy? Songs that remind you of the good times and maybe the not so good times? I was just listening to a song that somebody I love once told me that it reminds them of me, a very special insight! Since then, I have listened to the lyrics and am proud of that!

Here is the YouTube

You Tube – Are You With Me

and the lyrics

I wanna dance by water 'neath the Mexican sky
Drink some Margaritas by a string of blue lights
Listen to the Mariachi play at midnight
Are you with me, are you with me?

Are you with me?

Are you with me?

Drink some Margaritas by a string of blue lights
Listen to the Mariachi play at midnight
Are you with me, are you with me?

I wanna dance by water 'neath the Mexican sky
Drink some Margaritas by a string of blue lights
Listen to the Mariachi play at midnight
Are you with me, are you with me?

Are you with me?

I wanna dance by water 'neath the Mexican sky
Drink some Margaritas by a string of blue lights
Listen to the Mariachi play at midnight
Are you with me, are you with me?

I wanna dance by water 'neath the Mexican sky
Drink some Margaritas by a string of blue lights
Listen to the Mariachi play at midnight
Are you with me, are you with me?


Make yourself smile!

Warning – this post is a bit ‘deep’ and could be classified as ‘philosophical’ not remotely funny – read on at your own risk and peril! 

I’m reading a book called ‘Not that kind of Girl’ at the moment which would officially be classified as a memoir. The author talks about living a life where you have memories that you will think back on later in life and laugh at and about not regretting anything or wishing it to be otherwise – even the less ideal things that happen, because these things all bring you to be the person you are now. I have always aligned myself with this attitude very much, so this is nothing new, however the book naturally made me think about my own life, as we do from time to time – and question myself:

  • Am I living a life that I will enjoy thinking back on in my own ‘later years?’
  • Will I cringe when I recall the craziest or less sensible things I have done and or will I smile, smirk and laugh?
  • Will I say to myself ‘ I wish I didn’t do that’! or ‘I wish I DID do that’!
  • Am I experiencing things that will inspire me and possibly others around me now and later’?

I sometimes look around me and think ‘ how did I get here’. Especially on days where my timehop app shows me that only a year or seven ago, I was living a life so different it is quite bizarre to consider. I then look around again, smile and think ‘however I got here, I am so glad I am here’ and no, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve learnt recently that sometimes in life you just need to let go of the way of life and attitude of “I have to” or “I should”or worse still ‘I cant’ or “I shouldn’t”. I also am trying to not do things because I think somebody else disagrees with it. Sure it may make things a little more difficult when I don’t have the most grown up property portfolio or am not asset rich at 40. I may not have focused on my career as much as I “could have” or “should have” over the past few years, but again, I still would not change a thing.

I can tell you that even though some days ARE hard (like the days when it’s so cold that the air hurts my face and I wonder why I live somewhere that the air hurts my face), sometimes it is incredibly lonely for a little extrovert like myself (like when all of your London people leave town coincidently on the same weekend), sometimes you can only afford cheese on toast for dinner (partly because you had to pay for your trip to Brugge for the Christmas markets and a flight to Dublin in the same pay month) and on your birthday when the world feels especially big and your most treasured of family and friends feel especially far away, again, I would not trade it for anything.

I’ve never felt so alive and free in my life till now. I am experiencing things and learning at a rate of knots. Every day brings something unknown and new. Things that make me sometimes rub my eyes and think ‘am I really here’ ‘what the hell is happening’. But one thing I know for certain, I will most definitely smile and smirk to myself and with my very special new London friends and family in years to come. I know this with certainty because I already do. Living life the way that I am living it now brings a big real smile to my face. I have always found life to be amazing, but as each day goes by I know for sure I am following the right path – nobody, especially myself knows where the path is heading, but that is part of the fun! Life experiences and memories like this are more precious than diamonds and to me, more valuable than physical possessions. They say that adventure is the best way to learn – I am definitely happy to be a student of that school of thought!

So, try not to over think things. Relax a little, don’t let yourself be always so serious and start saying YES when you would usually say no! Inspire yourself and live a life that makes you smile!

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Simply Happiness

Be Happy

For those who know me, know I have a habit of being outrageously happy. I am fortunate that joy comes easy to me. Sometimes I do have to look for it, because happiness is a choice and a frame of mind. But it is also about finding happiness and beauty in the most ordinary of places.

My very sweet housemate just inspired me to blog about where you find your simple joys as I was sitting here on the couch feeling a teensy bit less happy than usual (post travel cold – which is always worth it!) and she came bounding out of her room with the brightest and most infectious smile… her smile was so big it made us both giggle and I asked her why she was so happy this morning and she said she had simply been watching one of her favourite TV shows and eating cereal in her PJ’s and life was good!

It’s not only the biggest, most outrageous life events that bring happiness, sometimes (and most often for me) it is the very gentle and most ordinary things that almost go by unnoticed that put a smile on my face. One of the biggest for me is SUNSHINE! I feel my soul awaken when the warm rays hit my skin and bounce off my face, perhaps it’s because I am a Queenslander and I am certain that my soul is made of sunshine and salt water, but life feels good when the sun is shining.

The flip side of the sunshine is that I also love the moon and the stars equally. I especially love to see the moon sneaking around the sky here in London as it’s that connection to the big wide world outside of the fortress of this big city! The moon reminds me of all the wonderful adventures I have had in my life and I can think back to the times I have sat and stared at it from all corners of the globe and thought to myself, what an absolutely wonderful bloody world! It doesn’t matter if it’s a big bright full moon, or just a little sliver, there is something a little bit magic about it and the glittering stars!

Oscar Wilde, a man after my own heart said ‘With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, how could you not be happy’ ? It would be impossible for me to write a complete list, nor would anybody have time to read it, but here is a collection of a few other simple things that brighten my insides:

  • A perfect cup of tea (preferably made by or shared with somebody you love to be around)
  • Writing or receiving a card.. especially just to know somebody was thinking of you (and receiving mail that is not a bill)
  • A great workout… running as hard and as long as you can.. stopping when you are puffing and you have made your distance goal… you can feel satisfied that you have worked hard and take your time and stretch it out.
  • Being half way through an excellent book
  • Sitting peacefully in a café on your own people watching (the people watching in London is very high quality)
  • Fullstop.
  • Cancelled plans – I know it’s nice to see people and as an extrovert this usually brings me energy, but sometimes when there is a lot going on, an unexpected night to yourself or for some other spontaneous fun, cancelled plans can be just what you need
  • Sun rays or perfect light dancing down a laneway or on a drop of dew on a leaf or even a spiders web, this is about taking time to notice.
  • A laugh with friends, sometimes it is just a little quiet giggle, or a full belly laugh that makes tears roll down your cheeks, there is few things better than those times with friends.
  • Remembering your phone number/address when you have first moved to a new city (still working on my postcode here in London!)
  • Crossing things off your to do list. I’ll confess that sometimes I will write something I have just done onto my to do list for the satisfaction of crossing it out!
  • Holding hands with Children. When my nieces and god daughters would look up and me and slip their tiny little fingers into your hands, how precious they are and how lucky you are to have them in your world.
  • Crips clean sheets and that moment when you head hits your pillow when you are exhaustedly tired.

For me right now, my simple happiness is a Saturday morning.. the whole weekend in front of me, the possibility of adventures ahead and I’m about to make a perfectly simple breakfast with a perfect cup of tea. How could you be anything but happy?

live simply

A little bit of Morocco a whole lot of memories.

I mentioned I might get the motivation to tell you about my recent travels? Today as quoted from my expert Londoner friend, I am well and truly being an amateur Londoner….. It’s Sunday and it’s raining and I cant think of a thing to do in the rainy weather…. Well, truthfully I can (my expert Londoner friend can think of alot more than me), but I only want to do activities I can do from my bed… I can very comfortably blog from bed and tell you about the sunny places I have been recently….

It’s very Sunny in Morocco, which is only one of the reasons I liked it.. correction LOVED it. Such a diverse and amazing country, which makes it right up my alley. Mountains, beach, desert, culture, sounds, smells, food, amazing people, goats up trees (YES really!) and Moroccan tea… don’t forget the tea.

Have you ever been blessed to have that sad feeling when you have been somewhere, fallen in love with the country, its amazing sights, it’s people and you know you have to get on a plane and leave it the next day without knowing if and when you will be back? Well the night before I left I wanted to throw the biggest wildest 4 year old style tantrum you have ever seen and refuse to leave Morocco. (on a side note, I did have too many ‘Walk me down’ cocktails (recipe for disaster for those of you following at home – vodka/tequila/gin/triple sec/aigre-douce mixte/blue curacao and don’t forget the sprite) with my travelling companions and almost did miss my early morning flight.. thankfully the driver who came to collect me rang the doorbell which woke the whole hotel up and made sure I got there..). But seriously, when I was saying goodbye to my fellow adventurers, I really did want to stamp my feet and say that I was not leaving and you can’t make me. There is a little piece of my heart in Morocco and I will never be the same again.

I am not going to give you a blow by blow run down of my trip, but I will give you some of my highlights. Although I loved every waking moment of my time there, even I cannot be bothered to write it all down for you and make it feel like you are at some kind of slideshow night. No worries here if you want to skim read too, most people know that although I am always talking, there is no rule that you must be listening:)

I will admit, I was a bit nervous about travelling to Morocco on my own. It’s made out to be some kind of scary dangerous place to be as a western woman travelling on her own. But as soon as I arrived, I realized that as long as you were sensible, it is very safe. I did also book a tour. Partly because travelling solo is far less fun than travelling with other adventurers, but also for safety. Intrepid Tours have amazing local guides who will let you know where it is safe to fill up your water bottle and keep away all the snake wielding, silver selling, direction giving tourist hunters; though my ‘get stuffed I am not letting you near me with that thing’ look does tend to keep them at bay as well, sticking close to a local is extra insurance. The Tour I chose was the ‘South Morocco Discovery.

We started off with a group dinner in the Jamaa El Fna Square in Marrakech for dinner at one of the stalls. UNESCO recognized the square as a significant cultural place in 2001. It is a place very full of life and energy. Story tellers, dancers and other performers put on a show full of sounds, colour and huge crowds gather and get involved, it is an amazing place to experience and an excellent introduction into the way of life for Moroccans. I have a video which is not suitable for uploading, but all you can hear is a mixture of beating drums, chatter, motorbikes, horns, horse hooves and many different languages being spoken. If I close my eyes while I listen, I remember standing there and thinking, this place is so full of life, I LOVE IT and I am sure I will love the rest of my 2 weeks here!IMG_7256 IMG_7260 IMG_7262 IMG_7261DSC_0176Intrepid offer a ‘get you off the beaten track and mix with the locals’ kind of experience. This was quite evident on the first morning of our tour when we headed for the beautiful Atlas Mountains and heard that we would need to leave the mini bus here, hike to our guest house and that a mule was to take our overnight luggage up to Aroumd. It was absolutely amazing! Unfortunately the photos don’t show you exactly how amazing it is as Morocco’s famous sunshine took a little holiday itself that day. There are very few things more amazing than being in a traditional guest house, surrounded by stunning mountains, only accessible by foot and not a chance of seeing another tourist. I looked up the name of the guest house just now to give you more details and rather than an address, it has only GPS coordinates. We took another little hike up further into the mountains that afternoon which was equally incredible and on the return journey, our guides took us back ‘the goat track’ that the local shepherds use. It was very tight and being scared of heights, I closed my eyes A LOT. I wanted to close my eyes when we had to cross past a small waterfall with a sheer drop off the side…. I may or may not have squealed a little on that crossing, but I will never forget the experience and stunning views. Aroumd is a place of magnificent scenery and a peaceful place where locals live their day to day life seemingly without a care in the world for the things we worry about. It is a lovely reminder that we create a lot of stress for ourselves with things that seem somewhat trivial when you see how happy and relaxed these people are. We would perceive that they ‘have nothing other than their basic mud walled homes and loving families’… perhaps they really have everything that really matters?

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The next highlight for me was the Kasbah of Ben Haddou. A Kasbah is kind of like a Moroccan Castle. Big mud built walls for protection and many families lived together inside. The Kasbah is very grand and has been in many movies and TV shows. Most recently in Game of Thrones. In true Intrepid style, we arrived using the stepping stones over the creek rather than the walking bridge that was only a few hundred meters up the river. I loved it here and there was no difficulty smiling for the photos!

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The next major highlight was the overnight camping in the Sahara Desert. This was one of the big reasons why I booked the trip (that and I had some time to kill before I started work in London – a great problem to have!). Unfortunately I was hit with a bit of travellers sickness that morning, so I wasn’t doing as much cartwheeling around the desert as I usually would have been, however I still absolutely loved it and put this on my list of one of the most amazing places I have ever experienced. There was some camel riding to begin with. I hopped up on a camel for the photo, but because I was not feeling so amazing I stayed back and passed out in a room in the middle of nowhere on my own thinking I might need to be put down as I was surely going to die anyway (not dramatic at all😉. After both my camel riding companions and I survived that, we 4×4’d our way into the desert. I have done some time in four wheel drives in the past, but this was a pretty full on ride by anybody’s standards. These trucks would not have a long life ahead of them. We bumped our heads on the roof every time we went over a bump (which was every few seconds) and were hanging on for dear life for the full 2.5 hours. Despite how fun that was, we were all very excited to have arrived at our nomad camp! Not a soul around other than our group, simply incredible. We hiked up to the top of the Erg Chigaga Dunes – the highest sand dunes around and watched the sunset. To use a very overused cliché, there really are no words or photos which can capture that. You can see sand dunes as far as the eye can see, all golden and orange in the sunset, this is something I will never forget. We all pulled our beds out to sleep under the stars that night, competing with who could see the most shooting stars. This absolutely tops my favourite camp ever – even being sick! We were at least 2.5 hours from the nearest town and a world away from everything.

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IMG_7404IMG_7389IMG_7398IMG_7369DSC_0386The night after the desert, we stopped in a fairly standard little village, we were just there to rest and relax. I don’t know if it was because we spent 4 hours four wheel driving back from our desert camp (with no shower facilities) and then another 6 hours in the bus, but the Riad was like heaven! We had a lovely dinner that night, but some of the best laughs I have had in a long time were also shared in the dining room. One of the things I love about travelling with a small group (we had 12 including our guide and driver) is how quickly they become like a little family to you. The inside jokes, banter, the fact that they have seen you tired, sick and un-showered and don’t care. The group we travelled with were amazing and they make the trip equally as special as the sights you see.

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Next up was Essouira. I could spend a lot of time here and I do plan on going back. It’s a quirky beachy place which is kind of a mix between Morocco, France, Spain and Greece. It is unusual for me to love a place which is so touristy, but it just has this special relaxed kind of vibe. It’s all about seafood and wandering. There are markets and lovely bars, laneways and interesting doors. It’s also another famous movie filming location.. most recently also a sight for Game of Thrones. It was also the perfect way wash off the desert and to finish off our tour.

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DSC_0443DSC_0438IMG_7461IMG_7450IMG_7446IMG_7466IMG_7421Some of the other consistent highlights in Morocco was the food. When we started the tour, our guide told us that we can expect two types of food; ‘Tagine and Couscous’ .. lucky for me, I like both of those and always finished it off with Moroccan tea. The honey is something which was surprisingly amazing also, such a strong flavour, always available on crepes for breakfast. They also love bread and will have it with every meal, or as the meal dipped in olive oil.

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They call tea ‘Moroccan whisky’ and they have it pretty much all the time. I loved watching them make the tea, so relaxed and calm, watching the teapot in anticipation of their favourite part of the day, a very lovely daily ritual. It is quite a process to get it just right and it does not taste the same unless you do every single step. You also should pour it with as much height as you can manage (without spilling it all over the table like I did!).

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I left Morocco with so many lovely memories and learning’s. The Moroccan people are some of the most beautiful people I have come across. So calm and happy. Their lives are so simple, but yet so full of love. Their daily rituals are all built around family and tradition. In the villages, they do not want for the same materialistic things that we spend our whole lives working for. They just want food to share with their family and friends they keep close and good quality tea… I think that really is what life is all about?

 

 

New Years Revelations

Welcome to 2015! Have you remembered yet to write it correctly? I mastered this today and was chuffed with myself. But let’s talk about something a little more serious – New Years Resolutions. Do you believe in them? Do you make them? Moreso, do you actually follow them?

I’m pro-New Years Resolutions, mostly because it can be a great way to make a public promise to yourself about something. I don’t tend to go for anything too serious though… Nothing noble like other peoples are:

– Be nicer to people

– Call my loved ones more often’ (this SHOULD be mine this year!)

– Exercise more often blah blah blah.

I’m a big fan for setting myself up for success – something achievable like:

– Put my washing away the day OF washing it

– Practice drinking beer and liking it (practice practice practice)

– Finish watching the whole series of Vikings before the 31st January

– Finally hang my IKEA prints I bought 3 years ago

– Or my ongoing problem ‘ensure I remove nail polish when it starts to chip

You know all things that WILL make my life better, but also make me feel like I have achieved something – these are big commitments for a self confessed non-goal setter.

Anyway, I didn’t blow the dust off my blog site and get you to come all this way to tell you I have already achieved this years goal of using all my milk before the used-by date (tick!) but I’ve been chatting with a darling friend of mine today about how we feel about the New year and that just because the date on the calendar has changed that we somehow think that our abilities and whole persona changes. I mean, if we didn’t know that the new year was here, would we think any differently?

It’s great if you use it to add more positivity to your life, I support this whole heartedly, however I’ve noticed that lots of people feel the pressure of the New Year. Pressure to start making plans for the year, set goals and resolve issues that caused them grief last year. The reality is, that just because you’ve put that shiny new christmas gift calendar up on the wall and vowed to only use your favourite colour coordinated pens and keep it looking perfectly neat with matching hand writing (which works well until your partner decides to write plans that aren’t 100% confirmed in blue pen not black pen and then later on scratches them out with no regard for your big important NY resolution) the only real change is a different set of numbers. You don’t somehow get the super powers to change and resolve things that you couldn’t do last year, or the year before and sometimes you are left feeling negative because you didn’t achieve it. Furthermore, if you are currently facing circumstances that take away your ability to make plans and set goals this can leave you feeling a bit deflated about the arrival of the NY that you have nothing to look forward to. Your holidays are over for god knows how long and all you can see on your perfectly neat calendar are the usual events of work and weekends with no plans to excite you.

So, what I’m saying here is if you are feeling the positivity of the New Year and hitting the gym everyday and pretending to like salad, then 10 points to you, keep it up and please tell me all about it! (and pop by again in a few months and update me on your progress please!) If you are on the other side of the fence and wanting to poison the salad dressing of your inspired companions, then don’t let this get to you – just keep your mind in the same place it was at the end of 2014, when it was ok with your current situation and you were reflecting on the happiness you felt in the year and all that you achieved (be it with or without a 2014 resolution). Get your preferred calendar pen out and (carefully) cross out the date and keep December going – cause it doesn’t really matter as long as you stay happy.

Happy December 39th people!

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Learning begins at the end of your comfort zone

I’ve just completed 8 of the best weeks of learning I’ve had in some time! I don’t consider myself either ‘left brain’ or ‘right brain’ … but perhaps a little of both (middle brain?), so creative fields always challenge me, but I love it! I cannot draw to save myself, but I am not too bad with a computer, so graphic design is something I can have a go at.

I enrolled some time ago in the ‘Introduction to Graphic Design’ course at ‘Designworks’ – a private college based in West Burleigh here on the Gold Coast. I’d been looking for some time for a course that helped get me started in this field – I by no means need to be a full time graphic designer (those guys are far too bloody clever), but I wanted to be able to open up the adobe creative suite and not be too afraid to touch things. To play, to create the basics and possibly make a few adjustments at times. I had googled different courses and found various things… I just wasn’t sure I was the TAFE kind of person – It’s also not just about learning the software – youtube can teach me that…

So I showed up the first night, unsure what to expect and I was delighted that we had a teacher who was passionate, realistic and knowledgable and that there was a small group of only 6. They have fantastic labs and facilities and I went home that night knowing I picked the right course!

Over the 8 weeks, we did so many different things. We were treated to the opportunity to do some letterpress – which we were VERY lucky to do and was so so so fun!

IMG_4522 IMG_4521 IMG_4523 IMG_4503 IMG_4520So, I’m not going to lie – I went home a number of nights very frustrated because it’s not the easiest thing to learn. It’s also hard when you haven’t been in learning mode for so long that you forget what it is like not to be proficient at everything you do, so that in itself is a great lesson and very humbling. I also learnt that graphic design is HARD! You can certainly do an average job without too much training or skill. I respected graphic designers before (I always respect the skills of others as you never know the challenges until you try and do it yourself), but I respect them even more now – the complexities and the room for error is much bigger than I thought!

Our teacher Drew asked for feedback in whichever way we wanted to send it.. so I’m blogging mine. If there was a rating for the course, I would give it a 9/10 (always room for improvement he says). I enjoyed the variety of activities and different ways to learn – not all activities clicked for me (but that’s expected for a group of students as not everybody learns the same way) but it was great to be pushed to the limits (they say learning only begins at the end of your comfort zone). I also liked that all of the activities were brought together at the end – it was great to have both structured learning activities and also the ‘free time’ to prepare our documents. I also liked that Drew gave good honest feedback and would tell us the harsh realities of the real world. I also met a lovely group of ladies, who I am sure I will keep in touch with – thanks to the girls and our teachers for your patience and the giggles – you guys are great!

In summary, I’d recommend this course to anybody who wants an intro to graphic design, but not to anybody who just wants to learn how to use the software. Here are some other samples of the work I did (I means also supported by Drew😉 … IMG_4745 IMG_4753 IMG_4752IMG_4670

The lovlieness of an unexpected bumpy trip

road tripping happiness

This gallery contains 25 photos.

Anybody who’s been watching knows I’ve been to some places this year, some amazing places and I’ve planned a few quick trips. My most recent has been one of the most unexpected, strangest, quickest and yet one of the best … Continue reading