The Conscious Carnivore

Sometimes I feel pretty guilty about being a meat eater. I mean, to be honest, I only eat chicken and beef and the occasional pork. I morally object to lamb and game meat. I bloody love seafood though. 

I have some incredible, strong vegan friends who talk all the time about how easy it is to get all the vitamins you need from veggie and vegan products. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE animals- more than humans most of the time- but oh how I love the taste of a steak when it melts on my tongue. 

I feel that maybe I’m not alone in my hypocrisy. It’s hard to be a completely selfless being, right? But one thing I can suggest is that you have a scan over the info I’ve compiled if you feel like being a little gentler to our delicious friends, and giving them a better life before they end up on the plate. 

Chicken 

The cheapest chickens you can buy are kept in total confinement. This is what it looks like: 

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Chickens will be kept in artificially lit, tight spaces for the 6 – 8 weeks it takes for them to reach 3kgs. At which time they are slaughtered. Often they are fed extra hormones to induce rapid growth and can be killed in as little as 30 days. 

They never see the sun, feel the air on their backs or walk further than a few centimetres at a time. Often, they grow so fast they struggle to walk at all and live in their own waste. 

Don’t worry, there is another way. 

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This is what a free range farm looks like. 

Yes, it costs the farmers more and takes longer to run a farm like this. This cost is passed on to us. How much?

Firstly, let me explain that there is a different between RSPCA approved chicken and free range chicken. 

RSPCA approved chicken farms in Australia look like this. 

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The chickens have more room, and are less likely to be extensively treated with hormones, but they still live in artificial light and never experience the outdoors or fresh grass. 

What’s the cost? You ask. Currently on Woolworths’ website RSPCA approved chicken is selling at $13 per kilogram. 

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How much is free range chicken? $14.

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It costs us an extra $1 to take chickens from hell to heaven. That’s a lot of power in $1, and in our hands. 

I googled free range chicken farm and found three within a half an hour drive of my house. There is so much product out there, and our local farmers need our support. Buy smart, and tell our local shops what it is we want. Free range is better for them, and better for us. In fact, there is literally no downside. 

Eggs 

Just throwing it out there, if you buy caged eggs you’re scum. Harsh? Nah. Look at what you’re condoning for the sake of less than $1.

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https://www.google.com.au/amp/amp.abc.net.au/article/9461064

Ironically this article is trying to sing the praises of cage eggs. Let me just highlight that the comparisons they are making are to intensive free range. In Australia, there is no specific guidelines to what ‘free range’ has to consist of, so its super important that we get familiar with the brands and support local farmers. Ideally, if we could go to a local farm and pick some up from a drop box, that would be great! But pressed for time, look for the term ‘pastured’ on the box. A PROOF certification means the hens are taken care of, and so are your eggs! 

‘Compared to eggs from caged hens, pastured hen eggs had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, 2.5 fold more total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids.’

Source: https://www.proof.net.au/Best-free-range-eggs-in-Australia

Milk

Of course, our dear cows are going through some pretty horrendous things.

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https://rspca.org.au/campaigns/dairy-cows

Always look for RSPCA, farmers own milk when you’re checking out the fridge. Every little investment we make in smaller farms with better practices, the more the big ones have to listen. 

Or just switch to a non dairy equivalent like I did! Soy goes alright once you’re used to it 😉

Palm oil 

Finally, I come to one that I have harped on about for years. 

This is Popi. 

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She’s my daughter. 

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Here she is hanging out and having a wee. Like mother like daughter. 

I adopted her when I was in Bali in May, having just met a couple of orphans at the zoo. 

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I was so conflicted this day, because I was so glad these babies were safe, but how happy can these incredible, intelligent creatures be in captivity? 

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The deforestation of South East Asia is destroying their home. The trees they need to survive are getting ripped from the ground at a rapid rate to match our need for beauty products and snacks soaked in palm oil and the blood of a dying species. 

STOP! Stop buying things because they are 50c cheaper. Look a little deeper. Think about the consequences of your actions. It’s not good for you and we don’t need it, it’s just cheaper to produce than economically sourced alternatives. 

If you want to help, here is the link to the incredible Orangutan Project. They run a forest school for displaced orangutans and hope to return them all to the wild one day, if there’s some left. Many of them are babies and have to be hand-reared. It is my dream to one day volunteer with these incredible humans. I’d rather shovel orangutan poop than sit by and do nothing. 

https://www.orangutan.org.au/donate/

Every penny goes a long way, but your conscious shopping will do the most. 

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/top-10-facts-you-need-to-know-about-palm-oil/

Always read the label. 

I know we can do it. I have the utmost faith in human beings and our compassion. I see it every single day. If we could spread it to our dinner tables, just imagine what we can achieve. 

Thank you for reading, and thank you for caring ❤️

HarleighQ

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How Deep is Your Love?

RUOK? Day is always gorgeous. I love seeing so many of my friends offer their homes and ears and hugs to anyone who might need it. I love seeing my agents donning yellow and actually asking me how I’m doing throughout the day, not just jumping in to work chat. It’s means a lot.

Pretty recently I’ve been going through some things. Most of us have these patches where we get low, real low, and we can’t really pinpoint why but everything just gets a bit hard.

During that time, I found it really fucking impossible to talk to anyone- and you bitches know I can talk. It probably also seems like I’m a really open person. Things change.

I guess I’ve been trying to work through a lot of deep seeded issues that I have with insecurity and lack of self worth. Ironic when this blog spews that out constantly. It’s so much easier to teach that to be.

It just goes to show how good we are at hiding it.

When you ask people if they’re okay, make sure you mean it. Really listen. Look in to their eyes. Maybe just tell them you love them, even if they’re not ready to talk you.

I want to make sure I do the same.

Thank you to those of you who do this already.

Just mean it, and support your people. Sometimes there’s no solution, they just need a cuddle and an ear.

Don’t judge, don’t preach, just love.

HarleighQ

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Whitsunday Dreaming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours, everyone,

HarleighQ

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Are You Looking After Future You?

I’m not good at hiding it when things are going on. You guys know, I’m not trying to be cryptic. I’m reaching out because I need love and I feel like garbage. So here is it, the bone naked truth.

For the last four years my life motto has been ‘I could die tomorrow’.  I’ve used it to justify massive purchases, give me the courage to book solo adventures, be honest and open about my feelings to people I care about and cut out the ones who don’t care about me.

It has led me down some garden paths, but it has also guided me to a life of courage and confidence (faux though that may sometimes be).

I’ve all but conquered my anxiety, with just the occasional hand ringing, mouth running and cold sweats when I have to do something outside of my carefully crafted comfort zone. I believe we only regret the things we don’t do, because no matter what choices we make, life keeps on rolling.

I want to be the one waving from the train window, not the one standing on the platform.

Now – that being said, I have also realised that I have developed some mad self-destructive tendencies. I mean, what person in their right mind still smokes cigarettes these days? I do. I also love a beverage and a food binge as much as the next addict. The fact is: I’ve used my live fast attitude to justify the highs and the lows of my self-care.

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I’m a woman now. I’m 27, out of home, working a job I love and kicking some goals. However, I’m still doing those dumb things, like justifying online shopping when I have $100 until pay day, and buying smokes when I should be paying for a gym membership instead.

This week I, consciously, did something for future Leigh. I’m not going to deny her existence anymore because you know what? Odds are- I’m not going to die tomorrow. It would be shit if I did, because I still have a lot on my list, but I probably won’t.

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In classic, heart first-head second Leigh fashion, I fell in love. I fell in love with a polyamorous person. I spent months convincing myself that I was okay with it, while deep down harbouring hopes of something more. This week I broke my own heart and walked away.

I still love him and I probably always will, but I had one of those ‘I love you, but I love me more’ moments. I’ve never had one of those before. I’m so used to things ending badly that the thought of walking away from someone I actually care about is almost incomprehensible. It still takes every ounce of strength I have not to go bounding backwards in to warmth and security but… I’m just going to hurt future Leigh even more, aren’t I?

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One fabulous thing about my character is that I’m not a procrastinator. I get shit done. So seeing a maybe in the distance just doesn’t do it for me. I need a now. I am very impatient!

Future Leigh came to me and she painted a picture of a home in Margaret River with floor to ceiling windows, book shelves galore; two giant doggos, some curly, dark haired babies and a man- a man with kind eyes and gentle hands who makes a mean cup of tea and plays with my hair.

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I want that more than I can put in to words. With the amount of love I put out in to the universe, I deserve that.

We only get one life, and if all you know is where you want to end up, you have to fight for it. You need to make decisions now and back yourself, because no one else will.

Most people, believe it or not, are really selfish! They will use you to keep them warm, soothed and smiling and it feels damn good to be that person. But, don’t get caught up in maybes.

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Sometimes you have to be really fucking strong, and love you more.

Now that I’m an adult (note how I keep repeating this so that perhaps I will believe it) I want to start taking care of future Leigh.

I’ve done up a budget (I haven’t stuck to it but you know, work in progress), I’ve got some self-help books as recommended by beautiful friends, I’ve got some writing exercise books too. I’ve got a journal and some pretty pens and a pretty excellent system with my house mate/other half whereby we balance each other’s uselessness with the other’s strength. With her mad organisation and determination, and my charm and haste, together we make a functioning human!

For those of my fellow sweet millennials with a self-destructive streak like me, never fear. We can make a change any day we like. I’ll make my next one on Monday, because I’ve had enough of it this week.

You’re stronger than you think. We all are.

You only live once, so take care of you. No one else will do it as well as you can.

Harleigh Q

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The Power of Now

We're going in on mindfulness, bitches.

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

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

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

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Firstly, let me define:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip Two – Get lost in people's eyes

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

Tip Three – Tap yourself 

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

Tip Four – Reality Check

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

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

My solution to this?

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

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

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

Now, tell me what you're grateful for.

Today I am grateful for:

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

I love you guys.

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

Your favourite loon,

HarleighQ

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The 27 Club: Sort Your Life Out

Darlings. I’ve missed you.

Let me begin by saying in actuality I don’t think there is an exact age that you should be expected to sort your life out. We each grow at different paces, and there is no shame in taking a little longer to get yourself on track. This is just my story.

~

I was always scared of turning twenty seven. You’re officially in your late twenties, for a start. Most people around you are married and having babies. Most have solid careers, houses, cars. Most people know what they want and how to get it.

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I guess I’m not most people.

Janice, the Jim’s, Kurt and Amy all lost their lives at 27. Icons of their generations taken at the height of their power by drugs, alcohol and depression.

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Those of you who have been out for a smoke with me will no doubt have heard my white bic lighter story. There’s a disproved theory that all of the 27 Club had a white bic lighter somewhere in the room or on their person when they died. Because I’m a superstitious loon I always carry one- just in case.

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I guess life can go either way, can’t it? It seems twenty seven is a good age to work out what you’re good for, and make your existence count for something. I’m under no illusion that I’m important, or that my voice will be the stuff of legends, but I do know from the beautiful messages I’ve received from people I know well and don’t that I am helping people. I’m good at inspiring people. I’m good at making people feel good. My writing is my purpose, that which I can do anywhere.

Decision Time

This week I decided not to move to Melbourne. After talking about it for years, and countless friends telling me how much I’d fit in, I pulled the plug on my plans one week out. I put my flights in to credit and took a big deep breath and realised that I was poking the embers of a dream I’d left behind a while ago.

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Talking to my spectacular councillor (who I can’t recommend enough) I realised that I have spent years of my life solely dedicated to people pleasing, and following plans because I think I have to, and committing to things I don’t actually want to do for fear of upsetting people. But where is my voice in all of this?

I’m not going to do that anymore.

This week I also made a second huge decision: I’m going back to Australia sales.

I already knew I’d found the love of my life in selling Australia when I moved to Brisbane to pursue my dream all those years ago. I am so thankful for everything I’ve learned while trialing international, I love my Perth Infinity family, but I miss my baby. I miss the surge of warmth I’d get in my chest with every call, waxing poetic about tropical North Queensland and the Outback. Aus is my everything. Between that and my writing, I’m living one hell of a fulfilled and passionate life.

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I’ve never been very good at having a clear vision and sticking to it. I’ve never been very good at decisions in general; but this week I made big ones and I know deep down in my soul it’s right. I have spent so much time living in the future that I didn’t realise that given a few choices, I could be spectacularly happy, right here and now.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans – John Lennon

I love my city and it’s wild beaches, my crazy friends, my loud family, my dogs and my nephew. I love our big, wide roads, the bush land, the weather. I am in love with a person, the kind I had reserved myself to believing couldn’t exist here. No where is perfect, but your situation is what you make it.

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I don’t need to run away to another city to be happy. I think running just makes the broken pieces harder to ignore. I don’t need to leave my home to belong. I am my own home, my friends are my home. I am such a lucky girl to have so much love around me.

Jessie and I are going to finish off a dream we started three years ago, when two hopeless blondes moved across the country in search of adulthood and learned lessons galore.

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Now, older and hotter and a whole lot wiser, we’re going to work it out all over again- together. And this time I’ll buy less DVDs.

In short, and the point of this long and rational tale, is that in this life you will disappoint people and you may even disappoint yourself. Your mind will change, your dreams might too. You don’t owe anyone anything. If you find your passion, your happiness, hold on to it with both hands and don’t let go. Do what your gut tells you, always. We don’t live for very long, so live well.

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My name is Harleigh, I’m twenty seven, and I’m gonna be just fine.

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HarleighQ

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

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