Love is a losing game

‘Love is a losing game;
One I wish I’d never played.’

My god how Amy was right.

I’ve been single coming up three years. When I became single, that’s all I wanted. To be on my own. To be independent, to be fully comfortable with myself and have a firm set of values and beliefs.
Time passed. I healed. I began to listen to what my intuition was telling me. I learned why I made the choices I did, didn’t do the things I would have done for others, for myself. I worked on the things I wanted to improve in my life. I still am.
Things were great and I was content with life.
And then I started thinking… I reckon I’m ready.
I reckon I’m ready to really put myself out there, put the hard yards in and try and find the person for me.

Well, in this modern day and age, ‘put yourself out there’ (when you live as isolated as I do) means ‘online dating,’ and ‘online dating’ is code for a cess pool of time-wasting men (or people), many of whom don’t give a fuck about anyone except themselves.

So, without delay, let’s delve into the world of my ever-failing love life.

First, there was the Plumber who came in STRONG.
So strong that one day, after only three dates, he came around to my house while he knew I was out… AND DID ALL OF MY YARD WORK.
AND TOOK THE GREENWASTE AWAY WITH HIM, so as not to leave a trace.
He then preceeded to lie about having done it, but did let slip “I was so worried the entire time that you’d come home and be like “WTF are you doing!?” ”
Well… YES. That’s exactly what I was thinking, so, Pal… if you were thinking it… why were you doing it in the first place?!!!
Such a helpful, yet gross invasion of privacy!
There was no connection, but I endured. It’ll develop, I thought.
After, once again, showing up at my house unannouced, he invited me to go diving at the beach with him. I apologised and said I couldn’t as I had some work to do, needed a bit more notice, but would like to another time.
Two days later I recieved a message saying “It’s not going anywhere and I’ll see you around.”
Here, folks, was the first time I encountered the come in hot, abrupt ice cold exit strategy.
It wouldn’t be the last.

I then dated a Geologist. He was nice. He was kind. He was tall.
What he wasn’t, however, was engaging. Or overly interesting.
We had two dates,  one of which I was very unwell on. Needless to say, my patience ran out very quickly and his big-boy charm became big-time irritating.
I apologised to him and told him I wasn’t interested, and I wished him well, thinking it was the end.
He then continued to send me snapchats for up to eight months after the fact.
What do you do in this instance? Reply? Not…? I don’t know how to navigate this social norm.

Next, was the Doctor. Oh, the Doctor.
Interesting. Check.
Smart. Check.
Sense of humour. Check.
Vegetarian. Check.
Concerns for the environment. Check.
Cares about people. Check.
Connection. Check.
Love. I was sure it was going to turn into love.

Oh, how I was wrong.
Not only did he completely forget that we had arranged to have a date one night, he had forgotten because he was too busy playing the new handheld PSP he had just purchased. How do I know?
I phoned him several times only for it to ring, then go to Voicemail. When he finally checked his phone and realised, (tail between legs) he said he was so sorry, his “phone had gone flat.”
Funny; when I phone my friends and their phone is flat it goes straight to Voicemail. Flat my arse.
When I arrived, the PSP had been carelessly strwen on the ‘bed’ (matress on the floor).
Lies. Check.
Lack of basic level of bedding for a thirty year old. Check.
Exit Strategy…  Check.
He moved. Islands. To Dunedin.

‘It wasn’t love, it wasn’t love.’

There was the date with ‘the Builder’ who was so intimidated by me that he showed up to the venue already drunk. And smelling of stale cigarettes. That, teamed with his clear mysogyny was enough the curtail anything there. Goodbye.
And another Plumber who asked how tall I was… (164cm) and promptly ghosted me.
Clearly I wasn’t petite enough [for his small stature and tiny ego].

After the Doctor I went on one date with a Paramedic and one with a Builder.
I paid for drinks on both dates because, feminism. Generosity. Kindness. You pick.
Well, ladies… both ‘ghosted’ me immediately after. Turns out being self sufficent or independent isn’t attractive!
Oh gosh darn. What a shame.

It was then that I reaslised that dating was exhasuting. Being rejected constantly does take a bit of a toll on ones self. I needed to rebuild my mental health, spend a bit of time recharging. I took a break. It was a good break. It was a long break. It was a needed break.

Did I mention dating was exhuasting, per chance?
I did? Oh, good. Because as it turns out, after a very reasonable break, I seemed to have forgotten this very, very important fact.

Next, the Journalist.
There were so many good things about him. He was interesting. We shared values and he was socially progressive like noone I had met before.
Yet every time someone asked me about him I replied with something along the lines of “aahhh yeahh…. I dunno…. he’s nice.”
Here, after such a long break spent on my own (mostly working and reading books) I applied the same line of thinking as the Plumber… Maybe if I keep going on dates with him it’ll happen… something will happen… surely? Anything? Maybe…?
No. The answer was no.
Whilst there was some good chat, there was no chemistry and a few awkward moments which ultimately ended up with him attempting to clean up dog shit he’d trampled into my carpet one day.
Are you surprised, fair reader, to hear that after this… once again… after two months of dating…
Ghosted.
No, neither am I. I mean… why would you talk about your feelings or care about anyone elses’ when it’s just SO easy to not do ANYTHING at all!

To be fair. Upon reflection of all of this dating, I have learned a few significant things about myself. Like the fact that one goes on dates to meet someone, to get to know them… but I won’t actually let anyone get to know me, not without a deep connection, and generally not in the first three to five(ish) months at least. Go figure!
Socialising is exhausting.
Small talk is the worst.
It’s tiring tying to be yourself,  but not all of yourself, or not too much of yourself at once…
As one friend mentioned when I was dating; “You can’t go ‘Full Sarah’ to begin with! You need to ease them into that!”
I love you, friend. But I only know how to be me and that’s either full on fairy, or awkward unicorn.
Also… I was right. I do want to be on my own. It’s so much more comfortable!

I think, perhaps, from now on, I’d much prefer to stay in the house and read a book instead. Bring your babies to me for cuddles.

‘Well I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart.’

Farewell, dear Journalist. I wish you well on your endeavours.
And your potential move to Dunedin. A place it’s looking likely, I may never, ever visit.

“One plastic bag won’t make a difference” say 4.5 million people

It’s come around again, that time of the year when people start thinking about the changes they want to make to become a better version of themselves. We’re busy people with busy lives and as a sort of default due to the time we have off over Christmas, we tend to reflect on our year and start thinking about the changes we want to make to improve aspects or areas of our lives. We’ve all fallen into that trap, haven’t we?
We’ve set our ‘New Years Resolutions’ only to let them fall by the way side a few months or even a few days into the year. And they’re always quite self serving, aren’t they, these ‘Resolutions’… Lose weight, exercise more, read more, save more money… Always quite me, me, me.

“I’m going to exercise more;” check. I’ve done that one. “I’m going to eat healthy;” check, done that one too. Some have stuck, some haven’t.Once, I decided I was eating too much KFC so resolved to quit for a year. About 20 days later I was at a KFC in Brisbane devouring my Wicked Wings. Fail. Another year I has decided I was reading too many news items on the Kardashians and resolved to not click on a single news article about them. Oddly enough I was successful at this one. Will power – go figure.

But this year I started my ‘resolution’ early. Why? Because it isn’t a resolution for me, and it’s something that’s so important it cannot wait another day. It’s that being busy and our need for convience that’s got us in this mess to begin with. It’s also something I emplore you to educate yourself on, think about, and take action over. Because each person who takes action, together, will make a difference for our earth and our future generations. So, what am I talking about?

Plastic.

It’s everywhere. It has become such a prominent material in our lives we don’t even realise we are buying it.
Out in town on a hot day and thirsty? Buy a water. Plastic bottle.
Go out for a drink in town? Plastic straw.
A bag of carrots. Plastic bag.
Order something online. Plastic courier bag.
A take away coffee? Yep – plastic. “But it’s a paper cup!” I hear you say. The exterior of it, yes. The lining on the inside of the cup – plastic. Even many of the compostable cups are only compostable on an industrial scale, not the home composts we have sitting in the back yard, and not all refuse stations have industrial composts, so if you live semi-rural like me they go straight to landfill.

We can’t escape the stuff.

Or can we?

Last year I started to educate myself on the amount of plastic we are using and it’s effects on our health an environment. And the effects are astounding.

Obviously there’s the fact that a large percentage of our landfill waste ends up in the ocean. You’ve heard about ‘garbage island’, the gyre of rubbish in the South Pacific. Did you know there are actually at least four other gyres of an equal scale?

gyres

Being in New Zealand means we have a gyre to the north and one to north-east. Think about that… That much of the ocean surrounding us is filled with plastic. Plastic that our sealife and kaimoana are eating, and we in turn, are eating them. But how does that work? How are they eating plastic?
Have you ever seen a plastic bag break down? It doesn’t acutally degrade, it simply breaks down into smaller pieces, called micro plastics. These microplastics more often than not end up in the ocean where sea creatures think it’s food. The thought of filter feeders such as Whales, Whale Sharks and Basking Sharks consuming these micro plastics is heart breaking. Such beautiful, majestic, entrancing creatures and our consumer culture is literally killing them. If you watch any documentary this year, let it be ‘A Plastic Ocean’. Put your phone down and really watch it and think about the implications of the way we consume and how it impacts on our earth, the ocean, animals and your family and friends.

Plastic also contains harmful chemicals. Now days we see items being labelled “BPA Free”, as if that makes it o.k… It’s still plastic. And if BPA is harmful and we didn’t orginally know about it, what else is in our plastic that is harming us that we don’t know about? BPA and other chemicals in plastic have been proven to have signifcant health effects. Fertility issues in women, heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction, puberty problems, fetal brain development. These are all serious issues, but as we heat our leftovers up in the microwave in a plastic container, we don’t think about the chemicals leeching into our food and affecting our reprodcutive organs, do we? I know I didn’t.

On top of this, another problem with the plastic we are handling on a daily basis is that only a small percentage is truely recyclable. Recycle.co.nz states that it is most likely that only 50% of what we think is being recycled is actually recycled properly. So in actual fact, as we put our recyclables in our bins, put them out each week and feel good about doing our part the save the planet, half of what we’ve put out will still end up in landfill. And often, the energy used to recycle these plastics for the end product is not worth it. In truth, hard plastic can only be recycled five to seven times before it loses its’ molecular properties and is rendered useless.

These are not all the reasons why plastic is bad for us, but three very, very good reasons.

So, what can we do to quit plastic?

In short, it’s near impossible to live a plastic free life.
But there are steps we can take to reduce the amount of plastics we use.

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Think about the three ‘R’s’.
Reduce
Reuse
Recycle

We’ve heard it time and time again, but do we actually follow it? The three R’s are listed in order of importance – step one is to reduce your plastic consumption. This is where you can make the most difference. I’ve heard it being called “precycling” recently – the simple fact of not buying items that are packaged in plastic. Resfusing plastic, leaving it behind in the store, finding alternatives in alternative packaging such as glass and cardboard, shopping somewhere different and asking for non packaged alternatives are all options you can take to reduce your plastic useage.

Failing the refusal of plastic, because as I mentioned, it’s near impossible to live without it, Reuse. Reuse the plastics you have bought home. In fact, resuse everything. Reuse plastic, reuse glass, reuse paper. Reuse as much as you can before the last step.
Recycling. This should be your last step, not your first. We’ve become trapped in the mindset that if we recycle, we’re doing something good.

Go-Plastic-Free-Find-your-Strength-Learning-Fundamentals

This mind map is fantastic at making me think more critically about my consuming, along with this room-by-room guide to reducing your waste. Through concsiously thinking about what I’m consuming and how I’m using products, I reduced my waste last year. Some of the steps I took in 2017 include;

  • Reusable shopping bags and produce bags (I now no longer need to buy bags of potatoes as I use a mesh bag at the shop and home to keep them in.)
  • Buying food in glass containers instead of plastics – e.g. olives, peanut butter, jam etc
  • Purchasing tinned food instead of plastic packaged to reduce waste – corn, beans, peas etc.
  • Composting – everything that can go in the compost,  does! Coffee grinds, food waste, paper waste, vaccum cleaner bag contents, paper towels
  • Bamboo toothbrushes with compostable handles; the average person will use around 350 toothbrushes in their lifetime. 350 toothbrushes that will endup in landfill.
  • Menstrual cup – a life saver, ladies!!
  • I have begun to store my food items in glass jars and use reusable produce bags to get my bulk buy items in, I simply write the number down and tell the check out lady at the counter – no problem
  • A Keep Cup – reusable coffee mug which I now take everywhere. I love it.
  • Concious consuming – attempting to buy all natural products, including and especially clothing! Each time you wash your arcylic clothing you are depositing microplastics directly into the waster system!

And I still have a long, long way to go, but every little helps. Collecting or going through your rubbish is a great way to see where you need to start reducing your waste. I know personally most of my soft plastic waste is from cracker and bread packaging. When it comes to shopping, in the grand scheme of things, my personal feeling is that if something is going to cost me a little bit more, be of a higher quality and be better for me and the environment, it’s a no brainer – save a few dollars, or save the planet? I’ll pick the planet every time.

Steps I’m going to take this year are simply building upon last years efforts. I won’t be doing all at once. I want to create a sustainable lifestyle for myself, so I am taking this journey one step at a time, with the aim of creating long term change. This year I aim to;

  • Create beeswax wraps as alternative to plastic food wrap
  • Switch my appliances off at the wall when I’m not using them
  • Ditch the papertowels and use rags and washable cloths
  • Crochet myself reusable, washable cotton face wipes
  • When I run out of toothpaste I’m going to try making a toothpowder
  • Start talking to businesses about plastic free options – the more we ask, the more we will be heard and change can and will happen
  • Start cooking and baking from scratch – something I’m not good at, and will be my hardest change. I aim on making my bread and crackers when they are needed to reduce the waste I was producing. The other positive to this is that I will know exactly what is going into the food I am eating, benefiting not only the environment, but myself
  • Saving vegetable scraps to make my own soup stock, avoiding tetra packs
  • Pick up rubbish in my environment, e.g. when out walking the dog. Setting an example to others can help induce change and is another way to get people thinking about the amount of rubbish around
  • Replace my cleaning products with natural options as they run out
  • Use natural beauty products; I have already bought a moisturising body bar, which came in cardboard, and Rosehip Oil which came with a dropper in a glass bottle

There’s so many things I want to say and share on this topic, with so little time.
Please know that any little step you take to reduce your plastic waste will benefit your health and the planet. So what steps will you take to reduce your waste this year? Something as simple as reusing a container, shifting from plastic to glass contained peanut butter, using reusable shopping bags and always carrying a reusable water bottle…

If each person takes a little step, lots of little steps together make a big difference. So lets do this together, and let’s do it now.

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You see, the funny thing about depression is…

First off, let me just start off by saying there is nothing funny (in the comical sense) about depression, and the effect it can have on people. It can be so severe, so crippling, that some people can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and are so engulfed in the darkness that they make life altering, even life-ending decisions. Although it is improving, there is still such a stigma around mental illness in our society which is not conducive to helping those in need when they need it. The stigma needs to end so those affected feel supported when reaching out, or even as friends, family or colleagues, being aware of signs of depression so you can say, upfront, to someone “hey look, I’ve noticed [this] and [this] about you which are signs of depression… what can I do to help?” So, to that end;

I’d heard the ‘post O.E. blues’ mentioned before. I heard people casually drop in to discussion that they “struggled” upon moving back to Aotearoa after years living amazing lifestyles in incredible European cities. Heck, even as close as moving back from Australia.
But what I didn’t realise was that “struggled,” in a lot of cases, meant depression. I heard phrases like “I’m trying to get back to NZ life…” or “It took us a while to get used to being back,” “It took a loooooong time to come right once we moved back. About… two years I reckon.” But that was about it. A mention of difference in lifestyle but no mention of mental health.

So, a confession. Before I left, I naively thought that one could return from their O.E. (‘Overseas Experience’, an NZ/Australian ‘right of passage’) changed, of course, perhaps more ‘worldly’, but relatively similar to how one was before they left. That, and that you’d slot straight back in to the kiwi lifestyle.

Haha. Good one past Sarah.

Well, here I am, 6 months post arriving back in the country and still, the ‘dirty creature’s got me at a disadvantage from the inside‘. For the most part, depression is so incredibly lonely. But, you see, the funny thing about depression is, sometimes, when you’re in the depths of it you just have to laugh at yourself.

Or, I am, at least.

The first few months once you’ve returned back you manage to avoid the blues… kind of. Granted, when I finally got off that last plane, in to the terminal and in the arms of my awaiting Mama I did fully breakdown. I was emotional, tired, full-on ugly crying, heaving and just wanting to take my bloody boots off. But, you’re home. You’re catching up with friends and family, seeing old things, seeing new things, eating comfort foods of your past, trying new foods that have arrived since you left. It’s all a bit overwhelming. Your mind is occupied with all the going-ons so it doesn’t have the time to slow down and start playing tricks on you.

And then all of that settles down, and you’re left to your own devices.

Tim Finn was completely on-point when he wrote Dirty Creature; “Sneaking up from behind, binds my gags and wit, Dirty Creature’s got my head exactly where he wants it.” 

Honestly, I didn’t see it coming.
I had never suffered from depression before and I’d always been careful not to use the word in a sentence to insinuate that something was “depressing” because I had no experience of it. But slowly I started to feel more and more like a zombie. I was my usual all-singing, all-dancing bouncy self in the classroom. Outside of it however, nothing.
It’s so bizzare, that feeling of nothing. That’s how it started. Slowly I stopped feeling what felt like, anything. Anything positive at least. I wasn’t chirpy, and most of all, *gasp*, I wasn’t cheeky… the absolute essence of my soul!

I walked around with what I thought was a look of ‘nothing-ness’ on my face, and I couldn’t change it. My colleagues noticed. So many of them reached out and said something, or asked if I was ok. And I answered honestly ‘Not really…’ Because when you’re in the grips of it, you need to be honest. There’s something about knowing that someone (or in my case, many people!) has got your back, that they’re there for you and they notice you’re not ok, and let you know. It feels like a safety net; like you’re not in this alone, there’s people who’ve got your back and they’re going to help you fight this! And all you fabulous folk – I truly love you for that. Thank you.

Well, this is about when the fun part began.

I broke a mug.

That’s it.

I broke a mug. I was doing the dishes, picked it up and went to put it in the drying rack and it slipped out of my hand and fell handle first into the other sink and broke. I picked it up and saw the handle had broken off. I closed my eyes, inhaled very, very deeply, and then started crying. And crying. And crying. I cried myself to sleep that night. All I could think was these eight things:
“That was my favourite mug.”
“A lovely student in my first class in Scotland got me that mug.”
“That was my favourite mug.”
“I used that mug in Scotland all the time!”
“That was my favourite mug.”
“I don’t have very many things and I just broke a bloody mug!”
“That was such a good mug, it had so much volume!”
“I loved that mug.”
“I can never get another mug like this, there’s not a TK Maxx in New Zealand.”
“IT WAS SUCH A BLOODY GOOD MUG!”
“IT HELD SO MUCH COFFEE!!!!!!”
“THAT WAS MY FAVOURITE MUG! I LOVED THAT MUG!”

What?! Completely irrational. I mean, it’s just a mug!
As well as thinking all of the above things, I was also completely bewildered with myself. I kept trying to remind myself… it’s just a mug!
I’d broken crockery before and never reacted like that. But I was completely consumed by the fact that the damned cup was broken and I couldn’t replace it. At that point in my life, it wasn’t just a mug. It represented the vessel to which my emotions about having to leave Scotland were carried in and now it was laying in the bottom of the sink all broken and sad. Much like I was feeling.

So the next morning I laughed as I told Stephanie about the mug. I held back tears, but I laughed through it because; it was just a bloody mug! But it was at that point I knew I had a problem – why was I so upset about it?!? So I told a lot of people about the mug. I laughed and smiled because, well… my reaction was ridiculous, and I knew it. I just couldn’t help it. A week later I was chatting away to my GP who, with a pensive look on his face interrupted me and said “It sounds like you could be depressed.”
To which I replied, “Yes, I’d agree with that. I know, and am aware, and have things in place to help me try and keep my mind healthy.”

But then a few days later it struck again, in potentially the most odd circumstance.

I was sitting at home on a Saturday night doing my usual nothing. I’ve always enjoyed, in fact, preferred listening and watching live music being played than I do just playing a record. I got the YouTube up and put on Slipknot’s 2009 Rock am Ring set and off I was, playing my air-bass guitar, bopping about and swinging my hips, ’cause there’s nothing more can get me dancing than that of nine grown men in masks and jumpsuits jumping around like lunatics. I had a glance at the screen and the bassist, Paul Gray, was in the shot, looking like he was having the time of his life. And then the sadness sunk in. I did the maths in my head… Oh dear god!! This was filmed just months before his untimely death! Oh no…. He died when his wife was 8 months pregnant with their first child! I look up again and in a moment on solidarity and teamwork, percussionist Chris Fehn is playing the chords on Paul’s bass as he strums them out. Oh no…. here it comes…

I don’t even know where it came from but a visceral noise escaped from my body. And then the tears started. And right behind all the irrational thoughts I was having about this musician that died 8 years ago, I thought to myself… You didn’t react this way at the time, look at you, you’re being ridiculous, stop it! But I couldn’t. I couldn’t stop. I mean, I could have stopped the video. I could have played something else. But I didn’t. I let the entire set play, and lost a tear every time Gray was in a shot on the screen, or someone looked like they were having fun. And at the time, I knew it was ridiculous. I was crying during songs titled things like ‘Pulse of the Maggots’ and ‘Heretic Anthem’. “How is this normal?” I was thinking. But I decided to go along for the ride because I clearly needed that cathartic experience to rid myself of whatever it was that was irking me.

I saw a Hedgehog out walking the dog one night and went back to see it a few minutes later and it had gone. I was engulfed in an overwhelming sadness. It physically gripped my body, and I went back inside, head down feeling defeated. What?! It was just a hedgehog! I cried at some other things too. But the aforementioned two were the most ridiculous.

So, you see, the funny thing about depression is, sometimes, when you’re in the depths of it you just have to laugh at yourself.

You laugh at yourself because you break a mug and you think the world is going to end.
You laugh at yourself because you’re crying to a video of a heavy metal band!  (What!?)
You laugh at yourself because some of your reactions are absolutely ridiculous, and you know it, but there’s nothing you can do about it.
You get through it, and you laugh at yourself, throw your hands up in the air and say “I just… I dunno!”

So if you are about to come back, already back, have been back for years or even if you’re in the thick of it now, having a rough time, behold; you are not alone! A lot of people go through depression and it’s a normal part of life. I find the sad thing, however, is that it’s only once people are through it that they’re happy to talk about it in the past tense. So this is my attempt to show you, right from the middle of the storm, that actually… hey! Here I am, and you know what… I’m ok! All the things you’re trying to do to ward off the darkness, keep it up. It’ll work eventually. And just know, that those little irrational things that are happening…. yeah, it’s normal. Just go for the ride, and ask for help if you need it.

Because with the love and help of those around you, you will get through it.

With all that being said, my Dirty Creature and I have a few people to thank.
LW, you’re the bloody best. There’s nothing like a bit of fresh air and nature to shake the cobwebs off. That, teamed with our coffee dates pulled me back into reality. You’re the only one who I reached out to who dropped everything and drove the one and a half hours to come and see me. I needed it. Thank you. My colleagues; you lot inspire me every day. Thank you for your love and compassion. You’d think in our profession we’d run out of it at times. Alas, no. To those wonderful people around the world who messaged me, sent me the greatest memes to cheer me up and just generally kept me happy by talking to me, and telling me about your lives, thank you. To my gorgeous friend in Scotland who offered to go out, buy me a mug and post it over; thank you, you beautiful thing. And to my Mama – thank you for replacing it with an equal sized, massive tea cup!… Needless to say, I now have a new favourite cup.

But if that cup ever breaks… my god, look out world!

Things my Mother says…

I love Mums.

I’ve always loved my friends’ Mums. First there was Judy. She made couscous which blew my mind. And then Jane. Jane made these delicious filo pastries which, as an adult, I just can’t get right. Then Jill came along and even gave me my own lunchbox in high school. Man I loved that lunchbox! And then Glendy stole my heart in my early twenties. Then I started working with the most incredible, caring women, who also happened to be mothers. How you ladies do it… I don’t know. I inherited about 5 new Mums and I love it. I really do just love Mums. They’re the best.
But I especially love my Mum. For obvious reasons.
In the beginning she gave me life. She fed and clothed me, gave me shelter, nurtured me. She gave me the gift of avocado and marmite on toast, her love of blue vein cheese from a very young age. Then I learned to walk and talk, dance and dress up in her old clothes and well, from then on I think it was a matter of her putting up with me more than anything.
(‘What was it like to raise me?’ “Well… you were very entertaining.”)
Every Mum has a story or two they can tell about their children. Now, you ask my Mama to tell a story about me and I’m sure she’ll tell you a few doozies. Like the time I managed to escape my three babysitters and was found cruising around the block on my tricycle, aged only 2 or 3 years old. Apologies for that, team. Ride or die.

But what you may forget, Mums, is that we children have a few stories we can tell about you…

Like any good Mother, mine has helped me through momentous life events, offering up wisdom and advice. Often in mind-boggling “Did she just say that?!” one-liners. And some of them, well, they’re just too good not to share.

Like the time I got my first period. (Sorry male readers, stick with me here. You will want to read this one, I promise.) Absolutely shocked, horrified, embarrassed, in the midst of a tween break down thinking that my life was over even though I had known to expect it, I went to tell my Mama that the day had finally come… I had become a woman.
And she was on the phone.
And I got scared.
So me being me, very polite and all, not wanting to interrupt but NEEDING to get the seriousness of this event across, well, I held my knickers up in my Mums face.
Girls that is one way to get your Mums attention. There are many others that also work. But this is the road I went down and as horrifying as it must have been for the both of us, it worked a treat.
The phone call was finished up. I was sat at the table and ‘the talk’ was about to happen.
Was it going to be the ‘birds and the bees’ talk? Was she going to say anything about sex? Ew, I hope not, boys are gross. Yuck. I already looked it up in the dictionary anyway so I know what it is. WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT?! (This was my stream of consciousness as I waited for my mother to say something.) She, at the same moment in time was probably stalling, trying to think of something to say. And then it happened.

“How do you make a hormone?”
(WHAT?! WHY IS SHE TALKING ABOUT SCIENCE RIGHT NOW?! I have absolutely no idea. Should I know? What didn’t they tell me in puberty class? I thought I knew it all!?!)
“I don’t know… Something to do with DNA or something like that?”
“No….. You don’t pay her!”

“Huh?”
“Do you get it? How do you make a whore moan? You don’t pay her… A whore is a prostitute… and prostitute’s… ”
“Wh.. WHAT?”
“Well if you don’t pay her, she’d get mad”
That was it. Nothing else was said other than it was too late, the store was closed. Sleep on a towel and we’ll go in the morning. And that was my induction into womanhood.
16 years later and I’m still slightly perplexed by the entire conversation. Did it really happen? It couldn’t have… Mother’s don’t do that to their daughters… Yes folks. Yes they do. It did happen.

So after that stellar event, there was the time I went to Uni and decided maybe it was time I went on the pill.
Off I took myself to the Uni doctors, feeling like a real adult who looked after themselves. I had the consult and feeling chuffed with myself, headed to the pharmacy to fill the prescription and treat myself to a hot chocolate. On the way, I thought I’d text me Mam to let her know how sensible and how much of a grown up I was. The reply;
“That’s good, you should try before you buy!” 
Cue my jaw dropping in the middle of Willis Street.
Huh?
There it was in black and white. My Mother just told me to get out there are get amongst it. Not the response I was expecting.
So to that end here are a few more doozies from the wisdom that is my beloved Mama.

The time she spied my second tattoo;
“WELL. You’re going to look terrible in a wedding dress.”

Mum on life..;
“Sometimes you just need to put your big girl pants on and get on with it!” 

Or the time I told her I was online dating
“Oh, that puts the shits up me, that does.”

On me writing this blog (at least 6 times);
“So can it be traced back to you? Has it got your name on it?”
(Why, what are you scared I’m gonna write Mama? Something like this perhaps?)

The time the family were having a post dinner conversation about the Gynecological profession;
“Oh, that’d have to be a c**t of a job…”
[Hysterics ensue]

So that’s my Mama. Full of swift quips, often the dirtiest remark at the (dinner) table. She still chuckles every time she (or anyone) farts and loves toilet humour more than anyone else I know. Maybe I didn’t have couscous or filo pastries growing up but I did have my leopard spot vegemite toast, at least 5 different types of cheese and a farting competition almost every week. We laughed, we chuckled, we giggled.

So Mums, Mums-to-be and Mums of the future…
You have good times with your children, you have times where they test every ounce of your self-control. You have fun, you have tears. You have laughs and giggles, cuddles and snuggles. You are proud of your child every step of the way, for every achievement.
Well it swings both ways. I couldn’t be more proud of my Mama. She raised three children to be reasonably respectable, hard working members of the community. She has at 60 years old reignited her passion for music, proving that you’re never too old to learn something new. And she still cares for me like a mother should her baby girl (but really, I am a grown woman… most of the time).

So, what’s your favourite one liners from your Mama? You’re bound to have one or two.

To all Mums.
You make the world go around. You are wonderful, you are fantastic, you are needed and you are loved.

And to My Mama, I love you to the moon and back, and back again. You make my world go around. I love you more than anything. You (and your quips) are the reason I am me. Thank you. You’re truly the best.

Happy Mother’s Day.

But Mums… Beware.
Be careful what you say to your child/ren.
They may just turn out to enjoy the gift of literacy and write a blog post about you in the future.

 

 

It’s time to behave like the (inner) 10 year-old that you really are.

Growing up.
It’s hard to do. Some days I just don’t want to ‘adult’.
I often catch myself thinking the most peculiar things. For example, today as I picked up my recycling boxes from the kerb  (an entire day late, heh) I thought to myself ‘Look at me, I’m such an adult. Doing adult things and stuff!’ Or ‘How did ‘they’ let me get this far? Surely adults don’t behave like this?!’, ‘WHO LET ME GROW UP?!?’ or ‘Oh my gosh, I’m such an adult right now!’ Which, the fact that I had to think that indicates, perhaps that I often don’t feel like an adult. I sometimes think that I should be awarded my next birthday once I’ve reached certain maturity achievements and have been able to maintain a facade of adulthood for an entire year, not unlike a video game. You level up when you attain certain achievements, but until then, no gifts, no dress-up parties, no new shoes…! I mean, I do adult… I have a job. I can drive. My pets haven’t died through a lack of dehydration. But I still don’t feel 100% like an adult. And there’s nothing more that makes me feel less like an adult than experiencing joy.

Joy.

You know the word. You know what it means. Or at least you think you know. It’s often paired with the word happiness. A variant of happiness, it does however differ from that definition. So just to make sure we’re on the same page;


Joy
Noun
1. the
emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
2. a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated.
3. the expression or display of glad feeling. 

Got it? Good. I bet you can see where this is going.

There’s two key phrases/concepts I want to focus on in the above definition, those being “great delight” and “the expression or display of glad feeling”. You see, the thing about being an adult is that you often find yourself trying to be ‘mature’ or behaving in a manner you think to be acceptable, by society, at least. We experience things we greatly enjoy, something we get great delight from… and ‘we’ reserve our reactions even though our inner child may be jumping for joy. Now, I say ‘we’, because those of you who know me well will know that I experience joy all the time. Almost on a daily basis. I mean, I don’t keep a tally or anything, but I know it’s often. I know this because of my reactions or ‘expressions or display’ to things and in turn, people’s reactions to me.

You see, the thing about growing up, is that most of us just don’t want to do it. I was speaking to a homeless man in Wellington this past weekend and our conversation briefly touched on this topic.
“I’m 60, but I still feel like a 10 year old boy most of the time!” he said as we fed fish together at the Waterfront with bread he’d got from a soup kitchen.
Hear hear, friend, I still feel like a 10 year old boy a lot of the time too. (Minus the physiological differences that come with that, of course.) If you knew me at 10, you knew I did all my shopping at Hallenstein’s men clothing store, spent most of my time playing outside with boys in the mud and was generally a pretty rough definition of a young girl, much to my Mother’s upset. Then my boobs sprouted out the front of my chest and that changed things a bit. I think I was more interested in the boys than being one. But by-and-by, I have maintained my ability to react/express/display my joy to things I like with absolutely no reserve.

And that is because I don’t care what anyone thinks about my reactions. I have every right to behave in any way I see fit when I see or experience something I enjoy. For example…

Walking and talking around Blackford Pond in Edinburgh with a friend, I noticed a Swan and some Cygnets (baby Swans) in the pond. And well. I just ran off. Sprinted. Straight towards them. I think I even screamed “OH MY GOD, BABY CYGNETS!” [confirmed: I didn’t say a single thing.] and once arrived, I starting doing my happy dance/jump/foot shuffle thing… (which, if you didn’t understand the context you’d probably look at me and think, “Gosh, that woman looks like she needs the toilet, stat!”). The other adults around the pond were all wondering what was so exciting, looking on somewhat perplexed and my lovely friend Barnet was left in the dust laughing at the child/adult hybrid she’d bought to the pond that day.
I love a Swan. I love a Cygnet. I mean, I really love ’em. I’ll sit and watch them for hours and I’ll give off a full belly chuckle when the male Swan puff their wings up and speed towards other Swans in the water like a man on a mission. They are magical, amongst other things. What’s not to love!

Then there was the time someone bought me a Shark cookie cutter… Well…
I don’t even bake (yet, I will now!) and I did the whole dance/jump/foot shuffle thing in the street. The thing about the shuffle is that it’s teamed with silence, because my brain is too overloaded to string together a coherent sentence. I’m almost too excited to function. So the dance is what eventuates. That, or I talk through my thoughts very slowly, usually in a high-pitched voice: “This is so exciting.” “I love [insert noun here].” “This is so much [adjective].”

Then there’s every time I’ve ever seen a Highland Cow. (THEY’RE JUST. SO. CUTE.)
And every time I’ve pretended to be a tree/bush/shrub in a park/bush/woodland (yes, I can create my own joy by behaving like a child).
And the time I crocheted a hood and found it so hilarious that every time I put it on that I would fall into hysterics no matter where I was… home, pub, car.
Music is another good one. If I hear a song I enjoy, these hips/shoulders, well. They’re not stopping for anyone, anywhere. A friend got a full (albeit somewhat restricted due to the checkout space) dance and lip synch to ‘Grease is the Word’ whilst the checkout lady scanned items, slightly scared and confused. I even today danced in my seat at a cafe in between drinking my latte and eating my salad. My Mum; well, she didn’t bat an eyelid. She’s used to me doing me.

You see, I react the way I do because I enjoy doing it. I almost get more joy out of letting go of this adult facade and actually behaving the way I want to.
And you know what? The people I’m with… They enjoy watching me do it. It makes them laugh and smile. I may slightly embarrass them. But they’re not the one rolling around on the supermarket floor giggling and shouting out ridiculous things. That’s me. And I don’t care. It makes everyone around me feel good and those who don’t know me, don’t know or understand what’s going on or think that I may be slightly bonkers… Well. I won’t lie, I am bonkers. But I don’t care about what you think about me, and you need to lighten up.

So, how often do you experience joy? Or rather, how often do you allow yourself to experience joy? Do you let your inhibitions hold you back because you’re too worried what people will think? Perhaps you adult just far too much in your life. I hope not. Because it’s tiring. And everyone has an inner 10 year-old dying to get out, jump around, dance or giggle. If we all just let go of the adulting a little every now and then, maybe the world will become a slightly happier place. So join me. Get out and allow yourself to enjoy the little things exactly the way you want to. Like they say; “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

And I’ll tell you what. It feels damn good to let that 10 year-old out for a dance from time to time.

How do you see yourself?

I’ve been through a few big changes recently.
I returned to New Zealand after two years living in the U.K.
I worked in the same sector in a different country, teaching three different classes in one calendar year. I even started playing team sports again. (And then tore the ligament in my ankle, which put an end to that… whoops, I really should have known.) I travelled Europe on my own.
But it was my time living and working in Scotland that I met the most inspiring, kind-hearted and generous people I had ever come across. I forged incredible friendships. They were friends not by default, but by choice. We had things in common, a similar sense of humour, similar interests. I was incredibly content, happy and to be honest, I felt very lucky.

You see I’ve always known it, but it was only when I left the U.K I really realised it to be true.
And that is, to be the best version of yourself, you need to surround yourself with the right people. People who inspire you, people lift you up. People who care for you and others, people who are kind. People who are genuine and don’t always think of themselves. Just genuine, good people. And so you see, because I was lucky enough to experience this, I changed. I was growing as a person, becoming a responsible citizen and reliable friend. A better version of myself. And I was enjoying it. I worked hard at it.

Now I’m back in Aotearoa and I’ve found re-assimilation hard. I knew I would. But I didn’t quite expect it to be as difficult as I have found it; I mean, I lived here beforehand! It’s been three months and I’ve lost myself a little. Which isn’t usually a great thing. I feel like I have no direction. I have ‘nothing’ to do, even though I’m always doing something. And I’ll be honest, I haven’t really gone out to try and find new friends. I’ve been busy with work, animals and catching up with old friends. I mean… I already think the ladies at the supermarket checkout think there must be something wrong with me. When I go in on a Sunday afternoon, I dance and sing up the aisles and then seem overly chipper when they ask me how my day is going. Sorry ladies, it’s just that I haven’t had any human contact in over 32 hours and I’m starting to go ever so slightly insane. So half the town probably thinks I’m nuts. So, anyway, I’m at a crossroad. I can continue to think that I’m not happy, or I can actually stop being a wet rag and actually get back to being happy. I need to get back to feeling like my positive self again.

So I posed myself the question:

What are my good qualities?

It’s a tough question. We, as woman, are often hard on ourselves. Sometimes a little too hard. Men – maybe you are as well? I wouldn’t know, I’m not one of you. But as woman, we know every single fault we have. ‘We’re not good at’ this, and ‘we need to work on’ that…
But do we know what we are good at? What do we perceive as our strengths? What are we good at? Because it’s the sum of the parts that make a whole. And if I know anything about myself, it’s that I am a positive person. So feeling lost and directionless is kind-of new to me. So to that end, here is my list. Here’s what I think I am/good at;

  • I am positive (scarily so)
  • I am caring
  • I am loving
  • I am resilient
  • I am patient (most of the time)
  • I am calm (most of the time)
  • I am good-humored (that’s not to say it’s a good humour… just that I have one)
  • I am supportive
  • I am a good friend (because of many of these other attributes)
  • I am super cuddly
  • I am honest
  • I am committed
  • I am fiercely loyal
  • I am (somewhat) creative
  • I don’t take things too seriously
  • I’ve got a pretty good bum
    and the one we all like to think we are;
  • I am fun (or at least, I like to have a good time)

This is not an exhaustive list. I’m sure there are other things that I am good at. But many of these attributes are umbrella-like in their nature. They can cover many aspects of life; they are not restrictive in any way. Except when it comes to the Carterton round-about. Oddly enough, that’s where my patience runs thin.
So with these qualities in mind, I also wondered…
How would my friends and family describe me?
Would they think the same as me? Do they see me the way I see myself?
So I asked them. In one sentence, how would you describe me? Well. Ask, and you shall receive…

  • “Radge wee Kiwi” (Clearly not a Kiwi who wrote that one)
  • “Quirky, fun, loving and caring friend”
  • “Positive and quirky and a personality that’s wasted in a small town” (You’re telling me!)
  •  “Sexual that predators” (it’s a short, uninteresting story that relates back to a stream of consciousness I had during a Year 10 Social Studies lesson… Basically, I’m silly)
  • “A loveable and loopy, constant giggle companion who can always see and inspire the positive. Caring and creative and a truly wonderful friend.” (That’s two sentences, however, I’ll allow it.)
  • “An adventurous ball of energy, lovely and hilarious…”
  • “Wonderfully talented and enthusiastic teaching friend who always lives close and yet too far away.” (Dammit, so correct!)
  • “A fun loving, confident cousin who is the life of the party.”
  • “A ridiculous, bubble fanatic, cat lady with a great arse who makes me feel loved as though I were a a fresh bag of mini doughnuts.”
  • “You are sheer joy and when something makes you happy you treasure it like a kid on Christmas morning.” (Incredibly true, you should have seen me when someone bought me a shark cookie cutter…)

Well.
I’m not sure what I learned more from this list… That my friends think I’m a little bit loopy, or if they’re almost as loopy as me.
I think, as it turns out, my friends know me well. Many of the things they wrote I already knew about myself… but they see it in me too, which is great. It’s a confirmation. That makes those attributes my strengths.
What I love, is that these people value me and my friendship enough to answer my question. Most of you may think I’m a bit bonkers, but you (clearly) appreciate that in me. I mean… who else is going to stop a political debate between friends by taking their clothes off? I need to have some purpose!
So to those of you who wrote in, thank you. You are brilliant, and I love you. Because those are two of my attributes; loving and honest.

So with that in mind, I am going to move forward. It’s time to get back to being positive, time to get back to making and thinking the best of of every situation. And it starts now.

Except the vacuuming. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel good about having to do the vacuuming.