Self love and getting lost

“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.” *

Let us not dwell on the past may be the most apt way to begin this post. I have found myself in a slump of late, the motivation dwindles with the light for me and pray mon âme it is indeed late spring here, where is the light you may ask. A tiny island in a large sea is prone to variable weather, exciting, I guess, one never gets bored. So the week of sunshine? I spring cleaned the house. The week of dull high cloud? Hayfever, migraines and panic ensured. It’s always a few months after the last panic attack before I begin to relax and think yes you are and you will be okay. To bide my time? I have found solace in colouring books, fine markers and coloured lines; my favourite high school tunes keeping any sense of panic at a distance. And here begins the perfect segue for some self love talk, who Jessica, my main mentor and best felon initiated over at her blog -> littlest lady.com (okay she’s not really a felon but t9 and auto correct are the butt of many jokes for us)

“Over time you become someone else. Only when the honey turns to dust are you free.” *

As far back as I can remember I was picked on for my appearance at school. Why? Red curly hair. It didn’t help that this was the 1990s when curls were well on their way out, and even today, I still get the feeling that curls are seen as messy and unkempt. Now? I pretty much love my hair. I’ve never changed it much, luckily, a lazy demeanor and urge to be ‘different’ has kept me from straightening it and apart from the few black home dye jobs in my teen angst phases it’s kept it’s natural colour rather well. I do find myself bored with it at times, but the constant praise of people and strangers who wish they had hair like mine as somewhat gone to my head, and you know what? It’s me, and that’s okay. I am lucky to have a full head of hair at all & a natural fuzzy scarf in winter mind you. I’m still working on the PCOS and hormonal side of my hair as it appears in places society deems unappropriate for women. & here I’m reminded of Roxane Gay’s brilliant memoir Hunger (go and read it already!) where it’s often parents and loved ones that can be the most detrimental to our process of healing and self love. 

Endometriosis? Yeah, that thing. I’m slowly coming to grips with it. Self love is a lifelong journey and  while it’s amazing to finally have a diagnosis and explanation for my body and it’s wayward charms to put it positively  – self love & acceptance is another matter.

Self love isn’t always liking your body parts but learning to know yourself and your habits; when you are in need of rest, of healing.

  • I tire easily. My body likes to produce cortisol when it’s not always needed. I am not weak. I am learning my limits which makes me strong. I have learnt to say no to extra work and social activity when my body is screaming for rest. Keeping up appearances is bullshit and if you need sleep, get your body into bed!

Fun fact? I wasn’t born late, or early, but right on time… and I came out, not screaming or crying but …. yawning. I was literally born tired!

  • The pain. Again I am not weak. The pain is caused by factors sometimes out of my control – weather, medication side effects & well within my control – food and stress and it’s undesirable physical effects. Learning to love yourself and learning to understand your limits is STRENGTH.

Anxiety is my latest struggle. Nausea and an internal tremor which sometimes manifests to a full body shake with legs like jelly and butter fingers that smash and crash. I certainly don’t love this part of myself – but understanding why is foremost to any kind of self love that is needed.

“The question then is how to get lost. Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction, and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery.” *

I would like to add at the end of that quote “of discovery AND SELF LOVE.” Self love occurs when we begin to pay attention to our needs and get lost in ourselves. I have recently picked up my first Rebecca Solnit and boy oh boy. I picked up A Field Guide to Getting Lost on an absolute whim last week. It was a self-care day I had given myself. A day to buy myself some nice things and to let myself breathe without a care. Solnit? She’s like Didion on steroids. I practically underlined the first 40 pages of the book and it truly felt like Solnit had reached inside my bones giving me a shake up for the better. Like a lobotomy if a lobotomy actually worked and gave you a greater grip on life and yourself.

I have begun to understand the feelings as they begin. To understand that my body needs rest, oxygen, a cup of tea or my favourite damn song to get my circadian rhythms back to their norm. Favourite things are favourite things for a reason and this my friends is what I deem to be self love. Looking after yourself with feeling, treat yourself as you would your best friend. Get lost in yourself.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

– Albert Camus
* from, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit

 

Advertisements

Saccharum Officinarum

“The white writing desk replaced the timber shack I’d known since I could understand the concept of time.”

I grew up in the Tropics – a small cane farming town – Gordonvale, Queensland, Australia. It shaped me in such a way that even though I adore my new found four seasons in a year and sitting by the fire with a Dostoevsky novel & hot chocolate, there’s still something about heat waves over bitumen which send my bones into a shiver. I maintain I dislike the heat of course, (eww muggy summers) in fact just yesterday I was whining because it was, what, 40% humidity – I grew up in at least 80%  … but the past is the past right, our childhoods were idyllic and a bit of salt water never hurt anyone.

“The town was a tired selection of bitumen aligned in a grid and at the end of our street, the main street of shops (pubs) was to the left, and to the right, past the overgrown dried up river (storm drain) was the A1 state highway. Further south Walsh reared his celebrated head. At 922m tall he was paramount to the tiny town and along with his brothers and sisters helped to provide a mind-numbing sense of security to the 4,420 residents.”

Sometimes when I feel lethargic, I catch myself on google earth or real estate listings from my home town to see the place that’s responsible for the world of my youth, to make sure that at least some of it still exists. It’s been nearly 13 years, as long as I lived there to begin with, and I’ve not been back yet. Perhaps I’m daunted by the changes it has endured, the city life encroaching, the cane paddocks cleared to make way for housing estates.

“I would no longer wake to the sickly sweet sugar smell each morning. Nor would I fall asleep to the crisp air, heavy with smoke, in the sweltering summer evenings. There was no burnt orange sky; no black columns rising and no fat brown bufo marinus lining the streets day and night. For the later I was grateful but the absence of Basquiat sky left me feeling a little philistine.”

Either way every time I sprinkle brown sugar on my porridge, or make someone’s tea with sugar I remember that little town; the plume of smoke rising each morning, the smell of sugar cane burning into the late hours of the night.


† quotes are from my own piece of memoir fiction, Saccharum Officinarum

§ header image: ‘Mulgrave Central Sugar Mill, Gordonvale.’ From Pictorial Grandeur of Cairns, Cairns, c1935, collection of Centre for the Government of Queensland, http://queenslandplaces.com.au/gordonvale 

The Versatile Blogger Award

BIG THANKS to the magical Ann over at @Ann Reads Them for this wee award! Chances are you’re already following Ann’s beaut reviews, but if not, best get on over there and check out her blog choc’o bookish goodness!

The Rules:

Display the award on your blog.
Thank the blogger that nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
Share 7 facts about yourself.
Nominate 10 bloggers for the award and provide links to their blog.


7 Facts:

  1. I took piano lessons as a ten year old and even though I never practised I was a top student. I eventually gave it up after two years because I felt bad for wasting my parents money. Thanks to those years though I am a decent sight reader and having studied music all through high school I am not too shabby on my theory. I also played guitar for five years but I gave it up because it left me feeling like a fake. Go make sense of that one :’)
  2. I grew up in a little sugar cane farming town – hence the name of my blog. In hindsight I look fondly back on the town and it’s main street with four pubs and annual pyramid race – yes that’s right – the centre of the town was it’s natural pyramid shaped mountain. Hilariously enough, this town was where the cane toad was first introduced to Australia and I am damn petrified of those things. I used to lock myself in the car at night until I could see a path to safety.
  3. After finishing high school, I spent a year studying fashion design convinced it was my life’s calling. It wasn’t. Lesson learned. And I can still sew the basics when I’m in the mood.
  4. You may have already guessed this one. I have recently been diagnosed with Endometriosis. I also have diagnosed Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and ye olde Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I’m fully aware these are in no way life threatening but they do make my day to day life kind of tricky. I’m learning, slowly. I’m also dealing with frequent anxiety – but a new job and routine as well as a low dose of medication is working wonders.
  5. As a kid I loved hiding in the secret corners of the garden and writing poetry. Nothings changed.
  6. While I have a double degree in English and Russian, in another life I would love to  be an astrophysicist, alas, science isn’t at all my strong point. I did study Geology in first year and loved it.
  7. I love a good film festival. A few years ago I saw three films back to back and about eight over the course of the 2-3 weeks. Of course I would’ve seen more but life has this tendency to get in the way. I also relish those few weeks a year I can go to the cinema as I have a rather large distaste for action packed Hollywood blockbusters. Sorry, not sorry.

Nominees:

Shelby @ Like Wild Onions, Cynthia @ Cynthia’s Biblio-Files, Ellen @ the lit life, Cindy @ cindy with books, Sharlene @ Real Life Reading, Faye @ The Middlebrow Reader, Sarah @ Commas and Ampersands, Renée @ Renée Reads Books, Natalie @ BookSpoils & the Artfulreader

Congrats if you made it this far and thank you for reading. I hope you are all well and reading and living and loving and feeling.

For now,

do svidaniya friends xx

Confessions & predictions – #MBI17

I’ve listened to some brilliant stories read by their authors on the newest NY’er podcast (the writer’s voice). I’ve showered and powdered mid-afternoon for ultimate cosy feelings. I’ve left the washing in the rain for days to harden and sparkle with the first of the year’s frosts. And, I abandoned the Man Booker International project I had embarked on with such excitement, well kind of, not quite.

There’s a couple of reasons why:

  • Conveniently I started a new job around the time of the longlist announcements. So I was busy adjusting to a new-ish lifestyle /and/ kind of poor. Most of the MBI listed books are hard to get and I didn’t have the foresight or funds to order ahead of time. (My library had a few, but not many. Funny story – I’m still waiting for the copy of Compass to arrive to the library!)
  • The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. Same time-ish! (Who does that? ha!) I couldn’t decide so I went with the MBI, I knew I couldn’t do both. And while I was surprised by the winner this year (gobsmacked more like it) in hindsight I have an inkling I may have enjoyed the Bailey’s more than I have the MBI.
  • Anxiety. I love reading but sometimes restrictive lists leave me feverish and not in a good Samanta Schweblin way. My anxiety has manifested physically these last few months and so I’m slowly embarking on a calmer and more purpose-driven life. Slowly being the key phrase.

 

The winner of the Man Booker International award is announced on 14th June. 

Here are the MBI long and shortlisted books I got to:*

*I DNF’d The Explosions Chronicles by Yan Lianke (China), Translated by Carlos Rojas

Okay so. The winner?

I feel like the winner of such an award ought to be both daringly original and accessible. Yes, the man booker is an especially literary prize, however, I’m sure the aim of any book award is to encourage people to read. So accessibility is kind of key.

My personal favourite is Judas but I’m not sure how original it is.

Compass I haven’t read, and am not sure I will. (At least not at this point in time). From what I’ve read *about* it, it could be too literary to win – if that makes any sense?!

The two Nordic entries are beautiful, quiet reads. I adored them almost equally but they’re an acquired taste and not necessarily original in their scope. I didn’t have a problem with the dialect in The Unseen, however, I imagine it hinders accessibility.

My winner prediction?

Fever Dream is incredibly original as is David Grossman’s A Horse Walks into a Bar. I found both highly accessible and engaging in current events, climate change/our effect on the landscape and the Israel/Palestine conflict plus the role of grief in society respectively. I would be happy if either of these won, and super happy if my *personal fave* won!

Food for thought ~

  • Have you kept up with the literary awards these last few months??!
  • What’s your favourite of the MBI shortlist?
  • Who do you think will win? (And what did you think of the Bailey’s winner?!)
  • Does anxiety affect your reading habits?

 

Do Svidaniya for now my chickens

xx

 

hello May

mornings melancholia coffee + sun peeling through the fog. telescope eyes watching we missed the aurora australis + sunday markets i’ve gotten out of habit with. family centric and i feel so fulfilled, books to the side, meandering thoughts, figs + feijoas.

autumn enraptures me, colours and crunching leaves although i prefer my oatmeal smooth (refined). dew sprinkles and i’m out for a walk, long black espresso with long loved friends the basil regenerates slowly after its run in with the monarch and i sit, shivers down my spine as the  day sets in, baby pink regenerated in the sun, regenerate, disintegrate (an acoustic kind of day) seep seep open the cache  and find

+ new recipes, it’s almost soup weather and the sun, like a pearl shines through the fog endless, scents of cyclamens and overripe fruit

there is no wind, and sometimes it’s as if you were trapped inside an apple and as the sun lights up your knees you feel in a letter writing mood, a beatrix potter mood and if you’ve a rabbit you ought to name him chamomile, but some days you’d prefer a salamander, whimsical hibernating angelic, and would she make the mess that is a wednesday feel lighter, a little brighter on the shoulders some days weigh heavier than others in my mind:

+ thursday – an overripe peach
+ friday – a distant moon of saturn
+ saturday – a country fête
+ sunday – an Austen novel, although I prefer Gaskell’s Cranford myself
+ monday – morning light fills the bathroom
+ tuesday – flowering thyme
+ wednesday – and we’re back to salamanders and the weight of the world on our shoulders, much like a yearning for distant woodlands in the late summer.

we drove in fog so thick i was reminded of my girl:

“The hills step off into whiteness.
People or stars
Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.

The train leaves a line of breath.
O slow
Horse the colour of rust,

Hooves, dolorous bells –
All morning the
Morning has been blackening,

A flower left out.
My bones hold a stillness, the far
Fields melt my heart.

They threaten
To let me through to a heaven
Starless and fatherless, a dark water.”

  • ‘Sheep in Fog’ from Collected Poems, by Sylvia Plath.

The days are crisper. i’m eating soft soft foods (and can now cross  ‘tooth extraction’ of my bucketlist) not my favourite excuse to avoid meetings and curl up in my pyjamas but it’ll have to do.

life sifting through like sand in the hour glass, wax nostalgic,
yellow chrysanthemums stare back at me
yellow feelings of contentment slowly
slide into disillusionment as
i sit under sunbeams
wondering, wandering
the simple depths of my mind
where do i go from here?
(wherever it is you wish my friend)

decay is yellow
sunripened basil, she regenerates slowly
hello May

what did you want to be when you grew up?
an observer of sunlight will do me fine.