Moving….Again

I have this fairly irrational fear about packing.

As of now, I haven’t lived in one place for more than 8 months at a time for the past…..4 years. And as such you’d think that I’m getting pretty good at packing, packing light and fast and efficiently.

Well you’d be dead wrong. Where I’d like to think I’m fairly efficient, especially in when I get my packing finished, I am definitely not a light or confident packer.

For instance, I’ll be moving 2 hours away from my grandparents house (where I keep a majority of my things, and if my stay-point between places during the 4 months left in the year) and so I am packing pretty much EVERYTHING I might need in the year so I don’t have to come back as often*.

*This is because of family issues and not because I’m ungrateful for everything they’ve ever done for me*

As such, not including the things my roommate at my new house has already brought to the new house for me, I have:

  • 4 medium Rubbermaid boxes
  • 2 suitcases (and a small carry-on style)
  • 2 backpacking 40/60L size
  • my laptop and backpack
  • my desktop (my main computer).
  • A plastic, 3-drawer unit from Walmart

And while I’ve gone through this several times. I’ve downsized twice, gotten rid of a lot of clothes I just don’t think I’ll need or use anymore, I still feel like I have way WAY too much stuff.

But all this pretty much contains all my clothes – summer and winter (winter boots, and my big and small winter coats) – all my recreational things, drawing painting etc, my bedding and towels, my computer (obviously, I’m moving for school after all), and any kitchen things I might need. So theoretically, it’s not too much at all.

But my anxiety, my worry that someone will judge just makes me so nauseous. It makes me want to go through everything again to make sure I’m not taking anything I really really don’t need.

There are two boxes that I feel might be worth leaving behind if to aid my anxiety. However, they serve, what to me is an important purpose too. The one is filled with decor for my room. it’s a small but bright room true, but it is not home, and I enjoy filling my space with comfortable bright things. The second is filled with books, non-school books. Both books I’ve read before and books I haven’t had a chance to read.

Yes both might be unnecessary, this place is not my permanent house, but it will be my house for 8 months and that is important.

So as I sit and pack, I’ll go through everything one more time, and this time, the weekend I leave I will be throwing out everything in my house that I do not use. Because this year I want to start new and these things I bring to my new house (and the few pieces of clothing or heirloom and sentimental art) will be all that’s left. I don’t want to keep coming back to a cluttered space, and this time I won’t.

But it’s hard to get rid of everything. Hard to get rid of everything you started your life with. After all, the things in my room at my grandparents’ house started as all I had in Canada when I started my journey. SO I really find it difficult to just shred or recycle it.

But I am also looking forward to having just this, just what I pack and nothing else.

Advertisements

I never feel Wanderlust, until I do.

I have never been a person afflicted by wanderlust. I have liked my feet firmly on the ground, even as my head wanders the clouds.

I have never really wondered at the wonders beyond the seas, the places only reached by charter plane or puttering boat. I haven’t wanted to travel or see the far reaches of a place. I haven’t wanted to leave my home or see the world.

Sure I’ve been curious. Fascinated by culture and understanding of how important it is we have understanding and tolerance of the differences. But barring a vacation now and then, or a trip to my own back yard -IE into the Canadian wilderness to understand that and how we’ve dishonoured it – I haven’t wanted to leave.

It might be because I’ve never remained in one place for more than 5 years, or that at one point I moved 3 times in a year, and now move at least twice a year and have for the past four years.

I  don’t have wanderlust, I don’t feel that drive to get away. Until I do.

Until I am overwhelmed by responsibilities and the weight of my own future. Until I’m faced with my lack of skills, or looks, or self-esteem. It is then, during exam times, and hard times that suddenly I heard the wind calling.

Suddenly I have the need to grab a bag with just the bare necessities, grab my dog and my partner and just go. To leave with no destination and no end goal. To enter the words and never come back. To talk to the people who travel for a living, or who like me are travelling to get away from it all.

I don’t experience wanderlust until it is all I have left to feel, and I wonder, in all my daydreams that are becoming less and less grounded, if that’s necessarily a bad thing.

The most terrifying moment.

The most terrifying moment is Sunday night, just as the afternoon fades away.

It’s getting a phone call from a person who never calls, a call from a place far away, where time slips away and for them, it is not the afternoon but twilight.

It’s a harried voice, and you don’t know if you’re falling or if you’re floating because it’s a desperate – “Talk some sense into him”.

It’s screaming in the background you recognize too well because you spent 6 years of your life taking blows so that she never made that sound. Your sister, the girl your raised shouldn’t sound like that.

The most terrifying moment is choking back sobs when he throws the phone away, a breathless, solid “Fuck it all” the only proof that your words reached him.

It’s choking back tears again, burning them away when your sister is still screaming, and sobbing and her tears are bringing back memories of every drunken dispute you got between to protect her from blows she should never have aimed at her childhood.

The most terrifying moment is a stern calmness when you demand your mom to give the phone to her, to get her out of here. No one else seems to realise they’re allowing a child to witness all this. She doesn’t need to hear the voices using her as leverage. She already watched the event, she doesn’t need to be held to it.

It’s talking through her sobbing, gently coaxing conversation, drying tears with metaphorical hands only, reassuring and reaffirming things that were destroyed by frantic people in the downstairs living room.

It’s hanging up the phone six hours later, the ambulance there, the screaming stopped, and your sister finally, FINALLY falling asleep.

It’s having been asked only once if you were okay.

The most terrifying moment is being three thousand miles away, at three in the morning, too shocked to cry, still burning and unable to cry, waiting for the call back to tell you it’s all okay.

It doesn’t come though. Because you were needed for a moment. Just that single moment. You did your job. You were useful, but you won’t get that phone call. You don’t even get called to tell you he survived the night, and later the week.

The Most terrifying moment is being forgotten in the harried screaming of people who can’t handle mental health, and wondering to yourself… if it were you, who they’d call on a Sunday afternoon to look after your little girl?

Dependence

Anxiety will sneak up on you from nowhere, I’ve found. And this I’ve also found is the reason that people without some kind of consistent anxiety find difficult to understand.

Today started off wonderfully. It was winding down a calm wonderful evening with the partner of my heart; celebrating our version of Valentine’s day with games and take out and cookies and snuggles.

But I’ve had to travel, seeing family who is ill and who I owe a lot. And so we can’t be together right now. He’s also having a really hard time right now, wth family, and stress, and school, and himself. I’m not there.

This, this moment of knowing I’m not there, that knowing if he’s okay is dependent on his ad my phone working – is dependent on text messages, because he’s working so we can’t call, and he’s exhausted right now so we can’t call.

I am dependant on his wellbeing, in more ways than just wanting a future together. He is grounding, he is the heartbeat that brings me down from my anxieties.

So that his unwellness, his anxiety cause me anxiety, my being away from him spikes my heart rate and make tears appear from nowhere, and my being away from him also means I have no grounding is ironic.

Ironic in the tragic way that lovers become dependent, and dependency becomes something more, something discussed under bated breathes. Something that makes ethereal and fairytale out of love and acceptance of all but self.

From the girl who wants too much

It has been an insecurity that I ask for too much. Too much time, too much support, just too much. It’s something I’ve struggled with for many years- and still do- though I’ve been getting better at realising my own worth, and the fact that those who love me want to give me things, and I’m not an obligation.

But still, I find myself wanting.

Wanting to be done with school, wanting to be done with winter. I find myself wanting to be finished essays I haven’t even started writing yet, and being done with being 21.

It’s probably my depression but that’s beside the point.

I’m always wanting, and at 21, the things I want are a bit unusual.

I want to be done school not because school sucks, but because I’m bored and because I want to do my Master’s. I don’t want to be an undergrad anymore, and I don’t want to be this age. I want to be done school so I can do more schooling at a level I hope to pursue my own interests, and not force feed myself books of topics I don’t think will change anything. I want to be out of York so that I can continue my YouTube stuff, because in my head, being away from York, in my masters or a college will mean I have the time to do this.

I want to live in a house with my partner, stable enough to not feel that heart-pounding fear that I’m going to fail and have to drop out, just for one  god-damned day. I want to feel successful for one minute, and not nauseous over the $1 in my bank account and the $550 rent that needs to be paid in a week. I want to be engaged and married, I want to have a family. I want to settle down for good.

But I also want to go camping, and have 3 dogs and not be in an apartment anymore. I want to live somewhere in the wilds, and also in the city with a giant bay window with plants overflowing the bench seat.

Not because I see everyone else doing it, people my age typically want the opposite of that it seems, but because for me stability seems to solve my problems.

I want to be a young adult, still, but I want to also be further than I already am. I want to be stable and successful, I want to do with my time as I want. In my head being engaged, or being a grad student, or even just graduating and being away from York feels like it’ll make things better. Maybe when I’m a grad student I’ll be stable. Maybe when I’m in college I’ll be able to do crafting, or drawing or youtube again.

It’s not true because I’ll still be paying rent and tuition and won’t have enough money for supplies. But it feels that way when I’m so distressed about life.

From the girl who wants too much, who wants to grow up, but only in the way in which I have my own apartment, and not a student residence, and not a basement, I say it’s okay.

It’s okay to want to grow up, to want to settle down, to not like the party life and the drinking games; that’s alright. Grow how you like, and do the things that make you most happy.

Drink if you like, write slam poetry, nerd out. Be happy learning to cook, or knit, or keep a home.

Keep wanting more.

The things in life I may never get; but that are sure lovely to dream about.

So I originally posted this on my tumblr page but thought that this really was a perfect blog post. So I’m sharing this with you.

1) A tiny house, and I don’t mean just a really small home, I mean a tiny home that I built myself on a trailer. One built with the hands of my friends and family as they help me, and with resources I foraged from reuse stores and old furniture.

2) A garden. Not just any garden, but one filled with fruit and mostly vegetables. With herbs for my cooking, maybe even a section just for native plants from the area I live.

3) At the same time as wanting a tiny home, I also know that I will one day have children, and hopefully a partner to raise them with, and many dogs; so I realise I will have to graduate to a home one day. It is in this home that we’ll have a fireplace and an open plan bottom floor. Big windows will let in the natural light and the floors will be real hardwood. My kids will make forts under the stairs (pretending to be Harry Potter, eventually we’ll make this our reading nook, it was wasted space anyway) my dogs will sprawl in the space between the kitchen and living room. It will be quaint and cozy.

4) In this home my partner (or friends, who knows how I will raise my kids) have bought and made our own our furniture will be mismatched antiques. Bought from garage sales, and second hand stores (or habitat for humanity, I don’t waste an opportunity to help a good cause) and we will sand them and maybe repaint a few. But it will not match. We’ll have 4 or 6 different dining chairs none of which match the table, our couches will be covered in pillows we make ourselves. Our dressers won’t match the bed. But it will be home; cozy and unique like we enjoy living our lives.

5) To live within convenient walking distance to a fresh market, or a farm/farmers market. Somewhere that sells seasonal produce so that I might learn to cook like that. But also because I enjoy eating things like bananas and romaine lettuce, but bananas ripen all together too quickly to eat, and running into the store every other day for lettuce and or a single banana is just a little silly to me. Especially because I (currently) have to take 2 buses to get there.

6) I will live in a neighborhood where instead of family at every other door in the street it’s my friends. Ones I trust and who have similar ideals to me, about raising our kids and having dogs, and saving the environment and being politically involved. Where my kids are “going to aunty Sarah’s house” even though we’ve never been related, or “are hanging out with the cousins” even though I only have one sister.

7) On that note, having enough money to give my sister the home she deserves, even if she’ll be 18 at the time would be nice. That’s a dream that isn’t all that far off, just four years really. And of all of them might be the most achievable.

8) To go camping at least once a month. To get into a car and drive for a few hours in no particular direction. Find a site, or hike to it, and sit under the stars. Just my dog(s) and I, and perhaps a friend or two.

9) To have a bicycle that fits my height and live in a space I feel safe to ride it in. Perhaps with fewer cars, where most of the people around me do the same. Maybe even one of those basket bikes, so I can shop, and carry young children or dogs or camping gear or anything. That’d be a nice thing.

10) And because I like to round things out neatly, in the house I have one day, for this I am sure I will own with hard work and good investment (regardless of if I had to build the tiny home myself, or renovate our cozy home with my partner) I want a large bay window filled with green. Flowers and plants will fill this window, letting in filtered green light. Catching warmth on long leaves and round ones; through pale red and blue petals, and off of thick succulent leaves. This window will frame my home with it’s hanging baskets of green and gold and purple and yellow. It will welcome everyone. With large cwtchy chairs and couches, my loved ones will gather here, with cups of tea and coffee, or juice if they prefer, and my dogs and cats will curl at their feet (or mine, if my friends would really prefer to avoid the hair).

The North American Hero Complex.

I want to preface this post with this: I am Welsh-Canadian and as such I have a pretty limited scope to be pulling from. This article is being written from the viewpoint of a Canadian living, Welsh-raised, Environmental Studies student. So while I am making a rather large (and problematic in some cases) broad assumption about North American stereotype it is in no way intended to offend, but simply bring to light a very serious question.

That question being: is the N.A. hero-complex detrimental to environmentalism (that being conservation, restoration, and policy implementation in the efforts to maintain and ‘save’ the planet)?

I read a post on tumblr (yes I know, prime research resource) that really got me thinking. The be all and end all of the thread was that America per-capita has the highest rate of firefighter death worldwide. And the rate of casualties wasn’t limited to firefighters.

Some resources to kind of outline the issue.

USA:

LODD statistics for USA Law enforcement

Statistics builder of US firefighter deaths

Officer Fatalities per year USA

CANADA:

RCMP LODD

Statistics Canada Officer homicide rates (1961-2009)

Officer Down Memorial

*Note: LODD is the abbreviation I’ll use for ‘Line of Duty Deaths’ from here out.

Now the tumblr post insinuated that the reason for this is very simple, that North America is bred up with the idea of heroism, that the biggest honour is to die in the line of duty or in the service of another. The American dream is built on (in a lot of ways) and includes heroism and rushing in to save the day. Little heroic efforts to ‘change the world’ so it seems.

The media propagates this idea, society feeds it with stories and honouring the fallen. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, there IS honour in dying to save another but the problem is how deeply ingrained this idea is and how dangerous.

Think of it this way, the entire idea of a Hometown Hero surrounds the idea that a young person reaches their pinnacle before 18. Yet in the statistics builder I listed above, ‘hometown hero’ is a count of LODD. To me it’s a telling statistic of US/North American hero-complex culture. Young people dying in the LOD even when it isn’t their duty is a normality enough that they have a statistic.

Another interesting stat is that from 2009-2014 there are an average of 554 LODD in the USA and of those between 17-32 (per year) are Hometown Heroes. Interestingly enough, stress and overexertion are by far the HIGHEST causes of death across all 4 years. It’s another statistic that makes me wonder about the enforced hero-complex of NA.

Especially since looking at RCMP, since the 1870’s there’s only been a total of 222 officer deaths in Canada, but between 1870 and 1871 the USA has already overshot that by over 100. And between 1961 and 2009, 133 police officers were murdered in the line of duty in Canada, but between the same time something to the tune of over 8000 officers were killed in the US.

*Note again this is just from my preliminary research and finding relatable stats is very difficult when police/emergency service/militaries of these two countries are very different

Of course the statistic is somewhat skewed by population density but still the number is rather harsh.

So, with that out-of-the-way (and congrats if you’ve made it this far) my question.

We have such a drive to save the planet, I do as well I want a career of it soon, but mostly this drive comes from self-interest and not in the interest or duty to another person. Other than, perhaps, our future children/future of the planet.

I mean, we rush into restoration, rehabilitation and relocation projects  with fever, and a lot of the times these do more damage than good. They’re band-aid solutions we dive headlong into.

And I’m not just making wide and exaggerated claims to support my point. I think by now we’re all pretty familiar with the baby bison that was euthanize because of some ‘good Samaritans’? If not here’s a link:

SourceFed’s Video

A short article of the incident

Good intentions and split-second decision-making are good things. Don’t get me wrong. We need them in a lot of ways (whether they be in life-or-death emergency respondent duties, or in making a change for the environment) but they are dangerous.

Had the couple through it through, realised that the bison a calf or not is a wild creature that is fortified for the cold wilderness, he may have survived, and never been rejected by his cow. And this incidents happen often. Saving baby birds, pulling caterpillars off of trees. They all equate to an ingrained curiosity and intense hero-complex.

Not only is this kind of action detrimental to the health of the ‘rescued’ flora/fauna/biome, but it is also detrimental to other efforts. If people continue this kind of attitude, then it becomes impossible to allow for any human interaction with protected sites.

If even one of every thousand guests to a national park ended-up inadvertently killing a young animal or rare plant it would be impossible to keep publicly accessible parks open, instead land would be shut down to public access. This might not seem all that terrible but think a bout it.

If ALL national parks were shut down and became inaccessible preservation, how successful would they be?

Not very. Not only would public opinion be unfavourable or unsupported, but we are at a point where we as a society really cannot afford to live in a world where fragments of ‘true nature’ are isolated from us.

Water cycles through the planet endlessly; our synthetics will reach those isolated fragments.

Air is ever-moving around the planet; our synthetics will reach those isolated fragments too.

Not only thus, but we humans ARE a part of nature and to isolate ourselves from it is just as dangerous as any other option. Education would be impossible without seeing and interacting though being so hands on and ‘hero’ like is NOT the same as ‘interaction’ with nature.

Another issues of course is that isolating fragments of nature behind fences is dangerous to genetic flow. Already all over the world (Europe especially) land masses are fragmented by urban infrastructure and leaves many flora and fauna in a spiral of limited populations because they have nowhere to go, no means to jump between patches of habitat, no corridors and no options. Isolating and absolutely irradiating the spread of flora and fauna isn’t going to work.

Allowing a culture where we feel duty bound to personally interfere with the world around us, without contemplation or planning is dangerous, and will eventually lead to irrevocable damage to out planet.

We cannot wait to take environmental action this is true, but a few years, a few months, a few weeks, hell, even a few SECONDS of extra consideration as to WHY and HOW you’re taking action could save not only an entire population, but a single creature’s life; maybe even yours.

So, to end. Do I think that the North American Hero Complex is a danger to environmentalism?

Yes. Our fast and loud attitude to solving problems in our environment (including and certainly not limited to police work, and firefighting) is leading to premature death and premature actions and implementation and it’s not working, and won’t work any longer. I think we need to keep asking WHY we want to act so fast when a band-aid solution usually leads to an unnecessary death or injury.

And the next one to suffer will be the planet.

A note on living with an older generation.

I have lived with my grandparents (maternal) who are in their mid 70’s for going on three years now. I have lived full-time with them for two of those years with a year in between to live on campus and go to school, and I will be moving out as of September for good.

And so I have a unique view on the older generation than my own (2 generations older in fact) and while I have never been in the house in the capacity of a ‘carer’ there are two instances in the past year that have pushed that boundary and lead to me write this post.

“Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed.”

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Let me preface all this by mentioning that my grandparents have essentially allowed me to live with them rent free while I try to pay my way through university; this alone has them endeared in my heart despite all the…..problems I face within their home. Some of which will be addressed later.

A year ago July my Tad-gi (granddad) went into hospital for open-heart surgery for the second time, planned and prepared for so we were not worried and were prepared for the extra burden having him unable to drive, lift things, etc etc.

As such I, out of school and moved back in with them, picked up the slack of cooking when  my Mam-gi (Nanny) couldn’t; I took the recycling and garbage out; I took the bus and did the grocery shopping when we couldn’t get a friend to drive us, or my Mam-gi really couldn’t – for obvious reasons my Tad-gi couldn’t.

Not really a carer, but I picked up more chores than my usual (vacuuming, dishes, bathroom etc etc.)

Now, it was difficult and stressful and more than once I struggled with my temper.

I’d like to preface this again with mentioning that I have an incredibly low temper, it takes an awful lot to rile me, and even more to get me to yell. But I digress.

So I struggled with my temper, with my snapping at them for being unable to do the things that I found normal, and to pertain to the routine. But soon enough my Tad-gi was much better, and things returned to normal; I went back to school.

Then, living in their home again this year instead of on campus I have seen a rather trying transformation that has me despairing about moving out, and also far more ex-tactic to be gone.

“Wherever you are in your journey, take some time out to take stock of where you are standing. Then decide if you are willing to do “Big Things” in order to be where you want to be.”

~ Tab Dangerfield

Over the year my Mam-gi’s health has deteriorated- her walking has become wobbly, her hands are even worse and she finds grabbing things and holding things near impossible most of the time. Add to that her normal issues, she is also suffering from migraines that leave her pained, and unable to see. This has been a slow transition that has been horrid to watch and to experience.

My Tad-gi too has also been getting older, stiffer in the back, sleeping longer and tiring easily. He is nowhere near as poorly as my mam-gi but they feel it as one.

Which leads to the most recent incident. My tad-gi recently came home from inner-ear surgery in an attempt to save his hearing. This means essentially that as with the heart surgery he is limited in what he can do on the daily.

Lifting, walking, cooking, standing, even eating are all limited to his dizzy spells and strain on his head. As such it means that I am picking up the strain again.

The difference this time around however have created within me a hailstorm of strain, anger, resentment and exhaustion. It was a very very hard semester for me and so I entered this two weeks of rest intending to utterly devote time to myself before starting summer school; which obviously I am not getting in full. Another difference is that I can drive this time, with my tad-gi in the car, so that’s a lightened burden at least, since we can do full grocery shops. However, suddenly my Nan needs me to do everything. From cooking to dishes, to getting her and my granddad lunch and coffee and tea.

I have watched them deteriorate, but I had yet to experience it in full given my commuting lifestyle and the drive to sleep as long as possible between classes.

I have struggled with my feelings about all this. In some ways I am ever more grateful for being let in their home without rent and without needing to do much; this time then is my paying it back back. They not only let me live with them, but I drive their car, I use their internet etc etc. I am an expensive house guest.

However I have experienced a new kind of frustration and anger, at people whom I love and it is a struggle. Worse still is that I am angry at things they can’t help. They are older, they have ailments, and all they ask is for me to stop what I’m doing and help them (often and annoyingly right when I’m busiest but still). On top of that is the unsettled feeling in me that comes from being in an unstable home, constantly moving…and the feelings of being unsafe.

They are lovely people. They love their four grandchildren wholeheartedly and without restraint. However they are set in their ideals of beauty and of religion and of how the world should be that do not and never will align with my own.

I am decidedly unstraight not that they know this, but the fear I hold for the day they find out -an inevitability given how much more comfortable I become as the months pass-has me nervous, flighty, and unsociable.

All of which of course leads to their hovering uncertainty and worry about my mental (deteriorating) health and health in general.

Not a good mix and not a healthy place for any people living in one space to be.

I hate that they need me, that I cannot be myself (in my sexuality, or even my ideals of the world; living in a very conservative home when you are more definitively more liberal for example) with the knowledge I have and ‘radical’ idealism makes me angry. I have never been an angry person, but I have basic needs and in his house I am not getting them.

Rousing, open debate where people can walk away as friends is one of them; people and their sexuality being recognized without scoffing and disbelief is another; being with people who are not racist -especially when one of them (my mam-gi) experienced racism all her life as an Indian girl who moved to Wales in her youth – should really just be a norm regardless.

And as September (freedom) draws closer and their need of me increases I become more and more withdrawn, snapping for snapping sake, and more than anything I hate that that is my response to all this stress.

“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation.”

~Pearl S. Buck

All of the above will either evoke sympathy in you, or the mentality that I am truly the most ungrateful granddaughter to live. Both of which I agree with however, there is more if you’re still reading.

It has been a very difficult year for myself and my studies, and my extended family. However, through this year there has been an incredible shift in my perception of self and of a generation I have nothing in common with bar our Welsh ancestry and love of good tea.

I have learnt here so much. About myself, my tolerances and what it is I need to be happy and healthy, but also about my heritage, my family, and what it means to grow old. Arguably I am not even ‘grown up’ yet but I certainly know what it is to grow old now having experienced this:

  • It means watching the world change and not understanding the reasons why, nor seeing the purpose of the change for you are stuck in your own past.
  • It means crossing names of family and friends, of bridesmaids and godmothers, of old neighbors and dear shop-keeps from your address book; having still owned an address book.
  • It also means being unable to cross that one name out no matter how long has passed since his death, because Eddie changed us all. Myself included.
  • It means struggling while you watch your children make decisions that weren’t even in your realm of understanding; and you grandchildren learning things that were kept only for master’s degrees in your time even thought your grandchildren are 13.
  • It means scowling at the plate you can’t carry, cup you dropped, kettle that even at half the size of the teapot in your youth is still too heavy for you.
  • It also means watching wide-eyed children with no understanding of the wars you’ve seen, of the rebellions, and the closed mines. Knowing they will never know of them. Not unless you tell them, and that is a great honour. Your grandchildren remembering fondly how passionate you are about working in the steelworks and how you miss it in many ways.

“Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.”

~Desiderata (Max Ehrmann 1927)
(Note:This is only an excerpt from what is and will forever by my favourite poem)

And so, I am changed this year, as everyone is changed every year I suppose. However I feel utterly reborn. I have been grown-up for many many years now. I raised my sister at 12, I have experienced much. However I suddenly feel older and also freer to explore myself and my world.

I have developed through this year an interesting coping method for my anger. I follow the frustration down and validate the feelings; my anger, frustration, disappointment, fury, exhaustion. They are all valid and hold valid placement in my heart and my chest, in my stomach and through my bones. I think therefore I am; if I’m feeling it then it is valid. However following this I think of the offending party/situation that has brought me to this point and I think upon their life experiences and cultural differences. Why have they done these things (is it because of character/misunderstanding/cultural/age differences) and I think upon the validity of the kind of emotion i am feeling. Am I really angry or disappointed? Do I want to be mad or tired? I am still valid in feeling but the initial emotion likely (and usually) isn’t what I’m actually feeling nor is it conducive to a good relationship or a productive life.

From there I can cope with whatever I’m really feeling knowing why the other people have acted like they have and whether or not it is something I can confront them about. If not I cope with myself through various methods.

Moving on from that revelation though, I finally see that you cannot dwell on today-on the frustrations of youth and of broken things because one day it might be you who feels so broken. So too I have learnt to listen to the people that speak, even those whose ideas of being a woman, or a child, or a religious figure, or even a person (whom they have no right perhaps to talk about) do not belong in today’s world. Because through them you may learn how to avoid allowing the same kind of people to make the laws, to dictate these things. To better understand where someone with an opposing opinion comes from is to better understand hope to confront and avoid them. But also and beyond that, in between their racist/sexist/homophobic/prejudiced words you will find anecdotes of life, of wars once fought, of emotions once and forever expressed.

“Emotion without reason lets people walk all over you; reason without emotion is a mask for cruelty.”
Nalini Singh, Archangel’s Kiss

Through their words you will discover a lot about yourself; everyone comes from a different cultural lens, from different life experiences that do not and will never line up with anyone else’s. However if they are to live in this world as you do you will find a Venn-diagram where you can both stand and agree that yes: you are from a new generation that will never understand nor accept the things you perceptive as ‘mistakes of the past’ but you appreciate their knowledge of the world, that they can’t make the laws anymore and are angry about that, and that they appreciate you having listened.

For so few give the older generation the benefit of a kind and open ear willing to see past their bitterness at the changing world, to find their experience and the inevitable wisdom that you gather walking through life as a generation.

“A true teacher would never tell you what to do. But he would give you the knowledge with which you could decide what would be best for you to do.”
Christopher Pike, Sati

A Whild Thought: Selfies

Now I think some of you are already clicking off. Because look, there’s ‘selfie in the title’ but give me a second, give me a moment and maybe I’ll give you something to think about.

I have been having a lot of mental blocks and body-related issues. Putting aside what you think about my weight and such the fact of the matter is, I have been hurting myself (mentally, physiologically etc) because of how I view myself and my mentality and it’s a problem.

To kind of outline how I’ve been feeling here’s an entry to my daily journal:

12969265_10209236981740821_1516851629_n

And the above comes down to a few things:

Feeling disgusting and tired of the way I look
Being stressed about  schooling
Being stressed but not about how empty and apathetic I’m feeling towards my schooling right now.
Other things that just weight on my because of family and other ‘normal’ issues.

But the fact remains that it has been a really crappy few weeks. (almost a month)

It came to a peak yesterday when a young man decided to intimidate me in a bus station. I was walking towards my bus and this young man approached walking the opposite way. He was very tall (but I’m 5’1/5’2 so it is feasible that I just thought that) and leant in close enough that I flinched back.

Why? Because he leant in, grinned and said ‘Smile Baby” before laughing and walking away.

Now I was not comfortable with this, I was super nervous all the 15 minutes I was waiting for my bus, and felt awful the rest of the evening. So I was harassed, it was not nice. He does not deserve to see my smile, nor is it his business if I smile in public or not.

But, following this experience and with the bubbling awfulness of my mental state came these images:

12935439_10209236974580642_1665453849_n12939365_10209236974420638_1597194882_n

Now, disclaimer yes there are filters on these images to do some colour correction and yes obviously I am wearing light make-up (blush, eyeliner, mascara and some bomb af lipstick) but the point is: after all this self-loathing and uncomfortableness came selfies.

There are many more on my phone but these are two of my favourite from the night.

So here’s the thought.

I am not the most ‘traditionally beautiful’ young woman out there. I am v pudgy, I am brown-eyed and brown-haired, i am short; i have thick thighs, and wide hips; i am fat instead. Not traditionally beautiful.

And it’s never really bothered me, not really. It adds to my crippling body-image confidence, but I just thought I will never see someone like me because no one wants to be like me.

But, then I put on my favouirte make-up, my favourite plaid and I thought about how I felt. How I didn’t FEEL disgusting, unhealthy, or ugly. I felt pretty good. I felt like that young man had no right to see my smile, or when I’m feeling great. my friends and my future partner does, but everyone else? Nah not really.

So I took selfies, feeling better and better with each shot. Taking an hour to do the filters and finding the angles and colours I wanted, made me feel even better.

And so here’s my thought.

Selfie culture could be bad, selfish, promote a generation of young people who are vain…but we’ve been raised that way already. We are surrounded by images that demand a certain type of look for men and women, demand a certain dream a certain career and education level. We already are the generation that have been told to be vain. But selfies? Selfies are different.

Selfies are of self, of real self, of inner beauty. Selfies are posted and posed for self-desire. For likes (because the self wants it). For colour schemes for great profiles. Because I want it.

This is not an add where a naked man or woman who is ‘filtered’ to be unrecognizable is forced into my face and makes me see what I’ll never be.

My selfie is in a very real way, celebrating my beauty and how I feel and what I feel is beautiful. It is my clothes, my make-up my posing and my filters.

Selfies in a way are actually promoting the opposite of what people think. It’s promoting a range of selfless, united young people. Selfies are uncensored, un ‘filtered’. If a selfie is posted it will be seen, a company isn’t going to X it. I can see all kinds of bodies. I can see all kinds of confidence levels.

Selfie culture lets you see the world and feel better.

12980459_10209242290713542_1581054182_n

I’m going to finish this thought with this picture. It’s my latest entry to my daily journal. I feel so much better after the selfies (which OMFg are so popular on insta and fb) and after drawing and especially after drawing this page.

It is said that selfie culture promotes vain, selfish youth. It’s a bad trend. However I disagree. I say selfie-culture is the opposite, its a reaction to the poisonous-image the media portrays. It’s a rebellion against what the media says we should look like. It’s solidarity and the celebration of difference.