Thanks for being awesome 2016

The last two weeks have gone by in an absolute blur. So much has happened, and I’ve barely had a moment to even think about updating this… and I’m sure this won’t be the last time this happens!

It’s now the second of January, 2017. Yowsers. How did that happen exactly?

I feel like 2016 got a lot of bad press… everywhere I look there’s commentary focused on all the negativity the world experienced- from Brexit, to Trump, to Aleppo; and a whole host of other situations, incidents and outcomes. But whilst all of this has (or will shortly) affected a whole host of people, from a purely selfish perspective I had a bloody wonderful 2016.

  • The year began with me starting a new chapter in my life, moving to a new bit of London with two complete stranger (and then a few more!), one of whom I now count as one of my closest friends
  • I had amazing experiences career wise, working on fascinating projects with fabulous clients and colleagues, moving offices and embracing a new way of working (viva la co-working space).
  • I stuck to my annual goal of running two half marathons- so can still tell myself I ran a marathon… ahem…
  • I dusted off my backpack and traveled around around Sri Lanka with two megababes,soaking up the culture, the food, the landscapes and experiencing wild elephants and blue whales
  • There were hen-dos and weddings left, right and center- each one beautifully unique and magical
  • I got to spend more and more time of my favourite person in the whole world- we explored new bits of our own country, traveled around Morocco (sleeping under the stars in the Sahara desert in a Berber camp is pretty high up on the best memories list), we festival-ed, we ate, we drank, we played, we planned, we sang, we danced, we debated and we agreed that life’s too short to call it quits just because of a little logistical inconvenience
  • And to top it all off, I moved to the other side of the world, started a new job, found a new house and have been lucky enough to meet some pretty fab people who have made the transition so much easier

So amongst the hate… I just wanted to make a point that yes if you read the newspapers and believe everything you see in your Facebook feed you could be forgiven for thinking that 2016 was a really shitty year, but I’m sure a lot of people can look back at the last twelve months and find some amazingly positive experiences and memories that have helped them to grow, or discover something new about themselves or the world around them.

Thanks for being awesome 2016, and 2017- let’s see what you’ve got in store 🙂

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Salt water, Sunsets & Sombreros

This was one of those weekends where I had myself thinking,  gosh this was soooooo the right decision to make!

A Saturday morning at the beach, lapping up the vitamin D and watching the waves crash in…

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Followed by an afternoon of BBQ’d kangaroo (actually quite yum), sunsets over Sydney Harbour Bridge and the opera house, and an evening in an Irish pub singing Christmas songs…

 

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And then finally a Sunday of Mexican cooking and more Christmas festivities…

 

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It’s safe to say, six weeks in and I’m quite the fan of this new Sydney life!

 

It’s definitely NOT beginning to look at lot like Christmas

Let me start this post by sharing what is so far my favourite Christmas ad of 2016…

 

I love this, not just because I am a comms nerd, and not just because it means I’ve been reacquainted with our dear friend Ronan Keating (don’t even pretend that he wasn’t the Harry Styles of the 90’s), but because it sums up EXACTLY how I feel about the festive season over here.

It’s not about snow, and mulled wine, and sleigh bells, and reindeer, and holly, and Christmas jumpers, and thick socks, and cosy fireplaces and hearty Christmas day eating….

It’s about the arrival of summer, and sunshine, and 30 degree temperatures, and ice-cream, and flip flops (thongs or jangles if you will) and a Christmas day swim on Bondi Beach before demolishing a bucket of prawns on the barbie.

Don’t get me wrong, there are Christmas trees, and presents, and a feeling of merriment and joy and sharing with the people you love- but it just doesn’t feel right to be basing Christmas festivities in the Southern Hemisphere on an American/ European ideal (which quite frankly is aspirational at best, let’s face it… I can’t remember a white Christmas ever). The David Jones window display of animatronic polar bears on an Arctic production line, and the echoed tones of ‘Silent Night’ bellowing over Pyrmont Bridge are all well and festive- but that’s not the reality of the Christmas experience over here- so why is everything entrenched in it!

I love that AirNZ have taken this idea and used it for the basis of their ad. It’s a much more genuine representation of what Christmas down under seems to be all about.

Although who am I kidding, much as I’m all for beaches, and sunshine and a calamari Christmas lunch, I don’t think I will ever loose the uncontrollable excitement of the process of putting together our house Christmas tree- as evident from the below.

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Australian focus groups, a new home, Christmas parties and being a boss lady at building things

What bloody a week!

  • Summer has officially begun in Australia (it all kicks off from 1st December apparently!)
  • I successfully ran my first Australian focus groups- and things went pretty darn well!
  • I’ve had TWO back to back Christmas parties (first the group party- a fun filled champagne fest, on a roof terrace looking out over Darling Harbour, the second my company party, again champagne fueled but this time based on the famous Bondi Beach)
  • I’ve spent my third night in as many weeks at The Bucket List in Bondi- I’m starting to feel like a genuine local…
  • I’ve spent an amazing day with my new colleagues,  reflecting on the year they’ve had and getting excited about the future
  • I’ve moved into my new house- I’m officially a Coogee resident- and it really is incredible, I feel like I’ve hit the house jackpot
  • I’ve once again taken the title of Queen of Ikea- today building a MASSIVE dining table, and then a bed (the bed was the wrong size for the mattress, but I’m overlooking those details for now)
  • I’ve had a lovely day spending time with my fabulous new housemates in my fabulous new house, all finished off with a great big platter of cheese

I’ve been here for three weeks now, and it may sound cliche but things just keep getting better. I’m really feeling so much more settled and comfortable with life down under. And I’ve rediscovered my love for Crowded House. Which is probably my highlight of a pretty fab week.

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Two weeks since I landed, and first week of work done! (No more funemployment for me)

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It seems crazy to think that I’ve been in Sydney for two weeks. In many ways it still feels like a holiday (an extra long one), but at the same time I feel as if I’ve always been here. Every now and then I get a sense of deja vu, not because I’ve been to a place before, but because I’ve moved past being frantic and anxious about everything, and am instead embracing all the newness and the change, and I remember feeling this way, all excited and anticipating about what lied around the corner when I first moved to London.

Today marked the end of my first week at my new job- the whole reason that I’m here in the first place- and I can honestly say that it’s been a great week. Having a bit of a routine has been so so nice, and I’ve genuinely LOVED getting my research brain back into action. There’s lots to learn, but I’m also feeling more and more confident that I’ve got a lot to give too. The name ‘Loren’ is also already well and truly out the car-park (it never lasts long… why is that?)- from now on it’s Loz, Lozzy or Lozzo.

My first ‘Happy Friday’ in Oz contained a few highlights: remembering that I can still turn my ‘pharma-chat’ on when I need to, a delicious seafood lunch from the amazing fish market at Darling Harbour (accompanied with wine… in the park… in the sun- sorry guys in the UK!), an afternoon of juggling practice, and ending with champagne whilst ‘Bat outta hell’ played throughout the office.

And top it all off, my day finished with a trip to Ikea- which I LOVED. Because that trip means I’m moving into a super exciting, shiny house next week. Near the beach (so expect a constant stream of #beachlife photos), with some lovely people.

It also means that because the day I move is the same day as my office Christmas party, my potential to forget I’ve moved house and rock up at the wrong address is feeling like a greater and greater dead cert.

BRING ON WEEK THREE!

First day as a Sydney worker = Done!!

 

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So after a process that’s taken months and months, today I FINALLY stepped foot into my new office as an official employee. Wahoo!!

I’ve never really enjoyed the initial part of starting a new job- taking in a million names, processes and things, getting used to new surroundings and new (sometimes strange!) ways of doing things, and overall feeling a little bit useless until you – as Madonna commands- get into the groove.

As far as first days go, today has probably got to be up there. Not only did I find the right office this time, but I was welcomed by a sea of smiling faces and warm welcomes, champagne on my desk, cake offerings within the first hour, a lovely team lunch, an array of interesting projects to get involved with, and an office atmosphere that tingled with genuine enjoyment and excitement.

Truth be told after nearly three weeks off, a trip to Africa and a casual international relocation, a full (well, nearly) day in the office has knocked me for six. But I can’t wait to be back there tomorrow to get my teeth sunk in and start to get settled into Sydney office life.

Lesson one: If a plan doesn’t go to plan, it’s not the end of the world

I am someone who likse to have a plan. Not in an OCD way (and certainly not in a very long-term way, I have ZERO ideas on where I want to be in ten years; apart from happy), but when it comes to the things that will make life easier, simpler and a lot more logical in the short-term I’m all over it.

Living in London (and doing the job I do) over the last 5 years, has only compounded this lust for order. In the stressful, chaotic ecosystem of life in the capital, thinking ahead gave me an advantage. It meant I was better prepared, could research solutions to potential problems before they existed and feel calm and secure that I was doing whatever it was in the most efficient way, ultimately benefiting everybody involved.

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Place you fancied for breakfast full to the brim? No worries, I read about another great place around the corner while looking up this one. Client needs to change a date urgently? All good, I pre-empt it and checked to make sure it was still “do-able” in the event we needed to. A million places to see and hardly any time? Not a problem, I’ve checked out a route that gives you the most bang for your buck (anyone who saw my 2 week Sri Lanka travel itinerary can vouch for this). In short, Loren’s got you covered.

This is all well and good, but for a while I’d been feeling like the spontaneous, carefree and uncertainty-embracing part of my personality was being slowly eroded; replaced by a slightly more stressful character, that freaked out when something didnt’t go as it should, or when I didn’t have the immediate answer.

So much in London depends on right here, right now (or, in fact, yesterday in many cases). Its so easy to get caught up, thinking that things that really aren’t important in the grand scheme of things, are. It can drive you crazy, make you more neurotic, anxious and afraid of the unknown and in the few months before I left, I was really noticing this in myself. Truth be told, I was hoping the move would help me claw back some of my “chill”.

Ahead of the big move I’d been super organised. I had a plan, and that plan was going to make the first few days and weeks go by a little more smoothly, and give me more time to explore my new city instead of spending hours on life admin. I’d meticulously worked it all out, and I was super confident in the plan.

But it didn’t all quite work out as expected.

Don’t get me wrong, nothing has gone awfully, horribly, disastrously wrong. But a few things here and there haven’t been quite as I’d hoped they’d be (including most recently rocking up for a meet and greet at my new office, to discover I was actually in their old building…on the other side of the city..).

The first couple of times things didn’t work out as I’d planned in my head, I will put my hands up and say I had a minor meltdown. Perhaps I can blame a little of my reaction on jetlag and fatigue. And maybe an even greater percentage came from the acknowledgment that I was actually over ten thousand miles away from the people I could always turn to when things didn’t quite work out, who could help me figure out the next best step.

Since those first few roadbumps there ‘s been plenty of other hiccups, but with each one I’ve found myself panicking less and less and instead thinking “ok, its not the end of the world, I can figure this out in my own time”. I’m only on day ten, and I’m sure I’ve got all sorts to come my way, but I’m going to try and embrace life without quite as much structure while I’m here.

It seems to be the Sydney way.

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Holy sh*t I’ve actually done it.

After years of dreaming of sandy white shores, glorious sunshine, and a lifestyle with an emphasis on actually thriving (as opposed to surviving), an opportunity to move to the other side of the world and actually realise this dream came up- and I simply had to take it.

The decision was undeniably tough. Much as I’m all for adventure and opportunity, I was leaving behind an incredible London life: my amazing friends (some who I’ve  known and loved for over 14 years!), a fabulous job with colleagues who were more like family, my actual family who  have loved and supported me since day dot (even when perhaps I didn’t deserve it!), and a wonderful world of spontinaiety, bottomless brunches, pop-up supper clubs, riotous pub quizzes, runs along the river Thames, and cosy nights in (as well as wild nights out and unrecognisable uber receipts) with my favourite people.

Now all of those things are approximately 10,500 miles away. Yikes.

Stepping off the plane it didn’t really feel real- it still doesn’t,  but then I’m only two days in! I can’t quite grasp a handle on the idea that this is the place that I’ll call home for the foreseeable future, it’s just a holiday, right? I’ve travelled alone, and worked abroad before, right? This is just a slightly longer (and further) trip than normal, right?

I’m sure it will sink in at some point, but for the most part I keep finding my self thinking ‘holy sh*t I’ve actually bloody done it’, but not necessarily believing it.

I wanted a way to share my experiences with the people back home (I love you guys, but repeating myself fifty times will quickly become dull I’m sure!!), as well as to document for myself -and as a means of outletting- the roller coaster journey that I’m sure these first few months will have in store. Also, the jäger-bucas have fried my memory somewhat so this should hopefully mean I don’t forget any part of this exciting new adventure…

I’m hoping I can keep this up after more than several posts. And I’m hoping I’m brave enough to actually share this, as is my intention. But for now, hello Sydney- please be kind to me, and let’s see what you’ve got in store!