Monday 29 December 2014


I was randomly listening to the Glee cover of 'Blackbird' earlier today and I remembered the episode when it was featured, or thereabouts when Klaine had their first kiss which caused much controversy but also made so many fans ecstatic.

I remember watching the episode and being almost indifferent to it. I wouldn't call myself a Klaine fan, but I'm not against them. I watched Glee for the music covers more than anything so whatever couplings arose never really interested me (except for Jarley and Finchel at the end).

When I was listening to the song for the first time in ages I thought of something which I've read and seen many times but seemed forever true. What kind of world gets up in arms about seeing two people who love each other showing affection but just accepts violence and warfare as a part of life?

That seems more than a little messed up.

I get that sometimes PDA is too much. Personally I loathe seeing couples all over each other, especially on Valentine's Day, that just ain't necessary and is kind of sickening when it's right in front of you.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I'm not entirely sure how someone's personal life or sexuality is anybody else's business but theirs, yet people who it doesn't concern seem to get all self-righteous about it as if they're making it their problem unnecessarily, more often than not because they have nothing better to do with themselves or their time. Don't get me wrong, it's great to be passionate about something, but if it hurts someone else and has no benefit to humankind, maybe you should rethink your life choices.

I've always believed that you can't help who you love and as Darren Criss once said, "you fall in love with the person, not the gender".

In her acceptance speech for the 'Ally for Equality' Award at the Human Rights Campaign, Pink said some pretty profound things, the most profound was her comment about how much time, energy and effort governments are putting into stopping two people from loving each other and their priorities in doing so. I dare you to watch it, it's amazing!

If I'm being completely honest, witnessing a same-sex couple kissing isn't very appealing to me, and there's absolutely no reason why it should be. Whenever I see a couple on TV or in a movie kissing, a small part of me does feel a bit off or squeamish, which I attribute to my religious upbringing and society's attitude.

Being a fairly big Buffy fan and seeing the Tara/Willow storyline play out, I recall mum's reaction when they kissed for the first time. She couldn't have made it more obvious if she tried that she didn't approve of what they were doing. Dad and I just took it for what it was and kept watching the show.

While again I don't really ship them either, I did and still do think they did a fantastic job with the storyline and characters. One of the things which Willow said has stuck with me since watching it a few years ago. She was detailing how she fell in love with Tara and saying she never expected it to happen but they just had an incredibly strong connection which turned into love and undoubtedly made it one of the show's strongest couplings.

It made a lot of sense to me and I'm sure it makes sense to people who've felt it and unexpectedly found themselves in love with someone regardless of their gender.

I've had a similar kind of connection with one of my best friends. We clicked instantly and for the time which we were a biggest part of each other's lives for, we were inseparable. We used to joke that we were straight lesbians and often wondered how our families would react if we ever did announce that we were a couple although we weren't attracted to each other in that way and never tried to experiment for fear it would ruin the incredibly strong bond we had.

In the episodes where Tara gets shot and Willow tries to destroy the world, the most heartbreaking scene I found was when Willow using her magic to bring the old chapel up from the ground and Xander jumps in front of her and manages to stop her by telling her that he loves her and knows how badly she's hurting.

Every time I watch that scene I'm brought to tears. Not just because I can understand how Willow feels when I think of someone that I love that dearly being killed, I'd be inclined to join her team and destroy everything in an effort not to feel the immense pain of loss. It's heartbreaking to watch a loved one's heart break in front of your eyes and not know what to do to help them. It's almost more heartbreaking to know that there are couples who have that kind of love for each other and people want to tear it apart because they don't accept, agree or believe in it when it's not theirs to believe in to start with.

At the end of the day love is love. It's not our choice to decide who someone does, will or should love. It doesn't work that way.

Saturday 27 December 2014

Riding in Cars with Boys

For the most part, my life has been incredibly sheltered.

I went to a church which was about 5 minutes from home and was driven there by one of my relations every Sunday.

I went to a religious school in the middle of nowhere which I had a private bus drop me to a from 5 days each week.

Aside from that, I didn't really get out much since I'd been so overprotected I'd been taught to essentially fear the outside world and wasn't allowed to go anywhere without a trust adult to supervise me.

Having said that, I did have a friend at school who wasn't terribly religious and very quickly became my outlet to the outside world. Whenever I'd stay with her we'd hang out at her place or go shopping then meet up with a couple of her guy friends who I always felt incredibly self-conscious about being around since I didn't feel comfortable with guys in general.

Nothing ever happened though. She might have done a few thing without her overprotective mother knowing or finding out, but she was respectful enough to know that I had my limits and personal boundaries and I was grateful that she allowed me an 'outside' life with insisting I push myself.

The few times we did hang out with her guy friends or go driving around with them, it was me, her and the guy, I was never alone in a car with a guy whether her friend or otherwise.

I can barely count on one hand the number of times I'd been alone in a car with a male who I wasn't immediately related to. It wasn't even part of my family or culture to forbid anything like that, it was just my overprotective father and me being uncertain of how to effectively interact with the opposite sex.

There was the time I went to hang out with one of my friend's friends which ended awkwardly despite our mutual levels of intellect, and he and his brother dropped me off at the station. I wasn't terribly streetwise but I knew instinctively that neither of them would harm me as they bickered slightly as we traveled.

The very first time I was alone in a car with a guy who I wasn't related to was when I started working in my first job after moving out of home. He was the same age as me, a friendly guy who I got along well with even though we'd only known each other for a month or so at that stage.

Maybe it was his high level of confidence, or the underlying mutual attraction between us, or just the fact that he was a guy and I wasn't entirely sure how to be around him given my lack of experience, either way I couldn't help but feel more than a little nervous when the boss informed us that he'd be giving me a ride to our next location for a work event.

It was only a 10ish minute car ride, but when you're freaking out internally, 1 second is an eternity.

I sat there in the passenger seat feeling anxious and reserved, as as most people these days do, I played with my phone, grateful for a distraction. I was also glad that I'd received the results of the last assignment I'd submitted as part of my course and able to build a conversation around that the pass the time.

It needn't have been awkward really, but when it's new and unfamiliar you can't really help but feel that way until figure out how to make yourself more comfortable in the situation you've found yourself in.

After the first short trip, the next few times were easier when we'd found things we had in common to talk about. Conversation flowed easily and my nerves gradually disappeared.

Some time after that my boss offered to drop me into the city after work since he was going that way. I was a little apprehensive at first and texted my best friend at the time who told me to stop worrying and I was making a big deal out of nothing. She was right as I knew, but it still takes time to get used to being in close proximity to someone no matter how well you know or think you know them.

Since then it's gotten easier, granted the only people I've been alone in cars with are people from work or my immediate relations, but it's a start nonetheless.

Just recently I was in a car with a colleague for another work event, I'd never been with him before so I just took it in my stride even though there was absolutely nothing to worry about and I felt significantly more confident than I had before.

It sounds incredibly simple and something that shouldn't be a big deal, but when you've only known and experienced very little (relatively speaking) about the outside world, everything becomes an event or hurdle to jump over until you've got yourself in stride.

Expect the Unexpected!

You know when you think you know someone then out of nowhere they just drop what feels like a tiny bombshell on you? It's not so much shocking news, rather just something that you didn't know or realize about them and you have your preconceived ideas of the person that they are based on what you already know of them, then something they say tilts or maybe completely shatters that idea.

Like when you're in discussion with a fairly quiet and timid friend and they tell you about their sexual encounters while you're sitting there like 'what?!'. Or when a social and outgoing friend briefly mentions of their romantic history with the same sex and you weren't expecting it thinking or rather assuming that because previous conversations had been about the opposite sex that that was their inclination.

It's not a bad thing though. It's a shock to the system, a wake up call to say 'I am so much more than meets the eye'.

When a friend of mine casually mentioned her experiences with the opposite sex I was surprised since she didn't seem like the type of person that would seek that kind of experience or even bother to get close enough to another person to engage in any kind of act. I can only describe my reaction as that of someone who had just been told that their friend was gay. It ultimately wasn't the biggest deal, it was just the idea that I'd had of them had been changed quite quickly and significantly.

A little while later the shock had passed and it was irrelevant to everything. I kept the feeling in my though, just so I could prepare myself for future reference if I needed to sympathise or empathise with someone who'd felt something similar.

From a lot of things I've heard, seen and read, people's negative reactions to finding out about homosexuality are based on their idea that the person is something (straight) and having the illusion shattered. The person themselves hasn't changed, well in most cases they haven't, but you can't help looking at them differently, or through new eyes with the information you've now received.

Once the shock subsides and you realize that there really isn't any difference between who they were before and after they shocked your senses, things can return to some sort of normality. Although I can understand how some people might not see it that way.

Maybe someone's tiny bombshell created more ripples and waves than can be settled, but if that's the case, I'm guessing that it needed to happen in order for something big to change.

In my life I've come to realize that huge things happen, even if to the outside world they don't seem huge, because something in your life needs to change and if you're not willing to do it, it'll happen of it's own accord and you just have to weather the storm as it's happening.

The people that have surprised me with the unexpected haven't changed. They're still the wonderful friends that I count myself as incredibly lucky to have, I'm just blessed to know them a little bit better and to have my mind opened just a bit wider because of them. That's never a bad thing!


When Twilight first came out, one of my best friends at the time disliked immensely and refused to acknowledge it as anything other than 'Twiglight' or 'Gaylight' from memory.

I personally enjoyed the stories for what they were and became a fairly sizeable fan, even screen printing a tshirt with the movie poster to wear when the movie came out. Times have changed since then though.

I loved the idea of undying love and that no matter where Bella was or what she was doing, Edward was always there or knew when he needed her. Sure it may have played into the stereotypical damsel in distress thing, but I saw it as a comfort.

Having had numerous times as a teenager where I felt completely alone and like no one understand, the thought of someone that I was madly in love with just appearing next to me when I needed someone the most had a huge appeal to me. (Plus Charlie preparing a shotgun when Bella invites Edward over just screamed of something my dad would do.)

I was excited to see how the movie would play out when I heard there was going to be one and felt kind of let down when I went to see it. I know many people have the same concerns or reservations when they see a book-to-movie movie and wonder what will be cut, what will be kept and how certain scenes they author has written and they've imagined will be portrayed.

I think many girls who read the books saw themselves as Bella, as did I despite her appearance being nothing like mine. The bigger appeal lies in her being an outsider and the most wanted guy in school falling 'irrevocably' in love with her. Indeed many stories have this underlying theme since it seems to work so well.

After reading all the books and thoroughly enjoying the stories from a hopeless romantic perspective, I hoped that the movies would focus more on the themes which meant something to me, rather than dividing fandoms between two Hollywood heartthrobs and making it a 'who's hotter' battle.

When I went to see the first movie with an old friend, the scene where Edward makes his first entrance into the cafeteria was met with a wave of girlish squeals from the tweens that were in the cinema with us. Needless to say it wasn't the best part of the movie.

However, the second time I went to see it and there were no squeals, it almost felt like there was something missing even if it was annoying the first time around.

It seems like the cool thing to do is completely bag out the phenomenon which launched several careers stratospherically, but I still have a place, albeit fairly small, for the series in my heart.

It's a story about young love and how far two people will go to be with each other even if it's defying odds or just not the 'right' choice for them. Who doesn't love a good (okay that's arguable) forbidden romance?!

"And so the Lion fell in love with the Lamb".

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Love is

I know there's different kinds and levels of love. The love for a parent, child, other family member, friend, person of authority, artist, etc.

Although I've never experienced the fairy tale of true love, at least not thus far in my life, I do believe it exists and it is very real. Call me naive or whatever you want, I chose to believe in it and how dramatically people can change when they find it, especially after they've spent so long blocking it out.

I consider myself a hopeless romantic. I love a good romantic comedy, or just a romance in general. I spent most of my teen year reading Mills and Boon novels (much to my parents displeasure), sure some stories were very formulaic and you knew as soon as you started how it was going to finish, but every now and again I'd pick one up and the story would stick with me. It would start predictably and end otherwise or vice versa, either way it kept me hooked.

Having never been in a romantic relationship of my own, it's hard to say if what I've felt towards other people in the past has been the same love that I've heard my friends and others describe. One thing I've been adamant about is that loving someone and being in love with someone are two different things.

I believe that when you love someone it's a natural progression, a choice if you will. Being in love with someone is when it consumes you, you have or feel like you have no choice but to want the best for the person for whom you feel said emotion. You'd do anything, literally anything, for them or just because they asked you to, no questions asked.

I felt these things for one particular person back in high school. From the moment I first saw him I was drawn to him like I'd never been before. A few days into starting high school I'd developed the biggest crush I'd ever had, and it remained throughout my educational career until around the time we graduated, by which time I'd met someone new and better and I was finally getting over him, much to mine and I'm sure his immense relief.

I still remember the moment I realized that I loved him, or decided that the feeling I felt towards him was best labelled as love. I was walking up to the drinking fountain under the shelter shed at school. I was so sure and excited about my feelings that I wanted to tell people, not in a randomly breaking into song kind of way, just when someone asked me if I still liked him (pretty much everyone knew) I'd tell them that I loved him, that was it.

On my 15th birthday I decided I wanted to tell him since it was just too much for me to hold in. I was quite naive enough to do it in person or via note which had become my most favored method of communication in school, I waited until the opportune moment arose on MSN (remember those days!) and attempted to engage in conversation with him. He'd known pretty much since the start that I liked him even though he didn't reciprocate in any way which sucked, but it didn't stop my feelings from growing. I tried to talk to him but he wasn't very engaging so the conversation didn't really go anywhere. I was also getting pep talks and advice from a trust friend at the same time on how to get my message across. Emoticons seemed the best way to do it but before long he'd logged out and nothing had been achieved. I figured I just wasn't meant to tell him that way, or maybe at all, so settled for telling whichever of his friends would listen, even if they didn't care.

A few weeks passed and the intensity of the feeling died a little bit and I knew something had changed. No sooner had that happened then it intensified two-fold and I labelled that as being in love. It was more than what I'd considered love was. I wanted and was absolutely willing to do anything he asked of me, whatever it was. I had no control over it and just wallowed in it albeit simultaneously happy and miserable that he'd never be emotionally mature enough to handle my feelings or reciprocate.

In so many romantic scenes I've watched I've heard 'love' and 'in love' being interchangeable which doesn't seem right to me. Love is a state of being, in love is deeper, much deeper.

By the same token, True Love is a whole other feeling in itself. It could be the ridiculous amount of Hollywoodised romances or just Disney movies I've watched in my life, but I see True Love as the ultimate love, as the name would suggest. It's when the love you feel for another person enables you to withstand everything that comes your way. Or, if by no fault of your own, you're separated from your beloved and later reunited with them, that's True Love. It sounds sappy I know, but I also know there are plenty of people out there who have and are experiencing it.

Simply put, it's magic.

Monday 22 December 2014

For the Love of a Father

There's an old yet very true saying, "People come into our lives for a reason, a season and a lifetime" and when certain people do, you know almost instantly why they have and live in gratitude to whatever higher being you believe in for bringing them into your life.

My present boss is one such person.

I've spent many nights and therapy sessions overcome with emotion just thinking about how much of an impact he's had on my life over the 3 years I've worked for him.

When I first started working for him, I had just moved out of home only 3 weeks earlier and was desperately looking for work in order to really get my new life started. I also had a lot of psychological scars from my last boss which I was still healing from and he picked up on them fairly soon into me starting and constantly reassured me I was doing well and that we all make mistakes.

I recall one particular occasion when I'd made an error and my boss told me very simply and casually to just correct and not worry about it, that he'd rather I make a mistake in everything and learn from it than make the same mistake repeatedly which he said was a pet peeve of his. It was the permission I needed to breathe a sigh of relief that things were going to be okay.

At first his frequent use of endearments through me off. I wasn't used to hearing a male use such emotive or heartfelt endearments, the only time my previous boss ever did (from what I could understand of his accent) it made me cringe. My dad has never said anything like that either. He and mum have their own terms of endearment which aren't overly romantic, but that's about it. When I realized he occasionally used the same words when talking with other females I acknowledged that it was just part of his personality and came to appreciate them for what they were.

Fairly early into the job he praised me for the work I was doing and told me that I was one of the best things to happen to the company in a long time. I wasn't used to being given a compliment of such magnitude and stored it in my 'to process later' mental box.

The working relationship that developed between my boss and I was and still is unlike any other that I've had. I've told him countless times how much he reminds me of my dad which explains why I get along so well with him. It's incredibly refreshing and confidence building to have someone you connect with who just gets you, encourages and supports you because they believe that you're worth it, even if you don't or haven't in the past.

On the last day of work before Christmas of the first year of me working for him, he gave me a kiss on the forehead before wishing me a Merry Christmas, happy holidays and all the rest. It was just a simple gesture, but it was so powerful too. I'd never had a father figure show me that sort of affection before. Like how a father would kiss a child goodnight after reading them a story, then wish them sweet dreams and turn out a nightlight.

Later the following year I had some emotional baggage come up that I had to sort through which required me to keep a distance from my family in order to process everything I was feeling. This time it was directed at my dad. A part of my therapy I'd started writing letters to people who had had profound influences on my life and my dad was no exception.
I opened up to my boss, knowing that he himself is a father and incredibly close to his daughter as I am with my dad. I gave him the letter I'd written to my dad and asked him for his take on it from a father's perspective.
He told me many things, firstly giving me another example of how much a part of the business and consequently his life I was, he then told me that when he'd first met me he knew I was a 'go-getter' and continued to describe me in the way that my dad had when detailing my life up to the age of about 7 or so. The person he described seemed so different from the person I was or had been for so much of my life that I wondered if he wasn't referring to someone else entirely.
I realized that in a different kind of way, my boss had found that little girl in me that my dad had talked about and gave me the support, encouragement and space to find her again, to grow into and become her, just a bigger and better version. He'd helped me open the cocoon I didn't realize I'd built for myself and was giving me all the freedom I could possible need to spread my wings as far as they'd stretch.

The year after, I started to question what I really wanted from life now that I had the courage and was developing the self-confidence to actually go for it, and what my current position of employment could provide me on my journey to find out what my life's purpose is. I wasn't sure on a lot of things, I just felt like I needed to do something, so I announced that I was looking to finish up at the end of the year in order to pursue something else although I had no idea what that was.

Needless to say my boss was both shocked and surprised, and I'm almost certain, more than a little bit hurt by my declaration. After I explained my position and thought process he said he understood and reiterated as he had some many times before, that he'd always support whatever decision I made, granted I don't think he necessarily meant one that would see me leaving the company.

A few weeks later when he was driving me out to the middle of nowhere to inspect a car I was interested in (yes, he's really that awesome!) he asked me what I was thinking of doing job wise after my announcement. I admitted I didn't have a plan and was just leaving the door open for whatever was meant to come my way. He said it was completely understandable and suggested that I might rather reduce my hours in order to pursue my other interests on the side. I told him it was definitely something I was keeping in my but had nothing set in stone as yet. He then told me that he couldn't imagine the office without me. Another profound yet simple statement that simultaneously broke my heart and filled me with an incomprehensible amount of happy emotions.

He was the first person EVER to fight for me, to try to keep me. That spoke volumes.

My old boss told me upon acknowledging I was going to leave that as much as he didn't want me to, he wanted me to be happy. I was thrilled when he asked me if I wanted to finish up a week earlier.

When I broke the news to my dad that I was moving out, he told me he wouldn't be able to protect me if I wasn't at home. Maybe that was his way of fighting for me, but maybe he also knew it was something that I had to do for the sake of the family and although it broke his heart, he needed to accept it.

Sometime later, after attending a Careers Expo to get some kind of inspiration, I decided that enrolling in university would be a much better fit and when I had nothing to do at work, I could do my studies and get paid at the same time. It was the most certain and decisive I'd felt about my future quite possibly ever.

When I put the suggestion to my boss, he jumped on the opportunity and told me if it was a choice between me working less hours or leaving the company, it was a no brainer. He also told me if need be that I could use his old essays stored somewhere on the computer database as inspiration for when I needed it. He said it was also beneficial for me knowing that I have stable employment while I'm studying and having a decent place to study in too.

Before enrolling for uni and shortly after receiving my tax return, I told him I was looking at getting a car and wanted to do so sooner rather than later as I would be more inclined to spend my refund on other things. When I randomly stumbled upon a car which looked decent and showed him the specs, he told me to contact the seller and ask how soon we can organize an inspection, then promptly started packing up and preparing to head off to take a look at the car in question.

A few evenings later I followed my boss back to my place in my brand new secondhand car and thanked him earnestly for helping me become a car owner. He told me I'd done all the hard work and he was more than happy to help. Just another simple yet incredibly profound act. I realized then that he loved me. No one, not even my own father had ever gone to that much effort to help me. If anyone else had, surely I'd have remembered it.

Towards the end of last year, I decided it was time to buy a new phone. Upon receiving it I noticed there were many cracks in the screen although the phone was still usable and my boss advised me to order a screen repair kit and leave the phone with him over the Christmas holidays and he'd fix it for me, which he did.

It reminded me of the conversation I'd had with my dad after giving him a revised version of the aforementioned letter. He explained what his upbringing had been like and what he'd been lead to believe love really was when in fact he knew it was anything but that and told me he didn't know how to love because he hadn't been taught. From my boss' actions, I know what love is. I also know that my dad has loved me and been loving me from the moment I was born, probably even before then, it was just in a different way. The only way he knew how to show it.

As a belated birthday present for him and his daughter just before Father's Day this year I insisted on shouting them both lunch at the bistro a few minutes walk from my place. I'd intentionally done it then as a partial Father's Day present for him and made a point to tell him during lunch that I considered him like a father to me. He told me we had a symbiotic employer-employee relationship and that he was just a caring employer but ultimately appreciated the gesture. I couldn't help feeling the teeniest bit jealous when watching how he and his young daughter interacted. He loved her more than anything in the world and it was obvious to even a completely blind person.
I wished I'd had and did have that kind of interaction with my dad, granted I'm now 25 so it might not be entirely age-appropriate, but that doesn't matter really.

After my performance review in which he gave me excellent feedback and I negotiated a pay rise, I decided once again that it was time for me to really start thinking about what I wanted for my future and whether my current job could provide it. I told him a week or so later of my intention to leave at some point in the future but explained as before, that I didn't want to leave it until I had something lined up and was about to leave to tell him, that after everything he'd done for me the least I could do was give him time to process and prepare for my replacement, or rather, someone else to take over my position. I think he's made it abundantly clear that no one could ever replace me.

For my birthday this year, he stopped by with his daughter briefly to drop off a present. A bottle of Versace perfume which I joked (even though it's still fairly true) that it was the most expensive non-technological item I owned. I thanked him for personally delivering it and for giving me something so expensive to start with. He told me genuinely that it was the least he could do and I realized that we're both incredibly grateful to each other the same amount for different reasons.

This year for Christmas my boss gave me one of the best gifts I've ever been given. A Christmas card (with money) that detailed my progress over the year and told me how proud he was of me for what I'd achieved throughout the year and how grateful he is to have me as an employee. After I read it I gave him a kiss and a hug and we both thanked each other. I then told him I was glad that I wasn't finishing up that week otherwise I'd be a complete emotional wreck. I also told him I still didn't have anything lined up for next year which he said he'd assumed since we didn't speak about it since then.
I told him I'd found my new routine  for when there's nothing to do and it was working well for me, I wasn't in a rush to leave when I'd found a new comfy spot as it were. He told me it made perfect sense not to leave when things were going well but knew that it was inevitable at some point and we'd see what the new year brought in.
I reiterated that I wasn't going to leave for just any job, it had to be something that I knew without a shadow of a doubt was what I meant to do next, whatever it might be.
Being caught up in emotion after letting his words sink in, I wanted to tell him simply that I loved him. For being the person he was and how much of an impact he and just his presence has had on my life and for being father my dad couldn't be through no fault of his own. It didn't seem like the most appropriate thing to say, but I hoped that my day to day actions, words and gestures showed him more than my words ever could, just like his had for me.

I remember at my 21st birthday being all dressed up and going all out for it, the one thing I wanted was for my dad to tell me I was beautiful and was sure at one stage he actually would, only to be disappointed when I was terribly wrong. After the party I found the 21st book I'd been gifted by one of my best friends and gave it to mum to sign and then asked dad to sign it as well. He sort of shrugged it off and said that mum signed it for both of them and I took him at his words. It was only a few moments later when I was sitting back in my room reading through what mum had written that I decided that wasn't good enough. I went back out to the study intending to confront, or rather insist that he write a separate message like he used to in the front of books given at birthdays.
He wasn't there but I sat down and wrote a message on the back of an envelope asking him to write something from the heart and telling him that I'd never know if he thought I was beautiful or if he was proud of me if he never told me he was, then left it inside the book for him to find.

On my 22nd birthday he gave it back to me. He wrote a message of a completely different nature telling me I had a personality trait of sorts which meant I had excellent lifelong friendships and it didn't matter how much time had passed, nothing would change the kind of friendship I had with that person. Not exactly what I was expecting and not entirely sure how to take it, I told my best friend at the time about what he'd written and she pointed out that maybe it was my dad's way of saying the things I wanted to hear but he just didn't know how to tell me in the exact words since no one had ever said them to him. He couldn't give me something he didn't have.

Having another father figure who knows you very well and can personally vouch for what you've achieved given that they see you more often than your family does, then having them acknowledge that and tell you how proud they are, it's a completely different feeling. It doesn't take away from what my dad has said or done or even how he shows it, it complements it.

My dad and my boss are two different people, yet in their own ways they've shown, taught and done things for me which I think can only be described as the love of a father. For that I love them both dearly.

The Only Daughter

There's something special about the bond between mother and child. It's different for everyone though. Some sons are closer, some daughters are closer, some don't have the opportunity to have that bond which in itself is a different kind of special, don't ask me how.

For pretty much my entire life I've taken immense pleasure doing the opposite of what my mother asked or wanted me to do. She had her ideas and preconceptions of what a daughter should be, and I almost always refused to agree with her. It was kinda fun.

Naturally this caused tension between us, we still loved each other, but hardly ever saw eye to eye which was hard. 

I think we've spent most of my life wishing each other was closer to the ideal mother or daughter that we each had in mind, and resented the fact that it was never going to happen. I wanted to have the kind of mother I saw some of my other friends have, the one I could relate to and be good friends with, I got the mentally ill yet loving and nurturing one who was taught to obey at all costs. She wanted the submissive and dutifully obedient daughter that enjoyed everything she did. Camps, religious things, classical music, non-trashy romance novels. I wasn't and just couldn't be that. I found it soul-crushing and ultimately, just not who I was.

I hated the fact that she made me feel that I was never good enough or could never be who she wanted me to be, and just wished she would accept me for who I was. It really sucked.

After years of quarreling I decided enough was enough and moved out of home. Mum was thrilled. Perhaps because subconsciously she was getting her own way, but more obviously, because it gave her something to talk about with the ladies at her various church groups whose kids had already moved on to bigger and better things and they could live through their children.

I realized this is what she was doing and resented it again, but then acknowledged that I'd done similarly and that because of the way she'd grown up, she never thought it was possible to do what I was doing, and yet there I was. Out of home at 21, marriage not imminent, living with 2 strangers (females, for safety sake) and fully enjoying my new found independence. I'd say it was terrifyingly exciting for her, but that's just me.

My relationship with her has dramatically improved. I can appreciate her so much more now because we're not getting under each other's skin. I think there is still some slight underlying wishing that we were still different people, but we've come to accept each other for who we are.

When we made plans to go to the aquarium last weekend but fell through at the last minute when I realized the free tickets I'd been given has expired the day before. I thought rather than letting mum down at the last minute, I'd surprise her at the train station with a bouquet of flowers (because aren't all mums worth it?!) and tell her there was a change of plans and I'd be shouting her the High Tea instead. In my mind it was a foolproof plan, except that my time management skills seem to falter slightly when it involves meeting up with a parental figure.

After I arrived in the city and told her of my seemingly brilliant plan, she wasn't as overjoyed as I thought she'd be. She just took it in her stride and I felt more determined to make it up to her, kinda in the way that a parent feels bad for letting down their child and seeks to brighten their day in another manner and as quickly as possible. That's the kind of relationship she and I have. I've been a mother/older sister to her since I was a teenager (hence part of the resentment). Now I'm at an age where it's not so bad. In fact, I don't quite mind it.

She thoroughly enjoyed the cakes and pot of tea and just having the opportunity to get out of the house and spend some time with another female, just having a girly day out. She said she did want to make another day trip to the aquarium which I said we could do in my upcoming work holidays and she was happy.

As we were leaving, she thanked me for a wonderful day even if it was cut short by my next engagement, but she told me how much she enjoyed the food and tea and she was glad to be with someone who encouraged her to 'spend money' although I pointed out that it probably wasn't the best form of encouragement one could offer. She's never been the type of person to leave her comfort zone, admittedly I don't think a vast majority of people are, myself occasionally included. It really made me appreciate her, our relationship, but mostly how lucky I am. The people we wanted each other to be weren't the ones we were meant to be or needed to be.

She's taught me kindness, gentleness, caring and compassion. How to give unto others without expecting anything in return. How to be grateful for what I have and how everyone is strong in the only way they can be, even if it doesn't seem like it. I think the biggest lesson she's taught me albeit indirectly is how to be my own person. I saw the kind of life she had for herself and thought it was the most boring thing ever. I'm not housewife material, least of all a submissive one. Yes I can cook and clean and keep a place in some kind of order, I can nurture and mother and do all those things, but I can't be stifled or oppressed. I refuse to let a man make decisions for me about my life. He, and no one else can control me. I am a free spirit who will not be tamed. 

Being co-raised by her made me feel different. No one else at school or church or wherever else I was talked about their mother's latest mental episode. Granted she's lived in childlike denial her whole life so she sees her illnesses as something akin to a cold and takes her medicines every night like a dutiful child would. 

It also gave me the ability to understand. 

What it's like to have or be around people with mental illnesses or just illnesses in general. To have someone in your family who makes it a little less than normal (by society's standards), but mostly to appreciate that no one is perfect and we are all doing the best we can with what we have where we are.

Because of her (and the environment in which I was raised) I am fascinated by the way the mind works, why we do things, why we think things or in some case why we don't. I am also hopelessly enthusiastic about what we are capable of achieving when we stop blaming others, worrying so much about what other people think (including ourselves) and just enjoying the life we have in the best way we can. Without limits, reservations or judgments.

On another note, I ran into the mother of one of the guys I went to school with a few months back. She had all boys and was, from what I could tell, a very loving and nurturing mother who wanted nothing more than to share her love of feminine and girly things with a daughter she never had.

When we spoke, she mentioned that her eldest sons (the firstborn was in my class) had gotten married within a few months of each other and she FINALLY had the girls in the family which she'd longed for. I was happy for her. After meeting up with mum recently I could start to fully appreciate just what that meant. Even though she hadn't given birth to, or raised the girls, they loved and were committed to spending the rest of their lives with the boys whom she had. Presuming the girls were on the same wavelength as her, she could now share the same interests which I share with my mother. 

That's a different kind a special mother/daughter bond.

One of my close friends sadly lost her mother at a young age and because of that, has her reservations about motherhood. The exciting thing, at least from my perspective, is that she has the opportunity to create a different kind of bond with her future mother-in-law, or if that doesn't go as planned, her future child/ren.

I always desperately wanted an older sister when I was little and found that need fulfilled in so many of my friendships. Now I'm in a place in my life where I don't need a sister. I've got fantastic friends who themselves are only daughters, or some of them are, and when they're busy, I have the mother/daughter/sister within myself which is the greatest gift I could ever have.

Friday 19 December 2014

Kim Kardashian or Kim Kartrashian?

I must admit I was a bit late to the Kardashian bandwagon. I'm not a terribly big fan of reality TV and don't have any kind of pay TV subscription so to me they were just some more random celebrities for our collective visual entertainment.

The first time I saw a picture of Kim K was in a trashy tabloid magazine and she'd been snapped in a bikini at the beach. My first thought, as I'm sure many people as ignorant as me would think was "Wow, what a body!".

I don't consider myself a shallow person, but being rather curvy myself, it was comforting to see a celebrity who wasn't a stick figure and wasn't apologetic about it either.

I was reading an article yesterday where Demi Lovato said Kim taught her to appreciate her body/assets. I have to agree with Demi. When I was looking into starting a gym membership several years ago, I cited Kim as my body inspiration when the PT asked in the initial consultation if I had any body goals.

The more I've learnt about Kim and her family, the less I like them. I base this solely on media reports which are rarely factual, but since they're basically the most 'direct' source of information, despite how lacking in credibility their 'sources' actually are.

Since I grew up in a family with little money and that valued sentimentality and things that were 'from the heart' more than how much they cost, the Kardashian brand and image doesn't appeal to me in the least. In fact I'll refuse to buy anything Kardashian branded no matter how much I like the actual item.

My greatest confusion over Kim is exactly how she got famous and stays so ridiculously famous and also why she doesn't do more good for the world with the power and influence that she has.

So her father represented O.J Simpson, then she had a few 'high profile' relationships and released a sex tape, I'm sure she's not the only person with similar claims to fame.

I've never had the opportunity to meet her or her family so I can't say whether their public image is how they are in their daily lives, outside of what's shown on camera. (I've only seen small clips of the show but have no interest in watching it further), but from what I have seen, it holds no appeal to me.

If I were in her position, I would be organising fundraisers worldwide and getting as many people involved as possible. I'd be doing everything within my power to give back to those who need it most because I believe it is my duty as a human being on this planet to do so.

She takes selfies of her butt and posts them on social media platform to millions of dedicated followers.

Yes she may have popular assets and be beautiful, but what is she really teaching the world and generations to come? That having money and power and shoving it in people's faces is what they should strive for?

As much as I doubt the credibility of media sources, reading that President Obama and Beyonce have tried to keep their distance from her speaks volumes to me. I'm more inclined to believe that than listen to fake people complain about materialistic problems which are encouraged by the Kardashian brand.

As for a body image icon, my personal favorite as of a year or so ago is Marilyn Monroe. She was considered fat during her time and people had mixed opinions about her, but she's still incredibly popular today. I also feel a connection, or rather a sympathy towards her for how her life was. She reminds me of the women in my family, particular my dad's mother and sister (whom I believe bear a striking resemblance to her at different stages of their lives). From a young age she was left confused and abandoned, in the end all she ever wanted was to be loved and feel secure in her life which I don't think she ever did. She was a wonder, an anomaly and people everywhere loved her because of it.

Kardashians have the kurves, but Marilyn had (and still has) the magic.


A few years ago when I was living at home and had little personal expenses, I made it my aim to donate to a different charity every week, sometimes 2 depending on how generous and/or inspired I was feeling.

I did this every week for about a year and created a spreadsheet of the details so I knew who I had donated to, when and how much. After this time I started really wondering if the $20 or $30 I sent to the organisation was actually doing any good. I mean it sounds obvious, of course any money going to an organisation has be to helping somehow, right?!

As I searched for different organisations to give money to, I came across popular ones which had regular donors and were easily reaching their targets of tens of thousands of dollars. Then there were other ones which were struggling to make even a dollar. Those were the ones I'd never heard of before and seemed to really desperately be needing funding and support more than the ones who had regular donors.

I kept this in mind when I was watching TV one day and noticed a World Vision ad as well as a few other charities showing impoverished children and families, with a voice over narrating their story and how they're struggling as well as what WV has done and the viewer can do, to get more donations to help these children. I don't mean any disrespect to WV or any other charity who has the fund to advertise publicly, I'm sure they do great work, but it made me wonder: a 30 second ad costs anywhere from $5k-$250k from what I've heard/read, depending on the time it's slotted for viewing and factoring in production costs. Maybe charities get discounts or something, but if that's the case, then why don't all charities get the same deal?

I wondered as I watched the same ad for the 5th time that day, these ads have been running for years, sure they've probably changed it up, but for the cost of 1 ad, wouldn't the organisation be able to solve the problem it's actually advertising/raising awareness for? If I were to sponsor a child, would that $30/month or thereabouts really go to the child in need, or would it go to the CEO's paradise island fund and someone from the company put together a nice little letter leading me to believe that it was actually doing some good?

Organisations that have marketing budgets and constantly send out letter of support, wouldn't they be better off sending money to the people who actually need it? Instead of spending it on materials which I for one, usually dispose of upon opening, if that.

I admit I claim ignorance of the whole procedure. As mentioned above, these organisations may well have some kind of marketing or publicity deal worked out so they're not actually blowing a budget, but then, if they're afforded that 'luxury', why aren't other organisations that are struggling?

I personally support Kids Help Line because of how much they've helped me throughout my life. I probably wouldn't be here today if it weren't for them. I know they have marketing materials and possibly a sponsorship with Optus given their 'free calls from Optus numbers' thing they used to have. I know that when I call up, there is often times a ridiculously long wait, sometimes I didn't get through and that was an immense struggle for me to deal with. I may 'blindly' donate to their cause because I feel a connection to them and I don't actually know where the money goes, but just assume it does some good which I feel better about.

I've also decided to start a small fundraising project of my own to support Greenpeace in their fight for the Great Barrier Reef. I've spoken to a member of their team about getting stickers and stuff to accompanying the jewelry I'm looking to make and sell to raise funds and awareness of the issue at hand.

Yes my actions may possibly contradict what I've said above, but the point is, I don't see any ads for Greenpeace or Kids Help Line.

An animal organisation I recently supported at the Super Furry Festival in Surry Hills, World League for the Protection of Animals (WLPA) do a fantastic job at fostering and rehoming abandoned animals. Often they run out of space to keep the rescued pets in and find themselves in desperate measures to contain every animal as well as care for it until it can be adopted out. They survive on volunteers and donations which go back into providing food and medicines for the animals. When you adopt a cat from them, the $280 fee includes all the vaccinations, desexing and a care plan, as well as support from the organisation in times of need or just confusion. They aren't terribly well known and need as much help as they can get. One of the organisers told me that the RSPCA has a pretty hefty bank account which they're just sitting on, and it's not hard to believe given how well known they are and how much support is available to them.

I'm not saying the RSPCA or World Vision don't do great work, in all honesty I'm not entirely sure what their working procedures are, but presumably they do offer assistance where it is needed. I'm saying, what about the little guys? The organisations that don't have the big names or bank accounts and are desperately in need of people's help, support and funds in order to survive and do great work.

I know this post is possibly confusing, me saying that I don't understand how advertised organisations work, yet supporting some fairly big names myself. At the end of the day I'm just one of a multitude of people that wants to help those in need in any way that I can, and I'd like to know or at least believe that whatever help or support I am able to provide does go where it's needed, not to an avenue which I believe is a waste of funds.

I'm sure anyone that has ever donated to a charity, however little the amount was, has received a letter of thanks and at some point a newsletter detailing what that charity has been doing over the past few months, then at crucial times, a plea for more funds. I know I've received this from many of the organisations I've donated to, as well as the calls of appreciation, followed by a plea for more money or a monthly donation which you know upon answering is the reason for their call.

Occasionally when looking through the newsletters or other paraphernalia in the envelope I've wondered if the stories are true or if they've just taken sad looking pictures, put them with a tragic and heart-tugging story and sent them to people who are financially invested in feeling sorry for others.

I don't mean to sound callous. I know there are genuinely struggling individuals out there who do benefit from donations, but reality can be a real bitch sometimes.

When I told my mother earlier this year I was gradually becoming vegetarian because I didn't believe in the way animals were being treated prior to slaughter, she claimed that they were and they were happy living their lives as God intended. I tried to open her eyes to marketing ploys and ignorance but she wasn't interesting in listening to it and initially criticized my choice but has since tried to understand and even applaud my decision saying that she couldn't do it.

I watched a video once where a marketing executive addressed a crowd telling them how their ignorance played a huge part in the meat industry. She used the example of the website cover image which showed a pig in metal stocks with a message cover the bottom half of it saying something comforting to hide what the image really was. An adult pig lying down in the metal stocks with nowhere to move. The audience were shocked and stunned when they saw what was really going on. Her message was simple "we're able to get away with this because you let us". After finishing her speech she then left a completely shocked and silent audience who were obviously unaware to what was really going on.

What if other organisations are doing a similar thing? Very conspiratorial I know. What if people who agree to have their story told in order to boost support don't actually benefit in the end, but they are silenced by the media or whoever controls the decision making? Food for though.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Take a stand, take a stand, can't hold it back anymore...

There's something incredibly powerful and liberating about standing up for yourself and doing what you honestly believe it right and true, especially in the face of adversity.

The first time I did this was my first job out of school working for a less than pleasant boss who refused to believe anything was ever his fault, even when the evidence was overwhelming.

He had come in one day and basically told me I was stupid or there was "something wrong with me" for not understanding him in his instructions. I'm not very mathematically inclined so being asked to do something along those lines would on occasion not result in complete accuracy.

Being told that I was unintelligent on the basis of my mathematical ability, or just in general is an insult in itself. He also implied that given at the time I was employed with him I had no university education behind me, that it made sense that my level of intellect wasn't higher.

I felt so outraged when I got home that after venting to one of my best friends, I knew I had to say something because his words were hurtful and completely unfair, not to mention out of line.
I've always been considered by other to be a timid little mouse and respectful of others regardless of their station or position of authority over me, so for me to stand up and say that what he said wasn't okay took immense guts which I didn't know I had, or maybe I did and just never exercised them.

The next day I went into work and called up my boss' wife requesting that she be present when I had a chat with my boss. Upon her arrival I sat down with both of them and, feeling more nervous than I quite possibly even had been, but also determined to state my case, I told them of my plans to leave the job at the end of the year (I was the most qualified person in my area of the company and heading into Christmas, the worst thing I could do was to up and leave without anyone skilled to continue on). I also addressed my boss and said how I didn't appreciate when he'd called me unintelligent. He tried to justify it by saying that the maths didn't add up, which I agreed with, by reiterated that poor mathematical ability doesn't equate to poor intellect. 

The feeling of relief when I got through the chat was immense. No blood was shed, not many more feelings were hurt and I felt a sense of achievement and power which I never had before. His wife gave me a hug and said she was glad I'd gotten it all out which I was too.

There have been other occasions, much more personal ones involving family where I've had to state my position. It's made that much harder when the family member/s being addressed can't quite understand where you're coming from and you're too blah to keep trying to explain it. 

I once confronted one of my high school Health teachers years after graduating who constantly made a point to joke about how short I was despite the fact she was only a fraction taller than me. She allegedly also made fun of my weight when I was first starting high school but I seemed to have blocked it out.
When I was invited back to present an award I'd won several years beforehand, I was seated next to her in the front row where she asked me under her breath if one of the teachers on stage was around my height. I was sick of it. She was the only person who seemed to notice and/or care about my weight or stature, everyone else just took me as I was, no questions asked.
Before leaving the awards ceremony that night, I made a point to go up to her and asked, again quite nervous and anxiously, if I'd ever done anything to offend her because she seemed overly concerned with my height and I didn't understand why. She laughed awkwardly then made some feeble excuse about how the kids had nicknamed her something she thought was funny because there was another teacher at the school whose surname started with the same letter. I wasn't sure what she was getting at, but just laughed awkwardly with her then told her I had to leave, lamely commented that it was good to see her even though it was more small talk than actual enjoyment and went on my way.

Most recently I've had an issue with my university grades. Although I'm still in the process of sorting it out and possibly applying for an appeal, knowing that I'm taking a stand for myself and not just saying "well this could be better, but I'm too this, that or something else to do anything about it" is an accomplishment in itself. It's about knowing you deserve to be treated better or shown a bit more respect, or just acknowledging that you're not going to stand for something because you don't believe in it. At the very least, it's about saying that you've done the best possible job you can and want recognition for it.

Books, glorious books!

You know that feeling when you walk into, or past a book shop or even a library and get a tingle of excitement mixed with curiosity? That feeling that you could easily walk in, grab a book and get instantly lost in one of millions of different worlds lovingly created by the author? I kinda love that feeling.

My family is one who has always appreciated the written word, not just the biblical one, but family favorites such as the Harry Potter series which I take pride in being the first to buy one of the books in my family and subsequently introducing the rest of them to it, thus beginning our love affair with the brilliance of J.K Rowling's mind.

My brother was a bigger fan of Lord of the Rings though. When the movies came out we pre-ordered tickets well in advance for the first available screening (which I then slept through since I'm not a morning person, especially on the weekends).

Nevertheless, our family-wide and lifelong love affair with words is part of not only our backbone, but I dare say the backbone of society. Book shops are still quite popular, especially when combined with food and beverages in a relaxed surrounding. They're also great for long journeys on public transport or just to cull one's boredom.

As a child I was hooked on the Babysitters Club series, often reading as many as I could in one day, then I graduated onto the Sabrina the Teenage Witch series being a HUGE fan of the TV shows. From there I grappled with my hormones whilst reading as many Mills and Boon books as I could handle, and now I just read whatever takes my fancy really. I've read a fair few self-help books in the quest for enlightenment, but also like getting lost in the lives of others whether fictional or based on a true story.

With the advent of Kindle and other electronic (ebook) programs, the appeal for books has actually increased for me. There's just something better about holding someone's work of art in your hands as if proof that you are in fact reading it, not just playing a game on an electronic device. I can understand the convenience of Kindle and have considered investing in ebook formats when I start traveling more, but for now I just really like buying books to read at some point in my life when the mood strikes.

When visiting friends it's always refreshing or comforting to see a bookcase filled with different titles and genres. It just says 'I'm an interesting person with whom you can engage in conversation of varying subjects', at the very least it's a conversation starter.

Aside from that, who doesn't love to show off that they're reading an interesting book on public transport? It also helps to indirectly recommend titles to passersby when they see the cover, title, authors name, or maybe just glimpse over your shoulder and read a line or two before disembarking.

Prior to starting university this year, I became enamored with books again and took it upon myself to become a member of 2 more libraries aside from the State Library for family research purposes, and the one where I grew up and no longer frequent.

A friend of mine suggested that I visit the library instead of spending copious amounts of money on books. While I still do that because I like the convenience and flexibility of being able to own a book and read it in my own time, it's opened up a whole new exciting world for me as I'm sure it has for others.

For me growing up, books were a way to escape my life, as was writing when I first started. I'd sit in church feeling bored as anything and write a story about whatever I wanted. Usually it was about a girl who had way too many sisters because I'd forever longed for a sister of my own, and something to do with magic was always involved since I'd loved it for as long as I can remember.

I've grown fond of libraries. Not so much for their book resources which are usually excellent, but also for the environment they provide readers. Most have courses, groups or classes as well as the occasional talk by a new or upcoming author, there's always something to keep people interested and coming back.

My most recent book purchases were Thomas More's 'Utopia' which I was inspired to hunt down after rewatching Ever After (one of my favorite childhood movies), but also being a Philosophy major, it's quite an interesting story from what I've read of other people's reviews. The other purchase was Richard Taylor's 'Metaphysics' which looked interesting and thought provoking as I was flipping through it. Gotta love second hand book stores!

The Other F Word

Fat. When did being fat or saying the word become such a nasty thing?

Everyone has seen someone with a few extra kilos yet out of decency or whatever, we don't point it out. But when it comes to someone who's skinny, it's considered completely acceptable to exclaim "wow, you're so skinny!".

Being the daughter of two obese parents, I'm no stranger to the other F word. I myself was an obese child and only lost weight after undergoing spinal surgery, and then again several years later due to emotional turmoil. I'm part of the seeming minority who eats less when they're sad.

I read a post somewhere earlier that pointed out for women that when it comes to clothing sizes there's the 'regular' section then the plus size section, yet for men, the sizes are all in the same area mixed in together. It may be the residual insecurity of my youth talking, but it seems to me that the discrepancy between the two sections for women is subconsciously pointing out that yes, certain women have 'more to love' or 'more to carry' and need to purchase suitable clothes for their body type which aren't the 'average' size.

It reminds me of my days as a newbie in high school. I was the fattest (doesn't that just hurt to read) person in my class and felt incredibly insecure for it, not just because I had started developing in late primary school so, in the words of a close friend, I 'had a woman's body but was still a child'.

When I'd play games with kids in primary school, more so when it was mandated because I'd never willingly participate in sport, any kind of tag game saw me as 'it' because they knew, although few of them dared to point out, that because I was fat and a slow runner, I'd never catch them so they'd always win.

Kids, what bastards.

Then hitting high school got so much worse when we had set sports lessons. For 90 minutes on usually a Wednesday, we'd have to participate in whatever chosen sport the teacher had decided on. Needless to say I hated it. There were only so many times I could get mum to scribble a note excusing me from sport for some reason or another before the teacher insisted I actually participate.

One of the best things about having my spinal surgery was that I wasn't allowed to do anything sport related for a year following the operation. The teacher insisted I walk laps around the oval which I was more than happy to do. The flip side of it was that I had to stop dancing which I'd been overjoyed to start doing before I had surgery.

Basically, I was the easiest target for kids to pick on, so they did. Yes it sucked immeasurably and I'm still dealing with the scars from it, but it's all part of my story and made me who I am today. I've also learnt that people picking on you is about them, not you.

I know people have mixed opinions about the fat issue, some say that it's genetic, others say that it's a choice, we should gently encourage people to choose healthier options when it comes to food and do whatever exercise they can, or that we should take the 'tough love' approach as seen on shows like 'The Biggest Loser'. Not everything is applicable to everyone. My mum's weight gain is due to her medication, lack of self control especially when it comes to chocolate, and the fairly limited amount of exercise she does. Having said that, she's been doing quite well the past few months losing a few kilos here and there which I'm immensely proud of her for. Dad's weight gain is due to his emotional turmoil, appreciation for food and again, lack of exercise. My brother is a similar case to dad and possibly mum.

I was watching a Ricky Gervais video the other day where he was pointing out that he'd lost weight but also how bad the obesity epidemic is getting. He was right to say that junk food is too prominent when you walk into grocery stores and it's quite often cheaper than healthy stuff and something really needs to be done in order to help people.

I also remember reading the headline of an article a few months ago where a young mum of 2 said she can't afford healthy food or a gym membership. When this came up in discussion with friends, one stated that it was all excuses and she lost a heap of weight by walking around her local park and sticking to a strict diet of fruit and veggies. Another agreed with her.

I also agree. It comes back to being about excuses and on occasion, finding other people to blame because we don't want to take responsibility for our actions, maybe because others don't either.

I started a gym membership just before Christmas last year and managed to negotiate the price down, even then it was fairly expensive but I wanted to do something productive and good for myself for the new year. I went as often as I could during my work holidays and found that only when I'd started uni and was struggling to pay for everything that it was my membership that had to go. I was always intending to start back since I did enjoy the classes and haven't found another one that offers as much variety, but the monthly cost is around 4x the cost of my phone bill and just less than a therapy session.

When I went back to negotiate with the customer consultant person, he advised that the price was already a great deal given how qualified the trainers were. I was more inclined to interpret that as 'we pay our trainers who are skilled and qualified as high price and make up for it by pretty much extorting our customers'. Granted the dressing rooms were fitted with showers, lockers, a sauna and hair straighteners, but since I only ever used the locker and avoided the weights room, it didn't seem worth the price.

Despite my dislike of exercise and sweating in general, I've noticed that I've put on a bit more weight than I'm happy with and am looking into the option of getting a gaming console with exercise games to assist with this problem since it seems to be the cheapest and most weather-friendly alternative.

The problem with going to classes is the cost, motivation and time factors. When I get home from work the last thing I want to do is get dressed for the gym which I used to when I went to my local gym and eventually cancelled because there wasn't enough to keep me interested. It's also fairly dark when I get home so wandering around the local park isn't really the safest option either.

At the end of the day it's entirely up to the individual what they want to do with their weight. Keeping in mind that any extreme weight loss or gain is usually psychological, so demeaning and belittling the person about it is only making it worse. I liked the Swap campaign which  was advertised in Australia a few years ago. Instead of picking junk food, try something healthy just occasionally to start with. I think any effort no matter how minimal that's put towards being healthier is fantastic and should be encouraged as much as possible.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Be aWare of the Black Dog

Depression is a nasty, energy-sucking thing.

We have increased awareness of it and other mental health illnesses and issues, but there's still a fair bit of stigma attached to it.

My mother was diagnosed with depression years ago, possibly before I was born, so my entire life has been based around her mindset as well as witnessing her taking antidepressants as well as other medicines prescribed by her psychiatrist or whoever.

I self-diagnosed when I was going through high school, just because I felt low moods a fair bit more than I noticed others did and would come home from school and sleep until dinner time and repeat the same pattern most nights.

With my mother being mentally ill, my father did the best he could even if to me it seemed that was nothing and it continually frustrated me because I didn't understand what it was like to be him.

I sought help through Kids Help Line, an Australian organisation which provides free counselling for people up to age 25. I started talking to them when I was about 12 or 13 and continued until just recently after I turned 25.

I'm sure everyone knows what it's like to hold your breath. Carrying a weight on your chest is a similar feeling. You want to let it out but don't know how to or who to ask for help. There's a common idea that once you reach adulthood you're meant to have everything figured out and no longer need help or you're just able to deal with life's pitfalls as they come because that's what grown ups do.

This doesn't take into account people's circumstances or upbringings.

An example that comes to mind is with the Michael Jackson molestation case and how some guy came forward and said that he too was a victim and he only realized that he was when his son was born and knew that the way he'd been treated wasn't okay.

When we're young we're told many many things, we tend to believe what we're told and the people who tell us because we don't know any better and the people who tell us insist they are correct, or they get mad when we question why they think/say they're right so we continue believing it.

I was talking to my dad yesterday about him starting his own blog since he seems to have a ridiculous amount of things to say, but his response was "no one listens to me anyway". I was also talking to him on the weekend about getting diagnosed and treated for depression to which he responded "because then I'd have to deal with it".

I can understand his second point. Having been co-raised by him I was always indirectly taught not to deal with stuff that's too hard to deal with, just avoid it and then avoid it some more. I did this until my late teens when I got to a point where that elephant in the room was just too big and heavy to ignore anymore. Seeking professional help has been the BEST thing I've ever done and most definitely something I needed to do. Yes it's been hard, tiring, emotional and all the above, but it has brought me to where I am now and I couldn't be more grateful or a bigger advocate for it!

We do have periods of awareness in Australia, such as R U OK? Day, Mental Health Month and a few others. I think the biggest thing to focus on is actually listening when someone responds with "no, I'm really not".

For the people who feel completely lost, you are not alone despite how you might feel it. I strongly urge people who do feel down to seek out help and start talking to someone, whether it be a trusted friend, a counselling service, or even a diary like I did at the very start.

Asking for help is NEVER a bad thing. Despite what 'they' say, you aren't expected to have it all figured out at any age.

One last anecdote. There's a story somewhere on the internet where a teacher who I believe is a psychologist holds up a glass of water to the class they're teaching and asks how heavy it is. A few people take random guesses at it's physical weight to which the teacher responds "it depends how long you carry it for". The point = the longer you carry or hold onto something, the heavier it gets.

As a final note. For people in Sydney, Australia, Aponia Magazine is having their launch party tonight from 5.30-9.30pm in Chippendale to raise funds for The Black Dog Institute. Tickets are $15 and available here.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

War. What is it good for?!

(Photo credit to

I remember learning about the world wars about 10 years ago in History, truth be told I don't recall the specifics since anything that wasn't Music, English or Art didn't interest me.

The only parts I do recall are that Australian soldiers went to fight in Gallipoli and through that we now have ANZAC Day. Yes I'm sure I've missed out on crucial details, but that's not my point.

I've never understood why we go to war. Sure we need to fight for our country and/or freedom, but do lives need to be lost in order to do this? Is violence and blood shed absolutely necessary? It just seems childish on a massive scale to do this.

I have a mental picture of kids playing on the playground, a fights starts because one group of kids want to play a particular game and the space they wanted to play it on is already occupied. One might suggest they compromise with the present occupants or even invite them in to play, instead of launching an attack on them declaring that they want that space to play in and refuse to share or let other people join in.

Intolerance is the problem here, well at least that's what I believe it is. As mentioned in another post, I grew up in religion but it didn't stick. Even though I was raised in a white, Christian-ish family in the South Western suburbs of Sydney and was taught (as many religions also teach) that we should only associate with those within our religion as they're the best influences. To me that was complete B.S.

My first few years of schooling were completed at the local preschool and primary school in one of the most multicultural areas in Sydney. My first non-Christian-ish friend was a Lebanese Muslim girl whom I met on the first day of school or thereabouts.

During my years at the school, her personality and actions became more than I was able to handle, so as my father told me only recently, as soon as a religious school opened up, we were one of the first to enroll.

Being part of a religious school within a strict and arguably intolerant religious community, one of the messages which was received (as mentioned above) was to only associate with other members of the community. That never really stuck for me. I didn't get why talking to or associating with non-religious or members of other religions was a bad thing. I mean, didn't Jesus go out into all the masses and preach, or whatever?!

After high school finished I found a very close friend in a Fijian-Indian Muslim girl a few years my senior who almost instantly became my best friend. We came from different backgrounds and religious practices but that just made our friendship all the more interesting. She had burning questions about her religion which she didn't really understand, so we spent many hours discussing and swapping ideas.

She and I spent so much time together that I became part of her family as an 'adopted' daughter and her parents (her mother had been my driving instructor who had then introduced us) and extended family came to see me as one of them. I still consider her and her family very dear to me. Not because of their religion or culture, but because they are just incredibly wonderful people to associate with.

My point, if it isn't obvious yet, is that spending time getting to know people of different backgrounds and cultures shouldn't be stopped because someone decided it wasn't a good idea. If anything it would strengthen not only you as a person, but your beliefs and convictions.

(Photo credit to

In light of the recent siege in Sydney yesterday which saw the tragic loss of 2 Australians as well as the gunman, I read a few articles about ISIS and men who were connected to the organisation who thought it was laughable what had happened since no one reported on the multitudes of people killed by soldiers in war.

The ISIS supporters had a point though. From a humanitarian perspective, we send out troops to fight wars which I think are unnecessary given the amount of innocent people that lose their lives because of it. How much better does that make us if we go to another country to kill their people to start with? Who decides which human life is more valuable than another? What gives them the right to decide?

From a philosophical perspective, I would say that the least valuable human life of all is one that believes that taking another person's life is okay to do, or without 'just cause'. By this I mean that if someone killed a loved one and you killed the killer, it would still be wrong, but you could understand the motive behind it.
People who seek to destroy others because they can are the biggest cause for concern. I was saying to a friend when the gun banning laws started coming out in the US, if someone wants to kill another person, they'll find a way to do it.

We need to stop teaching children and others whose minds have been brainwashed and corrupted that it's not okay to destroy another human being.

War. What is it good for?! Really.

(Photo credit to

Monday 15 December 2014


When did it become cool to follow the crowd and be a sheep of the herd? Has it always been cool or did the leader of the pack decide it was and everyone else just agreed?

For me, following the crowd generally just sucks. It's boring because everyone else seems to do it and quite often you're left wondering 'is this all there is?'.

Take my mother for example, I love her dearly, but have pretty much since birth, prided myself on being as she would call it a 'devil's advocate' for rarely ever doing what all the other kids were doing and taking immense pleasure in doing the opposite. She's always quite happily done as she was told to do and never complained (to the person or in public) about what following the crowd has cost her.

I've never felt normal (what is normal?!) and every time I tried to be what I considered normal in order to fit it, it just felt wrong to do so. I wasn't comfortable putting myself in that position and the people around me gave me the distinct impression that they wanted me there as much as I wanted to be there.

I was that weird kid at bible camps who brought worldly music to listen to during free time which few, if any, other kids appreciated given how groomed to religion they were and I was indifferent to.

I was more captivated by magic, movies and music instead of the bible stories which were retold time and time again as if trying to bring new life or perspective to them which in some cases they did, but I always saw it as flogging a dead horse too many times.

I've always loved wearing nail polish, so when I rocked up to my strict and tiny religious school one day whilst in primary school wearing one of the first colours of nail polish I'd ever owned, a deep red colour, behold the judgment that was sent my way!

I'm sure I was asked to remove it at some point that day, especially after one of the girls in the year below me who happened to be one of the most popular girls in school, told me she didn't like it. I was slightly inclined to agree on the proviso that it was a bit garish for school, but for everyone else, it just gave them another opportunity for them to pick on me for not conforming.

During lunch with my parents yesterday, mum noted (as she almost always does) something about my appearance, whether it be a particular type of eyeliner, item of clothing or whatever else so can inquire about. This time she brought attention to my set of earrings. (She finally agreed to let me get my ears pierced when I was 14 after asking since I was about 5 and seeing me wear fake sleepers for a month, I then got a second piercing done when I was 19 after sneaking off to the chemist while she was at the shops and managed to keep it hidden for a week before she found out, granted I was wearing a hair towel so I made it pretty obvious).

She asked me why I had two piercings for, to which I told her I wanted to have them both. Then she asked about ear cuff I was wearing which was completely different to the stud and ear chain cuff I was wearing in the opposite ear. She claimed that it wasn't symmetrical. I asked her why it mattered. She then made some comment about me not following the norm and always trying to do something different to everyone else, her tone indicating that she didn't approve and wondered why I couldn't just be 'normal' like everyone else and said that it wasn't good to go off and do my own thing all the time.

I give her a point or two for the last part. Yes, in some circumstances it's not always good to do your own thing, but I'm referring to cases of emergency or basically any case where teamwork is required. In living your own life, it's always seemed mediocre or rather mediocrappy to me to do what everyone else is doing.

"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?" - Dr. Seuss

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” - Marilyn Monroe.


I don't understand religion. I grew up in church with all the super fun and mind-numbingly boring indoctrination, but the reality of it just never sat well with me.

So many things just don't make sense about it.

Starting with the very beginning, where was Adam when Eve was chatting up the snake? Why did Adam listen to Eve when she told him to eat the fruit? The Bible makes mention to wives submitting to their husbands but why did Adam submit to Eve in this case, or for that matter, were they even married? I don't recall reading anything about their nuptials, as if it's just assumed that they did because otherwise they would've sinned in order to start mankind (like they hadn't already sinned before).

Skipping forward.

Is it just me, or does God at various points come across as a possibly arrogant and petulant child who wants, nay, demands obedience and worshipping for what he has 'allegedly' created?! I mean for the creator of a book about being humble, amongst other themes, he doesn't seem to be the greatest example of this.

It also seems strange to me that an all wise and merciful God could engineer and condone such violence towards other races. Isn't one of the first few commandments 'Love your neighbour as yourself'? Surely killing your fellow man is directly disobeying this commandment and therefore a terrible travesty/sinning, but it's condoned/instructed by God to do so...?!

One of the biggest issues I had with religion and still do, is what people have to say about homosexuality. I personally am undecided about what my sexuality is (not that it's ultimately anyone's business but my own), but I've always thought it was completely stupid to condemn people for their sexuality which people don't seem to get, isn't a choice. One of the things I've heard/read a lot is 'so when did you decide to be straight?' good question!

Thinking about it logically, why would someone wake up in the morning and go 'I feel like being treated like absolute crap for being attracted to someone of my same sex, I think I'll be gay today'.

Of course the same thing can most likely be said about all other sexualities except maybe straight.

Going back to a previously mentioned note, why do other people care so much about what someone else's sexuality is?! Do you also concern yourself with what TV shows they watch, what their star sign is, what brand of cereal they prefer? I can't think of any circumstance in which my day has been negatively or neutrally affected by someone because of their sexuality.

Also, do people realize how unintelligent they sound when they attack people who are 'different' to them? Namely when they do so without using proper grammar or punctuation.

Back to religion though...after watching The Da Vinci Code which of course is based Dan Brown's book of the same name, the idea that Jesus had a family is absolutely outrageous...or is it?!
Just because it's not written in the bible doesn't mean it didn't happen or exist. How many people are listed by name in the bible as compared to the masses of people of a particular population? Surely the Woman of Samaria had a bigger life than what was briefly mentioned about her in scriptures but it's not relevant to the story so it's not featured. Who's to say Jesus didn't have a wife and kids or a secret love affair with Mary Magdalene or hell, even one of the disciples?!

I can hear a multitude of angry religious scholars out there condemning these words as I write them, but if you stop and really think about it, it's not impossible. From my understanding of the bible, the sole purpose of Jesus' existence was to go throughout the lands convincing people that God exists and he can save them as long as they believe, asked to be forgiven for their sins and they obey him for the rest of their lives. Noting that Jesus left behind a family would throw the whole story out of balance and defeat the purpose of telling it.

I'm personally inclined to believe he did have a family, and that at least one of the disciples was gay because of some random statistics I vaguely remember coming across, and because it'd make the bible SO much more interesting to read!