Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 01

Gratitude posts, specifically of the 'Wonderful Wednesday' kind, are some of my favourite posts to read. I'm a big advocate of the practice of gratitude, whether you're feeling happy or feeling down, it always does a bit of good to take some time to reflect on the things you're grateful for, however big or small they may be. In saying that though, I probably don't practice gratitude enough. So, after Linsey's latest post, I thought I would join the Wonderful Wednesday crew in the hopes I will cultivate a positive habit.

The days getting sunnier and longer. I have never been the biggest fan of summer, but after what has felt like a particularly long and wet winter, I'm welcoming the gorgeous mid 20 degree days and intend to soak it all up before summer comes around and temperatures go beyond 35 degrees! I'm especially loving seeing my favourite flower, Geraldton wax, in bloom around my neighbourhood.

Following on from this, I am over the moon to be able to drink iced coffee again! That isn't to say iced coffee can't be enjoyed any time of the year, but it becomes so much more refreshing during the hotter months. I enjoy my iced coffee with one shot, soy milk, a dash of honey and ice. Mmm absolute heaven!

I got a job! Okay, so it may not be the lucrative publicist/public relations position I have been so ruthlessly chasing, but it is with a company I adore (Kikki K) and with people who are absolutely wonderful! I'm so excited to be earning again and looking forward to the return of a routine. I never realised how much I love working until I wasn't. I'm content that having this position will help me save but also spoil myself on occasion, all the while allowing me to continue my *entry level* job related search with a little bit more optimism.

I caught up with a group of my good friends at 'Oktoberfest'. In celebration of a friend's 21st, we all head up to the Swan Valley to attend one of Perth's replica events of the festival at a brewery. Funnily enough, it never crossed our minds that we could dress up for the event, so we were among the very few attendees who weren't kitted up in dirndls. Nonetheless, we had such a good time drinking beer (cider in my case), eating pretzels and just generally catching up.

What have you been grateful for lately?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Magazine of the Moment | The Happy Reader

After a very prolonged 'pause', I am so happy to once again be typing up another 'Magazine of the Moment' post. Admittedly, the ferocity with which I have been consuming new 'indie' magazines has diminished a lot since my last post, as I both came to realise that I couldn't keep up with all the magazines I was purchasing and I was probably spending a little too much of my money on them (I know *shock horror*. I never thought I'd type those words either...). I'm now focusing on buying the magazines I truly love and leave me hungry for more the minute I finish reading the final page.

One of these magazines is The Happy Reader. A quarterly publication, the fundamentals of this magazine are refreshingly simple. Each issue is split into two halves: the first half consists of an in-depth interview with a prominent celebrity or figure and the second half consists of an in-depth analysis of a piece of literature. Being a collaborative project between Fantastic Man and Penguin Classics, The Happy Reader is a marriage of exquisite style and literature. But for me, what makes it so unique, is it invites readers to further explore their own curiosity.

In the information/media saturated world that has seen our attention spans grow ever thinner, The Happy Reader is a welcome reprieve from all the noise. The interview half of the magazine is very extensive - more so than any other feature I have read in other publications. The issues I have read so far featured incredibly prominent people within their fields (actors, curators, artists), although they were still people of which I was personally unaware. This was no detriment to my reading experience though; I got to learn so much about the handful of people in the most organic way possible. The interviews are conducted as if the interviewer and interviewee are merely good friends talking the afternoon away. Of course, books are a regular and reoccurring topic of conversation, but the interviews also delve into the areas of art, music and cinema. On the occasions that I have found myself reading these interviews (at a cafe, on public transport and even in the bath) I have always been enraptured by the insights that the interviewees gave and eagerly noted down every reference to things that inspired them in some way.

The second half of the magazine is a pastiche of essays, opinion pieces, artworks and, in the case of the latest issue, activities that relate to the chosen classic of that issue. I particularly enjoyed the second half of Summer 2016, which focused on Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Favourite articles of mine included: 'On Big Ben', which discussed the sound and significance of the iconic bell of London, 'Ten Men I Should Have Married', which sees the writer take apt inspiration from Clarissa's constant wondering of what might have been had she married Peter Walsh, and 'My First Great Book', in which author Michael Cunningham discusses how Mrs Dalloway changed his life and helped shape his career. These pieces are indicative of the ways that literature can shape people; their ideas, livelihoods, careers and every day life. Reading it, I not only became more curious about the impact of great works of literature, but the varying ways in which we interpret them and attach individual meaning.

The Happy Reader is an absolutely delightful magazine that provides food for thought at a very reasonable price (8 pound for a yearly subscription or, if you are lucky enough to find a local stockist like I have, about $6 per issue in Australia). If you happen to live in London, I also urge you to send through your interest to attend their book club events which coincide the release of the newest issue. I was so lucky to have been able to attend the second Joseph x Happy reader Book Club. It was an evening of enlightening discussion with like minded readers and lovers of Virginia Woolf accompanied by bottomless gin and tonics. It was one of the highlights of my trip to London, and I think for that reason, I will always have a soft spot for The Happy Reader

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Thoughts On: Reverse Homesickness

Reverse homesickness, reverse culture shock, whatever you prefer to call it: it's something we don't normally consider before setting off on a big trip abroad. Whether you're a bit of a worry wart like myself or not, I think it's a pretty unanimous feeling to be a mixed bag of nerves and excitement moments before entering the departure gate. The two times I set off on my own overseas I felt a huge surge of panic leading up to the moment my plane took off. I worried about the things and people I would be leaving behind, the things I would miss about home, in effect preempting the few instances of homesickness I experienced later on in my trip. I'm no seasoned traveler by any means, but based on just these two experiences, I can say with absolute certainty that despite this, coming home is so much harder than leaving it behind.

That's not to say I missed my home comforts at some points throughout my trips and wasn't thankful to return to my own bed. But once the normality of daily life set in, I found myself itching to get back on a plane again. I'm not even an adventurous or nomadic traveler; when I go abroad, I prefer spending a considerable amount of time in one place rather than racing through all the countries and landmarks so I can 'see' everything in a short period of time. I thoroughly enjoy being in a place long enough so that I can establish somewhat of a routine; my last trip was especially true to this, as I was pretty much interning full time in London. So it's not like I was fearing the 'everyday' life upon my return to my home country.

When I was in London, locals would quiz me on why the hell I was there, of all places, when I'm from Australia. Even family would scratch their heads about my desire to travel and say how lucky I was, still am, to live here. There's no place like home, right? Without a doubt, I feel incredibly grateful to have grown up in such a beautiful place. While I have always been somewhat of an Anglophile, it's not simply a case of 'the grass is always greener on the other side...'

If it weren't for the independent trips I have taken abroad, while few, I can say with conviction that I wouldn't be the person I am today. My 15 year old self could have never dreamed that I would become the confident, driven, headstrong person that I am. I used to identify as an introvert, but thanks to pushing myself, I realised that I thrive off human interaction. I was just too afraid to put myself out there before. In a city where I knew no one, where there's always something going on, I had nothing to lose but to soak up everything that London had to offer.

Naturally, I guess you're going to attribute the positive change in yourself to the place which saw you blossom. So it's there that I picture the best version of myself. London was my 'home' for little over two months and my time there was enough to leave me feeling empty, like something was missing, for well over a month after coming back to my actual home. Before, home always meant comfort and security. But after my trip abroad, I craved a home that set my soul ablaze with excitement, a home where I could be whoever I wanted to be in a city that barely knows my name.

Reverse home sickness goes something like this: One afternoon you find yourself jamming along to some music and then that song comes on and it's like a punch to the stomach; the song or songs that punctuated the nights dancing on sticky floors with the people you grew so close to in a short amount of time. You weren't ready to leave it all, them all, behind. You realise you're still not ready.

Reverse homesickness feels like your roots have been uprooted but your wings have been clipped. You struggle with neither being 'here' mentally nor 'there' physically. What was once familiar seems unfamiliar. You can't express this change that has taken place within you except that you know that the moments and experiences that helped it to eventuate were, and are, the most worthwhile pursuits you could ever wish to make. 'Home' will never feel the same again. With every return, you will forever be planning for and chasing after your next adventure.

'Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to go'

But all hope is not lost, and after the initial 'dazed' period of the first month back home, I have slowly begun to feel fairly content and happy with where I am at this moment in time. I know myself well enough now to know that I'll never wish to stay in one place my whole life. Living abroad for an extended period of time (aka more than 2 months) has always been somewhat of a bucket list pipe dream, and I'm determined to make that a reality. But for now, I've fallen back in love with my city and need to remind myself that there's nothing stopping me from 'getting out there' just as I did in London. I think it's just easier to become lazy. Home will always be there and it will always be home. There's not the same sense of urgency to see the latest exhibition at the state gallery or go on road trips as far south as Margaret River and as close by as the Swan Valley. I may never be able to sate my appetite to see and do bigger things, but for the times in between, I can still make the most of every day. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Podcast Picks | Food, Travel and Art

So I realise that I am probably one of the last people to jump on the podcast bandwagon, but now that I'm on it, I don't know how I lived without it! I've found myself listening to a range of different podcasts over the last month, and said listening sessions have usually been accompanied by some kind of creative endeavor (painting, drawing or cooking). I find that it's such a productive way to wind down and can really lift your spirits. As my life kind of feels like it's in a limbo right now (shout out to post University life and job hunting!), I have naturally felt inclined to seek out podcasts of the inspiring and uplifting kind but at the same time, ones that encourage me to learn new skills or simply learn new things.

I thought I would share my top three Podcast Picks that I have been obsessed with lately, so much so, that I am pacing myself with each episode, because I don't want them to end! If you have any other podcast recommendations, I would love to know.

This has to be my favourite podcast series of all three. I first chanced upon it shortly after coming home from time abroad which, as keen travelers will know, is never easy. Reverse homesickness is a real thing! Roam and GoLightly appealed as it has a keen interest in travel, so I could happily sit and daydream about my next adventure...but it also places huge emphasis on sharing the adventures of the everyday. This description on the blog particularly stood out:

"I set out to find that creative, adventurous lifestyle that I experienced with a passport in hand, except this time it would have to happen in the "real world." With real responsibilities, with real struggles, with a realistic approach to living the lifestyle I craved"

I realised while listening to a number of podcasts that living an adventurous lifestyle is possible without necessarily having to board a plane, and this can be made possible by making time for creative pursuits. Roam and GoLightly interviews a number of talented craftsmen, writers, thinkers and dreamers. I have yet to finish a podcast and not come away feeling inspired. Some of my favourite episodes so far are: Minisode: ROME! | "A Little Bit of Everything" with Bianca Cash | "Grand Possibilities" with Ziza Bauer of Darling Magazine
*Just as a side note, the Roam and GoLightly blog is equally fabulous and worth checking out!

I've been a long time, let's say, casual reader of the blog The Jealous Curator, so it took me by surprise to only just recently discover that Danielle Krysa also has a podcast series called 'Art for your Ear'. As if her site isn't amazing enough as it is, her podcasts give an inside look into the lives of some incredible artists. On the inspiration behind creating a podcast series, Krysa writes:

"When I studied art history in university, my favorite part was, well, basically the gossip. I loved hearing why artists did certain things. What was going on in their personal life, stories about other artists they knew and worked with. ART FOR YOUR EAR is exactly that… inside-scoop stories from amazingly talented contemporary artists."

I've always been a bit of an art lover and regret not taking more courses in history of art in University. However, with these podcasts, it's truly wonderful to know that I can deepen my knowledge and awareness of celebrated and upcoming contemporary artists despite not necessarily studying art extensively. These podcasts make for the perfect way to kick start a creative weekend or wind down in the afternoon with a cup of tea. Who knows, it may even prompt you to take out your paints and paintbrushes!
Favourite podcast so far: REBECCA LOUISE LAW: Painting with Flowers (aka my favourite installation artist!)

Finally, this is a podcast I only just recently got into, but am certain that it will become a firm favourite. I'm a big foodie, but have lately felt lacking in inspiration in regards to what to cook. After listening to just one episode, I felt like I was getting my mojo back and was motivated to get back into the kitchen! The Olive Magazine podcast is hosted by the editor of the magazine and shares 'exclusive additional content, behind the scenes gossip, expert advice and fun'. The topics usually centre around a specific ingredient or food and there is often a guest speaker, but the podcasts also discuss everything from upcoming events in London to traditional cooking methods and customs of different cuisines. It is an absolutely delightful podcast series. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Read in September

Monthly book recaps have to be one of my favourite kind of posts to write. I really love nothing more than recommending books that I have enjoyed, discussing ideas and reading other opinions. September was a truly incredible month for reading - as you may know, I currently find myself in the difficult post-graduate job hunting period. As a result, books have been my saving grace for when the 'real world' gets a little too overwhelming and I just need to escape the chaos of my inner thoughts and worries for a while. The books I read in September did just that and while the majority made for easy reading, they also surprised me in a number of ways. If you have these titles on your TBR list/pile, hopefully these mini insights are helpful, and if you have read them already, I'd be interested to know what you think!

When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi
“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.”  
I don't know how anyone couldn't be floored by this novel. It is absolutely awe inspiring and is a prime contender for the best book I've read so far this year. It is an autobiography by Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon, whose life was cut tragically short. An all-round amazing man, he contributed so much to medical research. What struck me was how humble and how dedicated he was, to not only his demanding field, but to his personal endeavors and love of literature. In his quest to create a virtuous and meaningful life, he never stopped finding ways to improve himself and aid those around him. This is an absolute must read. 5/5

The Portable Veblen -Elizabeth Mckenzie
“A life could be spent like an apology—to prove you had been worth it.”
If you're after a quirky read, this right here is a good pick. The main protagonist, Veblen, couldn't be any quirkier. Her main quirk? She befriends a squirrel who reappears throughout various points in the novel. Specifically, the squirrel seems to be her main confidant as she prepares to marry neurologist Paul, who develops a machine to treat injured and traumatized war veterans. Veblen and Paul both lead crazy lives and have to deal with the frivolities of their equally crazy families. While I can't decide whether I actually enjoyed this novel, I never tired of reading it, as there were little surprises throughout. I could never guess what was going to happen next making for an interesting read. 3/5

The Comet Seekers - Helen Sedgwick
‘Things shifted while he wasn’t looking at the ground and now the world is different; everything is beautiful, and wild, and precarious, because now he knows how the sky can change.” 
I've got to be honest and admit that it was the cover of this book that had me sold, even before knowing what it was even about. Thankfully, my trust in the book (yes, based on its cover) didn't let me down. The Comet Seekers is just as whimsical as its gorgeous jacket. It sees the lives of two main protagonists, that of Francois and Roisin, interweave and then collide. Their stories share a common factor, and that is, the impact of passing comets in the night sky, which eventuates in their final meeting. If you have read and loved books such as The Night Circus and The Grace Keepers, I think you'll find this book just as enchanting. Much like the other two titles, The Comet Seekers also deals with darker themes, making for quite a spellbinding read overall. 3.5/5

The Girls - Emma Cline
“They didn't have very far to fall--I knew just being a girl in the world handicapped your ability to believe yourself."
There was a lot of hype surrounding this book, so I was practically itching to read it, and it didn't disappoint. Set in Northern California in the 1960s, The Girls centers around lonely, validation seeking teenager Evie Boyd who ends up running with the wrong crowd; a group of girls who are a part of a cult run by a seemingly charismatic leader. What I enjoyed most about this book is that Emma Cline's prose captures so accurately what it's like to be a teenage girl. I also read on with morbid fascination as the girls came to their ultimate demise; it was only after finishing that I learned the book is based off the Manson murders. Had I known this before, I think my reading experience would have been heightened as I'm somewhat of a sucker for books that take inspiration from/are about notorious crimes. All in all, this is an exciting read and a very impressive debut by Cline. 3.5/5

The Hours - Michael Cunningham
“But there are still the hours, aren't there? One and then another, and you get through that one and then, my god, there's another.”
Author Michael Cunningham doesn't make his admiration for Virginia Woolf a secret. His Pulitzer winning novel is both a tribute to the authoress and an effortless example of his own remarkable talent. The Hours tells the story of three women from three different time periods: Virginia Woolf, Clarissa Vaughan and Laura Brown. Over the course of one day, their stories manage to transcend time and intertwine to reveal their shared feelings of hopelessness and realisation that they must make a change to their lives in order to escape it. I'm not going to lie; this wasn't the most uplifting read and it was oftentimes painful to realise that I identified with the three women. Cunningham so cleverly and accurately captures the excruciating feeling that life is escaping you, but at the same time, never ending, all the while you struggle with what it is you want to do or achieve and how to set about doing it. I would recommend reading this for the exquisite writing alone, but if you're a Virginia Woolf enthusiast, then this is definitely worth a read. 4/5

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes
“You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.” 
 Of all the books I read last month, this one surprised me the most. I'm sure you're well aware of this title, especially with the recent release of the film adaption. It follows a woman, Lou Clark, who takes on a job as a carer for Will Traynor, a high achieving career man whose life fell apart after a motorbike accident left him paralyzed. What I appreciated about this book is that it delivered beyond expectations. Settling down with it one afternoon, I was prepared for a light hearted, if not somewhat heartbreaking, romance narrative. What I wasn't prepared for was how 'real' this novel truly is. I don't think it's a love story; more so, a story about life, how fragile and unfair it can be, and the fact that we are the only ones in charge of our lives and how we shape it. It deals with some very serious topics, such as disability and the right to end one's life. I admit, there were tears by the end of the novel, but what I admire about Me Before You is it's clear that Jojo Moyes didn't write it to forcibly provoke such a reaction. Everything about this novel is understated; it is respectful, it is funny, it is touching and it is true. Indeed, I was not prepared to be so moved by this book, so much so, that it continues to stay on my mind days after I read the final page. 4/5

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