Why You Are Most Important: the Journey of Self Worth

Our generation is full of a lot of contradictions. If your newsfeeds are anything like mine, you probably follow a few body positivity pages. Maybe you have some pretty quotes or nice messages appearing about loving yourself first. I find in between all those beautiful things there’s still a lot of negativity. There’s the products to whiten your teeth, big perfect boobs on tiny models. Sometimes there’s some cellulite or a makeup free face. Usually there’s mean comments from troll profiles. There’s a few pictures of your friends having a sunset swim, a fun night, a movie quote, a couple kissing.

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Then there’s you; alone on your bed, double chin, hair in a bun, comfortable pyjamas. Scrolling, reading, messaging, liking.

I think my feeds are a pretty happy place to be. I’ve spent ten years of my life on social media. I know how to avoid comment sections I don’t like, tag my friends in memes and quizzes. I get dolled up and blinged out in my gorgeous outfits and take photos I think are lovely and I post them, because I like them. I get likes, sometimes sweet comments. I get messages with compliments or questions about where I got my things, but I don’t do it for this reason. Fashion is probably the one thing that I proudly show off and will cop any criticism. It’s how I show who I am. It’s the one place in my life where I am strong and unbending. It’s my way of showing other people that’s its ok to feel yourself!

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And yet, in regards to all else but my clothes, there I will sit, in my comfy stuff with my annoying broken out skin, pouting lips and heavy heart because I still don’t feel right.

A dear friend woke me up to this: there’s a difference between confidence and self worth.

I don’t doubt that our generation will put all others to shame when it comes to promoting self love. I noticed my beautiful friends have joined me in cutting negativity out of the way we speak about other people. We praise each other for feeling ourselves. We’re less critical, more supportive. We try to lift each other up instead of putting each other down. It’s a beautiful time.

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But where the fuck is my self worth then?

I have got the best friends on the planet, who love me wildly as I am. They show it through responding to my long messages of woe, coming to comfort me when I feel a bit shit, tagging me in quotes and giving me hard lines of advice when I need it. I get mad that that isn’t enough for me to appreciate myself, when I am so loved.

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I think I come across pretty confident most of the time. I’m not going to lie, I do love me. I think I’m pretty and funny, and I have a good heart and I let the people around me know how valued they are. I care.

But, all it takes is one person, who for whatever reason I have decided matters more to me than me, making me feel like I’m not important, for the carefully constructed walls of self-belief to come crashing down.

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A man I admire greatly called Matthew Hussey has done so many videos on this topic: core confidence. It’s important to appreciate yourself first, and not let other people bring you down. It’s attractive to know who you are, be strong in your convictions and unapologetic.

Comfort, Nice and Perfection.

Yet, full of life and love, guard-less and boundless, I’m lost within my own self doubt about 70% of the time. The above video really spoke to heart. I recommend a watch.

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It’s easy to say you shouldn’t care what other people think, and take it on the chin if someone you like doesn’t like you back. I’m unsure if I’m just missing that self-preservation chip that other people have so readily in place, but I really really struggle to keep feeling good about myself when someone doesn’t value me the way I hope they will.

I had an epiphany the other night. Something that I probably already knew, but is really hitting home.

It doesn’t matter how loved you are by other people, if you don’t really truly value yourself.

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I might love me, but I’m not valuing me. I let other people dictate to me how important I am with how much attention and love they give me, instead of realising that if they mattered at all they wouldn’t make me question myself in the first place.

My art is my lifeline, my writing is my soul purpose. I love to read, draw, sing and dance. I love music. I love people. But I seem to lose me every time I put myself out there, because instead of embracing all of those things and pulling back in to me when I feel devalued, I push harder outwards until I get a hard no and all the things I just mentioned don’t matter anymore. Only validation from someone else can soothe me. It’s bloody bullshit really. This need for everyone to love me isn’t fun anymore. It’s toxic.

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I feel like there might be a few of you, like me, who do the same. Why do we so readily give ourselves away? Why do we try so hard? It’s not even like I want to be in love. I know I’m not ready for it. I think I’m just desperate to be loved by everyone though. Why?

Life is so short. People aren’t always going to be there. In fact, you are the only one whose going to be there at the end of it all, looking back and thinking, did I do it for me or someone else?

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I want to do it for me.

I’m moving to Melbourne in July. It’s the one thing in my life I am 100% sure I am doing for me. Regardless of whatever ever comes to pass, there will be music, dancing, writing and reading. There will be tears, I’m sure, new friendships and probably many more failed relationships, but I am me. I will always be me.

To my queens: do not change because you think it will be easier. Do not hurt others because they have hurt you. Pull inwards, and go back to you. You are home base. Only answer the door to people who show that they care. You are valuable. You deserve to feel valued.

Do the things that make your heart pound. Do the things that make you sigh with relief. Stay inside you, if that’s what you need. Only venture out when your cup is half full.

If you’re single, your happiness should be your number one focus. We’re going to spent the rest of our lives taking care of other people. This is our time.

Like Matthew says, contentment within yourself radiates outwards. Suddenly you’ll find yourself attracting all kinds of wonderful people, because your magnetism is grounded by your security within yourself. Only when you’re ready, though.

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Boys are boys. Girls are girls. Sex is sex and you are you; glorious, kind and gentle. Love comes when it’s meant to. Kindness costs nothing. Don’t send drunk messages. Don’t forget who the fuck you are.

The further you bend, the harder you’ll break. 

I shall leave you will the immortal words of sweet Michael.

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Don’t change for you
Don’t change a thing for me

Worship the ground you walk on baby, like you do for others. Don’t be ashamed to be your own biggest cheerleader. I’m in the bleachers cheering you on too. Stop trying for others. Let them try for you. Vanity is a myth. Why the fuck shouldn’t we love ourselves?

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Live every day like it’s Rex Manning day.

Love you.

Harleigh Q
Champion of self love

Xox

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Self-Love Part Three

In this edition of millennial bs I’m going to tackle some confidence killing taboos. As I know a lot of you are just like me, hence you being my friends, I hope this will make you feel a little bit better about being a sweet hot mess.

Be you sensitive, needy, emotional, shy, an over-sharer, awkward, a bit daft or all of the above, I'm sure you'll find something in here to make you feel a little bit cooler. You're actually very very cool.

The People-Pleaser – I Love You

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Hi, my name is Leigh, and I want everyone to love me.

It’s an issue.

Working in sales it is of the utmost priority that I can bend at will to fit myself around the person I am talking to. I need to fulfil their needs, make them feel comfortable. Most of all, I need them to hang up the phone with a smile.

Making other people feel good makes me feel oh so good.

I absolutely love my job.

There’s nothing fake about the way we all adapt to people though. We have so many sides to our personalities, and after a while you just get good at picking which side it is that this person is going to respond to most. Is it the dry, sarcastic down to business woman? Is it the sweet, giggly joker with the compliments? I find I’m a little bit different with everyone I know. I’m sure we all are. There’s only a handful of people who get to see inside my head, and I’m very careful about who I truly let in; because I’m actually mental.

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There’s nothing more earth shattering than being your true self and having someone reject you. It happens though.

That’s why I think it’s easier to put on a bit of a show, and know that if you’re making people feel good, they’re going to regard you well. If it doesn’t work, it is okay, because that wasn’t 100% you anyway.

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I guess maybe it’s a defence mechanism, this performance. This need for love runs through every fibre of my being. Maybe it’s manipulative… who knows! I am a Slytherin after all.  Maybe pretending I don't fall fast and hard is a show in itself. Jeez Louise I wish I could switch it off! It's hard work being this open and emotional all the time. I could do with a holiday from it.

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The Faux Vanity – I Love Me

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Hi my name is Leigh, and I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I love a good selfie.

I think we have officially come to the era where it’s becoming acceptable to like the way we look. Some days I think I look like a bag of dicks but some days, I’m feeling it! I like my wog nose and big mouth and brown eyes. I like that I still have my boobs despite losing quite a lot of weight. I like my curvy hips.

The way I see it, we are only in our twenties once. This is the hottest we are ever going to be. I want my teenage daughter one day to have some photos of me to look back on, and laugh and think ‘what the fuck was mum wearing?’ But also aspire to vibe with confidence and like what she sees when she looks in the mirror, because mum does.

I feel like the ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ ideal is our best bet of living a happy, confident life. This world is full of negative forces trying to get us to spend money on products we don’t need. There are false representations of body ideals, Photoshop, magical camera tricks. I have filled up my Insta feed with amazing body positivity pages that make that app a pleasure to scroll through. I used to be so ashamed of my cellulite and stretchmarks, and the way my tummy wobbles a little bit when I walk. Now I genuinely don’t give two hoots. We all have it! I mean don’t get me wrong, I am still desperately insecure. I just have a core confidence that I can come back to every so often that reminds me that I am brilliant when people make me feel otherwise (and I let that happen a lot sadly).

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We don’t have to be shy and uncomfortable and unhappy in ourselves anymore. We are allowed to like the way we look. It’s absolutely mind boggling that we weren’t in the past. Being labelled as vain is so bizarre to me. There’s nothing wrong with self-love. We should all be enjoying ourselves, or making it our mission to do so.

If you see someone’s selfies and your inner thought is ‘ugh, they are so vain’ that’s honestly a bigger reflection on you and your insecurity, and you may want to take a moment to reflect. There’s no need to put other people down. It’s not going to make you feel any better. People can be confident and nice.

My personal reaction to my friends gorgeous faces plastered on my newsfeed is YAS QUEEN YOU’RE PERFECT, YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, YOU LOOK LIKE LINDA EVANGELISTA, YOU’RE A MODEL and that’s how it bloody well should be.

Lift up your sisters.

The Love Guru – I Love Everything

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Ah that old chestnut. Hi I’m Leigh and as Jessie coined it, I have a lot of love to give.

A big challenge I face in my life is the fact that I will pour affection in to people, probably because that’s how I was raised, and I take it ever so personally when they don’t receive it well and pull away.

A skill I really need to develop is working out who needs my love and who doesn’t.

Receiving affection from people, kind words, attention, hugs, makes me feel really good. It’s my love language. Words of affirmation and physical touch are my jam baby. Guess who has a stable family unit and grew up watching Rom Coms – me!

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Because I am so willing to give my emotional support wherever needed, it tends to mean that I will expect a lot in return. Most people are not as sensitive as me, and they don’t necessarily need someone to talk them off the ledge for an hour every night while they over-analyse the way someone said something. I mean, I am getting a lot better, with many thanks to the strong ladies in my life who have started taking the ‘snap out of it’ approach. Every so often though, I do need my fellow gentle angels to give me word caresses too.

I am ridiculously lucky that I have these people in my life. They might live all over the world, but I have people who listen to my rambles, and check in on me, and send me love where it’s needed, even when it’s not in their nature to do so.

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I think I've got the best looking support network on the planet I mean holy shit…

I want to thank each and every one of you, for getting me through my darkest time. It’s because of you I can keep being my stupidly sensitive, overly-loving and deeply caring self. I have not let the world harden me.

I know one day my soulie will come along, and for them I won’t be too much. I’ll be just enough. It’s because of you guys that I never lose my faith, because if my ladies can love my madness, I’m sure I’ll find someone in my life who will want to marry it.

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Have faith, single people.

My message, through my own story, is to stay soft. Do not let someone’s rejection make you scared to love, or be labelled a clinger, or whatever other stupid thing people say to put people down when openness scares them.

People have their own issues, and a lot of the time it’s not their fault. They might have been really hurt by people, and it might be really hard for them to open up or trust. Sadly, it’s really common.

So sweet little butterfly people do not take it personally. Your love is just enough. You are perfect. Do not play games, or be cruel, or be mad at them. They’ll work it out eventually. Just put your energy where it is appreciated.

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The Good Intentions – Lets All Just Love Each Other

At the end of the day, I think all most of us want is to love and be loved. We want the people around us to be happy and healthy. We want to smile lots and cry rarely.

It might be demon people in your life or demon chemicals in your mind but most of the time the above just isn’t possible, and that’s okay.

Try not to let the black hole swallow you up completely. The world is full of good and bad, just make sure part of the good bit, no matter what.

Love you.

Harleigh Q

xo

The Millennial Crisis

HarleighQ is back, baby! I hope you didn’t miss my love-filled rambles too much. I came to the realisation that something has been missing in my life, and although I don’t always take myself seriously as a writer, this thing is my baby! I have been throwing myself in to my fiction (we’re about 10 chapters in to my yet untitled epic) but my baby needs to be nurtured. As do I.

Which brings me to the topic at hand… the Millennial Crisis.

Welcome to the beginning of a series I’m going to call ‘First World Problems’ where I will unashamedly discuss things that are petty but relevant to my generation, because we all deserve to be heard, and we all need to know we aren’t alone.

Our government rarely listens to us, we’re struggling financially, we don’t know what we want to do with our lives, our love life is a shambles, our mental health is struggling, our friends are just as fucked up as we are or they’re already married with kids. There’s constant pressure to work out our future, have savings, be loved by everyone, settle down and appreciate how ‘good’ we have it. Fucking hell. Hello quarter life crisis. My name is Leigh and I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m sure I’m not alone in expressing my guilt when it comes to how overwhelmed I feel. I often sit and reflect on how it was for our parents’ generation, and their parents. They didn’t have the freedom we do, the endless opportunities when it comes to careers and following our dreams. They were ruled by obligation and inherent sexism. We are so lucky! We are so privileged! Yet why do so many of us feel like we are swimming upstream, mere seconds from drowning?

I think it comes down to the simple fact that we want happiness to be a constant, not a fleeting memory. Every human on this planet deserves happiness. Otherwise, what’s the point? Just because it’s taken until now for us to practically be able to pursue this mentality doesn’t mean that we’re wrong, or dumb, or dreamers. We’ve just finally come to terms with how short life is and how important it is to live it to the fullest. Why shouldn’t we spend it smiling and choosing not to hurt anyone in the process?

What’s my crisis? Take a seat friends.

I am a dramatic person. I will own that. But I also struggle with quite severe anxiety. It’s come on as a mixture of things in my life, a combination of genetics and experiences I’m sure. Sometimes I don’t know where to draw the line between my dramatics and an actual genuine feeling of being overwhelmed by life. Then I start to feel tremendously bad. I have the most incredible family, and career wise I am totally sorted. But you know what? Everything else is a struggle! I’m allowed to admit that. At the moment, it really is.

I travelled so much in the last couple of years with little regard for future Leigh, and now I’m paying for it. It was so worth it at the time, but now my life is on hold while I move home to do damage control. Yeah that’s right, most of my issues are totally self inflicted!

Let’s not even get started on my love life. There’s a reason I declared myself Millennial Bridget Jones on Facebook the other day. I am well and truly stuck in Daniel Cleaver faze. Honestly? I don’t deserve any better either. I’m not ready.

I’m pretty lonely, living in quite an isolated suburb in an isolated city spending more time with myself than anyone else. I’m an extrovert. I drive myself and my family crazy after a while. I really am a lot. I start fixating on things like the news as a mental escape which only drives me more mental.

I feel guilty when I don’t believe all of the claims in the #metoo movement pinpointing men in Hollywood, my heart bleeds for my American friends dealing with a tyrant like Trump. I want to cry because our government wasted billions of dollars humiliating my friends in the queer community just to prove a point, and the reef is dying, as are the people abandoned on Nauru. There are so many things swirling around my mind at all times that sometimes I wish I could revert back to childhood, when my only worry was if my bike chain fell off. Even then, I knew how to fix it.

None of this is a poor me, or a poor us. But if we don’t change this mentality of ‘you don’t know how good you’ve got it’ whenever people bring up mental health issues, we’re going to go backwards. We have come so far from that toughen up mentality. Let’s keep moving.

We are such a powerful, caring, socially conscious generation. I’m writing this post to remind my beautiful friends that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. We are just trying to do our best, and make the world a better place as we go. That weighs really fucking heavy sometimes. We are trying to reverse decades worth of damage. We have to remind ourself and our peers daily that it’s okay to be who you are. You don’t have to hide anymore. You don’t have to feel ashamed; be it your sexuality, mental health, gender identity, kinks, dreams, stupid financial decisions, putting travel before your career or vice versa.

You don’t have to be strong and closed off. Openness is beautiful. It’s not dangerous to let people in, to wear your heart on your sleeve, to stand up for what you believe in. It’s okay to be kind, honest, sweet. Getting hurt is a part of life. Pick yourself up, dust off, and let them all back in again. If you need help with that, I’m always here with advice. I don’t follow my own, naturally. I’ve got lots of love to give though!

Pain is relative. I have nervy b’s every few days and you know what? I’m going to stop beating myself up over my sensitivity. I have pretty valid reasons to be upset most of the time, and just because I’m privileged doesn’t mean I can’t cry. We all need to cry it out sometimes.

We don’t have to know what we’re doing, or where we’re going. We just need to be kind, listen to our hearts, surround ourselves with supportive people and the rest will follow.

I love you all so much. Never feel like your feelings aren’t valid. Life is a roller coaster, baby. It’s better to feel the highs and the lows than nothing at all.

Some people may call us weak, but you know what? I’d rather be weak than an asshole.

I hope a few of my fellow crisis kids feel a little better after reading this. I promise, you aren’t alone. It’s going to be okay.

Harleigh Q

Xo

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

The Trouble With Social Media

Hello Millenials, Gen X & Y and Boomers.

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How are you?

Good I hope.

This week I fell from my perch a bit. I have been making a shift in to profiting on this little talent for eloquent bull-shitting lately. I sponsored a couple of my posts to reach a vaster audience and started a little hub of love on Instagram named @HippieHarleighQ and my very own Facebook like page.

It’s a big stretch for me. You guys know I’m an open person, but I’m also extremely sensitive.

Like, very.

I guess I don’t care if people judge my selfies or photo shoots because I know I’m just a normal girl trying to love myself and inspire others to do the same, and the overconfidence is just my sense of humour. But when it comes to someone questioning my insides? Oh boy…

Someone that I don’t know commented under one of my posts ‘sponsored? Hahah’ and I was bubblingly upset for the rest of the day. Yeah. I’m that bad.

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I promptly deleted the ad for the day it had left.

One thing I don’t want to be is ‘Insta-famous’. However, I do want to connect with more people. I guess it’s the same thing, isn’t it?

As a result of my new found need for money, I’ve been spending more time analysing my online presence. I’ve been looking at other people’s pages, reading their captions and hashtags and working out just how they do it.

Due to my ridiculous hyper-sensitivity I’ve also been questioning myself a hell of a lot more than usual.

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Where my anxiety had become very manageable, suddenly I am opening myself up to the devil known as comparison; the thief of joy, they say.

Oh boy, they are right.

I’m not happy at the moment. I have stopped enjoying my moments and I have started caring way too much about other people’s opinions. It’s like being a looney teen again. I’m a 26 year old woman! I thought I was supposed to be over that by now!

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I’ve been working out, eating right and I’ve cut right back on the naughty drinking. I’ve practically quit smoking. I’ve also stopped reading, I’m struggling to write and I’m losing my connections with my friends. Why? Because I’m thinking too much.

One of my spectacularly beautiful and intelligent girls said to a few of us a while ago that she found Instagram depressing. I couldn’t relate.

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I loved Instagram. I loved the amazing #bopo pages I follow; the gorgeous vintage collections, artists and hippie clothing companies that fill my feed. Facebook was much the same; interesting news articles, friend’s hilarious titbits about their day to day and some cool travel photos. I thought it was maybe something she could control by changing who she follows.

I was so wrong.

When you’re in the headspace of comparison (aka: thief of joy) the things you were looking at before that made you smile suddenly cloud your mind in a dark way. I enviously analyse the photography skills of my #bopo girls. I skip over friends’ posts and seek out my target audience to see why they aren’t engaging with me more. I’ve picked people who aren’t giving me as much attention as they used to and I’m agonising over it.

I have stopped valuing the good in favour of the goal.

Specifically, artist friends, do you know what I mean? The success of something locally doesn’t mean much when your reach isn’t vast enough? Something you wrote is no longer measuring up because something from last month did way better?

I want us all to stop.

Stop stop stop.

Social media is not real. We also can’t control who is seeing our posts due to the very money-focused algorithms. Don’t think less likes means people aren’t loving you. They aren’t seeing you.

~

Today I scrolled back through my Instagram for photos that looked out of place (I’m notorious for archiving mismatching colours in favour of a flowing theme rather than honest expression).

I came across my America and Europe photos.

I zoomed in on my and Martina’s smiley faces on our way to the opera dinner in Rome. I remembered vividly how incredible that night was, and how none of us had had signal in that little underground restaurant so we just talked and talked and talked like it was going out of fashion.

I saw myself standing at the top of the Rocky steps, one of my biggest life goals, for the second time.

I scrolled a little further and saw the gorgeous beach photos I took when I went down the coast with my Kate for a sneaky getaway, and the Melbourne food market tour I went on when I was learning how to use my new DSLR.

Not a single one of these times did I have my fucking phone in my hand.

I then scrolled back up and looked at my tagged photos, and I saw my face hanging in an art gallery in Maryland.

No, no one has written a song about me and no, I haven’t appeared in a music video and no, I haven’t collaborated in writing a great song, but someone liked my face so much that they decided to stare at it for hours and create a beautiful work of art that is now selling for $650USD. One day I might be hanging on someone’s wall. Wow.

What the fuck is wrong with us? Why do we always strive for what we don’t have or feel discontented when our lives are filled with amazing things to be proud of?

We can’t blame the media for everything. It’s not going to change any time soon. I think it’s our own doing, in a lot of ways. When we don’t switch off, we don’t absorb.

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Our phones are glued to our hands and life is witnessed through a screen instead of through our square little eyes.

~

I’m going to try to make a conscious effort to switch off more often and get out in to that big bad world without a shield of phone to guard me, and I’m going to see how my happiness level goes.

I have an inkling I might feel just that little bit lighter; and not just because my phone is a brick for the blind.

If we don’t get out there and do, how can we be?

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I hope this little shake up helps some of you guys too. I hadn’t been able to pinpoint my lull but now I have, I’m going to try to fix it as best I can.

One hour free of technology after work each day to focus on my other things e.g. pile of unread books and neglected keyboard and guitar.

You’re all beautiful, interesting people. That’s why you’re my friends.

Now let’s go and be that without validation (said the queen of needing validation). Life is short, don’t spend it sad because some people are cooler than you.

No one will ever be as cool as Ringo Starr. It’s time we accepted it.

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Forever your honey,

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.

~

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

An Epic Ending

I’m going to start this one with a brief explanation for those who might not know me very well about just why the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio was such a spiritual experience for me.

I was raised on music. My most vivid memories from childhood are my first album (B*witched) and how bashed up my Spice Girls one got. I heard Lighthouse Family croon as we drove the Yorkshire countryside in search of adventure. I heard Papi singing Paul Weller to perfection at the top of his lungs. Mumma loved Simply Red and Style Council, Sade and real soulful RnB. Papi put Eminem’s Encore album in the car and I cheekily learnt all the lyrics in my room at night while I drew and Mumma questioned the language. My sister bopped in her walker to Will Smith and my Nan taught me about the incredible Tina Turner and Elvis Presley. Papi heard about England’s next big thing, Arctic Monkeys. That album is part of my life story, man. As well as everyone one that followed.

I love music. When I lost myself music found me. I fell in love with the Beatles, INXS, the Stones, Plan B, Steely Dan, Prince, Bowie, Sticky Fingers, Johnny Cash, Elton John, The Specials. Too many more to mention.

I found my bands and learned what it’s all about to live and breathe it. I connected with people who showed me even more new magic and let me share in the love of theirs.

My favourite guitar solo of all time is Prince during While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Paul’s speech for John, again for Ringo. Mick’s for the Beatles. Epic Clapton declaring ‘Music is all you really need. Love and music is all we need’.

I love travel, but music is the love of my life.

And this is the home of music.

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Johnny Cash was the featured artist. His old tour bus was sitting outside. It made me long for days I never spent on tours I never witnessed. I must have been a GTO in a past life… there’s just something in this soul longing for it all and I can’t explain it.

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I could have spent days there but I was emotionally vulnerable and feeling incredibly overwhelmed with love when I walked out (20 minutes late, but I did navigate the gift shop at record speed.)

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Cleveland was a beautiful city, and to top off my best day I got to go see one of the best films I’ve seen in years. The last time a movie I watched jumped instantly in to my top five it was Lost in Translation.

Baby Driver was a musically driven, beautifully written and actioned packed dream from start to finish, taking place in a world I wish I belonged. The gentle dialog and tune connection between Baby and Deborah is the stuff of my wildest fantasies. I could curl up and live in this film. Watch it, please.

Moving far away from my whimsical reminiscences let’s jump right in to next destination.

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We stopped briefly at an Amish village for lunch on the way to Chicago which honestly creeped me out. It’s just so isolated. It hurts my heart every time someone looks in my eyes with longing when I tell them I’m from Australia. I know I am beyond lucky, but I made a choice to dedicate my life to travel. To me, to travel is to live. I really hope some of these lovely people get to explore my home one day the way I am with theirs.

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Happy 4th!

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We spent the day the most perfect way, at the baseball! The beers went down too smoothly, and everyone was in the highest of spirits. Especially our Contiki team.

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It was like walking around with minor celebrities.

That evening we all relaxed in a park by the beach with chilly bins (hah) and lots of American apparel. We danced and drank and laughed as we waited for the fireworks. It was a very memorable experience.

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Our drive from Chicago to Madison was one of my favourite drive days. We went to a fresh food market, and I found my future husband.

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That afternoon we got merry at the Coopers brewery which had the most fantastically camp and fun presentation. I’ve switched beer loyalty purely based on it.

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I dug Maddison. I was super unwell while we were there but the dinner spot had one of my main men on the wall, a fabulous play list, and there was a Beatles themed bar there! I am returning when I come back to cover the middle states, that’s for sure.

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The next night we spent in a cute little spot called Sioux Falls. This began the beautiful run of mellow country towns.

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Apparently corn worship is a thing in this place.

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One of the coolest places we checked out was Badlands national park. This was the first of many incredible natural wonders we were about to explore.

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Mount Rushmore was next on the agenda. The town we stayed in was so picturesque. I loved it. Night one was spend curled up in the spa.

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Mount Rushmore is just as spectacular as you’d imagine. It really took my breathe away seeing it in real life.

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The highlight of the day for me though was witnessing to the gradual progress of the Crazy Horse memorial. It’s a gigantic tribute to a hugely important Native American war leader and historical figure. A multigenerational family have dedicated their lives to carving him in to the rock face on native land. It’s no small feat and who knows if it’ll be finished in our life time, but they accept no government funding. Tourism is the main income for this project, and they also run a school for local native kids on site. It’s all pretty incredible.

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That afternoon we had a family picnic by the lake. It’s so special to be out in nature and relaxing with friends.

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That night was movie night! Spot batman pants.

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Next we headed to the cowboy town of Cody. I gracefully bowed out of the rodeo this time but the next day was without a doubt one of the best of my life. Yellowstone National Park.

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The pictures speak for themselves. Certain spots smelled like Rotorua but the natural beauty of these formations was unparalleled. This is my favourite National Park.

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We even saw a bear!

The next day was a treat and a lot like popping over to Switzerland, Teton National Park!

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We had lunch at the tiniest brewery ever.

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That afternoon I made a bold choice and went for a trail ride. My horse was called Toughie and was a total gentleman.

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This was followed by an epic cook out and some interesting party games.

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It was a truly stunning place.

A brief city stop brought us to Salt Lake City, and we got to check out how the Mormons do things. Most of the state of Utah are Mormon!

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Kanab was our next stop and along the way we checked out Bryce National Park. We wandered the rim and wondered at her beauty. Each park is so unique.

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I loved the next. This was my third time at the Grand Canyon in just over a year but first time at the North Rim. I spent most of the day with my tunes on relaxing and absorbing the serenity. It’s way more chilled on the North end so it was perfect for just being for a while.

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The next day was wild. Zion National Park blew my mind. We did a few little hikes to pretty running rocks and drank in the fresh water. This was our final day with nature so we enjoyed her fully.

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Finally, here we were. Almost two months down and well and truly ready to go out with a bang. Hello Vegas!

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I absolutely love Las Vegas. Every time I’ve been (which is now four times) I have a different and brilliant experience. I love the happy people on holiday, the bright and vibrant casinos, the shows that leave you on the edge of your seat, the next level night life. Night one we played on Fremont street as we were staying downtown.

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I was in groupie heaven as we discovered two excellent 80s tribute bands, one for the pop hits and one for the spandex boys with long curls and rocker voices. Oh my.

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Safe to say the free day was a rest day. We checked out a few bars but it was aaaaall about day three for me.

We started with the Neon Museum, a collection of old Vegas neon signs. They all had a story and the place was magical.

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Next it was my favourite things, Bubba Gumps and fried chicken before a second viewing of the greatest show of all time… Love by Cirque Du Soleil. Rin and I toe tapped and gasped and swayed to the best songs remixed to perfection and yet again I danced giddily out with some merch.

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Our final night on Contiki involved party buses and the one and only Ghost Bar. I even ran in to one of my gorgeous NSW agents from my Brissie days. Only in Vegas.

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We danced and cuddled and tried not to get emotional about the end of our epic journey. Ten of us started this together. It’s a long time and there’s a lot of love there.

Our last day was hungover and sad, but it’s okay. I’ll be seeing you.

My flights home were entirely uneventful, unlike the ones there, so that was a relief.

I’m in heaven being at home with my family. I missed them, as I always do. Especially my little man.

~

So now we begin my transformation year. I have worked my bum off and now I’m allowed to work from home. This means I can smash the savings and get back to Brissie as soon as possible (one year is the goal). Until then, it’s me time.

I’m going to read, play my instruments, write my stories and enjoy my family. Most of all I’m going to focus on my health and happiness. When I figure out a miracle cure for a fucked up relationship with food I’ll let you know! 24 and 25 were magical exploration years, now at 26 I’ll cocoon before the butterfly returns.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of my adventure.

An important message I want to put out there is that if you want to travel, explore and live a nomad life, just do it! Don’t succumb to the pressure of getting on the property market or buying expensive things you don’t need if that’s not where your heart is. You don’t have to study something you aren’t passionate about. You don’t have to have a brand new car or expensive clothes.

Make a choice, and then go after it with everything you have. It’s the only way to live. Never do anything by half.

I’m not doing anything that you can’t. 

Remember, our stories are only just beginning…

Harleigh Q

Xo

 

 

Phases of Friendship and the Importance of Kindness

WARNING: Extreme hippie content ✌️

I have met so many incredible men and women. Some of them I wish I could put in my pocket and keep with me forever. Others, we live our lives and come back together with wild stories to share and it’s like no time has passed at all.

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I have all kinds of friendships. Some people I speak to almost every day. Facebook messenger was one of the greatest inventions ever (cheers Mark). We’ll share little bits about our days, from what we had for lunch to how we’re feeling. Sometimes we’ll discuss what books we are reading or our future plans.

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Some of my friends I only communicate with via photo likes until one day one of us will send a long, heart-felt love note to the other. I’m watching you, I’m thinking of you, I’m proud of you.

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My closest friends of all are my family. When I got a message from my sister asking ‘is this your new thing now? You’re going to link everything back to space?’ I could help but laugh out loud. If your family can’t call you out on your bullshit, who will?

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Some people I have met, bonded, taken drunken selfies and shared toilet cubicles with and then never spoken to again. I see their social media updates and they see mine. We both go about our stories, perhaps occasionally smiling when we think back to the time we shared.

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Then, on rare and magical occasion, I have met some people that I feel are a piece of me. There’s a little collection of souls on this planet that I would do anything for. They bring out all the best parts of me, we raise each other up, we care deeply about the goings on in each other’s lives and minds. We click over things like social conscience, music, nature.

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These are the kind of friends with which I’ll eat healthy snacks or wine and cheese, sit on the beach, try acro yoga, spoon, sing at the top of my lungs, or quite simply, do nothing but lie on the ground and watch the stars.

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These people refresh my soul every time I see them. I feel invigorated and excited after our time together. I’m a total ambivert. It completely depends on the person if I’m going to be sociable or not, but these kids are my tribe.

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There’s no talking time limits, no judgement, but there’s also no crap. They call me out when I’m being unreasonable and I do the same. We help each other understand things from another perspective. We just want each other to be the best person we can be. Everyone in the universe deserves a friend like this, and I really hope you all have one.

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Another thing that I have found a constant through my life is the way my connections will ebb and flow like waves. Sometimes, we get busy. Sometimes, we argue. I have gone months without speaking to best friends. I still consider them so, but I think we all go through so much in our lives and change accordingly. It makes sense that we have different needs from different people at different times. When my life is stressful or I’m struggling I need my lovers, when I’m happy and excited I need my party people, when I’m trying to grow I need my inspirations, when I’m down I just need mi famiglia.

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This is a love note to every single one of you. Regardless of which category you fall in to, know that you are always loved and needed. I carry all of you in my heart. I get lonely very easily, and you guys keep my world spinning. If it’s a little message or a like, a kiss on the cheek or a cuddle, it’s always appreciated. Near or far, that connection isn’t going anywhere. We all meet for a reason.

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I’m so thankful for everything I’ve learned from all of you.

Make sure you listen to what the people around you have to say too. There’s a lot of wisdom to be shared. Despite the way it feels sometimes, you’ve got some people who really love you. Let’s bring out the best in each other.

~

Now, moving in to just that, lets talk about the importance of kindness.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating because it really is so important to me.

My favourite thing is when I hear people compliment others when they aren’t around. In a world where people are so full of opinions and walls and anger, it’s such a rare and beautiful thing for someone to take a moment to acknowledge how much they enjoy another person.

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I think most of us forget to give compliments. It’s such a simple act that can make someone’s day. Someone once told me they like the way my eyes wrinkle when I smile. It has completely changed the way I feel about myself. I feel warmth when I see photos of myself with eyes shut and grin wide. That’s a happy girl.

Think about your favourite compliment that someone has given you. Close your eyes and remember how you felt in that moment. You probably still feel that way now. Maybe it made you like something about yourself that you had once been self conscious about. Maybe it gave you something new to be proud of.

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I very rarely say things about people that I wouldn’t say to their face, and I definitely never say anything I don’t mean. I don’t want to encourage fake compliments that are only designed to make you feel good for being nice. I want real deal, from the heart, I love you and I love this about you kindness.

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Please don’t ever be that person who says things they don’t mean. It rots your soul.
This kind of love share doesn’t have to be just verbal either.

If you see someone who you know is an affectionate person looking a little out of place, give them a cuddle or a back tickle. Physical affection is the greatest thing in the world and I think a lot of us are missing it.

It’s hard out there for the single people! We might be most content but we all miss a cuddle on occasion.

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In kindness you will meet the friends I was talking about before; the soul brothers and sisters. One of my best friends in the universe was a mean little bastard in high school, but I saw through it. Now he’s one of the most lovely, interesting and fun people I know. Ten years later.

Don’t be scared to look people in the eye and read what they are thinking, not just what they say. Our defensive nature is a big issue, honestly. Don’t be scared to push down people’s walls.

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However, if you’ve found someone whose difficult to see through, good luck to you. I pride myself on my ability to suss people out and those people still throw me! I blame my Slytherin nature, wanting to adapt to everyone around me to better know how to get them on side…

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Just kidding. Honestly, we’re all the same deep down. If someone recoils at your love and affection it’s got a lot more to do with them than you. They’ve probably been burnt and have become that closed off person that you never want to be.

Some people are scared of affection, some declare you are being ‘clingy’ or ‘too much’. Ohhh the amount of times I’ve felt that door slam. Dude. There’s a lot of us out there who can give love without an intense emotional attachment. But you know what? That’s fine. We’re love bubble beings. If they don’t understand that we just want everyone to feel good, and we probably aren’t going to stalk them and boil their rabbit, they can go about their biz without us.

Don’t ever let them upset your self-esteem, okay? They’re just made of different stuff and their ego is perhaps a little too developed… Don’t ever change. One day you’re going to meet someone who fits your jigsaw bits perfectly and will match your love ten times over. That’s why you can’t let life dim your sparkle!

The moral of this story? Love and be loved. Open yourself up, let the good vibes flow. Be kind. Always.

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Harleigh Q

Xo

A Lady I Dig Called… Anazarac

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

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

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

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

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

Soundtrack:

Who are you? 

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

Describe yourself in 3 words

Honest. Trustworthy. Loyal.

Do you love what you do?

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

Name an artist who changed your life.

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

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

Like the stuff you’ve been putting on Instagram.

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

What makes you smile?

Making other people smile.

What makes you frown?

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

Who do you admire?

My dad. My mum.

Why?

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

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

What’s your favourite film?

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

What’s your proudest achievement?

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

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

What is your biggest fear?

Probably struggling for the rest of my life.

Not achieving your dream?

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

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

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

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

Whats your favourite piece of advise?

Stay humble. Always.

Be yourself, find yourself. Love who you are.

And always have positive people around you!

Are you in love?

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

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

What is your biggest passion in life?

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

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

That’s how we connected.

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

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

What’s your favourite line from a song?

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

Hell is empty and all the devils are here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free spirits.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think people are scared of spontaneous people.

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

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

Give people the opportunity to let you down.

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

What’s your opinion of fame?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m so proud of you for that.

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

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

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Follow Ana’s incredible journey on Instagram: @anazarac

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

It’ll be worth it in the end.

Harleigh Q

xo

Self Care Part 2

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

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s why I’m writing this part two.

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, how do we turn off these inner killers?

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

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

Do you feel me?

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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~

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

We need to keep addressing it.

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

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

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

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

Harleigh Q

Xo