This is not (American) Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays back in the States. Since I was a little kid I’d get excited about dressing up as something different every year. This year was no exception. The Halloween culture as the US knows it hasn’t reached Australia in full force yet. Dressing up isn’t mainstream, so clearly my North American friends recruited our Australian and Irish friends and went all out anyway. The theme this year? Super heroes of course!

 Super Heroines!

Me as Black Widow from the Avengers

Joe as Professor X, also looking like a rasta man from the future

Strange stares and comments from people on the street reaffirmed that we were the odd balls here. Finding the only Halloween party around at the Espy Hotel was like the opposite of the Mean Girls Halloween party. In this case, it seemed that no one got the Halloween costume memo. Everyone was dressed half dead and creepy. Walking down the streets to escape the heavy metal and goblins galore, we were called sluts, turned away from a bar (the bouncer actually said, “Sorry, this is a private function”), and told by a homeless man to be careful with my guns. Although we made fighting the bad guys (in this case creepy costumes) fun, this was no American Halloween.

6 Months of Date Nights in Melbourne

Six months ago we said goodbye to the LA traffic and all our beloved family and friends. On April 24th we arrived in a new city, started new jobs (and a new job search for me), met new friends, and opened our lives to new experiences down under. Despite the exciting thrills of this new adventure, we’ve had our share of home sick moments. While longing for our friends, family, dogs, pink berry, Trader Joe’s, and sunshine we have also found new favorites in Melbourne.

Back in LA, Joe and I noticed that work-life, friends, and family commitments were taking over our once prioritized “alone time”, so we introduced a monthly date night, alternating months on who takes charge of the planning. Date night is usually a surprise, and can’t be overruled by that Brady Bunch favorite “something suddenly came up” excuse.

Our date night routine took a slight detour in our transition to Melbourne. But now that our only excuse not to go out and explore the city is that, “sorry, I’m lame today” our date nighting tooshies are on the prowl again. The only limitation… our budget challenge. Everything has to be under $100 unless otherwise previously approved (by the other half).

With a city with so much to offer, the possibilities are endless. Six months in to our stay here, we’ve been able to discover a few fun (and on a budget) date nights Melbourne has to offer:

Month: April
Planner: Joe
Location: Number 8, South Bank – Crown Casino
Activity: Dinner and walk along the boardwalk
Cost: $100
GTK: The South Bank fire balls go off every hour on the hour plus a great view of the city from the other side of the Yarra River.

Month: May
Planner: Ivette
Location: The Night Cat , Fitzroy
Activity: Live music and dancing
Cost: Free entry! $100 to spend on cocktails and appetizers
GTK: Limited seating available. Arrive early to score a spot on the comfy (yet grody) couch.

Month: June (date day)
Planner: Joe
Location: The Hardware Societe and  Royal Botanical Gardens, CBD
Activity: Delicious brunch and Botanical Gardens walk
Cost: $50 for coffee, killer atmosphere, and tastebud tantalizing brunch, Free garden discover walk!
GTK: The garden walks operates on a different timetable each month, check out their calendar for up to date events.

Month: July
Planner: Ivette
Location: Red Bennies, South Yarra
Activity: Burlesque Night
Cost: $19 (living social deal for burlesque night + two drinks), $75 (pizza and champagne)
GTK: The night ends with lots of dancing, bring your dancing shoes.

Month: August
Planner: Joe
Location: The Comedy Club at the Athenaeum Theatre
Activity: Comedy Show
Cost: $90 for dinner and show for 2 – we paid $45
GTK: The entertainment book has a 50% off deal. Book in advance if you want dinner too.

Month: September
Planner: Joe and Ivette (we share our anniversary month)
Location: Ezard, CBD
Activity: 8 course tasting menu
Cost: $300 (waaaay over our date night budget, but worth the splurge for a special occasion)
GTK: Don’t eat for about a week in preparation for this feast.


Month: October
Planner: Ivette
Location: Romantic and secluded lake at the Royal Botanical Gardens
Activity: Picnic in the rain
Cost: $20 for some vino and nibbles from our pantry
GTK: Don’t trust the Melbourne weather forecast. Always bring an umbrella!

Bonus Aussie 6 month Anniversary Date Night: October 24
Location: Our balcony
Activity: Grilling on the barbie
Cost: $25 for salmon and veggies, $35 for some Moet Chandon bubbles
GTK: 6 months in… so far so good.

6 months down… 18 more to go!

Failure isn’t failing

What happens when we fail? This is a question that came up a lot for me a couple of weeks ago as I sat in on my first leadership conference experience at my new company. The chair I sat in hadn’t been reserved for me, but the spot opened up out of an eagerness on my part to be involved in broader activities at lululemon. I reached out to the conference planning committee (putting my past life as a conference planner to good use) and offered to help with anything, small or large, that they had coming up in anticipation for the conference.

All the heavy lifting was done… and they had done a damn good job at that. They planned the agenda, sent out the invitations, booked the speakers, reserved the venue, and ordered the catering. The conference had all the perfect elements to result in a huge success, but there was still a spot for me. I was thrilled to help make drink cards (new-found love for pixler by the way), order copies, and organize transportation of supplies to the conference venue. After completing all the to do’s for the committee, I thought my part was done, but they asked me to continue helping and come to the full two and a half days of the conference to coordinate the presentations. “Easy peasy,” I thought… I’ve done this before and am happy to be involved at any level,  but I could not have dreamed up what treats were in store. From inspirational stories to real deal leadership skill building, I learned that this company walks the talk… and does it in style!

A co-worker and friend, Lindsay and I, decked out for the futuristic closing party (apparently people wear blonde bob wigs in the future)

Being at the conference didn’t feel much like work. It felt more like the treat that I allow myself to have once a day. It seemed to be the treasure I take as a reward for doing something good. Working on my personal growth after doing a good job felt similar to treating myself to dessert after a good workout at the gym. But in any case, the personal growth from the conference was nothing short of brain indulgence.

How can it feel like work with a fun photo graffiti wall and these babes?

So what does failure have to do with any of this?  Failure is the elephant in the room we choose to ignore most of the time, but without failure, we would never learn how to succeed. In one of the conference sessions, we were asked to write out our failures and pin them to the “Failure Board”. Posting my failures up on the wall for everyone to see (even the CEO) was daunting,  scary, and seemingly shameful, but celebrating failure takes it into a new light. Although this may seem like torture, the action of sharing our failures was in a sense celebrating them. When we celebrate failure, we open ourselves up to vulnerability – and it is so liberating! The vulnerability of letting others see us for who we are, the vulnerability of saying, “I’m not perfect either.” If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend watching Brene Brown’s talks on vulnerability and shame on Ted Talks. Do it now! and if you’ve already watched it, watch it again!

So here it is, posted for the world (literally) to see… I have failed at:

–       Sharing my pain, letting others hold me up

–       Over performing under stress (again, failing to rely on others)

This matters because it impacts the people around me. My hubs, my co-workers, my family and friends. I fell (a long long time ago) into playing a role of strength. Strong when things get tough, strong when Joe got paralyzed, strong when family members pass away, strong for friends going through tough times, and strong and reliable in a work environment when shit hits the fan. I realize now that this is my strength, but in my strength also lies failure of letting others take the reins. People around me need to be there for me just as much as I need to be there for them. Letting go of the reins is something I have to work on.

The move to Australia sparked a tremendous change in our lives. It removed us from our comforts, physically separated us from our loved ones, and opened up a whole can of life I never knew existed. In recognizing my failures, I am committed to opening myself up for vulnerability, sharing my failures, and not showing only the glowy amazingness that Australia is offering us. I am committed to be real and show the real feelings and experiences moving so far away offers, both the good and the bad. But most of all, I’m committed to working towards creating a life I love. I’m happy to be well on my way!

So, what happens when we fail? We learn how to succeed! We learn about what we truly love.

A Rooster in the city

Life has settled and the minimal gripes and struggles of our overseas move are long behind us. We checked off our settling list: apartment… check, job… check, some friends… check! However, one, or should I say two things were still missing. Gouda and Bella, our four-legged, furry, full of love girls. We moved leaving open the possibility of shipping them out to Australia, but reality set in quickly. A long trip for the pups, a month-long quarantine, and the thousands of dollars it would have taken didn’t seem to add up to much logical sense… especially with the thought of turning around in a year and a half to send them back state-side.

But with our lives in order here, we noticed the furry friend void more than ever and we started entertaining the idea of having Bella, the smaller (and easier) of the two dogs sent over the Pacific or possibly adding to our doggie troop by getting a dog here. The latter of the two ideas won. Presenting Roo (aka Rooster) Guintu:

Roo is a 5-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who was a breeding dog in her former life. The breeder had to give her up when she became infertile and we happily became her adoptive parents. She has added so much love and laughter to our lives. I can’t wait for her to meet her sisters back home some day!

She really has helped complete our lives here. I can say with all confidence that life is good. Life is complete… for now.