Saturday, 9 January 2016

things i have: anxiety and dirty dishes

(disclaimer: i know the human body is more like 60ish % water. it's a meme so it's funny even though it's not accurate. the whole point is kind of that it's inaccurate. please don't think i'm dumb. oh, look, anxiety!)

i've tried to come back to this blog several times in the past six months.

turns out, every time i'm away from my blog for more than a month, i want to preface everything with an apology.

i automatically start thinking of excuses for why i've been AWOL.

then, i imagine the possible titles of my "oh-look-i'm-finally-returning-to-this-poor-abandoned-blog" post. here, for your pleasure, i list some of the candidates my mind came up with:

A. i'msorryi'msorryi'msorry 

nah, too grovelling; no one likes a groveller. plus, those apostrophes are annoying and break up the rhythm - but i'm not removing them because i'm a grammar pedant. ok, next candidate; 

B. #NewYearSameMe - aka let's see how long it takes me to abandon my blog again 

ugh too long, too defeatist; 

C. well, this is embarrassing. 

oh, wait, i've used that one already. a title that prefaced an entire post about embarrassment. greeeeat!

D. oh, hi! remember me? 

wait, what if they don't? or what if they didn't want to? or what if they've never read this blog before and they're like, "no i never knew you in the first place, idiot", and gaaaaaah this is exhausting, and i can't even remember what i wanted to say in the blog post in the first place, and it's likely that no one will care anyway, making this kind of futile, right? maybe i just won't blog after all.

whew. enough frenzy, right? my brain likes to gang up on me sometimes. anxiety - how charming!

BUT. when i stop and think about it, i can occasionally be reasonable. as in: i am actually not beholden to anyone but myself on this blog. (or in my life, currently. cue me typing this blog post in my PJs at twenty to twelve in the morning... BOOM.) if you're reading this, it's because you wanted to; if you want to walk away now, that should really have no affect on me. I need to write about what I care about or find funny or attractive or silly or annoying; this blog should reflect me. it's my blog. wow, if this is all really obvious to you, i get that it's dumb that this is not all really obvious to me sometimes. i seriously get that. my brain is just occasionally really frustrating. *insert cry-laughing emoji here* what that ultimately means is, i get to post about what i want to post about, when i want to post about it, and if i don't want to post about anything for a really long time, i needn't feel bad about it. turns out, for the past few weeks i've been writing essays on Instagram, and i was just about to write another essay on Facebook when i decided to rather turn it into a blog post.

so. i remember what i wanted to blog about today! (a small victory - cheers from the crowd ensue.) it helps that it's about anxiety, but it's also about my dislike of cleaning things, and my need for distraction when i have to clean things.

you see, i really hate doing dishes. or making my bed. or sweeping. cleaning in general is not something i look forward to. (does anyone?) however, it still has to get done and living alone means it has to get done by ME! (also, if i were to ever in this lifetime theoretically live with someone else, i wouldn't expect them to do all of the cleaning, because i am not mean. i think.)

what this calls for is some level of diversion or amusement to take my mind off the horrible activity in which i'm obligated to take part. some people like to watch series; i can't do this because i am obsessive and like to watch every detail playing out on screen, not just listen to the dialogue. what if i miss important visual cues??! it happens! i'd love to be able to read a book but HAAAA, that's not gonna happen with soapy hands, sadly. audiobooks, then, would be a great option, but they cost money most of the time. music is fun and was generally my go-to all of last year and the year before, but sometimes i won't want to listen to several of the songs on the playlist and it's frustrating to have to stop everything and dry my hands off to skip tracks till i'm reasonably entertained again. my solution to this was to listen to the artists i generally never have to skip through and of which i have a fairly wide collection. my main two artists to clean my flat to were (you're going to laugh) Taylor Swift and John Mayer.

last year, though, i delved into the world of podcasts for the first time ever and started really enjoying listening to Ira Glass's This American Life episodes. i would listen to these podcasts while working on my computer at the department, really getting involved in the multiple stories and the varied perspectives they provided while still getting a solid chunk of design work done. i wouldn't have to stop what i was doing to skip a track i didn't like; i wouldn't get distracted by the flashy music videos on YouTube (happens every time) or stop working to sing along to a ballad and have to reorient myself to what i was working on before the distraction.

i've translated this diversionary tactic over to cleaning since i've been back in my bachelor flat this year, and so far (read: the two times i've listened to a podcast while doing dishes) it's been a huuuuge success. imagine looking forward to washing plates and bowls and cutlery! on Thursday i listened to Episode 225: Home Movies, and this morning i listened to Episode 545: If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS. in the car on the way back to Grahamstown, i also listened to Episode 575: Poetry of Propaganda which was SO GREAT. these are from no specific year - Home Movies was produced in 2002 (!), ALL CAPS first aired a year ago and Poetry of Propaganda is one of the podcasts released in December - and yet they're all on par in terms of quality, interestingness, relatability. they all offer vignettes into people's lives - sometimes quirky, sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, but always listen-worthy and very often relatable to my own life in some way.

for instance, let's look at the ALL CAPS episode from this morning. first of all, here's the synopsis of the show:

"It’s safe to say whatever you want on the Internet; nobody will know it’s you. But that same anonymity makes it possible for people to say all the awful things that make the Internet such an annoying and sometimes frightening place. This week: what happens when the Internet turns on you?"

the show itself is then made up of several stories (or "acts", as the podcast defines them) dealing with the topic from a variety of angles. this particular episode was made up of four acts, and the one that captured me the most was the final act, called "Mailer Demon". here's its description:

"This story, produced by the podcast Reply All (websiteiTunes), asks the question — can internet bile ever be helpful? PJ Vogt interviews Paul Ford, a man who programmed a website to deal with his anxiety. The website sends him abusive comments all day long."

guuuuuys. the idea here is amazing. i looked up AnxietyBox - the website Paul programmed - once the episode was over (which coincided beautifully with the completion of my dishes washing mission!) and you have to see it for yourself to fully appreciate its beauty. if you go to the website (i mean, go, i'm encouraging you - it's hilarious) you'll see that it's not currently operational, but this is what the old homepage looked like:

I APPRECIATE IT SO MUCH. here are some examples of the anxious thoughts you could get sent:
  • People are only tired of you because you are so deficient and predictable.
  • Compared with everyone else you grew up with you definitely turned out irredeemable.
  • It's unfair that so many people say you're boring.
  • You might as well forgive yourself for being so incredibly unoriginal and fake.
  • All of your friends were trying to describe you and what came up was: a fraud and third-rate.
  • When you aren't around your friends say you are incapable.
  • You are too hard on yourself. I can think of worse ways to be than badly prepared and perpetually scared.
and here's an excerpt from the show's transcript explaining it all - the process of AnxietyBot - really beautifully:

Paul Ford

So let's imagine that I'm standing on the train. I'm about to go down into the train platform. And I look at my phone, and I have an email. And it's from my anxiety.
I mean, here's an email from June 2 in the afternoon. Now here's the subject - 'History will forget you because history forgets people who are unable to finish anything'. "Dear Paul, so you're probably used to being at the front of the class, and this is a wake-up call that you're not even in the middle. Inform me, are you ready? Sincerely, Your Anxiety."

PJ Vogt

Remember, Paul set it up so that he'd get these messages on average 12 times a day. 12 times a day, his phone would ping, and there'd be a new attack waiting. While he was eating breakfast, ping.
AnxietyBot The simple reason you're not happy is that you're unworthy of saving.

PJ Vogt

When he was at work, ping.
AnxietyBot I respect that you just live your life and don't care if people think you are childish and disgusting.

PJ Vogt

While he was watching his kids, ping.
AnxietyBot  Your mom and dad would never say anything, but they so want to know why you would choose to be unlovable and not smart.

PJ Vogt

When he was getting ready for bed, ping.
AnxietyBot People on Facebook look at your picture and think, in possession of a weird nose.

PJ Vogt

And you made this to make yourself feel less anxious and better?

Paul Ford

Well, that's the thing. So the thing I'm trying to do here is externalize the anxiety and actually simulate it.

PJ Vogt

So what do you mean?

Paul Ford

Well, anxiety, it turns out, like building this little emulator, this anxiety simulator, made me go, oh, this part of me is incredibly stupid. It says the same things over and over again. And it really is like that is what my anxiety looks like. It's not smart. At some level, it's like a little robot that just screams. What this let me do is look at the robot.

PJ Vogt

Seeing the voice in his head, seeing its opinion of him actually written out, it seemed crazy that he'd ever believe that what it was saying about him was true.

Paul Ford

It was immediately effective. And seeing it actually externalized as 20 messages in a Gmail inbox, it was so much like what my brain was producing. Seeing it was really funny. It turns your entire emotional freak-out into this relentless form of comedy.

PJ Vogt


Paul Ford

Yeah, it turns out that you're not as important as you think you are, nowhere near as terrible as you think you are, and actually fairly ridiculous. It's just so ridiculous to scream at yourself all day long, and yet there it was. There was the evidence of it. And so it was like, oh my god, I've been wasting a lot of time with this little son of a b*tch.

PJ Vogt

I feel like something about having it in an email lets you fight back against it.

Paul Ford

You can actually reply, right? I would reply and be like, go f*** yourself, over and over again. So the ability to actually yell back at something, which I think is something that we usually associate with being terrible on the internet, in this case, it's wonderful, because you can yell at the robot and tell it to shut the f*** up.
there are not words for how excellent i find all of this. because i'm on a hand-lettering kick and i found this story so hilarious and awesome, i lettered one of my favourite insults generated by the AnxietyBot (with some cute gummy bears thrown in for good measure):

i filled in the info form on the AnxietyBox website in order to get put on the waiting list for when AnxietyBox 2.0 is launched, and added a message to Paul in the relevant field, telling him how brilliant i thought his idea was and mentioning that my MA degree - the topic of which revolves around depression and anxiety and searching for ways to better communicate about and tackle these issues - is ironically the main cause of my anxiety at the moment. i really look forward to the day when i can get emails from "my anxiety" telling me how useless it thinks i am - and then being able to physically delete that spam/crap/nonsense. Until that happens, best believe every time an anxious thought pops into my head i'm going to picture it as an email that i can laugh at, delete and move on from, each time telling myself:

oh, this part of me is incredibly stupid; 
it says the same things over and over again.

plus, now i have a fun way to pass the time while i wash my dishes. it's a win-win, really. thanks, This American Life!

Friday, 26 June 2015

on the birthday of Bronwyn

we-e-eeell. this started out as a wall post on Facebook and then it morphed into something so gastronomically long that even i didn't want to read through the whole thing. so you know what i do when that happens? i turn the wall post into a blog post. VĂ“ILA! maaaagic, i tell you.

as the title of this blog post suggests, today is the birthday of the glorious Bronwyn (or, erm, "Brownwyn", if you are our old Design 3 lecturer... derp).

if you have not had the privilege of meeting and/or getting to know Bron, i have two things to say to you:
  1. ag shem for you;
  2. you can sort of make up for the clear lack in your life by heading over to her blog and giving it a read.

i've known Bron for a good 4.5 years, and she's my straight-up homie. we first encountered one another at some point during O-Week, because we were ickle firsties in the same res - at that point bearing the glorious moniker "New Residence 2" (i kid you not) - and so we learnt our first year serenade together with the other, like, 60-odd girls who were newbies to the res and the university, too; we danced and sang, likely alongside one another at some point, in the cold street outside res in front of half-asleep first-year boys and on stage in the Great Hall for RU Jamming; we sat through all the obligatory introductory lectures and house meetings together. 

now, psychologists and clever brain-people talk about first impressions of people being important, which i am going to poo-poo thoroughly (sorry, clever people) because i can't distinctly remember my first impression of Bronwyn. to be fair, i met her when just about everyone in the University World was new to me so it's probably there muddled up with my first impressions of the other 500+ people i had the duty of meeting in my first couple weeks at Rhodes. but, like, first impressions are dumb, guys. (i say this probably mainly because i get the sense that i make a profoundly unimpactful first impression... ha!) what matters way more is who you find when you actually get to know a person, and over many years of Journ- and English-bonding as well as in the fiery furnaces of Design 3 and 4, i found a gem in Bron.

i will, at this point, compare my dear, beloved friend to a gateway drug. stay with me here, folks. the more time you spend with her, the more time you want to spend with her; it's very difficult (read: impossible) to get sick of her. i have also noticed that she has an uncanny knack for getting me hooked on other things, too (hence the gateway comparison). only good things though - things like coffee, and Bebas Neue (which is a typeface, if you are uneducated), and the song "BO$$" by Fifth Harmony. (Bron, this song came on while i was sitting in Twing Wok with my sister earlier this week and i was on the edge of getting up and dancing while shouting the lyrics very confidently when they skipped to the next track. i feel like the waitress had some sort of premonition about my course of action had the song continued...). now let us all partake in the glory.

"BO$$" is the epitome of Bronwyn. she is confident, independent, strong, smart, focused and hopefully making ALL the Oprah-dollars because she is intensely talented and hard-working. mostly, she is unapologetically herself,  and that's more than pretty miraculous in my books. 

i love her because (unlike a gateway drug) she has only ever had a positive influence on me. isn't it amazing when you find a person about whom you can say that? lucky lucky me. 
i love her because she inspires me to work my very hardest at what i do. 
i love her because she lets me cry when i need to, and she is able to tell me i'm being a fool in the nicest way possible. 
i love her because she understands the true necessity of Dylan Moran in one's daily life. 
i love her because she believes that sometimes you can have copious amounts of coffee for lunch. (we did this together the other week. supreme dining, let me tell you.) 
i love her because she is #kakpleasant. 
i love her because beauty - she has much of it. 
i love her for creating the best fictional teen girl magazine with me, that one day i have growing confidence will be a reality. 
i love her because she gives more than a damn; she gives many damns. 
i love her because she doesn't hold the truly painful blind drawing i did of her faaaace in art class that one time against me (true friendship, yo!). 
i love her because even though she now lives some distance from me (very much boo), she will send me random whatsapp messages that turn my day around. 
i love her for being a fellow typeface nerd (see: that one time when we had a whole freakout session about how glorious FontFabric was and your mom was just laughing at us). 
i love her for her wicked sense of humour (see what i did there, Bron!). 
i love her for being one of the two girls (you too, my Lucy-Lu) who remained the longest with me the night/morning before our final portfolios were due last November, when i was a wreck and we were all vulnerable as vaaaark and we were each other's emotional lifelines. (yoh that got very deep very suddenly.) 
mostly, i love her because it is the only sensible thing to do when faced with someone as glorious as she is.

so hi, Bron, i hand-lettered you a thing today (in memory of my incredibly terrible self-defined project, haha!)...

...and yes, that is Oswald and Bebas Neue, and yes, i think you are, in fact, the original BO$$. i love you more than all the horrogs in the world and i hope you have had only the most incredible day of your life today (or at least a really flipping awesome day; there was no Han so i dunno if it could've been the BEST day ever ;) ). i can't waaaait to see you so soon and drink some Homeground goodness with you and freak out over Dylan Moran with you and find cute onesies at the Village Green and coerce you up to the Cue lair with jub-jubs (i had to work the jub-jubs in somewhere)! you are a special kind and a true friend, and i hope you know just how treasured you are. now look at these photos of us and tell me why i am always on the left and you are always on the right... it's like we just KNOW.

ok, das all... Han eeeout. *air-kiss*

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

my fifteen favourite: feelings

one of the craziest things i find about being a person is how much you tend to FEEL things. that might sound dumb to you, and just reading back that sentence it sounds a little dumb to me, but our propensity for having strong opinions, reactions to and emotions about the things that go on around us is a pretty crazy notion when you really start to think about it. don't get me wrong: this is not a 100% awesome thing. oftentimes we let our emotions cloud our judgment, or stubbornly refuse to let anyone who doesn't hold the same opinions as us have the time of day. feelings also sometimes make you feel (ha, no kidding), well, kinda crappy. on the flip side, though, feelings can be just amazing. The tremendous Hank Green (one half of vlogbrothers awesomeness) tackled this idea last month in one of his vlogs. His video description summed up his thought process so brilliantly that i thought i'd share it here:

When we're confronted with negative experiences, we want to analyze them and think about them and remember them for future use. But with positive emotions, we often just feel them and enjoy them, which is wonderful, but also leads to us putting less weight on them and it seems like they take up less space in our minds. No one feels comfortable shouting at the world about how great their day was, or what a cool person they met. Recognizing and harping on the positive experiences we have is a great way, I think, to both have a better outlook on life, and have more positive experiences. So that's what I did in [this] video.

he's awesome, huh? some other cool vloggers have since picked up the baton and listed their 15 favourite feelings, and i caught wind of the idea through my brilliant friend Bronwyn's blog post the other day. since reading her post, i've been compiling my personal list in multiple places (first my brain, and then scribbling on a notepad so i wouldn't forget things) and now i've finally gotten around to typing it up here. so grab the popcorn, strap yourselves down, prepare yourselves in whatever way necessary for the discovery of HANNAH'S FIFTEEN FAVOURITE FEELINGS. (i have accompanied them with my favourite illustrations from LastLemon's 'Happiness Is' series, which is the best thing in the entire world. check some of their illustrations out here.)

1. hot-mug-in-my-hands feeling

yay, i get to experience this feeling right now! it's around 8 degrees Celsius today and my supervisor/boss just made me a mug of coffee. i love wrapping my cold hands around a nice warm mug of something and feeling them heat up. i drink hot beverages pretty quickly (case in point: my mug of coffee is already finished) but even after i've consumed all the coffee/tea/hot chocolate, i'll try to soak up as much of the residual heat still left on the mug as possible.

2. oh-goodness-the-airplane-is-flying feeling

there are two components to this feeling. the first is the literal feeling you get as you're sitting in an airplane and it's rolling down the runway and suddenly it lifts off the ground. that first second of airborne-ness, the feeling that your stomach is a couple metres below you, the crazy almost-weightlessness - i love that so much. the second component of this feeling is the excitement that usually accompanies the literal take-off because you're going somewhere. it's so very lovely.

3. woah-you-get-me feeling

sometimes it's hard for me to communicate my feelings (hahaha clearly not in this post) or make someone see something from my perspective, and that can be super frustrating. i often prepare myself to be misunderstood and have to explain my position further. other times, though, i'm having a conversation with a person and one of us will say something and the other will say YES YES YES and it's like fireworks in my brain exploding the words "I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO FEELS THIS WAY WHAAAAT" into the night sky of my universe. (shoooo that metaphor.) this also happens to me with literature and poetry all the time, which is mainly why i love it so much. there's little better than reading a book and reaching a paragraph that resonates so deeply with you that you feel like jumping up and down and punching the air triumphantly. even Ms Dickinson got it....

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog! 

- Emily Dickinson

4. workout-and-a-hot-shower, let-me-now-take-on-the-world feeling

i am not a morning person, and yet almost every day i drag myself out of bed at 5:45 to go torture myself physically for an hour. (i also am prone to hyperbole; i wonder if you've noticed?) i originally started doing this because it was the only real time during the day that i could commit to getting my exercise in, but now that it's a part of my routine i find that it's just about the best way to get my sleepy body out of bed and started with my day. i absolutely love giving the workout my all, taking a freakin' blazing-hot shower and thinking, "if i could get through that workout i can sure as heck tackle anything today has to throw at me".

5. pillows feeling

...buuut also i love sleep. and i love comfy sleep. and comfy sleep for me means all of the world's pillows on my bed, around me and under my head and back and and and... yeah, i'm kind of pillow-obsessed. my ideal pillow situation is now at least two poofy pillows under my head and at least one poofy pillow between my mattress and my upper body, and when i achieve this equation it's the greatest feeling to just lie there and feel comfy and cocooned.

6. reunion feelings

i'm in a situation now where so many of the people i love are all around the country and the world. while this sucks while i can't be with them, it means there are constantly opportunities for reunions with my friends and family whenever i go somewhere. i absolutely adore seeing people i love after a long time apart and just being able to catch up and feel like no time at all has passed.

7. my-cats-love-me feelings

of course, living away from home means being away from my furries, too. every time i get back to my small town and we pull up outside our house, i love seeing Roo trot up to the gate expectantly; i love jumping out of the car and having Gimli come up to me for scratches. the best is when i'm watching something with Mom and Gimli or Roo decides my lap is The Chosen One for the evening, or in the middle of the night when Roo jumps up onto my bed and meows to be let under the covers and snuggle with me. like Hank says in the video above, it's awesome when the cat chooses you. it makes you feel special ;)

8. hair feelings

okay, i have a lot of feelings about hair. hair is the best thing. i have narrowed it down to four main feelings that i go crazy over (ja, really, there are more - i'm not joking about this love of hair business). first, and tops, is the feeling of the wind in short short hair. if you've ever shaved your head, you'll probably know what i'm talking about. since i've always had long hair, when i shaved my hair off a few years ago i wasn't prepared for the amazing feeling of your scalp tingling when the wind blows, even ever-so-gently. it's giving me goosebumps just writing about it. since i can't get that feeling these days, i resort to the other three favourite hair feelings: the someone-playing-with-or-plaiting-my-hair feeling, the fuzzy-ends-after-a-haircut feeling and the oh-yeah-my-hair-is-clean-and-smells-fantastic feeling. hair is the best.

9. breakthrough-moment feeling

there comes a time when you have been puzzling over something for a long while and trying and trying to get something right or think of a solution or a creative approach to a problem, and suddenly it hits you, like you've been struck by a (very lovely, not dangerous to your health) bolt of lightning. the AHA! moment. i live for that feeling.

10. exhausted, i-worked-hard feeling

okay, this is the one feeling that i couldn't really find an accurate accompaniment for, but these two combined kinda make it work ;) when you've been working on something for a forever-long time and you've poured your heart and soul and energy and life into it, seeing it come to life and feeling that good type of exhaustion, where you know you've earned success and done a great job, that is a joyous feeling to experience.

11. this-music/book-is-brand-new-and-awesome-and-giving-me-goosebumps feeling

aaaaah. finally getting to settle down with a book that you've been anticipating for months, or with some newly-released music that you've just been burning to get your ears on, and not being disappointed - that, my friends, is the life :D

12. my-food-approaches feeling

the image describes this perfectly, but i still want to talk about it because FOOD. so i will just say... FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD HAPPY BELLY FOOD FOOD YUMMY FOOD GOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD.

13. trying-on-clothes-and-NAILING-IT feeling

sometimes you go clothes-shopping and nothing is fitting and you feel really stupid in everything you try on and it can be pretty frustrating... and sometimes you pick something off of the rack, walk into the  change room, put it on and feel elated because OBVIOUSLY this piece of material that has been crafted into a garment was made specifically and only for you, and it fits you like a glove, and you feel magical, as though you are from Harry Potter. it is a goooood good feeling, seriously.

14. boyfriend feelings

like hair, i struggled to narrow these feelings down to a single one, so i have grouped them together into the feelings i have thanks to my guy, Chris. (i love him more than my hair, though.) the first one is that "oh-hi-you" feeling, when i look over at him and i get crazy shivers and remember the first time i remember seeing him and loving the fact that i love him and he loves me so much. (eeeeuw.) the second is the cuddle/tickle feeling, when i fit perfectly in his arms and then he decides it is right and good to tickle me because he knows i will lose my head completely. connected to that is the next-level-safety feeling. what i mean by that is that i am able to be totally vulnerable around him and i have found such a safe place with him, and it is such a wondrous feeling. i also get proud feelings on the regular, because Chris is smart and strong, connected and reliable and funny, and an all-round winner at life. (for instance *brag brag* he was just very recently awarded a scholarship of a sizeable amount to go to a philosophy conference in the USA... i know.)

15. soft kisses

alright, this is also technically a 'boyfriend feeling' but i separated it from its kind because it is hands-down the best feeling ever and deserved its own place of honour. tender, vulnerable kisses with Chris say so much and they give me goosies and make me the absolute happiest person on earth, and so they get the final and top feeling on my list.

OK I'M DONE BEING GROSS NOW... those were all of my favourite feelings ever :)


Sunday, 7 June 2015

insta-time: June


disclaimer before we even get properly started: i am an Instaddict. i love me some Instagram. i am crazy about Instagram. i Instagram many things on a regular basis. so, now that we've cleared that up, i've been quite inspired by a number of dinges i've seen on Instagram lately and wanted to share 'em with ya! :D that way, you can see how very cool i am by all the trendy things i like, and you can maybe follow some new cool people and be grateful that i shared them with you. then everyone will like me more and the ultimate purpose of this blog post will be achieved! (i'm just joking, by the way. jokes.) whattaya say - care to take the journey with me?...

first up is the incredible Emily Blincoe, who is an awesome photographer who takes really stunning pics and also likes to arrange things according to their colour. it makes me so happy! look at these salmonberries...
follow Emily: @emilyblincoe.

the next thing i saw that i loooooved was this donut typography. i'll say it again: 
D O N U T   T Y P O G R A P H Y .
i love it because:
a) donuts (Happy Donut Day for Friday, everyone!)
b) typography
c) puns
d) just.
this piece of magic was shared by The Daily Type: @thedailytype.

d'you know what else is nice? i do. Maria-Ines Gul's watermelon socks, that's what. (duh.)
she is here: @mariainesgul.

if you maybe don't know this about me, i love words. i am 100% a book-over-movie person and i adore poems, quotes, phrases, snippets of insightful conversation put down in writing... the whole shebang. i also thing handwritten stuff is the way of the future, so this pic by Nikko Purnama Lukman made my heart happy :)
Nikko is cool and founded @TheDailyType which i've already mentioned before, so you should follow him: @nikkopurnama.

another thing you might not know about me (if you never speak to me, since it's bound to come up in conversation with me at least once a day... hahaha) is that i am really into CrossFit and the CrossFit Games (which is essentially like any other big sporting tournament). like all sporting tournaments, the CrossFit Games has a series of competitions prior to the final tournament itself, in order to determine which athletes from which areas of the world should compete in the final tournament. these competitions are called 'regionals'. at one of the regional competitions which took place throughout last month, Julie Foucher - an athlete i admire a lot and who has been a competitor in the sport for several years - was competing and during one of the events, she suffered an injury to one of her Achilles tendons. this is her last year competing, just to heighten the emotion. she nevertheless continued through as many of the events as she could without worsening her condition, and showed a lot of heart and commitment in the process. watch this video if you want to see her perform an incredible handstand walk (and no, i cannot do that yet) while wearing a moonboot. a lot of the people i follow on Instagram are CrossFit related, and just about all of them had something to say about Julie's injury and her spirit. i particularly loved this photo taken by Hannah Hayworth:
if you'd like to follow Hannah, who takes really awesome photos: @hannahhayworth
or the incredible Julie: @juliefoucher
and if you'd like to read what Julie herself wrote just over a year ago about CrossFit and risk (because a lot of people worry about that sort of thing), here ya go. (she's a med student and i want her to be my doctor. just sayin'.)

next! remember how i love words? erasure is so fun, like this one by Austin Kleon:
great, huh? Austin posts a ton of erasures and other superb pics; follow him: @austinkleon.

the next pic doesn't really need any explanation. it was posted by Street Art Globe, and it's a piece of work by Ernest Zacharevic in Georgetown, Malaysia. also, it's just lovely!
follow Street Art Globe: @streetartglobe.

i love this royal lion paintbrush posted by Dinara Mirtalipova, a very cool illustrator :D
if you like quirky paintings and illustrations, follow Dinara: @mirdinara

halfway there... to celebrate, let's look at some awesome badges that proclaim love for pizza (!) and America (!) and the letter A (!) - a post by Angela Stewart. how beautiful are these? i want them all, please and thaaaanks.
follow Angela: @homework_party.

Becca Clason is awesome because she makes ALL the cool typography out of STUFF. like this JOY word (which i hou van) made out of ROSE PETALS! 
Becca is so great and her work is so fantastic and i'd like to be her one day so much that it makes me talk in CAPITAL LETTERS. Follow her: @beccaclason. seriously, follow her. her work gives me JOY!

then, this. this is where i want to live someday, so props to Kyle Kuiper for finding it for me.
Kyle is from California, so of course i think he's awesome, but he also posts some really incredible photos and you should check him out: @kdkuiper.

lookit how lovely this is! (i should maybe also mention that flowers are something that i enjoy, too. i enjoy many things in life; i wonder if you could tell.) this is a post by Casey Ligon, who is an enormously talented letterer who also does a lot of stuff by hand (like Becca).
Casey is really fantastic and you oughta check her out: @caseyligon.

and heeeeey, CrossFit again! i WILL keep this paragraph brief ;) suffice it to say that this is Kara Webb, and she's one of my favourite athletes; here she is rowing in her backyard with her doggie Willow watching.
Kara's funny, down-to-earth, talented and driven, and she's always a fun addition to my Insta-feed - check her out: @karawebb1.

MORE LETTERING YAY. this is by Lauren Hom, the creator of Daily Dishonesty and one of my favourite people on Instagram. her caption for this? "The only savings account you really need... am I right?" you are  R I G H T, Lauren!
she's here: @homsweethom.

i love this illustration by The Crafty Type: plain and simple!
they are here: @thecraftytype.

and finally, more lettering (did i mention how much i love lettering yes i did). a piece by the proudly San Franciscan Dirty Bandits. this is the best and only time to use the term "bae" - when referring to the City By The Bay. yep.
follow Dirty Bandits for lots more lettering awesomeness: @dirtybandits.

now, it's your turn - what are some cool things you've seen on your Insta-turf? who should i be following? should i get a life outside of the Insta-net? let me know ;)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

my first country.

today is Mothers' Day, and it's the first day that i'm blogging in over a month. (we can talk about that a little later, if you like.) for the length of the day, i've been met with pictures of the most beautiful women on my Facebook timeline as friends from all around my town, the country and this world acknowledge their moms and the blessing each of them has been. i've had several people (my father included - nice one, Dad!) remind me to tell my mother how special she is today; i've had others arguing that this day should be celebrated with caution because not all mothers are amazing, and yet others maintaining that it shouldn't really be celebrated at all because it's exclusionary. (everything's exclusionary if you look at it long enough, but i try not to pick fights in corners where i don't belong.)

i sent my Mama a message, but didn't post anything on Facebook. yet here i am writing a blog post about her, and about today. blogs somehow seem more private, even though all the same eyes may eventually make it here. if i've coaxed you away from your Facebook or Instagram newsfeed, i'll reward you with a bit of introspection (lucky you!).

a close friend of mine lost her mom a week ago, and i've been in a bit of a fog since then. i think that a lot of this - a lot of the pain and anger i have been fighting through - has to do not only with how much of an incredible woman Aunty Jen was, but also how very deeply i value and depend on my own mom. just the thought of losing her is horrifying to me. today hurts because i imagine Cathryn and Roanne's pain; i breathe it into the cavity of my chest and the truth and greatness and gravity of it stings. today hurts because i can still remember the catch in my father's voice when he got the phone call that morning telling him my grandmother's cancer was this time and finally incurable; i still can picture two of the only times i have ever seen him cry, and both of those occasions were for his unbearably beautiful mom. today hurts because these are just two of the stories that spring to mind; because i know that there are so many people around me who do not have the privilege and advantage that i do - of knowing my mother, and even more, loving her and having every chance to tell her of her significance. so finally, here is my truth.

my mother is my hero. she has known me all of my life, held me inside her as i grew - a mysterious mini-monster, fingernails too small for their size to be comparable to anything; unknowable, and yet totally known. i belonged in her being, i am native to her country, i was fearfully and wonderfully made. she the instrument, the vessel that held me. my mother, who left a home she'd always known to marry the man she loved and live with him in a foreign country; my mother is my very first home. she and my dad raised my sister and me in a small town, and my memories are nothing but holy - running around in the yard, climbing trees, homemade meals, watermelon seed-spitting contests, silkworms, birthday cakes, cats, notes in my lunchbox. my mother, the teacher; who has mothered so many of her students and loved them deeply, much as she has loved me; my mom was my Grade 1 teacher, the woman who wouldn't respond in the classroom when i addressed her as "Mom" and who gave me a bad mark for my handwriting. i still give her grief for that; what a difficult job that must have been, to teach your precocious, year-too-young daughter, nothing but knees, elbows and opinions, amidst a sea of other faces - each of them as important as my own. my mom let me have adventures, took me on nature walks, sewed me dresses, sent me on a trip to Johannesburg with my father when i was 8 years old and set me the task of interviewing my gran while i was there. she tied my hair up every morning, all the way till matric. there are invented words and phrases in my vocabulary that are undeniably hers - how do you spell bobbley? bobalee? she knit a love of reading into my being, read Lewis and Tolkien and Rowling aloud to us at bed-time; she made Sindi and me special pillows and Tupperware dinners complete with cut-up carrots and apples for Bird Club nights, where we would drowsily gaze up at slides of raptors late into the evening, lying on the floor at the front of the Scout Hall. my mother, the doctor; she would stroke my head and back in sickness, plait my hair, get me water and ginger ale, speak to me as comfort. when i was sick enough to find myself in hospital earlier this year, it was my mother whose advice i sought, whose voice i heard on the other end of the line, sending those same words of comfort to me over countless telephone wires. my mother, the builder; who does not shy away from building into the lives of those around her, who invests her time so thoroughly in the wellbeing of others, who exhausts herself with the intentional love she pours out on her family, friends and strangers alike. my mother, who loved me at times when i was unbearable even to myself, who grew me up and watched me occasionally walk away only to find myself back again; who came to watch my U13B hockey matches, as terrible as i was, as little as she understood the game. my mother, who taught me how to use my typewriter, who watches rugby and silly series with me, who sends me photos of my cats in ridiculous sleeping poses, who encourages me to write and tells me i am talented; who loves my brother and his wife as fiercely as if they were her very own children; who prays and struggles and writes and sleeps far too little at night. she is so very often an example of Christ in what she does. she is my cheerleader and she is my rock and she is such an important friend in my life. 

my first country.
the first place i ever lived."

i love you, Mama.

p.s. if you are reading this and today hurts for you, for whatever reason, know that i hurt with you and i am thinking of you.

p.p.s. oh yes, i promised to talk about not having blogged in forever, despite me needing to do so for NaPoWriMo. oops! i did write most of the poems for the month; i will post all of my favourites that i wrote in a few days for you to read :)

Friday, 3 April 2015

day three: in/con/se/quence

it's quarter past midnight here, and i need to get some sleep, but first let me share my Day 3 poem with you all!

whe prompt for today was to write a fourteener, a poem of indiscriminate length but with fourteen syllables in each line. i kept drawing blanks when i tried to think of something with, you know, gravitas that i could write about, so at 23:52, i sat/lay on/in my bed with my exam pad paper and an old red pen and scribbled out this:

if you can't read my writing or the additions to a few of the lines (i found, as it happens, that i'm pretty good at naturally writing 12-syllable lines once I get in the groove, so i had to add a couple syllables to at least a couple lines!) i've typed it out below :)


A poem with fourteen syllables to each line I write
Eight minutes before midnight, here I sit and sigh and scrawl
With little to inspire my thoughts or set my mind alight
I tap my pen on paper and await the speechless call
Of inspiration, words of magic in my squinting sight
Or a bright bolt of lightning, knowledge that might someday fall
And yet I sit and scribble this inconsequential rhyme
I check the clock again and find that I am out of time.

and now? now for something super consequential like SLEEP ;)