A Living Project

This week three things happened; the only three things that didn’t involve copious alcohol on my part.

1. I watched the Graceland Happiness Project on the plane to Brisbane.


I have been wanting to watch this SBS doco ever since I first heard about it. but being such a Netflix junkie and with no illegal download capabilities (anymore) I just hadn’t got around to it.


Tim Dormer is one of my favourite Aussies. He’s a huge advocate for Australia Zoo and wildlife conservation, as well as being besties with the Irwins. He won Big Brother a few years ago and I’ve loved watching him grow.

Ben Zabel was a participant on the same season. The unlikely friendship between them was such a beautiful thing to watch. Where Tim is a kooky, calculated rock star, Ben is kind, sweet and fragile. Ben is the type of person you just want to watch on replay, because he’s so incredibly funny and unique. He admitted early on in the show that he struggles with depression.


The basic story of GHP is a heartbreaking one. Years after the end of big brother, Ben had been really struggling. Tim decided he wanted to do something for him that would help this in some way: take him to Graceland. Ben was a huge Elvis fan and an old soul. This was to be his Disneyland, right?

I’m not going to ruin the way it all plays out for you but what I will say, and what affected me most, was seeing both of them trying to come to terms with Ben’s depression. I saw one man struggle to completely enjoy his own dream and another look on hopelessly, accepting this was something he couldn’t fix. People aren’t fixable.


I feel I’ve sat on both sides of this fence. I’m incredibly lucky that my own bouts of depression have been few and far between but I’ve been there, as most of us have. It was such a real way to look at it. Sometimes living your dream won’t change anything. How could it? The demons are still inside your mind. The chemicals still aren’t balancing.

I really resonated with Tim’s struggle too. I just want everyone to be happy. I’m a self confessed ‘fixer’. I think everyone needs to care a hell of a lot more about each other than they do. I see this in him. I saw a reflection of my own face when he came to the realisation that Ben was going through the motions but he wasn’t about to have a big amazing breakthrough that would change the course of his life. He’s just Ben.

A beautiful line I’ll carry with me was when Tim ended up having his own epiphany. ‘Maybe I just need to be there‘. It’s as simple as that.

I cried on the plane. I’m absolutely hopeless. I’m so glad I know these two humans are out there and I will closely follow their journey for as long as they let us in to their lives. There are such good, real, genuine souls out there. Seeing that kind of love between friends was wonderful.

2. We had Sebastian Terry as our keynote speaker at conference.


Working for Flight Centre for almost four years I’ve attended a lot of conferences and I’ve heard a lot of speeches. This one I connected with more than any other.

Seb is the pioneer of 100 Things. If you haven’t heard of him I shall explain:

At the age of twenty four he was backpacking around the world with an unused Uni degree in tow and had no idea who he was. One day he heard news of a good friend’s passing. They were only twenty four. He wondered, if his friend had known he’d only live for such a short period of time, would he change the way he’d done it?

Seb knew his friend was living his real, authentic life. He probably wouldn’t change a thing. Seb on the other hand, had no idea what he was doing.

What did he do next? He wrote a list: 100 things that would make him happy if he achieved them.

Then? He started doing them.


As he explained his reasoning, and how his focus has now shifted to helping others complete their lists, because that’s where he found his fulfilment, again I tried not to sob. Very difficult after three hours sleep.

Here was a man perfectly articulating what I had been trying to put across to my people through this blog.


Why don’t we live our lives in a way that makes us feel happy and fulfilled? Why do we get the half Uni degrees and house deposits and never look for a greater purpose? Just because society tells you money and security make the world go around doesn’t mean that’s right for everyone.

People are kind. Have faith in them. It’s other people’s kindness that have helped Seb in his journey and I can absolutely say the same about mine. Be it a place to stay, an adventure companion, a lift to the airport, a free meal, a big hug: kindness is all around us.


I’ll be the first to admit I’m terrible with money, but because of the generosity of my family I’m okay. They didn’t turn my room in to a gym. It’s all good. I’ve had free accommodation all over the world, a stupid amount of free airport rides and city tours. I’ve had clothes to borrow and food to eat and stories to tell all because of these people who are absolutely everywhere.

Not knowing what’s around the corner is the greatest feeling in the world. As scary as being outside of your comfort zone is, fear let’s you know you’re alive. I live for that feeling now. It’s addictive. I hope I spend the rest of my life in a perpetual state of adventure and maybe one day have a person by my side who feels the same. We’ll see.

3. My sister lost yet another friend.

At almost twenty she has lost more people than anyone else I know. I can’t begin to explain or even comprehend why these young people are losing their lives.

You know what I take from that?

My sister is a stronger human than I am.

And we need to fucking live man. While we can.



I’m going to go back to my bucket list and scrap that term. As Seb said its associated with dying. These aren’t my dying wishes, they’re my living goals.

I’ve written my 100 things and I would love it if some of you would do it too. I know a lot of you read this. WordPress dobs you in 😉

Write a list, even if it’s just 10 things, and write it in the comments of this post. Let’s see if any of us can help each other tick some boxes. I’ll bet we can!

My 100 Things

Thank you this weekend for helping me make some decisions that I have been mulling over. Thank you for putting a bit of life back in to this blue girl. Even if I can’t travel as much as I’d like this next year I’m going to complete some home grown goals and hopefully pick up some new friends along the way. I can’t wait to meet you.

I love you all

Harleigh Q



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