Movin’ right along

Hi all,

If you’re one of my regular followers, there are three things you should know:
1) I think you’re awesome. Really. It means so much that there are people reading what I put out into the world. I hope you’ll keep coming back for more, and telling me what you want to see.

2) If you’ve been wondering ‘why no new posts this week?’, it’s because I have ,finally, gotten my ass into gear and shifted over to the shiny new self-hosted digs for A Small Aubergine.

The paint isn’t quite dry and I haven’t unpacked all the boxes, but I think it’s pretty damned great. Come on over and join me, won’t you?

3) This blog will be going private soon- next Friday (to give folks a chance to see this and come join me at the new site).

See you at my beautiful new place!

Monsterful Monday: The electric flamingo

Because it turns out that ‘Tulip’ by La Riche Directions is a lot more magenta than red. How do I know? This is how:

Me with pink hair

It took 2 hours and a lot of standing in the shower (which I am cleaning this week because, well, pink) but I LOVE my new hair colour. It glows and, according to one work colleague, even looks great windswept (because of the ‘halo’ effect). I’m so grateful it turned out beautifully, and also grateful to my friend Evie, who I sought advice from. She dyes her hair all the time- her tips were to, and I quote, “bleach the f*** out of it first with L’Oreal Perfect Blonde Maximum”, and then leave the Directions colour on for an hour- 20 minutes is “for people who actually want the colour to wash out”. It’ll be pink for the next while, but I have plans involving going red, then purple, then blue, then back to pink…

Social funtimes

This weekend we had another Girls Night, which is turning into a monthly thing. This time, we all packed into a couple of cars and headed off to the wilds of the North Shore for glow-in-the-dark minigolf and Mongolian Barbecue. It was lots of silly fun, and great to spend some time with a lovely group of women. A few of us deliberately wore white things for the minigolf, because blacklight. First prize for that goes to my flatmate, who turned up in a white 50s dress and white striped leggings- she was like a glow-in-the-dark Alice in Wonderland, and it was glorious. I’m so grateful to be getting to know my girlfriends in Auckland better, it makes me feel even more at home.

I could have spent Sunday recovering. I *could* have, but I volunteered to model for a promo photoshoot for Moonbright, a forthcoming campaign LARP here in Auckland being written by my flatmates. A bunch of us had a blast running around the Auckland Domain on Sunday (with a break for pizza) with beautiful fantasy makeup by Kara of Painted People (who is amazing, if you’re planning an event in Auckland and want a facepaint artist, seriously contact her, she is worth every penny of her asking price).

I spent the first half of the shoot as a badass cat, and the second half as a blue and purple snake. Lots of excited small children and tourists, including one particularly pushy busfull who after one of them took a photo with one of us wanted all kinds of photos with everyone. But mostly, it was people standing off at a distance taking photos of us with their phones. So if I end up big in Japan, you’ll know why.  Such a fun way to spend a day with friends, throwing together outfits, posing and mucking about. Having four of us made up as cats when there were pigeons around led to one of my favourite photos of the day:

Photo by Matt Brunton

Photo by Matt Brunton

Also the photographer, who’s a friend of mine, made sure to get some photos of the Best Beloved and I in our finery (he spent the shoot as ‘the Violence Fairy’- big-ass wings and gorgeous facepaint but NO glitter), and new pictures of us always make me so happy.

The little things: #lovetober and finding SO many tattoo artists to admire on Instagram, getting excited for the work bake-off, putting the finishing touches on a project I’ll be sharing with you guys soon (so excited!), getting such good things from meditation, Molly Crabapple, texting, good moisturiser (when you’ve spent the day in and out of makeup your skin thanks you for it!), and looking forward to visiting Wellington for Jenni’s birthday and tattoo funtimes.

What about you?

Yes, neo-conservative Christians, you SHOULD be afraid of Harry Potter- but not for the reason you think.

Yes, I know, this is ground that has been covered before. So why am I writing about it? Why now?

Simple. My Best Beloved sent me a link to an article from Americans Against the Tea Party about how a conservative Christian has rewritten Harry Potter so her children won’t turn into witches. And it made me angry. Spitting tacks angry.

This fear of witchcraft is something I have personal experience of. When I was 11, my parents got involved in my education. More involved than I wanted. But of course I was 11, what could I do?

It was October, in my English class. Season of a bunch of scary masks and stuff in windows that I still had to walk past with my eyes shut because monsters and vampires frightened me. My teacher announced that the following week, we would be working on ‘witch’s spells’. A bit of fun for Halloween. I was excited- creative writing was my favourite. Then I told my parents about it, and they told me in no uncertain terms that I would not be doing that, it was evil. It wasn’t Godly. End result? A letter to my teacher, who gets me to write some other poem, and an 11 year old girl already isolated from her peers gets even more left out.

To my knowledge, none of my class transferred to Hogwarts in their second year. And if they had, I’m certain an English class project wouldn’t have been the reason for it.

(Don’t even get me started on what happened when my parents found out about the end-of-year project my RE teacher had us doing involving making up a religion. That’s another blog post in and of itself.)

Harry Potter isn’t going to turn your kids into witches. But there’s plenty of other things in those books that I can see a Tea Partier like Grace Ann would be afraid of, going on the way she’s written the story.

The books teach us that being afraid of people who are different is very wrong. That being prejudiced against people because of their family background is wrong. That good people give others opportunities to make a good life for themselves, no matter if others might see that person as damaged goods.

Going on ‘Grace Ann’s version of Harry Potter, women are expected to fulfil the traditional roles of wife and mother and must make sure they take time over their appearance. Any woman who doesn’t is ugly. In the actual books, we’re shown women in a variety of capacities. We’re introduced to women who have chosen not to marry, but to have a career, and are both successful and admirable (Professor McGonagall, Madame Maxime). Women who are more interested in the life of the mind than in being pretty- but who still know how to do that if they feel like it (Hermione). We’re also shown women who are flawed, who get angry, who make mistakes, who are only human (Molly Weasley, Fleur Delacour). And we’re shown women who are as capable of evil as any man- Dolores Umbridge, Bellatrix Lestrange. If Grace Ann’s children read the Harry Potter books, they might get the idea that women can be many things outside of a wife and mother. Even more dangerous, they might get the idea that men and women can be friends.

I know, I know, the idea of men and women being friends doesn’t seem that dangerous. But I know married couples at evangelical churches who have been told they must not be friends with the opposite sex, because it’s dangerous for the marriage. I’ve even spent an evening alone in someone’s lounge when staying with such a married couple, while the husband was upstairs and the wife was out, because they had adopted this opinion.

It seems that what Grace Ann wants to teach her children is that they should hate and be afraid of anyone who is different, who doesn’t conform to the narrow stereotype being peddled by Tea Partiers of what people should be. She wants them to believe that not being a Christian, and a very specific kind of Christian, will turn you into a “fornicating, drug-addicted Evolutionist”.

Heaven forbid that Grace Ann’s children would learn to treat everyone with love and acceptance, no matter who they are, or what they’ve done, or who they love, or what they believe. Heaven forbid that they would learn that women and men can choose who they want to be, what they want to do with their lives, that their role in life is not dictated by their gender. Heaven forbid that they learn that there are people who think differently from them and that that does not make those people evil. That people are all different and that’s OK.

Be afraid, Tea Partiers whose children are reading Harry Potter (and be afraid- because you can’t actually stop them reading it- the wonderful thing about libraries is the free access to children’s books for children with or without parental permission) They won’t learn magic. But they might learn to be kind, caring human beings who reach out in love to those who are different and believe in them, instead of shunning them.

I know, I know. Terrifying.

Mid-week joy: Magic. It’s a thing.

Happy Wednesday, everyone! The sun is out, the sky is blue, there’s not a cloud to spoil the view but the forecast is for rain the rest of the week so I plan to enjoy it while I can. The sun, not the rain.

Yep, I started talking about the weather again. You can take the girl out of England…

Now, where was I? Oh yes. Magic! And miracles! And the law of attraction! Whatever you choose to call it, and however you choose to work with the Universe, it’s pretty damn special when it works.

Over on my Pinterest, I’ve got an Affirmation Dream Board. The idea is (based on some Danielle LaPorte thinking) that you pin images and write underneath them an affirmation (an ‘I am’ type, present tense statement of what you want to attract into your life).

I’ll admit, I hadn’t updated it for a while. And by a while I mean not for months and months. Then today I was looking through it and some of my other boards for a secret project about which all will be revealed very soon.

And I found this:

Best Beloved pin

I pinned this long before my Best Beloved and I started the tentative movements towards each other. Way before I started calling him my Best Beloved. But there it is. I’m working on the second part- but definitely getting there.

I guess what I’m trying to say, for today’s mid-week joy, is that these things can and do work. You can and will bring more good things into your life. If I can do it, anyone can.

Monsterful Monday: Unexpected liquorice

Because I’m sorry but if it’s a red candy heart and it’s on top of a red velvet cupcake, I anticipate some kind of berry flavour. Weird.

Anyway…(ooh, surprise cream centre!), I think we can all be grateful for the existence of cupcakes, especially cupcakes I totally swiped from an extremely frustrating meeting, because even though the meeting was frustrating at least there was food.

There are probably people who can view both spring forward and fall back with equanimity. I am not one of those people. I like having sunlight in the morning. But I did get an extra night of snuggles with the best beloved, which I am very grateful for.

I’m also grateful for useful meetings outnumbering frustrating ones, for the Four Agreements, for Things and Ink (the latest issue arrived on Friday and was, as usual, both full of interesting articles and beautiful art).

I’m finally a member of the library! I’m very grateful for this even if it is highly dangerous, knowing what I’m like at remembering due dates. For books! I may have already reserved two. And by ‘may’ I mean I did.

I’m very late to the party, but The Bloggess has had me almost falling off my chair with laughter, which was especially good on Friday when I was very grumpy. I’m rather worried at how likely many of her stories would be to happen to me. Luckily I think my Best Beloved would be OK with that. Knock knock, motherfucker.

Small things: the fact that things like this happen at my work, being able to sleep in, successfully timing mac and cheese completion. The existence of this dress ,even though I can in no way afford it. It makes me happy just looking at it. I also think I need all of these candles. You know, for my fantasy retro burlesque sparkly rainbow apartment. Re-living the 90s (I still refuse to accept they are now retro) with ninja turtles- both the proper 90s ones and the silly Michael Bay ones (which were not as silly, or as far from the original, as we expected). Social time with friends, especially the ones I don’t see often enough. And finally, coconut rum ice-cream. Trying new things. It can be awesome.

Seeing red and being seen, part 3: how I finally stopped worrying and learned to love makeup

It was last year that the person who changed my life came into it.

At least that’s how I see it. He would disagree, and tell you it all came from me. But my counsellor, who I was lucky enough to see for many weeks, was the one who gently suggested new ways of thinking.

It was him who realised that one of my biggest problems was that I was hiding. That it came from learning to be quiet, to disappear, to avoid confrontation. And then he asked me a question:

What could you do to stop hiding?

The answer was obvious. And terrifying. But I had to find a way to stop bottling myself up.

I already had several red lipsticks, sitting unused in my makeup box. I picked one. And the morning after my counselling session, I wore it.

And nothing terrible happened.

I don’t know what I was expecting. I was frightened somebody would notice it, comment on it. For a long time on the rare occasions I did wear makeup, even on my wedding day, I was terribly embarrassed about it. Somebody might realise I was wearing it, that I wanted to feel pretty. Somebody might notice.

The day after that, I wore it again.

I noticed something I hadn’t noticed since getting a job after many months of frustrating unemployment: I was walking taller. I was looking up. I was making eye contact. I was noticeable.

And it was OK.

I understand why a lot of women reject makeup. It’s their way of being seen as they are. For me, it was a way of hiding who I was and who I wanted to be.

I started to enjoy myself with it.

One day, a colleague commented on the lipstick. Complimented it in fact. And I didn’t want to run away. I didn’t feel uncomfortable.

A cashier at the sushi joint I frequented asked me what lip colour I was wearing. She loved it. I floated through the rest of the afternoon.

And then came the day when I looked in the mirror and, for the first time in a very long time, I saw myself as beautiful- something I had never really believed about myself before, if I’m being honest.

Obviously there was a lot more to it than lipstick, but for me, it’s become a tool I use to show love for myself. It’s been a long time coming.

Mid-week (well kinda) joy: Guided meditations

What can I say? Yesterday was a Day. Today is a better one. So you get some midweek joy, following on from my post about Tarot Meditation last Wednesday, and later on today we’ll be back to the normal schedule.

As I said last week, I’ve found guided meditations a very useful part of my meditation practice. They keep me on task, and have led to some really beautiful ‘ah’ moments. Here are a few of my favourites:

The Six Phase Meditation by Vishen Lakhiani is a great way to start your day, focusing in on what you’re thankful for, and visualising how you want your day to unfold. I use the physical relaxation process from the beginning of this with other meditations, it’s a good way to get into the right space.

Don’t let the name fool you- the Meditation Manicure by Gabrielle Bernstein is fantastic. It’s a climbing visualisation which I’ve returned to over and again- and when you’re starting out in a meditation practice I can’t recommend it highly enough. I choose to climb to higher thoughts– such a great affirmation to work with.

If, like me, you pay attention to the phases of the moon, a great meditation for the Full Moon is the meditation to release negativity by Doreen Virtue. It feels like floating, is the best way I can describe it. Just give it a try.

The Meditation Society of Australia offer a bunch of free guided meditations on their website.  Yes, it’s a very old-school website. But I can forgive them that. You can sign up for the Learn to Meditate podcasts via Itunes, otherwise you’ll need to register with their site. I found the Cliff, the Crossroads, and the Train meditations to be especially good.

If you give these a go, I’d love to know what you think! If you’ve got other guided meditations you’ve found useful, I’d love to know about them. You know where the comments are, go to it, and happy rest-of-the-week!