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Dragon at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017

Melbourne! I am here! And tonight, I’ll be going to Dragon! Come with me. Nat Harris is awesome and I’m so excited to be going to her new show. See you there!

LovellyCommunications

Natalie Harris had a stellar 2016, performing her solo show Good Grief to sold out crowds at MICF and Melbourne Fringe and being awarded Screen Australia Gender Matters funding to develop the show into a web series. Now, Nat returns to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with her brand new solo stand up show Dragon.

‘Dragon’ is the nickname Nat proudly gave herself at the age of 19 and persisted with until even her own mother finally started calling her ‘Dragon’. Now 31, she’s got an RSA under her belt, body corporate on her tail and two online dating profiles to her name. Her third solo show is filled with honest, divergent and hilarious tales of what it is like to be a self-made ‘Dragon’ in a modern world.

Natalie Harris (The Vagina Diaries ABC2, Twentysomething ABC2, , Fancy Boy ABC2) was a RAW State Finalist in 2012 and made…

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Girls Night is back at MICF 2017

It’s all begun! Get your tickets and don’t miss this fab show as part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017!

LovellyCommunications

Expect witty. Expect wicked. Expect wonderful. Grab your girlfriends and get ready to giggle, Girls Night is back for Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) 2017! Shows will run from 29 March to 9 April 2017 at The Upstairs Lounge @ Little Sista in the center of Melbourne.

cath-styles-girls-night Producer and MC Cath Styles

Cath Styles is bringing together the cream of the festival’s funny ladies in a night to celebrate all things female and funny. This festival favourite is big on value and even bigger on laughs.

Girls Night features an exciting mixed bag of stand-up, storytelling, sketch and musical comedy. The line-up changes every night and features: Mandy Nolan, Bev Killick, Nikki Britton, Alice Fraser, Diana Nguyen, Tessa Waters, Lauren Bok, Sally Kimpton, Georgie Carroll, MC Cath Styles and many more.

Always hilarious, Girls Night is hands down the ideal start to any night out at The Festival.

cath-styles Cath…

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I miss writing for me!

Reality check – I travel as a lifestyle and I am fortunate to do a lot of it! 

My job is on my computer. My desk is wherever I am (it’s generally my lap.)

I love people telling me I can’t earn a living and continue to galavant. Or that I can’t buy a house and travel. Ummm watch me! 

I work to travel. To explore. To experience. 

I build my life and my career around my adventures. I’m loving that I can have a rewarding career, loving boyfriend, goals of investing in my future and still see so many amazing places.

A lot of work I’ve been doing in the past year has been around writing content. So much content. I’m so busy writing posts, articles, copy and more, that there is no room for my creative writing.

I’ve been to SO many places and I get asked all the time for my advice and guidance. It’s all stuck up in my head. I haven’t had, or I haven’t MADE, the time to share it. It’s my goal this year to blog in real time and to also re-live some of the wonderful travel moments I’ve had. Such as this, sitting at the top of a waterfall in the tropical jungle of Xilitla, Mexico.

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Travel is a part of me. It’s not something I do. I live for it!

I love that this blog is a platform where I can share my stories and those of the people I meet and places I see. I hope that people can feel inspired to take on their own adventures. Writing about travel transports me to exotic lands and wonderful places. It’s a blessing to get to have these experiences in real time, when writing, and later again when I read back over the adventures.

This year, I will write! For joy. For me.


Bucket List of places you must stay in your life!

All good things come to an end, but before they do, let’s make the most of them. Add this top 5 to your bucket list and you will certainly be living life to the max. From beautiful accommodation to incredible “once in a lifetime” experiences, we suggest you go and visit these locations before you reach those pearly gates.

1: City Palace, Udaipur, India Every little girl’s fantasy is to be a princess and men wish to live like a king – so do it! Stay in the Frateh Prakash Palace, Udaipur. Situated in the desert of Rajasthan on the shores of incredible Lake Pichola, you’ll think you are seeing a mirage- but in fact its your oasis. The hotel is a converted palace so every room is unique. Enjoy life in the lap of luxury and you may even meet the king or ride an elephant in the palace gardens. Anything is possible when you’re living like a royal!

2: Xilitla, Mexico Escape to the jungle to experience the strange and unique. Xilitla is home to the incredible Castillo de Sir Edward James – an eclectic jumble of architecture which was one man’s dream and legacy. If you ever wanted to feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, this is the place for you. Surreal is the word and it’s got groove and feeling. If miracles happen, if you believe in magic, then you’re sure to see it here.

3: Granada, Spain  If your eyes don’t get to see the amazing colour display put on by the skies in Granada, you have missed out. Stand at Mirador de San Nicolas at dusk with a Spanish guitar and church bells playing in the background, as the ancient Alhambra is cast into darkness. Strolling the curving lanes of the old city and escaping into caves in the hills – Granada is a hidden treasure trove of secret tapas bars and wonderful architecture.

Photo credit: Clinton Ross

4: St Maarten A Caribbean island set in the most pristine waters you’ve ever seen. Indulge completely by arriving on one of the many ocean cruises that visit this island paradise. A spectacular experience that you just cannot get anywhere else in the world is Princess Juliana International Airport where planes land on the beach! Spot the planes as they are mere specks in the distance, run into the crystal clear topaz water and have your breath taken away as a 747 jet passes over your head.

5: Paris, France. No bucket list is complete without the spoils of Paris. The shopping, the fashion, the monuments, the vibe – it all adds to the experience that is Paris. Not only a city for lovers, the arts and cafes will keep you entertained no end. Stand a top the hill area home to the Sacré-Coeur, sacred heart church and Montmartre art district. Enjoy a café au lait and a nutella crepe as you see the magnificent city of Paris, complete with famous Eiffel tower, sprawl before you. Why Paris? Because it’s Paris darlink!

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Photo credit: Ellen Bird

What are your must stay places around the world?

 


My first adventure to the North East of India

One of the hardest things about travel is the broken routine and ungodly hours for trains, planes and buses. We had a 4.30am wake up to call to get to Mumbai airport and take our flight to Guwuhati. There would then be a six-hour car ride ahead of us before we would finally arrive at Cherrapunjee, home to the living bridges.

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Our Uber again had trouble finding us. Each day has been a battle with Uber. I’m not sure if it’s my app or the internet on my phone, or If the drivers just truly can’t work out where we are located. I realised quickly it’s best to call the driver … then the game of miming and broken Hinglish (Hindi and English) begins. Luckily we allowed plenty of time and the drive was quick with no traffic at stupid o’clock.

 

Mumbai airport has improved dramatically over the time I’ve been coming to India and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I no longer needed my print out of my ticket to enter the airport – just our e-tickets on the phone. Check in was all fine and security relatively swift. We enjoyed a way over priced coffee from Café Coffee Day and awaited our departure.

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Flying Indigo airlines was great. A low cost carrier with a cheeky sense of humour. Their inflight magazine is called “Hello 6e”. Get it! I slept for half the flight and the three hours passed quickly.

Arriving to Guwuhati, I was in foreign territory. This was my first time to the North East of India and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Hindi is the national language, of which I can speak a little. English tends to be more scarce in regional parts, though tour guides and drivers are generally fairly fluent. We were met by a lovely porter who ushered us out with our bags quickly to meet our driver, Bablu, and Tour Guide, Bhuban, arranged by our tour company Take Me To India.

As we drove, we learnt from Bhuban about the area and that in fact we were in the capital city of the state of Assam. The people speak Assamese here. We would then drive into Meghalaya, of which Shillong is the capital. Ohhhhhhhhhhh. I have worked on a campaign about India for four months of 2016 and all along I thought Meghalaya was a place and Shillong a separate place. All along I’ve been saying “We’re going to Meghalaya to see the living bridges.” Not realise I was talking about the state as opposed to the place! We are actually staying in Cherrapunjee, which is the home of the living bridges. Look, geography isn’t my strong point.

 

I mentioned to Bhuban that it was Matt’s desire to pat a cow in India. Half joking, I said “Can you arrange that during our time?”. Next thing I know, we’ve stopped the car to meet a woman with two calves and Matt is patting them.

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Our drive was filled with sleeping, snacks, chatting about the local areas and about travel in India. We stopped for a wonderful meal at Jiva Veg along the way. Beautiful restaurant with such sweet décor and a lovely view of the surrounding hills. We enjoyed two dahl dishes and naan – So so tasty. Matt has been most impressed with all my food choices so far.

 

Quick stop at Luke Umiam, also known as Borapaani- basically meaning Big Water. It was stunning and such a pleasant break from the drive. There are so many natural gems around India.

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The views around Guwuhati reminded me of other rural parts of India I had seen before. As we climbed towards Shillong, it changed dramatically and the geography was like nothing I’d seen before. Hilltop villages, tea plantations and towering terrace houses.

 

We drove on and it completely flattened out to dry arid land on the top. Then it opened up completely into gaping valleys. Completely flat on the top with steep ridges then diving down into deep valleys. It looked a bit like the side of a table with able cloths flowing down the way the hills rolled and creased. It was breathtaking.

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The drive was a tad sketchy as we rolled around these hilly roads. As we got closer to Cherrapunjee, we saw more betel nut trees and palms popping up, it was changing into rainforest like foliage. So lush and green. Sadly there would be few waterfalls as we are quite a way out of monsoon season now, but the weather in the Winter/ dry season is great for travelling around.

We reached the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort, resting on top of a hill with valleys dipping down all around, it was just perfect. Modest interior with sweet décor in our rooms. The staff were lovely and welcoming and before we knew it we had tea and biscuits as we watched the sun go down.

There isn’t much to do in this area except appreciate the nature. It was just the getaway we needed! We got there just in time for sunset and it was absolute perfection.

 

At night, we were treated to a musical program put on by the local Kashi people. They sang adaptions of English songs as well as local Kashi folk songs. They also had a dancer who was popping and locking all over the place. Quite the show. And as always with India, we all had to get up and dance in the end. Our cheeks were hurting from smiling.

We started chatting to the other two ladies who were staying, and of course, one was Aussie! No matter where you go in the world, you’ll find an Aussie. Even the remote hilltop resorts of Cherrapunjee. We enjoyed sharing stories about India over a lovely buffet meal. By 8.30pm, we were full and tired and it was time to snuggle up on this cool winter evening and catch some z’s.

 

If you would like to follow our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.

Written on Day 6 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.


Arriving in Mumbai feels like coming home

Arriving at 10am, we looked out the windows of the plane and I could see the familiar smog and the dense cluster of buildings poking through. Mumbai, I’m home.

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This is my 9th visit to the incredible land of India. It really does feel like I’m returning to somewhere I came from. Perhaps as the Hindus suggest, I did have another life before this one. Or many. And at least one of them was in India. I’m hedging my bets I was a princess, or for now we’ll go with that… it may offset some of my demands ;).

 

For my partner Matt, it will be his first time to the exotic sub-continent. I sat him down in the airport at Singapore before our early morning flight and gave him a bit of a briefing. I advised on some of the things to be prepared for and be conscious of. I also told him that although I would love to share this amazing country with him, I will not force it upon him and will leave him to draw his own conclusions. However, I did add a word of warning that although things are different, doesn’t mean they are wrong and to note that I truly LOVE India and it will hurt my feelings if he criticises the way the country operates. Which let’s be honest is majority of the time chaotic and mad!

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A little too excited for Dosa

Our experience in the newly renovated Mumbai airport was great. We were through customs and baggage quickly with our easy to access e-visa. We then hit a roadblock when we got to the money side of things. I shall write another post on the madness of the currency change in India that has led to widespread chaos with shortages of money for all classes of society. For now, read this article in Forbes and watch this video on demonetisation by the talented comedy group, All India Bakchod. 

 

A quick scan revealed no ATM’s. After asking, we were directed to one ATM was literally unplugged! We then found another which once we got to the withdrawal staged it reported “No cash in this ATM”. So we then had to go to money exchange who would only give us max 4000 rupees and charged us a fee of 400 rupees for the service. We also were only given two 2000 rupees notes. The highest currency notes in India. When meals are available for 100 rupees, taxis will be 500 rupees and 1L of water is just 30 rupees – I knew breaking it would be a struggle.

 

We found a snack stand in the airport where I convinced the lovely till manager to sell me the food and break our 2000 note.

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The 2000 rupee note is a challenge to get change for. The 500 rupee has been restricted and is hard to get your hands on from the ATM’s

Off to get an Uber. I was using my wifi so thought it would be wonderful – not so much at the airport. The airport is so densely packed with traffic that the Uber has trouble getting into the carpark and locating guests. I was quite worried but ended up finding the Uber Concierge helpers who contacted our driver and we were off!!

 

I was preparing Matt for some shock on arrival. But no. The boy was asleep in 5 mins and slept the whole way to my friend’s house. I’m impressed with his comfort in foreign lands.

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Navi Mumbai is a very different side to the well known parts of Bombay

Arriving to my friend’s home in Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai) really did feel like home. It was more than two years since my last visit but as I stepped into the house, it felt as though I was only here last week. My wonderful friend and host Priyo was so welcoming and it was the best way for Matt to ease into India.

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We went out for the most important first stop – food! To Priyo’s favourite local food place, and what turned out to be mine also. South Indian food. What they often eat for breakfast, is available at all times. Idly, vada, samba, chutney and dosa. I may have to write a blog just for this food and restaurant but honestly, do yourself a favour and get onto this.

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South Indian breakfast is the best!

Next it was off to fulfil Matt’s highest wish for India, to get a cut throat or hot shave! Of course with Priyo as our guide he knew exactly where to go. Again, this deserves a blog of its own. These guys are absolute specialists and their skills are second to none. Matt was truly pampered and he just loved it. Aiming to get at least three of these while we are here. The best part, the price! $28AUD you’ll pay back home. Here…. 50 rupees aka one Australian dollar. $1! I was shocked and delighted.

The evening was spent watching the sunset from the high rise apartment balcony. Sipping on Old Monk Rum and eating Indian Chinese. Such an awesome first night in India and so many more wonderful experiences to come! Indian hospitality is the best in the world – Atithi Devo Bhava.

If you would like to follow our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.

 

Written on Day 3 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.


Loving the Gold Coast vibe 

“Hey Emma – so where do you actually live?”

Excellent question! And one I get SO often!

Though I’ve had a permanent address of Coogee in Sydney for more than 2.5 years, I was always on the move. That’s kinda my life. But for now, I am loving the Gold Coast vibe where my lovely partner is now living and working!

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I’ve also been running a pet sitting business since January this year, Lovelly Pet Sitters. We care for pets in their own homes so that has me moving around from house to house, and even pet sitting interstate. I’m in a new suburb each week – a great way to explore new areas and spend time with lovely animals.

In September, my partner Matt got a new job! He’s now a diver at Sea World Australia and he moved three and a half weeks after he got the call. It was all very quick and exciting. Just the way I like it really. So here we are! The Goldie. Though I’m always traveling, I try and spend as much time as possible with him there. Follow our adventures on Instagram using the tag #EmmaMattyGCLife. Oh and our mascot, #PhilliptheDugong.

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Let’s be honest, I’m still commuting. At the drop of a hat, I could move elsewhere, so I am just making the most of this and living it up in the popular tourist destination. Gold Coast is so different when you actually spend a concentrated amount of time there.

Here are some of my favourite things I like to do whenever I am in and around The Goldie.

 

Broadwater Parklands

This gorgeous new development is just at the end of our road! Gold Coast Council have reconstructed the entire area in preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. It’s got walking and cycle tracks, play areas for children, cafes, an Olympic pool and gym, entertainment areas, access to the water and the most gorgeous rock pool play area! It’s also filled with native wildlife and many places for birds to be free. I head there almost every day for a walk or cycle and look forward to exploring the waterways by Stand Up Paddle board in the near future.

 

Cycling – anywhere and everywhere

I bought a bike! It was like I was five years old again. So shiny, so new! So much room for activities! I can take a number of cycle paths from my place to explore the area. The Gold Coast is extremely bike friendly and it really shows in how many people are out enjoying cycling or using it as a way to commute. You just want to get out and be active!

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Tamborine Mountain

A gorgeous scenic drive from Southport up to Tamborine takes just 40 minutes. I’ve been up there most weekends since we moved and it’s actually a great way to cool down on the hotter days. There are loads of walking trails and lookout points to see the hinterland. You’ve also got wineries, B&B’s, cafes and the gallery of shops. It’s a great half day out or even overnight get away if you need a break from the heat and the beach. Don’t miss the Fortitude Brewery, amazing vibes and fine brews.

 

Sea World Australia

We of course made this one of our first stops, as Matt now works there. It was really nice to be tourists though and enjoy it with fresh eyes, and a little insider info. The animals are so beautiful and I really can see myself heading here often, just chilling with the sea creatures and learning more about our marine life. We also had perfect weather, so that helps!

 

Pool hangs

So this one isn’t really accessible to everyone, as this is actually the pool at his apartment. But my advice is book accommodation with a pool. It’s so lovely to look out his window and see this each day and spend lunch breaks catching some sun and having a refreshing dip.

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I really hope to share as much of my experience while I’m here as possible. Tips and info on the best places to go, as well as some of our personal adventures! I have no idea how long he’ll be there or what’s next in our chapter, but for now, I’m enjoying it!

 


Bahrain is the perfect intro to the Middle East

Exotic.Charming.Historic. Just a few words to describe beautiful Bahrain. For a gentle step into the Middle East I highly recommend the Kingdom of Bahrain.

I had a brief stopover in Dubai before my December 2016 visit to Bahrain but I wouldn’t count this as a true taste of the region. Friends of mine from India are living and working and invite me to come and stay.  It’s always the best way to see a country, with locals and friends. At times I even felt like I was in India, being surrounded by my lovely Indian friends and family, listening to Bollywood music and eating Indian food. But they made sure to get me out and about to see as much of Bahrain and experience this country rich in history.

Dubai to me is manufactured and I didn’t get a sense of what the culture of the country is. It’s largely an ex pat state and it is really built for tourists. Although Bahrain is also quite a transient place with 40% of their tiny 2.5 million population being made up of ex pats, they have made sure to stay true to the roots of culture, and incorporated the new well.

I want to share detailed posts about each of the main tourist sites I visited, but I shall share here just a few of my favourite photos shared to Instagram. Enjoy!

Really enjoyed experiencing some history of Bahrain today at Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House.

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The Manama Souq in Bahrain, wonderful place to enjoy some shopping and get a vibe for the old markets of this area. They’ve modernized it but the haggling and trading of the souq is still there.

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Standing in the courtyard of the Grand Mosque in Bahrain. Incredible structure.

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More sightseeing by car. Love this twisty office building near the Bahrain Financial Harbour and in the distance theBahrain World Trade Centre.

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Magical lighting brings the Bahrain Fort to life at night.

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Lion King eat your heart out! Being a kitty in the Tree of Life in Bahrain.

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The Bahrain Fort was the perfect place to finish my wonderful experience in Bahrain. Fortunately having gone to the National Museum the day before, I knew some of the fascinating history of this important site. The lighting was fantastic and I highly recommend going at night.

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The Tree of Life.

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Beautiful day for spotting some of the key sites of Bahrain. This is the stunning Grand Mosque. Look forward to exploring tomorrow.

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Afternoons in Bahrain. Taking in some culture at the National Museum. This is the beautiful view back over the city from the outside of the museum.

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Please do yourself a favour, head to the Kingdom of Bahrain and enjoy the laid back and chilled isllnd vibe of the Middle East.


My Christmas rant and trying to understand the true meaning of a “gift”

Yesterday, in the middle of a crowded shopping center, I had a mini tantrum and Bah Humbug rant… It was contained in a message to my mother, but it happened.

Photo credit: Grumpy Cat

I like to think I’m kind and generous. But Christmas does not bring this out in me. Being told by shops and marketers that it is the time for me to be generous in the form of giving many unnecessary gifts doesn’t fill my heart with joy.

Gift (noun): 1. a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.
I was frantically pacing the shops looking for “gifts” to give, without any idea of what I wanted to hand over, because that’s what you do at Christmas. Every year I say “no gifts”. But somehow I fall into the trap.
I’m not a grinch. Not really… But I feel like one. I love seeing someone made happy by something thoughtful and caring. I love giving gifts. But because I want to! Not because I’m told to by a holiday, which is actually about the birth of Christ. So really, the only person who should be getting a gift is Jesus, it’s his birthday. Pretty sure he would want us to be loving, kind and warm to one another above all else. Not pulling our hair out about which crackers to buy, what to have for dinner and how much you’ve spent so far.
I do genuinely wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, the true spirit of Christmas, love. 
So today, I’m sending love to Syria. To all those who don’t have a home, won’t be receiving presents and may not be with loved ones. I cannot imagine what it would be like to endure such constant terror and sadness, with still no end in sight.

Photo credit: World Vision Australia

Today, I’ll make a donation to World Vision Australia. A gift of hope.
I encourage you to think outside of the tree, glitter and gift wrap and open your heart to kindness.

Please donate to World Vision Austalia today: https://emergencies.worldvision.com.au/donate/syria


I love change… so why do I feel so strange?

 

Recently I’ve made a lot of big changes in my life. Moved interstate. Moved in with my boyfriend. Finished up with some long term clients. And I’m saving to buy a house. I love change! It’s full of adventure and it brings new and exciting developments. So why do I feel so strange? Off centre and not driving forward in my usually ambitious manner.

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I’ve always welcomed change in my life and am a firm believer in the whole door closing and a window opening business. Or vice versa. What is often not mentioned when these new and exciting changes happen, is the exhaustion that comes with it. The long drive from NSW to the Gold Coast ( much more to come on that) and the move into the house I got! Moving house and Interstate is tiring. But after a few days, it’s back to business as usual right? Nope! It’s the emotional wave and the shift into my new zone I was not ready for.

It’s taken me two weeks to give myself grace for feeling this way. I felt lethargic, drained and a little bit lost really. I’m in this glorious new location (see the walkway to my pool above for just one example!) with  so much activity and beauty all around me. I’m overjoyed to be living with my partner and stepping onto this new path together. I’m thrilled for him and his new job. It’s a new life together and there is so much possibility. I’ve felt awful that I am feeling tired and worn out. How can I feel this way when I have so much to look forward to and I feel so genuinely happy in my surroundings?

Well – that’s change for you folks. It’s a shift in energy. A new mindset. Let alone the new timezone for me, literally. I started to worry about the future. What happens now? What’s next? What do I do?! I’m someone who always plans the next move, I think two steps ahead and I’m prepared for the next adventure to begin. I’m not ok with the … lull.

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Some darling friends gave me Unicorn cards for my birthday this year. I love unicorns, so they nailed it on the present front. They know me too well. I was in quite a state last week and I asked the cards… “please, tell me what to do next”. And I then pulled out this card … CHANGE! “The changes you’re going through are positive.”

I sighed audibly with relief.

Change is a natural part of life. For most people, changes come in a series or spread out over time. That’s not my style of course. All the changes, all at once please! The more the merrier.

I guess it makes sense – but it didn’t feel natural to me feel so thrown by the changes. I felt so unsure and off. I worried if maybe I had made a bad decision and this wasn’t the path I’m meant to be on. But it is. The changes are positive. Change isn’t easy – and it’s the challenge that makes it even better! A time for growth and development. Pushing the comfort zone and making us take the next uncomfortable yet fruitful leap.

This new understanding has given me such an ease in these past few days. I’ve now given myself permission to be tired, to take it easier and to adapt at my own pace to the new. I can’t wait to see what happens next… but it’s ok if it takes a little while longer to all fall into place. I’m ok if I don’t fire on all cylinders every moment of the day… I’m in QLD – RELAX!

So for now, you’ll all have to suffer through my sunshine and roses posts as I literally go out and walk around in the sun and smell roses! I so look forward to exploring and experiencing my beautiful new life on the Gold Coast.

Have you had a big change lately? How have you adapted to the new? I would love to hear from you.


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