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Health & Wellbeing, Reviews

Meow Review: Vedic Meditation

December 18, 2016

I’ve dabbled in meditation over the years. It was one of my intentions for 2016 to meditate more, and well I kind of left that to the last minute, but here I am. I’ve done an introduction to meditation course, I’ve subscribed to “Calm” on my android, but none of them really hit the mark to engage me to practice regularly. After hearing about the Vedic method through word of mouth, the Ginger Hunk and I took a weekend course in November. I’d never really heard of it before, but I’m all for self improvement. Anything that can enhance my creativity, lift my mood (drug free) and help me to be a better all round human being then I’m automatically in. Sign me up.

What is Vedic Meditation? 

Vedic meditation is the use of  a word or “mantra” repeated in the mind to bring you to a calm relaxed state. To receive the benefits, you must practice for two twenty minute sessions a day. (Before I hear you say you have no time, keep reading to the end of this post.) Evidence has likened the benefits of this method are as restful as a few hours sleep. After regular practice, you are meant to be able to move to a place beyond thought (more on that later.) The method originated in India over 5000 years ago. “The Vedas” is the term used to describe ancient Indian knowledge the source of all Ayurvedic medicine and yoga. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, developed the method also known as “Transcendental Deep Meditation” sharing it to the world in the 1950’s. He is most famous for teaching the Beatles how to meditate. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi founded the Transcendental Meditation Movement, but a line of teachers, seperate to the TM movement have continued teaching the “Vedic method”. The method is passed down through an unbroken line of teachers, and teachers to student.

The course.

There is a bunch of teachers around Sydney if you have a google. We were privileged to learn from Corey Snell, at Inner Space Meditation after meeting for an introductory talk. What I liked about Corey, is that not only could he tell us the line of teachers from him all the way back to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is that he is your regular guy. He’s not a monk living in a tree. He’s got a busy executive job, and a full, busy life raising a  young family and hobbies. My immediate thought was that “if he can make time for this, then I can.” He meditates as a passenger in the car, in a work break, or after driving to work. Corey teaches this method because of the benefits that it has brought to his own life, he doesn’t do it for a living. Again, I’m sold. To learn this method, a mantra is passed from teacher to student, before practising the technique and discussions in a small group over two  relaxing days. It’s very practical and flexible. You are straight in there meditating in the morning on the first day. You can’t learn it online, and I will do my best to describe it to you. Continue Reading…

Reviews, Vietnam

Meow Review: Vietnam Vespa Adventures Hoi An & Saigon

October 18, 2016

This is possibly one of the best tour companies I have found on my travels. This post isn’t sponsored by the way. Just sharing as service. I found out about Vietnam & Cambodia Vespa Adventures via Twitter, which I mostly ignore usually. (Bad I know.) I tweeted said travel writer back and forth, after reading a fabulous review, and it was on my radar for our trip. My travelling companion (sister) was a little bit skeptical. No, we were not riding the bikes ourselves. No, we were not going to die. Yes they had insurance. All those TripAdvisor people could not be lying, surely? Absolutely not!

Tour 1: Country Side & Islands, Central Hoi An 

On arrival in Hoi An, we booked into The Country Side and Island Tour around central Hoi AnAfter  a morning meeting at Cafe Zoom (appropriately named) we met with our guide, and had a tea before setting out on a circle around Hoi An to see village life.


Ready to roll in Hoi An!

Our first stop was a boatyard, where locals were making HUGE fishing boats, to order. This work is highly skilled in Vietnam, and the labourers get paid around $30 per day. No photo sorry, but my sister was astounded at the lack of occupational health & safety standards on the site, being married to a health and safety man. Saws and shit everywhere. Escaping unscathed, we then scooted of through the rice fields to a visit a family temple, where four generations of family meet every year during Tet, Vietnamese New Year. It is part of the tradition for all families to return from all over Vietnam every year, to learn about their ancestry.  We then stopped in at a weaving centre, before making rice paper ourselves (and eating it). Continue Reading…


Meow Review : Zootopia

April 28, 2016

This is one of the greatest Disney movies of all time. For adults and kids alike. I took my nephew to see it last week in the school holidays and was chuckling along the whole way, as well as nodding to the messages. Zootopia is based in a land where mammals behave like humans and live in harmony. (See it anyway just for the amazing rainforest, rodent town, and ‘naturist’ scenes.)  Predators and prey live together in social cohesion, with the odd problem (but nothing that can’t be resolved by the local police.) Which brings me to little Judy. Judy Hopps, is a tiny cute bunny with a desire to be a police officer and save the world is at the centre of the movie. (You just want to hug her little cotton tail and touch her ears.) She leaves small town Bunnyville to join the ‘integration’ police cadet program, passes the course and become the first bunny cop in the big city. On her first day on the job, she’s sidelined to become a glorified meter maid where she runs, by chance into Nick the fox, a con man of sorts.  An unlikely pair, the two become friends and go on to solve the mystery of the disappearing predators, uncovering a plot and restoring harmony to all.

But this is so much more than a mystery. From the sloths moving slowly in the RTA, to the Shakira dancing giraffee mobile app, Zootopia is a play on modern life and multicultural society. (There is even a breaking bad meth lab in there.) More so than the play on modern life, are the important messages this film leaves behind; we are all different, but have our unique gifts, what we believe about someone isn’t always the case, and we are capable of so much more than we think.

Messages we all need to hear, young or old.

See it right meow!

Ashleigh XXX

I won’t give up, no I won’t give in, till I reach the end, then I’ll start again. 

No I won’t leave, I want to try everything, I want to try everything even though I could fail. 



Image credit Indiewire

Cat Lady, Reviews

Meow Review: When I went to Cat Yoga

March 7, 2016

I went to Cat Yoga a week or so ago with Sanch @ My Imperfect Life .

A few people said I must blog about this ASAP and they were right.

(I think Sanch and I might be twins by the way, but that is a blog post for another time.)

Before I talk about Cat Yoga, let me answer some questions you might have in general about the concept.

  1. You do not take your own cat to Cat Yoga they have cats for you at Catmosphere Cat Cafe.
  2. The yoga class is not for the cats, it is for humans.
  3. If you do not know what a Cat Cafe is, firstly, I am ashamed for you. In one sentence, a cat cafe is a cafe full of cats, otherwise known as HEAVEN. Secondly, you can read about it here or here, before moving onto the more advanced subject of CAT YOGA.

Now that you know the basics, I can talk about Cat Yoga, which is essentially, yoga for humans in a room full of cats, otherwise known as HEAVEN +++.

Catmosphere in Surry Hills have introduced Cat Yoga to their schedule. Sanch and I planned it a while ago because…well because CATS AND YOGA. We met up first to talk about all things writing, cats and the general blogosphere, then we arrived at Catmosphere. There are two rooms, the cat room and the OMG kitten room… otherwise known as HEAVEN++++. A ROOM FULL OF KITTENS.

Yoga is in the cat room.

We anxiously waited for the other humans to finish their heavy petting session and then went up to the room and set up our yoga mats.

This was distracting and hard to keep focused because OMG THE CATS.


How many kitties can you see?

How many kitties can you see?

Our teacher sprinkled a little bit of catnip on our mats, and this made the kitties go crazy. They were running around the room, scratching the mats, excited that new humans had arrived. Buzz, sat in the middle of some dudes mat and didn’t move for the entire class. We were joined by six  others humans for our yoga class, and around 13 cats. (One lady seemed quite surprised that we were actually doing yoga, instead of patting the cats.) That comes later. First you have to torture yourself by remaining still and calm and NOT TOUCHING THE CATS FOR 45 MINUTES WHILST DOING YOGA.


After the initial excitement, the cats, and us, settled into the class.

As I mentioned, some didn’t move, for the entire class.

This one sat on someones mat the ENTIRE class, then got up and was like 'meh, my work is done', when it was over'. Cats.

This one sat on someones mat the ENTIRE class, then got up and was like ‘meh, my work is done’, when it was over’. Cats.

One sat on my bag and stared me out, in his own yogic sphinx pose.


And this every time I was in downward dog. How can I think about yoga when THERE’S A KITTY ON THE WALL!

There is a kitty on the shelf and I want to touch it....

Kitty on the shelf and I want to touch it….

I absolutely loved doing yoga in a room of cats. The only downside was, not being able to touch them whilst being busy doing yoga, (and one cat taking a shit in his litter box behind me when I was mid downward dog, because you know… cats.)

The kitties themselves kind of calmed down towards the end of the class. They went into their own little relaxation zone and chilled out to the music. It was very cute.

And finally, at the end, we could express the free love that exists between human and cat…

Sanch and her new friend.

Sanch and her new friend.

Would I go again?




Meow for now,

Ashleigh XXXX

****Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT****
Reviews, Social Justice

Meow Review: He Named Me Malala

January 25, 2016

“Let us pick up our books and our pens.

They are our most powerful weapons”

Malala Yousafzai

I recently watched “He Named Me Malala” on route to Auckland. I see international flights as a chance to entrap Ginger Hunk, into a foray of planning about our future and life. He takes it the opposite way, stocking up on gadgets and headphones to drown me out. Anyway, on our recent flight to Auckland, I took the opportunity to put on the documentary about Malala Yousafazi and I was mesmerised.  I had heard about this brave girl, an activist for women and girls education in Pakistan, who was shot in the head riding to school in Swat Valley in 2012 and miraculously survived, but was so happy I learnt more.

The documentary starts with what was a pretty normal, and happy family life in Pakistan. Growing up in the once beautiful Swat Valley, Malala was born the eldest of two younger brothers, and named after Malalai Mawand, a warrior of Afghanistan. Her father Ziauddin, an activist and teacher, ran a chain of schools in the area. At the age of 12, the BBC were looking for teenagers to blog secretly about the Taliban, and her father volunteered Malala. (This was indeed risky, most adults at this time were silent, but there was an overall feeling that surely the Taliban would not hurt a child.)

What the documentary also shows is the demise of Pakistan under the Taliban. What started out as a community welcoming the Taliban to Swat, ended in killings for everyone that betrayed them. The documentary highlights the fear that was experienced, and the total demise of infrastructure in Swat, which seemed like a such a beautiful place to grow up in. Schools and shops were bombed. People that were believed to disobey the Taliban had their names broadcast over a speaker and were taken away in the night.

Soon the Taliban declared that no girls were to go to school. Malala begun to speak out and campaign loudly for the right to education. She was shot in the head on 9 October 2012, two of her friends were injured. The family was extradited to the UK, where she has continued her recovery and attended school, finishing high school last year. I was absolutely impressed by the way this documentary not only told the story of Malala ‘the activist’, but also the story of a displaced family. Birmingham is not their home, and so they struggle to find their way in a new world, Malala struggles to fit in at school and her mother to learn the language, despite Malala’s ‘celebrity’.

But so, they go on, to campaign for women, children and girls education.

I finished watching the documentary and felt so lucky for my start in life.

I’ve been to school, high school, completed two university degrees that I could pay off later and many other courses, just for ‘fun’. This education has helped me,earn decent money, have a job to fall back on while following my passion, and work sponsored overseas. How lucky am I?

Did you know? 

A person’s earning potential increases by 10 percent with each additional year of schooling.

Educated mothers are 50 percent more likely to immunise their children than mothers with no schooling.

(Source, World Vision Australia.)

How you can help

With it being back to school week, World Vision has a number of one-off gifts you can purchase from educational packages for Indigenous children, or a bicycle to help a girl get safely to school. Check it out here.

Be a champion for Girls’ Education, by visiting The Malala Fund.

Have a great back to school week!

Ashleigh XXX


Daily Life, Reviews

Meow Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – Marie Kondo

January 3, 2016

I read about my friend Bexy finding a magical book and then swiftly de-cluttering her life and I was intrigued. So I bought the book in December, by Marie Kondo titled, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying . I found myself on the couch inhaling it in two days and have since been on a tidying up mission. I woke up feeling like my apartment was FULL. CRAZY FULL. AND MUST BE CLEANSED AND PURGED. IMMEDIATELY.

When we bought our apartment, three years ago, it was EMPTY. So empty. How could we fill it up? Then over time, we gradually filled it. New sports. New hobbies. Freediving. Triathlon. Spearfishing. You name it. Trinkets, clothes, books and photos. It was all stored away, once each phase ended, ‘just in case’. And as we find ourselves travelling more and fast outgrowing our small little apartment, I started to question why. Why am I holding on to all this stuff? Why do I keep things, just because? Why are two humans with no babies outgrowing this space?

Now, onto the book.

The “KonMari” method of tidying is both complex and very, very simple.

I am going to share a couple of lessons I learnt from the book but first, a little intro to the lady behind the theory.

Marie Kondo is not like a normal human. She had an obsession with organising and living in domestic bliss that has been shining from a young age. (Hence, why she is now a professional organiser.) The introductory section of the book talks about her childhood, (where it sounds like she spent a lot of time tidying up.) She would even ‘test’ her family members by throwing thing out to see if they noticed six months later, (mostly, they didn’t).

Here is what I have learnt from the book. (I am only through three categories by the way, and have thus far purged about 8 bags of belongings).

Organise by category

This is key. Kondo suggests that you organise by category, not by location. If you are going to sort all your bags, bring them out. All your clothes, bring them out. By hiding things away, you forget what you have. “This approach is fatal”, Kondo says, because  “you are bound to find clothes you kept in the a different cupboard”. In my experience, the enormity of the pile will firstly make you feel immense shame, and you wonder how you will choose. This brings me onto my second point. Which is….

Keep only the things that bring you joy

Yes this is right. Kondo says to put everything in the pile and touch and talk to each item. “Keep only things that speak to your heart. Then you can take the plunge and discard all the rest.” I thought at first she was full of it. But then it became simple. Joy or No Joy? That is the question. It became a simple thing to throw out that dress I wore to that party once, when I was skinny in 2004… Why… Whyyyyyy hang on to these things? Part of the reason of keeping things is to represent you and the person you are NOW. Not the person you were or are pining over becoming. I am kind of pleased that now my wardrobe seems to be gleaming with my favourite things.



By the way, it is okay also to wish the things that once brought you joy and don’t now, on their merry way.

Fold, so you can see it

I am going to show you the best lesson I have learnt so far for free. The KonMari method of folding. Here it is my friends. So you can SEE said clothing in the drawers. She suggests using empty shoe boxes or shoe box lids to do it. Look at what she does to her undies.

This is what I did to my PJS.

It almost gives me the lady wood just opening this drawer. Which used to give me anxiety.  And now onto the final, heartbreaking lesson.

Storage is for hoarders

I was sad to hear this, but kind of accepted it also. Once upon a time for a number of years, we paid for a storage unit, for all this stuff we thought we ‘needed’. I think we went there once in two years. Once out of sight, out of mind, and we never needed anything much from there ever again. As Kondo says “we need to resist storing our belongings until we have identified what we really need and want to keep”.

Yes. Yes. YES.

It is so far day two of my mission.  Onto books, keepsakes and photos tomorrow.

These other humans drank the liquid too. Check it out here.

Are you a KonMari convert or a hoarder?

Happy first Sunday of 2016! 

Ashleigh XXX