Sunday, February 28, 2010

I think I'm a 'Yearner'

Yesterday I did something I used to love and never get to do anymore... while away a summery Sunday morning reading the Sunday Telegraph weekend newspaper cover to cover.

Who ever said contentment was complicated?

It was while partaking in this marvellous and much-missed task that I came upon social commentator Sam deBrito's column. This week was all about people who carefully select their friendship circle based on how each member clinically fits together, sort of like flipping through an Ikea catalogue.

While I know people who do that, I thankfully don't - but I do suffer from a condition also mentioned in the column - that pesky little thing called "yearner" syndrome.

Sam described it as people who constantly think about "the green-grass yonder, looking for a better car, clothes or career". It's basically people who naturally want more than they have.

I think I am one of these people. While (for me) this does not mean I don't appreciate my life and all that is in it, I just always want more... consistently desirous and cursed with sky-scraping expectations, I'm forever planning my next improvement or move towards bigger and better things.

This really isn't a good thing.

Because I've been aware of this all-too-common scourge for some time, I recently attempted a 12-month meditation course, designed to kick my flighty mind back into the power of 'now'.

My meditation teacher (whom I affectionally call Obi Wan) once told me "life is but a series of precious moments... be careful you don't drop them".

I found the ancient practice a thousand shades of torture at first - but through sheer desperation, persisted - and then finally uncovered a clear path to a quieter mind.

I wrote about my meditation experience in a recent issue of Yen Magazine; here is the article if you hold any interest: (Just click on the photo to enlarge it in a new window)

n.b. I find it impossible to write without humour, so this article is very 'tongue-in-cheek'. Whatever that means. I can't say I usually stick my tongue inside my cheek when I joke. Perhaps I shall try it - maybe my jokes will sound funnier.

The most beautiful view
is the one I share

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stocking Up (and Adam Lambert)

Board game
rice crackers
Praise fat free French salad dressing
hair bleach
dry shampoo
Aveeno moisturiser
fake tan
puppy breath freshener for Otto

p.s. I've just received some very exciting news about my old job and Adam Lambert - stay tuned! :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Breakfast with someone I used to know

It's located in Sydney's inner west: an area close to downtown, but far enough away to feel a little more homey and a little less high-risey.

I used to live there, right up until I moved to Hong Kong; in fact I still own an apartment there, which I rent out to a Brazillian couple. I drove past it today - no green and yellow flag in sight... I don't know if I'm relieved or concerned. Does this mean they are packing to move??

The area is fabulously artsy - full of rustic cafes and second-hand bookshops, with a faint whiff of crystals, chakras, and street dwellers with wild eyes.

Walking down the main street was the first time I've run into my old self since arriving... and it felt entirely strange.

I could see myself walking up and down that same street each day; oblivious of what was to come, carrying groceries, window-shopping, meeting B for a date, having brunch at this very same cafe, doing up my brand new apartment.

Today I felt like I had never left - and suddenly Hong Kong seemed a million miles away.

I sat down for coffee with the old me. She seemed good - relaxed and happy. She felt at home.

That's when I knew - everything, all this - is going to be okay.

When I eventually do return to Sydney, Hong Kong will slowly be disremembered, and mornings chowing down on Chinese tea and dim sum in steaming hole-in-wall cafes, will once again become Italian coffees, newspapers and eggs in Sydney's inner west.

So not ready for that yet. But that day will come.

p.s. Here's what I had for breakfast: Looks disgusting, doesn't it?
But at least it's not dim sum.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dear B...

I miss you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Girl Who Once Was

The chaos of Hong Kong silenced; nothing but the sound of birds chirping and the faint hum of peacefulness that comes from
being home.

During the flight, I wasn't sure I'd even make it... I had visions of a death certificate that read:

Natalie Murray passed away after choking on the toxic breath of an old Chinese man in next seat.

I wanted to offer him gum, but he didn't speak English and I feared communicating his 'issue' with a ferocious wave in front of my mouth might have been a tad too much, considering we were coupled for nine hours with the closest exit seven rows away. I realised Mr China-breath hadn't flown much when he puzzled over his compartmentalised meal and attempted to pour his custard dessert over his salad - which I graciously leaned over and stopped him from doing, whilst breathing through my mouth.

But we both lived to tell the tale, and here I am, back in my old bedroom.

Seeing family again has been rescuing. Not that I needed it - I've been perfectly happy in Hong Kong, albeit a few career woes. But, whether you require it or not, family are relieving - their lovely faces and warming company wrap you up like a big cosy blanket and give you a good squeeze.

With B back battling the responsibilities of Hong Kong, I get to eat my mum's cooking and sleep in my old room - I feel like I'm a kidlet again; everything is as it was.

And that's before I even get to see the rest of my family and close friends. There's much rescuing still to be had.

I feel like I had almost forgotten Sydney. Of course not the people and the familiar places; but I had lost sight of the clear blue skies, the space to breathe and QUIET. For anyone who considers Sydney a pulsating, noisy city, pull up a pew on a Hong Kong sidewalk - and bring your earplugs.

The noiseless pace of spacious Sydney is glorious - I had never really noticed it before.

No car horn symphony outside, army of chattering Cantonese, business folk rushing to work, shop owners clashing their morning load around. Sydney feels just - still.

What a fabulous sound silence makes.

I'm luxuriating in each and every heavenly moment.

But, of course, it's hard to get too attached. Reality's wicked knobbly finger hangs over your head, pointing out what you already know to be true. Like a cacophonous freight train whooshing along in the approaching distance - this will all be over all too soon. And Sydney-Nat will again become Hong Kong-Nat, and I'll slowly but surely supress the beauty of home and resettle my thoughts back into the presence of my life in Asia.

There's plenty of time for reflection here, and while this may sound somewhat contradictory and leaving family and friends will be ambitious to say the least, I do have a certain sense that I am tremendously happy I left. At least temporarily. I did the right thing.

There are so many memories here that I have been able to wipe clean with resettlement abroad. Each and every street corner seems to whisper a story of my past - good and bad. I find it all a little too much, now that I have reinvented myself in another place.

Those who live abroad are spoiled; we can become who we like, and discontinue who we don't.

But that's another story... for now, I'm back to the girl I once was.

Today I'm off to have lunch with my grandmother. What a privileged person I am. There's nowhere else I'd rather be.

I am Home.

Just need to stop and breathe this all in.

It's magic.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Otto's New Couture

Thinking About...

Going Home tomorrow this beautiful place. these beautiful people.

Even though I will miss...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Fashion and Exam-Phobia

Here's today's Friday Fashion pick:

p.s. Today has been a crazy day for me - I had my first university exam, well, EVER. I've done lots of uni, but funnily enough, no exams, just looots of assignments. Journalism is thankfully one of those very practical subjects, because I suffer from Exam Phobia.

I studied all the wrong stuff (of course) but still managed 87%!

Time to celebrate on my last-Hong-Kong-weekend-before-Sydney-visit with a dinner out tonight with B.

You can read all about my dramaholic 'Going Home Disorder' here.

Have a fabulous and fashion-filled Friday!

p.p.s As you can see I've decided to reduce the size of the font on my blog posts. I felt the larger one was a bit IN YOUR FACE.

Please do let me know if you need binoculars to read this and I'll switch it back. You can leave a comment below or email me at

Thursday, February 18, 2010

...launching today...

A weekly page of beauty and makeup tips!

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Going home

Because in five days I'll be heading home to Sydney. This will be the first time I've been back since moving to Hong Kong eight months ago (is that all???) and, quite frankly, I really don't know what to expect.

Which is quite odd really. And possibly ironic. I mean, it will be Sydney. The same place that I left less than a year ago. The place where I spent the first thirty years of my life. Undoubtedly not much will have changed. The Harbour Bridge will still be there, the people I love will be there, the pace will be slower, and public transport will be even slower. Way slower.

But what I don't know what to expect is - how I will feel when I am there. About what I have left behind and will need to leave behind again, ten days later. About my new life in Hong Kong and how it looks from the other side; and about who exactly I am in the world now and where I belong.

Geez girl - get over it - it's just a trip home to Sydney. What a drama queen. Oh yes - as always.

I was writing an article today on western women moving to Hong Kong, and it raised all sorts of ideas about my own situation.

Ideas about packing up and following a man to a place; and forfeiting a huge chunk of your own identity in the process. Ideas about the hardships of beginning again, meeting new people, and re-wiring your social life. The frustrations of leaving work to enter the dark chasms of unemployment - a place desired daily in fantasy - and all too bleak and hopeless in reality.

I also thought about the good things - the wonderment and magic of exploring a new place, the intoxicating thrills and spills that come when you're a stranger stumbling through an alien world, and the joyous discoveries that can be made in pockets of places you never knew existed. Oh yes - when I moved to Hong Kong, suddenly life became interesting again.

There's this weird thing about living overseas though - you go through an enormous culture shock when you arrive. You feel like a giant fish out of some very important water. You then begin to adjust, and finally accept where you are, as it in turn begins to accept you. You feel comfortable.
Before you know it - you open the key to your apartment and step into a home.

And then comes the time when you must return to the place where you came from.

And so begins a sort of 'reverse culture shock', where you backtrack your way through the above steps and start to wonder if you will fit in back in your old home again; whether anything will make sense, and if the people there will recognise the new person you have become.

Of course I'm aware this all sounds a little nuttish given I've been here less than a year. Surely I'm raining on the parade of someone who's been struggling through some African outskirt for the last fifteen years.

I guess it took me a long time to get up on my feet here. I'm wondering about the effect Sydney may have on me.

But the only unfaltering reality is - my family will be there. And oh boy do I want to see them. I shall not think now about leaving them again. There is no place for that here. Don't want to cry too soon!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Otto's toys (and MY top)

Dear B...

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Year's Lanterns

Happy Year of the Tiger

There are all sorts of creepy superstitions at this time of year, starting with these five:

1. Put your feet up and relax, sweeping and cleaning is strictly forbidden. The Chinese believe cleaning means you'll sweep all of your good luck out the front door (yay!)

2. Be sure to stock up on reading materials before Chinese New Year, as Hong Kong's bookshops will be padlocked tight. In Cantonese, book is a homonym for 'lose' (hmm, difficult)
3. Make sure you avoid rough seas in the new year by not buying shoes over the holiday period. In Cantonese, shoes are a homonym for 'rough' (very difficult)
4. If you're in debt, it's time to dip into your pockets and pay people off. The Chinese believe that if you start the new year in the red, you'll finish it the same way (yikes)
5. Hong Kongers have a sweet touch at the best of times, but Chinese New Year offers the perfect chance to raid the sweet shop, as eating candies is said to deliver a sweeter year (fabulous!)
I reigned in the Year of the Tiger at a lovely restaurant atop a fancy schmancy hotel, downing a never-ending buffet of fresh seafood, salads, meats, curries, Chinese, cheeses, dessert - the whole shebang. Oh and unlimited champagne - that never goes astray over a long lunch.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I will be spending today at the top of a lovely hotel indulging in a champagne brunch with B and our two closest friends in Hong Kong.

I hope you enjoy today with your loved ones; whether it be husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, friend - of of course - yourself. I've spent many a Valentine's Day with my divine sister, and also alone, with a giant popcorn and a great movie. The perfect day. Comedy of course - not romance :)

Also - Kung Hei Fat Choy, or Happy Chinese New Year!

May the Year of the Tiger bring you love, peace, contentment - and plenty of 'pinch me' moments.
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