Monday, December 31, 2012

Here's to the New Year

Now I know that I have been a terrible blogger as of the last six months; hell, this may be the last blog post that I ever write for all I know. But there is something about the New Year that brings all of us slack blogger types out of the woodwork. It makes as all a little melancholy, a little contemplative; ready to reassess our lives and make plans for the future.

I can’t stop thinking about who I was a year ago at this exact time. I was so naïve and so young. And so very unhappy. Despite the fact that I was in Europe with my love and my wonderful friends and family just a Skype call away (and we did indeed Skype many times), I was so dissatisfied with myself and my life. But on New Year’s Day I was feeling so positive. I had a little notebook filled with all of my resolutions and goals. Filled with all of the things I was going to change about my life and all of the things that I was going to change about myself. I was going to follow my dreams and finally make my way in the world.

But the year didn’t go as planned, and I was forced to grow up so incredibly quickly that I don’t even recognise the wide-eyed girl who had so many dazzling plans for the future. And I’m glad. I’m glad I don’t really resemble her anymore, because she had the completely wrong idea about life and what is important. She placed so much value on external things, on little golden achievements to hang on the wall and show off to others; on degrees and jobs and houses and the amount of friends on facebook and how many little hobbies she could accumulate.

Because while this year sucked, it is also the first time that I learned how to be truly happy. Ever since grandmamma died and dad got cancer- and especially after the surgery didn’t work and the new percentage being thrown around dropped down to 50%, I realised what is truly important. And it’s not what we do from 9 til 5. It’s not new possessions and it’s not seeming spectacular or interesting or anything other than the norm in other people’s eyes.

It’s how we spend the little time we have and who we spend it with. It’s the rainy days playing boardgames and drinking too many cocktails with family. It’s impromptu road trips and singstar sessions with lovely friends. It’s travelling the world and going on adventures and soaking up every single second of life, even the boring bits that we ALL have dotted throughout. It’s letting go of worry about things that are so unimportant in the big picture- like assignments or not having that dream job. Because compared to losing a family member, nothing else seems worth even one second of worrying thought.

It’s making sure to give your time to the important things: namely those that we love.

And it’s not only me that has undergone these changes. Since the diagnosis there has been a change in the entire family. My sister and mother are having waterfights in the house. My parents are holding hands and going to concerts and booking exciting overseas holidays. My family are closer than we have ever been- we are all taking more time for each other and trying new things together. We are, for the first time, taking the time and, more importantly, making the effort to be happy.

Because, like so many others, we used to simply postpone our happiness- ‘I’ll be happy when’ and ‘I’ll be happy if’. We forgot that if we just took a second to really look at what is beautiful in our lives now, that we actually had everything that we needed to be happy in the present.

So this year, unlike all of the others, I don’t have a long list of resolutions. I don’t have amazing goals or yearly plans or anything of the sort. The only resolution I have this year is to live- to live with my heart open and to take every second to appreciate the wonderful things that I have now, in the present. To be happy now, and not wait for the perfect conditions that will never arrive because they are forever changing and growing and moving further away.

And whoever you are, wherever you are, I wish with all of my heart that you too will enter this New Year with the same resolution. To not wait for everything to be in place before you allow yourself to be happy, but to be happy now, even with all of the imperfections that are a beautiful, messy, crazy part of life.

So here’s to the New Year and all of the happiness that it will hold.

Monday, July 23, 2012

too busy to live

As part of my course, I was required to read a lecture from personal essayist Robert Dessaix. While the whole thing was interesting, I particularly liked when he started talking about the idea of having to be ‘busy’, and how we are missing out on so much of life because of it.

He said that when people asked him if he was busy, he always answered, to their complete surprise and quite often, disapproval: “No.”

And this really stuck with me. There is this idea that we have to be using every second as productively as possible, that we should be working and studying and fitting in as much as we can, that to see someone not follow this path seems almost offensive.

One of my friends decided to simply focus on her studies this semester, letting her boyfriend support her while she finishes up her degree. And while I hate to admit, we all did judge her a bit because of this. After all, she had all of this free time. And free time, as you know, is lazy. It’s unproductive. “She should at least have a casual job”, we said. But until I read Dessaix’s piece, I never questioned why. Why did I think this way? Why was seeing someone take time for themselves such an affront to me?

Working in hospitality showed me just how much we pride ourselves on being busy and how we truly revel in feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Often when I asked someone how they were, I got a ‘oh you know, very busy’, in response. Or, more often, I would get ‘large cappuccino’ said as quickly as possible, a perfect example of just how busy we all think that we are.

Most of my friends build up an incredible amount of flex time that they don’t take until they are forced to and leaving at five pm on a work day has become a sign of laziness.

We rush from task to task without stopping to enjoy what we’re doing. Everything has a purpose. Even relaxation has a purpose. It’s scheduled in. It’s another task that we have to tick off on the never ending checklist. And for what? No one lies on their death bed and says “I wish I worked more hours at the office” or “I wish I went to the gym more often”. They say “I wish that I had spent more time with the people I love. I wish that I had enjoyed myself more. I wish that I had stopped and appreciated the little things.”.

I have always been one of those people that always need to be doing something. I put all of this pressure on myself to complete tasks and often found myself becoming quite stressed when I thought of all that I had to do. But that’s the thing: I didn’t have to do it. Most of the things on my checklist are there because I want to do them. I enjoy doing them. Of course, there are things that I don’t enjoy doing, like food shopping and cleaning, but even then- I have a choice. I go food shopping because I like to eat. I clean because I love a clean house. I work because I want the money to travel the world.

The problem was, even with the things I enjoy, I realised that I wasn’t doing them for that reason. I was doing them so that I wasn’t wasting time. So that I too could tell people that I too was busy. That I wasn’t wasting my life.

And in my desperate bid to ‘make the most of life’, I forgot to live. I forgot to enjoy the present and appreciate all of the things that I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to do.

The other day I came home and I looked at the pile of homework that awaited me. I looked at floor that needed a bit of a vacuum and the sheet music that hadn’t been practiced in a few days.

And then I smiled. And curled up on the floor in a warm patch of sunlight to day dream the afternoon away.

Because Dessaix was right. And the next time that someone asks me if I’m busy, I too am going to say ‘No’. And I too am going to mean it. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I am feeling very optimistic today.

Back story:  I have a habit of deciding on something and then wanting it to happen right that second. It’s like with my previous degrees. I don’t like it? BOOM I dropped it. I want to start doing my Masters even though I’m already doing a degree and I don’t have the freaking time? SIGN ME UP. I decide that I haven’t been social enough this week even though all of my assignments are due and I have had maybe two hours sleep in three days? Break out the wine baby, I’m inviting the girls around. I’m not a patient person at the best of times and it turns out I’m much worse when it comes to full time job hunting.

On May the 31st I started putting in applications. And by putting in applications I mean I have put in over fifty. That is not an exaggeration- my life has literally been writing essays about how awesome and talented I am in the hopes of fooling prospective employers.

By June the 2nd I was in the depths of despair. Why has no one called me? Why am I never ever going to get a job, because obviously these last three days must represent my entire future?

When I make my mind up, I want whatever it is to happen instantly, and so I remained completely depressed for the next week because obviously the world doesn’t work that way.

When I got an interview last week I was psyched. It was next door to Joel, for a small private company and was basically exactly what I am doing now. The only problem? The pay was abysmal. For five days it was what I am making now in four. But of course, since I wanted a job right away, I agreed to the interview and didn’t really think more about it.

Until I got home.

And I realised: what’s the rush? I have a job that’s pays amazingly for what I do and I’m back to full-time uni for the next three months before going to LA for holiday in October. In terms of practicality- getting a job right this second would be another stupid ‘but I don’t want to waaaaaaiiiiit’ decision that would add so much unnecessary complication.

So I decided to try and practice a little patience and not take the first opportunity that comes my way. Instead of applying for allthejobsinCanberra (seriously) regardless of pay or level of incredible boringness, I decided to wait for jobs that I *gasp* would actually enjoy.

And once I made that decision, I got into work the next day and BLAM, two perfect jobs within my skill level with waaaay higher pay grades than I ever dreamed got listed. And even though it’s not all that likely that I’ll get either of them, it’s made me realise just how much more fun it is to apply for jobs that I actually want. And that there are opportunities out there and there will continue to be so even if it takes me a year to find the right career.

Because basically? I realised that my lack of patience stems from a nastier source than I thought: low self-esteem with a dash of paralysing fear. I never wait for perfect opportunity because I doubt that it will ever happen for me. I take the first thing that comes up because I’m terrified that if I don’t, nothing ever will. Granted, a lot of it still has to do with my inability to wait because waiting is just no fun at all- but that is also not a character trait I should foster, because it means that I’m always holding onto the first idea that comes my way. Which isn’t a terrible thing, and it has led to quite a few adventures, but it’s also the reason that I’m in my seventh year of university and I have spent the last two years in a job that great, but is also driving me stir crazy.

So while a little actnowthinklater can be bundles of fun, it’s also nice to wait for that moment- you know the one, when everything falls into place and you know without a doubt that ‘this is it’.

.....Okay okay I lied, it sucks to wait and I don’t think that my mind was made for such a feat.

But still, I’m feeling more optimistic that I have in ages and I know it’s going to pay off eventually.

What about you guys? Do you think it’s better to act on impulse or wait for the right opportunity?

(Image credit: 1.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What, no baby?

I haven’t ever wanted kids. Not even when I was younger, when everyone around me was either a child themselves or a parent and I assumed that all women had to have them. Because every tantrum, every complaint that ‘so and so got more than me’, every ‘I hate you mum’ that came out of my young mouth, made me even more certain that I never wanted to be a mother.

My plan until I entered year seven was to marry someone that loved kids, and make the husband and children all live in a different house to me. The husband could visit on weekends, and I would see the kids on their birthdays. But in year seven I met a very street-wise girl who informed that I didn’t actually have to have children. You can’t even imagine the relief. It was like all my dreams had been answered. In fact, I would go so far as to say they had been. What she didn’t tell me was how other people would react to a girl that didn’t want to procreate.

It was fine when I was younger. They would laugh, mess up my hair and say 'you’ll change your mind one day.' I didn’t mind that so much then because I was always changing my mind. Besides, when you’re young no one takes anything you say seriously, so it wasn’t a huge surprise.

But now that I’m an adult, own my own house, am married, and know exactly what it is that I want (and children are not one of them), that sentence drives me crazy. Friends and family, who all know how headstrong I am and take every other thing I say as gospel, and know that when I make a decision it is set in stone, just will not accept that I am not having children. As if every single woman is wired the same way and wants the exact same things. I say woman because my husband, who dislikes children as much as I do, doesn’t have to deal with this. No one questions his ability to make clear decisions for himself, simply because he doesn’t have ovaries.

What is just as bad, and sometimes worse, is when people do accept that I’m serious, because the judgements they make are overwhelming. While they don’t come out and say it in these words (apart from my grandmother) the general consensus is that I’m selfish. 'Oh…well I guess being a parent is a lot of work', or 'So I guess you just want to focus on your career?' are the sentences that people seem to be most fond of using.

Not having children because I don’t want them is just as selfish as having children because you do want them. I understand that having children requires a lot of sacrifices, but if having children is what you want then I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make you a martyr. It just means that you went through with a decision that you made, and I’m going through with mine.

And the idea that a woman has to pick between children or a career is the most insulting idea ever. I know many mothers with amazing careers, and I’m managing to be as un-career orientated as a person can be. That doesn’t show any signs of changing just because I’m remaining childless. It’s not an either/or.

I don’t want children because I just…don’t. There’s no rhyme and reason to it other than I don’t like them and have no interest in them. I may have misused the word decision- I didn’t consciously sit down and write out the pros and cons. I don’t fight maternal instincts every day simply because I want more time for myself, or a ‘career’. I just don’t have maternal instincts. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

All I want is for people to respect the fact that I don’t want children. To stop making judgements about it based on misconceptions that should have died out a long time ago. And to realise that just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean that I'm programmed to want a baby.

PS. The article title is taken from a book by Leslie Cannold, which is basically the antithesis is everything I have written.

pps. I'm so sorry I haven't commented back to people yet! I was in Melbourne for three days and now have an assignment/Joel's birthday/new dance class/coast trip coming up in the next few days...but once I'm back Monday I'll start being a better blogger again, promise :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Learning from failure (the story of my life...)

I read this lovely little zine called ‘Spoonful: A Happiness Companion’ that is…well it’s a happiness companion. It features quirky poems about happiness, well-written stories about appreciating every day things, and, my favourite, a section about celebrating failure. In it, people write what their biggest failure was and what they learned from it.

Since I like the idea so much, I decided to do my own today. Firstly I would just like to point out that this isn’t my biggest failure. Being awkward, uncoordinated and impatient has led to quite a few failures in my twenty four years, not the least being dropping out of not one, but two degrees (yes, you read that right) with less than six months to go.

But one thing I have noticed in the zine, and in my own experiences, is that it’s the little things that can really break you. Things that are absolutely no big deal can seem like the most important thing in the universe for reasons that no one else could possibly understand (and which you often don’t understand either).

So my biggest failure, or the one that stands out in my mind the most, was this St Patrick’s Day. You see, I suffer, or used to suffer, from a case of laziness. I was one of those people who was always coming up with ideas but never following through. It wasn’t until I was drunk in Dublin and rambling on about coming back in October with absolutely no intention of actually doing so, that I realised, why not? Why shouldn’t I go back in October? And with that thought, I decided to finally start committing myself to the things I said I was going to do.

The day before that life-changing decision I had told Joel that I was going to have a party for St Patrick’s Day. So, with my new-found doallthethings persona, I WAS going to have that party. When I got back I told everyone about it, looked up recipes, went shopping for decorations and was generally running around being awesome at life.

When the day rolled around I got up early, put on the new green dress I had bought for the occasion, filled the house with streamers and stuck cardboard four leaf clovers on the wall, and by the time Joel woke up I had beef and Guinness stew simmering away while I danced around to Irish music I had downloaded.

And gosh I was proud of myself. Here was I, probably the most hopeless person on the planet, actually getting things done and more importantly, not messing things up. It was symbolic for my new found life- one where I didn’t get lost or trip over or forget anniversaries or never do what I say I would.

So, understandably, I had a mild panic attack when a few of the streamers came down and we were out of blu-tak. Joel, being the amazing husband that he is, offered to go out and get some. Since he knew how important this was to me, he drove around to four different supermarkets to try and find some.

When he came back, triumphant, half an hour later, he was greeted by this sight: The house so full of smoke both me and cats were choking, cupcake batter everywhere, all of the streamers on the ground, and me covered in burnt beef & Guinness stew crying “I b…b…burnt my fingerrrrrrrr!!!!”

It was disaster. I had burnt all the food, ruined my dress, and being in a crazy amount of pain for such a small injury didn’t help much either. I fell apart. Absolutely feel apart. For reasons I don’t really know, I had decided that this day was It would determine my entire future.

I had put in so much more work than I normally would, tried so much harder than I normally would, and yet it still feel apart just like it normally would.

So I cried for about an hour and almost cancelled the whole thing.

But while I was crying Joel got the stains out of my dress, put up the decorations, bought a heap of chips and lollies and brought me a glass of whiskey and coke (not going to lie- this was probably what helped the most). He dried my tears, tried to comfort me, and ended up in uncontrollable laughter.

And it was then that I realised how stupid I was being. I had placed so much importance on something that really wasn’t a big deal- and something that was probably a bit ambitious for someone like me. I’m not neat, I’m not organised, I’m a terrible cook, and every single time I have tried to organise something in the past it has ended up exactly like this.

I learned that day that I will probably always fail at things like this. I learned to leave all the planning, cooking, and decorating to my talented friends. I learned to always have a back-up plan if I ever feel the need to attempt something like this again. I learned that stories like these are part of the reason why my friends and family tolerate love me.

And most importantly, I learned to laugh at myself, which is a very important lesson indeed.

What is your biggest failure? And what did you learn from it?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Not quite six months....

I know that I said I would be away for six months, but since my last post things have changed. Or rather, I changed things. I guess I just got sick of living my life based on expectations of myself that were, for lack of a better word, stupid. Boy oh boy were they stupid. Here was I, the least practical person on the planet with no commonsense and a bad habit of daydreaming at the most inconvenient moments, studying TEACHING.

Apparently you need common-sense and an attention span better than that of a goldfish to teach the new generation. Who knew?

So half-way through the semester, with six months to go, I dropped out. I realised that the only reason I stayed with it for so long was because of fear. I was scared of venturing from the nice, safe, career-orientated practical, to the uncertain and risky creative.

But I’m NOT practical. I am a creative dreamer without a shred of common sense and realism in my body. Unfortunately creative isn’t safe. Creative leads to degrees and dreams that scare people; to the kinds of ideas that prompt them to say “so...what job will you have exactly?” Creative isn’t embraced in our society because it is risky. It doesn’t lead to an automatic career and therefore it is seen as worthless.

That’s the way that I was brought up and it’s so hard to shake the shackles that bind me to the straight, predictable and narrow. Not that my parents at all forced that on me; instead it was my own play-it-safe self that was too scared to see any other way.

But I’m not like that anymore. I need to be true to myself and I need to sparkle in the way that only I know how. I see so many people watering themselves down, never being as bright as I can see that they could be, and I am terrified of ending up like that.

So now I am doing my Masters in Writing and Literature, and you can bet I’ve heard ‘”So...what will you do afterwards?......” maaaany times in the last month.

And the answer is: I don’t know. But I’m tired of being governed by fear, of clinging to what is safe, of ignoring who I am, even if it that doesn’t necessarily lead to a job of sorts.

Understandably my parents were a little confused when I first made my decision. After all, it was ‘just six more months’, why couldn’t I finish it off and then pursue what makes me happy? And it makes sense when they say it. Six months is nothing, right? And to us, it isn’t. We rush through each six month block, trying to get to the next one. We stay in jobs we loathe, finish off degrees we don’t care for, straining at the bit for the future and all of the promise that it holds. But when we finally get there we’re off again, looking towards the future once more because we’re too scared to admit that we’re unhappy and dissatisfied where we are. And we stay unhappy and dissatisfied until one day it is too late, and we realise how precious those six months were and regret how carelessly we tossed them away.

I don’t want to look back knowing that any six month block of mine was filler. I refuse to waste my life like that, waiting for the future to come so that I can really start living.

I don’t really know where I’m heading at the moment, but for the first time I’m really truly excited. There is a sense of expectation in the air that wasn’t there when I was hiding behind back-up plans. Because there is nothing more cowardly that having a back-up plan, not when it comes to your dreams.

When I was Europe I was looking for a sign. A sign to tell me that I was doing the wrong thing, a sign that called on me to focus on my writing and stop messing around. It didn’t hit me until I got home that the looking WAS the sign.

Most of the time we know exactly what we want. Waiting around for the universe or whatever else you believe in to give you the ‘okay’ is a cop-out, an excuse not to try for fear of failure.

I don’t want to waste time doing things that I don’t love. That’s not to say that I’m expecting to fall into my dream job and won’t settle for less. I understand that life, as wonderful as it is, is not like that. It’s about compromise. I would like to write all the time but I also like having money to go out to brunch, to do fun things with friends, and to see that world. Hence I will get a job that allows me to do that, but will also give me the freedom to write in the evenings and maybe provide the funds to intern somewhere amazing if the opportunity comes up.

So...I’m not entirely sure where to go to from here and I have NO idea where I will end up, but for the first time I’m just enjoying soaking up every minute of the present.

Monday, February 13, 2012

blogging break

This has been leading up for a while now, I'm sure none of you are surprised, but I will be taking a six month break from blogging. As silly as it sounds, starting this blog really did change my life. It gave me space to organise my thoughts, to understand the world and my life a little better, to meet amazing and inspiring people, plus it taught me just how dear words are to me. And it got me to start writing again, which is something that has sweetened every day and made anything seem possible.

But my trip away gave me space and time to evaluate. I was so busy last year; I pushed myself so much to make the most of every second that I ended up dreaming and worrying the year away. This year I will be finishing my education degree as well as continuing on with my masters- so I will have five classes on the go at any one time, three full days of work, two days of prac- and in between dance class, performances, article and story writing, piano practice, yoga, visiting family, time spent with friends, road-trips, more overseas adventures (fingers crossed!), and nights in with Joel to fall even more in love: something had to give. And while I adore this space, I have found myself increasingly unmotivated to post: even resentful of having to post sometimes.

So I am on hiatus until I finish my degree, and then I will re-evaluate again because I am going to have so much free time then that my head might explode with excitment (and I will probably get all motivated and what not again). But for now I have to take time off to try not to fail my classes and/or life.

If you are sobbing bitterly now and are thinking 'whatever shall I do without Kaylia', you can read my articles at lip or HerCanberra (or pick up issue 6 of Spoonful!). But if not (which is a lot more likely), then have a wonderful year and thank you all for being such amazing, kind, sweet people!!! 

If you want to keep in touch, my email is happylookingkid(at)gmail(dot)com- I may suck at blogging but I'm pretty impressive at procrastinating responding to emails. 


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Guest Post: Vanisha

Hey guys, here is the last guest post and I couldn't have picked someone better (if I do say so myself). I have only known Vanisha's blog for a short time but I'm already hooked. It's funny, honest and there are always beautiful photos to drool over. PLUS she lives in Canberra and does a much better job of summing up my awesome home-town than I do. Enjoy!

Hello! I'm Vanisha from Vanisha's In Life...Australia Kaylia invited me to write a guest post whilst she's on her fabulous holiday! Being asked to write a guest post almost feels like being invited into someone's home. I'm honored. Kaylia said write about "anything" so I thought I'd write about an amazing trip I recently took. 

A lot of people find it odd that of all places, we decided to got to Timor Lestse. Let me preface this decision a little. It all started in front of this fire place in the middle of winter in the Kangaroo Valley. Two acquaintances sat. Trying to get warm. And the words came. He told her about his country. She listened. He spoke of struggle. The struggle to gain independence. The loss. The dreams put on hold. This acquaintance became a friend. He told me about his involvement in the resistance in Timor Leste. I was shocked, captivated, intrigued. 

And so began a long love affair with the country, which about a year later resulted in a trip there. 

To see for myself. 

Here are my top 10 favorite moments from our time to Timor - in no particular order. 
(you can read more about this trip here)

1. Visting Cristo Rei. 

The first post I did about our trip (when we booked it) had a picture of this statue of Jesus Christ. Actually going up and seeing Cristo Rei was amazing, and that I took these pictures and they are mine was a wonderful feeling. Timor started coming 'alive' to me.

2. Fresh Fruit Juice of Amazing Variety.

Timor has an abundance of fruit and vegetable. Everyday I had a different freshly made fruit juice. I was most intrigued by the Mango and Bok Choy one, but not game enough to try it! 

3. Sampling Local Fruits on Long Car Rides. 

During our road trips, we were constantly stopping along the way to try the different local fruit. Many are similar to what we get at home, in Fiji. But there's something quite romantic about stopping on the side of a road, running across to the vendor and picking some up

4. Being Included - Traditional Timorese Dance, the Tebe.

Danced in a circle, holding hands.

Staying with a family in Timor as opposed to staying in a hotel was the best decision. My husband, Patrick and I became part of every day life. I even picked up a fair bit of the language!

5. Maubara.

Maubara is a quaint little place, a distance from Dili (the capital of Timor). Maubara is quite popular for it's palm weaving. 

6. Mid-night Mass (Christmas) with First Holy Communion.

Experiencing Christmas in different countries has become a passion of mine. In Timor, we went to Mass. This was very special, because our little 'nephew' was having his first Holy Communion. Mass was held outside as the Church was being renovated. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there. 

7. Wearing the traditional Timorese clothing - the Tais.

My background is Psychology and I lectured in Cross-Cultural Psychology at the University of the South Pacific for two years. Learning and living cultures is what I do. It's a big part of my life. I could not wait to try the traditional Timorese attire, the tais. It's a hand woven tube like dress, that's worn either as a dress or a skirt... 

8. Getting a ride on a Motorcycle whilst wearing Tais! 

Motorcycles are VERY popular in Timor. The first motorcycle I went for a ride on was during my trip to India. But this one was so much better, it was a twenty minute ride at 2am from a Christmas eve party - this is me 2am Christmas day heading home after a night of partying, Timorese style! (This ride was a big deal, because I can't/don't drive - anything) 

9. Beach Barbecues. 

Showing up early (11pm!) to the beach for some barbecue. The woven baskets contain rice made in coconut milk. So delicious. 

10. Listening. Everyone has a story. 

Listening. Just listening. Friends, family, strangers, openly told us their stories. About their struggles. Their triumphs. Their hopes. Their fears. EVERYONE had a story. And we were content just listening. Just learning. Trying to understand what happened in Timor Leste. 

If you ever get an opportunity, do visit. Timor was an amazing experience for me. So few people know about Timor - where it is, it's history, it's beauty...I feel privileged to have been and to have learnt everything that I have (even though in the grand scheme of things, it is quite minuscule and there is so much more to learn and understand) 

Kaylia thanks again for having me over! 

For those of you who may have missed it - Kaylia was over at my blog, sharing her Perfect Day In...Canberra!

I'm still posting about my trip to Timor, so if you're still curious come by and have a look! 

Timor Leste Through Our Eyes (specific Timor posts)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Guest Post: Brandi of ´Not Your Average Ordinary´

This guest post is quite exciting for me, as Brandi was actually the reason I first started my blog. She was one of my first followers and has been such an inspiration throughout this whole process. On top of that she is the sweetest person ever and such a beautiful woman inside and out. Without further ado, here she is:


I was so flattered when Kaylia asked me to guest post for her. You see, she's one of my favorite sources of inspiration and honesty on the great big blogosphere. I was sipping tea, trying to decide what to write and feeling more unsure of myself than ever. It's been a bit like that lately in my world. When moments like those overwhelm me, I stop what I'm doing and brew a pot of tea. The first cup is reflection, the second poured becomes evaluation, the remaining cups devoted to action. It's one of the best things I do for myself all day, the little ritual.

There’s something wonderful about daily rituals – those little times during the day that remind you to slow down and savor the moment. A pot of tea. A few minutes spent writing in a journal. A walk through the neighborhood or a field full of flowers.

It’s ironic that something that happens every day could be your opportunity to see the world in new ways.

And sometimes the best reminder of how much you need those rituals comes when you’re far away from daily life, when you’re in a completely different place surrounded by new sights and people and are wandering down streets that aren’t yours.

Don’t you think it’s all time we followed Kaylia’s example and take a little vacation from our daily lives to see what we need more of?

You can find more of her wonderful writing here: Not Your Average Ordinary. The beautiful photos are also hers :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Guest post from Deidre of Decoybetty

Here is another guest post from a fabulous blogger; this time it's Deidre from Decoybetty. This blog is one of the funniest, most honest, most inspiring blog around (with the occasional dash of delicious recipes to boot). Check out her beautiful blog at and you'll see why she is one of my all-time favourites.

Guest post:

When Kaylia asked me to write a guest post, I stared at the blank screen and the only things that came to mind is how every post that Kaylia writes, I read along going “Yes! Yes! Yes!”  This girl writes (albeit way more eloquently) what I’m thinking.  But you read her blog, you know how fabulous she is.
She recently wrote about the ‘anonymity’ of travel. I’m addicted to this feeling.  I’m an expat. I was born in America and got my first taste of Australia in the young adult book “Looking for Alibrandi” where a teenager skips school to hang out with a boy which is basically all the things I am not. I’d never skip school and I didn’t really talk to boys until well…to be fair I still don’t really talk to boys.
So in college when I got the opportunity to study abroad in Australia I knew this was my chance to be a little bit of that girl (to be fair I thought she lived in Melbourne the book actually takes place in Sydney, just because I switched continents doesn’t mean I got better at geography).
After college, I was so addicted to the feeling of knowing that no one knew me here that I moved to Australia permanently. No one knew how shy I was, how scared I was, how socially awkward I can be (although some found out more quickly than others).
There are a million reasons as to why people travel and all reasons are totally valid, but the ability to reinvent ourselves while we are faced with challenges that we often don’t face at home, there are some big ones: hello visas! Navigating a new health care system! Or learning how to apply to jobs in a foreign country! Or simply ordering food at a café or learning a new public transport system.  It’s these times I think we show our best selves. The ones that problem solve, that ask questions, that learn new things and don’t take any thing for granted.
You can check out some more of expat adventures over at my blog decoybetty.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Guest post: Courtney from Vintch

Hey all, here is a guest post from one of my  favourite bloggers: Courtney from Vintch. I have been reading this lovely lady's blog for over a year and am so honoured to have her doing this guest post for me. You'll see once you read her beautiful writing why she has quickly become a must-read on so many people's lists.

On finding her voice

My mama hates mayonnaise and is not fond of hanging baskets.
My dad has Dallas Cowboys pajama pants and a penchant for ranch dip.

And I am their daughter. I slept one floor above them for 21 years, until the night before my wedding when I crawled into my twin bed and cried, my cheek warm against the cotton sheets, my hands wrapped around the cracked gold posts. I cried not because I was scared or nervous about the wedding, but because I would never again sleep there. Never again hang my feet off the side and onto the carpet. Never talk to my sister in the dark until we both fell asleep mid sentence. It was bittersweet and hard.

For years, I made my chicken casseroles with sour cream. And even though my front porch has hooks for baskets, my begonias sat on the brick steps. When the Cowboys were on, my husband and I were in front of the television, though I was often looking away or sewing. I dipped my chips in Hunter Valley on the living room floor.

I smile like mama, stutter like my dad.

Without knowing it, without deciding it, I’ve found myself liking the same things they like, and vice versa. And somehow, between taking my coffee with two sugars and making peanut butter sandwiches at midnight, I realized I’d lost a bit of myself.

So I made new traditions. I learned to relish my king sized bed, and I tried real tuna salad. I realized I actually don’t really like ranch dip, and I’d much rather be watching E! than a football game.

And it’s okay. After all this time, it’s so beautiful to realize that.

That to challenge their preferences doesn’t weaken them or make them any less special. It also doesn’t make me a bad or rebellious child. In fact, it’s a testament to their parenting that I am comfortable forging my own way through this wild world.

I love my parents to the end of this earth. They are my cornerstone and backbone, and my favorite evenings are the ones spent walking to their house from my own, one hand resting in Robert’s.

But I leave eventually. Once the coffee is gone and the sun is setting, we walk back. To our cottage. Our life together. Our dog in the window.

And today the sun is shining and it’s unseasonably warm and I’m thinking about hanging baskets. And how lovely they would look on the porch. And how pleased mama will be when she stands under them. About reclaiming my voice, saying I love you in a language I never knew until now.