Among the Flowers

Among the Flowers
At one with nature. Always.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Choose Empathy

22 February 2018:

It’s late and I have to get up in fewer hours than I would really like, and yet here I am, crying in bed because I’ve just said “until the end of time” to my Dad and thought about what that truly means. I’d really like to spend time with my parents every day for all days. But when people say that, do they mean in heaven? Because I don’t believe in heaven so there has to be a limit to the time of which I speak. And I don’t think I like that. Should I believe in heaven so I can have forever? I think everyone who believes in heaven goes there, whatever you believe about death is your truth. The comfort I’ve always taken in death being a great rest has suddenly completed vanished. What is this? Who am I? I’m only asking for forever. Is that too much to ask?”

I wrote the above a little over a month ago and I feel it is an important introduction to what I have to say here. I have just spent two and a half days at Colour Conference in Sydney with some girlfriends and I just have so much that I need to share. For those who don’t know about the Colour Sisterhood, you can learn about it here. It’s an initiative of Hillsong Church and it is goodness.

Anyone who knows me well will be all to aware of my relationship, or rather lack thereof, with religion. For those who don’t know, I will just offer a brief explanation so that you are on the same page. 

No religion too?

I was raised without religion. I was born in England and was never Christened. At school we would sing hymns and in religious studies we learnt first and foremost about Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In later years Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, moral issues, and other faiths came into play. I also chose to attend Sunday School for a while as a 10-year-old. I went along with my friend and her sister and we were the only children there. It was in a lovely little chapel and run by a kind gentleman and his adult daughter who gifted me my first Bible from which I learnt my first memory verse: John 3:16. Of course! What else?

My mum had a somewhat religious upbringing but had turned away from faith in her late teens and my dad was a law unto himself when it came to religion. He absolutely still is. Suffice it to say he is not a fan. Although they were married in a church, they elected to leave me to make my own choice and didn’t lead me in any religious direction. 

That is the abridged version, but it’s all you really need. 

Keep the faith

I have considered myself an atheist for many years. I don’t recall when I made that assumption, but I know that it has been a long time. I have never felt that I needed to believe in some fantastical presence to be whole and good, nor have I considered that there is an afterlife. I have faith in my friends and family, I trust in the universe and all its wonder, and I feel that humankind can get its act together and save us all. 

As a child I remember hearing about “good Christians”, you know the sort, those who do kind things for other people without expecting anything in return and who will always go out of there way to exude goodness. I ever really considered that to be the religious way, more a figure of speech if I’m honest. I had seen so much of the nasty, preachy side of religion, using scripture to justify hate and prejudice. Funny, what you are able to pull apart at times, even when the literal meaning is right in front of you. Nevertheless, I didn’t think highly of religion and I knew in my heart that it wasn’t for me.

Good Christians - good people

Enter C3. More specifically, a dear friend and her kind family who attend a local church called C3NC. I was invited along to a service and some events and I began to meet the incredibly kind people who attend. As soon as you enter the gates, people make an introduction and are generally interested in you. These people who don’t know you suddenly want to, and the kindness and genuine nature of everyone is infectious. I honestly enjoy spending time with everyone so much, and while I don’t join in the prayer, the warm and inclusive atmosphere is too lovely to pass up. There is no judgement, only love. You’re not Christian? So what? You are human and these people will love you without question. 

My friend attended Colour Conference last year with her sister-in-law and suggested that I might find some enjoyment in joining her for 2018. I couldn’t see a reason to say no so when she ordered some tickets a year ago, I dutifully paid for one figuring I could back out and sell it at any time. But I didn’t.

Colour my world 

And so we arrive in March 2018 and of I pop to Sydney for a few days of girly company and maybe some lessons along the way. I didn’t really know what to expect, but Tara had advised that I should bring tissues. Obviously I forgot. Whether that as my subconscious telling me to get a grip, I couldn’t really say. But I do believe I wasn’t expecting too much from the conference. Perhaps a couple of emotional testimonies, some happy clapping worship, bit of God bothering. You know, the usual. Whatever the heck I thought “the usual” was. 

One thing I will say though is that I walked in with an open heart and mind. The preceding year wasn’t a great one for me, so I have thus far been treating 2018 as a chance for development and growth. So open I was. What followed was a wonderfully emotionally draining experience, filled with love and affirmation. In the most basic words I can muster: it was good. I mean, really good

Hillsong is a Pentecostal church and so you don’t find all the aggressive shouty ministry like you might expect. Maybe you wouldn’t expect that and I am just very cynical. Colour is all these hearts and voices working together for every other heart and voice in the world. And you feel that instantly. The positivity is undeniable. Not a trace of cult behaviour or hateful speech. Singing, sure. God talk, absolutely. But predominantly women lifting women up and working so very hard to help this little world get better. I actually started testing myself as the sessions went on, mentally replacing the words “God” and “Jesus” with “the universe” and do you know what? It made sense to me. Perfect, unwavering sense. I want to be a good person for this lovely universe and all it created. 

I cried. A lot. Stories of pain and horror that gave rise to compassion without measure and beyond all comprehension. Guests that spoke of situations not unlike my own and how we can all stand up and take charge of living lives that benefit the planet around us. It is very difficult to put into words the incredible experience I had surrounded by all those women. I joined in with the songs, I listened to the prayers, I took on board the advice. I will seek to let nothing distract me from aligning potential and purpose so that I can achieve great things and positively impact the people I share this fine earth with. I can be strong enough not to let the fear of limitation, manipulation, or intimidation stop me from realising my potential. 

I am changed for good 

There we have it. I, a long-time self confessed atheist, attended a Christian conference and I loved it. Perhaps I am agnostic after all, because holding a faith in the universe is maybe not so much “nothing” as I was leading myself to believe. Did I find God? No I most certainly did not. I’m not “looking” for God. Am I tightly closed off to the idea? Actually no I’m not. Maybe I never will lean either way, maybe the middle is where I’m happy. As long as I am living a good life and pursuing a kind path then I don’t think it matters what my motivation is, so long as it’s pure and selfless. All I truly know is that I will never be the same again. I have been awakened to just how wonderful we can be and I intend to spend my days trying to live up to that. I have the power and the capacity to choose empathy, and my word do I mean to. No need to prove myself to anyone, rather improving myself shall be the focus. Because as I now truly understand, it is better to fail trying than to fail by doing nothing.

Thank you Colour 2018, thank you Hillsong, and an especially big thank you to my sisters. Because I knew you, I am changed for good. 

Friday, 26 February 2016

When I grow up I want to be...

I have been thinking about what the hell I'm doing with my life a lot recently. In a rather terrifying moment of realisation, it occurred to me that I have absolutely no idea, and haven't done since I was a child!

When I was a little there was one thing I knew with certainty: that I wanted to be a mum. So I guess that's always been the main goal, to eventually be someone's mum. I am forever hopeful that I shall get to tick that one off the list. But in terms of a job, I had some pretty decent ideas there too. There were three options:


I once had a discussion with my Mum about archaeology. She (quite rightly) pointed out that it isn't all dinosaurs and Ancient Egypt, and over time I came to realise that she was right. I thought that perhaps the other aspects might not appeal to me so much, so that kind of fell by the wayside.

The vet option was pretty high on my list. I decided I'd go for it. When I was in year 9 (so I was 13-14) I took the SATS (school tests) and I didn't study anywhere near as much for maths and English as I did for science. I got great marks in the former two, and at least a grade lower in the latter. So that wasn't a great start, but by then I had already selected separate sciences for my GCSEs (the tests in year 10-11 when you are 15 and 16). Needless to say I was not amazing at those subjects. I think I came away with a B in Biology, a C in Physics (that I dragged up from a U – ungraded), and only a D in Chemistry, although having not had a teacher for a year and being stuck with subs I was not too gutted about it. I was in the classes with many a genius, some of whom have gone on to amazing things, so I knew it wasn't for me.

That left me with one option. I went on to do my A-Levels in year 12 and 13 (up to age 18) and studied Media Studies, Drama and Theatre Studies, and English Language and Literature. I would be a writer! A day in the hospitality trucks at the Silverstone Formula One Grand Prix honed my choice down even further. I strolled up and down the pit lane and hobnobbed with journalists. They were getting free food, meeting famous sports stars, and getting to write about it all! Yes please, I thought, I will do that. All the free yoghurt I could possibly want. Brilliant. Fail safe plan.

Off I went to Bournemouth University in September 2005 to embark on a Multi-Media Journalism degree. I was going to be famous and amazing and everyone would want my autograph. I'd write exceptional thought provoking pieces and make people really sit up and listen. I just knew that it was the right choice, I had excelled at the interview day and impressed them with my portfolio of copy I'd produced during work experience with the Marketing team at Renault F1, where I'd been lucky enough to write some press releases and articles that had been published in a few motor sports magazines. No idea what happened to those articles or to that girl! I'l be honest, I did not win at journalism. I loved uni, but I quickly discovered that journalism wasn't for me. I didn't have the confidence in myself or my abilities, and I certainly wasn't ruthless enough to make it. Since then I have watched so many of my friends achieve great things, but I was not going to be one of them. Not in journalism, at least. If I am completely honest, I think the summer before I even started uni, I had my doubts. But I still wanted to go for it. And I'm so glad I did, my confidence improved and I had the time of my life, meeting friends that are still my whole world to this day.

I left uni during the beautiful recession and took a job in a shop, before eventually getting an administration job. That is pretty much what I have done since then. Nothing creative, just finding my way around and keeping money flowing in. I'm not ashamed of that, but I'm not overly impressed. How boring. My work dreams were huge, and I haven't seen them for years. I always say that a career isn't something I am actually interested in, but I would like to at least have a job that I feel passionate about.

It has probably become clear by now that I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I know it's a bit late, I will be 30 in a few months, but I have decided not to be scared. I am going to carry on working a job to earn money, work for free to build up the pest control company I started with my boyfriend, and find time to dream for myself. And this is the start of that final notion. I am going to blog more, write some more poems, maybe create some short stories, and who knows...I may even write that novel one day instead of having it taking up space in my head! I would love as much support as I can get while I play this game of dream chasing. I want to take this as far as I can. I am prepared to thicken up my skin and put myself out there. I will regret far more not giving it a go than trying and failing. I'm not ashamed of the attempts I've made so far, even if they didn't work out. I have tried to find out who I am, of course there were going to be bumps along the way. But I've got this now. I am capable and smart, it's about time I drag myself into gear and do something with that. I need the challenge and I need the outlet.

So here I go...I'm trusting my instincts, I am closing my eyes, and I am ready to leap. Brave and creative me is back, and I will not stop until I know if this is who I am forever. Take my hand, join me on this adventure.

Big love x

Sunday, 24 January 2016

My Patchwork Heart - Who I Am

I consider myself an adventurer. I am proud of that fact. I don't mean I go climbing mountains and jumping off cliffs or anything extraordinary like that, rather that I am always keen to try new things, see new places, and meet new people. As you can imagine, and hopefully know first hand, going about your time on this earth in such a way makes for a rather beautiful life. The problem, if you'll pardon me referring to it as such, is that one can never truly be whole when living this kind of life. I refer to this as my patchwork heart. I believe that a great many of us have this same delightfully dazzling condition, painful though it may on occasion be.

The best explanation I can give you for this follows. We all go through life giving out little pieces of our hearts to the people we love and meet along the way, and we can only hope to get enough pieces back to make us whole. Our patchwork hearts are what make us beautiful and they will beat forever through the people on whom we have had a profound impact during our time here. In this way, we should all know that no one is ever lost so long as they loved and were loved. But it still hurts and it is surely OK to cry and to feel it. Whether that be because someone who holds a piece of our heart has died, or just because the pieces of our hearts are spread out across the globe. Missing people or animals, and even places, makes us who we are. We are never alone while we have our little patchwork hearts, ever growing and ever beating at our core.

I read recently a very clear and concise definition of this, far less complicated than my theory. It said simply: “You will never be completely at home again. Because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” I am not entirely sure who put it so eloquently, but they have my respect. I wish that I could have found those words my own self.

As many of you will know, I chose to uproot and see what was happening on the opposite side of the world. That was a big step, but I feel that all my previous steps had been leading to it. I changed schools for sixth form, I went away to uni, I went travelling. All of those experiences lead me to meet new people and find new places, and my little heart became increasingly colourful in only a few years. For a long time I have felt that I am not whole. That is no bad thing at all, but it can feel undeniably bittersweet more than once in a while.

Throughout my life I have passed little pieces of my heart to so many people, and will always continue to do so, though I do sometimes wonder if perhaps the biggest pieces are mostly shared by now. Fortunately I believe that I do have more than enough pieces to keep my heart ticking over, offered to me by many wonderful people, places, and animals.

Finally I suppose all that remains for me to say is that I hope you will all live your lives in this way for as long as you have air in your lungs. You are needed. The more places you go and the more souls you meet, the luckier this world will be. It's ok to stand out and it is so very perfect to be who you are. There's no one else can do that, it's your duty to let the world have wonderful you.

Thank you for being a part of my patchwork heart. 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Happy 10 Year Anniversary, Bournemouth!

10 years ago today my parents drove me and a car full of my stuff to Bournemouth University to pick up my keys before moving me into the lovely purple house on Purbeck Road. They left me there, a short walk from the beach, and suddenly it was time for me to be somebody. I don’t think I have ever been so terrified and bewildered in my whole life.

At that point I had no idea who I was anymore. I knew who I’d been during those two glorious years of sixth form and throughout the final summer with all my friends, going out in a blaze of glory, as they say. But suddenly I realised that I just had no clue who I was going to be from there on in. To say I was frightened would be an understatement. With all of the excitement leading up to that moment, all of the long conversations and dreams about how wonderful being a student would be, somehow I had completely failed to prepare myself for actually taking that step. I felt entirely lost and utterly alone.

I’m not ashamed to say that the adjustment period took me some time. I walked around like a shadow and I cried a lot. I went through all the motions of going to uni, socialising, all that kind of stuff, but I really struggled. There was one horrifying moment with a bus, a long walk, and a sorting office. But we won’t get into that here! (Oh Mum – thank you so much for getting me through that one somehow!) After two weeks my parents suggested I got the train home for a visit. What an idiot, why hadn’t I thought of that before!? I was living as though I could never return home and that I had to live with my lot in life and deal with it. But a two hour train journey and I could be home on a Friday afternoon, back on a Sunday night. Weekends at uni are relatively uneventful anyway as a rule; I now know that those are “local” nights out, so students mostly stick to the beach and house parties.

So that was that. I started returning home at weekends. Then every other week. Then maybe every three weeks or once a month. Eventually I only really returned for holidays, special occasions or generally because I needed a break or change of scenery. I got closer to my housemates, course mates, and other friends. I immersed myself in activities and the lifestyle I’d been so desperate to experience. By the first holiday, which was Christmas, I really did love uni. Those three months had been a steep learning curve where I could so easily have given up. But I didn’t. I am not only thankful for that, but I’m proud of myself. If I’d left not only would I have missed out on the best friends I could ever have asked for, but I’d have had to always live with the knowledge that I just gave up. And that’s not me, I do not give up.

There’s this strange thing that I would never have known about if I hadn’t persevered. It might not seem like much to other people, but to me it is really something. Over time the realisation has become even more clear and profound. I finally really analysed it in my head last night, in fact. I’ll share that with you now so you can try to understand just how enormous an impact university had on me and my life.

When I was younger I’d be going on school trips or Guide camps and we’d all sing the “everywhere we go” song. For those of you who don’t know it, I shall explain. One person sings (shouts) a line and everyone else repeats it back to them. So as a youngster it went a little something like this:

Everywhere we go
(Everywhere we go)
People always ask us
(People always ask us)
Who we are
(Who we are)
Where we come from
(Where we come from)
So we tell them
(So we tell them)
We’re from Bicester
(We’re from Bicester)
Snotty grotty Bicester
(Snotty Grotty Bicester)
And if they can’t hear us
(And if they can’t hear us)
We shout a little louder
(We shout a little louder)

And so it continues getting increasingly louder until someone in authority breaks and you quieten right down. Usually just to start all over again half an hour later.

But here’s the funny thing; at uni the words changed. We weren’t from anywhere snotty or grotty. We were from Bournemouth, mighty mighty Bournemouth! I think that actually tells you all you need to know. Up to the age of 18 we are all just going through our childhood and teenage years, doing as we are told and expected to do. We go to school and work hard, we get part-time jobs, we socialise, we experiment with drinking, we party, we cause our parents to worry, but mostly we try to just get somewhere. Usually that somewhere is just quite simply “away”. When we go to university we are taking charge of our own destiny. We are working to shape our own future and find out who we are and who we can be. We have taken a huge step to steer our lives in a direction that will take us to the stars. Suddenly we aren’t ashamed of where we come from, where we are, or where we’re going. We’ve made a positive choice and we are proud of it.

If anyone is thinking about going to uni but isn’t sure, I really recommend giving it a go. If anyone is there and struggling, weigh up your options sure, but you definitely owe it to yourself to give it your best shot. I’ve been this hash of a grown up for 10 years, and I wouldn’t change a moment of it. Since that wobbly start things have only got better. I have the greatest friends anyone could ever ask for. I know until the moment I breathe my last, they will be my world. They are the stars in my sky and the air in my lungs. My little patchwork heart is bigger than ever, as I’ve shared pieces of it with the people and places I’ve loved, and they have shared theirs with me. Not one of us has a complete heart, original and whole. Rather, we each have this mess of a thing made up of little parts of each other. And in its mess it is undeniably beautiful.

A decade is a tremendously long time and in the blink of an eye it’s gone. But I have the memories and friends to keep me going through the rest of my life. All because of a decision that I made coupled with the unfailing support of my family and friends. So to each of you who got me through those three years and everything since, you are my whole entire world. You are the rocks I cling to when I’m petrified of being swept away by the storms and you are my source of endless love and joy. You are where I go to share every moment of my life, happy or sad, and you are my home. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. And also, thank you to me for making great choices and attracting perfect friends! Credit where credit’s due, after all!

Tonight I’ll raise a glass to all of us. We made it! Here’s to the next 10. And with all of you on my side, I know it’s going to be fantastic. Cheers!

With endless love and all my heart,

Hattie xXx

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Here is a little update on my life...

So my lovelies, I thought I would share with you all some very good news. After having a very difficult few months, the last few weeks have really picked up and handed me some real smiley treats. I don't want to jinx things, especially since it will still be a good long while until I get my visa, but I want you to all know about the lovely things that are happening all the same. There will be photographs to follow soon. You know, as proof!

So, in no particular order, here is my month:


Finally, after so many rejection emails hating on my visa situation, I got offered an amazing job. They wanted me so much that they asked how they could get me. I decided to be honest and tell them more money...and they obliged! I am now a Charter Manager for an aviation company and I am also taking on the marketing for both that company and a restaurant that they operate. I feel that this will be a role I can really shape to suit me and benefit the company. So far I am enjoying it and I think they are pretty glad to have me on board. Hoorah! My first permanent job in Australia and lots of room to make it what I want.


A very lovely friend of mine, the dear Elise, got a bargain deal of a free cruise with her mortgage. Long story short, I shall be accompanying her on it, all for only the cost of a $200 upgrade! We couldn't just slum it, you know! We set sail from Sydney on Monday and return after 10 days, during which time we will visit Noumea, Lifou, Vila, Mystery Island, and Isle of Pines. I cannot wait for a little girly getaway and some lovely sunshine with my beautiful Elisey. I couldn't resist the chance of seeing a part of the world I have never seen before, and what better way to do it then on a big old luxury liner!? I believe our ship is the Pacific Jewel, so I am hoping that it lives up to it's fancy name. Not that it matters, I will have a fabulous time with great company anyway.


I fell in love with a new car a while ago. All I could do was imagine owning one some day, if ever I could acquire myself a job. Tom and I talked about going to look at one, but I didn't bother because I knew I couldn't have one just yet. Then the same day I found out I had a new job, a Tuesday, I also happened to enquire at a local dealer about this car. They said they had one and were doing a special offer that weekend, when there would be over $7,000 off the price of it. After much umming and ahhing on the Saturday, we just popped by the dealership on the off-chance, on the way home from Tom having a haircut. We looked and I loved. Even Tom was impressed. I was told that until the end of the month there was even a 1% finance offer. I assumed that I wouldn't get finance, with the old visa situation, but with an offer like that I just thought: what have I got to lose? I went home to think about it and the following morning I put down a deposit. The deposit was completely refundable, had finance not been granted I would get it all back. As it happened, after some to-ing and fro-ing and a very kind offer to stand as guarantor from the Farrow Mothership, I was granted the full finance amount! The best of that is that the money I would have used to pay towards it had they not offered me full finance, will actually earn more interest sat in my e-saver account than I will pay on the total finance amount! How insane is that!? Thank you Kia finance and thank you Australian banks for still making money for your customers! This just all came together in an amazing way. I would never normally be so spontaneous, but I am really excited and proud of myself for just seizing an opportunity. For those of you who are interested, it's a Kia Pro Cee'd GT Tech in Black Pearl. It's a 1.6 litre turbo. I know, me...with a turbo!? Classic stuff!


Jenny and Keith spotted an awesome deal in the newspaper, through which you could buy a ludicrously cheap voucher to spend in the next 12 months for a week on Daydream island in a beautiful spa resort for two people. The deal was crazy cheap and comes with $50 spa treatment vouchers each per day, two meals a day, loads of awesome free activities like stingray encounters (not like Steve Irwin!), snorkelling, rainforest walks, and loads of other cool things. All we have to do is pick a week to go and book some cheap flights. It is fully refundable if they can't accommodate our dates, but I am going no matter when they have availability, I can't wait for a swim in warm and calm ocean. It will also be our first proper coupley type getaway. How terribly fancy!


Christmas is fast approaching and my recent unemployed times have meant that I am mostly prepared for this. I have made and purchased lots of gifts, with just a few more to go. Another very exciting element is the fact that we will be hosting Christmas! I am beyond excited about this. We don't have much space but are in full planning mode so that we can make the most of everything. It will be lovely to have everyone here for the day and to just generally have some lovely family times. We have designed a pretty fun game for everyone too, which I think is going to lead to absolute hilarity.


We were fortunate enough to celebrate the recent nuptials of Matt and Stacey, which was such an honour. We had a lovely day with family and friends and it was all just fantastic.


Ryan had his 30th birthday on the same day as the wedding so we had a family brunch beforehand, sumptuously catered by Lainy. It was absolutely delicious. We also have go-karting then a house party to celebrate this coming Saturday. Ryan is going all out, as only a graphic designer can, and it is going to be a party to remember. A wonderful present is on its way to him for that from Tom and myself. I can't take creative credit for it though and I am so proud of Tom and the epic gift he has come up with. Watch this space for pictures!


Possibly the most fabulous news of all is that within the next month or two, Tom and I will be booking our flights to head over to ENGLAND BABY! As soon as I have dates I will share them with you all and we will plan the most amazing ties of our lives. It will be in August of 2015 and will hopefully be for about a month. My parents will be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary during that time, so I will be organising the party to end all parties. Be there or be square! I am beside myself with joy at this whole notion. I will get to see the people that are the oxygen in my lungs, the stars in my sky, the reason I wake up every day. I can't wait and I will be like a hideously over excited child pretty much from booking the flights until I land and get collected by my perfect parents. Who have no choice but to pick us up from the airport. That is happening. A full blown welcoming committee shall also be most acceptable, should any of you wish to make a banner or some T-shirts. I'll see you in Heathrow!

Ok so you are probably fed up of me now, but there we go. That is part of why you love me, my unrivalled capacity for rambling. I hope you all feel enlightened to know where my life is at after a pretty hectic four weeks. I will be sure to post some marvellous pictures soon. I apologise for taking so long to fill everyone in, I haven't wanted to jinx anything because I am oddly superstitious about these things.

I love you all xx

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Even the Bad Times are Good

Well now, I have not been writing enough and this is a shameful fact. Today though, I feel like I need to write. My life is beautiful and wonderful, don't get me wrong, but I am having such a hard time staying positive just recently that I need to get some words on the page. This is partly to just get everything out and feel a little less bottled up but also to make myself realise that it isn't that bad and it will make the good times feel even better, with something not so fun to compare them to.

I have been through some terrible ordeals in my time and my current situation in no way resembles any of them, it doesn't even compare, but I spent so long forcing myself to be positive about every little thing that feeling so negative about things makes me feel guilty. That shouldn't be the case, we are humans and we ride the old rollercoaster of emotions for our whole lives, but when we feel bad about something people do like to go out of their way to make us feel worse just for not being a ray of sunshine, so we guilt trip ourselves even further. But we shouldn't, we should just kick back and relax (stress our worried little faces off) until the smiles come rolling in and we are back to happy.

I wish not for sympathy or attention through this post, even as I am writing it I am not sure if I will show it to people. I feel like I should though, I think a lot of people believe me to be a very strong person and they deserve to know that I can be a big pile of Freddo Frog devouring mess. Caramello Koala actually, if I'm being honest. I ought really to be honest too, that's the whole point of what I'm writing. If you're interested, I've had two mini ones today, right after my lunch, while I watched an early episode of Friends. One must not wallow, rather enjoy some guilty pleasures and have a giggle (along with a reminisce, where possible).

Now, I would like to talk about the things that are making me be a grumpalump. I think I'd also like to explain why they aren't so bad, but this is for my own benefit. I know I have nothing to mope about but I also know that other people might be fighting similar little battles and would like to feel less alone as well as being able to put them into perspective. I know that real perspective would pale all these woes into absolute insignificance, but that doesn't detract from the fact that all problems are real, however big or small, and they really are just answers that are yet to be found. Sometimes we can even see the answer, but it's just out of reach, like the name of an actor you recognise in some obscure movie that's just on the tip of your tongue but seems to constantly elude you.

For ease of explanation I shall identify three main parts of my life that are filling me with sad faces and black clouds. I feel like calling them problems makes them seem like big scary spiders, so instead I shall call them almost solutions, slightly fluffier and more optimistic, I hope you'll agree. In no particular order, please take a step inside my baffled and fearful little mind...

Almost Solution Number One:

I am unemployed. That is a fact. The thing is, I really love not working. Employment has definitely been a big thing that has given me cause for misery in the past, I am so much happier as a free spirit. I am getting lots done, which is awesome, but the overwhelming sense of guilt I feel for not working really is something else. It also kind of sucks to watch all my hard earned savings dwindle away. I am not treating myself at all at the moment, I am just contributing my 50% share to groceries and activities. Tom has been so good and offered to let me not do that, but I don't have it in me to rely on someone else when I don't yet have to.

As a few of you will know, I had a perfectly good job, but due to visa restrictions I can no longer work there. These same visa restrictions are making it very difficult to find work at the moment. Thankfully I am not yet desperate enough to just take “any old job” to make money, which hopefully will remain true. I can't go back to retail, that really isn't for me and was a truly vile time in my life, work wise. However I am not proud and if I really have to, if it comes to that, then I will. I'll take anything, if the need arises. That's the other thing, the need may not even arise as my old job are hoping to be able to take me back when the current visa restrictions are no longer in place. This will be at the start of 2015. Even if I can't go back to that job, having unrestricted work rights should stand me in much better stead for finding a good job.

As it presently stands, I have applied for lots of jobs but the ones that are actually worth my time don't want me as I can't commit to permanent employment until the next visa kicks in, and the ones that might not worry about that don't want me because I'm so over qualified. Good grief, I feel like I can't catch a break! I know that's thoroughly daft but still, at this moment it is somewhat frustrating. But there we go, I am coping with the little money I have left. I am yet to do a proper budget to see if I can cope until the new year, but I think I shall do that soon, so that I know exactly where I stand. For now I must just hope that in January I find an awesome job (if not sooner) and don't hate going back to work too much. I can do this.

Almost Solution Number Two:

My future is completely uncertain. I am currently on the second and final year of my working holiday visa, which expires at the end of December. After a lot of time and effort I got my partner visa application in. That was a very stressful and very expensive process, with a lot more stress and expense still to come. I believe my medical alone will be about $500, on top of the Australia and UK police checks I have to apply for, which require every address I've had in the last 10 years (around eight, I believe, just in England).

Australian Immigration can take 12-15 months to decide on my application and I'm hearing that they don't tend to even assign a case officer for the first six months, so that's just marvellous. Slow process doesn't even cover it. If they refuse then I will have to apply again, for another $4,625 or whatever price they decide to put on it by then. This is stressful for me because it just means that I can't settle. At any moment my whole life may have to be uprooted, I just don't know. I so want my future to be here, with the man I love in a country filled with wonderful opportunities, but it just isn't up to me, plain and simple.

Obviously this is all out of my hands entirely, so I am sure you'll all agree that it is pointless for me to be worrying about. But if you found yourselves unsure of your future, unable to work until it's decided (oh yes, this is linked, so until January I can only temp...please see Number One above!), not sure whether you will get to stay with the person you want to grow old with, not able to start saving for a house or a new car, and just generally in total limbo, well you can't tell me you wouldn't worry, even just a little bit? My entire life and future happiness are resting on this so yes, I am stressed to the eyeballs.

Once it is all decided and I either have the visa or I don't and I have to reapply, it will all at least be an answer. I know it will work out somehow, I am a good person with a legitimate claim and I just have to believe that things are going to work out for me. I am stressed but I am hopeful and I have to try and cope because there really is nothing I can do about it right now.

Almost Solution Number Three:

This is a big one and one I know you will all empathise with. I miss people. My parents, my family, my friends. Most of the people that I breathe for are so far away and I haven't seen them in so long. Once the above issues are sorted out I fully intend to make annual trips back to the UK and hopefully people will come and visit me here too, but until that point, I just feel a bit floopy. The people who I confide in and who know me the best are not here. I am a loving person and I share my soul with my closest friends and family, so without them around I do feel oddly alone every so often. I just want to let off some steam and I can't really, not in the way I want to. I want to get drunk and dance with my girls, or veg out with yummy food in front of the telly with my parents, you know, my usual weekend activities from my old life.

So the thing with this is that I feel even more daft for feeling alone when I'm not. But still, those people were (and always will be) my world for such a long time that I will never be 100% me without them by my side. It's kind of nice though I suppose, in a way. My heart is like this little patchwork quilt, little bits that I've ripped off and given to people and replaced with the bit of theirs that they gave me in return. And I am proud of that, of my patchwork heart, it's just a little bit sad at the moment as so much time has passed without them close by.

I am so excited to organise a visit next year and see everyone. I must admit though, I am slightly dubious about it because who knows how I will feel leaving everyone again. When I first flew over here things were uncertain and I had no idea when I would be seeing everyone again. But there was also the excitement of a huge adventure and something positive I could be proud of myself for. Hopefully it will never be a goodbye with an unknown quantity again. I am pretty confident that I will try and see people annually, it'll be over two and a half years by the time I get over to England and that is a very long time for such a friends and family person as myself. Time was I couldn't make any kind of decision without a phone call to my parents or one of my best friends. My heart is tired of this lengthy separation and it'll be so lovely to end it and never leave it so long again. I see the solution here, it just has to wait a little while is all.


Well everyone, that's it I suppose. There I am, laid oddly bare for you all. I am not vulnerable or pathetic, I am just I a bit of a flump and I wanted to share. I have a gifted life and I feel terrible for even slight sadness entering my mind, but there we go, it's out of my control. I don't choose to feel sad and I'm certainly not unappreciative of what I have, it's just getting a bit overwhelming of late is all. I am following my dream but I am back on a steep uphill climb, maybe even worse than before, so for the moment it just seems quite tough. I will never give up, this is worth fighting for, I'm just glitching a bit along the way. I'll keep slogging my guts out but I would really quite like to have a little rest, or better still, reach the next goal and celebrate.

Stick around with me people, there will be lots of things to celebrate in the coming years. You should also definitely be prepared to bust out your Sunday best for my triumphant return in August 2015. You know it will be an occasion not to be missed.

Much love, hope, and positivity (to counteract the moping!)

H x

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Racism is a Weapon of Mass Destruction

I find it truly remarkable how many people are only too willing to jump on a bandwagon of racial hatred these days. Sure, I expect we've all shared the odd joke at the expense of a race in some way or other, but as long as that's all it was and you are more than happy to laugh at your own self, then that's all pretty harmless. I am talking about the pure unadulterated and downright uneducated filth that is being thrown around the internet at the moment.

Don't get me wrong, the world is in a pretty sorry state, but to criticise an entire race based on the actions of a few, or on media hearsay or your own ill judgement? Come on people, get a grip. If you don't fully understand a situation then please keep your vile comments to yourself, or express them only in the company of other people who share your uneducated views. If you have taken the time to fully research a topic and you are happy to have an open debate then go for it, but do not just read or see something and make assumptions. You know what they say; assumption is the mother of all fuck ups.

Honestly, I have recently seen a lot of “kill all the Jews” and other such disgusting comments. It truly beggars belief. So we have a terrible situation between Israel and Palestine, that's nothing new. It's also not really unique to that particular part of the world, but that is not important and only further serves to illustrate my point. Firstly, if you do not know the ins and outs of the situation, your comment is most likely invalid. Secondly, if you honestly believe that everything wrong is all completely and utterly down to one particular side, then fine but do not dare to tar every single person of the Jewish faith with the same brush. How unbelievably backward thinking are you? Your favourite teacher at school or the lady you buy your newspaper from or that really attractive guy down the pub might be Jewish. That's just a label for someone who has faith. It may not be the same faith as your own, but take a step back and look at the many and varied atrocities throughout history and the modern world. If you can find one that doesn't involve people of your own faith (or lack thereof) then I would be very surprised. But that doesn't mean you condone the actions of people with the same religious beliefs, cultural heritage or racial background as your own. At the end of the day, whatever the fuel (which I will admit, often seems based in some extremely twisted view of religion), these are all things involving humans. Good humans, bad humans, just plain old humans. We are all made of the same stuff, it does not mean we all think and act the same.

Another issue I take is that of the conspiracy theory. Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against them, but the way people go about sharing them can be a little unacceptable in my opinion. I for one do not buy into them, mostly because I am not concerned with doing all the research into them. For me, there are better things to spend my time doing. It is because of this that I avoid commenting on them. They are peoples beliefs and that is fine by me. Who am I to question them without spending weeks pouring over all the relevant evidence? No one, that's who. But my problem is that so many people are all too ready to throw these comments out there and make a big deal over it, forgetting what has actually happened. “Oh haha it's all the government. They want a war / oil / money and so they did this. You fools thinking it was terrorists / an accident.” Ok, sure. But people died. Think about that for a moment. All the people that died have left behind family and friends. What if that was your mum / brother / daughter / best friend? Would you want people going on about how petty and meaningless it all was, and how “it would never have happened if this” or how “it could have been avoided if that” and just trivialising the fact that someone you love is now dead? That's right, those people are never going to see their loved ones again. Whatever the reason behind that, it is raw, emotional, painful grief that those left behind are entitled to feel. Not blame. Let them place blame if they want to, but don't give them another reason to lose faith in humanity and don't take away what hope they have left. As humans I think we owe each other the chance to at least have hope.

Well that's my little input. It's not much and it is somewhat emotionally fuelled, but I am not asking you to agree with me. Quite the contrary, having your own opinions and insights is important, where they are your own and not just the opinions of others that you have decided to latch onto. I would hope that all my friends are far above that, and from what I have seen of them, I believe that to be true. But the important thing is that if your opinions seek to hurt someone (or lots of people), then please be careful how you express them. There is already enough hatred in this world and I think we could all do to try and spread a little less. If you have someone to talk to who feels the same way as you then great, get together and lay into the topic like crazy, but just think a little about the pain you will cause before you go and publicly announce your opinions for all to see, and if possible, refrain from racial hatred on social media. I know that offence is easier taken than given, but there are some things that just do not need to be said. Please, I beg of you, think before you speak or post. The next terrible thing that happens might be to someone you love or care about and the next target of international hatred might be your own racial or socio-economic group. I'm just tired of the hate.

Thank you for reading and I apologise if you do not like what I am saying or my writing style, I assure you I meant not to offend.