Australian Bushfires

Photo Credit: Eden Hills Country Fire Service

Australia is hurting. For weeks now, bushfires have been ripping through this vast country destroying wildlife and wiping out towns. With scorching summer heat and little rain, the fires continue to burn across the nation. It’s now come to communities taking refuge on packed beaches and in the ocean for safety. To date, at least two dozen people have lost their lives and over 13 million acres have been destroyed (for context, that’s equivalent to wiping out nearly 40% of the state of Illinois).

My beautiful adopted state of South Australia is no stranger to the fires. While the region has been lucky to have gotten a little break from the heat and a bit of rain this weekend, the fires continue on.

The natural treasure that is Kangaroo Island will never be the same. Fires ravaged through destroying homes, the Flinders Chase National Park, the iconic Southern Ocean Lodge, and a massive amount of wildlife — including 50% of the island’s koala population, 25,000 are feared dead.

Just 20 miles from our house, over 85 homes in the Adelaide Hills have been left uninhabitable and 1/3 of the vineyards are gone.

This country may be small in population, but it’s got a huge heart. From heroic firefighters and emergency service workers to an outpouring of community goodwill, this nation is resilient and will rebuild, but it will take care, time, and help. For those looking for ways to financially contribute, there are hundreds of worthy organizations and communities needing assistance. A couple standouts:

The CFS Foundation, supporting volunteer firefighters.

The Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, helping to save local wildlife.

Thanks for reading + for any goodness (including thoughts) that you are able to send Australia and its peoples way.❤️

International Women’s Day

To all the women out there, happy day of you and your counterparts.

International Women’s Day. March 8th.
It was yesterday in Australia, but it’s still today in the USA. No matter where in the world, let’s take those other 364 days each year and continue celebrating and supporting women (along with all kinds of people). Let’s make it an everyday affair.

WOMANKIND_Poster

Image from For All Womankind. They have posters, tees, and pins available for purchase. All profits support not-for-profit organizations working to advance reproductive freedoms both in the US and globally.

Uniting America.

I don’t often share my political views publicly, mainly because they have evolved over the years just as I have — and that evolution continues. I will say that that the presidential candidate that I voted for is not the president-elect.

That being said, today there are no winners or losers. As you celebrate or drown your sorrows I encourage you to consider that statement from both an economic and human standpoint. As you talk to friends or foes, this is not a time to brag with “We won!” or sulk with “We’re F*cked!”. This is not a joking matter. This is a time to understand that the United States of America is truly divided — and without understanding, we will never be united. This is a time to come together and work together. No matter what political party you do or don’t identify with, we all need to better understand the opinions, challenges, and needs that every American faces no matter their gender, race, or class — and only then can we truly work towards making America great.

As a reminder, I’ve lived abroad for the past 7 years. The reason, my husband is an Australian and his career brought him back here. And while I’m a tax-paying permanent resident of Australia — I work in a global role for a US company and I travel back for work, conferences, and friends/family time several times per year. Despite my current address, I fully intend to live full-time in the US again sometime in the future. I’m an American and I love my country dearly.

Thank you Gordo McQueen.

I fly quite a bit — so much that I’ve been either Premiere 1K or Platinum on United for the past several years. Despite my hundreds of flights and dozens of upgrades, it was not until last week that I had my most epic customer experience with the airline (and yes, I was in coach). Enter Captain Gordo McQueen of UA685.

Dear Captain McQueen,

Thx for kicking off our morning with your audience address. You taking the mic to say hello + inform those at Gate 66 what we could expect from today’s flight was a new one for me (and I’m sure the majority of flyers). Your mentions of the beautiful trip up the coast and the array of sights that we’d see made the short flight sound almost delightful.

As I looked around the gate while you spoke, I saw a mix of amazed shock + large smiles from those listening. Then when you finished, those people looked to their neighbors and flashed another smile. The few minutes you spent with those waiting to board your flight set a friendly tone + went above and beyond what people expect from today’s airlines.

By the end of this flight you’d already won me over, then this note came delivered to my seat…

Thank you Gordo McQueen.

Sincerely, Rebecca Collins

The Perfect Meditation

I’ve attended various relaxation and meditation classes, but nothing’s ever quite spoken to me like this meditation gem. Priceless.

“If your thoughts drift to the three-ring shit show of your life, bring your attention back to your breathing.” (my favorite at 1:16)

Thank you Jeff Lewis of Flipping Out for turning me on to the comedic (yet relaxing) goodness that is F*ck That: An Honest Meditation by Jason Headley.

Warning: Adult Language.

Purchase on iTunes, download the app (for even more goodness), or buy the book (a great gift).

Yeah, I Just Turned 36: Birthday Memories by the Year

A couple months back, I turned 36 (seriously? where have the years gone?). Just after my birthday, I wrote up this list and published it to the List App which I’ve been testing out. Since I intend for this blog to be my content hub going into the future, I thought I’d repost it over here. A nice little tribute to birthdays past — going from childhood to a full-fledged adult in PJs on her birthday.

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A look back at some memorable (+ not so memorable) birthdays from yesteryears.

1985/5 years old
Held in our newly built screened-in porch. I had a Rainbow Brite cake. My Mom and her friends painted our faces. (See photo – above: me / below: my sister)

birthday

1990/10 years old
I had a slumber party — I got to invite 5 friends. One friend got me a pack of sparklers + a Kirk Cameron poster (she was a big fan). There was drama in the middle of the night where half the girls slept in one room and talked about the girls sleeping in the other room.

1996/16 years old
My 23 year old friend + neighbor took me to get my license. I drove my Mom’s red Chrysler Lebaron convertible for my driving test. That night my sister (14) and I went to the mall + cruised the streets of my hometown (Peoria, IL) while listening to DMB’s ‘Crash’ album.

2001/21 years old
I was interning at WFAA in Dallas on their morning show ‘Good Morning Texas’. After work, I went outlet mall shopping + drank giant frozen strawberry margaritas w/ my aunt. Two days later, a guy (no hablo ingles) ran a red light and slammed into my car (no hay margaritas implicados). I had a rental (a grey Saturn) for the rest of the summer.

2006/26 years old
I was packing up my apartment in Chicago — getting ready for the next week’s cross country move to Newport Beach. That night I went out in Wrigleyville and had a big last hurrah. (Note: During the lead-up to my move, the Real Housewives of OC premiered. I will forever attribute this timing/connection to my love for everything housewives + Bravo.)

2010/30 years old
My first birthday after my move to Australia. I (reluctantly) said goodbye to the twenties + having a summer birthday (damn Southern Hemisphere living). Took a chilly trip to the Barossa Valley for a fun day of wine drinking + an evening at an old hotel w/ my boyfriend (now husband) and friends. The heat went out in our hotel and I slept in my coat.

2015/35 years old
My husband (whose bday is a few days before) and I planned a dinner for 12 friends + then hit the bars of Adelaide after. At 1am my husband fell asleep while sitting at the bar. I continued on without him — playing slots at the casino then wrapped the night with McDonald’s in bed at 3am.

2016/36 years old
I spent the first half the day flying from LAX to ADL + the second half of the day napping. We had a fire in the fireplace, ordered pizza, and watched The Americans. I was asleep by 9pm. Wild times at 36.

Nicholas Sparks: The Stephen King of Chick Flicks

Last night I asked my husband if he knew of Nicholas Sparks. He replied with “no”. After confessing my love for ‘A Walk to Remember’ + ‘The Notebook’ (no brainer) and reminding him that he sat through a TV viewing of ‘Dear John’ (while I was sleeping) a few weeks back — I shared with him that Nicholas Sparks is a book author and that he’s basically the Stephen King of chick flicks. I said that if he Googled “the Stephen King of chick flicks” he’d be sure to find Nicholas Sparks’ name in the top results.

While I pride myself on being a master in the art of Google search terms, I have to admit that I did not bring my A-game this time.  Even after going 10 pages into Google — still no sign of the “the Stephen King of chick flicks”.

A bit of a brief film history lesson for you:

Anyway, because it seems that no one online has ever said “the Stephen King of chick flicks” (yes, there I go again) when speaking about Nicholas Sparks, I’m officially making the exclamation here (+ testing out my SEO skills at the same time).