13 reasons why (I love myself sick).

13 reasons why (I love myself sick).

1. I’m not ashamed to order a small family’s worth of McDonalds and to tell the cashier that I’m pregnant. So they make it fresh.

2. I’m not ashamed to spend an entire sunny bank holiday weekend on my friend’s couch, binging on episodes of ‘Love Island’. While eating a whole tub of Nutella.

3. I’m not ashamed to have had at one time only £12 in my bank account and to have spent that on humous, cheese and bread. The good bread!

4. I’m not ashamed that I ball my eyes out like a baby every time I watch Will Smith in the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’. Every. Time.

5. I’m not ashamed that if I want to look 5 pounds lighter, I think of getting a spray tan but then chicken out because that means standing in front of a perfect stranger naked. Exercise also never presents it’s self as the best option.

6. I’m not ashamed that the only thing I can successfully cook in the kitchen is a salad and a toasted cheese sandwich. I once called my Mother and asked her how to boil pasta. 🤦🏻‍♀️

7. I’m not ashamed that the only time I ever shave my lady parts is when I think I might be gettin’ some. So rarely.

8. I’m not ashamed that on one particular day, the only time I left the house was just to buy donuts. And successfully ate 4 in one sitting.

9. I’m not ashamed that recently I was so hungover that I ordered Deliveroo 3 times in one day. From the same restaurant. That restaurant may or may not have been McDonalds as well.

10. I’m not ashamed to respond with ‘sorry I’m busy tonight’ when all I’m doing is heading home to wash my hair and pop my pjs on. And watch Love Island.

11. I’m not ashamed to take myself out for a dinner and a show. Solo dining is liberating AF! Even when you have to respond “No, just just me” when the waiter says “Table for 2?”

12. I’m not ashamed to have 3 different dating apps on my phone and that I still gush over a guy, if he shows me the slightest bit of attention. Seriously. Yesterday a guy emailed me at work and I had zero chill about it. A fucking email!

13. I’m not ashamed that I was ashamed about these silly little things in my twenties. How fucking cool is it to be in your thirties?

How fucking cool is slowly giving zero fucks about the stuff that would of had you stay indoors or kept you up at night when you were younger?

There is something fucking cool about slowly settling into your own skin and scars. There is something fucking cool about staring at your flaws and imperfections and charging forward anyway because you now know there are other parts of you that are just as flawless and perfect; and that needs to be celebrated too!

Oh the wonder of simply sitting with your own quirks and weirdo moments, without needing someone else to validate them. The bliss of having the ability to feel really good and not good at the same time, because let’s be honest, happiness is not a destination.

No matter how hard we try, we will never arrive at ‘happy’. We’ll drive past it, around it, and stop at it, many times. What’s fucking cool is how we’ve also learnt what to do when we arrive at the other stops, like ‘uncertainty’, ‘misery’ and ‘devastation’.

If getting older simply means loving yourself sick just a little more every day and pulling through the ugly stuff with gusto; then bring that shiz onnnn!

I also encourage you to make a *list. It sounds small and pointless but give it a go. I promise not only will you feel better but at the very least, have a good chuckle at your fine self.

Yasss Kween!

Big love,

Carmela

*Your list may not have as many food references as mine. I mean, if loving carbs is wrong, I don’t want the be right! Riiiight? #Guilty 💁🏻‍♀️

Introducing Carmela Contarino, the #PowerKween behind ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied…’ 👸🏻♥️✨

Carmela is an Aussie in London with wanderlust. A TV/Radio rebel. Fierce feminist. Loud laugh-er. Emotional eat-er. Pop culture cat. Red wine wooer and karaoke kween. She hopes that her experiences are just like yours, funny, warm, loud, raw and that maybe you can figure out this thing called ‘life’ together. #YasssKween 🙌🏼

Guest Kween: KYLIE RICHARDSON “I Serial Dated My Way To My Dream Guy!”

Guest Kween: KYLIE RICHARDSON “I Serial Dated My Way To My Dream Guy!”

At 22, suddenly I was alone in a country where I knew next to no one.

I’d moved to New Zealand with my first boyfriend but after 5 years together, I realised that I had no idea who I was or what I wanted. All I knew was that the life I was living was not the one I dreamt of growing up.

Dating should have been the last thing on my mind but I was so used to being in a relationship that I didn’t know any better.

Queue my first taste of online dating.

Can we just take a moment and reflect on what online dating was like 10 years ago? This was the real, online dating world with full profiles, Q&As, ice-breaker messages and a time when you could filter out guys that didn’t meet your criteria; ie were shorter than 6ft, smokers and didn’t like comedies.

Thinking back on that time in my life now, I was pretty naïve and totally out of my depth. But online dating was actually the best thing I could have ever done, and it’s turned me into the biggest online dating advocate ever to exist.

Did I go on some bad dates? Yes.

Did I meet dudes who were not at all like their photo? Yes.

Did I fall for half the guys I met way too quickly? Yeah, probably.

But I was 22 and had never properly ‘dated’ so navigating my way around the ‘dating world’ was completely new to me.

Fast forward 7 years, a few more online dating stints and a few relationships later and the dating game had totally changed.

Helloooooo Tinder! 😉

It was the beginning of 2015, Tinder had been around a while, but it didn’t seem like something I wanted to try in any hurry. I won’t lie, even I was sceptical and hesitant to jump on Tinder after my last long term relationship ended. I wasn’t heartbroken and it wasn’t a bad breakup but it was the relationship that made me realise that I am the only person responsible for my happiness. If I wanted to experience those crazy butterflies, the anticipation and excitement of seeing my man (and wanting to rip his clothes off), and feeling that in his eyes ‘I’m the only girl in the world’; then I would need to focus on creating the best version of myself first.

I was no longer prepared to sacrifice my own dreams and desires for a guy and vowed that the next relationship I was in, would be the one. I was done spending time in dead-end relationships and was determined to not only meet the love of my life, but my best friend, my ride or die and the guy that would find me completely hilarious!

Having that clarity on what I was prepared to accept in a relationship immediately changed my mindset. 2015 was going to be MY year. I decided I was going to focus on smashing all my own personal goals and that I was going to tick off all the bucketlist items I’d been meaning to do since moving to NZ.

I had All. The. Possibilities.

In hindsight at that point Tinder was pretty counterintuitive to my personal goals but after some serious peer pressure, there I was, sitting in the lunchroom at work with my girlfriends egging me on. They were all in awesome, serious relationships and I think they got way too excited about the thought of living vicariously through me. Their persuasion was impossible to resist so I set-up my account, slapped together a quick profile and let the swiping begin.

I had no expectations and was just doing it for some fun. We swiped right on a few dudes and then went about the rest of our afternoon.

‘You’ve got a match’. Ooh, well isn’t this a bit exciting.

The first guy I got chatting to that night was a lovely, charming Spanish guy; who had been in Auckland a couple of years. We had great chats and he invited me to go out and have a drink for our first date. It was awesome.

I arrived at work the next morning and proclaimed to the entire office that I had met my husband. It was slightly tongue-in-cheek of course but I was just so pumped to be back in the dating game that I knew this time around was going to be a game changer.

I was happy, I had so much love for myself and I had rediscovered those butterfly feelings that I had always heard people talk about but had never truly experienced as an adult.

The lovely Spanish guy clearly wasn’t the one, but he was the first date of many, many great dates (we’re talking 25+) on the journey that ultimately led me to meet the love of my life.

During my Tinder stints I got pretty good at the dating game. I had some basic rules and a yes policy. My rules weren’t to do with the guys so much, but around how long matches were allowed to sit without conversation, how many times I would try to make the conversation interesting before giving up, and how long the banter could go on for before one of us initiated a date. My yes policy was simple: if they have the balls to ask me out, I would accept. After all, online chemistry is different to in-person chemistry, and I knew which one was more important.

Can I just put it out there and state that ladies, there is absolutely nothing wrong with dating like a dude (it shames me to even admit there is a gender divide in the way we date)? If you want to send the first message, do it. If you want to ask him out on a date, do it. If you want to be flirty in your messages, do it. There are no set rules, so date however the hell you want to.

Dating isn’t all coffee, wine and laughs. It’s time consuming and serious business; if you’re serious about meeting someone. I had weeks where 5 out of 7 nights were booked out with dates, some days I even had 2 dates. Generally, I was ‘dating’ more than one guy at a time, as most wouldn’t go past a first or second date. Because I was dedicating time to the task of dating, I didn’t want to waste opportunities to meet new people, on the off chance I might meet one that I clicked with. Sure, this meant I had to cancel on dates if I met someone who I wanted to see again but dating isn’t exclusive until it’s exclusive, okay?

I’m sure this will make a few people cringe, or roll their eyes in judgement but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest because after all of my serial dating I found myself a keeper.

I like to tell people that Karl tricked me into going on a date with him, and whilst there is an element of truth to that; there was no way that I was going to let the fact that he actually lived in a different city (island, even!) stop me from meeting him. Yes, despite this semi-vital piece of information only coming to light after a week or so of chats and agreeing to the date; by that point, I was going all in! He was funny, interesting, had great banter and looked pretty hot in his photos. Our first date was at a bar close to the hotel he was staying at whilst he was in Auckland training for a new job (as I knew he would be car-less). When I arrived he already had a drink, so I went and ordered my own. Not exactly dating etiquette but I let it slide as he was even better looking in person and he was wearing a cardigan; it takes a confident man to rock a cardigan. 😉

We chatted, laughed, shared stories and everything just felt so natural. Needless to say we were pretty keen to see each other again and it wasn’t long before we were making very regular trips up and down the country to spend time together.

I never planned to fall for a guy that lived an hour and a half flight away but I think the universe matched us for a reason. There was no way in hell that we would have ‘bumped’ into each other by chance. We had to actively look for each other and it’s bloody good that we did, I say.

During my few months of Tindering up a storm, I learnt a lot. About myself and about dating.

Firstly, I learnt that guys have it tough on Tinder. Hold on, hear me out. Do you know how intimidating women can be to the male species? When it comes to the online dating world women really do call the shots. We swipe left far more than the guys do, we have a list of prerequisites that they need to meet before we even agree to go on a date with them, and we are far quicker to judge them and write them off based on anything that has even the remotest resemblance to a past boyfriend/dating experience.

Secondly, as cliché as it sounds, you should never judge a book by its cover. I had been guilty in the past of making assumptions on a guy’s personality based on their bio and photos but when I decided to stop and give more guys a chance for a second impression, I was beyond impressed. When given the opportunity to be treated as a human and not just an object in a catalogue, people tend to respond positively. That guy with the topless selfie that you immediately think ‘douche!’ may actually turn out to be one of the funniest, most genuine guys you’ll meet and could be the best guy for you.

Thirdly, when I stopped worrying whether my dates would like me or not I had WAY more fun and was able to just be myself. I loved myself enough that I knew the right guy for me would think I was pretty rad, and I focused my energy on getting to know him and if he was the right guy for me rather than whether he thought I was funny or attractive or interesting. Each date was like a catch-up with a friend who I’d not seen in ages; so even the ones with zero chemistry or common ground were actually not so bad.

Fourthly (is that even a thing?), DATING SHOULD BE FUN, DAMN IT. If you’re dating be sure to make the dates interesting. Do something you want to do, go somewhere different, try something new because if the date doesn’t turn into anything, at least you’ve created a rad memory. In addition to traditional coffee and wine dates, I had dates at concerts, comedy shows, arts festival gigs, and even at the airport… seriously. If I had all day I would tell you all about them, but you catch my drift.

And lastly, I discovered that deal breakers should be treated with a pinch of salt because realistically you’ve possibly added a whooooole bunch of things to that list that really don’t need to be there. When you meet the right guy for you, you’ll realise what is really important.

If you’re single (or ever find yourself single) make sure your first priority is YOU. Then once you’ve gotten some clarity on who you are and what you want, get your sexy butt on Tinder. Really. And if you want some help or guidance, then I’ll gladly be your Tinder-Wing Woman.

Kylie is an Aussie Girl Boss, living in New Zealand with her handsome man, Karl. She’s an absolute coffee fiend, laughs at everything and is renowned for her infectiously positive, you-can-do-it attitude. Kylie runs her own business ‘Confident + Crushing it’, which coaches women to ‘be the girl that has it all’ in life, in love and in business. Kylie has just launched her newest side hustle, an e-commerce store selling limited edition pocket squares for men called ‘The Handsome Hombre’.

@kyliejrichardson

Kween Krush: ALICIA GARDINER “From Screen Dream To Dancing Queen.”

Kween Krush: ALICIA GARDINER “From Screen Dream To Dancing Queen.”

Kween Krush alert!! This is where we celebrate everyday women for being complete badass Wonder Women.

Alicia, we have a big fat crush on you! We’ve watched you from our living rooms for a while now; famously as ‘Kim’ in the Network Ten series Offspring but also in Wolf Creek, Redfern Now and Miss Fisher’s Mysteries. Over the last few months you’ve been touring Australia and wowing audiences on stage as Rosie in the musical Mamma Mia; sooo we’re not going to pretend that we didn’t go into complete ‘fangirl meltdown’ when you started following us on Instagram.

First of all, bravo, well done, hooray! How long have you been acting for? And most importantly, why are you an actor? 

Thank you! It’s nice of you to have me here.

I was always interested in performing growing up, thanks to Young Talent Time in the 80s, and ended up studying voice and drama at the Victorian College of The Arts but my first gig almost felt like an accident – I’d heard the ABC were looking for an actress, who could sing,  for their new mini series Queen Kat, Carmel and St Jude with Ben Mendelsohn. Somehow, I landed the job and twenty years later I’m still here! I have no idea how or why. Part tenacity and part luck, I guess.

I’ve really focused on my acting work over the years, by choice. I’m fascinated by how people and relationships work, or fail, and there’s something very juicy about delving into a new character’s psyche and trying to bring it to life. Acting teaches me about people, and myself. It forces me to stay present. I also like playing dress ups and I like the on set catering!

Is making your mark in the world of acting and entertainment in Australia. as challenging as one might think?

I don’t think I’ve ever tried to ‘make my mark’. Things really have just evolved over time in terms of my work and there’s been no method whatsoever. I’d like to say it’s all planned but, really, nope! I think a lot of people get to this ‘middle aged’ point in their lives and think “how the hell did i get here?”. That is me. Most days.

Did you have moments where you wanted to give up and do something else? If so, what gave you the strength and courage to keep going? 

A few years ago, I remember questioning the relevance of what I was doing. I had two little babies on my own and life just suddenly became more meaningful!  I remember thinking that perhaps I should be doing something with a deeper impact; something which made a difference to people’s lives and something less self focused. But over the past ten years I’ve really been reminded that there’s a side to this business that is far greater than any of us – most recently in fact, a girl came up to me on the street to tell me she is living with stage 4 terminal cancer. She told me she watches Offspring religiously and that my character ‘Kim’ makes her laugh and reminds her of the nurses who helped her in hospital. I could see how much the show has meant to her during her illness. Stories like these make me realise that what we do actually does make an impact; helping people feel and think and laugh. It’s important and, I guess since becoming a mother, I get that now.

You’ve played some gutsy, witty and glorious characters, are taking on these kinds of roles a conscious decision? 

Sometimes. I actually prefer working on drama than comedy, believe it or not. Overall, I’m more likely to want to play roles that are different to others that I may have played in the past, so it’s more about contrast and challenge than anything else. But there were certainly times, long ago, where I had to say yes to whatever work came along just to pay the rent.

📸: Giovanni Lovisetto

Bear with us but we need to get a few burning Offspring questions in. What was the best part of playing Kim Akerholt? 

Playing ‘Kim’ was a huge adventure. We never really knew what the writers were going to throw at us at any given time, so there was a lot of joy in that. I also really valued the freedom we were given from our directors and producers. So much of the final cut was born from the playfulness that existed on set; we were encouraged to take risks and make bold choices – an actor’s dream.

Kim is funny, sincere, brutally honest, a lesbian, a working mother, a devoted partner and beautiful friend. How did it feel to cover the sensitive and complex subjects she dealt with? 

We really did cover a lot, didn’t we?!  Cleverly, Offspring was able to flow from absolutely heartbreaking storylines to ones with mayhem and hilarity, sometimes within the one scene. We felt supported as actors with the directing and writing team so I knew the balance between ‘Kim’s’ bluntness and heart was always going to be kept in check. The comedy/drama line can be a tricky one to find, sometimes. I just feel very lucky that I was able to discover and develop this as ‘Kim’ over such a long period of time.

📸: Sarah Enticknap

What was it like being on-set with such a diverse cast and are there any cast members that have become like family? 

In many ways, the cast and crew did become like family. I guess that happens after 8 years of long hours making television together! Many of us had children during that time, got married, got divorced, got pregnant! Huge milestones.  This industry is quite unique in that you can work extremely intensely with each other for years but, next minute, you start a new job and inadvertently become part of another ‘family’ with similar intensity! So, yes, we stay in touch but this business means we are not always in the same city or country at the same time. Thank goodness for social media!

Seriously bear with us. Did the death of Patrick devastate you too? Haha. 

I do remember the first time I read that particular script and I gave Matt LeNevez (Patrick) an extra big squeeze at breakfast the next morning! We knew it was going to upset the audience but had no idea it’d be to the extent it became. I STILL have people telling me they haven’t recovered! Many liken it to when ‘Molly’ died in A Country Practice and I remember that sadness myself so I can feel how much this particular storyline meant to people. It’s a great testament to the show and to actors like Matt and Ash (Keddie) to have people respond like they did to their work.

📸: Giovanni Lovisetto

We get the impression you’re a proud feminist, is this true? 

I guess so! I’m the daughter of a strong minded women who was very independent and outspoken and I almost feel as if I am becoming more like her, the older I get.  My Mum was always about fairness and, growing up,  I never had the feeling that I couldn’t achieve or do anything different than my two brothers. There have been relationships along the way that have challenged me and these beliefs but, in hindsight, I’ve only come out the other side even stronger and more determined that I can have and do anything I want.

If so, does this change how you raise your children? Does this change how you are at work? 

I hope my kids don’t feel a difference between their genders. I’ve taught them that Princesses can slay dragons and that Kings can cry too and my daughter knows very much that her worth is not tied up by her looks or the dress she wears. I guess when my kids leave the nest and step out into the world they’ll come across experiences and attitudes that will contradict their own but hopefully I’ve given them a solid enough base.

I think we are progressing slowly, in Australia, with content for women in our industry and you only need to look at what’s happening in the states to see how much this will change over the next few years. Thank goodness! So, this is exciting and I’m happy that my children are growing up in a period where equality and attitudes within the workplace are being so widely discussed.

📸: James Morgan Photo

What women are you krushing on at the moment? 

I’m currently working on Mamma Mia! The Musical which is produced by three incredibly, strong women – Louise Withers, Linda Bewick and Phillippa Gowen. I’ve known Louise and Linda for almost 20 years. They put their whole heart and soul into producing these mega musicals and run an incredibly tight ship yet, at the core, have a genuine love for bringing beautiful stories to life on stage and bringing good to the world. I’m learning a lot from them and the way they operate. I’m also working alongside two amazing actors; Natalie O’Donnell and Jayde Westaby. We are touring together for 13 months and I have major crushes on them both! It can be a tough gig but these two slay it every single night and I watch them in awe, not just as performers but how they just tackle their days as working women and mothers. We spend a lot of time together; mostly in fits of laughter in our dressing rooms but also propping each other up in support. It reminds me daily of how important it is for women to be there for each other. I don’t have sisters, but I’m glad I have these two.

Is it an absolute thrill being back on stage? 

It really is! Musical theatre can require so much more of you, especially vocally, and I’m enjoying that challenge. Our physio calls us athletes and when you see what our ensemble do, you wouldn’t be surprised. We need to be meticulous with our sleep and food routines and coffee is now my new best friend! The challenge is real but the buzz of working live is so worth it.

What’s the whole experience of rehearsing and touring been like so far? 

It’s quite intense. I’m a single Mum and my kids tour with me. I’m not exactly sure how we are making it work, but we are – and that’s all that matters right?!  We’ve toured to Canberra, Brisbane and Sydney already and each city has been full of new adventures for us. I’m looking forward to bringing the show to other states over the next few months.

Touring a show like this is a lesson in logistics and the company is like a well oiled machine in regards to the crew. The work we do on stage is only the tip of the iceberg.

Is it possible to prefer performing on stage over being on-screen? Or is it like having to choose your favorite child? 

It’s hard to say. If I look back on past jobs, my favourites have always been the ones who have had great people involved. Yes, the piece itself matters, but to me it’s also about who I’m collaborating with and what they stand for. There’s nothing worse than working in a toxic environment. It stifles creativity and prevents people from doing their best work. My life is too short for unenjoyable experiences!

Speaking of favs, ready for another tough one? What’s your favourite ABBA song? 

We sing Dancing Queen twice in Mamma Mia! and it’s now becoming my favourite – which is surprising because it’s actually quite a killer song to sing. ABBA were tricky like that. Many of their songs are quite easy to listen to but once you pull them apart they’re often really bloody difficult! Our audiences are absolutely going off during Dancing Queen though so that softens the blow!

How did you do/feel/think when you heard that after 35 years ABBA have reunited and are making music again? 

The first thing I said was “I need to be in the front row!”. It’s going to be one of those tours – everyone will want to go to. I met Bjorn 17 years ago when I performed as ‘Ali’ in the original Mamma Mia! musical. He seemed like a great guy but we have barely kept in touch so it’ll be great to see him again (haha!).

📸: Richard Dobson

📸: James Morgan Photo

Why should we come and see Mamma Mia!? What makes this show so special? 

Firstly, you should come and see it because it’s great to support live theatre in Australia. That’s a no brainer! Secondly, this show is like a delicious cupcake! It’s story is simple and beautiful, focusing on love and family and friendship – but it’s blended with kick ass ABBA tunes and some incredible spandex costumes. We genuinely want people to come along for a laugh and a cry and let loose a little!

And finally, you must be super chuffed with everything you’ve achieved in your life. What’s one thing you would now tell your younger self? 

Oh, gosh!  I think I would tell my younger self that life is not always lollipops and rainbows; you’re going to win friends and loose friends, you’re going to fall in love but it will hurt like hell too, you’re going to miss out on that gig you really want and society is probably going to tell you you’re no good or ugly at some point – so just ride it out because one day you’ll see that none of that really matters at all.

Carmela has been a ridiculous fan of Alicia Gardiner for like a gazillion years! So she was thrilled when Alicia turned out to be an absolute treat and gem of a human through out this whole interview process; reaffirming once again that it’s ok to meet your heroes guyssss.

📸: Peter Brew Beven

MAMMAMIA NATIONAL TOUR DATES

PERTH

Crown Theatre From May 15th 2018

MELBOURNE

Princess Theatre From July 10th 2018

ADELAIDE

Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre From October 9th 2018

TICKETS ON SALE NOW!

@mammamiainoz

Carmela’s Mum and Aunty Maria went to see the show at the Crown Theatre in Perth and they had an absolute ball! Do yourself a favor… 😉

Guest Kween: MARIA CONTARINO “An Open Letter To My Firstborn.”

Guest Kween: MARIA CONTARINO “An Open Letter To My Firstborn.”

Dear Carmela (Moo),

I loved you from the minute you were born and still do.

From a young age being a mum was all I ever wanted: I honestly couldn’t wait to fall pregnant.

At 11am on the 21st of February 1986, here you were, finally in my arms. It was a very long labour that ended in an emergency C section but from that moment my life completely changed; you were my world, the air that I breathed. Yep, the bond was there right from the start; I loved the fact that you needed me. Everything finally made sense. I was a mummy, it made me feel important.

You were such a bubbly baby; you completed my days. We were like a team. I talked to you every minute of the day and waited every morning for you to wake to do it all over again. Poor dad, he felt rejected, as all my focus and attention was on you.

When your sister Domenica was born you helped me in every possible way, we were in this together. Team ‘Mum and Moo’ was the best team ever. We filled our days talking, watching TV and having afternoon sleeps together in the big bed (my bed).

Life was great. Having two little girls felt like a sense of achievement. I dressed you both the same whenever I could.

Then came along your brother Sam, and I guess that’s when you really turned into a ‘mini-me’. Domenica wasn’t fussed but I think you thought he was pretty special. You helped me raise Sammy right into his teenage years.

With me being the youngest child of a large Italian family, I was incredibly spoilt. I really had the very best childhood. So when I became a mum I also wanted you to experience the same feeling. I’m just not too sure how I went with that, because with me having to work most of the time, I don’t think growing up you were as happy.

Nonna was always home and I got away with lots. As for you Moo, it just wasn’t the same because you had to step into my shoes when I wasn’t there. You were only eleven-years-old when I was running a supermarket deli (meaning I wasn’t around in the mornings). You would wake your sister and brother up, make them breakfast and walk them to and from school. You were a part- time mummy/part-time sister and were always asking if I needed anything. This is probably why you’re so mature for your age: you had to grow up really quickly. We needed your help but it’s one of my regrets.

Sometimes I feel like I failed you and wasn’t the best mum going around. With the long hours that I worked to bring the extra money into the house (which I thought was important at the time), I missed out on spending precious time with you. I compensated for this in your teenage years. I wanted you to make your own decisions. You probably thought I was the biggest pushover but I wanted you to love life and enjoy being free.

Even though I had the most amazing childhood, your nonno told me who, what, when, why and dictated how things were done. He made all my decisions till the day I married your father and life with your Dad has been pretty much the same. I didn’t want that for you. All I really ever wanted was to be a stay-at-home-mum and not work.

Carmela, we were friends all through your school years. I liked how you trusted me and talked to me about lots of different things. It made me happy.

When you moved out of home for the first time to live in Sydney, you left an empty place in my heart. You were on a journey to build your career and I thought ‘ahh she’s going to forget me’ but we still kept in touch (most days). I loved when you would call asking for advice (like the time you needed to know how to boil pasta) haha.

As the years have gone by, you’ve moved from Sydney to London with no job and no place to live. You’ve been there on and off for three years now and traveled to places I can only dream about. I want you to know how proud I am of you and your achievements; with all the ups and downs, you’ve always managed to survive.

Rumour has it you’re my favourite, well let everyone think what they want. 😉

Thank you so much for all the things you have taught me: mostly to believe in myself and have faith that I can do anything.

Most of all THANK YOU for loving me, still giving me cuddles and allowing me to be your mum.

LOVE YOU Moo,

Mummy.

P.s. Team Mum and Moo Forever.

Carmela’s response:

Dear Mum,

Please don’t feel guilty for having to work during my childhood. I’ve sensed for a while now that it’s been eating you up inside.

Don’t you dare let it!

YOU are the reason I am brave, the reason I am strong, the reason I have an impeccable work ethic, the reason I am resilient, the reason I am a fighter, the reason I am bold, the reason I am successful, the reason I am kind, the reason I am loved (and know how to love) unconditionally.

From a young age I watched a woman raise a family on her own and sacrifice everything to provide for them; you’re still providing for us now.

Don’t you get how fucking proud I am of you? In a world where you’ve never had it all, you’ve always ensured that I did.

For over a decade you held down the fort while dad worked in Perth. You took a small business and turned it into an homeware institution. From not having a proper education; you’re the highest-paid person in your field. You’ve had three kids and somehow are skinner than me. Haha.

You were never just the mum that worked and wasn’t there. You squeezed in as much as you could and juggled it all. Even today (at nearly 60 years of age) you do a 9-5 and still put a home cooked meal on the table every evening.

No one ever has a bad word to say about you; though I brag about how ‘I have the best mum’ all the time anyway. You’re a second mum/nonna to so many and that’s because you’ve welcomed all my friends into our family home and treated them like family as well.

Yes, my childhood was different to other kids but I also got to grow up with a mum that I could tell anything to and never had to hide anything from. You trusted and respected me from such a young age; I think it’s really why I’m a feminist and enforce women empowerment.

You’ve taught me to put memories first before money and never stopped me from living my life (no matter how unusual my choices may be). I am the lucky one.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Love,

Moo

Maria Contarino is Carmela’s mum, she’s also the successful store manager of House in Bunbury (otherwise known as ‘Mrs House’). Maria cooks a mean bowl of pasta, is an obsessive owl collector and is the first one on the d floor whenever ‘Dancing Queen’ or ‘You’re The One That I Want’ is playing.

The reality of being unemployed past your thirties.

The reality of being unemployed past your thirties.

friends-unemployed

In my twenties I hit the ground running, I was focused, zealous and fearless. Some would even say I ‘peaked’ too soon. I landed my dream job at the age of 23 and was on more money than my parents combined at 24, but by 25 it all came crashing down. It wasn’t completely dire afterwards, though I had to rebuild. Everything I thought I knew was no longer. Everything that used to be, now was different. I went from co-hosting a Sydney radio breakfast show which had me interviewing celebrities and getting dressed up for red carpet events to someone who worked at a newsagents, a clothes shop and a jewelry store just to make her rent.

Eventually I got another job in radio, but it came with half the profile and therefore half the money: so I had to keep working one of my part-time gigs. I was also lucky enough to land a manager who booked me regular spots on national TV shows (which straight after I would run to the newsagents and be confronted by customers with: “Didn’t I just see you on TV?”).

Slowly but surely and by that, I mean with a hell of a lot of persistence and tears, everything went back to the way it had been. Bigger radio and TV jobs came along. Some would even say I was ‘back on top’.

My point is, this definitely isn’t a bust out the violins story but, in my twenties, I thought I knew what it meant to struggle and to have ups and downs in my career.

Enter my thirties.

When I was 29, I left my life in Sydney and risked it all for a new, happier life in London. Looking back on it now I can understand why my friends were constantly saying “I don’t know how you’re doing this, I could never!” “Are you fucking mad?” “You brave bitch!” I was moving to a new city, with nowhere to live, no job prospects and no support network.

Also enter a new phase of my career: where I was basically starting all over again. I became familiar with the term the ‘British guard’ meaning: anything I did in Australia didn’t count unless I had done it in the UK. So, while I took meeting after meeting with different TV/production companies and radio stations, I was working in a pub earning a minimum wage of 6 pounds an hour, pouring beers, rolling cutlery and dodging mice.

I came over with some coin to get me started but the conversion rate at the time was shocking: so more than half of what I saved was just gone. Yes, I should have researched more. Yes, I should have put aside more money before I left and I know I’m ultimately responsible for my own life, my own choices, my own actions and therefore my own shortcomings but in my (slight) defense: I was the first in my immediate family to do this. My Mum and Dad had just as much of a clue as I did. Cousins who had done it before did talk about their own ‘London war stories’ but they were from over a decade ago (therefore outdated) and I guess if I had really looked into how fucking hard this was all going to be, I may have chickened out and never done it. Blind hope and a little bit of that fearlessness that I had when I first moved to Sydney at the age of 21 was what I needed again at the age of 31.

So, slowly but surely (but with a hell of A LOT more persistence and tears this time) everything went back to the way it was, I started to get those TV and radio jobs again. I bet you’re thinking that this is where the story ends but either there’s something wrong with me or the saying ‘be careful what you wish for’ really is true.

After 8 months of being ‘back in the game’ I was more miserable than I was when I first moved to London. I was working 14-hour days, 6-7 days a week, my time was filled with catering for the same narcissistic evil radio hosts I came to know and loathe in Sydney and my life was no different to what it was in Australia. “Why was I here?” “What was I trying to prove?” “Was I really doing this for me? Or was I doing it to show those assholes back home that I could do it without them?” (even though the folklore goes that they were ones responsible for my success overseas **eye roll**).

So once again, I packed it all in for the search of something more. I returned home to Australia. I was back under my parents’ roof. I was living in my childhood bedroom (that I shared with my nephew whenever he would sleep over). I went on the dole. I then got a full-time job at the first radio station I ever worked at (which ignited that bright-eyed naive-of-sorts passion again). I got my Italian passport. Cleared my credit card debt. Saved more money to come back over to London with (this time fully aware of what the f**king conversion rate was). Reconnected with my family and friends and prepared for London 2.0.

Initially, I thought I had ‘cracked the code’. Yep, thanks to my new-found research and life experiences London 2.0 was off to a much better start. I aligned myself with recruitment agencies that got me work in environments that were not media-based. I was on better money. I had a better work-life-balance. I was home by 6pm every night. I didn’t work weekends. I had savings for the ‘just in case’ and most of my travels booked for the rest of the year were already paid for. More importantly, I learnt that what I did for a job didn’t define me. I was kicking London in the dick.

So I thought.

Unfortunately London 2.0 hasn’t also been without its psychotic flatmates and work contracts ending unexpectedly.

In the last few months, I was let go at work, forced to move out of the flat I was living in, put all my belongings into black plastic bags and have had them sitting at Carly’s place while I rent out her Airbnb room. I also had to finance two trips back home to Australia. In this time I applied for 60 jobs on LinkedIn alone and woke most mornings with the anxiety that if I don’t find a job soon, I would be homeless and broke in the very near future. Fun! Yeah, London 2.0 has been just as hard at times too.

The good news? I have finally secured another job and I’ll move into my new pad at the beginning of next month. Phew! Today also marks another year that I’ve survived this bad-ass city. Yaasss!!

So the real moral of the story is: while I was home back in Australia for those months in 2016, I witnessed my 60-year-old Dad (who also happened to find himself unemployed) get up every morning, look at the job vacancies online, check his emails (to find no response from any of the jobs he applied for the previous day), and muster up the courage to do it all over again: it nearly broke him.

There is something utterly soul-shattering when you find yourself unemployed past the age of 30. The constant putting yourself out there. The way your heart skips a beat and then sinks when you check your inbox. The realisation that there’s now a much higher chance of someone younger and possibly more qualified than you going for the same role. The acknowledgement of how big the gap is getting from when you last did the job you love. But mostly, ignoring the constant feeling that you’re failing. It got me real dark most days and I had to really try to find the quick wins in life. I can only imagine how my poor Dad felt during his period. If I was struggling with this at 30, what was going through his mind at 60?

The truth: I’d love to wrap this up with something hopeful and with the reassurance that everything is always going to be ok, but I didn’t have the courage or the energy to put this down on paper till I was employed again. It’s funny how that 9-5 life gives you that feeling of purpose and how necessary that is for your mental health and self-care. So I get it: if you’re going through this or have gone through this in the past, it’s hard to hear or take comfort in those words, especially when you’re in the thick of it.

The real truth: I can’t guarantee everything is going to be ok, no one can, in my experience it hasn’t always been. Things that make it a hell of a lot easier? Take those FaceTime calls from your family (even when you can’t bear to actually ‘face’ them), have a good chin-wag with your nearest and dearest and get that ugly off your chest, have someone in your life that encourages you to remember all the things you should be grateful for and have those cups of peppermint tea on the reg.

One piece of advice: in these times of trouble try and avoid alcohol and drugs, if you can. I’m not a saint and it’s absolutely the first thing I reach for whenever I’m in despair, but I read this great quote and it’s really changed my mind set.

‘If you drink to numb all the difficult things in life, you’ll numb all the good bits too.’

Remember, every next level of your life will determine a different you.

Peace out Kweens!

Stay strong.

Big love,

Carmela.

x

Introducing Carmela Contarino, the #PowerKween behind ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied…’ 👸🏻♥️✨

Carmela is an Aussie in London with wanderlust. A TV/Radio rebel. Fierce feminist. Loud laugh-er. Emotional eat-er. Pop culture cat. Red wine wooer and karaoke kween. She hopes that her experiences are just like yours, funny, warm, loud, raw and that maybe you can figure out this thing called ‘life’ together. #YasssKween 🙌🏼