#iweigh a love of tea and a BA I’m proud of

Sometimes it’s so easy to get stuck in this cycle of not feeling good enough in your own body, especially when you’re constantly bombarded with images of what you’re supposed to look like and how you’re supposed to act.

Daily, multimillion dollar industries play at our insecurities, making us spend more money on their products by showing how happy glossy hair and smooth skin will make us. For many, the number on the scale feels like a punch in the stomach when standing alone in the bathroom, wet hair up in a tattered towel, in nothing but underwear, looking for affirmation in dead numbers. But it’s enough now.

#Iweigh is an initiative on Instagram, and the internet in general. It was started by British actor Jameela Jamil and has been embraced by women all over the world! The goal of the movement is for women to feel empowered by and measure themselves in their accomplishments and what they appreciate and are proud of.

A hashtag isn’t going to fix everything. A hashtag won’t immediately change the fact that 7 out of 10 girls feel like they don’t measure up, but if this movement teaches us anything, it is that we are so much more than our appearance and the number on that bathroom scale. We are worth the world just by existing, and we are worth every single proud moment we have ever achieved. We are worth the big crescendo in our favourite piece of music, coffee dates with our friends and good night messages from our loved ones. We are worth the compliments we give to others and the praise we hesitantly receive.

There were a couple of things I couldn’t fit in the picture, and so I’m adding them here:

#iweigh
-An affinity for experimenting with laundry detergent and washing up liquid
-The way I deal with emergencies
-My library job and everything I’ve learned through it
-All of my earlier jobs, volunteering opportunities and work experiences
-Three years abroad
-That I try to make the days good for the people around me
-That I can make you a really good cup of tea

And so much more!

I chose to use this picture even though I always feel a bit awkward posting selfies. However, this one was taken on my first day back at my new uni after taking a week off to attend the graduation ceremony at my old uni, I was drinking my favourite tea (Dorset Tea’s Strawberry and Cream), jamming out to the Hamilton soundtrack in my head, and the leaves were turning yellow all around me. It was a wonderful moment, one of those where you’re 100% convinced that everything will work out in the end. It’s an image it feels right to use in this situation.

I hope you measure your worth in all the things that make you you, today x

Until next time,
-Andrea

“To the woman on the bus writing music in the air”

The bus is quiet today,
with the breath of only a small dozen commuters fogging up the glass.

I’m catching up on some reading,
highlighter between my fingers,
taking notes in my head,
knowledge sporadically thrown into the compartments of my mind.

Next to me, a lady is scribbling on a piece of paper.
She hums and taps her fingers,
bites the inside of her cheek and narrows her eyes.
Her hair is falling in front of her face,
a pencil’s stuck in between neat lips.
Her fingers are writing out music the rest of us aren’t allowed to her
just yet.

She’s balancing sheet music on her knees,
only stopping momentarily to conduct the choir in her mind.
It looks like a big one.

I’m cramming last minute facts into my reluctant brain,
wars and names and dates long passed.

She’s creating something wonderful,
music a small dozen commuters can only imagine,
just yet.

-Andrea

Blue Psalms of All Hallows Eve

Today we celebrate All Hallows Eve, and for the first time I’m feeling the weight of it as more than just a holiday for other people to remember their loved ones.  This year I’m one of the one’s remembering, and that still hasn’t entirely registered, even after months have passed. Our days are so busy, our minutes too short, our steps too hurried, it’s so easy to wrangle that dark spot in your stomach into the back of your mind, to think grief is for another day. Except it rarely is, and it shouldn’t have to be.
Most days grief is for right now, most days grief has no interest in being pushed away, and on those days we should give grief a name.

I translated an All Hallow’s Eve Mass, for a service that was held today in the cathedral in the town I’m living in now. I don’t think of myself as Christian, but I’ve been working in some churches in my time, and I’ve been translating and live interpreting services in the cathedral for a little while now as work experience for my translation BA. This was a challenging one, though, just because the liturgy’s so heartfelt, the psalms so well-chosen and thus, the words just hit that little bit closer to home. It didn’t feel like work, more like hurting and healing.

The service was a beautiful one. Dignified, graceful and appreciative. It focused on relations between people, and what happens when we suddenly have to start talking about our loved ones in the past tense.
I must admit I’m still not entirely used to that part, yet.

For some, death may come expected, it may even be wanted, while for others it strikes abruptly and harshly, changing everything, taking people we cannot bear losing.
“Those who are loved will never be forgotten,” said the priest, a young woman who touched every heart in the congregation, who laid an arm of kind words around the shoulders of everyone in the church. You could see people needed to hear what she was telling them; that their emotions were valid, that grief takes many forms and that no one form is more correct than another.
Death is weird, it always has been and always will be, and we all react so differently when we encounter it.

This post is a bit jumbled, but I just wanted to share with you a paragraph from her sermon that I translated:

Those who are loved, will never be forgotten.
Many of us carry heavy burdens, we carry bereavement, loss and grief.
Today we think of those we love that are no longer with us.

We think of our community, of compassion and wonderful memories.
we are grateful for the days and the years we got to share,
for kind words, for warmth and for joy.

Many of us carry grief over everything that never came to be, 
for relations that were challenging,
for wounds that struggle to heal,
grief over what was taken too quickly,
over everything we never got to say.

We humans are so great at not saying what we think, at forgetting to remind people that they are appreciated; we often take it for granted that people know we love them.
But we also have a million tiny ways of showing that we care, and today I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all the ways the one I’m missing showed that she cared. I’ve lit candles and quietly sung songs that remind me of her. I’ve twirled her bracelet around my wrist, and I’ve consciously tried to name all the feelings that have bubbled up in my stomach, wound its way around my heart, up through my throat and that’s lingered behind my eyes. It’s been strange and a little bit scary, but it’s also brought a sense of calm.
I think I needed it.

I wasn’t prepared for today to be as heavy as it was, and I didn’t think I was going to write about it. I’m not sure what this even is, a little stream of consciousness, my mind trying to figure out what it’s feeling.
It’s been a good day, though – an important day.

I hope you all have had a good day today, too, and that you’ve had your loved ones around you.
Because those who are loved, can never be forgotten.

-Andrea

“First snow”

My garden’s been eaten by fresh bedsheets of snow,
it’s covering every inch of grass,
blanketing the city,
hushing it,
making it move a little slower than normal.
Winter tires, snow boots, layers of scarves to keep out the chill.
“It rarely snows like it used to,”
we say most winters, and we solemnly nod,
“global warming and the environment and all that.”
But for now, the sky is glittering,
with a million frozen dancers
who twirl and curtsy
like they did in the old days,
to an orchestra only they can hear.

-Andrea

 

Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be – UoW Graduation 2018

Goals are a funny thing. Sometimes you set goals because you know you should, sometimes you set goals because it would be fun to try, and sometimes you set goals you’re not all that sure about.

Graduating didn’t really feel like a goal as I went into my first year of a BA in creative writing at the University of Winchester. It was too far away, not really relevant yet, the focus was on getting through day to day. When first-year came around, there were too many forms to fill out, too many notebooks to organise, too many hot chocolates to drink and assignments to write, to even think about the finish line; the handshake at the end of three years. September 12th 2015 saw too many nooks and crannies in the library, too many secret passageways in the main building, too many streets I had yet to wander down, to even have space for the hats and the gowns we would all don to celebrate these achievements of ours.
Then days became weeks, and semesters came and went.
I started to know Winchester as my city. Walking around its streets felt right, and just like that, with the challenges and the experiences uni life brought with it, graduating started to feel like a goal; one I knew I’d work hard to reach.

On Friday the 19th of October 2018, Winchester Cathedral was filled with the sound of high heels clacking against old stone floors, suit sleeves crinkled by nervous palms and grad gowns that kept falling down jittery shoulders. On Friday 19th of October, I graduated. The cathedral was bursting with excited graduands and uni staff in fancy clothing, with music, speeches and flowers, everything to celebrate three years of hard work. It was wonderful. I reached my goal, I finished my BA.

I have been trying to sit down and properly put into words what I’ve been feeling since then, but I’m struggling with finding the right ones (hence, one of the reasons why this blog has been very quiet for a while).
So for now, I figured I’d show you some pictures – just of us throwing our hats in the air and all in all looking rather fancy in our (too large) gowns. The words need a little more time, the enormity of the fact that my time at uni in Winchester has now officially come to an end hasn’t really hit me yet.
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What a day and what a ceremony.
Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be. We are all just getting started.

Hope you have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

“Kintsukuroi”

Prompt:”she never seemed shattered; she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battles she’d won”.

I’ve been reading up on Kintsukuroi,
the art of repairing broken pottery with gold.

I feel there is something for us to learn here,
what if we took hopes shattered and dreams lost
and coated the cracks with something we hold dear.
If we held heartbreak in our hands,
cautious fingers sowing the pieces back together, molten metal
making it gleam like the very first sun on autumn dew grass.

If we did this, then all our errors,
our missteps and regrets,
would become art, something to grow from.
The golden lines, paths we’ve travelled, roads we’re yet to see.

Maybe we wouldn’t be so afraid to make mistakes,
if we knew we could make something beautiful

of what is broken.

OctPoWriMo2018, this poem combines the prompt of day 11 (“Falling through the cracks”) and the prompt for day 12, which is Matt Baker’s poem “she never seemed shattered; to me, she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battles she’d won”.

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

WWW Wednesday October 10th

And it’s Wednesday again! Life’s a bit hectic at the moment and I’m not getting as much writing or creative work done as I’d like to, but nevertheless, this week’s given me one of the better reading experiences I’ve had in years! I’m properly falling in love with books again, and there’s no better feeling in the world.
All will be revealed in a couple of paragraphs, so without further ado,
welcome to another WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join the fun! All you have to do is answer three simple questions (“The three Ws”):

-What are you currently reading?
-What did you just finish reading?
-What are you planning on reading next?

I am currently reading:
Mirage by Somaiya Daud


This book gives off a clear fairytale-esque space opera-vibe, which got me proper intrigued from the get-go. I’m only a couple pages in, but I love the language and the tone, and the intricate world building is really clever. My copy is also beautiful with sprayed purple pages and the cover is breathtaking! So excited to get further into this!

Blurb:

“The crown of Dinah had been stripped from me, my face changed, my body broken. But I was not a slave and I was not a spare. I was my mother’s daughter, and I would survive and endure. I would find my way back home.”
In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, sixteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation, and of receiving a sign from Dhiya that one day she, too, will have adventures and travel beyond her isolated moon.

I just finished reading:
Rubiks kube og den femte beatle by Hans Olav Hamran


This is the book I was talking about in the introduction to this post, one of the better reading experiences I’ve had in years. I found it on Monday by a coincidence, and both started and finished it that same evening. 312 pages just flew by in about four hours.

It falls perfectly into this little niche I adore and that I’ve talked about previously; Scandinavian urban life and the lgbtq society, in the 60s and 70s.

Set in my hometown in the late 70s, at a school a lot of my friends actually went to some thirty years later, it depicts the town my parents would have grown up in. The main character also has a summer house in a little hamlet with about 2000 people, the exact same place my family used to have a summer house, and now ultimately have moved to! I recognized so many of the places and concepts and both the story and the characters in this book are really well written. I started reading it and could not put it down, and even though it deals with heavy themes like un-diagnosed (and badly diagnosed) mental health, lgbt rights in small towns in the 70s, adultery and alcoholism, it was also an inherently hopeful story, about friends figuring things out together, spontaneity, new relationships and following your dreams.

I feel like this book will be pushed on a lot of people, and I’ll definitely give it a reread myself in a bit.

Blurb (translated):

What do you do when you’re the only one at your school who likes The Beatles?
Anders can’t wait to finish secondary school, he’s dreaming of the freedom only a moped can provide and is irredeamably and incurably in love with Julia. But life had been so much easier if he wasn’t the very last person at school that listened to The Beatles. Why couldn’t he just be a KISS fan like the rest of them?
When Anders wakes up to the news that John Lennon has been shot, a goal forms in his mind; there are only three of them left now, he’s going to meet the rest of the Beatles. Along with a mildly alcoholic teacher, he flies to London where he finds crazy punk rockers and closed gates, and even sneaks in to a gala event at a James Bond premiere, just to get a glimpse of his heroes. And maybe, just maybe, these Beatles adventures can cheer up Mum, who’s not always able to get out of bed in the morning.
A novel about growing up and being true to what you believe in, no matter what everyone else tells you. A story about being different and about how hard it is when you can’t tell anyone about what’s difficult at home.

Next book on the list:
Whuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte

Okay, so this one is a big maybe. I’ve started this book so many times and never really gotten into it, but I found a really cheap but well-kept copy in a charity shop, and the quote at the back totally got me, so I figured I’d give it another go. Might be nice as an October read, now that we’re getting a little closer to Halloween. I really liked the Penguin Classics cover on this one too. Here’s to hoping I actually get the dialogue this time! Wish me luck, haha x

Blurb:
“May you not rest, as long as I am living! You said I killed you – haunt me, then!
Caught in a snowstorm, Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter at Wuthering Heights. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before: the intense passion between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, her betrayal of him and the bitter vengeance he now wreaks on the innocent heirs of the past.
Emily Bronte’s novel of impossible desires, violence and transgression is a masterpiece of intense, unsettling power.

So these are the books I’m dealing with this week! Now that we’re well into October I’m all here for curling up in my reading nook with my books, and there have been a lot of great reading sessions lately, as already mentioned. Busy weeks and lot of uni work only make these moments of reading even more important! A nice way to let your mind focus on other things and not just on achievements and learning and goals.

What are you reading right now? Have you read any of these? And what are your thoughts on Wuthering Heights? If you’ve written a WWW Wednesday post, or just want to talk books for a bit, please pop a link or a few lines in the comment section below! So excited to hear from you x

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea