I have a confession.

I have a confession.

Around this time last year, I posted a picture on the ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied’ Instagram account that expressed my mourning for an opportunity lost, or missed. I felt like I had once again let myself down by not rising to the occasion. I wondered if when it came to interviewing for jobs in London, would this always be a pattern of mine: I got the things I didn’t care about and fucked up the things I really did.

You see, since being here, I’ve done a handful of various roles but my background is in media, predominantly radio and TV. In the past, I’ve been a breakfast co-host, a presenter, an executive producer, an associate producer, a casting researcher, a talent coordinator, a coffee/lunch-get-er, full-time file-er/staple-er; you name it, I’ve done it all!

And when I first arrived in London, I did a few of these things but since I’ve been back for the second time (particularly over the last year and a half), I’ve dabbled in the corporate game as a personal assistant and project manager.

Actually, over the last four years, I’ve done a whole bunch of weird stuff, things I never thought I’d do. I’ve been a waitress, a bartender, a shop assistant, a receptionist at a hair salon… I’ve stretched myself and pushed myself into things for the sake of money and the fear of being unemployed. I’ve had work contracts that have lasted 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months… I’ve worked with many different groups of people, many very different to who I am. I’ve had to put on numerous new hats, gather a range of new skill-sets and find/adjust to my new personality (this is mostly me refraining from singing in the office and mastering my inside voice).

When people asked what I was doing for a job, I would always tell them exactly what I was doing because I wasn’t ashamed of it but I also wasn’t overly proud.

Money aside: it was time for a change too. I needed a break after some pretty awful working experiences/relationships in the media world. Having gone through that, it was necessary for me to take a step back and evaluate my own worth away from working in media. And don’t even get me started on massively needing to improve ones work/life balance. Full disclosure: some job applications weren’t even cutting through to the job interview stage, so I really didn’t have a choice to do anything but something else.

Again, when asked ‘what I was doing in London’, I would follow it with all these long winded reasons for why I was doing what I was doing. I even got really good at convincing people job-interview-wise that I didn’t want to go back to media; insisting that I was done. Basically, I was putting a lot more shine on it then I needed to, I was making my new career path sound much better than it was but here’s the kicker, it wasn’t for them or you, it was for me.

For a while now, I’ve known what I was doing with my time wasn’t right, it was a pass at best. It did what it was supposed to do. I could pay my rent, I could buy my groceries, I could survive in London for another month, and that was really my end game, to stay in London for as long as I possibly could.

I do not want to move back to Australia. Such is my desire to remain in London that when anyone ever asks how long I plan on being here, I always respond with “Forever, as long as there is work”.

The truth: as much as I want to stay in London, deep down I am a creative; it’s a big part of the reason why ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied’ was birthed, I could get my creative fix running this and then go back to my 9-to-5 clinical day job. So the real end game is to create a life here, like the one I had in Sydney. The opportunity to have and be blessed with both, to do what I love, in a place that I love.

So, I’m sorry but I have been lying to you but more importantly, I have been lying to myself. I am a radio person. Radio to me is all the cringy things that people say when they’re ‘into’ something. It’s my passion, my drive, my first love, my first love/hate relationship and at moments, it’s been my everything.

But like all ‘firsts’, radio has also hurt me, it’s disappointed me, it’s broken my heart, yeah you get it… it’s defiantly scarred me. And just like anything toxic in your life, you do need to cleanse and then slowly dip your toe back into that dangerous water when you’re stronger, wiser and just plain, better.

At times I did genuinely think I was doing fine, I was drinking my own kool-aid. I was content with most parts of my life but it’s very clear to me now that every time I would get another office gig over the radio/TV one, I was settling and fiercely protecting myself. I was protecting myself, when I would go on my rants about not missing radio, not needing radio, not wanting radio, that this was now the new life for me. Because deep down, it wasn’t.

And hell, don’t get me wrong, there are some definite media-evils that I will never return to. I will no longer work with someone who speaks to me or treats me like a piece of shit; I now know my worth and I know that I can survive without it (the surprising bonus of taking a break, right?). I will no longer be overworked and underpaid. I will no longer not be valued or appreciated in my role or in my life.

I was lying to protect myself because I knew that I wasn’t happy. Yes, my time, my day-to-day life wasn’t matching what I thought I’d be doing at this age. My heart was in pieces but I was too scared to say anything to anyone, especially myself. Because then it would be real.

I can not express in words really the feeling of thinking that your best self may be behind you. That maybe you’ve already peaked and maybe, just maybe it was all down hill from here.

Now, if you have ever felt this way, a little lost, a little off-centre, not focused, not where you thought you would be in life, that you’re going through the motions. I just want to help remind you that ‘the best is yet to come’ but please don’t wait for things to get better, life will always be complicated. Make the most of what you have right now, and keep putting yourself out there, otherwise you’ll run out of time. The cliché ‘everything happens for a reason’ couldn’t honestly ring more true. I know, lame. But, seriously.

When you’re in a dark place, you sometimes think you’ve been buried. Perhaps you’ve been planted. Bloom!

Recently, I received a phone call that offered me a dream role, it was something I wanted so badly that I had to prepare myself mainly for the fall out (in fear of how I would react if I didn’t get it, again). I still can’t believe it’s mine!! I’m back doing what I do best, doing what excites me, doing what I love, and I’m just so fucking emotional about it.

It’s still terrifying to write this. Nothing in life is certain and there may be a time when things change for me again.

The best part: over the last 16 months, I’ve learnt that I’m actually good at other things. I’ve learnt to be thankful for an eight-hour workday and to enjoy my one-hour lunch break. I’ve had my weekends back to myself and I’ve had the pleasure of working for some totally impressive yet kind professionals (restoring my faith in humanity). I’ve thrown myself into the unknown deep-end multiple times and managed to swim to the top every single time too. And I’m here to tell you, so can you.

I do believe though, that going corporate has really been what’s prepared me for this moment. That actually, everything I’ve done or been through has lead me to this point. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that when it wasn’t all going my way, I felt like an absolute failure. Or worse, a liar. You too? Seriously, hang in there!

I don’t want to lie anymore. And I don’t want to worry that I shouldn’t shout this from the rooftops because it may all go away again. I’m so fucking thrilled, I could burst into tears at just the thought of it. I know, that sounds dramatic but I think it’s my body finally relaxing, breathing for the first time (in a while) with the hope that everything really is going to be ok.

Kweens, believe me, there is no such thing as missed opportunities, except the ones you never put your hand up for in the first place. YOU are so full of potential. Timing is just a bitch. Keep trying. Don’t let the bastards get you down. Never give up. (Boy, how many clichés can one person use in one blog? Spoiler alert: A LOT)

No, I don’t want to be someone whose job ‘defines’ them or ‘completes’ them and trust me, I’ve been working on that waaaay before the recent events in my career. But I also pride myself in what I do. Shouldn’t we all?

I want to be more than the girl who works in radio but that doesn’t mean this girl can’t work in radio at the same time too, right? Ha!

Shout out to my main Kween Jane for writing this to me a couple of months ago:

‘I want you to know that I know who you are. I see you. And I know what you’re meant to be doing. Darling you are meant for a BIG life. 

You are not meant for a 9-to-5 job. You are not meant for behind-the-scenes. And while it might seem like the easier, safer option: it’s not really working out is it? Because that life is too small for you my love.’ 

It still chokes me up today. If you’re in a rut, I hope you have a Jane. Reach out to your Jane. ‘Janes’ are just like the sun. Utter golden treasure. Hold on to your Jane.

Also, big ups to my mate Mikey, who has been my own personal cheerleader and put my CV in front of many people he’s worked with over the past few years. What a legend! He has met up with me after interviews, taken my super annoying stress calls and answered back every one of my long neurotic texts. Poor bastard. He’s yet to realise he’ll soon be working in the same building as that psycho. Lol! I promise, after-work beers are on me, always!

The best part of trying to be more than what you do is… you actually become that. And you work out the people that adore you regardless. Those people know who they are (Kelly and Paul to name a few) and I am forever indebted to them.

At last, today, I can exhale and be proud of who I am, what I’ve been through and what’s going to happen next. Watch this space Kweens.

Big love,

Cliché Carmela

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: YEN HOANG “How Miss Independent Learnt To Love.”

Guest Kween: YEN HOANG “How Miss Independent Learnt To Love.”

Hi, I’m Yen. I am a girl that’s super independent. I grew up believing in my strength, was taught to think that I am bold, that my words carry weight and can help change the world. I learnt that I am a force to be reckoned with when I’m standing on my own two feet, and when I must decide, for myself, I know what I want.

Throughout my early 20s, I had everything: a semi-successful startup brewing, found the greatest group of people I still call my best friends today, moved to the other side of the world, travelled alone and graduated in the top two percentile of my university. Yep, all before 22.

I always knew I was super independent, it probably came with being the eldest sibling and a Virgo (think Beyoncé, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Sheryl Sandberg: just to name drop a few). 😉

I was used to walking fast, spending my own money and opening my own doors. I learnt to trust myself and knew who I was through falling down and picking myself back up. I found my niche in the world, paving my own way, presenting my own smile and sense of self to whoever I met. I wasn’t used to balancing myself with another person. I wasn’t used to needing someone, or allowing anyone to help.

YEN

My independence definitely contributed to the destruction of my relationships in my early 20s too. I drove men crazy because I didn’t let them do everything for me. I didn’t let them cater to my every need. I refused to let them pay for every date.

I sometimes wouldn’t let them be the manly-man, the savior, the strong suitor that they so desperately wanted to be for me. It’s wasn’t on purpose; it’s just because I was used to being my own savior. Someone even told me to ‘pretend and be a little less independent, just so they can feel you need them’.

Somehow, something still didn’t feel right. And along the way, I lost my independence: I became that friend who disappeared off the face of the earth because she got a boyfriend. But I fell into this trap, of believing I had to dumb myself down just to make a boy feel better about himself.

My last breakup reminded me how much I needed to put myself first again and regain everything I knew about being independent. Although that breakup shattered my world, it was a sign that I wasn’t meant to be in a relationship with anyone else but myself.

Maybe it was a time for me to fix myself and change. Appreciate myself more and to never make the same mistake. To achieve more goals and more importantly find happiness. To hopefully one day understand, that I’ll attract the right things when I have a sense of who I am.

I had spontaneously decided to accept a job in London (the other side of the world) and pack up and leave within weeks. I had lived in London back in 2011 while studying there and had always called it my ‘home away from home’, so when the offer came through I couldn’t reject it. I called my best friend and told her I was coming, and recalled saying “I have nothing to lose”. I didn’t make plans to come home, or let alone have a plan? I was ready to accept whatever it was that the universe had installed. I felt so free.

yen 2

yen 3

The week my visa appointment with the UK consulate got booked: I met a guy who I never imagined would mean so much to me today. You see, I was so focused on my life that I was completely blind-sided; a relationship was the last thing I was looking for. On our second date, I had no choice but to tell him I was leaving the country. I felt like I owed this to him and was super nervous delivering the update. That’s when I knew, I really liked him.

I asked for answers “Why throw me a bone now universe? I am about to go on an adventure of a lifetime! Do you want me to stay in Melbourne?” I even went to church and a temple to find clarity. I have never felt so vulnerable in my life.

I still left for London and to my understanding we weren’t official. But the distance didn’t change how we both felt about each other. Sure the different time zones were hard but we made it work. Last minute, I booked a flight home so I could surprise this guy on his birthday.

I was super super nervous, I mean, who was I to him to do that? We weren’t even official or anything exclusive! I knew I was taking a big chance. I guess that’s the whole issue with being independent yet a hopeless romantic too. Naturally, we then agreed to a long distance relationship because he acknowledged my dreams and supported it no matter how tough it was going to be.

You see, when you fall for a girl that’s independent, you will get frustrated. She’s used to doing things for herself and by herself. She’s used to following her own rules, making her own decisions, being selfish with her time. It will take a bit for her to get used to putting someone else first, to moulding her life to shape both yours and hers together. Don’t get me wrong, she won’t have trouble loving you, but she might, at first struggle to let you in.

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A long distance relationship ended up being the best thing for me. I learnt to prioritise a relationship; scheduling in calls with confusing time differences, improving communication skills and letting someone into my life, knowing I can still continually work on myself.

I learnt to let the small things go, had to invest a lot of trust in someone, believe that not all guys are bad (something that doesn’t come easy for me), to compromise and have patience, extreme patience. And finally, I learnt that when time and luck crossed paths the universe would find me a guy who will fall in love with my driven, spontaneous, independent character.

Go travel the world, battle your demons, set up a business, find people who value your heart and yours will attract. Don’t apologise for working hard, for having goals and being independent: we need more girls like this.

When the right person comes along, they will support you unconditionally and when you do come across that person, know that you deserve them.

I hope you love yourself enough to recognise the things you don’t like about your life, and I hope you find the courage to change them. And I hope somewhere out of the unexpected, a person comes along who will love and support you on your journey too.

Yen started her career in public relations with aspirations to work in the fashion industry, she became curious with e-commerce and technology and evolved her career to where she is now. Awarded Australian Best Young Marketing Talent (2016) for spearheading numerous innovations in her field, she is a passionate marketer with an entrepreneurial edge focused on overachieving outcomes. Competitive at heart, she never wanted to settle for just a nine-to-five job and saw an opportunity start her own business while still working a full-time job. People often mistaken Yen to be quite timid on first impression, but little do they know that she enjoys confrontation, is super opinionated and will definitely shut down dickhead behaviour (if she sees it). Her upbringing has been quite colourful (a story for another time) but as a result she is now super passionate about raising diversity issues (in every form) and empowering young girls to chase their dreams through running mentorship programs and teaching at a university outside of her side hustles.

@yhoang

Kween Krush: EBONY MELLOWSHIP “Turning Pain Into Power With Tattoos.”

Kween Krush: EBONY MELLOWSHIP “Turning Pain Into Power With Tattoos.”

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

Ebony, hubba hubba, guurl do we have an Aaron Carter-size crush on you!! Not only do you have some bangin’ style, look like a goth-punk-rock goddess, have a heart of platinum gold, are funny AF but you also have some mad mad tatts skillzzzz. So bare with me while I celebrate the insane human that you are!

How long have you been a tattoo artist for?

It’s just come up to eight and a half years. I can’t believe it’s been that long!!

What made you decide to become a tattoo artist? Did it start with a love for art and design?

I guess I always wanted to do something creative, as I had an interest in art growing up but I didn’t really know what to do with it and more importantly, how I could possibly have a long term career making enough clams to get by as an ‘artist’.

I only really considered being a ‘tattoo artist’ when I was about 17/18 and started getting my first few tattoos but again, I didn’t know how to go about it. To me, the tattoo industry was one of those industries that seemed like a secret society, and I was always so intimidated going into studios. I had a little taste when I was 19 in a local studio in Bunbury, but it wasn’t until I was 23 that I got my apprenticeship in Margaret River.

You are totally covered in tatts yourself, face/hands/chest/arms… how did this come about?

Just a natural progression I think. Looking at it now, I definitely got a few tattoos on my body before I should have. Generally you’re meant to wait until you have a fair amount of coverage, like full sleeves etc before you get your hands done but I just did it anyway cos I was 19 and a dickhead and wanted to. That’s also why I have loads of shitty tattoos too haha.

Was there a particular pivotal moment in your life that sparked this journey of self-expression?

I don’t know if it was one moment, but I do believe this is just where I was meant to end up. My parents have always been super encouraging, my dad especially when it came to pursuing something in the ‘arts’ and doing something creative and whether it would be just for me or something I would try and build a career out of.

Also the bands I listened to heavily influenced the way I dressed (some of those early 2000s choices I’d like to forget about lol) and me getting my first couple tattoos, but I have no regrets as it all played a part in leading me to tattooing.

Not that I condone giving a fuck about what other people think, but what is the general reaction to your tattoos? Even in today’s world is there any discrimination that comes along with it?

Hahaha yeah, I don’t condone that at all too but it’s still hard isn’t it? I’m 31 and as much as I like to believe that I’m past caring what people think, there’s still times where I can’t help but be affected by people’s reactions when they’re negative.

It’s more the looks people give you, and just the staring in general. I’ve had people say to me over the years that I must get tattooed or dress/look a certain way because I like the attention but that’s sooo far from it. Why can’t people just do what the fuck they want without it having to be about others?

You’ve travelled a bit and lived in various locations as a tattoo artist, what is the community like? Is it a more different crowd, a group that are more accepting of individuality? Or is not that deep?

I haven’t done nearly as much travel as I’d like, especially with tattooing. I get too anxious and find it hard to push myself out of my safe little shop bubble, but I’m going to keep working at that! There are so many conventions and guest spots I’d like to do all over the world. The tattoo community is great, especially the ‘lady tattooer’ community!

I think it just comes along with being in this industry, by nature everyone is more accepting. We’re all a bunch of weirdos, so we have to be!!

Your tattoos are incredible and your talents recognised amongst your peers. How scary is it to tattoo another human? Especially big, detailed, important tattoos?

Aw geez thaaaanks! It’s TERRIFYING!! I have the hardest time convincing myself that I’m doing an ok job. Huge case of imposter syndrome.

It usually serves me better to just pretend it’s not a big deal, because if I overthink it. I stress too much about upcoming jobs and beat myself up about little things; there’s a lot of expectation.

I think every tattoo is important you know, as it always is for the person that’s getting it. Surprisingly, it’s usually the small ones that are harder or that I worry over more because there’s less room for error!

Have you ever royally fucked it up? Lol!

Haha, I haven’t had any maaaajor fuck ups. I’ve definitely made some mistakes; you’re still working on a living, moving human so those things happen.

In the early days I did heeeeeaps of shit tattoos that I still sometimes lose sleep over, but you have to start somewhere I guess ha.

You mentioned the ‘lady tattooer community’ before, what’s the culture of working as a ‘female’ tattoo artist? Can it be a bit of a boys club too?

Yeah I think it’s definitely a boys club, it always has been but it’s shifted a lot and yes, there’s now this incredible female tattooer community that I feel so lucky and proud to be a part of. Especially in the last few years and seeing how things have changed, it’s way less cliquey.

I’m part of a few online groups of lady tattooers and it’s so nice to have a safe space to talk to your peers and to get constructive criticism/advice on your work. You don’t have to be concerned about asking for help or being shut down and it’s just so welcoming and uplifting; there’s no ego or bullshit.

How would you describe your childhood/teenage years? Do you think it played a big part in the person you are now?

I had a bit of a shit time growing up tbh. I was bullied pretty mercilessly for my weight and appearance and still am sometimes. I’m fucking fat guys, get over it, jeeeeesus.

Theres so much more good stuff in my life but the negative and traumatic has had a way more profound effect on me. Obviously it would have been waaay better not to have had people pour off-milk on my head and call me a fat cunt everyday (soooo not still bitter about it), I guess I am who I am because of all of it haha.

Well, I LOVE YOU and I’m so sorry that you had to experience such awful behavior like that.

Lena Dunham claims she started tattooing her body to take back control of it. Is this too your perception on body image/body confidence and being body shamed? And is this in any relation to tattooing your body?

Yeah I guess if I open up about it on a deeper level than just ‘I hell like tats’, having tattoos definitely makes me feel more confident with my body; it’s something I choose to do and have control over.

I’ve experienced my fair share of body shaming, I don’t know any woman that hasn’t unfortunately. I love the idea of tattoos being something that people use to empower themselves!

I self-harmed for a lot of my teenage years: from when I was about 11 until my early 20s and getting tattooed had a huge (positive) impact on my mental health. I don’t really know how to explain it because I haven’t really mentioned it before this, but I think wanting something rad or colourful instead of cuts and scars made me kind of stop and I thought about my body differently because of having tattoos. It’s something I liked about myself.

I’ve had most of my scars tattooed over, and I’m in the position now where I can do the same for others. I’ve been lucky enough to tattoo quite a few people over their scars and I know first hand how healing that is!!

You really are one-in-a-million Kween. Did I state already that I love you and want to watch you sleep? (Too much?!) 😋

Actually I’ve also noticed, you’ve recently connected with a beau, in a modern fairy tale way! Dish dish dish!! Tell us all about it!?

Eeeeeee!!!

We met through Facebook! We’d been friends on there since 2012 (crazy) but hadn’t ever spoken. He had liked a few of my selfies over the years haha and then he randomly messaged me last year and we’ve pretty much talked everyday since then. He’s Irish but lives in New Zealand, so we didn’t actually meet in person until a couple of weeks ago when he flew here. Now I’m moving to NZ because we’re in loooove and I’m so so happy. He’s my first BF and he’s so sweet and funny and handsome (and did I mention Irish?) and I just love and adore him!!!

HOORAY!! This my kind of happily ever after. Yasss.

Knowing what you know now, what’s one thing you’d tell your younger self?

I know it’s super cliche, but just that things will get better. That your worth isn’t based on others opinions of you and it’s definitely not defined by how you look. And also read more!!!

Any advise to other bad ass beautiful Kweens trying to find themselves or are struggling to embrace their uniqueness?

Surround yourself with the best damn girl gang you can. I have soooo many incredible women in my life who do nothing but support and love me, but are also strong enough to call me out if I’m being an asshole. Seeing yourself from your friends’ perspective because of how they treat and value you for literally just being you, is fucking beautiful and made me realise maybe I’m not such a piece of shit afterall.

Ebony and Carmela went to high school together. Carmela remembers feeling x1000 cooler whenever Ebony was around, like something special was going to happen; and it always did! Also Eb had the knack of making Carmela laugh till just a little bit of a pee would come out. Carmela’s fondest memory of Ebony is when she they got ready for a house party together at her place and she did the most rad make up on her face. Carmela is lucky she had an ‘Ebony’ around when she was going through those awkward teenage years and she hopes you did too, because ‘Ebonys’ are the tits!!

ebony_mellowship

Guest Kween: JANINE PLANT “Life After A Toxic Relationship.”

Guest Kween: JANINE PLANT “Life After A Toxic Relationship.”

I climbed into bed a few nights ago and my husband immediately shuffled close to me. He wrapped himself around me and got his body as close to mine as physically possible; every inch of our skin was entwined. I smiled and relaxed into him.

I had a sudden flashback to about four years ago, it was my nightly mission to get as close as possible to my edge of the bed; as far away from my ex-husband as I could. When I heard him approaching our room or falling in the door after a ‘work dinner’ at 2am, I would almost stop breathing in an attempt to keep my body still; so he didn’t think I was awake.

Amazing what can change in four years.

I met my ex-husband at the ripe old age of 21. I was naïve, immature as all hell, vulnerable, amenable and easily influenced. I had just been dating a guy who suddenly decided he was into someone else, so I was craving love and affection.

My ex-husband was 11 years older than me. From the moment we met at a mutual friend’s wedding it was go, go, go.

Ever heard of the term love bombing? It’s the practice of overwhelming someone with signs of adoration and attraction. It’s never ending flattery and attention.

-It’s constant text messages, a day after you’ve just met.

-It’s tokens of affection, elaborate gifts and surprise international flights to swan around in a hotel, while he attends work dinners.

-It’s talks of having children together, when you’ve only known each other a month.

-It’s taking you away to a secluded beach shack, for your second date.

-It’s flowers delivered to your work, so everyone knows what a ‘great’ guy he is.

-It’s surprise appearances that are designed to have you spend more time with the love bomber and less time with others or on your own.

You get the picture.

Love bombing is intoxicating at first, it’s all encompassing. Reading the above paragraphs now, I just think ‘woah, creepy’ but at the time, it was charming; I felt special, amazing, loved.

Now, not everyone who whispers sweet nothings in your ear is a narcissistic jerk, but if you’re feeling that something just isn’t quite right about the person or the relationship you’re in, you should trust it. Yep, if your partner is constantly telling you ‘how good you are together’ but your longest, dearest friends disagree, if your gut is screaming at you that something is just ‘off’ and you’re so anxious you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep and chewing the inside of your mouth, then there’s a pretty good chance something isn’t right.

Love bombing feels great, until it doesn’t.

It feels great until….

-You are endlessly confused because nothing you say or do seems to be right, even when you’re pretty darn sure you didn’t say or do anything wrong.

-There are so many seeds of self-doubt planted in your head, that you’re growing a fucking tree of self-doubt out of there.

-You’ve given up your dream job, which you went to uni for five years to work towards, because you think you’re too dumb to do it.

-Your boyfriend proposes to you in front of your family (knowing you won’t say no that way), and you find yourself curled in a ball crying yourself to sleep on your engagement night.

-Your husband (who earns a lot of money) sits in a bank and manipulates you into taking out a $16 000 personal loan under your name because he has a ‘bad credit rating’ and then somehow convinces you in the car park afterwards that you’re a bad person for thinking it’s a little weird.

-Your 35 year old husband starts coming home on weeknights at all hours of the morning and spends his Saturday nights playing online poker with his mates, getting wasted and you get in trouble for being upset about it.

-You find endless webpage listings for ‘Perth escort services’ on your fiance’s computer and he lies to you and tells you it was his cousin, and you believe him.

Yes, love bombing feels awesome, until you actually don’t even know who you are anymore.

Enter: gas lighting.

Gas lighting, to manipulate someone by psychological means into doubting their own sanity. A malicious and hidden form of emotional abuse, designed to plant seeds of self doubt and alter your perception of reality.

Love bombing morphs into gaslighting pretty quickly. You are so bound up in the love bomber’s web of manipulation that you literally don’t realise it’s happening, until things start to feel really, really wrong.

Some days I just didn’t speak at all, because it seemed easier. We had no money, despite him earning an annual salary four times what I could ever dream of earning. I knew he was using drugs but the couple of times I tried to confront him about it, he laughed in my face and made me feel awful for even thinking it.

So the day I finally plucked up enough courage to leave my ex-husband was hands down, the most invigorating and empowering day of my life.

I had just spent a weekend away for a girlfriend’s wedding. My husband did not enjoy hanging out with these particular friends (I see now it’s because they were smart enough to know better).

I was sitting with my girlfriends, listening to them talk about their experiences as occupational therapists and suddenly I sat up straighter in my chair. I heard the passion in their voices and I remembered that I used to talk like that!

My first job out of uni was working in an acute stroke rehab ward; where I would use my knowledge of the nervous system to help people relearn how to brush their teeth and dress themselves. I thought I knew how to make a difference in people’s lives but my ex-husband had been very encouraging when I said to him one day, “I’m not cut out for this job. I’m just no good at it.” He supported me into leaving the profession I loved so much and then made me feel bad about how little money I had.

It was in that moment, sitting with my girlfriends, that I knew I had to leave. So many things had happened in the lead up to it but somehow it was witnessing that particular conversation, and feeling like an outsider (when I should have been right there in it) that made it all fall into place.

I drove the five hours back home, told him it was over, packed a bag and spent the next three months living in friends’ spare bedrooms.

I share this story not to have a good ol’ bitch about my ex-husband or to shame him in any way; I hold no anger towards him (anymore). I’m sure we both really believed that we loved each other at some point in our lives. I don’t believe he had a malicious intention to inflict so much pain and hurt. We were just two very different, very incompatible humans.

I share this story because I know how easy it is to be manipulated and not realise it’s happening.

I share this story because I’ve met countless other women who took 20 or 30 years to get out of these toxic relationships; amazing, incredible women who are still healing and trying to remember who they are.

I share this story because you can find yourself in an absolute shit storm of toxicity, manipulation, debt, loneliness and yet still have the strength to stand up to a narcissist and remove yourself from the situation.

I share this story because it happens ALL THE TIME.

If one person who is in an emotionally abusive relationship reads this and finds the strength to take the steps they need to remove themselves too, then that’s all I can hope for.

Today, three and a half years after shutting a door and opening a new one, that giant tree of self doubt has reduced to a seedling.

Don’t get me wrong, the voice is still there. If I spill my coffee, drop something or forget to do something at work, an automatic voice in my head is triggered immediately, “You fucking idiot, you’re so useless Janine, sort your shit out! Of course you spilt your coffee, of course you did!!”

Thankfully, I now find myself in a real world of love, kindness and simplicity with a man who won’t let me talk to myself like that.

Four months ago I married my soul mate. I asked him to marry me, in a very normal, non-dramatic kinda way; there was no grand gesture. It was just us, together, camping in the pouring rain (as you do) and I said “Hey Kimbo, wanna marry me?”

He appreciates the simple things in life.

Every Tuesday we have tacos for dinner and every single time it’s like he’s never eaten tacos before. Every night as he rolls into bed, he sighs in absolute bliss about how comfy our bed is. He lives authentically. Appreciating every moment for exactly what it is. Nothing is ever a drama. Ever.

For a while, this was hard to get used to. For five years of my life, I lived in an environment of confusion, lies and drama. Oh the drama. So much drama!!

With Kimbo there are no over-the-top declarations of love or ridiculously expensive dinners or gifts. There is adventure, there is fun and there is of course, love. There is an appreciation of the things in life that actually matter.

I remember the first time he got me flowers, we hadn’t been dating all that long. He got home before me and put them in a glass on the kitchen bench; they weren’t in plain view, just chilling near the sink. There was no mention of it. No begging for recognition. Just a simple act of appreciation. I looked at those flowers (lilies, my fave) and watched him walk around my kitchen, drying my dishes and wiping down my bench tops and felt so genuinely overwhelmed with love, I nearly passed out.

I guess that’s another reason why I’m sharing this story, to show how recovering from a bad relationship can make you so appreciative of the good ones.

It’s the days that break you, that make you.

It’s the tough things that happen to us that help us grow and put ourselves on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.

I believe that everything we encounter in this life really helps to pave our journey, to build our character and teach us lessons.

Ladies, if you’re in a relationship that feels wrong, it’s wrong.

Trust your gut.

Listen to yourself.

Do what you need to do to find out who you are again, because you’re so worth it.

Janine Plant is a Bunbury gal. She’s a proud mumma to her feather babies (chooks), step-mum to a beautiful little boy and wifey to her soulmate, Kim. Known amongst her friends and family as the resident tree hugger, she’s also a yoga teacher, vegan, nature and animal loving free spirit. With all this in mind, still never get between her and her morning triple shot Bonsoy latte! 

Is your inner cheerleader doing her job properly?

Is your inner cheerleader doing her job properly?

What’s the first thing you do when your friend is feeling down?

Or is not being very kind to themselves?

What’s the first thing you do when someone offends your friend?

Or even looks at them the wrong way?

YOU GO INNNNN.

Yep, you’re their personal cheerleader.

You tell em, ‘shut it!’ Cos you’re ain’t having any of that nonsense!!

You follow it up with every compliment under the sun. “You’re fucking gorgeous. Your body is bang-in. You’re stunning on the inside and out. If I was into women, I’d do you!”

At times you even go down the tough love route. “Oh stop it, you silly cow!!”

Now, what’s the first thing you do when you’re not ‘feeling it’?

Or catch yourself in a pic someone else took?

Or Facebook decides to show you a memory from 5 years ago AKA ‘a photo of when you were much thinner but thought you were fat and gross and disgusting then too’?

You do not go into cheerleader mode.

You say, think and feel some truly horrid things about yourself.

What a shame.

In the last two years, I was asked by both my best friends if I would be in their bridal party.

Something I felt truly touched by. I was honoured, privileged, thrilled, you name it: I had all the feels. Unlike my sister who has been in countless bridal parties, I have been in a total of three.

So how did I wear that pride?

“I have to lose weight, like yesterday.”

“Fuck, how awful if I’m this size for the wedding.”

“Shit the other bridesmaids are so much skinner than me; I’m going to look huge.”

This dialogue went on inside my head for 14 months in the lead up to my beautiful friend Effie’s wedding. Every month I would calculate the time I had left to be skinner, prettier, better.

I feared seeing Effie weeks before the wedding because I already felt like I had let her down. Why? Because I hadn’t organised the Bachelorette party or I hadn’t given a second thought to the wedding d-floor playlist? Oh no: because I hadn’t lost enough weight!!

On the morning of the wedding, the last thing I said to her before we left for the church was: “Do I look ok? I don’t want to embarrass you.” In hindsight I’m more embarrassed for actually saying that to her. What the fuck did it matter how I looked or felt? This was her day. 🤦🏻‍♀️

When my beautiful friend Pippa asked me to be in her bridal party, I was determined to get it right this time. I was not going to be fat at her wedding. Oh god, I was even bigger. 🤣

I just ballooned in the lead up to it. I had put on so much more weight whilst living in London that when I landed back in Australia two weeks before the wedding, I really had to put on a brave face.

At the time I never said a word to Pippa (a lesson learnt from Effie’s wedding) yet she constantly told me throughout the day how gorgeous ‘I’ looked and she let me get changed half-way through the reception. Am I the most high-maintenance bridesmaid or what? No wonder I never get asked. Ha!

When I got back to London, I was secretly dreading the release of Pip’s bridal photos. I was fixated on what I would look like and I couldn’t stop thinking how once again, I had let a close friend down.

When the photos did finally emerge, what I’d been dreading was to be expected.

Some of the photos I’m in are lovely. Others have so many chins and back rolls, I have to now laugh, otherwise, well you know how this sentence ends.

The day I went through her wedding gallery for the first time, I tried to do the cheerleader thing.

“They’re ok babe.”

“Jesus, calm it, they’re not that bad!”

“Look how much love is in these photos!? Who gives a fuck what size you are?”

And a bit of the tough stuff too: “No one is looking at that. YOU are looking at that. Get over yourself.”

But I couldn’t stop torturing myself and admittedly, I didn’t sleep much that night. I was wracked with guilt.

I reached out to Pippa a few times to confess how sorry I was (I felt like I owed it to her). She responded with:

Fuck me. Is this not the worst part?

Isn’t she a diamond? Am I not the luckiest mole in the whole damn world?!

What the hell have I been putting myself through over the last few years? My friends didn’t pick me to be in their bridal party because I take a nice photo. They picked me for so many other reasons. Why couldn’t I just focus on that?

What a shame.

The first wedding I was ever in was my beautiful friend Caitlyn’s. I was 15-20 kilos lighter but I felt the same then too.

When will this stop? What’s it going to take?

Kweens, it really is this simple: if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, then don’t you dare say it, think it and feel it about yourself!!!

Now, it’s not every day I do this. I’m actually getting a lot better at being kind to myself. I’m definitely a lot better then I was.

These days, I’m better at letting things go. Where before I would see it as I was letting myself go. I would punish myself for having any feelings of self-love (like maybe I was just lying to myself).

Today, I’m wearing skinny blue jeans with a black singlet tucked into it. This is a black singlet I would normally wear under tops to keep everything in and tight.

Lately I have been following some accounts on Instagram where women have been showcasing and embracing their size and curves. Each and every one of these women are sexy AF.

So I feel like the script really is changing. Am I more confident now by chance? By age? Or by the examples around me? The kind of examples that weren’t around me when I younger?

I got up this morning and I put on an outfit that totally emphasized my boobs, butt, waist, stomach and thighs. You should have seen me strutting across London Bridge, I was owning it!

The reality: I packed another looser top too, as I wasn’t sure how long today’s new found confidence would last.

The important thing: you would not have caught me dead in something like that a year ago, let alone 5 years ago (when I was thinner: thanks Facebook).

Growing up as a ‘bigger’ girl you get used to things.

Like: obsessing in the mirror and securitising every angle before heading out.

Like: pulling at your top every time you sit down.

Like: making excuses when your friends invite you to the beach.

Like: walking down the street and constantly fiddling because your dress is sticking to the wrong parts of your body.

Like: having mini-meltdowns in bathrooms during a party because you feel so uncomfortable.

Like: not getting changed EVER in front of ANYONE.

Like: dreading seeing an old mate because you’re not the same size you were the last time you saw them.

Where was my inner cheerleader then?

Where is my inner cheerleader now?

Well, she’s pretty strong today. She’s getting stronger and louder every day. She’s doing high-kicks and all kinds of fancy shit.

If you’re the same, can’t you see a pattern? You weren’t happy when you were 5 kilos lighter. You weren’t content when you 10 kilos lighter. You were still miserable when you were at your lightest.

When’s it going to stop? What’s it going to take?

Will my inner cheerleader always be around? No. But I genuinely believe that if I’m ever going to be truly happy that I need to love her just the way she is right now.

I need to learn to let my inner cheerleader do cartwheels, no matter what size she is!

Will my inner cheerleader be around tomorrow? Oh, I bloody hope so!! And I hope yours is too.

Goooo ‘Team You’!! Yaasss!

Big love,

Carmela

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