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?

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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

What’s Love Got to Do With it?

I wholeheartedly, from the bottom of my soul believe in love.

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes.

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In all seriousness though, love consumes my every thought and feeling all day every day. I truly, deeply feel the warmth in my chest when I communicate with my friends, family or chat my passion with my agents. I smile when I see outfits I like and take a deep breath every time I hear someone speak in a way I vibe with.

My parents are also a prime example of a great love story, 34 years strong.

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It’s because of all of this that I was super excited when I came across Nico Tortorella’s podcast ‘The Love Bomb‘. I’ve been following him for a little while; I still remember greatly enjoying his fleeting appearances in Make it or Break it, an old favourite show in my household. He regular posts his podcasts on Instagram and I had continuously forgotten to go back and listen when I had the time, until tonight.

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I’ve known about and enjoyed his sexual fluidity, soberness and artistic expression. I think he’s a fascinating human; so when I hit play on the first of his stories, with him interviewing the unlabelled love of his life, I was expecting magic.

What I didn’t expect was two people I’m really intrigued by professing their love for each other and giggling bashfully, while maintaining that they don’t believe in monogamy and stating they regularly date other people who come in to their lives without thought or consideration.

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I was speechless.

I consider myself progressive, and in saying that I know I don’t have to understand the way other people are, I just need to accept it. However, they just completely shook everything I believe in.

I know not everyone spends their life looking for love, and not everyone wants to spend their life with one person, but if you find a person that you really, deeply love, why wouldn’t you want to be monogamous?

Their point was that they don’t believe you can get everything you need emotionally and physically from one person. Now, I don’t disagree with that, but that’s why my current standing is to stay single for as long as I need to gain and learn as much as I can from lots of different people until one day I meet someone and… it clicks.

I watched a gorgeous little video the other day by a man who had a clear and simple message: if you aren’t ready to spend you life making someone else happy, don’t be in a relationship. 

My sentiments exactly. There’s no greater feeling in the world than making someone happy, when you are both giving equally, but until you’re ready for selflessness there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being solo, selfish and fucking fabulous.

But… Nico and Bethany have known each other for ten years. She openly admitted she’d like to have children with him one day. They do spend their lives making each other happy. They’re dating other people though.

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I don’t know if I’m old fashioned, possessive or just a true romantic but the thought that the person I have chosen, who I can see sitting next to me when I’m 90 and covered in wrinkly tattoos, might not want only me… that is just incomprehensible to me. In fact, it makes me feel sick.

I would rather be completely single and emotionally unattached and just have my friend, family and universal love, and not give myself to that person in any way at all. I have been there, and it feels like your insides are being torn apart slowly and excruciatingly over a very long time. I never, ever want to feel that again. I don’t want anyone to ever feel that. It’s mourning. It’s the fucking worst. (That was a shit person too! I can only imagine how it would feel with a real soul mate.)

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How come they don’t feel that? They discussed that it has been uncomfortable in the past, then Nico stated that he just isn’t a jealous person. But, neither am I! If someone want someone else that is fine by me, but I can’t let that person keep a part of me. That’s just not fair, is it? Or is that just the full blown commitmentphobe in me looking for an out?

They both clearly love love, and each other (I’m not suggesting for a second that they don’t), but maybe their love is different to my kind of love. When it comes to romantic love… I just can’t share. That is so sacred to me. Perhaps that means I’m going to be flying solo for a long time yet, and honestly as long as I keep creating these amazing stories and fulfilling connections with fellow humans, that’s okay with me. I have faith, most of the time. I just can’t handle hurting or being hurt. My walls are sooooo up. It’s sad sometimes, being alone, but there’s truly little else worse than being hurt by someone you have given your heart to.

People really are fastinating. As long as no one is hurting anyone, it’s all just ebbing and flowing I guess!

My summary of this whole thing, and I guess what really scares me about this beautiful, hippy generation of mine: have we become so cynical that we no longer allow ourselves to truly commit to one person? Divorce rates are high. I see relationships all around me constantly, but you can tell the ones who are together because they fell in to it, or because they just don’t want to be alone, and which ones are built to last.

Nothing can last if you both don’t want it more than anything else though.

Love isn’t easy, but spending your whole life alone isn’t either. I hope one day I find someone on my love wavelength. Realistically, you won’t always like each other, but you should always, always love. Most importantly: don’t sacrifice your dreams, find someone who shares them.

Come on Millenials, don’t let me down.

Lover of everything, except polyamory,

Harleigh Q

xo

P.S. I highly recommend you guys check out this amazing podcast. When I get over this one, I’ll be binging the rest. I love having my opinions challenged and mind opened.

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P.P.S. If you’re more of a visual creature you can enjoy Nico on Younger, a wickedly clever and funny show on Stan. If you like Sex and the City, you’ll love it.

Sanctuary, 2017

I think it’s safe to say that 2016 ripped away something loved by everyone.

Be it Bowie, Harambe, Alan Rickman, Prince, Mohammad Ali, Zsa Zsa, Trump defeating Hillary, the Orlando shooting, Sticky Fingers’ hiatus, Brexit, the end of Matt and Alex, Brangelina breaking up, the war over Aleppo, the Earthquake that broke Kaikoura, or most recently, the loss of the great George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, and the absolute faith-in-love destroying news that Sam and Sash have broken up, it’s fucked.

We are officially done with this year.

However, I do want to quickly recap one good that happened, to lift the mood before I launch in to crux of my post:

Leo finally won an Oscar (thereby tearing a hole in the time space continuum and fucking up the rest of the year in the process).

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If you want to know more positive things, see below:

Some more good things

So, 2017, what’s good? 

Considering I write a blog and enjoy astrology I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that I’m a bit fan of the ‘new year, fresh start’ philosophy. The fact is, a lot of us suck at motivating ourselves to break out of routine and comfort, so if January 1st works for you, so be it!

I’ve been reading a few articles lately about the idea of ‘resolutions’ and why it’s probably healthier for us to set them up as ‘goals’ instead. With a resolution, once you’ve broken it, you’ve failed. It’s way to easy to stop trying. When something is set up as a goal, it can take time to achieve. There can be setbacks, but the only truly failure is giving up! 

So, lovely friends, what are your goals for 2017?

Mine are, in no particular order:

– To run 10kms without stopping

– To stay out until sunrise in a new city

– To meet some more beautiful humans

– To start learning an instrument (I’m yet to decide between keyboard and guitar)

– To lose 10kgs (lame, I know, but it must be done!)

– To ask more questions when I talk to people

– To stay a regular in the top 5 consultants every month at work

– To soak up all the special time I get to spend with my fam bam, and be a good auntie to our little man on the way

– To move back to Brisbane

– To start writing more fiction

Phew! Just a couple… but note that they are all achievable. I also didn’t mention the smokes or booze, because I’m 25 and I’ll quit when I’m 30 😉

Happy birthday baby blog! I love having a read over my old posts and remembering the amazing adventures I had in 2016. I’m a hard working kiddo, and I have loved the highs of this year, and along with everyone else, have survived the lows.

Its too easy to get bogged down in the sadness; to let in weigh heavy on you and take away your motivation. 1st January presents itself as a chance for us to send out all of our well wishes and dreams in to the universe. Never lose hope. Tomorrow is another day. We only live once, and if there’s one thing this year taught us, it’s that it’s not for long.

So, drive it like you stole it. 

The best song from the best movie of this year

We’ve got this guys.

Heres a wee throwback to an old post of mine if you’re looking for a little boost in morale:

Happiness is…

All my best wishes for the New Year

I love you all very much

Harleigh Q

xo

Heartbreak Hotel

Well darlings if there is one topic that I’m an expert in, it’s heartbreak.

Not that I’ve had lots of breakups, but the one I did have was earth shattering and it took a long time and a lot of TLC to get through. Also there’s that falling in love with everyone thing I do.

This post is for anyone going through a trauma. It can relate to any but my specialty is man trauma, so let me begin by saying I’m a feminist so there’s no gender bias going on here 😉

The first few hours after a trauma are the hardest. You’re numb at first, that’s okay. You might cry because you think you’re supposed to. You might run to instant consolation or bury yourself in TV world. Either way, the bombs coming and you’ve had no time to prepare for it.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known it’s coming for. You might have had a feeling (you were probably in denial about it), it might be completely out of the blue. Either way, it cuts like a knife.

To me the hardest part of these times is the realisation that it’s the end. I do not do endings. I don’t even say goodbye, see you later is enough. The potential died. Along with that, hope rears her ugly head.

I remember cursing loudly to the sky on my long walks with Papi ‘I hate hope!’ Because along with hope comes the inability to let go. The single most important thing you need to do.

Why is it that even when someone proves themselves unworthy of our love (perhaps over and over again) we still hold on? We’ll listen to their words but only absorb the parts we want to hear.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s this:

– cutting people out of your life is hard but necessary, and if they are meant to be in it they will do literally anything to ensure they are, regardless.

I only surround myself with diamonds, so if you’re reading this, you’re rare and beautiful and very much loved by me. If there is someone in your life making you feel anything less than this then they don’t deserve to be in it. All they are doing is occupying the space that other loving, appreciative people should be in. They will find you when you make room for them.

It took me a month before I could function like a human again, three to be able to speak my ex’s name without crying. It took six for me to realise I’m actually amazing and worthy of a truly great love (no settling), it took eight for me to be able tell my story without getting emotional and ten for me to stop giving a shit all together. Now it’s just a memory. I don’t actually go there. There’s no need. I’m literally surrounded by people who adore me and I adore them. I took control of my life and I make myself very very happy. I made the decision to stop being the victim in the situation. Just because someone broke up with you doesn’t mean you are damaged goods. Some of us are very loyal people, even when we shouldn’t be, thus we’re the ones who get hurt. It’s excellent! Because I don’t know about you guys but I couldn’t live with myself if I went around hurting people. You end up pretty lonely. You’d also have to deal with the fact that you were the one who gave up. I won’t! It’s great. I can walk away knowing I did my best.

Heartbreak sucks. No matter how completely, inconceivably painful the experience is, one day you won’t feel anything at all. How amazing is that? But you have to take control. You weren’t with the right person. That’s okay. There’s several billion out there to choose from and they’re going to come to you!

My biggest tip? Do not wallow. Do not watch Bridget Jones while eating ice cream. That’s masochistic. Get your bum outside. Do your hair and makeup. Walk along the beach. Take a book. Go to gym classes. Kiss your dog, talk to your family and friends. Let it out, process it, then ask yourself the question:

What makes me happy?

I started by reading more. I devoured books (I found a love for country romance ones, of all genres), I threw myself in to my work out routine. I spent as much time as possible on long walks with Papi and our girls. I got really skinny. I booked a holiday. I watched a shit tonne of Netflix. Documentaries are great because you get absorbed. Put your phone away! Go on a journey. Watch a serial killer one and see how bad life could be. Turn that overactive mind off for a while. Get plenty of sleep.

I started going to the movies alone, which graduated to me taking myself to a musical. It’s still one of my favourite things to do. I’ve always been a film buff but you get so in to it when there alone. Different things work for different people, but start with hobbies.

I don’t know if you can truly be a happy person if you aren’t comfortable in your own company. I never used to be. I was an insecure poster child for co-dependency. Now I love it. I cherished my home time hour in Brissie. Records on, soul dancing in the kitchen. Maybe reading my comics and doing some copy drawings. Heaven!

Time. It just takes time. Learn to recognise who of your friends and family are there for you to talk to and utilise them. Spend quality time with your friends and please oh please, talk it out! They might get sick of the topic and honestly so will you, but that’s okay. You need to process. You need to hear all the good and bad advice and choose your own.

It’s all about you now. What do you want to do with your life? You don’t have to compromise anymore. Be brave. Move interstate. It’s awesome…

The most important thing of all? Never go backwards. You are worth so much more than that. Always look ahead. The past is the past. You can’t change it. Only do things to benefit you okay? We only get so long in our lives to be young and free so take hold of it with both hands and don’t let go until someone incredible comes along. You’ll know it.

You’ll meet lots along the way who may hurt you and you may hurt them but it’s an oh so sweet roller coaster of living and love. It’s better to go to the depths of disparity and back again than not to feel at all. I have to keep reminding myself if this every time I fall for a beautiful rockstar or wild traveller. Damn my type for being so unattainable… But it’s okay. They’re all stories. Enjoy them, try not to embarrass yourself by double messaging or being a creep, then look forward to the next one because there will be many more you beautiful creature.

There’s nothing scary about being single. Surrendering your freewill to another human being? Now that’s scary 😉 I think I’m the loyalest commitment-phobe on the planet.

If any of you are hurting know I’m always here for a chat. I don’t know everything but I like to pretend I’m wise. I’ve lived a life…

Vi voglio bene amici miei ❤️

Xo

Three Weeks in Wonderland

The last three weeks I’ve felt a complete spiritual shift. I look down at the words ‘parallel universe’ permanently stamped on my forearm with an inflation of pride. Past Leigh got it, and she didn’t even know it yet.

~

A few weeks on from my life altering splash in Maya Bay I’m still spinning the things I felt over in my mind.

I feel like I woke up that day.

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I read a lot of interesting posts from very enlightened people these days, and much as I always thought I understood what they were saying, I marvelled at their courage but didn’t actually embrace it.

That all changed my first weekend in Brisbane when we attended Jungle Love.

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That Saturday morning I drove feeling rather worse for wear to a service station 45 minutes north of Brisbane. There I met my boss, essentially a male version of me, and his incredible girlfriend, and in my mystery machine we journeyed to a wonderland.

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Jungle Love is exactly that; a creek side creation of love, art and music, a celebration of life and happiness.

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When we arrived it poured of rain, so we sat in the boot of our car and bonded for a few hours over beer and any topic we met.

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Another wonderful friend arrived, Sib, and at that point we decided to make the trek through the rain to the music.

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We were met by people riding in floaties down the baby waterfall, a five piece of dressing gown-wearing kooks with an excellent organised dance routine, a pumping DJ set and a bunch of humans dancing freely in the rain. It was nothing short of magical and oh boy did we embrace it.

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After a few hours we decided to change in to some dryer clothes for the night’s festivities. We still had an abundance of drink tokens to burn. We made friends with the group of fellas in the van next to us, one of which turned out to be the organiser of Brisbane festival Red Deer. They were so fun and friendly. We all made our way to the roof top bar from which I got to see my favourite Aussie angel songstress Clea, and her new project with former Cairos singer Ali.

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Her voice is even more perfect in person and I really was blown away by their performance. The chemistry between them is electric. What a beautiful couple.

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Next came the build up to my boys, Vaudeville Smash. I was well and truly in the mode of free love and banter at that point. When Tijuana Cartel came on and rocked my world with their Americana dance fusion, I was fee-ling-it.

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One of the VS boys happened to pass by and I pulled him over for a catch up and boogie. By the time they hit the stage I had wiggled my way front and centre.

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They smashed it, playing hit after hit of funk which jams you right in the soul. I danced and sang and when they asked us all to get low I was thankful for the barrier to help me back up.

Post-performance high I wandered to the side for a smoke and then realised I’d lost my friends. Bum. Not to worry though, I was summoned back to the artists tent and got to hang with my darling friends. It’s all who you know, kids…

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I saw Michelle Xen fling about as she prepared for her mind bending performance. It’s definitely not my bag, but I can appreciate she’s one hell of a stand out artist.

The boys and I headed back to the roof top bar to catch her and smash some of my still left over drink tokens, before stumbling through the dark to check out the other stages.

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At one point we nearly tripped over a fella laying on the floor, still clutching the bike he’d clearly toppled sideways on. My ‘are you okay, my love?’ Was met by a groan and a thumb shot straight in the air. Loving it.

We came across a tent full of the mellowest group I have ever seen. There was a collection of wild woodwind instruments in the centre that I haven’t seen since primary school. I was pretty tempted to take a seat but I knew I’d end up waking up with drool down my shirt if I curled up on one of the rugs.

VS headed back to Brissie and I commenced my march back to camp. Lucky for me I knew exactly where I was going, it was just a lot further than I remembered. I made it, and rested with the door of my Mystery Machine wide open, the gentle beat of the all night tent soothing me to sleep.

~

In the morning I felt a lot fresher than expected, and was thankful because VS announced a gig at Leftys that afternoon. I managed a good nap and my darling Kate and I made it just in time.

Having two sets this time, the boys were able to jam out some of the hits I’ve been dying to hear them play live, but one in particular rocks my world:

GHOULS – VAUDEVILLE SMASH

I was up and grooving from that point on. Post gig the darlings came to us and we chatted passions and nonsense for the next 5 hours until it was well and truly time to go home. See you soon my loves. You blow my mind!

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I spent my week dancing around the ridiculous new head office. We have sky line views from the kitchen on our floor. I was honestly just enjoying having a window.

The roof top bar and cafe ‘MOFOs’ is heaven. I caught Skroo hanging out up there one morning. Our Christmas party took place there the following Saturday. You’ll all be proud to know I was my usual charming self and didn’t embarrass myself in the slightest; apart from sleazing on the Travelshoot guy. Girl can’t help herself. Kate is slowly teaching me to tricks of approaching men first though. I’m too old fashioned for my own good.

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Fast forward to this past weekend when the transformation was complete. That day at work was rough

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On Saturday night Kate took me to a party with some of her old friends and I just loved them. What a beautiful group of humans operating on a whole new wavelength.

We chatted about all sorts and when Kate wasn’t feeling well and needed to go, I requested the uber to drop me at my favourite place, Sonny’s House of Blues.

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Still riding the high of new experiences I danced with DJ Honey, the queen of soul music, and huddled at the bar with my old friends.

When I first moved to Brisbane and didn’t know a soul, Sonny’s was the first place I could call home. The people who work there are kind, interesting and I’m proud to call them my friends. I love going to visit whenever I’m back, like nothing has changed they remember my name. It’s etched on the VIP wall now too!

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I love the people at work from other teams who know my name, the people in mine who blow my mind with their warmth; I love every single person who loves me for me.

Life is so short. I want to spend mine letting people in. I’ll be honest and I’ll be kind. I just want to share the love I feel with everyone, and I will never again seek the approval of others to make me happy. It’s good to be strong and know who you are, to be confident and let everyone do their thing without it affecting you.

I have met some women through my life who I can only describe as absolutely magnetic. They were true, free and completely 100% themselves. They were different, they had their own style, they loved and didn’t expect anything in return. I’m pretty tired of apologising for being me. It was a long time coming, but I’m here now, and it’s golden. I am one of those women. I hope I can help breed a whole bunch more!

I know most people don’t care for what I have to say, or the epiphanies I’m having or what’s happening to me. Its just that I’ve been down and unsure and cripplingly lost within myself, and now that I’m back and strong, I just want everyone to find their own inner happiness; and when you do, we can share it around. It’s never too late to open youself up.

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I probably belong in a cult in the 70s, but hey, I’m fucking happy man.

See you soon B.

✌️️

With love

Harleigh Q

Xo

To The Everyday Adventurers

What does it mean to be an adventurous person?

I think from the outside I fit the bill of your typical adventurer.

I travel a lot, I push myself to try new things, I capture my moments in photos and blog posts and I share it with my world.

The thing about adventure though, is it’s not exclusive to travel. It’s not just about exploring new places, meeting new people. To me, adventures are anything outside of routine.

I really don’t cope well with routine. I lived a solid one for a lot of years, life was like a circle. Same restaurants, same meal. Same roads, same people.

It wasn’t until I chose to push myself out of my comfort zone that I discovered the feeling that I’m now addicted to: complete lack of control.

I booked my outback adventure, caught a solo flight to Alice Springs, infiltrated a friendly group of Topdeckers who I would be joining the next day and I let someone else take the reigns. I didn’t read my itinerary thoroughly, I didn’t look up our hotels. I bought a pile of books I’d been looking forward to reading and devoured them. I walked around the base of Uluru and tried to process the unsettling phone call I’d received the week before with a southerner who would go on to become one of my best friends. Love you Lea.

Despite not being out on my own at any point, for me that was the start of something. I learned how to be, how to endure, how to process and how to live in the moment.

I don’t think anyone really fits the mould of an ‘adventurer’ because there isn’t one specific definition.

I don’t like walking unfamiliar streets on my own. The biggest issue I have is that I have no sense of direction. In fact, I think God put it in backwards for fun. Does that fit an adventurer? Not really.

I still get anxiety sometimes when I know I’m going to have a difficult conversation with someone. I get it when I have to find a new building. I don’t really like meeting people places in case I’m not wearing my glasses and I can’t see them right away.

It’s ok to not be brave all the time. I dread it, but I do it anyway. You only regret the things you don’t do. One foot in front of the other, we can handle it!

One of my favourite things is to close myself alone in a room, be it mine or within the four walls of a hotel room, sit in the cool air and relax. I’ll watch documentaries or read my book. I particularly enjoy messaging my beautiful global network of friends and seeing how they are doing while I listen to a newly crafted Spotify playlist.

I think ‘me time’ is an adventure in itself. It’s learning how to be at peace when alone. It’s something that two-years-ago Leigh couldn’t cope with. I really used to hate being on my own, and now I struggle on a day without it.

I think finding inner peace is the biggest adventure at all, and you can do that anywhere.

Not everyone wants to travel, and that’s okay. When they do, some people like to relax and party, others like to explore. I’m a mix of the two. I have accepted that it’s impossible for me to see and do everything in my lifetime, so I’m going to put my inner peace first. I’ll eat the food, dance to the music and talk to the people, but I’m not going to judge anyone who does things differently. We’re all on our own journey. I’m proud of every single person outside of their routine.

There’s no ‘supposed to‘ when it comes to adventure. This is your story! Write it however you wish.

I have an exercise for anyone who wants to embrace my philosophy.

Find a coffee shop near your work that you’ve never been to. Go there on your lunch break. Keep your phone in your pocket and people watch for ten minutes while you enjoy. Learn to be ok in your own mind, free from the phone shield, in a place that’s unfamiliar. Smile at people when you catch their eye. It’s small but it feels good. That’s all I’m chasing; a little piece of the unfamiliar.

It’s nice to be reminded that we are all living and breathing together.

adventure
ədˈvɛntʃə/
noun
1. 1. 
an unusual and exciting or daring experience.

With love from Thailand

Harleigh Q

Xo

The Last Australian

Fresh from watching one of the most harrowing miniseries I’ve seen in a long time I am deeply affected and I have a lot to say.

‘Better Man’ is an Australian series based on real events; the trial and execution of Van Tuong Nguyen. Van was 23 years old when he tried to smuggle 396.2g of heroine from Pnom Penh to Melbourne via Singapore. While in transit he set off a metal detector and was found to have one package strapped to his body, and he admitted to having another in his luggage.

This had been his first criminal offence.

The reason Van gave for choosing to get involved in this operation was to pay back $25k debt he had accumulated in paying for his brother’s legal team when he was charged with assault and drug offences (he was a former heroine addict). While struggling to make repayments he met a man named Tan who advised him he would repay his debts in exchange for his assistance in transporting a package from Cambodia to Australia via Singapore. Van was aware that the packages contained heroine.

The amount he was carrying was over 26 times the amount that mandates a death sentence in Singapore. Although Australia was the intended destination, he was arrested, charged and sentenced to death.

Despite a solid appeal and attempt at clemency, addressing the media and politicians (including John Howard, our Prime Minister at the time) directly and many public appeals, Van was hanged 2nd December 2005.

At the time he was the last Australian to be executed for drug trafficking. Since then two members of the Bali Nine were killed by firing squad in August last year, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Fresh to Australia I don’t remember hearing about this case. My first knowledge of this type of story was that of the Bali Nine and Schapelle Corby.

I’m going to start my analysis with a very clear statement. I strongly oppose the death penalty. In the case of drug charges I find it abhorrent. Drugs are a choice, and though they ruin and end lives we will never be able to destroy them completely and there will always be more traffickers and users. I have seen people ruin their lives with the frequent use of marajuana but I don’t blame the dealer for that. We all make a choice.

In the case of rape, murder and molestation, the victims don’t get a choice. I’m all for the prolonged torture and life long misery of those monsters, but drugs are on a completely different playing field.

As someone who really would do anything for her family if they needed her, my heart ached for Van. I am sure he was no angel just like the rest of us but he was in debt because he protected his brother. He ruined his own chances of getting ahead because he was needed. Making the choice to traffic to repay those debts was so naive, but could we not all end up in a desperate place and make a bad decision when we see no other way out?

He was 23 when he made that choice.

I sit here, 25 years old, the same age he was when he was killed. I’m thankful for my well paying job and my family’s support, knowing fine well that I would probably do stupid things for my family too. They are my universe.

I think what kills me most about the state of this case, the state of the Australian mindset these days, is the 48% of Aussie’s who thought he deserved to die; the hundreds and thousands of people who sit behind their keyboards and preach hate and intolerance on a daily basis. I think this ties in to another issue that I have felt boiling up inside me for years now.

Van’s mother arrived a pregnant refugee from Vietnam. He and his brother were born here.

In 1996 Pauline Hanson, a recently re-elected politician, made the statement that Australia was being ‘swamped by Asians’. So could it have anything to do with his Vietnamese name or appearance than Van didn’t receive the same national affection like that of pretty, white Schapelle? Perhaps if he had had the same appeal he’d still be here today.

So darling Pauline now believes the Muslims are taking over.

I don’t hate people, but by God I wouldn’t be in a hurry to waste my water if she were on fire. What a vile, hate spewing individual. I feel like she is Australia’s xenophobia personified.

Where has our humanity gone? Why does it matter what someone looks like or what language they speak? Come the second generation they’ll have Aussie accents too. Do I get penalised for my dodgy mid-Atlantic accent when I’m with my parents? No. Probably because I’m white.

I know that this post isn’t going to change anyone’s mind, I’m not so self important that I think my opinion matters more than anyone else’s. I just want my beautiful, caring humanitarian friends to be reminded to keep fighting the good fight. Only we can stop the fear and teach acceptance by practicing it at every opportunity.

We live in a wonderful, richly multicultural country and in a few years time when who ever else’s turn it is to start invading our shores (probably the sharks. Shall we just cull them all now and get ahead?) we’ll walk around our CBD at a sea of faces with Aussie twangs and maybe people will hate each other a little less. You hear that Wogs? You’ve officially been accepted now 😉

But if one more person uses the ‘look after your own’, ‘we are full’ argument with me I’m telling you now, I will punch you straight in the face you arrogant, selfish human. We’re all just blood and guts on the inside mate, we don’t choose where we are born and one thing Australia will never be is fucking full. The immigration issues we are having here are completely different to that of the States and Europe. I’m not even going to start on their politics. National front my arse.

Change isn’t a bad thing; my absolutely favourite life lesson is the most important one: you shouldn’t be scared of something because it’s different.

Please watch Better Man on Stan or YouTube if you have the time guys.

I love you all rainbow fam.

Harleigh Q

xo