Hello again

Hello there. It’s been a while. A long while. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just take this site down and give up.

I’ll be honest with you, I thought about it. I’ve been dealing with a very full plate in terms of things claiming my time. Work. A new house (a new house that I actually *own*. No more calling the landlord. I *am* the landlord.) Writing and running what is probably more than my fair share of LARPs. Most awful of all, depression and anxiety- those roommates in my head who may never move out, who may go away but may always have a bunch of stuff stored inside me.  And most wonderful of all, planning a wedding.

There are a lot of reasons not to try again with writing about the things I love and trying to build this into something worth the building. There’s only one reason for carrying on. But it’s way more compelling than any of the reasons not to.

This is something I am doing for me. One of the very few things I’m doing only for me. Because I like writing. I like connecting with however few or many of you there are. I want to record at least part of my life in a way that’s more substantial than the empty calories of social media. I want to put something good out into the world- encouragement to try and make things. Because I know from experience that making things keeps the darkness at bay. And when there’s less darkness, it brings satisfaction, and joy.

For a long time, I let all the other things in my life stop me from showing up to the work of trying to create a better and more meaningful life for myself. Well, I’m done letting the resistance get me. Whether I have grand lessons to impart or whether I just found an interesting pattern. Whether I’ve made something cool or (equally likely) made something that isn’t Pinterest-worthy but is still satisfying. I’m going to show you the messy side of the room (to quote Heather B. Armstrong), because I think people need to see the thread, the scraps, the paint-covered newspapers, the burnt-sienna painted chux-mache props that kind of look like giant poos, drying on my dining-room table… whatever happens, I’m going to keep showing up. I hope you’ll join m

Nothing compares to you (except everyone around you)

For some reason, I’ve been thinking about comparison a lot today. I don’t know why, but some bits of ‘8 Simple Rules’ popped into my head, about how one of the tropes that the show returns to again and again is the idea that Bridget, the older sister, has things come to her that her younger sister has to work for. 

We’ve all felt it. We’ve seen someone else doing something really well and thought ‘oh, it comes so easily to them’ and we feel resentful because it’s not easy for us. When I was at school I used to look at the other girls, both in my classes and on TV. Even the supposedly ‘plain’ ones have friends, I would think to myself. It seemed so easy for them to do all the things teenagers were supposed to do. Things I never really did, or not until I left home. There were the girls who had boyfriends, who went out to parties, who did brilliantly at maths or science. 

But here’s the thing. That’s not the whole picture. As I pondered how I would compare myself with these girls, I realised that they would be comparing themselves to other people too. So would the boys. There were things I *was* really good at. Like languages, and computers. Whenever my IT teacher was away for whatever reason, I would end up spending most of the class helping other people. These were things that *did* come easily to me. 

Everyone, as my mother is so fond of saying, is different. “It wouldn’t do for us all to be alike!”. No, it wouldn’t. And the thing about that is, everyone has things that come easily to them. But the energy that we’re spending on being envious of each other’s abilities is energy that’s being misspent. Imagine what you could achieve if instead of getting caught up with sending negative charges towards someone who has achieved what you want, you spent that energy in practicing, learning, getting better- following your own path and not worrying about theirs. Or imagine if instead of letting the envy become negative, you recognised that this person can do something you want to be able to do, and you ask them, nicely, to help you. 

Other people will always be better at some things than you. And you will always be better at other things than they are. It’s what we do with that information that counts. If we learned from others’ strengths, and sought to use our own strengths to lift other people up, imagine what kind of change we could inspire and bring about!

I don’t know quite where I’m going with this other than to say, if you rock at something, I applaud you, especially if it’s not something I’m good at. 

So tell me in the comments- what talents do you have that are easy for you? How do you share them with others? Lets start looking at how we can use what we have to make the world better!

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.

Not your usual Tuesday- #YesAllWomen

I’ll be honest. I put together a publishing schedule for this blog and Tuesdays is meant to be tutorials. From next week, it’s going to be. When I thought about writing this post, the rules-following part of myself said “no no! We must stick to the schedule! It’s too early to go breaking your own rules. It’ll be anarchy! It’s only your second post to this blog!” But sometimes, as my Godfather once told our congregation when delivering a sermon about money, something is important and you have to talk about it. So I decided to share some things about my own experience that have led to my support of #YesAllWomen.

Some are very upsetting and may be triggering for some of you.

In some cases this will be the first time I’ve ever said anything about them. But several tweets on the hashtag last night pointed out that women being scared to talk about what’s happened to them is part of the problem. That really spoke to me, so here goes.

I am at school, and our popular and well-liked drama teacher is giving us a lesson in which he is the patient in various doctor/patient scenarios. He says “I need a girl for the next one”, and I am thrilled when he picks me out of every other girl in the room, our hands had all shot up. My mother is a doctor, I know I can be good in this scene whatever it is. He proceeds to come on to me, in character of course, in front of the whole class. They all laugh, but it makes me feel deeply uncomfortable and like something has been taken from me. I feel shame, and don’t talk about it, because I can’t articulate what it is that has made me feel that way. I become even more introverted. I am 11 years old. 

I am at university, at my second ever university party. I have never even kissed a boy let alone anything else. I get drunk faster than I expect on wine (I’ve had wine plenty of times before, we have it at home, I know how much I can drink), and after I’m done being very ill in the bathroom, a guy I barely know comes and sits with me when I’ve taken myself off to a quiet room to sober up. He starts kissing me. He says he wants to sleep with me. I say no. His response is to kiss me some more and then unzip his fly and put my hand on his erection. It is the first time I have ever touched one. I continue to say no, and he gives up because I’m sobering up fast. I am 19 years old.

I am a British girl in a relationship with a guy from overseas. He keeps fondling me in public- not just my butt, but my breasts too. I tell him it makes me uncomfortable and ask him to stop. He tells me I am “being too English” and that once I’m in New Zealand I’ll get better. I am 25 years old.

I have  moved to New Zealand, and the same guy now feels me up whenever he gets home- not because it turns me on (it doesn’t, and I ask him to stop, and tell him it makes me feel like an object), but because he enjoys it. He doesn’t stop doing it. I am 30 years old. 

One night, he wants to have sex. I don’t. He guilt trips me into it, but the not wanting to doesn’t change.  

After a lot more misery, I leave him. He tells me we have to have sex one last time, that he’s entitled to it because it’s unfair that he didn’t know the last time was the last time, that I should feel guilty for leaving. On the way to the house, I tell him “I don’t want to do this,” and I cry. He ignores it. I know I should turn around and walk away but he has made sure I feel too guilty and like he really is entitled to what he wants, to say no. I am 31 years old.

I am at work, and overhear a conversation between two seemingly well adjusted, respectful guys. “She’s too hot to be a virgin,” says one, and they discuss how “she must have had plenty of offers, she wouldn’t have turned them all down.” As if being attractive means you can’t really withhold your consent. I am 35 years old, and that happened just a month ago. 

I have been honked at, had unwanted attention in bars, had passes made at me that I’ve had to shut down. I am extremely glad that not all women have had some of the experiences I’ve had, but #YesAllWomen have had some kind of unwanted attention, physical or just verbal, from men. Not all men. I am priveleged to know many men who are kind, respectful, and horrified by the way some other men treat women. These are the ones who are posting to the hashtag begging their fellow men to learn from what women are sharing. I am lucky, now, to be in a relationship with a man who is incredibly caring and who treats me as an equal and makes me feel absolutely respected. But I know from my experience that not all men are like that.

There’s a lot of discussion about Elliot Rodger, how his view of women wasn’t the only problem, how he had mental health issues. How men treating women better wouldn’t have prevented the shootings.

But the fact is…this is much, much bigger than one troubled misogynist with a gun.

This is about the commenters who blamed women for not sleeping with Rodger, who said it was their fault that he killed people. This is about the Twitter-twats who replied to #YesAllWomen tweets with hatred, foul sexual comments, who tell feminists they need to get themselves a man, or think all lesbians must have been mistreated by a man ‘to make them that way’.  We’re underrepresented in films. We’re underrepresented in politics. There is still a gender pay gap. We’re still having debates about equality with men who feel like women being treated as equals will take something away from them. There are still politicians insisting there is such a thing as ‘legitimate rape’. We’re still in a culture that blames women for sexual violence, instead of educating all our young people about consent. Until we- both women and men- change things, #YesAllWomen will have to endure things that nobody should have to endure.

I believe that change is possible. We’re better than this. We can do better. It’s our duty to do better. We can create an equal world where women and men feel safe, respected and valued as people. I believe that #YesAllWomen could be part of that, as it’s a start- making people aware of the sheer scale of the problem. Once you can see how big the problem is, you can start to see ways to chip away at it, to solve it bit by bit. We can do it. I know we can.