International Women’s Day (IWD) is on the horizon, so it seems timely to pay homage to the wonderful creative women in the world who continue to inspire through their work. Photographers, writers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, leaders and more: you absolutely inspire me.
To celebrate IWD, Tuesday 8 March, photos by female photographers have been released from the CEWE Photo Award, and some have been shared with us to showcase to you!
The CEWE Photo Award is one of the world’s largest photo competitions, and invites submissions in some of my favourite categories including travel, animals, architecture, landscapes and food.
Travel and culture category: three young children walk along a uniquely structured building in Myanmar, photographed by Laura Menesini
People category: A woman in traditional celebration festival attire admires her reflection in a mirror as the sun sets in Venice, by Mia Feres
The beautiful thing about this award is that an opportunity is open for all creatives at any level, from amateur to established professionals.
Entrants were asked to submit photos that celebrated the competition’s ‘Our World is Beautiful’ theme.
The images showcased here are some of the best from the wonderful creative women who submitted their work. It really makes me want to dust off my EOS and get back out there.
Animal category: a curious pup takes a closer look at a purple flower on its daily walk through the park in Austria, photographed by Corinna Kobliska
Food and cooking category: a selection of jam shortbread biscuits are ready to make the perfect afternoon snack, by Laura Amos in Heilbronn, Germany
Nature category: early morning dew graces a plant as the light of day shines through, by Viktoria Smid in Hungary
If you’re a creative woman like me, and an aspiring photographer, pop in your diary to keep an eye out for this year’s CEWE Photo Award opportunity. It will return for a fifth year in the UK’s springtime.
~~ Feature image at top- Hobby and leisure category: in Krakow, a young girl dances with a pony in this magical fairytale-esque shot by Laura Domagata
I recently picked up a copy of Daniel Pink’s excellent read, When, which explores the science of perfect timing. How do we get it perfect? Can we manifest a ‘right time right place’ scenario?
Among its numerous lessons, the book teaches how to get the most out of your morning coffee and breaks during the work day, and the importance of understanding your own chronotype (that is, when you are most energetic and lethargic each day).
Do we overemphasise endings?
One concept in particular made me think: his discussion about how as a society we tend to overemphasise the importance of endings.
Studies show that when we face an ending of some sort (including people falling into an age that has a 9 on the end of it, me when I wrote this, eek!), the tendency is to display extreme behaviour like choosing to take unnecessary risks or sabotaging our best relationships.
The psychology of it indicates we are innately grasping for a happy ending. And not just happy, but purposeful.
When references films like Pixar’s Up that perfectly capture the essence of this human condition, making us cry while feeling sentimental at the same time, because we’ve connected with something special.
Pink explains that in knowing this about ourselves, we can take steps to make our endings more gratifying.
Have a chat with your future self
A beautiful example on how to do this, is sending a message to your future self.
This might be a letter, vlog, blog or audio recording. Whatever format, put it away for five years.
The proposition made me a little teary.
What would I tell my future self?
I think I would start by saying I hope she lets loved ones know they are valued – always (and that she’s continued to do better on that front, as I intend to do from now on).
I want her to live without regret, anger and bitterness – good lives are wasted on such things.
I do hope she drinks less wine (possibly).
There should be dogs, everywhere.
And music, plus adventure.
I’d say that I hope she’s invested in creativity and travel; to remember that life has taught that things do get better; bring the light, be the light and look for it in others.
That’s all served me well so far. Finally, I would include a quote seen online from tinybuddha.com, because it’s perfect:
‘Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself’.
This is the abridged version, and I’m not sure what I’ll think of it in 2023, but hopefully I’ll be proud.
Perhaps I’ll be moved by the experience and progress made; or by naivety, disappointments not yet known, and challenges overcome or being faced.
Your time is now
When advocates that action like this serves to bridge the gap between past and present, and that is one of the best ways to find substance in our own lives.
However, Pink made me think about the feeling of satisfaction that’s possible when ‘me now’ feels close to ‘me’ past and future.
This exercise removes the detachment we feel from the future self (whether we are talking five years down the line, or just a couple of weeks), and enables us to make better choices that help her/him when that future arrives.
‘Time’ is complicated in terms of life, love and the dreams we envision, and many of us know a soul or two who have detrimentally gotten lost in it.
I hope I can impart to you some timeless insight which I took from Pink’s work; that is, by taking control of our time, and understanding how our past, present and future relate, we can vastly improve our experiences now.
Think I’ll include that wisdom in my note to future me too. But for now, over to you…
How do you see it? Share in the comments below.
First published in the March 2018 issue of Get it Magazine getit-magazine.com.au
We’re asked frequently who we love to watch/read online, so we had a think about our faves in 2021 and have compiled our top 8 vlogs and blogs about lifestyle for you right here!
If you were following us back in 2020, you’ll know we had started to make positive strides on our video work. We documented the ins and outs of house and pet sitting around the world and showcased many beautiful destinations.
It was a pleasure and a privilege.
Sadly, it all came to an end. But we know that many of you reading this have also been impacted by all that the COVID pandemic has shut down. Not a great time to be a content creator in the travel business.
All of the time and learning we put into our content hasn’t gone astray though, and it’s for this reason we love to find vlogs and blogs about lifestyle that keep us coming back for more. There’s been a few standouts for us in 2021.
Here are our favourites in case you’re in need of a little fresh inspiration too.
8 vlogs and blogs about lifestyle that keep us inspired in 2021 🙂
We stumbled across this travel blogging couple by accident, but we just love their content. Sara and Luca are Italian, and they are so so cute. Their channel features an enviable line-up of destinations and experiences, and we have been making our way through their travel playlist.
Most recently, the pair were showcasing the delights on offer in their home country, Italy, where they ended up laying low during the worst of COVID.
Sara and Luca are authentic and likeable. Their video production is terrific too, and includes stunning drone shots, great editing, and soundtrack. The pair also publish a beautiful blog and are all over social media.
If you, like us, are wanderlusting like crazy to set foot back into a dazzling Italian landscape, take a ride with these two in their travel van, Luigi, and get inspired about where to go to next.
Dwayne is an English lad living the dream and actually residing and working in Ibiza full time. While the pandemic has hit his business hard – along with many in tourist destinations like Ibiza and its neighbouring Balearic Islands – Dwayne has taken the opportunity to give regular vlogging a go. And hey, are we grateful! If we can’t be there, we’ll wander around the bars and the beaches and boats here on YouTube, living vicariously through Dwayne.
Thanks to his time on the island living and working with the locals, he also gets some cool behind the scenes glimpses into venues and events that most of us wouldn’t.
A great channel if you’re a fan of Ibiza (or think you might be one day).
We first stumbled across Mike’s channel when he filmed his 2020 summer in Ibiza. Man, were we jealous. All the pretty shots and the pretty people and pretty places. Jealous.
But we moved past that to see that actually, we wanted in on more of this vicarious adventuring.
Mike has an enviable life brimming with travel, a successful business, a new fitness app, and plenty of time at the gym. To be fair, he does work hard (on his business and abs) but he seems like a nice guy with fun friends… who wouldn’t get motivated through watching?
He’s just spent another highly enviable summer in Ibiza and has returned to his adopted home of Dubai to get to work again. It’s glossy and fun – count us in.
I’ve got to say, I’m super behind the times following YouTubers for fashion and beauty content. I’m a ‘magazines’ girl of old. But, I somehow stumbled across Erin Busbee’s channel and have been hooked ever since.
A former TV news reporter turned stylist and fashion content creator, Erin’s approach is engaging and honest, not to mention really informative. I had to leave my entire wardrobe of clothes, accessories and shoes behind in England, and my enthusiasm to start again in a hot climate that I do not enjoy as much as I do one with four seasons was seriously lacking.
But, Erin’s helped make shopping fun again!
She’s got a great blog and Instagram you can follow too.
Yep, we decided that after years of being without a dog – stalking dogs in the street and on the Tube in London, saying hello to everyone else’s dog and generally wanting nothing more than a dog – this little man arrived 👇
Now, he had a lot to live up to. Our last dog, Harry, a blue cattle dog, was a prince among dogs. He was beloved by all – even non-dog people. The best dog ever.
London – named after our much-loved adopted home in England, is a West Highland Terrier. When he was a puppy, we’d frequently change the ‘terrier’ to terror. Wow. Puppies might be cute but there’s an evil streak in there 😉
Which brings us to Zak’s channel. We got obsessed with this personable dog trainer’s channel before the puppy ‘arrived’ and during his first few months. Everything on routine and crate training and all in between was spot on.
This channel is a great one if you’re looking for actionable advice on all sorts of dog behavioural challenges and training. It’s also great if you’re quite simply, a dog person. We do owe Zak a debt of gratitude for getting this far with the cheeky Westie though.
Travel and content creation
Two of our favourite channels for content creation and travel follow:
Ten months ago, my Mum, Cooper and I found ourselves in a sleepy suburb outside of Brisbane, surrounded by a squeaking pack of tiny Westie puppies. It was a far cry from where we expected to be in December 2020. I for one fully intended to be at a nice crisp German Christmas market, sipping on mulled wine and impulse buying sparkly decorations that I had nowhere to display.
But, surrounded by these white creatures that more so resembled tiny polar bears than Westie puppies with their eyes barely open wasn’t entirely bad either.
For the love of dog
One look at all of our past content here and on YouTube, and you’ll spot a mile off that Cooper and I are “dog people”. Not part time or casual dog people. Oh no. We are those all-in-totally-obsessed-heart-eyed weirdos who quite literally would follow a wagging tail along the road, through a shopping mall, down a commuter platform and onto a train if it meant we could have just one pat.
If that sounds insane to you, maybe you better go find another post to read 😛
As long as Cooper and I have known each other, we have loved dogs. In fact, I recall the first time I thought Cooper (my co-worker at the time) was “sweet” was when he stooped down to kiss one of our mutual friends’ dogs on the head when he met it.
“That’s so sweet,” I thought…and looked at him kinda differently after that.
Jumping forward a few years, we had two blue cattle dogs in our lives. One, Stephanie, my beloved childhood pet who moved with me to a small rural town in NSW where Cooper ended up befriending her and giving her a roaring good time in her twilight years.
And the second, Harry (pictured above), another bluey who was quite simply the best dog you could ever, ever know. He loved us and we loved him with all of our hearts. Everyone loved Harry – he was a popular family member with all relations and friends. He had his own identity and personality. When you imagine the “man’s (or woman) best friend” analogy of a dog and their human living their best life, together, Harry is the dog in that picture.
That rainbow bridge, I tell you, it’s a wonderful place with all our four-legged mates chasing their tails and their tennis balls, just waiting for us on the other side.
But of course, there’s that time in between. And ours was spent living abroad and travelling. We were always dog spotting and stalking puppies in the park – well, everywhere really (pubs, trains, cafes, courtyards, the workplace…). The time was never right for us to get a dog when we lived in London. We did however, sign up to be Trusted Housesitters specifically to get our dog fix and give love to fur babies in the absence of their own humans who wanted to get away on a holiday somewhere.
Which brings me back to being surrounded by Westie puppies…
Since we had to leave London for now, and with so much loss experienced over the past year, we decided that it was time to bring in new puppy joy. (Well, when I say ‘we’, I mean I kept shoving the newborn picture of our future Westie pup in Cooper’s face until he said ‘yes’ :).
We couldn’t get a bluey again based on our apartment living requirements, so we set about searching for a breed that we feel is quite similar in personality: the West Highland Terrier. Maybe it was sentimental – Westies had been the first breed we pet sat for in London; or maybe it was always meant to be, but we decided to give raising a Westie a go.
That day surrounded by Westie puppies, we made our choice: not the loudest pup, and not the quietest – the one in the middle who did seem content enough with us gently picking him up and having a chat with him about his future.
What did we learn about Westie puppies?
Well let me tell you, Westies, they’re not the same as cattle dogs 😂 In fact, we’d clocked early on – at about 9 weeks old – that our little Westie puppy, London (named after our beloved adopted home in England) had no intention of listening to anything other than what pleased him. Our vet even said to us, “yeah, he’ll never be obedient like the cattle dog”.
‘Westitude’, we later discovered on a Facebook Group full of Westie owners – is an actual thing. Defiant, belligerent, obstinate.
But oh my God, he’s just the cutest little defiant, belligerent, obstinate thing we could ever know!
Also, we are kind of in love with him, which is evident by the fact he has nine places comfortably laid out to sleep at home (in a one bedroom flat!). We also bought a doggie cam so we could check on him and make sure he was ok and not fretting when he was a little pup. Additionally, London has the luxury of attending doggy daycare during the week to keep him happy and social.
Best things we did to help our West Highland Terrier puppy as he grew up
If you’re considering the journey, go for it. These are the funniest little dogs you’ll ever meet! Actually hilarious! But here are my top tips based on our own experience:
Crate training was a new concept for us, but it’s the BEST thing we did. Even though London isn’t bound to his crate anymore, he still makes his way inside for his own peace, solace, warmth and rest.
The first eight weeks might be tough: they’re babies and need the same care human babies do. They also wake VERY early and need to know you’re there to help them with potty or nurturing.
Give your puppy the time he/she deserves. I think it’s easy to forget they’re still so young and really do need proper care. They love interaction and play, so spend time with them.
Ensure plenty of toys and stimulation are available for your puppy, especially if you’re going to be out.
But with that said, please please do not get a puppy (of any breed) without thinking through how he/she will spend their days. If you’re going to be out a lot in the future, will you provide daycare or walkers – what’s the plan?
Best treats we discovered are chilled carrots (he LOVES these) which are especially great when your puppy is teething; and peanut butter on a Lickimat (available on Amazon and at pet stores).
Our doggie webcam was so inexpensive on Amazon and well worth it so we could monitor in his early days how he was coping when we were at work.I spotted there was a two hour window in the afternoon when he started to panic and suffer from separation anxiety, so arranged for friends to drop in and play with him during that time while he was very young.
Get proper breed-related advice on how to feed and care for your pup: Westies tend towards sensitive stomachs and allergies, so do your research to ensure you are prepared and can prevent these things if possible.
Educate yourself: there’s a WEALTH of wonderful training information on YouTube. If you’re getting a puppy, spend time teaching yourself how to care for him or her. They deserve it, and your future self will thank you! Two of our fave trainers’ channels for this are Zak George and Michele Lennon.
Learn to go with your intuition. If a cry is more than a cry or you sense there’s a difference between anxiety and tantrum (and there is), take action on it accordingly.
Westie puppies are very social, so after vaccinations, ensure you’re getting your pup out and about to play with other dogs. Puppy preschool is a good option, as is doggie daycare in the long run. Dog parks are in every city, and you can find breed-specific or location-specific pooch meet-up groups on Facebook.
The world will revolve around your Westie puppy, because he/she demands it to be so 🙂
A future world with our Westie
As London grows, he is gradually shedding some of the puppy Westitude. He wants to hang out with us more and do dog things … like we remember dogs do. He’s brought so much fun and laughter though, and reminds us yet again of the value of dogs: they are pure joy.
He is certainly part of our pack now. Or perhaps, it’s us who are in his.
We can’t wait to see what the future holds: adventures with London in London, perhaps?
Saying goodbye to a loved one takes many forms when you’re an expat and traveller. But should we take a chance for ‘goodbye’ lightly? There’s a song I’ve been listening to on repeat recently by a great group out of Glasgow, Chvrches. The track is called Asking For a Friend and is the lead song from their 2021 album release Screen Violence. A lyric near the beginning strikes me every time: “I’m no good at goodbyes”. Those few words resonate strongly and have reminded me lately about the value of “‘goodbye”.
As I write this and reflect, I realise I should add context before continuing with my story. This is the first post on our site in well over a year. While the world stood still this past year thanks to a nasty virus that’s taken over our lives and plans, it seems our website also got the memo to pause on proceedings. We have been plagued by errors and technical issues that rendered much of the back-end useless. But without the motivation to create, it didn’t matter anyway.
Say goodbye, without saying goodbye
This leads me back to my “goodbyes”, or lack thereof. I’ve said a lot of “see you laters” in my life. Perpetually chasing the next travel plan and living as an expat necessitates this strategy. Plus, “goodbye” has always felt so final. I’ve never been one for dramatic departures. I’d rather make it swift, rip it off like a band-aid, so to speak (then have a good cry in the airplane toilets and not to make a scene). I never wanted a fuss made, especially if I was on my way to where I needed to be. It’s just part of life’s rich tapestry, as my Dad would say.
2020 gave me more perspective on all of this though, and has made me wonder, is there more value in a proper “goodbye” than I’d previously given credence to?
Ignoring an opportunity for a heartfelt goodbye is perhaps underplaying how important it might have been for the person on the receiving end of my goodbye. And, perhaps it was sticking my nose up at a privilege that I should have been grateful for. After all, we hear stories each day of heartbreak where we can safely assume that the loved-ones involved had no chance for “goodbyes”. That, my friends, is ever so sad.
No chance to say goodbye to people or place
Last year… oh wait, I lose track of time… Going on nearly two years ago, we sat at an apocalyptically empty Heathrow Airport. We were forced, for a number of reasons, to leave somewhere that was without a shadow of a doubt, home. We had to pick up in Australia and start everything all over again. When we left England, there was no opportunity for goodbye. COVID was in full flight, the entire world was shut down.
We could not say goodbye to our loved ones there, nor our life. As dejected as I was sitting at that deserted airport late in March 2020 (eerie given Heathrow is usually heaving with commuters and people hurriedly shopping up a storm in Harrods or if you’re me, Accessorize), I never imagined in my wildest dreams that we’d still not be allowed to go back even now. I’m in Queensland, Australia, and still now we have no clear roadmap on how to travel freely around Australia, let alone internationally.
It all makes the fact we could not say goodbye even more difficult to take. It does not get easier. People have explained to us that we still mourn our life in London because we did not get to say goodbye. There was never an end. No closure that we can acknowledge.
Saying goodbye to a loved one, for good
There was a poignant goodbye in 2020. An actual moment saying goodbye to a loved one, forever. One painful moment, but one that was better to have happened than not.
It was Wednesday 6 May when my Dad said he wanted to tell my brother, Josh, and I, that it was “time for him to say goodbye”. He’d been lying in a bed for weeks. His body slowly, painfully and cruelly deteriorated. A once active and proud father, business owner and globe-trotter himself, now rotting away from cancer – unable to move, eat, drink, live. Stubborn to the end, his body held on – too long.
On that day, Josh and I sat with him on his bed. In a very odd twist, we both smelled death in that room that day. We both described it like that to each other later on. I can’t tell you how we knew, but we did. It was a telling and foreboding sense – very hard to process and accept as ‘true’, but it was clear to us.
By this point, our Dad had real trouble talking. He’d all but lost his voice and had zero energy. But he told us that he now needed to go, and that he wanted to say goodbye that day. In floods of tears filled with love, gratitude, regrets and fear about pretty much everything coming from that point on, we did just that. We said goodbye to our ultimate loved one, and for me, I faced my first permanent, real, and excruciatingly raw goodbye.
It’s October 2021 and I can only just bring myself to think about this moment. It was the last time I saw my Dad in this realm. I know he’s still around, but that’s a story for another time.
Hello, what’s next? 🙂
I stand by my original sentiment on “goodbyes” – they suck. Especially when they’re directed at people, places or experiences that mean the world to you. There is something to be said about having them though.
Since researching this topic and becoming aware of times when I’ve avoided goodbyes in the past, I have discovered some helpful resources and discussions. One is here, on The Five Reasons to Say Goodbye, and another from The American Psychological Association on why goodbyes are so important, whether it be to a person or a stage in your life. I now know I’m not alone: it’s difficult subject matter to talk about sometimes, and even harder to act on. But the awareness that we should go deeper, is really important.
We’re currently still stuck in an unrealistic and unreasonable travel ban throughout Queensland and Australia. I do hope we’re all rid of it soon (I’ll be very happy to say goodbye to many COVID rules, if I’m honest – get vaccinated, people – seriously). I’m hopeful we’ve got many “hellos” in our near future, and while they may be brimming with tears, they’ll be happy ones, as we are reunited with the people and places we never got to say “goodbye” to all those months (years) ago.
If you come across this post, drop me a line in the comments. How do you see it? I’m, you know, asking for a friend…
I’ve been living in fear and anger lately, without much hope in uncertain times. We’ve had to leave our home in the UK, only to be treated like we don’t belong ‘back home’ in Australia. We couldn’t say goodbye to any of our friends or even to our life of the past six years – just had to jump on a plane and hope for the best. It’s been very sh!t.
COVID-19 has impacted a lot of people in many terrible ways. Some people don’t understand, they remain lucky and unscathed; the most they have to complain about is that the gym is closed. Others find themselves in situations where they can’t see sick or dying family in hospital or at home. Cooper and I had our lives torn away from us, and I haven’t seen light or hope, if I’m honest. Grief.
I know I don’t want to live like this. So, as we sit in mandatory 14 day isolation in a hotel in Australia, I’m finally getting to a point where I feel like I want to make the best of it. Acceptance.
This has been many weeks coming though. If you’ve followed the stories on this blog, you’ll know we’re now in our fifth week of isolation.
Then we witnessed the health crisis unfold in the UK, although we were watching from a distance in our beautiful little corner of Bedfordshire with our friends Andy and Helen who we met through house sitting adventures.
Hope and acceptance amidst impossible decisions
We found ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. If we stayed in the UK, we did have accommodation and I had employment. But, Australia is harder and harder to access now (closed borders, very few international flights in), family is here and we seem less affected by Coronavirus (so far). Is it a better bet? After what we’ve witnessed, we worry that many here are too complacent – that Coronavirus will explode after Easter. I hope that prediction is wrong.
A friend recently gave me some advice about dealing with impossible decisions. She said, “sometimes you just have to make the choice, commit to it and make it work“.
Now that we’re here, we’ll make the best of it, even if ‘it’ means taking things month at a time.
There’s also a school of thought that my friend Leanne (publisher of Get it Magazine) and I have been focusing on. Time is something we have gained through Coronavirus isolation. Read our April Get it e-news for our tips on the ways you can use your time to improve your business and your life 😄
We have to hold onto this 👇
“Now more than ever, hope can actually become our power source.” -Deepak Chopra
Finding hope in uncertain (and isolated) times: our fave tools
No matter what’s going on in your life, in the end, hope comes from within. And it’s something we have to practice accessing – we can’t take it for granted. (just like you shouldn’t take your time, fresh air, fresh food, nice bed, and HEALTH for granted – think about that today 🙏).
So, from within the confines of our forced lock-down in Australia, here’s what we’re leaning on:
Throughout this disaster that we know will end, although no end is in sight, I know more than just Cooper and I have retreated ‘home’. A wise friend and lifestyle coach Linda Stewart-Brown, reminded me that going back to your roots isn’t a bad thing, and to not feel like I’m peddling backwards. She says:
There are some things that need clearing up and finalising, in one way or another. Doing this, one step back, as you might see it, also means the next step is definitely forward! A strategic retreat and then transformation and clarification to be able to move ahead more quickly and with greater success. It is difficult to see right now, however, in 18 months, or less, this will all be 20/20 hindsight for which you will be very grateful.
I learnt a little something in this mental health and life coaching training too, that talks about a nice evening ritual. The course mentors encourage us to visualise our future at night. If you’ve got a partner, talk about it before bed. No worries if you’re on your own – pull out your journal and write as if you’re in that future moment.
Feel the health, travel, fun, freedom and abundance that’s on the way.
We hope you’re doing ok in these uncertain times. Let us know in the comments about your experiences, or find us on social media to say hi. We’re in isolation, after all – happy for your company 😉
And if you have any helpful ideas or resources to share, do feel free to link them below.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper, and here we share our advice and stories about expat living in the UK; pet and house sitting around the world; wellness travel and creative living, no matter where on the planet you are. We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for 20 years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. We hope you find value in our content. Please do connect by leaving a comment or find us on social media.