Country & Western to Rock & Roll

I know I often praise the effects of sleeping tablets for assisting in long flight survival, however, I woke up so groggy when we landed in LA that I proceeded to leave my iPad tucked in the seat pocket; and I didn’t realise until I went to use it after my shower at the hotel.

Tears ensued and I missed my Contiki pre-start meeting, BUT after an hour of back and forthing between lost property and the check in gates, a rogue Swiss employee appeared and produced my dearest possession. As I writer, I type away on this thing constantly. I use it to go to sleep (Netflix downloads are my new favourite thing). It’s my babe and let’s never ever talk about that terrible 24 hours of my life ever again.

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The next morning I met my crew, or at least laid eyes on most of 54 of us. I’m still nailing names. Is that bad? Day one, Vegas bound. Sin City for the third (and forth by the end of this trip) time in two years. Magic!

This time we stayed on Fremont street, downtown at the Golden Nugget. I love this area. It’s close to the mob museum, neon museum and the dazzling light and sound show on the largest screen in the world.

 

The first evening we went from ‘just one drink’ to dancing on the podium around the VIP area and left fifteen minutes before Zedd’s DJ set because we got bored and needed fried food.

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I chilled the eff out the next day for the first time since I started this mad adventure, and that night we went to old faithful Ghost Bar. It’s a super high and super funky bar, and they may not play my music but I always seem to work with it anyway. Alcohol, hey?

Our next destination was the ever spectacular Grand Canyon.

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We stayed in different accommodation to last time which was much cosier, and Wild Western fam you may be proud to know I chose not to have wine for dinner this time. Instead, I did a bike tour around the rim! Not all the way round, that would be ridiculous, but 9kms! Not bad for someone who hasn’t touched a bike in years.

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I also ran in to my gorgeous tour leader from last year, Kiran, and met a couple of the sweeties in her crew. Man I love fellow travel people. We’re all so gainlessly friendly and it’s beautiful.

That evening we had a picnic by the ledge with views that take my breath away every time. The goon and fireball came out, as did the cheese cubes. Life was good. Life is good.

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For my first unfamiliar destination we crossed the border to Colorado, new state! It’s an interesting place, that’s for sure. Weed is pretty much legal there, not that I partake because I’m a paranoid mess on a good day, but it did make for some local characters. That night we had a delicious dinner at a brewery and I got my first sip of pale ale since I left dear Aussie land. We followed it up with bar and booth dancing and fierce beer pong at a funky bar that reminds me of Mojos (Perth kid reference). A strange American man questioned us on the street about whether we hook up with locals (not really sir) and if we would like to kiss an American (no, but thank you for the offer). I think he thought he was doing us a service as he did strop off up the street before coming back for one more attempt. Been there, done that, thanks mate.

 

It was a bright and early start for an activity I’d been dying to do since I conquered the Swiss Alps (hah) many moons ago, white water rafting! This Rapids were only grade 2/3 so super chilled compared to what I experienced last time, which made it way more fun. Excellent banter with what I can only describe as a rafting version of surf rats made my day. I don’t know how anyone can memorise that many dirty jokes. If you ever find yourself in Dorango, give it a go. What a wicked experience and the scenery was next level. Greenery and snowy mountains? Go on then.

Sorry for the lack of photos of this one, but I’ll make up for it with the next!

Which was Albuquerque, a spot I barely grazed through last year. I continued my tradition of doing things that scare the shit out of me for absolutely no reason and decided to hit up a sunrise hot air balloon ride.

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I was totally fine while we cruised low, but as soon as we got up high, I was not fine.

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Once we hit the ground, I was fine again.

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Buck’s Fizz for all!

Little did we know the next night on tour was going to be one of the best so far. We rolled in to a town called Amarillo in North Texas and had a lot of steak and a lot of fun. Big Texan was a super quirky spot and adored by my super quirky heart. There was even a mega steak challenge.

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We played bar games until the wee hours and then set off the next morning for one of my favourites, Dallas!

Quick side note, an awesome art installation to check out just outside of Amarilllo is Cadillac Ranch.

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We stayed in Fortworth, a smaller city about thirty minutes out. We had a BBQ dinner and headed to a local bar for ladies night. $1 champagne! The night ended up a little wilder than planned.

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A really heavy but incredible experience was checking out the Sixth Floor Museum the next morning. I really didn’t know much about JFK’s assassination. It was haunting to see the big cross in the road where he was killed. I highly recommend it for anyone heaving in the Dallas.

That night was big. I went to my first Rodeo.

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Now I can say ‘this isn’t my first Rodeo’.

There were parts I liked and parts I didn’t like. I love community based nights out like that, but being as far from a farm girl as can be I found the calf wrangling a little hard to stomach.

After that adventure it was off to one epic venue, Billy Bob’s, for a country concert. Apparently Chase Rice is a big deal but I can’t really get past the name. I hugged his super sexy long haired guitarist though. You can take Miss Leigh away from her bands…

 

Next we were Memphis bound. We stopped in to Little Rock, Arkansas and learned a lot about the Civil Rights movement. This was another topic I wasn’t too familiar with. I’m really loving learning about these incredible parts of American history. People really can change the world.

Now you all know how much I adore Memphis, but this stop added a whole new layer of adoration. We stayed close to Beale St and I fell in love with the area. Murals and walking distance to some of the greatest musical venues and museums in history? Yeah go on then.

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Our first night was spent at my first minor league baseball game. Go Redbirds!

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After that I got to experience BB King’s for a second time and I haven’t grooved that hard in a while. Now THAT was soul.

Graceland time!

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They have refurbished since I was last there so I was loving the new shops. A little too much some might say. Then we headed to my favourite museum of all time: Sun Studios. The guide played us hit after hit created within those walls and I got to hold Elvis’ old mic. I couldn’t breathe. It’s still a functioning recording studio today. I am so proud of modern artists for honouring what came before them and recognising the magic of Sun Studios. Maybe one day I’ll record there (hah).

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After what might be the world’s best fried chicken at Gus’ we chilled. We knew what was coming next..

New Orleans baby!

Now I’m not much of a jazz girl so I was pretty heart broken to leave Memphis and her soul. I could easily spend a week there gig hopping. On the other hand , NOLA is wild. Just like last time it was mainly a blur, but I was pretty happy I ticked off the main touristy things last time so I could dedicate these nights to the party.

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And we did.

Next stop Florida! Read about it next time…

All my loving

Harleigh Q

xo

A Mediterranean Escape

I spent the beginning of my journey fighting tears over flat whites with Papi in the airport, because I’m a massive softy. Without fail, every time I’ve gone on a big big trip I enter panic mode the day before I leave. What if something bad happens? What if I miss something good? What if I get lost forever? Stupid anxiety. But you know what I do? I take a deep breathe, get a big cuddle and I march through that door to customs like I own the place. Life is all about being outside of our comfort zone.

I did my usual shit planning and took out some euros at the airport, hopped across to Singers on a flash as Qantas plane and snoozed at the transit hotel for five hours. Transit hotels are God’s gift to weary travellers. Sometimes, you just gotta nap.

Then it was the big bad twelve hour flight to Zurich of which I slept eight hours. Sleeping tablets are fab.

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A small leap South brought me to my final destination, twenty seven hours later, Roma!!!

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Last time I visited Rome it was 2012 and my first overseas trip since we moved to Aus seven years earlier. I remember a lot of arguing and getting lost. I did not have the fondest memories. I was in for one hell of a treat.

I arrived at our hotel and immediately showered and changed in to my Elvis nighty. I had to be appropriately dressed for Martina’s arrival, you see. Safe to say she loved it.

Martina and I met last year on my West Coast USA Contiki. Along with a wonderful fella called Will we formed our own tight little squad.

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She taught me bits of Italian and I began her Aussie slang education. One year later, and she’s one of my closest friends. Martina lives in the Italian speaking quarter of Switzerland. She’s gorgeous and hilarious and madly intelligent, speaking four languages fluently. I made it my mission to train her on advanced English, and by that I mean showing her how to casually swear in every sentence.

That afternoon we joined our Contiki group for our first night of the Mediterranean Escape. We had dinner at a stunning underground restaurant with some of the best wine I’ve ever tasted. Let me tell you a well kept secret, Italian booze doesn’t give you a hangover. It’s fucking magical. I was blotto 9/10 nights and I never once woke up any more than a little groggy after a couple of hours sleep, but always raring to go.

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That was also the night I discovered Italians don’t do music. Like… no music. Dinner noise was pure chatter and the same followed with the bars. Unless we went to a tourist spot we weren’t getting any tunes. It’s literally the only negative I can pick with that country though. You guys know how I feel about my tunes.

Dario gave us a sweet little walking tour of the city highlights at night.

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The next day we hit up the one and only magnificent Colosseum. This time I got to go inside, and I am so glad I did.

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The guide’s knowledge is mind blowing, as is the sick shit they used to do for entertainment. Bloody Romans.

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Martina and I spent that afternoon chilling around the markets and eating at a gorgeous little cafe in the heart of one of the little outer ‘burbs recommended by our tour leader, the one and only Dario.

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It ended in some excellent bars with some excellent company, and that’s all I have to say about that.

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My personal favourite day in Rome began at the Vatican.

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That evening we attended an opera dinner. I’m a sucker for dinner theatre but this was raw talent man; helped along by our harmonies I’m sure.

Amalfi Coast time!!!

I already knew this area was one of my favourites in the world and it’s just as spectacular second time around.

I mean just look at it.

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We hit up Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano and stayed in a quiet and beautiful spot called Maiori.

My favourite part of this section was our cruise around Capri. We got the swim, laugh and chat shit. My favourite things.

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Also, the nights spent tipsy on the beach with some like minded individuals will stay in my mind for a life time, just like the camp fire night at Bass Lake last year. There’s nothing better than low key bonding by a body of water, really.

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We were notified that strikes were ongoing in Greece and so we had a change of schedule. We were supposed to take the overnight ferry to Athens but instead had an extra night in Sorrento and flew over the next evening. It was a bit of a wait.

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Athens is magnificent! I mentioned this in my post on instagram but I just have to reiterate, it’s not Rome, but it’s damn impressive. To me, the Acropolis shits on the Colusseum. But I’ve also been obsessed with Greek mythology since year five so I’m a little bias. It’s was one hell of a day.

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At this point we were all well and truly great friends within the group, so a feast, afternoon by the pool and evening at a tradition Greek restaurant was just what the doctor ordered.

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Except it was then I remembered I can’t eat Greek food. Am I just so deep seeded Italian that my body rejects it? Probably. Still gave it a good go though.

Our final night was filled with lots and lots of hugs and kisses, a roof top bar with a view of the Acropolis and some heavy ass rain. Also, naughty Greek drinks that gave us cranking hangovers.

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So there you have it, Italy is better in summary. I’m ruined for life when it comes to pasta though. Australia has a lot to learn. I think I’ll just move to the Italian quarter of Melbs. AL DENTEEEEE!!!

Martina and I had one final night together which we spent on the simply spectacular Greek island of Santorini.

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I slept off my hangover before we made our way to without a doubt the most spectacular dinner I have ever attended. Martina made a reservation for us at the Athenian House. The pictures speak for themselves.

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Another life list item ticked off!

The next day we *shopped* and wandered the pretty beach side town of Kamari. The hotel had lots of animals and let us have our room until we left for the airport at 10.30pm! That never happens. Greek legends.

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I can’t put in to words how much I adore Martina. We laugh so much, she’s 100% my cup of tea and shot of tequila all rolled in to one. It’s so hard living far from soul friends, but I’d rather that than have never met her. Marrrrtiiinaaaaa you make my life better and I love you.

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I’m currently snuggled on my twelve hour flight to Los Angeles. Now the real Epic Adventure begins…

With love from somewhere over France,

Harleigh Q

Xo

A Lady I Dig Called… Anazarac

I spent the evening catching up with an amazing woman I met while in America last year, called Michelle. As we leaned against the bar in Alabama Song, waiting for the band to appear behind the chicken wire, I could see her energy sapping. We had discussed everything from women in the work place to travel and life choices. We’d had our fix and I kissed my Croatian dove goodbye. She made her way home. I stayed. I’d only seen the band once before. I was determined.

I turned myself, half facing the bar, half casting an expectant gaze to the stage area. A girl with long thick black hair appeared in front of me. She apologised for stepping in to my space and complimented my look. I smiled at her unexpected friendliness and ten minutes later we were still chatting. Turns out we’re both in to astrology, Perth based and seeking something big.

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Ana has a magnetism. Ana is free and unapologetic; she’s everything you would want from your own daughter. She opens up with ease, self aware and honest. She seeks your advise and will talk it through. She’s a big fish.

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Ana and I shared a smoke and a couple of stories. The next day I received a text. Want to come to the movies with me? We’re even from the same area. Two southern girls a long way from home. We saw Split at lunch time and I got home at 930pm. Neither of us were in a hurry to go.

Ana moved back to London five days later; so here we are.

Soundtrack:

Who are you? 

My name is Ana, I’m 23 years of age. I started out in the fashion industry as an entrepreneur. I buy and sell vintage clothes and supply for stores back home in Australia. I’ve been doing that for several years. Now I live in London, the big smoke, trying to work as a buyer; potentially!

Describe yourself in 3 words

Honest. Trustworthy. Loyal.

Do you love what you do?

Do I love struggling? No, I don’t. But I’ve been doing it for so long trying to work in this field so my path is constantly changing. But every job I do and the people I meet get me to the next step in my life and future career.

Name an artist who changed your life.

That’s a really good question. A brand that’s influenced me… okay. Vivienne Westwood is one of my favourite designers but not so much for the clothes themselves, because some of it is very hard to pull off and is made for a certain type of person, but I just really idolise her. She’s very political and unapologetic.

Obviously I love a lot of other designers but at the moment I’m really not digging the way some of just ripping other things off. It’s getting a bit ridiculous. It’s like they’re running out of ideas.

Like the stuff you’ve been putting on Instagram.

Yeah! I mean Balenciaga for instance. Would I buy their new bag which looks like an IKEA bag? I would not. This is when I feel like I contradict myself in the industry I’ve chosen because of course I love fashion, but then people say to me you must support the bigger brands then. But no, I don’t. That’s bullshit. IKEA have laughed it off, but they’re trying to make everyday items fashionable for those who couldn’t normally afford it. It’s cool, but not cool to charge thousands of dollars for it. Girls have been rocking those weekend bags for yonks and paid 99c for them. I just don’t like what they’re doing at the moment.

What makes you smile?

Making other people smile.

What makes you frown?

Public affection. People who make out in public really annoy me. Autocorrect also annoys me. And the sun makes me frown when I don’t have my sunglasses.

Who do you admire?

My dad. My mum.

Why?

They are the perfect example of great parents and how someone should be brought up. I hate to use the world perfect but to me, they are.

I think they raised me really well and I’m extremely grateful for it. It’s because of them that I am the person I am now. My dads very social, my mum is very antisocial. It’s just worked well.

What’s your favourite film?

Probably Frances Ha. It’s a black and white film based in New York. She’s a struggling dancer and her friend is moving on with her life but she doesn’t have her shit together. I found it years ago and I still find it so relatable. I feel like I’ve grown with that movie because I’ll watch it and I identify with different things at different times in my life.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Fashion Week 2016. I’ve wanted to go since I can remember. When I first bought my ticket to London I didn’t know I was going to be able to. I told my mum I would go. She said, you don’t have a ticket. How? And I said, I’ll just rock up and it will happen!

And that’s exactly what happened. I was so overwhelmed. I was at the Fyodor Golan show, second row. The lights, the runway and people… it was so surreal. There was this moment when I was just smiling to myself and thinking, I’ve made it! I’m here! That show I ended up working in Paris and dressing the models in those clothes. It’s been mental in a good way.

What is your biggest fear?

Probably struggling for the rest of my life.

Not achieving your dream?

I feel like I’m close to it, like it’s at the tip of my fingers. I fear financially struggling in the future. I know what that’s like and it’s not fun.

I feel like not enough people talk about it. People pretend like they’re doing really well, especially here in London, but we’re all struggling. People might occasionally joke but that’s it. Just be real. We’re struggling artists. Unless you come from a privileged background, which I don’t, it’s going to be hard.

Especially when you move by yourself to the other side of the world!

Yeah, that’s too. That’s just asking for it.

Whats your favourite piece of advise?

Stay humble. Always.

Be yourself, find yourself. Love who you are.

And always have positive people around you!

Are you in love?

Right now in my life, possibly. I have this issue. I’ve never been in love. I like the idea. It’s intriguing to me. I’ve grown up like a tomboy. I remember in high school boys weren’t bothered with me, and I was more interested in Vogue than them anyway. Now that I’m getting older I want to know what the fuss is about.

I like the idea of love. Everyone I like tends to live in another city or country.

What is your biggest passion in life?

Fashion. Other than that… no matter who I meet I want to always leave them with something; put a mark on them. My dad taught me that. Always be humble and kind, not because they can do anything for you, just be interested in humans and their story. When you’re like that and you’re open it brings the right people to you.

So I guess, my passion is to influence people. Brighten their day a little bit. I’ve always been very social. I put myself out there. I don’t judge people based on looks. I find I’ll go out my way to try and talk to anyone.

That’s how we connected.

Yes. That’s it! It’s how I’ve met all my friends. I’m so grateful for the powerful women around me.

I especially want to influence the younger generation of girls who feel like they need to look like Kylie Jenner.

What’s your favourite line from a song?

That’s another good one. I thought about this the other day. My favourite quote is William Shakespeare.

Hell is empty and all the devils are here.

It’s been my favourite since I first heard it when I was about 12 or 13. It just… represents our world and especially this generation so well. They are some really ugly bad souls in the world, and they’re amongst us. Heaven and hell exist on this planet right now.

As far as a song goes, Bring Me The Horizon. I think it’s a quote they were influenced by. The song is called Throne and the lyrics are: you can throw me to the wolves, tomorrow I will come back leader of the whole pack.

Why? No matter how much you are put down or bullied, in Perth it was a struggle, it pushes me to strive for more. Things won’t come easy.

You seem to respond a lot to the idea of strength and rising above difficulties. Did you have a hard time with bullying back in Perth? Did you feel a bit of an outsider?

Yeah. I feel like if I do get the point where I am successful one day, I would love to tell my story. One of my biggest struggles was moving from Sydney to Perth where I was comfortable. I was very young. I had big bushy eyebrows. I looked different to the other girls. Because I stood out I had the piss taken out of me a lot. By high school my attitude came in and I would always give it right back; fire up like an engine.

Now I’ve calmed down a lot. I know what not to say and do. I’m glad it’s happened though because that’s the reason that I am here. I wanted to prove everyone wrong. Now it’s for me. I’m going to achieve my dream.

But I’ve had people from home message me and tell me I’m doing so well, but I’m in the big city there’s always people doing more so I don’t really feel that way.

Some people will never leave Perth. They are scared, and they will live in their fear for their entire lives. This is why I fall in love with people like you because I think we’re on the same wavelength. We’re probably more scared of living inside our comfort zones than anything else. The idea of staying somewhere safe with your family being stuck in a box.

Free spirits.

I find I throw myself in to environments that are unfamiliar because that fear is kind of addictive. Do you find that? Situations that make you question who you are.

I’m always putting myself in those situations. I think you know that more than most. I live my everyday life so spontaneously. It’s almost like other people find it dangerous. How can you have no plan?

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. When you are open to things happening, they do.

I know people who plan everything with schedules because their lives are busy but they miss out on opportunities because they say no to things that fall outside of it. That’s how my whole life has been here living in London this last year. I’ve just moved from place to place, meeting people, getting job offers, doing shoots. It’s mental. That’s worked for me though so I’ll keep doing it. I plan to an extent but I’m always open to deviation. I believe the universe will guide me. I’m very spiritual.

I like to have a plan. With moving, that’s my one big plan I’ll have in place and it may change 50 times but I have to know in my mind, I want to spend 6 months here then 6 in Brisbane then I’ll go to Melbourne. I just need to know I’m moving toward that because it’s my biggest goal.

But when friends ask me to make plans on the weekends and things I get anxious about it, because I don’t know if that’s going to be my vibe that day. I might not want to get up early or I might not want to go out that night. I don’t know. I prefer spontaneity but that’s hard in Perth. People tend to like advanced planning in my experience.

I think people are scared of spontaneous people.

People are scared of not having plans. When I was in Brisbane the other week I found my plans when to shit when I did lock people in, but then last minute everything ended up flipping and I still saw everyone. It just worked better last minute.

A lot of people put other people on a pedestal. The worst thing is having expectations of people. If you can learn not to life is so much better. It goes with being spontaneous. You can be pleasantly surprised all the time or..

Give people the opportunity to let you down.

Exactly. It’s a responsibility. That’s a lot for some people.

What’s your opinion of fame?

I met a lady the other day at a label launch party and she’s from LA. She’s dressed loads of people including the Kardashians. I asked her her opinion on them and she said they we were just normal people. She said the more you work in this business and people you meet you realise we are all the same. But I wouldn’t wish fame on anyone. Imagine not being able to go to the park with your friend and enjoy some cheap wine without the gossip mags writing about it?

Our celebrity culture is fucked. I obviously understand the concept of worshipping people, some people are just fabulous, but I don’t understand why we have to tear everyone down all the time; and I don’t understand why we have to stalk them. I usually worship someone because of their art, not because they go to the shops.

They’re normal people. I don’t get that. We put them on such a pedestal but they’re successful because normal people idolise them. It’s why they’re wealthy and successful, but it doesn’t last long.

And then how do you recover afterwards? Going from having a shit tonne of money and attention to being on your own again. You can never really go back to being a normal person.

I think that’s why I prefer people who are present in their scene but they’re not the main one in the spotlight. They’re still at the party. I think that’s what everyone needs to start thinking. They all want to be number one, the face of the brand. You’ll last a lot longer if you aren’t. You’re so replaceable.

People have a fear of being forgotten. That’s why I love what you said before about leaving a mark on people and being influential. You’ll always be remembered by someone in some capacity. You never know how much you’ve affected someone. You could be so important because you gave them that time or moment.

And you don’t have to be someone famous for that.

Not at all. Some of my favourite people in the universe are the one who look me in the eyes and tell me about their passion. I want to see that on their face. There’s nothing more beautiful than someone really opening up to you. That’s what I seek out and I try to give it back. I’m always going to have that connection with you and remember you for that.. then you can go out and find it again.

That’s it. I feel contradictory because I love this industry but at the same time I want to be influential in the way that I can say to girls, you don’t have to buy this. Style can’t be bought. Just be you. I want to be an idol in that you don’t have to wear someone to be someone.

I wear brands and if I do they are supporting local labels or my friends label. Plus if you see me wearing designer it’s rare and a charity shop piece 100%.

Even though I didn’t try to hard at fashion week, my outfit was a dollar tracksuit I got in Australia and a free tee shirt, my vans and stockings. That was it and I ended up in WWD, Elle and Vogue in the best dressed of the week. Other people probably spent a lot more money on a lot more brands. That in itself tells you a lot. Just dress how you want in your natural style people will notice.

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I’m so proud of you for that.

If you could have anything in the world right now what would it be?

Right now? A ticket to New York. If you ask me in an hour it’ll probably be something different.

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Follow Ana’s incredible journey on Instagram: @anazarac

She chose her path and is giving it her all until she achieves her dreams. What an inspiration. It’s possible guys, sometimes you just have to jump in, head first.

It’ll be worth it in the end.

Harleigh Q

xo

Magical Fairbridge Festival

On 20th April one of my favourite bands hit my coast. What was supposed to be a couple of wild nights around the city ended up being a five day long groupie adventure.

Their name?

Sex on Toast

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Much as I adore my band aid tales they are mine to cherish. This post isn’t about my honeys, it’s about the magic I discovered in a haunted little place called Fairbridge. I haven’t felt so connected to a hippy haven since my experience at Jungle Love last year.

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The first night I headed down, I was a little behind schedule due to the ridiculous appeal of my little nephew and his snuggles.

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The road was long, windy and dark. The dirt flicked up madly behind my little car and the trees loomed heavy at either side. I’m not going to lie, I was having heard palpitations. I am terrified of ghosts. James pointedly reminded me that they live inside my head the following day, but that didn’t stop me freaking the eff out on the way in.

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I managed to schmooze my way in to the artist camp ground and parked up perfectly a stones throw away from the Backlot stage. This meant each morning I awoke to a gentle acoustic set and fell asleep to heavy bongo beats. It was magnificent. Fairy lights lit the pathways. My favourite thing.

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They had a number of main stages set up around the camp grounds. The largest of which was in the centre, opposite a sweet little makeshift pub.

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Down one end there was a brewery style outdoor setting, next to my second favourite stage, Hoopla. At the far end, where I lived, was Backlot. This was an open air stage with large wooden dance floor below it. This one I dug hard core.

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During the day the centre was filled with every kind of healthy food truck you can think of. I unintentionally turned vegan for three days. My body was loving it!

Indian Mexican fusion?

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Vegan bagels?

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Each day I would wind my way around the markets, drifting from stage to stage, looking at the gorgeous patterns and resisting the urge to buy everything.

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I found a handful of excellent new bands I have been researching ever since.

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At one point I stumbled upon African dance lessons in a back hut shaped like a circus tent.

Later that night I found myself hip wiggling in my element to some stunning Cuban music.

The sense of love and community at Fairbridge was so intoxicating. I was there alone, aside from hanging out with my boys later in the evenings, but I never felt lonely. I would wander, munch, and sit admiring music I would never normally seek out. I discovered a Sicilian folk group, an all lady acapella gang, a wee family strumming out a 60s medley and a a clan of old navy-men singing sweets songs of love and loss on the high seas.

 

One night as I sat perched on the floor at the foot of the stage a young girl next to me turned and introduced herself. I got chatting to her and the girl at the other side of me and before I knew it I had my own groupies when they found out I knew the band. Sharing smiles and passions with strangers has got to be my favourite life experience. We’re all one and the same at the end of the day. I would love to connect with as many people as possible.

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I didn’t make it to all of the venues. Next year, if I can afford coming home from Brissie for it, I will absolutely be back. Knowing my honeys really was a massive highlight though. I do truly love the company of funny, conscious and weird musos. We are very much on the same wavelength. I just lack the skills, but I can make up for it in sick sense of humour and excellent taste.

Thank you Pinjarra for providing such a gem. I may have been the only person there bar performers in my 20s, but the teens, families and golden oldies were fantastic company.

Until next time fellow Bohemians.

Peace, love and Rock and Roll.

Harleigh Q

xo

Solid Gold Coast

I’m taking HarleighQ back to her roots with a true and traditional, good old fashioned travel post!

I recently spent the most perfect four days with a group of my West Australian based agents in the place I like to call ‘The Bali of Australia’.

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Particularly for the people of P Town, the Gold Coast can be seen as an alternative to their old faithful holiday destination. It’s four hours east rather than three hours north, so not much of a difference travel time-wise.  The airport is small and cosy, and very easy to navigate; even I managed to find the transfer information desk.

The easiest way to do the Goldie from Perth is to fly into Coolangatta airport. Jetstar offer direct flights most days. However, you can fly in to Brisbane if you would prefer. It’s about one hour from Brisbane airport to Surfers Paradise. Coolangatta is half an hour in the other direction.

The beauty of the Gold Coast and Queensland in general is the kind nature of the locals. I’ve never met friendlier people than those you will come across with in the Sunshine State.  People know how to merge! This makes for very pleasant driving and that is why I will always recommend a car hire. Not only is it easier to get around, although the public transport system there is fantastic, you can come and go to the theme parks as you please rather than relying on transfer buses. You can check out the other beaches too. This is a massive highlight.

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I was really stoked when I found out that during free time, a group of my agents made their way to the surf club in Burleigh Heads upon my recommendation of ‘living like a local’ and checking one out.

The beaches come incredibly close to rivaling that of the ones that we have back here in Perth. They are beautiful and can be spectacular surf spots, most of the time.

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My personal favourite is Currumbin. I enjoy the vintage cars and old school surfies riding their bikes around the area. It is a very groovy place positioned between the main beaches (Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach) and Coolangatta (the airport).

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There’s a TAB and BWS on every corner too.

The Gold Coast has such a 70s holiday vibe. Some of the hotels are pushing that age but haven’t lost their charm. We were lucky enough to check out some of the ones scattered along the front of Surfers Paradise. The views from their ocean facing rooms were spectacular.  The value of these hotels is unparalleled.

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One of the things I love most about the Goldie is the fact that it appeals to all ages. There is a very healthy party scene, but families are heavily considered in all areas.  There are five star escapes dotted between huge family resorts. We saw pirate ships and lagoons, day spas and Jacuzzis. They show no bias in Australia’s favourite holiday destination!

As far as the theme parks go, they really are fun for everyone.

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I have officially visited all five now and I must say I can’t wait to go back. My personal favourite is Movie World, for the fact that I can hug the Joker, Batman and Harley. Having said that though, Shrek lives in Dreamworld. That’s a tough one.

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There are rides for all fear levels, but if you see a small child heading to a ride that you are too scared to go on, you know what you have to do. We let the wee ones give us pep talks before going on a lot of the them and it had to be the highlight of my day; especially when later on we ran into them again, and they asked us if we were still okay and having a good day. What little angels.

The theme parks are located inland from the main beaches. They are approximately 30 to 45 minutes away from Surfers Paradise, depending on your mode of transport. You can’t stay at them, but I wouldn’t recommend it even if you could. The beach is what makes the Gold Coast. Also, the parks can individually be knocked off in one day, quite easily.

Where Surfers has an incredible amount of family activities, excellent shops and a beach that is well guarded, Broadbeach is like her mellow older sister. Broadie is where you will find the spectacularly renovated Star casino, Dracula’s Cabaret (a superbly camp 18+ dinner show), and more restaurants then you can poke a stick at. The best part is it’s only one beach down and still super easy access to the theme parks and airport. Both places are connected by the very clean and incredibly easy to use tram line. Well, I managed it.

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I would recommend Broadbeach to the more seasoned crowd. If you’re a foodie, huge shopping centre fan, have done Surfers before or just want somewhere to chill, this is the spot for you.

A fun fact about most of the apartment hotels in Queensland is that they are half residential, half owned by the property itself and rented for holiday purposes. This means you really can live like a local.

I have to touch on one of my favourite things to do while living in Brissie that is super easy to do from the Goldie too, and that’s visit the northern New South Wales coast.

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Byron Bay and its surrounding towns are pure hippy heaven. If you enjoy that sort of vibe, it’s a must see, and barely a 45 minute drive from Surfers Paradise. I took my family down there for lunch one day while they were visiting, and they fell in love too. The view from the Lighthouse alone is enough to overwhelm anyone’s expectation. It’s spectacular.

As I’m sure you can tell by the tone of this article I am definitely more of a Gold Coast fan and the Sunshine Coast. I do enjoy both, however, the vintage and rockabilly scene down south is so heavily embraced by many of the locals. I can’t help but feel completely at home when I am there.

So, fellow Western Australians, if you are looking for an awesome value alternative to your usual Asia escape, you’ve found the perfect spot.

Explore your own backyard. I promise you, she’s a wonder. You won’t regret it.

Looking for some recommendations?

A few hotels I love:

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QT Surfers Paradise 5* – Amazing for couples or groups of friends looking for somewhere funky and fun

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Mantra Crown Towers 4* – One of the best family hotels, self catering apartment style

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Breakfree Beachpoint/Imperial Surf 3* – they might look basic from the outside but those views

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Mantra Broadbeach on the Park 4* – quite possibly the most perfect location in Broadbeach

 

A few restaurants I love: 

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Cucina Vivo – incredible fresh Italian located in Star Casino

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– Chiangmai Thai Restaurant Surfers Paradise – award winning Thai located at Mantra Crown Towers

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Clifford’s Grill and Lounge – tapas style fine dining at the Watermark hotel Surfers Paradise

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Easy Street Diner – American style cuisine in Broadbeach (stop smirking, sideways crew!)

Have I missed anything? Let me know your top tips for the Goldie!

All my Queenslander love

Harleigh Q

xo

Self Care Part 2

This is a reinforcement for the messages I brought up in a previous blog post, Self Love Club.

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I have been in wallowville the last month. I’m sorry for the neglect. I’ve moved my inner monologue to my diary rather than my blog. Some T does not need to be spilled on here.

The world is spinspinspinning and I’ve been feeling very much behind the curve. I’ve bitten off a lot and set a really high standard for myself and now I feel like I’m drowning a little bit.

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I was thinking back to a few months ago when I was on cloud nine and I’m trying to work out what the main triggers were. One big thing was that I was listening to Nico Tortorella’s ‘The Love Bomb‘ podcast. I was filling my ears with love on a daily basis and it was pouring out of me at the same rate.

Yesterday I picked up my copy of Pamela Des Barres’ memoir ‘I’m With the Band‘ again. I’m starting to feel that old tingle and flood from my chest to the kindred spirit within the vanilla coke stained pages (don’t ever let me borrow your books). Her life is mine, she’s just a bit ahead, a bit wilder and in a much freer environment. I get that same taste, the tendency towards hero worship. Giving and receiving magnetisms. There’s that old fire again!

I was worried it had gone out, because the last few weeks I’ve been retreating further and further in to myself. Sleeping more, doing less, working, drinking, resting, nothing. No health consciousness, no exercise. It’s got me completely and utterly drained. It’s a bit of a jump from my Self Love post. I might love me but I’m not taking care of me.

Humans are so flawed. I don’t think it’s possible for us to click on to something instantly and never have setbacks. You can have all the knowledge and good intentions in the world, but life gets in the way!

That’s why I’m writing this part two.

~

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Self love is all well and good, but it takes a lot. It takes practice. I get mad at myself. I feel like there’s two Leigh’s. There’s the hippy lover with the kindness and the openness and the world at her feet; then there’s crab Leigh. She puts constant pressure on herself, a negative running commentary. She doesn’t want to do things. Incredibly good at justifying, she’s fucking stubborn and she’s mean to me.

It’s a battle. I feel like we all have an inner crab, some are just louder and stronger than others.

Mumma and Papi tell me constantly ‘stop putting so much pressure on yourself‘. I’ve always liked to know which direction I’m heading. I like to have a 2 year plan in place and even though everything changes constantly, I need to convince myself that I’m moving on up. I can’t handle routine and stagnancy. In the same breath though, I don’t seem to like accepting my own achievements. When I do well at work, which to be honest has become a constant, I still don’t accept that it’s my hard work.

Ugh. Why can’t we take ownership of good things? Is it just easier to fail? It’s easier if something does go wrong to be able to shrug and say ‘well it wasn’t me in the first place’. It’s like I’m holding my breath waiting for it all to go to shit. Crab Leigh is chilling in the wings waiting to give me a big fat ‘told you so!’ Fuck that. Maybe I’m just good at my job.

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You’re the only one thinking you aren’t good enough.

The wild thing is, from the outside no one would ever know we feel this way. I am my most honest when I write. I just want to make a difference in someone else if they are feeling the same thing. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of isolation. It’s crazy how quickly things become overwhelming when you stop spending quality time with yourself.

So, how do we turn off these inner killers?

Self care is hard. It’s easier to eat shit, not work out; be tired and stressed. Let it beat you. But then… what do we get out of that? Bugger all is the answer.

Life ends. Don’t let that happen while you’re still breathing.

Do you feel me?

~

I’m going to make a pact with myself and any of you lovers who have been struggling with the same thing. Can we promise to be kindest to ourselves?

If you do good, celebrate it. YOU did it.

If you’re buying lunch, get something green. Tummies like it.

If you’re feeling stressed, take a bath, go for a walk. Nourish your body and your mind will follow.

If you’ve got a day off, don’t sleep all day. This one I’m going to struggle with most!

Imagine you’re a plant or a pupper. You need just as much love, care and attention. Pupper Leigh needs a daily walk or run and nutritional value in her food. Look I know I’m weird but it works for me, and I know you guys are weird too so get on board.

Stress has a choke hold on me at the moment and I’m tired of it. I’m tired tired tired. I just want to be refreshed, excited and happy like some of the incredible girls on my news feed living their truths. No, no one can be happy 100% of the time and I know we all only show the highlights (unless some of you caught my not so hilarious meltdown over missing my flight), BUT we can all take steps out of the darkness.

Let your conscious mind rule you instead of the inner killer. We all know what we’re supposed to be doing. I’m going to try to make more of an effort to do it. Sleep when you’re dead and all that jazz; except Sunday which is going to remain do nothing day.

Also, I’m going to stop drinking as much. Simple as. It’s yummy, but it’s expensive and it’s not helping.

Most importantly: The hard work really does come back around. Bite off more than you think you can chew! You’ll be surprised how much you can handle. I was. Now I get to host agents in my favourite destinations, I get people calling and asking for me. Way to make a girl feel special. Yes it’s hard, but it’s so so worth it.

I really hope there won’t need to be a part 3. I’ve got some big adventures ahead (in one month to be exact) and I want to be sound of mind and heart for my travels. I’ve earned that from myself. I deserve a break and pure enjoyment. So do we all.

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~

Just a little reminder that this isn’t about the number on the scales. This is about mental health. It’s far more important.

We need to keep addressing it.

If you’re struggling, reach out. I’m learning to and it does help, I promise. Even if this post doesn’t change anything, you aren’t alone.

I may have a bit of a cool girl persona (I can hear those of you who know me well scoffing at that), but I will always be open and honest with you guys on here. I’m bloody kidding myself if I ever think I could pull off mysterious. It just ain’t me, and I still seem to attract the rad kind. You do you.

Final note, everyone please watch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I watched it in a day. It brought a lot of things to head for me and I hope it can help you guys too. It is an incredible and important show.

Be strong, be bold, be unapologetic but most of all: be kind.

Harleigh Q

Xo

You Do You

Today I wanna penetrate the skin. I want to talk about who we are on the inside. I want to discuss authenticity. Let’s talk about the power of being a weirdo.

Tell me if you feel me here, but do you guys ever find yourself surrounded by perfectly nice people having a perfectly nice time, but feel kind of.. on the outside?

Some of you might relate to this in the form of when you return from travels, or move to a new places, start a new job, spend time with old friends who aren’t on your level, meet friends of friends that you really aren’t digging.

I don’t know why it happens, and it genuinely does suck when you like people but you just don’t feel yourself around them. It’s probably the reason so many people prefer their own company; they find it hard to vibe with people.

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I’m just here to remind you guys, and myself, that the world is absolutely full of angels. They will come to you in all forms. They will shine bright, and they will pull you up to their level. They will love you, all of you, just as you are. They won’t let you flat-line. They want to see you succeed.

~

A couple of weeks ago I spent a two hour car ride with two ladies, one I’d never met before and another who is quickly becoming one of my favourite people. We spoke deeply about our experiences and what makes us tick. I was so in awe of these gorgeous, authentic ladies and their openness. I know I’m an open person, I feel no shame in it. I love it when people say things to me like ‘you’re very honest, aren’t you?’ Why yes I am, and it’s attracted some pretty incredible people and experiences in to my life. Being vulnerable is so powerful guys. Sadly, I rarely find people who are the same.

When I told the girls this we came to the conclusion that sometimes with certain people, you feel like you need to dim your sparkle. You don’t want to shine too bright, talk to much, be too interesting; you don’t want to come across as an arrogant asshole to put it bluntly. If that same person still expects you to listen to the ins and outs of their mind, they aren’t loving you the way they should.

You know what I loved the most about the time I spent with those ladies? They made me love myself more.

So choose your tribe wisely.

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Something I think gets taken for granted a lot these days though is the beauty of authenticity.

There are so many people that try so hard all day every day to fit an ‘ideal’. They mold themselves around celebrities, the people around them… is it for acceptance? A sheep in a herd of others all following the same script. Where is the realness in that though?

When I was 11 a new girl joined my primary school. It was our final year and she was called Caitlin. I had never met anyone cooler in my whole life.

She is my first memory of falling in love with someone’s spirit. At that young age she had the kind of calm confidence that girls in their early 20s dream of. She was from a military family, had a strong southern accent and had been to a lot of schools. She introduced us to songs that were trending in London, games those kids would play, but overall, she was just so real.

She didn’t seek other people’s acceptance because she already had her own. I used to love our sleepovers where we’d discuss her old schools, what she thought of the kids at ours. Every boy had a crush on her because of her chilled out aura. I was fascinated.

I have no idea what she’d be doing these days, but I’ll bet she’s killing it.

As I’ve gotten older I have realised the most attractive thing about people is a quiet confidence. Never questioning themselves, just being.

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When you know who you are, what you like and what you want from life, it’s quite intoxicating. So many people spend their whole lives seeking out people to tell them what to do and how to be. I made a decision to never, ever do that again.

I remember being mortified when new friends discovered my extensive manga collection, and even worse when my passion was referred to as ‘weird’. I used to buy trendy clothes and talk about people instead of events or ideas. I would like bands because the people around me liked them. I’d go to nightclubs for the same reason.

I no longer recognise that person. The only approval I want is my own.

I don’t know if most people realise this, but we are completely in control of our own personalities. If there is something that you don’t like about yourself, it is within your power to change it; be it recurring negativity or a snappy way you speak when you’re tired. Sometimes it’s a judgmental thought train. I’m talking about negative personality traits here, don’t change your loud laugh or goofy smile. Those things make you you.

If you’re shy, though, and think that it’s holding you back in life, don’t let yourself use that as an excuse. I have been incredibly shy for the vast majority of my life (I’m talking crippling, physically ill and shaking level of anxiety every single time I had to go somewhere new or meet someone I didn’t know very well), but I trained it out by throwing myself in to the unknown at every opportunity. I quickly realised I wasn’t going to die if I diverted from my safe routine. It’s a heavy topic I’ll probably write about in more detail one day, and please don’t think I’m downplaying anyone’s struggle, but I really do know what I’m talking about with this one. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise.

You can craft yourself in to to being a person that you would fall in love with. It’s powerful to choose that path. It’s important.

I hope it doesn’t always take earth shattering events for humans to change their ways, but for me that was when I decided all I wanted in life was to become my most authentic self.

I took away the shame I felt for not fitting in and just started being me.

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I proudly discuss my love of graphic novels, pop culture and small Aussie bands. It’s an amazing way to connect with people that are on your wavelength. You wouldn’t find them if you weren’t being you.

A mod, a hippy, a pinup, a groupie, a lover, a groover, a woman, a Goddess.

The moral of the story my babes, is that not everyone is going to like you; but some people will simply adore you. Surround yourself with people who tell you so, and don’t worry about the rest. Be happy in yourself. They aren’t meant to be part of your story.

It’s better to be alone and content than surrounded by people who make you feel lonely.

Vibe baby vibe. You’re perfect, just as you are.

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Your friend forever

Harleigh Q

xo

A Lady I Dig Called… DJ Honey

The stunning Miss Honey and I have been friends for about a year now.

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The first time I saw her it was love at first sight. I thought, who is that tiny girl with the massive beehive, incredible record collection and stellar moves? Outfits always on point, she began her weekend residency at Sonny’s House of Blues (my favourite bar in Brisbane) a month before I moved back to Perth. Honey commands the stage with her classic presence and transports you back to a dance hall in 1965. She is the perfect Soul Girl.

After spending the morning co-hosting her show ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang‘ which features on 4ZZZ every Thursday morning from 9 – 10am, we found ourselves snuggled among wood and ropes in The Lost Boys; a sweet little brunch spot in the Valley, and perfect setting for our Passion Chat.

Soundtrack:

Barbara Lynn – I’m a Good Woman

Okay Honey, who are you?

Ah… I am a woman. I am a human being and I am a DJ.

I like that. I like the order. I am woman, first and foremost. 

Yep. Conquer of my own destiny (laughs).

Excellent, and describe yourself in three words.

Absolutely fabulous, darling.

That sums you up perfectly. What’s your favourite childhood memory?

Probably… Travelling (pause) Definitely. Growing up we lived in Kombi vans, caravans… and we got to see so much of the world. Mother nature, really. The ocean, sand dunes, bush, animals –

Exploring Australia properly.

Yes, Australia, and Europe. England!

You were born in England?

I was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Then I moved over to Australia when I was 8. I have lived here every since. I grew up in WA then moved over to Melbourne in a van with my dog.

What kind of dog do you have?

A Chihuahua cross – and now I’m residing in Brisbane.

You love it?

I love the weather.

So what do you do for a living?

I am fortunate enough to be a DJ, so I play 60s soul records every weekend and I get to eat and drink for free while playing my favourite songs and dancing.

You’re mesmerising too! I’ll always remember the first time I walked in and saw you and I thought, oh my God I need to know her. She is a Goddess. You rock it.

I love it. Oh my gosh. It’s such an incredible opportunity. I get to share my favourite songs that I used to dance around to in my lounge room while drinking. Now I get to do it in a bar! and I get paid to do it.

And you have your radio show too.

Yes I have my show on 4ZZZ called Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and through that I’ve met some incredible women. I interview female DJs, authors-

That’s me.

(laughs) Plug. But yeah, just some really awesome women.

Is your show always about women? Based on female artists?

Yep. All female artists. Particularly from the 50s, 60s and 70s but then also we have modern day artists with the retro sound.

You’ve been doing this for six months.

Yep, that’s right.

Okay, here’s a good one. Name a band or artist that changed your life.

So… I love Elvis Presley.

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Yes you do! (laughs) Look at your little face. You really love Elvis.

Yep. He is, other than my dog, the love of my life. I remember first hearing him when I was about 7 years old and… We used to go to the library every week. I asked mum and dad about him- because this was pre-internet days-and we got all these books. I knew the Elvis Presley section off by heart. I used to borrow all of his CDs and cassettes. When we went to the video store I got all of his movies. I learned everything about him and I love it all; his music, his style, the kind of human he was. He was so new and paving his own way, but still paying respect to the Blues and  RnB artists who came before him.

There is no one else like him.

He was the start of your love affair with soul music?

Yes, definitely. I listened to his songs and in the CD sleeves I’d see the writers of them and I would look those people up. Again, at the library.

So vintage.

So time consuming! Then I would listen to all their stuff. I was very lucky that mum and dad had a really vast collection, and mum would say, if you like that you should listen to this which is similar. Then it just grew and grew.

Have you been to Graceland yet?

YES! I went to Graceland last year (huge sigh) best moment of my life. That place is just… so magical. The whole of Memphis is so dedicated to him. You talk to people in bars who have met him, seen him around. This person who was an idol to you is an actual human being now. Then you go to his house and, again, his style was so ahead of his time and unique. He was just doing his own thing. Obviously they have all of his awards on the walls-

But it’s about so much more than that.

It’s about how kind he was as a person; not in a bragging way either. It was just the way he was. The overwhelming feeling I had after going there was what a wonderful man he was, not about his super-stardom.

Listening to Lisa Marie on the headset as you walk around, talking about the wonderful things he did for people and it’s just – emotional!

Yep. Random people in the street received his generosity. He is the King of my heart.

What makes you smile? Don’t say Elvis.

(Pause) um…. The King of Rock and Roll? (laughs)

He’s all you can think about now. I’ve got my questions in the wrong order.

Yeah, we should have saved him until last. Okay, so: my dog, Angus, my records – they are my confidants.

You must have a really good collection by now.

Um… yeah, it can always be better (laughs) it’s growing. Okay also… G&Ts, sunshine, ocean, animals, dancing, my girl posse, my family, travelling and… Orgasms! Because… of course!

What makes your frown?

Plastic bags, animal cruelty, sexism, racism, inequality. People who use the wrong there, their and they’re.

Oh we’re getting political. Who do you admire?

I admire people who are true to themselves. People who seek adventure, who won’t settle for what they’re told they should be content with. People who are kind. Ain’t nothing sexier than kindness.

Hashtag.

That’s my motto.

What’s your favourite line from a song? 

There’s so many… ‘A little less conversation, a little more action’.

Good choice. That kind of sums it up really. 

You could be talking about lots of things.

What your favourite film? 

There’s an Italian film called La Vita Bella (A Beautiful Life) and it’s probably one of the saddest films I’ve ever seen, but it’s so full of love and hope and optimism.

How old were you when you first saw it?

18 I think? Quite old.

Who is your favourite person?

You can’t have favourites (laughs).

I feel like I could answer that very quickly.

Well I’ve been banned from using that name anymore.

I’ll allow it for this one question.

I still don’t know if he’s my favourite person. I don’t think I have a favourite. I have lots. I think if you pick, it closes a door to finding more favourite people.

That’s very true; but who is your least favourite?

I don’t know… Everyone I think of still has their own story of how they got there, and their own rationale. So… you can somewhat understand how they are who they are. That’s a really lame answer.

No it’s actually a really good answer. Once you learn the art of empathy it’s hard to let it go. 

Exactly.

What’s your proudest achievement? 

This is a hard one. I’m always striving to do more. I haven’t got there yet.

You have such a high standard for yourself! I feel like you have done so many amazing things; just from the stories you’ve told me today. I get it though. What’s your biggest fear? 

This is really quite a privileged fear, but, it would be living in a house in suburbia with a mortgage, trying to keep up with the Joneses and trying to be some Stepford wife. I mean, it’s a safe life. But that would do my head in.

If you’re not living, you’re dying. There is no in between.

Yep, doing the same thing every day, that would be my biggest fear.

What is your biggest passion in life?

Music is definitely up there. I have always listened to music and there’s a song for every mood. Every song can take you back to a time, a place, a person. Happiness or heartbreak.

But also, just being kind and compassionate. Every single day I try to be kind.

Do you think it takes such a strong person to be that way? I think it’s so easy for you to close people out and not let them penetrate your shield, but to be kind you are putting so much of yourself out there. It’s a really good way to be. 

Yeah. Like you say, it can be exhausting.

What’s your favourite piece of advice?

I don’t think anyone ever said this to me, but ‘live every moment as if it’s your last’, tell everyone how much they mean to you, even if they roll their eyes because you’ve said it to them 100 times that day.

It’s still good to hear.

Spend as much time as you can with the people you love, and doing something, even if you’re completely exhausted. Just do it, because you could die tomorrow.

I often hear people say ‘If you die tomorrow, would you be happy with what you’ve accomplished?’ And people say no, but I really would. I do everything I want to do.

You make choices every day to project what you want to achieve in your life, and you might not accomplish everything but you should be happy in your back catalogue about the steps you took to get yourself to where you are now. 

At least you tried.

Well done for getting this far. So, are you in love?

Yes. I’ve been in love since I was 7 years old with Elvis Presley.

(Laughs) How does [your partner] feel about that?

He has no choice. He has to share.

Do you love yourself?

Um… I think we all do in a way. We have to.

Some people don’t, I think. Hopefully not many. I think most people can’t admit it because there’s such a negative connotation with it. 

Yeah, like you’re up yourself. But, okay. Do I love myself? Yes. But-

Look at you not wanting to just say it!

Yes! Exactly! And you’ll say it about every other person and yet you’ll be the last to say what a good job you’ve done, yourself. I try.

Be proud. I think that’s shifting it away from, ‘oh I’m so in love with myself’ to just being proud of yourself.

Be proud of your efforts, and what you’re putting out there.

So what is love to you?

It’s… Acceptance. Nobody is perfect. It’s actually our imperfections that make us beautiful and lovable, I think. I’s about enjoying another person and it’s about trust. Trust is… so rare.

If you could have anything in the world right now, what would it be and why?

A G&T.

~

Thank you beautiful creature for being my first.

For anyone interested in checking out Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, here is the stream link:

http://www.4zzzfm.org.au/program/kiss-kiss-bang-bang

https://www.facebook.com/kisskissbangbangradio/

You can find Honey Hip Shaker at Sonny’s House of Blues after the band every Friday and Saturday night.

All my love

Harleigh Q

xoxo

Self Love Club

I was 15 when I decided I didn’t like my body.

I’d never thought much about it before. I grew up playing football (English) and dancing so I was very fit. I’ve always enjoyed a good chocolate bar or packet of crisps. No biggie pre-puberty!

Then I got my little soft tummy and my hips came in. I was so uncomfortable. I’d hide in my over-sized uniform and never draw attention to myself. I honestly don’t know a girl who didn’t feel this way at some point.

Boys started becoming a concern. I had two very long and heavy crushes on boys in my high school. One of them I see occasionally on the train now (Mexican boy for those playing along at home). The other got wind of my affections and decided he would pretend to like me, then as he got off the school bus, would tell me he actually hated me. One of my girls found out about his plan through a mutual friend and proceeded to berate him in front of everyone. Queen.

Ahhh school. I don’t miss you in the slightest.

Moving swiftly on, none of this does much for a girl’s self esteem. Especially when you’re a codependent little book worm with a passion for anime and YouTube videos. Thank God
I grew out of that phase! (Hah)

To be completely honest, and I don’t need to go in to detail with this, I have struggled with disordered eating for a very long time. It’s something I still battle on a daily basis, one extreme to the other.

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I have a weakness for instant gratification over long term goals in every aspect of my life. It’s fun, until there’s consequences; be it money, men or pizza.

~

I have always cared far too much what other people think of me, and that’s really impacted the way I behave as an adult. It’s only in the last couple of years that I have stopped doing things because people want me to; I have started doing things because I want to. My happiness is the priority. So it should be,when you’re young, free and single. You’ve got the rest of your life to take care of partners/babies/families and only a limited time for you.

In turn, I am slowly but surely trying to change the way my mind works when it comes to my body. I’m quite tired of punishing myself for not fitting in to an ‘ideal’. Whose ideal is it anyway? It’s not even mine. I have hips. I’m never going to look like Twiggy. I can still be a mod icon!

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Do you feel me brothers and sisters?

It’s ingrained in us to desire what we don’t have. That doesn’t mean that what we have isn’t desirable.

I had a really interesting conversation with a couple of my beautiful friends last weekend. As we relaxed on the veranda of an old pub in Eumundi at 7am, we discussed whether we thought it was harder these days for males or females when it comes to living up to the media’s depiction of attractiveness. I love getting the male perspective on these things.

One sat on one side, one on the other. I personally think it’s equally hard for both. Skinny guys are constantly bombarded with images of body builders the same way girls are with tiny models or curvaceous sex symbols. You can’t be all things to all people.

I think it’s a matter of preference. We are all attracted to different things.

I don’t like muscles in men (except for that really intense, slightly creepy thing I have for Sly). I’m too vividly reminded of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an angry rant because someone chose not to get up early and work out. That, of course, wasn’t my fault. I’m not a big trainer. I don’t want to be with someone who is. I love men with soft tums or slimness. Tattoos are great. I want someone who will eat pizza and stay in bed all day; someone I can exchange music with. I find thick dark hair, a great smile, intense eyes and deep conversations irresistible.

We’re all shallow in our own way. There’s nothing wrong with preference, and there’s people out there who think you are 10/10 perfection just the way you are too (I hope you’re one of them). Never forget that. You are someone’s thing. There’s your happy thought for the day.

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~

I bought a size 14 skirt (shock horror!) because I’m tired of feeling uncomfortable in my cute little minnies when I’m lounging. I wanted something comfy for the hours upon hours I’ll be spending on a bus on my next adventure.

That’s two whole sizes bigger than I was this time last year. That’s 4 inches. I have gained 4 whole massive inches around my hips. I’ve also gained a feeling of self worth, travelled America and Thailand, moved interstate again, become one of the top consultants in my field and ate a ridiculous amount of pizza.

But, you know, God forbid 4 inches.

I’m tired of thinking I’m unhappy with my body. Why? We only get one, just like we only get one life. I don’t want to spend mine counting calories and obsessing over food like I have for years. I just want to be happy, and love myself the same way I love you guys.

Can we make a pact?

Look in the mirror and find the things you love about yourself. For me it’s my incredible boobs (duh) and wee waist. I enjoy my hips and poot – aka little tummy; thanks Joey for the excellent word. Remember that this is the way other people look at you. Only you focus on the negatives. We are our own biggest critics.

Now let yourself love. Smile, gently caress the bits (oo-er) and take a moment to be proud. We’re alive, in tact, whole and healthy. Life is good. We are great. Have a boogie.

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Mummas, your tiger stripes are sexy as fuck, you warriors. Fellow mermaid thigh bellas, your cellulite is beautiful. If Mischa Barton has it I’ll take two.

The more you love yourself, the more other people can love you.

~

This brings me to the final part of this little post. The Self Loath Club.

Please, please remember my darlings that negativity always comes from unhappiness. If you have someone in your life who points out your ‘flaws’ (there’s no such thing unless you smell like eggs) or negs you out, it’s because they’re unhappy.

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I don’t know a single happy girl who does this.

I know several insecure ones who do.

It’s horrible, and commenting on other people goes completely against my polite English nature, but it happens a lot. If you find yourself thinking negatively about someone else, question where it’s coming from.

As strong ladies I think it’s our job to change this culture.

I’m the biggest coward in the universe, except when it comes to shutting down dick heads in bars, but if you find someone is negging you please call them out on it! Do not let it penetrate your shield. Stay firm and glow with self love, and do not take their words on board. They’re only saying it to make themselves feel better. That’s really sad, isn’t it?

If it’s a dude/chick/person of the non gender you dig negging you just tell them to fuck the fuck off.

I love you babies.

Thanks for reading.

You’re welcome for the Joe gifs. Though you probably preferred the Franco one.

Harleigh Q

Xoxo

P.S. Re-reading this post, I reference pizza a lot. Mi piace.

Bohemianism and the Art of Love

The last month or so I feel like I’ve been living in a love bubble. I made a choice to come out of my shell again and open my heart to people here in Perth. I looked at myself in the mirror and smiled at the curves, instead of frowning. I decided I wanted to radiate that same warmth I found while driving across America. I wanted my pure adoration of other human beings to paint a smile on my face and it hasn’t left me.

Since I made that choice, I’ve been taking care of my body more; daily yoga and runs, less binging or extreme control when it comes to food and more balance. I’ve taken time to find beautiful music I connect with, I’ve been practicing my piano every day. I’ve found my flair for writing has returned.

I don’t like being vulnerable just as much as the next person, and it can be really hard when you spend a lot of your time in a stressful or negative environment to not let in engulf you. It’s true though, you cannot see the light unless you push through the darkness. 

With my reemerging confidence I’ve managed to connect with the people I care about more too. My nephew finally kicked for me! I have happily and openly conversed with strangers and stayed out until sunrise by myself when my ladies got tired because I wasn’t quite done vibing. I’ve met new friends this way, spent the afternoon at the movies with them or a new coffee shop.

I had a complete epiphany the other day when I stood in the unfamiliar hallway of a new art gallery/coffee shop in Freo, a place I rarely venture. As I waited to greet a friend of a friend who I had barely met before, I didn’t feel nervous. I was completely calm, smiling at the pretty posters on the walls. Of course she turned out to be amazing, but for someone who has had anxiety issues since very young, this was… massive. I have officially pushed myself to the point where I no longer fear the unknown. It’s doable guys. It’s fucking doable.

Tying in to my recent developments, I’ve been doing some research in to exactly what it is I stand for and if there’s a word for the kind of lifestyle I’m living. It’s not very square, but it would be great to meet some others who share the same ideals.

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I have felt like a penniless writer in vintage Montmartre pretty constantly lately; all bright eyed, emotional, open and excited.

Do you believe in freedom, beauty, truth and love?

Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.

Thanks Wikipedia!

As some of you may noticed I’ve been switching my brand up a little, slowly but surely. My end goal is to be the most authentic, free and open human being I can. The ideologies I follow can be summed up perfectly by the above paragraph.

I’d heard of the Bohemian revolution before but it wasn’t until the tender age of 11 that I was truly able to comprehend the amazing things those people stood for and just how much I identified with it.

It’s all thanks to a wee masterpiece called Moulin Rouge.

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Oh man Baz really is my spirit animal.

It’s not a fashion trend; to me it’s a life. It’s a way of being. Penny Lane is a perfect example. She’s a seeker of beauty and truth, an adventurer, a vagabond.

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I am so in love with the idea of love without restraints. Life can be lived without a path in place. We can just make our way down, weaving through obstacles and connecting with people in shared experiences along the way.

I don’t know if I can live my most authentic life in Perth. Not for a while. Adventure always seems to happen away from home, for me. Home represents safety and love and so much happiness, but my wild days are only just beginning.

As dad said to me recently, ‘If you were a 70s kid, you’d be in a cult wouldn’t you?’

Most likely some hippy commune. I like to think it wouldn’t be Manson’s or the COG. I’m quite confident there were many tribes that weren’t quite so fucked.

I never feel more at home than when on the road. Sitting on an aeroplane is the birth of a new story and I always feel so content in that moment. There’s no where else I’d rather be. I’m sure my fellow wanderers are smiling away as they read this.

I’m looking forward to my next feat. Mid May I will be hopping through Singapore and Zurich to the great city of Roma. There I will meet my gorgeous Swiss angel Martina, and we will galavant through the south of Italy for two weeks, ending up in Athens.

I have been fascinated with Greek Mythology since I was a baby nerd (now I’m a big one) so the thought of entering the Parthenon, the temple of the great goddess Athena, takes my breath away.

After my little Eurotrip I’ll be jetting solo to the land of dreams, USA. LA to LA, 54 days, one mad adventure with a whole new Contiki fam. On this loop I’ll be revisiting some old favourites (Dallas, Vegas, Memphis, NOLA, Orlando…) and exploring loads of new places. I get to turn 26 in Quebec City. Bon anniversaire!

I want to try and carry this spirit with me; this openness. It’s so freeing. Suddenly I’m not worrying about people’s opinions of me because I’ve allowed myself to acknowledge that I have achieved a lot, I have so much love around me and, to quote one of my favourite goddesses, Kaitlin: your vibe attracts your tribe! It’s a really hard thing to learn to do, and we all slip sometimes, but I think giving yourself the time and care you need is vital.

Self care looks different to everyone. For me, it’s not weighing myself, not staying in bed the entire day watching Netflix (just most of it), waking up at 5.30am so I have time for my coffee and yoga, and persuing my creative outlets. I need to write, draw, read my comics and books, play my piano, listen to my records, watch some anime.

Do things that make your soul smile. 

Live by the great philosophies of freedom, beauty, truth and love.

I think it’s incredible that we are on the cusp of another revolution. Women are banding together, men are coming to fight with us. People want to know what’s happening in the world, they want positivity and change. I am so proud to be a part of it, right here and now.

I will always try to understand the world around me and question things, without judgement. I care about the people and things around me so much. I’m going to stop thinking that’s a bad thing and fucking embrace it. One more kind human is never a bad thing, and thank you gorgeous friends for also being the kind of people we need in this world; open, honest, fun and fucking woke! You guys rock.

Anyone fancy joining my tribe? Send me a message. I’m always up for a coffee (alcohol) and chats about the universe.

Now, let’s go a little deeper.

Another artist I am so connected with at the moment is Nico Tortorella. My most recent post was about him.

I wanted to explore his methods more by interviewing myself in the style of his incredible podcast, The Love Bomb. I’m honestly obsessed guys. If his cute laugh and amazing poetry doesn’t do it for you I don’t know what will. So here it is:

What was your first experience of love?

Without a doubt the love of my family. Sometimes I feel like we have a bubble around us. I’ve never met a tighter familial unit than ours.

It probably started with moving to Australia. When I was 14, thanks to the incredible hard work and dreams of my parents, we packed up our lovely little home in York, England and flew across the world. We had never been to Australia before. Do you think that’s where my wild side comes from? I’d say definitely. Since I was a wee baba dad had been talking about moving to Australia, and with more of our friends doing it and his trade coming up on the wanted list, the timing was right. It took us two years and a lot of meticulous planning, documenting and typing. I remember getting an AIDS test at the tender age of 13. It’s no easy feat, moving to Aussie land. Immigrant and proud.

Flash forward to us all huddling around a store bought gas fire in a huge rental house that backed on to the golf course. We landed in July 2005. It was cold, even by our northerner standards. The houses here have high ceiling and tile floors. We swam in the pool with the golf balls by day, and put the oven on with the door open at night. We watched Home and Away. Finn died of skin cancer.

In the next six months we went from being a close family to a united front; a tiny clan. We needed each other. Dad tried new work, mum created a new home, Kelsie and I started new schools. Everything was foreign and terrifying. Friends were friends out of convenience, not connection. We were us. My Yorkshire/Geordie twang quickly reflected the Australian dialect around me through regular ridicule and a desire to be understood. Though, if you hear me talking to anyone from home now, it’s still my natural tounge. Aussie is pure acting  😉.

We met our best friends to this day when they moved in across the road. God bless my dad for being such a friendly soul. We moved in to a rental more suited to our needs and got a beautiful Rottweiler named Rio. My baby sister changed school and gained 110% happiness. I moved in to year 10 and met the girls who would heavily influence the woman I am today. Always, there was home. There was mum, dad and Kelsie. My family. La famiglia. The loves of my life. I don’t want to think about the person I would be without them, because they are everything; they always will be. Roots and wings.

Have you ever been in romantic love?

As I have gotten older I have questioned this more and more. My answer is no.

I don’t believe I have ever been in love with another human being in a balanced, true, mutual and romantic capacity. I think young love is an infatuation. Just because you are willing to do anything for someone doesn’t mean you love them; that’s just a giving nature. If you condition yourself in time to love things about someone that you have never liked or enjoyed before, that is loyalty. If someone tries to change you, put you down, control you or place negativity on you in any way, that is not love.

I have loved many, many people since then. I have spent an hour with strangers and fallen in love with their soul. Some people have the most intoxicating spirits. I love people who are passionate, kind and in tune with the world around them. I love people who give a shit. I love people who will have intellectual conversations with me about politics and space. I love people who will say kind things about other people when they aren’t there. I love people with compassion and empathy. I love people who love travel.

Romantic love is incredible, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. The most important love to me is what I share with the people around me, and myself. I struggle with negativity; it’s like a poison that seeps in to the air and chokes the goodness out of a room. That’s why I want to surround myself with souls I connect with. It’s why I love to travel so much. I want an open mind and an open heart. As Nico says, I’m a student of the world.

So you identify as… reluctantly heterosexual. I worship women, always have, always will, but sadly I’m just not sexually attracted to them. One day I’ll meet a Nico or Matt Mcgorry and have a feminist, woke male to call my own. Until then I’ll just curse my genetics for narrowing my dating pool.

What is love?

To me, it’s when you look at someone and the world slows down. Everything else is irrelevant, because this person is here and they are spectacular. I love a lot of people. I think I understand love on a pretty deep level. I believe it’s unconditional. To love someone is to accept them exactly as they are, and enjoy any way in which they grow and change and be proud of them. Always be proud. You have to love someone as a complete being. That is why I completely and wholeheartedly believe that you cannot know real, deep and true love until you honestly love yourself. Beauty isn’t love. Admiration isn’t love. To me, love is when just feeling someone’s presence calms your entire body. If you can smile just knowing they are near, and feel a warmth in your chest when you know they are happy. Absorbing every moment together but appreciating the time apart, because it’s necessary to keep your sense of self strong. In essence, love is the complete appreciation of another human being, just as they are; wanting their happiness, sometimes above your own.

To my fellow Bohemians,

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Harleigh Q

Xoxo