Thursday, June 1, 2017

Lessons from a Plant

Perth WA, Australia
I've been thinking about what it means to be a 'grown up', and that maybe it's knowing the growing never stops.

No matter how small the space you occupy, where there is the capacity to cast your bearings and sprout new ideas, there's always room for more growth.

While the roots you formed long ago remain the foundations, bending towards the direction of the sun will always be just as natural as breathing.

There is so much to be learned in this tiny everyday life. Don't forget just how tall you grow, in your mind and in your heart, with every drop of knowledge you absorb.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Break | Florette by Anna Walker

When Mae's family moves to a new home, Mae wishes she could bring the garden with her. She'll miss the apple trees, the daffodils and the butterflies in the long, wavy grass. But there's no room for a garden in her new home...Or is there?

What caught my eye with this book was, of course, the stunning imagery that is nothing short of a work of art. Flipping through the pages, I wished I could be part of Mae's gentle world. But as I followed along with the story, expressed in few words, it hit me that there is a lot that can be learned from the little girl's mind. Despite moving to a city so strikingly different to her home, Mae's passion and creativity helps her to adjust and feel happy once again. From a tiny 'stalk of green', Mae cultivates her own garden from which she and her community can benefit; both through the environmental benefits it brings and the hope and friendships it fosters.

It's not often that I find myself reaching for children's books, but after reading Florette by Anna Walker, I think I may have to do so more often. I really appreciate the knack they have for addressing the simple things in life that make all the difference. With Florette, I was reminded that a dream is achievable if one has the resilience, conviction and imagination to see it through.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Slow Down | Take a Hike

Rottnest Island WA 6161, Australia

I took a day trip to Rottnest, an Island one hour off the coast of Western Australia. Six hours spent walking various parts of the Wadjemip trail was enough to quell my various anxieties. It was like breathing out a long sigh, unclenching fists and loosening tense limbs. It's one of those places you can let your worries be swept away to sea.

Take a Hike
Get out to somewhere quiet, it doesn't matter how far flung or close to home. Tread well trodden paths and climb steep sandy hills. From here on, it's all about getting back to basics. Focus on your heartbeat and your breathing. Remember that the world can be simpler than what it is, as long as you make the time to believe it.
After a spate of feelings of anxiousness and stress, my Slow Down series began with this post as an effort to reflect on the small activities that make all the difference. They are the ones that focus on the present and the moments that must be cherished.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book Break | Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

“Would you like to consider a relationship with me, based on a premise of love?”

This is a book about the passing of seasons and a friendship which blossoms into an unexpected yet touching romantic relationship. It is a celebration of food - tofu, miso, edame, sake and mushroom hunting in the autumn - and the frequent habits formed in a local bar that shape something bigger and more beautiful. It is about two lonely souls who find themselves in the other person.

Strange Weather in Tokyo is an effortless and understated read. Yet, it is so tender and so poignant. Reading it felt almost cinematic - with each chapter, a quiet scene unfolds, made delightfully atmospheric through glimpses into Japanese cuisine, culture, landscape and literature in the form of Haiku. 

This is a book which oscillates between sweetness and sadness. It is a dream yet it is all too real. It is a meditation on love and loneliness. It is comforting and heartbreaking, and it will linger with you.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Magazine of the Moment | Pencilled In

Today, I present to you a stunning gem of a literary and art magazine unlike any other I have so far come across. Pencilled In is a new publication which contains contributions solely from Asian-Australians. It is a publication born out of admirable passion and determination to have the work of talented young writers and artists seen. 

I actually only discovered this magazine as a good friend of mine has one of her pieces published in the first issue and that friend is one of many from my high school and primary school days who is Asian. It's funny, because growing up, I thought nothing of this, compared to what my parents or grandparents may have thought and perhaps still think. And yet, it has only been the last few years that I have become aware of the considerable absence of the 'Asian Australian' voice in contemporary Australian arts and culture. It never crossed my mind, as a young girl, to consider things such as the Asian Australian experience, despite being as close as I was to my friends. Perhaps this is because there was such a lack of representation or absence of discussion. I have heard peers talk about how they feel so distinctly and inherently different from other Australians, despite living here for most of their lives. 

Hearing this, knowing this, saddened me. While I obviously cannot speak on behalf of Asian Australians, it is a reminder of just how much representation matters and why this magazine specifically is so powerful. 

From the magazine's website: 'Asian Australian artists are underrepresented in the Australian arts industry, and have been for a considerable amount of time. Young artists, especially, are feeling the pinch more than ever, and opportunities can be difficult to come by. Many young Asian Australians are discouraged from entering the arts industry by their parents or other family members – and instead, embark on careers in other areas. Even so, we all have that drawing hidden away in a sketchbook, an outline of a story lurking in the back of our heads, or an unfinished poem we never got the chance to revisit. Bits and pieces of art that are eternally pencilled in. Pencilled In, then, seeks to highlight and showcase art by young Asian Australians. It is a chance for emerging artists to have their work published, and hopes to provide a platform for such artists to forge meaningful relationships.'

The pieces in the first issue, including poetry, prose, photography and illustration, are all phenomenal explorations and reflections of the theme 'fear and hope'. Within its pages are the extraordinary ideas and stories by young creatives who deserve to be celebrated. It is exciting to know that such a magazine is paving the way for more diversity in publishing and I cannot wait to read more.

Issue 1 of Pencilled In can be bought here

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

= Podcast Picks vol. 2 =

Since my last podcast post, in which I professed my absolute adoration for the medium, my love for them is yet to peak. The more I find, the more I crave. You can probably imagine my utter glee when I discovered Australian Audio Guide: a self-described 'hand-picked companion to the best Australian audio content' (I wholeheartedly agree). These days, you will find me lurking in the 'Arts and Culture' and 'Food' section, aka the two loves of my life. 

There have been three podcasts that I have been really loving at the moment, so I thought I would share them with you. If your interests also fall within the topics of the arts, feminism, literature and food, then give these a listen on your next commute. You wont regret it!

'A podcast about women's experience as creators and consumers of arts and culture'
There have only been four episodes so far in this series (and at present, I have only tuned in to two) but it has already become one of my favourites. Each episode consists a long form conversation with a prominent female writer or artist in their field and discusses their work, how they shaped their career and musings about the experiences of gender in creative industries. It was the first episode which really drew me in: featuring Baily's Women's Prize winning author Hannah Kent for her debut novel, Burial Rites, I was enraptured by this brilliant woman's intellect and her journey thus far as a successful writer. The second episode I listened to, featuring program manager for the Melbourne Writers Festival Jessica Alice, was equally engaging. As someone who is deeply appreciative of the arts and the women who have made their mark in the industry, this podcast inspires me in a multitude of ways. That is, it inspires me to continue to support the arts and continue to chase after my own dreams, even despite the fact that they are in such a competitive field.

'An experimental podcast of little bundles of love'
This is such a sweet podcast founded by such a simple idea: the reading of letters. In each episode, the host Elizabeth reads out a letter that either she herself or a listener wrote. While short, these podcasts do not shy away from addressing love, loss and longing. Elizabeth's voice is so soothing that listening becomes a wholly immersive experience. There is a distinct profundity that even when whispered or spoken softly, the effect isn't any less heart wrenching. This would make for perfect rainy day listening.

 'A factual food fight'
You wouldn't think there would be much to know about an ingredient such as mayonnaise, but it's outstanding how much I learned after turning into Ingredipedia's first podcast. Each episode of this food focused series delve into the interesting stories, facts and sometimes wacky recipe ideas behind a featured ingredient. While you may initially be mistaken into thinking such an idea is pedestrian (I mean, who would be interested in your everyday, run of the mill pantry products, right?) this podcast is so enjoyable thanks to the highly engaging co-hosts. Let's just say I'll never think the same way about mayonnaise, figs or cherries again!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Slow Down | Make a Bouquet

I had noticed the development of habits. And not the good kind. Not being able to get to sleep, waking up in a panic, being easily overwhelmed, crying more frequently at the smallest of things. I felt I was in a repetitive cycle of feeling stressed, confused and hopeless and I wanted to break it. I've never been much into 'self-help' books, but I found myself reaching for 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle and I was pleasantly surprised by how helpful I found it.

The overarching message of the novel is to live in the present, which is a lot harder than it may seem. Some people dwell on the past, others fixate on the future and where they want to be. I fall within the former. I've never had a 'five year plan' and probably never will. And yet, everything I had been doing in the past few months seemed to be directed towards an elusive future; both in my actions and my thoughts. Eckhart does acknowledge and address the fact that, yes, it is important to plan for the future. But there's a difference between being conscientious and putting your entire life on hold by always worrying about the future you. 'I will be happy when...I will be successful when...Everything will work out when...'

I had become stuck and needed to find a way to claw my way out. And I discovered that the best way to do so is to get back to the basics. I needed to invest more time into creative activities to calm down, so that's what I have been doing. I intend to keep a track of the simple things that have been bringing me back to the 'now' through these 'Slow Down' posts. As Eckhart explains, the present moment is all we have, and it should be made the primary focus.

Slow Down: Make a Bouquet
Make this a weekly ritual. If you're lucky enough to have access to a garden, use it to gather your materials. Otherwise, cheap supermarket flowers are just as lovely. Spend time snipping the stems and arranging the flowers in a vase, paying careful attention to the smell and the feel of each specimen. Find an area in your house to place your vase, ideally a room you spend the most amount of your time. Notice how much joy a fresh bunch of flowers can bring and feel delighted by the small part you played in showcasing just how beautiful they are.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wonderful Wednesday 10

Here are some wonderful things from a wonderful week...
Getting my reading mojo back: All of a sudden, out of nowhere, it's like I want to devour all the books I can get my hands on. I've had orders coming through thick and fast from the library and I'm so excited to feel inspired once more! My most recent read was Jasper Jones and it was absolutely faultless. I'm kicking myself that I hadn't read it sooner. The reading experience was extra special, too, because the story takes place in Western Australia, where I live. It is always so wonderful to know there's such amazing Australian literary talent, I just need to actively seek them out. I'm hoping to write a more thorough review soon, so watch this space.

Attending a zine launch by local poet: The event took place in the upstairs area of a small record shop. Alongside a photography exhibit, a live band, complimentary candy floss that tasted like cinnamon donuts and zines on sale for $5, it was a lovely way to spend a Friday evening.

Much needed catch ups with friends: Whenever I get together with my friends, I always walk away realising the world of good time with them can do. Everything seems to be moving so fast these days and when we finally do get a chance to all catch up, so much has changed! It's exciting watching them all grow and flourish.

Volunteering at the Alliance Francaise: The launch of my favourite annual film festival is tonight and the lead up has been quite exciting. As I finished studying French last year, I've become noticeably rusty, so being surrounded by fluent speakers is inspiring me to get back into it and find ways to complete daily language exercises.

Wet and windy days: I feel like I mention the weather in every Wonderful Wednesday post, but it does have a significant impact on my mood! This past week, I have been absolutely loving the cooler weather after a long run of high 30s. I recently acquired a special package of flaked chocolate perfect for hot chocolate, so I can justify snuggling on the couch with a decadent drink on cold evenings...

Get an added dose of wonderfulness with other ‘Wonderful Wednesdays’ posts found all over the bloggersphere. Check out creator of 'Wonderful Wednesday' Sally Tangle along with posts by Jo, Helen,Michelle, Sarah, Kate, Cat, Sam, ElKerri, Jasmin and Lynsey.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Good Vibrations | Artists, Albums and Songs on Repeat

I've been treating myself kindly by letting music back into my life and am finding it one of the most effective ways to shut off from the world when I want a break. I have been listening to so many amazing tunes lately which are giving a much needed boost in motivation, inspiration and general good vibes. In these vibrations, I am rekindling an essential humanity: laughing, crying, singing, dancing and ruminating.

Catfish and the Bottlemen - The Balcony and The Ride
Do you ever discover an artist/band or album and just know, deep down, that you will never grow tired of their songs no matter how many times you play them to death? It's one of those beautiful, rare things that has only happened to me twice before discovering Catfish and the Bottlemen. Every single song on both of their albums is killer and they never fail to make me feel indescribable things. These guys are simply brilliant. They pride themselves on not 'thinking outside the box' but staying inside it and drawing on the fundamentals of rock. Their approach is 'simple', but their delivery is phenomenal. I am absolutely obsessed and cannot wait to one day see them perform live, wherever and whenever that may be.
Favourite Songs: Kathleen, Hourglass, Cocoon, 7, Outside and Twice.

Sing Street Soundtrack
My sister introduced me to the movie Sing Street last week and ever since, I have been playing the soundtrack on repeat. Taking place in 1980s Dublin, Sing Street follows 14 year old Conor and his band, which was initially formed to impress a local girl. The original music is spine tingling good and the kind of stuff that can turn a bad mood into a good one. Much like La La Land, it's inevitable not to aspire to bigger things and feel the burning desire to chase your dreams after watching the film and listening to the soundtrack.
Favourite Songs: Riddle of the Model, Up, Drive It Like You Stole It and Go Now

Blossoms - Blossoms
While I am only just easing into this indie-pop/psychedelic band, I can tell they will be playing on repeat for a long time to come. One of the hooks for me was the fact that their singer Tom Ogden's vocals are strikingly reminiscent of Alex Turner's. Blossoms have me dreaming of days from an elusive yesteryear I never lived through.
Favourite Songs: Charlemagne, Getaway, Texia, Onto Her Bed and Honey Sweet

Father John Misty - I Love You Honeybear
I first listened to I Love You, Honeybear mid last year but for some reason, never bothered to fully explore the entire album. To me, the work of Father John Misty (real name Joshua Tillman) just gets better with each listen. His lyrics are so intricate, so tender yet so mournful. It's hard not to get misty eyed while swaying to this indie-folk/indie-rock singer's vocals. It makes for perfect lazy afternoon listening and brooding.
Favourite Songs: I Love You, Honeybear, When You're Smiling and Astride Me, Holy Shit and Nothing Ever Good Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Cow. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Magazine of the Moment x Stack | The Exposed

It's hardly breaking news around this here blog that I am a magazine fiend. Over the past year, I have found so much joy through documenting magazines that have caught both my attention and my heart. It was with much exhilaration, therefore, to be told by Stack that I won a year's worth of magazines.

Stack Magazines is a subscription based service that aims to increase awareness of all the incredible independent magazines from all corners of the globe. In signing up for a subscription, readers are never sure of what they'll receive until the selected magazine comes through the mail. It sounds a risky concept, but I can tell Steve, the director, and his team are deeply passionate about the best quality magazines; whether it derives from spectacular editorial content or magazines which stretch the limits of print publishing.

The magazine that arrived this month fits the latter description. The Exposed is based in Copenhagen but takes contributions from all over the world. The unique thing about this magazine is that, upon first impressions, you may be inclined to question whether it is a magazine at all. Aside from the editor's letter, it contains very minimal text (the only text used is for the purpose of article titles and captains). 'Reading' The Exposed is unlike any other magazine related experience I have encountered. As seen in the Vimeo clip, readers engage with stories through video and audio, all made possible through the magazine's app.

It's the closest thing (that I know of) to the interactive print publications more likely found in magical realms (ie. The Daily Prophet in Harry Potter). But while this may imply gimmickry, The Exposed avoids it entirely. The use of video and audio to tell stories is not just quirky experimentation. Rather, the articles are carefully composed. Breaks between each image and video/audio accompaniment allow for deeper contemplation. As Steven notes, The Exposed is something like an 'embellished podcast', a 'gallery installation' or even a guided tour of cities and museums which situate participants into the cultural landscapes behind the stories. The accompaniment of visual and aural media with images stimulates highly immersive experiences. Two pieces which stood out to me were 'People of Pattern', which explores the intrinsic link between textiles and humanity, and  'Besides Faith', an examination of religious goods, clothing, iconography and the lucrative business behind them.

Stack has set the bar high with their first magazine of 2017. The Exposed is an exciting and innovative example of what the future of print and digital media holds. It is certainly comforting to know that the advance of digital media does not necessarily signal the death of print. If anything, The Exposed proves they can not only coexist, but also collaborate with one another, without sacrificing the credibility and importance of either medium.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

On Comparison, Ambition and the Race Against Time

As the old saying goes, comparison truly is the thief of joy. And never have I felt it more than I do now as a young adult.

In the most recent issue of Womankind, a particular article struck a chord. In her piece titled 'How do you measure your life?', Madeleine Dore opens by explaining:

'When I discover work I admire - be it a novel, a film, a project, or an installation - I'm obsessed with mapping out the owner's career trajectory and gathering clues as to how old they were during various life and career achievements'.

As an inherently ambitious individual, I'm always looking for ways to improve my skills and career opportunities. But there's something so distinctly disheartening about finding someone within your age bracket who is killing it in their field and at the top of their game. In such situations, I too become obsessed with how they got to where they are and how I can mimic their path to greatness. All of a sudden, I feel insecure about my own achievements. These people, whoever they may be, were miles ahead at the age I am now, whereas I feel like I have barely a foot off the ground. And while I know it is ridiculous and totally untrue, I fall into the trap of thinking if I'm not at a certain point in my life by a certain age, then I'll fall victim to constantly lagging behind. Because when there are people who are my age, heck, even younger for that matter, with so much more experience than me, why would an employer employ/promote me over them? The next ten years seem shorter than they really are and everything becomes a race against time.

While it's good to be ambitious and gather clues on how to achieve my goals by taking inspiration from others, I simply must put an end to the exhausting cycle of worrying about where I am now and where I want to be; and by extension, lamenting how I am so far behind *everyone* else. Dore again explains it so eloquently:

'I am forever delaying my ability to feel at ease with my lot in life, instead constantly mulling over whether I have made the right decision, the right connection, or chosen the right path. I'm forever moving the goalpost further along in what is already an impossible-to-reach idealised version of myself'.

One of my greatest fears is not living up to the high potential I set for myself. After years of feeling the pressure of doing better and being the best, I realised that this pressure was almost entirely self-inflicted. As true as it is that society constantly reminds us of the 'ticking clock' to achieve certain things by certain times, I'm solely responsible for believing in the lie and letting my apparent 'ineptitude' of experience define me. January has been an important time to reflect on the fact that just because other people may be in a different place to where I am right now, it doesn't mean I won't accomplish things in the future, in my own way.

Life shouldn't be a race against time, a race against other people or a race against yourself. It should be taken within your stride, at your own pace and with your head held high. Some of us may not know where we're headed, but we can sure as hell enjoy the process along the way.

Image via Pinterest

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wonderful Wednesday 09

I really let Wonderful Wednesday fall to the wayside the past few weeks, but I'm keen to get it back up and running! This is the first Wonderful Wednesday of 2017 and thinking about it, 2017 has been pretty darn good so far. Let's hope it continues as such!

Here are some wonderful things...

Walks along the beach. We've had a spate of hot days lately so escaping to the beach for an hour or so is such a treat. Even just strolling along the shores and letting the waves kiss my ankles is enough to cool me down. I feel so lucky to have it all on my doorstep and really hope frequent beach trips continue.
Lazy evenings spent reading in my room. The featured photo was taken on a particularly blissful evening spent reading The Lesser Bohemians while the light of the setting sun filtered through my window. As hot as it can get this time of year, it's all worth it for relaxed balmy evenings.

Winning a year worth of Stack. This happened just before 2017 rolled around, but I thought it was worthy of a mention. Stack is a magazine subscription service which delivers independent magazines to your door once a month. The catch is that you don't know what the magazine will be until you open it yourself. Being magazine obsessive, I had my eyes on Stack for ages and kept thinking I would justify splurging on a subscription once I got a proper job. Winning a year long subscription is the most wonderful treat for the New Year and it means I'll always have something to look forward to. I'm also excited to review each issue on here, so keep an eye out for that.

Summer fruits. All I can say is that I am eating peaches and raspberries as if my life depended on it at the moment! Summer fruits are my absolute favourites and are made even better mixed together as a salad.

Catching up with friends. As ever, this is always a wonderful thing. January is always busy with social happenings with everyone on break from University. 

My Bullet Journal. After months of planning and testing on scrap pieces of paper, I decided to invest in a coveted Leuchtturm1917 journal and commit to bullet journalling. Verdict? NO REGRETS! I feel so much more organised having everything in one notebook while also having a creative outlet. Drawing up my weekly spreads has become one of my favourite things to do as it provides a much needed moment of calm and focus when life gets stressful. I'll be sure to post a bullet journal overview and how I'm managing it as a beginner soon for anyone else who may be interested. 

Get an added dose of wonderfulness with other ‘Wonderful Wednesdays’ posts found all over the bloggersphere. Check out creator of 'Wonderful Wednesday' Sally Tangle along with posts by Jo, Helen,Michelle, Sarah, Kate, Cat, Sam, ElKerri, Jasmin and Lynsey.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Inspiring Artists | Berndnaut Smilde Nimbus Collection

When you think of clouds, what is the first picture that comes to mind: those dark and foreboding clusters heavy with rain, eclipsing the sunlight? Or do you think of those that are pure white, like cotton wool, against a perfectly pale blue sky?

Ever since discovering artist Berndnaut Smilde, I haven't imagined them as either. Instead, I'm haunted by the ghostly, illuminated wisps of white which hover in empty chapels, warehouses and castles. His collection of photographs of man made clouds are ephemeral; both disconcerting and inviting, they present a duality between being 'ominous and divine'. (ref)

Image 1: Nimbus Cukurcuma Hamam I, 2012 Image 2: Nimbus Portland Place, 2014 Image 3: Nimbus LOT, 2013

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