Menopause Mayhem

Dare I say it…I may be hitting menopause! I’m approaching that dreaded stage in a woman’s life where we start drying up like the Sahara Desert. I have another 260-ish days before I turn the BIG 4-0, but the signs are there.

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It all went downhill when I turned 30. Just when I’d snagged my better half and was finally getting a regular shag, my metabolism decided to slow down to a snail’s pace. Nine years later, I’ve turned into what looks like the feral offspring of the Michelin man. I’ve become a beached whale. My waistline has been missing in action since 2010. My former size-8 frame has obviously gone to a better place. I picture it sunbathing in some exotic location with a mojito in hand. Forget a 6-pack. You can’t even describe my jelly belly as a muffin top …..I’m shaped like a keg!

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I’ve let myself go to the extent that nothing in my wardrobe fits me. I know I need to get off my ass and be more active, but the motivation is simply non-existent. I work up a sweat just watching fitness videos via YouTube. Forget sit-ups or downward dogs, the only exercise I do these days is lifting a Krispy Kreme into my mouth. I’m a couch potato…my bum’s fused to the sofa. I have a yoga mat and a treadmill in the lounge, on the off chance I feel inspired to work out, but most days it’s a Mexican standoff. The tension is palpable, it’s a daily confrontation between me and the exercise equipment. The first who blinks loses (me, hands down – every time!).

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Then there’s my emotional eating habits. The roller coaster ride of binging on food when I’m happy, on a downer or bored. Even when I’m tired of eating…I still have this strong craving to drown my sorrows in a packet of Oreos. I have a theory that my hormones are all over the place. These days, I’m not just emotional when Aunt Flo comes to visit every month, it seems to be a weekly thing. At its worse, my hormonal outbursts consists of tears and tantrums, with a few glimpses of laughter in between, almost like four seasons in one day. It’s a vicious cycle. My poor better half doesn’t know whether he’s dealing with Jekyll or Hyde. Lucky for me he has a soft spot for both.

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But wait, there’s more. The bazoongas have started to sag…one’s heading east and the other is running in the opposite direction. The jugs aren’t so perky these days, they’ve lost that B-B-Bounce. They need a bit more pep, a little pick me up, maybe a tweak or two? It gets worse. I can’t seem to hold my bladder like I use to. There’s nothing worse than coming home after a night of boozy frivolities and you’re busting to pee! As you accelerate up the driveway (pedal to the metal, full throttle style), I’m simultaneously un-buckling the belt and undoing the pants. I often find myself performing the hot shoe shuffle as I stand at the front door, searching for my keys, saying a silent Hail Mary hoping desperately that the No. 1s can hold it in for two more minutes. By the time I reach the throne, a minor tinkling accident has leaked out.

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To top it all off, there are the sweats. There could be a blizzard outside, yet all I want to do is wear is a pair of socks (and only a pair of socks – much to the delight of the better half). My partner is as snug as a bug in a rug, tightly cocooned under the sheets, yet I’m lying on top of the doona sweating like I’m on death row. I could be doing the most mundane of tasks, but I’d be showing tell-tale signs of perspiration. Despite the super strength deodorant I wear, I’m so conscious that the body odour follows me around like a bad stench!

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I admit, I’m no spring chicken. I’m certainly not getting any younger, skinnier or prettier. My thirty, flirty and thriving days are coming to an end. As I approach the naughty forties, this swan is fast becoming an old goose!

Imagine….

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John Lennon was onto something extraordinary when he wrote Imagine, a song with a simple melody backed by a profound message of peace.

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Everyday we’re bombarded by tragic news headlines centred on terrorist acts, wars, murders and mass shootings. The 24/7 rolling coverage showing violent and horrific crimes headed by the worst of humanity are all aimed to generate anger, create fear and overwhelm us with despair.

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These racially charged attacks against innocent lives are further fuelling the simmering hatred and the growing tension between different ethnic groups, doing more to antagonise and divide people based on bigotry and race. Which leads me to the question, why can’t we all just get along?

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I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. So, I won’t attempt to explore this subject matter with an in depth analysis. Instead, I’ll take a boofhead friendly approach in assessing this issue. Firstly, I’d like to use our canine companions as an example of tolerance. Dogs are oblivious to factors such as an individual’s gender, sexuality, heritage, religion or even the football team their owners’ follow. The truth is, dogs don’t care whether we’re black, white, rich, poor, young, old or where we stand on the social hierarchy. Instead, dogs look up to us like the sun shines out of our arses, without any form of prejudice.

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I’m not suggesting that we all bend down and sniff each other’s nether regions but dogs are unconditionally loyal. They love us just as we are, free of judgement or any preconceived notions based on our social, racial, ethnic or religious status. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see the rest of humanity in a similar light?

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Let’s dig a little deeper with this topic. Is racism inherent in people or is racial intolerance a learned behaviour? Visit a crèche for toddlers (preferably in a multicultural setting as an added bonus)…..you’ll notice a childcare centre is like the United Nations, albeit, with a playground. I’m amazed at how young children form budding friendships with other rug rats without any hint of cultural or ethnic bias. These pre-schoolers can barely talk, let alone understand each other, but it doesn’t stop them from having fun and enjoying each other’s company. I truly believe that any form of discrimination is an action or conduct that’s taught or learned from what we see, hear and experience amongst the people we encounter.

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If we all took a step back and look into the eyes of our babies, young children or man’s best friend, with Lennon’s Imagine playing in the background (and a cheeky drink in hand), the world might actually learn a lesson or two about peace and love.

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Imagine a world without borders, where we didn’t have labels that defined our race, cultural background, religious beliefs, social status, our gender or sexual preferences, lifestyle etc. Instead, it was one planet where we assimilated with each other, did more to understand one another, found means to embrace our differences and accept diversity, and developed greater cohesion or mateships as oppose to attacking our neighbour.

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We’d soon recognise that we all have similar needs, desires, hopes and dreams. Regardless of who we are, where we come from or which side of the fence we sit on, we share the same fears, frustration, anger, sadness and despair…but it’s the barriers we build (whether geographical, physical or emotional) that divide us. It’s time to break the barriers and come together, right now, to unite as one.

Like Lennon, I may view the world through rose-coloured glasses, but I’m not the only one.

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Imagine

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

LENNONS 25TH

References

Imagine
Writer(s): John Lennon
Producer(s): John Lennon Yoko Ono Phil Spector

 

Losing My Religion

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That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion…

I’m lost, confused and disillusioned. Nothing makes sense to me about God or religion anymore. These days, I find myself questioning the very values and belief system that was once at the core of my existence.

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I’ve reached a crossroad in my life and now I sit on the fence when it comes to my faith. I’m probably more of a doubter than a believer and more agnostic than an atheist. I’m plagued by guilt and fear of going to hell (and my hair can’t stand the heat)! It’s the one principle stopping me from being more definitive about my opinion on whether God exists or not.

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I was raised a Catholic, attended church every Sunday, prayed most nights (to be a supermodel – never happened) and was surrounded by a devoutly Christian family. But the world, the people I’ve immersed myself with and personal experiences has taught me more about how to live a loving, positive life than the dogma that dominated my upbringing.

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Sadly, religion doesn’t always unite people. In a lot of instances, religious conviction divides families, communities, even nations around the world (more than a soccer game in the UEFA league). We witness every night on television the effects of hatred caused by extremist beliefs. Who’s to say one religion is more ‘right’ or ‘better’ than the other. At the end of the day, whatever floats your boat. But faith could be the biggest bunch of bollocks ever, up there with the Kardashians and Donald Trump.

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Every religion has elements of brainwashing or a cult like hold over its members. The moment you lose your right to freedom of choice as a result of religious persuasion is a violation to human rights. Life throws curve balls at you every day, therefore every individual has the right to make rational and logical decisions based on their own circumstance as oppose to the teachings of systematic indoctrination. Let’s face it, “the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some”.

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I’ve learned to keep an open mind, not to judge people based on whether they’re Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Scientologists, Pastafarians, Collingwood supporters etc It’s not your beliefs that make you a good person, it’s your actions and behaviour. You can go to church, a mosque, synagogue or temple as often as you like; read the Bible, the Torah or the Quran daily, but it doesn’t mean you’re more righteous or virtuous than a person who attends the footy every weekend. My theory is, how you’ve inspired and encouraged those around you, your integrity, kindness, generosity, patience, understanding and the love you’ve demonstrated will have a huge impact on others, and consequently will be your lasting legacy. Ultimately, it’s how you respect and treat people that matters.

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References

‘Losing My Religion’

Writer(s): Bill Berry Peter Buck Mike Mills Michael Stipe
Producer(s): Scott Litt R.E.M.

Giant Marvels of Melbourne

The Design Statement

Melbourne is a vibrant, urban metropolis of skyscrapers, giant structures towering upwards to dizzying heights. The heart and soul of the city is a concrete jungle of high-rise commercial and residential buildings constructed in a fusion of architectural styles, which suits Melbourne’s evolving cosmopolitan landscape.

Below are a selection of Melbourne’s most noted skyscrapers:

Eureka Towers

Standing at a height of 300 metres, Eureka Towers is one of the world’s tallest residential structures, consisting of 576 apartments in addition to office, retail and hospitality facilities.

120 Collins Street

Designed in collaboration with Hassell Architects and Daryl Jackson, this 53-storey landmark echoes characteristics of art deco architecture, including a central mast and setbacks similar to New York’s Empire State Building.

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Located at the ‘Paris’ end of Melbourne, 101 Collins is a monument epitomising style and class. The building facade is accentuated with glass buttresses, while the focal point within the interior are the travertine columns and…

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There’s No Joy in Darkness

 

Hello. It’s only me. Is there anybody out there? Can anyone hear me? I’m on the flip side of heaven, the other side of hell. I’m existing in no man’s land of purgatory, languishing in limbo, slowly wasting away the days through constant stormy weather. Suffering under dark clouds hovering over me, a downpour of rainy days and relentless winter blues.

 

Does someone else feel my pain or understand the fear and anxiety that tortures my head on a daily basis?  I pray to a God that I barely have faith in, in the faint hope that someone or something out there in the universe hears my cry for help. I simply just wish for my luck to change.

 

I’m sick of pretending to be in a happy place when in all honesty, I’m breaking down and falling apart on the inside. I’m lost and disillusioned. I’m losing the race and close to giving up. I have no strength to keep fighting this battle.

 

Life is passing me by at such lightning speed while my own tiny sphere has stalled. I don’t fit in within this ‘dog eat dog’ world. I want to scream, I want to shout, but there’s no one to turn to. I want to cry, but I’ve run out of tears. I’m running on empty and my soul is broken.

 

I wish things were different. I yearn for my life to finally head in the right direction. I’d love to get back on track, for my hopes to go to plan and for my dreams to come true. I miss that feeling that anything was possible…that I can conquer the world.

I just want to be happy….

Spiritual Marvels of Melbourne

The Design Statement

Have a little faith, this post is not focused on any religion. Instead, the post is a visual tour of some of Melbourne’s most architecturally acclaimed churches. Praised for their majestic design, these houses of worship will enlighten you with their grandness and history.

St Patrick’s Cathedral

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Designed by William Wilkinson Wardell, St Patrick’s Cathedral is a prime example of Gothic-Revival design. Located on the edge of the city grid, the structure is laid out in the style of a Latin cross, incorporating a nave with side aisles, transepts flanked by side aisles, a sanctuary including seven chapels positioned in a chevet around it, and sacristies.

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A cross six metres in height sits atop of the main spire. The pinnacles of the Cathedral tower upwards, representing heaven above, while the gargoyles perched around the church are trademark features befitting the Gothic aesthetic.

St Paul’s Cathedral

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St Paul’s Cathedral represents the signature style of ne0-Gothic transitional architecture. Designed by William Butterfield, the cathedral consists of three giant spires, with the…

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Iconic Marvels of Melbourne

The Design Statement

Flinders Street Station

I love Melbourne, a city that is defined for its vibrant atmosphere, a passion for sport and a hub for fine food, wine and great coffee, often embraced through its cafe culture.

As a tourist destination and from an architectural perspective, what is quintessentially Melbourne? Nothing else epitomises Melbourne more than the following landmarks, which form the very fabric of this fine city: Flinders Street Station, the Shrine of Remembrance, the Rialto Towers, the GPO, the Arts Centre, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Luna Park and Melbourne Star.

Flinders Street Station

Built in 1910, Flinders Street Station is the heart of a comprehensive railway network in Melbourne. The facade of this iconic structure was a result of a worldwide design competition awarded in 1900 to JW Fawcett and HPC Ashworth.

Shrine of Remembrance 

Constructed between 1928-1934, the Shrine of Remembrance was built in honour of the men and women of Victoria who served in the First World War. The structure is…

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Heritage Marvels of Melbourne

The Design Statement

5efbb110-cee7-4119-b4b6-9f634af95ffc-2060x1236Like most cosmopolitan cities around the world, Melbourne is characterised for its concrete jungles, dominated by modern skyscrapers with shimmery glass facades. But scattered amongst these contemporary structures are buildings noted for their classic architecture.

The very fabric of Melbourne consists of heritage listed buildings, recognised for their historical, cultural and architectural significance. This post is a visual exploration of some of Melbourne’s most iconic landmarks including the Royal Exhibition Building, Parliament House, the State Library of Victoria, the Supreme Court of Victoria, the Old Treasury Building, and the Melbourne Town Hall. Each of these structures have a common thread, the very essence of their construction is linked to their traditional charm and majestic designs.

state_library_of_victoria_-_right_sideThe majority of these landmarks (such as Parliament House, the State Library, Supreme Court and Old Treasury Building) were constructed during the Victorian era, a period that saw a renewed focus towards classical renaissance architecture. The classical  aesthetic is characterised for central pediments, a Corinthian style portico, Ionic columns and grand archways. 

The Royal…

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Deconstructing Gehry

The Design Statement

Frank Gehry is a trailblazer in contemporary design, often considered as one of the most highly acclaimed architects of the 20th century. An iconic genius in post-modern architecture, Gehry thrives in pushing the boundaries with his complex, avant garde concepts. Gehry’s bold structures rebels against the status quo, shifting away from the paradigm that ‘form follows function’.

As a proponent of the deconstructivsm movement, Gehry’s projects are defined for their striking profiles, mixed with undulating layers of elements, resulting in structural facades that are both complex and bold. His style of producing abstract constructions are combined with his use of malleable metal finishes juxtaposed against more traditional building components like concrete or bricks.

Gehry portfolio of projects are characterised for their use of unconventional materials, incorporating structural elements manipulated to produce rippled forms and irregular shapes. Although Gehry’s creative vision was inspired by the DeCon architectural style, the silhouettes of his spectrum of famous landmarks mixes a new age revival of cubism and futuristic aesthetics.

Below are a snapshot…

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If It’s Broke – Fixer Upper

The Design Statement

Who said country style was dated? Certainly not the hosts behind the hit lifestyle show Fixer Upper, featuring the husband and wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines. The dynamic duo are the creative minds behind several major renovation overhauls.  They turn run down, dilapidated homes into farmhouse chic.

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Don’t judge a book by its cover. With Chip’s construction expertise and Joanna’s creative vision, they can upgrade any beat-up rickety old property into a home that exudes southern charm and comfort. The pair are bold enough to take on any property, regardless of its condition, and transform the house with a fresh facelift and an interior makeover. While most buyers would view such dwellings as a money pit and shy away from such projects, Chip and Joanna see nothing but potential.

Joanna’s aesthetic is characterized for its modern, country style chic. Her passion for vintage fixtures, unique flea-market pieces and up-cycled…

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Modern Marvels of Melbourne

Melbourne’s central business district is renown for its eclectic mix of architectural styles. The cityscape is blanketed with skyscrapers, featuring shimmering façades and rectangular block silhouettes, a trend that dominated the 80s era. These post-modern forms are nestled cohesively together with heritage structures typified by Romanesque and neo-classical designs, linking back to Australia’s federation period.

Since the millennium, a greater movement towards contemporary architecture have eclipsed the city and its surrounds. The following is a small selection of landmarks and commercial buildings that stand out for their edgy, distinct and innovative style.

AAAMI Park

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AAMI Park by Cox Architecture

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AAMI Park by Cox Architecture

NAB Building – Docklands

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NAB Building – Docklands by Woods Bagot

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NAB Building – Docklands by Woods Bagot

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NAB Building – Docklands by Woods Bagot

Federation Square

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Federation Square by Lab Architecture Studio & Bates Smart

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Federation Square by Lab Architecture Studio & Bates Smart

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Federation Square by Lab Architecture Studio & Bates Smart

Swanston Square

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Swanston Square by ARM Architecture

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Swanston Square by ARM Architecture

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William Barak, the last traditional ngurungaeta (Elder) of the Wurundjeri-william clan

Design Hub

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Design Hub by Sean Godsell Architects

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Design Hub by Sean Godsell Architects

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Pixel Building

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Pixel Building by Studio 505/Umow Lai

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Pixel Building Studio 505/Umow Lai

Royal Children’s Hospital

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Royal Children’s Hospital by Bates Smart

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Royal Children’s Hospital by Bates Smart

Melbourne Theatre Centre

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MTC Southbank Theatre by ARM Architecture

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MTC Southbank Theatre by ARM Architecture

Storey Hall

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Storey Hall by ARM Architecture

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Storey Hall by ARM Architecture

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Storey Hall by ARM Architecture

Swanston Academic Building

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Swanston Academic Building by Lyons

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Swanston Academic Building by Lyons

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Swanston Academic Building by Lyons

Image Source:

http://aasarchitecture.com/2013/07/aami-park-by-cox-architecture.html

http://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/news/industry-news/aami-park-wins-lightweight-structure-design-award

http://www.woodsbagot.com/project/national-australia-bank-docklands

http://fedsquare.com/about/history-design

https://urban.melbourne/forum/federation-square

http://www.batessmart.com/bates-smart/projects/sectors/community-culture/the-ian-potter-centre-ngv-australia-federation-square/

http://www.a-r-m.com.au/projects_SwanstonSquare_Barak.html

https://www.rmit.edu.au/about/our-locations-and-facilities/facilities/exhibition-spaces/design-hub/

http://www.seangodsell.com/rmit-design-hub

http://architectureau.com/articles/peter-maddisons-curated-tour-of-open-house-melbourne-2015/

http://www.archdaily.com/190779/pixel-studio505

http://www.batessmart.com/bates-smart/projects/sectors/health/the-new-royal-childrens-hospital-architecture/

http://www.mtc.com.au/your-visit/southbank-theatre/

http://johnmaddenphoto.com/portfolio/melbourne-recital-centre-mtc/

http://www.architravel.com/architravel/building/storey-hall/

http://www.rmit.edu.au/events/all-events/study-information-sessions/2015/october/seh-postgraduate-information-evening/

http://www.lyonsarch.com.au/learning/

http://architectureau.com/articles/interview-with-carey-lyon/

 

 

 

Mildura – The Sunburnt Country

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A six hour drive north west of Melbourne is the regional town of Mildura. Positioned along the banks of the mighty Murray River, Mildura is renowned for its sunburned earth and sweeping scrub-land intertwined with native flora and fauna, typifying the Australian heartland.

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One of the highlights of the area are the paddle steamers that cruises leisurely down the Murray. Another attraction is The Botanical Gardens, an ideal setting to stop and smell the roses.

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Like many country towns, time ticks a wee bit slower in this region of Victoria. Mildura is a close knit community whereby people go out of their way to have a good yarn and say ‘G’day!’. The city embodies a laid back vibe which allows you to appreciate the beauty in the simple pleasures of life.

The Dark Stalker – Part III

At night, I would lie in bed wishing I was anyone but me, praying my life would end to avoid facing the following day. I couldn’t think straight and I felt there wasn’t a way out of my situation. The constant negativity at work mirrored the endless pessimism pounding my head. My spirit had been completely deflated to a point where I just wanted to run and hide from the rest of the world in an effort to numb the agony. The darkness that haunted me was now coupled with severe anxiety. I struggled sleeping, I’d often endure nightmares, waking up in a cold sweat, my chest tightening. Having to deal with work caused panic attacks, making breathing difficult. Yet, I had to hide my fear, meet and greet editors, publishers, graphic designers, copyrighters, photographers and clients with a forced smile on my face, knowing in my mind I was ready to break down and crumble.

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The walls were closing in and the burden was increasingly too heavy to shoulder. In the end I quit. But the relief was only short lived when inevitably, I had to confront the reality of finding another job. I could barely function with the day-to-day routine of living. Getting changed, showering, brushing my hair, doing the groceries – simple tasks were all too hard. I avoided going out. I wanted to isolate myself from friends, family and the entire outside world. If I gathered enough courage to venture out, I would stare at the pavement and avoid any eye contact with other people. I didn’t want anyone to see right through me and the shame, embarrassment, or the failure that I felt I was. I internalised my fears, buried them deep within, trying in vain to erase the dark memories of the past in order to move forward.

After several months of being housebound, struggling silently in my own inner demons, I eventually garnered enough strength to return back into the workforce. The process took numerous therapy sessions, supplemented with medication, to manage my thought processes and to minimize the negativity controlling and dominating my mind. I was encouraged to exercise to force myself to step outside the home and practiced meditation in order to relax. After some contemplation, I opted for a simpler role with less responsibilities at an up and coming public relations firm, to help ease myself back into the corporate jungle. Despite the fact that the job doesn’t have the high-flyer status or the glamourous perks of my previous position, I am more content. Go figure!

Image Source: facebook.com/ruokday/photos

My saving grace is my current partner. If it wasn’t for him, my life would be empty. He’s supported me throughout this journey. His patience, kindness, generosity and love has carried me through the toughest of times. I take each day one step at a time. Every day is a mountain I climb and conquer. I sometimes have to write a ‘To Do’ list of basic chores which act as motivational steps to soldier on. My condition is still managed with daily medication and I cope with the ‘blues’ with the occasional therapy session. However, I am one of the lucky few. Sadly, there are many out there who suffer depression significantly worse under more severe circumstances than me and my heart goes out to them. The thing is, you’re not alone. One of the initial things to do is to acknowledge something is wrong, but harder still, is having the strength to seek immediate support and to keep moving forward and to battle through the daily demons. On a positive note, there is HELP out there.

** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.sane.org

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

www.ruok.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au

The Wright Impact

The Design Statement

“The mission of an architect is to help people understand how to make life more beautiful, the world a better one for living in, and to give reason, rhyme and meaning to life.” Frank Lloyd Wright

Image Source: http://www.wright-house.com/frank-lloyd-wright/fallingwater-pictures/falling-water-fall-house.html

When you think of world renowned architects, one of the most prominent of the modern era is that of Frank Lloyd Wright. As a celebrated icon, Wright challenged the norms of contemporary design, championing the Prairie School of Architecture typified by structures incorporating linear silhouettes with organic forms. A visionary, Wright’s forward thinking creativity steered a design movement towards open plan concepts – where rooms flowed and opened into one another – a practice that was rapidly adopted within residential and commercial developments. This innovative layout inevitably shaped the way we engaged within our immediate surroundings, breaking down physical barriers and increasing human interaction. Wright’s signature aesthetic was inspired by his…

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The Grand Design Challenge Part II – Coarse Lesson Learned

Over the course, we presented projects which pushed us to express our creativity in a tactile form, bringing concepts to life through layers of fabric, contrasting patterns, colours, materials, accessories, and integrating various elements of negative and positive space, silhouettes and contours. The combination of which aimed to connect with the heart and soul of its intended client. Each concept was backed by a narrative, a source of inspiration, turning a creative vision into reality.

The course challenged my mind. I was forced to think outside the square, to view the world at different angles, to see life through different perspectives. Each project we undertook was designed to engage individuals to see a deeper meaning behind colours, texture, contrast, lines, dots and shapes.

There were many occasions I wanted to quit. I dug deep and I worked my arse off. Slowly, I adjusted to the routine of university life, of lectures, tutorials, homework and assignments. I immersed myself in the world of Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Le Corbusier, Mies Van Der Rohe. I took a trip down the rabbit hole to discover the history behind styles ranging from Art Deco, Gothic, Renaissance, Art Nouveau, Baroque, Victorian, Edwardian, Queen Anne, Arts & Craft movement, Rococo, Neo Classic, Scandinavian genres. I learned that 5 Seconds of Summer was not a new-age, hipster term for a ‘quickie’ horizontal rhumba session. More importantly, world issues centred on Justin Bieber or One Direction according to the tween generation (One who??).

Yep, art and design is not black and white – there’s 50 shades of grey and a rainbow of other hues in between. Even today’s learning environment is a whole new world. Back in the late 90s when I was a pimply faced teenager attending Monash University, e-mail was still in its infancy and Facebook wasn’t even a blip on the radar! We’re talkin’ the days of dial-up, when you stared at the modem as it whirred to connect to the internet. Now I’m faced with terms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler and blogs. Floppy disks have been replaced by USB sticks and who needs a library of books when Google is at your fingertips?

Image Source: http://arcid.uclaextension.edu/miaprogram-2/

However old habits die hard. Despite my age and wisdom, some things just never change. The student lifestyle of two-minute noodles for dinner, leaving assignments to the last minute, staying up till 3am preparing for exams and losing work because your PC crashed – is still a trap for an old goose like myself!

After two years of highs and lows, the course culminated in a class exhibition attended by family, friends, teachers and noted designers and architects within industry. Achieving your dreams was never going to be easy – No guts, no glory. Fortunately the hard work paid off. There were definitely several tantrums, a few meltdowns and a number of sooki la la moments. But I survived. I even surprised myself with the results. I started from scratch with no artistic background, just a pipe dream from my childhood. But you’re never too old to learn something new.

Into the Wild – Where the Wild Things Are

Giraffes

In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight….Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh I was in my own world happily singing this cute little ditty while the better half and I trekked off to Werribee Open Range Zoo on Australia Day. The lyrics played over and over in my head until the mere male asked me, “did you bring the tickets?”  Eeeeeeek! The light in my brain suddenly flicked back on. Bugger me!

Antelope

Camels

Of all the things to forget, it would have to be the admission vouchers! I slammed the breaks and begrudgingly hightailed it back home. Not quite the start I was expecting. What would The Lion King’s very own Timon and Pumbaa say if they were in a pickle like this? ‘Hakuna Matata’ of course, no worries! I looked on the bright side of the situation, we were only four kilometres into our one hour journey. It could’ve been a lot worse, so all was not lost.

Victoria’s own Werribee Open Range Zoo is a wildlife park and is the closest I’ll get to experiencing an African adventure. The ultimate way to traverse through the grounds and witness the menagerie of animals on the premises is to go on a safari tour.

Gorilla

Hippo

Hyenas

The bus tour lasts just under an hour and runs at regular 10-15 minute intervals. The mini sightseeing expedition enables you to get relatively close to Zebras, Camels, Giraffes, Hippos, and Rhinoceros just to name a few. During the short ride, the driver gives you an insight into the animal’s habitat, their quirky behaviours and basic facts and figures about the traits of each species.

Lion

Meerkat

Monkeys

As per the walking trail that meanders past each animal exhibit, the bus tour is convenient for young and old and provides ramps for greater accessibility – ideal for kids in strollers, or those with disabilities or in wheelchairs. For something a little more adventurous, some guided tours allows you access into more off-limit areas of the park, even the opportunity to feed or touch some animals under the guidance of keepers.

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It’s a wonderful facility that’s maintained to a high standard to ensure the animals’ safety and well-being. They aren’t kept in cramped enclosures, instead the animals roam freely within wide open fields similar to their natural habitats. One day is sufficient time to leisurely visit each animal exhibit. Although Melbourne Zoo has significantly more animals on display, its walking tracks are plotted out like a web and certainly aren’t as easy to navigate around as compared to the grounds of Werribee Zoo.

Rhino

Don’t forget to plan your day. Feeding time is the best opportunity to see the animals in action, you can get best vantage points in selected viewing areas. There is a canteen and kiosk, sheltered picnic areas and kids zones with playgrounds. It’s been 20 years since the last time I visited. It’s well worth seeing!!!

Zebras

Tales of a Desperate, Dateless Geek – Part III

Image Source: Popsugar

Each time I was single and ready to mingle, I was on a mission, I was out on the prowl, hovering over my prey. I use to go clubbing with work mates despite the fact that I could barely bust a move. It was a competition. Booze was a social lubricant – it made men brave and women loose. But we all know that a bad set of beer goggles can really fog up your senses. I remember one bloke performing the robot dance beside me, totally cramping my style – I thought I was just too good for him. Next!

I struggled to string an interesting funny articulate sentence together let alone chat up a guy.  I was awkward and socially inept. Ultimately, I felt so desperate that I fell for any guy who wanted my number – don’t get me wrong, they weren’t queuing up for me. I was a loser magnet. In the end, there is such a thing as karma. For every wonderful guy I casually dismissed, I had my heart broken and stomped on just as many times. For most, I was disposable, a notch on the belt. The way to a man’s heart wasn’t through his stomach. It was through cheap one night stands, a few bootie calls and zero commitment.

By the time I hit my flirty 30 years, I saw my friends get engaged, walk down the aisle and start families. I was doomed. It’s hard to go out when all your wingmen are stuck at home looking after their partners, living my dream. My biological clock was ticking louder than a supersonic jet. There’s a line in the flick Sleepless in Seattle that women over 40 have a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than finding a husband1. With my track record, I was set to prove this theory.

In hindsight, I was shallow and superficial. I was so consumed by a guy’s looks rather than their personality. Looks fade, but what a man shares from the heart lasts forever. You get what you give. I realised, the problems weren’t always with the guys, the problem was ME. I had no self-esteem, I lowered my standards so much that I compromised my own integrity. I validated my self-worth by having a guy who in all honesty, just screwed me over. I lost all respect for myself and in effect, I was attracting guys who didn’t respect me. Enough was enough!

Image Source: Popsugar

Love happens when you least expect it. It’s TRUE! I met my soulmate just over six years ago. He doesn’t look like Brad Pitt but he makes me laugh….everyday he makes me laugh! He loves my cooking even though I’m not a domestic goddess in the kitchen. He thinks I’m pretty even though I don’t scrub up as well as a Victoria’s Secret super model. It doesn’t bother him that I can’t hold a tune during Karaoke. He makes my life blissfully happy. Nothing else matters as long as he’s by my side. He’s my rock…I think he’s a keeper!

Tales of a Desperate, Dateless Geek – Part II

Image Source: Popsugar

When it comes to relationships and dating, is it quality over quantity or vice versa? According to a recent study, women will kiss 15 men on average before they settle for that ‘one great love’1. Based on those statistics, I should hang my head in shame. I can count with one hand the number of guys I’ve pashed, and this figure already includes the boy I forced to kiss me when we were 5 years old playing ‘mothers and fathers’! Eeek!

During my footloose and fancy free years, I had a set of criteria, a list as long as The Great Wall of China, and like Santa I checked it twice. If the guy didn’t reach my standards I fobbed them off like there was no tomorrow. I wanted sexy, suave, sophisticated, financially stable, ambitious, smart, caring, honest, romantic, sense of humour blah blah blah. My needs went on and on like a Celine Dion song. If there was no chemistry, too bad so sad, onto the next.  Nice guys came and went. Looking back, I was holding out for perfection….something that obviously does NOT exist.

In between short-lived flings, I experienced dry patches more barren than the Sahara Desert. At one point, I had my mother’s friends arranging dates with their sons. I think one of my friends felt so sorry for me, she tried to hook me up with every single guy she knew was on the market. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that one of the guys she lined me up with was ‘batting for the other team’. Bless her cotton socks – her intentions were good. I was so scared of becoming an old spinster, I knew something had to give. I resorted to drastic measures……I lowered my expectations.

**Keep an eye out for the conclusion of this tale in the next post!**

Citations

1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2532213/No-one-said-finding-The-One-easy-The-average-women-kiss-FIFTEEN-men-enjoy-TWO-long-term-relationships-heart-broken-TWICE.html

Tales of a Desperate, Dateless Geek – Part I

Image Source: Popsugar

Finding true love is like searching for a needle in a haystack. I’m sure a few of us had to pash a few frogs before we captured our very own Prince Charming. I always dreamt of being swept off my feet but I confess, I met some toads along the journey before I found ‘The One’. The quest for true love is a rollercoaster ride and sadly not all relationships end happily ever after. Even fairy-tales are plagued with legends of rocky roads to romance – Snow White got poisoned, Sleeping Beauty was put to sleep and Cinderella lost one of her Jimmy Choo shoes (yikes!) – before each hooked up with their knight in shining armour. Let’s face it, love isn’t black and white, there’s 50 shades of grey in between!

One of our dearest friends recently announced his separation with his wife of over a year. I was rocked by the news. Apparently “Miss Cruella De Ville” had simply lost that loving feeling. I always thought she was hard work, a high maintenance, self-centred, pompous twat. How could this happen to such a lovely guy who catered to her every whim? The idea of ‘forever’ – is this somewhat of a myth in this day and age? It got me thinking, what if it happened to me? What if my better half woke up one morning to realise that only a crazy fool would be mad enough to put up with a drama queen like me?

It’s like one of those profound questions Carrie Bradshaw would ask at the beginning of each Sex In The City episode. To go through the journey again of finding that ‘one great love’ gave me goosebumps and sent shivers down my spine for all the wrong reasons. It’s hard enough trying to mend a broken heart but to hit the singles scene again – I’d be mortified!

Image Source: Popsugar

I’m still scarred by my dating history – or lack thereof. The list was short but the tears were many. Some experiences left me cringing with humiliation. To this day, I don’t think I’ve recovered! From the time I was young, I was never one to stand out in the crowd. Even my first crush at grade 3 ignored me for a red head with freckles. But he did dance with me at my primary school graduation – I was so nervous, I almost peed my pants!

Image Source: Popsugar

It only got worse in high school. For four years, I had the hots for ‘Mr. Wonderful’. He was handsome, funny and athletic. I’d stare longingly at him. But he didn’t know I existed. Whenever he’d strike up conversation with me I’d just stutter and turn into a blubbering idiot. I’d go weak at the knees wishing the world would swallow me up from embarrassment. Unrequited love is a bitch and it was the story of my existence throughout my teenage years.

Image Source: Popsugar

I was such a wallflower. What’s worse, I was painfully shy, with zero personality. I wasn’t a tall, sexy, blue-eyed blonde bombshell. In stark contrast, I was a geeky nerd who was never in the popular group and whose name no guy could remember. Yep, I was THAT girl in high school who never got asked out. By my late teens, I was destined to be the oldest virgin in the world who’d never been touched, kissed or oomphed!

Take a Risk, Take A Chance, Make a Change

Every journey starts with one step forward. I’ve been on a hiatus from the blogasphere for good reason. I’ve embarked on a new adventure along the road less travelled. But let’s rewind to the point of where my conundrum first began. Have you ever sat at work, staring blankly at your computer screen thinking “there’s gotta be more to life than this?”

Image Source: livelifehappy.com

I left my last job almost 2.5 years ago. After 7.5 years in a marketing role, I knew I had reached a dead end but I also longed for something different. After a three week trip to Egypt, I came back refreshed with every intention to look for another job. But as I searched and prepared for potential interviews, my heart wasn’t in it…..something felt so wrong. It hit me hard like a tonne of bricks…. I was lost and disillusioned.

I had reached a crossroads and for once in my life, I had no plan to fall back on! I’m a structured, organised person. I never just wing it and go by gut feel. I’ve always been a planner. So much so that when I travel, I bring my entire wardrobe, a range of clothes that could rival the entire Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter collection at David Jones or Bergdorf Goodman – it’s for those ‘just in case’ scenarios. I’ve had goals and ambitions and a deep desire to progress forward in my career. But I fell off the rails with a giant thud! Actually, I bizarrely hopped onto a different track; I took a random ride down an alternative route, with no clear idea where the journey would lead me. The question that loomed was ‘If you could be anything, what would you be?’

For years, I’ve yearned to be a journalist/writer, a fashion designer or an interior decorator. Those ambitions were never encouraged during my high school years.  Given my background, you either became a doctor or lawyer, and if you weren’t smart enough, you entered the corporate jungle. God forbid if I wanted to be a hairdresser, my family would have disowned me and kicked me to the curb.

So as I faced one of life’s major crossroads, I had two options: to follow the straight, narrow and predictable path or take a rough, bumpier ride along the road less travelled? My brain was loud and clear, ‘stick with the commercial wilderness!’. It made logical sense as the corporate world offered an abundance of marketing positions with a stable income. But my heart was adamant, ‘take a walk on the wild side!’. Do I follow my artistic ambitions? The idea of biting the bullet and opting for a career change scared the living daylight out of me.

But it was my better half that paved the way and let me see the light. He challenged and encouraged me to chase the impossible….to follow my dreams, take a chance and to pursue what I’m passionate about. It was an epiphany that was met with considerable hesitation…..but what if I fail????

The fact is….I DID FAIL!!!!  In the months that followed after quitting my job, at the suggestion of my partner in crime, I did a short course in “writing for children”. I’ve always had this aim to pen my own children’s picture book and someday have it published. I loved it! The course got the creative juices flowing. I created a handful of short stories aimed at 4-8 year old children. I even showed my friends’ kids to gain their feedback…ok…it was a bit hit and miss….but it was part of the learning curve. However, the low point was receiving one rejection letter after another from various publishers. That was a ‘jagged little pill1‘ to swallow. The bubble burst. The whole ‘delusional’ idea of becoming the next J.K. Rowling or Roald Dahl went down the drain faster than a sewer rat. I felt deflated! I lost my artistic mojo!

Again, it was my better half who pushed me to get back up…..to do what you love!

So the adventure continues. I’ve taken the plunge and decided to go back to University to follow my other goal of becoming an interior decorator. I’m completely overwhelmed and not quite treading water!!!! I’m giddy with excitement but nauseous at the same time.

The point is, I don’t want to live life with regrets. I don’t want to look back over the years and have those niggling thoughts at the back of my head…’ if only I did this’….’if only I did that’. I don’t want to sit there pondering and dreaming of what could have been, knowing I didn’t try.

It sounds so cliché but when it comes to achieving ‘the impossible’….if at first you don’t succeed dust yourself off and try again2. I have tried and failed and tried again. I’ve probably bought a little shame to the family and have left my parents feeling somewhat bewildered and mortified. Others may look at me as somewhat of an embarrassment. I know I do!

However, the difference between the ‘negative Nancys’ and the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and the J.K. Rowlings of the world is that they turned a dream into a reality and never gave up! Regardless of the outcome, these people gave it a shot and turned the ‘Impossible’ into a ‘Possibility’!

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all fun and games. I’ve eaten humble pie and it sucks! But over time it becomes an acquired taste (actually, I lie; I still choke on humble pie!). It’s been a tough, hard slog with many setbacks along the way. It’s rough on the self-esteem and this journey has beaten me and smacked me up. There have been many lessons learned over the past 2.5 years. I don’t know if it’s made me stronger and wiser….maybe just a little more thick skinned.

Never Give UpMore importantly, I have the love and support of a wonderful partner who has encouraged me throughout the process. I’ve suffered from so much self-doubt. But he’s believed in me more than I believe in myself. Even though I’ve made mistakes, I’ve stumbled and fallen and as I’ve struggled to get back up, he’s never given up or frowned and looked down upon me. And it makes a world of difference!

Aim high and chase that elusive goal. As per the Nike slogan, ‘Just Do It’! Take a risk, take a chance, make a change2 and give it a try. I’m finally turning things around and pursuing my dreams and following my own path….wherever it takes me. I’m bound to get lost along the way but that’s part of the adventure!

As Mother Theresa said: Life is a dream….Realize it!

Citations

1. Alanis Morissette, ‘Jagged Little Pill’, Producer: Glen Ballard, Label: Maverick, Reprise

2. Aaliyah, ‘Try Again’, Producer: Timbaland, Label: Blackground, Writers: Stephen Garrett, Timothy Mosley

3. Kelly Clarkson, ‘Breakaway’, Producer: John Shanks, Label: Walt Disney, RCA, Writers: Avril Lavigne, Bridget Benenate,Matthew Gerrard

Australia’s Great Ocean Road

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The road is long, with many a winding turn1. No, I won’t lead you astray with a rocking rendition of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”. However, it’s a phrase that best sums up the spectacular Great Ocean Road that contours the south west coastline of Victoria. As you cruise along this iconic motorway, you’ll be captivated by the majestic beauty of some of Australia’s most picturesque shorelines.

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No matter how many times you travel along this roadway, you can’t help but be awestruck by the amazing scenery. For anyone visiting Melbourne, this journey is a must on the bucket list! It’s a 243km (151mi) stretch of road2 with more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie mystery. Beginning at the Victorian city of Torquay (just over an hour outside of Melbourne), the Great Ocean Road snakes its way through the charming coastal towns of Anglesea, Airey’s Inlet, Lorne, through to Apollo Bay, Port Campbell and finally ending at Allansford, close to Warnambool3.

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This is a full day road trip and has got to be one of Australia’s top tourist experiences. If you’re an eager beaver, start the journey early to appreciate the panoramic views, the smattering of observation lookouts and popular tourist landmarks dotted along the way. However, for something more leisurely, stay a few nights at Anglesea, Lorne or ApolloBay, to take in the tranquil, laid back atmosphere of Victoria’s southern coastal region. There is a variety of accommodation on offer, ranging from hotels, motels, to holiday homes, ideal for singles, couples to large groups alike, with options to suit any budget.

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The stunning vistas along The Great Ocean Road are characterised by vivid landscapes and contrasting backdrops, from surf beaches with monster waves crashing against the limestone cliffs, to the stillness and serenity of the surrounding mountain ranges. You’ll wind your way past lush rainforests as the motorway navigates its way through the rolling hills of the GreatOtwayNational Park.

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Above all, you can’t traverse across The Great Ocean Road without stopping at the tourist attractions listed below. These are by far the highlights of the journey and what I consider unique gems of Australia.

The 12 Apostles – is roughly a 4 hour drive from Melbourne4. These massive, 45 metre high, limestone rock formations5 stand stoically, just off the edge of the shoreline. They appear to rise up from the ocean and have been shaped and sculpted by years of erosion. I’ve fondly named each one Hendrix, Springsteen, Lennon, Elton, Elvis, Jagger, Bono, Madonna, Jackson, Lady Gaga & Beyonce!

The 12 Apostles

The 12 Apostles

12 Apostles3

The 12 Apostles (approximately 45 metres in height)

The 12 Apostles (approximately 45 metres in height)

The 12 Apostles

The 12 Apostles

The 12 Apostles

The 12 Apostles

London Bridge – was once shaped like a bridge, hence its name. It was connected to the mainland where visitors could walk across its full span. But it gained notoriety in 1990 when the archway collapsed, leaving two tourists stranded on the outer part until they were rescued by a helicopter6.

London Bridge

London Bridge

London Bridge

London Bridge

The Arch – This is a naturally sculpted bridge, or arch, and stands 8 metres in height7. You can view this attraction from a sealed walkway that leads to a viewing platform.

The Arch

The Arch

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The Arch

Loch Ard Gorge (& The Blowhole) – this is a site of historical significance. In 1878, the sailing boat, Loch Ard Gorge, ran aground and only two of its 54 passengers survived8. It was at this location that the two survivors were washed ashore, one of whom climbed the cliffs surrounding the gorge to find help. Within the gorge is a cavern known as The Blowhole. This cave is a tunnel that extends 100 metres inland that produces thunderous roars as waves crash through9.

Entrance to The Gorge & The Blowhole (on the right)

Entrance to The Gorge & The Blowhole (on the right)

The Blowhole

The Blowhole

The Gorge

The Gorge

The Grotto – again, the constant cycle of erosion has helped permeate and hollow out the limestone which in turn has formed a cavern framed by an archway10. There are steps that descend down towards a viewing platform that allows you to get close to the base of the Grotto.

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The Grotto

The Grotto

The Grotto

The Grotto

The Grotto

The Grotto

The Grotto

The Razorback – the name came about due to its jagged edges that run along the peak of this rock stack. It’s characterised by deep rough grooves caused by constant wave action and salt laden wind11.

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The Razorback

The Razorback

The Razorback

The Razorback

The Razorback

The Great Ocean Road is long and winding, as much as it is spectacular. The impressive coastal views will leaveyou mesmerized. “On the road again, I can’t wait to get on the road again” 12.

Citations

  1. ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’, Bob Russell & Bobby Scott
  2. Wikipedia.com
  3. Wikipedia.com
  4. visitvictoria.com
  5. visitvictoria.com
  6. greatoceanroad.com
  7. greatoceanroad.com
  8. onlyinmelbourne.com.au
  9. Information Sign
  10. greatoceanroad.com
  11. Information Sign
  12. ‘On The Road Again’, Willie Nelson

Sources

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

On The Road Again

  • Writer(s): Willie Nelson
  • Producer(s): Willie Nelson

Me, Public Speaking? I’d Rather Go Nude!

One of my greatest fears in life is public speaking. I’d rather jump out of a plane nude, or walk barefoot through a pit filled with hairy tarantulas!

Recently, my little sister asked me to make the customary ‘family member’ speech at her engagement party. I was deeply touched and honored that she considered me, but at the same time I wanted to wet my pants (and throttle her)! Deep down, I secretly thought this was payback for all the times I threatened to flush her down the toilet when we were younger. My stomach began to churn and twist in knots. I had two months to come up with a speech and the pressure was on!

Image Source: publicspeakingtraining.biz/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Suit-guy-infront-of-big-corp-audience-iStock-CROPPED.jpg

Some people are gifted speakers, me….not so much. As a student, at the end of each term, my report card read – “C is a conscientious student but needs to participate in class discussion”. It was a recurrent theme throughout primary school and high school, much to the disappointment of my parents! Despite the many lectures from both my teachers and the folks, it was a lesson never learned and haunts me to this day.

 I can’t recall the source or quote the exact statistic, but according to a survey conducted, a significant number of people would rather die than engage in public speaking. OK, it’s a tad extreme but I can more than empathize with the thought.

I’m painfully shy! I liken myself to an awkward, country church mouse with hermit tendencies. I was the wallflower in high school that never got asked out because I was socially inept with zero personality. Men weren’t exactly queuing up for a date during my footloose and fancy free twenties because I couldn’t chat any guy up (it didn’t  help that I tried to save myself for Brad Pitt)!

Image Source: publicrelationssydney.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Microphone-at-conference.jpg

I’d still be single, desperate and dateless today if the better half hadn’t have made the first move. He was brave enough to introduce himself when we first met. I think he felt sorry for the loner in the tight skirt and knee high boots leaning up against the bar with vodka in hand.

Some people love the sound of their own voice; you know the ones who could talk under water? I’m in awe of those who can dominate conversations over the dinner table or board room meetings. I envy people who are gifted speakers, the best of which can mesmerize and captivate an audience. It does help if you ooze a little charm, personality and charisma. Personally, I believe you’re born with it, it’s an innate talent.

By contrast, talking is my weakness, my Achilles heal. Place me in front of a group of people and this weakness is elevated ten fold and I’m overcome with paralyzing fear! I start to quiver, sweat uncontrollably and I turn into a jibbering idiot. My mind freezes up and turns blank; I struggle to articulate what’s in my head (which isn’t much). Don’t get me wrong, I love attention. I don’t mind walking into a room, wearing something glam with a touch of bling and turning heads. However, when I open my mouth, I struggle to come up with something sharp, witty or profound to say. It’s a challenge to convey a message in a succinct, articulate manner – instead, I fall flat on my face (I guess this explains why writing is my escape).

Image Source: speechmattersaustralia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/public-speaking.jpg

My saving grace has always been my writing. Whenever I had to conduct presentations or meetings at work, I had notes prepared for my own sense of security. So, that’s where my mission began. I began to draft my speech until I realized I had no idea what to write! The avid blogger was suffering from writer’s block! I had to get down to the basics. Like with any good story, you need a captivating introduction, a memorable plot with a middle section that takes the audience on a joyride and a conclusion to tie up the yarn.  I channelled in my marketing experience and similar to a sales pitch, you need to have key objectives and an understanding of your target audience and what they’re after. Research is the key – a broad knowledge and understanding of what you’re talking about!

My ultimate goal was to create a light hearted message about my sister’s road to romantic bliss while hoping the audience didn’t suffer through sheer boredom, and the means to achieve this was to add some humor to the speech. I didn’t want to go down the path of the boring mushy lovey dovey clichés that you find in a Hallmark card – love is a journey not a destination, love is patient, love is kind – Blah! Blah! Blah! What a crock! That makes me gag. Instead, I wanted DIRT, that is, the crazy shenanigans that the youth of today get up to (ideal for my young audience). So I contacted close family and my sister’s friends to dig up some gossip which would form the bulk of my speech.

I certainly didn’t want to write a thesis. I wanted to keep the speech short and sweet – the less time I have to spend talking…the better! Once the speech was written up, the next stage was to practice, because practice makes perfect! I began to rehearse, I’d pace up and down the hallway rehearsing, varying my tone of voice and ensuring the delivery of each joke was perfect. On several occasions I even sat in front of Winston the Wonder Dog and read through my lines. After several rounds, eventually my own dog got bored! He’d look at me perplexed before dozing off. It got to a point where he’d walk the opposite direction as soon as he saw me approaching him. The paw thing, even my own dog got sick of the speech. That wasn’t a good sign!

As the date of the engagement party loomed, I couldn’t sleep. I began to get hives! Even as I slept, my mind raced through what I was going to say. On the day of the soiree, I needed a calming mechanism…..booze! Copious amounts of alcohol helps…it’s the best social lubricant….as they say, booze make men brave and women loose! After a few glasses of vodka, Bacardi and gin – I was rockin’!!!

Image Source: openspeaking.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/public-speaking-coaching.jpg

With paper in hand, I began the speech. I started off strongly, despite the fact my hands were trembling. If I could measure the amount of quivering, it would be off the Richter scale. I lost my spot once but quickly brushed the mistake off. Once the audience laughed at a few comical gags, I knew I was on fire. To my sister’s relief, I didn’t disgrace myself!

In summary, I survived! Woo hooo! Would I ever volunteer or yearn to be nominated for any future public speaking events? Well, like I said earlier, I’d rather jump out of a plane nude, or walk barefoot through a pit filled with hairy tarantulas!

The Singing Budgie Continues to Soar – I Should Be So Lucky

I have no shame in confessing that the first ever single I bought was Kylie Minogue’s Locomotion. I admit…..it was even on vinyl! The year was 1987 when perms, acid washed jeans and legwarmers were all the rage. I was young, impressionable and it was the monumental stage in my life when I finally discovered music!

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/aphodite6-1024×1024.jpg

But wait, there’s more, I’ll go one step further and say that I jumped on the Kylie bandwagon well before Locomotion hit the music charts. Prior to her foray into a singing career, it was Kylie’s successful role on Neighbours starring as Charlene Mitchell that first catapulted her to fame. Jason Donovan (who played Scott Robinson, the residential heartthrob on the highly rated program), was Kylie’s on and off screen partner at the time. The duo was my generation’s equivalent to RPatz and KStew’s ‘Bella and Edward’ of Twilight fame. The chemistry between Kylie and Jason set pulses racing and the pairing of Scott and Charlene was nothing short of genius, renowned as two of Australia’s most beloved characters in television soap history.

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Kylie’s popularity on Neighbours resulted in her winning five Logie Awards (Australia’s version of an Emmy statuette in the United States), four of which were awarded in 1988; the most any entertainer has won in a single year1. Since her departure from Neighbours, Kylie hasn’t looked back. Her road to success has been nothing but an onwards and upwards climb to superstardom for the pop diva.

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Kylie Minogue was instrumental in introducing me into the wonderful world of pop. Locomotion was Kylie’s breakthrough single, which topped the Australian music charts for seven weeks2. Her follow up single, I Should be So Lucky, also peaked at number one, along with Got To Be Certain. Additional songs were launched including Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi and Especially For you (her duet with Jason), both of which were smash hits in Australia. These ‘classic’ tracks, featured in Kylie’s eponymously titled debut album, defined my childhood!

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Her second album, Enjoy Yourself, was released in 1989 and achieved similar success churning out singles like Tears on My Pillow, Hand On Your Heart, Wouldn’t Change A Thing and Never Too Late3. I’m having a flashback moment…dancing around in the living room wearing my frilly ra ra skirt, with crimped hair, listening to these tracks repeatedly on my tape deck, holding a brush to my mouth as if it was a microphone. Oh the memories! At the tender age of twelve, I could feel it in my waters that Kylie was destined for greatness. Sadly, critics thought differently.

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Commercial radio stations refused to play her singles. Kylie was caned for her sugary, bubble gum pop style of music and even worse, her lack of vocal range. Minogue was branded “The Singing Budgie” by local and international media, she wasn’t considered credible by experts in the music industry and at that early stage in her career, Kylie didn’t command the respect or recognition that she’s famous for today.

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However, by 1990, my world was shattered when Kylie moved on from Jason Donovan to rock star Michael Hutchence (the news was almost as profound as when the KStew cheating scandal leaked!). I didn’t quite understand the attraction to the scruffy INXS frontman versus the boy next door charm of Jason Donovan. But it also marked a pivotal moment in Kylie’s career, when she began to shed her innocence and express her sexier side. When her third studio album Rhythm of Love was released, Kylie was on the fast track to transitioning from her squeaky clean image to a racier persona. This was reflective in her more sexually charged music and video clips including Better The Devil You Know, Step Back in Time, What Do I Have to Do and Shocked.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/aphodite8-1024×1024.jpg

Kylie was evolving, she was pushing the boundaries with her lyrics, fashion and identity, and the change was extreme. Well before Kylie launched her fourth and fifth album, Let’s Get To It and Kylie Minogue respectively, I had already jumped off the Kylie bandwagon with a thud! As much as I loved the sultry hits Confide In Me and Put Yourself In My Place, I wasn’t a fan of the over the top, trashy sex bomb Kylie had become. In hindsight, I was naïve. We see time and time again, from the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus – pop stars who achieve phenomenal success at a young age often take the giant leap towards an edgier, more adult persona to tap into a wider audience (or for shock value). Transitioning is all part of the creative process. Artists are like chameleons, developing their craft along with their image, whether it’s for publicity or to reach a broader market – evolution is part of the artistic journey.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/lovers2-1024×1024.jpg

Kylie’s sixth album Impossible Princess, was released in 1998 featuring the singles Some Kind of Bliss, Did It Again and Breathe4. The tracks exuded a more mature side to the singer, a rebellious vibe vastly different to the teenage poppy sounds of the Stock Aitken and Watermen era of the 80s. Although I didn’t have a strong connection to the music, my self-imposed Kylie snub began to wane. In 2000, the album Light Years was launched, generating a huge buzz with hits like Spinning Around, On a Night Like This and Kids (a duet with Robbie Williams)5.

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It sparked a new awakening, a Kylie revival, the hype was reaching fever pitch and I was hooked – once again! Kylie’s follow up album, aptly titled Fever, was a phenomenal success with edgy dance tracks like Love At First Sight, Can’t Get You Out of My Head, In Your Eyes and Come Into My World, which continued with the pop, disco and house sounds of Light Years6. By this time, even the critics of the 80s finally embraced her music. Since 2003, Kylie has released a further three albums, Body Language, X and Aphrodite, all to critical acclaim.

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“2012 marks Kylie’s 25th year in the music industry, but her career has spanned more than 33 years in the entertainment business. Kylie has launched eleven studio albums, two live CDs, eight live concert DVD’s, plus her Greatest Hits and the Ultimate Kylie double album and multiple video packages. This is of course in addition to over 50 singles released internationally. She’s received countless gold and platinum discs; she’s been honoured with numerous prestigious awards, sold-out nine record breaking world tours and in 2000 closed the Sydney Olympics. Kylie was also inducted into the Australian Record Industry Association’s Hall of Fame by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Julia Gillard, she was also named as an Australian National Living Treasure”7.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/KylieChrstimas1.jpg

Looking back, I was in grade four when the class was given a project to write about Famous Australians. While most students chose traditional iconic Aussies such as Dame Nellie Melba, Sir Donald Bradman, Ned Kelly, I decided to focus on a modern contemporary artist …Kylie Minogue. The class sniggered with my selection and my teacher, I’m certain, was a little mortified. But I chose Kylie because she was a talented star, a star who continues to shine to this day. ‘The Singing Budgie’ ceases to spread her wings.

Source: http://www.kylie.com/about/

Image Source: kylie.com

The Holy Trinity of Fashion – Season 2012

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If you’re a devout follower of fashion, there are three key trends being preached by designers and stylists alike this season: Colour Blocking, Peplums and Ruching – these are the hottest looks currently rocking the red carpet and fashion runways, and some of Hollywood’s most glamorous, fashion forward celebrities are a testament to these latest style phenomena.

Colour Blocking

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If you want to stand out and love a splash of colour in your Spring/Summer ensemble, colour blocking is the way to go. According to Paula Joye (fashion and style columnist for The Age), colour blocking is defined as ‘an outfit made up of ‘blocks’ of solid colour’1. This look is for the confident and the brave, not for the faint hearted – it’s ideal for mixing and matching separate pieces (from tops, jackets, skirts or pants) in vibrant, intense shades. The focus is to combine bold colours on the opposite ends of the colour spectrum, for example, orange and purple, or pink and green (traditionally considered to clash when teamed together).

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If you prefer a more subdued, toned down look, ‘use shades within the same family’, that is, colours closer to each other on the colour wheel for example, blue and purple, or black and grey2. However, don’t go overboard and exude some restraint when choosing your wardrobe; avoid mixing contrasting patterns including spots with stripes, or coordinating floral designs with abstract prints. To do so will result in a major fashion faux pas.

Peplums

Image Source: realstylenetwork.com/fashion-and-style/2012/02/jennifer-aniston-wows-in-tom-ford-at-wanderlust-premiere/

Peplums are back with a vengeance! Peplums haven’t dominated fashion since the 1980s, when Dynasty, shoulder pads and perms were at the height of their popularity. The growing resurgence of the flouncy flirtatious ruffle around the waistline of a jacket, blouse, dress or skirt has been pushed by the world’s leading designers and is a significant trend strutting down fashion runways.

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According to Anna Byrne of the Herald Sun, the peplum design is ideal for the hourglass silhouette and with the right fit, it is also flattering for women who embrace their curves, as it helps to minimise the waistline3. To accentuate the look, team up your peplum ensemble with a belt, to cinch up the waist and define your sexy hips even further.

Image Source: popsugar.com.au/fashion/Pictures-Top-Ten-Best-Dressed-Celebrities-Week-Jessica-Alba-Olivia-Palermo-Alexa-Chung-Diane-Kruger-More-21505339#photo-21506025

Ruching

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Ruching is a perennial style favourite amongst designers and is a look that comes in waves season after season. However, most fashion collections this year have taken the ruching trend and given it a modern twist with softer gathering of pleats and ruffles on skirts and dresses.

The beauty about the ruching technique is that it helps camouflage our muffin tops and the unwanted flab or flaws around the waistline.

Image Source: popsugar.com/celebrity/Highlights-From-Ben-Affleck-Jennifer-Garner-2012-26073011#photo-26102120

Ultimately, regardless of what style trend is strutting down the catwalk, the key is to understand what works for your particular body shape, accentuate your best physical features and feel confident.

Sources:

http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/how-to-colour-block-pop-and-tone-20110901-1jnk4.html#ixzz26mwwcrfU Viewed Sept 18, 2012

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/ipad/hip-pop-dont-be-afraid-to-show-off-your-curves/story-fn6bfkm6-1226308714837 Viewed Sept 18, 2012

Citations on Request

Birdy Takes Flight With Dulcet Tones

Birdy Takes Flight With Dulcet Tones

Image Source: Google

Every so often, there’s a rare voice and song that touches the heart and Birdy’s “People Help The People” hits the spot nicely.

While driving home at rush hour, I was surfing the radio dials when I heard a snippet of a song that instantly caught my attention. Despite the bumper to bumper traffic, the melody and lyrics continued to calm the road rage simmering within, along with the mesmerising and haunting tones of the artist, whose name (along with the song title) was a mystery to me.

Image Source: Google

Channelling my inner Sherlock Holmes, with the help of Google and Wikipedia, I discovered the name of the track, ‘People Help The People’ which is wonderfully performed by an up and coming musician known as Birdy. Hailing from UK, what makes Birdy remarkable is the pure raw talent she exudes at the tender age of 16, blessed with a voice so captivating and strong, she expresses her music with such passion and deep emotion1.

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Born Jasmine Van den Bogaerde, Birdy is part of an artistic family, her mother is a classically trained concert pianist and her great-uncle was the actor and writer, Sir Dirk Bogarde2. Her journey to fame began after uploading a video via YouTube of herself performing one of her own songs3 and then ‘winning the Open Mic UK music competition in 2008 at the age of 12’4.

Image Source: Google

Birdy launched her self titled album in 2011 which is currently sitting at the No.1 spot on the ARIA album chart along with scoring two tracks in the top 10 singles chart – ‘Skinny Love’ is No.2, while ‘People Help The People’ is positioned at No.105. The album is predominantly covers arranged and interpreted in Birdy’s own signature style, including Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’, The XX’s ‘Shelter’, as well as her take on songs by artists such as Cherry Ghost, The National, Phoenix, The Postal Service and James Taylor6. Birdy’s cover of ‘Skinny Love’ and ‘Shelter’ were both featured on the television show The Vampire Diaries and her single ‘Just a Game’ is part of The Hunger Games soundtrack7. Recently, Birdy performed the track ‘Bird Gerhl’ at the Opening Ceremony of the London Paralympic Games.

Image Source: Google

Every now and then there’s a rare voice and song that touches the heart and Birdy’s “People Help The People” hits the spot nicely. I can’t wait to watch Birdy’s career take flight, especially with ‘a voice that is so world-weary and steeped in soul, she is quite simply, unique’7.

To listen to ‘People Help The People’ or other tracks sung by Birdy, visit her website http://officialbirdy.com/about.htm

Image Source: Google

 

Sources

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/birdy-flies-high-on-aria-charts/story-e6frf7kf-1226463772966

http://officialbirdy.com/about.htm

Citations on Request