Bloggers, Unite!

The blogging world is a weird one indeed. It started as essentially an online diary, an extension of Myspace if you will, and now it’s become a multi-million dollar cash flow for bloggers and influencers alike. 

It still blows my mind how people are getting paid hundreds of dollars for simply giving brands a shout out on instagram. As I’m not in the fashion sector, I can’t really speak from experience, so I’m currently sitting on the sidelines gawking at how many pairs of shoes some women are sent. 

The road to becoming ‘someone’ always interested me because these girls started from the bottom – hell, we all had to. Unless you were already somewhat famous before launching an online platform, there’s a good chance that you’ve got a few years under your belt and a lot of squirm-worthy content to match. Which is all part of the fun! It’s quite nostalgic looking back through old posts and seeing how your writing style has evolved, right along with your taste. 

What I have been noticing lately, which really is unfortunate, is how little these established bloggers are helping out their baby cousins – the up and coming blogs. I’ve seen plenty of posts where women discuss other publications and podcasts they love (looking at you, Alice and Liv 🙂 ) but it’s a shame that although there is collaboration, it’s generally with other bloggers with a similar-sized following. 

Whatever happened to helping out the little guy?

Maybe it’s just me, but it sure would be refreshing to see more of these “big bloggers” working with fresh talent. To actually help launch these quality sites into the world and know you were a part of it. 

Other than a few unanswered emails, I can’t say I’ve been personally affected by this, but it would be nice to know that it’s happening in abundance, rather than watching the same groups of tight-knit girls taking selfies and doing #collabs because they both have 500k + followers.

Other than a few unanswered emails, I can’t say I’ve been personally affected by this, but it would be nice to know that it’s happening in abundance, rather than watching the same groups of tight-knit girls taking selfies and doing #collabs because they both have 500k + followers.

It’d be so cool to see these girls (and guys) using their platforms to lift others up. Is this free publicity? Sure, but is it really that hard to schedule a coffee date to chat with someone who is inspired by you? 

I really like the idea of mentoring, but I understand that not everyone has the time or resources to do so (let alone answering all of the emails that accompany it). So how can we contact these masters of the internet and start learning from them on a one-on-one basis? And should it be a paid thing? Are we wanting this to gain business experience or make friends?

As you can tell, I have a lot of unanswered questions surrounding this subject. I know that if I’d had the courage to take this thing up sooner, I could be in a very different position right now. Also, it’s a proven fact that working with and around other creative individuals boosts your own creativity levels (which I’m pretty sure is why everyone wants to move to NYC).

So leave this with me – I want to do a bit more research and see what’s available for the newbies out there in the way of networking, collaborations and courses. Since the industry is becoming increasingly saturated, it will be interesting to see if there’s much point – or hope – for more blogs to rise to the popularity of the current mix. But since these things are supposed to be a passion project, it definitely won’t hurt to try.

Reporting back soon,

Viv 🙂 

 

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Just Another Confused Gal

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what I truly enjoy, and what my purpose is in life. Because truth be told – I have no fucking idea!

I hear so much about doing your dharma and finding your purpose and just generally being cosmically aware and on top of things. It sounds amazing, it truly does. I watch/read about certain people and think “YES, that is exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. You can see it in their eyes and in the way they speak. They are so passionate and joyful to be pursuing this path” and then I take a good hard look in the mirror.

Although I am inspired, and definitely find myself getting closer to doing what my soul wants, I’m still miles away from actually taking the steps to pursue it – if that makes sense? 

It seems like everytime I have an ‘aha’ moment, and think I’ve found what I’m destined to do, my heart gradually falls out of love with the idea. Trust me, I’ve got a good $20,000 + university debt to back me up. It appears that it’s what I want, until I actually pull back the curtain on the job/industry and realise it’s not all that everyone says it is. 

Maybe I just quit too easily? Or maybe I’m just not cut out for being a student, because as much as I love learning, it sure is tiresome. I used to see people studying in libraries or working on papers and think they looked so cool and passionate and like they had their shit together, when in reality they had probably left the house for the first time in 4 days and were working on a 12am deadline.

I’ve always seemed to romantise higher education, and that is 100% because of teen TV shows and young adult novels. Every bloody character seems to be looking at colleges or studying for exams, and there’s always the one annoying character who is completely confident about their 10 year plan. I’d like to say I once had one of those, but that’d be a joke. The extent of my planning is wanting to move to Melbourne by the time I’m 25, and to own a house at some point thereafter. And ya know, jetset off to Europe and New York in between.

We went through school thinking that university would have the answers. That we would flip through a catalogue, point to a degree, and 3 years later we’d be graduated with all of our problems solved. I remember sometime in grade 11 when I was at the school dentist and we had one of those rare moments before they wrench open your mouth where we got to chat. We were talking life after school (standard) and I must’ve confessed that I was torn between professions. Then she gave me an incredible yet realistic piece of advice: she was in her 30s and had moved throughout 3 separate careers, so if she could do it then I definitely could. 

It was such a simple concept but one that gave me ease. Okay, so I could do it all – now I just had to decide what to do first. 

Fast forward to now — and I am more fucking confused than ever. I know what I enjoy doing, but how do I make money out of it? For instance, I love writing for this blog, and writing in general. I’d love to make blogging/writing a full time thing, but how does one do that without being a fashion or beauty blogger? How can I sell you a product without getting a photographer on board, as well as lighting equipment and some cute flatlay backgrounds (not to mention a well lit apartment – because mine currently sucks in that department)? Or is that just all part of the job? Invest in gear, to be invested in by others – that kind of thing?

As you may know, I’m also currently studying graphic design, but I am quickly learning that taking in all kinds of clients isn’t exactly easy or rewarding. How can I be an independent business that attracts collaborations and clients who can appreciate my work?

I’m sure there are books out there with the answers I seek. There’s probably blogs, even. But right now I just need a sign. Tell me universe, what should my next move be? How will I know when it’s time to dive into the freelance world, and become a multi-hypened milennial? 

I’m not interested in building an empire, but I do want to grow a collective, and collaborate with all of the rad individuals that are only a message away. I think it’s time to do some serious goal writing, and work out what the hell to do next. I’m still young, I know that, but I feel like I’ve wasted so much time ‘career’ (ugh, I hate that word) wise already, so I want to get on the right path. And soon would be great.

If you have any books/blogs/articles/podcasts you can recommend on this kind of thing, that would be AMAZING. I surround myself with a lot of good content, but sometimes you need a fresh recommendation or perspective to do the trick.

Some of the publications/people that I love are:

Digital

Smack Bang Designs

Start Up Creative

By Lucinda

Lisa Messanger

Emma Gannon

Cartia Mallan

Julia George

Rochelle Fox & Chris Soll

 

Print

Collective Hub magazine

Money and Mindfulness – Lisa Messanger

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Frankie magazine

Material Girl, Mystical World by Ruby Warrington

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

 

If nothing else, I hope you like some of my recommendations. And don’t worry – we’ve got this! 

– It just may take a little time ❤

The Conscious Shopper

Minimalism is still huge, right? Well, as far as I know it is, and whilst I genuinely admire and respect the movement (you’ll regularly find me purging our house to donate things we no longer use), I have my limits.

The truth is, I love to buy things. Not for the sake of buying things, but because I am a magpie and love having my surroundings filled with pretty things. Do these things need to be wildly expensive or one of a kind? No, but they do need to make me happy. 

When you talk about minimalism, a lot of people assume that you don’t own any furniture and your life revolves around the washing machine. I’m sure there are people like that in the world, but that’s not me. I like having my walls covered in art, and I like having my books on display and I like collecting things that have meaning to me. I like having options when I get dressed in the morning, and I like buying beautiful clothes that make me feel confident when I wear them.

I’d like to brag about how conscious I’ve always been, and how I’ve never bought a thing I didn’t wholeheartedly want or need in my entire life – but that would be a big fat lie. I’ve always had a strange relationship with money, because I know how to save it, I know how to spend it, and I know how to earn it, but I’ve been known to abuse it. To spend for the sake of spending. To buy garments because they were cheap and because they looked good on the mannequin (hint: they rarely look as good on you as they do on the plastic doll). To splurge on things I didn’t particularly want or need just for the sake of being able to buy them.

It’s such a gross mentality to have, but hey, I grew up in a consumerism-based society. It’s normal, right? It’s funny because I knew I had a problem and yet continued to shop anyway. One memory will always come to mind when I think of this – I had just moved to Cairns and was going to be staying here for 4-6 weeks before moving out to my parents house for the summer and I had a decent bit of money saved up. We were staying near a shopping complex, so naturally, when I was bored after the first couple of days I went shopping. I bought SO MANY THINGS that made my already overflowing suitcase now refused to close, and by the end of the 6 weeks I had barely worn any of them. What made this all worse is that I didn’t have any source of income at the time. I spent a huge chunk of my money on clothing, for the sake of being able to own something new. It was disgusting. I was an idiot. But I was also a teenager who didn’t know any better.

Fast forward three years and I don’t have that luxury of spending to feel better. Yes, I still LOVE buying things, especially the things I put on my wishlist and get to cross off after months of lusting over, but I’m definitely a lot more calculating about it now. As in, bills  and food first, leisure items last.

You’ve probably been reading this and wondering to yourself, what does this have to do with minimalism, Vivienne? Or conscious living, for that matter?

Well, I wanted to share that story because it’s important to remember that we aren’t perfect, but we can also change our ways if we want to. Even when I do save up and have a decent chunk of cash to spend, I only purchase the items I either instantly fall in love with, have been wanting for ages or things I know I’ll keep for years to come (books, records, overalls, etc.). 

Particularly with the fast fashion industry – we can no longer deny the negative impacts it’s having on our planet. It’s horrifying and makes me so disappointed that we are willing to sacrifice the environment and create such a substantial amount of waste for the sake of being on trend. I’ve never been one for trends, but this knowledge has made me avoid them that much more.

Sure, it’s great that gingham is cool again and 70’s silhouettes are easier to find, but it doesn’t mean that we have to buy these things for the sake of buying, only to wear them a couple of times before throwing them out. I hate that I was even a part of that culture, and am definitely paying for it now knowing that I’ve given up some truly great jackets and shirts over the years (oh, the regret!).

It’s hard, because I don’t like the idea of holding on to things simply because I may one day use/wear them again. But on the other end of the spectrum, I loathe the idea of getting rid of something only to long for it a few months later. Stupid, I know, but it’s a predicament many of us face which usually leads to buying another version of the item later on, only to end up in the same ridiculous cycle.

If you anything from this post than I hope it’s to be more concious when you shop. Actually think about how much you like the item, and how often it will be worn/used, what other items (in your wardrobe) it can work with, and if it’s a pricier item, will the cost per wear be worth it? 

I’ll never stop buying pretty things, and I’ll never stop decorating my house, but at least when I do, I can say that I did it with a clear conscious and a happy wallet.

Till next time,

Viv  x

A Crash Course on Adulting

As I sit here typing this, it’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting at my desk surrounded by knick-knacks and photographs and the greenery both outside and in. I slept in, did some reading and went out for acai bowls for brunch with James. We wandered into some independent stores and came home to upgrade his computer with new hardware *shudders* (not my area of expertise, let’s say that!).

We all have visions and dreams and expectations of what it’ll be like when we “grow up” and then suddenly you’re here…and everything seems pretty normal. The bills have been paid, I’m up to date with Game of Thrones and I’m successfully passing my degree. 

But it hasn’t always been acai bowls and plant shopping – after graduating high school I had no fucking clue about ANY OF IT. 

Sure, I could do some basic cooking and knew how to chuck on a load of laundry, but my ‘street smarts’, if you will, were pitiful at that. I didn’t realise how bloody difficult times could be when you didn’t have a job, or when your fortnightly study allowance was mostly taken up by rent (meaning after rent I had a little over $100 a week to live off – in Brisbane). Or that time that I didn’t pay my tax property and ended up in over $1000 worth of debt…

Could things have been worse? Absolutely. I always had a warm bed to sleep in and decent clothes to wear and food in my belly. But was I enjoying life and living it to my potential? Absolutely NOT. I learned pretty darn quickly about the value of a good budget and how to cook in bulk (and the importance of freezing said bulk meals). 

Having those ups and downs, and being in multiple different living situations in a few short years really put everything into perspective for me. You have no idea how excited I was when I purchased my first bed frame. Hell, I drove to bloody Townsville and back so I could get the exact one I wanted. 

Since then, I’ve bought a LOT of house stuff. There’s been too many plants to count, copious amounts of tea mugs, art prints, photo frames, cushions, bookshelves, rugs…You name it, I’ve probably invested in it (or have it on my list – our home is still a work in progress). I know that the whole decluttering and minimalism thing is HUGE at the moment, and whilst I totally respect that lifestyle and have incorporated elements of it into my ethos, I like decorating too darn much to give it up completely. 

Okay, so the furniture ramble was off topic, but I think it’s a fine example of just how adulty I’ve become – 17-year-old Vivienne would’ve blown all her cash on band merch, vodka, and a takeaway parmy at her first chance (still all things I enjoy, I must add). It still blows my mind to look back over the years and remember not only how much I’ve done (and spent), but how much I’ve matured and how my tastes/desires have aligned with that. 

I had planned to write a whole “things you didn’t know about being an adult” list-style post, but I feel like there are enough of those around already. I’ve previously written about ways to be more environmentally friendly and important tips on renting for the first time (both VERY SERIOUS adult topics!) so aside from letting you know that it IS easy to do your own tax online (and you get it back a lot faster too) I really don’t know what else I can offer you that doesn’t relate directly to my own experiences. 

But I guess that’s the whole point of this blog, right? To share things from MY point of view. To give you my honest, swear word-ridden opinions and level with you all as best as I can. 

I do have one gemstone of knowledge though, and that’s to remember that even if life feels hellish at the moment – never ending bills, shithole roommate, out of washing powder, major hangover – it’s going to get better. You’re going to learn from your mistakes and discover planning, and not take the first apartment you look at, and pay your bills before you buy new shoes. One day you’re going to end up living exactly where you want to, on your own terms, in your own bed and eat spaghetti on toast for dinner not because it’s all you have left until payday, but because it’s damn well delicious!

Always glad to be of service,

Viv  xo

Addicted to Eco-Bags: Easy, Achievable Tips to Be A Little Greener

Hi pals,

I don’t know if I’ve ever spoken about this on the blog before, but being environmentally conscious – and aware! – is something I’ve become pretty passionate about since moving into my own place; and although I haven’t transitioned to wind power or have my own vege patch (yet!) I do try to be considerate and kind when it comes to products I by/actions I take. So here are a few very simple but effective ways to be a little more green and reduce your pollution on our beautiful planet. 

 

1. Recycling

Living in Weipa we never had a recycling service, and as far as I’m aware there still isn’t one available yet (that’s over 14 years – that I know of – of nobody recycling up there 😦 ) – so THAT SUCKS. In my current apartment complex, we only have a skip available, so again my rubbish doesn’t get disposed of as well as it could. So if you DO have a recycling bin, please use it! And use those triangle-option bins at the shops, too! It really doesn’t take much extra time to sort your rubbish at the time of disposing it, so yeah, start with that one.

2. Turning the lights off

This one is also pretty self-explanatory, but sooooo many people aren’t bothered by it. Not only are you SAVING YOURSELF MONEY by flicking a switch once you’re finished in the room, but it’s also reducing your overall energy consumption. Imagine how much power a city could save if we all turned out every light we weren’t using every night. Crazy.

3. Using eco bags when doing your groceries

I’ve never really liked the feeling after you do a massive shopping/grocery haul and you’re left with all of the empty plastic bags. Yes, you can definitely reuse them, but I rarely have the need to, and since living in our apartment we accumulated an entire cupboard of unused plastic bags. I simply couldnt’t use them fast enough to compensate for the amount I would bring home with each grocery shop. So one day at Woolworths I finally bit the bullet and bought some of their super-sturdy hessian bags and haven’t looked back (I actually get super grumpy if I leave them at home/have bought too many things to fit into them). I won’t lie – I still bring home plastic bags from various stores, usually if I’m running errands and didn’t bring a bag big enough to fit everything in, but at least I’m TRYING. With the upcoming plastic bag ban in QLD, now’s the best time to start training yourself to say no to plastic and remember to grab your reusables out of the car. 

4. Swapping to receive your bills via email

This is another easy way to reduce your paper waste, plus it makes the whole depressing ordeal quicker and easier to keep track of. The amount of times I’ve gone searching for a reference number in the past is ridiculous, but now I can just do a search in my emails (or through my company account) and everything is readily accessible. 

5. Hang out your clothes

Don’t be so lazy, man. Okay, so anyone with a baby/small children gets a free pass from this one, because those little bastards take up a LOT of your time (and go through a lot of outfits), so sometimes a parent/guardian/excellent big sister has to do what they’ve gotta do. Otherwise: get a washing schedule in place and take advantage of warm, sunny days. 

6. Only buy what you will actually eat

When I first moved to Cairns my brother and I discovered the local farmer’s market and basically lost our shit over how much fruit/veges were available at such a low cost. So, we went a little bananas and bought a LOT of food. Food that unfortunately went off well before we could manage to consume it, resulting in WASTE. It’s actually such a crappy feeling having to throw out food that you never even got to touch, simply because you overcompensated and bought too much of it. Now I try to only shop for fresh stuff as I’m going to need it, and plan out dinner ingredients before I go to the supermarket to avoid getting shit because it was on sale/I saw someone’s instagram salad that I had vague plans to recreate.

7. Donate your clothes

C’mon guys, if you’re still not doing this then you don’t even deserve to be buying them in the first place. I’m trying to be realistic when I say that no one keeps everything they buy forever. Sometimes, it’s a simple as the item being beautiful but completely inappropriate for your everyday climate. Sometimes you buy the wrong size and they won’t let you return a sale item. Sometimes you fall in love with the piece but grow out of that fashion style altogether. Look, it happens, and when it does it’s our job to be conscious and smart about where our clothes end up. Donating them is fun because the clothes are getting a second chance at life (and love!), and it’s nice to know that someone out there is going to appreciate what you don’t.

8. Shop less & limit those fast fashion purchases

Yes, I know that we can’t all afford the original or designer pieces, so we settle for something similar at a sliver of the cost. There’s no shame in having to dress to suit your budget. But there is shame in supporting companies who outsource to factories with hellish working conditions and who create mountains of waste with every new line they drop. It’s not sustainable, or ethical, and usually the clothes don’t last as long, so it’s definitely worth doing your research and sticking to brands you know produce mindfully and who make quality clothing. I’m planning to make a blog post about all of my favourite brands, and how they are being eco-conscious with their products, so stay tuned for that!

9. Reduce your animal product consumption

Don’t worry, I’m not about to start preaching veganism to you (even though it sounds amazing and is something I am very much looking into), but the time for denial is over. We don’t NEED meat and dairy to survive. We’ve grown up with it and we’ve become accustomed to using it as the foundations for all of our meals. But we don’t need to. Over the past couple of years I’ve began exploring how I can create vege based meals, and on the days that I do eat completely vegetarian (usually unintentionally, because I bloody love my vegetables) I don’t feel any less energised or full. I don’t expect anyone to go completely cold turkey immediately, but it’s worth reducing your consumption and experimenting with a couple of dinners a week that are completely vegetarian/vegan (it’s surprisingly easy to do!). And if you’re still not convinced, I urge you to try the vege burrito from Guzman Y Gomez. You’ll thank me later. 

10. Buy organic cleaning/skincare products

We all know that organic produce isn’t always cheap, but being eco-friendly with your cleaning supplies and skincare DEFINITELY IS. Coles and Woolworths (in Aus) both have various organic cleaning/household product brands (Earth’s Choice, Thankyou and Organic are my faves) and it’s actually only a dollar or so more to shop for these products that are not only better for your skin but better for our waterways. In terms of skincare, there is a mountain-load of readily available products that don’t use nasties and are perfectly safe to be washed down the drain (Go-To, Sukin and Lush have won my heart over).

 

Now I’ve gotten onto my grass-fed high horse it’s hard to get off. Sometimes I just get so damn mad that people can be so careless when it comes to our planet. Because, hellllooo?! We don’t have a backup!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post, and it either gave you some useful tips or confirmed that you are in fact amazing for already doing all of these things (you go, Glen Coco!), and if you think it’s irrelevant, well, go sit in the corner with Donald Trump, eh?

Kidding. Sort of.

Till next time,

Viv  x

REMINDER: Stop Being So F**king Hard on Yourself

I jotted the idea for this post down a while ago, probably in a moment when I was literally thinking these exact words to myself: stop being so fucking hard on yourself! I have no idea what I was doing or why my brain had resorted back to auto-asshole mode, but unfortunately I can’t say it was the last time something like this happened.

The truth is, I am way too fucking hard on myself. My “ideal” discipline levels rival that of a drill sergeant, and I am still yet to stay up past my bedtime (12am) without feeling guilty or like I am cheating on my routine.

Quite frankly, it’s a little pathetic, but it’s something that I think all of us can relate to. Going to a friend’s house when you’re behind on a deadline. Saying no to an extra shift at work because you already have plans. Picking out a block of chocolate and the good old “junk food guilt” setting in. And that’s before we’ve even left the aisle! 

The instant we make decisions (and usually beforehand), our brain likes to assess if we’ve done something good or bad. Right or wrong. Positive or negative. Basically, does it align with our moral code or not? 

It’s a rickety bridge to cross, and one that I find myself slipping on all too often. I hate that I am constantly critiquing myself and my decisions, and questioning how I spend every minute of my time awake (and when I’m supposed to be asleep) and if it is “productive”. Ugh. Even I’m feeling bored typing that.

If you don’t quite know where I’m coming from (and boy, must that be nice) here are some examples of self-crituqing/questioning that I come across on the daily:

Pouring milk into my cereal/tea: Am I consuming too much milk? Am I a horrible person for using it? Will I get enough calcium if I stop? Why can’t my tastebuds just accept almond milk already?!

Buying takeaway/going out for food: Do you really need to be spending this much on food? Think of what you could do with all of this saved up! Why don’t you have any self control? Why do you even care about eating nice things? 

Not working on assignments: Why are you so lazy? Don’t you realise that you’re only hurting yourself by wasting time now and stressing out later? Why can’t you be more motivated? This is why you’re not at the top of your game.

Looking at online stores: Why do you even bother when you don’t have the money to buy that stuff? This is just asking to be tempted. Look how much time you’ve wasted with nothing to show for it?

Again, ugh. This whole self-loathing/brain-bashing(me) thing is simply not cute. Reading back on that makes me want to tell the person saying those things to fuck off. It really is true when they say that your worst critic is yourself. I can 100% relate to that, and it sucks. Writing this is making me feel annoyed that I still give time to the part of my brain that comes up with this bullshit. And by this bullshit, I mean negativity. Again: NOT CUTE.

It’s interesting how some of these critiques have actually stemmed from other people’s opinions. And not necessarily ones of me, but opinions of other people not meeting their high standards – if that makes any sense at all. The term school rings a few bells there.

School was definitely the worst when it came to constantly trying to live up to other’s expectations and rules, and I guess that after being trapped in the classroom for 12 years we’ve walked away not only with a diploma, but some unwanted standards that we still try to live up to.

It’s silly, I know, but that’s just the reality of it. There’s always someone expecting something from us, whether that be a teacher, a parent or a boss. We’re constantly trying to cycle through information and regulations and darn dress codes that it sometimes leaves little room for some much needed soul searching. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sell all your shit and jump on a plane to India, but it does mean you need some time out to reflect. 

I’ve found one thing in particular that really helps is doing a social media cleanse. AKA sorting through your “follow” lists and getting rid of all the assholes who make you feel bad about yourself. I’m sure they’re lovely people, but if they’re posting about getting up at 5am everyday and this results in you feeling guilty for waking up at 7, well…there’s no feed aesthetically pleasing enough to fix that. They’ve gotta go!

If they genuinely are your be all and end all of “goals” then sure, keep them around, but don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you look up to them that you will ever have the same routine/lifestyle as them. If only it were that easy, hey. 

I guess all that I wanted to say with this post is to stop feeling bad about the occasional chocolate bar. YES, I KNOW SUGAR IS BAD FOR ME, PETE EVANS. But that’s not going to stop me from putting it in my cup of tea because i enjoy it. Of course, everything in moderation, but comparing ourselves to others when we’re feeling guilty about an action is only going to make things a shit-tonne worse. So let’s all take a deep breath, admit that maybe we should’ve done things a little differently and MOVE THE FUCK ON.

Sorry, I know there’s been a lot of swearing in this, but it’s the kind of pep talk that NEEDS swearing. All the best ones have them, didn’t you know?

I’m going to stop here, before I go off on a tangent about god knows what next, haha. I hope you found this piece enlightening, or at the very least you can finish reading it and think “at least I’m not as screwed up as her”. Therapy for me and a pick-me-up for you, it’s a win win 🙂

Till next time (if I haven’t scared you off with my ranting), 

Viv   x

 

 

Study Tips From Someone Who Is ACTUALLY Studying

Hi friends, 

So holy shit it’s nearly the end of March (and probably will have been and gone once this post goes up)! A quarter of the year already passed. Holy fucking shit. Does anyone else have these moments where they realise how fast the year’s gone by and then can’t actually remember anything they’ve done so far (chewing through your Netflix list doesn’t count)? 

Well, join the club. We too have long to-do lists, lots of things we “want” to do on our days off (i.e. the days off where we actually can be bothered to venture from the couch and not feel completely flooded with life admin) and are generally just a little over-caffeinated. Oh wait, did I mention that we also attend university. Or doing a course. Whatever. 

In this club, we’re students which means life is 1000x more hectic, and it doesn’t take much to knock our scales out of balance when we’re not on our A-Game. Falling off the “I’m going to be the perfect student” wagon usually happens a few weeks after term starts, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Workloads increase. Life happens. People start having birthday parties again. Our dream schedules start slipping and suddenly we can’t remember the last time we ate a piece of fruit.

For me, this week (Week 5 of 12) has been a killer, and not in the productive way. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, because I’m feeling super creative and inspired, but also totally fucking lazy when it comes to reading those i-mags. So in light of this little side-step, I’ve decided to put my procrastination to good use (before getting back to the hustle tomorrow) and write up a big old blog post with some super realistic and useful study tips. 

I initially wrote these down a couple of weeks ago (during another avoidance spell) and probably should print them out and hang them above my desk or something. At least then I’ve got something to physically guilt trip me into working, right? Hm, stay tuned, and until then, enjoy!

Tip #1: Start at the beginning of the week 

Whether that be your Sunday night or Monday, it’s totally up to you. Not only will you feel good by starting your week off right, but you’ll find that when Friday rolls around you’ll be feeling way less pressure to cram everything into your weekend and dig a grave for your previous(ly social) life.

Tip #2: Something is better than nothing 

Even if you only do an hour’s work of study at least you did SOMETHING. You’ll feel much better knowing that you put your head down for an hour before ducking out for Happy Hour, and if you’re a list maker like me then you can successfully tick yes, I read 2 chapters of that totally boring textbook, and yes, I spent way too much during 2 for 1’s.

 

Tip #3: Do a bit every day

This kind of follows on from #2, but it’s a good strategy to implement early on. Breaking your homework/assessments down into manageable daily chunks will make the whole thing a whole lot less daunting, and if you set time frames or study blocks for each specific day it will be easy to stick to/schedule in. 

Tip #4: Pick a slack day – and stick to it

Okay, okay, I know this isn’t very studious advice to hand out! But I’m trying to be realistic here, and the truth is that we’re not going to be feeling like our super stellar selves every single day. Hell, even knowing that I’ll be doing uni work for 5 days a week makes me wanna cringe, so after monitoring how long I take to complete the weekly readings/activities I decided I could get it done in 4 days (if working productively).

It’s not going to work for everyone, and kind of goes against Tip #3, but basically I like to think of it like this: you can either pretend that you’ll make time for study/assessments sometime during a stupidly busy day, but not commit to a specific time. Then, the day rolls around, shit’s hectic and suddenly it’s 9pm and you don’t have the energy to even blink anymore. You end the day feeling exhausted, unaccomplished, and lazy.

The alternative: you look at your calendar for next week, realise that Monday is just going to be way too busy to realistically commit to anything else (work all day, Pilates class, then dinner at in-laws, etc.) so you’re going to resolve IN ADVANCE that you won’t be doing any study that day. The day rolls around, you’re swept off your feet, your muscles ache and you had to go through another round of “why I don’t eat meat”: the 3rd interrogation. You get home and collapse on your couch feeling exhausted but accomplished, and ready to get your nerd on tomorrow. 

Doesn’t that just sound so much nicer? 

Of course I’m not advising you to do this everyday – if you can get away with it, this should be a strictly one day a week Get Out Of Jail Free card, and you should only pull it if you know you can make up for lost time later. But my god, is it a handy card to have. 

Tip #5: Be Realistic

Sometimes life  just gets in the way of our meticulously planned schedules, and not even the most expensive daily planner can stop that. So it’s important that we learn to adapt, reschedule, and then possibly adapt last minute again when the back up plan goes awry. I recommend scheduling in activities and tasks in smaller time blocks (e.g. 30 minutes, 1 hour) so they are easier to move around in the day, and can be swapped with something else if necessary.

Tip #6: Pick something you enjoy and do it for 20 minutes each day

This can be anything from reading a book to listening to a podcast to checking your horoscope. Whatever it is, just make sure that it’s something that gives you joy, and you’re doing it for that reason only. That way, you can always feel like you’ve had ‘me time’ at some point in the day, and if you can manage to leave it till before bed you’ll feel like you’re ending your day on a high note. [NOTE: Of course, leaving it until the end of the day can be somewhat torturous, so feel free to mix it up, and use this free time as a reward if necessary. Anything to keep us going, right?!]

Tip #7: Distinguish your leisure activities from your procrastination activities

C’mon, we all them. Those things that we justify as “just taking a break” or “it’s something I do need to do” or the best one: “I’m expanding my knowledge”, even though they are 100% just an excuse to avoid the books. Yes, it’s totally important to find out what bacteria is in our food (clue: a LOT) but does it really need to happen right now with 3 assignments looming? Probably not. 

On the other hand, there are other activities such as exercise, hobbies, cooking, meditation, etc. that are not only good for your soul but will help keep you sane in these crazy times. You just need to make sure you don’t inadvertently use them as a procrastination tool. Otherwise you’ll end up feeling guilty about carrying out those as well, and that’s just not healthy. 

So when you’ve got a real spare moment, sit down and write a list of all the things you enjoy doing, and all the things you find yourself reverting to in times of boredom/avoidance/lack of inspiration. Decide if the procrastination tools are actually making you happy or benefiting you in any way, and if they’re not, or at least, not in the amounts that you’re using/doing them, then it’s time to cut back my friend. I know that’s easier said than done, but knowing and categorising your different responses will not only help you be more productive with your studies, but increase the time spent doing the things you’re truly passionate about. 

 

I could go on (hell, I always can), but I think that’s a pretty good starter list. Condensed. Informative. Varied. Practical (my new favourite word, ICYCT). Well, I hope so anyway. I hope these tips have helped you in some way, or if it doesn’t apply to you, then you can subtly drop the link into your friend’s inbox (let’s face it, we all have that friend) to give them a bit of a mid-term pick me up.

Till next time,

Viv   x

 

 

 

Why It’s Important To Have Those Lazy Days

NOTE: This post was first written in January, but still oh so relevant now.

 

Hi all,

So, to set the scene: I am currently in my last few weeks of uni holidays and have been nowhere near as productive as I’d hoped.

When the semester wrapped up in December, I wrote myself a list of all of the things I wanted to accomplish each week until I went ‘back to school’. The short story: it didn’t get done.

As I sit here writing this, I’m looking at a pile of unfolded clothes, a floor that desperately needs vacuuming (what’s new?) and an overnight bag that never quite gets unpacked these days. I’ve taken an unplanned break from devouring my #SummerReadingList and am rewatching Sex and The City for the zillionth time (real time update: two months later and I’m only up to season 5, so I’m not complete addict).

But what relevance does any of this have in regards to well, anything? Well, as usual, my brain works in random and let’s face it, completely bizarre ways, and my train of thought can jump from a good song to a grocery item to needing to get my hair done (always). 

I was mid-house clean when I got thinking about all of the rad mums that I follow on Instagram. They of course, all have eerily adorable babies, and are often posting charming pictures and videos of themselves and their little ones doing the general everyday stuff that seems boring by yourself but is utterly sweet with a small human in tow.

At first I thought “I hope I’m in a good enough financial position when I [EVENTUALLY] have a baby so I can stay at home and hang out with them while they’re little” and then it clicked – those mums are literally with their kids ALL OF THE FUCKING TIME.

You’re probably shaking your head at me right now, but hear me out, alright! It’s so easy to look at all those cute family snaps and forget that these women would be grateful to have an uninterrupted shower, let alone having whole entire nights of vegging out and binge-watching their favourite TV shows.

I’m not saying that parenting looks like hell – hard work, sure – but it made me realise how bloody lucky I am to have nights like these where I can be as lazy as I want, without having to worry about putting anyone to sleep but myself. Being young and childless is actually so damn blissful compared to the whole saga of responsibilities and choices that come with raising little gremlins, and yes I can say that because I am the oldest of 8 and know how much of a handful children can be. 

Anyway, I’m off point (again: what’s new?) – but what I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to take all this easiness for granted. And on the other end of the stick – it’s also incredibly easy to feel guilty about these ‘lazy nights’. Hell, I’ve been silently cursing myself since the day I put away my uni books. 

It’s no secret that we put a bit too much pressure on ourselves to be constantly working towards our goals and going to this place and catching up with that friend that we forget to just have some darn downtime and enjoy it.

Right now, whilst we’re child/business/study free, is the time to take a deep breath and RELAX. Do all the things you crave when life gets that little bit too hectic. If you’re feeling tired after a big day at work you should rest. It’s not exactly rocket science, and yet we all make excuses or find ways to feel guilty for taking time out. Despite how very efficient it would be, we can’t expect ourselves to run at 100% all of the time; at least not without completely malfunctioning down the track (refer to Mr Robot further visuals).

So if you’re reading this and 2017 is already feeling a little bit too crazy (or you’re like me, and still can’t quite understand how it’s MARCH ALREADY), then please put everything aside and just chill out for a while. Take a walk. Phone a friend. Lay on the floor. Listen to a record. Watch the moon. Sit in a comfy chair in an empty room. Enjoy the nothingness.

Because I guarantee you in 10 years time, when things are full steam ahead and we’ve all got our shit together, we’ll both be squishing some time in to read that book and wishing for the good old lazy days of our 20’s. 

 

Till next time,

Viv  x

Let’s Talk About Meditation + My Journey So Far

Aloha friends,

Sorry it’s been a while – uni has started up again and despite my good intentions (and often thinking I am “so” much more organised this semester) the content on this site has been sparse. And it’s not for lack of ideas either – I have a whole lists of posts I intend to create but just have to get my slack ass around to them. Which kind of leads me back on topic…

Meditation. Let’s chat!

I’m sure that by now you’ve heard SOMETHING about this mystical brain hack, but if you haven’t started practising it yourself then there’s probably a lot more that you need to know.

I was first introduced to meditation a few of years ago whilst following Wellness Coach, Melissa Ambrosini online. Mel released her first series of guided meditations (which are still available on iTunes btw) and being in the total limbo that I was I decided to give them a whirl. With having no background knowledge on meditation or what it was supposed to do, I lay down on my lounge room floor and tried to become immersed (I wish I could remember which one, but I simply can’t). 

Mel’s voice was dreamy, but I was lying down and I was getting sleepy, and the track kept mentioning about being grounded and all I could think was that I wasn’t very grounded because I was on the top level of a two story house, and how on earth could this possibly change my life after 9 minutes?!

Needless to say, that was my first and only attempt at meditation lying down.

Fast forward to 2016, and meditation was popping up more and more on my instagram feed. Everyone from magazines to bloggers to celebrities to the everyday gals we all follow but have never met in real life were talking about it. Whether it was spoken of genuinely or  discarded as simply being too hard, it was always in my head. It got me curious to say the least, but how the hell could I learn it and how was it going to benefit me?

In bounced Rochelle Fox; digital entrepreneur, Youtuber, influencer, and now meditation teacher in training. 

As the months went by I followed Rochelle’s journey as she furiously studied to get her meditation teacher qualification, which was soon followed by the opening of her latest venture, Mindspo. An understandable, easy to digest, 4 week online course that was going to get me meditating for 20 minutes daily. 

The benefits of regular meditation go far and wide but the ones I was keen to tackle were: sleep consistency, anxiety, energy levels and productivity, being more mindful and generally being a lot less stressed and a lot more chill. I knew I wasn’t going to notice the difference after a quick 5 minute meditation, but I had high hopes. I’ve seen so many testimonies from people who swear by it, and genuinely say it has changed their lives for the better, so aside from a cheap $90 I really had nothing to lose.

I started Mindspo’s month-long course in December, wanting to end the year on a high, but also being realistic in the fact that I was probably going to miss a session here or there (which may not be the best mindset for some, but I wanted to be realistic considering it was Christmas/Birthday week for me). The course is broken into 4 weeks, and each week you increase the time you spend meditating (i.e. W1 – 5 min, W2 – 10 min, W3 – 15min, W4 – 20min) in your daily practise. The step-up technique was something I really liked, as it was only adding an extra 5 minutes onto what you already felt comfortable doing, so it didn’t feel as much of a big deal as jumping straight into a 20 minute session.

Ideally, by the end of the 4 weeks you will have mastered meditating for 20 minutes every day. Rochelle was a really great teacher in the way that she was totally realistic about newbies, and didn’t expect us to be able to shut off our thoughts immediately. Seeing how passionate she is about teaching meditation made me believe that it was worth it, and although sitting thoughtlessly for 10, 15 minutes is actually way freaking harder than it sounds, I know it’s making a difference. 

I’m not going to sugarcoat it here and say I am the pinnacle of students and deserve 100 gold stars, because I still suck with my consistency. I am yet to turn my meditation into a solid habit, and although I have good intentions, some days I genuinely just run out of “free time” or more recently, by the end of the day I’d rather just sleep.

But please don’t let my laziness put you off! Despite my inconsistency, I’ve still noticed pretty huge differences.

I find myself being a lot more mindful and grateful with everyday life, particularly when it comes to appreciating other people. My sleeping patterns have improved a lot, and although I still have nights where i simply CANNOT get to sleep, they are rare. My anxiety has nearly disappeared. I’ve never been a serious sufferer, but have been one to let ideas or thoughts consume me and result in panic attacks in the past. Since meditating, I haven’t had a panic attack (so far), so yay for that! 

I prefer to meditate in the mornings after breakfast and a cup of tea, and after I do I definitely feel more energised for the day. Being more energised usually results in me being more productive (I meditated this morning so maybe that’s why you’re reading this finally-produced blog post!) and being productive makes me feel happy and accomplished.  

On the flip side, my mind still lingers on negative thoughts. Not nearly for as long as before, but still too long for my liking. I’m constantly torn between thinking “I’m allowed to have feelings and be pissed, goddammit!” and “I wish this crappy thing wasn’t getting to me as much”, but it would be nice to have my brain chill out a bit more and just not let it get to me in the first place.

The verdict? Yes, oh my god yes you need to learn meditation. I probably did a really bad job of explaining all the benefits, and since my experience wasn’t exactly textbook perfect, there’s a heap more info here on the Mindspo site, including a free 5 minute meditation to see if Rochelle’s voice is your jam. 

It’s definitely a hard practice to learn, especially since our brains are on constant overdrive and never seem to shut up – but that’s exactly why we all need some meditation in our days. It really does help bring things into perspective, and even if you are crap at it, well at least you’ve made 20 minutes to do something for yourself, and surely that counts right?

 

All the best,

Viv   x

What Makes A Relationship “A Relationship”?

So you’re probably thinking: “Jeez, Vivienne, how the hell am I supposed to answer that?” 

Well friend, I don’t expect you to. Or at least not in the same way that I would, or your parents would, or a shrink would.  Hell, even googling the definition of the word relationship came up with multiple different meanings; my favourite being:

Relationship (noun): the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.

Which is quite sweet, when you put it that way, but also very practical, because relationships do in fact connect people. Human beings thrive on connection, we always have, and yet, after hundreds of thousands of years, we still struggle to define the relationships we share with certain people. 

Of course they aren’t always so complicated. Sometimes a friend is just a friend, or you have that rare distant cousin that you actually like, or a partner that you have been married to forever. There are lots of relationships in our lives that are uncomplicated, and for the most part, shall remain so. You know the ones – like the cashier at your local post office, or the nice girl at your favourite takeaway shop. It’s easy, simple, straightforward. You say a quick hello and thank them before hauling your ass home to open your new clothing/highly anticipated chicken stir fry.

But, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, I’m not talking about those relationships. Those are easy. They don’t cause us to lay awake at night, obsessively going over every interaction you’ve had that past week, or questioning if they’re mad at you because they didn’t add a smiley face to the end of that text or if that girl in those tagged Facebook photos is really  just a friend of a friend. Yeah, we’ve all been there. It fucking sucks. We have all of this technology that’s supposed to help us feel “connected” and here we are, hiding behind screens too petrified to just march over and ask “what the hell is going on between us?!” 

It’s a strange concept, and one I’ve found myself pondering over quite often. I’m lucky enough now to be in a relationship where everything is completely transparent – we know how we feel about each other and what the other one wants, and that we make each other happy. Hell, sometimes I still pinch myself over how good I’ve got it. But it wasn’t always this way.

For a good 8 months, I was one of those people in limbo. I used to look for signs in everything – a text, a conversation, a look, a touch, a gesture. Anything that could potentially shine a bit of light as to how the heck he felt towards me.

Now, I’m not trying to group boys together here, but I do have a little bit of sympathy for them. The majority of the ones I know were raised by fathers who taught them not to be weak, and as helpful a trait as that may be, it also means that it makes it that much fucking harder for us girls to get a meaningful or personal answer out of them. Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I heard “I don’t know” I would be living in a trendy warehouse loft in Brooklyn by now. I can’t complain too much, because with a lot of prodding and patience we managed to talk things out, but boy was it exhausting.

I hate to be the one who pulls this card, but movies and books do NOT help you in these circumstances. All the good YA books most definitely are fiction, because things don’t happen like they do in those novels! My god, I wish they did. The genre should be changed to ‘Never Happening To You’ because that’s kind of how I felt reading them during that period of my life. Don’t get me wrong, they are dreamy and romantic and whimsical and oh so cool, but c’mon! They’re helping set our expectations stupidly high and putting a little voice in our heads that reminds us at every possible moment how our lover/partner could be being more romantic/spontaneous at that moment.

I’m not even going to get started on rom-com’s. It’s my own fault for liking them. I know what I’m getting myself into. And yet, I watch them over and over again, gaping at how sweet they are and chiding my inner voice that maybe there are people out there who still act like that. But there’s clearly none in Cairns.

I’m not writing this post to say that I’m unhappy – quite the opposite in fact. I’m scarily happy with James, but it took a long time for us to get to this point. And that long time involved a lot of texting and phone calls and scheduling around work rosters and late night conversations that finally led to me asking if we could just properly be together already. Lucky for me, the answer was yes. But I know for a lot of people it isn’t. And that’s what breaks my heart the most. When we go through all of this bullshit and chasing and deciphering and interpreting and crying and lying on the floor, not knowing how to handle these situations in this technology-shielded world. That although, yes, we are infinitely blessed with our lives and the access we have, but at the same time, how is has created a pixelated void that fate and chance meetings used to once fill.

As a girl in her 20’s, I am terrified of dating in this world; which again, only makes me that much more grateful that I reunited with someone instead of having to start all over again. I know it can be fun and exciting and interesting, but it’s also incredibly exhausting too. Especially when you think everything is going well and you have a really good connection and then you finally find the courage to ask “what are we doing?” or the real big one: “are we in a relationship?” and it turns out that you’re just not the right girl for them or they’re not looking for anything serious at the moment. Ugh. 

As usual, this post strayed from it’s original concept, but that’s just how the brain works, I suppose. It’s actually pretty fascinating how six words have sparked such a deep and opinionated piece from myself, but I stand by what I’ve written nonetheless. 

What brought all this on was initially wondering “how do we define a romantic relationship between two people? Like, what actually takes it from being ‘just a thing’ to a full blown relationship? Is it a question, or a verbal agreement, or an unspoken understanding that you are together and that’s that? Is there some sort of checklist we can tick off to ensure that a possible relationship meets the offical criteria?” Well, the short answer is: no, of course not, silly. But it’s a nice idea.

Something I have learnt pretty quickly over the last 9 months is that every relationship is different. Sounds cliched and completely obvious, I know, but it really is something we overlook when we start comparing milestones and behaviours. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of seeing a friend being really happy with their partner and subconsciously noting how your relationship sizes up to theirs. I’m sorry, but no matter how cute their situation may be – yours is never going to be the same. It’s just biologically impossible. We are all individual human beings, with unique thoughts and feelings and reactions, so how can we expect that any two relationships will be exactly the same? 

Once I stopped comparing I realised how much easier it was to be grateful for what I have, and stop worrying about what I didn’t have yet. The best thing I’ve learnt from being with James is to have faith and to have patience, and yes, they have absolutely paid off. 

So I guess if you take anything from this long and extremely rambly post, take that: have faith, and have patience, and if you don’t think it’s worth it, take a break and cut communication for a while. After a couple of weeks you’ll either start missing them like crazy or feel content with your choice.

 

Sending you good vibes in this crazy age,

Viv  x