Time For A Healthier Grizzly Bear

Eva and AppleRecently many of you will have noticed some changes in the types of foods I’ve been blogging about, and those of you who follow my Facebook page, profile or Instagram account will have noticed a significant shift in the types of food I have been enjoying… particularly towards vegan, vegetarian and paleo foods. And though I am none of these things, I have in-fact recently started to rediscover my passion for the healthier things in life. And whilst my passion of food and cooking remains, the types of things I am looking to share with you are now inspired by my goal to find a healthy balance in my life… something that seems to elude so many of us.

As many of you know, I was born into a love filled Polish family where I was brought up on my mother’s freshly made traditional Polish food. To this day I can remember spending a lot of time in the kitchen watching my mum cook schnitzels and pumpkin soups. This kick started my love of food and cooking, which then led me to spend my childhood dreaming of becoming a chef and opening up my own cafe or restaurant. Though my passion for food developed early on, I was actually known to be one of the fussiest eaters around until I hit my twenties.

Porridge With Kiwi Fruit, Banana, Strawberries, Blueberries, Cinnamon, Chiaseeds and Ground FlaxseedsIn my early twenties I spend just over a year living in a vegan/vegetarian orientated household. This was initially a shock to my system, as I was coming from a home were meat, carbohydrates and butter were at the core of most meals. After a short period of time my body adjusted, and I found myself thriving on a whole new world of flavours and healthy dishes. I was exercising regularly and smiling every day. What I didn’t foresee happening was just how badly my body would react to all foods I use to enjoy so much when I moved back to my family home. But once again my body adjusted, my food habits shifted and I never did quite get back to that lively place I once stood.

Spicy Chicken, Green Bean, Carrot, Capsicum, Onion And Cauliflower Rice StirfryNow in my mid-twenties, I find myself looking back over the years and discovering that I’ve never truly had a healthy relationship with food. Over the years my relationship with food has seen me go through many things from thriving and smiling to being sick and depressed, from having great times and meet new people to exploring new passions and learning a lot. And alongside all that I’ve been critisised through it all. I’ve been told throughout the years that I’m too thin to be healthy, too heavy to model, too obsessed with health and fitness, and not caring enough in regards to finding myself malnourished. Every opinion under the sun, no matter how polarising, believe me when I say that I’ve been on the brutal and soul destroying receiving end of it.

I Love South Trigg BeachTaking those experiences and discussing them with the people currently in my life I’ve come to the realisation that unhealthy relationships with food, health and fitness are a very common trend. Over eating, under eating, undernourishment, unhealthy food choices, restricted eating, losing too much weight, gaining too much weight, poor body image, self loathing, eating disorders and so much more. If you can name it, I can probably find someone in my life that has or still struggles with it to this day… and I find that to be a sad and scary thing.

Tasty SaladSo as a result of my new found awareness I’ve decided to make some changes in my personal life, in an attempt to find a healthy balance in my life for the very first time. I’ve been training a lot more, making better food choices, and most importantly, I’ve learning about so many new and exciting things along the way. I hope you’ll stay with me on my journey as share with you some of the new foods, tasty restaurants and general health and fitness things I discover as I develop a truly healthy perspective on my life here in Perth.

All my love and wellness wishes. xx

PS. I recently managed to get my mum and dads taste buds enjoying my cauliflower rice, and that says a lot. Keep an eye out for my upcoming paleo stirfry recipe, because I think I might just be onto something here.

The 5 Workplace Skills (Attained From My Arts Degree) That Have Given Me A Competitive Advantage

6 years ago I commenced a 3 year university degree in contemporary performance. Since then I have finished my performing arts degree, taken a year to work and travel, set a career path and gone on to do a second degree in marketing and public relations. Having moved on from my arts degree and with my marketing and public relations path set I recently found myself jumping on the bandwagon of people picking apart my first degree calling it useless, a waste of time, a joke and an excuse to drink and joke away a couple years.

GraduationBeing a student in my mid-20s and working alongside 18 year olds I have recently noticed many of the traits art students are labelled with are actually quite common amongst all young students irrelevant of their degree. So why do art students cop so much flak? From my experience art students are seen as being lazy, non-contributing youths throwing away their lives. Whilst some of these traits may be true for some art students, the same can be said about many students in other fields. What many people fail to see is that a majority of art students are actually extremely passionate, hard working individuals who put countless hours of time and energy into their work. When an engineering student is up all night writing an assignment, an art student is up all night trying to edit their film. Whilst the law student is burying their head in books desperately reading, art students are burying themselves in notebooks desperately writing their stories. Whilst medical students are putting in hours or practical work, art students are putting in countless hours developing their theatre pieces.

As a performing arts student I have heard every misconception and offensive remark in the book. After years of listen to such comments I found myself developing a negative attitude towards my arts degree. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to take a step back and take an objective analysis of my first university degree and all the things it has taught and offered me. As it turns out, many of the useful skills and reasons I’ve been hired –or so I’ve been told – have resulted from my performing arts degree. Knowing and having spoken to a large number of people holding various arts degrees I have noticed many common traits pop up, many of which have proven to be of great value to any workplace.

The 5 Workplace Skills (Attained From My Arts Degree) That Have Given Me A Competitive Advantage

1. How to think out-of-the-box and solve problems in creative ways
This is a well valued skill in the workforce and one that is held by many art students. When it hits the fan in the workplace, this is when performing art students shine. When a proposal the boss requested is not working-out, the marketing plan was sent back or the budget was cut it is time for out-of-the-box thinking and creative solutions no one is better versed in such moment than a performing arts student who has had to think outside the box and be creative everyday of their life.

2. Communication and other skills associated with extroverts such as how to carry and present yourself in a confident and appropriate manner.
Public speaking skills and the poise required to excel in client meetings and represent the company well are both skills mastered by performing arts students. With essays an uncommon form of assessment, years of presentations, performances, speeches etc. have shaped art students into confident, well-spoken individuals.

3. Not to fret in the face of something is not working and being put on the spot. Rather than panicking when things go wrong an arts degree teaches people to view complications as an opportunity to explore, learn and discover the resolution. This attitude drilled in over many years mean that being put on the spot does not phase art students as their degrees have required them to think on their feet every day. Employers can be confident when thrown into the deep end of a board meeting or presentation with clients a performing arts student will shine as they artfully and confidently work their way through the minefield as well as all the things thrown at them that would normally phase a person. This is also the reason many performing arts students do well in interviews.

4. Knowing when and how to be a leader and knowing when to step back and work as a team.
Knowing when and how to lead a team is a great skill in a workplace, yet not being afraid to stand up and lead effectively is a surprisingly rare trait. Performing arts students have spent years actively working in groups and completely on their own. Projects such as being put into groups and asked to work as a team to develop a short performance on a theme is common. Such tasks require participants to step forward to lean and at certain times step back and allow others to lead. Knowing how to manoeuvre this without stepping on anyone’s toes, yet effectively contributing at the right times can be a tricky task, but not for performing arts students who have mastered this daunting skill.

5. How to prioritise, take responsibility for yourself, your own work and show initiative.
Having managed a retail store I very quickly learnt that initiative is not a common trait. Nothing frustrated me more than staff members who would always require direction and needed it step by step because I knew the moment I left their side I would return to find them standing around doing nothing when they could have been cleaning, spruiking or restocking the store. Knowing you do not have to baby sit your staff and that knowledge that everything will continue churning when you are not around is something bosses love. Performing art students learn this skill very early on. Thrown into the deep end from day one performing arts students are left on their own with direction to the extent of ‘you need to have a performance ready in X weeks’. Performing arts students are then left to their own means, no one chases them up, tells them when and how to do something. It is up to the student to use their initiative to put work in when it’s required, try new things when something isn’t working and hunt down the right people to ask for direction or advice when required. This is a well-honed skill that translates incredibly well into the workplace. When all the accounts are set, the minutes written and the event is planned by 3pm but the boss left at 2pm a performing arts student will use their initiative to go ahead get tomorrows filing done.

Now approaching the final year of a second degree I have already developed both my trade skill knowledge as well as the personal skills many people simply don’t have and if are lucky may begin to learn after years of experience on the job. It has also become apparent to me that in the ever more competitive job hunt when several people apply for a job employers have to distinguish them. As many people applying for positions hold the same trade skills –knowledge that may be obsolete in a few years– employers look beyond these common skills and naturally select candidates that will give the company a competitive edge. This is why individuals who have been taught how to observe, critically think and connect dots thrive in the workplace, individuals like performing arts students.

Friendships With International Students

When I was 19 and in the second year of my first university degree I had a life changing moment. It was my third week into the dullest class I’d transferred into –for a friend’s sake- when this Norwegian boy walked in. I didn’t know it then but that moment was going to spark a catalyst of change in my life. A couple weeks passed and something came over me. I thought to myself, how strange it must be to show up to a country on the other side of the world without knowing any of the people, the places or the culture itself. So at the end of class I walked up to him and gave him my number. I told him that if he didn’t know anyone and wanted someone to show him around Perth to let me… And sure enough he did.

As you can assume I had a car at the time and he didn’t, so one night I went to pick him up from the house he was staying in. I knocked on the door and when he opened it all I could see was a living room full of Norwegian boys. I don’t remember exactly where we went that night but I can remember grabbing beers at the Flying Scotsman in Mount Lawley –well I remember shouting him a Bulmer’s cider, and I think I grabbed a Little Creatures- and showing him the amazing views of Perth at night from Kings Park. I didn’t know it at the time but that night was the start of one of the most influential friendships of my life.

Not long after that night the four Norwegian boys became part of my family, along with a token Frenchman. We were so close that I basically lived with them for a year. They were my best friends, so much so that my mother –who no longer saw me- had invited them to our house for Christmas and Easter. My mum loved these guys so much that she would have adopted them if she could. For me it was a great time to be alive, not only because of the fun we had together but the things I learnt from the whole experience. These boys had come along at a crucial time in my life where I was slowly moving on from several toxic relationships/friendships. But as Geoffrey Chaucer said all good things must come to an end, and when these boys finally had to leave it was like breaking-up with a long-term boyfriend, only 5 times over. Worst of all they all left one at a time, making the process of saying good-bye harder again. So why would I ever put myself through that again?

Now 23 and in my second university degree I’ve noticed myself becoming friends with numerous international students more and more often without even realising it. Most recently –in the last 6 months- I’ve become good friends with two gorgeous girls -Laura from Germany and Megan from USA. I met Laura in one of my university classes, and Megan from another girlfriend (Chloe) who had met her at university and brought her along to one of our dinner parties. Sadly as always the time has now come for these great girls to leave Perth, but I foresee a lot of awkwardly timed Skype breakfast/dinner dates in our futures. But that’s okay, because one lesson I’ve learnt is that conversations with international friends are never dull. That’s one of the best things about making friends with international students, you all have years and years of personal stories and experiences to share, cultures to compare and different opinions and perspectives on the world.

The more I’ve become friends with international students, the more I’ve learnt to get out of the experience. I no longer hesitate to become true friends with them. I now automatically choose to get the most out of each of these friendships –something I’ve now adopted into my everyday life with every friendship- and treat it as if it were like any other. I find most people hesitate to become friends with international students as they are aware of the imminent end of the relationship and figure ‘why bother getting into something that is just going to end anyway’. I now struggle with this view as the way I see it a friendship with an international student is no different to any other. Friendships come, grow, and go. We make friends in primary school, high school, university and workplaces and many of those friendships are lucky if they last a year or two after we leave those institutes. Now in my 20s I can look back and see the various and numerous friendships and groups I’ve been part of… and truthful, it is quite a long list. Maybe my views on becoming friends with international students come from me being use to ever changing groups of friends, or possibly from having Polish parents and being part of the Polish community in Perth, Australia; Or maybe it comes from me having travelled all my life –meaning I’ve had to learn to let friends come and go.

I still remember to this day a great friendship I had with a handful of boys in Rawicz, Poland. Rawicz is my dad’s home town in Poland. It’s the kind of town and isn’t flashy in anyway and where everyone knows everyone and everyone’s business. When I was 15 –or so- I went to Rawicz with my dad, stay for quite some time. Of course, everyone was already anticipating my arrival before it happened, so everyone was already waiting for me when I arrive. It only took a day for me to meet the group of boys that lived in that area and just as quickly we became friends. I remember that first day, the feeling of being a stranger and it took me a day or two to start speaking to them. To be fair, I was 15 and had to speak Polish. I was petrified that I couldn’t speak fluently enough and would embarrass myself.

This was my real first experience of being on the other side of the international friendship line. We ended up spending every waking moment together. They were always waiting for me outside my apartment in the morning, after lunch and dinner. Truth be told we only ever parted for the odd meal; otherwise we were making volleyball nets out of trees from the forest and string, watching movies at one of the boys houses or just generally loitering around the town chewing on sunflower seeds and their shells.
The night I had to say goodbye was incredibly difficult. Our goodbyes went on for hours. It was my first real ‘goodbye forever’ experience. Adding to that it was also one of the boys 18th Birthdays and my first drunk experience. Not only did I have to say stand up straight and say goodbye to all my relatives, but I had to say goodbye to these four Polish boys and my younger cousin. As always they walked me home and then it started, I had to say goodbye to them all and of course they all wanted to say their goodbyes separately. I was the visitor, and I was the one leaving, yet the feeling of hurt and sadness was incredible.

The truth is though, saying goodbye does become easier the more you do it; or maybe the older you get, but it does get easier. This entire concept of enjoying what you have whilst you have it and make the most of it whilst you have it because you never know when it’s going to go away has now become part of my philosophy as a person and I like to think I’m better for it.

I asked a few of my girlfriends (Chloe, Elle & Amy) and here is a list of commonly mentioned reasons for befriending international students:

  • The opportunity to make new discoveries and reinforce a love of learning about new things.
  • The chance to consider new cultures/beliefs/religious practice and try to analyse them, in turn learning more about others and yourself.
  • The opportunity to enhance a love of travel and going to new places. It can provide an opportunity to go visit international friends in their home country, sleep on a couch and experience their culture and environment.
  • The opportunity to enrich a passion of different languages or dialects
  • The opportunity to develop a love of people and different human experiences.
  • The opportunity to develop an understanding and helping one another.
  • The opportunity to be exposed to and experience a wide range of cultures without having to go visit the countries they stem from.