How NOT to remove SNS nails

BJJ and pretty nails don’t mix, not for me anyway, since I clip them down every few days to avoid being ‘that’ scratchy-nail person on the mat. And polish? Meh. I only bother for special occasions. But after getting my first SNS manicure for my sister’s wedding, I found a way to clumsily manage a mani and training. Sort of.

That’s Signature Nail Systems by the way- I had to look it up.

The pretty shot

SNS nails

Aren’t they lovely, plastic fantastic-looking amazingness?! Seriously solid. I was drumming my fingernails along everything. Just because.

Obligatory wedding snap (one groomsman to two bridesmaids! We made it work).

Since my ‘enhanced’ French mani was thick and blunt and really not longer than my natural nail length, I got away with training twice in Australia in the week following the wedding; no scratching anyone or feeling like I may inadvertently rip my talons off.

Back to the UK, and although the SNS was starting to grow out, I wanted to be vain and keep that souped-up nail feeling for a little longer. But how to trim them when they’re too thick for clippers to handle?

Cue manic filing! It was tedious, but it worked.

For a good three weeks I successfully kept my nails short for BJJ, and that French manicure – while it looked a little odd with the white part steadily disappearing – continued to hold with no problem. Mind you, it was swiftly looking worse and worse.

SNS french manicure filed down

So this is where laziness just set in really. Who cares what my nails look like! Buy acetone or go to a nail bar to get the stuff removed? Pah! I’ll just let them grow off.

SNS nail pulled off

All the BJJ gripping started prying them loose mid-roll to the surprise of my training partners; Holy shit I just found your nail…oh it’s fake? Phew..

Thankfully I didn’t feel a thing or lose any real nails in the process but, I do now have half a hand of weird-looking pink stuff left on my claws, and my nails are definitely feeling thinner/weaker, hopefully temporarily.

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Don’t worry, that’s mostly glue residue, not ragged layers of nail.

Would weak nails be a thing if I had removed the SNS you know, the responsible-manicure-girl way? Maybe, maybe not, the internet seems divided. Either way it’s probably the route I’ll take if I ever get a proper manicure again.

My sister had a great wedding photographer by the way. You can check out more photos here.

Reflecting, recharging etc.

The start of a new year – and a new diary/planner – is as good a time as any to reflect on the last 12 months. Here are my highlights.

I bought a new Moleskine diary this weekend. But before I shelve the old one and start filling these crisp new pages with plans and appointments, I thought I’d have  a flick through and recap my 2015 highlights because, well, it’s the thing to do as you start a new year isn’t it?

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  • I spent some precious time with my Nanna on her last trip to Malta. ‘Last’ because as she’s in her late eighties it’s very unlikely she’ll make the long journey over from Australia again. I also got to hang out with my awesome aunty Anna – she’s always so much fun and we have the best talks.

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  • I landed my first full-time job in PR. This has been a goal ever since I quit my radio career and moved to the UK, and a casual conversation at a bar for a friend’s birthday a good 12 months ago actually led me to this role. The next time I consider bailing on social plans, I’m going to remind myself of this wonderful encounter, and reconsider.
  • I flexed the talky – i.e. I did some voiceover work and had a weekly UK/Europe news chat with Justin on i98fm.  It was really fun to get back behind a microphone! I hope to do more of it this year.
  • I went back to Australia for the first time in almost two years. Time truly has flown – how have I been in London for now approaching THREE years?! What struck me when I visited Oz back in May though was how so much hadn’t changed. I mean, friends have rings on their fingers where they didn’t have them before and some girlfriends now have bumps and others babies but, there was something really comforting about slipping back into old conversations with them, visiting the BJJ clubs I used to frequent and feeling like it was just another training session, seeing my dad in his usual chair in front of the TV at home and chatting through the day’s events with mum and my sisters. I was a complete noob on the train and in shopping centres though: if I stood on the right side of the escalator instead of the left once, I did it a thousand times! I was happy to find that while I thoroughly enjoyed my trip home and could have extended it for another week or two, the visit didn’t leave me pining for a move back for good.
  • I turned 30. I’m totally still scratching my head at this, to be honest. How did 30 happen? When did I make it here? Why do I not feel like I should be 30 yet? Is it a total cliche to say that? Maybe it’s societal – and my own – expectations of where I should be and what I should have/own at 30 that I’m clearly not at/possessing, maybe I just really don’t feel “my age.” I have read a lot of comments/articles about how secure people tend to feel in themselves in their thirties. I certainly feel like I have some catching up to do.

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  • I went to another BJJ Bonanza. Yes! The super fun women’s BJJ camp in Copenhagen that I did in 2013 is still going strong, and I was able to make it back in October. This time the camp featured Mackenzie Dern and she is seriously the nicest, most grounded 22 year-old I have ever met. Along with teaching us some great moves over the course of the weekend, what sticks out for me about Mackenzie is just how chilled she is. Between sessions she would sit around with a group of girls, happily sharing stories of her notable fights and telling us the ‘real stories’ behind some of the headlines. And if she wasn’t doing that, Mackenzie was taking charge of the gym’s speakers, flipping through her favourite tracks on her phone and generally just being rad. I also got to catch up with a bunch of ladies that I met at the BJJ Globetrotters camp in 2014.

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  • I ended the year with the same guy I started it with and in the same place, Strasbourg, where I spent the Christmas and New Year break. My relationship is totally a highlight and continues to be. I’m looking forward to whatever’s up next in this long distance adventure of ours.

Second stripe happened!

It’s been a long time coming, a LONG time going by the “usual” white belt journey depending on how you look at it.. but I’ve finally earned myself a second stripe!!

It’s a big deal – huge – because it’s the first one from my coaches here in London, Marco Canha and Bruno Ferreira, and a whole 2+ years since my last one.

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Bruno’s morning classes at Fightzone have provided me with some much-needed motivation and consistency over the last few months. Work and other competing evening commitments mean night classes are regularly pushed aside, but 7am twice a week? Perfect for this early bird!

In these classes I have found a really wonderful, encouraging crew and an attentive coach who couldn’t be more supportive and positive.

At every grading Marco talks about attitude and how important it is to not compare yourself to others on the mat. And it has taken me a long time to truly find my happy place in this sport, and accept my life and body’s limitations:

  • I can’t train five days a week and that’s ok!
  • Other white belts will start after me and progress faster than me, and that’s ok too!
  • I’m going to have lower back issues every so often, and I need to listen to and rest my body.
  • I’m not super flexible, but it doesn’t mean a move can’t still work for me in SOME way.

2015 has been a turning point year on a few fronts, all of them good. I think this second little stripe turned up at the time it was meant to, and I’m now really excited to work towards the third!

Shining in the format

My Swinburne Commercial Radio course lecturer/teacher/mentor Jim Barbour was the one who got this stuck in my head, this “shine in the format” mentality. From what I recall he was gently telling the ambitious class of 2005 (all 14 of us) not to blow off our first radio gigs too quickly.

The majority of us were eager to snag a regional station role even before graduation day. Being offered a job while on the mid-year work experience placement was the most AMAZING thing that could happen of course. We could quickly leave that entry level gig behind and move on up to a bigger market – provincial. Give that a red hot go, and then we’d mosey on back to cap city and hopefully, the glory of working at a Dmg or (then) Austereo station. ARN was considered too of course, just not as high up on the list for us “young ones” back then. 😉

On the question of how much time we should wait before looking for the next move, Jim’s logic was that you should give back to your employer at least the same amount of time they would invest bringing you, a wide-eyed radio industry newbie, up to scratch: six months.

Give it a good year in the country town that you might find daggy as hell was his message. Dig in to community life and embrace everything, don’t spend all of your weekends driving or flying back home. Rather than baulk at having to play music tracks off CDs (or vinyl!) and news beds from ancient cart machines, relish the opportunity to be so “hands on” with the studio gear and, instead of nit-picking your stations’ sound and trying to reinvent the wheel… aim to shine in its format.

Once you’re rocking that format, expertly prerecording the national news feed onto minidisc before top of hour while cueing your next cd track, tweaking some production on Cool Edit Pro and preparing to make listeners rush to the local fruit and veg store with your passionate live read about 50-cents-a-bag carrots…THEN you know you’re ready for the next challenge.

It’s a mentality I applied through my radio career (though I know I could have easily spent more time in my role in Sydney) and one I am still using in my career today. I have so much I want to achieve, and I’m relishing the challenges that will slowly but surely buff me into shape until I’m nice and shiny.

Tell me what you really think – just not all the time

“So, can I ask – was it looks or personality?”

Talk about being put on the spot. A few months before I decided to move to London I was living in Melbourne and internet dating pretty regularly. Among the weirdos I met plenty of nice guys, some I quite liked the vibe of but never heard from again (a form of ‘ghosting’ I believe they call it?), and many others who just didn’t do it for me, I didn’t find them attractive, there was no ‘zing’, no ‘something-something’ that made me excited about the prospect of seeing them again.

This was one of those guys. The reason his text message springs to mind? This story which you have no doubt come across in the past week or so, about Londoner Michelle Thomas’s quite nice Tinder date, and the quite unnecessary rejection essay she received afterwards from the guy who basically told her she was perfect in so many ways, but just too overweight for him.

“..So whilst I am hugely turned on by your mind, your face, your personality (and God…I really, really am), I can’t say the same about your figure.” 

That may very well be the case and if a woman’s weight is the deal breaker for you that’s totally fine – we all have something that’s on our ‘must-have/be’ list – but when there are so many kinder ways to ‘pass’ on someone and decide not to see them again, why on earth would you say something so damn obviously hurtful?

From Michelle’s story on Mashable: While Thomas says there is no shame in having preferences when it comes to who you date, the problem is “when you make those preferences someone else’s problem.”

I think the fact that Michelle is essentially the same size as me, a 14, makes this dude’s response even more ridiculous to me. So many women are this size, it’s a national average. And many of us are blessed with genes that mean we couldn’t turn our bodies into beanpoles even if we tried.

So what did I say in response to my internet date’s rather confronting question as to why I was choosing to pass on a follow up date with him?

“Neither actually. I’m just not feeling the right level of enthusiasm.”

Avoiding the question, sure. But the answer satisfied my rejected date and I hope he has since gone on to find someone who does find both his looks and personality perfect.

Michelle has started a new movement called Happy, Healthy, Hot.

You can check out her website here.

So the big three-oh happened

Don’t worry, I’m not going to subject you to a missive about turning 30. I mean I was going to, but my birthday was almost two months ago now and so I feel like that ship has sailed.

It DOES still require a mention however considering how much angst I felt in the lead up.

Or maybe I just want an excuse to post yet another photo of my amazing cake.

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Susie Q Cakes made this beauty.

Turning 30 also saw me back in Australia for the first time in almost two years… AND BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A CAR (I totally remembered how to drive).

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Hanging with BJJ favourites happened. Thanks so so much for the warm welcome back FAFC, AET, AGIG and Dominance MMA (BJJ tourist, me? Never).

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Back in London, I experienced my first official afternoon tea! Well, afternoon dessert really..

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory afternoon tea at One Aldwych

I caught up with an old friend this evening who asked me if, given the chance and knowing what I know now, would I redo the past decade? I can honestly say no I wouldn’t.

There were definitely some bumps in my twenties and some of them I would smooth out the second time around, and I’d totally get into BJJ earlier than I did at age 27, but otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing.

If I did, maybe I wouldn’t have had my dream radio career. And maybe I wouldn’t be here in London right now, and it is exactly where I feel I should be.

Working at NAGA UK

I got a new perspective on BJJ this weekend – from behind a scoring table at the North American Grappling Association’s (NAGA) UK championship.

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A fellow jits girl recruited me to be a ring coordinator for the day, and the role was exactly the type of jiu jitsu involvement I had been looking for. No competition nerves, just a little anxious about not wanting to mess up the scoring of anyone’s fights!

All the NAGA staff were super welcoming and supportive of us local ring-ins, training us in our roles in the morning before doors opened at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

I can happily report that no scoring mess ups occurred (to my knowledge), and my fear of being yelled at by some aggro fighter or parent of a little kid didn’t happen either, phew.

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There was one fight that ended in 7-0, and the friends of the losing grappler started abusing the referee, calling him racist and incompetent among other things. Huge respect for how the ref handled that, and the other mini dramas that cropped up during the course of the day; from crying kids and parents unhappy about the range of experience in their child’s weight division, to a couple of friends who had road tripped to London together from elsewhere in Europe, only to find themselves up against each other in their first fight.

My ref dealt with each issue amazingly, always looking for ways to keep everyone happy and to ensure they got the most out of their tournament. “After all, they’ve paid to be here – I’d like to see everyone with a fair opportunity to get more than one fight.”

I was expecting a late night after friends warned me that NAGA events usually run over by quite a lot. But the final fight was wrapping up by around six-thirty, and we were well done with the pack up by eight. All the mats and merch and medals were loaded on to a big truck to make their way to the next EU competition in Monaco.

Towards the end of the day President Kipp Kollar announced that more than 600 fighters had competed – a pretty sizeable amount to me, but apparently not as big a turnout as at some of their events in America. In saying that Kipp says the UK competition is growing each year.

I had a great time working NAGA (yes I was paid), and have a new level of respect for people who run grappling tournaments. They really do work their butts off to put on a good show.

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Where have you been?!

I swear if one more person asked me that at the gym the other night I may have actually successfully taken them down – I ONLY TOOK ONE WEEK OFF GUYS! But ok, I have had to ditch the two-classes-per-week goal of late thanks to a sore knee and back. One class a week is still better than none, right? It just means that no one really seems to remember you still train. 😀

I am happy to report that while the BJJ training has been lacking, other aspects of London life have been full-on in mostly fantastic ways.. I’m starting a new job soon – just after Easter in fact and I am looking forward to it so, so much.  My new dream career took a bit longer to manifest in this city than I anticipated and while I have had a blast in the random occupations I have found myself in, I am definitely ready to feel back on track and placing my feet firmly on the rungs of what I feel is now the right career ladder for me.

Before the new job kicks in though I will be making a pretty special Easter trip over to Malta. Special not for the time of year, (although I will no doubt be attending multiple church services..) but because my beloved Nanna will be there, having come all the way over from Australia for what is likely to be her last visit to her home country. It has been 18 months since I last saw her so I can’t wait to give her a big hug and soak up all the family time, along with lots of sun. (*Update, apparently I’m deluded thinking there will be sun in Malta over Easter. Sooooo I suppose I pack a weatherproof jacket instead of swimmers. *sigh*)

There has also been a pretty amazing guy in my life over the past few months and I am enjoying that relationship immensely. After spending the majority of my late twenties single and dating prolifically, it’s such a joy to click with someone and be as wrapped up in them as they seem to be in you.

And he trains so, you know – bonus points!

With Nanna and Nannu at my 'leaving for London' party... golly back in 2013, how did THAT happen?!
With Nanna and Nannu at my ‘leaving for London’ party… golly back in 2013, how did THAT happen?!

Oh, hey there

Stuck between tube stops due to a signal failure on the district line… what a perfect opportunity to play catch up on the blog!

Belated Happy New Year – I made a simple BJJ related resolution, and I am proud to say that I have stuck to it so far:

Make it to training at least twice a week.

Two sessions as a base is extremely achievable, and I find I’m beating myself up much less than when I was getting to four classes one week (huzzah!), but then sometimes none the next.

In happily averaging three times per week at the moment, and trying to really focus on retaining more of what I’m learning. Moving off one stripe in 2015 would be kinda nice. I do still have the short term training memory of a fish though, sadly.

What else is occupying my time? Well, I’m job hunting – I mean proactively job hunting as opposed to just wishing a new gig would fall out of the sky. Crossing fingers and toes a shiny opportunity presents itself soon (well spoken EA/Project Manager and media type for hire, just sayin).

Happy 18 months in London to me!

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HOW have I been in the capital this long already? Ashamedly I am yet to see the inside of any museums bar the Hunterian, and have only made it to one musical (Urinetown, odd title but a good show).

While many of my Aussie friends here are now realising they have under a year left on their working holiday visas and are frantically trying to tick off their euro travel bucket lists, I am wondering when I should start compiling mine.

The beauty and danger, of an EU passport.

I’m really keen to make this year count – on and off the mat, in my career and in my personal life. The latter part of 2013 was very much a career holiday. 2014 saw me jump into a bunch of new things including my first Gi competition (I did enter a second Southend Open in November, annnnd let’s just say I didn’t surprise myself but I DID learn a lot).

It’s time to build now. Oh, and I’d also love to find a new flat.