Whitsunday Dreaming

There’s always something so therapeutic about travel. Those of you who read my last post about mindfulness know it’s certainly something I struggle with, as do most. The beauty of exploring a new place is the ease with which we begin living in the moment.

This last couple of months have been the hardest I’ve faced in a long time. In the days leading up to my trip I began dreading it. It had been feeling impossible to pull myself out of bed every day, my mind running a million miles an hour, eyes welling with involuntary tears at least once an hour. I was terrified of leaving my comfort zone. However, like usual, I was strong and I persisted.

Sitting on the plane to Brissie I let out a breath I felt I’d been holding for weeks. I was back in my other comfort zone, adventure. I curled up on my tray table, seated between two large strangers and snoozed almost all the way there.

Upon arrival I caught the Sky Train and landed in a place I know like the back of my hand, Brisbane CBD. It was buzzing. I deliberately walked the long way to my hotel. The air was warmer than Perth, the restaurants still overflowed with happy, chatty people. I smiled at a few of them, lugging my old faithful Harley Davidson bag behind me. Upon check in I bonded with the receptionist over our mutual love of downing a wine and making friends with new people in local pubs. She beamed with that familiar Brisbane welcome I always forget about and instantly miss when I leave. She also upgraded me to a top floor South Bank view room. Not bad, Ibis Styles!

Fresh from my shower I pulled back the crisp sheets of my bed and watched Pretty Woman with my curtains wide open and the wheel sparkling up at me. My heart was still aching but my body was content.

The next day I wandered slowly up Grey Street to our glorious head office and met with my team for the first time. I got to hold my best friend again, and apologise to my boss for being such a liability. I drank a lot of coffee.

True to form I ended up scrambling around with a minute to spare before Wyland and I made our way back to the airport. Our Jetstar flight was smooth and on time. Our hotel, Mantra Club Croc, was a darling little resort just up the road from Abell Point Marina (fun fact, it’s also the Topdeck hotel).

We spent the next couple of days swimming, chatting and relaxing with our incredible group of travel agents. We really couldn’t have been luckier. They were all utterly brilliant and equally hilarious. I couldn’t have asked for a more flamboyant and eager group of people to show off our sweet Aussie treasures to.

Wyland, as expected, was my perfect co-host; the organiser to my hyper and the calm to my storm. Wy and I go way back, as we like to say. She was my second team leader at Infinity and is a truly wonderful friend.

Day three of the trip was a big one for me. I decided to take control of my turmoil and cut my heart strings before they tore me any further. Then I went on the best day tour of my life.

Whitehaven beach and Hill Inlet are more spectacular than I can put in to words. My agents and I stood, open-mouthed and awe-struck at a vision so glorious that pictures can’t do it justice.

We then went string ray spotting in crystal clear water and I felt cleansed and whole and calm again.

We used Camira to sail the Whitsundays and they were fantastic. At one point I realised our group had claimed one of the nets at the front of the catamaran for our own and most of the other guests were crammed on the other. Big personalities, what can I say?

The next day consisted of ‘work’, inspecting gorgeous hotels and getting fed and watered by gracious hosts. I can honestly say I can’t wait for my first enquiry. I’m going to convert the shit out of it. If anyone does want any Whitsunday tips and tricks just shoot me a message!

Our final full day was reserved exclusively for one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. I have had the utter privilege of snorkelling here three times now. She is spectacular. On this trip we coined the term ‘straws are for murderers’, and it was good to be reminded why. Our government might not give a shit about conservation, but the TNQ guys certainly do. Massive efforts are being made to reduce the damage done to our reef and it shows. The people are so passionate, as we all should be about our precious home. Climate change is real people!

So, here I sit, sipping a wine on my second flight of the day. I’m a little sleepy, but very content. I can’t say ‘who needs therapy when you’ve got travel?’ Because I certainly need both, but it was really nice to remind myself that my impulse to explore isn’t just a deep seeded need to run away. I’m an explorer, a doer. I grab life by the balls and I jump in feet first. I’m strong, emotional, kind, fun and mental and it’s all going to be okay. Andrà tutto bene.

I have faith in myself, I have love for my country and I have a truly incredible life.

Thanks baby Jesus for the start, thanks mum and dad for the top upbringing and thanks to me for continually attracting good things and being far more resilient than I give myself credit for.

Yours, everyone,

HarleighQ

X

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The Power of Now

We're going in on mindfulness, bitches.

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Now, if you're anything like my boss Karl, perhaps you haven't heard of mindfulness.

"What are you smoking? I'm not sure mindfulness is even a word. " – Karl

Or perhaps you're like me, and you know exactly what it is and still struggle daily to not be completely consumed by your mind and wrapped in Future You issues that Present You has no control over and let it leave you with crippling anxiety and an inability to focus or relax.

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Firstly, let me define:

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

To apply this to a real world scenario, I spent a year of my life mentally preparing for a move to Melbourne, because I had for some reason decided that was the only place I could be happy, while completely disregarding how totally epic my Perth life was, because I was so wrapped up in the future.

The time came and I sat down and logically (not my strong point) assessed my situation, and realised that the things providing me the most happiness in my life were the people I had been half saying goodbye to for the last 6 months, my beautiful family being close by, and this sexy state and all the nooks and crannies I am yet to explore.

As an ENFP (see: https://www.16personalities.com/), living in the future and overthinking are two of my biggest character flaws.

An inability to be present costs us a level of happiness, I think. Like, you're there and you're having fun, but you're thinking about how you're getting home, then you're thinking about if you're getting enough sleep to tackle tomorrow, then you're running through your plans for tomorrow and wondering if you've taken on too much, then next thing you know, you've just missed half of what your mate said and you're too preoccupied to reengage, so you just nod and laugh and now you're thinking about just going home.

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Maybe lots of people don't get this (and they're very lucky ducks) but if you do, keep reading. I've got some tips for you.

Tip One – Give your inner saboteur a name and tell her/him to fuck off.

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I get tired of my mind. I have started referring to myself in the third person at times, to help me separate me from the loon in my head and the loon on the outside. This was how I coped with my eating disorder and it actually helped an incredible amount. When you refer to the inner demon as a separate being to you, you take away its power. You can tackle it like you would some asshole you encounter who has a negative presence in your day. You can ignore them, tell them to fuck off, distract yourself.  Who cares if people think you're mental? People name their drunk personas all the time. Name your mean one and don't let it get away with being a dick anymore.

Tip Two – Get lost in people's eyes

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My favourite thing in the whole world is eye contact. People will tell you everything they can't verbalise with their eyes. Look at their lips, their nose. Study their features like they're a piece of art. If you're hanging around them, you probably like looking at them. Maybe try throwing out some cute little observant compliments. People love that shit! Just be there, with that person, and listen to them. Actively listen, nod, answer them. Make a conscious effort to be a good friend and engage properly. Sometimes I get lost in thought watching Forensic Files cause I'm dreaming about the experts they interview and how cute they are and what their families must be like. I know that's the opposite of what I'm telling you to do but, you know what I mean. People are cool. Look at them.

Tip Three – Tap yourself 

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This might seem weird, but it works. Sometimes I'll be sitting in a cafe or something, waiting for my order and getting all wound up about the list of things I need to do that day. I've gotten into the habit of tapping my leg quite firmly. It brings me out of my thoughts and back in to my surroundings. It's like a physical jolt, saying 'remember where you are. There's nothing you can do about those things right now, so focus on this moment.' We're only on this planet for a short amount of time and I really don't want to spend most of it worrying about future things that may or may not happen, so if staring at the guy with the cool hat and wondering where he got it, or smiling at the pretty barista who remembers my order is a way for me to leave it out for a while, I'm all about it.

Tip Four – Reality Check

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This is my cynical little brain's favourite. It's the reason I've been brave enough to travel the world on my own, attempt to conquer my fear of heights (didn't work though), write the way I write, love the way I love… the fact is, we could die tomorrow.

We have absolutely zero control over our lives, no matter how much we like to pretend we do. We have no idea what is around the corner. There's sudden illness, natural disasters, financial collapses. There are people and places and things that we think we know or own that can disappear at any time. We can hurt and get hurt.

My solution to this?

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Live. Live your tiny, little, kinda insignificant life like you just got your legs back, you just gained your sight, you just learned how to talk, you just learned how to love. Give and give until you have nothing left. Dance and sing and smile because right now, you can. In this moment, life is yours. Grab it with both hands. Be there, in that cafe, at your desk, in that pub. Wiggle away to the music in the background. Wink at the person next to you. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth (how great is it that your nose isn't blocked? I say, hoping you don't have a cold right now). Touch three things within arms’ reach. Smell something. Press your fingers to your lips and be thankful for a moment that you are here, right now, thanks to some magnificent collision of atoms and you exist and you're gorgeous and you're warm and you're my friend.

Stop worrying about the fooking future and let yourself be happy, right now.

Even if bad things do happen, you will be astounded by your own strength that will only reveal itself in that moment. Trust me, I've been there. We can handle anything.

Now, tell me what you're grateful for.

Today I am grateful for:

  • my ability to articulate my thoughts like this, in a way that hopefully makes sense
  • the spectacular human beings I surround myself with who actually read this shit
  • that I am alive, living, breathing, relatively healthy and present on this brisk Tuesday afternoon

I love you guys.

I look forward to being in the moment with you soon.

Your favourite loon,

HarleighQ

x

Who Are You?

My darlings.

I'm starting this post having just rewatched the first ever episode of a show I feel I've grown up with, Catfish.

For anyone unfamiliar with concept, Catfish features two amazing men, Nev and Max, who help people who have started relationships online with people they have never met. Spoiler alert, more often than not, the people they are speaking to aren't who they say they are. Be it fake photos stolen from someone else on the internet or pretending to be someone they know personally, it's clear that the Catfishers are unhappy with who they are.

Often they've been bullied or have had a hard time and use this persona like a shield. They don't feel good enough.

I think it takes a pretty cruel person to bring someone in to your insecurity, and use them to boost your self esteem through deception. However… imagine if they channeled their negative life experiences in to making themselves better people. Instead of using a mask of someone else.. imagine the self love they could generate!

Dialling it back, let me tell you my story.

I remember starting high school. It was a big public one a half an hour walk from my house, just outside the Yorkshire village I grew up in. Almost all the kids I went to primary school with went with me. Masses off us trudged through the rain and the snow, across the train tracks to the intimidatingly massive new chapter.

In time I grew to love that school and it's long corridors and kids twice the size of me, shoving everyone around for fun. You had to have a drawstring bag otherwise someone was bound to unzip it and knock your stuff on the floor. You had to keep your hand down in class so no one could take the piss out of your answers. You also knew very quickly who the top dogs were and to remember your place.

Bullying is such a normal part of growing up. I put it down to trying to fit in to this new environment, and me being a bit of a bossy boots by nature, but my two best friends from primary school decided they didn't like me anymore. After that, I had a really hard time making friends.

When I did start to bond with someone, often a false rumour stating I'd said something behind their back quickly ended it. I guess that was the thing with me. If I took issue with someone, I would just say it to their face. Maybe that was my problem. Being too upfront made me a target for the whisperers. I was so scared of what I did say getting twisted that I just stopped speaking. It took me years to get the confidence to voice my opinion back. I make up for it now 😊.

I wound up having to go to a 'friendship group'. It was designed for myself and fellow lonely kids who were struggling a bit. We'd do quizzes and talk about our interests and hobbies. Everyone was weird and it was nice to have people to eat lunch with. Yes, there were a few sandwiches ate in a toilet cubicle. What a cliché.

A few long months in, having truly learned the importance of empathy, I reconnected with a couple of the girls from my primary school. We ended up in our own tight knit group.

Rarely a week went by without some of the five of us falling out, of course, but blissful were the lunch breaks spent giggling our heads off in the hot lunch room and getting kicked out for being too loud. Through many hours spent in the library, I discovered Louise Rennison's book series about the most relatable tween on the planet, Georgia Nicolson. I was proud of my new little Ace Gang.

Times got real tough again when I found out I was moving to Australia. Slowly but surely I felt the girls retreating from me, my closest friend especially. She became quite cruel, and though an adult brain understands self preservation and the primal need to lash out in order to protect ourselves, a scared thirteen year old did not. Some of my memories of this time are so vivid. One, I was sobbing at my work station in Food, not wanting anyone to see me. I'd been handed the notes some of the girls had been passing about me. I think it said something about me being a try hard and a made up thing I hadn't said. I'm pretty sure that was the day we made rice pudding.

In the very end they had tried to fix some of the damage caused, and there was a leaving party at my best friends house with Sing Star, baked goods and lots of trampolining. It felt like the end of the world.

Then I left England and didn't really look back.

As with most new kids, I found myself right back where I started in Australia, too.

This new high school was tiny, and I started week three of term three of year nine to be precise. I was buddied with one of the 'cool' girls. I think my teacher thought she was doing me a favour, but she and her friends were very uninterested in me. We were very different people.

In this school watched Napoleon Dynamite, I heard rumours about a boy getting a hand job behind a textbook in class, and got teased for my big shoes. I had to wear UGG boots and a miniskirt to be cool, and I definitely had to shave my legs and pluck my mad Wog eyebrows. What a different world this was!

Yet again, I had a hard time making friends. I'm a girl with a lot of passions. At the age of fourteen, it was Harry Potter and Home and Away. I could barely make eye contact with a boy without turning crimson and I was best friends with my family (and still am).

It was a long and lonely summer, but year 10 began my ascent in to one happy young lady. I made friends with four incredible girls. I can't remember how we found each other exactly, but I distinctly remember one incident in particular.

I was eating cheese and pickle sandwiches for lunch. English people reading this know what I am referring to I'm sure. The two Australian girls that would let me sit near them had no idea what the weird brown stuff I had was. They were loudly ridiculing me, for not the first time unfortunately, when a tiny, wonderful, sparkly eyed girl from southern England barked at them 'its Branston pickle?' With a level of sass I've yet to hear since. They soon shut up, and I soon changed who I sat with at lunch.

Next joined Shaz, a witty and cool as a cucumber girl whose best friend had recently changed school. Then there I was Bek, the green eyed and incredibly intelligent girl that I absolutely idolised (and still do). Thus, Ace Gang 2.0 began. We had sleepovers, long chats, giggles and an obsession with YouTube videos. We talked and sang and danced and we're allowed, encouraged, to be 100% ourselves with each other. We were not without our disagreements of course, teenage girls are a nightmare, but we thrived together. They saw me through my first kiss (literally) and all those other fun things 15 year olds do.

I got in to anime and started writing fan fiction and making music videos. I made the pilgrimage to the city for the final Harry Potter book with Abby and Danica, the two pickle-girl life savers, at 530am one brisk morning. I drew a lot, very averagely. I had a puppy Rio and two six month long crushes that went absolutely nowhere. Two others joined our crew, and soon we were going on adventures to Freo for Timezone photos and sushi train.

My second six month long crush, and first taste of heartbreak, got wind of my affections when I got up the courage to ask for his number on the school bus one day. 'I don't know it,' was his earth-shattering response. Lorraine, one of our new editions, heard from a mutual friend that he intended to pretend to like me and then thoroughly humiliate me in front of everyone on the bus the next day, so she decided to berate him in the hallway for all to hear. My heart was crushed but my friend was golden.

Of course, things changed over time. Boys, Abby moving back to England and just growing up different pulled us apart. By year 12 I was back to my lonely self, this time with two equally lonely companions, Jessie and Arran. Those cynical bastards are still my best friends to this day. God love them.

It wasn't until many years later, having lost all of the things that made me me, that I realised just how important it is for us to be true to ourselves.

I can pinpoint the time when I started to lose my kook. I was deep in a relationship where I didn't feel like myself anymore. It can be hard for natural born people-pleasers like myself and every other Cancerian in the world to stay true to ourselves when we're in love. Sometimes we go too far the other way.

For a lot of people it's their experiences with bullying at school that dilutes their colours. They're sparkling too brightly, and it seems to be in a lot of humans' nature to dim that rival sparkle as much as possible. But the thing is, if we don't care what other people think of us, it completely removes their power.

I am incredibly proud of baby Leigh, because my God did she stay true. I wore all of the nerdy, weird shit I loved on my sleeve for all the world to see and I never felt any shame for it. I surrounded myself with people who were proud of me, and I was proud of them. We lifted each other up and protected one another from the evil outside which slowly stopped mattering. My self preservation developed in to completely cutting people out who I feared would hurt me. It's served me quite well so far. I just can't do fake politeness. My face is too emotive. I give myself away.

As an adult I've gone through the cycle again. When I don't feel like I can be myself I tend to retreat. I look inwardly for that place of peace and power. I remind myself why I like me, regardless of if others do or not. I'm still a pleaser, and I still need validation, but I'm getting better. Maybe I need to ask baby Leigh how she did it. Through all the shit, I was always me.

In telling this story I'm hoping that others who have been shaken by self-doubt due of external factors realise that they were never ever the problem. If you have a good heart, that's all that matters. Let your freak flag fly! The most attractive people in the world to me are the passionate ones. I don't care what you love, if it matters that much to you then you're a dream come true. Tell me yours and I'll tell you mine.

At the ripe old age of 26 I know who I am and what makes me happy.

I love the Beatles, I love looking like I just walked out of the 70s, I love loud live music and I love writing. I love connecting with people, and I love talking about aliens and politics and nature. I love the ocean, and I love red wine and cheese platters.

Most of all I love all of the incredible people all over the world that I have met. Be they weird, loud, artistic, spiritual, gentle, wild, funny or my polar opposite, they are completely and unapologetically themselves.

Being a people pleaser isn't as good a quality as it sounds. It's easy to lose yourself, or change to fit an ideal instead of fulfilling who you really are. Being judged is scary. It's a constant battle not to care too much.

Two years ago I would never have walked down the street in my Rockabilly gear. I also didn't eat much and was overall pretty fucking lost.

Now I find myself curvaceous, sassy and proud of my wild outfits and huge smile. I am proud of myself for all I've done, and I love the person I have become very much. I still love all my nerdy things, and I will gladly talk about them to anyone with remote interest (glazed over eyes works too). If it wasn't for all of the negative experiences I've had, not fitting in, feeling lonely, having my heart broken, I wouldn't be who I am now.

None of us would be real without the shit. Don't let it change you, though.

There may be people who love you unconditionally, but it's you who needs to love you most. You're the cheerleader. You're the one whose been there through it all and lived to tell the tale. You're a bloody legend!

Talk about yourself, be proud. It's ok to blow your own horn sometimes. If the people around you don't want to listen, they aren't your people babe. We should all be rooting for each other. What are friends for?

We are all so unique and have so many stories and experiences. We are all part of this great big mad world, but there's only one YOU.

So be you, be free, be everything you've ever wanted to be. Let the love pour out of you. You'll attract the right people, this I promise you.

In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

So tell me, beautiful people, who are you?

Love your second biggest fan,

Harleigh Q

Xo

Defining Success

The term ‘success’ has come up a few times in my world lately.

I was having a really interesting chat with my Sarah over a daytime cocktail bowl. We realised that many people have a pretty standard view of what makes a person successful.

I’m starting to realise that my definition is quite different from the norm. I thought I’d analyse a few of the definitions I know to help me better understand the different perspectives.

Do we really all judge ourselves and each other by these standards?
~

Money

Let’s start with the thing we have been trained to value above all else since the day we could count: moola.

It makes the world go round, there’s no denying it. I know people who can’t breathe unless they have several thousands nestled deep within their untouchable savings account.

They have the freedom to buy the nicer things, treat themselves on occasion. But there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing those numbers tick up and up every payday.

It’s starting with nothing and making decisions each day that get you to a place of calm and comfort.

That self control is impressive to say the least. While others blow it all in an online shopping spree over a glass of wine (guilty) the knowledge that no matter what life throws at you, you’re prepared and on top of it. You’re not a slave to a bank or in debt to anyone, that’s success.

Career

The driving force, the crowning jewel. Oh, to be a boss!

It’s not just about power, though it feels damn good to take control, it’s about having a reason to get out of bed everyday.

There’s a fire in your belly, a drive, a force pushing you to give your chosen path your whole heart and soul.

Lunches ate at a desk between phone calls, balls with awards and glamour and recognition. Seeing your name on the leader board, a thank you email, a cuddle from someone you helped. There are so many reasons to be proud.

Degrees, commutes, essays, studies. Getting to work and leaving in darkness. A sense of total achievement. Glory, recognition, importance; maybe even fame.

A career is a purpose alright. It’s the highest highs and the lowest lows with the people you spend more time with than friends and family.

Putting your heart in to your work? That’s success.

Knowledge

What an overwhelming thirst it is, to understand, to comprehend the world and her wonders.

News articles are beautiful things. The media can be a necessary evil at times but they’ve learned how to weed out the scare tactics and get to the heart of the facts.

Books are fuel. They’re an escape and a companion. Like two lives running simultaneously, there’s the conscious person and the person living inside the stories, past and present and everything in between.

Documentaries are relaxing viewing. Dates and events are stacking in mind, occasionally skewing but always sparking interest and pride.

Deep, stimulating conversations with companions who share your need to understand, to challenge, to explore. To hold your own with the passionate and intellectual alike, that’s success.

Possessions

I can’t count how many people I know with slabs, cars and engagement rings. They’re somewhere along the building time scale or checking out display homes. They’ve got a fat deposit in their bank account ready to burn. They’ve got a beautiful, brand new car. They’re living in their own self-designed haven.

They’ve worked damn hard, they’ve made sacrifices. They didn’t get to go out and play, go on the holidays. But, to buy the ultimate independence? That’s pretty incredible.

They’ve got beautiful things. They might have beautiful hair and makeup and jewellery or maybe it’s just a beautiful home, a well taken care of vehicle. They’ve dedicated years to it, they deserve it. Now, time is theirs. Life is pretty and peaceful. Work is necessary, but it’s a means to an end.

A home, a base, freedom. A sense of pride. That’s success.

Love

I’ve met an incredible bunch of men and women in my life, but there are a few of them who have had a small sadness in their eyes. These are the ones who tell me they’re failing. They mention a want for a person above all else. They are lonely. They don’t see life beginning until they find someone to share it’s ups and downs with. Nothing can begin until then.

This group value love above all else. A job is a job, and experiences aren’t as good unless there’s someone to share them with.

They seek a soul connection, and oh how their energy lifts and life sparkles when they find someone who feels the same.

Being single is a minefield at times, being single in your late twenties can be stressful, especially. Most of my people have found their partners in life. I’m surrounded by engagements and weddings.

Cementing the feelings, starting the story.

Love conquers all. That’s success.

Experiences

Finally we come to my personal measure of success. Stories.

To me and many others, a life spent in one place is a life half lived. The world is gigantic and magical and so full of dreams to be realised and lives to intersect.

We want to expand our minds through experiences. We want to see how everyone everywhere lives and breathes. We want to understand them. I love humans and I do think love is a great measure of success, but the stories I share with people and the memories I create are what I crave. They’re how I feel alive and satisfied.

I may not have any money in the bank, and I have to work damn hard to afford my own impulsiveness, but to me it’s all worth it.

A life lived on the edge of adventure, without fear or limits, that’s what it’s all about to me. Being able to jump in head first, that’s success.

~

I decided to ask some of my friends their thoughts. How do they define success? What are their goals? I think millennial success is a whole different ball game.

An angry Scot of the Highlands

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I just want to be happy and healthy in whatever I do. If I am comfortable to be able to fuck around and continue acting like the 10 year old I basically am mentally, whether at work or at home, I reckon that’s success. But also can’t get past the Ol’ material indicators of success too. House, car, job, family etc

A sassy Swedish feminist

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Success means destroying your opponents. We’re not here to make friends.

I want babies in a beautiful apartment and to be financially stable enough to take them for daily baby chinos in my Sportscraft shirts, chinos and loafers and spend the weekends getting fucked up on red wine whilst my babies are being cared for by the Swedish au pair (because she’s not a white supremacist she wanted me to add that the reason she wants a Swedish au pair is because she wants the baby to be duo lingo).

An angelic Kiwi vagabond

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I think to me it means waking up and going to sleep happy, having goals and a purpose to live for.

My life goal is to live in harmony with the land! Being self sufficient only taking what’s necessary to survive. Always has been – long way off that yet. But you know I’ve achieved some things like not eating animals.

A dreamy Brisbane fairy

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Success to me is that feeling of accomplishment and pure joy after realising you achieved something you were striving for. It fills you with courage and soaring pride. It makes you realise and relish your unlimited potential. It opens you up to the next challenge. Success fuels self-love.

My life goal is to be happy. I believe I’ll achieve this by continuing to grow, change and challenge myself.

A wild and wonderful full time Asia explorer

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Success is that feeling when you look back and realise how far you have come. success is consistently growing and changing as a person and knowing there is no finish line, it is consistent work and passion that isn’t always easy but nothing worth doing is easy.

My life goal is to always be learning and using my knowledge to bring others happiness and enjoyment, no matter what I might be doing, and to always be moving. I like being on the go and doing new things or visiting new places. I want to continue doing it as it keeps me content and happy.

A kind and loving Kiwi healer

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Success is finding love and someone to share life with.

My goal is actually less about my career and more about building a solid life long, committed loving relationship with someone and having babies. If you don’t have a family to share your life with then what do you have. Nothing means a lot if you don’t have someone to go home to.

A fierce and fabulous Pocahontas

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I guess I feel like I’ve achieved some of my dreams, but others I’m still working on (and I’ve certainly failed along the way!).

I am not sure about life goals but the next few years I’m focusing on education and finance so I have a foundation to work on my other dreams, which are more travel and one day starting a family of my own (i’d totally love to take my kids on adventures like living in a caravan or something crazy and whatever). Also, trying to reconnect with my creativity cause I’ve always wanted to write a novel but never taken myself seriously.

I do have two quotes I like that help me out though, can’t remember who said them:

“Ordinary things, done consistently, produce extraordinary results”

“Every accomplishment stars with the decision to try”

A mystifying and sensual lead singer

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I consider success to be doing the things that you are doing well, getting better and better at them by doing them a lot and then having something to show from it; maybe while attempting to maintain a level of sanity without slipping into complete poverty, and being good to others along the way.

My life goal? huge question.

One of them is to have a large and varied body of work.

A bush doof king

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Success? The first word that popped into my head was “happiness”.
The second word was fulfilment.

My goal is to leave a lasting impression on the people around me. That may sound silly from someone who shouts anti establishment because who cares what people think about you. But I do care about the people I love and trust. So that in turn would make me happy, fulfilled and therefore successful.

I think I could write a whole blog about what success means to me. (hmm me too)

A London style cat

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Success to me means: feeling like you have taken yourself to new levels, where you have excelled more than you though you would. Being full, not craving for more all the time because you are finally mentally, emotionally or financially happy and fulfilled.

My life goal is to stay alive, healthy & keep being happy. Influence & inspire however I can. Plus be successful by my definition.

A vintage Goddess

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To me success has never meant wealth, it’s not materialistic, it’s never meant fancy cars, homes, careers or acquiring ‘stuff’. Ugh! Gross! Living a successful life is in kindness, compassion, respect and becoming the best person you can. Always growing.

My life goal is to strive to be the best person I can be while I’m on this planet. Be bold and adventurous while being kind, compassionate, honest and hoping that the people I love feel my love. Oh and to dance… it’s cliche but always dance like nobody is watching.

This guy

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To me, success is recognition. It doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, but if other people are noticing then you’re probably pretty good at it. You could be the best painter in the world but if you don’t share your art, you’re not making anyone’s life better with it, you might have brightened your living room but where’s the fun in no one enjoying it? Being loved is success.

My life goal is to have a ground floor or first floor converted unit in Melbourne, some plants, a crate bed that I painted, fairy lights. I want a big record collection and someone to enjoy them with. I want to be known within my circle as an excellent cook and host, and I want to feed my huge family around a table outside where everyone helps themselves and we all talk too loud and dance after dinner.

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In conclusion, I don’t think we can really attribute success to one thing. It’s subjective. If you’ve found what you want in life and you are going after it with all you have, you are on the road to one hell of a fulfilled life.

If you’re fighting some demons on the daily but putting those feet on the floor, one in front of the other, ticking gently on, you’re succeeding.

Good on you.

If you focus on the area that you don’t think you’re succeeding (e.g. me and my finances, lol), and compare yourself to others, but neglect the amazing things you have done (.e.g travel the world), you’re going to be very unhappy. Happiness is success. Be proud of yourself.

Don’t let anyone make you feel like you aren’t doing well just because you’re focussed on an area that they might not appreciate or value the same, either.

Life is short, do your thang.

Get it, my darling dreamers. I’m proud of you.

Harleigh Q

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.

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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.

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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

Life and Times of a Band Aid

Today happens to be the 16th birthday of one of my favourite movies, Almost Famous, so appropriately titled here’s the story of my brief adventure to Melbourne and Adelaide last week.

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I was bedriddenly sick the week leading up to my trip, and awesomely enough I am now again only this time it’s tonsillitis. I just love this time of year! Thankfully though I did start to recover as I caught my overnight flight to Melbourne. I generally love a red-eye. My body seems to go in to sleep mode as soon as I snuggle in to the not-so-comfy leather seat. Neck pillow at the ready (I recommend memory foam) I then spent the entire three hours wide awake. The veggie pie didn’t go down well either.

Upon arrival I retrieved my bag and hobbled through the darkness to the taxi rank. My driver was excellent. Not only did he know all the short cuts, regularly disagreeing with the satnav, but he was telling me the most fascinating stories.

He was from Africa, and when we passed a large tanker he pointed to it and said, ‘every time I see one of these I think of my friend’. I asked him why. He went on to tell me about a man in his late 20s that would do business by transporting cloth between countries. He wasn’t supposed to stop in Kenya but they needed supplies, so he did. It was dark when he arrived, so he climbed in to the back of the tank and lit his lighter. The entire thing exploded. He left behind a wife and little boy.

Its a tradition, he told me, for a wife to marry the brother of their deceased husband so they and their children can be taken care of. He said it’s good because they can choose to leave, but the children must be left with the family. She has to give them up. He said it was okay though because they were very happy together. What an incredible thing to share with me. He was such an interesting man.

After a few more stories and him laughing at me referring to my singleness as ‘sweet freedom’ we arrived at my beautiful Tori’s house.

I met Tori on my last contiki in the States and we just clicked. She was kind enough to offer her home to me while I explored my possible future home. As it was 6am we both went back to bed and I slept away most of the day. I was definitely starting to feel a bit more human in the afternoon when she showed me Chapel St (probably my new favourite place) and that night we dined on Brunswick St.

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My mission for this trip was to experience the eastern suburbs more as, from what I’ve heard (and seen on Offspring, my latest obsession. Seriously do any of you watch it? Message me cause I need to vent!) it sounds like the kind of place I’d fit right in to. Sadly it did rain the whole time so I didn’t take any photos, but the real adventure began the next morning.

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We were heading to Adelaide to see my favourite Aussie funkmeisters on their album tour. I’d had it on repeat constantly. Thankfully Torz is also a fan and so I whisked her away on Tiger to the city of churches.

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I have such a soft spot for Rads having explored there just over a year ago on my Topdeck. It’s where I bought my first pair of cowboy boots!

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Tori and I had a stunning 2 bedroom apartment on North Terrace so we were easy walking distance to everything. Including the bottle shop. We loaded up on snacks and booze, I somehow made myself presentable and the night began!

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It was an eventful pre drinks.

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Two hours became three and we arrived just in time for the boys going on. Now I was lucky enough to meet three of them previously back in my wild Brisbane days so I was thrilled to get big hugs from them. Always nice to be remembered!

Their set was perfection and I got most of my favourite songs. I think my favourite part was Tori getting cut off from the bar after downing three tequila shots. How I was still serviceable after a week of antibiotics I’ll never know.

We continued on to a karaoke bar where Marc took over the mic and I had the D’est of M’s with each of the boys. Don’t ask me what we were talking about. I have no idea. Somehow we got to the casino and then this happened.

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So it was back to our apartment for even more beverages, Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind and Fire.

You know it’s been an excellent evening when your company leaves and you follow a few minutes later to check out. Good job team.

Tori and I spent the next day on another planet and I managed a handful of chips. The boys came to see us off at our gate. Honestly, I’ve never met a lovelier group of men in my life. One of the many reasons they’re my favourite!

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By the time we got home I’d lost my speaking ability and after the greatest shower ever I slept for 15 hours.

What a ride.

For my last day Tori took me to my new favourite place, Soda Rock Diner. I donned my pinup gear and nommed hard on my curly fries and vanilla shake.

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I had the most incredible time over the long weekend. It was hard to leave Melbourne. I feel like it’s my soul mate in city form. It was hard to leave my beautiful Tori too. She absolutely made it for me and I couldn’t pick a better adventure partner.

I’ll be back beautiful city. I’m still yet to decide if it’s you or Brisbane that takes priority, but I know I’ll be living there eventually.

Ah man. Talk about off the Richter scale.

Just another weekend in the life of Penny Lane!

Harleigh Q

P.S. ch-ch-check em out:

xo

The Truth About Flighty Life

People ask me about my job all the time. Usually all I can muster is an ‘I love it’ or ‘it’s amazing’ and we don’t really delve in to it further.

In this post I’m going to try my best to explain it to you! Maybe some of you are reading to know how I can afford to travel as much as I do and others may be curious to join the gang themselves. The rest are because they want to make sure I’m not talking shit 😉 Either way, I hope this answers your questions.

Here are the truth bombs about choosing a career in the travel industry:

Truth 1: You need to be passionate.

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Love travel? Awesome. Have you travelled much? We can work on that. Can you reel off the top 5 most popular hotels in the Goldie? Of course you can’t and neither could I when I started. But do you care about these places? Can you tell a story about that time you visited Paris and had a picnic by the Eiffel Tower or spent a weekend drinking in Port Douglas? Fantastic.

In our industry you will be talking to people; constantly. Do you know what people respond to most? Passion. Think about your favourite customer service experience. I bet you don’t think of the grumpy ones who made no effort to connect with you. Was it a sales girl who told you about her own intention to buy the dress you just nabbed or gentleman who described the smooth ride as you gazed longingly at your new car? Those people told a story and you loved them for it. They were passionate about what they were selling. You need to love the world and be able to talk about her all day every day. It’s as simple as that!

Truth 2: It’s all sales.

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I’m not a competitive person in the slightest. What am I doing in sales? Good question. I wasn’t a particularly outstanding retail consultant. I was good, but not amazing. I’ll be the first to admit it! I had the passion but struggled to get out of my comfort zone and connect with my customers at the time. I often felt intimidated by the general public.

There are some really mean people out there. It’s generally directed at the uniform or their misunderstanding of your company and their preconceived ideas of what you represent but it’s hard to remember this sometimes, especially as they growl down the phone at you or walk out as you’re mid sentence. Some of the guys are incredible at turning people around. They love a challenge! I didn’t. I do love being able to give my agents over the phone cuddles and pep talks when I hear these things go down. We all have bad days.

So I have moved in to wholesale. My job now entails putting together holidays for agents who call through to me. They’re all Flight Centre group kids and I absolutely love it. I’m a very loyal family girl and I take such pride in taking care of my guys. We have a shared passion and I can get excited with them. I can swear (a little) and mess around and it’s such a fun environment. I try to better my call count every day and that’s about as competitive as I get.

I came to Infinity and in 6 months got my personal best figure to higher than most agents who have been there for years have ever hit. I’m super proud of that! I’ve made a name for myself and I intent to keep it that way.

I love wholesale because the enquiries come to me too. I don’t have to wait for people to walk in. There’s almost always calls! So I just pick up the phone, listen, make recommendations, sell my shit and if I’ve done a good job hopefully we get the booking!

At the end of the day, it’s your job to sell stuff. We each have our strong points and preferences. Mine just so happens to be in wholesale.

Truth 3: You work a lot.

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At the moment I’m doing 12 hour days with my hour each way commute. I get in to work at 815, get organised, attend our morning meeting and get on the phones at 9. We get an hour lunch break and officially we close at 6. Usually you’ll be finishing up a call and will leave a bit after.

It’s a long day, but I love it. I love the people around me, my team, my agents. I get to talk about travel all bloody day. I get to gush about my memories and help people create their own. Every single day is different too. There’s no such thing as boredom! It’s incredibly easy to keep yourself busy.

Our systems are amazing once you wrap your head around them, which usually takes a few months. In retail I’d say it’s 3 months to be able to do your job and 6 months to do it well. It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination but I’ve always been the type to love a challenge. Even when you know it inside and out there’s still a lot of reports and procedures to stay on top of to ensure you don’t fuck up!

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There’s also commitments like our monthly buzz nights which is essentially an awards night with free food and booze where we get to celebrate being awesome. There’s a ball twice a year which is the same thing on a huge scale. One is a formal affair and the other is a theme. Last year it was zombies…

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Another perk is team getaway! Some do dinner, some go away for a long weekend. It all depends on your teams performance through the year. At Rocky it was always Bali Bali Bali! Those were the greatest weekends with my old second family. In A Team, my first wholesale team, we headed up to Noosa and again made some incredible memories.

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Truth 4: You will meet the greatest people of all time.

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My best friends in the entire world were brought to me by Flight Centre. I’ve worked with all of them at a time and they are my sisters. We are all similar kinds of people. It takes a certain something to be a Flighty! It’s not an easy lifestyle but it’s so worth it. There’s nothing better than blowing off steam with your incredible colleagues/best friends after a long day. They understand what you’re going on about when you mention TTLs and allotments and they’ll hold your hair when you puke in the toilets after a boozey team dinner. Legends!

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Truth 5: You get what you give.

There’s a high turnover in our industry. I think a lot of people come in with an idea of what it will be like, free travel, desk job etc. but don’t understand that there’s a lot of hard work and responsibility that comes with that.

You need to be good with systems, you need a good memory, you need to be friendly 100% of the time even when being yelled at. You especially need to be good at negotiating and giving people what they want (or make them want what you can give). All we ever do is multitask. The work trips come when you work hard and they are not a right, they’re a privilege.

The pay isn’t steady. We are commission based after all. Some months are hard and some are awesome. Keeping your attitude in check is the hardest thing in this world, but if you can still serve every single person to the best of your ability despite how quiet it has been or how stressed you are, you’ll be okay.

You’ll work some weekends. They’re great because that’s when people book anyway 😉

Truth 6: It’s fucking awesome.

The perks in this job are sickeningly good. I’ve already mentioned buzz night and balls, but did I tell you about global?

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I was blessed enough to be able to attend our global ball the last two years while working at Rocky. The first was Macau. Our team hitched a limo to the airport as treated by our incredible leader Mark. We flew Cathay to Hong Kong and caught a ferry across to the Vegas of Asia. What ensued were three of the wildest days of my life. We raved in onesies with Will.I.Am. Rove hosted our awards. Jessie J and Havana Brown performed. It was ridiculous. We had a  pool party; I passed out in the wrong tower of the Palazzo.

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The following year it was Vegas. For the weekend. No biggie. Now THAT was a pool party. This time Gwyneth Paltrow was our guest speaker, Carrot Top was out host. One Republic performed. We rode the rollercoaster at New York New York. I didn’t pass out in the wrong tower but I did get lost on the Strip.

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This year it was in Singapore and though I forfeited my chances of earning my spot by darting to the US for three months, I can’t put in to words how proud I am of every single person who was over there. You guys earned it. The performers this time were Peking Duk, Basement Jaxx, Jason Derulo and Fat Boy Slim. Hamish and Andy hosted the awards.

Global is reserved for the absolute best of the best. There are people who have been in the company for 10 years and never qualified and others who have been every year. You set your own limits. You’re only restricted by your own beliefs of your capabilities.

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Two weeks ago I was flown to New Zealand for four days to learn to ski. For free. In the last few years I’ve seen Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Cambodia, Macau, Vegas, Cairns, Port Douglas, Sydney, Noosa and Bali many times all through work. Not every agent is as lucky as I have been. Sometimes staffing doesn’t allow for us to take these trips when they come up and sometimes people haven’t done the figures to justify it either. You just have to roll with the punches, work hard and know it’ll come back around.

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I love my job. I love that all it took was some sales and travel experience to get me in. This is my career and I didn’t need a Uni degree to get here.

My advice?

If you live and breathe travel like I do, why the hell wouldn’t you?

If you’re interested, send me a message and I’ll hook you up!

Harleigh Q

xo

The Adventures of Snow Bun

Okay cats, first thing’s first.

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Dear snow, I’m so sorry for all the nasty things I said about you. I’m sorry I declared my hate for you based on negative experiences in my youth. I don’t hate you; in fact, I might like you a little bit… But don’t get too carried away. I won’t be hopping on the next plane to Banff. I remember vividly how awful living with you can be. But you sure are fun for a long weekend.

~

While still in America, somewhere around Memphis, I got a very exciting message from my new boss. A Queenstown ski famil was offered to me!

For those unfamiliar with the term, a famil is a trip through my work where suppliers send us to different destinations to check them out. They usually involve a lot of hotel inspections and activities to better our selling abilities. They’re amazing and you get about one a year, if you’re good and you’re lucky. My last was to Cambodia so I was very ready for it!

What I didn’t absorb at the time was just how much snow would be involved. On a ski trip. I know, but was in Memphis and drunk on life, what can I say?

If you’ve ever spoken to me about a cooler climate you’ve probably heard me utter the words ‘I hate snow’. I’d proudly announce it because after living in it for the first thirteen years of my life, walking to school in foot-deep sludge because the bus was at a stand still or having ice balls slipped down the back of my shirt, were not the fondest of memories.

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You probably also know just how horrendously accident prone I am. I don’t really have spatial awareness. I’ve always got my blinkers on, as Rooch says. But I’m a yes girl! I love new challenges! Come at me snow!

It was such a good decision.

I did feel a little guilty at first when I accepted it and then thought about those who love to ski that might have taken it in my place, but after evaluating the amazing opportunity I’ve been given to try something new, for free no less, and really challenge myself, I knew I’d do them proud. If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s ungrateful. I know so many people spend so much money to do this and I’m one of the luckiest people ever to get the opportunities I do. Hard work really does pay off in my job!

My last experience with snow was on my NZ Contiki three years ago. The Gods did not want us to go that day. When it turned out it was an optional I firmly shook my head but being the good kid I am I did bend in the end. When we slept through the alarm it really seemed like a sign. Then within five minutes of being there my ex broke his collarbone. I had just got my skis on. I proceeded to slide on my bum down the slope after him and spent the rest of the day in the medical bay. Better him than me… 😉

So! I printed my docs and packed an hour before heading to the airport for my overnight flight to Melbourne. I had a four hour layover in which I slept snuggled on a bench near my gate, in true traveller style, hogging the socket next to me. The flights were fine. I was in the middle each time but I was pretty small compared to the people around me so I didn’t mind. I have my routine of comedy show, eat, sleep until landing down now anyway.

We landed and my jaw fell open. What a ridiculously beautiful airport Queenstown is. The view as you fly between mountains is spectacular.

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What I slowly began to realise is that our group was infiltrating a Haka Tour (typical travel agent not reading my docs). Haka are basically backpacker Contiki. We stayed at the Haka Lodge which is definitely my favourite hostel to date. It was barely a block from the centre of town. We had curtains and night lights and a heater!

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On our first night we got acquainted with our group and headed to the ski shop to hire our gear. Boots are hard. I knew I’d be layering upon layering so ended up with the most flatteringly large outfit ever. I loved my snazzy new skis though.

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With the practical stuff sorted we made our way to the best ice breaker ever (eyyyy) Minus 5 Bar! I’d been here previously with Contiki and it’s just a fun as I remembered. The cocktails go down a treat. Exhibit A:

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We then proceeded to eat more pizza than anyone could ever need and I began to realise we were essentially on a mini group tour. I was over the moon. My favourite thing! Not to mention the rest of our group were just awesome.

The next day was the big one: Cardrona. Two lessons. One day to become a ski master. Bring it on.

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I loved it there. I giggled as I made my way past the scene of my previous experience and, now knowing how to put skis on, was ready to learn the rest.

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I was really surprised at how quickly I picked it up. I put it down to years of being obsessed with my rollerblades. The one thing I couldn’t quite get the hang of was slowing myself down. Ever the speed demon.

Cardrona is the perfect all-rounder mountain. Their beginner section is just perfect and they’ve got slopes for all skill levels.

After completing both lessons we decided we were ready for the big boy slope.

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The visibility was really bad by the afternoon but we really wanted to give it a go before we left. What I hadn’t expected was just how quickly I could gain speed up there, and for some reason I lost all ability to stop myself. Several times I flew past our instructor and after a couple of stacks and a nice scenic shot, I did the damage.

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After a pretty aggressive turn with no slowing in sight I was now heading straight for a wall so decided to fall back on my butt. The only problem was I still wasn’t stopping. A few boarders were coming down the hill towards me so I decided grabbing to ground would be a good idea and sadly I was going a bit quick for that and my arm pulled backwards. It hurt but not enough to worry with all the adrenalin and I got myself all the way down before realising, hmm… I’ve done something here.

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But I made it all the way through the day! I didn’t fall at all! I was bitterly disappointed. I had the most incredible day, and now I could barely hold a pint.

We had a local beverage and some toasted marshmallows at the only pub in Cardrona before heading back to town.

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Dinner was a clear choice.

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Still the best burger I’ve ever had.

The next day was a tap out on my behalf. I’m pretty upset about not making it up to Remarkables as they look just that, but after a restless and painfilled night I just couldn’t do it.  So I watched a couple of series on Netflix including Obsessed (chillingly great) and Lovesick (fantastically British) and I was brought food by the incredible Kate and Al. I mean honestly, who goes on a backpacker famil and gets lunch and dinner in bed? Spoilt! But getting dressed wasn’t much of an option.

We tried Devil Burger and no, Ferg really is better.

Day three and our final snow day: Coronet Peak.

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I was Mumma that day and set up shop in the food court with a spectacular view and Mad Love to keep me company. The guys flitted in and out and I was so happy just to be up a mountain again, even if I couldn’t get out there.

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For our last night we headed out for a group dinner and a little taste of home at the Pig and Whistle! What followed was a mixing of all types of alcohol, an awesome dive bar, a terrible club and not remembering how I got home. Good job team!

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Our last morning Kate and I weren’t flying out until later so we recruited our beautiful new friend and fellow Haka tourist Nikki and went out for breakfast at Joe’s Garage. I sure love my quirky cafes and the food and coffee were delicious!

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We followed it with a walk along the lake and one last look at that breathtaking view. It’s just unreal.

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Then, with a heavy sigh, to the airport we ventured.

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I’m incredibly glad a sore arm is all that happened, and I am so so thankful for the opportunity I had to go on this trip. Not only do I now love and know how to sell the shit out of Haka Tours, but I’ve completely changed my mind about an activity I thought I would hate. I can’t wait to hit the snow again one day. Next time I might spend a little longer on the baby slope; at least until I’ve mastered the art of stopping.

Also, when did all the hot guys start snow boarding? My god…

Thank you Infinity Holidays for being the best company in the world, and Al for being the best host.

What a great adventure.

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Now just one more month until Melbourne and Adelaide!

Harleigh Q

xo

My 100 Things

1. Speak fluent Italian
2. Do a Thai cooking class 
3. Complete a half marathon
4. Visit Yellowstone national park
5. Do an overnight hike with Nat
6. Go to a surf and yoga retreat
7. Publish a book
8. Attend a rally for something I’m passionate about
9. Attend a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto
10. Get to Everest Base Camp
11. Visit a host club in Tokyo
12. Sing on stage again
13. Learn to ballroom dance
14. Tattoo someone
15. Meet an A list celebrity
16. Watch sunrise over the Grand Canyon
17. Do a Northern Lights cruise
18. Become a decent surfer
19. Change someone’s life
20. Get inverted
21. Spend a week in silence
22. Camp on a beach
23. Introduce someone to a new passion
24. Hold a new born baby
25. Make pasta from scratch
26. Complete a piece of art
27. Dance in the streets of Cuba
28. Find a salsa club in Argentina
29. Hike the Inca trail
30. Raise money for charity
31. Teach someone something
32. Get another tattoo
33. Get married in Vegas
34. See the West Coast Eagles play
35. See a rocket launch
36. Kiss in the rain
37. Host a themed dinner party
38. Soul dance at a gig
39. Create my own signature cocktail
40. Get another piercing
41. See The Last Shadow Puppets live
42. Attend Comic-con in San Diego
43. Cosplay as Harley Quinn again
44. Meet Joe Gilgun
45. See a movie being filmed
46. Read the entire works of F Scott Fitzgerald
47. Be on the radio
48. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower (not just level 2 this time)
49. Zip line
50. Record a song
51. Attend another NUFC game
52. Go vegan for a month
53. Decorate my own home
54. Have my own signature dish (not cob dip!)
55. Live overseas
56. Be a tour guide
57. Stay in a country to learn their language
58. Be able to confidently lift weights with the big boys
59. See a wild guerrilla
60. Join a sports team
61. See the Red Sox play
62. Visit all 50 states in the US
63. Touch a big spider
64. Visit a psychic
65. Find a Perth band I love
66. Meet my soulmate
67. Adopt an orangutang
68. Do a Caribbean cruise
69. Sail the Mediterranean
70. Have a big family
71. Own a vintage scooter/car
72. Live in Melbourne
73. Do Vodkatrain
74. Give something away for free
75. Party on a beach in Thailand 
76. Attend a sundowner dinner in Dubai
77. Visit every Aussie state
78. Have curry in India
79. Walk part of the Great Wall of China
80. Swim in Maya Bay 
81. Wear a proper Kimono
82. Visit the temple of Zeus
83. See a Broadway show
84. Have another white Christmas
85. Go to camping hippy festival
86. Take a burlesque course
87. Go in a hot air balloon
88. Learn the Thriller dance
89. Be a maid of honour
90. Enter an Egyptian tomb
91. Attend carnival in Rio
92. Longboard in Iceland
93. Meet a serial killer
94. Be someone’s date to an event
95. Ride a Harley
96. Stay in a beach shack in Hawaii
97. Fly business class
98. Watch turtles hatch and run to the ocean
99. Learn how to play something on piano
100. Have Papi give me away at my wedding

What are yours?

Harleigh Q

xo