Category Archives: Thoughts and Opinions

The reason I haven’t been writing? I felt a little bit violated.

Hey guys!

So, I’ve taken a break a bit longer than expected from writing on the blog. It’s for many reasons including my hubby being unemployed (which meant I had no spare money whatsoever to buy pretty new clothes or even go op shopping). That being said, hubby is now permanently employed and starting out on a new career track this year, which is very exciting! But back to things – there is a main reason why I’ve taken a step back from blogging.

I learned late last year that regularly whatever I wrote on the blog about certain things somehow ended up being told to my old boss (I’m in a new role now). Sure – it is a public blog, so I should be prepared for others to find out what I write about. But the factor that others were actively telling my boss what I was writing to report about how I was feeling at work (even though I didn’t specify my work or anything in particular)? That made me really uncomfortable, and really made me feel so uninspired to keep writing. I felt like my “safe space” of sorts had been violated, and I was no longer comfortable being honest about sharing some of the main aspects of my life on here anymore.

As a result, I’m now really unsure of the direction I’ll take on here. I’m wanting to start showing more of “my voice” on here – more opinion pieces and the such. But the risk that a similar situation could happen down the track has made me more nervous about writing. However, I know that I have some amazing supportive friends in the workplace who are encouraging me to keep writing and being myself – no one should stop me from doing what I love and writing. But yeah, as a result of what happened late last year, I’ve been a bit nervous about opening up. That being said, this year is full of opportunity, support and so many achievements for me. I know it’s going to be a great year and I want to share it with you.

Anyway, I really felt that I owed you all a little explanation as to why I’ve been a bit quiet. I sincerely hope I can get my blogging “voice” back soon, as I’ve been feeling so sad about not being able to keep up with something I’ve been doing for years and loving.

Fingers crossed I’ll report back here soon, with lots of confidence and with no hesitation in writing about whatever the hell I want 🙂

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2015 in Review

Hello readers!

As part of the goals I set myself each year, I like to report back in my last post of each year to see how I’ve progressed and what I could have done better over the year. As I am aiming to start 2016 with a more focused approach to the blog, as well as writing more of a variety of content, the way I approach these goals for next year will be changing. However, here’s what I learned from 2015 in line with the goals I set:

-I have learned that health is a priority. This year, I’ve started to discover that my health is starting to stop me from doing things that I used to be able to with no problems. Any ideas I previously had about doing extended travel are pretty much impossible now due to my health, so I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I will have to do shorter overseas trips than I normally would hope to do. I also cannot really drink alcohol anymore (or as much as I could when I was younger) due to how much it mucks up my health in the days after. My levels of tiredness and fatigue have really increased, meaning I struggle to stay up late and attend social events. I’ve seen more specialists than ever this year, and after trying out an insulin pump sensor (where the doctors could not figure out why, even though I was taking all the right steps, my blood sugar levels still weren’t as good as they should be), my doctors have started me on Metformin. They hope that taking this will help my blood sugar levels stabilise, and help in dropping my insulin levels. I’ve always been afraid of needing to be on more medication than needed, but for a chronic immune disease I have to be accepting that this may be the case. My health has come in the way of a lot of things this year, but I have been reminded this year that I am still a strong, capable person and should be thankful for the health I do have.

-I have learned that it’s good to be flexible with plans for the future. I went into 2015 with no idea of what I wanted to happen with my career, plans for saving up for a house, my husband’s job and much more this year. Most of 2015 was pretty rough for hubby and I in relation to these: hubby made the decision to leave his career of teaching due to the lack of permanency and more (which I won’t go too much into on here), so he is currently trying to find a new job for 2016. His goal is to find something that allows him to pursue his passion for writing – whether it be part of the job, or outside of the job (ie. it’s a job where he doesn’t take the work home, and he has time to work on hobbies at home). It’s been quite a journey seeing his focus change over the year, but after what’s happened this year I can completely understand and support his decision. As a result, we’ll hopefully be closer to our goals of saving up for a house (something we’d never be able to do if he stayed in teaching). At the same time, I’ve spent the year trying to figure out where I wanted to be going career-wise, and have ended the year starting a one year secondment with a fantastic, supportive, positive team. This role will help me cross-skill and give me a chance to see what other opportunities are available, and it’s the perfect place for me to be for 2016. I’m really proud that I’ve taken the step to think outside the box and be more flexible in where I could be going for the future – stepping out of a permanent role for a year to try something new is quite a big change for me. However, I feel that it’s really going to help be establish myself career-wise and figure out the direction I’d like to take for the future.

-I have learned that being healthy is more important that trying to reach weight loss goals. After all the health issues I’ve had through the year, I managed to put on about 2 kilos this year. This was pretty tough for me, however in hindsight I really did have a lot on my plate in the year health-wise which would make weight loss and visual progress impossible. Looking at progress photos from where I started my journey in 2014, however, there’s still a massive difference thanks to muscle and toning. Nevertheless, I really struggled this year with the expectations of the gym to follow their meal plans and programs against what my doctors and health needed from me, as well as not seeing much physical changes in my body from exercise. The realisation that I need to get my health sorted before I can try and actively pursue weight loss was absolutely vital for me this year. Due to finances and needing to afford new medications for 2016, I have stepped back from following the gym’s meal plan program. Instead, I will be going into the new year making my own meal plan to follow: a hybrid of the plan I was on at the gym, filled with the required amounts of food and nutrients my doctors and dieticians have recommended, and taking lots of inspiration from Japanese bento lunches. My hubby and I are aiming to make ourselves more bento styled lunches and eating more organically (more grains, meat, fruit and veg and less processed things) in the new year. I also need to start not drinking soft drink anymore – something which has crept up again on me towards the end of this year. So, in focusing on getting my diabetes blood sugar levels in control, hopefully having less insulin as a result and following my own meal plan, I hope to get my health in order so that I’ll then start seeing some progress at the gym.

-I learned that keeping up the things that you’re passionate about is vital (and that exploring new interests is also vital). This year, I feel that I’ve let my hobbies go to waste – I haven’t actively given myself enough time for the things I enjoy. I’ve only really given myself two sewing projects (one where I only need to hem the dress before I can report on it on the blog), but I just haven’t been inspired enough to finish it off. My resin jewellery adventures went on the backburner once Summer ended last year, while I also barely managed to read any of the books I had in mind for my Goodreads 2015 challenge. This year has been rather serious in nature as a result, focused on sorting out finances, health and jobs. I feel I would have gotten through this year much easier if I had given myself more time to pursue my creative outlets. As we get closer to 2015, I now have my Shamisen – something I intend to share with you as my musical outlet. Hubby and I are also aiming to revamp our sewing area, so it is much more accessible and easy to use (I think one of the main things which makes sewing uninspiring for me is how messy our sewing area is!) And once financial plans are sorted, I’m hoping to get back into resin jewellery and maybe complete a workshop to bring myself up to speed. I really hope I can get these hobbies back on track, as I’d love to share them with you.

-I have learned the value of studying a course relevant to my employment and one that is very versatile for the future. I spent the first half of the year trying to figure out whether I wanted to get back to study: the course I was completing last year came to a halt when it was cancelled and all the distance classes on offer disappeared as a result. With my Asian Studies course no longer available, I decided to re-evaluate what I wanted to study. I have a love of learning, and I can see myself studying so many different areas in the future. However, I never really pursued academia related to my career – this year, I decided to branch out and make this happen. In starting a postgraduate business degree, I felt quite nervous: I was from a humanities background, and unsure as to whether I could be as concise and factual as a business degree required. However, my first subject was a fantastic introduction for me, and I can see just how relevant and useful this is going to be for me. I received a distinction for this subject (in fact, I was two marks off a High Distinction), and considering I completed this subject in my own time around full-time work, I’m suite proud of the result. I am hoping in the new year to try and do two subjects a session with the support of work, which would mean that I could potentially finish my Masters degree with a double major by the end of 2017 – years in advance of when I would complete it if I did it all in my own time. Studying a degree directly related to my career (which could also help me branch out into other areas if I decided to do so in the future) has been such a confidence booster for me this year.

– I have learned that I need to stop writing about certain parts of my life on the blog just to “have content” each week. As a result of this, I’ve made a conscious decision to stop talking about my job/work on the blog. Work is work. Last year, I felt that even though it was something I could provide an update on for the blog, it shifted my focus from using the blog as my creative outlet. Also, as I’m trying to differentiate myself from my professional/career through this website, I don’t see as much value in providing updates. I’m starting 2016 in a fantastically positive and supportive space for my career, which likely means I will have more energy and enthusiasm to working on some of my goals surrounding hobbies and outside-of-work pursuits.

Overall, I think that for 2016 I will continue most of the goals I had listed for 2015, but rather put them as overall goals. I think giving a year limit for the goals makes them unrealistic and makes the blog too rigid in the content I’d like to share. So, these goals will be more of a reference point for me to keep in mind when sharing ideas on here for next year onwards, but I’ll also focus on just writing and sharing more on here, and not being afraid of stepping outside the box of my usual content.

I look forward to sharing 2016 with you! Happy New Year 🙂

Friday the 13th, and why Facebook makes me silent in times of world crisis (Week 46 Update, 2015)

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We all know of the vast number of tragedies that struck the world over the weekend beginning with Friday the 13th of November. Take one look at your Facebook feed, and it’s flooded with profile pictures in a colour-swatch of the French flag. Add several posts from those wanting to raise awareness to other less-reported tragedies, and contrast with posts that can be politely be described as complete racism towards our great multicultural society.

Well, that’s what my Facebook feed looked like, anyway. It still looks like this, actually. After attempting to watch a play-through of the new Fallout 4 game that same weekend, I had to stop about 20 minutes in as it was way too…realistic in comparison to what’s been happening and the hatred I was reading on my newsfeed. The thought that there are nuclear weapons that could wipe out the entire world instantly, in the hands of power-hungry nations where it could only take one person to decide their detonation…it was scary. I had to step away from watching a video game trailer of what was meant to be fiction due to how much it duplicated what out potential future could be like in comparison to the events over the weekend.

I spent the whole weekend trying to decide if I’d write anything on Facebook about any of the events from that weekend, including the natural disasters. Facebook kept prodding at me to change my profile picture to colours of patriotic support…but in changing my picture, would that help save the lives of those who lost theirs over the weekend? Would it stop terrorism? Would it help those already suffering from acts of terrorism?

Well, I ended up doing nothing.

It’s so funny: Facebook was initially created as a network to connect college students: a dating website of sorts, to share as much of ourselves as we like. Yet, the more it encourages us to share our opinions on world events, the less I want to share.

I saw people with whom I attended high-school writing ridiculously thoughtless, uneducated, racial comments which honestly made me quite disappointed. But why should I be? It’s their place to express their opinion, and they have as much of a right to share their opinion, even if I disagree with it. If I don’t like what they’re writing, I could simply remove them from my Facebook, right?

At the same time, I have some very differing opinions on topics that could easily cause that same level of disappointment in friends and family through Facebook – related to religion and culture in particular. Yet, I feel it’s still something that’s not appropriate for me to discuss over Facebook. I’d prefer to either keep it to myself, share it with those I trust and love, or write about it in a space I openly call my own, such as this blog.

So, that weekend really influenced me yet again in my decision to share less on Facebook. Instead, I hope to focus on the good things through my blog here. I want to write about things that inspire, that help people to be creative and that assist with people looking for the little things in life that make them happy. I hope to follow J.R.R Tolkien’s perspective, and continue to promote the good in the world. I look forward to sharing the happiness I find in my life with you!

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Mrs Ginger Fox Visits Ikea for the First Time Ever (Week 45 Update, 2015)

Last week’s update (apologies for the delay) is based around my very first trip to Ikea. Seriously, I can’t believe that I’ve managed to avoid Ikea until now…I must have been living under a rock, or was a very poor uni student (or both). But anyway, it may have been a good thing that I avoided it for so long, as Ikea has now given me a massive list of ideas and products to investigate. Anyway, here are my overall thoughts on surviving Ikea as a complete noob to the Swedish mega-store:

-Ikea is big. BIIIIIIIIIG. And it feels like so much more of an adventure with the mapped-out trail of the store. Hubby and I hadn’t figured out the quick escapes, and ended up walking through the entire store to exit as we missed the sneak-out exit in the food court after lunch. Oops. Oh well, there was much adventure and gallivanting as a result! So, if you’re low on your daily step count for your Fitbit device, Ikea is a great place to go. by browsing and walking through the place pretty much twice, I almost racked up my whole daily step goal.

-Thank goodness we were there to mainly purchase things for other people! I spent the whole walking trip around the store needing to convince myself about not getting a filigree-detail vintage style mirror. Unless you have a game-plan, this store is deadly.

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Oh mirror, stop tempting me so.

-It’s definitely a great place to gain inspiration for redecorating or revamping worn-out rooms. However, it is a challenging place to go when you’re renting. There’re so many cool shelving systems and cupboards that can be mounted onto walls, and mega walk-in wardrobes…but unfortunately, due to rental laws we’d be unable to put them into our current place.

One day, I'll have a walk-in-wardrobe. But today is not that day.

One day, I’ll have a walk-in-wardrobe. But today is not that day.

-There appears to be two types of affordability for items at Ikea. There are items which are bargains and affordable, or items that are overpriced. There are a couple of things that hubby and I were looking at, until we realised we could get pretty much the exact same thing at a discount warehouse, but for even cheaper. However, Ikea does have lots of strengths in the storage solutions they offer, as well as the quality of the storage furniture.

-Food was a bit hit and miss. As a coeliac, the meatballs were definitely not gluten free, so I couldn’t try the main item everyone raves about on the menu. In fact, hubby did try them and was a) not impressed and b) felt very sick for hours after. I’m pretty confident we wouldn’t write home about the food, and will probably shop on a full stomach next time (a convenient way to also try and avoid grumpy-husband-when-hungry-and-surrounded-by-too-many-shoppers syndrome).

Pretty lights and windows. And pre-grumpy shopping husband, haha.

Pretty lights and windows. And pre-grumpy shopping husband, haha.

-Speaking of the above, like many major mega-outlets, you’re going to have to deal with many, many shoppers being there who don’t understand how to be polite and not strike up a conversation with a group of trolleys in the middle of a busy t-intersection walkway. It’s a grumpy shopper’s nightmare (aka, my hubby). So…if you or your significant other is a grumpy shopper, plan ahead and give yourself extra time, or try to go at a non-busy time (aka not the weekend).

Overall, if you know what you’re going to purchase at Ikea and have a small game plan, Ikea is wonderful. If you have a budget to stick to, it can be a nightmare. However, it appears to be relatively easy to compromise between the two. I now have many ideas about getting a more organised sewing space set up, and hubby and I have some good ideas for making a more solid gaming area. Plus, we now have our mega-cute house terrarium structures to start developing our inside-herb garden. Anyway, Ikea is something everyone should experience at least once, in my view, while I may find myself venturing back there in the not-too-distant future.

Our cute little herb garden glass-house :)

Our cute little herb garden glass-house 🙂

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The Picton George IV Inn First Annual Rockabilly Festival

Image by Love Stories by Kate (previously Gaia Photography)

Image by Love Stories by Kate (previously Gaia Photography)

My hometown of Picton held its very first rockabilly festival last weekend. Held at the George IV Inn (one of the oldest pubs in New South Wales), the event was attended by a large and diverse crowd. Luckily, the day had clear, sunny skies after a week filled with gale force winds and rain. Overall, the event itself was a fun-filled day and a relative success for the first ever rockabilly festival in Picton, however there was some room for improvement for next year. Here’s my highlights and not-so-highlights from the day:

Highlights

-Live Music: The Voodoo Rhythm Shakers, a Sydney-based rockabilly band were definitely the main reason behind the great atmosphere of the festival. The band held up a steady collection of rockabilly classics from Brian Setzer, the Stray Cats and much more with a strong-voiced female lead singer. Not only did these guys do a show at the inn the night before, but they also played for the majority of the festival held the following day. They were able to keep the dance floor open, and they didn’t stray from upbeat foot-tapping songs – there was never a ‘slow song’ to give the dancers (and the band) a break, so I do admire their stamina. I’d love to see these guys perform again at the festival in the future, and would love to see some other gigs they’re in!

-Great use of the layout of the George IV Inn: The inn itself has just been freshly renovated, with a big barn/shed area opened up. Because of this, they were easily able to accommodate a car show outside the back, a band at the front, markets and stalls around the sides of the inn and keep the inn itself relatively not too busy with the flow of crowds. Throughout the day, we were easily able to pop out back to the outside dining area to have a break and grab a few drinks and some food, which was very convenient.

-Free entry: Who doesn’t love free entry?! I’ve been to so many era-themed events recently, where an entry fee or participation charge was required (and it definitely was not worth it). So, it was really refreshing to have an event where anyone was welcome. The friendly feel and relaxed nature of the day may be a result of this.

-Family friendly (to an extent): there was lots of activities for the kids (well, enough that you can run outside of a pub), including face painting, colouring in competitions and temporary airbrushed tattoos. It can be hard to have many kid-friendly activities at an event held at a pub, however the kids present found many things to do to entertain themselves (including having a go on the dance floor). In future, I’d suggest that there be more things to get the kids involved – perhaps a kids ‘best dressed’ competition (or a better title…’pinup competition’ for kids is a bit inappropriate) would be a good idea!

Not-so-highlights

-Not enough food options, and expensive food: as someone who suffers from coeliac disease, I was pretty disappointed to discover that unless you really liked bread and pizza, there weren’t many options for food. As the staff couldn’t guarantee that the hot chips were gluten-free, I had to take a chance and hope I didn’t get glutened after. Surely I wouldn’t have been the only person with issues in getting food at the event: anyone who was vegetarian, gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant may have had issues as well. That being said, what was on offer (other than food directly from the inn) was from one stall only – serving up hot dogs costing $10 made from the cheapest looking ingredients. I’d pay $10 for a decent Subway sandwich (if I could eat one), however this was definitely not worth the price that was being charged, and there weren’t any other choices available to patrons. However, due to the location of the inn, many food outlets were close by which could accommodate instead.

-Some parts of the day were poorly organised, particularly the Pinup Competition. The Pinup Competition had been advertised as commencing at 4:15pm, with interested contestants being told via the Facebook event page that they just needed to show up at the pageant to be able to enter. However, these ladies then discovered at the festival that ‘try outs’ and heats were taking place at 2pm on the day, without any advertisement of this happening. As a result, there were many ladies turning up to the pageant who were then told they could not enter. On top of this, many children entered the contest as well as there was no age limit or restrictions advertised: while I am happy for children to have a go at things, this wasn’t very appropriate as it was a ‘pinup’ contest advertised and aimed at an older audience, where all other contestants were older women. In fact, many adult contestants were knocked out in the heats due to the ‘cute factor’ of many children who entered. It has already been advised that there will be a separate category for children next year, which will be much more suitable (hopefully it’s just a ‘best dressed’ contest, rather than being ‘pinup’ themed). Also, the competition was judged based on audience approval alone, giving an unfair advantage to locals or many who had supportive friends come along. In future, there should be a combination of a designated judging panel, as well as audience participation.

-Not enough stalls and variety of stalls: I understand that it can be hard to have a large variety of stalls in the first year of a festival. Plus, when you’ve got limited space, you can only select a few stalls for the day or otherwise risk WHS issues. However, there really wasn’t that much variety in the stalls and shops on the day. Some of my favourite local sellers were there (which was amazing), but other than that, not many other stalls stood out with their products. In fact, many didn’t really align with the theme of the festival very well (or, they attempted to try and ‘fit in’ and didn’t really cut it). In future, hopefully the word gets out about the festival, with more peeps getting involved who are in the rockabilly culture and industry.

Overall thoughts

It was really fantastic being a part of the first rockabilly festival in my hometown. Having an alternative, classy and trendy themed festival become a part of where I grew up means that I’m pretty excited about where this festival will go over the next few years. It was a great ‘first go’ of the festival, however with better promotion, more diversity of the stalls involved and better organisation, the festival is surely going to become bigger and better than ever. Congrats to all who were involved on the day – can’t wait to see what’s in store next year!

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Mrs Ginger Fox Abroad: My most embarrassing travel stories

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel many places in my life so far – whether it be through orchestra tours, study or personal travel. As such, I’d like to start a mini-series of posts about my varying experiences overseas, to be called Mrs Ginger Fox Abroad. What way to start the series better than bringing out my most embarrassing travel adventures!?

Here’s my five most embarrassing tales from my adventures overseas:

Getting locked in a toilet of a traditional Japanese Ryokan in Tokyo

Yeah, this happened. As part of a school trip to Japan back in 2005 (my very first trip to Japan), we stayed in a very traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan. While I was getting ready for bed, I needed to use the bathroom, so made my way to the shared bathrooms. However, when trying to open the cubicle door (made from very strong, old wood), it seemed that the wood had swelled-up and was jammed into the frame. As a result, I had locked myself into the cubicle. I was still on insulin injections when I went on this trip, and started to panic as I needed to take my night-time dose. However, everyone else was settling into bed, and the place was eerily quiet, as a traditional ryokan should be. I had to break this traditional atmosphere by screaming out for help at the top of my lungs, which was terribly embarrassing and slightly culturally insensitive. In the end, our teacher had to use brute force to pull open the door from the outside.

Caption: One of the only photos I have from the trip with me in it....Karaoke. Obviously, I was ok with being in crowded, small rooms after this incident.

One of the only photos I have from the trip with me in it….Karaoke. Obviously, I was ok with being in crowded, small rooms after this incident.

-Getting crapped on by a stork in the streets of Madrid, Spain

They say that having a bird crap on you gives you good luck. Well, my embarrassing experience in Spain in 2008 should have given me decades of good luck. Wandering around the cobblestone back streets in Madrid (I believe) with a crowd of other students in the orchestra I was in, there were many birds sitting on the steeples of churches and historical buildings. We then saw an incredibly large bird start flying over the group – one larger than we’d ever seen (it looked to be a similar size to a penguin). Next minute, it felt like I had a bucket of water thrown on me from above. Well…turns out it wasn’t water: it was the waste of a very large (and very full) stork. I don’t really remember much of what happened straight after this: I was in a state of shock and complete embarrassment. I was literally the only person in a group of 40 individuals who got hit by the craptacular display from this stork. I think I ended up throwing out some of the clothes I was wearing, borrowing clothes from other girls and having a very long shower and washing my hair multiple times. From this, I hoped I would somehow gain the winning lottery numbers, eternal youth or something…but all I have for now is an awkward story to tell about birds in Spain. Take my advice: if you’re in Spain and see a massive bird, don’t stare: run and hide. RUN AND HIDE.

Caption: The last photo I have of myself before the incident. I appear so innocent and unaware of the literal s***storm about to happen.

The last photo I have of myself before the incident. I appear so innocent and unaware of the literal s***storm about to happen.

-Mistaking the appearance of lychees in Japan

When I had my stint at studying in Japan in 2009, I was introduced to lychees by my host family. Coming from a family where apples and oranges were our standard fruits, I immediately fell in love with the juiciness and sweetness of the lychee. I ended up having a bowl full for breakfast almost every day of my trip. One day, whilst walking home from university with a group of my friends, my lychee cravings kicked in early. The group decided to head to a convenience store, and I followed, hoping to fix my appetite. As we entered the stall, I noticed something interesting next to the counter: a jar of white, gel-like fruits which looked exactly like lychees to my untrained eyes. I immediately purchased these and ran out the store. As soon as I did, some of my friends gave me some strange looks, and our Japanese friend burst out laughing. They began questioning why I decided to buy myself a jar of pickled onions…where I quickly learned my mistake due to my tired, uninformed eyes. Lesson learned.

Caption: Whilst I don’t have any photos of this experience, here’s one from the daily walk to our university. A real estate used this interesting cardboard model to advertise their company...and we loved it.

Whilst I don’t have any photos of this experience, here’s one from the daily walk to our university. A real estate used this interesting cardboard model to advertise their company…and we loved it.

-Getting fitted for an antique kimono in Japan

It’s very common to try and get yourself a kimono when visiting Japan. However, whilst studying there in 2009, I wanted to get the real thing. As such, my friends and I decided to visit an antique/second-hand kimono store up the road from our university to try our luck. A lovely elderly Japanese woman with no English skills was our fitter, which gave us a perfect change to try out our language skills. Whilst fitting me, she stopped to stare at my chest region, and then blurted out the following phrase (equivalent in English): “Wow, your boobs must be so heavy/such a burden!” This is based on the Japanese word she used of omoi, which roughly translates to heavy/a burden, where we then realised the lady was politely trying to say that I was so sufficiently stacked in the chest, I would never fit into her kimonos. My friends immediately burst out laughing, and “omoi” turned into a great little reference and in-joke of the trip and class.

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Me just prior to the “omoi” experience. That kimono was so pretty….alas, “omoi” 🙁

-Freaking out on the Temporazan Ferris Wheel in Osaka

I was lucky enough to introduce my husband to Japan for the very first time on our honeymoon last year. On our cruise up to this point, every port which we had pulled into in Japan had a ferris wheel. During our second day in Osaka, we had no trips booked in, so decided to explore the port. Feeling adventurous and not wanting to miss the chance of riding a ferris wheel in Japan, I convinced my husband (who has a slight fear of heights) for us to give this one a try. Though, at the time I didn’t realise that this ferris wheel was in the top 20 tallest ferris wheels in the world (and is the 4th tallest in Japan: a country which loves its ferris wheels). Well…I didn’t realise until we were about a quarter of the way through the ride experience, which made this the tallest ride I’ve ever been on. I also then decided to start freaking out about the sheer height – not helping my husband’s worry at all. Our eyes went from the rickety carriage we were in to the bolts that held it together, to the outside view where we were suspended in the air, higher than the top of our cruise ship. We managed to successfully pull ourselves together and laugh about being complete idiots about getting on such a tall ferris wheel whilst admiring the view on the way to reaching the ground (which my husband kissed as soon as he got out of our carriage and his feet touched the ground). Next time, we’ll take the scenic, ground-level rides instead.

Our Lego figurines mid-Ferris Wheel ride. We were shit-scared, and any photos of us show the pure panic we were in...So you guys get the Lego version.

Our Lego figurines mid-Ferris Wheel ride. We were shit-scared, and any photos of us show the pure panic we were in…So you guys get the Lego version.

I’ve done so many embarrassing and story-worthy things overseas, but these few events definitely take the cake. Regardless of what cringe-worthy experiences you have overseas, I highly encourage anyone to experience travelling and discovering a new culture. These awkward experiences just help you to connect more with your fellow travellers, locals and yourself.

If you have any overseas tales you’d like to share, please do! 🙂

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Eurovision: Mrs Ginger Fox’s Favourite Entries for 2015

Well, it’s getting close to being one of the best times of the year – the time that the Eurovision Song Contest is held. There’s something about Eurovision that makes it so very special for so many viewers around not only Europe, but internationally. Whether it is the celebratory efforts of each country involved, the dedication towards sharing a country’s culture with the world, or even those entries that appear to be for the ‘shock’ factor or a pure joke, the Eurovision Song Contest has been embraced and loved by Australians for many years. This year marks 60 years of the contest and is a very special year for Australian fans of Eurovision, as we will be participating with our own Guy Sebastian representing us. Every year, I like to listen to all entries and select a few favourites, as well as a “what the!?” special mention.

This year, it seems like there’s plenty of power ballads (what happened!? I’m looking at you, Moldova…where are your typically quirky entries from a few years ago!?), songs trying to send an important message to the world, and dodgy pop renditions about rejection.

Here’s my picks for Eurovision 2015:

I had to include these guys in my favourites. Firstly, it’s punk. Secondly, it’s Finnish punk. However, most importantly, these guys are showing that no matter what obstacles life throws at you (all members of the band have a disability), you can still rock. This entry, therefore, ticks all the boxes for me as to what Eurovision is all about.

“I’m different, and that’s ok. Here I am!” This song is an anthem, with a singer with such a powerful voice. Awesome work, Serbia! However, what won me over for this song was the film-clip: showing individuals around the world singing along to the song (aka Chat Roulette-style). The positivity and passion in this song, as well as the message makes it a powerful contender, in my opinion.

Definitely my sentimental/moving pick for this year. After last year’s hipster entry from Hungary, this entry seems to be more serious, with a global message of such relevance. Again, the film-clip is such a heart-warming piece in the form of a flash-mob choir from a street performance. The harmonies are so, so perfect in this, with the voices blending together so well and the guitar accompaniment perfectly balanced. This is such a beautiful piece for such a tragic reality in today’s world.

Let’s face it: this song is catchy. The ‘twang’ in the singer’s voice at the start, and that the lyrics are pretty nicely written. Overall, I feel this song could do quite well.

YES, I ADMIT IT. I really like this song. Guy really found his niche in doing Motown-esque music, as it really suits his voice. This song also is majorly catchy. Plus…it’s OUR FIRST EVER ENTRY, and I’m proud of it. Here’s hoping it helps us be victorious.

Um, wow. WOW. Italy has traded in Il Divo, and has upgraded to a younger, hotter version, it appears. Also, one of these guys (the one wearing glasses) totally looks like Gideon from Scott Pilgrim vs the World (now you see it, you’ll be unable to un-see it!) Yes, I know this is pop-era to an extent, but it’s such a STRONG song. Italy hasn’t sent as strong a song for such a long time (last year *almost* got there, and the year before was so bad that the version of the song I got from the internet had a random loudly wailing in the background, haha).So many ladies around the world will be flailing over this one, for sure.

And, lastly, my “What The!?” favourite for this year…

  • Israel: The guy got his heart broken, but that’s ok – he is the King of Fun and wants to show you Tel Aviv and ask you if you like his dancing in the song, Golden Boy. Riiiiight.

Special mentions: both of the entries titled Warrior. Malta’s entry with the string musicians wearing hoodies was pretty awesome, as was Georgia’s with an epic video clip. I couldn’t decide between these two as to which was the better version!

So, who will you be backing in Eurovision this year?

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Week 14 Update, 2015

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Hello from the long weekend! I’m writing this post across the Sunday/Monday of the Easter long weekend after a relaxing few days of catching up with family, playing video games and catching up on TV shows. So, it’s about time for me to write an update for you 🙂 I feel like it’s going to be a long one for this week! Here it goes…

-After seeing my infected leg last week, the doctors have formally given me an indicator of when I should be able to return to the gym. They want me to take 2 weeks after my *expected* surgery in two weeks time, which means – should all go to plan and I recover well – I should be able to start back at the gym at the start of May. I have discovered that I have put on yet another kilo due to not being able to exercise or be active, which has been disappointing for me. However, everyone I have mentioned this to – whether it be hubby, friends, doctors or the gym- have all said that my priority is making sure my leg recovers. Pushing myself at this stage could have bad long-term complications for my leg, so I need to take it easy. It’s been really hard for me to do this, because I feel that I’ve been letting a lot of people down. The pain of my leg changes on a daily basis, therefore I’ve had to change plans at the last minute a lot recently. It’s made me feel like a complete douche of a friend, terrible colleague/worker and an unhelpful wife. I’ve had this condition for five years now, and I just wish it would stop getting in the way of life, especially over the past two months now.

-Over the past few days, a few things pretty awesome happened on the internet. Firstly, a photo of hubby and I at our wedding (from my Instagram) was featured on Buzzfeed in their article titled “47 Brides Who Prove What Perfect Really Means”. I didn’t even know this had happened until I received a combination of notifications from Facebook friends and new followers through Instagram. Hubby and I are number 38, titled “It’s OK to get weird”, and some people did think this title was having a slight “go” at us. In all honesty, we did not picture it that way at all, as we’ve always acknowledged our quirks and weirdness (heck, we described our wedding as nerdy and quirky). Anyway, through this post, I’ve met some amazing people and fellow bride alumni (haha), which has been an awesome experience.

Secondly, my NLD post I wrote a few weeks on here actually was re-tweeted by a few prominent (and largely followed) Type 1 Diabetes Twitter communities. I am so happy that I’m able to help in spreading knowledge on NLD, and that others have found the article useful. Plus, I’ve also now been able to connect with some great people and groups through Twitter. Overall, these two experiences via the internet have really left me inspired to keep sharing things through my blog, and through Instagram and other mediums, as people can care, or even be helped from it. I’d like to send a massive thank you to those who have reached out and followed me (whether on here, Instagram or Twitter) and continue to read and inspire me to write more. I really appreciate it 🙂

-Over the weekend, I have started a sewing project with the help of my dear husband. I have a work conference later this month, where a formal dinner event requires me to have an evening/formal dress. So, I’m using this opportunity to try and sew my first retro-inspired dress. As I’m not a confident sewer at all (I’m very much a beginner), hubby will be helping prep patterns and pinning. If this doesn’t work out, I do have a Plan B thanks to eBay, however I am hoping to document the making of this dress through an upcoming blog post. I’ll keep you posted, and any sneak peeks will be shown on Instagram.

-So, yes. I have a work conference to attend in a few weeks, where I also get to attend a fancy dinner and be put up in some nice accommodation. In all honesty, I’m really, really excited about this. I’ve wanted to participate in a conference or external event for work for a while. My ultimate wish for a few years was to participate in an international event for work (this is domestic), but regardless, I’m really excited that I’ve got this opportunity to learn and network. It’s making me feel that, as a worker, I will have the chance to feel involved and that my work is important – something I’ve really needed recently.

-Over the weekend, I decided to bring home my viola and clarinet from parents’ place (yeah, I haven’t touched my viola since a gig almost 2 years ago, and my clarinet for even longer). I’ve recently been considering picking up my instruments again, as being able to play music is such a precious skill to have in life. Even if I ended up not deciding to pursue it professionally when I was younger, recognising that it’s something I can do for fun and not ‘seriously’ has been a concept that’s taken me a while to understand (seriously…). Once we have our new computer built, I’m also going to boot up Sibelius and have another go at composing again. I’m also considering (if my clarinet is still in good enough condition) to look into any jazz bands in the area. One of the best experiences I have had as a musician was playing jazz, particularly being a part of the Senior Jazz band in high school with peers in the year above me. So many of those guys were incredibly talented, and we sounded really good. In fact, it’s probably been one of the most fun music experiences I’ve had, so I’m considering whether I try to pick up the clarinet and research some local jazz. It’s also made me wonder about investing in a soprano saxophone (something I’ve thought about picking up for a few years), or (if needed) a newer clarinet. I miss playing good jazz music, and miss playing music overall. Here’s hoping I can be proactive about utilising this skill.

-I’ve been in a bit of a predicament over the past couple of months. I’ve been thinking about the things I love to do and am passionate about, such as music (as per above), and realising a few things. Firstly, unfortunately none of these things that I’m passionate about would provide a decent income to live off (it would most likely be less than I am on currently, as a new-ish young professional), and secondly/more importantly, I wouldn’t know what to do if I decided to pursue a qualification in them. Music basically goes into either teaching, or working as a musician – neither of which seem very appealing to me (unless it was private teaching). Plus, most teachers end up pursuing formal Australian Music Examination Board (AMEB) grades to prove their skills, which has been something I’ve always been a bit unsure about going after. However, I also like the idea of being a composer, or even a theory teacher, though the same restrictions apply. Maybe I’m just destined to keep the things I’m passionate about as gigs or hobbies on the side around work which pays the bills. It’s been tough realising that, thanks to the real world and financial constraints, what you dreamed of achieving when you were younger is pretty much impossible to go after as an adult…

-Now that we’ve caught up on some financial bits and pieces (stupid Rego and Greenslip), hubby and I have been discussing budgeting in some money to purchase items to review for our social media platforms. Hubby will be able to invest in some old and new games to review, while I can use mine for a variety of things: clothing, accessories, make-up, skincare, fabric, patterns…the list could be endless. Is there anything you would like to see me review? Please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll see what I can do 🙂

Wow, it’s been a week of lots of creative ideas and working on things I’m passionate about. It’s exactly the type of week I needed after last week, upon reflection. So, thanks for reading, and thanks for sticking with me each week. Til next time 🙂

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How to live in the present when you are a future-focused individual

Pretty much.

Pretty much. Picture from Pinterest.

I will admit: I am very much a person who focuses on the future. As a result, I can often become anxious and worried about the unknown. Heck, with the epiphanies my husband and I have been having about our future plans, my brain is constantly thinking about the Future every day. A mega-planner at heart, it is hard for me to accept this and live in the ‘now’. My husband explained to me that this makes me the ‘rock’ of our relationship, where I am definitive in my plans and can find it difficult to be flexible. However, he is like ‘water’: he is willing to be flexible, but requires more direction and reminders for urgent tasks. From these observations and lots of conversations since, I’ve gained a few tips on how I can focus on the present. Here’s some I’d like to share with you:

-Find little things in every day to look forward to.

Sometimes, it can be hard to stay motivated in a day filled with normal, mundane tasks – even more so if you’re like me and like to let the mind wander and think about plans for the future. To counteract this, I’ve given myself small and minor, yet constant, events through the day that I look forward to. For me, this includes seeing the sunrise/colours of the sunrise as the sky clears in the morning, having my cup of green tea and mint when I start work, having a post-work cuddle at home, and writing my blogs each week. While these tasks can be ones I need to do each week, I find that allowing these to be things that I look forward to, rather than adding them to the routine and schedule of things in the present, a very therapeutic thing.

-Appreciate the monotony and familiarity of the now

When future plans eventuate and actually happen, I’ll probably look back and wish I had the time and energy to do things. The value of circumstances in the present is that you’re familiar with them, or even that you know how to complete them to the best of your ability with little-to-no challenges. The future does bring opportunities which will, perhaps, require learning new tasks, tackling unfamiliar challenges and bring unexpected variety. Therefore, having scenarios and circumstances you can control, or at least handle with ease, is a blessing in disguise. Make use of the peace until the future comes knocking.

-Use your current down-time to your advantage

DO THINGS. Rather than spending idle time worrying about what could happen next, use the time to work on things that you’re passionate about, or things that you won’t have time to do later on. For example, I’ve been using my spare-time (both in actual time and brain time) to think about and work on this blog, as well as trying out new hobbies and even exploring the skills I’d like to learn from an educational perspective. I’ve discovered so much from using my idle time to research, seek advice, make enquiries and try out so many things I never thought I’d have time to consider.

-Do things that benefit others, rather than focusing too much energy on yourself.

Being so future-focused can mean that you can get tunnel vision and start focusing a lot on yourself/your loved ones. As such, I’ve been actively trying to find things I can do in the present which will make a difference to others. Volunteering is such an awesome way of doing this. I’m just about to start a volunteering program, where I will be mentoring a high-school student from a low socio-economic background and helping them discover their future career and educational aspirations. I’m so excited about this opportunity, and it will give me a chance to help someone else’s future rather than focusing solely on my own.

-Give yourself time in the day to think about the future, and time when you will focus on not thinking about it.

Sometimes, the key to conquering an overactive brain that loves to consider ‘what-ifs’ and worries about the future is simple. Set yourself a specific time to worry, and then also set a specific time where you will focus your energy on other things. Sometimes, scheduling time to worry can help the brain from wandering at later stages, as you’ve allowed yourself the time to debrief and get it all out of your system. Giving priority to the worry for that specific timeframe can help you focus, and can help the mind to not over think itself for the remainder of the day.

Those are a few of my tips, anyway! Do you have any advice for how to live ‘in the now’?

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Dear High-School Mrs Ginger-Fox

Yep, that's high-school Mrs Ginger Fox. Not the best photo, so a minor face-lift happened. Lmao.

Yep, that’s high-school Mrs Ginger Fox. Not the best photo, so a minor face-lift happened. Lmao.

Being overweight, a ginger/ranga/natural redhead, nerd and type 1 diabetic seemed like a lethal combo when it came to school. I naturally had several things that fellow students could use on the daily to try and bully me and bring my confidence down. Today, I am about to become a volunteer mentor for a high school student to help them visualise and achieve their dreams, and it makes me wonder what advice I would have given to myself in high school. So, here’s what I would say to my high school self, knowing what I do now:

Dear High-School Mrs Ginger-Fox,

– You aren’t as overweight as you think you are. In fact, Future You is the same size (and less) than what you are right now  – and I think that is awesome! Hormones are a bitch, and everyone seems to go through an awkward, wobbly, uncomfortable time with their body, and that’s part of being a high-schooler. If people don’t go through this in high-school, they get to experience this as a full-grown adult instead. One bonus about this is knowing that, almost 10 years after high school, many of the girls who picked on you for being ‘fat’ are now larger than you. You have maintained, and continued to live as healthy and balanced a life you can.

-I’m so proud of you for not dating while you’re still at high school. It is good that you are using the time to develop yourself – you are slowly figuring out who you are without requiring the validation of someone else in such a fragile time if your life. I AM SO PROUD. There’s no way in hell you are ready for the commitment and endurance of a life-long relationship right now. Heck, you can’t even commit to a set sport subject for a term, or even which subject areas you want to focus on…you are not ready to choose a life partner. I’m so happy you dedicate yourself to being a high achieving student, and value education and learning over boys and drama. The amount of the relationships that you see in high school that actually lasted? You can’t even count it on one hand…well, half of those ended up separating years after high school, or getting divorced at a young age. Go you for ‘fighting the patriarchy’ and the norms and not dating some loser who is only interested in you now you’ve gained boobs. Hah.

– STRESS LESS. Geez, woman! You’re not even 18, yet you’ve managed to learn how to stress like a middle-aged salary man. I get it – you’re naturally high-strung, but you don’t need to spend so much time worrying over one tiny assignment. Don’t forget about that one time you almost cried because you got 18/20 and thought it wasn’t good enough…silly perfectionist self, that’s ABOVE AVERAGE and freaking awesome. In the end, your HSC, while important, does not define you. So many people you know who aced the HSC ended up bombing out at uni, while many who bombed the HSC are now doing amazing things. Do the best you can with school and work hard, but work smart. Be productive and work in small bursts, and allow yourself time to explore hobbies, have fun and not over-stress about something that really won’t impact you 5 years from now.

– Keep your passion for learning! For god sakes, woman! You are such an inquisitive person, with a drive to learn new things and to expand your knowledge. This is SUCH an important and undervalued skill to have as an adult, and a skill even more underappreciated as a teenager. Especially with your nerdy-inclined interests, this makes you appear as such an extreme nerd to everyone else. But you know what? When you’re older, the people who are the most interesting and most inspirational are those who are uniquely passionate and enthusiastic about their own weird and quirky interests. Everyone else who followed the high-school trends is as boring as soggy cardboard on a rainy day. Stay enthusiastic about what drives you crazy and keeps you up at night (yes, that includes reading the Lord of the Rings into the early hours of the morning). Stay interesting. It will make you discover the most amazing people, places and things as an adult.

– Don’t worry about what people think. Seriously. As the saying goes: “be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” You know what happens after high school? All of those people who stood their ground, said f*** it and went after what they wanted to do in high school are now incredible people with so much growth as an adult and individual. They were determined, driven and didn’t care if some other high schoolers thought they were weird, nerdy, or whatever. And that stubbornness to stick to what they wanted, it’s rewarded them tenfold as an adult. (Disclaimer: I firmly believe to go after what you want/believe, provided it does not cause harm or directly harm others. So yeah…be responsible in decision making, or something? Haha).

I’m so excited about having the opportunity to mentor a young student and help them realise that they are capable of achieving so much, and that life doesn’t end after high school. Here’s hoping they are able to experience and learn from some of the lessons I learned as an adult, and realise their true potential in the process.

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