The power of friendship

It’s one of the things people regret in later life; the fact that they let close friendships fade away.  I’ve had a milestone reunion weekend away with my University friends (with months spent in the planning) down on the Mornington Peninsula and it’s left me feeling very sentimental.  I’m lucky enough to still see my best friends from primary school and high school however my Uni friends and I are now scattered around Melbourne, Australia and indeed the world with three of them living in Japan, London and Switzerland.  One of my friends flew in from Geneva (and gave us all these beautiful Lucy Folk friendship bands pictured below) to make the event with a raucous Friday night at the beach house spent eating, talking and laughing, a lazy morning spent bathing at the sprawling Peninsula Hot Springs (now owned by an Indian family and three times its original size), lunch at St Andrews Beach Brewery, speeches and photos back at the house followed by more reminiscing and playing Cards against Humanity (and watching the State Election) on Saturday night before packing up and leaving on Sunday after a morning beach walk.

My friends with our Lucy Folk friendship bands

It was like going back into a time warp for me with photos and videos from our heady days as first, second and third year PR students at RMIT before the onslaught of social media and the internet.  Now looking back on those times (we wore a lot of chokers, dark lipstick and baggy jeans in the 1990s!) makes me realise they were golden years when careers, travel, serious relationships and children all still lay ahead.  Cut to 2018 and it’s a different story – we’re older, wiser and more well travelled but a little bit more vulnerable with the ravages of time taking a toll on some of our health and personal relationships.  Not for all of us but definitely for some of us and I keep thinking how much the choices you make early in life in terms of your friends and life partner come to define you later on as well as the course your life ends up taking for better or worse.

Front entrance – St Andrews Beach Brewery

Friendships with people who’ve known you for a long time and with whom you share a long history and whose values reflect your own (because believe me your choice of friends absolutely reflects who you are) and friends who’ve been there when the going gets tough are like diamonds.  It’s only now that I realise the power of enduring friendship which has seen me through the peaks and valleys of life including some of the darker years before I met Mr Rosanna.  It’s also really important not to let those friendships go when you do meet the right person as we still need other people in our life besides a partner, if you’re lucky enough to have one.  It may get harder to stay in touch but the sense of connection, community, love and acceptance that comes from true friendship is priceless. Diamonds are forever…




Julie and me

Well she came, she spoke and she conquered last night at The Sofitel and I’m so glad she made it to Melbourne.  The Honourable Julie Bishop MP was the keynote speaker at last night’s sold out final Bold Thinking Series event for 2018 and while I had assembled a stellar panel made up of MC Francis Leach, Emeritus Professors Judith Brett and John Carroll and incoming academic Dr Andrea Carson – Ms Bishop’s plane from Sydney was delayed by the dust storm there yesterday and she was the main act.


I came into the office yesterday afternoon feeling relatively calm and under control but that quickly changed when Julie’s media advisor texted me to let me know they were still up north stuck at Sydney airport.  We have a risk management plan for the series but I’ve never had to enact it.  Needless to say there was a flurry of activity, conversations and emails instigated by me and my team to try to determine Plan B: if she was late and Plan C: if she was a no-show and what action we would take.


We were enormously relieved when her media advisor let us know in that critical hour yesterday afternoon that they had actually made it onto the next available plane to Melbourne and our in-house travel agency also confirmed their plane had safely touched down.  Crisis averted but it was a near miss and I was sweating!  I keep saying you need nerves of steel working in events.


It was also action packed once I got to the venue with my team.  Besides meeting and greeting Ms Bishop and the panelists and taking them to their respective green rooms to meet each other and be miked up, there were media in attendance last night including The Age and Channel 9 news as well as our own official photographer Sav Shulman who shot all the accompanying images used in this blog post.  It also took longer to seat everyone in the Arthur Streeton Auditorium which holds 360 people so we ran 10 minutes late.  My highlight was taking the entire entourage with Ms Bishop behind me followed by all the other speakers back of house via The Sofitel kitchen (very James Bond!) to the VIP front row of the packed Auditorium which promptly broke out into applause by the young crowd as Julie entered the room.


She gave a fascinating conversation on western liberal democracy, insights into the Liberal party, the inner machinations of Parliament and its adversarial nature and, of course, women in politics.  You need to be a certain type of person to go into politics – it’s one of the toughest careers there are.  Ms Bishop (‘Call me Julie’) had had two hours sleep and I think rarely gets more than 4 – 5.  She’s smaller than she appears in the media too but also very stylish and glamorous in a classic way – one of my younger colleagues said ‘she’s so beautiful’.  Her eyes are also much bluer than they appear on TV and like many of the people I’ve worked with over the past two and a half years – she has an X factor – charisma that some people naturally have and that other people are drawn to.  Ms Bishop also has quite a regal, if not imperious, bearing so while I’m not usually nervous meeting people – I was understandably more hesitant when I met her.  She was mobbed when she left the venue last night and I’m also glad we’d organised security for her to escort her back to her hotel before she flew out this morning.

I feel very relieved today – it’s given me a sense of closure to have held my last event for the year, and such an amazing one at that, and actually turn my head to Christmas and to next year.  The Bold Thinking Series will be continuing so more adventures lie ahead for me.  Have a wonderful weekend.



Forever yours

Christmas is coming and I started my shopping a while ago as I had my car being serviced in Doncaster so used the time I had to kill two birds while it was still relatively quiet in-store at Westfield Shoppingtown.  I still lean towards more sustainable gifts like vouchers and gift cards for experiences and keepsake items like photo frames and books.  I also bought my nephews and nieces some small things while we were in Greece earlier this year, which I could fit in to my hand luggage.

If you’re lucky enough to be living in your ‘forever’ home I’ve got my eye on some retro-inspired home appliances (yes I am definitely sounding like Suzy Homemaker) and these are on my wish list should I ever have my forever kitchen.


The special 100 year anniversary limited edition KitchenAid mixer in misty blue (above) is currently for sale and I love the colour as well as the white enamel bowl it comes with.  The company has only released 1000 of these in Australia and New Zealand should you have the budget and wish to make the investment.  Alas, I am not in my forever kitchen (at least not in its current state) nor do I have the bench space so I can only drool…


I also love the retro-style Smeg kettles and toasters (pictured above).  If you can’t afford the outrageously expensive Smeg fridges or ovens then these make a lovely introductory piece although if I ever had the money, I would buy one of the hand-built Dualit chrome toasters (below) which have been making perfectly even pieces of toast since war-time.


While I may not have the dosh, it doesn’t hurt to dream…


Do you make your own luck or is it something that just happens?  All I know is that while bad things happen to good people, a lot more good things happen to good people and that most people in the world are good as I tell my children.

I had a colleague who attended the recent La Trobe PG Expo with speaker Todd Sampson and her take out regarding his advice was that we apparently grow more arrogant and inflexible as we get older.  All the more important I think to stay flexible (and active) in mind and body, to stay humble (and grateful) and to stay brave.  We can lose courage as we grow older and grow more fearful but I think that’s the challenge of life and the journey that life itself presents.

Lucky is the name of the exhibition that opens at Bundoora Homestead tomorrow that explores the history and effects of gold mining and the pursuit of wealth in Australia interrogating the Australian dream of finding a better life – a fair go – in the context of cultural, racial and political inequalities.  It sounds absolutely fascinating and given that my ancestors came here in the time of the gold rush, a very relevant one for Asian Australians.

Julie Bishop Event Hero Image v2

Speaking of political, my lecture with the Honourable Julie Bishop MP is now completely sold out but you will be able to watch the livestream.  I am looking forward to meeting her next week and hearing what she has to say, particularly her personal reflections on leadership, lessons learnt and being a female politician.  She held nothing back in her recent talk at a Future Women event where she said, ‘If you’re trying to be a man, it’s a waste of a woman’.  Strong words indeed…

To Sisto with love

Like many Melburnians, I was shocked late Saturday night to find out that it was Sisto Malaspina from Pellegrini’s Cafe in Bourke Street who was fatally stabbed last Friday by a mentally unwell person.

True story* Mr Rosanna and I actually first met at Pellegrini’s and were regulars there for a time when we both lived and worked inner-city.  Sisto would always greet us from behind the bar with a big smile on his face and we would order coffees with their signature pastry or have the pasta or minestrone soup made by the mamas who worked out the back.  We went back there on our wedding day to have photos taken inside the cafe (below) and outside the front of the Melbourne icon that is Pellegrini’s – a 1950s style cafe that was one of the first places to bring European cafe culture to Melbourne and one that hasn’t changed in all that time.



I remember one day taking my very beautiful, blue-eyed fair-skinned Italian Australian friend Daniela there and Sisto making some kind of comment under his breath about her appearance when we sat down at the bar not realising she was fluent in Italian and the look on his face when she said something in response.

The fact that Sisto died in his inimitable warm and friendly style – trying to help someone – makes his story all the more heart-breaking.  Melbourne will never be the same without you Sisto.  A light has gone out and there is a new star in the sky.


Jimmy Diamond

I’m really hoping it’s Friday – I think shorter weeks can sometimes be more intense than normal ones.  Given I had to work Cup Day, my highlight was winning ‘Fashions on the Field’ (make that campus) in our Marketing and Recruitment Division (below) although the odds were in my favour with reduced staff numbers working and not that many choosing to dress up!  You can take the girl out of fashion….


I did have a number of friends attend Derby Day and Oaks Day and have liked the boater style hats as well as floral and other headbands, oversized head bows (like mine) and other departures from the ubiquitous fascinator in terms of headwear this year.  I was briefly in at David Jones today and am a fan of Australian brand Aje. if you’re looking for a special outfit for Christmas.

It’s takeaway night and if you’re local you might want to try Diamond Chinese Restaurant at 122 Burgundy Street in Heidelberg.  It had been recommended to me before but it’s taken 10 years for Mr Rosanna and I to venture in and I’m glad we did.  I met Jimmy last Friday night who’s been there 44 years and plays table tennis against my Uncle George!  If you’re a fan of old school Cantonese food, I think it’s also a good place to go for a quiet Friday night meal and it was starting to fill up when I left.  My Media & Communications team and I also had lunch at Hunter Lane Cafe in Rosanna (below) during the week which was a lot of fun – it’s good to get off campus sometimes given we spend most of our working week there.


I did want to mention a few local happenings.  The Banyule Art Salon opened earlier this month and Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe is one of my favourite places to visit.  If you’re into local arts and culture – check out Banyule Arts and Culture‘s Facebook page. If markets are more your thing, the Heide Makers Market is on in Bulleen tomorrow as well as the Melbourne Ceramics Market in Collingwood.

On Sunday, which is also Remembrance Day, the Heidelberg Primary School fete is on.  It was nice to see poppies being sold at Westfield Doncaster today – I can’t help but feel how lucky people are in this part of the world to be buying shiny, pretty new things at these big shopping complexes when things were very different earlier this century.  I’m hanging out to see a grown up’s movie (can’t call them ‘adult’ movies!) and it’s a toss-up between A star is born or Bohemian Rhapsody – I am a fan of Queen and Freddy Mercury and his performance in his all white outfit at the Live Aid concert is still seared in my memory.

Disclosure: Miss Rosanna is sponsored by Hunter Lane Cafe


Find your fierce

Easy to say but not always easy to do.  It’s my trainer Nikki Ellis‘s mantra and tagline on the window of her new Cinch Training studio at 1 Orr Street in Heidelberg Heights.  For locals, it’s the old Shu-Way shoe store completely transformed into a one stop health, wellbeing and fitness centre right next door to Jam and Cream cafe (where you can work off any scones eaten).  My photos don’t quite capture how spectacular her new space currently looks but I love the aqua feature wall and Nikki’s sense of style.  And yes, while Nikki sponsors this very blog, her studio was one I already went to as a new customer a number of years ago and I have followed her ever since.  When you do find the right people for you, it’s important to stick with them and Nikki’s been part of my entourage of warm, supportive and inspiring people in my life for  a long time now.


I’m happy to say it’s been a pretty seamless move from Macleod to Heidelberg Heights for her and the  new Cinch studio space is more than twice the size of the previous one allowing for lots of room as it used to get pretty tight in the old studio.  Nikki herself looks amazing particularly on the back of a recent procedure and a business trip to San Diego.  As for her mantra, I think it’s hard to separate mind from body – if you cultivate a healthy and fit body, the mental benefits are priceless and you see this in something like the recent Invictus Games for those injured or ill after serving their country – Invictus meaning ‘unconquered’ and if you can conquer both your mind and body, there is nothing you can’t achieve.

The format for Nikki’s new classes is a bit different in that you’re given your own worksheet to follow so while it’s a bit more self-directed, it allows your respective trainer more time to check and correct technique and frees them up from having to facilitate the entire class.  This format is also considered optimal for results as much as it was fun having different themes every week prior to the move.  There’s a lot to be said for keeping things simple and consistent.  I expect to be feeling it in my arms tomorrow!

Have a great long weekend for those of you lucky enough to have both the Monday and Tuesday off work – spare a thought for those of us at Universities who don’t get Cup Day off!


Disclosure: Miss Rosanna is sponsored by Cinch Training