Saturday, January 16, 2016

sunbursts and marble halls

These photos were taken in Anzac Square on Wednesday - a lovely day in which my sister and I sipped sparkling water and ate chocolate covered almonds, while pondering the trials in life and how we have managed to overcome them.
I don't have a lot to say today. But here is a snippet of what I wrote down on a loose piece of paper this afternoon:

"I hope my life is full of magical moments. I hope that one day I will be sitting in the cosy living room of my fifty year old home, next to the person I've shared those fifty years with. We are smiling at each other, his reading glasses are askew on the end of his nose as he balances his fantasy novel on his knee. The same series he's loved ever since we met, I don't particularly like it, I just love the way he tells it to me. Rain is falling softly outside, the drops making delicate, slow tracks down the window pane.
We smile at each other, then gaze at the floating embers that hover above the crackling fire. His hand envelopes mine, and we sit in silence, communicating like we always have, through knowing each other the way only kindred spirits do. Elvis Presley's rendition of "Can't Help Falling in Love" plays in the background, on the record player we thrifted in New York when were on our honeymoon, so long ago. It stutters as it hits the numerous scratches and dents, but we smile at each other regardless, because it is our song.
Suddenly, a little girl with two ponytails bobbing at the top of her head skips into the room with three little boys trailing behind. They're giggling gleefully as they sit down in front of the fire and play with the toys in the basket above the bookshelf. These are our grandchildren, and the little girl, gazes up at me with her fierce blue eyes and says sheepishly, "Nana, can you tell me your love story again? Can Grandpa do the voices?". Suddenly, all the tiny ears in the room perk up (including little Bobby, the dog), as the children anticipate the retelling of their favourite story."

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

My 2016

I'm all about constant self-improvement and I'm usually the first one to shut down the idea of "New Year's Resolutions" in a group discussion because they have quite the reputation to be synonymous to "January Resolutions... never mind the 11 months after", but lately I've been giving it some thought and it's just like a lot of things in life; it all depends on your perspective and in what way you go about trying to achieve it. 
The idea of a New Year is always very exciting to me - albeit every single New Years Eve I have been in bed with a book -  because for me it represents new beginnings, a hope for new and exciting things and a possible "new leaf", if you will. Looking back on 2015, I can't help but smile because it was such a massive year for me. I changed and grew into myself so much and I've never felt so "Maria" before. This time last year I was frantically trying to decide whether I should move out or not and the simple "yes, I think I will" when I received my acceptance letter to the University of Queensland sparked a whole chain of events in my life that have brought me here, to Brisbane, in which I am surrounded by some of the most fantastic people I've ever met. 

I think every year you change, grow and adapt without even realising it, it all happens right under your nose. It's not until you wake up one morning and realise, "Wow. I can't believe I got through that... I never thought that was possible". The future scares me very much, because I like to know things, and the future is so unknown and mysterious and exciting that there's only so much we can control. So, without further ado I would like to list ten things I would like to do in 2016:

1. Get my driver's license! *broom broom*
2. Read classic literature more often, this will motivate me to write frequently, and better.  
3. Establish a responsible financial position. After all, I am an adult now, and the sooner one can control their doll in a responsible fashion, the better!
4. Go on adventures more! Say yes to spontaneous outings! Travel outside the QLD border for the first time! (I'm coming for you in March, Sydney!)
5. Continue to love deeply, wholly and selflessly. 
6. Look at the big picture, but also take into account the importance of doing one's best every day. 
8. Make a conscious effort to discuss people in a respectful, kind manner.
9. Continue to follow and trust my gut feeling. 
10. Improve my spiritual life, and have a little more faith. 

Happy New Year, friends. What are you going to do in 2016? 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

ACNE // Roaccutane 3 years update (Scarring, breakouts, improvements)

December, 2015 (click each image to see a larger version)  


It's been about a year and a half since my last acne update post in June, 2014, so I thought I would give you all an update on how my skin is going and address a few questions that I've been getting over email recently.
These pictures were taken today, no makeup! I've actually been off roaccutane completely since the beginning of November because I ran out of my prescription and didn't get a chance to see my dermatologist again (I'll book another appointment in the New Year though, before uni goes back). As you can see, my skin is far from perfect, however, it's doing okay! Since stopping medication I've found a number of things have happened:

1. There was almost an immediate increase in open and closed comedones on my forehead and around my nose area, which makes sense since they are the areas that produce the most sebum.
2. Cluster breakouts appeared in my chin area and around my lower and upper cheeks but they only occurred during my period.
3. My skin is a lot less red than it used to be when I was on full dosage. At the start of this year, Dr Pruim advised me to remain on 40g a week as opposed to 20mg per day, just as maintenance and overall, my skin looked a whole lot better.
4. MY SKIN IS OILY AGAIN. Which is both good and bad. Good: means my lips and skin don't peal or tear anymore. Bad: more pimples and congestion in the T-zone!

Due to the cause of my acne being both genetic as well as a possible hormone imbalance, it was recommended that I remained on medication as an "upkeep" as opposed to "necessity", and because my skin was technically clear at the start of this year, I was no longer eligible for the government discounts for my skin, so things got a little more expensive. Each consultation costs me about $135, as well as $50 for the 6 month supply of medication. Previously, it costed about $100 for the consultation (after government deductions) and $35 for the medication. The increase in price is a bit annoying but if it's looked at as a monthly cost, it's only about $30 per/m, so it's definitely worth it for me if it means the cystic acne doesn't come back.

May/ July/ August 2013 (click to view larger images)

Now, onto questions! It still amazes me and makes me very happy knowing that even after three years, people are still looking at these acne posts and asking me questions and knowing that they're not alone in their acne struggle.

"May I know after the accutane, did you have any indentations on your skin? Was there anything that you've done that improved your scarring?" - Jean, email

There was slight scarring, as you can see in the pictures but it is SO minor in real life, almost unnoticeable since it's so small. I was offered laser treatment to get rid of the scarring that is there, but it doesn't bother me, so I decided not to (plus it's quite expensive!). I take very good care of my skin and stick to a very thorough regime so I think that would've also contributed to the reduced indentations. 

"Can you tell me if you've experienced any long term side affects?" - Lynn, email 

I, personally, haven't suffered any long term side effects and I've been on this medication for three years now. Aside from bruising quite easily and shedding more hair than normal, I've been quite lucky. A lot of people have warned me about possible infertility, depression and weakened bones but unless they have a medical degree and have specialised in dermatology, then I tend to disregard their input as it can often come across as unhelpful and ignorant. Long term side effects are possible, but it's different for everyone. Do your research, talk to your dermatologist and weigh up your options - do what is right for YOU. 

"How do you deal with not feeling confident in your skin?" - Stacey, FB message

Practice. To this day, I am still paranoid about minor breakouts because I never want my skin to return to the way it used to look - acne takes a massive toll on one's self confidence. Taking care of yourself, drinking lots of water and wearing makeup (wash it off before bed though!!) were a few things that really boost me up if I'm feeling even the slightest bit worried about my skin. There's nothing wrong with wearing foundation if it makes you feel pretty, just don't feel like you NEED it to survive ;)! Surround yourself with true friends, who fill you up with love and support. And think happy thoughts! If you do, they'll shine out of your face like sunbeams and you'll always look lovely!

Alright, that's a wrap! Just a little disclaimer, I'm NOT a dermatologist, nor do I claim to be. I'm sharing with you what I have experienced and what I have read. I'm not endorsing roaccutane either, however I do think it is a remarkable product and I am grateful that it had the results it did on me. If you're struggling with acne, I completely understand what you are going through. As a young person, it's already difficult enough going through the process of growth and change, and not feeling confident in your skin doesn't help. I wish you the best of luck in whatever your endeavours are, feel free to email me on AVENUEMBLOG@GMAIL.COM if you'd like to talk about it or have any questions. 

If you'd like to see my previous acne posts, you can click on the links below: