The Dark Stalker – Part II

My condition only exacerbated with the strain of unstable relationships during my twenties, a string of not-so-great partners who came in and quickly left my life further bruised my fragile state of mind. I was so ashamed of being single. I looked for companionship with any guy that showed me an ounce of affection. These men weren’t looking for a deep connection, just easy one night stands with no strings attached. I had no respect for myself and I was a magnet for men who had no respect for me.  Constant heartbreak lead to unbearable pain and the crushing fear of loneliness. At this stage, I knew I required more than therapy to help me claw out of the mess I was in. My psychiatrist ultimately prescribed me with medication. It was the first time I finally admitted to myself that I suffered from depression, which was a further blow to my confidence.

Despite the depths of despair I was suffering, I discovered that my inner pain would only deepen and slip further into a dark abyss. Triggered by work related stress and the lack of support from management, I quickly found myself spiralling out of control with thoughts of failure. The day to day bullshit at work was a relentless grind that was truly paralysing. A sluggish economy, stagnant sales results coupled with a change in ownership and an inevitable structural change, led to a pressure cooker environment. The workload more than doubled consequently, I was working overtime every day as well as weekends. It became the norm rather than the exception.

Sane Australia

Image Source: facebook.com/saneaustralia/photos

My supervisor never recognised the additional hours required to meet deadlines. Yet, when things went wrong, as they inevitably did, he would unleash hell! He would bully, threaten and push me to meet his demands. He would often wash his hands clean of any problems and handball all accountability to his team members, leaving us hanging out to dry.  The business turned a blind eye to the passive aggressive management style fostered by our team leader. As a result, my direct manager took delight in abusing his power and authority, regularly delegating his own responsibilities to his subordinates while he ‘worked from home’.

I couldn’t turn to anyone. The company had an unwritten rule of backing up senior management rather than the staff who busted their balls to achieve results. The fact is, Human Resources are paid by the company and at the end of the day, their overall mission is to support the business and the bottom line….the rest is all collateral damage.

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** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.sane.org

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

www.ruok.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au

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The Dark Stalker – Part I

I’ve known Lisa since we were immature, pre-pubescent kids running amok in primary school. On the outside, Lisa is an articulate, bubbly girl who oozes confidence and charm. With her classic good looks and a glamorous job in advertising, she had what seemed to be an envious life that involved overseas trips and socialising and networking with high flyers of the corporate world. But her smile was a façade that hid a painful secret which she only recently revealed. Lisa suffers from depression. This is her journey….

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Depression is a dark shadow that stalks my everyday existence. The paralysing feeling of hopelessness is like a sombre mood that constantly lingers over me. From the time I was 16, I had noticed that I didn’t have the strength to cope with the curve balls that life threw my way. However, as the years passed, my inner struggles only worsened as I faced the trials and tribulations of climbing the corporate ladder, pursuing a career in public relations, being hit with financial pressures and the heart ache of rocky relationships. I hit rock bottom in late 2001 and the depth of despair was beyond overwhelming.

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

Initially, I associated my mood swings with the highs and lows of growing pains during my teens. Unrequited love, peer pressure, the awkwardness of puberty, teenage angst and rebelliousness culminated in a roller coaster ride of emotions which I could usually dismiss and move on from. Yet, by the time I began university, the stress of perfection, exceeding parental expectations, my obsessive desire to succeed academically but never quite reaching my goals caused further strain on my already low self-esteem. It was the point when I first realised I needed professional help. But after two visits to a psychologist, the embarrassment was too much to stomach given the taboo linked with sufferers of mental illness.

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.sane.org

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

www.ruok.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au

Top Deck-orators – The Designer All Stars

It’s true. I have a style obsession! I have an instinctive flair for all things fabulously chic, whether it’s fashion, photography, art to architecture. I’m a visual person. Comfort and functionality? Blah, blah, blah – boring! But if it’s eye catching, on trend, with a dash of wow, you’ll have me salivating – and I have no shame!

Sarah Richardson – Sarah’s House – Image Source: hgtv.com

On the flip side, I’m a space cadet with no artistic talent or skill to create my own masterpiece.  This applies to interior decorating. I know what I like, but I struggle at pulling together a look that has panache, you know, what the French call a little ‘je ne sais quoi’. Instead, I’m living my designer dreams through the growing number of home makeover programs that I’m highly fixated with.

Candice Olson – Contemporary Kitchen – Candice Tells All Image Source: hgtv.com

Where do I begin? Sarah Richardson (Design Inc, Sarah 101, Sarah’s House,  Sarah’s Cottage, Room Service), Candice Olson (Divine Design, Candice Tells All), Samantha Pynn (Summer Home), Genevieve Gorder (Dear Genevieve), Jane Lockhart (Colour Confidential), Robert and Cortney Novogratz (9 By Design, Home By Novogratz). I also have to add Shaynna Blaze (Selling Houses Australia, The Block) into the mix for some home grown Aussie talent. Overall, the list is long but distinguished. These people are all visionaries, who bring their ingenuity to life.

Cortney & Bob Novogratz – Image Source: hgtv.com

 Each of their respective programs gives you in depth look into the world of interior design, including the highs and lows of home renovations. With their extensive knowledge and creative talent, they rescue humble abodes from the depths of design distress to breathe new life into any type of home. Using innovative and contemporary solutions, they combine both function and beauty to reveal a room’s true potential. These designers have produced several awe-inspiring room transformations, converting a home from drab to fab, while incorporating the contrasting styles and requirements of their clients to achieve a balanced, cohesive look. No challenge is too big!

Candice Olson – Candice Tells All – Transitional Living Rooms – Image Source: hgtv.com

Below is an insight into the signature design aesthetic of the creative minds behind some of the most entertaining home makeover programs as screened on the Lifestyle Home network:

  • Candice Olson (Divine Design, Candice Tells All) – combines classic structural designs with modern furnishings and bold focal points to create a timeless and sophisticated look. She takes on a minimalist approach with a focus on understated glamour. Of all the designers, she uses symmetry the most in her renovations to add balance to a room. Her easy going personality and comedic sense of humour makes for light hearted viewing. She is by far my all time favourite designer.

Candice Olson – Candice Tells All – Eclectic Living Rooms – Image Source: hgtv.com

  • Sarah Richardson (Design Inc, Sarah 101, Sarah’s House, Sarah’s Cottage, Room Service) – of all the designers selected, she is the most prolific of interior decorators, dominating the TV screen with several home makeover series. Her vision balances traditional and contemporary design concepts with a touch of whimsy. She is environmentally conscious in her design approach, incorporating eco friendly materials, vintage pieces and where possible, giving existing furniture a new lease on life through the magic of re-upholstery.

Sarah Richardson – Sarah’s House – Image Source: sarahrichardsondesign.com

  • Robert & Cortney Novogratz – this design duo create dynamic looks that are ahead of their time. Their concepts are inspired by urban New York and are reflected in their innovative, dramatic, edgy room transformations. They’ve produced renovations that are far from conventional while integrating an eclectic mix of bold, dramatic accessories. They make their own rules and take an avant-garde approach to their home makeovers, often resulting with a mod chic feel.

Cortney & Bob Novogratz – Eclectic Kids Rooms – Image Source: hgtv.com

  • Samantha Pynn (Summer Home) – her designs are nature inspired, ideal for a casual, rustic glam look. Her ideas have a soulful, earthy vibe which comes from the heart. She loves the use of contemporary geometric patterns on various textural accessories including curtains, rugs, pillows or seat covers to add vibrancy to a room. She incorporates affordable accent pieces found in thrift shops or craft stores. Of all the designers, Samantha’s creations are easy to replicate and is ideal for the avid decorator DIYer.

Image Source: facebook.com/SamanthaPynn/photos

  • Jane Lockhart (Colour Confidential) – produces looks that balance both form and functionality. Her room transformations have a vibe that is comfortable and inviting, similar to that of Candice Olson. However, Jane is not afraid to incorporate bold, contrasting colour schemes into her practical designs. Pops of colour is evident, from the walls, ceiling, flooring to textural elements such as curtains, floor rugs, pillows, furnishings and accent pieces.

Image Source: janelockhart.com/portfolio/images/KYLEMORE_2012_022.jpg

  • Genevieve Gorder (Dear Genevieve) – doesn’t endorse ‘matchy matchy’ design schemes and is certainly not a fan of furniture pieces that come in a set. Like Sarah Richardson, Genevieve has the ability of combining a fusion of contrasting styles, particularly mixing old with new. Her designs have whimsical elements for the touch of the unexpected. She loves to layer through accessories and textural accents to add focal points and character to a space.

Image Source: genevievegorder.com/genevieves-renovation/

  • Shaynna Blaze (Selling Houses Australia, The Block) – she can give a room a complete facelift on a budget! She incorporates practical solutions to any interior makeover but she never sacrifices on aesthetics. For Shaynna, vibrancy is paramount to any room transformation. Her creations are fresh and modern and have a cohesive, yet balanced look.

If money grew on trees, I’d love to incorporate their design concepts within my own humble abode. I can only dream to have any of these designers weave their magic and transform my home, with its modest décor, to one of sumptuous class and sophistication. I’d love to colour my world with their infinite ingenuity! It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

Sarah Richardson – Sarah 101 – Image Source: sarahrichardsondesign.com

The MOD Squad – Novogratz Style

The Novogratz

I’m addicted to interior decorating shows. I simply can’t get enough of them! Divine Design, Candice Tells All, Colour Confidential, Sarah’s Design Inc…I could go on. They’re all part of my daily diet of renovation programs. But for something more daring and left of centre, you need to get a taste of the distinct Novogratz style.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Home By Novogratz is screened daily on the LifeStyle Home network and is hosted by the husband and wife team, Robert and Cortney Novogratz. It took me a while to jump on board the program. The signature Novogratz aesthetic is an acquired palette comprising of contemporary, ultra modern themes with a retro vibe.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Their design concepts are targeted at the brave, for those seeking a look that is vibrant, innovative and unique. If you’re after interior décor that’s traditional, conservative and on the safe side of the spectrum, run the other way! It’s time to step out of your comfort zone.

The dynamic duo (whose inspirations are drawn from downtown New York) makes their own rules, anything goes, and there is no limit to their infinite creativity. Their process for renovating each space is intuitive, there is very little that is methodical about their vision. The designers allow their ideas to evolve by combining flea-market or vintage finds with high-end focal points; or bringing together an eclectic mix of furniture and accent pieces to create a layered effect with different elements of texture, colour and accessories. Ultimately, a dull boring room is transformed and used as a canvas to showcase their funky design sensibility.

Image Source: hgtv.com

For maximum impact, Robert and Cortney like to mix a fusion of strong contrasting artistic themes and concepts that expresses the home owners’ individuality while delivering a room that’s bold, with a quirky charm and a character that is totally original. The final look of each project can polarise some people and may not necessarily float everyone’s boat, but the ultimate result still has a ‘wow’ factor that’s daring, hip and inspiring.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Image Source: hgtv.com

Image Source: thenovogratz.com/assets/images/galleries/44/country-home-design_5.jpg

Image Source: thenovogratz.com/assets/images/galleries/91/Kitchen-web.jpg

Image Source: thenovogratz.com/assets/images/galleries/100/01_DYL-42.jpg

Image Source: thenovogratz.com/assets/images/galleries/17/gramercy-apartment_2.jpg

Photos: Courtesy of HGTV.COM

The Singing Budgie Continues to Soar – I Should Be So Lucky

I have no shame in confessing that the first ever single I bought was Kylie Minogue’s Locomotion. I admit…..it was even on vinyl! The year was 1987 when perms, acid washed jeans and legwarmers were all the rage. I was young, impressionable and it was the monumental stage in my life when I finally discovered music!

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/aphodite6-1024×1024.jpg

But wait, there’s more, I’ll go one step further and say that I jumped on the Kylie bandwagon well before Locomotion hit the music charts. Prior to her foray into a singing career, it was Kylie’s successful role on Neighbours starring as Charlene Mitchell that first catapulted her to fame. Jason Donovan (who played Scott Robinson, the residential heartthrob on the highly rated program), was Kylie’s on and off screen partner at the time. The duo was my generation’s equivalent to RPatz and KStew’s ‘Bella and Edward’ of Twilight fame. The chemistry between Kylie and Jason set pulses racing and the pairing of Scott and Charlene was nothing short of genius, renowned as two of Australia’s most beloved characters in television soap history.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/lovers1-1024×1024.jpg

Kylie’s popularity on Neighbours resulted in her winning five Logie Awards (Australia’s version of an Emmy statuette in the United States), four of which were awarded in 1988; the most any entertainer has won in a single year1. Since her departure from Neighbours, Kylie hasn’t looked back. Her road to success has been nothing but an onwards and upwards climb to superstardom for the pop diva.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/gq1-1024×1024.jpg

Kylie Minogue was instrumental in introducing me into the wonderful world of pop. Locomotion was Kylie’s breakthrough single, which topped the Australian music charts for seven weeks2. Her follow up single, I Should be So Lucky, also peaked at number one, along with Got To Be Certain. Additional songs were launched including Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi and Especially For you (her duet with Jason), both of which were smash hits in Australia. These ‘classic’ tracks, featured in Kylie’s eponymously titled debut album, defined my childhood!

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/abbeyroad2-1024×1024.jpg

Her second album, Enjoy Yourself, was released in 1989 and achieved similar success churning out singles like Tears on My Pillow, Hand On Your Heart, Wouldn’t Change A Thing and Never Too Late3. I’m having a flashback moment…dancing around in the living room wearing my frilly ra ra skirt, with crimped hair, listening to these tracks repeatedly on my tape deck, holding a brush to my mouth as if it was a microphone. Oh the memories! At the tender age of twelve, I could feel it in my waters that Kylie was destined for greatness. Sadly, critics thought differently.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/balmain-kylie-tw7-2.jpg

Commercial radio stations refused to play her singles. Kylie was caned for her sugary, bubble gum pop style of music and even worse, her lack of vocal range. Minogue was branded “The Singing Budgie” by local and international media, she wasn’t considered credible by experts in the music industry and at that early stage in her career, Kylie didn’t command the respect or recognition that she’s famous for today.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/aphodite5-1024×1024.jpg

However, by 1990, my world was shattered when Kylie moved on from Jason Donovan to rock star Michael Hutchence (the news was almost as profound as when the KStew cheating scandal leaked!). I didn’t quite understand the attraction to the scruffy INXS frontman versus the boy next door charm of Jason Donovan. But it also marked a pivotal moment in Kylie’s career, when she began to shed her innocence and express her sexier side. When her third studio album Rhythm of Love was released, Kylie was on the fast track to transitioning from her squeaky clean image to a racier persona. This was reflective in her more sexually charged music and video clips including Better The Devil You Know, Step Back in Time, What Do I Have to Do and Shocked.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/aphodite8-1024×1024.jpg

Kylie was evolving, she was pushing the boundaries with her lyrics, fashion and identity, and the change was extreme. Well before Kylie launched her fourth and fifth album, Let’s Get To It and Kylie Minogue respectively, I had already jumped off the Kylie bandwagon with a thud! As much as I loved the sultry hits Confide In Me and Put Yourself In My Place, I wasn’t a fan of the over the top, trashy sex bomb Kylie had become. In hindsight, I was naïve. We see time and time again, from the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus – pop stars who achieve phenomenal success at a young age often take the giant leap towards an edgier, more adult persona to tap into a wider audience (or for shock value). Transitioning is all part of the creative process. Artists are like chameleons, developing their craft along with their image, whether it’s for publicity or to reach a broader market – evolution is part of the artistic journey.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/lovers2-1024×1024.jpg

Kylie’s sixth album Impossible Princess, was released in 1998 featuring the singles Some Kind of Bliss, Did It Again and Breathe4. The tracks exuded a more mature side to the singer, a rebellious vibe vastly different to the teenage poppy sounds of the Stock Aitken and Watermen era of the 80s. Although I didn’t have a strong connection to the music, my self-imposed Kylie snub began to wane. In 2000, the album Light Years was launched, generating a huge buzz with hits like Spinning Around, On a Night Like This and Kids (a duet with Robbie Williams)5.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Flower0-1024×1024.jpg

It sparked a new awakening, a Kylie revival, the hype was reaching fever pitch and I was hooked – once again! Kylie’s follow up album, aptly titled Fever, was a phenomenal success with edgy dance tracks like Love At First Sight, Can’t Get You Out of My Head, In Your Eyes and Come Into My World, which continued with the pop, disco and house sounds of Light Years6. By this time, even the critics of the 80s finally embraced her music. Since 2003, Kylie has released a further three albums, Body Language, X and Aphrodite, all to critical acclaim.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/abbeyroad3-1024×1024.jpg

“2012 marks Kylie’s 25th year in the music industry, but her career has spanned more than 33 years in the entertainment business. Kylie has launched eleven studio albums, two live CDs, eight live concert DVD’s, plus her Greatest Hits and the Ultimate Kylie double album and multiple video packages. This is of course in addition to over 50 singles released internationally. She’s received countless gold and platinum discs; she’s been honoured with numerous prestigious awards, sold-out nine record breaking world tours and in 2000 closed the Sydney Olympics. Kylie was also inducted into the Australian Record Industry Association’s Hall of Fame by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Julia Gillard, she was also named as an Australian National Living Treasure”7.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/KylieChrstimas1.jpg

Looking back, I was in grade four when the class was given a project to write about Famous Australians. While most students chose traditional iconic Aussies such as Dame Nellie Melba, Sir Donald Bradman, Ned Kelly, I decided to focus on a modern contemporary artist …Kylie Minogue. The class sniggered with my selection and my teacher, I’m certain, was a little mortified. But I chose Kylie because she was a talented star, a star who continues to shine to this day. ‘The Singing Budgie’ ceases to spread her wings.

Source: http://www.kylie.com/about/

Image Source: kylie.com

The Holy Trinity of Fashion – Season 2012

Image Source: popsugar.com/celebrity/MTV-Movie-Awards-Red-Carpet-Show-Pictures-2012-23403562#photo-23412649

If you’re a devout follower of fashion, there are three key trends being preached by designers and stylists alike this season: Colour Blocking, Peplums and Ruching – these are the hottest looks currently rocking the red carpet and fashion runways, and some of Hollywood’s most glamorous, fashion forward celebrities are a testament to these latest style phenomena.

Colour Blocking

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2001222/Fashions-coolest-clash-How-orange-purple-colours-season.html

If you want to stand out and love a splash of colour in your Spring/Summer ensemble, colour blocking is the way to go. According to Paula Joye (fashion and style columnist for The Age), colour blocking is defined as ‘an outfit made up of ‘blocks’ of solid colour’1. This look is for the confident and the brave, not for the faint hearted – it’s ideal for mixing and matching separate pieces (from tops, jackets, skirts or pants) in vibrant, intense shades. The focus is to combine bold colours on the opposite ends of the colour spectrum, for example, orange and purple, or pink and green (traditionally considered to clash when teamed together).

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1356231/Jennifer-Lopez-shows-tiny-waist-stomach-baring-low-cut-top.html

If you prefer a more subdued, toned down look, ‘use shades within the same family’, that is, colours closer to each other on the colour wheel for example, blue and purple, or black and grey2. However, don’t go overboard and exude some restraint when choosing your wardrobe; avoid mixing contrasting patterns including spots with stripes, or coordinating floral designs with abstract prints. To do so will result in a major fashion faux pas.

Peplums

Image Source: realstylenetwork.com/fashion-and-style/2012/02/jennifer-aniston-wows-in-tom-ford-at-wanderlust-premiere/

Peplums are back with a vengeance! Peplums haven’t dominated fashion since the 1980s, when Dynasty, shoulder pads and perms were at the height of their popularity. The growing resurgence of the flouncy flirtatious ruffle around the waistline of a jacket, blouse, dress or skirt has been pushed by the world’s leading designers and is a significant trend strutting down fashion runways.

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2603928/Duchess-Cambridge-wears-chic-scarlet-suit-Prince-William-jet-Queenstown-early-morning-stop-Royal-tour.html

According to Anna Byrne of the Herald Sun, the peplum design is ideal for the hourglass silhouette and with the right fit, it is also flattering for women who embrace their curves, as it helps to minimise the waistline3. To accentuate the look, team up your peplum ensemble with a belt, to cinch up the waist and define your sexy hips even further.

Image Source: popsugar.com.au/fashion/Pictures-Top-Ten-Best-Dressed-Celebrities-Week-Jessica-Alba-Olivia-Palermo-Alexa-Chung-Diane-Kruger-More-21505339#photo-21506025

Ruching

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2192894/Ashley-Greene-channels-old-Hollywood-backless-gown-sparkles-The-Apparition-premiere.html

Ruching is a perennial style favourite amongst designers and is a look that comes in waves season after season. However, most fashion collections this year have taken the ruching trend and given it a modern twist with softer gathering of pleats and ruffles on skirts and dresses.

The beauty about the ruching technique is that it helps camouflage our muffin tops and the unwanted flab or flaws around the waistline.

Image Source: popsugar.com/celebrity/Highlights-From-Ben-Affleck-Jennifer-Garner-2012-26073011#photo-26102120

Ultimately, regardless of what style trend is strutting down the catwalk, the key is to understand what works for your particular body shape, accentuate your best physical features and feel confident.

Sources:

http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/how-to-colour-block-pop-and-tone-20110901-1jnk4.html#ixzz26mwwcrfU Viewed Sept 18, 2012

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/ipad/hip-pop-dont-be-afraid-to-show-off-your-curves/story-fn6bfkm6-1226308714837 Viewed Sept 18, 2012

Citations on Request