What I really think about England

Copy of How to Survive the Visa Process

Dear England,

One year ago I stepped off the plane at 1 am and stumbled my way into the long customs line. I was leaving my family and friends & the drawn out, stress filled visa process behind and spider monkey jumping into the arms of my goofy English man. I thought it was my happy ending or maybe my happy beginning.

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This was not my first international move, but my fourth. My fourth time choosing to start over in a new country.

This time felt different.

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WCW: Allyson Wettengel

February is the month of love and I made you wait all month for this lovely #WCW. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Ally.

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The first time I went down to Bondi Beach for a free yoga event I had no idea what to expect. When I got there there were about 250 people there and I didn’t know a single soul. It was Ally’s first time ever teaching after her yoga teacher training and her familiar American accent and bubbly personality caught my attention right away. (One of us. One of us.) She took us through an awesome practice and shared such vulnerable pieces of her life story. After this experience I decided I would come back because she said there was free yoga at One Wave’s events every Friday. I quickly realized it was not just yoga but a whole non profit organization and community dedicated to breaking the stigma against mental health.

Slowly but surely Ally turned from my yoga teacher into my good friend but I felt like I knew her much more than she knew me because a yoga class with Ally is like experiencing part of her soul. She is such an incredible story teller and weaves themes throughout her classes in a way I’ve never seen someone else do. She is someone I am genuinely so grateful to know and I know that anyone who knows her feels the same. Thank you Ally, for shining your light in this world. For being vulnerable, strong, independent, funny and most of all caring. Your friendship and yoga teaching has inspired me in so many ways I’m not sure I could ever explain them all. I’ll let Ally take it from here so you can get to know her too.

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WCW: Veronica Drayton

2018’s first WCW is an extra special one. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.
Meet Veronica. 
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I met Veronica when my very first #WCW of the series, Hollie, invited me to The Goddess Group picnic in Sydney. Not only did I get to spend time with the founder of the Goddess Group, Melissa Ambrosini, but I also got to meet all of the wonderful women who had been attending the groups.
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Veronica and I got along right away because of those North American vibes! I was drawn to her beautiful tattoos and her kind but very commanding personality. We were the last people at the picnic and took the bus and train together so we had the maximum time to chat. Anyone who can willingly talk as much as I can instantly gets brownie points in my book. We connected on many levels and I remember getting off the train and thinking, “I really like that girl. I hope we become friends.”  Unfortunately I met Veronica shortly before I had to leave Sydney but I got the opportunity to attend one of her Detox Your Life workshops and she sparked a new love for essential oils in me and strengthened my love for meditation. Luckily after I left Sydney, we have remained in close contact with social media and the interwebs.

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A Slice of England: Beyond London

 

I came to England for the first time in August to meet my partner’s family and travel in Europe for the summer. My partner and I decided to stay longer term and I’m hoping to make it my home now(after a few months of sorting out my visa.) Many people think London as soon as you say England, but just like New York is much bigger than New York City– England is much more diverse than London. London is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but newsflash to my American peeps..  I don’t live in London. I am definitely not an expert on England and I still have tons of places I want to visit but I am going to share with you the gems I’ve discovered since living in Southern England for the last four months! When you plan your trip to England– explore a bit more and see what else this historical and adorable country has to offer.

Glastonbury– This was my first stop when I came to England because it’s my partner’s hometown. It is most famous these days for the huge Glastonbury music festival so most people know the name but haven’t been there when there aren’t 100,000 others lined up in tents raving for five days.

The town itself tiny- it’s colorful, charming and very spiritual. The history runs very deep.The streets are lined with crystal shops, vegan and vegetarian cafes and hippie clothing stores. Right in the center of the town are the Glastonbury Abbey ruins– a former monastery from the 7th century that was burned down in 1184. Christian legends claim the abbey was founded in the 1st century by Joseph of Arimathea.  Another famous landmark in Glastonbury is the Tor. You can see the giant hill with Saint Michael’s roofless tower from miles away. It is said to be a very spiritual location linked to many myths about King Arthur and has a lot of other lasting mythological and spiritual associations. The hike up is steep but the view at the top is incredible.

 

Some of my favorite spots: The Chalice Well, Rainbow Cafe, Red Brick Building– morning yoga classes, brunch at the Boca Bar(which also turns into an amazing night out- think silent discos, live local music and art gallery & bubbles type events) and simply wandering down the high street peeking in all the crystal, book and charity shops and people watching– you will not be disappointed as the fairies, witches and quirky attire is plentiful.

Bath– I fell completely in love with England when I step foot in Bath. It is the definition of a quaint English town with so much character- it almost doesn’t even look real. When I first arrived in England everything looked miniature to me. The houses, cars, buildings, roads. When my partner’s mom picked us up from the airport(we were exhausted traveling from New Zealand) I woke up in a panic in the back seat because I thought we were driving down a one way street! I couldn’t believe how narrow the roads were, and that wasn’t even the worst of them!

Bath is most well known for its natural hot springs. There is a large museum at the site of the original Roman-era Baths with many ancient artifacts, statues and temples. They have audio guides you can get more detail and it’s easily accessible for museum goers like me. I definitely want to see it but I don’t want to spend 2 hours at each exhibit. Quick and dirty is my approach for museums.

Some of my favorite spots:  the Botanical Garden and Royal Victoria Park, a picnic in front of the iconic Royal Crescent, Kennet and Avon Canal and just walking around exploring the amazing architecture, shops and cafes throughout the city. We only had a day there and I felt like we saw a lot but if you have more than one day there are many art galleries, fashion museums, history museums I have on my list for next time.

Bristol– This place is turning into the coolest city and county in South West England. While in England I have lived 30 minutes outside of Bristol(in a quriky little beach town called Weston-Super- Mare)  so I have been there quite a few times and everytime I discover something new to love about it. It has a bigger city feel but there are so many unique areas along the Bristol Harbour and adorable spots like Clifton. The arts are a plenty, the food is delicious and there is always something going on. I’m no expert but these are the places I have enjoyed so far

Clifton Suspension Bridge– In August right when I arrived we went to Bristol for the popular annual Balloon fiesta- bought a little picnic and climbed the hill to Clifton Observatory which has an incredible view of the bridge and the city! Unfortunately the windy weather lead to the balloons being cancelled but the view itself was magical!

Brunch spots– I’ve brunched a few times in Clifton. Proper brunch menus with avocado toast, eggs benny, and my personal fav shakshuka. Primose Cafe and Bistro on Boyce Ave has outdoor seating and very affordable brunch prices. The Crafty Egg was a cozy spot my friend introduced me to with an epic shakshuka and serious good vibes. The Grain Barge is an awesome converted barge that offers delicious brunch, pub grub, drinks and awesome views.

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Some of my favorite spots: people watching Queen Square, Arnolfini- an international arts center I saw the Grayson Perry exhibition, Street art- the birthplace of Banksy Bristol has tons of his work and many others scattered about the city. If you want to see more here’s an awesome guide.  Seasonal favorite was the German Christmas Market ( in November-December) and shopping/grabbing drinks along the harbor anytime of year.

Those are the main places I’ve frequented- but I’ve made awesome day trips to Wells, Burnham on the Sea, Sand Bay, Cheddar Gorge, Lyme Regis Beach,West Bay, Totness and Bantham Beach. All pictured below & worth checking out!

The most exciting part is this is only a tiny sliver of this beautiful country and I haven’t even explored the rest of U.K. yet. When you book your trip to England consider making your stay in London a bit shorter and get out there and explore. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Cheers mate. Happy travels! xxx

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New Years PLOT TWIST

Last year for my end of the year project I did a series of excerpts from 2016 blog posts and I loved how it turned out. I felt proud of my creativity and enjoyed reflecting on the year past. This year felt a bit different. Content, content, content. You have to give your readers good content. But sometimes, you simply aren’t sure what will be meaningful or useful to your readers. I will give you a summary of my reflection on 2017 and my intentions for 2018 based on the questions I found on Melissa Ambrosini’s blog, someone I really admire. One word to describe 2017 was unexpected and one word I want to describe 2018 is transformative.

It’s easier to reflect on the year when you feel really accomplished and proud. I can’t say that’s my gut feeling going into reflecting this year, but after I answered the questions and dug deeper into myself I realized I am extremely proud of myself.

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If you are new here or you need a recap, I started 2017 living in Australia, teaching part time at an English language college and running my coaching business as a part-time side hustle. After about 1.5 years in Australia, I finally found my true girlfriends and I was lucky to be a part of an awesome community One Wave. I was truly creating a community of my own networking with other travelers on a similar path. In February 2017, my partner and I got the news that our sponsorship visa had been denied and we had 28 days to leave Australia. We were shocked and I was actually heartbroken but my partner was determined to stay positive so we booked a trip to Bali and applied for a visa for New Zealand. We decided we would use this as a transition to hopefully make our way back to Australia.

Life seemed to have different plans for us. After 5 months in New Zealand we left for an epic long term travel adventure to America and Europe(mainly to meet each others families in America and England and other important events along the way.) Our two month trip was incredible. One of the best adventures I’ve ever had. By the end of it we felt called to stay in England and try to plant our roots here. Once again, we have the obstacle of a visa to face. I’ve spent September- January here in England on a tourist visa and I will return to America early next month to apply for my more permanent visa. This process will likely take a few months and there are no guarantees not to mention my partner and I will have to live separately for a few months. I am starting 2018 still in a transition period. This is my reality and to be quite frank, it’s not easy. 

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New Year, New You: Balance is a lie  

Some days I amaze myself, other days I eat hummus with a spoon and no pants. It’s all about that balance, right?

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Wrong. What if I told you balance is a lie. It’s a false ideology that you are never going to achieve and actually may cause you more heartache than inspiration. Well, that’s dramatic. But parts of it really ring true so let me help you shift your perspective a bit.

I wrote this blog post last night and I woke up early sat on my couch with my essential oils and my crystals and pressed play on the Calm app for my meditation as I do almost every morning. Each day has a theme and today’s was “Sharpening your Saw” I always wrack my brain for what it could mean  and then it’s always better than I expected. Oddly enough(you’ll laugh when you read the rest of this blog) the meditation was about balance. But the sharpening of the saw analogy is one I must share.

A woodcutter who was very busy cutting wood started with a very sharp saw. The more he cuts the more dull the blade becomes and the less efficient he is cutting wood. But he worries about stopping the process to sharpen the blade because he already has so much cutting to do. Little does he know stopping will actually maximize his efficiency and improve the process overall. She equated this to our self care practices. Often times we believe we don’t have time to exercise, meditate, go for walks or take a nice bubble bath. But stopping to “sharpen our saw” doesn’t waste time, it in fact allows us to have more energy for all our other responsibilities and relationships. It might seem like you are using your energy selfishly for self-care but truly it is the most beneficial thing we can tilt our time and energy into. Listening to this was eye-opening and reinforced the concept I am about to share with you.

About a year ago I read an article, by my beautiful and talented friend  Hollie, about tilting. I understood this concept for myself but I never knew it had a name. Hollie explained, “Tilting prioritises making choices each day depending on what is going on in that moment.”

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WCW: Jessica Rooney

It’s November 1st but I had to wait till Wednesday to bring you October’s WCW I have a special treat for you. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Jessica.

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Jessica and I met through a mutual friend, Ariella while we were all traveling in Bali. We are all a part of the Facebook community, Girls Love Travel and Ariella and I connected and had been virtual friends for a while when our paths finally crossed in Bali. We were all able to attend a yoga class together. When Jessica and I got to chatting poolside, Ariella was like “yeah, I think you two have a lot in common.” Somehow this escalated to an outdoor shower photoshoot for our Instagrams and I knew I loved her.

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A Slice of NYC: My tips on the Big City

Sitting down to write a blog post on NYC is pretty intimidating. I am originally from New York(the state) but I have very strong ties to New York City as it’s where my parents met and fell in love, many of my family members still live and arguably my favorite city in THE WORLD. How could you really give a must do list when you can honestly do anything and everything. This summer I got to play tourist(and tour guide) in NYC showing my adorable english boyfriend the ropes. I haven’t shut up about New York since we started dating almost two years ago so I had to blow his mind. Here is what we crammed into 5 days and some additional tips from my insiders who have lived in the city for a long time. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this article!!

Photo cred: @thereelnickbell

Accommodation: Luckily I don’t really have to worry about this one because I casually couch surf between my brothers, childhood besties and college besties who live all around the area. But I highly suggest getting out of Manhattan!

Public transportation is accessible and Ubers are everywhere. The prices will be much better a little further out. I prefer Brooklyn to any area in NYC. It has so much charm, good food, funky art, a fun nightlife and it’s much less crowded than Manhattan. Sure, go see the hussle and bussle but if you have more than a night or two I would recommend staying in Brooklyn to get a broader perspective of what New York has to offer.

Brooklyn spots: Brooklyn Promenade, walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Museum,  Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, A raging warehouse party(usually promoted by word of mouth), Brooklyn Barge, Brooklyn Brewery. Drop in for a yoga class at Yoga to the People.

 

 

Classic NYC spots: Central Park (go to the reservoir on E 90th St.) & Time Square- Awesome experiences but don’t spend all your time there!!! There is so much more to see. The Freedom Tower & 9/11 museum, Washington Square Park, Bryant Park. Shopping on 5th ave(head to Madison Ave for the same shops but less people.) 

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To those trying to do good anyway 


To the ones trying to do good anyway:

The world is a scary place-especially in this place we congregate with strangers behind screens. 

It’s easy to get discouraged with the state of politics, the current state of the environment, racism, and inequalities across the globe. 

But when you look for them they are there. The people spreading light, creativity and joy. 

The single moms working hard and slaying motherhood with a sense of humor and a glass of wine. 

The millennials who might be eating overpriced avocado toast but they are also changing womens lives with nonprofits in Africa. 

The surfer dudes who started a nonprofit raising awareness for mental health and are making serious waves in spreading the light. 

The teachers who are up late at night making crafts, grading papers and worrying about their students and still getting criticized every day. 

The friends who would go to the ends of the earth to help someone they barely know.

The business owner who is helping hundreds of people get out of debt and create a life of freedom. 

The elderly woman who is protesting because she knows one voice can make a difference. 

The mothers who take care of their babies, even if their babies are 6’2 with a mortgage and 3 kids. 

The eating disorder survivor who instead of hiding their story in shame, shares about it publicly in hopes to save a girl like their former self.  

The college student who volunteers their time at the nursing home, despite getting a bad rep as a drunk idiot by most of society. 

Sometimes their voices are faint. They are the light spreaders. They don’t seek attention. They don’t want praise. But they do good anyway. 

When you spend your time finding what is wrong with the world, all your time will be spent. 

It may seem hard to find them at times, but I promise you, the world is full of them. And it’s our responsibility to make their voices louder than the sounds of hatred, darkness and ridicule. 

The negative aspects of society won’t ever go away but there will always be those who are trying to do good anyway. 

Cheers to you- despite all the voices in your head that tell you otherwise- it’s worth it. You’re making a difference. Our world needs people like you. When you are tired, rest. But don’t forget that the world won’t change with force and hatred. It changes with light. Shine bright and keep doing good anyway. 

A slice of NOLA: New Orleans Must Dos

A Slice of NOLA: New Orleans Must Dos 

The first stop on my summer travels around the world was back to my home country but to a city I have never been before. Nawlins. NOLA. Whatever you want to call it. I heard so much about New Orleans and I was ecstatic to check it out. I was visiting for my company’s annual summit conference so over 25,000 people invaded the city and hundreds from my team. This threw in a lot of conference-ing into the mix our week there but nonetheless, we still explored the city, ate all of the things, listened to amazing live music, got lost on Bourbon street and left a little piece of our heart there forever.

Here’s a slice of our trip and some must-dos when you are planning yours–

Where to stay:

A big group? Garden District Mansions– I highly recommend checking out the houses in the Garden District on Airbnb. My team and I of 20 girls stayed in a gorgeous home that was spacious, clean, and a short Uber ride away from every area we wanted to go. Not to mention, it was absolutely STUNNING.

If you haven’t used Air Bnb before, use this link( www.airbnb.co.uk/c/susannaha11 to get 30$ off your first booking.

Even if you don’t end up staying there, make sure you wander around the Garden District and check all the houses. They are incredible. You can even take the old  fashioned tram that runs from downtown New Orleans to the Garden district if you don’t enjoy walking a lot.

Solo travelers– If you’re on your own or on a tight budget, I highly recommend staying at Garden District House Hostel. It is one of the nicest hostels I have ever stayed in. Super clean, safe, lovely fully furnished kitchen, outdoor backyard area and very helpful staff. My boyfriend and I stayed there before the conference started and I would gladly stay there again.

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Bourbon Street vs. Frenchman Street– If you ask a local, they will tell you to go to Frenchman Street. I highly recommend it. The music is unbelievable and the bars are fun and lively. Bourbon Street is like something out of movie. There are drunk people everywhere carrying their drinks to-go (Hello no open- container law), live music,  beads, food, crowds. We went one night and one night was enough for us. I think it’s worth it at least to experience it but I wouldn’t spend a lot of time there unless you’re into the college-frat boy-spring break type drinking scene- then you’ll love it.

The French Quarter– If you love architecture and funky buildings this is the spot for you. It’s the oldest spot in New Orleans and you can find tons of  hotels, bars, restaurants and shopping. I wish we spent more time here because it truly gives you the vibes of the city.

Jackson Square & St. Louis Cathedral– Right next to the French Quarter- Jackson Square is a bustling scene with street vendors, psychics, horse and carriages. Definitely stop into St. Louis Cathedral and check out the stained glass and incredible architecture. My friend and I actually got psychic palm & tarrot readings right outside the cathedral and it was absolutely mind blowing. I would highly recommend it. The spiritual vibes in New Orleans are very strong and they even do haunted ghost tours of the city (which friends of mine did and really enjoyed.) I’m not here to convince you, but if you’re into stuff like that I would love to share details of my psychic experience.

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