Interview: Alexandra Franzen

Alexandra Franzen wants to live in a world where emails are short, love letters are brave and every ‘thank you’ note is scribbled by hand.

Her lessons on life, love, work and writing are enough to inspire anyone. Alexandra’s simple but extremely effective tips on creativity, productivity, writing and even a blogger’s everyday struggles of writers block will astound you. These tips and lessons have been featured on Fast Company, Forbes, The Daily Love, The Huffington Post and many other radio programs around the area. With her huge heart, Alexandra Franzen wants nothing more then to help others become better people, and better writers. Her books – 50 Ways To Say You’re Awesome and Our Q+A A Day: A 3-Year Journal For 2 People have inspired thousands of people to do the simple things, such as say ‘thank you’ more often. Her blog posts, such as one titled 88 pieces of fill-in-the-blank blog inspiration are so very creative and definitely the best place to go to discover your next blog ideas. Alexandra writes her blog posts and books to help others to communicate, understand and get to the point with their writing all while doing it with love. Here is what she had to say in our recent interview:

    C: Where did the idea of starting a blog come from and how did you begin? Was it something that you thought of overnight or was there a process behind it all?

    A: In my early twenties – while working at a radio station – part of my job was to write (and sometimes, edit) little snippets of language for the DJ’s and hosts to read. Messages from sponsors, announcements about upcoming concerts, things like that. Pretty simple stuff, but those little 15-second snippets of language had to go through (literally) three levels of ‘approval’ before they ever made it onto the airwaves! I understood the reasons behind the process, but at times, it frustrated me. I was craving a space where I could write freely – no need to acquire multiple people’s approval. Just me, my ideas, my words, and a big PUBLISH button. My current blog was born out of that simple desire:
    To write freely about topics that interest me. With no limitations.

    C: What do you hope to achieve with your blog, and what do you want your readers to get out of it?

    A: Over the years, my blog has evolved from a more ‘personal’ place (muffin recipes, outfit recaps, TV show reviews and whatnot) into a more focused and purposeful place. These days, it’s become a destination for writers, artists, entrepreneurs and other creative souls who want to make the world a better place, but need a dose of motivation, some writing tips, or just a bit of love and encouragement to keep marching. The greatest ‘achievement’ for me, right now, is when somebody writes to me and says: “Reading your blog made _________ feel so much simpler. I can do this! Or, even better: “Reading your blog made me feel like I matter, and my dream is possible.”

    C: What is the key to building such a strong blog with plenty of readers?

    A: Be helpful. Be humble. Be generous with your ideas.
    That is all.

    C: What is your writing process like and for you, how does a small idea turn into a complete blog post?

    A: My process is pretty simple:
    I get an idea in my head (usually, it’s a story that contains some kind of ‘lesson’ or ‘reminder.’ And it’s usually inspired bu something I’ve seen, or experienced, or a recent conversation I’ve had). Then I decide, “OK, what IS the lesson here, exactly? What do I want people to remember after reading this piece?” Then I start writing the piece, being extra-super-careful to make sure that the ‘lesson’ is extremely clear and obvious. So obvious, a six year old could understand it. Then I look at the piece. Then I make it even simpler. Then I publish it. The end.

    C: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in life so far?

    A: Helping people makes you feel proud of yourself. Feeling proud of yourself makes you want to keep helping. This is a beautiful thing.

    C: Who is your inspiration and/or idol and why?

    A: The children’s TV host, Fred Rogers. Because he fully embodies the “big lesson” that I just described. Plus, he has awesome cardigan sweaters.

Visit Alexandra’s website here:http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/
Start with love. Keep it simple. You are not confused.

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Interview: Rachael Leahcar

One of my most successful interviews on my previous blog was with The Voice 2012 finalist Rachael Leahcar. Rachael was kind enough to share the interview on her Twitter page which meant some of her most dedicated fans read my blog and gave me a record number of views! Here is what they lovely Rachael Leahcar had to say:
 

    C: Rachael, you recently finished third on The Voice Australia! How did you find your experience on the show?

    R: The Voice was one of the best experiences of my life. It taught me so much about myself as an artist and life itself. It taught me that along with positive feedback, you will also get negative and have to learn to deal with this in a healthy way. It also taught me that I should be who I am because if I try to be something I’m not, it will be fake and meaningless. It was extremely hard work but in the end, very rewarding as I received the the recording contract I’ve always dreamed of getting.
    C: If you had the chance to sing with anyone in the world, who would it be?
    R: That’s a very hard question! Since I’ve already sung with Delta Goodrem, I’m going to have to say either Andrea Bocelli or the modern artist James Morrison.
    C: What was it that inspired you to audition for The Voice?

    R: Believe it or not, I just wanted to fill in some time in my gap year! I never expected to get as far as I did but that’s what I allocated this year for anyway, for music. If not for The Voice, I don’t think I would’ve made my dream come true so I’m definitely glad I took the risk.
    C: What are your plans for the not so distant future, in regard to your music?

    R: Well my album Shooting Star debuted at number #5 on the ARIA charts so I’m happy that all the work the Universal team and I did to promote it has paid off! Now that that’s done, I will try to perform as many places as possible and write more songs for the next album. I intend the next one to be a mix of covers and originals but all with much more artistic input on my behalf so very excited for that!
    C: Who has been your idol and/or inspiration and why?
    R: I have admired the late Eva Cassidy for quite some time. Unfortunately her talent was not recognised by the world before she passed but she inspires me because no matter how hard it was, she always stuck to what she loved, music. And believe me, music is a very hard industry to get into. Not to mention her voice is the most beautiful I’ve ever heard.
    C: Do you have any advice for other people out there who want to be successful and follow their dreams like yourself one day?
    R: Perfect your art, whatever it may be. Always be ready for greatness because one day, it might be thrust upon you and you have to be ready to catch it with both hands. But as long as you follow your dream, you will be successful because that dream is what makes you happy… and happiness is the key to success, not money or fame.

Thanks for your time Rachael!

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News: Bieber Behind Bars

In breaking news, teen pop star Justin Bieber was arrested in Miami earlier today for drag-racing and being under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The 19-year-old Canadian singer initially resisted arrest and verbal assaulted police officers when they caught him drag racing in what is believed to be a rented Lamborghini. Justin eventually cooperated and admitted to police that he had smoked marijuana and taken prescription drugs that day. Following a bail hearing, Bieber left the jail with his personal entourage and police officers, controversially sitting on top of an SUV and waving to his awaiting fans before being driven away. His bail was set at $2,850. 

A Miami police chief said that two SUV’s had blocked off a four lane road so Justin and his friend – driving a rented red Ferrari, could race. He was allegedly driving at around 96km in a 40km zone. In the police report an officer says that Justin had bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol on his breath when he was first arrested. His mug shot shows him smiling, which has been a highly talked about point in this case. The other driver on the scene was said to be R&B singer Khalil Sharieff, who was arrested for driving under the influence.

Justin Bieber has been charged with resisting arrest without violence and driving on an expired license. 

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Miley Cyrus, Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan and now the Biebs. All big stars at such a young age, and growing up in the media’s eye is proving to be a bad thing. Justin Bieber has joined the growing list of celebrities that are constantly in the news for not the best of reasons. Bad boy Bieber is proving to be quite popular for some older fans, but there are many of us out there wondering if we’ll see the heart of the 13-year-old that we all fell in love with again any time soon. Will the singing sensation make a change or follow in the footsteps of Lindsay Lohan and live the rest of his life in the tabloids for all the wrong reasons?

Online Shopping – On A Budget

So if you are anything like me, you’re a total lover of online shopping. The minute there is money in my bank account I hit the online stores, filling my virtual shopping basket with any clothes, shoes and accessories that take my fancy. But these items quickly add up, and what do you do when you reach the checkout and your shopping has completely exceeded your price range? Once again, if you’re anything like me, choosing an item to take off your order is almost as difficult as trying to give up chocolate – so surely there is a way to avoid this situation? We all want to be able to finalize our online order and still have money left in the bank, and while this may seem impossible to some, it can be done! Here are my tips on online shopping on a budget:

1. Look around
You may have found that one dress or pair of heels and fallen in love with them straight away. I know the feeling, you want to buy them right that instant so that they’ll be sitting on your doorstep as quickly as possible. But there is a pretty good chance that another store or designer has the same, or a very similar item for a fraction of the price! There is a crazy amount of online stores, and small online boutiques these days so you are bound to find an almost identical item somewhere! So fight off that feeling of impulse buying and have look in any related online stores for the same piece at a much cheaper price – you might even save enough to buy a second item!

2. Wait!
Yes I completely understand that you have probably fallen head over heels for that skirt or pair of shoes and you can’t possibly exit the page without purchasing them. But what if I told you to wait? I know, are probably wondering why I’d ever even consider that. Eventually these fantastic items will have to be moved to the sale page, and you will be able to grab them for at least half of the original price. This may be a month or so later, but if you’re on a tight budget the best thing you can do is wait. This gorgeous piece will still end up in your closet, and you’ll be looking as fabulous as ever even if it is a few weeks after you originally discovered it.

3. Sale pages
Almost every store in town has at least 1 sale rack, and you’ll find that it’s the same with online stores. The first page I check out is the sale page, it is so easy to find great clothes and accessories for a fraction of the price. Checking out the sale page is the best way to save money, and it gives you the opportunity to be creative and mix these great bargains with your previous purchases that are sitting in your wardrobe. Sharing one of my own experiences may convince you more, so here goes! 
I love browsing through the hundreds of pages of women’s clothing on www.citybeach.com.au and often save things to my favourites but never purchase them due to being on a 15 year-olds budget (which isn’t a lot, as you may have presumed)! Quite a few weeks later I found a dress and a top that I had previously saved on the sale page, both for half the original price which was now in my range! I purchased the ‘Mooloola Daisy Crochet Dress’ for $29.99, originally $59.99 and the ‘Mooloola White Lace Tank’ for $19.99, which was once $39.99! So both tip number 2 & 3 come into play here, wait until the price decreases and check out the sale pages!

4. Mix and match
Why bother wasting all of your money on a whole new outfit when you can choose just 1 item of clothing but wear it in so many ways! Something like a denim jacket is great for this, so my advice would be to spend your money on a decent denim vest or jacket and get lots of use out of it by pairing it with different clothes to make heaps of outfits – trust me, if you do this right no one will even notice it’s the same jacket! For example, your new jacket with a pair of jeans or some black tights makes for a more casual look but go with a skirt or dress and some heels and you’re ready for any dressy occasion! Mixing and matching your clothes – old and new, is a great way to avoid buying a whole outfit online and just going with that one statement piece, plus you’ll have extra dollars in your pockets!

I know that this is hard advice to take, believe me because I need to take some of it myself! But restricted online shopping is better than no online shopping at all, and who’s to say that you can’t buy amazing clothes with a limited budget? At the end of the day, no one is going to say no to having money in the bank and by using these tips you can have this as well as an amazing wardrobe!

Here are a few of my favourite online stores:
http://www.icedesign.com.au
http://www.forevernew.com.au
http://www.boohoo.com
http://www.lucyinthesky.com
http://www.blueivory.net
http://www.indigolaneboutique.com

Happy reading!

Fashion: Jellies Shoes

I promised myself that this would never happen, but it did and I’m actually so happy about it.

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Jellies, not the food but the shoe. Are they a fashion do or a fashion don’t? My ridiculous amounts of magazines tell me yes, but my heart and what seems like half of the world’s population are all saying no. If you had of asked me about these 80’s style shoes last week I would have rambled on for hours about how much I dislike them. But I’ve clearly had a change of heart and for only $14.95, I couldn’t resist! When paired with the right outfit, Jellies can look quite stylish and are great for dressing down an outfit that may seem too fancy for just a day in the city. Oh and did I mention the amount of comfort they bring to your feet? I’m here sitting on my laptop, but I’m literally wearing my Jellies just because they are the most comfortable shoes on the planet. I will admit, it is only the black ones that have won me over – I am going to need a lot of convincing to even consider buying a clear or coloured pair. So if you’re like me and unsure about purchasing these shoes, here are some ways to wear them and not make them look like fancy crocs or pieces of plastic on your feet. 

High waisted shorts

My black high waisted shorts are my favourite thing to wear with my black Jellies! This combo paired with my loose bright green top tucked into the shorts was perfect for such a warm day today. These shoes are great for the beach, and with this outfit you are set!

Skater skirts

Skater skirts are another great match, especially skirts with a floral pattern! Wearing a plain coloured half top with this outfit makes it super easy to dress up or down. For a night out go for a pair of heels but for a casual day, your pair of Jellies are just perfection! 

Summer dresses

As I mentioned before, Jellies are great for the beach or the pool. What else is great for the beach or the pool? A summer dress. So the two together are a match made in heaven and you’ll be ready for any occasion!

Short jumpsuits

The idea of these two items might seem far-fetched – it did to me too, but you’d be surprised and they actually look great together! My short jumpsuit is black on the top, with a very low-cut back and the shorts are floral. They match perfectly with my Jellies and are another of my favourite combinations! Check out this cute jumpsuit that would look great with your Jellies: 
http://www.supre.com.au/PARTY–PRINTED-CONTRAST-PLAYSUIT.aspx?p141350&country=AU

So now that you know what to wear your shoes with, where did these interesting pieces of footwear come from?
Jelly shoes were created in the 1960’s when designers were experimenting with different uses of plastic materials. Jellies were huge during the 80’s and 90’s, but then fell out of fashion in the late 90’s. This design was originally a children’s sandal, but the popularity led the shoe to being designed in womens sizes too. They were quite hard to find for a while, before coming back into fashion during the later months of 2013. In the 80’s you could purchase a pair of Jellies for just a couple of dollars, and in reality they are still a very cheap and practical pair of shoes ranging from $10 – $20.  These shoes come in a rainbow of styles and colours, many with the feature of glitter. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So why not spare $15 this summer and purchase a pair of Jellies. You may not be totally convinced, but I promise you that once you buy a pair you won’t look back.

Slide on into some plastic shoes this summer, you’ll be comfortable and feel great! 

Happy reading!

Interview: Martin Garrix

17 year-old DJ/producer Martin Garrix is taking the music industry by storm after being signed to Spinnin’ Records in 2012. His best known track ‘Animals’ was a top 10 hit in over 10 countries and reached number 1 in Ireland, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Fellow blogger and my best friend Ellie Simpson (www.teenageperks.wordpress.com) and I, read an article about Martin Garrix and contacted him straight away. I always enjoy reading about upcoming stars so interviewing someone that is vastly making himself known to the world is something that we both love to do. We talked to Martin about his hit song ‘Animals,’ what inspired him to begin his career and what we can expect in the near future. Enjoy!

    Cassidy: What sparked your interest in music and how did your career develop from there?

    Dj Tiesto was my first inspiration, I heard him playing at the Olympics in 2004, from that moment on I knew I wanted to make music and become a Dj. I made a bootleg of a track by Enrique Iglesias called ‘Tonight’. This was picked up by a couple of Dutch DJs… After that I got discovered by Spinnin Records, produced ‘Animals’ and that’s where it all exploded! I also released ‘Wizard’ together with Jay Hardway, which turned out huge too! Got signed by Scooter Braun for their new EDM project. And I just announced my US tour dates, playing at Coachella, it still feels unreal sometimes!

    Ellie: Who or what inspires the music you produce?
    I get inspired by a lot, not just one type of music or so. I listen to a lot of different music, and love a lot of artists. So I can get inspired by anything.

    Cassidy: You’re still at such a young age, but what has been the best moment in your career so far?
    Really hard to say, I guess that has to be the great success of Animals, and everything that this track brought me. And all the amazing venues I played last year, alongside my favourite DJ colleagues. My first time in Ibiza was really memorable too.

    Ellie: What’s your favourite song so far that you have produced and what can we see from you in the upcoming months?

    For now that’s ‘Animals’, but there’s a lot to come! 6 collabs on their way, so stay tuned! 😉

    Cassidy: Who is your idol/inspiration and why?

    That still is Tiesto. He became a good friend of mine, but I still have a lot of respect for him! Of course there are a lot more artists I look up to, DJs like Hardwell, Porter Robinson, Alesso.

    Ellie: Do you feel there’s competition around the globe with artists such as Flume and the Stafford Brothers beaming their way up the charts?

    There’s always competition, especially in the EDM scene, but that keeps me motivated and focused. Everybody is really friendly though, I always enjoy seeing other guys at gigs or festivals. So yeah, there is competition but there are also lots of good vibes!

Thanks Martin, and happy reading!

2013 – A Year In Review

We have survived the first 8 days of 2014 and with only another 51 weeks, 357 days or 8,592 hours until the new-year, I thought I’d review the highs and lows of 2013.

January
The first month of the year means school holidays and summer! Luckily enough the average temperature was the highest on Australian record, so students were treated to a month of sunshine. Unfortunately other parts of the world weren’t in such good spirit, with over 60,000 people dying in Syria’s civil war. In the entertainment world Lindsay Lohan once again faced court and jail-time and was refused hotel rooms on her trip to Los Angeles. In sporting news Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka took out the men’s and women’s singles final at the Australian Open and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were at the top of the music charts with their hit single ‘Thrift Shop.’

February
My personal favourite month of the year – the weather is still great, school goes back, my birthday and for me, dancing returns. Macklemore was still dominating the charts, but this time with new single ‘Same Love.’ However the latter half of the month showed the ‘Harlem Shake’ craze take over, but not for long. In the world of sport there were unfortunately more lows then highs as a year-long investigation showed that some of our sporting heroes are using drugs to improve their performance. Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on February 11 of 2013, the first Pope to do so since 1415. In entertainment, the One Direction boys headed to Ghana to film their video clip for single ‘One Way or Another’ and to raise money for Comic Relief.

March
 In the month of March, Kate Middleton denied knowing the gender of her unborn baby at an appearance in the UK. In sports news, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and athlete Jessica Ennis were awarded the 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards. The number 1 spot on the music charts was finally taken from Macklemore, this time by Pink and Nate Ruess with hit song ‘Just Give Me a Reason.’

April
On the 15th of April the world was left in shock after multiple bombs explode at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed, including an eight year-old boy and at least another 170 were injured. President Obama said “We still do not know who did this or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts, but make no mistake: We will get to the bottom of this.” Passenger took over the charts for the entire month with ever so popular song ‘Let Her Go’ and sprinter Black Caviar finished her racing career at Royal Randwick with an amazing 25 wins from 25 starts.

May
The debate about racism in sport was kicked off again in May, this time after Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes singled out a 13 year-old Collingwood supporter who called him an ‘ape.’ On a better note Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota legalize same-sex marriage and couples were able to get married as of August 2013. Miley Cyrus was the most talked about celebrity in the entertainment world after her raunchy photos, new sound and new haircut. Her relationship with Liam Hemsworth was also on the rocks due to their busy schedules and not having time for each other. Daft Punk’s new song ‘Get Lucky’ stole number 1 on the charts for the month of May.

June
In Australian news, our first female Aussie Prime Minister Julia Gillard resigned after being outed in a party vote. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd replaced Julia as party leader, and then prime minister the following day. Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal took out the men’s and women’s singles title at the French Open, this being Nadal’s eighth French Open win and exactly 11 years since Williams bet her sister and acquired her first win. This month Robin Thicke was on top of the music industry with hit song ‘Blurred Lines.’ In the entertainment world, Kim Kardashian finally finalized her divorce with former NBA player Kris Humphries.

July
The month of July marked the awaited arrival of the royal baby! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their son George Alexander Louis to the world, who is automatically third in line to the throne. In Australian sport the Queensland Maroons won their eighth consecutive State of Origin series. Although a streaker robbed the Maroons of a try, it didn’t stop their run at the top of the Origin legacies. This month it was ‘Wake Me Up’ by Avicii that proved to be the most popular song and rock legend Jon Bon Jovi donated $1 million to the Superstorm Sandy Relief Fund.

August
Jason Derulo dominated the charts with his song ‘Talk Dirty’ which featured 2 Chainz. The sudden death of Glee star Cory Monteith struck the people of the world, including fellow Gleeks. After months of speculation, the investigation of the ‘supplements’ program being run at the Essendon Football Club came to a head. The club was banned from being a part of the 2013 AFL finals, coach James Hird was given a one-year ban and a number of other suspensions and fines were handed down. In big world news, 25 year old Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in jail after leaking 700 000 US government files to WikiLeaks.

September
The Hawthorn Hawks were victorious in the 2013 AFL Grand Final, beating the Fremantle Dockers by 15 points at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In the ninth month of the year the number 1 spot on the music charts was shared by Katy Perry and Redfoo with their singles ‘Roar’ and ‘Let’s Get Ridiculous.’ Miley Cyrus’ controversial film clip to song ‘Wrecking Ball’ broke the record for the most number of views in 24 hours, with 19.3 million views after just a day. In world news, Apple unveiled the brand new iPhone 5c and 5s, and the rain continued to pour in American state Colorado as more than 1200 people remain unaccounted for in the current floods.

October
In October we sadly saw the death of two students and a maths teacher at Sparks Middle School in Nevada. The three were shot by a middle-school student who later shot himself in front of other students. ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry remained in the number 1 spot for this month, which led the hit single to be the longest-running number 1 song of 2013. The Boston Red Sox had an exceptional run of success, this continued by winning the 2013 World Series. A team in shock after the Boston Marathon Bombings pulled together and claimed an inspiring win.

November
Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones recorded in history struck the Philippines and resulted in over 5000 lives being lost. In the sporting world it was a month of retirement and we were left to send off some all-time sporting greats. Mark Webber said goodbye to his Formula One career after a podium finish and cricket star Sachin Tendulkar said farewell on his home ground in Mumbai after scoring 74 runs. Australian X-Factor stars Dami Im and Taylor Henderson released singles and both songs reached number 1 for a short time this month but it was ‘The Monster’ by Eminem and Rihanna that remained on top for the most part of November. Fast & Furious star Paul Walker sadly passed away in a car accident in Los Angeles, leaving movie fans in shock and wondering what will happen next for the Fast & Furious series.

December
It’s finally Christmas time and there was a cheerful spirit all over the country after the Australian Cricket Team’s long awaited success at the Ashes Series. Aussie surfer Mick Fanning took out the Hawaiian Pipe Masters to claim his third world title after pulling out an amazing last-minute ride. It was John Legend’s song ‘All Of Me’ in the number 1 position over the Christmas period. Apple reported that $1 billion was spent by their customers at the App store during the month, taking their total yearly earnings to $10 billion.

All in all 2013 had its fair share of lows, but for me it was an amazing year full of fun, friends, family and fantastic achievements. May everyone have a good 2014 year and I look forward to writing another of these posts at the beginning of 2015.

Happy reading!