Two weeks ago, I found one of my birds dead on the bottom of her cage. It was completely unexpected as she was perfectly healthy, and I couldn’t think of what had happened to her. I was devastated. I couldn’t even bring myself to take her body from the cage, and had my friends come over to help me. A week later, I found another one laying there limply in a small puddle of blood. I’d seen a magpie outside a minute beforehand, and only then did it all click into place. The stupid things killed them both, the same way they’d killed the dove I tried to save a few months ago. I was so upset that I didn’t even get to look at her properly before my sister whisked her away to bury her in the front garden next to Piper, who’d been buried exactly one week before. I loved them both, but Freckles was my favourite bird, the sweetest little cockatiel with the most loving personality. She was obsessed with food, carrots in particular, and liked stick her head in my mouth and nibble my teeth when I was talking or trying to eat. I would take her for showers with me where she’d stand beneath the water contentedly, until she sneezed from getting too much water in her nose, and I’d have to pull her away so she could breathe, much to her irritation. I had her for almost six years, and Piper for four, but in that time they made me laugh and smile so much with all the quirky little things they did, and it’s just not the same without them. In some ways, I feel silly for feeling so much grief for ‘just birds’, but I loved them the same way I love dogs and cats, and the same way animal lovers love their own pets. Grief is the same feeling no matter what it is we’ve lost – I’ve never understood why some people equate physical size to the amount of sadness felt when they die. It’s been just over a week now since Freckles died, and two since I lost Piper, but it still hurts so much. I’m just so angry that their lives were taken when they were still so young, and in such horrible, violent ways. Because it was all so sudden, it’s been much harder to accept than when I’ve lost pets to old age or disease. I can’t reverse time and shouldn’t dwell on the ‘what if’s’, but this feeling seriously sucks, and I wish death didn’t have to hurt as much as it does. I’ve never lost a person, thank goodness, but I’m dreading the day that I eventually do, because if I feel this way over pets that I owned for half a decade, what will happen when I lose those I’ve known my entire life?
I feel painfully out of place, like a piece of pepperoni that has mistakenly made its way onto a vegetarian pizza.
If you didn’t know, which you may not have… I draw. Being a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, it’s what I do, not just as a career, but as a way to escape my anxiety. Though if you’re not a fan of creepy crawlies, this drawing may bring yours to the surface. I drew this one a few months ago now, and had a lot of fun bringing it to life, so I hope to attempt more complex 3D renderings in the near future!
As children, we’re all asked what we want to be when we grow up. Maybe we said a princess, an astronaut, or in my case, an actress. In our minds, these things were all achievable; adulthood was a land of unknowns where you could do anything and be anyone, but as time passes, the reality of growing up hits us like a tonne of bricks. Life is no longer about making mud pies and playing make believe, but instead becomes an existence of responsibilities, deadlines and anxieties. We’re told to grow up and act like the mature adults that we are; to deal with what life throws at us in a mundane world of black and white. Well, to everyone that has ever told me these things… I refuse to live my life in greyscale, and I think you should too. Although some people like to think otherwise, we’re all still children, some of us just accept it more than others. Just look at the way people act in times of conflict, or when they’ve been hurt. Adults are much more controlled when it comes to demonstrating their emotions, but we all have an innate tendency to regress into our childlike selves. We’re much the same as children when we sulk, defend ourselves in anger or direct blame and name-calling at others. Next time you’re watching a political debate on TV, compare the politicians to kindergartners and you’ll see what I mean. So my question is, why do we allow ourselves to be childlike in some ways, but not others? You only have ONE life. Do you really want to spend it ticking things of to-do lists and climbing the corporate ladder? Hey, maybe you do, and that’s fine, but don’t think it’s below you to act like a child sometimes. When was the last time you did something for the first time? Children are constantly learning and discovering new things, which is why our perception of time is much slower when we’re younger. The more frequently you put yourself in new situations, the slower your days will become, meaning your life won’t whoosh by in the blink of an eye. Being a certain age doesn’t mean you’re restricted in what you can do… well… I’m not allowed in children’s ball pits, but when I open my own, giant one, I’ll let you know. What I’m trying to say is that life is supposed to be FUN. Make messes, make mistakes, abandon your schedule for a day, build a blanket fort, eat dessert before dinner, draw on the walls! Okay, maybe don’t do that… but you get my point. Let go and live. Live like you can fly to the moon and put on a shoe to find your prince charming. Don’t let the monotonousness of life get you down – do something crazy, be in the moment and LIVE!
They say men have a ‘nothing box’ in their heads, a place that exists within their minds where they can be completely relaxed and at peace. If I possessed such a box, I don’t think I would ever crawl outside of it. I’d become a hermit to the nothingness of my mind. It’s rare that I feel even remotely close to calm. My thoughts run rampant 24/7 and they don’t stop, even when I’m sleeping. It’s exhausting to think so much, but my mind doesn’t seem to have an off switch. Though sometimes, very rarely, something flips the switch for me. It might be when I’m being creative or existing within nature, but mostly, it’s a song. Notes woven into melodies that somehow halt the busy highways in my head and let my anxiety fade away. In these brief moments, I have my very own nothing box. Only then do I ever feel completely present. Not reliving the past or worrying about the future… simply HERE, in the now. I wish I experienced it more often, but for now, I will treasure my nothing box whenever it chooses to reveal itself.
You didn’t want me
And I don’t understand
How you turned your back
On the little pairs of eyes
That loved to hold your hand
The high pitched voices
And tear stained cheeks
Of lives left behind
Of lives like mine
I don’t need you anymore
I’ve made peace in knowing
You chose to walk out the door
You didn’t want me
But I don’t understand
I still feel empty
I’ve always loved the night. There’s something about the sunless calm that brings me to life and fills my soul with creative energy; energy that I expel in the form of writing, art and music. It’s ‘my time’. Everyone is sleeping and the house is quiet, just for me. Being an introvert, having this time to myself is something I consider essential for me to function like a normal human being, but sometimes I wish I could share my time with others, and be in their presence when I feel most like myself. My mind comes alive after midnight, and I have all these thoughts and ideas itching to escape, but no one to share them with. Don’t get me wrong, if people suddenly became nocturnal, I’d feel immediately claustrophobic, robbed of my time and energy. I just wish that every now and then, I had someone to stay up with and talk to until the sun peeks over the horizon and the sky turns dusky. Tonight is one of those nights. As the world is enveloped in darkness and minds drift into unconsciousness, my veins thrum with electricity and my thoughts demand to be heard. I feel alive.
Growing up, I had pathetic wisps of blonde hair that fell like a mop around my face. My hair has always been fine, and for the majority of my life, it never grew past my shoulders. That is… until I told myself it would be long, luscious, and reach my bellybutton one day. Cue the use of horse shampoo, oil treatments, hair masks and meticulous brushing (because it tangles so ridiculously easily!), which has undeniably impacted my entire surroundings. You see, my hair is about halfway down my back these days, and though it’s much thicker than it used to be, it sheds like crazy. It’s everywhere, and I’m constantly being surprised by the long, golden strands I find in the most peculiar of places. Wrapped around water bottle lids, woven in the fabric of my socks, settled comfortably on stove tops and hiding behind cushions. Wherever I have been, even if only briefly, there is likely a part of me that has made itself at home. Perhaps the strangest place I have discovered a strand, is in my freezer, chilling out in an open bag of frozen peas. Somehow, in the few seconds I rarely open the freezer door, a strand of my hair has abandoned my head, leapt into the icy cave and crawled through the small opening of a plastic bag to immerse itself in frozen peas. Like… what? I’m not sure if my hair is out to take over the world, or just clog the vacuum cleaner, but whatever the case may be, I appreciate the strands that are happy to remain on my head for however long they choose to stay.
I’m not sure what it is about me that makes strangers, particularly the elderly, think me sound enough to strike up a conversation. Being painfully shy, I tend to slink away from those I don’t know, but there’s something about the meaningful, often inspiring conversations that I have with fellow commuters and passers by that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Today, whilst waiting for my bus, a lovely older woman started talking to me about her three sons, all of which live overseas and work in various trades (apparently plumbers study for six years!). We talked about the world, owning a cafe, the price of real estate and travelling the country in a caravan, among other things. It was a lovely little conversation that brightened my morning and put a smile on my face. These days, people hardly look up from their screens long enough to notice the people they’re surrounded by. It saddens me that so many people are missing out on the wisdom and advice others have to give, and the simple pleasure of making a fleeting connection with someone outside their circle, whom they otherwise may never have spoken to. You could be the sunshine in someone’s day, an objective ear that listens without judgement or the strength someone needs to push through a difficult time. My most memorable and treasured connection was made when I waiting for the bus one day after school. I lifted my eyes from the book I was reading to see an elderly man with a cane sit by my side. He never did tell me his name, but he was 91 years old, and legally blind. The stories he told about his youth, and the world as it changed over the decades had me captivated, absorbing the wisdom he had to impart, and the joy left in his wake. He left after what felt like hours, humming happily before turning around to wish me a wonderful life. I think about him often, wondering if he has passed away or if he’s still wandering contentedly, chatting with other people that pause to lend him a listening ear. Whether it’s someone voicing their suspicions about an unfaithful partner, a man telling you that he has brain cancer or a woman whipping out a folder filled with pictures of her photocopied face (yes, I have experienced all of these interactions), take a moment to appreciate the unique people that we pass everyday and often never give a second though. Give them that human connection that is quickly and quietly slipping into oblivion.
Over the past 11 days, I traveled across New Zealand’s beautiful South Island in a Maui camper van with my parents and two of my siblings… and it was definitely an experience! Cramming myself into a sardine can with five adults and playing human tetris for nearly two weeks isn’t something I intend on recreating anytime soon, but there were a lot of memories made and a lot of moments that could’ve been plucked right from the movie RV, though luckily, besides a lopsided number plate, the van survived our journeys.
New Zealand has been the 7th country I’ve visited in the last 3 years, and although we didn’t get the opportunity to do a lot of things due to a tight budget and the weather, it was amazing to drive through the rugged wilderness that stretched for miles with beautiful sights to see in every direction. Until a few days ago, I’d never seen proper snow before, let alone been snowed on, made snow angels or been able to catch the delicate flakes on my tongue; all of which I can now cross off my bucket list. The snow was my favourite part of our trip, and even though its cold, wetness can easily become uncomfortable and inconvenient, I still find it magical. Due to our long days driving, I read five books, was annoyed by one sister and ignored by one brother. Apparently, eating biscuits ‘loudly’ at 9am in a confined space is enough to earn my place on the ‘most hated’ list for an entire day! Though by far, the most memorable moment was when we decided to cook a meal one night which led to oil and pieces of bacon popping and flying all over the van, on my father’s head and even into the pocket of my mother’s jacket. That was fun to clean up! Being surrounded by and unable to escape my family for an extended period of time was at times, an unpleasant reminder of how if I don’t have enough time to myself, I become irritable and my emotions go a bit haywire. I’m a highly introverted being, and even though I babble non stop and have plenty of energetic, crazy moments with those I’m comfortable with, I need alone time like I need air to breathe. So being without it for so long, I had a few squabbles with my family, and would sulk on the opposite end of the van, as unfortunately, rain and snow makes for a difficult time venturing outside. For the last year or so, I’ve had almost unlimited hours to myself, and so experiencing what it was like to crave that time again has made me appreciate the moments when I do get to just shut myself away from the world and exist in my bubble for a little while. All in all, I had a very cold, sometimes unexpected but continuously beautiful holiday with my family, that I will cherish for the good times, and even the bad, because it was a once in a lifetime experience that I have no plans of revisiting. Good riddance Maui camper van!