Wednesday, August 31, 2011

are social networks taking all of the fun out of dating?

Hey all, sorry about the lack of commenting lately, it has been a busy week! But I have alllll of tomorrow of so I am definitely going to be doing some serious catch-ups on your blogs :)

Are social networks taking all of the fun out of dating?

The short answer is yes, I believe that they do. I am not saying that social networks are bad; often they allow us to keep in touch with people we wouldn't be able to otherwise. But it terms of relationships, I have found it really beneficial to keep them out of the public sphere. Otherwise things may just get a bit boring and/or messy, as you will see in my reasons outlined below.

The Awkward, Scary ‘Asking Out’ Stage:
Gone are the days when a boy or girl would shyly come up to you and ask for your number.
 Now the new question is “can I add you on facebook?” (i.e. can I stalk your profile), or the even more subtle “what is your first and last name” (i.e. can I stalk your profile). It has taken all of the courage away from dating. A big part of growing up for me was the moment when I finally worked up the courage to approach the boy I liked and ask him out. An even bigger part of growing up for me was having to deal with the subsequent rejection. Now facebook and similar sites have made taking that first plunge much too easy. They should have to suffer like I did. It builds character.

As well as this, I know many people who have become interested in someone, only to change their minds when they look at their facebook profile. For example, the person in question might ‘like’ groups such as ‘getting maggoted’ or ‘being a jerk’; or even worse: the person  might be a horrific speller. But we are judging someone based on these very shallow public profiles, and could be missing out on someone really special if only we were to give them a go. Granted, our first facebook impressions could be right and they could like ‘being a jerk’, but the funny anecdotes after a bad date were always half the fun of dating anyway. What with the invention of social networks, people seem to be only dating others with the same interests and beliefs as themselves. Bo-ring.

The ‘Getting to Know You’ Stage:
First dates used to be the time in which you got to know the other person; their interests, hobbies and beliefs. If the date went well and you decided to see each other again, you’d continue along in this getting to know you phase. Now however, all you need to do is type in the person’s name and you can see everything about them, up to the hospital that they were born in, their hopes and dreams, and what they had for breakfast.  Not only does this completely eliminate the beginning stages of dating, but it also leads to awkward first date conversation where you both try pretend that you don’t already know every single thing about the other person.

The Ex Factor:
Your new partner’s ex used to be almost a mythical creature, much like a unicorn or a Liberal Party leader with a conscience. One that may be briefly and uncomfortably mentioned by your partner when talking about the past, or someone you might accidently stumble across in their old photo albums; but not someone that you really know all that much about. However, the problem now is that while women tend to need to get rid of old photos/burn old letters/throw bricks throw car windows to feel closure; men tend to see the break up itself as the end of it all, and forget about all of the physical relationship memorabilia that is left behind. Which is fine and all, but the issue is that photos and love letters from old flames used to be something kept sentimentally in a shoebox, or in a little folder on your computer. Now however it is all over the public sphere. If you meet your partner recently after they have a break up, there will most likely still be mushy messages from that person spread all over the front page of their profile. In my case (back in the good ol’ myspace days) there were ‘I love you’s from both myself and the ex on the same page. Which I will admit, did weird me out a little. We looked like some kind of weird polygamist group. On top of that, your new love will most likely have still up, including old photo albums for public viewing online such as ‘Me and mah gorgeous babai grl, luv you hunni, 3 months!! :D :D :D’. No new partner wants to see that pop up every time they go into their loves photo section to stare dreamily at their new catch. It’s just not pleasant.

The Break-Up:
Social networking sites mean that most breakups become public knowledge. No longer do you only call your best friends, then subtly tell other people you know in whatever time-frame you feel comfortable with; now the whole world knows when your relationship is over almost the moment that it happens (a friend recently had his girlfriend break up with him over the phone, then say “so..we should put this on facebook now, yeah?”). The only good thing about it is when people ‘like’ the breakup; only because it tells you that their either a) really into you and happy that you’re single once more, b) they are into your ex-significant other, c) they are a concerned friend and hated the person you were seeing or d) they loathe your very existence and you being miserable makes them happy. So if you are looking for a rebound, just go for whoever liked your breakup, because there’s a 25% chance that they’ll say yes.

So the next time your potential love interest or new partner sends you a friend request, deny it*. It’ll be better for the both of you. Trust me.

*and maybe have a giggle at the tantrum they throw because of this.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

the scent of spring is in the air

As soon as I see the cherry blossoms appear I know that spring is just around the corner. They decorate the sidewalks with their lacy veils of pink and white. The delicate, feminine blossoms wave gracefully in the air, reminding me that warm sunny days will no longer be few and far between. They bring colour into the world; soft, pretty colours that are shamelessly happy. They dance gaily in celebration of life, inviting the world to dance with them. They flavour the mornings, the scent of lazy ice-cream days wafting through the air. And they bring a smile to my face every sugary sweet morning, as I drive down the cherry blossom lined streets, joining them in their salutation to spring.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I Am the Messenger

My favourite book will always be ‘I Am the Messenger” by Markus Zusak. It is not the most well-written book I have ever read, not the most intellectual, nor a book that people will pull from a bookshelf in two hundred years declaring “Now this, right here, is literature!” But it has the most heart. It is unpretentious, optimistic, and unashamedly human. It is a book that changes your perspective, one that makes you believe that you really can make a difference. And really, isn't that what writing is all about? 

'Our footsteps run, and I don't want them to end. I want to run and laugh and feel like this forever. I want to avoid any awkward moment when the realness of reality sticks its fork into our flesh, leaving us standing there, together. I want to stay here, in this moment, and never go to other places, where we don't know what to say or what to do.'

'It's not a big thing, but I guess, it's true-- big things are often just small things that are noticed.'

'It's with those words that I see things from Audrey's perspective. She liked me being just Ed. It was safer that way. Stable. Now I've changed things. I've left my own fingerprints on the world, no matter how small, and it's upset the equilibrium of us-- Audrey and me.'

'Carefully now, her statement comes out. "Believe it or not-- it takes a lot of love to hate you like this.’

‘I'd wanted to stay on that porch with him until the sun shone bright on both of us, but I didn't. I stood up and walked down the steps. I'd rather chase the sun than wait for it.'

'And if a guy like you can stand up and do what you did for all those people, well, maybe everyone can. Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of.'

Friday, August 26, 2011

Top Ten Pick-Me-Ups when you’re having a really bad day

Apologies for missing my ‘health blog’ day yesterday, I really did have every intention to do it. Unfortunately intentions aren’t everything, and instead of doing that I ran into someone else’s car. And yep, it was definitely my fault. (The person was okay, thank goodness!) That will teach me to sing and dance in my car rather than bother to remember the road rules...

It was not the greatest day ever.

BUT I think I whinged and moaned and cried enough yesterday to last me a lifetime, so time to get positive today! As it is Friday (in Australia, completely forgot about the time difference for my American readers), here is a little Friday list.

Top Ten Pick-Me-Ups when you’re having a really bad day:

1. Cry. If you need a mini-breakdown, even if you know that you are completely overreacting, then have it. Trust me, there is nothing like a good hour long cry to make you feel better.

2. Do something that makes you feel special; whether it’s dressing up, having a bath or curling your hair.

3. Watch something on television that you love. Make sure it’s either really funny, or sugary sweet and uplifting.

4. Take time out. Have ALL of those things that you need to do? Too bad for those things, you are taking some much needed personal time off.

5. Read Anne of Green Gables. Yes, very specific I know, but nothing warms the soul quite like this book. 

6. Bake! What is more therapeutic than baking? Plus: You get to eat the mixture.

7. Do something that gets you moving. Hit the gym, do some yoga, round up some friends for a game of basketball, or dance like crazy around your house.

8. Do something nice for someone else. Donate clothing or money, write a letter to friend, or even just send someone a quick text to let them know how amazing you think they are.

9. Hug a loved one. Nothing is more comforting than that J

10. Eat your weights worth in chocolate!

Or you could just take this advice:

 Weekend Challenge: Do at least two of the things on this list!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Makeup Debate: Seeing the Other Side

I have always considered myself a feminist, ever since the age of six when I refused to watch any Disney movies because ‘girls don’t need a boy to save them’. I feel strongly about the issue of body image, and believe that everyone should love themselves exactly the way that they are.

It wasn’t until last week, when I was going through my lengthy morning ritual of applying every makeup product imaginable, that I realised I may in fact be nothing but a gigantic hypocrite. Yes, I believe that everyone is beautiful the way that they are, but I will spout this at my friends while I am powdering my nose or touching up my lipstick.

But here’s the thing: I can see the hypocrisy. I really can. But I still have absolutely no problem with makeup, whether it’s on myself or anybody else. Because when it comes down to it, what is the harm?

I have seen so many videos and blogs lately spouting the evils of makeup on female self-esteem; as well as having comments thrown at me from my friends and family who don’t wear makeup (which is always the case when someone does anything that we don’t). So, as a long time makeup wearer and a short time writer, I am going to do something a little crazy.

I am going to argue the other side.

I don’t think that makeup is a social evil designed to keep female morale down; designed to keep them believing that they can’t be lovely without it. After my families comments particularly got to me last year, I decided to go six months without makeup. And you know what? I was just as happy, my self-esteem was just as high, and I was just as confident as when I do slather product onto my face. But once the six months were over, I went right back to wearing makeup.

Because I like it. Not because without it I am snivelling, unhappy mess on the floor; but because it’s fun to wear. Just as it’s fun to get my hair done and wear pretty dresses.

And even in the cases where people do find makeup boosting their self-esteem and lack confidence without it, I still think that makeup is absolutely fine. Blasphemy I know. But the truth is, a large proportion of society do beat themselves up about their looks. And while it’s all well and good to say ‘have high self-esteem’, you can’t force it onto someone. And if something external is going to make them feel more attractive on the outside, allowing them to shine on the inside, then there is nothing wrong with that.

There are bigger battles to fight, and making women feel bad for needing that extra something to feel a little bit more special isn’t doing anyone any favours; nor does it suddenly force people to feel better about themselves without it.

Unless something is detrimental to either the person in question or others around them, I think the saying that we need to remember is ‘live and let live’.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Morning Reflections

I used to rush through the mornings, trying to put them behind me as quickly as I could. I would sleep in until the last possible second, sometimes even longer; before angrily throwing back the covers and racing around the house in a bid to out race the clock.

I wouldn't begin to breathe again until I was sitting in my chair at work, or at uni, and even then I was so tired that it would only be a half-hearted effort.

Lately I have been trying to snap myself out of this bad habit, and have given myself the gift of an extra thirty minutes every morning. Thirty minutes to enjoy the process of waking up. To enjoy the beginnings of each day.

And so I have been waking up early. Sometimes I won't get out of bed during the thirty minutes. Instead I'll hug Joel while he sleeps, or cuddle my cats, and remind myself just how lucky I am.

Other times I will get up, stretch for a while, then make myself a coffee and sit by the window with my gratitude journal, watching the sun rise and writing down all of the things that I am thankful for.

Mornings no longer feel like a hassle. They no longer seem like something that needs to be gotten through as fast as can be.

In fact, they seem rather magical.

Monday, August 22, 2011

what is more inspirational than love?

Romantic love is the most inspiring thing I can think of. 

I am not simply talking about long, lasting love either. Love is inspiring whether it’s in a couple married for fifty years, or in a shy smile passed between two strangers on the bus who never quite work up the courage to say hello.

What is more inspiring than that first glance, the first date or the first kiss? Or knowing someone so completely inside and out that you feel you couldn’t breathe without them there to breathe with you?

What inspires more emotion than that first fight, or first break up?

Love is what inspires people to write that book, make that movie, or sing that song.

Love is what leads us to scribble our hearts into our diaries, cry softly in the moonlight, or go to extraordinary lengths just to see that person smile.

Love makes us kind. It softens us. It makes us try to be the best that we can be. 

And when it comes down to it, nothing can inspire dreams like love can.

Friday, August 19, 2011

fun things to do in winter

Wear layers

Toast marshmallows around a camp-fire

Get reacquainted with your electric blanket

Go ice-skating

Spend evenings with friends in warm pubs

Make lots and lots of yummy soup

Spend time curled up with loved ones

Drink hot chocolate in the cutest cafe you can find

Draw pretty things on foggy windows

Take time to admire and sketch winter trees

Build a fort

And most importantly....

Take a trip somewhere warm!

Weekend challenge: Go out for ice cream and order the weirdest toppings that they have. You might be surprised at how yummy it is!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Plan

This is the beautiful city I spent the last few days at. These aren’t my photos...while I took A LOT I am a terrible photographer and didn’t do justice to Perth at all, so I decided to let more talented people do my work for me.

Remember the short-story competition I mentioned? Well my lovely father had some frequent flyer points, and since we have never really spent any time together just us, off we went on an adventure. While I didn’t win (I did get a commendation though, which I was pretty excited about!) it was wonderful. Lots of wine, cheese and crackers thanks to the Qantas club, days spent exploring the city and eating at Paris-style cafes, catching up with extended family, and looking around the university; which I automatically fell in love with. (photos 1,4,5 & 6...Blogger is being lame and won't let me move them around)

Isn’t it just beautiful? Who wouldn’t be motivated to study in a lovely place like that?

On another note, having a break did give me a chance to do some thinking about this blog. It has been difficult to get motivated to post; it’s hard not to ignore it in lieu of school, writing and life. So I have decided to have a different ‘theme’ for each day. This way my posts will be shorter, less time-consuming to write and (hopefully) snappier, as well as much more frequent.

So, here’s the plan thus far, though I’m sure it will change often!

Mondays: Inspiration (quotes, pictures, music etc.)

Tuesday: Contemplation

Wednesdays: ‘Article’ type posts

Thursdays: Health. This will include a lot of different things, like recipes, links, and discussions about issues surrounding body image etc.

Friday: Miscellaneous. But after reading High Fidelity, I will be posting a few lists, because I love lists, and I love reading people’s lists.

And that’s the plan. I will read and comment on everyone’s blogs as much as possible; however I found that trying do it every day is impossible. I don’t want to just skim read people’s posts and write one word responses. I really do enjoy all of your blogs and want to soak up as much of them as I can. So I won’t be commenting as often as I am posting, but I promise I will always respond to your comments, even if it takes me a couple of days.

Photo links in order (it won't let me link either! Grr...),,,,,,,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Moving On

I spent my weekend in Sydney with Joel. It was good to get away for just a few days; not having to worry about work or school, and just getting to spend some much needed time together. I also learned a few important lessons along the way. Ones that I should have learned long ago, but there is no use regretting the past. Just taking from it what you can and moving on.

We went down to stay in Joel’s old town, the place where he spent his teenage years. I have always hated it there; while I look forward to our trips I loathe the place. Not because of the place itself, but because of all of the memories associated with it. All of the fights, cruel words, comparisons and jealousy are centred around this town and the people within in. And that feeling, the feeling the followed me around for years, that this place, the one that I am not a part of, is where Joel really wants to be. And not with me.

Yes it was childish. But I wasn’t wrong. For a few years, I wasn’t wrong. But people grow and people change. Joel certainly did. The town did as well. But I stayed stuck unhappily in the past, resenting something that didn’t exist anymore, and so, in turn, resenting myself for being unable to move on.

I hadn’t been there in ages. I hadn’t really thought about it for a long time, not until this weekend. And I was nervous. Nervous that I would revert back to who I was so many years ago, unable to move on or let go. That I would replay old memories that I just couldn’t shake no matter how hard I tried.

But when I got there, it was so apparent to me how different everything was. How different I was.I no longer hated the place, and I no longer hated the people. It was just another town, much like the one we live in now.

And after spending the evening exploring the city, drinking cider, watching street artists and playing arcade games, I could feel myself getting lighter. And as we made our way into the dim sweaty concert we had driven up to see, as we held hands while the music soared over us, as I watched everyone, dancing and laughing and having fun, I felt myself letting go completely. Of everything.

And that was the moment I grew up, because it was the moment I learned to forgive.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I wish I lived in a book

I wish I could turn the crisp, yellowed pages of a well-loved book and dive in head first. Head first between the unkempt paper; the corners turned down to save a favourite passage, one to be found again, months, maybe years later. The one that will still leave a thrill traveling up and down your back. I want to fall into that passage, the one that you couldn’t tear your eyes away from, and bury myself in it. I want softly walk over the places where your tears fell, dance over the words that made you laugh, and wrap my arms around those that changed your whole world forever.

I want to wade through the smudged pages from that time you accidentally dropped it in the bath, and march my way over the food stains that were there simply because you couldn’t bear the though of putting the book down while you ate.

I want to fall into an adventure, and blush my way through a romance. I want to meet quirky characters, who have replayed their story over and over again for hundreds of years. I want to meet generous men who tell me their moods by outlining which way the wind is blowing. I want to meet methodical people who decide, on a whim, to travel the world in eighty days. I want to march my way through the French Revolution. I want to live in a land filled with Faraway Trees and Wishing Wells. With wizarding schools and bossy lions. A land where the good people always win. Where love lasts forever. And where nothing is impossible.

I want to tip-toe over unfinished stories, the ones that you spent nights slaving over, pen in hand. The stories that were discarded, but never forgotten. I want to make my way over to the last word and promise it that someone else will read it too one day. And will love it as much as you did. As I do.

I want to travel the world of words. To see all there is to been seen. To hear all that there is to be heard. And to feel all emotions that there are to be felt.

So come, put down whatever it is that you’re doing, and take the plunge with me. I promise you it will be worth it.

ps. If you love reading and dreaming as much as we do, check out The Reading Room. We have just started a new book, so now is the perfect time to get involved :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

A little break from winter

This week has been one of those glorious early spring weeks. Where, after months of bitterly cold days and below zero nights, we were finally rewarded with day after day of clear blue skies and unseasonably warm weather. Days filled with energy, because rather than the shrill sound of the alarm snapping us out of our slumber, we slowly wake naturally to sun shining through the windows. Days where scarves, coats and gloves have been put aside in favour of colourful dresses and cardigans. Days where walking has again become preferable to driving, as has ambling to rushing.

Lunch hasn’t been spent huddled up in the office next to the heater, but outside with a good book under a tree. People are smiling and laughing, the winter depression being put on hold this week in favour of kind gestures and happy conversation with strangers.

Writing isn’t been done in bed with the electric blanket on and a cup of tea; but seated in the lounge room next to the open window, or on the balcony soaking up the sun. And while electric blankets and tea are wonderful, there is nothing quite like fresh air and sunshine to get those creative juices flowing.

Phones have been buzzing, as a night spent curled up at home has become less appealing than going on night-time adventures under the Cheshire Cat moon.

While this is a temporary set-back in winter’s path, one that will be over in a matter of days, my oh my but wasn’t it needed. Suddenly spring doesn’t seem that far off. Winter doesn’t seem so endless anymore. And we have been jolted out of our seasonal depression just long enough to realise how much there is to look forward to in the second half of the year.


ps. thank you all so so much for your lovely comments on my last post, you have no idea how much it means to me.