Finding wisdom in my circle

Finding wisdom in my circle

Lenny Letter’s horoscope for Taurus for February:

(April 20 to May 20)

The term homo sapiens is Latin for ‘wise man’, but what does wisdom mean to you? This month, consider the wisest people you have known. Look for their commonalities. Was it curiosity, kindness, patience, and/or something else that allowed them to convey what they knew to you in a way that you could hear it? Prioritize this quality.

This is not your typical horoscope. I love it!

The above list is good. But that’s the stuff I feel like I know already.

~ Curiosity – an inquisitive and open mind, to always be learning.
~ Kindness – if you can’t be kind to other people, you really can’t expect it in return.
~ Patience – so many of the juicy things in life take time to find, to achieve, to understand and appreciate.

I’ve looked to my circle of family and friends, and mentors over the years, to see the qualities I think makes them wise. So to the people I love, I hope you see yourselves below, because you’re all there in one way or another. These are in no particular order.

~*~ Be present. It’s important to be comfortable with yourself and the present moment. We don’t need to fill every minute with conversation, entertainment or distraction. Sometimes just breathing is the most important thing you can do.

~*~ Be generous. With your time, your skills, your heart. Just because.

~*~ Know your worth. People can only make you feel inferior if you let them.

~*~ Seek your purpose – You may not know the whole of it right now, but I think working towards figuring it out is important.

~*~ Take life lightly. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. Dance with your whole silly and wonderful self. Try new things. Smile. Laugh. A lot.

~*~ Minimalism. Let go of clutter: physically and mentally. You don’t have to hold onto things you no longer need.

~*~ Appreciate quality and keep your eyes open for a bargain. Investing for the long term is more rewarding than short term satisfaction.

~*~ Work hard. Nothing comes from Nothing. The only way to change your life and achieve your goals is to put the hours and the effort in.

What would you add to this list?

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 0 comments
Taking Stock

Taking Stock

I’m taking a leaf out of Al and Pip’s blogs, here and here, and ‘Taking Stock’ this January. I really liked this idea, probably because I love lists and reflection, and I’m really happy that Al lead me to Pip – because Pip crochets stuff!

Sending a very warm thank you to these two awesome Aussie ladies for the inspiration for this week’s blog. If you want to try this list yourself, I recommend writing it twice and noticing any negative self-talk that crept into the first version. Life is too short to keep that soundtrack playing.

Making: Study notes, so I can blitz my exam in April.

Cooking: More regularly. Learning how to meal-plan.

Drinking: Woodford Reserve Bourbon, but I’d love to get my hands on another bottle of Cotswold’s London Dry Gin.

Reading: Yoga Therapy for stress and anxiety, and Talking to My Country by Stan Grant. Also, my bro-in-law’s script-in-progress.

Next read: Heat and Light, by Ellen Van Neerven.

Wanting: A flowy skirt.

Looking: At my wedding photos … I really need to sort through more of them.

Playing: Battlefront II – occasionally on PS4 with the hubby.

Deciding: Which story idea to polish for spicy bites.

Wishing: I prioritised my time better.

Enjoying: The hot, sunny weather.

Waiting: For the RWA 2017 Spicy Bites and Little Gems anthologies to arrive in the mail.

Liking: My whiteboard. It’s where I do some of my best thinking.

Wondering: If I could sync my whiteboard with my bullet journal – knowing that neither are electronic …

Loving: Yoga With Adriene’s TRUE series of yoga videos. Start here.

Pondering: Whether I can keep up my daily yoga practice the whole year.

Considering: Running a marathon. I like the idea of it, but it’s already a big year.

Buying: Nothing but food and necessities if I can help it. But I really want Louise Allan’s the Sisters’ Song, and about a hundred other books and manga and DVDs.

Watching: Arrow. Stephen Amell mhmm.

Next watch: Maybe the Crown Season 2?

Hoping: That I can make a difference in people’s lives, somehow. Really not sure on the how. Reckon I need to stop thinking and hoping and just start, somewhere.

Marvelling: At the generosity of strangers.

Cringing: At my own self-doubt and negative self-talk. If I wouldn’t say it to a friend, I shouldn’t be saying it to myself.

Needing: To keep waking up early – it felt amazing this week.

Questioning: Whether I can do everything I want to.

Smelling: Curry – haha.

Wearing: My purple Dr Marten’s. Dreamed of them since forever, and love how strong they make me feel.

Following: Too many aspiring and emerging authors to keep track – plus some very inspiring established authors. Check out who I’m retweeting or sharing on FB.

Worrying: That I’m not good enough.

Noticing: My breath.

Knowing: That I need to stop worrying so much.

Thinking: In. Out.

Admiring: Margaret Atwood – always.

Sorting: My favourite websites and blogs into folders on my bookmark bar – and then syncing my laptop chrome with chrome on my phone.

Getting: Sick waaaay too often.

Bookmarking: All the things.

Coveting: New earrings.

Disliking: Back sweat. My own. I don’t care about yours. But mine is really bothering me.

Opening: My wallet, too often.

Giggling: At my husband’s Dad jokes. He’s not even a Dad yet, not even close, but gosh!

Feeling: Optimistic.

Snacking: On nuts and a square of dark chocolate – usually.

Hearing: Traffic, but it sounds like the ocean – said my Dad. *Shakes head and smiles.*

If you made it all the way down here … wow. Thank you.

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 0 comments
What’s in my suitcase?

What’s in my suitcase?

I’ve just moved back to Australia from the United Kingdom and the packing was a mammoth task! It was very much worth it though. We’ve had more sun the last two weeks in Sydney than I think we had all summer in London. Wearing SPF 50 daily for my pasty rosacea riddled skin.

I do miss my new family though! A big shout out to the Hamby’s in the UK. Thank you for welcoming me into your family and your country. It’s been wonderful getting to know you and I look forward to seeing you again next year xx You are completely responsible for one of the more unusual items in my suitcase and I love you for it.

Living in London, we kept the household items to the essentials + a few luxuries (Dearest Nutribullet – I hear you are being put to hard work in your new home!), so we expected packing to be not so difficult. We still managed to mostly fill two large boxes and two small from Seven Seas Worldwide who were wonderful to deal with in London.

These contained heavy boots; winter jackets; fancy dresses (I’m looking at you BAFTA ball gown); assorted kitchen-ware that *meant* something, like gift mugs; filled notebooks and diaries; and one very lonely but very beloved piece of *art* – a framed scrabble pasted photo of Han Solo and Princess Leia between takes (see above).

I love you

I know

Sigh – I read The Princess Diarist earlier this year and adored it. It travelled back in one of the boxes too. Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds – you are sorely missed!

Despite the four boxes, there were still some effects that we couldn’t leave behind. Which leads me to the list of 5 unusual things that I brought back to Sydney via Dallas and San Francisco in my luggage:

  1. Warrick the Ewok (we pronounce it Yoric, Life of Brian anyone?). We bought him in June from Disneyland Paris. My first trip to Disneyland: I think I must have been waiting for all the Star Wars rides and merch. Warrick – was sat beside my bed hiding from the boxes. He must have wanted to see the US of A. Can’t blame him, it was a fun trip!
  2. Manduka Eko Travel Mat in Midnight. It FOLDS! That’s why it makes this list – it’s unusual. Brilliant design for travelling. I love it. It smells nice too. It’s made from sustainably harvested tree rubber.
  3. Two laptops – one for writing and one for work. I’d hoped to leave the second behind in London, but since I’m transferring internally, it was advised to bring it with me. At least that one is small. The writing one is the brick! I got a few odd looks from security when I pulled two laptops out of my carry-on :S
  4. Four pairs of shoes – how many do you travel with? It’s always the hardest decision I make when packing.
    • Irregular choice heels. Candy whistle style. Similar to this pair … but with a different pattern painted on. I love how quirky they are. I chose Irregular choice heels for my wedding too. Have you seen the film Me Before You? This brand of shoes feature. They are so much fun!
    • HiTec walking boots – these came in handy in the Lakes District and again in San Francisco’s Muir Woods. I also pulled them out in Sydney for the walk from Maroubra to Malabar. It’s a new one that’s opened up behind the shooting range. We were very lucky to see a pair of whales frolicking.
    • Aasic sneakers for running/working out. Ha! Happened twice, maybe? More now that I’m back in Sydney.
    • Havaiana Thongs (or Flip Flops as non Sydney-siders call them). My go to footwear. Probably because I’m usually too lazy for socks or laces or even just pulling up the back of a ballet flat.
  5. A photo album of my husband’s life to date.
    My favourite of all the unusual or unexpected items in my suitcase. This included his original baby photos and the wrist band from the hospital. A gorgeous gift from his mother to us and the new family we are starting in Australia. I am so grateful to her for putting this beautiful piece of family history together for us.

Have you ever travelled around the world with something unusual or unexpected in your suitcase?

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 0 comments
Chatsworth house or Lyme park?

Chatsworth house or Lyme park?

If you’re a Pride and Prejudice fan (guilty! Though Persuasion is my favourite Austen) then you’ll likely be familiar with this question. Which makes for a better Pemberley?

Luckily you don’t have to answer it because you can visit both in person like my husband and I did. Or watch either as Pemberley.

In the 1995 BBC TV series, Lyme Park is used as Pemberley, in the famous lake scene semi-recreated here by my handsome hubby.

In the Kiera Knightley version, Chatsworth house features. For Austen fans, Chatsworth house has the added benefit of being visited by Elizabeth Bennet in her tour of Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle.

Both houses and grounds are truly stunning, but with very different histories.

Lyme Park, house and garden was famously home to the Legh family. The house was built in the late 16th century, but Thomas Legh directed substantial renovations to the property in the Regency era. The tour of the house centres on the life of Thomas Legh, an adventurer who traveled through Egypt and wrote about his experiences. On returning home, he became an entrepreneur. The library is also home to the Lyme missal, a 15th century prayer book, touted as the most important printed book the National Trust’s collection.

I loved Lyme Park because we saw a magnificent herd of deer grazing. They also had a second hand bookstore in the basement. There was a lego tour and an opportunity to dress up for families, which was very sweet. My husband and I walked on though. We’ve done P&P dress up before 🙂 I’ll save that for another post. Lyme Park was also less busy than Chatsworth to my delight and relaxation.

Pro tips:

1) Ask the staff lots of questions, they know heaps of history!

2) Wander up to the deer park for a gander.

Chatsworth house was the 16th century home to Bess of Hardwick, the second most important woman in Elizabethan England. The house is still occupied by the Cavendish line (of her second husband). Her fourth and final husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury, was tasked with being custodian of Mary Queen of Scots who was kept prisoner at Chatsworth house for a time.

I loved Chatsworth house because it had vast landscaped gardens you could amble through and lose the crowds that gathered in the house. The maze was magnificent and challenging. The house and family have a strong connection with fashion throughout history and there is currently an exhibition throughout the entire house celebrating this relationship. In the chapel, the family wedding dresses, christening gowns and mourning clothes were displayed – it was a deeply moving tribute to life and death through fashion.

Pro tips:

1) We did the garden first thing in the morning, and the house later in the day. The queue for the house was crazy long first thing.

2) Visit nearby Bakewell and The Bakewell Tart Shop (in the footsteps of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan). The Bakewell tart is delicious.

I can’t choose a favourite between them. Can you?

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, Reading, 0 comments
10 London Favourites

10 London Favourites

My time in London is coming to an end after 18 months of incredible experiences. Here are just a few, not strictly in order except for number ten… that one is definitely last:

  1. West End – All the theatre. All the musicals. All of it. I’ve absolutely loved it!
  2. The Globe – because, duh. My favourite was Imogen, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. So many abs! The cast were all such fit dancers. It was an incredible performance.
  3. National Theatre – Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is a longstanding favourite of mine and they did it so very well.
  4. The extra large Foyles, second-hand bookstores on Charing-Cross Road, the Piccadilly Waterstones. The smell of books!
  5. Secret Cinema – Moulin Rouge – my God! I have never seen anything like it. Secret Cinema’s immersive experience surpassed all expectations. You’re not just seeing and hearing. You get to live and breathe it. You get woven into and swept up and away in the magic of that world. It was incredible!
  6. Walking across London Bridge and looking across the Thames at Tower Bridge. So pretty.
  7. Brockwell Park – I will always be a home girl and the park next door will always hold a special place in my heart. Brockwell has the good fortune of having a very beautiful walled garden in the middle, and it’s own resident swans and grey heron.
  8. The Eurostar to Paris. My first time in Disneyland Paris! Woohoo! So glad we waited till Disney bought Star Wars. Now I have my own ewok. He is named Yoric and is super cuddly.
  9. All the quirky yoga and fitness studios: Battersea yoga (in a yurt), Hotpod yoga (in a large indoor tent), Fierce Grace, Hit and Yoga, Embody Wellness, 1Rebel, Basefit, Light Centre, GymClass and more…
  10. The Northern Line – a London favourite? Really? I know, I know – but I think it’s been the making of me. The cause of so much angst and anxiety. It’s made me stronger. Never again in my life will I be so close to twenty sweaty strangers all glaring at each other and jostling for air.

Want to know any more about any of the above – let me know 🙂

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 0 comments
I want to fight like a girl

I want to fight like a girl

Like Celaena Sardothien in Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series. 

Like Alanna or Keladry of Tamora Pierce’s many novels set in Tortall. 

Like in Girls of the Wild’s, the Korean manhwa webtoon series written by Hun and illustrated by Zhena (Kim Hye-jin). 

Like Sailor-moon. Like Mulan. Like Boudicca. Like Diana of the Hunt. Like Supergirl, Wonderwoman, Black Widow, Captain Marvel and all the other comic book warrior women.  

Like Emily Blunt’s character Rita in Edge of Tomorrow. Check out this awesome blog about her workout. 

I get this amazing sense of energy, freedom and strength after seeing films or reading about these women. Or even when seeing fighters or dancers on stage!

I want to fight like a girl. I want to train like a girl. I want to be strong, fit and persistent, like a girl. 

Do you get your workout motivation from characters and actors too? 

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 0 comments
Falconry – A day in the Cotswolds

Falconry – A day in the Cotswolds

A few months back, I read Catherine Gaskin’s A Falcon for a Queen. It must have set a spark. 

When I saw the Cotswold’s Falconry Centre on Google maps, I kept clicking through till I found a Flying Start for Two and signed my husband and I up. He’s an adventurous sort and an easy accomplice to many a scheme. 

It was one of the best and most memorable experiences we’ve shared. If you get the chance, I highly recommend you meet some of these glorious birds. It was an honour and privilege to hold and fly them. 

We first met a peregrine falcon: small, with a distinctive beak and nostrils. It was such a thrill to have such an elegant creature perched on my arm. 

Next was a common buzzard, Ivy, that we later took on a training flight. A length of rope was attached to her leg. We held food out to her in a gloved hand and she would fly from a post to your arm to eat the food. 

We held Thumper, a large European Eagle Owl. He was lighter than he looked, puffed up by so many fluffy feathers. While I was holding her, an eagle in the flying display just over the fence made a spectacular dive that whistled through the air. Both the owl and I jumped, wide-eyed. 

Saus was an eagle, he and his friend Lulu liked to sun themselves whenever the clouds parted. 

The main flight we had was with Kaiser, a stunningly beautiful owl. She would fly in low to the ground and swoop up onto your arm at the last minute. She was very blind at short distances and couldn’t see your hand in front of her face, so you had to stand still for her. 

We stayed around afterwards for the final flying show of the day when the vultures were let out. They were incredible. Large and majestic. I loved how they squabbled with each other for food or the best place in the sun. 

It was fascinating to learn so much about all these birds, their feathers, their sight, their preferred methods of flying and hunting. It was touching to see the interaction between them and their handlers. They were well cared for and each had personalities of their own. 

One of the biggest takeaways though, was the endangered nature of some of these birds, especially the vultures. Poaching, baiting and other human practices have had a devastating effect on some of these species. Read more about it here

Do you want to see a bird of prey fly? 

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 0 comments
London Film and Comic Con and YALC

London Film and Comic Con and YALC

I made it! My first comic con and literature convention. It was awesome! I loved it 🙂

My friend has a Back To The Future poster that was signed by almost all the stars. Tom Wilson who plays Biff was there and completed the set, except for Crispin Glover, who he reckons he is unlikely to get.  He also got photos with Tom and Christopher Lloyd! 

I was more interested in the talks. We saw the two of them chat about BTTF and their favourite actors. We also saw Alan Tudyk. He’s a favourite of mine from Firefly, Dollhouse, Rogue One and all his voice over work. Incredible talents. They were all so kind as well!

Other stars there on the day included Benedict Cumberbatch, buried under hundreds of fans; Natalie Dormer, looking absolutely stunning; Allison Hannigan, couldn’t get near her! So my inner fan girl was just melting into a puddle on the floor. Peter Mayhew was in the house, I like that Wookiee. 

The costumes were incredible. There was not as much cosplay as I expected, but there were some really brilliant outfits. My favourites were a lego batman in his bathrobe with a lobster on a plate, Kaylee from Firefly in her frilly pink dress and the Stark family complete with Ned’s severed head. 

At the Young Adult Literature Convention, there was V E Schwab, Holly Bourne and Emily Lockhart amongst others. I wandered around adding more and more books to my Goodreads Want To Read list. I feel like I’m spending so much time catching up on reading that I’m a little behind. There are not enough hours in the day. 

Interesting to see how social media is changing the industry. There were a number of stalls for book boxes. I’ve seen a lot of these on Instagram. They are so creative, often filled with knick knacks as well as new reads. I plan to subscribe to a one when I get back to Sydney. Suggestions?  Most likely a YA one …

Have you ever been to a comic con or a literature convention? What was your favourite experience?

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 0 comments
My 3 Favourite Words

My 3 Favourite Words

I possess only an inchoate image of the myriad of ephemeral moments that lead to this one; that lead to me loving you.

Inchoate. Myriad. Ephemeral.

These are my three favourite words and they mean the following:

inchoate: just begun and so not fully formed or developed; rudimentary

myriad: a countless or extremely great number of people or things

ephemeral: lasting or enjoyed for only a short time

They originate from my love of fantasy. Inchoate is written on the first page of Cecilia Dart-Thornton‘s The Ill-Made Mute, the first novel in The Bitterbynde Trilogy. I remember seeing it as a teenager and freezing. It was a word I couldn’t pronounce, I’d never heard it before, and I had no idea what it meant. The shock was palpable. The rest of the series, and her Crowthistle Chronicles, took me to realms of fantasy with such rich and beautiful language, and a tapestry of mythological stories that I hold close to this day. If you’ve read them and know the adoration I’m talking about, then please, recommend me more in this vein!

What are your favourite words? Can you put them in a sentence in the comments or a tweet?

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 0 comments