Small Things of February

February has been nothing short of magical so far!

The month began with many wedding preparations leading up to the big day, and then the day itself. All the moments were incredible, and full of pure joy. These days are definitely stories for another blog post however, one which will arrive soon.

However, aside from these beautiful, weddingish moments, February has still shown me so much beauty.

  • On our wedding day, my now husband (how exciting it feels to be writing that!) gave me a ukulele! It was such a fun surprise to receive, however I feel as though my constant want to practice is causing him some regret. So far, I have just been learning how exactly to place my fingers and rearrange them for different chords; it requires more precision than I first understood. To my utter excitement, it turns out that Riptide by Vance Joy is an easy song for beginners to learn how to play, and so I have been practising at every given moment, and I’m getting there slowly. If only I could sing!
  • We watched the movie Pork Pie about two weeks ago, and although I wasn’t sure if I would like it beforehand, I walked out with a brand new favourite. It’s so wonderfully Kiwi, involves veganism as a rather large part of the plot, and made me laugh embarrassingly loudly. It’s beautifully light-hearted, and made me fall even deeper in love with the country I’m lucky to call home.

(Image sourced from: http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/entertainment/2016/10/pork-pie-first-trailer-for-kiwi-film-released.html)

  • I feel as though I have become a bit more confident this month. I am working on becoming more assertive, and am trying to find my inner duck (“like water on a duck’s back!”). Things, meaningless things, affect me so overly deeply and painfully, and I am now working very hard to believe that not everything that I over think influences my worth as a human. These are very trying times! However, I have found recently that I am not taking as many silly things as deeply to heart anymore, which is truly like a breath of fresh air.

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(Image sourced from: http://philbertk.deviantart.com/art/Like-water-off-a-ducks-back-599712388)

  • On our honeymoon, I got a necklace with the crystal Citrine on it. Crystals, and their meanings, bring me peace, and it also helps with keeping my hands busy. Citrine is a crystal of joy, of light, and of positive energy. It helps to reduce self-destruction, and is described as filling one with light.

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  • I have just finished reading the book Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, and it was great! It’s good as a light read, for when you can’t concentrate very well, yet it’s still entertaining enough to keep you engaged.

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(Image sourced from: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19486412-big-little-lies).

  • Some things I am looking forward to are university beginning again in two weeks, continuing with painting, writing poetry and moving into our new home.

Love & light,
Kaitlyn.

Our Discoveries of Weddings

As our big day is drawing nearer, we are have made quite a few wedding discoveries that we never thought about before!

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  • Delegation becomes vital. As somebody who is usually very resistant to letting other people help because the guilt is overwhelming, this was a very difficult lesson to learn. It’s impossible to be everywhere, doing everything at once, as much as that would appease my brain. When family and friends very kindly continue to offer to help, it’s okay to take them up on that. It’s okay to let go. It helped to put myself in their shoes; I love helping them and am honoured to do so, so reversing that is okay too.
  • Your house will begin to resemble a thrift shop crossed with a liquour store, crossed once again with a gardening centre. Maybe it’s because we live in a tiny studio apartment, so it’s kind of like we are living in the shambles of our deconstucted wedding.
  • Right before the wedding is not the best time to see if your gardening skills are up to scratch. We decided to buy various herbs to add a bit of greenery to the tables, and also they smell lovely! However, neither of us are graced with green fingers, and so as we believed that we were “loving” them by watering them every few hours, we have accidentally caused them much suffering and now can only hope for a full recovery.
  • The mood swings are chaotic! We both are fluctuating between stress/ irritation / crazy excitement, on a two hourly basis.
  • Before any proper planning had begun, I was so determined to not let the process and details consume us and our relationship. I was very big on the fact of it only being one day, and that I was much more looking forward to our marriage and life together. However, another fact is that really, nobody else was going to see it this way, as kind and well-meaning as they are. It is a very, very, big one day to all of us, and as it draws nearer, it becomes bigger so. It’s overwhelming, the expectations and financial strain, and in this way it is consuming. But it’s important to remember that there is an end date in sight, and that marriage, and a celebration with those you love around you, is all that is really important.
  • It’s okay to be excited for it, while simultaneously being excited for it to be over. We can’t wait to be married and to enjoy married life.
  • Doing things in a way thay makes you happy and is affordable is what really matters. It’s okay to not be able to afford fancy catering and a dj and a videographer and a fancy dress, and the rest of the never ending list! We got my dress online from a national website for $30, it’s worked out to be the cheapest part of our wedding, and I’m happy with it. We have limited alcohol and are doing our own flowers. Our ceremony is in a park, with the reception in a community hall, and all these details are special to us, because they are ours. Expectations of weddings are often over the top, and ridiculous, so just doing what works for you is the best way to do it. There is no right way to have a wedding.

Love & light,

Kaitlyn.

Small Things of January

Now that the end of January is drawing nearer, (it has gone so fast! How is this real!), I feel like I would like make a little list of updates of the small things of this month. It’s a bit in the shambles, so please excuse it, it very well reflects my messy life!

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  • Songs I have been listening to frequently this month are Right Then and There by Luke Ritchie (discovered from watching a lot of Fresh Meat this month), Pursuit of Happiness by Kid Cudi (I just re-discovered this, and I swear it almost tastes like every party I have ever been too; nostalgia is strange in ways), Mr Brightside by The Killers, and a lot of Imagine Dragon.
  • Books I have been reading this month include How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan, Mosquitoland by David Arnold, and Richard Siken’s beautiful duo, Crush and War of the Foxes.
  • The big day is finally almost here! In six days, we will be getting married, and have never before been so excited. In some ways, we can’t wait for the day to be over, because then we will be free of the restraints of stress, and as severe financial difficulties, to enjoy our marriage.
  • Some news on the mental health front. In a few weeks, I am going back to therapy, but to somewhere different than last time. This decision was surprisingly easy to make this time around, and although I am anxious about it, in some ways I am also looking forward to it, because this is a year of growing, and I’m trying to believe that I deserve to grow.
  • I have been working almost every day this month, and am experiencing a love-hate relationship with customer service. Having customers that aren’t even particularly nice, but simply just not rude or hateful, can definitely make make my night. My training at work has been extended, and now many failed coffees later, I am almost fully trained to also work in the bar and cafe there! I’m excited, because this is something I have wanted to achieve for a while, and so it’s exciting to know that it will very soon be accomplished.
  • My papers for this university year have been finalised, and I am so pumped to go back to studying again. I will be taking a biogeography paper, three environmental law/planning papers, a research paper, two ecology papers, and a socio-ecological paper.
  • This month I have begun painting, and it’s safe to say that I love it. It’s so calming, it keeps my hands busy which is very important for me, and it makes me happy.
  • A few days ago, we were notified that our rent is being increased over the coming months, and as what we currently pay is already ridiculously overpriced and unaffordable, we have made the decision to move out. We are going to be going flatting again, with some good friends, and are actually very excited for this opportunity.
  • Something that I am looking forward to is learning to play the ukulele! I have been inspired by so many youtube videos, and can’t wait to start learning. Hopefully over the next month or so, I would have started!

Love & light,
Kaitlyn.

Big Joy & Little Joy

The big joy you experience during things like graduating or having a magical vacation, and the little everyday joy you find driving in the car when your favourite song is on the radio or grocery shopping with the person you love – they are both the same joy. One doesn’t mean more, and one won’t satisfy you or make you happier than the other. Recognizing both and appreciating both is the key. You can’t just live for the big joy and think those moments will sustain you – it’s the little things that light you up in addition to the big magical moments that allow you to realize how full and beautiful life can be.

– Rachaeldee

Stumbling across this quote a few days ago has already brought me joy, simply because these words, they are understanding; they give me hope in little joy and big joy all the same.

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Lately I have experienced little joy, and these moments have made me so happy; they have been uplifting and given me so much hope. They are tiny in terms of the volumes of life itself, but their meaning is momentous.

  • Visits from friends! Last week, one of my closest friends popped around unexpectedly, and it honestly made my whole week. It was so wonderful to see her and to spend time with her, and even just the fact that she thought to come over was so sweet, and meant a lot to me. Then this morning, another friend came over to trial my wedding makeup, and this again made my whole week. I was a bit anxious prior to seeing her, probably because we haven’t hung out in a while, but it made me so happy. It also boosted my confidence a bit, not necessarily because of the makeup, but because I managed to do something and sit through the anxiety.
  • There is this one tree in particular that I walk beneath on the way to work, and the only way I can think to describe it is lush. I love to run my hands up through the leaves as I walk along, which probably looks strange to any passersby, but it’s worth it!
  • As the quote said, going grocery shopping with the one you love, definitely brings joy! As silly as it sounds, this is one of our favourite things to do together, and we always end up having so much fun.
  • I have been on the lookout for more uplifting music lately, as most of the music I generally listen to is more “moody”. So Imagine Dragons has been playing a lot, and alongside a lot of nostalgia, it has been uplifting too.
  • Receiving the sweetest messages, just to check in.
  • Painting! Trying out doing art has been helping to take my mind off things.
  • Small moments with my love. When we play, laugh, dance and sing together. It’s the best.
  • Reading Richard Siken’s Crush, full of heart and heartbreak, but bringing joy nevertheless.

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These are my small joys lately. I am so thankful for them.

Love & light,

Kaitlyn.

2016 & 2017 Musings

Although in a global sense, 2016 has been pretty bleak, for me personally it has been a good year. A hard, rewarding and tough year, but good nevertheless.

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Every past year I would write out resolutions, make plans for how to be better in the New Year. These plans frequently involved me lessening, reducing, preening myself, to simply embody my illnesses, rather than the person I am. But for the first time, this coming year is going to be different. I don’t wish to become less, I wish to become more.

This year took many leaps and bounds. We loved and we lost, in every way imaginable. My fiancee and I have grown so much stronger together. He becomes my best friend more each day. We have also been saving hard for our wedding, which is in little over a month now. Our excitement is over the moon, but nerves are also wracking!

We both took steps to rise up against our mental illnesses. I finally stopped fighting against help, and through a combination of therapy and medication am far more able to manage the depression and generalised anxiety. These steps have also enabled me to stop self harming, which I am hopeful is for good, and to believe that I am fully recovered from the eating disorder. Our healing journeys have been really, really difficult. But to be able to be where we are now is invaluable, and we have learnt so much about each other through our experiences.

University has been one of my favourite parts of this year. Studying science, and with such a heavy focus on the practicality of it, has given me a pure awe of our world and life itself. I also met some beautiful new friends in my classes, and it’s so inspiring to be around people who are passionate about the same things, and are like-minded in that way. We would spend hours in the labs each week, and at the beginning it was quite daunting because I have never really had that sort of freedom with education before, but it turned out to be one of the best parts. Being able to try out things myself and to make mistakes has been immensely helpful at challenging my perfectionism, it has given me both courage and joy. I am so excited to return next year, and to be halfway through my degree!

Something unexpected happened with my grades this year. Previously, and normally while unwell, my grades were of upmost importance to me (second only to weight), and no mark was ever good enough to meet my impossibly high, and incredibly damaging standards. Having failed all my exams and leaving university in 2015 due to being unwell, I was determined to make this year different, but not particularly in terms of passing. Therapy really helped challenge these ideals I held, so by semester two of this year, I was determined to simply do my best, and most of all to care for myself though it all. And unexpectedly, my grades were the best I have ever got, and I’m the healthiest I have ever been. And that, is definitely now good enough for me.

So for next year, I don’t have a set of resolutions or goals designed to control my year. I have had enough of that for a lifetime. I wish to be so much more than restraints. There are just some things I want to do, to experience. Not necessarily next year, but just in time, because why grow tomorrow when you can grow today?

I would like to read as a hobby, and am currently waiting in excitement for The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben and Mosquitoland by David Arnold. Also to start my own business eventually, and to swim in every ocean. I would also like to become open, somehow, with my story, to stop hiding from the past. To play with so many dogs, to start a family, to experience many sunrises and sunsets.

Overall, I would just going to continue being me. Loudly, unapologically, messily me. And to see where life without restrictions of my mind takes me. I am so hopeful in today.

Love & light,

Kaitlyn.

Fortesa Latifi / Poets I Love

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Reading and writing poetry is something that makes me feel the same as walking beneath fairy lights, dancing without a care, and swimming within the ocean. These things all sound so cliche, but they each help me to feel present within the moment, something that my mind struggles with greatly.

Poetry found me in the middle of my teenage years, right when everything was too much, and these formations of words gave me so much understanding. I began reading poems, and becoming entranced at the voices of others so eloquently explaining what I couldn’t even form thoughts for. Within poetry I found understanding, vulnerability, and joy.

Because there are so many poets I admire hugely for different reasons, I’m going to start writing a little about each one, to try and spread the meaning they have gifted through their work.

Fortesa Latifi’s poetry blew me away right from the start. I came across her work by stumbling upon dull pieces of truth, and from there, I loved and kept loving.

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Fortesa gave me the words I so desperately needed to hear for my mental illnesses; the overwhelming and inexplainable were less daunting when others understood. Her work on relationships is also nothing less than heartwrenching and soft. Fortesa writes with a magic, a spark, with words for when I cannot see beyond the jumbled darkness.

Love & light,

Kaitlyn.

Trolls & Gender: A Work Observation

Working in customer service roles over the past few years while studying has proven to be insightful about many aspects of human behaviour.

Recently my attention has been drawn to some archaic gender roles still standing strong. Gender roles that I too optimistically believed to be primarily a feature of the past, rather than endowed to our children today.

I work at a cinema, and we constantly have merchandise from the latest films to upsell. Dreamworks’ Trolls is the latest kid on the block, and we are selling cups of the main character Poppy, aimed at children.

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(Pictures from: https://www.dreamworks.com/trolls/explore/trolls)

This is Poppy. She’s pink, crowned with flowers, and wears a dress. Now I haven’t watched Trolls, but based on Poppy’s appearance alone, it is very traditionally feminine. The customers who see or purchase the cup most likely make their decision based upon appearance too, as it is unlikely they will have already seen the movie.

It’s nothing about the physical representation of Poppy as a cup that is wrong, or rather, provoking of controversy. It’s the decisions that I witness parents making based solely upon the appearance that are problematic.

At first I believed it to be an isolated incident. But then it continued to happen, again and again and again. Parents and children will come up to the counter. The boys will see the Poppy cup, and ask for one. The parents agree, but immediately after they order one they ask me

“But do you have a boy one?”

Assuming that they are under the impression that obviously boy equals blue, and definitely not pink, I then have to break the news that I now know will become a dealbreaker. We only sell Poppy cups, and not Branch too, her blue companion.

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Sometimes the situation turns around, slightly. The parent will hesitate and look uncomfortable before saying to their son, “there are only girl cups here, are you sure you really want one?” And their son will absolutely agree, and be over the moon at the idea of getting his own Poppy cup. The parents will look skeptical, go through with the payment, and seem unsure about their decision.

Then there are the other parents, the ones who are so firmly stuck in their beliefs of boys liking blue and blue only, and boys being the right sort of masculine. “You don’t want a girls cup do you?” or “it’s for girls!” are common phrases. Their sons are crestfallen, disappointed in the social constuct they cannot see, yet face and bear such limitation. It is obscuring to their development. There are even the parents that will by the Poppy cup for their daughters, but refuse for their sons. They are afraid.

There are of course the parents too that are completely okay with their child’s reaction to something pink, but these instances aren’t prominent. These don’t stand out because they aren’t outrageous. They are how we should be.

Occasionally children disregard the Poppy cup, saying “it’s for girls”, and why individual choice is rightfully important, this reasoning for their choice is questionable at best. It is a direct consequence of influential figures in the child’s life teaching that gender, and the connotations it holds, to be limiting and harmful.

The reasoning behind influencing a child to feel that it is abnormal or wrong to desire a colour or toy not designated for their gender baffles me. I truly don’t understand the concern of the parents I see daily.

Perhaps they are concerned by both how their child will be perceived by others, and also how interacting with the object will affect them. Pink, which is always associated with femininity, is further associated with weakness, with softness, with sensitivity. And undoubtedly, all of these range back to the negative perception of being a girl or being a woman. Perhaps these parents are afraid that others (in a movie theatre for goodness sake) will view their sons as feminine. And alongside this, the underlying, all encompassing, shouted yet silent preach that femininity is undesirable, inferior. Perhaps they are afraid that their perception of strong masculinity, even in young boys, will be tarnished.

And then it comes down to how the individual child will actually be affected, or thought to be affected. Through conversation with coworkers, the topic of sexuality kept arising. There seems to be the wild goose chase of logic of some, that if boys play with “girl’s toys” or “girl colours”, then this would develop them to be more feminine, and in turn tainting their apparent heterosexuality. Number one, ridiculous. As far as I am aware, drinking Fanta from a Poppy cup will not determine who you are attracted to. Number two, why on Earth is being anything other than heterosexual a terrible thing anyway? Why is it seen as lesser, when it is a brilliant part of the human experience?

If the tables were turned, I believe it these issues would still be apparent, yet not to the same severity. If we only sold Branch cups, would there be parents who would disprove of their daughters having them? Probably. But perhaps not to the same extent. Because where girls and women are seen as weak, boys and men are seen as strong. Where we fall short, men are seen to make up the strides. Perhaps a Branch cup would be seen as endearing and adventerous, typically generalised masculine traits, for a girl, as these traits in the eyes of many are not of her own.

Let boys be boys, beautiful, adventrous, fairy winged, pink-blue-golden boys, let them be soft before the world teaches them they must be tough. Let girls be girls, loud, bright, fast, dressed as dragons, with long hair, short hair, and dirt beneath their painted nails. Let children be children, without subjecting them to invisible, impossible, immoral rules that can break them before they can break free.

Love & light,

Kaitlyn.