Month: March 2014

contagion.

rain 02Image: Martina Woll

Monday.

I’ve let my entire week be coloured by Monday. Its grey blanket of clouds has permeated and spread its way throughout me. My skin, my lips, my hands – they all reek of Monday.

It wasn’t like something terrible happened. In fact, in many ways Monday could be seen as a success of sorts. But alas, I received it like an unexpected punch – curling up on the sodden earth as the air was taken out of me.

See, I’ve been applying for lots of jobs and programmes over the past few weeks. It’s been busy and fairly overwhelming, but somewhat exciting, too. On Monday I had a change of pace – rather than sending off applications I had two interviews- one for a job and one for an intensive exchange programme.

In summary: the first interview went well and the second interview went pretty well overall, but I made some undeniable stuff ups. And in summary: I didn’t get the job and I am 98.75% certain that I won’t be offered a position on the exchange programme tomorrow.

Despite the potential that I will find a better job and that I will almost certainly save a shed load of money (the cost of the exchange), the double dose of rejection has set the tone for my week: and it’s flat and off-key.

I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but I just feel disheartened. Why wouldn’t you want me to work for you? I get sh!t done and I bring in brownies on a semi-regular basis. I am not skilled when it comes to hula-hooping or cartwheels, but I can do other stuff, I promise.

On the other hand, if I had been offered the job and if I had really aced the exchange interview I would still be doing little mental fist pumps today. And today is Thursday. I would be feeling motivated and excited about life and really proud of myself, too. Which, if we extrapolate, indicates that I’m letting external forces shape my confidence and self-esteem…

But that’s all theory, and this is practice. And the reality is that we are here: It is Thursday and I am watching a bobbing ocean of umbrellas and hoods pass by me. The sky is still a monotonous backdrop of glaring grey. It’s been like this for days. Hasn’t it? I’m not so sure anymore.

I feel like I’m playing Stuck in the Mud: my legs are glued down and I have to push with all my might in order to drag myself over to the edge of this bog.

Bogged.

I’m bogged.

All of my energy is depleted from trying, in vain, to lift my feet from this mud. It’s oozing everywhere. God, I need a bath.

The muscles framing my lips quiver when they try to lift my lips upwards. It’s just too much weight for them to bear.

All I really want is sugar and hugs and sleep.

****

The street has been freshly doused with puddles. The empty pavement reveals the nature of its inhabitants – tucked away at their desks with their mid-morning lattes. Navigating my way to an unknown building I spot a boy. No, a guy. No, a man. A man is walking towards me; his face coming in and out of focus as his umbrella gently floats above him. A quick glance and then eyes turn away. Eye contact is impolite in the 21st century.

As the metres quickly dissipate, I look up. And as I do, he is passing me. And as he passes me he turns his eyes towards me. And as he turns his eyes towards me the muscles framing his lips lift them up through his cheeks.

And I smile back.

And although it only lasts a minute, it pushed away Monday for a few glowing seconds.

 

Alex x

Post-script: And now for some Gotye (of the Non-“Somebody That I Used to Know” variety).

Another post-script: As it turns out, I was offered a position on the exchange programme, after all 🙂

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mouse-click miracles.

I’m sorry to inform you, but “liking” that photo will not save that baby.

be518154483b6a9a968e88ae670a41ad

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi.

Perhaps we’re all searching for a tangible miracle within our sometimes steel-clad, disenchanted world. Perhaps it’s because growing up to be a ballerina or a fire-fighter just doesn’t cut it anymore. But contributing to something that will change the world? That means something. That commands our respect and admiration. But perhaps we’ve taken it too far…

Before I get going I would like to clarify some things from the outset. Of most relevance to what is to follow: I am not a particularly charitable person. That wasn’t a deliberately self-deprecating comment, but rather a realistic one. I enjoy doing volunteer work, but I haven’t done much recently (although that is something I am going to work on this year). I don’t contribute that much money to charities or other worthwhile causes. I don’t campaign or attend rallies. I don’t fundraise. I don’t work at an NGO or charity and I don’t have any particular intention of doing so within the foreseeable future. Basically, I could be doing a lot more to help others and the world.

I would also like to emphasise that I do not intend to mock any of the causes or societal issues that I may mention. They all have real and devastating impacts on the lives of individuals throughout our world.

Disclaimer: over.

So, I may not be a particularly benevolent person, but occasionally I’ll like a photo or status on Facebook in a gesture of sincere clicktivism. I’m sure you know the type: the one where if we reach 1 million likes will mean the difference between a chronically sick child’s life or death. Or perhaps a #makeupfreeselfie for breast cancer as you may have noticed mingled into your Facebook newsfeed over the past week.

That has to count for something, right??

Well, actually, no. I don’t think so.

Sure – social media is a useful tool in driving a marketing or PR campaign. Personally, I think that a campaign without a social media activation and strategy would probably be minimising its potential and reach… unless you’re targeting non-social media users! And yes, social media has been really beneficial to individuals who are suffering in some very practical ways.

Take, for example, a dog I follow on Instagram. Yes, you read that correctly: I follow a dog on Instagram. Nice one, Alex. But to be fair, this isn’t any dog – it’s a hilarious French Bulldog named Sir Charles Barkley (You can call him Barkley for short). And with over 175K followers, Barkley’s posts travel far from his Seattle home. So far, his account has been used to find missing dogs and reunite them with their owners and raise money for pups who need expensive surgery in a similar way to how people who are seeking missing family members or a bone marrow donor have used Facebook to facilitate their search.

I’m not for a second doubting the power of social media in helping to raise awareness about certain issues and causes and that it can be really positive and powerful.

But tell me, how is sharing that photo of that baby actually going to ensure that it lives?

How is liking an animal rights photo going to save that pig?

How is retweeting Amnesty International really going to help those in need?

How is following World Vision on Facebook going to make a difference in the lives of children and communities in developing nations?

How is posting an attention-seeking status to the effect of “I want to do it on the kitchen bench” (which just happens to be a ‘secret thing amongst women’ about where you place your handbag down when you arrive at home) going to raise long-term, meaningful awareness of breast cancer?

How is supposedly divulging which colour bra you’re wearing (which is a similar thing where the colour corresponds with your birth month) going to change anything either?

How on earth is a makeup free selfie going to see an end to cancer? Please, do tell me. Ok, evidently it vaguely got my attention because otherwise I wouldn’t be typing this sentence, but have I done a breast check since seeing one of those #makeupfreeselfies? (I’ll give you a hint: two letter answer – first letter N, second letter O.) Bad Alex.

Makeup-free selfies, in and of themselves, can be positive in helping to promote a healthy, realistic body image (as long as they’re not being used as an excuse for fuelling our vanity). And if this week’s campaign was about that, then I wouldn’t be going on this mini-rant, because I have a lot of time for initiatives which help people to develop positive body image. But the last time I checked, my selfies weren’t finding a cure for cancer or encouraging my friends into doing breast checks.

imagesGW1PU19F  imagesKGNP1I0J  untitled

So, evidently I’m the Grinch of Breast Cancer awareness. You’re welcome to get pissed off at me.

You may disagree with me, but really, who the hell are we kidding? It’s great that we want to get involved and do our bit. But why don’t we do something which is meaningful, that is going to make a difference. We can contribute through the donation of time or money, for example. No, it may not get as many likes on Facebook. It may not make you look quite as baben on Instagram. It may not make you look like the socially aware, caring person that you wish to portray yourself as being.

But perhaps it could actually make a difference.

Alex x

Epilogue: And now that I have finished my little rant I guess this is the part where I ensure that I’m not a hypocrite by going out and contributing in a more meaningful way myself. #watchthisspace

PS: To the anonymous person who passed on a message to me through our mutual friend over the weekend – thank you! Also, come and say hi next time?

****

An editorial post script:

Since writing this I’ve found out that the #makeupfreeselfie trend has in fact raised a couple of million quid in the UK. This is great stuff. However, I know it may sound cynical and critical, but I find it repugnant that people were only, seemingly, spurred into action by the fact that doing so contributed to their social media self-promotion. For me, the idea of giving isn’t about the giver, but the recipient. 

In addition to this, I’d love to recommend Clementine Ford’s article in relation to the topic. She’s ace and so is her piece. Find it here.

Ax

pure intentions.

Who’d have thought that trying to do the right thing would be so hard…

Image

Flora finally had the hair she’d always wanted.

Every two to three months I encounter a mildly bizarre phenomenon: nearly all of my beauty and skincare products run out at Exactly. The. Same. Time.

SPF moisturiser? Nighttime moisturiser? Cleanser? Shampoo? Conditioner? Spot gel? BB cream? Mask? Scrub? ALL OF IT. Dammit.

The subsequent result is that my beauty spending will have been flat-lining and then there will be a spike somewhat reminiscent of yours truly on a sugar high after having devoured a piece slab of Lindt.

But that’s not the issue. The issue is that when all of my products run out I then remember that I am trying to be virtuous. (Emphasis on the “trying”.) And by “virtuous” I mean more organic/environmentally friendly/cruelty-free/toxin-free/paraben-free. But what the hell are parabens?

And thus begins my quarterly attempt at natural beauty.

It all begins with sunshine, sugar-free lollypops and rainbows without any artificial colours. I set out on my little adventure skipping off towards the fountain of all modern knowledge: Google. Because if you’re going to be green, research is pretty damn important.

Except research is boring. But more so, it’s OVERWHELMING. How green is green enough?

Is it made of all plant-derived ingredients? Are those plants organic? But, HOW organic? Is it free of toxins? Is it in biodegradable packaging? Does it have carbon credits?

Here are some fun things I’ve learnt along the way:

  • Miranda Kerr’s KORA Organics? Fun fact: only a small percentage (approximately 10%) of the ingredients in her products are organic.
  • Organic Care by Nature’s Organics, the supermarket option for environmentally-conscious consumers? Yeah, it’s mainly marketing. For one, their products are not organic so don’t let the parent brand name fool you. They proudly specify that they don’t have certain ingredients in their shampoos and conditioners (how wonderful!) but when you read the fine print they just have very similar ingredients with a different name (like “sugar”, “sucrose” and “glucose”). Ugh.
  • Botanical names are an utter b!tch. I feel like I need to do some post-grad study just to decode the list of ingredients. And then after you’ve decoded the flipping ingredients you then have to evaluate whether you would like to use them on your skin or not. Fun fact: every brand has a different cocktail of natural ingredients, which they can tell you without hesitation is better than everyone else’s. And it’s more organic than everyone else’s too. More organic. If you turn down something which is more organic then what kind of bad human are you?
  • A lot of the packaging is UGLY. Lots of it is either tacky and naff or really boring and dated. (Some notable exceptions include: Sodashi, Aesop and Grown Alchemist. You do good stuff, guys.) It seems like because they are au naturel that they assume that aesthetics are in conflict with their ethos. And while this probably reflects the values of some of their consumers, I am not one of them. I am superficial and I want to be WOOED by the packaging. I like marketing and visual communication. This is something that excites me. And thus, I want the packaging to be at least somewhat attractive. (NB: I find that this generally applies to gents, too. Attractive packaging goes a long way.)
  • Researching natural/organic/etc skincare is seriously like base jumping down into Wonderland. It is a whole new world down here. Think of all the fun you can have researching whether any of the benefits a product markets is actually of concern to you. For example, is natural better than organic? Are no parabens better than no toxins? Is vegan better than gluten free? (Yes, gluten free skincare). Cos if you’re going to bother to buy one of these green living products then you may as well make a conscious, informed decision, right?
  • And then you remember to ask yourself, “So, does the fact that this moisturiser is only made of natural ingredients mean that it will actually work?” And don’t think that you can stop to ask whether preservative free products are actually better for the environment. Don’t be stupid. You’re not meant to ask tricky questions! Also, something to keep in mind: it generally takes a month until you can really garner whether a product is working for you. Which means you’re kinda limited to properly testing 12 products a year. Have fun with that!
  • This is also not the time to remember that there is a strong correlation between gorgeous, glowing skin and drinking water, eating healthily and exercising regularly. That’s kind of irrelevant right now! I’m in the middle of trying to decide which preservative-free soap to buy!
  • Perhaps you want to sashay your way into organic/natural makeup. Enjoy! Also, have fun with the fact that as there are very few bricks & mortar stores which stock said products that you have to make your decision on which colour foundation is going to match your skin based on swatches on your computer screen. Cos that’s not fraught with danger at all.
  • On that note, is mineral makeup good for you? I heard that minerals were good, but then I heard that they were bad for you… But the brand has the word “Nature” in its name, so that must mean that it’s good, right? Right?
  • Then, darlings, you will get to the checkout and you will want gasp as you double check that you didn’t accidentally order three cleansers rather than one. No, don’t worry – no typos here! That’s right: you are about to pay an extortionate amount of money for products which you a) have not tried because you are unable to access any testers b) have comparatively few reviews on them because they are less-popular brands c) are expensive and d) which you have no idea will work for your skin! But it’s organic so input credit card details here!

Then you remember that you’re a student who is leaving her current job in three weeks time and that your bank account has seen better days. And so you close the twelve tabs that you have open. But, what to do now? You’ve already endured two days without a cleanser, telling yourself to hold out for your imminent purchase of a natural alternative.

But I still haven’t figured out what that obscure ingredient is. So, f*#& it.

Neutrogena? Garnier? MAC? Covergirl? Clinique?

My old faithfuls. I’m coming for you.

Alex x

the most random date of my life: a DIY guide.

A blind date of sorts…

blind-date
Perhaps it would’ve gone better if I had worn that paper bag, after all…

Once upon a time, about a year ago, I went on the most random date of my life thus far.

Please note that “most random” does not denote “worst”. Oh, no, munchkins – that one is in a whole league of its own.

Well, it all started with a regular night. I was catching the bus home and as I may or may not have had a beverage or three I had a little snooze on the bus. Yes, I know.  Not a good thing to do. Yes, I know. And then I suddenly realised that it was my stop, so I bounded off the bus. Then I was rummaging in my bag after getting into a taxi when I realised that I. Could. Not. Find. My. Phone.

OHHHHHHMYYYYGODDDDDDD. GAHHHHHH!!! WHERE IS IT?! HOW AM I GOING TO LIVE?!?!?!

Yeah, I played it cool.

However, I did have a fairly good brainwave when I got home: I’ll call my phone! And so I did just that. A twenty-something male answered to a bombardment of “Hi! Do you have my phone?!”

In between my audible exhalations of relief, this kind gent told me his number and address and said that I could pick it up from his place the next day. Thus, he found himself subsequently bombarded by “OMG! Thank you! Thank you! You’re the BEST!!” multiple times. Enthusiasm in the early hours of the morning is the best type of enthusiasm, right? 

Because I am a devious rascal I went off to bed thinking that I could potentially wrangle a date of sorts out of the situation. My plan: asking if I could buy him a drink as a way of thanking him when I went and collected the phone. Genius!

However, as it so happened, he was heading out of town the next afternoon. So, in the morning he found my Dad’s number in my phone, called him and coordinated for my Dad to collect the phone – which he kindly did – because I was still recovering asleep.

My plans were thwarted. Gahhhh. However, I did casually ask my Dad about what the guy had been like and he got a good review… So, seeing as I still had his number written upon our whiteboard I dropped him a line, again thanking him for his help in getting my phone back to me. My precious. We texted back and forth for a bit before I asked him if I could buy him a drink as a way of saying thank you. He happily agreed and he rocked up at mine that Friday night.

SO. Let’s do a quick recap of what’s happened thus far: a guy on a bus at 2am picked up my phone after I left it on my seat. He returned it to me via my Dad. Oh, and also, I’ve never seen this guy in my whole entire life and I know absolutely nothing about him (apart from the fact that he isn’t the phone-stealing type). No biggie. Yeah, I wasn’t stressing at all.

I walk up to the top of my driveway on Friday night and there’s a guy leaning against his car. I’m not really into cars, but it was more of the “I like cars. I am a man. Be impressed by my wheels” variety than the “this is the oldest, cheapest thing I could find” or the “yeah, it’s my parents'” type. Whatevs. I don’t really care about which car people drive.

We say hi, give each other a kiss on the cheek and get into his car. Yep. That’s right. I’m now in a stranger’s car. Isn’t this exactly what I was taught NOT to do?! God, Alex. Anyway. We drive down to a local beach surrounded by bars and restaurants where we have dinner from some pop-up night food markets. All is going pretty well.

ImageLet’s not lie: I was totally wishing for a Matthew Le Nevez doppleganger. Dreams = unfulfilled. (Photo: Tina Smigielski)

We chat and he is a nice guy and a pretty interesting and intelligent person… but within half an hour I think we both know that we’re not attracted to each other (which is ideal on a date, isn’t it?) After eating we decide to go for a walk cos that’s the kind of thing that people do on dates, right? Within the first 100 metres we bump into two of his friends… which was mildly awkward considering the fact that I’m pretty sure that between us four we were thinking:
“Is this actually a date?”
“Who must they think that I am?”
“He didn’t tell me about her…
“This is not what it looks like.”
“Who is she?”
“When is this going to end?” 

Needless to say that I was pretty relieved when we got back to this walk of ours.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I go for a walk on a date, it normally means that it’s a ‘Walk’ aka a romantic stroll with the opportunity purpose of canoodling.* Right? However, this walk was not of the ‘Walk’ variety due to a) the aforementioned lack of attraction and b) that he was power walking and thus, I was power walking too… which was probably due to a).

For those of you who know me in real life you may know that I have a tendency to walk fast as my default – this comes from a youth spent running late and trying to make up for this fact by walking faster. Thankfully, my punctuality has improved, but the fast walking has stuck. Except this guy’s fast walking was taking things to a whole new level.

But this wasn’t any old random fast walk. Oh, no. It was a random fast walk in Brand. New. Heels. If you’re not someone who wears heels this equates to the regular breaking in new shoe pain multiplied by a lot.

http---static.theiconic.com.au-p-windsor-smith-1142-67748-1The shoes in question.

And this wasn’t any old random fast walk in brand new heels. It was a FOUR KILOMETRE fast walk in brand new heels. I kid you not. It really was. (I measured it on Google Maps and everything). Perhaps he was trying to kill time… So, after four kilometres I thought it would be a great time for a drink. Yes, pleaseeeeee!

But then it got even better, because I found out that he didn’t drink. Yes, that’s right: He. Doesn’t. Drink.

Look, I have nothing against people who don’t drink, but it just really isn’t conducive to dating me because a) I enjoy a drink, b) I will be hoping that you enjoy a drink too and c) it makes dating me a heck of a lot easier – just trust me on this.

This was not the revelation I needed, but I still wanted to be able to thank him for his kindness in returning my phone to me, so we ended up at Max Brenner per his request where he ate a chocolate fondant and we bumped into more of his friends (aka Well, This is Slightly Awkward: Round Two).

Afterwards he dropped me home where we sat at the top of my driveway listening to music in the car. It seemed appropriate to just sit in the car for a bit as a way of making up for our mutual lack of attraction or something. It was like we were going through the motions of “this is what we know we’re meant to do on a date”. But instead of locking lips we blared Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ song, “Ceiling Can’t Hold Us”.

As it turned out my date knew every single word, which was quite impressive seeing as it was quite new at the time.

I got out of the car after a while, thanking him and saying goodnight, subconsciously taking the song with me in my head. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would end up loving it… to the extent that to this day I can still sing the entire song start to finish, word for word.

So, I guess there are some small, bizarre perks of going on a date with a complete stranger whom you didn’t really meet on a bus after all – especially if you’re like me and you have a soft spot for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Alex x

* I can’t believe I just used that word.

first kiss.

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One of my close friends has recently started her post-graduate studies in publishing. Last night we sat in separate rooms, tapping at our various keyboards. However, I disrupted our workflow quite a few times as I trailed in to talk to her: either to distract myself from my job applications or to be able to share some inane thought I’d just had. As I walked in yet again I sat down, looked over her shoulder, and she offered to share the uni task she was working on with me.
Her task? To write about her first kiss.

I sat there, mesmerised. It was dripping with the first taste of sultry lust and the collision of longing, curiosity and hesitation. A smoky, sweaty romance where beautiful things happen in forgotten places.

Naturally, I interrogated her. As it turns out, this wasn’t exactly her first kiss after all: sure, it was definitely based on a real kiss from her early-mid teens, but she explained that she chose to use this one instead of her real first kiss as this was far more interesting.

A happy coincidence of academic syllabus and pop culture, her task happened to be extremely pertinent as social media has been inundated with first kisses over the past week.*

Or, more specifically, these first kisses:

Yeah, you’ve probably already watched it by now, but come on – you know you want to watch it again.

Now. Let’s chat.

You probably know the story by now: that the filmmaker Tatia Pilieva asked 20 strangers to kiss on camera. 36,299,275 YouTube hits and one parody later and we have the latest darling of Things That Go Viral. And then it came to light that the film was actually produced for LA-based fashion label, Wren, in which all of the dames are dressed. People also Googled the ‘kissers’ who starred in the film only to find that they were creatives of the semi-famous variety (models, musicians, actors et co.)

“OUTRAGE!!! ALL OF THOSE EMOTIONS ARE FAKE!! WE HAVE BEEN DECEIVED!!” we cried. Our Wednesdays seemed a tad less meaningful. All our dreams of making out with that babe from the floor below in the work elevator were unceremoniously quashed.

Oh, please. Let’s all get over ourselves.

Firstly, according to Wren’s Melissa Coker, those twenty people were strangers who genuinely didn’t know each other or what task they were going to be asked to perform prior to the filming [1]. Nor did they know when the cameras were rolling (or not) during the filming. Coker reassured us that what we saw was real, adding that all of the participants were friends of either Pilieva or herself. (They just happen to have some pretty attractive friends, don’t they?)

Either way, what we’re left with is an incredibly powerful video and a clever marketing and PR campaign.

So, what made First Kiss go viral? Why won’t my YouTube clip get 35+ million hits within four days? That’s because a clip of you discordantly humming Katy Perry songs just isn’t… doesn’t… don’t worry about it.

Quite simply, First Kiss taps into our innate desires and reaffirms our connection with those around us. The film captures, rather beautifully, a moment of shared human experience. Pilieva allows us to witness a moment of incredible emotion, sensuality and vulnerability. Kissing someone for the first time is something to which we can easily relate – reflecting our homo sapien desire for love, relationships and sex.

But Pilieva and Coker haven’t just crafted three minutes and 28 seconds of emotionally-charged black and white bliss. No. They also injected their work with some subtle social commentary. Most of the participants were paired with someone society would deem “normal and appropriate” for them in terms of age and personality (eg: twenty-something babe with twenty-something babe). However, First Kiss shakes things up a little by pairing a guy in his early twenties – who could well be gay (what do you guys think?) – and a woman in her late fifties. I found it refreshing and lovely to be reminded of the structures which our world, as a whole, subscribes to and to see those norms pushed against, if only briefly.

This theme of taboo is pervasive throughout the film: firstly, through the concept of kissing a stranger – the acting upon of a fantasy. Secondly, the fact that these kisses have an audience… of millions. Voyeurism has, obviously, been one of our favourite pastimes since the early 2000s. Thanks to our addiction to reality TV the idea of watching people cooking, sewing, building, talking, fighting, shopping, eating or even kissing isn’t by any means new. However, the moments captured in First Kiss do provide the viewer with something that we do not normally have the opportunity to observe. We witness a series of intensely private socially abnormal moments, and our presence (in the form of the camera) serves to compact the apparent nervousness of the participants.

On a practical note, like many viral campaigns, First Kiss was designed to be easy to share across social media platforms and to leave many questions unanswered. The fact that it was posted by someone who was relatively unknown and was intentionally designed with no semblance to a traditional ad, has only further fuelled its popularity.

And now that it has everyone with access to an internet connection talking, Coker has generated a huge amount of publicity for her brand. Personally, from watching First Kiss I associate the Wren brand with understanding what it means to be human – sensual, real and raw. In my mind it’s a brand which is not afraid to step outside the boundaries of the norm to try something new. And I dig that.

What do you think? Do you feel cheated after the discovery of the ‘fabricated’ nature of First Kiss? Do you think it was effective in terms of Wren’s marketing and publicity? Do you just to make out with a stranger?**

Alex x

*Unless you are living under a rock. And if that’s the case, then good for you, man.
** You and I both.

[1] http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1723997/first-kiss-video.jhtml

dreamscape.

Relearning how to dream…

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Print and photo by the talented Jasmine Dowling.

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
– T. E. Lawrence

“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”
– A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

 

Whilst catching up with friends recently I’ve noticed that I have been getting rather excited when talking about my plans for the year and for the future in general. Look, it’s better than reporting that “not much” has been happening (seeing as it renders catching up somewhat redundant), but my enthusiasm is bordering on geeky.

Although it is a bit lame, this quietly marks a significant personal achievement.

How??  Well, let me explain.

See, one day nearly two years ago I came to the rather awful, heartbreaking realisation that I had no dreams.

None. None at all. Unless you include “passing all of my subjects this semester” as a dream.

My dreams had been erased and scratched out and burnt. They had disappeared and vanished. Life, which had once been in high-definition, had become a foggy blur where my dreams were completely indiscernible.

It was a rainy, grey winter’s morning in Sydney and I was sitting with about 30 strangers at a one day event for young adults which I had been invited along to. They had advertised it with inspirational guest speakers (including a non-Rugby sports star) and free lunch. Hence, I was sold.

Our morning session began with a motivational speaker (the one who wasn’t an elite athlete) presenting. As it so happened, he spoke to us about the power of our dreams and how to achieve them. Between scribbling down some thoughts on the very pretty notebook we’d all been given at the start of the day, he turned the question to us: “So, what are your dreams?”

Uhhh… Well, this is awkward… What are my dreams? Hmmmmm… Ahhh… Errrr… Ummmm.

It was at this moment that it hit me that I had no dreams.

As per usual, I didn’t really put all of the pieces of the puzzle together at the time. However, looking at it now, it makes perfect sense as I was actually in a really dark place at that time. Everything was a struggle. I could barely see past the next few days, let alone months or years ahead. Depression is a bit of a b!tch at the best of times.

I find it saddening just to type it, but I simply didn’t have energy or cerebral space to contemplate the future. Thus, I had few plans and little to look forward to. I had nothing to aim for because I had no dreams to fuel those aims, which only served to compact my depression a bit more.

However, my lack of dreams was not fixed as simply as just, well, dreaming. No, in this case it took working on the depression before I was eventually able to start dreaming again…

****

Cut forward nearly two years. A fair bit has changed and I have come a long way… and I guess one of the inadvertent markers of how far I’ve come is that I’m dreaming again.

In all honesty, I can barely remember anything that that motivational speaker said all that time ago. Oops. I was listening, I promise! The whole ‘dreams’ thing had dropped off my radar fairly soon after that day. However, they’ve finally come back onto the scene. I think this has been aided by now being able to countdown my days left at uni and being inspired by my friends and peers, who have reminded me that we can all do some pretty awesome sh!t with our lives.

And now that they are here, oh, are they here. A bland, ambivalent, vague future has been replaced by ambitious, vivid dreams which I am feeling pretty damn passionate about.

That doesn’t mean that I have complete clarity or that I’m not confused about which path to take (Ha! What a novelty that’d be!), but man does it feel good.

It feels so good to want something – to be driven and to have a capacity for desire which extends beyond chocolate.

However having dreams isn’t entirely straight forward.

See, now that I have dreams, I have to do something with them. Good work, Einstein. 

This would be simple if I had simple dreams, but, naturally, they are rather grand and not the kinds of things which can be pulled off in a day. Yes, that is probably part of the inherent nature of dreams – that they are long-term things to work towards and look forward to – but I didn’t imagine that having dreams would be so… problematic.

See, now that I have some dreams I am actually slightly afraid. No, that’s not a word I use in relation to myself very often – I use it very rarely, in fact. But articulating my dreams has churned this up in me because once I say them aloud then I am, in a way, committing myself to make them real and they could well take me down some very different life paths to the one I am currently travelling on. The unknown is exciting, but it’s a bit scary too. In addition to this, I sometimes feel a bit embarrassed articulating my dreams to others because I feel that there are other people who are far more talented and better-suited to my dreams.

In writing this post I revisited my pretty notebook from that day nearly two years ago (twas the 5th of June, 2012 if you’re interested). As it so happens, during his presentation the motivational speaker talked about how the main thing which prevent people from realising their dreams is what he called the “Fat Bastards” – also known as our negative self-talk which causes us to doubt ourselves, place ceilings over our heads, allow fear to fester, getting us stuck in ruts and allowing what other people say to discourage us.

His advice was to program the voice you do want to hear to speak louder than the Fat Bastards. The negative thoughts are unable to be erased entirely, but they can be dimmed so that they are barely audible.

Well, thank you notebook from 2012 and thank you hoarder Alex for keeping said notebook. See, I told you it would come in handy. 

Well, if it’s as simple as over coming negative self-talk then, in theory, I should be able to do that pretty easily (seeing as I have done it quite a few times before)… but it can be much harder in practice, can’t it?

So, although I’m not ready to type my dreams out on the interweb (which you may find ironic considering some of the other things that I am willing to type about), I have started to tell some of my close friends about where I’m heading…

… and, as it so happens, I didn’t really have anything to be fearful of in the first place.

Alex x

in the process.

My excuses for the silence.

Image
THE white peach and amaretto cheesecake.

Well, hello there.

It’s been a whole twelve days without posting anything. For those of you who had one less thing to waste their time with: Lucky the Oscars have been there to fill the void. For those of you who hadn’t noticed: It’s not being taken personally. For those of you who are wondering about the cheesecake: We are kindred spirits.

“Well, where have you been then, Alex?” I hear you inquire. 

You, my darling, are full of good questions. I’ve been:

  • Flying long-haul surrounded by seven (crying) babies.
  • Watching crappy movies whilst flying long-haul to drown out the sound of the aforementioned babies.
  • Unpacking.
  • Reading.
  • Getting myself quasi-organised for uni.
  • Going to uni.
  • Bludging uni.
  • Coughing. A lot of coughing.
  • Birthday-ing.
  • Eating that cheesecake… and chocolate… and other awesome sugary stuff.
  • Sleeping.

So, I’ve been somewhat busy. Well, sort of.

Now, here’s the part where you guess that I’m about to say “and this, cherubs, is why I haven’t had time to blog over the past nearly two weeks.”
Ahh not quite. This is actually the part where I tell you that I’ve been blogging a lot.

Huh? 

Well, ok. Perhaps there isn’t any evidence of this fact, but trust me – I’ve been typing. In fact, I have quite a few posts which are sitting there, more or less ready to go. It’s like they’re all just elegantly reclining in the Qantas first class lounge at Sydney International Airport, sipping on champagne and enjoying the free fine-dining; relishing it all whilst they can before Qantas’ imminent self-combustion.

Actually, I’ve kept these posts in the metaphoric airport lounge because neither they or I are quite ready.

Firstly, although these draft posts are 95% complete they still need some restructuring and refinement. Then in terms of me not being ready, it’s a matter of timing. See, when I type here it’s actually with a compulsion of sorts. I just need to get whatever it is that I’m saying or feeling out of my system. There is definitely an element of catharsis to the whole thing. And when it comes to pressing “publish”, I like to be feeling what I’m describing in that post – or at least being vaguely in the mindset I’m describing; I want to feel an emotional connection with the post’s content, rather than distancing myself from it.

I’m not really sure whether that last bit made any sense. Basically, I don’t want to force myself to post content; I want to publish posts because I have a genuine desire to do so. I think that as soon as I begin making myself post pieces that the essence of this blog will shift slightly. And, at the moment, I don’t want to shift it. I like it just the way it is.

Anyway. Who am I to deny anyone their free champagne?

In the meantime, thank you for your patience.

Alex x