Saturday, 31 December 2016

I Believe In You

"I believe in starting over
I can see that your heart is true
I believe in good things coming back to you
You're the light that lifts me higher
So bright, you guide me through
I believe in you"

I Believe In You - Michael Buble

On the way to the Coromandel the other day, where I was headed for a quick end of year beach break, my friend asked me what my News Years resolution was. I answered the same way I've done for the past couple of years - that resolutions were a waste of time, having broken nearly every one I'd made in the past. Instead, I told him, I think about what I've learned throughout the year and take this message into the next twelve months. The end of 2014 was about not worrying, 2015 was letting go of what wasn't right. But what, I thought desperately, has 2016 give me?

It's been a bit of a nothing year. Apart from one meaningful blog post about giving up the drink, my life has been rather quiet. It hasn't been bad; there's been no deaths, nothing going terribly wrong and no losses. I've meandered through, giving my time to my job, my fitness and my friends. This, coupled with a secret writing project, is the reason behind a lack of blog posts in 2016. 

Outside of my life, 2016 has been rather dreary. The deaths of significant celebrities, a hell of a lot of political drama I'd rather stay out of, and a lack in significant music has made for a uninspiring year. My best music memories of 2016 were a) watching Stranger Things and going through a 1980's glam rock phase and b) finally fulfilling my lifelong goal of discovering country music and jamming to Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Luke Bryan. 

But where did this leave me going into 2017? I was stuck until, about fifteen minutes from our beach destination, I played this new cracker of a song from Michael Buble, and thought, this is it. 

It's been a year of believing things will get better. Of sticking to things because you believe in the cause. Of gunning through the lacklustre events and finding the positive. And most of all, believing in the good of the people, and the good of the world. That's what got me out of bed every day; the belief that today could bring something better. And when it didn't, tomorrow would be that day. And at midnight tonight, we get to say goodbye to a year that tried to dampen our spirits, and ring in 2017 with the belief that it will be so much better. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Middle

"Hey, don't write yourself off yet
It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.Just try your best, try everything you can.And don't you worry what they tell themselves when you're away.

It just takes some time,Little girl, you're in the middle of the ride.Everything, everything will be just fine,Everything, everything will be alright, alright."

The Middle - Jimmy Eat World 

Today marks an accomplishment I never thought possible until I got on this ride. Today is the day of being 100 days without a drop of alcohol. Yes, you read that right, I've been sober for 100 whole days. Me, the girl who would lead the group to the bar tab, would be the first to suggest cracking open a bottle of wine and would want to play all the drinking games. The wine, gin, beer, vodka, pimms, frangelico, tequila and cider have been on hold as I challenged myself to go sober for 100 days, and this is the blog post of what I've learned in the past three and a bit months. 

It started because I knew I had to change something. Gradually, over the past year, the nights had begun to take their toll. The drinks weren't going down so easily and the hangovers were getting worse. I was drinking to combat stress, I was drinking because the alcohol was being offered, and I was drinking because I couldn't stop. I wasn't the worse at the party; in fact, most people hardly blinked an eye at my consumption levels. But I felt it needed to change, so I forced myself to take a break. 

I was helped by some dumb luck. The first day of my sober journey was spent throwing up the drinks from the previous night and forcing down ice cubes, because nothing else would settle in my stomach. It was the moment when I thought I needed to go to hospital that I realised I was in trouble. Fortunately, it didn't come to that, but it did kick start my desire to take a break and for at least a month I couldn't sniff booze without feeling ill. Following that, a weeknight work event with an open bar tested my willpower, but I knew the next day would be hell if I tried to drink. Then a round of medication stopped me reaching for bottles for another fortnight, and suddenly 100 days was in sight and the determination to get there drove me away from drinks. 

There's been many great things about this experiment. Physically, I feel fantastic. The tummy bloating is gone, replaced by slowly forming abs. The lack of hangovers mean I never miss a morning workout, and I stopped drunkenly shoving food into my mouth at the end of a big night. And, whilst being sober, I clearly saw what drunken antics look like - the falling over, the rush to bathrooms to vomit, the regrettable hookups, the all-round bad decisions - and I realised I never wanted to be like that again.  

But there's still pain. It hurts that I felt like I couldn't trust myself. That my brain can't say no, so the only option is abstinence. That, when I had some bad days last month, the knowledge that a drop of alcohol would spiral me into worse moods. Battling these thoughts were on par with the difficulty of stopping drinking. 

I am lucky I have a personality that doesn't need to be fuelled by alcohol. I went to parties, BYO dinners, even town (and even managed to score a phone number) while sober. And I didn't feel like I was missing out. I have great friends who supported me on this journey -even marvelled at how well I was doing - and never forced me into having a drink. I was worried going into this that I would be left out of things or shunned for going sober, but it was never a big deal. Indeed, it was while soberly dancing to a band covering this Jimmy Eat World song that I realised I was doing a great thing. 

Now I need to think about what I want to do next. The only plan is to drink a glass of bubbles next week on my birthday. I never want to feel as awful as I did the day I started this and I'm aware that one drink will probably make me tipsy after this abstinence. Maybe if the bubbles go down well I'll stick to a glass on special occasions, and perhaps the odd cheeky cider. But the desire, and more importantly, the need to drink is gone. 

So if I continue to abstain, don't be that person who tries to push me into drinking. I'm not going to be coerced to "just have one" because I had a problem just having one. I'm not going to drink because everyone else or it's important to you, because my health is more important to me. And I'd rather raise a glass of plain water to keeping my mind and body healthy. 

Friday, 3 June 2016

Bad Day

"You had a bad day
You're taking one downYou sing a sad song just to turn it aroundYou say you don't knowYou tell me don't lieYou work at a smile and you go for a rideYou had a bad dayThe camera don't lieYou're coming back down and you really don't mindYou had a bad day"

Bad Day - Daniel Powter

Today was a bad day. 

It was a bad day because the Friday before long weekends are never fun at my work. They're busy, manic, rushed, things get missed and blame gets shifted around. But it always gets done, we move on, so does that really count as a bad day?

It was also a bad day because the weather here has decided to drop about ten degrees and it's suddenly freezing cold. Although, this happens every year, and as I get to pull out my favourite scarfs and jackets, I'm not sure that really constitutes a good day?

Mostly, today was a bad day because I made the mistake of checking those damn Facebook memories, and I was reminded of where I was two years ago on a day that was such a good day, but now every year becomes a bad day. 

I wish I wasn't a person who got a kick out of anniversaries, but I confess I like them so much. I like knowing how long it's been since something happened, and marvel at how fast time has passed. I like birthdays, new years and graduations and I like looking back on those occasions each anniversary and thinking, "oh yeah, that great thing happened". 

Except today, on this bad day, this bad week, this whole bad experience. The time where, two years ago, everything went from being so right to so wrong. This time, two years ago, was the calm before the storm. And now, two years later, it's where I sit alone, tears running down my face, still trying to understand how life could deal us such a cruel blow. 

I miss her every day. But I miss her the most today, this day, last year, this year, and every year to come. 

It's a bad day. 

But it's just one day, one really bad day and the ten days either side where I'm still pretty sad, and then the remaining 350 or so days in the year can be good days. I can remember the other anniversaries of this situation. The anniversary of when I went away to find myself. The anniversary of that second trip where everything suddenly made sense. The anniversary of when I realised it was time to come back. 

I get this day, today, to have a bad day. Then I make sure the rest of the days are good days, because I'm the one who still gets to have days. 

Friday, 11 March 2016

Welcome to the Masquerade

"We've got the fire, who's got the matches 
Take a look around at the sea of masks 
and come one come all, welcome to the grand ball 
Where the strong run for cover and the weak stand tall 

I'm not one to scatter ashes 
But there's some things that melt the plastic 
Try and dig down deeper if you can 

I'm not afraid 
I'm not ashamed 
I'm not to blame 
Welcome to the masquerade" 

Welcome to the Masquerade - Thousand Foot Krutch 

Tonight, after emptying two bottles of beer, I wanted a slightly different drink. Usually I progress from beer to vodka with little hesitation, but tonight, alas, my alcohol shelf was void of vodka. In fact, it currently holds a bottle of tequila, a 3 litre goon sack of cheap red wine (left by a guest and something I will one day turn into sangria), and two of those pre-mixed shots you buy when you want to have a really good, and a really bad, night. So, tequila it was, I guess. A long time ago a friend told me about this great drink someone had mixed for her: tequila and lemonade. It was a different but nice, she'd said. And I thought tonight was the best night to try that. I started with ice and a shot of tequila and topped up the glass with soda water. I tried it and shuddered. A wedge of lemon would fix that. But still, no good. Then I added some cucumber to try make it refreshing. Still bitter. Try some L&P suggested the flatmate. This improved it slightly. What about salt, suggested this same, trying to helpful flatmate. It changed the flavour no doubt, but at the of the day, my drink still tasted like tequila. 

It's the masquerade; the big, false idea of a masquerade working. 

Because sometimes there is nowhere to hide. 

I saw Thousand Foot Krutch play at Kings Arms late last year. I bought tickets for me and my bestie after humming and humphing for months about whether to go; the opening act was The Latest Fallout and I am a fangirl of their work and their lead singer. Eventually, in need of a good time, I bought tickets and went along to one of the sweetest gigs Kings Arms have ever offered. It was pumping. It was a bunch of fans laying it all on the line for this sweet rock band. Since then I've been a fan, both of their style and of their song lyrics, and especially of Welcome to the Masquerade. 

I like songs that remind you that sometimes everything is not okay. 

That sometimes you're supposed to be scared, supposed to be ashamed, supposed to make a mistake and be the one to blame. 

And sometimes you hide your feelings, shut your eyes and gulp down your disgusting tequila concoction, because it's the best you've got, and the best you can do. 

Or at least until you can get to the bottle shop to get something better. 

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

It's Not Right For You

"She said, "Is this the life you've been dreaming of
Spending half the day away from the things you love?
It's not too late to do something new."

She said, "It's hard enough trying to live your life.
But not following your dreams made you dead inside.
If you don't love what you do."

It's not right, it's not right for you
If you even have to think about it
It's not right, it's not right for you
If you really have to think about it
You got one life to love what you do"

It's Not Right For You - The Script

This year I am boycotting New Years Resolutions. I've always had a thing against them, and last year when I came up with three, I broke two of them on January 1st when I was notoriously hungover. But the third, to worry a lot less, stuck with me throughout this year. That resolution didn't come from a desire to change, but rather it was something I'd learned in 2014 (you can read the whole story here). A year later I'm here musing about that one thing I've learned this year that I can take into 2016, and it wasn't hard to come up with. 

This year has been a year of trial and error. I tried to move to Perth, and soon realised Australia was not the place for me. As a lovely Grandmother in my hostel in Adelaide later told me "at least you gave it a go". Soon after I came home, I tried to work a job in a new industry. But I never fully understood it, and realised for my professional and personal sanity, I had to move on. And as for my love life, well, sometimes the best things still aren't the right thing for you. In summary, 2015 was the year I learned to walk away from the things that weren't making me happy or healthy. It's this thought I will take into the New Year.  

I have no solid plans for 2016. Apart from a plane to catch back from my New Year's trip, being due back at work shortly after and my desire to see every cricket game this summer, 2016 is wide open for me. It's exciting, and it's endearing. I hope it will be full of love and laughter, of creative writing and good music, and just a little challenge to keep me on my toes and learning wonderful things about myself. 

Happy New Year, you wonderful people. I'll see you on the other side after a little New Year's escape to one of New Zealand's beautiful towns. 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Breakfast at Tiffany's

"You'll say, we've got nothin' in common
No common ground to start fromAnd we're falling apartYou'll say, the world has come between usOur lives have come between usStill I know you just don't care

And I said what about Breakfast at Tiffany's?She said I think I remember the filmAnd as I recall I think, we both kind o' liked itAnd I said well that's the one thing we've got"

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Deep Blue Something 

It is possible that in a little while I while look back and think, hmm after a few months off writing in your blog, you do a come back with Breakfast at Tiffany's? But you have to admit that this is a tune (unless you're a specific creative writer who was not having a bar of this song last time we played it at work). I've been jamming along to this at least once a day for the past few months and I wanted to bring it up so you can all have a listen and remember that twenty years ago this was a massive one hit wonder. 

I've been off the blogging record for a couple reasons - I went without internet for a month while moving, I've been working on other secret writing projects, and this year's music hasn't left me inspired at all, hence why we're going with a song from 1996. I mean yeah, there's been a few sweet songs pumping on the radio, but it's feeling a bit tired. There's been some notable comebacks: Gwen Stefani's new track is brilliant and I'm only starting to realise she's a genius. Adele and the Biebs have new tunes which are nice but not knocking off my socks, Imagine Dragons released a killer album which I heard most of at an amazing concert earlier this year, and I could happily not hear another T-Swift song for a while. 

Hopefully next year there will be some cracker songs released and I'll be able to churn out the blogs a bit more. Or else I'll dig through the one hit wonder charts and find some more gems like Breakfast at Tiffany's to muse about. My Sharona? How Bizzare? Poi E? (That is my favourite one hit wonder, for the record). 

In the meantime, take some life advice from a song that actually got to number one on the UK charts one week in 1996. Remember and cherish the small things. When it all seems lost, hold onto the hope of that stupid thing you've got in common. Sometimes, these make you the happiest. And above all else, worship songs about a film with Audrey Hepburn. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Ami N Rele

"I miss my dad
I miss my mum
I miss my brothers
I miss my everything
Ami N Rele" 

Ami N Rele - Kunle 

When I first started this blog I set out with a goal of discovering music and sharing their vibes with you. I must admit though I’ve lacked greatly in exploring global music. I’ve loved talking about New Zealand music because of my love of this country, but venturing further afield into other cultures – and I mean cultures outside of the western world – hasn’t taken my interest before now. And let’s be honest, the most cultural I got on this blog was the time I bragged that Poi E was New Zealand’s greatest one hit wonder.

I was recommended to check out a Nigerian singer / songwriter who spent some time in Ghana before moving to his current base in Toronto, Canada, and I was excited at the chance to hear what Kunle sounded like. This would be the perfect chance to explore some more cultural music. I read on his Sound Cloud account that he mixes a few different cultures into his music; he sings in multiple languages and mixes instruments from different lands into one song.  This guy can make music – a great voice, a lot of talent and heaps of positivity. And as I listened to his songs and three things became very apparent.

Firstly, I need to get to Africa, because this music makes my travelling feet get itchy.

Secondly, I need to learn some more languages because I have little idea what Kunle is saying and there are some good feels in his music. 

And thirdly, that Kunle's philosophy that music has no boundaries is one hundred percent correct.  

No matter where you are from music, whether you keep it traditional, venture into the Western World of music, or mix up a couple of different sounds, you shouldn’t put a boundary on music.  You could be like Kunle who makes music to speak to multiple cultures, or more like me who is on a mission to hear music from all areas of the world.

If you’re keen on getting into something a bit different, here’s a few links to Kunle’s work. I recommend him – although he’s still starting out I think he’s going to be an interesting musician to follow.