A musing on pumping brakes, gas and most importantly – pumping up the jam. Even as a kid, I either demanded the center of attention and refused to talk if anyone so much as looked at my birthday candle. Or … Continue reading
What does it feel like to:
a) Move to New York?
c) Wake up in the morning of your flight to a trip of a lifetime?
d) Be your birthday, Christmas or even a Friday?
It could feel a million things, and i’d love to make a list. But from those experiencing a) through d), at the moment, I’m noticing a super prevalent notion that: ‘it’ doesn’t feel like ‘it’.
Whatever ‘it’ is – it always seems to feel not like it should.
But I wonder why we’re thinking so critically – I mean, no one has ever been here before.
In every moment, isn’t it cool to think that the experience is unwritten? You literally, have never been there before, at that age, with that mindset, in this place, with that plan, beside (or without) some person?
While everybody is busy chasing their dreams by living in New York, Graduating double-degrees, trekking trough Norway, landing boss jobs, and kicking absolute goals on (and off) field – there’s a strange commonality, a kind-of brotherhood semblance between us all:
Nothing feels like ‘it’.
Even up until boarding my flight, I didn’t feel like I was going away to travel the latest beaut locations on my bucket list and live in one of my favourite spots on earth. Even my friends, who are living in NYC still can’t believe they’ve moved a million miles away.
But I wonder about how we have this delirious craving for trying to make sense of everything, reaching to feel something familiar when the very essence of it all, is the total opposite – unfamiliar?
The fact is, everything is shiny brand new, and there’s no way in hell to know what it feels like.
Every encroaching minute is new territory, uncharted waters, and I for one, definitely don’t have a map (or data on my international sim card in fact, to download one).
Bottom line: this is a rookie life.
So get lost. No, better than that, stay lost and stop trying to know or feel like you should about ‘it’. The feeling doesn’t exist yet, it’s vanilla, but it’s waiting for you to make, break, look it square in the eye, grab it with both hands and top it with strawberries, oreos, chia seeds, donuts, cronuts, something matcha flavoured and gummy bears.
Remember: Vanilla is always just the beginning.
I have a plan.
Not that I’ve put a deadline on things, but yeah look, if I haven’t gradated by 2017, someone intervene. And if I haven’t been to Scandinavia before I’m 25, somebody needs to steal me away. I have plans, or maybe they are goals I’m not sure – but I am sure that I want them to happen, and I have a rough outline of a sketched timeline in my head of where everything fits. It’s perfect and I’d show it to you, but it’s in my head.
Maybe it’s another social norm I’m trying to comply by – I think I need to have a plan because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Everybody has plans, and it’s duly noted (especially by the Personal Trainer fraternity, you know who you are) ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. I’ve taken it for this long, but I’m turning the tables – just a little bit anyway. Ready to hear me out?
What about the plans I didn’t know I wanted to plan?
There’s no denying that one of the most cheekiest aspects of life is the tendency for things to just, literally fall into one’s lap. A chance meeting of someone who shares your mutual love for Matcha leading to great chats and endless, future Matcha dates. This person soon becomes a close friend who inspires you to take up Bikram – you didn’t plan for this. What about a sudden realization that studying abroad is an option? In Sweden. You planned on finishing your degree in a flat three years, but you didn’t plan to crave travel, and you weren’t even aware that exchange was even a thing. Good luck fitting that into your concrete, life schedule.
So in that moment, when outside forces start to poke fun at our plans, do we turn a blind eye to everything we didn’t know we didn’t know about (read it again, it makes sense), simply because it wasn’t featured in the original blueprint? I hope not.
In some respects, I feel like a ‘go with the flow’ mindset is a much more fruitful approach to life opposed to the schoolteacher curriculum, ‘planning’ method. Can we live a little?
Be spontaneous, cheeky, playful and willing to let go of the plan.
Someone great once told me ‘If someone asks you to jump in the car, don’t ask where its going, just jump in’. Now obviously, don’t jump in the car if it’s a white ute and the bearded driver is offering lollies to succumb you to join the ride – in that case call 000.
Be aware, but also be aware that there are possibilities you couldn’t even imagine.
Now believe me, I’m no Avril Lavigne, f*$% the system kind of gal, I’m all for playing the game, but I know that the trick is to know the rules so you can break them effectively. It’s a Dalai Lama tactic (no kidding, look it up), so is completely justified, moral and somewhat enlightened – try it sometime.
Because as Harriet Wakelam, a superstar #girlboss I met recently perfectly explained, ‘if you’d asked me five years ago, if I’d be here today, I’d say no’.
We can never totally predict what is going to happen, how it’s going to evolve or even if we will still care about the things we do now, in the future. Trying to figure out the world and its crazy ways is impossible, so why try. Choose your battles.
Just embrace the unpredictability like a Melbourne day. Pack a raincoat, some sunnies and your bathers. You’ll either be jumping in puddles or splashing in a pool – either way, its going to be a good time.
Unplan the plan. The end.
P.S Inspiration for this piece came at 7.45am when I was offered a dream internship at one of my favourite brands. I’m trying really hard to take my own advice, deny my previous ‘plans’ for where I thought I was going, and start chasing something I didn’t think of yet. Writing is my way of coping with WHAT TO DO! #halp
There’s nothing like some down time to make you contemplate the things you really love, and on a recent bus ride from Ollantaytambo to Cusco, Peru – which was just that little bit too long – I had just that sort of ‘me’ time.
Prepared for a three-hour journey through the Peruvian countryside, I prayed to my iPod to prepare the best, chilled playlist, turned up my earphones, lifted my legs onto the back of the seat in front of me (smelly feet alert!), and spaced out to the view from my window seat.
There’s something special about some old school tunes that really make me smile from the eardrums out, and as I bumped along to the beat – and potholes – I started thinking about the other, teeny tiny little details, which really make me happy.
I’m not talking big-ticket items like “winning the lottery”, “falling in love” or “landing a dream job”, because these are pretty far and few between. If I thought these big things were the only way to be a happy-go-lucky person, then happiness would always seem another Power Ball ticket, lover and promotion away.
So why not focus on the little things.
It sounds cliché I know, but think about these merry makers. Think of how simple yet totally rewarding they are (hopefully you can relate):
- When Coconut water is on sale for no particular reason.
- When a waiter brings a big, cold, jug of water to your table without being asked.
- Big coffee mugs.
- Hearing children speak in another language.
- Perfectly made cordial.
- Waking up to a sunny day.
- Sand between your toes.
- Smelling good.
- Fresh bed sheets.
- Hotel bathrobes.
- Hot showers.
- Telling a bad joke that gets laughs anyway.
- Perfectly ripened avocadoes.
- Finishing a book.
These are just a few of my favorite things, and with them, I am the happiest little vegemite in the world.
Sure, the big things are important too, but at least I can experience the bliss from any of the above daily, of my own accord, without relying on some outside source to bestow upon me a $2m prize pool, attention, or a new job.
So what little things ‘float your boat’?
Find a pretty place to sit, grab a pen and paper, and brainstorm the heck out of everything that reveals the cute dimples in your cheeks!
Conjure, remember, reminisce and revive every thing you love, every incy-wincy-teeny-weeny detail, use them and abuse them everyday.
I’d love to hear what you come up with!
On planet Earth, there’s a sweet spot. Let me talk you through it.
You see, personally, I only need to head to the supermarket and attempt to reach the dried figs on the top shelf to get a perspective on how small I am compared to the world, but there are some places out there, which truly make you feel like an ant.
A teeny tiny little thing that could be washed away in a second. Somehow, experiencing this ant-like state is miraculously liberating: it’s like you are forced to just sit, look and admire with a loving envy at how grand other things are.
Other things like great waterfalls, or more specifically, the Iguassu Falls. A few days ago I truly grasped the said ant-life whilst in Brazil, and this is my story.
I was in Caipirinha Heaven.
It’s a cocktail, it’s strong, and Brazil is literally crawling with them.
Drinking these bad boys is basically a National Standard around this part of the world, so if you choose to visit, you better be Caipirinha-ready for a Caipirinha-good time!
I was basically Jane from Tarzan.
I swear I saw Tarzan a few times, that’s all I’m saying.
But seriously, there are rainbow coloured butterflies flitting around, flirty Macaws who say ‘Adios’ and cheeky little monkeys who literally convince you to pick them up, put them in your pocket, save them for a rainy day and become best friends.
But to really fire up your jungle experience, you should definitely dress like Bindi Irwin, pick a bite-size banana fresh from the bunch on the side of the pathway, carry a walky-talky and climb a Palm Tree to drink your Coconut Water fresh from the source!
Okay maybe don’t try that last one at home, Palm Trees can be really high. But you get the gist: the Jungles are legit!
I abused Watermelon Juice on tap.
Yes, you read right: on tap.
I love you, Breakfast Juice Bar!
I saw ‘those’ Falls.
This isn’t a class on the many ‘Wonders of the World’ so I wont go overboard in explaining just how amazing the Iguassu Falls are, but just so you know, they are kind of a big deal.
A Go-Pro and genuine desire to get completely drenched are necessary.
If you too, have ever felt like a cast member from ‘A Bug’s Life’, share your story, we are all friends here.
Love Sheona. xo
No matter how small you are, 24 hours in transit, across seemingly endless seas – even with the entertainment of new movies on demand and a new set of Dr. Dre Beats – is never a comfortable experience. I swear I tried every single method of curling up, and leant my head in every way trying to imitate a decent nights’ sleep – all to no feat.
But like every thing that takes time, finally arriving in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, and apparently the cultural capital of ALL South America was totally worth it.
As a Spanish student, witnessing the verbs and syllables I attempt so often in class, being applied to the real world was freakily satisfying, and being able to choose from a menu without the anxiety of wrongly ordering steak tartare (raw mince, oops, what?! no tartare sauce? Weh! – True story) is really quite comforting.
But more than the words that litter these streets in conversation, and the weather which is superbly ideal for a gradual tan, in the risk of sounding clichéd – this place is really, very cool!
I’m talking about a country of late-night loving, tango dancing, sweet-toothed, insanely carnivorous people; whose adoration of dulce de leche (the best type of caramel you’ve ever had – and I hate caramello koalas, so that’s saying something about the level of caramel here) seems to have no registration on waistlines – I mean, these people sure know how to, metaphorically, “put it away”.
I should have known, this is after all the hometown of Shakira. And well, “hips don’t lie”.
But apart from the effortless swing of every native hip, this city is one whose Sunday Markets are second to none, whose streets are perfectly flat for bike riding enthusiasts yet whose pedestrian crossings are more like death wishes. There are ‘hoods which will transport you to Paris in an instant, and others which are so colourful and musical that you will legit think you are trapped inside a play-box of lego and tango costumes.
But honestly Argentina, I’d happily be trapped here forever, and if you too, happen to find yourself in BA (code for Buenos Aires), check out these gems of a good time!
San Telmo Markets.
Sundays only folks, but oh, so, good! I spent a solid 5 hours touching every bracelet, llama wool jumper, antique and bag. There’s a lot of arts and crafty type stuff if you’re into it, but have a geez for some cultural immersion. A good beat of music, or stall of food is never more than 10 steps away, so spending a day here is really a no-brainer.
Dulce de Leche.
With alfajores (short-bread style cookies), in crepes, in a cone, mixed with ice-cream, oozing from a cake, or just rubbing it all over yourself then licking it off. Do whatever you can to consume as much of this as possible. It’s mandatory.
If like me, you love a bit of a tree-change, check out the Japanese garden , the Botanic Garden, or even the Constanera Sur reserve.
Why isn’t this magical sauce a ‘thing’ in Western Society? I am positive it is God’s condiment of choice. Much too good for children! Best with burgers, chorizo, steak, pork, bread, vegetables, chips, pancakes, – ok too far, but you geddit!
Sounds morbid I know, but this is actually sick! See below for insight!
Just do it. Get a coffee, use the bathroom or just have a look around – it’s kind of a big deal.
Self-explanatory! Cha Cha Cha! – Not sure if that’s part of the tango, but yeah, WOO!
Camiñita, La Boca.
Refer to said, lego box of tango dreams.
Next up: Iguassu Falls. Stay Tuned Amigos!
Being available at the drop of a hat is something that I genuinely pride myself on, and I’d like to think that being “down” for anything is a trait that most people would aspire to.
Because in my books, it’s totally okay to text someone at 3pm requesting chai latte accompaniment in half an hour; and my own replies to invitational texts read something like this: “So. There. It’s. Insane.”
Basically, I’ve deduced this erratic tendency of always being available, to nothing other than FOMO.
I’ve heard acceptance is the first step of any form of recovery, so here it is:
I, Sheona Bello, solemnly admit that I am a full-time, hardcore sufferer of FOMO – more extensively known as the “Fear Of Missing Out”.
But to be honest, I never want to lose this ‘fear’. Here’s why.
On the one hand, it could be argued that such a condition leaves one forever in anticipation of the “next big thing” and never truly enjoying the present. But I prefer the contrary, FOMO is the best thing ever!
Think about it: if you have FOMO, it means that you have identified something you want to experience, and in an effort to reduce FOMO, you go ahead and do it! It’s a simple equation, really:
FOMO averted = experience attained = happy days!
And seriously, who doesn’t want happy days, for dayyyssss? It’s not a trick question, we all do!
Now I am fully anticipating you, my beloved reader, to at this point deduce what I’ve written as a ludicrous indication of naïveté, idealism and outrageous optimism, but please stick with me here.
I mean sure, it may be some form of psychological conditioning, too many olives when I was a toddler or maybe even a recent overdose on coconut water which has conceived these ideas, but I definitely say all this from experience.
Because, once again I am humbly reminded that plans are made to be changed, and there are greater things available than I could have ever imagined myself – only if you are willing to avoid your FOMO, and embrace them!
As such, it is with huge excitement that I write this post, less than 24 hours before boarding a flight to Shanghai – a place I didn’t plan on seeing for another 5 years, and a trip I am not nearly prepared for given the 48 hour proximity of a separate, 2 month trip through South America.
But the opportunity was there, I have FOMO, I wanted to relieve my FOMO, so I POUNCED.
Don’t blame me, blame it on the boogie.
Athens: the birthplace of Greek Salad, the stomping ground of Hercules and the humble home of Ouzo. With so many fruits to offer the tourists and the world, I really have no idea why people give good old “Athina” such a bad rap.
Most travellers seem to pry away from the Greek Capital following talks of it being “too dirty”, or “depressing” as a result of the country’s financial crisis. But honestly, take a trip (if possible) and decide for yourself.
I personally love a good Athens session, here’s why!
Greek Yoghurt, everywhere.
Sure Frozen Yoghurt bars have taken over like a bad rash here in Melbourne, but it really can’t compete with the fresh, Greek style.
Some of us spend years, if not a lifetime trying to discover the “best” yoghurt, and those lucky little Greeks are fed it from birth. I may not ever come across such fresh from the pot, creamy, delicate, enveloping, porcelain white goodness, but I can die happy knowing that I did enjoy a few cups, topped with some outrageous honey and a few pistachios just for fun. If you are lucky enough to find yourself craving this treat in Athens, you just have to check out Fresko Yoghurt Bar! So good!
Soccer – Gate 7 Style.
If possible, find locals, become best mates and convince them to take you to a soccer game.
I thought my dad’s friends were a bit fanatic when it came to the AFL grand final, but a glimpse of Grecian Soccer within the renown Gate 7 area of utmost fanatical soccer-goers, puts even the Collingwood die-hards to shame.
I’m talking 3 hours of endless chants, flares and fireworks. My ears are still ringing, but I like it.
Minus the fleas. It’s always fun meandering through trinkets and bobbits and do-whats-its. Embrace it and buy something for your mum while you’re at it, she’ll love it.
Places like the Acropolis are older than your grandma’s, grandma’s great grandma! Pretty impressive right?
No skimping on the feta!
If the menu says it has feta, you better believe it, and you better like feta, because there is going to be a lot of it.
Don’t be shy, be the feta, love the feta.
I never would have picked it, but Athens has some of the coolest bars, in.the.world!
I’m talking art gallery drinking spots in old warehouses (The Art Foundation) and 75 flavour liqueur tasting houses (Brettos), and of course, we can’t forget a memorable rooftop – there’s plenty around with killer views!
Hands down the best thing I have ever tasted. Or maybe it was the 30C weather which made it taste so good. Either way, I vividly remember a party in my mouth!
That’s how you say ‘cheers’ in Greek. Fun fact.
I love you Athens!
Love Sheona x.
It was a cobble-stoned, garlic infused, balmy night that we arrived in Rome, and the days that turned into nights- and vice versa – were no less magically authentic. In the dark, we would chase through the silent, lamp lit avenues with new best-friends, and as morning dawned we would explore this ancient city purely in the direction of our latest gelato cravings. My time in Rome truly was all fun and games, and these are the lessons I learnt.
- Know that there is only one place to stay.
And that is: Yellow Hostel.
Like the Colosseum, this place is a Roman Institution. If you’ve ever stayed there, you’ll rave about it to anyone that even drops the Rome bomb on talks of their travel plans, and if you haven’t yet been to Rome, then I’ll be THAT guy (girl) now.
You need to stay here! Besides what you’d think, this place isn’t yellow, the beds aren’t yellow and the reception girls aren’t dressed in yellow body paint. It’s a useless name really, but one you need to remember.
Be completely lured by the bar and outdoor area upon arrival, and be utterly ready to relinquish your attempts at Merlot aided Italian sophistication, in exchange for €1 shots freely poured by your new favourite bartender. Let these run their course and give you the confidence to partake in dance-offs, to the songs that will compose the “EUROTRIP ‘14 YEEWWWWW” playlist you will keep on your iPod forever.
- Skip breakfast.
You’re in Rome, why waste a perfectly good meal opportunity on breakfast when you can go straight for the main attraction. Pizza and fettuccine, I’m talking to you!
There are way too many places offering “the best pizza” on the block, and it seems that homemade pastas are a standard procedure. My best advice is to see if Nonna is out the back whipping up her traditional Bolognese. Yum!
- Pop bottles.
Water bottles that is, and take advantage of all those random water fountains streaming pools of ice cold H2O.
- Try before you buy.
This is a universal rule, but even more vital when it comes to gelato.
Always, always try, and if they didn’t give you enough on the taster spoon, try again, you’ve only got two scoops, make them 2 to remember.
- Make yourself at home.
When it’s disco-nap time, it’s disco-nap time, and a disco-nap requires all the love it can get.
Most of the time, the world keeps going when nap hour begins, so you are generally free to dominate the dorm room. Our favourite plan of attack was to place all of our mattresses in the middle of the room and have a good old afternoon spoon, or Siesta – call it what you want.
When annoyed dorm mates enter and object to your dictatorship over the 12 bed room, just ask them if they want to join – they are probably just jealous. In the off chance they reject your offer, pretend to fall back asleep.
- Cover up.
Against popular demand, all churches and religious places worth seeing require a huge lack of skin on show. In the risk of spending unnecessary cash on a nun-length dress you will never wear again, or worse, wearing pants on a 34C day, grab a scarf and wrap it around a few times.
Voilà! New skirt, with the added functionality of being twirled off and stuffed back in your bag immediately after you exit the Vatican.
After all, you need to let those legs breathe, and that tan to keep developing. Thank me later.
- Ask for a skinny latte.
Just for fun. Know this, Skinny Milk is not a ‘thing’ in Italy. Go fat or go home!
These are the commandments, if you’re in Rome, you must follow accordingly.
There’s a sort of mental and emotional hangover that rushes over you when arriving back home from an overseas trip, and I’m not sure if it’s normal or not, but I am 100% stuck in a European bubble – what’s scary is, I don’t think I ever want to leave it.
I’m ‘fresh off the boat’ as they say, from a 6 week stint through Europe, wheeling a suitcase which could double as my private room (yes, it’s THAT big, and I’m THAT small) through the world’s cutest cobbled alleyways, sipping the cheapest vino over-looking the most stunning sunsets and dancing on the bar-tops of every venue which wouldn’t escort us out for doing so.
I guess I am suffering the side-effects of a 2-month, daily scramble to pick up the remnants of my suit-caser life 5 minutes before EVERY late checkout, making sure that the essential: iPhone, Passport, Birkenstocks and three gal pals were in tow before departure. Or maybe it’s an epic “come-down” from endless bittersweet farewells to cities i’d re-fallen in love with, in exchange for the promise of a new tomorrow in an equally as fresh land complete with new mates and even newer moments to add to my expanding memory bank.
But, it’s now officially a week that my lungs have been privy to the Melbourne, if not Australian air, and I would be lying if I said that most mornings I don’t still flounder in my bed, confused and often delirious about which country I am in, and whether we have woken up too late and already missed our flight to Brussels.
I am constantly running into my sister’s room across the hall trying to decipher which of my friends are still not home from the crazy night before, only to find my Year 12 mini-me, fast asleep in her bed, awaiting a 7am alarm to welcome a day full of high-school torture.
Yep, I am definitely home; I just don’t know it yet and it’s ludicrously, the exact same feeling I had as we flew out on that chilly Melbourne night, 7 weeks ago. A pitch black sky we had been awaiting, for no less than 183 days, 17 hours and precisely, 22 minutes – I remember because I screen-shot the countdown when the travel agent confirmed our outbound flight.
After so long planning, throwing up ideas, making outlandish bucket-list entries and dares that I ‘shot-gun not’; the very hour had finally dawned, and even on the plane as we milked the mini vodkas just like we said we would (thanks Emirates), it still didn’t seem real.
Even now, as I look back at all the pictures we awkwardly asked strangers to take of us in front of the Colosseum, or as I comment on the “take me back to Europe” statuses of my new – now also returned – travel mates, or even listen to the songs which will forever compose the soundtrack to “that 2014 Eurotrip” – it’s still pretty fantastical and surreal.
So in an effort to relive every moment, non-sober epiphany, soul mate meeting and gorgeous view, I am belatedly beginning the memoirs of the summer that was (your Melbourne winter).
Better late than never, hey!
For now, “skies are blue”.