What doing a handstand on someone’s knees taught me about self esteem

It happened less than 6 hours after I had arrived in Auckland. There I was, in track pants and a t-shirt, trying to stabilise my core while I balanced upside down, my ‘base’ holding my shoulders up and me steadying myself on her knees while my Best Beloved spotted for us, telling me to tuck my stomach in, move my legs back, keep my arms straight. 

The move was called a low candle, and I was at my first ever session of acrobatics. My wonderful friend Anna C turns out to also be a fantastic teacher (a Princess of Cups? Most certainly). She has absolute faith in the newbies and, I gather, is usually the one grabbing them and throwing them in at the deep end.

Acro really works your core muscles, as well as a whole range of other muscles, often one set at a time. It’s an amazing workout, and (as I discovered) huge amounts of fun. But there’s one thing you need, more than anything else, to do it.


“Can you do a handstand?” asked Anna.

“Um…I haven’t in a long time.” I reply.

“But do you think you could?” she continues.

Then my Best Beloved goes on to demonstrate, with her basing him (she’s at least a foot shorter than he is), how to get up into the first move of a Pretzel by doing a handstand so your ass lands on your base’s feet, and then you walk over into a sitting position held up on their legs. Yes really.

“Do you think you could?”

You see, throughout the session Anna and the Best Beloved would both tell me I had been doing things right- I had balanced upside down, successfully leaned back almost horizontal into a Low Table. And yet, when I came out of moves I found that they were saying “yes you can!”, but I was saying “No, I can’t.”

“Do you THINK you could?”

You know the old saying, I’m sure: If you think you can, or think you can’t, you are probably right.

I know there are two things I need to strengthen to get good at acro. My core muscles (seriously, I could feel them shaking in that Low Table, though I was holding a tough position), and my confidence. Knowing you’re capable of something is well over half the battle. It was the doubts that brought me back down onto the mat, each and every time.

Oh, but I did do two successful moves- a sideways plank (being held up on Anna’s feet, one under my thigh and one under my shoulder, while I was told “and now look glamourous”. I was just excited to do it.

And a Flying Woman, where my Best Beloved hoisted me up into the air over his head, in a position much like the figurehead of a ship. And then walked off the mat and around the wooden gym floor with me. None of what came out of my mouth at that point was the truth. That was the fear talking.

And you know what? I’m going to keep going to Acro. And the fear is going to shut the hell up. 

Links of Joy: Live from Auckland!

Where, aside from the fact that ‘making the bed’ has a whole new meaning when it comes disassembled and you don’t have a screwdriver, the move has gone pretty smoothly so far. 

And last night, the Best Beloved took me to my first ever acrobatics session. I had a blast, and even managed to do a sideways plank (paint me like one of your French girls…if I can just keep my balance…)! But more on that tomorrow.

Joining the Parlour has led me to exploring the circle of lovely creative types who make it up, so today’s links of joy are to some of their awesomeness for you guys to explore.

First up there’s the beautiful Alex Hudson’s art

Then there’s Shyla, a stylist and blogger. Check out her fabulous free stuff!

“Write better. Earn more. Live like you mean it.” What’s not to like about The Wrevolution?

Finally, subscribe for Christina‘s newsletter and get a free book on manifesting! Better believe I’m snapping that offer up. 

As always, if you’ve found fun, inspiring or gorgeous things and want to share, please comment!

Monsterful Monday: My Arcana Court, part one: Swords

From Jason Chang on Flickr http://bit.ly/1rW52L7Queen of Swords by Jason Chang Knight of Swords by Jason Chang Page of Swords by Jason Chang





I wanted to do something a little different for the next few Monsterful Mondays. It’s partly inspired by the Parlour, but also with the big move happening VERY soon, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people in my life.

In a recent Parlour, Veronica talked about the Minor Arcana Courts of the tarot deck (Page/Princess/Daughter, Knight/Son/Prince, Queen/Mother and King/Father of each suit- cups, pentacles, wands and swords), and how they represent people- people who are in your life already, people who are coming into your life, or even yourself (depending on where they appear).

It got me thinking about the people in my life who have affected me for the better, and the different ways they’ve done this. Those of you who have read me talk about my Best Beloved before will know that I see him as my King of Pentacles.  The more I thought about it, the more I was aware of how different friends represent the different tarot suits in particular ways. I’m grateful for their presence in my life, and I wanted to take this opportunity to shout it out.

I’ll start with my own Court of Swords. People who represent the Swords are about cutting through to the heart of the matter. They’ll give you the honest truth, they communicates clearly and get things done, they don’t back down. If you think about ‘rapier wit’, that’s part of what Swords seem to be about. Cutting through the rubbish and getting clarity and understanding.

My Page/Daughter/Princess of Swords (the gender on the card doesn’t necessarily track to the gender of the person) was my counsellor, who I started seeing last year after an anxiety attack (something I had never had before) combined with the worst depression I’d had.

He identified what was causing the depression, cut through my own excuses, delusions, limiting beliefs about myself, negative self talk- all of it, and then he gently helped me see what was really going on inside me. He planted the seeds (which is what Pages are often about) of a more positive way of being, and got me started on the way out of where I was. For that, I will always be grateful.

Sophie is my Knight of Swords. We’ve been friends for a few years now, and she’s one of the most grounded people I know. She is guaranteed to give you the honest truth, and when I’ve sought her advice she’s always given it to me straight, as well as giving me encouragement to take action to get past the bull and accept what I need to do. Knights are all about action, and I’m very thankful that she’s been there to give me a hard shove in the right direction when I’ve needed it.

Aja, who I’ve known for 14 years now, is my Queen of Swords. Like all my Swords she’s honest, doesn’t dance around the issues. She asks the questions that needs  to be asked, and gives the answer you need to hear, even if it’s not the one you want. She’s supported and nurtured me (as the Queens do) through difficult times, and (like all my Swords) is someone whose good opinion of something is extremely valuable. I’m so glad I have her in my life.

Finally, there’s the King of Swords, and that’s my best friend Ian. He’s got the mastery of communication, he gives the tough love but also the absolute steadfast support. He’s there for me, no questions asked, even when being there for me means saying something I won’t like.  He’s by turns cheerleader and guide, always with my best interests at heart, and I’m incredibly lucky to call him a friend, let alone my best friend.

Friday Five: Five golden rules of packing

Boxes ready to move

My stuff (well most of it) is now on the way to Auckland. Things are a bit more real. The 19th move is under way. Wait, no it’s not. The 21st move is under way. (I just realised I forgot to count moving to Clacton-on-Sea and back when I was 23. NOMADIC.)

As moving seems to be the accidental theme for this week, I thought I’d round it off with what I’ve learned from the many moves I’ve made. Some of these things are gained from long experience, some particularly from this move, which is the first time I’ve willingly decluttered and downsized extensively before moving.

1) You have more stuff than you think you do.

Doesn’t matter how well you think you know your wardrobe, or your fabric stash, or yarn stash, or furniture, or books…there is always more of it than you think there is, and usually a lot more.

I thought my yarn stash was down to one 60l tub. Then I found the rest of it.

Bear this in mind when you’re getting removal quotes where the amount of space you’re taking in a container has a bearing on the cost (bonus golden rule about this at the bottom!). Obviously, with all this stuff, you could just sit there like Smaug in the Lonely Mountain but, if you’re moving house, you’re going to have to pack it. Which brings me to…

2: You can take it with you…but you shouldn’t take all of it.

Moving is a really fantastic chance to declutter. It gives you a great question to ask yourself- “do I need/want this in my life enough to pay to move it to my new place?” (‘do I have space for this in my new place- and do I love this enough to make space for it?’ is also a good question). I’ve sold almost all the furniture I own, with two notable exceptions: a big chest of drawers, and a sewing machine table. It took me ages to find a chest in the style that one is, at the right price, in good condition. I like the sewing table, it’s the right size for my sewing machine or my laptop and the right height to act as a little desk. Neither item was easy to find, thus, they go with me.

On the other hand, while I like my bed, and it’s comfortable, moving it to Auckland when I got it second hand on Trade Me for $100, isn’t really worth it. So I sold it, and am taking the opportunity to buy an actually new new bed at the other end of the trip.

If you’re decluttering by donating, it’s worth noting that at least in NZ (and I suspect other places too), charity shops will often have a truck so they can come and collect large donations and take them away. If, like me, you’re getting rid of a lot of stuff and don’t drive, this is a godsend!

Once you’ve worked out what’s going to the new place, and what’s just going, it’s time for rule 3.

3: You will need more boxes than you think you will.

Yes, even if you decluttered with a will. But the chances are, friends of yours have boxes. Especially if they’ve moved recently. Ask around, or if all else fails go and see if you can sneak round the back of a local shopping park and grab a bunch of boxes out of their skips. Or if you’re more above-board, go into a big shop and ask if you could have some. But it seems more punk rock to go sneak them out of the skip to me. It’s a mini adventure! You know, if you look at it the right way. Yes, you COULD buy fancy packing boxes from the removal company but if they don’t insist on it, free is better.

4: Books are heavy.

Books. Are. Heavy. Pack them in smaller boxes. Don’t ask me how I know. Put it this way, I learned the stupid way.

5: Set up your bed first.

You are going to be tired when you get to the new place. Plan accordingly. However motivated you THINK you’ll be to unpack, the absolute best thing I’ve learned is that the very first thing you should set up when you arrive is your bed. To that end, it’s a good idea to have, in a readily accessible suitcase, your sheets and pillowcases, and to make sure that your duvet and pillows are the first thing you find. You could pack all said bedding in a box, clearly labelled. In fact I’d recommend it- put it all in one place, in one box, so you only have to deal with one thing apart from the bed itself.

That way, no matter what, you’ll have a place to sleep. Once you’ve made your bed, you don’t even have to unpack anything else! You could just go get some takeout, and then go to sleep. Trust me when I say this thought will be incredibly cheering on moving day.

Bonus round- 6: International freight is competitive- make the most of this.

If you are planning a move to or from the UK, where the other end of the trip is Australia, South Africa or New Zealand, there is a lively and competitive market made up of companies who want your business. This means even if you hate haggling, you can usually get a good price for moving your stuff, from the company you want to move with. Don’t just look at price, see what you think of the company. Are they reputable? Have they got good feedback? (word-of-mouth recommendations for movers are worth their weight in gold). Get prices from a few different places, then go back to the company you want to go with. Tell them you want to go with them, but you were hoping they could match the price of the lower quote. If they’ll match the lowest quote, great. If they can’t but will reduce the price a bit, then hey, you can still go with the company you want to use but pay less to do it.

Seven Logics for a Peaceful Life

Wise words indeed.

I have been here before

Moving. Cities this time. I’ve moved 18 times in my life. In fact I only just counted them up for this post. Tomorrow, the movers arrive and my home starts moving up to Auckland. 19. That’s more than once every 2 years. Which is a humbling thought. Am I that much of a nomad? I read about people who have tiny houses on trailers and I admire them. It gives them a way to shift without shifting.

Leaving things behind is always hard. It’ll be easier for this move than for the last big one (5 moves ago) to New Zealand. (Jesus. 5 moves within New Zealand before this one.) At least this time, the family of friends in the place I’m leaving will still be in the same time zone. And many of them visit my new city regularly (and I plan to go back regularly for different events). The frantic ‘what time is it there?’ calculations aren’t needed for them. But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss them.

I think that’s why I’ve been able to handle the long distance relationship with the Best Beloved. I miss him all the time, I wish I could be with him (and soon our relationship won’t be long distance any more). But I’m used to feeling that way about people I care about. I’m used to not being able to be there every time I want to be. That said, I can’t wait to start adjusting to seeing him often, with no long waits between visits. I’ve said before that I still want to take some of the lessons from long distance into the same-city relationship. Making the most of time together. Focusing on each other when we are together. Being demonstrative about how I feel in many different ways.

I’m excited for the new job. The new city. The new home. But I think this is the saddest I’ve been to leave a place since I was very small. I remember sitting in the back of the car, aged 5, when we were moving to Basingstoke from Portsmouth. I remember crying. My grandma being in the car with us. I didn’t want to go. Just like years later, for the 13th move (unlucky for some) to New Zealand. I sat on the plane, having kept my composure, just, for saying goodbye to my parents. Having cried on the bus ride home a few days before, after seeing my best friend (who at that point still lived in a different country). I clipped in my seatbelt. The plane began to move and that was when the finality of it struck me. I burst into tears. “I don’t want to go,” I said. “Yes you do.” said my now-ex, refusing as so often before or after to be sensitive to what I was feeling.

I don’t know quite how I’m going to feel on Tuesday, going to the airport and getting on the plane. I don’t know quite how  I’m going to be tomorrow when the movers come. Teary, probably. I know that this move is the right decision. But I also know that change is never easy. And I’ve gone through a lot of it.

I’m leaving behind friends who took me in when I left my husband. Who invited me for Christmas celebrations. Who let me stay for what turned into 3 months and never asked questions. Who I’ve adventured with, yarn bombed with, dressed up as pirates and gone to the movies with (at the same time), who have sung me happy birthday while I held a flaming Tiki drink, who have taught me how to quilt, and make amigurumi, and be a better person. Who have inspired me, been co-conspirators, caretakers, drift-compatible Jaeger co-pilots, enemies and lovers (in games), superheroes, rock stars, and, most of all, a family. I’m going to miss them more than I can say.

But it’s time to start a nearly-new life in a new city. When I say I’m leaving my life in Wellington behind it’s not a cut-all-ties-burn-bridges parting. My family here will always be in my life. Just not in my house and social calendar as often as they are right now.

I don’t know quite where I’m going with this. It’s Things I Think About Thursday. This is what I’m thinking about. Yup. If you have thoughts of your own about moving and change, I’d love to hear them.

Links of Joy: Witchbaby edition

The Magic Touch by David Blackwell (available under Creative Commons licence at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilestreetlife/5946319814/in/photolist-a4srHq-A1Q6c-4v2z6X-5Ja7rc-5KPeEc-9momvJ-kgEBNR-m8k7FP-f9sRmZ-9GroU2-drkeaz-4KZiVR-a7XvQ-8BnfeW-byfVsq-fp9VRx-6Jw3Pm-pnLtD-4C4T8f-fcnqee-6qKPtC-7iP9BW-fYGQ7h-5VuYC7-6gL5wV-e76NmE-51yLAe-a2hwox-6LVo3u-5EecKe-ar4qrC-aixxLe-7fpQSs-4pcs2B-eaqgL9-nhaRLE-5HLjAc-6darwk-bfSPEX-caJLSJ-eKkEpX-bTEYTK-kcSfsz-dEwiP7-bHTo3c-kZr69P-7CFr5m-7sw5Qi-5z4sxh-bCE8sX)

The Magic Touch by David Blackwell (available under Creative Commons licence at Flickr- http://bit.ly/1jU1gBP)

‘Witchbabies’ is the name that folks in the Parlour use to greet the group, and I love it, because Francesca Lia Block– I only came to the Weetzie Bat books 3 or so years ago, along with the rest of her writing, but there’s just something about the dreamlike quality of the way she writes that resonates with me. I especially enjoyed ‘Necklace of Kisses’ (a sequel to the Dangerous Angels series, set a few years later), though I haven’t yet managed to read ‘Pink Smog’ (a prequel). Did you know there’s now a Dangerous Angels t-shirt? Definitely on my list once I’ve bought furniture for my new room.

Speaking of t-shirts, this one of Artax made me want to go curl up in a ball and weep. I remember the first time I saw the scene in the despair swamp in ‘Neverending Story’ and how upset I was. But having experienced depression, it actually rings pretty true now.

With the Parlour (yes, I know, a bit of a theme for the week), I’ve been looking at tarot decks on Etsy- always dangerous. I love the TaRat deck from Bluedogrose, though I can’t put my finger on why, I just like it. I also like her Blue Dog Rose tarot using pets and domestic animals- the Hierophant is a goldfish! And death, appropriately enough, is a cat (anyone who has lived with cats will tell you this is accurate).

I’d forgotten about the fun and shenanigans of the AntiCraft until my bonus Friday Five from last week, but how can you not love an online craft magazine that had plushie gamer dice patterns and an entire issue devoted to bacon? (I made Baconhenge once. It was delicious.

Obviously with a new room come new decor ideas. I plan to get more seriously into those once I have the furniture, but obviously knitting inspiration is not to be controlled and I have a bit of a thing for throws. This magickal throw from Erssie Major is a lot of fun, but I don’t think I’d make it for me. I do know someone I could make it for though…because what I need, clearly, is another project. Yep.

Have you found anything fun on your internet wanderings? Link to it in the comments!

Monsterful Monday: My life in boxes

'moving II' by Robert S. Donovan- https://www.flickr.com/photos/booleansplit/

‘moving II’ by Robert S. Donovan- https://www.flickr.com/photos/booleansplit/

Just keep packing

The move up to Auckland, which seemed distant even a week ago is now approaching in a manner akin to a freight train. Thankfully, this weekend just gone was that rare and shimmering thing, commitment-free. Somehow, and most of the time, I end up with most every weekend booked with one thing or another, and I’m not complaining. But with the movers arriving on Friday (eek!) to collect my things, I really valued being able to hermit it up and just focus on putting things in boxes. I’m also grateful to Scott for supplying at least some of said boxes.

The furniture I’ve listed on Trade Me has all either already sold, or been bid on (so it will be going), which is another thing to be grateful for, along with the fact that there’s plenty I haven’t had to list because it already had takers.


I can’t even begin to describe how much less stressful packing for this move has been compared to the last one and the reason for it is very simple. I. Have. Less. Stuff. CONSIDERABLY less. My-clothes-fit-in-two-suitcases-now less. I’m so glad I started getting rid of things when I did, it’s meant I’m much further along in the process than I would be otherwise.

I shall call them Squishy. And they shall be mine. And they shall be my Squishies.

Packing the hexipuffs gave me a chance to count how many I have. 220! That means I’m over halfway to a single-bed-sized snuggly quilt of smooshy goodness. It will be glorious!

Come into my Parlour (well, come into Veronica’s Parlour)

This weekend just gone I watched my first recordings of Veronica Varlow’s online tarot circle, the Parlour, because it’s something I’m interested in learning more about (and now that the Atomic Tarot Kickstarter has been funded, I’ll be getting a beautiful deck of my own). I’m watching the recordings because watching the live webinar would mean getting up at 6am on a weekend (but next week it’s on a Monday my time, I might be lucky!) So far, so fascinating. This week, she covered magnet cards- cards that appear again and again for you. For me, at least one of them is the King of Pentacles, which shows up regularly in relationship-type questions since I got together with the Best Beloved. I choose to believe that makes him my own personal King of Pentacles. There’s a great community for the Parlour too, and I can already tell I’m going to enjoy getting to know them better.

Special mentions

Extremely pink pink nailpolish, sushi, warm bed and sleep, mini skeins, my Tetris skills (coming in very useful for fitting things in boxes), Youtube playlists, helpful moving companies (who can’t help but point you at people who can), and the Best Beloved, always.

Friday Five Bonus Round: Midnight in the lady garden of good and better…

This evening after work, I headed over to Made on Marion for the Dreamstress’ Make a Muff class. And what can I say? I, upon occasion (OK, more than occasion…often…one might almost say frequently. OK practically always), have a very filthy mind. 

So yes. We worked on our muffs. And I decided that having not posted on Monday or Tuesday, you guys deserved a bonus round of Friday Five. And because I just have that sort of mind, it’s time for…


Yes really.

I don’t know why, but ever since I accidentally gave an owl plushie I made a little heart-shaped snatch (a story for another time, watch this space), I’ve started spotting things Yonic (the female equivalent of Phallic. Yes, there is in fact a word- derived from the classics no less- for things that look like vaginas.) all over the place. Some of them are overt- like the snatchel, or the Anticraft’s entire issue devoted to merkins. Some of them…well, some of them are more subtle. And so I present to you the moderately NSFW…

Five Craft Things That Look Like Vaginas

First, please enjoy this Love Cypress Paisley fabric from Amy Butler. It was discovering this fabric, and then establishing that it wasn’t just me, that ended with me working on a Lady Garden quilt. Because, as my flatmate put it, “those are some great big lady gardens”. 

Next, there’s Lee Meredith’s Krewe cowl pattern. Not everyone agrees with me on this one but just look at those little ovals, and the way the stitches give the appearance of being two separate…well, lips. I refuse to believe it’s just me. 

Spoonflower? Chockabloc with vajayjays. From this print designed to heighten awareness of Female Genital Mutilation (a very worthy project, about a very serious and awful issue), to this exquisite uterus fabric (no really, that’s the name), to all the avocados and pomegranates in between…yep. 

Scarlet Tentacle on Etsy is famous for her hand-embroidered vaginas, which are both yonic/feminist and very classy, I think. You could display one of these proudly in your home. Probably a better thing to display to your guests than your own vagina…though how do I know? You may have very different kinds of parties to me. (Oh, she also makes adult erotic colouring books, and is a super-lovely seller, who I’ve purchased from in the past, just FYI). 

Finally, there’s the Fertility Blanket from Wooly Wonder- the link will take you to her free patterns page, where you can download the PDF. This is on my to-knit list. Yonic imagery is fun. And this particular field of genitals looks very snuggly!

Flaunt your Maps of Tasmania with pride (well, the crafted ones anyway…unless, as I said, different kinds of parties) and have a great weekend. Want to know more about the muff-making? You’ll have to wait until Monday. 

Friday Five- Five favourite quotes

So I’ll admit, I’m new to Instagram. But I adore it. There’s something about photos- it’s much harder to post a negative photo, than it is to write a negative Tweet or Facebook status. Maybe that’s just me. It just feels like a happier place, does Instagram. Maybe it’s the colours, people posting pictures of themselves doing fun things, or tasty food, or fun quotes, or street art, or cool stuff they see.

Also I am unreasonably fond of futzing around with the different filters picking just the right one for each photo. One day I will master Photoshop and then you’ll all be sorry. Or you’ll just enjoy the pretty photos. ANYWAY…

I’m doing #radicalselflovejuly on Instagram at the moment, and day 16 was favourite quotes. If you’re following me on Instagram (please do! I’ll follow you right back- @mannersmagpie, come say hello) by the way- then you may already have seen that I can’t choose just one quote. Just like I couldn’t choose just one favourite book. One? ONE? How am I supposed to narrow it down? There are so many quotes I love for so many different reasons.  Here are five of them.

Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think that you’ve lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is the right time.- Asha Tyson

There are many people out there who will tell you “you can’t”. What you’ve got to do is say “watch me.”- Jack White

Forgiveness is an act of creation…how does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstances instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to remember to say about it all. You understand the suffering that drove the offence to begin with. You prefer to remain outside the milieu. You are not waiting on anything. You are not wanting anything. There is no lariat snare around your ankle stretching from way back there to here. You are free to go. It may not have turned out to be a ‘happily ever after’ but most certainly there is now a fresh ‘once upon a time’ waiting for you from this day forward– Clarissa Pinkola Estes, from ‘Women who Run with the Wolves’

100 years ago, buying something you could make was considered wasteful; now making something you could buy is considered wasteful. I am not convinced this is a step in the right direction. ― Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, from ‘All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin’

And finally, a quote from one of my idols:

Moi strongly believes in self-help. Wherever I am, I help myself to whatever I can– Miss Piggy

Feel free to share your favourite quotes in the comments, I’d love to read them, and why you love them. And have a great weekend!