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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Adventure & 2014

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Adventure & 2014

I’ve got 7 days left till my big adrenaline junkie New Zealand Contiki tour! In the last few days, I’ve felt like I have been living with a cloud above my head. I think this New Zealand trip will be good for me. I’ll recharge my batteries and hopefully come back with a new perspective on life. I’ll write up a 2014 plan and make the most of my final year at uni.

Sometimes I forget what I stand for. Life is better when you are laughing. So be who you are, not what the world wants you to be.

I’ll keep y’all posted on my New Zealand trip! Not long to go! Get excited!

Good Conversation & a Tea Studio

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There’s this guy at work named Byron, who’s always serving tea during his breaks. Because I’m a tea princess, we became instant friends. I don’t think many people can say they live below a tea studio, but he does along with his partner in crime/other half/soul mate/best friend, Katerina. They own it actually. It’s called Lotus Teas. It’s a small authentic tea shop tucked away in Sydney’s inner west, Sydenham. So I got an invite by Byron (totes feel special) to visit this tea  studio and spend an afternoon relishing and learning about the tea world. As soon as I walked into the Lotus Teas Studio Room, I felt transported to a zen-inspired oasis with relaxing music to accompany the background. Because I had been busy that morning (actually I’m busy all day, every day), I felt a change in energy. It was as if all of a sudden I was aware of my own energy. It was like a time conscious, stressed out I need a pick-me-up caffeine buzz, but I know coffee is bad for me, so don’t worry I’ve got my shit together vibe. But as they say, acceptance, is the first step to moving forward. It was a great afternoon full of listening to the stories, philosophical ideas and aspirations of those on the creative side in love with tea.

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A house with an art studio and a tea house, overlooking a lake. That is Katerina’s dream home. Now, this girl is more than just a dreamer, for she puts her ideas into action. Her love for tea has allowed her to use her creative edge to make a business out of it. One of her tea blends has such an awesome name, I told her that she should trade mark the name and T2 would probably buy it. It’s called Liquid Sunshine (how cool, right?). It is an uplifting tea, the one you come home to when you just had a long day and need a little burst of joy and radiance. It is made with mandarin peels, resulting in citrus top notes; layered under peppermint and chamomile base notes, which creates a soothing and relaxing effect. For Katerina, “Tea culture is about bringing in the principles of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility into your everyday life. You become more aware of how you can better yourself through those principles”. Living in Sydney for 22 years, I know that tea culture has never been a big thing here, compared to other countries such as Japan, China and India . However, its popularity through commercialisation is gradually creating a change in our culture. The power and pleasure of drinking tea is becoming more appreciated within the community.

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If you don’t already know, Memoirs of a Geisha (1997) by Arthur Golden is my 2nd favourite book, coming 2nd to One Day (2009) by David Nicholls, which is sitting on my bookshelf all tattered, dog-eared and unlaminated (to retain its history of spilt coffee marks and chocolate-licked fingers). I don’t know why, but I just never get sick of the book. I guess I have a connection to it? Sometimes I read particular chapters depending on my mood and whatever 20-something dilemma I’m going through at the time. Twenty years. Two people…there’s just something entrancing about the whole thing and how witty and beautifully written it is. Escapism. Anyway, getting side-tracked here. So my point was meant to be what’s funny is that Katerina was first exposed to tea culture through Memoirs of a Geisha. I particularly love the part when Chiyo first meets Mr. Tanaka Ichiro one afternoon and she recalls, “He seemed so fascinating to me, even the fish smell on his hands was a kind of perfume. If I had never known him, I’m sure I would not have become a geisha.”

New stills of film "Memoirs of a Geisha"

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I think like Chiyo, as we age, different things gain new symbolic insights and meanings to us. For Chiyo the smell of fish reminds her of her childhood days, living in a poverty-stricken Japanese fishing village and her fisherman father who sold her to a geisha house in Kyoto’s famous Gion district at the age of 9 (I clearly know too much about this book). On the other hand, tea reminds Katerina of her spiritual being (a.k.a. inner Goddess). For her, a little morning tea ritual quietens the mind. Instead of dreading how much you wish you were still in bed, but your 9 to 5 job allows you to get by and pay the bills, imagine completely changing your ‘default-setting’ perspective and thoughts. Picture yourself walking over to the tea pot, choosing to listen to the bubbling of the water,carefully selecting your leaves, appreciating where they came from, and imagining the tea farmer away in a foreign country plucking your tea leaves. Tea has a way of connecting us as humans to the Earth. It gives us a basic sense of self. It was a realisation I had that day because I like drinking tea, but I had never thought of tea in that sense. Earl Grey, English Breakfast or Chamomile…In Second Year, I used to think of tea as nothing but a rip-off. Hot water and a tea bag for $4 at the cafes at uni, “Are you serious? Oww hell no!” [insert finger snap ghetto style].

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One day Katerina was walking down New South Head Rd in Double Bay, when she walked into the Taka Tea Garden. “The minute I was in that tea house, it was like I had come home or something. I felt so drawn to that space of meditation, of calm and tranquility. I was so fascinated by the spirit of tea, by the concepts behind it, the philosophy.” From there, she was given the contact details of a tea teacher named Rosalyn in Epping. I’ve never spoken on the phone for an hour to a complete stranger, unless it’s about my internet not working (no internet = life is miserable) or my bad reception on my phone, to a customer service rep. But Katerina spoke on the phone to Rosalyn for over an hour, despite having never met her before. They must have made a strong connection, for they soon became friends, and later on Rosalyn would become Katerina’s tea mentor. Even the dress Katerina was wearing the day I visited was something Rosalyn once owned and passed onto Katerina.

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I also tried proper/legit matcha (you know the way its meant to be made, not the processed chalky light green fluff you find in a packet in the aisle of a dodgy Asian grocery store. Apparently, the Matcha Green Tea Frappuccino that I regularly order at Starbucks or the heavenly, frothy, sweet green tea latte that I had in Melbourne this winter does not count as ‘real’ matcha. The origins of Japanese matcha is noted to have emerged in history when it was first introduced to ancient Chinese society and adopted by Chan Buddhists in 960AD. Blends of matcha are given poetic names called chamei (meaning “tea names”) either by the producing plantation, shop or creator of the blend, or by the grand tea master of a particular tea tradition. When a blend is named by the grand master of some tea ceremony lineage, it becomes known as the master’s konomi, or favoured blend. Matcha is made from shade-grown green tea. Protecting the tea leaves from direct sunlight allows the leaves to become rich in chorophyll and amino acids. Only the finest tea buds are hand-picked during harvesting. After harvesting, the tea leaves are then dried and ground into fine bright green matcha powder. Matcha is prepared as a powder and whisked into hot water, a method which releases the caffeine into the body gradually over 6-8 hours. Swapping coffee for matcha will result in sustained energy and increased alertness and focus, aided with a cleaning effect on your body, without giving you the jitters, shakes or a caffeine crash later in the day from drinking coffee. Real matcha is actually quite strong (tip #1: don’t ask to add sugar. You will be death-stared). Once you’ve got used to drinking it, the health benefits you gain fair outweigh the benefits of drinking coffee (umm…who wants stained teeth and bad acidic breath?)

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So if you want to find an escape from the busyness of your day-to-day life, find solace as you step into a meditative space of cultural appreciation where you can try a whole new world of full leaf teas at Lotus Teas in Sydenham. It’s by appointment only, but you can go online and purchase their teas also.

Yours truly, from a 22-year-old who says, “de-stress, drink tea & live a little. Life’s too short.”

Gen Y & multi-tasking

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You casually check your hair in the reflection of retail store windows, as you walk swiftly with a coffee in one hand, while contemplating whether you’ll get to work on time. Multi-tasking. It’s hard. If you’re part of Gen Y, then you’ll most likely want things done efficiently in a timely manner. Whether that be your order at McDonalds when you regret that you wish you had prepared your lunch the night before rather than planning to do it in the morning, which you never really did because your alarm clock was teasing you to press snooze, and you just couldn’t resist, or you just keep making excuses for things you’ve been putting off like that long awaited catch-up brunch with a friend that never really got planned. That sentence doesn’t even make proper sense. But you know what who cares. These days it feels as if no one cares. It’s as if we are just existing, rather than living. Nameless faces going with the flow of the rat race, especially now that it is leading up to Christmas. When was the last time you had a nice, chill, I-wanna-be-here-and-don’t-have-plans-straight-after chat with an old friend in a relaxed environment? These days we are all busy. We stuff our food with fast food during breaks at work. Or we chump on a high calorie, high sugar ‘snack’ like a triple chocolate fudge muffin, while simultaneously gulping down expresso that burns your tongue because you tell yourself, “I just don’t have time”. Am I angry at the world that things have just gotten so out of control? Am I angry at myself for wanting to chase my ‘blurred’ dreams because I’m a success-hungry 20-something? If you’ve ever felt this way, then don’t fear you’re not alone. We just need to do one thing, and that’s to relax. Problem solved. Ask yourself, what is important to you? if you were to die tomorrow, would you worry about the small things that fill your headspace on a daily basis? What would you do if the world was going to end tomorrow?

Yours truly,

from a 22-year-old who dreams of a quiet place of serenity with the sound of spring water peacefully trickling down, where she can clear her thoughts.