Finding Writing Again.

I have so many words that I want to say, but I do not know how to pour them out.

I feel as though they used to flow effortlessly, a tangent, a whirlwind of letters and vocabulary that represented the storms of my mind.

And now they feel stuck.

There are ideas, memories, song lyrics, and love notes inched toward the front of my brain.

But I am afraid of being vulnerable.

And I am afraid of being lost where everything was once so familiar.

Perhaps I am just out of practice, of letting these thoughts out freely to strangers.

Perhaps I am practicing the expression of these through my lips instead.

– For when my lips could not speak, these words could do it for me –

I want to write about my husband. His beautiful, kind soul.

I want to write about love. About how it grows and changes over time. About how love is work and how love is everything.

I want to write about our child. About her indescribable soul who we feel as though we already know. And about how we know that we have no idea how much we are able to love her just yet.

I want to write about people that I know. Because they fill me with awe and gratitude and things that I do not know what to call.

I want to write about what is not seen from the outside. About how we have no idea what we are doing or how we got here.

About everything that has created this path and how we found ourselves together in it.

We are only wandering, really.

I want to write about this period of change. About growth. The absolute, pure, discomfort of it.

And the surprising strength that can be found within these mountains.  

About how everything we have ever dreamt of is “over there” and we are “over here”.

And my god, that space in the middle is terrifying. But necessary.

But necessary.

//

Since starting to write professionally full-time, I feel as though my creativity has become stuck in a way. I feel confident in writing reports, instructions, and directions from A-Z, where everything is straightforward and without emotion. Having that golden freedom that makes writing feel limitless and without bounds? That is what I miss. I know that what you focus on grows and what you pour your energy into expands. I just need to create space to practice this outlet once again.

Thoughts of the moment.

These little thoughts have been swirling around my brain recently, and letting them roam free will help, maybe. Some are fleeting, and others stay long into the night. They are what they are.

  • Things don’t have to be perfectly curated. This could be your blog, music, image, and life. You can be a mosaic of all the little bits and pieces found along the way. You aren’t any less of a person this way, and these cracks are where we build creativity and strength.
  • Figuring out when to rest and when to grind is really tricky at times. Because we know that we need both, but how do we know when to push and when to let go? Or maybe it’s more a matter of making sure that we include both consistently in life, and acknowledging that sometimes we will go too far and sometimes we won’t go far enough. And that we are human and that this is okay.
  • Criticism isn’t the end of the world. It is what it is, and suggestions for improvement in your work aren’t personal attacks. They usually have nothing to do with your character at all. I am learning that knowing how to cope with criticism, and not letting it devastate you, is an important life skill. They should teach this stuff at school. Along with mindfulness. And CBT or DBT skills. I have way too many thoughts on this tangent.
  • Why is “we” not spelt “whe”? I just reckon it looks better.
  • Things that make me feel better about myself are – going for walks, moving about, reading books, and finding new songs.
  • Peonies are literally so beautiful, and I can’t wait to grow a garden full someday.
  • It is okay to not be perfect. To be wonderfully, beautifully flawed.

Love,

Kaitlyn.

Fight like a girl.

It’s been a week since I began reading Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford, and wow oh wow I am so lucky that this book came my way.

“I’m angry that girls all over the world learn to hate themselves. Because we are taught that we are worth hating.” (Clementine Ford).

I picked it up obliviously, while scanning through the local library for nothing in particular. The title caught my eye, and since reading the first page, I have been hooked.

Blue and Orange Light Projeced on Left Hand of Person

I didn’t know that I needed some good feminist literature until I started reading. It’s like I wasn’t aware of the ways in which my thinking didn’t click properly, or that I was previously aware of these ideas, but nothing had set them in stone. And now, I feel strong.

I have considered myself a feminist since leaving the throes of my Catholic high school, and taking a few sociology papers at university. However, what feminism actually meant, and the fight that we must fight, has never been so clearly cemented in before. It feels like I just woke up. Like I can see. And I feel so angry, yet empowered all the same.

I recorded all the quotes in this piece because they really spoke to me. They make me feel strong. This is only a tiny selection of all the words in the book that moved me (and in case I haven’t been obvious enough yet, I recommend this book! So very much!).

“Do feminists hate men? When you consider the level of hostility women are subjected to just for standing up for ourselves, surely the better query is why do so many men seem to hate women so fiercely, so aggressively, so violently and so passionately?” (Clementine Ford).

The writing in this piece feels a bit frantic and all over the place, which is an uncomfortable feeling to not have everything perfectly manicured, but I just have to get my thoughts out on this.

“It was just another one of those jokes that women are expected to suck up and swallow without complaint so we don’t inconvenience the dudes who confuse being asked not to abuse us with being grievously oppressed.” (Clementine Ford).

This year, I have taken on a leadership role at university, and this book has helped me to understand so clearly why certain situations make me feel irritated, but I couldn’t explain why. I walk into board meetings where I have been invited to observe, and the vast majority of people are middle-aged, rich, white men. They rule the meetings. There are a couple of women, but they don’t speak very often. There is a singular person of colour, and she is a woman. This is the board who makes massive decisions about the university, and the people who decide everything don’t even near closely represent the population that they serve. And this situation is mirrored across almost all leadership teams across the world. It makes me so angry.

“To a world that instructs women to be passive and conciliatory, anger is a terrifying thing. Anger is unpredictable. It’s uncontrollable. People are afraid of a women’s anger because they are afraid of confronting its source – inequality, violence, degradation, dehumanisation, misogyny. If you don’t want to accept that these things exist, you won’t want to accept the validity of women’s feelings of rage about them.” (Clementine Ford).

On a leadership note though, something that does make me so very happy, is that here in New Zealand, our prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, is not only female, but she is also a feminist, AND is pregnant too. You should have seen the ridiculous outrage here when she announced her pregnancy; people gasping in horror that a woman couldn’t possibly have a job and have a family. And even better? She is unmarried, and her partner will be a stay-at-home dad when their baby is born – two facts which are really making men recoil in hate. Jacinda is running our country right, and she is doing a wonderful job. We are so incredibly lucky to have her.

Part of Ford’s book is about intersectional feminism, with a call to take a step back and recognise the ways we are privileged, which intersects with the oppression of being a woman. She acknowledges that she is white, cisgendered, and able bodied, and that those of us who have this privilege must use it to create space and platforms for those who do not have this privilege. Feminism must encompass the narratives of women of colour, LGBTI women, fat women, and poor women just to name a few. As a result, I am keen to learn more about these different intersections of feminism, and to learn how to use my privilege for good. If you have any book, or other sort of media recommendations, I would love to hear them!

“To the white women like myself who are reading this book . . . please make it a point to continuously examine and interrogate the ways you experience privilege despite being subjected to other forms of discrimination and oppressive ideologies.” (Clementine Ford).

I am a feminist, and I am proud of this.
I am a feminist, and I am angry.
I am a feminist, and I will work for women.
My purpose in life is not to appease men.

You can find Clementine Ford on Twitter here, and her regular column in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Expanding.

Lately I have been sharing my writing with organisations and blogs beyond this little space here! 

It has been truly wonderful to have the opportunity to share my words and experiences with a wider audience, and I am so thankful that I get to be part of such incredible and supportive mental health communities.

Firstly, a couple of my pieces are part of Beating Eating Disorders, an organisation which aims to share lived experiences and support by talking about all forms of eating disorders. You can check out one here

Secondly, I have had the pleasure of contributing to Off Your Chest blog, an amazing place of discussions and reflections on mental health, run by the wonderful Fred! You can read my piece Go out there and be, here!

It has been such an honour to find and be part of such wonderful mental health communities.

What are your favourite places to share your writing with?

Let the words flow.

Art is something that I approach (or quite possibly run away from), with a solid, 10 foot pole.

Looking and admiring it is something that I truly enjoy. It brings me mindfulness and peace. Art galleries are one of my favourite places, and I have such fond memories of spending hours exploring them with friends and my husband. Visiting MoMA is a big goal for the future.

However, when it comes to the very doing of art – nope, nada, no. Not going there. The mere thought of having to pick up a pencil or paintbrush, and create something that my perfectionist mind will never be happy with, is enough to make my skin crawl. It’s annoying. I’ve got to work on that. Because art can be fun and creative and exciting. It can bring joy, and the process can be one of mindfulness. It sounds like a very healthy and therapeutic way of releasing what is bombarding within.

Day 6 – do something creative.

So, I compromised. Writing is safe for me; it’s what I’m comfortable in. I feel as though I have far more control to sculpt what I create with words, rather than with other mediums. The backspace key is well overused.

However, it is also important to keep learning, to keep trying new things; to practice using other mediums for creativity and expression. This way we can keep challenging what we already know, and keep growing through that.

I don’t really know what to call this. A mish-mash of words, and as ankle-deep into art that I’m willing to go at the moment. It is every thought and random word that was going through my head in the moment, written down in my bullet journal. I was hesitant and uncomfortable with beginning this, in case I made a mistake (spoiler – I made plenty), and in case the whole bullet journal was “ruined” by this one page. However, by the end I was kind of happy with the end result. Doing this kept my hands busy, which is always a good thing. The mindfulness that was involved was also a good bonus too!


Here is a text version if that’s easier to read:

The beans grew big and strong
They bloomed; nothing to stars.
Is this brain a safe place?
Is it really a flooding torrent,
Or can I plant my feet firmly in the soil and thrive?
How can there be silver linings and horrors all beneath the same sky;
All flowing through the same vein?
Soldier on and soldier on again,
And just keep putting one foot ahead of the other.
Somehow.
Leave your skin alone.
Be small and big
(Don’t overthink “big”, don’t),
All at once –
Anything and everything.
Cicadas cicadas cicadas cicadas cicadas cicadas.
To be unapologetic and unashamed,
To be vulnerable,
To be free.
Go out there and do.
Go out there and be.
Become.
Become.

There you have it, a weird attempt at creativity which was surprisingly enjoyable, and a good way to release some thoughts that are flying around your brain! It is also good practice for accepting this how they are a.k.a getting over the ridiculous, destructive perfectionism, and seeing something for what it truly is – a snapshot of the now, a work in progress.