Blogging goals

One of my 2015 goals is to create a space for myself to encourage writing. Inspired by Julie (who is inspiring in so many ways!), I realized it’s time to get my laptop off the dining room table and surround myself with fewer distractions. Sitting downstairs means there is TV, direct access to the kitchen (and coffee!) and domestic duties that seem to call my name when I’m meant to be focused on other, more important, things.

Having moved into an established family home when I came to Australia, it was the first time in my life I didn’t have “my room”. Even when I was working as a TL I had my few tokens that traveled with me everywhere, like the pocket-sized Buddha that was gifted to me prior to my first semester studying abroad. Yes, I have my bedside table with a few trinkets, but the walls are no longer decorated with random quotes and postcards but portraits and Samara drawings. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love. But it’s time I get a bit of my own, inspirational space back.

The plan forming in my mind is to rearrange our guest room, perhaps convincing Matt to sell the bed and invest in a good quality air mattress or futon (we have guests stay with us maybe 7 nights of the year) and set up a “Corner of Joslyn”. This will include cork boards on which I can hang pictures, post cards, quotes, ideas, suggestions, Venetian masks and the like, and I will also get myself a writing desk and comfy chair.

This morning I went to check out a vintage writing desk and the woman selling it was awesome. She is a blogger, vintage furniture maker and etsy seller. Speaking with her inspired me to take the time to write again. It might not be every day or even every week, but I truly feel that if I can dedicate space to myself I can also dedicate time to nurture and expand on my writing. I have a lot of goals for 2015 and feel like it’s going to be a strong, powerful year for me.

It all has to start somewhere.

Much love and many hugs,
Joslyn

Australia Day

In honor of Australia Day, I’d like to post a few of my favorite things about this country:

Aussie Camel

– Decent minimum wage even at a job with no training. ie I was able to work as a travel agent for an established, reputable company on a livable wage, plus earn commissions. I have friends in the US who are professionals in their arena and earning less than that even after years in the industry, which is sad.

Medicare. Yup, we have private health, but before I did it was nice to know I could get my eyes checked or go to the doctor if necessary and it was free to me.

Sports. Not just the actual sports, but the way they’re viewed and commentated. I never stop mentioning this when I watch games – AFL players always talk to the media after the match and can be constructively critical of their own team. The coaches attend a press conference afterwards and can have a laugh, talk strategy and commend (and/or condemn) the opponent. You don’t see this in NFL. In cricket (which I don’t like!) they will often have a mic on one of the players and chat to them while the game is on, from everything to the shows that are about to premier to the current game to the weather. Or, recently, about a seagull that was hit by a cricket ball.

TV networks and their casts. There seems to be a lot of loyalty amongst those people working for specific channels. Imagine, in the USA, that someone from the cast of “Friends” would only appear on other NBC shows and that was it – you’d see them dedicated to that channel. It’s common here to see one person hosting the morning news but then making cameo appearances on late night shows on the same network, like Masterchef or something like that. Watching TV here can seem like watching a happy family that are all hanging out.

– The accent. I mean, really, it’s awesome. I never get tired of hearing it. And making fun of the Kiwi accent along with it, bro.

– The slang. Yonks. You right? Chuffed. G’day. Darl. Heaps. Crook. Good on ya. Changing names (Gary=Gazza; Kerry=Kezza; Lauren=Lazza // Jones=Jonesy; Hughes=Hughesy; Koch=Kochie // John=Johno; Thompson=Tommo; Jos=Josso)

Aussie girl!

Aussie girl!

There’s a lot I don’t like – the politics, the humidity, Surfer’s Paradise (and the Gold Coast in general), the cost of living (I still can’t get used to a 6-pack costing $18 on average!), the extreme time/distance/cost it takes to get anywhere else (aside from Fiji) meaning I don’t get to see the people I love very often, the instability of the AUD against the USD and the fact that I am currently losing 20% when I exchange money to pay what’s owed in the USA.

I miss my friends and my family, but if I had to fall in love with someone from an English-speaking-country-not-my-own, I suppose I could have done a lot worse than an Aussie 😉

Happy Australia Day, everyone! And, just for you my love:
Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Much love and many hugs, mates,
Joslyn

Ramblings never make it to paper

What have I been doing with my life? Seriously, where has the time gone since May?

Having still not caught up with our journal from our Caribbean trip, I’ve yet to elaborate on the most amazing sights/sounds/snorkelling places, but if anyone is curious you can just ask me. I’m much better at face-to-face emails as opposed to writing to a mass of people that may or may not read my ramblings. And rambling I am…

The gist of it is that we got back to Oz, Matt got stuck straight back into his gig and I was left floating. I signed up for a Travel Writing Course by correspondence (which I still haven’t finished. I will. I paid the money so will get what I can from it) but that didn’t instantly start paying the bills (shockhorror) so I needed something else. Unfortunately our local Bunnings (hardware store) wasn’t hiring and I wasn’t sure the direction I wanted to take. During a brief visit into the Ignite office I reunited with my old managers, and one thing led to another…

I started consulting again on a contractual basis, as well as a few other side gigs to make some cash. I did this for around 3 or 4 months before realizing that, as much as I believe in the company I was working for and enjoy the people working around me, I didn’t want to be a travel agent anymore. Isn’t that why I resigned in March to begin with? As luck would have it, the day I was going to re-resign my boss approached me with a new idea, which is how I got to where I am now! My current title (per my email signature) is “Content Writer”, but I’ve been doing and learning a lot more than that!

Not only have I been writing content for the launch of our newly redesigned website, I’ve been enrolled in a course to begin learning about SEO. I’ve also been taught more back-end design stuff (using WordPress, of course! Not that my blogs will all of a sudden become prettier or fancier – I’m not there yet), analytics and dipping my toes into the world of marketing. Not a lot, mind you, but enough that I’ve been getting really excited about what the future has in store. My manager has a way of being a bit sneaky and alluding to future plans, and if that’s anything to go on then I should have the next few rounds of bills taken care of!

On top of that, I have another great gig twice monthly where I visit travel stores and hostels and do basic training and brochure top up for a couple companies that are based up in Cairns. This gets me out into the sun (or torrential rain – depending on the day) socialising and interacting with some pretty cool cats around Brisbane and the GC. It’s a nice break from sitting at a computer, which is all I was seeking all along.

My next post will be much more entertaining, I promise. It’ll be about how incredible 2015 has been so far – and we’re only 25 days in! Woot woot!

Much love and many hugs,
Joslyn

Friends

I spend a lot of time thinking about friends and friendship. The people that I know and love that are scattered across the globe from all different, unique places and eras of my journey. I often mull over why it’s been so difficult to create strong bonds with people here on the Gold Coast and ruminate on whether my existing friends – those I don’t see often – have “replaced” me in their lives.

Silly? Perhaps. But friendship has always been important to me. Crucial, even. People have often asked me what the word siempre means that I have tattooed on me: it means forever or always. It came to be important to me because the friends that I have made in my life are forever*. One is silver and the other’s gold sings the song lyrics, and I have found nothing truer in my 32 years. My friends are my family, my lifeblood. They have supported me through everything – tears, laughter, adventures, terrible music concerts, blind dates, true love – and all that wonderful fun in between.

I heard a song on the radio today, “Closing Time” by Semisonic, and that grating, earwig** song reminds me of high school. Those of you from Mr. Ambinder’s junior year English class may recall the serenade we received of that tune towards the end of the year, and the song on the radio transported me back to that classroom, those old friends. Some of those friends haven’t spoken to me in years, people I was once so close to, and that’s always disappointing. But I’ve moved on – and across the world.

J and I had a long discussion the other afternoon about friendships and layers and discovering the truth of who someone really is. We weren’t discussing this regarding romance, but friends. What was the truest, purest form of yourself? When was it? When do we start piling on the layers to hide ourselves or disguise our honest feelings or opinions? What does it take to strip those back and return to our core? And how do these layers prevent or allow us from creating deep, meaningful friendships as we get older? It seems easy in high school – you are with these people hours upon hours of the day, have choir or theatre practice after school, do homework together or create study groups, play sports, etc. From there, if you go to college, you meet your roommate and have extracurriculars and people in your dorm and a built-in community at your fingertips.

But then you get into the real world and it becomes harder. Sometimes it’s easy to befriend work colleagues, but I think this is very hit-or-miss, and of course the “single serving” friends when travelling or working overseas. And what about when you settle outside of your hometown? I struggled (and still do) with this here in Australia. It’s not that I don’t work with good people, because I do. And it’s not as if I have no friends, because there are some here that I hold very dear to me. But the hard part is that everyone is already grown-up and has their lifestyle with their existing circle of friends, so it can be more difficult to integrate into what is already in place. I watch others do this with ease, but I believe their goal, or what they plan to gain or achieve in that new relationship, is oftentimes very superficial and arbitrary.

So how do we do it? How do we build friendships, and on what base? How much of your past do you divulge and share, and when does that happen? Meeting someone at 32 isn’t the same as meeting them at 12 – how much of you “previous life” do you fill them in on? Or does it start the minute you meet, and things or people from your past have no bearing on this newly-growing relationship? Does it scare someone off if you reveal a nugget of who you are from your past life?

I’m so lucky to have met so many people while we were all in or near our “purest form”. This can forgive a lot of transgressions when they’re cranky or fall out of touch or don’t reply to emails, because they are the ones that are allowed to do that and when you see them after a year of not talking absolutely nothing has changed between you. It’s not false or awkward, it simply is. So thank you to my friends out there who are loyal and lovely!

Much love and many hugs,
Joslyn

*There are, of course, extenuating situations of lost trust, betrayal or those who have written me off and discarded me and my friendship without a second though. But I try not to focus on them.
**You know, songs that get in your ear and you can’t get them out until another takes their place.

Vanity

What’s your opinion on vanity car plates?

I think they’re…well, vain. But an interesting insight into the person driving around in them because it shows the world how that person identifies themselves. One the one hand there’s the selection of the plate itself, which I don’t think is vain at all, but still intriguing. For example, Oregon has a handful of plates with which you can present your ideals: the basic tree, the covered wagon, Crater lake, the cyclist, the wine region, the salmon… and these are more general, though considered “special interest”.

I’m referring to the fascination of what people choose for the text on their vanity plates. In a way it’s like a tattoo: a lot of thought, a lot of money, potentially lasting a lifetime, requires explanation and probably embarrassing at some point in the future. Maybe comparing it to a first email address is more appropriate. Are you a #1MUM? FOOTY4LF? LDYBG? TOPCH3F? FITNE55?

I think about this a lot when I drop Samara at school because there are lots of fancy parents driving expensive cars with specialized plates, many of which relate to parenting. I don’t get this. I love Samara, but I believe that even if I had biological children I wouldn’t identify with being just “mum”, at least not to the extent that it’s what I would shout it to the world. It’s painting yourself into a tiny, stereotypical corner. Sure, Matt and I could get plates that say LUVTRAVL but there is more to us than just travel. What about our passions and diverse interests? To the people that advertise their parental position, favorite sports team or financial situation (2RICH – yes, I have seen something like this!) – why do you do this? I’m truly curious. Because when I see the “MUM” plates I have already created an outline of that person in my mind. That’s who they are in my mind: a mother. And this may mean I miss out on knowing them as a friend, a hard worker, an independent thinker or an amateur actor, all because of 8 characters on the back of their car.

Opinions?

Much love and many hugs,
Joslyn

Coffee v. Espresso

I would like to clarify something that really upsets me when I hear it: the coffee served in the USA is not worse than what they serve in Australia.

I come from a coffee city, so yes, I’ve been spoilt for choice. We have local roasters selling organic, fair trade beans ground to your specification on every other street corner in Portland. Maybe it’s not that way in rural Nebraska, but in your major cities you will always be able to find a handful of places to enjoy a tasty latte (and no, I am NOT referring to Starbucks!).

When I first came to Australia I was pretty appalled by the quality and (lack of) choice for coffee. There are the big chains here, like Zaraffa’s and Coffee Club, which are just like any chain anywhere – made to order cappuccinos and lattes and flat whites (which, as far as I can still tell after 4 years, are just lattes with slightly less foam and more actual milk so they’re “flat” not frothy. And they’re served in a mug whereas lattes are served in little water glasses) – but all coffee drinks here are espresso drinks.

This is, I believe, where the difference is. In Australia if you go to a cafe and ask for a coffee, you will get an espresso drink of some description – probably a flat white or cappuccino. If you go into a cafe in the US and order a coffee, you’ll get just that: coffee. Whether brewed in a French Press or a percolator (drip) you’ll get a mug or cup of ground coffee with water passed through it. Not espresso that’s been carefully measured, tamped and pulled in a high-pressure espresso machine, but medium-roast coffee.

The coffee isn’t bad, it’s just different. And sometimes it’s exactly what you want – ask David Sedaris, even he agrees with me. I want to go out for breakfast and drink unlimited coffee with sugar and creamer; I don’t always want an espresso drink with two shots that will keep me buzzing the rest of the day. And only one?!

So come on Aussies, quit bitching about the coffee in the US and make the distinction between coffee and espresso. Trust me, there is one.

We’ve been back…

Hey all,

Brief update! We’ve been back just over a month and already planning a few smaller trips away (Tassie, Melbourne, Sunny Coast) looking forward to the next BIG adventure which may be Asia.

First, though, I need a job – the big thing on the list!

I’ve signed up for a travel-writing course and am looking for articles/blogs you think are amazing and inspiring! If you have these, please send them my way via blog, FB or email (I still use email – is that archaic?!) to help me find my footing. As you know, Matt and I love to travel and I have a lot of stories from the years and destinations I’ve visited, so it seems like the best time to take the leap and go for it!

Hope everyone is well and one of these days the full blog of our Caribbean trip will be up for you to enjoy (with pictures!)

Oh yes, I almost forgot – I started a new blog (linked to this) devoted specifically to travel, so that’s most-likely where you’ll find all the Caribbean gems!

Much love and many hugs,
Joslyn