Eat, Pray, Love & a 1 am Facebook Post

I never posted this. I was meant to before boarding the plane to New Zealand, but I ran out of time. And then all this chaos happened, and all this adventure stuff happened on Contiki. So here it is…2 months later. It’s ready.Eat Pray Love Movie Cover

If there is such thing as a second quarter life crisis, then I’m having one right now. At the beginning of the summer break, I met a Sydney Uni lecturer at work. She was well spoken, well educated (probably well off as well) and polite. We talked about life. She was there with her nephew, who had just finished his first year of Engineering. He had a whole apartment to himself across the UNSW Kensington campus where he studied at and as a reward, he was told he could buy a new laptop for getting his first High Distinction. “Are you for real?” I remember silently yelling in my mind. I’ve worked since I was 15-years-old.  I can’t even remember a weekend where I haven’t been obliged to work or take off leave because I have an event to attend. “Give yourself a little break before uni starts again,” I remember the lecturer telling me. It resonated with me. It stuck to my thoughts. Perhaps because I knew I really needed it.

So here I am writing this as I sit on the train, on my way to the airport. There are four Asian women sitting across me, all wearing sun hats. Two of them are looking at photographs. One of them is carrying one of those wheely (yes, new word) Asian shopping trolleys. You know the type you usually see on a weekend when you’re still young enough to be bribed by your Asian parents to head to Cabramatta to get some fresh produce. I remember the best thing about that place was being able to point to a piece of fruit and the stall keeper would let you taste it. These women are loud, but they are happy. My main goal in life is to be happy. Lately though, I’ve been feeling quite run down, especially when my mind is running at a thousand thoughts per second. A train with no brakes. Too busy chasing my dreams. Too exhausted because I just want to get so much done. Too fearful that I’ll waste my 20s on ‘default setting’ tasks. One day, 8 years from now when I’m 30-years-old, I’ll have a chat with an old friend. I’ll look them straight in the eye and tell them, “I lived my twenties. I lived my youth. I lived it to the fullest, and the best is yet to come.”

In the memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, there is a moment Elizabeth Gilbert realises she doesn’t want to be married anymore. It’s not the first time she’s felt this way, but I think in that one moment, she felt absolutely certain. Sometimes women need constant reassurance (men might argue differently). Some need it more than others. Reassurance can be found in many forms – compliments, jokes, heart to hearts and those ‘light bulb’ moments when you see yourself in someone else. I thought I’d just concisely describe ‘the moment’ Elizabeth Gilbert had, but I’ve decided to extract the whole thing from her memoir to let you draw a picture for yourself and develop your own interpretation.

“I don’t want to be married anymore. My husband was sleeping in the other room, in our bed. I equal parts loved him and could not stand him. I couldn’t wake him to share in my distress—what would be the point? He’d already been watching me fall apart for months now, watching me behave like a madwoman (we both agreed on that word), and I only exhausted him. We both knew there was something wrong with me, and he’d been losing patience with it. We’d been fighting and crying and we were weary in that way that only a couple whose marriage is collapsing can be weary. We had the eyes of refugees.

From that point, Elizabeth Gilbert knew exactly what she needed to do. And so one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia began. In some way, I think we can all relate. It’s that moment when you are furiously angry; that moment when you don’t know why your angry. Then when the rips have vanished and the waves are gently caressing the soft sand, you realise it is because you are angry at yourself. Expectations, shortcomings and the desire to be in a significantly different and better circumstance than the one you are currently in. The truth is, you are usually doing better than you think.

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So yeah after all that, I think what I’m trying to say, is that I’m having an Eat, Pray, Love moment, but in a different context, an I-want-to-find-myself context. We all have a story, and I wouldn’t do mine justice if I compressed it all in a sentence or two. Like yours, it’s full of colour, laughter, victory, but also insecurities, frustrations and sleepless nights. Let’s just say my Eat, Pray, Love moment was when somebody called me beautiful, but I didn’t believe them. Then it happened again, and I still felt the same. One hundred people can tell you your beautiful, but when you inside don’t believe it yourself, then none of those one hundred compliments mean a thing. This is probably over-share, but who cares. Only God can judge me. Let the vulnerable be vulnerable, and the healing begin. This is just part of my journey. New Zealand here I come…

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Vintage & the Beginning of Something

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The inspiration behind this blog post is a long Celia Ryan evening dress that buttons all the way to the top, with a long slip on the side (above). I don’t know about you, but just like love, I think you can apply fate to many things. Love doesn’t always have to be applied in a romantic context, for you can fall in love with your career, your pet/s, or your Grandmother’s old wedding dress. Last December I worked 2 jobs. I figured, it’s uni break and I wanted to gain some valuable experience in the beauty industry, while rolling in the dough. So I took up a second job as a beauty advisor at Crabtree & Evelyn. I got so used to going into the City pretty much every day for work, that one day when I actually had no work, I caught the train going there. Realising I wasn’t actually working, I decided to just stroll down the streets of Sydney without a care in the world, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art down in The Rocks, and buy a ferry ticket to Manly. That’s where I found the dress.  This dress symbolises the start of my vintage collecting. I’m telling you now, it’s the beginning of something great. The Northern Beaches is one of the best place to go op shopping because it’s where upper class, glove-wearing, hair-pinned nicely, and face done up with expensive Dior make-up women, give away their ‘old stuff’ to charity. Most of the time it’s all in perfect condition. Win! Anyway, so I found this dress in Lifeline on the 2nd floor, the vintage section. It was really awkward getting it of the mannequin because no one was on the 2nd floor and it felt like I was trying to nick it. Of course I was going to buy it (it was $16 believe it or not). I had to make it mine. Last Wednesday, I interviewed Wendy Doughty, the owner of a vintage fashion boutique in Rozelle called Mint Condition. To her, “What’s special about vintage is that if you find a vintage dress and it fits you like a glove, nothing looks better.”

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In this day and age, op shopping/thrifting/vintage collecting is creating a cultural shift in the way we perceive and buy clothes. ‘Old’ has become new again. A lot of the time designer clothes are made in replicates – we do live in a consumerist world after all and everyone wants to make a penny. That’s how we survive. I once volunteered as a backstage dresser for a fashion show one time. At the end of the night, one pair of designer sunglasses went missing. The 2 guys who had just started off their first collection of sunglasses, laughed it off, saying “At least we know someone wants them”. I remember one of them telling me, “When people buy designer clothes, what they are really buying is confidence.” I couldn’t agree more. I think clothes are about how they make you feel. To some fashion is all about trends – specific colours, cuts and patterns. And so what do they do? They follow the crowd. For me, I simply buy what I love. But of course, at this point in time, being 22 and a struggling uni student, I can’t exactly buy a strapless haute couture evening gown embellished with Swarovski crystals when I walk past it in a glass window display and it’s calling my name.

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Coco Chanel once said, The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud. I think clothing is a creative avenue for self-expression. You don’t need expensive clothes to look and feel fab. You just need to know what you like and what suits your body shape. Growing up in a strict (and conservative) Filipino household, my mother would always comment on what I was wearing (even to this day unfortunately). Her favourite (repetitive) comment is, “That’s too short.” But what can I do, I’m 5’9 and all the typical 20-something clothing labels such as All About Eve and Lulu and Rose make generic sizes, which are a few centre metres too less. Funny story – my mum has size 11 feet and when she was growing up in the Philippines, she had to get customised shoes because none of the shoes there fit her (you’d think she’d understand, right? Yeah, no).

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Carefully rummaging through the racks at Mint Condition, not only were the vintage pieces in excellent condition, but they had a certain mystery about them, that made them so appealing. Who did they belong to in a previous life? Were they loved dearly or abandoned in a closet for years? As Wendy put it, “You can keep the mystery. You can create a new life for a piece. A new beginning for an old dress. Who cares what the history is. Love it for what it is and that it did have a history and it’s even more appealing when you don’t know what the history is. It’s a mystery.” She reminded me a bit of myself, the I’m-too-free-spirited-to-be-caged-in me. “1980. I was 16 and had my first stall at Paddington. I made $100 dollars. I’ll never forget it because it was just from cleaning out my bedroom to make room for more. And I just never looked back. I had the dealing bug, and so once I sold everything out of my room. I started looking for more elsewhere to sell.” Wendy was a regular market stall holder at the Rozelle markets for 10-12 years. She was there dealing legit stuff of course i.e. vintage treasures she had found, every Sunday. “I started in the early ’90s.” When her youngest son started school in 2006, the birth of her new love child, Mint Condition happened. Mint Condition is distinctly feminine, very retro and somewhat mystic. Perhaps because the store just has so much life in it. You can just feel the energy (or maybe because I just get so excited when I know I’ll find something I’ll instantly fallen in love with whilst op shopping). I picked up a few things there, including a ’70s yellow printed Japanese silk dress, a ’60s green and pink floral playsuit, a ’90s Portofino A-line skirt, and a midnight black patent leather gold-chained purse. When I asked Wendy what the inspiration is behind her store, her first answer was her mother. “My mother was born one month before Marilyn Monroe and she is more beautiful.” Hence, the Marilyn Monroe photos in the store. I like Marilyn Monroe. Beautiful, yet insecure. That’s how I’d describe her.

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Scan 2

Blueberries & sparkles

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Blueberries are insane. I highly recommend the super fruit, as they packed with antioxidant power! Antioxidants work to neutralise free radicals linked to the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and the progression of ageing. No one wants wrinkles! I say defy nature, and eat blueberries [insert Mr Burn’s evil hand gesture when he says, “Excellent”]. Actually, the shade of the first coat of nail polish I applied is called Blueberry by Crabtree & Evelyn. It is reasonably easy to apply, as it glides through the brush smoothly. After applying twice, the end result produced a glossy, bold shade of what I’d call Galaxy Blue, with a hint of shimmer [insert spirit fingers dance from Bring It On]. So far no chipping has occurred, and it’s now day 3, which points that these nail lacquers are top dog! They seem to provide long-lasting wear, which of course is what every girl wants.

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Normally Crabtree & Evelyn nail lacquers retail for $15, with a collection that consists of 19 shades and a clear lacquer that can act as both a colour-adhesive base and a protective finish top coat. Also, their nail lacquers have been formulated without ‘the bad stuff’ i.e. camphor, dibutyl phthalates, formaldehyde and toluene. This year I signed myself up to be a Christmas casual beauty advisor with Crabtree & Evelyn (a.k.a. Christmas elf), which has meant that I was able to relish in their 50% off Christmas promotion for casual employees. Win! I went all out of course!

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On top of the base nail colour, I used Australis Nail Glitter Top Coat in Glitter Strikes Back ($7.95) for an instant glitter effect.To give my nails a budge of an edge, the 3rd finger in mauve was painted with Covergirl Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss ($6.95) in the shade Vio-Last 300. To give it a protective finish and a little sparkle I used Bourjois 1 Seconde Nail Polish ($12), which is a silicon-enriched gel formula with a very impressive fan-effect brush. I really liked the brush! And of course the magic touch to seal the deal, Sally Hansen’s Dry & Go Drops ($14.95). One drop on each nail is plenty. This is a little secret I like to use, as these drying drops not only dries polish in 60 seconds, but it helps prevent against smudges and chipping. It’s a brilliant little secret that I discovered from a good friend, M, when I slept over her house and she gave me a mini-manicure. Also, don’t forget to use a base coat such as Eclipse Long Lasting Quick Dry, which is a Korean brand. They used to have little pop-up stores in various Westfields, but they seem to have disappeared. Any other base coat nail polish should do the trick.

Yours truly,

from a 22-year-old girl who simply loves a good manicure.

Morning chaos + a new scent

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You wake up, you have coffee, and you look yourself in the mirror and say, “Oh my God, I have 5 minutes left!” So you frantically do your make-up, pack your bag and do your little ‘jeans dance’ to fit into your favourite baby blue skinny jeans. And my final step, is a spritz of my currently favourite perfume before I run out the door. That’s my typical morning for you.

On my way to uni, I took a little ‘detour’ and went to Priceline, near Central Station. I couldn’t help but notice the 40% off all perfumes sale sign (written in bold, might I add), which led me to purchase Rogue by Rihanna for a measly $23.99 (win!). Now, I’m not a crazy, obsessed Rihanna fan girl (note: I’m more of a Beyonce I’m-so-fierce fan girl. By the way, I can’t believe I’ll be in the moshpit singing along to her tunes this Friday for her Carter Show World Tour in Sydney). rogue 1However, Rihanna’s fourth fragrance for women, Rogue, is an absolute winner! According to Rihanna,  “People are always changing and evolving and with Rogue I wanted to switch it up to reflect who I am today.I made it for all women, for every mood, because we all want to project our true selves.” Now, this fragrance is announced to be flirtatious and sensual. I’m not sure if I’m either, however, I do like the sultry and adventurous edge it brings about, while at the same time radiating a sweet and feminine facade.

Rogue contains accords of lemon blossom, cyclamen, jasmine, rose, plum and suede over a base of musk, woods, patchouli, vanilla and amber. The fragrance is available as Eau de Parfum in three sizes: 30, 75 and 125 mL. I normally purchase 30 mL perfumes because they are easy to carry in a purse or bag. Secondly, I find that by the time I reach half way of a 50 ml or more bottle of perfume, I’m usually over it, and looking for another sweet scent to spray all over. In summary, Rogue by Rihanna is a light fresh fragrance that makes it seem like you had one whole hour to prep in the morning. A whiff of this gives the impression that you just came out of the shower smelling like lemon blossum and vanilla.

Your’s truly,

from a 21-year-old girl who has 21 bottles of various perfumes on her dresser and still can’t get enough! You only live once after all.