Tomorrow is now

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was indeed one wise woman and while I’ve not read her book You Learn by Living – there are a number of her quotes that have stuck in my head over the years including the one about the future belonging to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams – an inspiring thought as we close out 2022 this New Year’s Eve.

While I sadly return to work next week, I’ve had a relaxing festive period as much as there were missing people at my table for lunch on Christmas Day due to COVID-19 – the Grinch who stole Christmas this year! A number of friends and family had to cancel or postpone their Christmas celebrations due to coming down with the dreaded lurgy and it wasn’t a fun day for those who spent it alone feeling very unwell. My commiserations if this was you.

Still, it was lovely to celebrate the occasion with my family who were able to make it. My little sister Cat creates a family Christmas video every year so we enjoyed watching that before opening our presents under the tree and eating far too much ham and Christmas pudding (the ones from Pud for all seasons are delicious). I hope Santa was good to you if you celebrate Christmas in your household.

Me with my boss Emma @ Johnny’s Green Room rooftop bar

I also made it to my work Christmas party at Johnny’s Green Room rooftop bar in Carlton, which I suspect will also be going off tonight with their NYE pizza party. It was my venue suggestion to our HR team and it was a good one! The shared plates, finger food and cannoli we enjoyed were all excellent and it’s highly recommended. I’ve not been to the rooftop bars at Her Melbourne or Yakimono in the city but they would also be great places to celebrate tonight and watch the fireworks.

I’ve enjoyed dropping down a gear these past few weeks and catching up locally with friends and family I’ve not seen all year as much as so many are down at the beach or heading there over the summer. The new Intercontinental (and former Continental) hotel in Sorrento (above) looks pretty amazing and my Cinderella gown for New Year’s Eve would be this Zimmerman High Tide dress (below) – tres seaside glam!

I’ve also had time to read and started Cold enough for snow (below) by Jessica Au, which I’m enjoying. It has been a long year and while I suspect we’ll still be feeling the ongoing effects of the pandemic next year, particularly economically, I’m hopeful that the collective anxiety we’ve felt this year will continue to dissipate as we adjust to the new normal.

While resolutions can be helpful for some people, it’s also good to take the pressure off in terms of expectations as we head into a brand new year. I’m not making any but after reading Antoinette Lattouf’s article earlier this year on her undertaking adult swimming lessons, I’ve been inspired to do the same next year and have booked myself in as it’s been alarming to read the statistics on people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds being over-represented in drownings at Australian beaches this summer.

I’ll let you know how I go but I think it’s important to challenge yourself and learn something new no matter your age or stage of life. Here’s to writing your first chapter for 2023 and the chance to start again over this new year that will be here before we know it. Wishing you an early Happy New Year!


Life is Beautiful

It’s been a big year. As much as we haven’t been locked down this year, in many ways it’s felt harder dealing with the fall out from the previous two pandemic years. I have people close to me who are dealing with mental health issues or have children who are and it’s a long road back to wellbeing for some of us. Life isn’t always easy or fair and I’ve shed a few tears this week thinking of the two young and brave police constables who lost their lives up in Queensland simply doing their job.

I watched the Italian film Life is Beautiful a number of years ago now, which is set during World War II. Its messages of the power of will, humour and imagination in the darkest of times and circumstances is incredibly life-affirming. Life does go on for those of us here and it’s important to remember life is to be lived in all of its dimensions. Sometimes it takes travelling through the bad times (and there is always a way through) to know the good.

While I haven’t had a lot of time to reflect this year, I will say it’s important to put yourself in the driver’s seat instead of simply being a passenger and watching (your) life go by. If you want things to be different, it’s up to you to take control and to do things differently – the main point being the word ‘do’ and taking action rather than simply talking about it. We are all the sum of our decisions and we are all responsible for our own happiness – when you look for happiness outside yourself – you give away your own power as a person. Validation comes from within not without and happiness is not about a prescribed set of circumstances but is a state of mind.

I’ve been on a different path since moving from Brunswick to Banyule over 10 years ago now starting with my Green Eyed Monster eco-fashion journey to life now in higher education at ANZSOG. Who knows where the adventure will end but it’s definitely been good to enjoy the ride! I have a vintage typewriter here at home and a little angel card on it that reads ‘write your own story’. That’s the thing about our stories, no-one else will write them for us but us – we are all the authors of our own lives and the curators of our own content.

Tomorrow is around the corner and I wish you peace at the end of this extraordinary year – if your year has not gone as planned, then I wish you hope for next year and if you’ve had a good year, then remember to savour the experiences you’ve enjoyed – things can be so fleeting and it’s important to hold onto the joy in life, and of life. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.

I thought you might like this pic of my colleague Nataly and me (above) taken last month at Shed 5 in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand looking far more glamorous then we felt having worked from 7.30am that morning to hosting dinner that same night. Merry Christmas if you celebrate it and happy holidays to you all.

All the lonely people

It’s a bit sombre but Christmas can be the happiest time of the year if you’re close to your family and the saddest time of the year if you’re not. There are increasing numbers of people living on their own but that doesn’t necessarily mean they feel lonely. I remember reading Stephanie Dowrick’s book Intimacy & Solitude many years ago now and it was particularly ground breaking for me regarding my own views on relationships. If you do know someone on their own – it’s good to reach out to see if they’d like some company not just at Christmas-time but on a regular basis.

If you’re lucky enough to have a partner, a family, close friends or a job to anchor you (even with all their faults!) – connection to people and place shouldn’t be underestimated as much as we all complain sometimes. Engagement with local community and the people around us is the very fabric of life and gives us meaning. When you don’t have those things, it’s very difficult to feel like you belong anywhere. It’s important to be able to love and heal yourself and know that we are responsible for our own happiness – it doesn’t lay ‘out there’ somewhere but is within each of us to find our own centre. If we can’t love ourselves first, then how can we expect anyone else to? It’s important to recognise your own worth as an individual but sometimes it takes a number of years and experiences to realise. You’re lucky if that’s been intrinsic for you but for many of us, it takes time to develop such insights into our own behaviour. We can be our own hero in life.

I’ve taken leave early from work this year and have needed time out. It’s been a big year of change for me and the pace has been unrelenting personally and professionally – I need some time out to re-group and I think more progressive workplaces realise this and work cultures are changing including my own. There will be an update to working flexibly in the new year and I know some employers have instituted a ‘work from anywhere’ policy to take advantage of the global workforce in a time of labour shortages and others a ‘work to your own circumstances’ approach. Mental health is also paramount and it’s great to see wellbeing and culture being prioritised as well as zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour – something to keep in mind if attending Christmas parties. The times have definitely changed and it’s a good thing.

I try to be more mindful about present buying and it’s been good to see the rise of B Corporations and partnerships such as that between secondhand retailer Vestaire Collective and courier company Sendle – there is so much focus on instant gratification but if your goods aren’t urgent then slow delivery is much more sustainable and kinder to the planet. I have stopped to smell the roses and if you look around – there are so many butterflies in the air at the moment. I spent one memorable Christmas with my sisters many years ago in the butterfly house at the Melbourne Zoo, which is open on Christmas day. Between noticing the bees and the butterflies, hearing the cicadas sing as well as discovering a ladybird beetle (or ladybug) yesterday while gardening, I hope it’s a sign of good things to come and that summer has truly arrived.

While it’s a cheap and cheerful Christmas for me this year, if I ever have the money to splurge then this is designer handbag of my dreams – not Chanel or Dior but Loewe’s 70s-inspired Flamenco clutch (first image above) along with these Tiffany silver Open Heart hoop earrings (second image above) by Italian designer and 70s icon Elsa Peretti. I can only dream of visiting Spain and New York to buy them in person.

Mr Rosanna and I are starting to feel a bit more at home in Ivanhoe, which includes trying local takeaway cafes. We got very authentic and delicious thin crust pizzas from newly opened Little Naples Pizzeria on Friday night, which were delicious and I’ll be telling all my Italian friends as they were the real deal – the complimentary cannoli were also appreciated! Next on our list is Syrian restaurant Dama Rose, to which I’ll look forward to dining.

Finally, while New Year’s Eve can sometimes be an anti-climax, if I was free I’d be going to PBS FM’s Soul-A-Go-Go NYE Spectacular at the Brunswick Ballroom. Speaking of soul, keep an eye out for Banyule Council’s exciting Twilight Sounds 2023 lineup at Heidelberg Park Oval, which includes Mayfield, The Meltdown, Benny Walker, Mahalia Barnes and PBS DJ MzRizk – you’ll definitely see me and Mr R there. Stay safe this week if you’re amongst crowds, no-one wants a COVID Christmas!

The friendliest city

I am nothing if not parochial about Melbourne – the city I was born and bred in and the city in which I’ve lived all my life. While one of my few regrets has been not living and working overseas during my career – I’m not yet pulling that one off my list and my ANZSOG colleagues have joked that we have a presence in Aotearoa New Zealand – as much as it’s been larger cities in the world that I’ve aspired to living in and I’m loving watching Tokyo Vice on SBS – Japan is number one on my travel list.

That being said, I love Melbourne and I’m proud that we’ve been named the friendliest city in the world (beating Paris and Vienna) as well as Australia’s most liveable city (and 10th overall in the world). I also recognise we’re not immune from big city problems such as increased costs of living, climate change and homelessness – the latter of which is now becoming an issue in regional towns.

Innovation like build to rent developments will solve part of the homeless issue as well as increased social housing but given shelter is one of life’s essentials – it’s a situation that has made me feel sad for others in the lead up to Christmas. Home is important to me and as someone who grew up in a single parent family with a peripatetic childhood changing schools and houses – I place a greater significance than most on having a secure place to live and don’t take my current living situation for granted. Christmas can be a hard time for people in dysfunctional relationships or family dynamics, people on their own and those experiencing poverty or illness.

But Melbourne looked spectacular last night with my boss sending me these pics (above) of the MCG all lit up at the sold out Billy Joel concert, and the annual NGV Gala was also on in the city. Speaking of lights, there hasn’t been much publicity but the Boulevard Lights in Ivanhoe are on this year in a reduced time period from 20-24th December so get in quick! I’ve also been reading about new-wave panettone and if you’re interested, Dougharty’s has just emailed their customers regarding special Christmas orders for their sourdough panettone.

I’ve been keep on keeping on at work including doing a refresher St John First Aid course last Thursday but I always seem to reach the ‘are we there yet?’ stage at this time of year. Like most of us, I’ve worked harder in the past three years than I think I ever have although things have also felt harder in this recovery year – many of us feel very burnt out in different industry sectors.

Yoga has continued to be my saviour this year (thank you Pamela and Nik) and I’ve been running this weekend at the Yarra Flats to try to burn off the calories from my annual Kris Kringle celebration with my besties and a family birthday celebration for Mr Rosanna. However I did come to a complete stop at one point when I encountered Jake – a snake (I suspect it was a tiger snake) which crossed the path in front of me heading down to the river with a brave Magpie swooping at it. Think I’d prefer to see a kangaroo anytime! Have a good week – the end of the year is in sight.

Nights to remember

It’s been a big week with some magical memories made and special live music performances including Mr Rosanna’s second coming at Some Velvet Morning in Clifton Hill on Wednesday night. Close to 30 of Mr R’s family and friends came to watch him perform two sets as a solo artist at #adamfranklin_music, which is a pretty brave move given it’s been a while since he’s been on stage. My talented younger sister Cat with her Architecture of Audio hat on caught the first set on film, which you can watch here.

Image: Mr Rosanna @somevelvetmorning

Mr R also celebrated his birthday last week and we hosted a party to celebrate this time with the Marcel Borrack TD band performing in front of over 50 people at our place. They put on a fantastic show and had people grooving away in front of them – thanks so much Marce!

One of the takeaways I took from reading Julia Baird’s book Phosphorescence over the pandemic was about savouring the moment on a deeper level. Both Mr R and I have amassed an amazing and diverse collection of friends from all walks of life – from school to university to work and locally – and we’ve been grateful to share such special moments in time with the most important people we’ve chosen to surround ourselves with – our greatest works of art have been the friends we’ve curated organically and collected along the way on our life’s journey and their friendship is priceless.

The weather gods did smile upon us this weekend as much as the team from Luckman Catering working outside from their van nearly got eaten alive by the mosquitoes, which are in plague proportions at the moment with all the recent rain, before I brought out the aeroguard, mozzie zapper and coils. The food was excellent yet again and it’s the second time we’ve used them to cater.

Christmas is coming and we’ll be having some more modest do’s here at home with family and I hope to start winding down in the next few weeks. I’ve been in planning mode this week for work with my team and Director and will continue to analyse, report and plan in readiness for next year as well as tie up loose ends before I go on leave. The Chinese Year of the Rabbit starts on 22 January 2023 and I hope it will be a more peaceful year. I’ve had a pretty tumultuous (but also tremendous) year on a number of fronts so that is my wish for 2022 – what’s yours?