6 December 2013, 09:55
After arriving in Brisbane and spending a lazy day getting facials and massages, we hit the hay early in preparation for our whirlwind week.
Then, of course, we got stuck right into the adventures. First stop: Dreamworld!
Now, Dreamworld is not your average theme-park. In addition to rides and rollercoasters, they have a tarot card reader too. Of course, I took advantage of that, and imagine my surprise when she gave me an incredible reading! But that’s not all. Dreamworld also offers Wildlife Experiences!
Our first clue that Dreamworld was different was when we came face-to-face with a swarm of kangaroos, who were just lying around, chillin’. They were so tame that we were able to approach them and pet their cute fuzzy little bodies!
Mostly though, they were interested in getting fed… Like all animals!
There were a lot of creatures around us, and plenty to do. Sure, we could have gone on a morning stroll with a tiger, fed a crocodile or experienced a sunset safari… But that wasn’t in the cards. Instead, we got up close and personal — and had an extreme cuddlefest — with a koala!
Oh my GOODNESS. This is Brandy. She’s very snuggly… And falls asleep as soon as she settles on your shoulder.
I thought my moment with Brandy was pretty incredible, but I’ve got nothin’ on Shauna, who fell completely in love. Look at her, being all maternal! She was still making excuses to bring Brandy up in conversation weeks later. We almost had to stage an intervention!
Geeeeeeez. Look at that face!
I hope you enjoyed this Moment Of Cute™! If you’re procrastinating today, hop on over to Facebook and tell me about your favourite animal encounter!
22 November 2013, 09:11
When I travel, my style is much less landmarks and sight-seeing, and much more about a couple of really special experiences. While we were in Melbourne for eight days in total, we taught on four of them, and travelled on the other four. When we finally did have a day available, I scheduled Kat and me in for a facial at Made Beauty Space.
Even though the torrential rain made us want to stay inside, we ventured outside to hail a cab, and 15 minutes later, we were in Hawthorn, walking into Made. Made’s signature treatment, the Thermal Infusing Facial, had come highly recommended by Zoë Foster Blake, a babe whose beauty advice I trust implicitly.
I was so ready.
We were delighted to enter the spa and immediately feel comfortable and relaxed. There’s no frou-frou bullshit here: Made is a thoroughly modern day spa, for the kind of woman who appreciates good design and will probably die if she sees a tissue-box covered in frilly apricot satin.
Before long, I was being beckoned into a treatment room, all white and black, very modern-yet-rustic chic. I undressed and slithered beneath the covers, ready for some thermal infusing.
Coined nature’s face-lift, the Sodashi 90 minute Thermal Infusing facial provides an intensive boost of vitamins and minerals to the skin. Tailored to your skin’s needs, this indulgent facial will provide intensive nourishment, leaving your skin hydrated, toned and supple.
An intensive boost of vitamins and minerals was exactly what I needed after almost four weeks of non-stop travel.
I have to say, if you go to Made, I cannot recommend the Thermal Infusing Facial enough. The treatment began with hot washcloths on my feet. Words cannot describe how good this was. The whole thing was an exquisite experience from top to bottom, and I was never just left alone, lying there, wondering what was going to happen next.
Stacey, my aesthetician — who also happens to be the owner — was in constant contact with my body. There was always something going on: facial massage, foot massage, or some kind of pressure-point work. I am practically dribbling just thinking about it!
After cleansing, plenty of massage and a light fruit peel, I was treated to the thermal mask for which they’re known. My face was covered with strips of fabric, then coated with the thermal mask. It started off cool, then slowly heated up to 37 degrees… All while having my tootsies rubbed. Gosh, it was lovely. She finished up by daubing my face with eye cream, moisturiser, and an SPF sunscreen that smelled like marshmallow!
It was one of the most sublime skincare experiences of my life… And the next day, my skin was beautifully plumped-up and glowing.
Après-spa, Stacey and I got talking. It turns out that she’s from New Zealand too (adding credence to my theory that Kiwis crop up in all the best places!), and after training beauty therapists for years, was horrified at the general lack of enthusiasm or passion.
“Going to beauty school is often recommended for girls who don’t do well academically,” she told me. “And you can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude or passion. I trained students for five years and I could count on one hand the number I would actually employ. My business partner and I didn’t know of a great place in Melbourne to go for a facial, so we decided to create one.”
And what a good job they’ve done. Made is stocked with fantastic products, like fabulous Australian skincare line Sodashi. (I snapped up a bottle of their Rejuvenating Serum so I can continue to get a dose of the magic in New York City!)
If you do go to Made, tell them I sent you. And leave yourself a bit of time to explore and fossick next door at The Woodsfolk. They have some of the cutest homegoods ever. You will not be disappointed!
I cannot wait to go back when we return to Melbourne next year!
18 November 2013, 09:11
When we received our itinerary from Tourism and Events Queensland, getting a surfing lesson was one of the things that I was surprised to find myself most excited about. I’ve wanted to try my hand at riding the waves for a long time, but it was never at the top of my priority list.
I was a little nervous too, I can’t lie. I’m not the strongest swimmer, and the idea of drowning has never appealed to me all that much. And what if I got bitten by a shark?! The Jaws theme music started to play in the back of my head.
After a few hours at Dreamworld, we hit up Cheyne Horan School of Surf in Surfer’s Paradise, ready to take some photos of us looking glamorous on the sand. Our plans were dashed, however, when we were told to put on rash vests, and immediately thrust into a class with Patrick, a no-nonsense surfer dude who definitely had more faith in our abilities than we did!
We practiced a bit of “board control” on the beach, and after he showed us how to lie on the board and ride a wave into shore, Patrick instructed us to hop into the water and give it a go. The water was a little bit chilly and I felt extremely uncoordinated, but imagine my surprise and delight when I was able to do it on the first try! The rush was incredible, and I quickly spun my board around, and headed back out to try it again.
Soon, Patrick called us all back into shore to show us the right way to stand up on a board. Kat and I exchanged petrified looks, communicating telepathically that this all seemed a bit fast, but I trusted that he knew what he was doing, and followed his guidance. Again, after practicing hopping up on the board a few times on the sand, we toddled back to the water to give it a shot.
The first time I tried it, I wobbled and fell off, swallowing a big mouthful of sea-water. Delicious!
But on my second go, lo and behold, I DID IT!
Kelly Slater’s got nothin’ on me!
As you can tell from the astounded look on my face, I couldn’t believe it! But the thrill was amazing, and I absolutely loved it. I wish our surfing lesson had lasted longer, but I can’t wait to try it again.
18 October 2013, 10:11
This dress is much more simple than I would normally pick. I borrowed it from Shauna, Queen of Minimalism, and as soon as I tried it on, I was in love. As I get older, I’m learning about the power of simplicity in all things. Clothing’s just one area in which minimalism can be elevated to an art-form.
And really, when you’re standing against a bright blue door, wearing raspberry lipstick, surrounded by shocking pink bougainvillea, you don’t need much else, do you?
I think by now you have probably grasped that Santorini is one of the most beautiful places on earth. If you ever had any doubts about visiting, I hope the pictures I’ve shared with you have removed them once and for all.
Whenever anyone asks me about what the Greek Islands are like, all I can do is stammer about how gorgeous they are and how everyone has to find their way there, at least once in their life.
And of course, a trip like this is made even more wonderful when you take it with your best friends.
Photographs by Shell De Mar.
16 October 2013, 10:11
A few months ago, I was asked by a reader how my marriage can survive the amount of travelling I do. She wanted to go on a holiday with her girlfriends, but didn’t want to upset her husband. At the time, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t think I had any real wisdom to share!
But after my most recent trip, which kept me away from home for a little over two weeks, I realised there will never be a definitive answer to that question, because relationships are constantly in flux. Our needs as individuals differ from day to day, and sometimes the bond is closer than other times. What worked last week may not work this week. It’s just like the relationship status on Facebook: it’s complicated.
Whether it’s business, recreation, or some mix of both, sometimes travelling by yourself is necessary. Whatever the reason, the truth is that going on a voyage without your partner — whether you’re married or dating or anywhere in-between — is tough on the relationship. There are a number of factors at play, which can have a varying amount of influence on the connection you share.
Not all of these things will apply to you and your circumstance, but some of them will. Some I’ve pulled from my own personal experiences (both with my husband and relationships of the past), and others are things I’ve observed other couples struggle with.
Does your partner really support you? We have to address this one first, because without this crucial piece of the puzzle, everything else on this page is irrelevant. The most important part of travelling alone is that your lover is on the same page as you.
Sometimes your partner will say they support you in fleeing the nest, and they may want to support you with all their might, but are battling with feelings of their own. They might feel left out or unimportant. They might be mad that they’re not invited or feel like if you really loved them, you wouldn’t be able to bear being without them. Or they might just be really bored at home without you. These feelings can manifest themselves in lots of different ways.
The only way to deal with this stuff is to talk it out. That might be painful, but it’s a necessary evil. And ultimately, as long as both of you are making sure your partner is always your priority, you can’t go wrong.
Once you hop on a plane, there can be resentment and jealousy on both sides. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s relatively common for the person at home to feel envious of their beloved’s exclamation mark-filled emails, droolworthy Instagram snaps and ecstatic tweets, especially when they’re faced with everyday drudgery. Travelling certainly isn’t all glamour all the time, but it’s easy for your sweetheart to feel that way, based on what they see.
And the envy doesn’t just flow in one direction: if the person travelling is reluctant about doing so, or hates being away from the familiarity of Whereversville, homesickness can have you aching for a flight back.
How to deal with it? Sometimes, just being aware that your partner is capable of feeling this way — and learning to be comfortable with expressing these feelings — can be a massive help.
SARK says that one of the best ways to deal with jealousy is to simply say to the person, “I am so jealous!” Then you can laugh and just get on with it, as opposed to letting the unspoken emotion dictate everything.
It’s important to make sure your paramour still feels important and valued. For example, when you book your tickets to Costa Rica, don’t throw up your hands in glee and scream, “I can’t wait to leave you and get out of this stinkin’ city!”
Sure, you may feel that way! But don’t rub it in their face. Don’t make them feel like they are some kind of ball-and-chain, a person-shaped punishment. They will just feel shitty and that will make your time apart even more difficult.
Discuss your travel arrangements with them. Make sure the dates don’t conflict with anything important on their calendar. Have an actual conversation about your plans, rather than storming into the living room and announcing, “Just FYI, I’m going to Aruba for three months on Monday!”
Remember, relationships are about equal partnership and being considerate of one another. It has taken me some time to stop acting like a single girl (“I do what I want!”) and begin acting like a married woman, and even today, I’m not perfect. It’s all a work in progress…
Make sure both people have their own lives. It’s always going to be harder to deal with someone leaving if you are one another’s entire world.
Work to cultivate your own lives all the time. Encourage your lover to have his or her own friendships, interests, hobbies and obsessions. And don’t forget to have YOUR own friendships and stuff that you like to do with other people!
As tempting as it is to be one little unit, just the two of you against the world, it never really leads to anything good. It’s much less terrible when your main squeeze leaves if you have another social scene to bounce into.
You gotta have trust. If your lover is the jealous type, or if you take a good, honest look at yourself and realise that (shock! horror!) you are prone to the green-eyed monster, recognise that travel is going to put a strain on your relationship.
In some ways, this might be good. It may force one — or both — of you to examine what’s really going on, because jealousy is not a standalone problem. It’s the symptom, not the cause. And maybe you will learn to trust one another. But I’m not going to lie, it might break you up.
Either way, it’s important to test these boundaries and stretch the relationship. If you can only be happy when your partner is within earshot, your relationship is doomed. Doomed, I say!
Communicate as much as you can possibly bear! This is probably the one I have to work on most, especially when it comes to Skype. When I travel for The Blogcademy, personal time is at an all-time low: literally the only time I get to myself is when I’m in the bathroom!
I used to get on a plane and practically disappear off the radar, which was pretty uncool. These days, I’m much better: I send sweet daily emails and photos, but I’m often so distracted by everything going on around me that I kind of forget that my husband hasn’t heard my voice in days.
Some important things to keep in mind when communicating on holiday: keep it loving and personal (i.e. don’t just CC them into the e-blast you send to 100 of your nearest and dearest!), do your best not to argue (it’s always more difficult when there’s an ocean between you), and carve out some time to devote to your lover as often as you can. It depends on how long you’re away, of course, but on our next trip, I’d like to be Skypeing with my babe as regularly as possible.
I mention this last point because when I’m at home with Mike, of course I don’t have to think about making time to talk to him — he is just in the next room, and we are pretty much together 24/7. But when I’m in a different city, I need to actually make time to stay in touch with him. Otherwise, your frenetic pace and somewhat haphazard scheduling will stomp all over your sweet notions to Skype.
You gotta be able to let go. If you, like me and most of my closest friends, suffer from perfectionism, control freakery and if-you-need-something-done-right-you-should-do-it-yourself-ism, travelling can challenge many of your notions.
What will your husband eat? What if he gets sick? Will you come home to a sink full of dirty dishes and several new pets?
Trust me: your partner will survive. And more importantly, your ego might just need that little knock when you’re reminded that yes, life ticks over quite nicely without you. You don’t need to have your fingers in every pie!
Make your time together as fun as possible! Yes, I know, I get it: life can get messy, busy and the romance can lapse. But you have to make an effort to keep the spark in your love life. Otherwise, it will all start to feel very pointless.
Mike and I have made this a priority, and we just keep getting better at it. There’s rarely a dull moment in our house. We are always wandering around the city, trying new restaurants, meeting with friends, going for motorcycle rides or heading upstate to get a taste of nature. We love to roadtrip and go on adventures.
It’s important that your life doesn’t feel like you’re just waiting for your next vacation. Make an effort to make your daily life fun, too. Keep a list of places and things you want to do as a couple, and stick it to your fridge. No excuses for boredom now!
You might also like to take a gander at When The Magic Fades & The Doldrums Set In: How To Avoid Becoming One Of THOSE Couples!
And then there are the challenges which assail you when you get home. When I leave, our house turns into Mike’s personal space, and all of a sudden, I’m back in it, throwing glitter and blasting music.
And personally, I’m exhausted from travelling, pretty much incapable of socialising with anyone outside my immediate family, and almost always experiencing the post-holiday blues. Full disclosure: the suckiness factor was particularly gruesome after coming back from the sheer glory of Greece.
It takes a little adjusting, and it can be taxing, for sure.
I was talking to my husband about all of these things, and I told him that I feel bad about getting post-holiday blues.
“It just makes me feel really spoiled,” I said. “Greece was so amazing and then I come back to NYC, and even though my daily life is so good, I still feel inexplicably bummed out. And then I just feel guilty for feeling that way.”
“It’s chemical,” he told me. “When you go on holiday, you’re seeing new things all the time, meeting new people, having amazing experiences. Your endorphins are whizzing around and you feel incredible. And then you come home, your routine changes, and you’re forced back to reality a little bit. Your brain is just missing that endorphin rush. It’s okay and it’s totally normal.”
He’s right. I just need to be gentle on myself. And his words alone made me feel so much better, which just brings me back to my original point: it’s vital to be with someone who truly supports you.
Photos by Solve Sundsbo.
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