Fierce.

The other week I stumbled across a video by Be. Bangles that hit me right in the feels. I immediately went out and purchased five bangles, one for myself and one for each of my eldest four girls. “F*cking Fierce.” I’ve always reserved that compliment – fierce – for women I truly respected. Women who showed up, women who got up, women who fought hard, women who got out of the box the world wanted to put them in and kicked ass all over the place. I’m not even meaning the women in my life who are society’s definition of successful – I do have friends like that, who run businesses and earn the bread and do it with passion and drive. Sometimes the women I see this in are the quiet achievers, the ones who live with a dark shadow but get up every morning to do battle again. The woman who stays up through the night to check on her son’s blood sugars. The woman who helps out at the tuckshop. The woman who spent all day running her kids to various appointments and activities. The woman who sends you something out of the blue to say, “Hang in there.”

Our unsung heroes.

Who, when asked what they’ve been doing will shrug and say, “Not much”, when really they’ve been quietly changing the world with their small ripples that spread across the lake.

Fierce.

I use it rarely and always mean it.

I bought this bangle for my girls not just because it said fierce but – I’m going to be honest – because it said, “F*cking Fierce”. Because that one sentence, two words, is so unapologetic that it drove home who I hope my girls will be. I want them to be loud, be heard, be strong, be wild, love hard and be unapologetic about it.

Be.

F*cking Fierce.

want your own? link here.

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Growth.

The first week of the school holidays the little children went to their fathers leaving myself, J, B and S at home. J’s boyfriend came down to spend a couple of days which was interesting because J had work leaving us at home with M for hours each day. It was election week and as J and M had recently turned 18 this was their first chance to vote and so M would come to me periodically throughout the day and ask questions for Saturday about how to vote and where to find the candidates for his electoral. It was really cool to see how much thought both he and J were putting into their choices and it’s really cool to see this new generation excited about having a voice. It makes me think that maybe the world isn’t so bad, because as long as people are thinking their minds aren’t closed off and that means they’re open to making the world a better place. I got a real kick out of that, guiding these young people to make sure they’re vote counted and telling them what a privilege it is to be able to be heard. It felt like the most adult thing I’ve ever done.

On the second day M came to me to talk about plants for his cats. He was trying to order some from an online nursery but couldn’t get the PayPal to work. I told him I was sure the local nursery would have cat grass and we could make a trip out to get some, no sense in paying for postage. So the second day while J was at work, M, S, B and myself all went to the nursery to buy plants. I have a black thumb, I’ve killed the most unkillable of plants – Rosemary who everyone says you can’t kill, even Aloe Vera once, a plant that basically thrives on neglect. I love plants but over the years I came to realise the kindest thing I could do for them was not have anything to do with them. Still, I thought maybe this time would be different so I bought an African Violet and some Lemon Balm.

Lemon Balm was one of the few things I had ever managed to successfully grow when I owned a house. Done properly it will run rampant over a garden bed like mint, a plant it bears a striking resemblance to, but when you crush the leaf of the Lemon Balm in your hand a rush of citrusy smell will be released into the air. It makes beautiful tea. And I feel an affinity to Lemon Balm because we share the same name.

I use to collect African Violets when I was small, my father would care for them in the shade house where he kept his cycads and palms…hundreds of these plants that sat in rows and rows in the shade house and spilled out into the backyard. Some of them sat in their pots so long that their roots would burst from their pots seeking the soil underneath and burrow down into the earth until moving them was an exercise in extraction. I didn’t really understand his collection of these plants, how he always seemed to want more of them and the hours he would spend repotting or watering. On the odd occasions I was pressed into service to water them for him I was quite resentful of how MANY there were. A veritable army of plants.

I had been thinking of heading to the nursery for awhile, maybe buying plants and keeping something alive and growing would be good and help with the ‘making a home’ thing. Plus, I had been trying to leave the house most days for practise so I didn’t really mind taking M to buy some plants for his cats. It seemed like a good idea.

We came home and I repotted them into plain terracotta pots, enjoying the feeling of my hands in the soil, the care of these alive things. And since then I can’t stop thinking about plants. I wish I could fill my house top to bottom, sit them out on the gravel down the side of the house. I close my eyes and I see green. I wonder if I am more like my father than I realised.

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Home.

I’ve never been very good at making a house look like I’ve actually made it a home. I spent so long moving after I left home, never spending more than a couple of years in any one house that for years there were boxes I never even unpacked but just shifted house to house. It shocks me as I get a lease renewal for this house that I will have spent two years here and am being asked to prepare for a third. I get itchy feet.

When I owned a home it was different because you are expected to put down roots. There were upsides to this – I took delight in painting walls with no one to tell me I couldn’t. It was good to be able to head into town, buy a can of paint and carry it upstairs, clinking and heavy with possibility. But even though I went through fits and bursts of energy attempting to create a home, I was always looking for somewhere else to land. My eyes always slid towards the horizon.

When I returned to renting it pleased me to think that I could just pack up and go without needing to sell a house or worry that prospective buyers would be turned off by the very same quirks that I loved. There was a freedom to it. I could move anywhere. I could sell everything and move to Hobart, to Melbourne, to a town that’s barely a dot in the map if I wanted. Renting was possibilities.

But I do feel unmoored. Temporary suits the flighty part of me. It soothes restless bones. But sometimes it is exhausting because the whole house can feel like one giant suitcase you are living out of. Easily packed up and taken at a moments notice. It can be unnerving to realise how little of yourself is left behind when you move on. At least at the old house there are memories of me in the Aloe Vera or Lavender I planted. Traces of me that exist in the cool dark dirt where my hands pressed into the soil and encouraged it to take root.

Sometimes I despair when I enter the house because it feels like a bizarre collection of things half done. There are two pieces of furniture in the entire place that I chose with purpose instead of either by necessity or was given. How can you feel home when you feel no attachment to anything? Perhaps if I worked on creating a sanctuary I wouldn’t get itchy feet every couple of years. Perhaps my eyes would stop looking for greener pastures. Now I think on it, I have no idea why I own a single thing that I don’t love or doesn’t bring me joy. Why do we keep ugly things? Every item in my possession should either hold a purpose to bring me comfort or pleasure.

It’s time to stop living here as though it’s a temporary destination. It’s time to stop waiting. It’s time to create a home.

Independence Day.

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On the 4th of July two years ago I had my very own Independence Day. That was the day I left my house in the country and drove 200kms away blasting a playlist I had created called, “I’m coming home.”

I don’t know what I expected when I came down here because at the time I was mostly just fleeing where I was. Basically at that point the plan was to just get here and then decide. And I’ve sort of done nothing except fall apart. Actually, that’s bullshit and I need to change that internal dialogue because it’s unhelpful.

I went away for the first time in my adult life. I met friends who I had never seen in person and some who I had been conversing with over the Internet for a decade. Do you know how surreal it is to wrap your arms around someone who you have shared the most intimate parts of your life with but never seen in the flesh? I fell hopelessly in love. I bought furniture that I liked without asking if anyone else did. I watched fireworks light up the city on New Years Eve. I bought handspun and hand knitted gloves from a market in Salamanca and drank tea made with water from the Huon River. I went to the movies with my friend. I ate birthday cake with my family. I shaved my brothers head at 4am one morning. I stood in the snow in a lace gown while my friend took photos of me. I read hundreds of books. I wrote poetry and prose – thousands of words to make sense of all my sparkle and all my fault lines. I picked shells along a beach in Tasmania and laughed when the ocean ran into my shoes and soaked my pants even though it meant I had to make the drive home in my underwear. I shot photos. I made love. I built fires. I listened to music. I danced. I sang. I swore. I cried. I laughed until my cheeks hurt.

Fuck it.

I lived.