Excursion to 2013; a personal note.

Every year at the time of transition to the new calendar, we hear people launch their resolutions, from losing weight, stop smoking, start volunteering, convert to a vegan, to travel around the world, and you may find yourself in the same club. Some stick to them, others I suspect just have the list stick on the fridge, picking up dusts until it’s time to celebrate another new year. I am never one of those resolutions-maker types. I simply do things I want anytime I want, I wait for no one, I make goals from time to time every year and work my butt off to get to where I want to be. Borrowing what Benny the Irish Polyglot says, any random point in the earth’s orbit is as good a time as any to make positive changes in your life. Oh and there’s the Bucket List that seems to grow each year!

Since the resolution style is out of the picture, how do I commemorate New Year? I walk down the memory lane, count my blessings, acknowledge my personal accomplishments no matter how small and unfinished tasks I need to complete, take into account each phase I experienced and then – strive for more. The year we passed brought us to today and life is not always easy, so I’d say, let’s appreciate the life we have by acknowledging what we have done, what we haven’t finished, or what we failed to do. No matter how scary it may be. And when you’re done, dream big once more.

Last year, the joy and hardship collided and started to form the life I enjoy so much right now. Still newbies in Australia, the self-service lifestyle took its toll when we finally moved to our house in the North suburb of Brisbane and I was left all alone most of the times to deal with every labor and other jobs needed to be done. Week by week passed and we learned to balance everything and came out as winners. We now get the hang of living in this not-so-strange-anymore land and enjoy every discovery along the way. I survived the madness of starting a new life in a new place that’s so different from other countries we’d lived before….talk about defeating my “demons” with my “Dragon;” the first being challenges and the latter being my inner peace.

We visited my dear Mom, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and neighbors back home in Indonesia in April. Those 3 weeks were one of the best times I had going home. I got to show my kids places and things I used to do when I was their ages and I got to meet my childhood friends. My Mom – miss her so much – she is still my rock and I look forward to hugging her in my arms again. In June, I finally made a peaceful closure with leaving Shanghai when we traveled back there; met my lovely friends and reminiscing old times while looking forward to the future. I walked the roads I’ve walked countless times before and for a while there, I felt as if we never left. When the 2 weeks visit was over, I didn’t shed tears leaving the city I’ve grown to love so much. Closure achieved.

Last year gave me heaps of new friends and I enjoyed working with incredibly strong and big-hearted women and men at the shelters, the LGBT movements, the state schools, the Photography clubs, and the enviromental-concious educators. Every friendship I made, every soul I met, I cherished them and I will always do. After the set back of leaving my WuShu and Kickboxing training in Shanghai and not being able to find a dojo with classes that suits my time, I turned to running; something I hated to do before, which makes it another “demon” to defeat. I set the goal to run half-marathon at Brisbane Running Festival in August, trained on my own for 3 months, bear the cold on early morning of the race, and ran to the finish line. Less than a month later, I went on The Bridge To Brisbane 10-K charity run with over 40,000 runners and walkers – it was an incredible morning on the Gateway Bridge!

Also last year, I launched www.suzikarim.com and embarked on professional Photography job with my Nikon DSLR – I must say it’s been a great discovery! On the revival side, I picked up writing again, got my article published in a woman’s magazine and haven’t stopped writing since then. More on the fun side, I’d got myself a new tat and dermal piercings, and went to incredibly amazing concerts – Lenny Kravitz, The Cranberries, Matchbox 20, Coldplay with The Temper Trap, Lady Gaga, and Nickelback. I dare say, the party goes on! As family, we went roadtripping from Brisbane to Sydney (blog is coming soon!), peacefully celebrated the New Year Eve at the Blue Mountains and spent the first day of 2013 hiking through the beautiful forest of National Park. It beats the hectic NY eve with two million people in Sydney downtown, besides, we’ve seen enough firework shows during our 8 years living in Shanghai I feel it’s getting old.

My excursion to 2013 was filled with new discoveries and challenges and I would not want it another way. I believe that the things we did, causes we stood and fought for, choices we made, friendships we found and laughs we shared, distances we’re willing to take to discover our(true)selves, and how much love we gave and received – are what make a year worth remembering. Having supportive family members and friends who appreciate you as you are sure makes life easier and the excursion to every new year more fun. I am so grateful to have both.

We have no freaking idea when our times will be expired on this earth and I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to make more discoveries and memories, conquer more challenges, and never stop enjoying life for as long as I live (*checking the Bucket List, again*).

Cheers to all things as wonderful as life!

Sprinkle some FUN in your LIFE recipe and enjoy a delicious dish!

I don’t party much, not even close to much, actually. For some reasons, I just cannot enjoy it like I did twenty years ago and I’d need a long recovery period. Must be the age factor, I heard many of you whisper. Sure, you may be right, but perhaps I just simply had that phase enough and yearn to experiment with different colors in life. Last night, though, it was a sweet exception. A friend invited me to her birthday’s dinner-drink-dance night and I went. It was not a great night outside with thunder storm, heavy rain and strong wind blowing from all directions, but even the nasty Supercell could not stop us girls from having fun. Inside the Bavarian Bier Cafe and Jade Budha, we were having so much fun talking, joking, laughing, eating, drinking, and dancing…..a girls’ nite out with good friends rocks like no other fun, I’d give you that. While surrounded by these beautiful faces and loud laughs, I couldn’t helped thinking about how important having fun is in life, no matter who you are or where you live. Mind you, when I say “Fun” I don’t mean it always have to involve dine out-drinking-dancing combo. My perception of fun is letting our hair down, relaxing, letting go of problems and worries once a while and simply do what you love.

I used to think that the reasons we need to have more fun in life should be obvious – it’s healthy, it makes us happy and more optimistic, it gives us a break from otherwise stressful days…….it’s healing. I was wrong. To some people, having fun is not an easy thing to do at all. Could be that’s because they don’t know where to start, but I highly suspect it’s because they feel they have too many things to do to leave them for fun. Sad. That’s all I have to say. Life should not just about work, problems, broken hearts, and serving others; we should give more efforts to enjoy it, for ourselves. At the end of the day, we’d find that having fun gives our brains a chance not to focus on stressful things and bring new insights and perspectives instead. Ever feel after you ease some worries by “letting your hair down,” your problems seem smaller than they used to be? That’s exaclty what I was pointing at.

I have fun with my Photography, when I run and kickbox, when I read or watch Dexter, Homeland and Modern Family while sipping on my Scotch, and when I jump up and down at rock concerts. I have fun when I get together with my girlfriends, talk about silly things and eat whatever food we crave, I have fun going to the beach with my family, riding waves with my kids, and explore new corners of Brisbane with some friends and cameras at hand. I have fun when I see movie on Cheap Tuesday, when I decide to walk the city streets on my own, get tattoos, and get piercings with my girl. Don’t get me wrong, I have loads of things that keep me busy everyday with no helpers around, just like many of us do. My point is, I make time for fun. Would you?

If you’re not sure where to start, here is a tip: decide on your passions first – things that make you happy inside, laugh and crave for more. Or, as I always believe, do things that you don’t like – when you turn it into something you love, you’d get satisfaction and a sense of achievement like nothing else. I call it “conquering my demons” and yes, it’s fun!

You know the saying “Live your life to the fullest?” I am pretty sure the author of the quote meant to say that fun should be included in the quotation. So let’s start looking, visioning, making time, having fun, and feeling totally awesome, what’d you say?






Sisterhood and Beyond

I know these two gorgeous women and sisters. They welcome me into their homes and into their phones, fed me when I visited, project their love and positive energy to people around them, and then more – they let me take their photos. It’s easy to see love exchange between them – the sisterhood that keeps on giving and creating it must have been built on a strong foundation. Absolutely obvious – and perhaps, envious to some. Being their friend and capturing their honest expressions through my lens made me think about what it is that make us tick – what does love mean to each of us….for instance, in friendship circle? I may not be Dr. Phil but having been living for over 44 years in few different countries, I think I know a thing or two about it.

You know Facebookers who like to post quotes? Yes, I am on Facebook – who are not these days? Those shared quotes, some of them make me giggle, even laugh. The stupid-but-true, blunt or sarcasm-loaded quotes, I read them. There are tons quotes dedicated to friendship as well – some people measure friendship in different levels, obviously. I smile on the classic “Friend in need is friend indeed,” cringe on “If your friend is not there for you 100%, then they’re not worth keeping,” (who can be there 100% all the times these days anyway?) and ponder on “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” These levels of measurement – or judgment, if you will – are at best personal opinions of those who believe in them. I don’t, and I am going to tell you why.

IMO, I don’t feel we should put pressures of any kind or even expectations on friendship. It should flow as time permits it to and grows as much as both sides allow it to. At some point, you would know if it works out or not. Here’s a tip: one sign that it is not the friendship worth pursuing is when getting together feels like a chore instead of something you look foward to – trust me, you’d know.

When we put a price tag – an expectation – on friendship, chances are unconditional love, attention, and dedication are no longer given freely. Eventually, the price tag is not affordable anymore and your friendship goes to the gutter. Just like other types of relationship we encounter, it all really comes down to what we allow ourselves to give and accept. I’d say make life simple but bubbly – be kind to each other, meet and talk when you can or when you’re in need, share the life, laughter, and even tears as much as you want….and when you can’t or when distance doesn’t give you wings, give it time and pick up where you left off next time you meet again. True friendship can do that easily – anytime. I know this because I have close friends who live in the place I left before moving to Brisbane and we still stay in touch as much as we can. We visit each other whenever we can, utilize WhatsApp and free chat rooms to the max, and effortlessly pick up where we left off……..each time.

Needless to say, when you find that special someone (or ones) and it’s a friendship that recipocrated, hang on to it and explore. Life feels extra wonderful with great friends around! On off-point side, today is painfully hot in Brissy so I am making Screwdriver – here’s to love, sisterhood and beyond. Cheers!







A cause to choose – so what’s yours?

At some point of our lives, we have a cause or more that we fight and are proud to stand for. There are different causes for everyone – education, poverty, women’s health, child and domestic abuse, LGBT, pet adoption, dying traditions and culture, the troubled youths, and many others. Recently, I did a photo shoot for Kelvin Grove State College in Brisbane, whose teachers, students, and volunteers are trying to conserve indigenous Australian plants that they had found around the school area and construct several trails around the bush land surrounding the campus, complete with a waterfall, native frog pond, a bridge, and other features. In the long run, they have a vision for other schools to come and learn about these plants and their battle to save them. Saving plants and trees is their cause, and I think it is admirable. They call the project “Bush Tucker Trail” and soon they’ll embark on media campaign in hope to gain a grant to support the project. It was exciting to see the teachers, students, parents and volunteers worked to clean the bush trail even the pouring rain could not stop them from finishing the job. Big smiles on muddy faces were the highlight of that Saturday.

I, too, have causes I am passionate about. From what I learned, sometimes awareness campaign is all we need to spread the news of what’s going on around us. Many other times though, it is about constant battles for everyone, especially those who are in the middle of the cause – the blunt injustice, repeated major mistakes, violence tendency, hard work and heartbreak. Last Saturday was the first time I work with people who care for environmental cause and it makes me realize that we, humankind and the greens around us, depend on each other to survive. You may argue that plants and trees are not as important as people and its conservation is not worth spending time for, but who can deny that they are big parts of our lives on this earth? These greens are important because they help preserve the diversity of living things, all of which depend in one and another. Think about self-sustaining ecosystems in which all living things play a part, the fresh drinking water, the clean air, healthy soils for us to plant vegetables and fruits, and so on – the chains that have to support each other. These greens may not breathe and live the way we do, but they certainly are parts of our survival.

I guess what I am trying to say is – pick your cause and do something about it. Choose something to stand for (by now my trail of thoughts wander to “Some Nights” by FUN, the song’s been in my head for almost a week now. *shaking head and hope it goes away*). Seriously, remember how we always ask ourselves and each other about our purpose in life? Well there you go, you have a chance to find out while you’re still alive and well. Pick a purpose and make your life useful, not just for yourself, but for others as well. We don’t have to ponder too much; actually, it’s as simple as looking into our hearts, minds, and the world around us, and then make a decision to start doing something about it. There is no effort too small!