Friday, 27 March 2015

Tonight I Felt Alive

The nights I feel alive, are when laughter fills the halls outside my door. The nearly-summer air climbs through the window; I close my eyes. Chinese food, cold, on the floor. But there, in the corner - I can smell burnt out camp-fires, lingering like some old burnt out heart. Smouldering and ashy, the morning after the night in the wild. To my left, musicians are dancing in the background blur of an old barn, I think I went there in a book once. The sound of metal wings hurtles through space. "Now" becomes "Then". These are the nights of my youth, the nights I felt alive.

Monday, 2 March 2015

How To Be Successful



How To be Successful


The definition of success is all wrong, is skewed and twisted and it's tricking humans everywhere into thinking that their lives are incomplete. Success is a bear trap in a forest overflowing with bears - everyone gets bitten. Ears prick up at the mention of it, it's a thirst that can't be quenched. A cut of meat so good, yet so expensive... and we all want a bite.

Here's what I've realised.

Society nurtured me into thinking that success was money, in all shapes and forms. Maybe it was a beautiful, well-kept house. Maybe it was waking up every morning without a worry in how you are going to pay your bills, provide for yourself and your family. Success was soft fabric wrapped around my skin, that whispered: "Don't you want me?"

Success is a carefully woven web, designed to trap and motivate you into a life spent wanting that next thing. Success is approval of the masses, success is being pretty enough, sexy enough. But don't worry - if you weren't born that way, like most of us weren't; you can always buy, buy, buy. Work, consume, work, die.

It all started dawning on me a year ago, after a break-up. I'd felt unhappy, unfulfilled. I'd assumed this was down to the relationship being a wrong fit, so I left. My life was maths, and I deducted the odd number and thought I'd be left with something positive, something even.

But I wasn't.

My life revolved around my work, the Sun to my Earth. More than that, money was the gravity that made it all go. "Just take this job" I thought, and things will grow, and change and evolve and be better. And so, I made a decision to quit. I wanted OFF. I wanted OUT. Since I couldn't figure out what was wrong with my life, as I had so many reasons to be happy, I figured the only way was to throw my life out of the window and start from scratch.

Here's what I did.

1) I moved in with my parents.

Having wonderful parents who didn't ask me to pay rent while I stayed with them helped me hugely. It gave me a few months to work out what I was doing with myself, where I wanted to go. Financial pressures and commitments are some of the heaviest weights you can take on during your journey, and I would highly recommend against them. Success isn't your living situation. Drop your pride, screw the postcode. Imagine being able to live for free, or very little... appealing, huh?

2) I stopped taking on any paid work.

This was tough, because money is nice because you can buy things and do things. But I needed to let it go... my days were filled with computer screens with emotionless emails, chore after chore. I felt chained to my clients because they'd offered me money, I was bound by needing to have a good reputation... because successful photographers don't get bad reviews. Successful photographers make everyone happy, every client is the most important client in the world - no matter what time of night, no matter whether I'm crying from my break-up, no matter whether I'm wondering whether maybe life just isn't meant for me. It didn't matter if the skies were blue and the air blew warm against my skin, if gold fields beckoned, because I Am Successful. Don't you think I'm successful?

3) I remembered what I loved.

At first, when I made the decision to stop earning money, I was daunted by the empty days that lay ahead of me. My instinct with nothing to do was to be productive, organize a workshop or do some client work. But with nothing ahead of me, I forced my guilty self to make plans. Fun, I planned fun. It had been a while since I remembered what fun was to me - here's the list I made in the blog post I wrote at the time.

"Going for a walk
Going to the gym
Seeing friends
Putting music on and just enjoying it for a while
Looking out of the window without feeling guilty for not being productive
Being unproductive
Being productive
Shooting personal work which I enjoy
Stroking my new hair growth
Cuddling my cat"


Turns out, there is even way more fun stuff to do that even those things. I started to guzzle documentaries on space, wanting to know about my place in the Universe. What am I here to do? I'm pretty sure I wasn't given the incredible ability to perceive everything around me just so I could pay bills all my life.

My life turned. I wasn't successful, I was alive. I was running through the streets at 2am with rain hitting my face and violins booming in my ears. I was drunk, dancing and spinning and tapping my silver shoes, as I kissed a handsome stranger on a handsome street. I was soaking my mind in a bath, while my emails built up and up and up. I was devouring poetry and learning that the world was just as alive as my mind, while my phone buzzed and beeped. I ignored it. You can't buy me anymore, I don't want your money. I don't need your money. I need my time. I don't need to be successful.

I was driving with the windows down, exhaling carbon dioxide as song. I was learning to dance in my living rooms, while the neighbours looked on. I was free from the dungeon that had been unlocked all along.

And one day, after months of living, I broke down. It was my first ever happiness break down. I had gone to McDonalds to get some lunch, windows down and music up, as usual. The girl at the drive through looked at me, and smiled. She said, "Hey, it's you! Happy girl! You're everyone's favourite customer here. We love it when you come by." And I smiled inside and out. I loved seeing them, too. A lovely bunch of people, just trying to get by.
I got my food, and started driving back home. The sunlight was hitting my eyes in that way that it did, time was slipping by the way it did, and all of a sudden I just felt overwhelmed with love and pride. I was Happy Girl. I'd made it, I was finally the person I wanted to be all along. I parked up outside my cheap apartment in the cheap beautiful countryside, and broke down. I cried the way I'd cried a year before, broken and alone. But this time, I was crying with pure, pure joy. There aren't words to describe it. I wanted to drive back and hug that girl.

This is how to be successful.

Forget the money. Forget the likes, forget the beautifully decorated house in the countryside. Throw your life out of the window and start again. Because you only get one youth, one life, one chance at it all. There is space next to me for you in the grassy fields filled with gold, and I know this, because when I lie there as the sun is going down, no one is next to me. I always wonder where everyone is at 3am and the stars are white on an ocean of wonder.

But maybe they're too busy being successful.


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

I Am Heavy.



I Am Heavy.


For the most part - I am light. I am quick, nimble on my feet. My heart was born with a tap, labelled "happiness" - worn and torn over the years, sometimes empty, sometimes overflowing. Broken, and restored back into working order. My body is damaged, and will remain so, but my spirit is rose-tinted, Rosie-tinted if you will.


My heaviness remains - call it luggage, call it baggage, call it a burden, call it a blessing. Call it what you will, but it's present and tonight, my arms are aching.



I don't like to get into the personal specifics of my heaviness, because it's private and mine to bear. I've met other people going through the same circumstances, I've been lucky enough to help a couple, but I've never wanted to burden other people with mine. Perspective is my saviour, my religion is detachment from myself, and my circumstances. 



Tonight I learned a huge lesson, and that lesson is vulnerability. My heaviness is my own, and no one else deserves to have it thrust onto them to carry. I put myself and my fears and my walls before the importance of someone else, and in doing so, I pick up another suitcase.


I see a lot written about "Being Happy" and I'm a strong advocate for the pursuit of happiness - chase it, run after it until your legs are sore and your ankles bleed. When what cannot be said is wept, and when pain becomes concrete and real in your being, when it ceases to be emotional and becomes physical and unchanging, happiness is the only way to spread that heaviness. If I wasn't happy, I'd have so much heaviness I would be crippled. You have to lighten yourself to make room for the pain, leave the cracks open and sore to let the light leak in somehow. 




"You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
And meanwhile, the world goes on."

People say that a problem shared is a problem halved, or something like that. I don't completely agree. The support I've had from my close friends and family over the years has certainly been comforting - we've cracked jokes, laughed at my heaviness, decorated my baggage with pretty things and tried unpacking it and packing it in a different way, holding it in a different combination, but the weight remains the same. It's taken me years to jiggle it into a comfortable place. 

From today, I am going to be vulnerable. I'm swapping my heaviness out of the designer cases that made me feel better; more accepted as a person and in society, and putting it right back into the ugly old crumbling cases it came to me in. Sorry for the abundance of metaphors. 





This is me. I am flawed, I am heavy.

But I am also happy, I am light. I have a heart which is overflowing with happiness, and I have extra to share, if you want in? If you don't, that's okay too. I hope you have a life that's light, always. 


Sunday, 8 February 2015

Aquarium

She scrapes her skull down the side of the bath
Into a green world, Her green world

Gated ears, well-oiled and sprung for the flood
Drowned out the world deeper than she ever could
Sweet intentions stitched lightly, nimble and bold
Between his hands and her mouth
Down his shoulders, now cold

All those in-between moments, the commas - the pause
When I heard the rain, but you heard applause
The alternate endings, are they kept somewhere?
I wouldn't mind looking, but you're up in the air.
I've run out of room to put all these thoughts.

The replay button is broken on the sound of his laugh.
As she scrapes her skull down the side of the bath.


Monday, 29 December 2014

"The Grass Isn't Always Greener On The Other Side"


First Aid Kit - King of the World | Listen for free at bop.fm

A year ago today I made a decision that changed my life. I was curled up in a ball, crying like a baby; hating that I was being torn from the cosy womb of routine and comfort. I could see the light but I did NOT want to follow it.

Kissing goodbye to my plans, I looked around my room for the last time. Leaving behind someone who had been the main ingredient in the layers of my happiness lasagne for 3 years was gut wrenching and heart bending. My arms ached for my best friend, but my mind ached for More.

More life, more love, more happiness, more adventure... there had to be more.

One thing that sticks to me about that time, was something my then next-door neighbour said to me in the days before I left.

"The grass isn't always greener on the other side, Rosie"

He meant it with care and warmth, but it did strike a little bolt of lightning fear inside of me. What if I never found anyone as awesome as Him? What if no one made me laugh like that, what if nobody else was as accepting of my flaws? I knew the meadow I was leaving was pretty damn green, even if there were a few cow-pats and mole hills that sometimes looked like mountains from far off. I left anyway.

What I learned, was that the goal isn't to be in the greener meadow on the other side. You don't need to claim someone else's meadow to be happy. The goal is to pack a backpack, and enjoy the hike until you find a meadow your own, to plant your own grass and nourish it how you see fit. To rub your eyes and look in amazement at the beautiful earth that lets us live here on borrowed time (and try not to topple over at how incredible it all is) instead of just focusing on the colour of the damn grass.

Maybe it's not just the greenness of the grass beneath you. The skies I'm under are so much bluer now, storms are rare and the scenery I've seen on the journey is incredible. I've passed through Barcelona and New York, skateboarded through the streets (with a little too much alcohol in my bloodstream) and driven with the roof down and my hands flailing, singing at the top of my lungs! Who knows where my feet will take me next - hopefully California and Europe, they feel pretty good right now.

I had an uncomfortable birth filled with complications. It was bloody, raw and painful as fuck. My initial vulnerability has gone - I can't remember where I shed it. But as painful as my birth was, the life that followed is rich in adventure, joy and dancing around the living room with my cat.

"Once you asked me, what's my biggest fear? That everything would remain so unclear?

That one day I'd wake up all alone, with a big family and emptiness deep in my bones. That I would be so blinded, and turn a deaf ear... and that my fake laugh would suddenly sound sincere. I wasn't born for anything, I'm just here now and soon I'll be gone. I'm nobody's 'baby', but I'm everybody's girl - I'm the Queen of Nothing, but I'm King of the World."

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Alone

Alone

Tonight, I am alone.
I get home,
and hang my thoughts
Those neat constellations
trapped inside that old closet mind;
released
and sprayed into chaos, confetti
a party for One.

The world unspins itself
Slower, slower now
Maybe I could drown for a while
in that sweet sugar water
Or lose my voice to those
who got stuck inside that box.
No.

My thoughts simmer and stew
Until cooked, through and through
Outside, the rain taps on my windows,
the wind howls with glee
Perfect company
The universe, myself and me

Tonight; I am alone, honey.

I'm home.



Sunday, 14 December 2014

10 Things Every Woman In Her Late Twenties Should Know

I like the internet. It's a cool place. Not only has it birthed me a career, but it's introduced me to some pretty epic people who I call my friends, and taught me a whole lot about life, love and everything inbetween. Beneath my fingertips lies millions of minds, all sharing their own perspective, knowledge and creativity. It's pretty awesome.

The internet is also home to cool articles, and I stumbled upon this one today: 


I ain't gonna lie, I clicked. I clicked with excitement, and I'm not ashamed. 
Being in my early twenties, I was kinda hoping to be able to pinch some wisdom for myself, check in with my late-twenties female counterparts and see what I'm aiming for, here.

I was disappointed. No offence, but that list is weak and feeble and does our wonderful female brains and lives no justice whatsoever. I'm pretty sure that this vital knowledge is not what most ladies are proud of knowing after almost three decades on this incredible planet...? Right? 

ANYWAY.

So instead of bitchin', here's my own list
10 Things Every Woman In Her 20's Should Know


1. We are all hangin' out on a teeny tiny rock floating in a space which is so vast and large our minds can't comprehend it. But we're not teenagers anymore, ladies, so let's try and comprehend it:

"The diameter of the Milky Way is 100,000 light years. A light year is the distance light travels in a year. Considering light can travel around the Earth seven times in a second, a light year is a mind-bogglingly large distance. It would take our fastest spacecraft 18,000 years to travel one light year. And with the Milky Way, we’re talking about 100,000 of them." - Mind boggling facts about stars, Wait But Why

Let's bear in mind that The Milky Way is one of billions of galaxies, and that it's estimated that for every grain of sand in every desert and on every beach on Earth, there are around 10,000 stars. Gulp.

So let's all take a few minutes to bask in our unfathomable insignificance and let our eyes widen at the fact that we can see, interpret and enjoy the ridiculous stroke of chance - and feel lucky that we have been granted a few years to spend on this awesome random place in space. COOL. Or y'know, think about your facial cleansing regime. Whichever.




2. Every lady in her twenties needs to be familiar with another awesome female from history. And even though this is recent history, my chosen female to obsess with and aspire to (without the ending) is Sylvia Plath.



Sylvia Plath was an incredible writer, author, poet. Here's a summary of her life. She fell in love and married poet Ted Hughes, got cheated on a ton, and managed to channel her grief into some of the most beautiful combinations of words and visions that I've ever read. Sadly, she attempted suicide for the 3rd time in 1963, aged 30, and succeeded.


3. Society is a social construct, and you don't have to live life the way you are told to. Question everything. Make your own rules.


4. Every single person has good within them. Most people are really good people, kind and caring. They have families, people they love, friends they adore, cats they dance around their living rooms with. Even the murderers and people filled with the smallest percentage of good, still have good. As a race, we need to focus on this. Amplify the good you see in people, do not dwell on the bad.



5. We are more than our weight. It's no use being thin, fat, or anything in between if you're not satisfied with yourself. You have one body, and it's yours to carry your beautiful soul through this world. Your soul is the key ingredient, but if your body affects the way your soul feels, then improve away, my friend. Key here is to change if YOU want to. If we don't like an outfit, we change it. You don't have to accept the outfit. You can try something else on for size. But remember that looking like society's idea of beautiful won't make your soul beautiful, too, and it's okay to want to create yourself. But you are more than your weight. The biggest problems in life can only be solved by the soul.


6. Take a philosophical standpoint. My personal favourite is Existentialism - which is the view that reality and what exists is person to ourselves, in our minds only. Existentialism is awesome because it allows for everything to exist, and solves a whole lot of petty arguments. My favourite example of this is the religion/God thing - if someone believes in God, then their idea of this God exists to them, in their mind, and is just as real as the idea of no god in other peoples'. Because at the end of the day, the past is not tangible, not real anymore, all just a construct in our head of certain memories. The only thing that is truly alive is the present as it is through our eyes this very split second, and what's real in our minds in the present is what exists around the world. For me, as someone who isn't particularly interested in religion, it allows for God to exist and not exist at the same time. It allows for all opinions, interpretations and ideas to be true if I entertain them to be. 

7. Feminism is ridiculously important. If your idea of feminism is angry women hating on men, you aren't thinking about real feminism. 

Feminism is the notion that women are people. That we are more than just sexual objects, or decoration to a man's life. That our worth extends beyond our looks and ability to bear children, and that being a woman itself is not parallel to being weak, hysterical or anything less than a man. Extend that to issues of pay, harassment, the media, whatever you like. But this is the underlying notion.




Call it feminism, call it equality, call it whatever you wish. But we 20-something women have the right to be proud of our gender, to give ourselves credit, and to fight and talk about the issues that still face us in this world.

8. Our brains our incredible things. When awake, the brain generates enough electricity to power a small lightbulb, who'da thunk it?! I would highly recommend this talk by Jill Bolte Taylor for an enlightening, moving look at our brains, and her experience of a stroke.


9.  Relationships are a tiny slice of life. It look me far too long to grasp this, but I'm glad I got there! There's so much incredible stuff around us all on a daily basis - sometimes, when I drive, I literally flip out with excitement at the idea that I am driving on the surface of a planet just hanging there in space, like WHAT THE HELL HOW COOL IS THAT?!

There's so much knowledge to soak up, so many awesome experiences to have and fun to make, and I know from experience that a lot of ladies feel the pressure to constantly be on the lookout for a relationship of some sort. The pressure to have love in our lives is intense, and I would invite any woman to take comfort in the fact that she is already whole, no other half missing. Your time is ticking, don't waste it on a tiny portion of your life. Contrary to popular belief, love doesn't make the world go round. Science does. So go read up on some science. Science is reliable, science will put things in perspective and make you interesting, too! Go be in a relationship with science.


And finally

10. Don't just "Be Yourself". Create yourself.

Deconstruct,

Who do you want to be? Who is the person you visualise in all your future daydreams? 
At the end of the day, we're all sacks of pink slime searching for something, and I believe that to be happiness. So, my 20-something lady friends, let's go find out what makes us happy, and be that - do that. It's all fun, it's all just play. Soak that shit up.