This week I found it difficult to self motivate, take initiative and be proactive, although that’s been a consistent theme throughout the last month. I’ve been struggling with a health problem, for a start. The week I was due to start college, what I thought were the lymph nodes in my neck started swelling up. I chalked this down to stress and put off going to the doctor’s for a few weeks, then started to get worried when I saw no improvement. My doctor ordered a full blood work up to test for a thyroid condition amongst other possibilities. So far, I’ve gotten my blood tests done and had an ultrasound. That revealed a series of cysts in the neck. They are benign, thankfully, but this scare reminded me that health is wealth and therefore of the utmost importance. I can’t put it off or lower its place on my priority list. If I’m unwell, all aspects of my life will undoubtedly suffer.
On this note, I began a social experiment on reddit forums surrounding morality and body image perception from a cultural, gender and age based lens. I shared a selection of pictures that appear on my Instagram page and asked for honest thoughts and ratings. It’s been most interesting so far and I’ve had the chance to connect with so many people. Many who weren’t comfortable commenting what came to mind sent me a private message. A simple conversation can take many turns. Complete strangers have shared time and space with me and told their stories.
People flock to these forums genuinely looking for advice on how to improve and aren’t always met by love, support and reassurance. Bullying is insidious whether it occurs face to face or online and has the potential to cause serious long lasting impact. As a lifestyle and wellness blogger, the social communities I’m a part of are incredibly positive. I’ve made countless genuine friends who are always there to serve, uplift and encourage. I’ve been a writer for going on six years now. I am always considering my words and finding ways to put forth a message that is tactful and sensitive, particularly because I cover contentious topics that are somewhat easier to tiptoe around. It’s not always about what you say so much as is it how you say it. Tone and intention are powerful.
I spoke to a young man yesterday who told me about his ill wife. She’d been diagnosed with breast cancer and given six months to live. They had just reached that half a year mark and while everyday proved to be an uphill battle in their marriage, they vowed to push through for better or worse. She is currently a terminal stage four. It turns out that his wife’s cancer had began in her lymph nodes and spread to various parts of the body by the time they reached a doctor. It’s funny how people come through as teachers and remind you that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Having a sick partner myself, I could relate to this predicament and definitely had an increased capacity for empathy. We talked about the urge to run, to hide, to seek out ways to add normalcy to a reality that is anything but. We talked about the power of fear and how, just like grief, it is love with seemingly no place to go. We talked about our lives pre and post trauma and how circumstances contribute to certain behaviours, fixations and beliefs. We talked about acceptance, about coming to terms with what is painful. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference. Eventually, I felt that we had found a friend in each other. A confidant, if you will. Two people separated by oceans yet connected with common thread. This is humanity.
It still feels as if I’m spending most of my time in transit, always with a destination in mind yet never quite having arrived. My college classes are tricky because we’re always working towards the next assessment, each being three weeks apart. It’s this brisk pace that will allow me to get my diploma in good time but I still feel somewhat out of place. I have some watercolour and ink painting to complete from a Graphic Design lesson a couple of weeks ago. We experimented with different swatches, colour combinations and techniques. While the teacher breezed through the task in a lesson and ended up with a professional result, I got too hung up on perfection and told myself I’d work from the comfort of home.
My Design and Drawing class is fairly straightforward in that I know exactly what to do for the assignment. I’m just not so how to put that into action. In the past few weeks we’ve been drawing up floor plans and this week need to add elevation markers. Basically, we need to convert the 2D floor plans into a 3D format. This is much harder than the flat birds eye view we’d been working with as we now have to add detail. The floor plans are of our bedrooms but we won’t have to include furniture, only items that are built in like light switches or an air conditioner.
In my Product Knowledge course I have the fullest understanding. Our brief is to design a residential apartment decoration scheme for a couple. We fill out analysis templates, create moodboards for room inspiration and furniture layout, put together character profiles, a specification checklist, a materials board and begin using Photoshop this week. This is entirely new to me as I’ve never used the software to edit anything, even as a digital creator who shares photos, puts together collages and the like. Here is a look into our assignment brief for anybody interested. An interior designer would receive very similar information and work off of that to pull the space together. Even information as broad as what you’ll read is very telling. For example, I’d be able to deduce that Lisa and Max require a low maintenance home that takes care of them rather than the other way around.
Your clients are Lisa McKenzie and Max Casella. They have been renting for the last six years and recently purchased an industrial apartment space in a newly zoned residential area in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. They love the lifestyle and proximity to the city that this area affords them.
Max is thirty nine and a ceramicist who works from a studio in the neighbouring suburb. He rides his bike to work and enjoys the inspiration he gains from this urban environment. Lisa is thirty four and a paediatrician who works at the local Children’s Hospital. She loves her work but the hours are long and demanding. They have a very busy lifestyle, professionally and socially. They love to cook and entertain for their friends and family.
They both love to travel to all parts of the world and they have a particular love for New York, where they can engage in the culture and history of modern art, fashion, and architecture. Lisa and Max try not to bring their work home and use their residential space as a sanctuary from the demands of their work life. From their travels, they have collected a number of unique items in books, posters and ceramic pieces. They want these items to represent their travels but not overwhelm the space. They are interested in contemporary design-making their lives more enjoyable whilst extending the possibilities available for their space.
Their apartment is open space with a prefabricated kitchen and bathroom pod. The strategic placement of the kitchen and bathroom pod divides the space between the kitchen and living area and the bedroom and bathroom area. There is no scope in the brief to remove or create additional walls at this stage. Your clients, Lisa and Max, have commissioned you to select floor and wall finishes for their living, dining, bedroom and hallway areas and then to select furniture for their living and dining area with a suggested furniture layout.
When I’m not working, I’m continuing to make home improvements and have even gone out a bit. A tricky feat as Sydney has been next level drizzly. Our waterways have flooded, homes have been swept away, trampolines have hit roofs and there was even a mini hurricane. Yesterday’s weather reports announced that we’d see three months worth of rain in just twenty four hours. Firefighters and other essential workers gathered with capable members of the public to fill and distribute sandbags.
Being that my home in the Blue Mountains is elevated, we were completely safe and only dealt with minor leaks in the house. They were easily fixable with some towels on the floor and containers to collect the drops. It was somewhat tricky to stay warm but I pulled out my winter clothes and nightgown and my Grandma and I spent the evenings watching netflix and eating scones. We’ve been watching New Amsterdam for the past little while and it’s really grown on me. A show with heart. I used to shy away from medical dramas because they hit too close to home, if I’m honest. Lately though, I’ve dealt with them better and haven’t felt as triggered.
Since I last updated you on my room, we’ve put up the cream linen ruffle curtains that I ordered from Urban Outfitters and created a wall collage. I had some gorgeous earthy botanical prints from an old Frankie diary that I’d kept. I chose a selection of favourites, cut them to size and then arranged them on my wall. They do wonders in filling up the blank space and add lots of personality. This week I’m hoping to take my full length mirror up to the Blue Mountains as it’s still in the Parramatta apartment. I’ve arranged my room in such a way that it currently doesn’t have a place. I’ll need to sort that out on the sooner side.
On Sunday I was able to get out and about to celebrate my Aunty’s thirtieth birthday. We went to Cafe Sydney, a fine dining restaurant at Circular Quay in the City. It had the most spectacular views of Sydney Opera House, a sight I don’t see too often despite being in the City for half of my week. My Grandma and I usually take a different route that involves more backroads and less tolls. Cafe Sydney was refurbished by Hassel Architects and Interior design by Hong Kong based John Morford. His vision was an abundance of natural light, inviting dark timber, metalwork and floor to ceiling glass doors designed to complement the original heritage site. There is recycled black butt timber flooring used. This material is interesting as it was sourced from other demolished historical sights in Sydney.
Artist Angus McDonald was commissioned for his ink paintings of the Harbour Bridge. Opposite the restaurant is the Lounge. It’s minimal, striking and effortlessly elegant with luxe green leather seating. There is a large dramatic mirror wall installation that transforms into a shimmering wall of colour and shape. It is all dynamic, created by Canadian light artist Bruce Ramus. He took ode from REM, U2, David Bowie and Vivid. “Light is the energy felt in the body and the experience that connects us all,” he says.
Ordering off of the menu proved to be easier said than done as it was much too fancy for me to understand. I was debating going with the twice cooked goat cheese souffle with beetroot, parmesan and red sorrel but chose the roasted duck breast, confit leg, fig walnut cream, silverbeet, kale and star anise instead. It was subtle, tangy and had these delicate flavours. It was truly fireworks for the tastebuds. Then there was the real star of the show- I tried the lavender fields mocktail and fell in love instantly. Crisp, sweet and with the most alluring purple gradient. It smelt like a wild lavender bush and had blueberries strewn in. The added pink grapefruit and lemon really took things to a new level.
As always, I’d like to leave you this week with an excerpt from Morgan Harper Nichols weekly series. This revolves around shining on despite challenges. Sending lots of love and light your way dear friends xx
If you are in a tangle of emotions after a disappointment and you are trying to stay positive and look forward while also grieving what was lost, just know that this is all a part of being human. As hard as it is right now, it does not make you any less worthy of the good experiences that are still possible. There might be some moments in life where it feels like the only thing you are seeing are shadows. However, shadows are only in existence because of the light being cast on an object. The light hasn’t disappeared. In fact, beyond the shadows, light is still there and working its way forth.
So, whatever it is that is keeping the morning sun from pouring in does not mean that light no longer exists in your life. Not even the most significant shadows can permanently drown out light. Not even your greatest fears or most profound heartbreak can stand taller than boundless love. Knowing this, you don’t have to pretend to be strong here. You don’t have to act extra positive even though you’re frustrated, tired, confused or heartbroken right now. You are allowed to slow down, knowing that in the same way the morning sun finds its way into the most shadow-filled rooms, light will find the way to you.
Keep rising. Keep rising up each day, even though you don’t know what the future holds. You may fear how things can change and you may wonder if you’re equipped for this journey. At the same time, this is true: you are further along than you think, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Keep traveling through this. Keep traveling through this knowing that even when you don’t have words for the wisdom and strength you’re gathering, this journey is an embodied experience. You don’t have to be able to articulate what strength looks in your life right now to know that strength is finding you right here on the journey. To trust that even when you can’t see it, out here on the road, you are still becoming. Never forget your strength. Even when it’s hard to see it.
You might encounter more than a few ditches and roadblocks that keep you from moving as fast as you would like to but you are still going to get where you need to be when the time is right. In the end, your soul will not be hindered by the people or things that have stood in your way. You may have wondered why you do not come across as accomplished as others and you may not be as far along or have the same advantages as someone else. However, you do have a daily opportunity to realise that the world will move on and so will you, exactly
at the pace in which you were meant to. The world can be incredibly unfair and leave you with a lot of things to compare yourself to, but that doesn’t stop the beautiful reality that light is still guiding you and you will get where you need to be when you are meant to be there.
I hope you can find spaces where you don’t feel like you have to perform. I hope you realise that even though certain people only seem to tune in when you are doing well, you are free to explore who you might be, beneath the layers, when you are not doing anything. Who you might become just by being as you are, being here, as a human being, with a beautiful living soul. That innate knowing that no matter what you achieve, you are loved. You are whole. I know it might not always feel that way when others only pay attention to when you are showing up with visible strength or when you’ve reached some milestone or accomplishment. But, in that quiet place in your heart, this remains true: you are loved, dearly loved, just by being here.
If this is hard to believe, consider the life of the nearest tree. That tree has been standing there for years, growing slowly day by day. This tree has not traveled anywhere and has spent many days where people zoom by in all of their busyness, never noticing its slow yet steady growth. Yet, this tree has purpose. Just by being there, this tree provides so much to the planet, whether we as humans acknowledge it or not. It is not reliant on being seen.
Oh what a gift it would be if we could acknowledge the value of trees and also the value of one another. If we could learn to trust that beyond our daily tasks and responsibilities we each have a place just by being here. Other trees may grow taller or faster around us but each of us has a place. We will not be overshadowed if someone else takes the spotlight. We will not be worthless if we don’t grow like we did last year. Every day, we matter, sometimes in ways that we can’t always see, just by being here.