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.
Ever felt like you’re done with pleasing others especially when it’s not returned? Most of us have been there! Here’s my take on how to stop pleasing others and why we need to stop excusing ourselves…
For your own health: how to stop pleasing others
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?
Would you like to stop pleasing others all the time, even when you feel it’s not right?
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.
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.
Drop the ‘yes’ habit
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’?
Help a friend out
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 me on social media.
Cooper and I are both proud Queenslanders and appreciate the value of exploring the south-east, Brisbane to Gold Coast. They are not the same, by the way, but two separate cities. Brisbane is the trendy capital city of Queensland. The Gold Coast is one of the largest and fastest growing cities in Australia. But they are near to each other – Brisbane to Gold Coast by car or train is only about an hour.
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 do the Brisbane to Gold Coast trip.
Brisbane to Gold Coast – a sunny adventure you want to have
I’m most disappointed when people around the world tell me one of two things about why they might not travel to Queensland, Brisbane to Gold Coast or other areas of my stunning home state:
“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…?”
“I went to Queensland a few years ago and found it to be run down, and too touristy.”
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.
Head straight for the riverfront walk in Brisbane, or a stroll through Southbank.
And if you’ve not been to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast 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 on the Gold Coast is still beautiful too, with its glorious beaches and sophisticated restaurants and cafes.
A cultural melting pot of charm
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 to Gold Coast
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, Brisbane to Gold Coast
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.
It was late one afternoon last week when a friend and colleague, Erika, popped over to my desk to have a chat. Bright and bubbly, full of fun dreams and goals, I enjoy her visits, tea in hand and the promise of gossip in her eyes.
I knew she’d had a tough month where some of those aforementioned dreams and goals had been rocked, predominantly because of the insensitive actions of a boy who did not deserve her affection.
Dreams and goals – careful of comparison
In her usual style, she wandered over to me with a warm smile, perched on my desk and commenced with a monologue about how she saw herself, saying she’d been thinking a lot lately about how by now she should be ‘more successful and further ahead in her life and career’.
I objected, not just on the grounds that I’m her friend, but because of my own burning question: ‘What is the definition of being ahead?’
Predictably the response involved comparisons to what fellow university graduates from the recent class of 201…? are doing, and her reflections on the aforementioned relationship that went cold.
As someone (vaguely) older looking at her situation, I’ve seen Erika secure an excellent job in a respected business where she started working as a temp; she impressed people personally and professionally, put in a lot of hard work and has in a short space of time developed into a PR pro. She learns every day, as we all do, but continues to ride the wave gracefully.
I believe Erika’s story is impressive. For her to tell me she feels disappointed about the success that I can see clearly, well, I had to give her a loving nudge! Aside from the proud job situation, she’d also completed a Master’s degree in the past year, and diligently dealt with personal life challenges.
With age arguably comes wisdom, and I’m going to stick with that logic. I shared with Erika that from my perspective there are two important things you can use to ‘measure your success’: how happy you are, and your ability to cover expenses. Yes, if these elements need to be addressed, then do so! But when all was said and done, Erika admitted she’s happy, and can cover her rent plus purchase wine on the weekend.
‘Success’ at any age is not about comparison to what your friends are doing.
Social media poses a problem for many on this front, and if you relate, switch if off for a while. If we did the same thing at the same time as our contemporaries, would we necessarily love life? No.
In my humble view, success is being happy. It is simple. It is your gratitude for life and acceptance of choices.
It is not ‘how far ahead you are’ – whatever that is supposed to mean.
Someone said to me not so long ago that I should be further ahead in my career. While I respect their opinion, that view is narrow. Granted, it is one that is still understood by a wide range of education, media, and corporate types, but it’s not relevant, especially in 2018.
I’m incredibly proud of everything I’ve done – the cool, the crazy, the difficult, the brave moves that have meant my ‘career’ path has not been linear. Confidently I declare that it’s been liberating and exciting and varied.
I’ve been happy. And I pay my debts, just like a Lannister (apologies, couldn’t resist).
So, I write to “Erika” here, that aspirations are amazing and reveal passion and drive, things I stand for in life.
Go after what lights you up; but turn comparison and an immediate feeling that you want more, into intention. This will bring awesome things to you in good time.
For now live in the moment, embrace it. Think about what life presently holds that you love, nurture that, and you’ll get ahead for sure.
Another year, another lesson learnt (hopefully). I reflect every January on my new year rituals, and like to think I wise up each time around. Perhaps…
New Year rituals – 2018 pondering
Welcome to the new year! Old habits die hard, right? For this month we’ll still write the date as ‘2017’, analyse our horoscope (even if we don’t believe), and determine that this is the year of less gin and more gym. Yes absolutely, (tomorrow)!
Many of us also repeat a new year ritual and I’ve come to relish in mine. After a run of January 1sts where I was left feeling more than a little let down and empty, I realised that the act of having refresh routine was what might save me.
Signs – what signs?
For a bit of light relief, the first thing I seek is signs it will be a year of promise. I’m delighted to discover that it’s the Chinese year of the dog. Anything to do with dogs is good by me!
I know nothing of numerology, yet I find myself dabbling with numbers: 2+0+1+8 – an eleven year, which breaks down to one plus one equalling two, marking the ‘beginning of a new direction’, so my online research explains.
Numbers and signs lift my spirits, but we know nothing happens without action and intention. So, after I’ve had my fun looking at what’s in the stars, my personal ritual gets old-school as I turn off the computer and turn back to pen and paper.
The important part of a new year ritual: write it down!
As far as I’m concerned, the power of writing things down is not to be underestimated. A few years ago, we went on a winter trip abroad and I used a long-haul flight home to Queensland to have a think about what I’d like to come out of the year ahead.
I peeled open my shiny new diary for the year – clean pages representing the chance at an organised, fresh start. In an appropriate space up the front, I wrote a list of things I hoped for. I didn’t have any real method in mind, I simply noted my desires.
We landed back in Australia and I went about filling my diary with events, tasks and to-do lists, enjoying the delicious satisfaction of crossing items off, marking as ‘done’. At some point later in the year, I went fishing around in the front of the book looking for a note I had paper-clipped inside, and I spotted the list I’d made on the plane.
Amazed, I realised that many things I’d written down (but had forgotten about) had come true. I felt like I’d experienced a little bit of magic in that discovery!
How do you want to feel?
Since then, I’ve been more conscious about my new year ‘write it down’ ritual, and I’ve tweaked it to make it as powerful as possible. I try not to be too prescriptive in terms of detail. Instead, I write down how I want to feel. This bit has become important to me. I have discovered that what I (think I) want, or what is for the greatest good, might not come in the exact package I imagine.
Some of my list includes, ‘I want to feel valued and respected at work’, ‘I want to feel inspired by the creative people who surround me’, ‘I want to feel fit and healthy’. Coming at the new year with this attitude – imagining it, and repeating these mantras – helps me detach from specific outcomes, and inevitably brings me a wealth of opportunities better than I could have dreamed of.
My new year ritual closes with two important acts: giving thanks, and letting go.
Gratitude to my people, lessons, loves and experiences that make and break. And, dropping (as hard as this can be) toxic grudges and situations that simply do not serve me.
Desires, dogs and new directions – feels good to me. What’s on the cards for you this month? We’d love to hear about your refresh rituals. Do drop us a line with your own words of wisdom, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Happy New Year!
First published in the January 2018 issue of Get it Magazine - read it at getit-magazine.com.au
Welcome! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London. We like to inspire on how to travel for longer and to live and work from anywhere. Our most popular content here is about seeing the world with your pet, remote working & digital nomadism, and house + pet sitting. Create a global life of your dreams at any age! Subscribe to find out more :)
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