Life Notes

DJ Fuzzy's Oprah Tour Mixtape x Thump x VICE

I made a mixtape of the 'An Evening Oprah' Tour. Thank you Thump for saying it's "banger after banger."

You can find the mix here.

And here's the full interview with Thump's Editor, Issy Beech.

What was it like DJing for Oprah?

More than my dreams come true.

From being glued to the tele, watching Oprah as a kid, then to fast forward fifteen years later and see Oprah in the flesh, dancing and twirling and asking for the volume to be turned up on choice cuts had me saying to myself, “Is this for real?! Is this really happening right now?! Cause I’m about to lose my marbles. Scream joy on the inside, Fo-Fo.”

Then to play a broad range of party songs and anthems to thousands of joyous Oprah fans while also giving Oprah the best possible lead-in - it was so humbling and such a privilege.

What is she like in person?

Graceful and full of love. When you’re in her orbit she gives you her full attention. And she gives the best cuddles.

Did you get an idea of her favourite song or genre or anything?

Personally, based on the time Oprah was born and the guests she’s had on the show, I knew Oprah particularly liked Motown.

I researched Oprah and found out that Paul Simon’s Graceland is one of her favourite albums.

Oprah loves Adele’s 25, particularly the song, “Send My Love To Your New Lover” so that got played in every city.

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Higher Ground” are songs that Oprah personally chose for the show. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was played right before Oprah hit the stage.

And Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” was Oprah’s entrance song. It’s what Oprah is all about. “Going to keep on trying, until I reach my highest ground.”

And what are her fan base or VIP fans like?

Put up to 15,000 people, dressed to the nines in an arena anticipating seeing Oprah for the first time – or for some, the 7th or 17th time – the excitement is palpable.

Her VIP session was with fans who came in early to have a personal Q&A, take photos with her and sit up close to the stage for the show. They reminded me of how influential she’s been over decades – some of the fans opened up to Oprah to thank her for helping them overcome enormous personal struggles. It got emotional.

One cool moment – a man proposed to his girlfriend at the end of the Auckland show.

Big love to Issy at Thump, Josh at Vice, the Harpo Famly, Dainty Group, IMC, P-Money for his NZ intel, Nina Las Vegas for her ableton hot tip, KLP for her sister "rising tide" vibes and Caro Meldrum-Hanna for her awesomeness and filming the Oprah party in Sydney.

Sunday Life Article: "It's My Party"

Dear friends, In the lead up to co-hosting SBS' coverage of the Sydney Mardi Gras, Sunday Life asked for me to write a piece about coming out in the age of social media. Please enjoy! Love, Faustina.

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Sometimes the smallest action can set off a powerful chain of events. If I hadn’t chosen to dine alone one summer’s night two years ago, I may not have come to the realisation that I am a lesbian, nor have had the confidence to come out at a time when equality is still an issue in Australia. I’m sure my dinner for one was the reason why Brenda, then a stranger - with friends Michelle and Helen - initiated a conversation.

I had returned to London, the city where I was born, for work. The UK is renowned for creative television and I wanted to explore my options. My initial encounter with Bren, Mich and Helen was brief, but the instant connection I felt led us to make plans for later that week.

While Mich and Helen bailed, Bren showed up, a bright, direly Irish red heart with blue, jewel-like eyes and a chatty vivacious demeanour. And with the comfort of my anonymity, I felt secure to completely open up.

Bren had just come out of a relationship with a woman. I was shocked. Up until that point I assumed she was straight. Then she told me about Mich and Helen, a couple who had been together for almost a decade. The shock and surprise gave away to a sense of belonging. As she swiped through photos on their Instagram, particularly photos of Mich who, like me, is mixed-race, I thought “These are my people! This is me!”

It took a few more hours to drum up the courage to admit it out loud. As Brenda suggested we go and check out some men for me, I found myself saying, “I haven’t really told anyone his before but… I’m gay.”

No men entered our orbit that night other than the waiters who plied us with espresso martinis while a deep and meaningful conversation ensued til 3am. I had made a true ally and a friendship with a woman I felt I had known forever.

I went home and cried waves of emotions into my pillow, an outpouring of 30 years of repressed feelings. Elated, but also frustrated that it had taken so long. My mind was connecting all the dots; the feelings towards women when I was a kid and how I shut it down because I didn’t think it was right. All the gay slurs I’d heard - and even used myself - during my ignorant high school years.

I was making sense of all my social anxiety. The random - yet clearly intentional - gay girl dreams in my mid-20s; the steams of thoughts I’d never dare entertain. Then a bigger wave hit me - the overwhelming relating of having to tell my family and friends. What would they think of me? What did I think of me? I was realising the truth, hurt and emotion that comes with being a "minority of one”.

This idea is summed up succinctly in Magda Szubanski’s memoir, Reckoning “The crucial difference between Lesbian Gay Transgender Bisexual Intersex and Questioning people and other minorities is this: in every minority group the family ashes the minority status. In fact, it is often something that unites them. But gay people are a minority within the family.”

I wanted that summer with Bren, Mich and Helen to last for an eternity. They became my tribe. Life finally made sense. In their company, I felt whole. And never in my life had I felt so alive.

In LA, while armed with this new-found sense of self, I was apprehensive - no, terrified of dating. I delayed the obvious next step and borrowed a lesbian-living-how-to-guide from the library. When I told Bren she was bewildered. “What are you doing with an A-Z of lesbianism? Put the bloody book down and get out there!”

I told my family and a handful of friends. In the week leading up to my birthday I considered using the occasion to come out. I knew that being vocal in some way, would allow someone, out there, to feel the same sense of support. To extend the strength that Bren, Mich and Helen had given to me. And, in this small-worldly digital age, I also wanted to ensure the message came from me.

So in a gorgeous neighbourhood cafe in Beachwood Canyon, Los Angeles, I got together with a small group of friends to celebrate with a rainbow cake. After the birthday party, I posted my coming-out blog on my site, then an image from the night on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. By then, it was late afternoon back in Australia.

The response was breathtaking, with Snapchats and direct messages on Instagram from young girls and boys caught in a time I had just left. The tribe had expanded. They told me they felt included, more comfortable with who they are, some even wanting to celebrate with their own rainbow cake!

I’ve met incredible, intelligent women over the past year. Women who counsel gay youth on suicide prevention lines (in a time where LGBTQI people are much more likely to suffer depression and take their own lives than heterosexuals), journalists, academics and writers with impressive and inspiring bodies of work, to teachers and lawyers.

I’ve learnt about the evolution and need for events like the Sydney Mardi Gras Festival, now in it’s 38th year. I’m grateful to be out at a time when equality has become the centre of political and cultural debate. Not all of it is pretty, but every inch toward an equal society helps. My small decision to accept an offer of conversation from strangers helped me in ways I could never have imagined. How incredible would it be if we all acted, in some small way, to help eradicate the notion of a “minority of one” and instead foster acceptance for all.

My small decision to accept an offer of conversation from strangers helped me in ways I could never have imagined. How incredible would it be if we all acted, in some small way, to help eradicate the notion of a “minority of one” and instead foster acceptance for all.

Trust life's unpredictability

I used to be hell bent on plans. I thought that's all we're meant to do - plan and achieve. So many plans were made that I left little room for anything else. Like, taking note of all the that was naturally happening within me and around me. I dulled that awareness and and allowed my stubborn-goal-driven-brain to take over.

That meant, by the time I could achieve/execute/seal the deal, it was sometimes a force fit. All to remain proud and committed to my goals. "Because it's the right thing to do." "Because I have to." "I've wanted this my whole life."

Then two years ago, someone who I seek counsel in told me that I wasn't really in control of my life. Life and its spontenaiety is what really happens. I had to take notice and go with it.

This idea frightened me. Up until that moment I thought I was boss.

Yet when I reflected on my life, I figured out that despite the fact that I had ticked off a whole lot of what I wanted to do, disappointment also came when I committed to a plan that I knew intuitively didn't serve me at that time.

So I started to learn to let go, relax a little. And that wasn't easy...

Letting go doesn't mean be lazy and complacent, it means loosen the tight grip on life and one's so-called future achievements.

It also meant that I didn't rest on my achievements, I gave permission to enjoy the process of being present.

It was a new way of living. I had to accept that I was uncomfortable a lot of the time as previously, I'd have blinkers on. I'd be so driven meant that there wasn't room for openness.

So why do I trust life's unpredictability?

My time in England last year showed me how.

This time, last year, I wandered through England to see family and pursue work opportunities.

I initially intended to only be there for a month. In that time, it was a challenge to pin people down for meetings because it was Summer.

Family commitments took over. The tragic passing of family friend's parents meant it was all hands on deck packing up homes, looking after my niece and seeing off some of my family to Australia.

After my initial planned month, work meetings kicked in again. I then had to find a base to continue working remotely, which had me in Shoreditch.

And on this date, last year, while having an early dinner and working away on my laptop was when I met the women who made me realise that I was gay. The women that I have a unique and unparalleled bond to.

Four weeks turned to nine weeks and I fell more deeply in love with life and its surprises. No part of my imagination could've have had me expecting anything of what I experienced.

Had I remained stubborn old me and only chose to be in London for a month, I would have been sore about not getting the meetings I wanted, worried about the next work related thing instead of being present with my family, I would've delayed a necessary life realisation, missed core friendships.

Sometimes it is all too easy to say, "go with the flow", "surrender", "just be." It takes a shift in the mind to practice it.

The only thing we can do is do our best, moment to moment, and show up for what life has to bring each day. Your plans can change, and that's okay. In fact, it's more than okay.

Getting to that next point: Enjoy the process

Thinking of all the people working hard to get to that next point. The chase.

Quite often we can get bogged down. We become impatient, frustrated, restless. We long for the result. The end game.

Looking/saving for a house.

Bummed because we got turned down for a grand opportunity.

Worn down by another crappy date.

Stressed over the final product of a creative project.

In this time we miss out on the joy of the process -  we forget that we're learning great things along the way, connecting with amazing people, being exposed to new ideas.

If we remember to enjoy the process and be grateful with where we're at, a far more enjoyable experience can be had.

We weigh less of our happiness on results and we learn to live a happier, more mindful life, moment to moment.

And in that time, it can open ourselves to more opportunities than we couldn't have imagined.

Flight Mode

Flight mode is the best mode to get anything done. To block the noise. To not be pulled in 10 different directions.

Your friends will be there when you turn flight mode back on.

What I learnt from Jason Collins - NBA's first active gay player

Heard Jason Collins, NBA's first active gay player at the Los Angeles LGBT Center last week. Jason was in conversation with Chris Kluwe, a former NFL player who's advocacy for gay rights lead to his dismissal. Chris said that any closeted player would not be able to play to their full potential if they weren't able to be entirely themselves. The moderator asked Jason if he would he have been a better player through his career if he had come out earlier.

Jason said that in the NBA, the star players with the spotlight on them are those that score points. He excelled as a defender, though when he played offensively he wouldn't be anywhere near as good.

Jason admitted that he he didn't want to be exposed as a good offensive player that netted shots. He didn't want the spotlight - hence excelling as an defender and a "team player"... not a star.

He would worry about the attention he would receive if he did score points, that the press would then ask questions about his personal life. He didn't want the press to pry into the fact that he was 30 with no girlfriend. And he didn't want to lie about a girlfriend that was out of town that couldn't show up to games.

This, in addition to remaining silent when homophobic conversations were had in locker rooms.

He's adamant that's this is the reason why he couldn't be a better offensive player.

Self sabotage shaped by the society we live in.

When you're sad, give it the right attention

Had a heart to heart with a good friend recently. We were both kinda bummed out by life events. His friends wanted to take him out to drink at a fancy bar that night. He was reluctant.

It's nice to go out and be cheered up by your friends. But when you're in a temporary funk, sometimes you just want to be alone and let sadness do its thing.

When I asked him what he really wanted to do, his eyes lit up. "I want to buy some pineapple juice, pour it on ice, go home burn incense and watch 90s television."

I replied, "Then say to your friends, 'good idea, but not tonight' and go do your own thing. Sit in it."

He relished in his pineapple juice and 90s TV. That night, I chowed on raw veggies, called home to Mum and taught myself new things on Ableton Live.

I felt like a new woman the next day. And I know we were both much happier that we gave sadness the right attention.

Sleep better

I used to lie awake, toss and turn and grind my teeth in bed. I worried about what would lie ahead or what happened in the past. I used to over think a lot. There would be moments of respite, broken sleep, then I'd get up for the day, exhausted. I sleep soundly now.

Meditation had a lot to do with it. Meditation, twice a day - first thing in the morning and right before dinner. My mind puts worries into context, I'm humbled by past similar experiences, look to solutions and get on with it.

When I first got minimalism

Late last year, my home got flooded. A pipe burst in the street and my bedroom copped it. I had to clear out my belongings and allow the lengthy process of drying and repairing to take place. My first thoughts went to a regular news theme -  houses taken over by natural floods and fires. Adults by their tattered homes, grateful for their lives and only wishing they could have saved their family photos.

Images of memories, past experiences.

Nothing else mattered.

At that time, nothing else mattered than to fly to see a friend to celebrate her birthday. I didn't want to let her down. The flood spoiled the plan.

I then looked at all the "stuff". The stuff that was in the long slim storage box that sat under the bed. The telescope I bought two years prior. All the stuff I didn't use.

I then looked at other rooms, put everything into audit and I realised I didn't have attachment to any of it. Not that Vitamix I dreamed of for ages and thought I desperately needed. Not that teepee I deemed of pitching in the backyard that sat unused in my wardrobe for a year. Not the fancy kitchen knives or pots, not the countless number of clothes, not the hardly-if-ever worn baseball caps and not all the damn shoes.

The stuff I cared for were the things that I took with me everywhere I went: access to funds, keys, a pen and pad to write my thoughts, my phone, my laptop for work. Access to enough clothes, at least one rotation to fit into a work/social scene. The only indulgences were some incense sticks and a travelling drip coffee filter. Indulgences I could easily live without.

It was then that I was certain that experience was far greater than things... stuff.

Although I had to be responsible to the condition of the house, being forced in that state made me question my relationship with what I owned.

The internal monologue: If it's not being used regularly, can it be sold, given away, donated, borrowed instead? Why collect anything but experience and memories? Hats are meant to be worn, not collected for novelty. Have one cap not 20. Use it to its death or give it away. Hand over those uncomfortable heels to those who'd appreciate them. Those books, all those books, give them away. Go to the LA Public library and borrow them instead.

Sell those electronics, make that quick buck. Add it to your flight fund for frequent trips to see your dear friends.

A life of minimalism: keep only what you use, often. The rest can come and go. It means less stuff to think about and more attention to what matters most.

Start with courage

Everything is less intimidating - When you get started.

When you're committed.

When you practice.

When you learn from your errors.

When you take full responsibility.

When you allow the process to take longer than you expected.

Start with courage.

In life, there's only one thing that matters: How much did I love?

One night, I thought I was I was near the end of my life. I was on a Geography field trip with my University class in New Zealand and we had woken up to a tsunami warning. We evacuated our dorms and rushed up a mountain. We reached a point where our professor thought we'd be safe, though I sure as hell didn't feel like we were. Our class stood in the dark and looked out to the ocean… waiting.

I thought I was being handed my biggest fear - to be taken out by the scariest of natural disasters. Then some interesting thoughts came to me.

I quickly got over the grimness that my fate would be death following some tough growth through 15 years of school. I was getting started on life! I just landed my first boyfriend dammit! And then, I surrendered. I looked up to the sky to acknowledge whatever/whoever gave me a life and said, "thank you”.

It was then I realised that nature was bigger than me. I didn't get to decide if I can stick around. That whatever/whoever did.

The next thought delivered me my grand realisation. That was, "How much did I love?"

That question I posed to myself meant two things: how much did I care for living a life that was true to me? And did I devote the time and energy to my family and friends that they're so deserving of?

Gladly, I felt at ease with it. And if, at that moment, those were the number of years I were to be handed, then I had accomplished all I could do. And I was at peace with being ready to leave earth with loving thoughts of my family. Some people don't even get the opportunity to assess their life before they go, so I was thankful for that too.

You may have seen an article in an email forward or float on your Facebook feed: Top five regrets of the dying. Number five is the one that informs all points in the article and most importantly, how we should live. And that is, "I wish I had let myself be happier”.

The excerpt:

"Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

This is a daily quest. And though I was resolute back then, I'm reminded most days of the preciousness of life.

That night, thankfully, the tsunami didn’t come. But I know I’m not going to be living on this planet forever.

How much do I love? It matters with everything I do, every experience I have and everyone I share life with.

Deep Listening

Means full attention on your friend, to find empathy in what they're saying. It means less personalising, especially in your response. "Oh that's like what I'm going through with so and so..." - unless it's entirely relevant.

It means no distractions, like typing on your laptop or tidying your house while they open up over the phone, or texting while they talk at the table.

It means not laughing off what they're saying because you weren't prepared for a vulnerable conversation.

When there's genuine listening the other friend notices. The bond grows stronger because they're visible. Their words are valid. And there's trust.

You may not have answers or solutions, but listening is enough. Most of the time, it's the best support a friend can give.

Offline. A good kind of selfish.

If we were consistently social, we'd never get anything done and we'd resent our friends. Being offline gives us the time we require to reflect on ourselves in a meaningful way; to focus on our own projects, our health.

We're not distracted or socially obliged. It becomes easier to say 'no' and we thank ourselves for it. It's a good kind of selfish.

I’m gay

And tonight, to coincide with my birthday, I’m celebrating with friends over Rainbow Cake. It’s the Elton John of cakes, complete with rainbow flares. As a child I always knew I was gay, but somewhere the feeling got lost. A long and, not always scenic, route ensued to bring me back to who I truly am.

What I needed was to find my tribe. I wasn’t actively seeking it, though sometime last year I met a group of women that I could truly connect to. I could see myself in them in many ways. And they are women of character who I aspire to. Most importantly, they are women that are generous and kind. For the first time in my life I came to the full realisation of who I am and I felt safe in their company. They bolstered my confidence and gave me my voice again. And I love them eternally for it.

Thankfully my tribe has now extended to my family and friends that I’ve had the confidence to come out to. We’ve created noise, a celebratory noise. We’ve drowned out the negativity that sadly weaves through many homes, communities, governments and countries throughout the world.

In life, philosophy and literature imparts one of the greatest lessons we continuously come back to, and that is to know thyself. For those reading this who are LGBT and haven’t come out – even when society may not deem you equal because of your sexuality - know that you are. And just like in my situation, know that there are people in the world that have your back.

Some may be asking “Why does she feel the need to write this?”. The answer is that there is nothing I’m leveraging off or deliberately seeking. This simply feels like the right and natural way to let it be known, sincerely.

As black as my skin, as Chinese as my blood, and as Australian and British are my nationalities, I’m also a proud Gay Woman. 

Most importantly though, I’m a happy human being. 

Love,

Faustina Agolley

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When we revere people

We can undo ourselves in many ways when we revere others. We look to and talk to their status rather to them as a person. We also become less discerning. We're blinded with admiration. The common types of people we hold high - leaders, CEOs, layers, doctors, directors, athletes and artists are not without their shadows.

Self-Love

Self love - a topic that's quite "fru-fru" - my made up word for mushy, sensitive -  yet a necessary topic because it's a vital part of living. Self love is thinking and feeling for yourself. You're in charge of your well being and happiness.

It's understanding your constitution before someone dictates it for you. It's filling yourself up with the things that are right for you rather than looking to others to fill that space.

It's getting back to the very ideas of what makes you excited about living. It's knowing your likes and dislikes, your interests, what you're curious about. It's having confidence in yourself and self worth. Coincidently this is likely where you become more compassionate and empathetic to new ideas and to others.

How is it done in practice? Its going inwards and knowing yourself. You cut out the noise of daily life. Practices like meditation or mindful time alone are superb ways to achieve this.

Then it's being vocal about it. Your inner dialogue shapes your behaviour. You're then aware that you have choices every moment rather than feeling you're largely shaped by the day's events - good or bad.

These dating apps ain't so bad...

A good way to diminish the stigma and fear around dating apps is to simply treat them as real life conversations. We can still hold our own in these environments and exercise the kind of autonomy we require.

How is this done? Our profile is a huge reflection of what people respond to. Therefore, our profiles should be an honest representation of who we are.

Why is this important to point out? Because quite often we can rest on the assumed ideas of what other people think we should be as opposed to who we really are. We can also get a little lazy when talking about ourselves and our values. We immediately think it's egotistical to commit to words about our true selves. Or believe we have to be clever or witty, when the majority of us are not.

Ultimately, our values are the very thing that other people want to know or will eventually have to know for any kind of genuine connection to happen.

We're wonderfully complex people with many dimensions that sum up our character. We're passionate about at least one thing if not many. And, just like any human, we all harbour insecurities and are afraid of being judged. Though if we abandon all unhelpful ideas around ourselves, be vocal in a way that's most sincere to us, then our profiles become self filtering in the kinds of conversations we'll attract.

The joy comes when we do away with the huge expectation on an outcome. If we're hell bent on finding 'the one', having the perfect date or a life partner we can miss out on all the opportunities of meeting people that can inspire our lives in more ways we could have ever thought.

That's not to say there can't or shouldn't be an endgame - but we should lighten up a little and just enjoy getting to know the wonderful people that exist beyond our orbit.