my father was a painter

Saturday, December 29, 2018

"Oh, you've grown so much!" the stranger in front of me exclaims. A middle-aged woman, mesmerised by the fact that I, an adolescent human being, had in fact grown in size. Shocker.

"You were just a baby when I last saw you!"

I'd never seen her before in my life.

"Your father and I go way back," she continues.

"You look so much like him."

a day in my life | part two

Saturday, November 17, 2018

"Dear, please, be careful."

The words appear on your screen and sound all too familiar. "Yes, mom," you think, "I promise I will try my best not to get killed by a psychopath today."

You don't reply, but you understand. The responsibility to be safe is a large part of living abroad. It causes you to adopt certain survival tactics. 

Small things, like keeping your earphones off as you walk to remain vigilant, or moving briskly enough to get home as soon as possible, but slow enough so you don't appear too scared. Having the common sense of not passing though dark alleyways, staying away from quiet parks, or ignoring every drunk man that tries to capture your attention. Small things.

to all the girls i was before

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

12 - Dear Jo,
You think you know everything. But you don't. You'll hate hearing this, because you love planning out the next ten years of your life. You get lost in your own daydreams, and the future is literally all you ever talk and think about. Your visions are wide and exciting and often seem unrealistic. But despite all this, I love how much of a dreamer you are. I love how you don't apologise for your goals. I love that your big dreams are part of what brought me here. So thank you.

a day in my life | part one

Monday, August 27, 2018

7 AM. Your eyes flutter open, you check the time, and turn your head to the cold side of the pillow. Your class starts later, and you have no early morning plans. The bed feels eight times nicer than it did when you slept into it the night before. The world is silent and undemanding. You wrap a blanket around you. You wish to go back to sleep.

But you thought too soon.

At 8, you awake, startled by the sound of the garbage truck that pulls up—8 AM, on the dot, always on time—each morning. You retrieve all your thoughts as you stand up from the bed of your empty apartment. You move your body a little to shake off the remaining slumber. Stretch as if you're going for a jog. Then not go for a jog. 

You pour yourself tea, as you do every morning. As the water rises to a boil, you place your hand above it, to catch the warm steam that escapes the kettle's mouth. 

The teabag sits for a minute or two, the water slowly changing colour to accept its presence. Your hands wrap around it like a tiny cup of warmth. You hold it close, you take a sip, you breathe. People think you wake early just to drink tea. You don't tell them you have a garbage truck to thank.

writing vs blogging: why they're different, and why i only care about one of them

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I hate the word "blogger."

There, I said it. If blogging crimes were a thing, I just committed one. Escort me to my cell.

What has happened to me? Am I leaving my blog? Have I outgrown it? Have I become too full of myself? The answer to all of this is no; despite how inactive I've been, I still fully intend on keeping this blog. (At least it saves future me the energy of telling life stories to the grandkids—I'll just send them a link and they can read all about it from their portable holograms.)

But I've been on the Internet long enough to recognize that there is a difference between writers and bloggers. Not all writers are bloggers, and, much to my dismay, not all bloggers are writers. Even though the two may correlate, writing and blogging, I've found, can be two very different practices.

i can never be a minimalist–and that's okay

We all want to live in that clean, all-white, perfect, minimalistic dream home with two well-mannered kids and beautiful, Insta-worthy breakfasts in bed with our partner every Sunday morning. We owe this to "dream home" Pinterest boards and ~aesthetic~ Instagram feeds. The "goals" of millennials; wooden drawers, rose gold furnishings, excessive natural light, and a copy of Kinfolk sitting ever so gracefully on a posh, all-white, Ikea-grade coffee table.

When I first moved into my apartment, this idea was etched into my head. My home is going to be well-lit and spotless and look good from every angle, and I'm going to love it. I'll take all the blogger-esque photos I want in it. Just a few hand-selected pieces of decoration, and the rest will be ~clean and minimal~. 

That being said, here I am, in my seventh month of living here, with just two words for you – constant cleaning.

three podcasts you need to listen to

Thursday, July 5, 2018

I've been incessantly, severely, obsessively in love with podcasts.

We all have our needs for entertainment, in whatever form it may take. Video games, cooking shows, an overrated Netflix series, or five-star romance novels; you name it. But as members of society in a world that's constantly changing, I think we should also feed our minds with entertainment that not only helps us pass the time, but also benefits and educates us.

Over the past few months, I've been immersing myself in this world of podcasts where everyone – from journalists and politicians to celebrities and comedians  – sits down to just- talk. Simply said.

Being recently detached from social media, I've been latching onto podcasts even more. In becoming  increasingly obsessed, it was also cool discovering how popular they actually are. The much-highlighted Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook don't reveal much about how expansive the podcast community is, but it is, and that's certainly well-earned – there's a podcast out there for everyone.

life | turning nineteen

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Photo taken by my good and talented friend Jamie Tung

Seventeen was the year of brand new cars and drivers' licenses. The blinding disco lights of a birthday party. A girlhood era of high heels and makeup. Snapchat filters and high school romance. Immersing ourselves in the thrill of being young, fully embracing our moment of "I'm an adult but not quite yet."

Then eighteen was what I called an "important age". Stepping out of the carefree, party-filled teenage dream and into the age of major life decisions. What college? What career? Where do I go? What do I do? The classroom doors close. The friends say farewell. The kids embark and finally face reality.

Now when someone mentions nineteen, I picture a responsible, big girl with well-kept hair who makes everybody proud. Jeans that fit just right, soft, lavender curtains, and a clean, tidy dressing room. Adults love her, younger kids look up to her, she makes her own Christmas cards, and has her whole life figured out.

Needless to say, maybe, just maybe, 

I could've imagined something a little more realistic.

how to reduce anxiety without affording therapy

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

With exam weeks rolling in, assignments piling up, and students collectively sharing moments of existential crisis, I thought about the ways one can lower anxiety levels in stressful times like these.

Living with anxiety is a big issue; it sits on your shoulder and weighs you down. I'm not going to go into the details of my own experiences, but I've found that the most offered solution to it, is therapy.

The Internet gives us endless information around How Therapy Changed My Life. Therapy is indeed a powerful, helpful tool for recovery,

but it's also expensive.

i'm an introvert–and i'm not always proud of it

Saturday, May 12, 2018

"You should play with the other kids, honey!" my mother suggests.

I shake my head, refusing the offer. "I don't want to look weird."

three things to reduce in 2018

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Living alone this year has set me up for a lot of reality checks. For the first time in my life, I have been confronted with all the things that I need to reflect upon and change within myself, in order to grow into an adult who–you knowhas her life together.

Some of these things hit pretty deep; like recovery, spiritual growth, and a shifting heart. And I realize now that there's not much room left in 2018–my grand year of change–for me to add things into. Rather, the challenge is to find the spaces that need a bit of a clearing up.

I've received so many new knowledges over the past 3-4 months. With that being said, I decided to write out the small list of things I've decided to have less of in 2018.

movies | isle of dogs

Thursday, May 3, 2018

"Will you help him? The little pilot?"
"Why should I?"
"Because he's a twelve year old boy. Dogs love those."

After nearly a decade, comes another stop-motion-animated movie, directed by film visionary Wes Anderson. Released in March 2018, Isle of Dogs features the voices of Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Scarlett Johansson, and Yoko Ono, among others.

Different from most of Anderson’s films which were mostly set in the 20th century, Isle of Dogs takes place in a dystopian Japan. It consists of a villainous dictator, controversial government decisions, and young teenage activists strongly voicing their demands for change. (Sound familiar?)

why "aspiring" is not good enough

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

On a relentless journey of self-discovery, expanding knowledge, exploring potentials, yadda-yadda-yadda, I'm currently noticing how I (and perhaps many other people) tend to say this one certain word a lot.

That word is "aspiring."

i need a minute (or two)

Friday, February 23, 2018

As I opened a new file and thought of what words to start this post with, my mind whispered, "Try not to sound so overly sad." And to that voice I replied, "Screw you. I can allow myself to be sad if I want to."

staying on top of stress

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Between following your passions, staying in education, making money, and handling family life and friends, it's easy for life's responsibilities to feel like they are piling up way too high. Stress is an all-too-common factor in our lives and if we're not careful, it can bring real detrimental effects on our health, our personal relationships, and our future. There's no one-true-approach to staying on top of stress, but the techniques that help you is an essential part of coping with life.

Be the help
Sometimes, getting involved in someone else's trouble can actually help you feel a little better about your own situation. When you can't find the solution to your problems, a little social charity goes a long way to making you feel competent, like you have some agency. Doing something altruistic and seeing the positive impact you have in another's life can be important for building self-esteem when stress seems to knock it right down, too.

Get organized
Often, stress comes from many real issues of life that pile on top of us. Responsibilities and money are two of the most common. Financial stress is very real, but it's not insurmountable. Access to quick cash can help you solve the immediate stress, but budgeting and planning financial security (like emergency funds) is essential for the long-term.

Time-management skills will also become more and more important as you focus more on career and education. Setting a schedule allows you a little more control over the different responsibilities you face, which can make it feel like they're not quite always there pressing down on you.

Know you need quiet time
Some time alone to reflect or even distance yourself from your thoughts can be just as effective as distracting yourself by helping others out. Meditating, yoga, performing breathing exercises, or even writing down your thoughts. They all give you a chance to step outside of your own thoughts, and get some distance or perspective on your troubles. Sometimes, they'll help you spot solutions you hadn't considered before. Most of the time, they help those troubles feel like they're not quite as urgent and omnipresent.

Be aware you can't do it all
Sometimes, the need to "solve" your stress can be a source of stress in itself. Stoicism has a very helpful lesson that could change your viewpoint on a few of the troubles in your life. To put it simply, you are in control of two things: your thoughts and your actions. If it's not within your control, it's not something worth occupying your thoughts with.

Take a closer look at what's stressing you out. Is it something you could change with your own actions? Is it something you can change your frame of thought around? If the answer to both is "no", then it might not be worth stressing over.

Everyone reacts to stress differently, and deals with stress from different sources, so it should only make sense that we each have an individualized approach to staying on top of it as well. Do any of the methods above help you or have you discovered your own path to a life that's a little more peaceful?


This post was contributed and pre-written by Grace Harrison.

Did this help you navigate around your stress? How do you cope? Leave a comment, or share the article. Hope everyone has a great week. See you!

melbourne | white night 2018

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The sun sets, the roads close, and the city stirs in excitement. Anticipation builds up in the atmosphere as the sky settles into dusk. Police guards stand at every rail, rows of food trucks prepare their best delicacies, neon lights and LEDs start to decorate the busy streets. White Night; an evening of wonder and amaze, successfully captivating the people of Melbourne each year.

it's time you tried something new in your life

Saturday, February 10, 2018

If you stick to the same old routine everyday, life can start to get a little bit dull. Whether you live an easy life or a hard one, keeping everything the same on a daily basis is what’s going to defeat you a the end of it. No matter how resilient you think you are, it’s mental pressure that builds up when you’re consistently working. There’s a lot of factors that go into how your mind feels every day, and it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can for the sake of your mental health.

why i wear this necklace

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Anyone who sees me regularly would know that I wear very little to no jewelry on a daily basis. Aside from a watch and two elastic hairbands around my wrists, my ears aren't pierced (neither is any part of my face) and I own countless bracelets and rings I hardly ever wear anymore. 

But one thing you'll most definitely see, though, is a small, silver cross necklace. One I've kept around my neck since I turned 17.

twelve things january taught me

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January is known as the month of Resolutions and Dreams and New Beginnings, but if I were to label it myself, Unpredictability would be a better word.

A weekend trip, a packed suitcase, and a rude awakening, my January has indeed been many, many things. I think it's been many things for a lot of people. Regardless of what you do or where you are, being pulled away from the Happy Holidays into the gruesome forest of reality is no seamless transition.

life story | a journey of two thousand miles

Friday, January 26, 2018

Security checks, lounge areas, and suitcases wheeled across the floor. Different heads turning in search of direction. Coffee machines, fluorescent lights, and the buzzing chatter of strangers. Through the scene, a girl walks through the terminal, two boarding passes tucked neatly in a passport. Over her shoulders an overstuffed backpack, and tied around her waist is a dark blue hooded jacket.

Her feet pace. Her heart beats. A journey both fun, and too bittersweet. Only holding on to a tiny hope within, that up there where she's going, a new life will begin.

reasons to cut your hair short

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hello! Yes, it is I, your typical blogger, emerging from the underworld.

It has been 7 days since my last blog post and I just spent an entire week of not writing nor preparing any content whatsoever. I know, I know; grant me no excuse, I am a disgrace.

Anyway, earlier today, I went for a hair appointment because there's only 6 days until the big move and my God, who wants to spend $50 on a haircut in a foreign country? Not me. For several days, I contemplated on whether or not I should cut my hair short. After a lot of thinking and Pinterest-browsing, I decided on this lob cut, similar to one I got back in 2016. I was pleased with the results, then proceeded to go home, put some decent makeup on, and take some pictures on a windy Tuesday. Because I have a camera. And it allows me to do that. 

Changing your hair on a January makes it look like you're buying into the cliché "new year, new me" thing, I get it. But there are reasons why I can be such a short-hair-enthusiast; at any time of year, really.

celebrate little achievements

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of "goals" and success, and how the whole January-1st-on-a-Monday situation has propelled us into this strange, whimsical start-of-the-year optimism. 

And the race to fulfill all the New Year's Resolutions begins.

Maybe you met with some people over the holidays and hey, someone just got engaged! Or a quick scroll through Instagram tells you about that promotion your friend just received. Not to mention the overly concerned relatives who are always a little too curious about your love life; as if we'd all die without a relationship status.

Be it comparison, peer/parental pressure, or by any other reason, everyone's been at that point in their lives where they feel like they haven't really achieved anything, have they? It's only natural, and I get it. Some 20-year-olds are still in uni, trying their best to make ends meet. But some 20-year-olds are married. Some other 20-year-olds own Google. (Probably.)

A lot can be said about "goals" and success, but the pattern is that it's always rather distant. Never quite within our reach yet. Consequently, we find ourselves stuck, thinking, I should've made it by now.

why i like rainy days

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

pluviophile (n.)
a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days

Twenty days away from my departure and each day, I grow increasingly reminiscent. Over everything. The objects in my house, the laughter of my family, the silence of my bedroom, the sounds coming from my kitchen. Maybe once you listen to something repeatedly each day, even the noisy clatter of pots and pans and kitchen utensils start to sound like a harmony in formation.

The 2nd day of January, my Christmas decorations are still hanging, left untouched. The tree no longer lights up and the tinsel looks pathetically outdated. With the right light, they still glimmer, but displaying their red-and-green holiday cheer when the holidays are almost over, their festiveness now  only makes them look lame.

It's the first Tuesday of the year. I'm sitting in my living room, minutes until noon, when the sky had decided to unleash its melancholy. Initially I was reading a book; a story about someone who suffered amnesia. Yet in all the "joy and peace of mind" the rain seemingly brought, I couldn't concentrate. I looked up, and around, and outside, and then in. I realized I didn't want to read. I want to write.

unspoken words, and soulmates | q&a

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy new year!

A couple of days ago, I'd asked my followers to send me submissions for an upcoming blog post. See, as the year comes to a close, I find myself hunting for new content and material. So I urged them to send me anything they want; a story, a question, or any thought unspoken or unexpressed before 2017 ends. It was sort of a humble invitation to get them to speak up, or perhaps help them by coming up with some answers. Considering we are now in 2018 already, below are some of the results.

Disclaimer: This compilation was made in no particular order, only grouped into two; the questions, and confessions. The short lines at the center separate the submissions by the different individuals who sent them (so multiple questions in one segment means they came from one person.) Some of these have been translated and edited for clarity, but all of these will remain anonymous. 

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