travelling home

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this time last year was hard for me. i was readjusting to the world around me and it wasn’t easy at all. i’ve found that this time of year is not easy for anyone. there is so much stress the media and shops pile onto us that our holidays, christmases, new years -everything really- must be perfect. add all this to the shock of arriving home from a long trip, adjusting to summer from winter, new people in your old life, changes in almost everything around you that you were not prepared for and you get a difficult time. for me, you get a ball of anxiety so stressed and nervous about everything that even leaving the house is scary.

coming home from travelling is hard. it always is, no matter how long you were gone for. however i have definitely noticed a difference in returning home from a holiday and returning home from an extended trip. when you go for a holiday, the whole trip is based upon the idea that you’re not at home. you know when you’re going home and you’re prepared for it. you get homesick. but you have to beat it. you don’t want to waste time thinking about home when you’ll be there again very soon. you fight the feeling of homesickness with everything you have to make sure you have a nice time in the new place you are.

returning home from a long trip, the kind that you left and didn’t know when you were coming home or even if you were coming home is a whole new ball game. you’ve spent so much time and energy making this new place comfortable and homely and suddenly you have to up and leave again.you find new places to go regularly, things to do and see, you get used to your new home and the people around you. you put effort and thought into overcoming that feeling of desperate yearning to be somewhere familiar and replace the things you had in your life elsewhere with new memories.

you spend time thinking about home, imagining the way it is. hoping against all the odds that people are thinking about you just as much as you are thinking about them. and of course they aren’t. they have their lives to continue with. but for you, time has kind of stopped. this new place is full of the unfamiliar and some nights you just wish you were home with everything you know and everyone you love. but you make it through it by making your life and home here and creating these new memories.

coming home to everything you fought so hard to forget and replace is really hard. readjusting is difficult, time-consuming and frustrating. and you begin to notice things that you never wanted to, and things you were hoping wouldn’t happen. because the reality is, when you leave, everything else doesn’t stay the same.you’ve put yourself through so much to make yourself belong somewhere new, that the place you always used to belong and where you always thought you would feels foreign and new. you don’t belong there anymore either.

it takes a while to feel that again. you have to go through everything again. making habits and memories. new memories of your old home. but, at least i found, that through this you can learn what parts of yourself you need. what parts you want to keep. what parts of yourself you want to take with you to make the new memories and belong again.

all my love,

charlie

 

 

pancakes & ponies

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last weekend i spent a night on a farm with an old friend of mine: persephone from Thesmophoria and co.. persephone and i have known each other for a long time and this weekend it meant the same thing to both of us: baking and sunshine. the weather in canberra had been quite questionable over the past few weeks and we were particularly excited about the weather forecast, as apparently very simple things make us happy. persephone was housesitting for some friends of hers at a farm about a 20 minute drive from canberra. there were ponies, dogs, chickens and a enormous garden filled with all kinds of lovely spring time flowers. we had a cute night of eating chocolate and watching movies, and in the morning woke up with a very sure plan of making pancakes. so that’s what we did.

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i’ve already put a pancake recipe up here, but this one is a little more intense and indulgent for those days when you feel like it’s totally fine to have chocolate for breakfast because you’re a grown up and nobody’s here to tell  you otherwise. persephone is an absolutely amazing photographer and has been particularly focusing on her food photography as part of her blog thesmophoria and co. which i have linked above. her recipes are amazing and she definitely has the whole mouthwatering, perfectly lit photo thing down… pretty different from my rushed snaps taken on my slowly disintegrating iphone 5. so check it out if you like really delicious mostly traditional-german inspired vegan baked goods. or if you just like looking at pictures of food that you want to eat.

most of the images here are hers (except of course the ones that i have clearly taken of her while she is using a real camera haha). and the recipe is one we threw together in an effort to have pancakes as quickly as we could get them into us. it makes about 8 pancakes (but we made some pretty giant ones so you could probably scrape a few more if you wanted to.

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For the Pancakes:

– 2 Cups Plain Flour
– 1/2 Cup Coconut Sugar
– 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
– 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
– 4 Teaspoons Ground Flaxseed
– 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Powder
– 1 – 1/2 Cup Soy Milk*
– 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil, Melted + 2 Tablespoons for frying
– 1/2 Cup Chocolate, Roughly Chopped

in a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients with a whisk, till you think it’s pretty airy. add in melted coconut oil, and slowly add the soy milk (about half a cup at a time). for some reason pancakes always end up differently, so judge your milk amount by the consistency of the batter i reckon. it should be runnier than a cake batter, but not too liquidy. pancake batter is always better if you leave it to rest for a bit, so we just let it sit while we made the berry compote (which by the way was a really good plan and  i highly recommend making this too).

heat some coconut oil in a large skillet/frypan/whatever you’ve got. bring the heat up to melt the oil until it starts to sizzle and then turn it down again. the heating of pancakes is really hard to figure out, by i find that if you heat up the pan at the beginning and then cook them on a low heat it is the most sure way to get pancakes that are cooked all the way through and not burnt to shit. spoon the batter into the pan in whatever size you want, (this is the bit where you can add the chocolate pieces, or berries or whatever you want, best to do it here, not in the batter because then it sticks all weird and is a pain to clean/flip the pancake) wait until it begins to bubble and then flip. do not touch it before the top looks like it has a weird skin on it and is bubbly, it will fuck it up. once you flip it leave it for another minute or so until it puffs up and browns on the other side, this bit you kind of have to wing it to figure out timing, but it’ll be fine.

For the Berry Compote:
– 1 1/2 Cups Mixed Berries (fresh or frozen)
– 2 Tablespoons Rice Malt Syrup
– Zest of 1 Lemon
– Juice of 1/2 Lemon
– 1/2 Cup Water

put all the compote ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. as soon as it starts boiling, reduce it to a simmer and stir well making sure to combine all the ingredients. we left it on a simmer while we cooked our pancakes, but made sure to keep an eye on it and keep stirring so it didn’t turn to a gross, syrupy mess in the saucepan that would be a giant pain to clean up.

serve the pancakes with the compote and whatever else you want, we had more chocolate and bananas. it was reallllly good.

so there’s another pancake recipe… and another breakfast recipe, because it is definitely the best meal of the day, no question. have a fun time.

all my love,

charlie

listening to disco (in the bath, my bedroom, everywhere)

i’m lying in the bath listening to ‘what’s a girl to do’ by fatima yamaha. my face is bleeding. i haven’t got a nose bleed, or anything else along those lines- i’ve just been picking at my chin; my cheeks. lately, i’ve been breaking out more than ever before. it’s because i’m stressed, anxious; constantly nervous in a way that i’ve never experienced. this year has been rough on my mental health in so many ways that i never thought possible, and my skin’s been showing it – no matter what time of the month it is, there’s a zit sneaking up somewhere, reminding me of how stressed i feel. even in the most mundane moments, i’m riddled with tension. i’ve been experiencing so much discomfort in my own space that it’s started appearing in physical ways – not just in my skin, but in a bunch of other ways, too. like what i’ve felt like listening to. all i’ve been listening to is disco. and funk, among other things.

i don’t know if my sudden interest in disco (and funk, and house music, and whatever else) has that much to do with my current mental health status. but i’ve been thinking about it a lot, and i’ve decided that it does, because i’m into this concept i’ve come up with. basically, for the last month, i’ve been filling every silence with grooves. i used to only listen to this kind of music when i felt like dancing – like, when i was about to go out with friends and we needed to warm ourselves up. but in my downtime i would always settle back down to quiet music – no matter what, i’d be coming home to joni’s ‘blue’ at the end of the night. but lately it’s not just been my downtime that i’ve started filling with grooves – it’s literally been every silence. i shower to maria kozic, i eat lunch to fonda rae, i fall asleep to duran duran. i can no longer deal with my own settled in, quiet time. i can’t wind down because i’m constantly looking up another website to stream hours of disco from (this page i scoured out here is good). it’s never ending. and i know that the way i’m describing all of this sounds like some sort of living-hell-experience with no silences, but i’ve found so much goodness in this. so, hear me out.

basically, i’ve been filling every silence because i’ve been afraid of being alone with myself – with my mental health all muddled up, i’ve been trying my best to keep the quiet as far away as i can, so i won’t have to listen to myself think. if i let myself think too long, i get stuck – reverberating between my own walls, i feel enclosed and confined by my own brain in a way that feels claustrophobic; like my sense of self starts threatening my real self. if i fill the silences, i can’t hear my sense of self speak – she gets drowned out, so instead, i can only focus on my real self: my physical self. this is the girl you’re seeing;  the girl you’re hearing as you’re reading this. she’s the girl you know, and the girl i’m trying to get to know again. it’s easier for me to get to know this girl again if i concentrate on my tangibility; my concrete identity. one of the best ways i’ve realised i can do this is through dancing. so in comes the disco.

dancing in your bedroom is one of the best ways you can learn to inhabit your own body again. i mean, i know i’ve been living in my body this whole time, regardless of where my mental health has been leading me – but when my insides feel like they’re in shambles, i start to feel a sense of disconnect between the whirlpool inside my head and what’s really going on, outside in the real world, beyond me. dancing has been one of the best ways i’ve realised i can reconnect with my physicality; the real world. it’s important to me that these reconnecting experiences take place in my bedroom, specifically, because it’s important that no one else is around to watch me have these moments. i mean, i know that dancing among friends is fun, but in order to re-inhabit myself in the right way, it needs to just be me. me, my bedroom, my disco, and my bad skin. it’s one of the only ways i’ve learnt to be alone with myself, and it’s so much fun. being alone is less frightening when fatima yamaha is keeping me company.

i’ve compiled a playlist of what i’ve been grooving to lately. i recommend you listen to it in your bedroom, with you and only you. listen in on 8tracks here.

all my love,

maddy

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(PS. we’re compiling a video that will go with this post. it’s a homage to bedroom grooves – if you, or anyone you know, resonates with experiences of dancing alone, feel free to send a clip of you dancing to lucky star by madonna to somethingoodgirls@gmail.com – we’d love to see yr moves!)

girls talking about boys talking about girls

 

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Well what colour are his eyes?
I don’t know he’s always wearing shades
Is he tall?
Well, I’ve got to look up.
Yeah? Well I hear he’s bad.
mm, he’s good bad, but he’s not evil.

i remember the first time i listened to the shangri-las, in the car with madz. that seemingly nonsensical statement “good bad, but not evil” resonating with both of us as we daydreamed about the good-bad boys we’d known.

when i first became friends with maddy, i was in a very, very long term relationship. the kind where you imagine your futures together and become a “we” instead of an “i”. this had been especially true for me, as i had been so wrapped up in my love for this boy that slowly, without noticing, i’d been erasing parts of myself that were all my own. i stopped writing, at some point. i never really noticed until i’d started again. maddy scooped me out of the comfortable little hole i had created for myself, and i can never thank her enough for it. for the first time in years, someone wanted to know me as an individual, and i was scared when i realised how little there was left of her, of me. that relationship ended and even though it was beyond painful , i still consider myself so lucky to have had a love that was so good and so strong.

it’s been a while now, and the three of us single gals started to spend a lot of time talking and thinking and dreaming about boys. men, really, but i think it speaks to the idealism and the nostalgia that was really driving us that we never said so. it was always about boys. boys who would be exciting but never mean. boys who would make us feel interesting and interested and care about the dumb things we cared about. i think having a friendship like ours means that once we voice our feelings about something and share them with each other, they grow. we feed each others thoughts and emotions till they become bigger than we expected. sometimes, this is like a superpower. when we pool our creativity it turns into something magical, something good. but with this, it became something a little toxic.

thinking about boy gave us something to look forward to. it meant more nights curling up and watching rom coms, more nights out dancing hoping to catch someone’s eye. for me, i thought it was the natural next step, it meant i was moving on. but the time i spent thinking about boys was time i spent once again neglecting myself. i was a teenager, still in school when my ex-boyfriend and i got together. i had never spent time alone with myself, the adult woman, and focusing my time and energy on crushes with my friends meant i wouldn’t have to. despite all the great things we’ve all been achieving the only achievement that mattered to us was finding The Boy.

one by one, we each began to feel the toll of this. i think the key thing we all realised, or that i certainly did, was that once i had found the elusive Boy, i had no idea what i wanted to do with him. when i gave myself the space to think about it, i knew i wasn’t at all ready to be a “we” again. so what was i even looking for? in so many ways my life is better than it has ever been. unlike when i was a kid, i no longer live in fear. i am surrounded by people who i love, and people who love me back in a beautiful, uncomplicated way. there’s no pain in these relationships. but in other ways, i feel like i’m drowning. i feel too loud in my own brain, like i don’t have enough creative output, i feel too smart or not smart enough, pretty but in a fuckable not loveable kinda way. finding The Boy was a way of deflecting the attention from all the parts of myself i wasn’t ready to deal with, and also hoping to find someone who would make them all seem okay.

realising what this was doing to us has meant that our conversations are once again interesting, dynamic and varied. it’s meant that madz is writing some of her best poetry i’ve ever read, and charlie is creating beautiful art and beautiful food just because she can. for me it’s meant learning how to make music and sounds, learning to put pen to paper without tearing up whatever i come up with.

there are still boys. they still make me feel fluttery in my stomach and we talk about that sometimes. but i approach them as aayushi, a person i think i’m happy to know.

all my love,

aayushi

my shadow

 

 

anxiety has no concrete way of taking over you. when you feel like you’ve built a solid collection of ways to combat it, it’ll come up with an entirely new way of overtaking your entire being and unsettle every part of you.

i thought i’d successfully built up my defence against it. i thought i was ready and waiting. i’d written a list of what to do in a situation when the symptoms occurred. i knew all too well how it worked. how it builds up, paralysing my mind and body. and i knew exactly how to respond to this and what i needed to do to bring myself back to reality.

but, because it’s anxiety and it’s whole thing is to fuck you over it’s decided to take a new form. a new form of intense, mind altering panic. but i don’t know how to deal with it. i don’t have anything in my collection to help. it’s new and different and i’m not into it at all.

apparently my anxiety has decided to take on a new attack method. and it’s on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. i guess it decided the old way wasn’t efficient enough.

it’s called dissociation. everything closes off. mind, body, thoughts, feelings. everything feels entirely numb. you’re cut off from the world. when this happened it was so new to me i had no idea what was going on. i didn’t even notice it was happening. it felt unusual, but not like anxiety. i wasn’t able to recognise it, so i wasn’t able to use my defences like i usually would.

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i suppose now i know, and i’ll be able to figure it out. but i’m not sure. the unfamiliarity made it even worse once i realised that something was happening to me. i had no idea what was going on at all. so i panicked. i don’t really understand how things can change so fast in your body as much as they did on this day. i guess i just don’t know enough about bodies. but it’s incredible how a feeling of being completely separate from the world and yourself as a physical person can change so intensely quickly to everything being overly within yourself. thoughts that won’t stop. locking onto them and not being able to shake them away. and the over-breathing and over-moving that go with the over-thinking.

it’s been a long time tackling this shadow in my brain, and i’ve always known it reacts to different things. and now i know it appears in different ways too. but i know this now. and knowing is going to help me build my collection of ways to deal with it this way too. at least that’s what i hope.

i know i’ll never be rid of it. it’s always been with me and it will always be. we were working together just fine, not great, but fine. another obstacle came inbetween us, but like any relationship, you just need to work out how to make it past that. it’s really hard. but now i think we’re beginning to get along better and we know what one another need. i think we’ll be okay.

all my love,

charlie

national parks: how to breathe better

the best kind of air is national park air. you’re surrounded by untouched flora, you’re protected by trees, you’re finally able to take in the quiet. the sound of traffic is at least thirty minutes away (at least in namadgi’s case), and you feel calm. a few weeks ago, we all needed a little bit of calm. so we went to namadgi national park. booroomba rocks, specifically.

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booroomba rocks is my go-to bush walk. i’ve been coming out here since i was a kid – i was on this track the very first time i saw a brown snake; the first time i heard a lyrebird. i was here the first time i carved my name into a tree, and it’s still there today, tattered beneath flaking bark, amongst other names. as i got older, it continued to be a particularly significant space for me – i was here the first time i told a boy i was very genuinely, completely in love with him, and i’m still sure that the reason i had the guts to say that out loud was because of where i was. so now, booroomba rocks has become a safe place for me – whenever i’m feeling anxious, i’ll end up out here sooner or later. so when charlie, aayushi and i all needed a day to ourselves, we went here.

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charlie packed a picnic, and aayushi brought her tarot cards. we sat at a picnic table and she cast a circle around us. it was cleansing and quiet and the air felt better than ever. we ate bananas, dates and other things i can’t remember. aayushi read my cards and told me what’s coming up for me, and i finally felt a little at ease about where i’m at right now.

we nearly lost the car keys and got trapped out there forever, but we felt fine about it – national parks kinda cast a bit of a spell on you. it’s something to do with the trees, the air, the earth, pushed altogether in this untouched, consuming kinda way. it makes you forget about the world that’s thirty minutes away, and forget that getting trapped out in the bush could probably (most likely) be a pretty sticky situation. it’s the best thing about the bush – especially in a place like canberra. it’s a little slice of calm that’s always in line of view, out by the mountains in the horizon. like a constant reassurance – even if you can’t make it out there right now, it’s always just in reach.

14303734_10153911291607896_1005337361_oall my love,

maddy

cosy morning breakfasts

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we’re in the deep of winter right now in canberra. it kind of feels like we’ll never make it out. every day i wake up, aching to see some warmth of sunlight through my curtains, instead i see an uninspiring white-grey sky stretching as far as i can see. it was okay in the beginning, and it’s okay when it’s raining. at least then the weather has some personality. this achingly cold, still winter is getting the  better of me and making me wish for warmer days in a way winter has never done before. so i make porridge.

porridge is one of my favourite meals. it warms me from within, making me feel cosy, full and energised in a soothing way. it almost makes this winter worth it. almost. as a child, my dad used to make porridge for breakfast in the winters. we’d top it with loads of brown sugar and almost drown it with milk. since we’re both so busy, my dad and i haven’t been able to spend much time together recently. so today, we made a morning of our porridge eating.

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i stirred the pot of slowly thickening, creamy oats and dad added fun bits and pieces to the mix and prepared the fresh toppings. porridge is like muesli, it is almost ALWAYS more about the toppings than the actual porridge. it’s really a vessel for a variety of flavours and textures. i like to add things into my porridge while it cooks as well, which is what i did today.

ingredients:
porridge
oats (on an average morning i use about 1/4 of a cup, but it really depends how hungry/how much you can eat)
water (double the amount of oats)
1 tsp cinnamon (or more is desired)
1 tsp vanilla extract
small handful of dried cranberries
1 banana, sliced

toppings
strawberries, sliced
peanut butter
coconut yoghurt
chopped nuts
plant milk
chopped up bliss ball

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method:
in a small saucepan, add the oats, water, cinnamon, vanilla, dried cranberries and banana. cook over a low heat, stirring constantly. continuously stirring porridge is essential for it to become smooth and creamy, the more you stir while it cooks the creamier it will become! when desired consistency is reached, serve in bowls (it’s a good idea to warm them up with a little warm water first, as the porridge is likely to go cold really fast if you don’t!). top with fresh fruit, nut butter, dried fruit, chopped nuts, chopped bliss balls, maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut yoghurt, seeds ANYTHING YOU WANT! You’re an adult and can make your own decisions!

all my love,

charlie