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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The Power of Now

We're going in on mindfulness, bitches.

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

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

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

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Firstly, let me define:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip Two – Get lost in people's eyes

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

Tip Three – Tap yourself 

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

Tip Four – Reality Check

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

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

My solution to this?

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

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

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

Now, tell me what you're grateful for.

Today I am grateful for:

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

I love you guys.

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

Your favourite loon,

HarleighQ

x

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

Yesterday – A Short Story

Syd woke with the sun again. The light filtered through the venetian blinds and hit the honey brown of her eyes. She blinked slowly, her dream of the night gently fading from memory. The sheets were pushed down by her feet. The evening had been warm, but the morning cool left her tummy cold to the touch. She wasn’t wearing a thing but a pair of bikini briefs. She traced her finger gently up her thigh, along her hip bone, and rubbed the back of her hand against her heavy lids.

The tanned body beside her stirred; his face turned towards hers, lips parted, still snoozing.

Syd moved her hand towards him, and pressed it to his cheek. She traced the outline of his mouth with her thumb. This beautiful man, with thick black hair and bright green eyes, was hers.

For years she had dreamed of this moment. For the longest time she wasn’t sure if it would ever come. A slew of men talked their way in to her heart and her room with no thought of staying. They left her cold and deserted, and cursing herself for letting them in in the first place. Still, she didn’t change. She let those smooth Casanovas with their big smiles and firm touches have their way with her body and soul, until after a while she didn’t have much left to share.

It was a shell of a woman sitting alone at the bar that night that Julian arrived. He was equable, he didn’t speak to her. He ordered a drink and went back to his friend. When Syd glanced over her shoulder at him, he was looking right at her. That electric stare cut straight through.

It still did.

Her touch must have woken him. He pressed his lips together and kissed the tip of her thumb. Syd sighed, and rolled away from him. She gradually wiggled backwards until their bodies completed a puzzle. Julian wrapped his arm around her stomach and pulled her in tighter.

“I love you,” he whispered. His breath tickled her ear. Syd wanted to cry. He buried his nose in to her auburn hair and breathed deeply. They stayed like this for a long time, lost inside a waking dream. When Julian’s lips pressed against her neck, Syd melted in to him completely. His body grew firmer. She enjoyed her favourite wake up call.

A while later, hair wrapped in a towel and smelling like mint and vanilla, Syd emerged from the bathroom. Her feet hit the cold tiles and she tapped towards the kitchen. She could hear the coffee grinder.

Inside the door, Julian’s hair was still dripping with sweat. He grinned at her and ran his fingers through it. “I love you,” he cooed again, planting a kiss on her forehead. He drew his hand down her back, fingers tickling her spine. She let her towel drop a little lower. “I’m going to shower.”

Syd watched him go.

“Don’t drink all my coffee, Sydney,” he called back to her. She smirked; her shoulders slumped at the memory. The first time Syd had stayed with this man, she had unwittingly used the last of his important Columbian beans to make a coffee that tasted like rocket fuel. Since then, she knew not to help herself, and he had bought her a jar of Moccona just in case.

Syd heard the shower running and walked toward the record player. A jazz artist she hadn’t heard of was replaced by the Rolling Stones. It was Saturday morning, after all.

She flicked the switch on the kettle and leaned back against the counter.

It had been three blissful months in the arms of this bronzed Adonis. Originally from Argentina, his family immigrated to Australia in the eighties. At thirty five, Jules was a little older than Syd. He had travelled extensively in his twenties, which made him wise. He had a social conscience she had never encountered before. He seemed to genuinely care about everyone and everything. The first time this struck her was also the first time she’d seen him cry. They were watching a David Attenborough documentary on a lazy Sunday afternoon. His eyes welled as he watched their planet die on television, and swiftly Syd started to care a lot more too.

He made her better, she decided; a better person, a better lover. She was selfish in her youth. She was selfish full stop. She really had to watch her words sometimes. Her fiery hair was matched only by her fierce tongue. Growing up bullied severely for something as ridiculous as your hair colour gives a girl plenty of opportunity to develop a defence mechanism.

Perhaps that was her problem with men. She could handle taunts and rudeness, sly comments and cruel stares. What she couldn’t handle was kindness. Syd would protect herself and her friends from any bro with the audacity to neg them out but give her a nice guy, a man with a compliment and a flashy grin and she was putty in his hands.

She couldn’t understand how her friends were so good at weeding out the genuine ones and the liars.

“None of them are genuine, Syd. That’s rule number one,” said her cynical best friend Marie between puffs of her menthol cigarette.

“That can’t be true Marie. If it were… what’s the point?”

“Exactly.” Marie narrowed her eyes at her foolish companion. Syd flushed crimson and felt overcome with sadness. I refuse to believe it.

One month later, she met Julian.

Syd was nestled cross-legged on the sofa when he emerged, glistening wet and a towel around his waist. She loved his rugged beauty, how natural he was in body and mind. When wet, his hair touched his shoulders. He shook it out like a dog and grinned at her.

“I’m worried. Why are you looking at me like you want to murder me?”

Syd laughed at bit her lip. “I was lost in memories; I won’t kill you until you’re old and rich.”

“I don’t plan on being either.”

“If you keep importing that coffee from Colombia, you won’t be.”

Julian winked at her before entering the kitchen. Syd sipped her painfully average instant coffee and groaned. “Can I have a sip of your rocket fuel?” she called.

“Seeing as you asked so nicely… absolutely not,” he said, poking his head around the door. “You disrespect my coffee. You disrespect me.”

“God forbid,” said Syd darkly. This man, she thought. He loves his coffee more than me.

She thought back to the night before. Syd and Marie had gone for dinner, which turned in to dancing. Marie was wild and fun. As Syd’s only single friend, she was the one she always turned to in times of need.

“He worships you, and I hate both of you,” she bellowed in to her ear over the loud music. Syd felt smug, but sad. Her friend was stunning. She deserved the world.

“He’ll come one day,” she shouted back.

“Nah,” laughed Marie. “You took the last good one.”

Syd frowned when she thought of her friend. She was the most supportive, strong woman she had ever met. Is there really someone for everyone?

“I have a surprise for you, my golden Goddess,” Julian began when he reappeared. He pulled a piece of paper from behind his back.

Julian was an artist. Not a struggling one, as his full time job as a law clerk saw to. He hated it, but it was a means to an end, as he often stated. He didn’t have many work friends. The few times she’d been out with them, they were dull and unfriendly. One night in particular stuck in Syd’s mind. His boss, a heavy set man with a terrible comb over had looked her up and down and tapped her on the behind.

“They’re a rotten crown.” Julian cooed in her ear that night as they Uber’d home.

“You’re worth the whole damn lot of them,” she finished. They shared a passionate kiss. That was the first time he told her he loved her.

Syd moved in a few days later.

Since then, Julian’s cartoons never failed to brighten her day. Syd looked down at his latest creation: a sleeping red head with a caption ‘My World.’

“This is for you,” he beamed.

“I’ll frame it,” she teased.

He looked so proud. His chest puffed out, his wonky grin. She wanted to eat him up.

“I will draw us old and in rocking chairs.”

“I’d rather live it!” She said with love. He stuck out his bottom lip. Syd had a tendency to shut him down without thinking. “Draw our future.”

“Right after I get eggs,” he muttered. “We don’t have any left.”

“I’d rather some toast. You can’t make eggs.”

“It is my life goal,” he announced loudly to the empty room, “to make you the perfect egg.” She was more interested in his slipping towel but nodded along anyway.

“Keep trying.”

When Julian closed the front door, and said I love you for the third time that morning, Sydney didn’t say it back. She knew he knew. She said it with her eyes, meeting his and welling up. She said it in the way she brushed his hair out of his face as he finished his latest masterpiece. She said it when she made the bed, and laid out some of his clothes. She said it in ways that spoke more than words.

She knew he knew it.

But she spent the rest of her life wishing she’d said it that morning.

When the police knocked on the door an hour later she was already so anxious her hands were shaking. He hadn’t answered her texts; he hadn’t picked up his phone. He was always hopeless with that damn phone but today she knew he took it with him.

Maybe he left it in the car? Maybe the store was closed for some reason. Maybe he ran in to someone he knew and got talking and lost track of time.

‘Where r u?’

‘Is everything ok?’

‘Did the car breakdown? Do u need me to come get u?

She saw the uniforms and the look of sorrow on their faces. As soon as they opened their mouths it was like one of those silly cartoons when everything is fuzzy. She didn’t remember falling to her knees or how one of them had picked her up and walked her in to the living room. The noise coming from her mouth was something foreign; a pained moan from a ghost. Something she’d never heard before.

She heard the words ‘accident’ and ‘fatalities’ and something about a truck turn-over.

A hot cup appeared in her hand; his cup. She took a sip discerningly and gagged. It was rocket fuel. It was his coffee. She threw the cup across the room and it smashed in to a million pieces along with her heart.

“Never touch his coffee!” She screamed. She was held tight again a chest that wasn’t his and she thrashed with all her might, becoming a crumpled heap on the floor. Who can you call?

No one.

There is no one.

He’s gone.

~

Six months later she sat in a cafe with Marie. Her voice was fuzzy and cartoon-like and Syd’d eyes glazed over as she stared at the barista. He had long floppy hair and flashed her a smile. Her stone face remained unchanged.

“Cherish the ones you love Marie,” she said flatly. Her friend fell silent. A hand cupped hers.

“Always,” she said quietly.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s why I’m writing this part two.

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, how do we turn off these inner killers?

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

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

Do you feel me?

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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~

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

We need to keep addressing it.

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

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

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

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

Harleigh Q

Xo

A Lady I Dig Called… DJ Honey

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

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

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

Soundtrack:

Barbara Lynn – I’m a Good Woman

Okay Honey, who are you?

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

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

Yep. Conquer of my own destiny (laughs).

Excellent, and describe yourself in three words.

Absolutely fabulous, darling.

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

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

Exploring Australia properly.

Yes, Australia, and Europe. England!

You were born in England?

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

What kind of dog do you have?

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

You love it?

I love the weather.

So what do you do for a living?

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

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

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

And you have your radio show too.

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

That’s me.

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

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

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

You’ve been doing this for six months.

Yep, that’s right.

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

So… I love Elvis Presley.

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

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

There is no one else like him.

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

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

So vintage.

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

Have you been to Graceland yet?

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

But it’s about so much more than that.

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

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

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

What makes you smile? Don’t say Elvis.

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

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

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

You must have a really good collection by now.

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

What makes your frown?

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

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

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

Hashtag.

That’s my motto.

What’s your favourite line from a song? 

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

Good choice. That kind of sums it up really. 

You could be talking about lots of things.

What your favourite film? 

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

How old were you when you first saw it?

18 I think? Quite old.

Who is your favourite person?

You can’t have favourites (laughs).

I feel like I could answer that very quickly.

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

I’ll allow it for this one question.

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

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

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

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

Exactly.

What’s your proudest achievement? 

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

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

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

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

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

What is your biggest passion in life?

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

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

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

Yeah. Like you say, it can be exhausting.

What’s your favourite piece of advice?

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

It’s still good to hear.

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

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

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

At least you tried.

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

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

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

He has no choice. He has to share.

Do you love yourself?

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

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

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

Look at you not wanting to just say it!

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

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

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

So what is love to you?

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

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

A G&T.

~

Thank you beautiful creature for being my first.

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

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

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

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

All my love

Harleigh Q

xoxo