Of love and light

2020 is almost upon us but before the year is out, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. It can be a hard time for those who have experienced loss of some kind, are grappling with illness or simply lonely. Not everyone is lucky enough to have established deep and intimate relationships with family and friends or have them close by. Chronic loneliness and a feeling of being alone are hard things to bear. None of us have all the answers and each of us has to choose our own path to follow in life but I did want to share some of my thoughts as we close out the year and usher in a new decade – a time for new beginnings and the chance to start again. So without any further ado – some points below to consider.


  • Develop your brain as much as your body; we now live in the knowledge economy where most of us will provide services not create products as a living.
  • There are no shortcuts in life – the shortcuts become the longcuts so do it once and do it properly.
  • The ability to cook, clean, wash, budget and care for others are life skills not something to be split along gender lines.
  • Keep working for as long as you are able; this includes paid and unpaid work for a sense of purpose, routine and structure as well as community based on shared values and connection.
  • Confront your issues as self-responsibility and emotional maturity become a super power later in life. Recognise whether the people around you are also emotional grown ups or children in adult’s bodies.
  • Be resilient – grit, patience and persistence are often defining contributors to success in life as much as raw talent. Nurture your confidence and ability to bounce back from setbacks.
  • Give to get; giving of yourself, your time and your attention are the most generous gifts you can ever give to other people.
  • Change your focus away from yourself to others. Nurture your relationships – they are the single greatest source of happiness in life.
  • Who you choose to partner with is the single biggest decision you can ever make in life. Luck and timing also play a part but the stakes get higher and the ramifications (good and bad) become even greater as we get older so choose well.
  • The same applies for your friendships – friends reflect who you are so do you like what you see? Spend time with people who reach out to you and lift you up. Better still, be that friend who reaches out and lifts others up.
  • Never presume to know what someone else is thinking; you can only control your own thoughts and actions and actions always speak louder than words. Watch out for disconnect in your own behaviour and others.
  • Take care of your health, without it there can be no wealth.
  • In the words of Stephanie Dowrick whose book Forgiveness and other acts of love (and many other books of hers) forever changed me as a person at a time in my life when I needed to see the light – choose kindness and if you can’t wish someone well, then walk away.
  • The ability to let go and reach a place of acceptance is perhaps the biggest lesson of all in life. Be open to joy.


As we start a new decade, I wish you luck in whatever you choose to hold on to, or say farewell to, in your life. Life is too short to be unhappy and I thought you might like this photo of me (above pictured with my colleague Amy) which made my work friends laugh out loud! I hope you make the right decisions and I hope you always choose the light.

Wishing you much love this Christmas,

Miss Rosanna x


Front and centre

Yes I was as the Graduations mace bearer this very hot week on Wednesday morning. I work closely with the Graduations team given students officially become alumni (gradaunds to graduates) once they’ve completed their studies receiving their testamur certificates from senior University staff in front of their peers and families. The Graduations team held three ceremomies a day this week so it’s a full production.


It felt a bit Game of Thrones protecting one of the Deputy Chancellors this week who sits in a very regal looking chair on stage and it’s quite formal with the mace bearer having to bow to them as well as the audience once the academic procession has made it to the stage and walking in reverse order after the ceremony. I hadn’t donned an academic gown since my own graduation many years ago so I did relish the experience. It was nice to end the year on a literal high looking out at the audience below.

My office helps provide a number of high profile alumni to give the occasional address and this week’s speakers included Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, filmmaker Eve Ash as well as two Young Alumni whom I shepherded – Coconut Bowls founder Jake McKeon (who appeared on Shark Tank and declined the money!) at the 1.30pm ceremony on Wednesday and Paralympian Dr Hannah Macdougall at the 9.30am ceremony on Thursday who did her Phd on athlete wellbeing and is also a mindfulness expert. All of them were highly impressive speakers who talked about their career journeys (and detours along the way).

Jake McKeon, Founder Coconut Bowls

Jake and his partner Dr Renee Cachia from Inner Bloom (who also studied at La Trobe) are also living the dream moving to Byron Bay to work on Jake’s business with him as a digital nomad and Renee as a psychologist with her own private practice. It all sounded very Chris Hemsworth…who they apparently do see around the place.

Dr Hannah Macdougall

I didn’t attend Eve Ash’s ceremony at 1.30pm on Thursday but her True Crime TV series Undercurrent: Real Murder Investigations aired earlier this year on Channel 7 and her own life story Man On The Bus about finding her biological father who was in the audience (now in his 90s and officially Australia’s oldest living land surveyor who still works full-time) and who named streets after her and her mother is fascinating. She talked about confidence and persistence being key qualities we need to nurture in ourselves and focusing on the positive land of ‘W’ – wanting to achieve, willing to learn and working effectively instead of the negative equivalent of wishing, whining and wasting time.

You can watch all the ceremonies on livestream if you’re interested. School’s out for summer and it’s officially holiday time for most of us so stay cool today!




While the PR girl in me loves a party, I must admit after organising my own divisional Christmas party for over 30 people and attending an Alice in Wonderland birthday party last night, I’m a bit partied out!

With these things, it’s all about the details and both events were great for those very reasons. Our Christmas party celebrated La Trobe’s cultural values via individual gold star cards with personalised messages attached to our KK presents to each other – plants (below) that contribute to our sustainability ethos at the University.


With a limited budget, the Rosanna Golf Club in Lower Plenty very kindly hosted our event after we’d got quotes from a variety of other places and we were well looked after in the private dining room overlooking the green with Alumni and Advancement Office staff entering via the external verandah. Given many of us are still working hard right until the end of next week, it was nice to be surrounded by a sea of green and for the sun to come out for our group photo (below).


Last night’s Alice in Wonderland party was organised by my former colleague and friend Dian who had gone to much effort right down to the printed invitations and Admit One party tickets. She’d hired out Four Larks Cafe in Abbotsford – a bluestone building opposite Victoria Gardens near Skipping Girl Vinegar – and decked it out in fairy lights and all things Mad Hatter’s tea party. She (and Mr Rosanna) had opted for the White Rabbit character but there were lots of people dressed up as cards (Aces and suit cards), Queen of Hearts, White Rabbits and the odd Cheshire Cat!


While I had wanted to go as the Caterpillar, in the end I went as a cupcake so it was a shame Mr R had not gone as the Drink Me potion. My work friends thought it was quite amusing when we rocked up to the venue and I did get comments from other party-goers so it was good to apply some creativity by going for something more abstract.


I hope you are hanging in there if you’ve had just as many events to attend as I have – the end is in sight! I will be helping the Graduations team in more ways than one this coming final week of work so I’m looking forward to getting to next weekend, especially given the expected heat. Stay cool this week – not long to go…

Weddings, parties, anything

It’s that time of year – have you heard the cicadas singing? Summer is upon us and I haven’t been able to catch my breath this week. I had events on four nights in a row and hit the wall on Friday not making it to my Friday night event. Mr Rosanna has been just as busy and we hope to put up our Christmas tree next weekend!


It’s definitely party season and I hosted an end of year work dinner on Thursday night for the La Trobe Alumni Ambassadors at SPQR Pizzeria around the corner from the Princess Theatre in Liverpool Street in the city where it was all happening with nearby Indian restaurant Daughter In Law and one of my all time favourites wine bar Punch Lane.


Christmas celebrations have also started in Greensborough, Macleod and Montmorency Village along with a number of markets including the Big Design Market at the Royal Exhibition Building (still on today) and Craft Victoria’s Makers Market which was on yesterday. The Xmas Gin Market is on today at The Craft & Co in Collingwood and I’ve been reading about the stellar rise of Melbourne distillery Four Pillars. My younger work colleagues are also fans of Milk the Cow fromagerie in Carlton which does a cheese and gin event and I’ve also missed recent drinks with them at Moon Dog World craft brewery in Preston.


While I am now focusing on buying experiences for family in terms of Christmas presents, I’ve made a tradition these past few years of ducking into The Greenery in Heidelberg and the Heide Store in Bulleen for last minute local gifts. Terminus has also opened at Heide and I’ve heard it’s a great interactive exhibition if you have art-loving children.


Speaking of art, the recent NGV Gala was on to launch the Basquiat Haring: Crossing Lines exhibition and my friend Pio attended in all of his gold lurex tuxedo glory mixing it up with a number of influencers and other celebrities (of whom I was a bit sceptical regarding their art-loving credentials but nevertheless). While female rap duo Salt-N-Pepa were the headline entertainment act, a number of other artists had been mooted including 80s gay icons Grace Jones, Diana Ross and our very own Kylie Minogue.

I am also loving some of fashionista Estelle Michaelides’ latest Micky in the Van collection (a few of my favourite things above) and have been following her glamorous adventures at Government House to launch her Fashion by Appointment event with designers Kara Baker, Julie Goodwin and Nevada Duffy at the Westin Hotel for the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) in March 2020. If I was attending a wedding or Christmas party, then some of her signature pieces would be on my list!


Jazzed up

Having not one but two Sagittarians in my family kills me every year before Christmas and this week has been no exception. I took Mr R for a surprise live music treat watching The Meltdown perform at The JazzLab (the new Bennett’s Lane jazz club below) in our old stomping ground of Brunswick on Friday night. Given end of year fatigue has already set in, we only lasted a set before we called it a night but it was good to go back and visit the area.


We completed a bit of a square walk around to the venue past Black Hearts & Sparrows wine shop (owned by a girl who does yoga with me), opposite the cavernous and rockin’ Brunswick Mess Hall which was fully booked for dinner and found the venue just behind the very cool looking Wick Studios. We probably should have had dinner at nearby Los Hermanos had we known how close it was to the JazzLab – next time!


For the other Sagittarian in my family, we chose to go somewhere closer to home this weekend and considering the sign is that of the archer – we visited Glenn Ambrose at Ambrose Archery at 25 Orr Street in Heidelberg Heights (indoor targets above) which was heaps of fun! Mr Rosanna had never done archery before and hit the bullseye in his first round while I got my Katniss Everdeen on and also had a great time playing indoors. There were a number of serious archers there but it’s a great venue if you have older children – something where they compete against themselves but all together at the same time. You do have to self-cater but the assistants included an outdoor education teacher and they run a tight ship of three different sessions over the course of the two hours keeping things moving along. It was also quiet and surprisingly relaxing so I can highly recommend.


I am hoping to now turn my head to Christmas and there are some lovely handmade things around the place that have caught my eye including these beautiful glass sculptures by Amanda Dziedzic being sold by The Design Files (above) and the latest ceramics by Sophie Moran (below).


I’m also loving the handmade native floral wreaths (see below) by Barouche Flowers which can be picked up at the Alphington, University of Melbourne, Collingwood and Coburg Farmers Markets in time for Christmas. They come in 3 sizes for $35 (25cm diameter), $45 (30cm) and $60 (40cm). You can text Matilda on 0434 824 168 or email: matilda.simpson19@gmail.com It’s all about the feels now leading up to the big day!