2017 in review

The general consensus on 2017 was that it sucked. We’re glad to see it go, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. It’s understandable; American politics has been a trash fire since Trump got elected, the world is heating up and no one wants to do anything about it, Australia wasted billions of dollars on a non-binding postal survey about marriage equality that made a part of our population a constant target of hate and bigotry. House prices are still rising, the rich are getting richer and Millenials are still somehow being blamed for everything. If you’re not rich, white, and powerful then this year has been pretty tough.

My 2017 wasn’t that bad, on the whole. Sure it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but some people out there had it much worse. Mostly it just seemed to simultaneously feel like it would never end and sped by too quickly for me to keep up. My main achievement of the year was that I got a promotion at my job. I’m still not really sure how to do my new role affectively but I have been trucking along and working hard in the hopes that if I am not good at least people will see that I’m trying. It seems to be working, because people keep getting me to do more work. Because of this promotion I’m now earning the most I have ever earned. I have to pay my HECS debt off! I never thought I would make more than minimum wage, so I’m pretty pleased with that.

2017 was the year I turned 30. It still feels wrong, like there was a mistake and I’m not that old. I don’t feel 30; 30 year olds always felt like they have their life together and know what to do. I feel like a kid playing dress ups a lot of the time. It also was the year I celebrated my 10 year anniversary with Ben. We’ve both been through tough patches this year, and it would have been infinitely harder for me without his patience and support.

But for all the positives, there are always negatives to the year. 2017 was the year I realised my anxiety had gotten to the point that I needed help again. I went back on medication and am seeing a new psychologist; it’s frustrating to feel like things are out of your control again, but at least I recognised that I couldn’t handle things myself and asked for help rather than letting it overwhelm me. I’m still struggling, my journey with anxiety is far from over, but I’m learning ways to handle it a bit better. Now I just need to stop having so many work dreams and I’ll be happy.

I think my main regret for 2017 is that I did basically no creative work other than crocheting scarves and blankets. No writing, no photos (apart from Instagram), no drawing. Work and anxiety has made me so exhausted that all I did when I got home of an evening was sit at my computer and watch videos. I have definitely stagnated on the creative front, so I feel like that is part of why it feel like I’ve wasted time all year.

I think that is gong to be my main resolution for 2018 – be creative. Use your brain for something other than just work. I think 2018 is going to be the year I take care of myself better; I need to get my health in check, try to not be so hard on myself when I fail at things, start doing things I enjoy again and hang out with my friends more. I should probably also eat better and exercise, but we all say that at the start of the year. I realised just recently that 2017 seemed to only focus on work, so now I need to focus on myself more. If I keep going the way I am I’ll burn out pretty quickly so I need to take some steps back, and hopefully writing again will be a good start.

So here’s to 2018, may it be less of a train wreck than the last year!

Memories From Japan

It’s been almost a year since Ben and I went to Japan, and I’ve finally looked at the photos I took while we were there. There were a lot of terrible ones, but I managed to take some that I liked enough to post here. We went to Osaka, Hiroshima, Nagoya and Tokyo in the 2 weeks we were there and ony barely scratched the surface of all those places.

We saw a lot of impressive buildings and monuments.

Osaka has Osaka Castle, standing proud and tall with all its golden detailing. There we learned all about the different struggles the different Shoguns had to control Osaka. We had a lot of fun discussing how the different political powers were all as terrible as each other. There was a school group that cheerfully said hello to all the tourists (including us) as they barrelled around the exhibits.

Fushimi Inari has an abundance of fox sculptures, big and small, as the Kitsune is the guarding spirit of the shrines in Fushimi. They all looked different, and I couldn’t help but stop to examine as many as I could.

In Tokyo we saw the statue of Kusunoki Masashige, a samurai who was known for his great leadership skills and for fighting for the Emperor. The statue was very big and imposing, with so many details that I wanted to try and take photos of.

 

Most of my photos focussed on the small details that caught my attention, rather than picturesque views. I’ve always been drawn to seemingly random aspects of places, and I always try and capture this curiosity in photos, but a lot of the time I’m not that successful.

Fushimi Inari was full of these little details. Throughout the walk up the mountain there were small shrines off the main path, with buildings covered in moss and worn from the elements, slowly going back to nature. We also found a number of graves which were incredibly interesting; some were very old and dilapidated, but others were very well kept, with offerings of food and alcohol, and strands of bright origami cranes hanging off them. That area was so quiet and peaceful and I could have just looked at the different graves for ages.

 

I also took seemingly random photos at Osaka Castle when things caught my eye.

The castle was full of gold detailing, from the murals and protective decorations, to gilded caps on the ends of structural parts of the castle. The gardens surrounding the castle were also very impressive, with gorgeous massive trees and orchards full of crows, as well as historical monuments dotted about that made me wish I could read Japanese so I could find out what they were for. There was also a shrine nearby that I ended up taking lots of random photos of. The wooden plaques were something you could buy and write a wish or message on, and there were stands full of them with messages in all different languages.

 

One thing that I often try (and fail) to do is get candid photos of people as I’m walking along. Most of the time they are blurry or someone gets in the way, or just generally bad photos, but I found two (two!) that I liked.

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This kid and his Dad were both ridiculously cute together. The kid didn’t seem very sure about the situation as his Dad got him to stand with the weird ice cream mascot things, but once he worked out what was going on he went all out in posing for the photo.

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This lady was at Fushimi Inari. There was a Japanese couple getting their wedding photos taken in their traditional outfits at the shrine, and I think this lady was with their party. There were a few ladies wearing kimono walking around Fushimi that we saw on the way to the shrine, so she may not have known the couple. All I know is that she looked beautiful with her ridiculously detailed kimono and intricate obi that I felt very shabby in my boring travel outfit.

 

 

Looking at these photos has made me want to go back. The photos of the shrines reminds me of how quiet and peaceful they were, and there is so much we didn’t get to see on our trip that Ben and I both feel that we need to go back. It took us 6 years (at least) to get organised enough to go this time, but it definitely won’t take us that long to go again. Maybe by then I’ll be better at taking photos.

Funtimes with Friends: Katoomba Visit

After all the clamour of Christmas and New Year a bunch of my friends and I decided to take a long weekend holiday. After some confusion with booking accommodation we all piled into cars and made our way up to Katoomba and stayed at ‘Alta Mira’, or as we liked to refer to it, ‘Casa del Fiesta’ (it means castle of dreams). The house was amazing, with a ridiculous shower that looked like it came out of a steampunk catalogue, so many rooms that I kept worrying I’d get lost, and an impressive garden.

I brought my camera with me, and took photos of… plants, mostly.

(clicking on the photos will bring up bigger versions, by the way)

 

On the Sunday most of us went for a walk to look at the 3 Sisters, and I took photos of… plants, mostly. I feel like there might be a bit of a theme here. It was a gorgeous area, and interesting to explore the bushland rather than just sitting around the house or looking at shops. It also was really sunny and hot, and I was not the only one who got sunburnt that day.

We also had a frequent visitor named Shinto, who seemed pretty interested in the inside of Alta Mira, and getting pats from us, and generally being completely adorable. The other cat visited occasionally and the two of them had a fluff-off; the other cat was obviously older and had no time for Shinto’s attempts at intimidation.

Everyone agreed that it was an awesome weekend, and that we should do it again. Maybe next time I will take photos of something other than plants and cats?

Upping my Denim Jacket Game

I have owned a denim jacket for a while now and while I quite like it and it is more versatile than I expected, sometimes it feels like something is missing. The best course of action seems to be to get some sweet patches to sew on it and make me even cooler than I already am.

So of course I went onto etsy and had a look at what was there and I found a bunch of patches (and one pin) that I obviously need to buy.

 

It seems that I have 3 main themes when it comes to choosing accessories: skulls, cats, and feminist  messages. At least being predictable when it comes to these things makes it easy to buy presents for?

Now I have problem that I don’t know if all of these would fit on my jacket – and if they do that might be a bit overkill. Time to buy a new jacket?

 

huagl New Year!

2016 has arrived! I’m not really sure how I feel about 2015 – it wasn’t actively terrible (in fact at times it was great!) but I wouldn’t classify it as a positive year either. I’m definitely conflicted about it and am generally glad it’s over.

I spent basically all year saying how unhappy I was at work and how I needed a new job. When looking through my journal I kept seeing those sentiments popping up in my entries throughout the year every month or so, but never did anything about it. This affected my moods more than I like to admit, so I spent most of the year unhappy, anxious and slightly depressed. This isn’t the best way to live – my friends can all vouch for how much I complained whenever we met up and socialised. Sorry about that, guys!

But 2015 wasn’t all bad. In May Ben and I went on a holiday to Japan, which we have been talking about doing for about 7 years but never managed to get ourselves organised before. I’m so glad I had the work and financial stability to be able to take this trip, it has been on my to do list for so long! Now all I want to do is keep travelling and see more of the world. This was for sure the absolute highlight of 2015 and memories of that trip helped keep my spirits up when feeling down throughout the rest of the year.

2015 was also the year I started seriously focussing on my health – both physical and mental. I went to the gym consistently, working with a personal trainer on strength training, where we managed to get me strong enough to deadlift 70kg! I also started running regularly and felt less likely to die while doing physical exercise. Coupled with that I saw a therapist regularly and worked on my anxiety. I went off my anxiety medication (and didn’t have a breakdown in the process) and started feeling better and more confident about myself. I’m starting to feel more like a responsible adult and less like a child playing dress ups in their parents’ clothes. It’s still a definite work in progress, but I can tell how much I’ve changed over the year.

At the end of November I lost my job, so that was a terrifying way to end the year, but it was also a massive weight off my shoulders. It was the push I needed to actively look for a job at a place where I won’t feel embarrassed when talking about it. Now if only I knew what kind of job I wanted…

 

So 2016 is full of raw, untapped, potential. I’m not making any big grand resolutions that I ultimately don’t end up fulfilling – I am at the point in my life where I know my personality well enough to know that is not the way to go about it. Instead I’m making smaller, achievable, goals that will combine into something bigger. I’m hoping that this year I will make less excuses when it comes to things I have decided were “too hard” last year. I am going to try and be more creative and proactive when it comes to pushing myself and learning new things. I think the main thing is that I’m not going to put so much pressure on myself – I’m going to try things and if they don’t turn out perfect that’s not the end of the world. That’s probably the most important lesson I need to learn.

 

So here’s to 2016, hopefully a more exciting year than 2015, if nothing else!