2010: The Year That Was.

It still feels like this past year has gone by in a blur.

To follow tradition, it's time to get busy re-capping, just like in years gone by: 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before? Secured a date, a church and a wedding venue! Left my job, shipped a cat overseas, planned an epic pre-wedding-moon & visited more of North America and Canada on our way home from London. We also saw Lifehouse (twice!) in intimate gigs in West London.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Here were my resolutions for 2010: blogging, travelling, being healthy & reading. I did blog more last year, though things did quieten down around here while I was away. I travelled a lot, and feel incredibly blessed to have seen so many amazing places this year. This year, I lost over 20lbs - and while I've hit a bit of a stand-still, I'm excited to see how far I can push myself next year. I read quite a bit, though not as much as I'd like. I'll definitely be making some more goals for 2011.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My friend Laura gave birth to little Eva, who is the most adorable thing I've ever seen - I met her on my second day back home in Sydney, and fell in love.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Not this year.

5. What countries did you visit? The United Kingdom (duh!), Australia, France, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Vatican City and the Netherlands. We also visited the United States (Florida, Nevada, Hawaii) and Canada (Vancouver, Calgary & the Rockies). It was a brilliant year.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? I'd like to have a little more patience, and a lot more willpower. It's something that I always struggle with.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? The last day of my life in London, which was October 15th - and then the day we arrived home for good, which was December 7th. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I started thinking more about me. I'm not a teenager anymore - I'm 26 years old, I don't have time to be taken advantage of, and I want to spend my energy surrounded by people who mean something to me. This year I learned a lot about myself.

9. What was your biggest failure? I lost a friend (& a bridesmaid) this year, for reasons I mentioned above - and while it was sad, I feel like it was the right decision to have made. Still, it makes me question myself and the kind of person I am - am I too quick to push people away?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing major this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought? I literally picked up our new car today! Being car-less for the past few weeks has been slightly stressful - so this is a good purchase. We ended up with a silver Honda Jazz, and she's beautiful!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Jason. He's my rock, he's so patient with me - and I learn new things about him all the time. We've made it through so many changes, we've travelled together, and we've jumped through more than a few hurdles since being back home. I can't wait until we're settled into our new apartment and can start planning for the coming year. I also want to shout out to my bestie, Miss K, who has stuck around with me for yet another year & who is just fabulous. I feel so lucky to call her my friend, and I don't know what I'd do without her.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? A few old 'friends'.

14. Where did most of your money go? Travelling for two months, and all the joy (and $$) that comes with moving back home. We've bought a car, we've put down rental deposits, we've paid for wedding stuff, we've organised a deposit for a potential home to build. It's been costly. 2011 is going to be the year of spending & of organising our finances. (Also: I need a job.)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Everything I've already talked about: travelling, finishing up our time spent in London, moving back home.

16. What song will always remind you of 2010? The entire 'Smoke & Mirrors' album by Lifehouse. Seeing them perform live in concert was all kinds of amazing, and there's not a single song on that album that doesn't scream 2010 to me.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

(a) Happier or Sadder? Happier. I'd love to keep staying 
(b) Thinner or Fatter? Thinner. But still have a very long way to go.
(c) Richer or Poorer? Poorer. But all for good (& necessary) reasons!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I'm pretty happy with what I did this year, to be honest.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? I wish I'd calmed down a little and stopped worrying so quickly. I tend to let myself get stressed out too easily over little things.

20. How did you spend Christmas in 2010? We spent Christmas Eve at home with my family, for our traditional dinner. Christmas Day was spent with Jason's family. Boxing Day was spent with more relatives. We didn't have a lot of time for 'just us' which is something I missed - especially because we've been so used to our own time together on the holidays. Hopefully this time next year, we'll start making our own Christmas traditions.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010? We stayed in love. He's my best friend.

22. How many one-night stands? I'm boring. None this year. ;)

23. What was your favorite TV program? I've have to say Grey's Anatomy, the Vampire Diaries & the IT Crowd.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don't hate anyone. Disappointed in a few people, but I don't hate.

25. What was the best book you read? I started re-reading the 'Tomorrow, When the War Began' series by John Marsden, and I'm flying through them. I also read & enjoyed Little Bee and the Five Greatest Warriors.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Lifehouse.

27. What did you want and get? We got to travel and leave London with a bang!

28. What did you want and not get? To already be married & with babies & puppies. Y'know, I don't ask for much.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 26, and had a really low key and chilled out birthday this year.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Nothing; we had a corker of a year.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? Same as always: jeans skirts, flats.

33. What kept you sane? I'm going with the same as last year: Jason, Oscar, Kirby.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Not really sure.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? The K.Rudd/J.Gillard prime minister mess up.

36. Who did you miss? I missed everything about Australia when I was in the UK. Now I miss everything about the UK while I'm here in Australia.

37. Who was the best new person you met? I met several online people this year: Lacey from Perks of being a JAP, Karen from Dream Once More, Heidi from Heidikins, and Britt from xoxb - and I feel so lucky to call them friends. Honestly, the internet is fabulous. 

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010. Good things come to those who wait!

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. “All I want now is to be with you, cos you know I have been everywhere else. Looking back at what you got me through, you knew me better than I knew myself.'

40. What are your resolutions for 2011? Keep on losing weight, move more, throw a kick-butt wedding & enjoy spending time back in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Happy New Year everyone!

Christmas Back Home

So it's that time of year again - can you believe it!

Since Australia is a few time zones ahead, we'll shortly be off celebrating our last Christmas together as an engaged couple. It's pretty special to think that by this time next year, we'll be married. How bizarre is that, hey?

First up is a Christmas Eve traditional feast here at home at my parents place, followed by Christmas Day at Jason's parent's place. We'll be wrapping up the big day by relaxing with more family on Boxing Day, stuffed with leftovers and nursing full bellies. This is the first summer Christmas we've had in a while, having spent the last three winters in London town, and it feels strange but good at the same time. It'll be nice having our own place to celebrate though - maybe this time next year we'll be able to set up our own Christmas traditions.

I hope that wherever you are and whatever holiday you're celebrating, that you have a safe and fantastic time. Merry Christmas - and if you've been good this, maybe you'll be paid a visit by your very own Santa Claws!

Merry Christmas my lovelies - have a fabulous & enjoyable holiday! xx

Good & Bad

And... there I go again, disappearing for random days and forgetting to blog.

It's been crazy around here. I'm still without a car and without a job, but on the bright side - we found an apartment! I researched like my fingers were about to fall off, I looked at a few places with some good company, and I put together a kick-ass application to rent and wham!

We have a place. It's pretty fantastic too: it's a brand new unit in a brand new complex, has air conditioning (double woo!) and wooden floors. It's also fairly close by to a train station (as in, across the road) so Jase can get to work in the city easily. We move in on January 7th, and I can't wait - we'll finally be back to our little family unit again.

Unfortunately though, there's been some bad news too. My nan, my gorgeous, sweet-tempered and completely beautiful nan, has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She's coping remarkably well with it all so far, but we've all been a bit of a mess around here. The past week has been spent in all sorts of treatment rooms and diagnostic centres, to try and see how aggressive it is. It breaks my heart to have something like this happen to someone like her, but all I know is that I'll be there to support her no matter what happens.

Somehow there are only five days left until Christmas - and it still doesn't feel like it's that time of the year yet.  I hope the spirit will hit me by Saturday, because this is usually my all-time favourite holiday.

Home Sweet Home

I never thought it would take me such a long time to touch base after we'd made the move back home. It's crazy to think that this time last week we were spending our last day on the beach in Hawaii - and now I'm here. You guys, it was such an awesome holiday, it really was. We went to so many different places, adapted to a billion different climates, met some awesome people & took way more photos than I'd care to admit.

But then, all too quickly, it was all over. Jase and I flew home together but then went off to our separate homes - which has been more than a little strange. We picked up Oscar-cat the following day and have been trying to see each other as much as possible since then - which is a bit tricky at the moment, since I still have to buy a car & because we live half an hour apart. Oy, I miss having our own little apartment to come home to.

The goals for the next few weeks are to a) find a car, b) find a rental property and c) make a decision about which house to build on our block. Add in me finding a job to the mix as well as, oh, you know, CHRISTMAS {what? It's December?} and it's going to just fly by. I feel like my head is all over the place, but I'm going to just keep swimming and see what happens. I'll do some travel recaps over the next few days {or weeks?} but I just wanted to say hello & see what I've been missing out on. How's everything with you?

I'll leave you with the view of Waikiki Beach we had from our hotel room - aaah, bliss. Take me back!

Fall in Holland Park, London

One of the last wonderful things I'll remember doing in London Town is also one of the simplest things. Miss Kirby & I packed up a picnic lunch and, delighted to see the actual! sunlight! that was making a rare appearance in the city, headed for Holland Park. These pictures are some of my favourites from that day.

Guest Post: Life of A World Traveler At Heart

Hello, I'm Karen, and I'll be blogging today while she is out and about discovering Europe with her friends. I'm absolutely thrilled to be a guest on Aly's blog today! You can usually find me blogging at Dream Once More and tweeting at @dreamoncemore. I'd love for you to check out my blog & follow me on Twitter.

I am 27 years old and just recently graduated from university (graduate school). While that might sound kind of old to you, it's not that uncommon in Germany (that's where I live!). In the eight years I spent pursuing my degree I also spent two years living abroad, one in the States and one in Spain. While I realize how lucky I have been to get that opportunity, it has been over two years since I came back from Spain, and I feel ready to move somewhere else again and explore another part of the world.

I would love to spend a few years living and working abroad like Aly did, maybe in the States, Canada, New Zealand or Australia. But finding a good job abroad with no prior work experience sans a few internships would be really hard, and taking a crappy job just to live abroad? I kind of feel too old for that. That is something I really envy Aly for, finishing university at such a young age that she was able to spend three years living in London and still be younger by the time she goes back home than I was when I finished grad school.

There are several work & travel programs out there that allow you to live and work in Canada, New Zealand or Australia for a year. But let's face it, most of those jobs are probably not the kind you need a graduate (or any) degree for. I have realized that before college would have been a better time to spend a year abroad on a work & travel visa. Now I feel like I should be in a place where I already know what I want to do with my life. I should be looking for a solid job that will give me work experience in the field that I will be working in later. I feel like I need to prove that I am not a flake.

At the same time, another part of me is thinking, should I really care what others would say? Ideally no, I shouldn't, but realistically, it is hard enough to find a job with a degree in humanities in the current economy. So spending another year or two traveling will make me look like I still don't want to commit to a serious working life as a grown-up despite being 27 years old. That is not something companies are looking for in a potential employee so I feel like I need to make my decisions with my resume in mind. I never liked this kind of thinking, it seems so calculating and insincere, but I am already doing it, and have been doing it for a while. And the ironic thing is I do not want to have a career in the sense that I want to become the CEO of a company or become rich. I just want a job I like and that will pay my bills, one that will allow me a comfortable life, not living paycheck-to-paycheck.

I am 27 years old and still don't really know what I want in life. In the past few weeks, since I started looking for a job, the picture has become a little clearer though. I went from not even knowing what kind of job it is I want, to knowing what I might want, though I haven't narrowed it down to one thing just yet. While part of me is still dreaming of moving abroad again, the other part of me knows that likely I will be working here for a couple of years before moving abroad will not be a step back in my career.

Don't get me wrong, despite all this talk about wanting to move abroad, I do love living in Germany. I just want to experience living in other places as well. In that regard, moving to the US for a year in 2004 was probably one of my most life-changing decisions yet. I realized just how much I enjoy living abroad, and while I do miss my hometown, my friends and family, being able to experience a different culture, speaking another language, eating foreign food, and making new friends make it all worth it. The older I get, the more I want to savor the time with my family - my parents aren't getting any younger - but I do know that if I get the opportunity to live abroad again for a year or two (or more), I will take it.

On days like this, I wish that I had made better use of my early twenties, or graduated sooner, because I feel that there is no way I can possibly fit everything I want into this one life. I just hope I make the right choices and that I will one day look back at my life with no regrets.

Have you ever lived abroad? Do you want to? Or are you happy where you are and couldn't imagine leaving behind your home, friends and family?

Guest Post: To Melbourne, With Love

Amanda from Apples and Green is yet another lovely Aussie living abroad in London-town. I was lucky enough to steal her away for a pizza a few weeks ago, and she's just as sweet in person as she is on her blog. Plus, her crafting genius makes me want to go and learn to sew, right this very minute, ohmygoodness.

Melbourne 1
Hello friends! Amanda from Apples and Green joining you today. I'm thrilled that Aly asked me to fill in while she's off on her epic trip. I wonder where she is this week? So while Aly is off rediscovering cities and countries she's had the chance to fall in love with before, along with some brand new ones, I thought I'd share with you the time Melbourne stole my heart.

I'm a West Australian girl. I grew up on the south coast, then spent about 7 years living in Perth for university, and later, work. We didn't travel much as kids- save one trip to the Top End and the Kimberley when I was 15, the furthest we ever got from home was Perth, or at a stretch, Cervantes. Typical holidays involved camping or staying with relatives, and while they were fun, it left much of the world to be discovered.
Melbourne 2
When I first visited Melbourne, I'd been to London and some of the other UK cities as part of my study abroad semester in Bristol, along with a short and less than impressive trip to Sydney (sorry Aly!) in 2005. I decided to spend 4 days in Melbourne in February 2007, almost spur of the moment- I booked my ticket less than 2 weeks before the flight. By the magic of the Internet (I could wax lyrical for hours about the power of blogging), I had a friend to stay with, as well as many friends to meet for the first time. One Friday night after work, I raced to the airport and caught the first of my many flights to Melbourne.

Right from the moment I arrived, Melbourne felt right. Have you ever had that feeling that everything about a place just fits with who you are? That's how I felt in Melbourne- possibly magnified. It was like nothing else I've experienced, either before or since.
Melbourne 3
I saw so much while I was there, but I didn't feel like I had to see it all. I knew it was the first of many visits- there would be chances to see more later on.Everything about Melbourne captures the attention- the alleys in the middle of the city, so easy to get lost in. The arts culture. The sport (as a huge AFL fan, my tour of the MCG was an almost religious experience). The food, the coffee, the shopping, the comparatively affordable real estate.
I covered a lot of ground that first trip- walking in the Dandenong Ranges, meals in St Kilda, the St Kilda festival (Regurgitator, The Audreys and Blue King Brown, free, along with killer sunburn-- reapply that sunscreen regularly, kids!), wandering around the city, rides on trams, tour of the MCG. Everyone in Melbourne (unlike my terrible time in Sydney) was friendly- and I mean everyone. It was simply the most wonderful time. Sure, in part some of that can be attributed to the hospitality of my friends while I was there. But some of it was just Melbourne.
Melbourne 4
It's sometimes said (excuse the language) that Melbourne is the lady, while Sydney is the whore. Sydney flashes itself around- it's impressive opera house, bridge, beaches and harbour. Melbourne on the other hand is more reserved, some of it's most unique and beautiful parts are hidden away, and even once you find it, you might find it difficult to find again. Melbourne spoke to me in a way no other city had before, or since- it didn't feel like visiting a new city, it just felt like home.

There were tears when it came time to leave that Tuesday afternoon, returning to a job that bored 
me on the other side of the country. I very nearly turned around and went straight back the idea 
of moving to Melbourne was all encompassing. In the end though, I stayed in Perth, and made 
Melbourne a regular weekend trip. That year, I visited three times, and I went back again last year 
while I was in Australia. I'm already planning how to fit regular visits in once we move back to 
Australia in the next couple of years. Some of my closest friends live in Melbourne, and I couldn't 
bear to not see them more than once every couple of years. Perth and Western Australia are home, 
but Melbourne will always come in a close second- London is just borrowing me for now.

Melbourne 5
How about you? Any cities- or countries- that grabbed you and wouldn't let go?

Pictures: 1. Flinders St Station; 2. Federation Square; 3. Melbourne Central; 4. Federation Square; 5. Max Brenner's.
Picture credit: All photos my own

Guest Post: A Modest Proposal

I can safely say that Lara from Life: The Ongoing Education, was one of the first bloggers I discovered when I started out at Typepad all those years ago. We bonded over teaching and a love of shoes, and I think it's great that she's still blogging now, so that I can continue to read her stories - and check out her fashions, of course. :)

Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis... No, wait. Let me change that. Probably anyone who's been to my blog even just once... No, maybe even more. Pretty much the entire blogosphere (yep, that's it) knows that I pay a lot of attention to fashion. Mostly my own. I take a picture of myself every morning before work, partially so that I can show my work clothes to my blog readers and partially because I don't like to repeat outfits, so I need a record of what I've already worn in what combinations so that I can avoid repeats.

I totally realize that this makes me seem completely vain and shallow. My consolation is that my five loyal blog readers already know me well enough that I don't have to worry about what I might "seem" to be. (They already know for a fact that I'm vain and shallow, so it's all good.)

The thing is, though, I do pay a lot of attention to my personal style and fashion choices, but I don't only pay attention for myself. For those of you who don't know, I'm a high school teacher at a private Christian school I refer to, on my blog, as Christian School (creative, I know). Christian School, like many other religious schools, has a dress code. Now, the students would say we have a STRICT dress code, but I actually don't think it's all that strict. I think the bigger issue is that too many other places are too LENIENT. Here are some of the rules for girls at our school:

All shirts must have sleeves (no tank tops, etc.).
Jeans must be neat, no holes or rips, and of appropriate fit.
Skirts or shorts must be no shorter than six inches above the knee when measured from a kneeling position.
No low-cut tops or shirts with cut-out backs.
Underwear should not be visible at any time, even when stretching or reaching.

Personally, I think these are reasonable rules for the most part. But the girls at Christian School consistently try to break them. They complain that they want to look "cute" or "fashionable," and our rules just don't allow that. They have to dress like "prudes," or wear "boring" and "plain" stuff just to fit the dress code. It's "lame" and they "hate" it.


It's completely possible to dress fashionably AND modestly. No one needs to look like a skank in the name of fashion. In fact, if you ask me (and many others I know), less modesty just looks less classy. I don't know about where you live, especially if you live in a different country, but in my little corner of America (and most of the rest of America, from what I can see), too many girls and young women don't know how to dress with fashionable modesty. So I try to be an example.

I make a concerted effort to dress in such a way that the girls I teach at Christian School will look at my outfits each day and say, "Wow, Miss David - your outfit is so cute!" or "I love your shoes, Miss David!" or "Your dress is so awesome, Miss David!" When I get these kinds of comments (and I do pretty often), I am THRILLED, and yes, a part of my excitement comes from enjoying being complimented - what woman doesn't like compliments on her appearance? But the bigger reason I feel so happy when students say these things is because it means my plan is working, whether the girls realize it or not. They are seeing a daily example of modest fashionability - a daily reminder that looking good does not have to mean looking provocative.

Some people change the world by joining the Peace Corps or marching on the nation's capital. I change the world with cute shoes and modest clothes.

*Many thanks to Jonathan Swift for the title of this blog!

Guest Post: Becoming Pretty

Today's guest is another Aussie blogger, Carly from Everyone Wants This. She's a talented writer, hosts multiple blogs and is a soon-to-be Early Childhood teacher extraordinaire. You should definitely pay her a visit sometime. 

If you aren't attempting to lose weight, losing weight or thinking about losing weight, then you are one of about 5% of the female population of the world. Universe even. I know it is something that I think about. Often too. Just the other day I was thinking, "Crap I shouldn't have eaten that" or "I really need to start exercising again". Why?

Well you see, at 170cm tall I currently weigh at least 90 kilos {maybe a little less if I am lucky - that's what it was two weekends ago}. I haven't weighed myself since. I was incredibly disappointed in myself. You see, that is what I weighed in JANUARY! And on the 23rd of July, a mere seven days before my birthday, I weighed my lowest since January. I weighed in at 84.3kgs. I was proud. I was nearly at the 70 kilo mark. Okay, I was a long way off, but it was closer than it is now. But the problem is that 70kgs is not my goal. 65kgs is. I will probably assess when I get to 70kgs though. I am not one for loving the stick-figure look and will probably be healthy at a size 10.

Most people comment "Oh, you couldn't be 90kgs" or "You carry it well" and yes, I do. I have the height to my advantage. Not only that but when I have put on those six-ish kilos, I don't think they went back to my tummy. I think that they ended up on my boobs. Which I dislike enough as it is.

I cannot wear those lowcut tops without showing off my massive cleavage. Which I will not lie is not always a bad thing. I do love them. But sometimes, when I am in a changeroom , attempting to pull a size 14 {and up} or large/extra large top on and they don't fit because of my boobs, I feel a little disheartened.

I think back to the days when I didn't have to worry about them. You know, back before puberty hit. You see, my boobs didn't arrive until I was 18. I did get my period though at 14, so go figure. And I loved them when I was 18. and 19. and 20. and 21. and 22. and 23. Okay, so I do still love them I did point that out. We just have a love/hate relationship.

This isn't what I came here to talk about though. It seems that everyone is wanting to lose weight for someone else or to conform to society. And I really hope that you aren't. I know someone quite close that has had a major operation for a boy. A boy! It upsets me a little, because she is truly gorgeous at times and really, what is a little extra weight.

For me, my mum and children at school can and have been extremely mean. Not only do I have red hair but I also had extra flab. A little too much at times. I was still a happy kid but boy, it has impacted on my view of what is pretty. I have never considered myself pretty. Ever

Then this day happened. And it made me realise that I don't need to lose weight to be pretty. I want to lose weight for me and only me. So, when anyone asks me why I want to lose weight, it is simple: It is so that I am healthy, can run and play with the children without being out of breath, and can feel pretty in my own skin. 

Is This Thing On?

Hello, blog lovelies - boy, have I missed your faces!

It's been an insanely busy few weeks {where did October go?} and this is the first time I've slowed down since I left for Europe. I'm not even going to attempt to recap my travels until I'm home and have more time and more access to my photos, but it was beautiful. We lucked out and had mostly perfect weather, really mild for Autumn too, and then it cooled down in Berlin and Amsterdam towards the end.

I'm currently sitting in a hotel room in Florida, reunited with Jase and enjoying some down-time at the Disney World complex - well, as much down-time as you can get when you're on a mission to explore as many theme parks as humanly possible in five days! We're off to Las Vegas and to Vancouver next, we're I'm really, really excited to hopefully be meeting (and tackle-hugging) Heidi and Britt. Squee!

And because I know some of you might be curious, Oscar has officially made the transition down under! He flew out to Sydney last week, survived the super long flight and is currently chilling out in his own little room in the quarantine station back there. My mum went to visit her grandkitty for the first time, and took some photos to show me {I was more than a little frantic with worry that he was settling in okay} and here he is: only a few weeks until I join him! Er, not in quarantine though, as far as I know!

I imagine he's probably wishing someone would turn the heat down - can't be easy going from somewhat cold and dreary London weather to a hot, hot, hot Australian summer! I know I will be...
You'll have to excuse me being super behind in all things internet, but the days are flying by and I'll be catching up soon enough. But for a bit of a sneak peak, leave me some comment love and tell me something new or awesome that's been going on with you lately!

Guest Post: Home is Where My Dog Lives

I was so excited when I first found Jade's blog, lalaLondon. She's originally from Sydney, like I am, and she writes about her London adventures, just like I have been. Not only that, she's stylish and fabulous and I hope to squeeze in an in-person cup of coffee with her before I head off on my travels!

As I sit here writing this post, I believe Aly is packing madly for her round-the-half-world trip and getting ready for her big move back to Australia. I’d like to thank her for the opportunity of guest posting here – this is my first ever guest post, so I certainly hope all you readers enjoy and that I live up to Aly’s great blogging standards!

Aly shares some wonderful stories about life in London and because of that, I’ve decided to write a post about why I’m yet another young Australian in London and why I’m here for good.

I moved here when I was twenty-four. My husband of all of six months at the time was the one who suggested it; after all, he’s called both Sydney and London home at various times of his life. We had originally planned to move over in 2003 but put it off when he was accepted into University – probably a good thing, as I’d never really lived outside of home at that point, let alone living outside of home in a completely different country on the other side of the world!

When we first arrived, I was very lucky. I had a job that I was hired for before I even got on that horrid 24-hour flight from hell. I started along with another Australian girl, who is still a very good friend of mine to this day. In my first year here, I managed to travel to several different countries in Europe and my dream destination, New York City.
As the years went on, we became more “English” – my friends at home often tell me that they think I sound like the Queen now, but the Brits tell me I sound like a mixed up South African. We continued to travel, we went through a rough patch and we made more friends. We visited family, we shopped in Tesco & we found ourselves calling London “home”.

Sometimes, especially in the dead of winter, I dislike living in London and want to go home – I’m very close to my family and miss them terribly. But London offers me everything I could wish for. Good shopping, wonderful restaurants and cafes, beautiful architecture and parks full of lush green grass, just waiting for the husband and I to visit. We can get in our car and drive for a few hours and be in a different country or we can hop on a plane for the price of a week’s groceries and be on a whole different continent! There is so much to keep us here, for truly, London is a city for the global citizen.

I’m now almost twenty-eight. I can apply to become a UK citizen in two years. We are at the stage where it is time to start thinking about buying a house, having some kids, getting serious.

Now we have realised that home is here. Because it’s where our heart is. And our dog is.

Guest Post: I'm On A Boat

Today's guest is the author of Thoughts Appear. Her blog is hilarious, I love her book reviews, and she is witty and clever and downright awesome. And just so you know, she scores extra points with me for letting me name her guest post after this music video. Have I mentioned how fabulous she is? Go and check her out. You're welcome.

Anyone else miss Aly? Yeah, me too.

I'm totally envious of her and all of her travels. London, Paris, Australia, Prague. I've lost track of all the places she's been.

Le sigh. I never go any cool places, mate. So I'm forced to throw around random words from other countries whenever I get the chance. You gotta problem with that, esse? Eh? Blimey, my life stinks.

Where do you think Aly is now? Probably Las Vegas. I live in the United States, and I've never even been to Vegas. I hope she wins loads of money. Maybe she'll hire me as her personal assistant. Then she can pay me to guest blog while she's visiting other cool places.

Or maybe she'll take me with her next time she goes on a European bus tour on Halloween or to Hawaii.

Enough about Aly. Let's talk about me and my blog. I'm particularly fond of that topic. What? You're not? If I tell you what Aly and I have in common, will you be more receptive?

  • We both have cats. (Oscar and Esme)
  • We're both picky eaters. Meaning we eat only Pop-Tarts. Seriously.
  • We both love Rainbow Brite.
Are you convinced that I'm cool enough to continue reading? What if I promise to take you with me on my trip? That's right. I said, "My trip." Lean in close. Closer, closer, clooooooser.


You almost peed your pants, didn't you? So did I when I found out.

I've never been on a cruise, so I'm super excited. I've never even been out of the country. What language do they speak in the Caribbean? I'll just continue using my smorgasbord of languages.

Maybe my newly learned sign language will come in handy. Sign language? Handy? Get it? Ha! I crack myself up.

I'm cruising with my boyfriend (who I call Kiefer Sutherland). I tend to be a bit of a fraidy cat when it comes to new places, so if you have any suggestions on how to permanently attach myself to his side, I'd be for-ev-er in your debt.

Caribbean, here I come!

Of course, it's not until April.

I guess I'll relinquish my grasp on Aly's blog. Cheers!

Guest Post: Well, That Was Awkward

Did you know that my most awesome Maid of Honour is also a blogger? Well, she is. Meet Miss K & her adorable blog, CuppyCakes. She's kind of magical, since she can guest blog for me AND be travelling around Europe with in a coach all at the same time. I have a very multi-talented friend.

Hi everyone.

So my dear friend Aly asked me to write a guest entry for her to post while we are away. YEP. I'm her travel-mate and MOH. I'm pretty excited about both things, to be honest. But really, I'm supposed to be blogging here and I generally am pretty crap at posting on my own blog, let alone someone elses.

Plus I'm watching the finale of Australia's Next Top Model. Cringing at the whole thing because it's just a little bit awkward to watch. They just had men jumping around with studded pencil cases strapped on to their chests! I'm sure that's what it was, anyway. It's kind of a painful journey to get to what you're ultimately watching it for... just to see who wins.

But that's not the point!

I thought long and hard about what to write about for this here guest post. Aly has quite a following, you see. I'm a little scared people will read it and then secretly tell her that her MOH is a douche. Especially when you find that I have elected to write about how stupid and clumsy I am, and how all my embarrassing moments tend to be really stupid things.

I've never got stuck trying to climb through a window, though.

But I've been thinking about all my embarrassing moments lately because a predictable part of this trip that Aly and I are doing, along with Julz from Melbourne, involves standing up the front of the bus on the first day and telling people about yourself. Including an embarrassing story, or a joke.

I'm not funny. I don't have jokes. I also don't really like to stand up in front of a bus and tell people I've not even met yet stories about how stupid I am. Last time I had to do this, I elected to stand there, staring out the window, claiming that I don't ever get embarrassed. Although last time I DID forget that Memphis was actually in Tennessee, and laughed at my introducer, because I thought he was wrong. That was a bit awkward.

Lies. It was all lies. I get embarrassed constantly. Mostly at work. Because I work in a pretty rough and tumble work place. We swear a lot because we work with animals and animals don't know if you're dropping f-bombs all over the place because the damn hose has that many kinks in it that you can't get the required pressure to clean the poop off their kennel floors. I also have a tendancy, in such a high volume animal environment, to hurt myself in ways that have nothing to do with animals. Needless to say, about 80% of the stupid and embarrassing stories I have, have happened at work. In front of people.

There was one time, for example, just a few weeks ago when I was trying to do some 'Open Paw' training with the kennel doggies, teaching them manners and whatnot. The only treats we had were these enormous great biscuits. I deemed them too big to give to dogs in high quantities while training so set about breaking them apart. This was not one of my smartest ideas. I struggled to break one piece, then it gave way and instead of just breaking apart and crumbling awkwardly all over the place... it snapped and took a large chunk of my knuckle with it. Yes folks. I took a chunk out of my knuckle with a dog biscuit.

I also sliced another knuckle open on a cage in our kitten section. The cages have drop bar things that you slide up and down to open and close their cages. Sometimes they get stuck. I reefed one to get it closed one Friday afternoon last year in the middle of kitten season, and sliced my index finger knuckle open. I did not realise at the time. I felt it sting and thought that it felt a little uncomfortable... then I looked down and saw blood pouring out of my finger. I had to leave the volunteer to finish up for me, while I sprinted off in search of a first aid officer. My whole knuckle ended up swollen and bruised and nasty looking for several weeks because the slice was so severe.

We also have some fun with the hoses. You see, we have the high pressure hoses in the kennels. Because how else are we going to effectively clean 36 kennels full of dog poop unless we can scoop the solid stuff out and blast the rest of it with something high pressured?

Just the other day, I was using this hose to fill up a watering can. We use the watering cans to go through and top up the water bowls in the kennels because that is easier than shoving a hose through a wire kennel gate. Plus, you can actually control the pressure of these hoses. I thought I had the pressure under control.

I didn't.

The hose shot off the hose reel, flipped about, blasted about five dogs in the face with water, and squirted me right up the back. SO I had a really obvious line of water up the back of my uniform.

Two of my co-workers were passing through while this happened, and saw the whole thing. One dropped to the ground laughing. Pointing and laughing. The other continued on her way, but giggled at me every time she saw me for the rest of the day. I kind of awkwardly shuffled and said that I totally meant to do it because work has this thing where we aren't allowed to squirt each other with the hoses, regardless of how hot it is. Totally meant to do it. Hah Hah. Hah.

Anyway. The most awkward part of it was the British kid that works with us, who is such a lad it's not funny, heard about what I'd done and asked me about it. I turned around quickly and showed him the obvious dark patches up the back of my uniform. He asked me a further two times to turn around and show him and I did not realise that he was asking me repetitively to turn around so that he could look at my butt. He also randomly asked me if I could get my elbows to touch behind my back. I tried, then realised it was a ploy to get my boobs to stick out more! Don't ever fall for that one, girls!

In all honesty, the hoses are the most awkward things in my workplace. There's so much room for accidents. You can set the pressure wrong while filling up a water bowl and end up saturated because you turned it up too high and the damn thing squirts water all over you. They also tend to get stuck on things like gates and fences, so you can be pulling the hose from one row of kennels into another, and the easiest way of doing this is throwing it over your shoulder and lugging it through to the next section. But then if it gets stuck, you either stack it immediately or you kind of pull it, expecting it to release and end up with a hose over your shoulder, pulling so hard you're almost on the ground with your weight on the hose and the damn thing won't budge. But then it gives and you stack it in an almighty fashion and pray to sweet baby Jesus that no one saw you do it.

Sometimes they also break. And you can be happily hosing away and the next thing you know, the water's not coming from where it should be anymore, and you turn around and there's a hose flapping about like a posessed snake behind you. Incidently, when you walk down the row of kennels later on, you are faced with half a row of completely saturated, but very happy looking dogs, all standing at the front of their kennels, waiting for you to do it again.

I've also been stuck with needles, stabbed by accident with microchipping needles, and have recieved many a cat scratch that has wound up infected. One time I even got e-coli in my blood system because I had an open cut and a puppy licked it.

It's incredibly awkard going through the whole work cover thing while the injury is really embarrassing. If you work with animals and you get bitten by a rottweiler, fair enough... if you have a chunk out of your knuckle because of a biscuit.... the first aid officers laugh. I have a reputation now.. if a first aid officer sees me coming, they know it's going to be an awkward injury.


Guest Post: Wedding Planning Advice

It feels like I've been reading Bec's blog, BS of the Day, forever. I've followed her through her engagement, her wedding, and her life as a newlywed, and she's such an amazing person. Thanks for sharing your advice with us, you're a star!

Since Aly’s wedding day will be here before she knows it and with my one year anniversary coming up, I decided to write a few words of advice for those planning a wedding. I am by no means an expert but maybe my own learning experiences will help someone else.

  • Yes, the wedding should be fun for your guests and they should be comfortable, but this is still YOUR wedding. Make it about you two. Think about hobbies you share, music you like, and your personal styles and try to capture that in the wedding. If your family is very proper and is expecting a formal wedding, but you feel like your relationship is fun, casual and quirky, make the wedding fun and casual! One of the issues we faced was that our families were steering us to have the wedding in the summer since everyone would be out of school. However, I always dreamed of a fall wedding. I had almost booked my wedding for June when at the last minute I decided to follow my own wishes and book in October. I don’t regret it for one minute. I am not saying to ignore the guests and be selfish, but I think most brides will try too hard to please everyone.

  • Don’t obsess over the abundance of wedding TV shows, movies, blogs, books, etc. You will see so many perfect weddings with amazing details. Some of these wedding budgets are way more than you could ever spend. Some of the pictures are actually staged before the wedding day. Don’t worry about perfection! Look at the pictures and watch the TV shows for fun or inspiration but don’t put so much pressure on yourself that you end up unhappy because your wedding didn’t look like the one you saw in that magazine.

  • Choose what is most important and focus on those things first. I was told this during my planning process and I kept thinking, how the heck do I figure out what is most important to me? I was not one of those women that had been planning my wedding since I was a little girl so I was completely lost. One day my mother asked me, “Think about the weddings you have been to. What do you remember about them? What do you not remember?” Her questions helped me so much. I realized I remembered the overall feel and how fun the reception was. I remember the food and music. I cannot remember one single centerpiece. I remember how the cake tasted but not how it looked. So I made sure to have dancing and a really tasty cake. I wasn’t thrilled with how the cake looked but it tasted amazing so that was enough for me. My centerpieces were simple fall candles that probably cost me around $100 total for 10 – 15 tables. Some people might be appalled but for me, it was perfect. Cutting back on the time and money spent on the centerpieces allowed me to focus on other aspects that were more important.

  • Even if things go wrong on the wedding day, try your best to smile and have fun. Even if you have to pretend, be happy. If you are upset about something, your guests will know and it will affect everyone else (even if you think you are hiding it really well). I went to a wedding recently where the bride was upset about the color of the cake. She pitched a fit and yelled at a couple of her bridesmaids. I was standing nearby and was so incredibly uncomfortable. In fact, one of the few things I remember about that wedding was the bride’s meltdown. It only lasted a few minutes but it was something I will never forget. Things will go awry and you need to just laugh it off. The last thing you want to remember when looking back on your own wedding is the fact that you cried over how awful the flowers were or you hurt a family member’s feelings because you snapped at them.

  • The last word of advice I have is to completely ignore the people that say your wedding day will be the best day of your life. That’s ridiculous. I think that puts way too much pressure on women to plan the perfect day. There will be so many wonderful days in your future and married life is amazing. I would certainly hope that the first day of your marriage is not the best day. The best days (and there will be many) are still to come!
Aly, I am so happy for you and can’t wait to see how the wedding plans come along. You are going to be one gorgeous bride! Have a wonderful trip home!

Happy Halloween!

So even though I'm spending my Halloween somewhere in Vienna and Oscar is still chillaxing back in London with Jase, I'm magically able to share some cat-costume goodness with you all. Behold, Oscar: rocking the 'stache:

Happy Halloween, my lovely friends. I hope yours is fabulous, wherever you are & whatever you're wearing.

(Though I really do hope you are wearing a 'stache of your very own.)

Guest Post: Exercise A.D.D.

I'm so excited to be getting to stalk, er, meet today's guest blogger in person while I'm in North America. She's my engagement-month-twin, she's my favourite gmail-chatter, and she's so, so sweet. And also, an exercising & wedding planning superstar, as you will read in today's blog. Give it up for xox, Britt!

Hi guys! I'm Britt from over here and while the lovely Aly is galavanting the world with her husband-to-be (and visiting me!! Eeeeee!!!) she asked me to write her a guest post ... and then I got writers block. Ha. I write mostly about my rambling life, so it's sort of amazing that I was completely stumped about what to write. But then I decided - You all should know about my exercise ADD. Because I can't stick with anything.

In high school I played basketball. I wasn't very good at it. It was more of a social thing. So my last year, I became the team manager instead. I got the social aspect without the fitness part. It worked for me.

When I was a University student, I was lazy. I also ate a lot of potatoes with ranch sauce (it was the only edible thing in residence!) and I put on a few pounds. Like 20. Oops. The last few months of school, faced with the prospect of coming back to my hometown and seeing old high school friends, I started going to the gym. I was mostly ADD there too. I'd try a little bit of everything, while not really doing much of anything. I remember completely embarrassing myself on that ab machine that holds your legs at 90 degrees and you lay back and then sit up. Except I couldn't sit up. I just hung there. And felt kind of silly. And like I have no abs (that part hasn't changed much.)

When I got home, I saw a show where an overweight girl made a fitness goal of running a triathlon. I thought that was a great idea so I roped my best friend into training with me and we hired a personal trainer. She worked with us individually and completely kicked my butt (think Jillian Michaels style). After 6 months of training, I completed my first triathlon. It was a 'try a tri' distance - 300m swim, 15km bike and a 5km run. I was so proud of myself when I finished. See?

Ya. Then I got a bit crazy. I though heck, why just settle for a try-a-tri. Why not do a half ironman? For those who have no idea what a half ironman is....it is a 1500m swim then a 90km bike ride followed by a 21.1km run. It's a long day. A long, hard, crazy day. I hired a triathlon coach this time (who emailed me my workouts) and 6 more months of training, I completed my first half ironman. It was the craziest, best, worst, and most awesome feeling. Here's me after crossing the finish line.

So far, this isn't looking very random is it? But I promise you. It's getting there.

After the half ironman, I was tired. Burnt out. So I sat on the couch for a couple of months. Gained a few pounds. Then decided I was going to run a half marathon. So I joined a half marathon training group and I signed up for a race. And then I started running with people who run all the time. And I had been sitting on my couch. And I hurt myself. Badly. I injured my hip and I could barely walk. So back to the couch I went to sulk.

A couple more months and a couple more pounds later...

I decided I didn't want to run. So I tried the 30 day shred (got to about 15 days before I was bored stiff),  yoga, all sorts of exercise videos like P90X, Insanity and was bored.

And then I decided to run again. This time, I tried couch to 5k (well known in blogland!). I got about 3 weeks in when I got married (yay!) and went on my honeymoon (yay!) and stopped all that.

Most recently, I signed up for an online 5km program, with plans to continue to a marathon program.

Maybe a Marathon in May? Who knows. All I know is exercise ADD keeps me trying lots of new things and I can't complain about that!

Come check out my crazy (and sometimes not so crazy) adventures here!

Guest Post: Seven Things Married Life Has Taught Me

Today's guest is the super awesome Terra from Terra-Bear.com. She's a photo-taking, dog-loving, to-do list superstar and I absolutely love her blog. Plus, she also loves Harry Potter World, which makes her an automatic favourite of mine.

I’m getting really close to celebrating 3 years of marriage with my sexy-beast of a husband, Andrew. We’re still really new to this whole married thing since 3 years is just a small blip on what I hope will be a very long life spent together, but, to date, I’ve learned a few lessons I’d like to share with the (almost) married Aly:

1. It really is the little things. It’s hugs & forehead kisses. Grocery store bouquets & cheap chocolate. It’s brushing the hair out of my face, notes hidden in coat pockets & tiny, little inside jokes. It’s secret code words and a thigh squeeze during a tumultuous airplane landing. It’s those little things that remind me each day, in between vacations, romantic dinners and anniversaries, why I decided to get married in the first place. Those little moments, gestures and words give the day to day, the seemingly insignificant, a bucketful of meaning.

2. Passionate kisses have magical healing powers. It’s easy to get caught up in other things. Doctor appointments, school work, regular work commitments, social events, dog walking. It’s all got to get done, and sometimes, especially in my life lately, it can all start to feel a bit overwhelming. The remedy? Passionate kisses. Real, true, knock your socks off kisses that make time stand still and everything else fade away. Don’t believe me? Try it. You’ll see.

3. Sometimes yelling helps. I put myself in the camp of people who think a fight, every now and then, is a good thing. Sure, fighting sucks, but sometimes, and this has happened to me on more than one occasion, some little tid bit you didn’t even know was bothering you will burst forth and BOOM. Just like that, you’ll start to feel better because it’s out there in the world and not stuck, waging war, on the inside of your heart. Plus, making up is fun!

4. Time together doesn’t equate to quality time together. Andrew and I spend a lot of time together. We work together and spend almost all of our days together and it’s really, really easy to just assume we’re spending plenty of time together and staying connected to each other and blah blah blah, but guess what? The time we spend at work, or side by side in the car or parked in front of the TV doesn’t count. It’s time together, sure, but without the occasional dinner out or conversation about hopes, dreams or future vacation plans, things start to get a little wonky. Making time to reconnect, even if we spend most of our days together, is mandatory in order to preserve the sanity of our marriage.

5. It’s different. I didn’t expect anything to feel different when Andrew and I got married. We lived together before we got married and everything was already merged and joint before we said “I do.” But, things were different. They shifted, slightly, not even enough for me to notice at first, but, after a few months, I realized things felt more solid. Plus, getting introduced as someone’s wife for the first 100 or so times is really, really awesome.

6. Sometimes the simplest nights are the best nights. Right after Andrew and I got married and moved into our first apartment, the power went out. It was a Friday night and there was little hope we’d get it back on until Monday, even though it was electric company’s fault. But, we made the best of it. We played Uno and Scrabble by candlelight for hours, drinking wine and laughing until our sides hurt, running into furniture in our almost pitch black apartment. It’s one of the best nights we’ve ever had.

7. I never stop learning. Things that work for us one day don’t always work for us the next. I might thing I’ve got my husband all figured out, but, as it turns out, he’s still got stories to tell me, different parts of himself that haven’t even been glimpsed yet. I hope to never have it all figured out.

Guest Post: Tips from a Wife

I can't even begin to tell you how sweet Becky from Love Everyday Life is. Really. We suffered through switching domains together {technologically challenged, or at least I am!} to trying to desperately figure out a way to meet up in person {not going to happen on this trip, sadly} and to her sending me a whopping big parcel of Halloween treats {oh, bliss!}, the girl is just the kindest person ever. If you're not reading her blog, you should be!

Hi readers! It’s Becky from Love Everyday Life. Aly asked me to guest blog while she’s away and I was more than happy to help out! (Even though she’s using her new camera that I covet, visiting places I would love to see, and off having a generally good time while I’m at work daydreaming…but I digress).

I was trying to come up with something clever and engaging for this post because guest blogs are supposed to be funny and sassy and delightful (no pressure), when it came to me. Aly’s getting married! (Um yes, I know you’re aware of this and I promise that’s not what I’m blogging about).

She’ll be a wife soon and being the experienced wife of three years I have much knowledge to impart upon her and anyone else who wants to listen. (Still out there?) So without further ado, six things I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!) about being married.

1) Your definition of doing the dishes and your husband’s definition of doing the dishes don’t necessarily mean the same thing. That’s what compromises are for.
2) You can’t be everything to your spouse. You have to be an individual to be part of a couple, so girls/guy nights are essential, as are date nights with just the two of you.
3) If your husband warms up your cold feet at night in bed it’s worth playing a video game you are horribly bad at. (Never underestimate the glory of warm feet).
4) Communication is key. Half the arguments my husband and I had our first year of marriage were because one of us was thinking one thing but not communicating it effectively. (Fights about socks? Yeah. Been there).
5) It is completely acceptable to create your own language that other people might not understand. “Babe, where’s that thing with the blade…it’s blue…” “Top drawer!” “Thanks and the…” “Yeah, right here, hurry, you’re going to be late!” (What, that doesn’t make sense to you?)
6) At the end of the day, nothing beats having an amazing partner to come home to, laugh with, cry with, and share your life with. It’s hard work but so worth it.

What do you think readers? Do you agree? Am I full of it? Any tips you’d care to add? Thanks for having me Aly!

Guest Blog: This Movie is Not Yet Rated

I'm not only a huge from of today's special guest blogger's writing & awesome interior decorating skillz (and yes, that deserves a 'z') - I was lucky enough to meet her in person back in 2008! Janet is absolutely beautiful, and one of the loveliest people I know in the blogosphere: go and ogle her pretty blog right now!

Hello, everyone. It’s Janet from Love is Blonde hanging out here while Aly’s off being a global travel goddess.

How many people do you know who have a story like Aly and Jase’s? Met in Sydney, lived in London, got engaged in Prague, traveling across the world back home to their dream wedding?

It’s almost too much to handle (the jealousy, I mean.)

So suspend belief for just one moment with me here… assume that:

  • Reese Witherspoon once again has long hair.
  • Reese Witherspoon is not otherwise occupied at this time portraying The Pioneer Woman in a different Hollywood movie.
  • John Mayer gives up singing and moves over to acting.
  • John Mayer cleans up his look and does not look like this guy anymore.
  • Reese and John are both able to master a delightful Aussie accent.
Don’t you just think that the box-office hit, romantic comedy depicting Aly and Jase’s life could totally be played by these two?

Do you have a better celebrity look-a-like for the two lovebirds? Leave it in the comments – or better yet, do you have the perfect movie title?

Guest Post: Well Played, Universe

Well folks, this officially kicks off a string of guest posts from some of my favourite bloggers scattered around the globe. I can't remember how I came across Emily's blog, but I've loved it {and her!} from day one and was even lucky enough to steal her for brunch while she was visiting London. I hope you'll leave her some love as she's truly wonderful.

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll probably know there are a few things I'm rather passionate about. Music, great writing, history, education, science, compassion, travel... these all hold special places in my heart. Bigger things, challenges, growth, introspection, and the psychology behind so many things we experience along our paths also fascinate me. I'd love to be a fly on the wall of humanity, witnessing the ways in which we live, interact with each other, think of and define ourselves, react and relate to people and events, and why every one of us is so very different. To watch our minds' internal hardwirings mesh with our hearts' deepest emotions, combine with the global supporting cast, and see the endless dramatic possibilities play out on the stage that is our lifetime.

Gravitation is one of the fundamentals of nature (I did say 'science'...), in which objects with mass attract one another. But I think the same philosophy can also be applied to our interpersonal relationships - applied to that global cast of characters that have starring roles at various stages in our life. I like to think people come in and out of our lives being gravitationally pulled in and out of each other's orbit, in an elaborate dance orchestrated by the Universe, only learning the steps as we go. Sometimes we try and make it work - just because the person has arrived in our life, we automatically think we're supposed to have some sort of relationship with them - but I think certain people are placed in our lives to teach us lessons, not just to befriend.

Interpersonal relationships and their subsequent timing, strengthening, weakening, death and resurrection absolutely fascinate me. I'm a firm believer that everything in life has its right time for happening, and a lot of personal frustration can stem from wanting to have control over when things happen in our life rather than having faith that they will, when they're supposed to. This can happen with wanting the right job, the right house, the right friends, the right partner... we grow up with this notion that by a certain age, we should have certain things, and if they haven't happened yet, we go into panic mode.

We start believing there must be something wrong with ourselves, especially when surrounded by Things Happening for Everyone Else, and it's natural to start comparing ourselves. We become frustrated and start delving into action plans, trying to take control over something the Universe will ultimately provide when the timing is right. I believe there are lessons that need to be learned before certain things can happen. These lessons will only get more pronounced and more difficult if we don't take the hint the first time around, and will ultimately end up being those Major Life Lessons we look back on sometimes as turning points, times when things started to turn around.

I've had a couple of instances of this in my life, the biggest probably being the lesson of learning to have some sort of self-worth. Going through a string of terrible boyfriends in my late teens/early twenties; people who lied, cheated, became emotionally and physically abusive, that I continued to stay with because I didn't feel I was worth any better. I honestly thought I'd be better off taking what I could get, even it if put me at risk, because it'd be better than being alone. I want to take my younger self and give her a good shaking for allowing this to happen, but you know what? I had to go through it because it was a lesson I needed to learn. The Universe had hinted at it with the first Bad Boyfriend, hinted a little harder with the next, and slapped me in the face with it with the final one when I ended up questioned by the police about how I'd been treated, and spending a chunk of time in the hospital. If that's not a sign I needed to change things, I don't know what is. But it was the wanting to have control that made it get to that point. Lesson learned, however, and once I'd learned that I had to start believing I was worth more, and set some standards for what's acceptable, then I was delivered an incredible man who's helped me grow, believe in myself, and I'll be marrying in seven weeks' time.

The other big lesson is one I still believe I'm learning. Do you ever have people in your life who keep showing up, when you wish you could close the door on them and never have to see or hear about them again? People from the past who've hurt you, old flames, former friends, people who define you by who you were when you knew them, refuse to see the person you've become, and just keep showing up? It's frustrating. You see their face somewhere and you want to ask the Universe why - why are they still here when all I want to do is move on? The interwoven fabrics of our social networks, especially in the day and age of the Internet, can make this especially hard, and just because you've moved on from one relationship doesn't mean everyone else in both parties' networks feel the same way. So what's the lesson here? Lately, I've come to the realisation that the Universe is trying to teach me the lesson of acceptance. Allowing things to be, without reacting to them, without getting frustrated, defensive or annoyed. Accepting the situation that this person still exists and you may bump into them every once in a while, and that's okay. Let go of frustration, because you know what?

Who cares. This was what a good friend told me a couple of weeks ago when I started fretting about something I couldn't control. Who cares? Nobody. Nobody at all cares, and if you've moved on from a relationship with someone, it doesn't matter if they still show their face every once in a while. Yes, it would be nice if once doors had been closed on bad relationships, you never had to be reminded of them again, but the reality proves otherwise. You have no control over it, so just accept that they're here, without getting exasperated about it. Accept that you've become a better person since, and it doesn't matter what the other party thinks, because they're not in your life any more. There will always be people who'll talk. People who'll never move on from the chapter in which your lives intersected. People will be pulled in and out of your gravitational orbit for some reason or another, and you may not want them to. But that's okay. As long as you make the choice to live the life you want, make the right choices, be the best person you can be, grow from experiences, let go of the past, and focus on making the present the best you can, that's all you can control. I think I'm learning this lesson as we speak - and I'm already feeling a whole lot better.

Hear that, Universe?

Fare Thee Well, London Town

As I write this blog post, I'm lying on a mattress that's sprawled out on our living room floor.

Looking around the flat, I'm taking in my surroundings. There are moving boxes stacked in the corner, the corner where the treadmill used to lie and where Oscar used to sleep on. Looking around a little further, I can see the square alcove in the wall - we never did figure out what it was originally used for, but we turned it into a storage space for blankets & occasionally to store the cat toys. The huge l-shaped lounge, with its annoying pillows that always, always get messed up. Our orange kitchen, the one that is so modern that it doesn't need doors on any of the cupboards. The drawers, which we had to move all of our food products out of, because the cat figured out how to stand on his hind legs and open them. The full length windows with beautiful light and their view down Ladbroke Grove, the millions of buses with squeaky brakes, the ambulance, fire and police sirens that blare down our street every night, the tourists that hoard the neighbourhood each weekend for the Portobello Markets, that really pretty church I've always wanted to visit... this is our home. This was our home.

And even before this, our old apartment in the East side of London - with views across the Thames to the o2 stadium and to Canary Wharf. Our old noisy neighbours and our mouldy bathroom with its crusty ventilation fan. The place where we brought Oscar home as a kitten, lost him under the refrigerator that one time, and called home first.

So many memories. I could go on and on.

Somehow, I've reached the end of my London journey. I can't even describe what an experience it has been for me, but I do know that it's one I'll never forget. I'm surprised to admit that it even makes me a little emotional thinking of leaving here for good - who knew I'd grow so attached to a city thousands of miles away from 'home'? But, as people predicted, I learned to call it 'home' here too. And I will miss this place.

Jase and I accomplished a lot during our time spent over here. We moved in together for the first time. We celebrated our sixth, seventh & eighth anniversaries. We survived an apartment move, clear from one side of the city to the other. We adopted Oscar-cat and started our own little family. We worked and lived on a joint budget. We got engaged and we started planning a wedding. We used our long weekends wisely, and added some new European cities to our 'countries visited' list. We've grown up, so much, together.

I'll always remember these things as happening during the time I lived in London.

Tomorrow I set off on my travels - a month discovering Europe with two of my best girlfriends, followed by an amazing pre-wedding-moon with my amazing & hard-working fiancĂ©. I still can't believe how fast time has gone, but here we are. Farewell London: thanks for the memories.

This blog will soon play host to some fabulous guest bloggers that I am lucky to call friends, so please show them some love while they're here. And if you're in need of some wedding-related rambles, I'll be posting at Weddingbee while I'm away - so make sure you add my feed to your readers.

Be safe & well, friends - I can't wait to speak with you again from the other side of the globe in a few weeks time.  I hope you'll stick around as we embark on a whole new set of adventures back in Sydney.

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