Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Bethwyn Peace Declaration

While in Japan during February, C, X and I visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum. I don't think I can articulate in words how it felt to be there.
It was like slowly uncovering all these awful things underneath something that you already knew was awful - the awful just got ten times worse every time you moved another object.
It was like imagining the worst possible thing that could happen in my world, and then making that explode into something that felt even worse.
And it was like learning. Learning through tears and sadness. And then seeing the determination of the human spirit.
Like when there's a bush fire in Australia and we look out at the desolate land and we wonder if anything will ever grow again. And then...shoots. Little green sweet things that look like they couldn't survive a gentle wind, let alone grow a new forest. But there it is, that determination.

At the end of the museum, they had a pile of copies of the City of Hiroshima's Peace Declaration, and I took one. It is now stuck up on the wall behind my desk while I write, and every now and then I look at it.

And I realised that if we are to fight for peace on such big scales - between countries, between ourselves and nature - sometimes it is important to start small. Really small. And I realised that I continue to fight a battle with myself on a daily basis - with my own mind, with my own body.

So here is my Peace Declaration.

I no longer want to fight with my own body and blame it for the pain that I experience. I do not want to fight with my mind, to try and escape the discomfort of depression or anxiety. These are things that I feel, and while I may be working to heal myself, that does not mean killing off the things that I feel.

I no longer wish to push away the scared part of me because she is irritating and represents all that is weak - she is part of me. I accept her.

I no longer desire a battle to rage within my own body and to speak to myself in a way that I would never dream of repeating to another human being.

I solemnly swear from this point on to love myself, always try my hardest to do what is right for me, and to accept the parts of me that may have been unfairly deemed as 'wrong'.

Love to all who read.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

weekly glimpse #13

Necessary items for a celebration of Jonghyun's birthday. Also, feet.

currently reading: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. So happy it is finally in my hands!
listening to: Pimsleur's Korean lessons.
watching: mostly still CCS and some of SHINee Surprise Vacation.
food: I went to a probiotic food workshop this last week, so I have been eating fermented veges and making my own! Yay!
drinking: kombucha and kefir water when I can, otherwise still water.
writing?: yes! I am writing! wow!

general... (inspired by Havi)
the hard
: this week has been hard and frustrating and sad and overwhelming. it led to an almost-breakdown on Thursday. a breath for all of the hurt and overwhelm and self-hate that came out, and is still being dealt with.

the good
: Jonghyun's birthday! He is the same age as me :3 (he is from SHINee, in case you wondered...)
: Dreams of Gods and Monsters arrived! Yay!
: also, my new shoes arrived and I have been wearing them non-stop since then! Yay!
: lots of time with Xin because I have needed his calming presence more than ever. many cuddles.
: posting on facebook about everything I was dealing with and receiving such wonderful support from so many people. a beautiful moment.
: small things.

what i want for next week...
~peace begins with me
~and then, re-ask for all the things I said last week...

mantra? what time is it? now. where are you? here.

Book Review: My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: My Darling Lemon Thyme
Author: Emma Galloway
Publication Date: April 1st 2014

Synopsis: As this is a cookbook, I think I will just explain a little about the aim of the cook and the recipes contained within. Galloway originally started a blog, documenting gluten-free vegetarian recipes that she created for her family after discovering that she and her two kids had quite a few food intolerances. This cookbook follows on from that - containing recipes that are allergen-friendly and good for you.

My thoughts: Firstly, I don't think I can talk about this book without mentioning how beautiful it is. The photography is simple and beautiful, and has an instant calming effect for me - something that I value highly in a cookbook! The photos are interspersed generously with the writing, but nothing feels overwhelming or confronting - just gentle and encouraging.
I love when authors of cookbooks take the time at the beginning of the book to talk a little about their own journeys with food, and also to talk about their most important ingredients. It helps a lot to know how to store certain flours - particularly when you're gluten-free and are having trouble understanding the difference between wheat flour and buckwheat flour.
The recipes all looked so good that I had to take the time initially to sit down and go through it front-to-back, bookmarking all the recipes I'd like to try. I ended up with a crazy amount of tags peering out at me, but that just made me feel happy - that Galloway had managed to entice me with so many recipes, when I often tend to find only one or two that look truly good in books that are allergen-friendly.
I will say that I feel a little daunted at the prospect of hunting down the different flours needed for a lot of the recipes in this book - and that is probably simply because of my lack of energy. I had originally hoped that this cookbook would contain less obscure flours so that it might be friendly for those with chronic illness that are looking to make a diet change, but it can be difficult to balance healthy, good food with easy-to-make recipes.
I also have a few reservations about the sheer quantity of sweet foods in this book - I often have a sweet tooth, and I love that there are so many delicious looking desserts in here that mostly use healthy sweeteners, but it only makes some of the savoury recipes look all the more complex. As someone who doesn't often have the energy to tackle a recipe with a huge amount of ingredients and instructions, I worry that I might end up just living off of sweet things alone! (Which probably sounds good, but I know might lead to bad things.)

Overall, this book is a delight to peruse and has multiple recipes that are the most delightful meeting of healthy and comfort food. Galloway's voice throughout the book is gentle and encouraging, and seeing her kids enjoying the food in many of the photos just makes me feel all the more excited about the possibilities contained within this beautiful tome. I feel both excited and content to have this book among my collection, and look forward to trying more recipes as time goes on.

I received a copy of this for review from Harper Collins (Thank you!).

You would like this book if: you love beautiful cookbooks with delicious recipes; you are looking for some allergen-friendly recipes that don't contain a HUGE amount of obscure ingredients.

Rating: 7.5 /10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

General update of updatyness.

Hi guys,

I am basically not going so well with updating my blog this week (I tend to like having a few posts up by now, but I haven't posted anything since Sunday...), and I'm kind of not going so well with doing...anything, lately.
In the interests of remaining open and honest rather than giving in to the overwhelming desire to close up completely, I will say that I am going through a bit of a rough patch with my physical health, but also with my mental health. Things have started weighing on me a lot more than usual lately and I'm finding it harder and harder to dig myself out (I am still digging, though. I have not given up!)

This is actually harder to say than I thought it would be, and I am taking many many breaks from writing this post to look up random things that pop into my head - most likely just in an effort to get away from having to write this.

I am doing my best to return to 'normal' (at least, less disconnected and less sad) and am trying hard to appreciate everything in my life and also tackle this as many ways as I know how. I haven't yet returned to counselling or to anti-depressants, but if it keeps going downhill the way it has been, that is definitely an option. I don't want to rule them out.

Through writing this post, I also wanted to reach out to those who deal with this sort of stuff on a daily basis, once again. As little as it means, know that I see you. I see how you keep trying to fight through the fog, and I think that's amazing.

I think that's all I really wanted to say. Love to all who read.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

weekly glimpse #12

Pictures from celebrating Sakura's birthday on April 1st!

currently reading: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor - a re-read in preparation for the third book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, on its way to me right now! :D
listening to: mostly meditation music so I can try and get a little study done - every time I start listening to Kpop I get really distracted XD
watching: lots of cardcaptor sakura this week in celebration of Sakura's birthday! and final episodes of how i met your mother. Oh my goodness.
food: going to Solomon's cafe when I can for delicious noms, and otherwise delicious salads that my mum is making.
drinking: very partial to tea and Codral sachets lately, and also to Lola Berry's Kickstarter smoothie :D
writing?: did a little this week on a really old story called Dandelion, and then also been working hard on uni assignments when my brain will work.

general... (inspired by Havi of The Fluent Self blog)
the hard
: this week has been rife with physical pain and discomfort. lots of symptoms of ick and blah.
: having to go to my GP twice in one week just to get some forms sorted out for centrelink, and feeling (for the first time with this doctor) not really listened to and frustrated/upset. a breath for being let down by the system and feeling brushed aside.
: euch flu. and then euch centrelink while I had euch flu. euch.
: biiiig stucknesses and pain coming up about my health and feeling lost. again, pockets of pain from me-from-the-past. many breaths for pain and trying to move past it.
: being unable to do very much of anything for most of the week, and then having that add in to feeling behind on everything and frustrated and sad that this is still happening. a breath for needing to let things be.

the good
: even though it was difficult and uncomfortable to go to centrelink, it may have actually led to some good things happening. some maybe-I-can-breathe-a-little things.
: the doctor experiences of this week were a bit upsetting for me, but they helped me to realise how grateful I am to have people in my life that can say 'maybe your doctor was having a bad day?' and 'you can go in another direction if you want'. a happy sigh for people who give you a different perspective instead of getting caught up in pain and cyclical frustration.
: yes, there is pain coming up. it is hard to process and it makes me want to run away and hide sometimes (which occasionally i do because it is needed), but i am growing. and i am supported and loved while this is happening. 
: beautiful time with Xin during the week, and feeling so much calmer and heard with him around. feeling lucky. and so grateful.
: celebrating Sakura's birthday. oh man, so so good and I love it. I much prefer it to April Fool's Day :) mostly because it includes lovely things like sakura latte, green tea mochi, and lots and lots of CCS! :D

what i want for next week...
~catching up and feeling aided in that. remembering that i am an intelligent and hardworking person when my health allows it.
~sleep. more sleep please. refreshing lovely sleep.
~just gonna be cheeky here and say: presents. I want them. (i am mostly referring to things that i have ordered for myself and are waiting for...)

mantra? breathe.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

{2014} March Reading

I decided at the end of last year that I wanted to start writing a blog at the end of each month just talking about what I'd read that month, etc., in the style of Nick Hornby. Hornby has put out a few books that combine his columns for The Believer magazine, and I love his style and how it gives him a chance to get his thoughts together. It's also an excellent way to look back and notice how much has been spent on books! So that's what I will plan to do... wish me luck!

This particular blog was also inspired by Katharine because reading her March post reminded me that I wanted to do something similar!

Books bought:
~Pre-ordered 'Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor very early in the month... otherwise nothing, because I spent so much on books in February....

Books acquired:
~The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty (from Pan Macmillan)
~Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (from Pan Macmillan)
~IDEA33 by Sheala Dawn Henke (from the author)

Books read:
~Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres
~The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
~The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
~Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
~Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
~Saints by Gene Luen Yang
~Cress by Marissa Meyer
~Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
~Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
~Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

some books that I read in March...

Despite my list actually looking pretty good all written out like that (isn't it pretty?), I was actually in a slump for most of this month, and found myself pushing through things even though, in any other circumstances, I would have been ripping through them. Don't get me wrong, I could see the quality of the writing and the wonderful world-building - particularly in the Percy Jackson series and Cress - but I just wasn't....'feeling it'.

This could have been because of my operation and the resulting fall-out, but either way it was happening and it made things a little difficult.

Fangirl was the stand-out for this month - it was the one book that I absolutely disappeared into, which was surprising given that it was one of the few that wasn't deeply entrenched in fantasy - which is what I'm used to adoring. I just wanted to climb inside the world of Fangirl and be friends with the people in there, and I keep finding myself looking wistfully up at it on my shelf, wishing that I could read it again with a clean slate, as if I hadn't read it before during my recovery (or, you know, just read it again in general...).

I'd like to say that the Boxers and Saints graphic novels sent me on a research frenzy looking into the Boxers rebellion and becoming really educated about it all, but what really resulted was me thinking about religion a little bit, then feeling amazed all over again at the artwork, and then feeling very happy that my brother had gotten me the boxset for my birthday.....and then moving onto Cress. I have a feeling I will go back to Boxers and Saints sometime to review my thoughts, and I will definitely be lending it to a few people, but right now I am just happy to have read it.

The Percy Jackson series has been a really good experience for me - despite still feeling like I'm forcing myself to read a bit. Each of the books is quite short by my standards, which I love as it means they are action-packed and I can read them quite quickly and restore myself to a feeling of accomplishment. I also love the characters in this and, while I haven't picked a favourite, I am a huge fan of Grover. He just really has such a wonderful presence in the books, and I actually adore how emotional he can be.

I feel pretty good about my reading this month, but also I have to mention something about my challenges for this year - I am failing abysmally. After finishing my brother's suggestion - Going Postal by Terry Pratchett - in January, I made a not-so-valiant effort to finish Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan by Lafcadio Hearn in February (I got almost 40% of the way through the book....but I was IN JAPAN, so it seemed rather difficult...), and then made the smallest of attempts on The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert in March.... So it's been a bit downhill since Jan, really. This month is my dad's pick - The World According to Garp by John Irving. I am unsure whether I will be reading it, but I would like to say I'm going to give it a let's assume I'm saying that, shall we?

Onwards to more reading! Currently I am re-reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, as my copy of the third book is on its way and I want to be prepared; and I have a few books to review coming up so I'm starting on them. Yay reading :D

Sunday, March 30, 2014

weekly glimpse #11

spending time in bed resting was required this week...

currently reading: Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan, and re-reading How to be Sick by Toni Bernhard.
listening to: not a lot this week. my usual kpop and jpop favourites, plus the music form CCS, as I'm watching it again.
watching: Cardcaptor Sakura. For the ninth time I think?
food: euch. even talking about food makes me feel unwell.
drinking: many cups of tea, Codral sachet things, and water.
writing: blog posts (for here and for others), a submission for an e-magazine, a personal essay, and in the process of getting myself to a point where I can write my own stories again.

general... (inspired by Havi)
the hard
: major Chronic Fatigue flare-up this week. almost all the symptoms I've had ever wrapped into one fun-filled week.
: confronting fears about having to look for work and being scared of failure and blahhh.
: feeling like I'd taken too much on, and then realising I was actually dealing with a whole host of pain from me-from-the-past that I hadn't realised was still around. a breath for undiscovered pockets of pain.
: all of this emotional and physical pain leading to me feeling vastly insecure about myself and my abilities at different times this week....
:...and then THAT leading to me being a bit difficult to be around at times. a breath for forgiveness.

the good
: feeling supported and loved by many people in my life
: and receiving compliments and encouragement and general loving from those people. thank you.
: getting to rediscover old loves again, and then finding out that new amazing things are coming my way that reinforce and pay tribute to those loves! joy. (I am mostly talking about cardcaptor sakura and the fact that jbox is now offering preorders for very lovely replicas of both of the sealing wands. first bit of CCS merchandise I have fallen in love with in many years....aside from the Li Syaoron plushie coming my way!)
: despite being weighed down by my illness, I am really enjoying my study! classes are a little beyond me at the moment, but I am trying my best.

what i want for next week...
~that went so much more smoothly than I expected!
~it was so perfect that it turned out like this...
~so many lovely things!
~this opportunity is ideal and right for me (re-ask)

mantra? breathe.

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