Tuesday 20 October 2015


Buddhism has featured quite prominently in the life of Nicole Young, an Australian expat living in London. After studying marketing at Swinburne University in Melbourne and working in management at fashion retailer Witchery, she changed careers and worked for a florist, managing big clients for large-scale events. The owner and her family were practising Buddhists and Nicole became so involved with the religion that she almost become a Buddhist nun. About a year later the florist asked Nicole if she wanted to buy her out, but her daughters asked for time to consider their options first. “I thought this would be a good time to fulfil my dream of travelling independently around Europe whilst plans fell into place,” she says.
Nicole travelled around Europe for about a year on $50 a day, ending up in Morocco, where she decided to fly to London and get a working holiday visa. After a short stint as a PA, she was asked to run corporate events. “For six years I ended up, amongst other things, organising events for a 1000 guests at the National Portrait Gallery and spending an almost obscene amount of time at Claridges, running client events there on behalf of my company,” Nicole says. “I had a fantastic time, really living the London life - parties, events, chef’s tables, premieres…”
Two weeks before she was due to return to Australia - via Dharamsala, to meet the Dalai Lama - she met her husband. After getting married and becoming pregnant with their son, Joseph, Nicole stopped working. “It was not part of my plan at all,” she says. “But I just wanted to be with him, and in the end it was absolutely the right decision for us as a family for me to stay at home. Joseph had serious hearing and speech issues - all since resolved - which I just couldn’t have given my full attention to had I been working the hours required in event management.”
Nicole has now been living in London for 16 years, and is based in North London with her family of four, including daughter Amalia, four. Joseph is now seven. “I still haven’t climbed Everest,” Nicole says. “Or met the Dalai Lama!”

1 As a child I used to wear… a lot of corduroy! I’m not sure I ever had a choice about what I wore. I had two older brothers and four cousins, all boys, so there were a lot of hand-me-downs. I grew up on a small farm of sorts, and I was a bit of a tomboy so I’m not sure I really cared very much about what I was wearing until I got older. However, both my grandmother and my mother were quite handy with a sewing machine and I remember having some beautiful dresses made for me. Even now, I’m always drawn to anything smocked.

2 My bedroom was… all white. I suppose what was special about it to me was that it was my own, whereas my brothers had to share. I remember using my wardrobe doors as classroom chalkboards to play teacher when I was little, and just a few weeks ago I found my daughter doing the same, all her teddies lined up as if in class, which made me smile.

3 When I was a teenager I used to… be the good girl. I was always up for having a good time and, yes, rules were broken but I was never particularly rebellious. I suppose I was just always somewhere in the middle.

4 After high school I wanted to be… in my head, I thought I’d be some high-flying PR exec, but in my heart I wanted to be either a marine biologist or an interpreter, which probably shows either just how na├»ve I was, or how desperate I was to go see the world. Now that I’m a mother I’m determined to encourage my children to seek each and every opportunity to follow their hearts, to choose a path that truly interests them, one that fills them with a sense of wonder about the world and where they might fit into it, rather than doing the thing that everyone else is doing, or a job that is merely seen as being “sensible”.

5 A seminal moment was… I suppose I should say having my children or meeting my husband and in a round-about way, these were key moments. However, I remember flying into Rome, my first ever overseas experience, not speaking a word of Italian - and suddenly realising that not everyone spoke English - sitting in a tiny hotel room with my backpack and a Lonely Planet, wondering what on earth I had done. I was overcome with fear, I was completely on my own and a very long way from home. I told myself that I at least had to go see the Colosseum and having done that I would head straight back to the airport and fly home. So as I walked the streets of Rome,  eating gelato I knew then and there that there was no way I was going home until I’d seen every single thing that I had come so far to see. And I’ve always felt that that moment, sat in the shadows of the Colosseum, was the moment that led me on to the rest of my life.

6 I never thought I would… be asked to be a part of something like this. I never thought I would be a mother, and a stay-at-home mum at that, or marry an English guy or live in a cold climate. Shows how little I know.

7 I’ve learnt to… make really good risotto. I’ve learnt that I, nor anything I do, need be perfect and - to quote - “that the sun will go down without any help from me”. 

8 I know… how important it is to have great and true friends in life but that it’s even more important to be a loyal friend myself. I know that we’re all much stronger than we think we are. And I know exactly who I am and that perhaps she’s not so bad after all.

9 I share because… I love the connections it has brought me. And I’d feel mean to not share when so many share with me. I’m just very curious about other people and their lives, and I love seeing other people’s feeds. I’ve literally watched children grow up before my eyes in these little squares and, quite simply, it makes me happy. If my photos and little stories can make someone smile, then that’s a good thing, right? It also turns out that I just really enjoy taking photos and having a little gallery of my own to curate.

10 If I had an unexpected morning to myself I would… take a very long walk through Regent's Park with my dog but the truth is that I’d probably spend the whole morning procrastinating over my options and then my time would be up before I’d done anything at all.

image courtesy of nicole young

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