Sunday, November 8, 2009

Varuna Writer's Retreat

More on this one when the article is published...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Cup of Goodnes Called Jo

I've just cyber stumbled on the most lovely blog. I'm using a different computer today and the settings are linked with Erin's favourite pages. I was having a nosey around and found A Cup Of Jo . It's just delightful and inspiring. I've done a little research and turns out she is Blogger Extraordinaire - her blog is "ranked by Technorati as one of the top 500 blogs in the world". I don't know who Technorati is but they seem to know what they are talking about!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Couple of Travel Pieces

I thought I'd upload a couple of travel pieces..

Some stories from the International Herald Tribune, click here and here

To see a story on Ningaloo Reef click here

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tree of Life

Having recently turned 28, my folks very generously brought me an Electra Tree of Life bicycle. I'm picking it up tomorrow and can't wait. I couldn't help but blog about it before it happened. I have so many plans for my new baby. I already have a modelling career mapped out for it. It will star in a photo shoot this week and then spend the summer up in Pearl Beach. It's going to be a busy little bike. I've decided to call her Jane, simply because I'd like one day to have a dog called Tarzan.
Then I can tell my friends that "Tarzan and Jane will be coming!".

Jane was concieved at Bike Depot in Enmore. Ask to speak to the lovely Chris.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Green Blog - New York Times

When I started to write this piece for The New York Times, I didn't realise what a big deal it was. As far as I could tell, no Australian media outlet had picked it up. Which, in itself was a worry. As I did the research and the phone calls, it dawned on me - what are our elected Ministers actually doing? We as citizens, elect a Government who are supposed to serve and service our country. But when I tried getting a comment from three different environmental ministers, not one of them would comment! This is a HUGE environmental issue, yet no one had anything to say...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New York Romance makes it to The New York Times

Image: Jack Atley

I recently had an article published in The New York Times real estate section. However, the most charming part was their 'meeting story'. Below are some of the wonderful moments that happened in the interview but didn't make it to print.

...When a little pop-up chat box appeared on Alex’s computer screen in a Williamsburg loft in New York City of October 2003, little did he know he’d be married 10 months later.

At the time, Alex was working towards his PHD and had a thriving social life, but wasn’t meeting the right type of girls. Alex remembers “It [JDate] was perfect because I was really busy and JDate was time effective. It was so easy I could set up an experiment and plan for it to finish by 6pm

Romy and Alex’s internet relationship began with emails but soon blossomed through the wires and they would sit and chat to each other for hours. Alex says “we were like pen pals – there was no romance, we started off as friends”. At the time they were both dating other people. After the phone calls started to exceed 5 hours, Alex thought, maybe it’s time to meet.

Alex looked online to see the cost of tickets to Australia – but they were expensive. All the cheaper ones were going quickly. In fact, by the time he went to his wallet to pay for one, it had already disappeared. So when another one came up, he bought it without thinking twice. It then dawned on him that I hadn’t even discussed it with Romy! He thought “Oh no! What have I done?” This was Alex’s first big international trip outside of Israel.

Alex left a message on Romy’s phone saying he’d booked a ticket to Australia. Romy listened to it about “5 or 6 times” and thought “What am I going to do with this guy?” She recalls the wild situation saying “all my friends thought I was mad. My best friend thought I was an idiot”.

Alex flew half the way round the world for their first date – an expensive one at that –but it didn’t take him long to realize what a treasure he had found.

From the beginning it was comfortable and organic. After a month together, Romy decided to go to Israel with Alex. They spent their first Passover together and went to Paris for a few days.

By the time they returned – they were both head over heels – and Alex proposed.

Alex thought it was either “we would get married or say goodbye and I wasn’t ready to say good-bye” .

The fairytale was just beginning. Romy went back to Melbourne to pack her belongings. She quit her job, sold her car and moved to New York.

Alex found an apartment in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn and Romy quickly found a job at the New York Post in the IT Department as a Project Manager.

After 3 years in the City together, they started to find New York draining and not uplifting anymore. It was taking more than it gave. They both decided that Sydney was doable with an easy lifestyle and an amazing energy.

The Time Line

October 2003 – Start chatting on JDate
Feb 2004 – Alex arrives in Melbourne
March/ April 2004 – They both fly to Israel
June 1st 2004 – Romy moves to New York
August 3rd 2004 – Married
Dec 2005 – Visit Australia
Jan 2006 – Arrive Back in New York
March/April 2006 – Decide to live in Sydney
Dec 2006 – Move to Sydney (The day before Alex submits his last thesis for his PHD)
August 3rd 2009 – 5th year marriage Anniversary.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Street University

In December 2008, the Ted Noffs Foundation and the University of New South Wales launched Australia’s first ever Street University. While on international tour, famed hip-hop group ‘Public Enemy’ performed at the launch party and cut the inaugural ribbon.

The Street University is a place where young people are able to walk in off the street and take courses in anything from basketball to biology. Housed in a massive converted warehouse in Liverpool, the space has several classrooms decked out with top of the line Mac computers, recording studios, a basketball court, a graffiti wall where individuals are encouraged to express themselves, a prayer room, a library and a cafe run by young people and their families.

Last week students from the Street University marched in protest to the Liverpool Council to show their dismay against the possible closure of the Casula Legal Walls.

Many students from the Street University use the public creative spaces to depict their experience, their dreams and their hopes for the future.

The council has deemed these walls as vandalism and thus is threading to close them down. No only will it be a loss for young creative individuals, it will take away the community atmosphere that the youth have created in Liverpool.

The Street University educates young people who are at risk of being involved with drugs, alcohol, crime or homelessness. The marginalized youth are able to re-educate themselves surrounded by scholars, experienced teachers and caring individuals.

The Street University and its family of volunteers provide a new way of thinking and learning to those who would otherwise be turned away. It is a place of discovery, determination and opportunities.

The Street University is total goose-bump territory. I'm so proud to say that we have something like this in Sydney, Australia.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Blessing in Disguise

What do Thomas Edison, Tom Cruise and Walt Disney have in common?

They are famous, well accomplished, influential and Dyslexic.

As individuals they are the personification of success in their beloved professions, colleges are named after them, they have engravings in the Hollywood Walk of Fame and holiday destinations linked with their personalities. There is nothing backward, nor disadvantaged about them.

It’s been 10 short years since I graduated from High School. When I received the reunion invitation - I realised I hadn’t thanked the teachers enough for their kindness, educational support and encouragement. I set out to write each teacher a thank you letter. Many of the teachers were from my primary years. As I wrote the letters it occurred to me that these teachers were the mentors and leaders that led me through my most challenging educational years. I was slow to read and even slower to write. I couldn’t spell to save my life and my times tables were a simple guessing game.

I was lucky. My parents were both well educated, medical savvy and had the money to spend on outside educational tutoring. I was very sporty, so my afternoons were spent playing tennis, swimming and running. After these activities my mother would schlep me from me tutors address to the next. By the end of the week I was exhausted from brain overload and physical fitness fatigue. I think I had the same amount of tutors as teachers at one stage.

After taking many IQ tests my family and I realised I had something called Dyslexia. In the late 80’s it seemed very little was known about it. I remember my parents earnestly coming home from learning seminars and talking to me things like I was a moron. I remember my mother clapping a lot and my father talking slowly. This didn’t last long, as they knew I was smart, creative and thoroughly involved with all my peers. It was just when someone asked me my left from my right, I didn’t have an answer.

My primary years swung by and my high school years shot past. Once I graduated high school – in the top 10% of the state, I finally proved to myself that Dyslexia was not a wallowing wound but rather the greatest blessing in disguise. I worked harder, longer and smarter. Naturally, I compared myself to my peers and when they were doing better – I competitively strived to outshine them. My best friend was probably the smartest person in the grade. She duxed Art and Drama and got a total score of 99.6% in her HSC. So my standards were high. I was at a private school too, so generally it was competitive but by that stage I didn’t mind. I was thriving.

The profession I chose is surprising to some, considering my spelling is shocking. But thanks to spell check and several sub-editors - I’m a confident writer and journalist. Sometimes spelling mistakes slip though the lines and I get told off. But I live with it. Just as those that have asthma and have to put up with it, I too live with – Dyslexia.

I used to be embarrassed to say that I have it. But most people guess once they see my scribbled writing and back to front letters. Now, I joke about it and find that’s really the easiest way to be. After all I have made something out of my life and used my small struggle to accomplish all that I have wanted to (and more).

Last week, The New York Times tracked me down and requested an article. Not quite an engraving in the Hollywood Walk or Fame or a destination named after me, but in my own small way –I’ve made it!

**I've just started giving talks through an organisation called Circles of Learning

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Me on 3

Nothing more can be said - this is my ABC3 Application

Chic and Cheap

Sydney put on a beautiful display of weather yesterday. Not a cloud is site; the harbour was calm, charming and begging to be played with. So what better activity to do, than paddle a kayak to Nelson’s Bay and down a couple of beers and bite into a burger. My friend, Mat a visitor from overseas was ready and rocking for a ride in the harbour. We set out from Rose Bay, renting the kayaks from the boat shed. Our original idea was to paddle to Watson’s Bay, but by the time we made it to Milk Beach (40 minutes) we thought our exercise for the day was done. We hid our kayaks under a tree and walked to Nelsons. It’s a beautiful 15 minute coastal walk to the next beach. At the local café we had the most delicious lunch. The seagulls were squawking, mums and bubs walking the promenade in bikinis and tourists jollying along. We sat and watched the waves splash effortlessly against the sand. When the day was over, it felt like we’d spent an afternoon hanging out by the French Rivera. It was a little chic on the cheap.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sketching the imaginary

Being missed is a wonderful feeling. What isn’t wonderful - is missing a delicious dinner with best friends. Although, this happened some months ago, I’m still incrediblely touched by what my best friends did. At the beginning of this year, only weeks after returning to Australia, I logged onto Facebook to see I had been tagged in a photo. When I opened the link I was startled! There was a drawing of me. It was the most beautiful gesture anyone has ever done for me. The image was just like me, with coloured in blue eyes and pink lips. My good friends from the International Herald Tribune had cooked a feast and wanted to include me somehow. Even though I was a million miles away. There were photos of me at the table, eating desert and drinking wine! I felt like I was part of the action. At the time I was looking for a job in Sydney. So I spent many hours sitting in cafes jazzing up my resume. Every waiter that brought me coffee was privy to seeing these photos on Facebook. One guy liked it so much, he asked for my number! I want to thank my smart, generous and funny friends who truly are the best a girl could ask for!
My Girls! Me, Rosa*, Ciara.. xox

* Lil Rosa is out blogging herself at a rate of two - obviously all about food. That's my girl!
** Cuddly Ciara is a staff blogger here

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Breath Taking Moments

There is nothing like waking up to goose-bump good news. The moment Barack Obama was elected it was like the world changed forever. It was a moment in time that needed to be stored. Interning at the International Herald Tribune in Paris at the time, it allowed me as an Australian to appreciate the experience on an entirely uplifting and unique level. I was surrounded by Barack Obama loving Americans. It's not often that news breaks which sends Reporters, Journalists, Copy Editors and Bureau Chiefs into complete and utter bubbling excitement.

In an attempt to treasure this moment, I had the newspapers from this historic day framed. One day when I'm old and gray they'll hang on the walls in my study and I'll say to my grandchildren "I was working on that paper the day the world changed forever!"

A couple of days ago I was looking through my diary from my first few days at the International Herald Tribune. I thought I'd include a snippet below.

"Entering The International Herald Tribune, on first glance is like entering a home of aging geriatrics. Grey haired men, with slopping bifocals are hunched over their computers, tapping away on keys like their life depends on it. One particularly old man with a protruding bump on his bald head - sits in the corner, coughing loudly. I’m waiting for a nurse to pop out of a door and bring him his medication. But, this I discover is not rare here at the IHT. Through the summer months of July to September, ‘Summer Soldiers’, retired employees from the New York Times voyage over and work at Parisian head quarters, while the ‘usual suspects’ take vacation.Over my couple of weeks here at IHT, I have come to adore these old men. They bring a rich journalistic history to the paper, which I probably wouldn’t have been privy to otherwise. Nor, would I find a younger editor with the time to tell me the stories these men share. One of my favorites is Irv Molotsky, an endearing man in his mid-70’s, who reminds me of Mr Beaver from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Irv gushes with delight when I come to give him the paper ‘dummies’. He’s been retired for 12 years, and been a ‘Summer Soldier’ for most of that time. A visit to him downstairs is like a trip back in time, hearing snippets about journalism life as a young man in New York city. But IHT isn’t all about octogenarians and random observations like the A4 size picture of George Clooney on the notice board reading the International Herald Tribune on his yacht in the South of France. It’s an experience like no other – a learning curve so high that I’m scared to jump off. With each day, new surprises and circumstances arise – they hit me like a hurricane, with just enough time to stand up and recover, there is already something new to learn. With barely enough time to catch my breath, I’m on the next stage of my 6-month internship here. Each day starts out at 3.30pm with half an hour to get prepared for the official news meeting for the day. This meeting pretty much determines what the paper will be producing over the next 5 hours. May I add the tightest deadline I have ever had to work to. The meeting starts with Marty Gottlieb (usually) giving an encouraging speech and raising the moral of the team. I’ve sat in on a few news meeting rooms before, but I have never seen a Global Editor like this who has such respect and admiration for the people he is managing. The feelings are obviously mutual. I noticed this when recently one of the News Editors retired and throughout his farewell speech he kept glancing at Marty and tears where in his eyes. Marty is warm, friendly and a quintessential New York Editor. He comes to work every day looking like he's walked out of the film All the President’s Men. He makes the perfect team, working along side Alison Smale, the Editor. She was declared by the Times as one of the most influential Editors in Europe. Her experiences as a journalist are unbelieveable and ore inspiring. Her resume spans the documentation of the fall of Communism in the Soviet bloc and the Czechoslovakian revolution that made Vaclav Havel president, to name just a few. Just being in these offices is special, from seeing how the pages are churned out and from watching how last minute changes can determine an increase in sales for that day. It’s exciting, yet raw and real. Although I have not had the opportunity (nor the time) to write (yet), I feel that I am in the right place and stand in good stead for when the time is right. There are parts of the web, which interns are encouraged to contribute to and the younger employees (yes – there are some!) are really helpful and optimistic. It’s great to be in a place that really has its finger on the pulse and some of the best writers/editors in the world working for it."

** I eventually wrote for the IHT and now freelance for the New York Times - yay!

*** The newspapers were framed in Sydney by Alex Holden ( who was lovely to work with and professional. Plus very reasonable! Thanks Alex.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rocking Chair

I recently had to fill out a couple of forms and was asked “What was my most precious possession?”. It didn’t take me long to realize my most prized possession was the rocking chair my grandmother left me. After she passed away in 2007 I was left with a few of her belongings. One of these was this very rocking chair. After reupholstering it in a crème and sailor blue coral print purchased from France, I rediscovered my love for the chair. At the moment it sits in my parents lounge room with some of their most prized possessions. In a room filled with beautiful furniture it seems that someone always finds their way to my grand mother’s rocking chair – and I just know she’s looking down from above.

The Chuppah

I created this chuppah for my sister and her husband Rob while I was living in Paris last year. I was inspired by the beautiful autumnal colours of France. I purchased all the fabrics from La Pigalle, which was luckily around the corner from my apartment in Montmartre. The chuppah symbolizes the home and life the couple will build together. For this reason I wanted to use the tree of life as a metaphor for something that will continue to blossom over time. I loved creating the holy canopy and bringing a personal touch to the day. I showed it to my sister a week before the wedding, but Rob only saw it on the day. I will always cherish the moment he looked up and lost his breath. Every month spent sewing, quilting and sourcing fabrics was worth it!

(This is one of the lovely warehouse type stores I purchased from