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Aloha from beautiful Perth!

Yesterday I made the nearly-four-hour journey across our sunburnt country from east coast to west to spend a week of blissful relaxation (dotted with parties) with my dear old Dad!

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Throwback all the way to 2010 – my first trip to Perth! (Sorry about the quality)

I’ve been fairly overdue for a holiday, and while I have plenty of non-plans to do a whole lot of not much (hello, day spa!), Dad and I have planned a host of fun adventures for the week to come, including a trip to the opera, a day by the sea in Fremantle, several dinner dates with various very cool people and a trip to the markets. He knows me too well!

The very first thing on my agenda for this trip was to spend the entirety of this morning in bed reading and drinking cups of tea. I was bummed to realise, while cocooned in blankets and sipping English Breakfast, that I’ve done a far bit of complaining lately. I hate to admit it, because it’s a yucky negative space and I try to avoid those at all costs, but it’s true! I’ve been quite the Negative Nancy, and I didn’t enjoy the realisation of the fact one bit.

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We all complain from time to time, because it’s so easy to gripe about things – the weather, our families, poor internet connection, running out of milk, office politics – but the thing is, complaints are simply negative verbalisations that sap our ability to live a positive, gratitude-filled life. Not good.

At times, complaining seems almost constructive. We all need to off-load occasionally, right? But why is it that we tend to switch into a negative headspace as soon as someone asks, “How are you?”

A typical response to this question is, “Yeah, fine thanks, how are you?”, before launching into a diatribe outlining all the reasons that we think we aren’t doing well.

  • “Yeah, fine thanks, a bit tired. Had a late one last night, I couldn’t sleep. I’ve been really stressed over the merger.”
  • “Yeah, fine thanks. I think I might be coming down with a cold. It’s going round at the moment, everybody’s sick.”
  • “Yeah, fine thanks. My pet unicorn vomited all over the Axminster and my Lambo’s in the shop. I had to get the bus to work.”

Well, the latter might be a bit of a stretch. But you get the idea, right?

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It’s sad to think that the bulk of our compulsive communication with others involves some form of complaint. We all tend to focus more on the negative than the positive, even when we’re actively trying to live with joy. I could get all cliché here and spout the ‘there’s so much to be thankful for!’ argument, but in reality, I think it’s far simpler than that: just stop! And while you’re at it, it’s time to do away with ‘fine’. Fine is a fallacy. Fine is boring as fuck, if we’re being really honest. So – “How are you?”

  • “I’m great! I have a date on Saturday night, I’m actually going shopping for a new outfit after work.”
  • “I’m so good, thanks for asking! Mum’s birthday is next week, I can’t wait to see the family, it’s been so long since we all got together!
  • “I’m really well. I have a meeting with my boss tomorrow to discuss an idea I had for a new project. I think it’s going to be really productive.”

Try to stop leaping for the last irritating thing that’s happened to you, and instead, lead with the most exciting thing you’re looking forward to. If you can make this one simple change, your whole attitude will shift – instead of dwelling on the past and savouring those bitter, bite-sized pieces of gloom and doom, you’ll free up your energy to really manifest the good things that are coming your way. And they are coming!

So, that’s it! Dad and I are off to the opera tonight, which I’m really looking forward to. I have a date with myself at Keturah Day Spa tomorrow, followed by what’s sure to be a ridiculous, hilarious dinner with my friend Silvana. Dad and I will be venturing out into the sunshine over the weekend, and then I’ll have a few more days to myself to write and lay down some serious groundwork for magic-making before I head back home to Melbourne on Wednesday. #valentravels all the way!

Lots of love,

 

 

 

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It’s late in the day. You’re tired and maybe a little grumpy. You get off the train or pull in to the drive, desperate to open the front door and dump all your crap everywhere. You might not even make dinner, you can’t be bothered – pot noodles and a beer will do. It is hump day, after all. You sag into the sofa and reach for the remote… and then I appear, in a glittery cape and thigh-high fuzzy pink boots to smack it out of your hand. Don’t even think about it!

Falling into the dinner-and-telly trap is easy (believe me, I know), and it definitely can be tempting. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll eventually start thinking about how far behind you are on your reading/study/laundry/social life, and wonder where your time went. I’ll tell you – nowhere. It didn’t go anywhere. You had the time all along. There are no evil little time gremlins hiding in your closet, sucking the hours away in secret, feasting on your listlessness.

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Creating more time in your day to be productive and enjoy your life is really simple. It all starts with addressing why you feel as though you have no energy. Lethargy can be attributed to a whole host of reasons – diet, social life, study, family, lack of sleep. Luckily, it’s easy to turn it all around – there are some pretty simple ways to get your energy – and your evenings – back.

Kill the distractions. Yes, I am talking about the television and your laptop. No one is sticking the remote in your hand and forcing you to switch the TV on. Instead, try ramping some beats and get used to not needing to watch or read anything. It sounds simple, but avoiding the TV until later – say eight or nine PM – will give you a few hours to focus on doing other things.

You are what you eat. This saying is as old as the wind, and it doesn’t get any less true with the passing of time. Here’s a really easy fix – make sure you’re consuming plenty of fruit, veggies and whole grains for at least two of your meals – breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner, etc. Vitamins and minerals don’t ingest themselves! And while we’re on the topic of vitamins – are you getting enough Vitamin B? Vitamin B is essential to the breakdown and burning of energy. Invest in a decent B group vitamin and I promise, you will feel the results straight away. We don’t brink Berocca on a hangover for nothing…

Don’t go straight home. Do you ever scroll idly through your Facebook feed while lying semi-comatose on the couch and wonder, when was the last time you saw so-and-so? And who made up the rule that we can only socialise on weekends, anyway?! If you’re getting home, shutting the front door behind you and experiencing rushes of blah, or even worse, FOMO, try making early drink or dinner dates one or two evenings a week. They don’t have to be late, and incorporating a little socialising into your weeknights will also help to free up some time in your weekends to do other things for yourself.

Make a plan for the night. If you do want to head straight home after a busy day, having a preconceived idea about what you want to do with your time will help you avoid whiling hours away browsing the net or channel surfing. Take a few minutes on your lunch break to write down a few things you need to do – the grocery shop, your laundry, call your parents, finish making the invites for your birthday party, wax your bits, bake some cookies to take to work tomorrow. Getting home does not automatically kill your productivity – you’re doing that all on your own!

Intellectualise. You may have to break the no-TV-and-no-computer rule for this one, but only for the power of good, and not evil. Use your evenings to feed your brain and your passions! There is literally no end to the number of podcasts, articles, TED Talks, business planners and budgeting tools available. Instead of lounging about and lamenting that you know very little about your chosen political party’s stance on climate change, or wistfully dreaming of all the fondant flowers you know you could make, if you tried – try. Learn. Listen. Read. Use your evenings to better your understanding of the world and to carve out your own niche in it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to download a few podcasts, write out my shopping list and make dinner plans for next Tuesday. No excuses!

When I sat down to write this post, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to say. I know I’m bridging a gap of pretty solid silence – I’ve been on what can only be described as an acute whirlwind of psycho for the past several weeks.

It wasn’t until I thought about writing a sort of ‘life update’ post that I realised, I don’t need to fill you guys in on all the nitty gritty details. Instead, how about this: holy. Fuck. What an extraordinary six months!

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It’s now officially over halfway through 2015, and as such, it’s the ideal time for us to kick back with a glass of whatever and reflect on the magic we’ve already made this year. Gratitude lists, babes – let’s all rip in to the second half of this beautiful year by thanking the Universe for the very best bits!

  • Amazing new friends from all over the world
  • Uncontrollable laughter – the kind that makes your stomach ache and mascara run
  • Home cooked meals and Taylor Swift sing-a-longs at 2am
  • The winter Night Markets
  • Guerrilla desk fairies
  • Louisiana street food
  • Vegan cupcakes and pizza
  • Finding myself in the minority
  • Inventive ways to repair holes in tights
  • Boutique wine stores
  • Spoken song lyrics and ludicrous innuendos
  • Better health
  • Family visits
  • Boat parties and Bruno Mars
  • Planning epic holidays
  • Watching my friends kick ass
  • Buying my own furniture (and a new TV – finally!)
  • Having Luxe cuddles again!
  • Making it on your own
  • Planning my dinners and cooking up a storm
  • Puppy kisses from borrowed pets
  • Walking everywhere
  • Hand-me-downs from Paris and London
  • Impromptu sleepovers
  • Amazing house parties
  • Starting to plan for summer in June
  • New artists and pretty tattoos
  • Taking the reigns
  • Developing new projects
  • New face scrub
  • Never-ending bar tabs
  • River Island boots
  • Great Gatsby birthday parties
  • Late night walks home
  • Hot air balloons floating over my suburb
  • 24-hour everything
  • Trains and trams that are always on time
  • Discovering Uber

WOW. I have the biggest smile on my face right now! Grab a pen and paper and start listing the things that have made you smile over the past six months!

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Happy snap from my birthday boat cruise at the end of May with my babe Amy!

We should also really take this opportunity to think about what we want for the second half of the year. As important as it is to reflect and be thankful for the wonderful things in our lives, it is equally important to keep looking ahead and live with love as wildly as we can. There are plenty of things that I want to focus on in the next six months. Have you set any goals or made any plans for the rest of 2015?

Vegan, baby. Last night marked the end of my first two weeks of a whole food, plant-based diet. I decided to make the switch after a long conversation with my Dad, who’s been enjoying a 95% vegan lifestyle since early this year. It’s made a tremendous impact on his health and well being, so I decided to give it a go. I only had one very tiny slip up in the past two weeks, and on the whole I’m feeling a lot more energised and healthy than I have in a long time. My goal is to eat 100% vegan for the rest of the year – they say it only takes 21 days to form a habit; imagine what I could do in six months!

Organise my money. I know, I know, this one’s a little on the boring side – but it’s something I really need to do in order to support myself properly. I still find myself days from pay day and struggling to pay bills and do all the things I have want to do: my cash handling skills desperately need some attention. This means budgeting, saving and being just a little more responsible with my hard-earned dosh!

Professional badassery. There are a few projects I have bubbling away in my brain that I want to get started on at work. Not only do I savour any opportunity I get to be creative and design strategies and projects, but I really want to start contributing more to my team, which in turn will benefit the students we mentor. This one will require a lot of planning, communication and a little pizzazz – but take note: if you want to stand out and make a difference, it’s imperative to think outside the square and share your ideas!

Blogging basics. I need to get back to them. Namely, writing awesome content and posting regularly. I’m sorry I’ve been on hiatus! I’ve been sitting on a bunch of ideas for a long time, but circumstances and yes – laziness – have prevented me from actually doing anything about them. The time is now!

So, there we go! Just a few things I’ll be working on for the rest of the year.

I hope you’ve all had a magical few months. I’ve really missed this space and connecting with you guys – I’m glad to say that I’m back, and I can’t wait for a smashing end to what has so far been a truly incredible year!

All my love, and it’s great to have you back,

Hey babes!

On Sunday I had the absolute pleasure of attending a high tea event at the InterContinental ‘The Rialto’ to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound Of Music!

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When Pearl first asked me to go with her, I knew instantly it was an invitation I could NOT pass up.

I’ve lost count of how many times I have seen The Sound Of Music. I’ve twirled around various gazebos like Liesl and sung about my Favourite Things at the top of my voice on more than one occasion. I’ve watched The Sound Of Music with my sisters, my mother and both my Grandmothers. It’s just an iconic film that represents all the best parts of family, falling in love and appreciating the simple things life, like music in the hills and having confidence in yourself.

When Pearl and I arrived at the InterContinental, I didn’t have any idea what to expect. I’d never been to the ‘InterCon’ before, so I was feeling quite nervy as we walked into the beautiful, cavernous entrance of the The Rialto.

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  • Wig – Wigs Online
  • Specs – eBay
  • Doll earrings & 2D gem ring – I’m Your Present
  • Sweater – Kmart
  • Sequinned dress – Valleygirl
  • Clear jelly sandals (not pictured) – ZU
  • Clutch – Unknown (gifted)

We were ushered into a small conference room, which to our delight was set up with several large round tables laden with gifts and teacups. Each setting was complete with a ‘brown paper package tied up with string’, which we would later discover was a bag of Haigh’s chocolate. YUM.

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While we enjoyed our delicious assortment of high tea nibbles and a few a glass of champagne, we were privy to an exclusive showing of the new documentary “The Sound of a City: Julie Andrews Returns to Salzburg”.

The doco is a visual treat that really showcases how glorious Salzburg is today, as well as how utterly fabulous Julie Andrews is, too. The woman is the epitome of grace and timelessness. She’s quite funny, too – the doco features more than one reference to her days as both Maria and Mary Poppins, and it’s clear she’s still got a fabulously cheeky streak in her golden years.

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As you can see, totally decadent! My favourite morsels were by far and away the cherry cheese cake, smoked salmon and cream cheese miniature bagel and the beef burgundy pie.

All-in-all, it was a truly fabulous event that I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a special treat for their Mum for Mother’s Day! The Sound of Music High Tea is running at the Market Lane Bar for three consecutive Sundays from the 26th of April. Get to it, Melbabes!

Raindrops on roses,

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Hello dumplings!

Believe it or not (and I barely can myself), my one month Melbourne anniversary passed by on the 19th of February! The funniest part is, I didn’t even realise it until yesterday. My life has been turned upside down and inside out in all the best possible ways over the past few weeks – and clearly, I’ve been having so much fun that I didn’t even get to celebrate my first milestone! I suppose I’ll have to make it an extra lavish celebration at the six month mark to compensate (can anyone say, champagne?).

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While I’ve mostly been gallivanting around the place like a unicorn in a cotton candy field, it’s time to get real: not eveything went exactly according to my plan, or lack-thereof. If there’s one thing that moving to a completely new city has taught me, it’s that there is definitely not one thing I needed to learn.

It’s really easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and excitement of making a huge snap decision like moving away. Maybe you bat away a few idle thoughts of budgets and transport and making friends that drift by in-between planning goodbye parties and packing your suitcases. Maybe you sit down with a spreadsheet and a bottle of vodka every night until you leave, obsessively planning all the itty-bitty practicalities of your move.

However you decide to do it, you may as well face facts, sweetheart – there will always be something that you haven’t prepared yourself for!

I’ve learned a lot of lessons very quickly in the first month of living away. I have a few pearls of wisdom to impart: I hope you find them useful…

  • You are not as prepared as you think you are

Just face it, and own it. No matter how much research you do, you are still going to get in to it – be it two weeks, one month, or six months – and feel unprepared. New friends, new priorities, new job, new lover, new house, new responsibility, new shopping centre – something new is always going to come up. Don’t think you’ve sorted it all out, because believe me, you haven’t. Just be aware that something, somewhere, is going to surpirse you – be it for better or worse.

  • The culture shock will shock you

Even moving from one city to another in the same country is going to throw you. There’ll always be something different to how things were at home – the way people dress, the way people talk, the way that clothes are displayed on mannequins, the way they serve coffee. You may thing that you totally get it: fun fact. You don’t. I’m still awed that people don’t stare at me incessantly in Melbourne, and that 24 hour pho diners are totally normal. There’ll always be something, so absorb it and utilise it. It’s all part of the experience.

  • Sort your amenities ASAP

Find your local late-night grocer, emergency doctor, fish ‘n’ chip shop, petrol station, hospital, train stop, pharmacy, liquor store and late-night pizza joint are. Would you rather wait until you crave pizza so badly you’d eat your own arm, or chop off your finger in a freak onion slicing accident? I don’t think so. Sort that shit out in the first week. You’ll thank me later.

  • Travel cards are your number one priority

The first day you arrive, chuck as much money as possible onto your travel card. In Melbourne, it’s called Myki. In London, it’s Oyster. Once the money is on there, you can’t transfer it off – meaning, you can’t get drunk and accidentally spend your train money on scotch before your first week of work is over. Getting from A to B is an integral part of living in a new city – so make sure it’s a priority money-wise!

  • Get into a routine

Here’s mine: wake up, shower, dress, travel to work, make coffee, work, travel home, get groceries to make dinner, get home, glass of wine, write, cook, shower, read, bed. OK, so maybe it varies a little from day to day – obviously, I’m not a hermit – but establishing a routine will help you to feel more settled more quickly. Even if it’s just rising at the same time every morning, or always getting coffee from the same place: it will help to ground you and imprint your existence onto your surroundings. It’s all about where you distribute your energy, babe.

  • It’s okay to ask for help

Whether you have to call your parents and ask for a hundred bucks to see you through till the end of the week, or call a friend and admit you’re having an anxiety attack about being in a new place – it doesn’t matter. What you’re doing is scary as shit. Own it. It’s okay. When you announced you were leaving, no one expected that they’d never hear from you again. Asking for help is not the same as admitting defeat. If anything, it proves the exact opposite  - that you care enough about what you’re doing to go to any lengths to make it work.

  • Don’t discount your new neighbours

During your first few days in your new place, make the effort to go next door and introduce yourself. (Full disclosure: I did not do this – to my detriment.) Whether it’s a simple ‘hello’ in the doorway, or you invite them over for coffee and cake, establishing rapport with your neighbours will go a long way if you accidentally lock yourself out of your new apartment (not that this ever happened to me) or can’t work out how to use the built in microwave. They’ll probably also keep an extra eye out for you, so if you work full time or travel a lot, there’ll be someone to watch the door and let you know if there’s any funny business going on.

  • Make an emergency kit

Rubber bands. Paracetamol. Matches. Saline drops. Twist ties. Safety pins. Bandaids. Paper clips can be used to pop open SIM card holders. Toothpicks can pick out gunk from the bathroom drain. Trust me, you take all these things for granted at home, but when you’re on your own, there’ll come a time when you wish you had an elastic band up your sleeve. Macgyver style.

  • It’s possible to buy booze for $5

If you get paid fortnightly, set yourself a limit for drinks and stick to it. If you’re partial to French red, fantastic! Treat yourself to a bottle every now and then. But also be prepared to make sacrifices when you have to. There’s no sense in buying a forty dollar bottle of scotch to take to a party if you only have fifty dollars left in your bank account. There’s no shame in factoring booze into your budget. If anything, it makes you a super responsible adult. *sips cask rose*

  • Breaking up is not just about moving away

I’m sure a lot of you have been wondering what’s happened between Nate and I. The truth is: life. You should always expect to grow exponentially in your relationships – all of them – whether together, or separately. Nate and I ended our relationship, not because I left Adelaide- but because we both recognise that we were no longer serving each other in a partnership. My moving to Melbourne had everything to do with my personal growth, and nothing to do with our respective failings. If you’re struggling to come to terms with a similar situation, recognise that making the choice to move has made you braver, stronger and happier.

  • Get to know your locale

Go exploring! Your world doesn’t begin and end at your train station. Go and find the best cafes. The coolest junk stores. The quirkiest tattoo parlours. The randomest community gardens. Get to know your town and she will love you right back.

  • If you need to freak out, do (just make sure you have support first)

Full disclosure: I had a major meltdown on Friday. I went from the throes of hilarity at after work drinks to the pits of a full blown anxiety attack at my friends house in the space of a single hour. I read the signs, ignored them, and like always, my anxiety erupted like fucking Vesuvius. I obviously needed to release some feels, and you know what? It’s fine. There’s no perfect way to change your life. It’s a process, and you need to grow with it. Of course, where possible, it’s always advisable to have someone you can trust with you when everything falls apart (Pearl: I love you).

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  • Shopping is not the most exciting thing

My first thought upon arriving in Melbourne and receiving my first paycheque? H&M!!!!!!!!!!! (Italicised bold capitals intentional). Ugh, trust me, I know just how tempting it is to run rampant with your hard earned cash and spend up big. My advice? Don’t. At least not in the first month or so. You’re in a brand new place with a plethora of cool shit on offer – don’t spend your dollars on shitty clothes and plastic jewellery! Go out and experience things. Which leads me nicely onto my next point…

  • Check out what’s happening in advance

I know first hand: nothing is going to make you feel worse than being invited to do something awesome with a bunch of insanely cool new people than having to reject their invitation because you’re broke. In five weeks, this has happened to me twice – and I could have avoided both embarrassment and heartache each time by setting aside a few extra dollars on pay day. Look up your new city’s events calendar! What happening? When? Where? If you want to go, ask the people you know if they’re planning to attend. I’d recommend keeping a month ahead of the calendar – that way, you can budget properly and plan your effervescent social calendar around what you actually want to do.  And for God’s sake, set a bit of cash aside.

  • Establish your space, and do it quickly

Bring as much stuff as possible with you when you’re ‘bumping in ‘ to your new home. I’ve been housesitting, so although I have my own clothes, cosmetics and jewellery here – it clearly is not my space. If you have to move quickly, or into someone else’s’ home, bring the necessities – but also bring a few personal items, like a few books, photographs or trinkets. If you’re lucky enough to move into your own place straight away, spend as much time as you can arranging your furniture and taking command of your space. It will help you feel grounded.

  • It’s okay to feel lonely and afraid

No. You are not weak, or a loser, or pathetic, or a failure if you miss your friends and family or are petrified to go outside by yourself. Just recognise this as a beautiful opportunity for personal growth and take small steps. Allow yourself a phone call home once a day for a week, and then reduce it to every second day the next week. Instead of blazing around the entire city on your own in one night, venture outside and check out a local bookstore on a Sunday afternoon by yourself. Take it easy, babe. No one told you this thing would be a joy ride.

  • There’s no shame in a mental health plan

This is really, really important for anyone that’s dealing with mental illness. I came to rely on my family GP for years and years when I needed something – to sound off, to cry, to have meds adjusted or to try and understand what was going on inside my head. When I moved away, I also moved away from my safety net. So I made my own. I implore you to do the same. Be proactive. If you think you’re going to need support, make an appointment to see a GP in your area. Be armed with your history and your current circumstances. Ask them for help in managing any present triggers, or for help developing a plan for the future. Take ownership of your health – physical and mental. It’s so, so important.

  • Your family is always there

I’m lucky enough to have two parents who love me unconditionally, and three siblings who try their damnedest (ha!). If you’re in the same boat, just remember – they will always be there. It’s okay to cry to them. It’s okay to tell them your best achievements. It’s even better when they tell you they’re proud of you. Even if you don’t have conventional family support, there is always somebody that you can call. An aunt. A foster sibling. A grandparent. Remember: no one on this earth is alone. Including you. If all else fails, I am here for you, and I love you. mj@mjvalentine.com – anytime.

  • Keep some cash for an emergency flight home

As lamentable as my budgeting skills are, I made sure that when my first paycheque came in, I pulled out enough dollars for a return flight to Adelaide. In the olden days, they called it ‘rainy day’ money. I hid it in my apartment, and it’s there to stay. If I lose my job, my way, or my mind, I have a down payment on the final straw that I can cash in if I ever truly need to. I would suggest that anyone in similar circumstances to mine does the same. – just in case.

  • Only confide in people who will support your circumstances

A wise woman once told another wise woman (the former being someone exceptionally close to me) that she should only confide her darkest secrets to those who she knew would be supportive. The woman in question told me this is passing one day, and it’s probably the best piece of inadvertent advice she’s ever given me. If you want to pack it all in, don’t call someone from home who’ll tell you it was a stupid idea to leave in the first place. If you hate your new job, don’t tell anyone who’ll just say they knew that you’d never be successful in the role. Save your darkest admissions not for cheerleaders or soul-suckers, but for people who have and will support you through to till the very end.

Have you moved to a new city? What piece of advice would you give?

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