Things I Liked In June

Each month I do a post covering ‘things I liked’ – from articles to videos to tv shows to books to anything in between. Here’s my list of what I liked in June. What have you liked this month?

Diversify Your Happiness

I’ve been reading Yes and Yes a lot more. It has some very helpful articles about money and happiness. This article talks about branching out and finding new things that make you happy – a great endeavor!

Orphanages – 5 Myths You Need To Know

The true state of a many orphanages, and how we can help (without making it all about us and causing more harm). Warning: parts of this article are quite distressing.

Salad In A Jar

I’m experimenting with new ways to eat food. I’m currently thinking about ways to pack healthy lunches when I go back to uni classes soon. These salad jars look fun and practical.

The White Princess

A few years ago The White Queen aired – a 10 episode series that dramatized the events of the end of the War of the Roses. It focused on Elizabeth Woodville – the York Queen and Mother of the Princes in the Tower. Now, The White Princess is the follow up – it follows Elizabeth of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville, who married the new Tudor king, Henry VII to unite the warring factions and bring peace to England. The series is light and entertaining, even if it skips the accuracy in some (many) places. The costumes are some of the most accurate I’ve seen though, and watching it was worth it for them alone.

This Dog Followed The Google Earth Guy

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What a good dog. Just looking for a friend.

Catherine de’Medici: orphan, captive, wife, Queen, mother, politician, survivor

History things! Catherine has an amazing life story, where she played a variety of roles that weren’t always accessible to women in her time. This article gives some great insights into her life.

Loving Scripture, Living Egalitarian

This article makes some interesting points; I’m not sure I agree with all of it, but it’s worth considering.

A New Report On Teen Sex

I found this really interesting to read; especially where it compares perceived sexual behaviour in teens with actual sexual behaviour. Check it out.

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30 Moments From Europe That Stayed With Me

A little while ago I wrote this post where I listed 10 moments from my trip to Austria that stayed with me. Well today is a year since I left for my first trip to Europe – a month long trip with my family, first doing a two week Trafalgar tour of mainland Europe and then doing two weeks in Britain, starting with 5 days in London and then driving up through York to Scotland and then down through Oxford to Poole, Dorset.

As I said before, memories and reflections are a funny thing. They change over time and what stands out to me a year on are a strange collection of moments and impressions. So, in no particular order, here is 30 moments from my first trip to Europe that I remember vividly.

  1. Walking out of a concert hall in Vienna to find it has started raining, getting the bus back to the hotel and viewing the city through rain-streaked windows that made everything beautiful.
  2. Landing at Heathrow Airport and my sister exclaiming ‘I can’t believe this is where they filmed Love Actually!’
  3. Getting the train alone to Hampton Court, and spending the whole day walking around, looking at and touching this old red bricked Tudor palace, unable to believe I was really there.
  4. Being exhausted in Rome and finding a comfortable looking rock in the Colosseum to sit on.
  5. Sitting in a boat, going down the main canal of Venice, worrying that my hat would blow off or I would drop my phone in the water.
  6. Driving over the border into Scotland and not being able to believe the sky was so big.
  7. Seeing a man buy two gelato cones in Rome, and then watching him feed one to his dog.
  8. Being too sick when we got to Paris to do the Seine river cruise – Dad and I found a bakery, and I ate a sesame seed roll with lettuce and Camembert cheese and then went to bed and slept for 12 hours.
  9. Driving through the Black Forest in Germany and totally believing that fairytale characters could appear at any moment.
  10. Walking around Florence on a 40 degree day and going to every church we saw because they were the coolest (temperature-wise) buildings.
  11. Meeting a dog named Chaz in a pub in Stow-On-The-Wold in England and missing my own Leo dog.
  12. Getting overwhelmed in the Vatican because there were so many people. 
  13. Getting the tube from Westminster to the Tower of London – it was sunny when we went underground, and then when we emerged it was pouring rain. We dashed to a nearby pub to take shelter (and eat lunch).
  14. Sailing down the Rhine River and seeing my first castle – the first castle I ever saw in real life. Then wondering how on earth you access it when it’s up so high on a cliff.
  15. Seeing the house Dad lived in and the primary school he went to in Glasgow (he lived there for a year when he was ten years old).
  16. Walking along the old city walls in Lucerne, Switzerland, and picking out which castle I would retire to/run away from the world to.
  17. Walking out of our dinner location to see the sun setting behind the Colosseum.
  18. Buying a colouring book at a rest stop in Austria and then using it as entertainment for the many, many hours on the tour bus.
  19. Realizing that the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace was happening in ten minutes, walking really fast to get there, and then realizing we were walking alongside the barracks they leave from.
  20. Driving from Glasgow to Creetown and getting lost. We ended up driving through almost deserted Scottish countryside on a tiny track. At one point we stopped the car, got out and just walked around, admiring the view. The hills stretched on forever, the sky was like a huge open dome and it was so silent.
  21. Attending a prayerbook service in the Royal Chapel at Hampton Court.
  22. Walking around a 17th Century graveyard next to the ruins of a 12th Century church – which were both in the backyard of our bnb in Bathgate. Also meeting the bnb’s two cats.
  23. Realizing the ducks in St James’ Park are HUGE.
  24. Sitting in the Eagle and Child in Oxford (the pub where the Inklings met) and drinking Pimms and lemonade and hiding from the sun.
  25. Meeting my Aunt and Uncle’s giant furry dog, and then walking him all around Poole and Dorset for three days.
  26. Standing in Westminster Abbey and just saying to myself ‘I’m in Westminster Abbey. I’m really here.’
  27. Driving from Germany, through the Bavarian alps towards Innsbruck, through the Austrian alps, and being overwhelmed that the world was so beautiful.
  28. Realizing that in Europe, a flat white is called an ‘Australian flat white.’
  29. Visiting Creetown, and the Creetown historical museum. Seeing objects like the town’s school enrollment book and letters from both World Wars.
  30. Walking down the Royal Mile from Edinburgh castle, listening to blues music (the Blues and Jazz festival was in town) and never wanting to leave.

5 Reasons I’m Becoming A Vegan

People keep asking me why I’m becoming a vegan. I keep finding it hard to answer. So here’s my thoughts articulated in reasonably logical way.

  1. Health reasons. I have a condition that might respond well to this diet.
  2. To break unhealthy patterns. Changing my diet drastically will make me think more deliberately about what I am eating, and will mean I am being intentional about consuming enough protein, vitamins, vegetables etc.
  3. To avoid mass produced products. My foray into thinking about ethical fashion has shown me that the major downfall of our consumer culture is that it’s impossible to trace where everything comes from and how it was made. This applies to food as well as fashion.
  4. I’m becoming more and more uneasy about eating animals. I like animals. I have pet animals. I have an Instagram account where I take photos of animals. I want more distinction between my pets and what I eat.
  5. I want to live my life doing the least harm I can. Of course, this isn’t completely avoidable. I will hurt the people around me, I will leave an impact on the earth and the environment by living and consuming goods. But I want to try to minimize the harm I cause.

So those are my reasons. I’m transitioning slowly, and doing this properly; I’ve seen my GP, I’m doing research, and I’m seeing a dietitian who specializes in plant based eating. Overall, it just feels right. It feels like a healthier way to live, to thinking about food and to plan my life. I’ll keep you updated on how it works out.

Things The Kids of Ministry Workers Wish You Knew

Being in and around churches and ministry for so long, you learn quickly that people have definite ideas and expectations of what the kids of those who work in ministry should be like. The high school/youth group phase can be especially trying. Whatever ministry role their parents are in, here are a few things these kids want you to know.

Note: all these things are subjective. Some of these things are okay in context. But unfortunately they mostly happen outside of genuine relationships or care, and this is what is most frustrating.

Please don’t share your strongly negative opinion about their parent/s ministry. Way to make things awkward.

Please don’t follow up a comment with ‘but don’t tell your Dad/Mum/parents that!’ That puts them in an uncomfortable position, and it’s usually because you said something without thinking – and now they carry the burden.

Please don’t start off small talk with ‘it must be so hard to be (insert name)’s kid!’ They appreciate you’re trying to connect. But it’s a deeply personal issue and asked out of the context of a relationship, it might be really hard to answer.

Please do respect their privacy. It’s hard enough growing up, making decisions and figuring out life while feeling like there’s a whole audience watching.

Please don’t ask them to fill in for a ministry position just because they are always around. There might be someone else who fits it better (and appreciate the opportunity more).

Please don’t label them as ‘PKs’ or ‘MKs’ (pastor’s kid or missionary’s kid). It implies that all kids of those in ministry are the same or have the same struggles.

Please don’t assume that because their parents are in ministry, they will automatically be Christians. They might be seriously struggling with their faith or they might disagree with their parents or their church on theological issues. Respect their autonomy by giving them space to work these things out – like you would for anyone else in the church.

Please do put in the work to build a genuine relationship. Yes, you know their parents and might have heard some stories about them, but that’s not the same as knowing them or having a relationship with them. You can help them feel less isolated.

Please don’t assume they know who you are (or should know who you are).  Even if you have met them once or twice before, don’t be offended if they can’t place you. They probably meet countless people at church every week.

Please don’t use them to get to their parents. Don’t try to impress them, and don’t ask them to share information about their parents. It puts them in a very difficult position (especially if they are still a teenager).

Please don’t play favourites. Don’t give them special treatment, or always pick them out from the crowd.

Please don’t hold them to a higher standard either. Don’t expect better behavior than you would of anyone else their age.

Animals Abound: The West Wing Characters As Dogs

This is a thing I do now apparently. I turn the cast of tv shows I like into….puppies.

Ever wondered what each character from the West Wing would look like if they were a dog? Wonder no longer. Here’s my list.

Jed Bartlett – Utonagan

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Leo McGarry – Bulldog

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Sam Seaborn – Labrador

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Josh Lyman – Russell Terrier

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Donnatella Moss – Golden Retriever

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CJ Cregg – Weimaraner

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Toby Ziegler – Basset Hound

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Charlie Young – Doberman

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Zoey Bartlett – Border Collie

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Will Bailey – Black Springer Spaniel

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Kate Harper – Border Collie

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Ainsley Hayes – Golden Cocker Spaniel

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Margaret Hooper – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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Things I Liked In May

Each month I do a post covering ‘things I liked’ – from articles to videos to tv shows to books to anything in between. May is my birthday month so I’m extra happy to share this list with you. Here’s my list of what I liked in May. What have you liked this month?

33 Things to Do and Undo When Simplifying Your Wardrobe

Maybe the best thing I have read about minimalist wardrobes and decision making. This list is straightforward and simple. Just like I want my wardrobe to be.

Debunking The Myth Of Lady Jane Grey

This was fascinating – it tracks the development of the common image of the ‘Nine Days Queen’ – Jane as a weak and helpless victim and her mother as a domineering and awful manipulator. Even if you don’t know much about Jane Grey, you should read this article – there’s a lot of interesting stuff in there.

Uprooted

I read Uprooted, by Naomi Novik recently. It came highly recommended from a friend, and I absolutely loved it. It was the first fiction/fantasy book I have read in a long time that I simultaneously didn’t want to finish and couldn’t put down. I can’t emphasis enough how interesting and clever this story is – it hits all the conventions of the fantasy genre while still being fresh and new and surprising. Read it! (Link to a more indepth review is above).

Writing Retreat

I went on a writing retreat a few weeks ago, and it was the best. Mick and Kamina from We Write You have done up a ‘how to’ guide for your own retreat!

Historic Royal Palaces Podcasts

The Historic Royal Palaces Society are responsible for the upkeep of a number of palaces and castles in Britain. They also do a lot of work producing media to educate people about these buildings, their history and the people who lived there. I recently discovered their podcasts. They are very easy, interesting, informative listening – especially if you’re a history nerd like me!

The Intersection of Minimalism and Luxury

Been thinking a lot about why I like minimalism – and this article helped to resolve a few things. I like living simply where I can, where it makes things less stressful and less cluttered, but that doesn’t mean always denying myself things. It means being thoughtful and deliberate about what is important to me, what is truly most valuable to me, and using my resources on those things instead. For me, it’s not necessarily fancy airport lounge upgrades; but there are things I want to spend money on, and living simply might make those things more possible in the future.

What Reign Got Right

There is a show called Reign, which is ending it’s fourth and final season soon. It’s a loosely historical trashy Gothic drama romance (it’s a thing, okay) and while it has many, many absurd moments, characters, costumes and plotlines, it does get some things right. Namely, it’s portrayal of women. I don’t agree with everything in the above article, but it mostly hits on why Reign has such devoted fans. Also because Megan Follows is flawless as Catherine de Medici and is the real hero of the show.

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The real hero. Will do anything for her family and France (in that order unfortunately).
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Still not clear on why Mary likes wearing headbands and beads in her hair in this alternative historical reality…but I don’t judge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

the ANOVA – a blog on education

This blog is a highly analytical and slightly cynical commentary on education. This post is my favourite – the Official Dogma of Education. Here’s a great excerpt:

10. Our educational policy succeeds when it improves the academic performance of all students, and when individual students rise above and leave their peers behind. The tensions between these goals are to remain unexamined.

But where is the green sheep? Old maps put the art in cartography

Beautiful and informative maps of Australia.

Sorry 

I say sorry too much. Way too much. So much it is annoying (sorry). Someone made a video about all the times they didn’t need to say sorry and I related a little too much.

House-sitting

Recently I house-sat for some friends. I took care of a 5 month old pupper named Potato and worked on my assignment. It was almost like a holiday. A really productive holiday. Here’s five ways to make the most of house-sitting and have yourself a mini-retreat.

1. Buy nice food

Plan to cook a new recipe or an old favourite. Or just buy snacks you like. Mix it up, shop differently and enjoy the change in routine. If you’re really needing a change, trying eating vegan or vegetarian while you’re away from home.

2. Explore a new local area

Take the dog for a walk. Or just go for a walk. See what you can find without using Google Maps. Enjoy new scenery.

3. Plan a nice outing

You might want to use Google Maps for this part. Find a nearby cafe, restaurant, theatre, art gallery, bar or anything that you wouldn’t normally be close to. Plan an outing there, alone or with friends. Pretend to be a local and live it up.

4. Try different routines

Outside of your normal setting, try doing things a little differently. Try eating breakfast before your morning shower. Try showering at a different time of day. Or take a bath. Use this opportunity to experiment with how you do things – you may find it works better. Or you may just appreciate your normal routine even more.

5. Work hard at a project

This one is more optional. I had an assignment to do, so I worked really hard at being productive which I was house-sitting, planning in my breaks with nice outings and Potato walks. But if you have an ongoing project you never have time for, this could be a chance to make serious progress. Writing a story? Sorting out photos on your laptop? Finishing a drawing or art project? Whatever it is, a change of environment might help more than you realize.

Here’s a few more pictures of the pupper I looked after; thanks for letting me hang out with you Potato!

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Animals Abound: What Dogs Would The Characters From Friends Be?

Lucas and I had a conversation about what type of dog each character of Friends would be. Then this post happened. You’re welcome. 

Ross – Greyhound

Takes themselves way too seriously. Causes divided opinions. 

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Monica – German Shepherd

Hard working and loyal. A little intense sometimes. 

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Chandler –  Irish Setter

A bit ridiculous, but knows it. 

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Phoebe – Labradoodle

Adorable. Scruffy but has a big heart. 

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Joey – Dachshund

Loves food. Has no concept that anyone could be laughing at them, ever. 

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Rachel – Afghan Hound

Very pretty. A little confused how it got here.

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This Is How It Feels

Some days, it’s like there’s white noise all around the inside of my brain.

It’s like there’s a static noise in my head. For anything to get into my head and make sense, it has to penetrate this fog of noise. For anything to come out of my head and to be useful and coherent, it has to travel all the way through that white cloud that’s blurring the world and making everything hard.

Some days it’s like my thoughts get stuck on loop.

I keep repeating the same (usually untrue or unhelpful) concept or idea or set of words – anything really – over and over in my head, because I can’t shake the hold it has on me. I can’t redirect my thoughts. When I try my brain sabotages me and I end up back where I started, fixated on the same idea I was trying to escape.

Some days I have to sing all the words to hymns I know to drown out the chaos.

I’m scared to hear where my thoughts are going and I can’t convince my brain to think about productive or useful things – so I sing ‘How Deep The Father’s Love For Us’ or ‘Come O Come Emmanuel’ until I don’t want to think the bad thoughts anymore.

Some days I can only articulate my thoughts in the written word.

So I write and write and write and write until there are no more words. The important thing isn’t that people read what I have said; it is that I have found words for what I am feeling.

Some days, all this or some of this happens and I can function anyway. I can be polite and social or at least not catatonic. Other days I am blank eyed and mute, unable to form coherent thoughts or follow complex arguments.

Some days my rocky mental health makes me run from people, run from deep emotional connection and hide from the world, isolated and alone. Other days it makes me cling to the people who make me feel safe, who understand the mess inside me and just take each day with me as it comes.

Some days I get sad for no reason. There’s no one thing wrong – it’s just that I have depression, and sometimes my mood is illogical or unstable. Sometimes I get sad. Sometimes I get very very sad. Then sometimes, it will go away again.

I’m not trying to shift blame or excuse my actions – I’m trying to explain. Things aren’t easy at the moment and this is how it feels. Getting through a work shift or focusing for an hour to work on an assignment take a huge amount of energy and effort. Little things can unbalance and upset my day, can derail my thoughts and leave me wobbly.

This is how it feels, at least right now. If I had more words, more insights, I would share them. If I had more answers, I would share those too. But I don’t. This is all I have right now. The reality of my lived experience. The sadness I carry and the fears I hold.

I’m hoping one day it won’t feel like this, at least not so much. I’m hoping for a good day, then another good day, and then eventually some good days in a row until suddenly I can’t remember the last bad day.

That’s all I’ve got right now.

10 Moments from Austria That Stayed With Me

My transcript from my time in Austria at the University of Graz arrived this week, which apart from being exciting in that I can claim credit, has also made me miss my winter adventures in Graz and Vienna. The weather in Brisbane is dropping, but it won’t be a winter with snow and frost and scarfs and gloves (for example, right now Brisbane is a whole 17 degrees).

Memories and reflections are a funny thing. They change over time – the things that stand out from my trip studying overseas are not the same things I would have drawn attention to at the time, or even in the weeks immediately afterwards.

So here’s 10 moments from Austria I remember vividly.

  1. Walking around the corner in Vienna and seeing Hofburg Palace before me and literally laughing out loud in delight.
  2. Wandering through the backstreets behind St Stephen’s Cathedral and encountering a ruined chapel and a surprise English bookstore.
  3. Walking into souvenir stores because they were warm and I was freezing.
  4. Not being able to speak in the Art History (Kunsthistorisches) Museum because I was in awe of the building and the art.
  5. Travelling with a group of Australian students and having intense constant interaction with them for three weeks.
  6. Walking up the Schlossberg (a mountain with a ruined castle on top of it), seeing the ground covered in snow and the texture of it underfoot.
  7. Stepping off the bus at Hallstatt and understanding why it had been called ‘the prettiest place on earth.’
  8. Walking past a dog park with bare trees and muddy dogs and stopping to pat them.
  9. Waiting for the tram to university one morning and having a ‘oh my gosh I’m studying in Austria’ moment. Also seeing a dog riding the tram for half price.
  10. Walking through Graz on my last day of class, with a clear blue sky and beautifully coloured houses, and knowing my adventure was almost at an end.

If you want to read more detailed accounts of my adventures, there are three posts up at the AIMOverseas blog (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3) and you can read my writing about it here on my own blog. (About Vienna, About The Course I Did, About Chance B, About Steinhof and About What I Learnt Travelling).