Cold nights, happy days – Get it Magazine June column

My first real dose of winter came when I moved from Cairns to Toowoomba to attend high school. Toowoomba, perched atop a mountain range on the Darling Downs, with a foggy, almost English-at-times atmosphere enveloping the city, wow, it was COLD. I hated getting up in the mornings, the nights were uncomfortable; and you certainly never want to get caught on the corner of Margaret and Ruthven streets when the region’s ferocious wind howls through town! Sometimes I just couldn’t get warm, and for ages even the prospect of a mild winter as we generally experience on the GC, sent chills down my spine.

When the temperature drops, the night falls just that little bit sooner and even the dog hesitates to shift from bed in the morning, we know winter’s hit, and it can require a bit of an adjustment.

In recent years however, I have discovered some seasonal benefits.

Coats, hats, scarves, boots, anyone?

There’s something else I’ve seriously embraced too, that’s utterly delightful, thrives in wintertime, and indeed hails from a region of the world that intimately understands the cold. I’m talking about the Scandinavian way of life – or state of mind – called hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-gah’).

Hygge is a word that describes a mood of contentment and enjoying the simple pleasures in life, especially when it’s cold. Essentially, it’s about allowing yourself to keep cosy.

This can mean luxurious fabrics, candles and pretty, warm lighting, snug rugs – you get the picture. Although, it’s not only about generating an atmosphere of external warmth. Hygge promotes time spent on yourself as well as chilled (pardon the pun) nights in with friends, a little wine maybe, a board game and nice music.

There’s an argument to say this Euro concept doesn’t apply in Queensland, but I wholeheartedly disagree. In this age of perpetual busyness and constant connection to work, opinions, moods, politics, negative press and personal pressure points pulsing at every turn, I’m declaring hygge to be alive and well in our Sunshine State.

In fact, what if we deemed June to be the month of respite? Take a nice deep breath right now, and give yourself a break: a peaceful five minutes on breethe.com (or app), and choose to start again, wrapped in a warm, mindful state.

Hygge also encourages [responsible] indulgence as the temperature drops. You want that chocolate? Go for it! Feel like a calming chamomile tea? Pop the kettle on now. A Saturday night in a warm bath with a good book? Binge-watching Netflix romcoms tucked under the blankets? Totally on board! Hygge is about keeping it simple and doing what makes you feel calm, content and connected (offline, that is).

Bring hygge into your home, and surrender it all. Sound nice?

Although traditionally hygge is a wintertime way of life, it’s an important reminder to make space for YOU. Sure, it’s colder outside and we’re more inclined to tuck ourselves away anyway, when time permits. But being mindful of self-care is always a good idea. Hygge is the ideal antidote to our go-go-go lifestyles, and warms up the colder months in ways we might otherwise miss.

Winning in winter is no longer about adding more coffee to the pot and hoping that it’s over very, very quickly (why wish our time away?).

‘Change the way you look at the world, and the world around you will change’. Mine looks like a comfortable pile of cushions and blankets, fluffy socks, a selection of sweet scented candles, and a hot chocolate sat by copies of my favourite magazines (Get it included, of course).

While researching this topic I read a couple of news articles claiming the idea of hygge is over-hyped and has no place infiltrating popular culture. Yet, here I am drawing it into one of the warmest climates on earth and sharing with you. That’s because I believe the principle behind it is special and important; that right now, this very second, we have an opportunity to appreciate the pleasure that simplicity presents, and approach our 2018 half-way mark in a very cool, calm and collected manner.

How do you see it? Share in the comments below or find us (Get it Magazine or Sarah Blinco) on social media.

Read the June 2018 issue here

No thanks, I need a moment: Get it Magazine, May

Having the Last Word in Get it Magazine on why we need to stop excusing ourselves and people-pleasing:

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One evening when my nephew was very small, he dramatically stood up at the dinner table to declare, ‘Mummy, I need a moment’! Kids are hilarious. Unfortunately as we grow older, we tend to drop the naive honesty, and when we really do need a moment, we rarely request it.

Can you relate to worrying excessively about managing other people’s wants over your own needs, saying ‘yes’ on autopilot, and over-explaining why you need to say ‘no’ to something?

With Mother’s Day upon us mid-month, I feel it’s pertinent to be one who stands up against ‘people-pleasing’. Mums are renowned for putting themselves first, which is why this topic is top of mind. That said, please do not take this editorial as a generalisation – I will not stereotype because there are people in my circles (yours too, I’m sure) – men and women – wearing all sorts of hats and still uncomfortably squirming at the table tagged, ‘people pleasers’.

I used to think the only way forward was to always do ‘good’ by others, at my own expense. Thankfully I had my unhealthy people-pleasing habits pointed out. Severe symptoms you may recognise are saying yes to everything including things I felt uncomfortable doing, and when I was totally exhausted, all to keep everyone else pleased.

Last month was buzzing with positive energy on the GC – an extra-long weekend and the Commonwealth Games. Fun times (especially when Prince Charles waved at me… honestly)! By the same token, I dare say many of you were like me and scrambling to fit it all in – events with family and friends, the never-ending trail of life admin; travel for some, work for others and even moving house (I empathise with a fellow Get it girl who spent her holiday on that task). Then there’s the nerve-racking life stuff that involves not just physical input but emotional investment too, like taking care of unwell loved-ones or saying farewell to those you won’t see in a while.

A scroll through Instagram and Facebook unsurprisingly showcased our good-time stories, but not the reality of the anxiety and over-commitment issues I was witnessing (then, and on-going for all of us). The familiar strain on faces across town reminded me that we need to practice balancing the line between self-care and selflessness.

Being very unhappy due to a long-term ‘yes habit’ and putting others first (even your most beloved) at all costs is not setting a positive example, but instead, sets a negative precedent.

There was a time when people-pleasing generated tears and havoc in my life. It’s why I feel for those around me when I recognise the tension and unnecessary lengthy explanations about not being able to say ‘yes’; or for those who regularly over-promise their time but always cancel on plans at the last minute (not a good look).

Take a moment. What’s the worst that can happen if you just say, ‘no’?

As friends and colleagues too, we need to look out for each other. Don’t let another people-please for you, if you’re honestly aware they may not have the capacity right now.

I still struggle to say ‘no’. I actually get excited about a lot of things and love to say ‘yes’! But, I’ve made peace with a few things in this regard: I can’t please everyone, but I’m finally ok with that. I can do it all, just not all at once! I can say no, in my own way by managing expectations and understanding my priorities. If there’s guilt, then I just have to deal with it. Keeping all people happy all of the time is rather impossible, and I’ve actually realised a ‘yes habit’ can lead to your good intentions and time being taken for granted. Ouch.

I’ve learnt that saying ‘no’ is not necessarily selfish, and saying ‘yes’ to compromise and setting boundaries is wise. Offering a thoughtful ‘no’ will give you greater peace and better position you to support others in the long run.

How do you see it? Share in the comments below or find us (Get it Magazine or Sarah Blinco) on social media.

Read the May 2018 issue here

 

Travel to Brisbane and the Gold Coast

Cooper and I are both proud Queenslanders. While I consider England is a bit like my spiritual home, being back in Aus recently made me remember what’s so special about it, and why you should definitely travel to Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

I’m most disappointed when people around the world tell me one of two things about why they might not travel to Queensland, Brisbane the Gold Coast or other areas of my stunning home state:

  1. “I don’t think I’ll get to Australia, it’s a bit far and isn’t it just the same as other places, like America, Spain, England…?”
  2. “I went to Queensland a few years ago and found it to be run down, and too touristy.”

Pretty offensive! But I get the myths, stereotypes and misconceptions. Please, don’t ever write Australia and especially travel to Queensland off.

I was reminded of how contemporary and cool we are; super friendly people and a sunny vibe.

It’s worth your while. I’m inspired when I meet travellers like Geri Vladeva who dream about visiting Aus,for good reason (and she did so this year, read about her adventures)!

Let’s start again.

City updates

After being away for four years I noticed some big changes, especially in Brisbane. Anyone who has visited Queensland over the past 20 or 30 years tends to think Brisbane, Gold Coast and Cairns (some of the best places to go!) are a little dilapidated.

Now however, you’ll find sleek cities, lovely river walks, restaurants, bars, cool spaces to hang out and be active. I was really impressed.

Head straight for the riverfront walk in Brisbane, or a stroll through Southbank.

And if you’ve not been to Surfers Paradise in a while, well, it’s totally cleaned-up, and a chic spot to visit. Pacific Fair down the road at Broadbeach has enjoyed a significant expansion and is a premier shopping destination.

Burleigh is still beautiful too, with its glorious beaches and sophisticated restaurants and cafes.

Australia has its own charm, and nowhere is this more obvious than in Queensland.

Multicultural influence is everywhere too, particularly Asian culture – there’s no shortage of Asian grocery stores and fusion restaurants, including Harajuku Gyoza – a smart Japanese-inspired chain developed by an Aussie foodie fan.

Brisbane city centre boasts a number of food halls dedicated to serving delicious Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian and Korean food. So good!

I was also surprised to find an extraordinary ‘spiritual spa’, meditation, yoga, therapies and crystals space – Chameleon New Age Salon, set across two dazzling floors in the heart of Surfers Paradise. It was just one of the many unique offerings I found in south-east Queensland and that had me feeling truly proud and impressed.

Getting around

Brisbane and the Gold Coast are served by international airports that are now easier to access than ever before.

The Gold Coast has developed the ‘G’ (G: link) tram which means a city that was previously quite inconvenient to navigate if you did not have a car, is now simple to access.

You can take the train from the centre of Brisbane all the way to Helensvale then catch the tram to Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach. Alternatively you can easily transfer to Coolangatta airport (Gold Coast) on this line too.

Brisbane and the Gold Coast (also Cairns) receive countless flights from Asian destinations now, and Queensland is well and truly open for business.

If you buy a Go Card, you can use it on all public transport in Brisbane and across the Gold Coast. It operates like an Oyster card (London) or any other major city transport card. You can add top-up value to it, and by using a Go Card you will enjoy big discounts on your travels, so it’s worth picking one up from one of the many vendors in these cities.

Areas to visit

I was very impressed by Brisbane – it’s a city that’s done a LOT of growing since I last lived here. The river walk is absolutely beautiful – I’d start down in front of the Stamford Hotel and walk along past the gardens, or go left towards Hamilton. Early morning is the best time to explore and capture great pictures like the one above.

You can use a Go Card on the CityCat (ferry) too, and see the city via the Brisbane river – head one way towards the cruise terminals and Hamilton, or the other way towards my old stomping ground, the University of Queensland.

The Gold Coast – in my mind at least – consists of three major sections. Coming in from Brisbane you hit the northern end, with its theme parks and serene suburbs like Sanctuary Cove (great for golf or boating enthusiasts) and Paradise Point.

Harbour Town outlet shopping is also in the area, and in recent years features cool additions like Coach, Kate Spade and Michael Kors stores.

Driving further into the city you might like to explore up-market Main Beach (not far from Sea World), the waterfront at Labrador and a stop in Surfers Paradise is a must.

Past Surfers you’ll come to Broadbeach which is a beautiful spot brimming with cool boutiques and eateries, the home to Draculas cabaret restaurant and theatre and an intense shopping experience, Pacific Fair.

Burleigh and beyond is for those who love serious beachfront landscapes – probably my favourite part of the coast, presenting the epitome of our Aussie beach lifestyle.

 

Australia – it is as sunny and beautiful as they say; full of characters, experience and charm. My home state is far from back-water now. You’ll find the best of contemporary experiences here, along with an enviable way of life from the rainforest to the surf.

Heading our way for a travel adventure? Let us know in the comments if you have any questions. And of course, if you’ve discovered your own slice of fun in Queensland, we’d love it if you left your recommendations in the comments to help other travellers.