Spring Tease

Feels like I’ve come out of hibernation! The warm sun was shining on us in Melbourne today! Going from winter in LA (ok, ok… I know it’s not that bad) to winter in Melbourne was probably not the most strategic timing decision for a person who loves warmth and summer sun. After a full year sans summer, my transparent skin and dusty sunglasses are really ready to come out and play!

On my walk to work, I could have sworn that I must have misread the outlook of a nicer day on the daily local forecast. Like a weather Oreo, the sunny afternoon was the glorious goodness in the middle of the day between frigid morning and crisp afternoon! I’m only hoping that this wasn’t one of those irrationally optimistic days between winter and more winter just teasing us with the promise of blooming flowers and sun dresses to come.

I’m looking forward to the sun shining a little longer each day as the southern hemisphere says hello to my much awaited warmer climate!

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Work, Play, and Yoga in the Rain

Winter in Melbourne has been chilly… cold, a little wet, and sunless. Rain or shine, work, play and yoga must go on!

Work

Being a part of the lululemon team has been amazing. Not only do I have a rad place to walk (13 minutes on foot) or bike (7 minutes door to door) every day, but I get to wear my favorite clothes, work with great people, learn more about the company’s culture, and push myself to find my limits and set my life goals all in a day’s work. It’s pretty perfect!

As part of the work I’m doing in the store, I’ve had the opportunity to help out with ambassador photo shoots and do some yoga poses of my own on the steps of the Parliament to capture some photos for the store’s newsletter!

Yoga at the Parliament steps with my favorite new lululemon to and from sweater! It actually started to rain on us during my double pigeon.

Melbourne sunrise – early morning to photo shoot (yes, those are hot air balloons in the distance)!

Our photo shoot team! So much fun with Sally (Photo credit: Sally Goodall Photography), AJ and Nadine (Yoga with Nadine).

Play

The bone chilling weather has kept us (against Joe’s will) in the apartment more than I’d like to admit. Dinners out with friends help break-up the hibernation monotony, but it has been hard to brave the cold once I get home and am comfy in my luon!

Yoga

I’ve been exploring yoga studios in and around the city. I love that my job encourages getting to know the local studios! It’s been fun trying different styles and trends.

Flying in vampire at anti-gravity yoga at Vibes Fitness in Fitzroy!

I’m going to a yoga as a business workshop this weekend at Ohana Yoga in Albert Park. Stay tuned for some developments… business thinking in progress!

My Bali teacher training program is official! I’ll be spending 5 intense weeks in Bali this coming May! My goal is to practice yoga at least 5 days a week from now until then to prepare for the experience. Looking forward to solidifying this next step and transformation.

Bali or bail

The transitions out of LA, out of a job I’ve learned so much in, and out of the comforts of our cozy home opened a door of uncertainty, excitement, and sometimes fear. Nevertheless, I dove in fully with faith that things would fall into the places they were meant to be in.

With my position in LA finishing up and my future wide open, I have been thinking long and hard about what I want that future to be. I think downward dog has a part in it somehow… First stop was the group interview at lululemon last month! Part of the group interview encouraged everyone to set 10, 5, and 1 year personal, professional, and health goals (the worksheet can also be found on their website… hint, hint… Try it out! It’s life changing!). Thanks to this exercise, I was on my way to figuring out what I wanted my future life to look like. Or at least it allowed me to get started on designing the idea of that future.

In filling out the goal setting worksheet I asked myself what I love in life. What I’m passionate about. What I would do if I knew I couldn’t fail (another incredible credit to the lululemon site’s blog). This is a big question, one that we should all ask ourselves more often. What would you do with your life if failing wasn’t an option? Check out the goal coach blog post where I first read this intriguing question here.

I would do more with yoga. I mean, I already practice it, I love it, it makes me feel good, keeps me centered, helps me keep in shape, lowers my anxiety and stress levels, heals my back injury, and so much more. It is the one thing that I do just for me. A practice centered around improving my life both on and off the mat. That’s why I was at the lululemon interview in the first place, wasn’t it? I want to have better life balance, I want to blend a healthy lifestyle into what I do for a living, and not just incorporate it as a side passion when I have time.

After my group interview, I was invited back for a yoga class with some team members from the store. After that, I was asked to come in for a one-on-one interview with the store manager. That interview was just a couple of days ago and… it went as best it could have gone. I was offered a job as a Key Leader! The friendly and ambitious disposition of everyone at the company is a great start to my new career (hoping to build strong friendships like the ones I had the pleasure of knowing at USC)! The decision to take the job was easy… working for the young and unique company has always been appealing to me, and now it is a reality! Nevertheless, the dramatic change in direction as a career is as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. I can’t help but think of all the time I spent dedicated to public health, of my student loan debt from graduate school, and of other prospective global health opportunities I am putting on hold to join an entirely different culture and industry.

The move from LA to Melbourne has become so much more than a world adventure. Being here has allowed me space to question how and why things don’t have to remain the same in life. We create our own change. We drive our own decisions and actions. Fear of the unknown, failure, judgment stands in the way of some on the incredible pleasures life has to offer. Fear is sometimes there to protect us from danger, but mostly it just holds us back. Removing fear from the equation opens us up to endless possibilities… Possibilities of creating what you want in your life, and letting go of things that aren’t serving you. For me, in this time, it is a new career through yoga.

With this in mind and a lululemon job in the bag (yay!!!) I keep thinking about how to take this to the next level. I’ve been considering various yoga teacher training programs and have narrowed it down to three schools. Two are in Melbourne and I would take the course over a 10-12 month period, the third is a 5-week intensive YogaWorks teacher training program in Bali. I know what you’re thinking… 5 weeks in Bali! Sounds very Eat, Pray, Love of me! And mostly just sounds like an incredible experience, but this is about more than a trip to paradise. It is about diving deeply into a practice that has helped me immensely over the years, rediscovering who I am and who I want to be (at the risk of sounding like a quarter-life crisis). If I choose the Bali program, I’m choosing what appears to be the most challenging and most intense program of the three. Intense challenges usually prove to be the most rewarding as well. But I have to ask myself if I’m ready for this step, if I’m ready to discover, and if I’m ready to be gone for 5 weeks to take on this challenge.

In these questions lies an incredible truth… I actually think that it’s Bali or bail. If I’m not ready to dive that deeply then I should question my intentions of pursuing any type of training program. If I let go of the fear, then bailing on my dream is not an option.

I can’t wait for it to unfold!

This picture was taken in January 2012 at Big Bear Lake, CA. Standing in tree just feels right! Love that Gouda made a cameo in her argyle!

Happy 7th of July Housewarming party!

It was finally time, time to invite our new friends into our house, only made warm by the 30-some bodies in the apartment and not the small heater trying to override the frigid weather outside. We (I mean Joe… all the credit goes to Joe) asked our guests to dress “American” in honor of the 4th of July holiday that just passed. I flew in on the 4th, so the day didn’t actually seem to exist for me, so it was nice to feel a little patriotic while creating star-shaped watermelon slices for my fruit salad! This was our début as hosts in our new city… and I think it was a success (although the cleaning of the aftermath was less desirable).

Impressed by our international friends’ keenness to mimic our American fashion (or lack of), we awarded best-dressed to our Aussie friends Pat and Sean! In close second, Ally from Ireland who found an incredibly patriotic American Flag tie-dye skirt for the festivities. But anyone who shows up to our party wearing a Obama jersey purchased in Ghana while on a bike tour around Africa wins in my book. We also had hearty servings of baseball caps, sweat pants, and sports jersey’s. Apparently this is what we look like America! Here are some pics to indulge you:

 

Back Home

I just got home from being home… yea, it confuses me too. Leaving LA the first time was a little easier knowing I’d return in a couple of months for work. The much-anticipated trip back to Los Angeles came along quickly and walking into my office building felt like a completely natural work day… almost as if no time had passed since I left over two months ago. I went back to LA to finish up my work projects at USC. The week went by quickly with some time to see friends and catch up with colleagues (who are obviously also friends… no sense in separating the two). I soaked up the sun and then said goodbye again. Being back was both hard and reassuring. It is hard to leave friends, family again but I wanted to come back to Melbourne. Not only because Joe was here eating instant noodles for two weeks, but because this trip meant cutting off the last commitment back in LA. With work done, I could dive into my next step in Melbourne without hesitation.

California dreamin’

Feeling slightly vitamin D deficient, I soaked up as much sun as I could during the times I wasn’t in the office (while being sun smart and using sunscreen of course). Since we liquidated our lives in April, I was car-less in a city that is just starting to know the meaning of public transit, so my amazing friends lent me their convertible car for the week! As I drove down the 405 with the top down, I wondered to myself how and why I never had a convertible in LA. Will be on the must do list when we return I guess!

I wish I had more photos from my meet ups in LA, but with no camera in hand and an iPhone with no service in the states, I was at the mercy of others for picture memories for the first part of my trip. I finally invested in a nice digital camera that paid off later on!

Dinner with the group! Some much-needed Mexican food and Margaritas!

Work trip to the Getty Museum during our tour of LA where I played tour guide to a group from around the Pacific.

Cutest ever (missed your Ry!) excited about their boxing Australian kangaroos.

The last frontier

Bring back state-side, I was able to get some much needed family time in (both with the Guintu and the Flores clans). My brother has lived in Alaska for the last two years and I am embarrassed to say that this was my first time up for a visit. The long over due trip took my parents, Tia Alicia, and I up to the beautiful last frontier.

The climate is harsh, the landscape is rugged, but South East Alaska it is an undeniably beautiful part of our country. With bald eagles nestled in the trees as if they were ordinary birds, salmon fishermen geared up in their Xtra Tuffs (the must have rain boot in Alaska… or gummies as they are referred to here in Melbourne), and black bears roaming the paved streets of town, Ketchikan has a lot to offer the nature obsessed. The vast rainforest reproduces on top of itself and the snowcapped mountains are the perfect backdrop to the picturesque town. It was an absolutely incredible place to spend time with family and take in all that the area has to offer.

  

Beautiful Bald Eagles in the Alaskan wild.

Grown Bald Eagle (left), adolescent bald eagle (right) waiting for salmon scraps near dusk.

Alaskan staple, Xtra Tuff rain boots. If you want to make a fashion statement then you’d wear yours with a cute dress!

An incredible sighting of a black bear with her two cubs on our first night in Alaska!

  

A visit to the Totem Bright State Historical Park full with a clan house and amazing historic art.

Ketchikan, Alaska is a port to many Alaskan cruises. But this special family treatment is hard to come by.

My bearded Alaskan brother was the perfect guide (and fishing buddy to my dad) for our Alaskan adventure. Pictured here with my awesome parents and me. My aunt, cousins and friends also helped make the trip an incredible memory! Thanks for taking the time to feed us delicious food and showing us your beautiful part of the state!

 

Furnishing our city pad

The first (of hopefully many design inspired posts) is finally here! I have been up to some home DIY projects to stretch our furnishing budget while making our apartment fashionably livable (and finding reasons to fill my days with treasure hunts and occasional paint fumes).

I quickly discovered the Craigslist equivalent in Melbourne (gumtree.com.au for those who are new to the city)! Gumtree, Ebay, and the dreaded trips to IKEA have helped in creating the modern industrial meets cozy vintage look I wanted for our loft-like city space. My first project: Repurposed Pallet Coffee Table (thanks pintrest for the inspiration!)

How to create yours in 5 easy steps:

You’ll need:
1 Pallet
1 Liter of clear polyurethane (or stain in the color of your choice)
1 medium-sized paint brush (for water based paint)
4 caster wheels
16 wood screws
Power drill (unless you have a lot of elbow grease to contribute)
Orbital sander
1½ Dedicated DIY days

Step 1: Find (or buy) a used pallet.

I found mine when I was picking up another ebay purchase! It was sitting on the sellers front porch and since they were moving out of the country I thought I’d be considerate and offer to take the pallet off their hands. I offered to buy it but they were so happy (and perplexed) that someone would want an old, ugly pallet that they threw it in for free! If you’re not having the same pallet finding luck, many warehouses sell used pallets… a simple google search will help you find yours!

Step 2: Prep!

If you don’t have the luxury of working outdoors, make sure you have a well-ventilated space. Put a large tarp on the floor and open your windows before you get started. If you’re working outside, I’m jealous!

Prep the pallet by giving it a good cleaning. It was probably a functional warehouse tool in its former life, but the dirt and grime from whatever bundles it carried have no place on your beautiful table.

Step 3: Sand, sand, sand!

Pallets are generally not very pretty, but a few rounds with an orbital sander will reveal a new life for your pallet. I sanded the top of the pallet using a medium grain paper with my orbital sander 3 times, until the surface was as smooth as possible. The nature of the wood is still imperfect, but I think that makes it an even more attractive piece. You just want to make sure that you don’t run the risk of leaving any ragged, splinter causing surfaces on the wood so sand away! After you finish sanding, wipe the sawdust off the pallet with a damp cloth to make sure you have a clean surface ready for painting (I would vacuum the area around the pallet as well to avoid dust particles from getting in to your stain or paint.

Step 4: Clear coat polyurethane.

Now it’s painting time! Get yourself a good brush and you’ll be able to reuse it for all your DIY adventures. I used a clear polyurethane for my pallet (again, loving the imperfections in the wood and I wanted the natural colors to show through), but you can opt for different wood stains based on your décor preference. When painting, be sure not to overload your brush with paint. Dip the brush in the paint can and let the excess drip back into the can by gently wiping the brush against the side of the paint can (similar to painting your nails). Taking the brush in the same direction of the wood grain, apply one thin coat at a time. I found it easier to do half of the pallet first and then move around to finish the other side. Applying thin coats is key! You also want to make sure you wait at least 2 hours before applying a second coat (and possible 3rd if needed). Don’t forget to cover all the visible sections of the pallet with your stain, that means getting the inside of the lower wood slab as well.

Then… wait! I know the feeling… I get eager about finishing projects too! It is best to wait a full day before touching the fresh surface and moving on to step 5.

Step 5: Attach wheels and enjoy!

Now that the stain is perfectly dry, flip your pallet upside down to reveal the four corner studs (aka new home for the wheels). Castor wheels come in all shapes and sizes. I used large grey wheels with built-in brakes that I found at the local home improvement store (I really wanted the all metal industrial looking ones but they were $25 each, so in the interest of saving some cash, I went for the less expensive rubber ones at $12.50 a pop). Using the power drill, screw on the wheels with your wood screws. Make sure the screws go in straight to avoid them from poking out on the side of your table.

Flip and Enjoy! You’ve created a conversation starting centerpiece for your room! Put some great books on it and enjoy it!

Everyone who comes into our place comments on the table! It has truly become a staple in our living room. I surrounded it with a mix of textures and seating to create an inviting and functional living space. My new texture obsession: sheepskin rugs! They don’t always have to go on the floor either… I added one to my black Barcelona love seat to soften the look of the black leather and chrome legs. The juxtaposition of the soft sheepskin with the burlap pillows I made from recycled coffee sacs make for an interesting aesthetic and easy comfort. I centered a geometric rug in the room (a great non-IKEA-looking IKEA find!) to add some color and repeated the metal accents throughout the room with the TV stand and a tray I fashioned as an industrial modern yet global remote control holder. Finished product: a come hang-out in me and feel awesome space!

Land of Luon

Those who know me know of my lululemon passion, obsession really. Naturally, upon arriving I scoped our the lululemon scene in the city and was happy to find that a store was conveniently situated right next door to my gym. One day after a workout, I made a quick visit to the store to indulge in a strictly viewing pleasure. In my usual workout attire, I walked in head to toe luon and one of the friendly faces in the store greeted me by asking, “Do you work at lululemon? or are you just a big fan.” My response, “No, I don’t work here, but I wish I did.”  Little did I know that was as easy as it was to open the door… just know what you want, ask for it and you will create change in your life.

I’m on my way to my lululemon group interview! I’m so excited for this! I’ve been dreaming about this opportunity for months. As soon as I knew I’d be leaving behind my University job, I knew my next career step would take me in a different direction. I hope it’s headed to a land of luon! The company is so current. A seamless blend of functional clothes that make you look and feel hot and a creative culture that embodies design thinking mentality to empower and motivate their community. I’ve been a part of the lululemon community for a couple of years now and never looked back. The company stands for so much more than yoga pants… It pushes the boundaries of meritocracy and empowers their employees to pursue goals beyond the company. Hope this is the start of something great!

Moving in… for real this time

Our house arrived! Well most of its household goods and wardrobe essentials at least. I’ve been wearing the same three outfits for almost two months. I almost can’t imagine why anyone would need this many clothes… And shoes. Did that just come out of my mouth? Backtrack… I think I’ll enjoy the outfit diversity again!

6 hours later…

Unpacking done! Everything is in its place! I’ve never been a fan of unpacked boxes with things just waiting for a home lying around. So I got to work quickly and had everything put away before Joe got home from work. With the pots in the (small yet functional) cupboards, clothes hung in the closet, and toiletries tucked neatly away in the bathroom, the apartment instantly feels more complete. Things are feeling a little more like home. Pictures to come soon!

Queen Victoria Market

We finally made it to the Queen Victoria Market this weekend. I can’t believe it took me over a month to walk 15 minutes to a market full of bliss! Heaps of baskets full of fresh produce with a great organic section welcomes you into the food market. Stalls of cheeses and olives and fresh organic breads line the inside of the deli. The fish, poultry, and meat market has everything from Tasmanian salmon to blue crabs to any cut of meat you could dream up.

The market is also great for those cheap nick nacks you never knew you couldn’t live without (like a nail drying fan for $2!). Coffee and lunch? Yup, you can grab that too! Other stores filled with candles and aboriginal art line the northern perimeter of the market as well.

I can’t believe I didn’t bring my granny cart (I finally got one) to this amazing place! My nearly daily trips to Woolworths are ending here… I found my shopping place!

What’s for dinner? Well cheese and wine of course. It was reminiscent of the time Joe and I spent in London in January of 2007. One night, Joe got to the flat after work and I prepared a cheese platter of decadent creamy goodness that I picked up at the market. We sat down, opened a bottle of wine and Joe said, “thanks, this is great! What’s for dinner?” We’ve enjoyed many wine and cheese dinners ever since.

One month away, one month here

It is hard to believe we’ve been in Melbourne for a month! We left our house, our friends, our family, and our pups over a month ago. Coming home to a cold and empty apartment leaves things feeling very unsettled. I suppose it takes a while to rebuild everything we had back home, but I wish there was an easy way to pop-up our life, like one of those self erecting camping tents, but just in a different location.

Our shipment should arrive in another couple weeks, so I’ll have my pots, pans, and picture frames to make our new place feel a bit like our old. Living without the material comforts of home and being away from our families (friends included) means it’s just us… the hubs and I to bother each other, lean on each other, and grow closer as we figure out our new life. I am incredibly lucky to have my best friend beside me through it all and experience the frustrations and excitements together… and skype and google voice (p.s. U.S. friends, you can text my old number for free!) to stay connected to home.