Monday, June 13, 2016

Ten Years Brave


Ten years ago yesterday, the Umbilical Brothers were in town and I got together with a group of friends to go see them. I don't remember any part of the show, but I do remember a few things about that night.
1. I was sitting behind my cousin Julie - and did not know that this would be one of the last times I would ever have a conversation with her.
2. I got to meet the Umbilical Brothers after the show. My friends disappeared momentarily and I wanted a photo with the guys, so they took it in turns taking photos of me on my little blue flip phone.
3. I got a lift home from my good friend Chris.

I was desperately, not-so-secretly in love with Chris. He parked outside my house, and we got out of the car and commenced a chin-pinch fight, as we had recently started doing at the end of many evenings. These fights involved each of us trying to gently pinch the other's chin, and they were epic, sometimes two-hour battles. I generally lost these battles; my arms weren't as big and strong as Chris's were.

On this night, ten years and one day ago now, we eventually grew tired and decided to call it a night. We hugged goodbye. And then I did the strangest thing I have ever done in my safe, meek little life. Without warning, running on adrenalin, I stood on my toes and I kissed Chris on the cheek.
"That was different," he looked surprised. But then he dipped his head and kissed me on the forehead. And that was enough bravery for me. I squeaked a feeble "Goodnight!" and ran inside.

I would spend the next 48 hours imploding and agonizing over every last detail with my best friends. I would attend a Thursday night choir rehearsal at Church where Chris happened to be doing some tech support a few rooms away, and I would become so overwhelmed that I would walk out of the choir mid-rehearsal, find Chris in the office, and beg him, "Can we please go somewhere and talk?" I would spend an hour or two sitting in Gelare across from my unrequited crush, blushing profusely, staring at the floor, at my mocha, at the window, anywhere but his face. I would hear the words, "I don't want to date anyone at the moment, but when I do, you're the one." But despite the awkwardness, and my waning bravery, I wouldn't accept that. The signs were there, we were closer than we had ever been, people already assumed that we were a couple. And I don't know how, or when, but the conversation began shifting to hypotheticals: "If we were together" "Let's say we had a fight" "What if it didn't work out" "How would we do this". And then, his eyes burning into mine, he said "You know, I actually can't think of a logical reason why we shouldn't at least try this." Not exactly romantic, but it's our story!

It's pretty awkward transitioning from close friends to something more, but we managed it. We were exchanging I-love-yous 10 days in, and a few days after our first month anniversary, we knew we were getting married, and we knew when. And here we are ten years later, thick in the life that first blossomed with that super awkward kiss on the cheek; raising a baby, renovating a home, loving each other purely and honestly, navigating the highs and lows of life as a team.

The moral of this story is not "Here's how we got together, and we lived happily ever after". This story is my defining moment of bravery. I never would have dreamed that I would be brave enough to do something as bold as kiss a boy on the cheek, no matter how much I liked him. But for one crazy moment, it felt like a risk worth taking. I knew that if I hadn't taken that chance, and he had ended up dating, even marrying another girl, I would have had to live with serious regret. And the idea of that regret scared me more than the idea of rejection.

I want to challenge you to be brave. Heck, I want to challenge me to be brave! I just bet there is something burning inside you right now, a crazy thing that you don't think you have the guts to grab onto. But you do. Brave people aren't born, they are made, one decision at a time. Just try it - do that one crazy thing. It might work, it might not, but either way you will know. Then try the next crazy thing. And the next. Keep challenging yourself, keep trying. You may not end up exactly where you hope to go - but you won't be right where you are now either.

If you want encouragement or a sounding board, validation from someone who's a bit removed from your situation - email me. I would love to be a small part of that journey with you.
flowerz _ in _ her _ hair @ hotmail (dot) com

Sunday, May 8, 2016

On Tongues and Mums

Something horrific happened to me yesterday. I was eating my lunch, chatting with my Mum, and suddenly - BAM - the most intense, searing, blood curdling pain came out of nowhere. I had bitten my tongue. I'll spare you the gory details, but I'm fairly certain I bit down harder than any human has ever bitten their tongue and lived to tell the tale. With puppy dog eyes I sat back on the couch, grasping my bleeding tongue in a cool wet flannel, and in that instant I began questioning God's design. What business does a thick, soft, unpredictable piece of flesh have, nestled between 32 chomping teeth?
As you can imagine, though the initial pain dampened somewhat, I was left with a very tender tongue for the rest of the day (and, well, it's still sore today to be honest!) I don't know if you've ever been in a similar predicament, but if you have, you will know what I mean when I say that I became acutely aware of my poor sore tongue and all that it does. When you consider the function of your tongue, what comes to mind? It tastes. It help you swallow. It helps you talk. I've pretty much covered it, right?
Wrong!
It turns out that tongues involve themselves in way more than we give them credit for. I know this because my tongue screamed at me during some surprising moments yesterday.
Tongues pronounce the letters C, D, G, J, K, L, N, Q, R, S, T, U, X and Z. Tongues are the first to receive a hot cup of tea, testing that the temperature is safe for the mouth to receive. Tongues squish up under your front teeth when you blow a kiss at your baby. Tongues absent mindedly clean food out of your teeth when you chew on bread. Tongues push toothpaste and water out of your mouth after you've brushed your teeth. They do so much. Do you give your tongue credit every day for all that it does for you?

It's Mother's Day today, and for some reason I drew a correlation between our tongues and our Mums. Sure, we know that Mums feed us, clothe us, give us a safe place to come home to. But do we consider, really consider, every tiny little function of Mums? Obviously every Mum is different in the way they serve their families, so this list is by no means an attempt at covering it all, nor is it a definitive list of things that Mums should be doing. But for consideration's sake, here are some things that Mums do that their families may not always see:
- Some Mums cook everything from scratch, from stocks to sauces, cakes to salad dressings, to ensure their families are eating the safest, most nutritious ingredients
- Some Mums organize play dates and outings to ensure their children are enriched socially and engaged with their surroundings
- Some Mums spend their down-time in the evenings catching up on dishes, laundry and vacuuming to ensure their families wake up to a clean, calm home
- Some Mums visit countless doctors and undergo invasive fertility procedures in order to conceive the child they have been dreaming about
- Some Mums get up early to pack their kids' school lunches
- Some Mums will forfeit a much-needed coffee catch-up with a friend to stay home with their sick baby
- Some Mums do everything they can to get keep their kids active, to ensure they grow up fit, healthy and strong
- Some Mums sacrifice wine and soft cheeses and deli meats and sushi to ensure that the baby growing inside their belly is kept safe and sound
- Some Mums cry as they watch their children grow, moved to tears by the passing of time
- Some Mums pray every night for their children to be blessed with good health and safety and joy

When I was growing up, I didn't see all the things my Mum did. She stayed at home to raise us, she cooked dinner every night, she showered us with affection and gifts, and she and my Dad instilled in us a fervent belief that we could do anything we hoped to do. She gave us days off school to hang out at home with her in our PJs and watch movies, she took us on endless shopping trips even though she hated shopping, she left encouraging notes in our school lunches. She knew our favourite animals and the pop stars and movie stars that we were nuts about, the books we liked to read and the friends we liked to hang out with. If we showed interest in a hobby, she would buy supplies and help us learn. At the time I just didn't really consider what it was that she was doing. She wasn't just parenting, she wasn't just putting food in our bellies and clothes on our back. All of these things that she did, big and small, whether we noticed and acknowledged them or not - they were what made her our Mum. Just like the tongue with all its secret talents and uses, my Mum - and every Mum - did many things that can easily go unnoticed and unappreciated. She still does, too. It turns out that since my sisters and I have grown up and moved out of home, she's unleashed a whole new bag of Mum tricks.

I'm less than a year into my own motherhood journey and as I reflect on this new role, I can already see the little things that I do without thinking, that became second nature the moment they put a crying baby next to me on my pillow in the hospital 7.5 months ago. It might be that nobody will ever see all these things, or realize their place in my puzzle, but they're an important part of me as a mother.

So today, as we close out Mother's Day for this year, I ask you to consider your Mum, or if you're a mother yourself, dig deep, and see the little things that go unnoticed. Take a moment to pause and look at the little picture as well as the big picture. If your beautiful mother is no longer here with you, and such a reflection isn't too unbearably painful for you, it could be a lovely way to honour her and may even be a new way of remembering her.

Let's see our Mums for every little thing they have done. Let's see ourselves for every little thing we do. Let's use Mother's Day for years to come not simply as a celebration or a day of pampering, but also as a reminder to dig a little deeper, think a little harder, and feel a little more grateful.

Mums and tongues. Who knew there was a link there?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Awesome Stuff; Volume 2


1. Four words. Maple. Belgian. Waffle. Cake. Somebody please punch me in the mouth with  this!
2. The Green Herbs Linen Spray from Zara Home. This scent is everything. Can I be the person who has her life so together that she uses freaking linen spray?
3. And while we're talking about Zara Home... this blanket is my spirit animal (pictured above)
4. Absolutely any print from Lucile's Kitchen. We're renovating our kitchen right now and I just want to plaster the walls with these beauties!
5. This bread recipe. Dying to put some time aside and try it!! Also her Instagram feed is glorious. Follow her if you love peeking into beautiful lives. (Guilty!)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Becoming Mum - The Loss



I read Post Secret every week. I have since I was in my early 20s. Back then, I was dealing with a few things and I found I related to a lot of the secrets, so reading them gave me a connection to the people who sent them in. These days I don't relate to a lot of them, but I still read, intrigued by the idea that the people we know actually carry more secrets than we can ever possibly know.

Today I came across the post above, and boom, there it was - something I could relate to. Because my secret is this: Jackson was not the first baby to find a beginning in my body.

The first baby never grew beyond the size of a poppy seed, and didn't ever have a heartbeat, but despite its tiny size, the loss I felt was immense.

In October 2014, I spent two weeks wondering if I was pregnant. It was too soon to test, but all the signs were there - I was super tired, peeing all the time, roller coaster emotions - textbook pregnancy stuff. Chris was teasing me, convinced I was pregnant, and when the window in which I could pee on a stick came up, I jumped at the chance. I had taken a few pregnancy tests over the years, but this one was different. Immediately a second, albeit faint, pink line appeared. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life; my hands shook and, I'll be honest, I was terrified. Somehow I knew; something wasn't quite right. Something would happen.

The next day I took myself to the doctor who ran a blood test. I would receive the result the next day. Those 24 hours were intense - I tried to be positive, reminding myself that I often assume the worst even when things are fine, and I imagined life with a baby. I imagined telling our families at Thanksgiving, I imagined maternity leave, night feeds, tiny baby clothes. I pictured the little life that was forming inside me. It consumed me immediately. I googled everything I could find on early pregnancy. I kept returning to the bathroom just to stare at that second pink line.
But I was also aware that my symptoms had stopped quite abruptly that day. I tried to will myself to feel the fatigue I had become accustomed to, I kept checking with myself whether I needed to pee again yet. But I felt like myself again.

The next day, at the doctor surgery, I was hearing the words "I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you."
My HCG levels (that's the pregnancy hormone) were virtually non-existent by the time I had fronted up for the blood test. It was diagnosed as a 'failed pregnancy' which had likely never even implanted, and I was told that I could expect it to pass with my next period, which would show up any time now.

It was the biggest emotional roller coaster of my life. It didn't matter that it was a very early loss - for a short time, there had been the beginnings of a baby inside me. The first human being who would be half of me, and half of Chris. I had pictured a future, a change, and suddenly that picture was gone, and instead I was facing the normal, predictable future again, which had always satisfied me but now felt empty and miserable.

It took a week for the pregnancy to pass, and in that week two different people asked me when we were planning on having kids. This has become my least favourite question now and I will no longer ask others the same thing. I struggled to come up with answers to those people, all the while thinking of the lifeless little cluster of cells inside me. When it did pass it was painful and confronting, but it was also a relief to me that it was finally over.

That was a painful time, and I can't even imagine what people go through when they lose a pregnancy at a later stage than ours was. But three months later, a new second pink line appeared and this time I looked at it and smiled. In that moment, I just felt like this time everything would be OK. And by some miracle, it was. We have a perfect, healthy little baby boy. I still think of our first pregnancy every day, but ultimately I am grateful because it was the beginning of our journey in getting the little man that we've fallen in love with.

So to the woman who posted the above secret - to every woman who has lost her own poppy seed, grain of rice, chickpea, blueberry, or more - my thoughts are this: the emptiness doesn't come from the physical size of the baby that you have lost. Because it's not just a grain of rice - it's an entire future. And the size of that is immeasurable.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Awesome Stuff; Volume 1


1. This adorbs cereal bowl cake. How is this even real!?!
2. The Duolingo app. I am totally learning Italian in just 5-10 minutes a day... and it's actually working!
3. This gorgeous print. I recently bought it for Jackson's room and the colours are INSANE,
4. Creative Unblock by The Jealous Curator. It's been on my Amazon wishlist forever. Do it, Klara. Just do it.
5. We had these nachos twice this week. The onion rings are EVERYTHING.

Every now and then I will be sharing some awesome things around the internet. Let me know if you find anything that I can add to my list!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Kat Field on Creativity

 You. Guys. I want to introduce you to someone special! Kat is a new writer for Her Happy Heart and is my first step toward having the blog become a collective of writers and contributors, rather than my own personal blog. I am beyond excited to have her on board! Kat will be bringing us all kinds of good stuff, such as reviews around Perth, money saving ideas and anecdotes about her life as an alpaca farmer (kidding - but wouldn't that be awesome?!) AND she will also be hitting us with some excellent truth bombs! She loves great coffee, she looks snazzy in a pair of spectacles, and she happens to be bringing a new human into this world in a few short months. I hope you enjoy having her on board as much as I do. Today we bring you her first post of MANY TO COME. 

I love creativity. 

Read these words carefully, because when I write that sentence, it's in the same vein of someone saying "I love love." They love the things to do with love; they love having someone to care for and to care for them, they love the romantic dinner dates and the enormous feeling that can overwhelm their being when they find the right person. But, when it comes to the crunch, you don't just love 'love'; you love a specific person, and being in love with them has incredible highs and ridiculous lows. You do the completely fantastic and the unbelievably terrible times together and that's what creates love.

Well, that's how I am with creativity. 

I love creativity. My husband is a graphic designer, my closest friends are musicians and crafters and builders. I am totally in love the idea of investing myself into one or two hobbies that I whittle away the hours doing in my spare time; then to have a final piece or product to look back on and think, "Wow! What a blast!" 

And then I sit down with everything I have prepared to start this creative venture... then casually push all of it to the side and turn on my favourite TV show. "Ugh!!!!" I always think to myself, "What a nice idea, but who has that much patience?! What if I don't like what I start, what a waste of time? Who can be bothered? I'm so tired." And so my creative intent sits in the back corner of my house with about eleven other failed creative attempts.

Anyone feel me? 

It has taken me a long time to accept that I am not a modern creative. I know that I am creative, and I know it buzzes inside of me to want to do ...something. But when I realised I wasn't a scrapbooker, or a musician, or a knitter, or a photographer, I honestly thought I had hit the world's creative limits for my life. "That's it," I remember thinking, hanging up my hypothetical apron, "I'm not the creative I thought I was."

And then one day, I feel like God spoke to me clearly about it. See, I believe in God, and I believe that he's the God that created every enormously large structure and yet every intricate detail; from the running order of the solar system, all of the way down to the DNA in my weirdly functional body. I believe he is the God of all creation, the King of all creativity. Interestingly, in Genesis it says that we are created in His image, and also references that He made us in the likeness of him. If we join those biblical truths together with who we are, we are clearly not just "in love" with creativity, but we are all made to be creative in some form, just like Him. So, with this in mind, I threw my list up to him and said (probably in a whining voice), "But God, I'm not very good at these very few things I tried doing for two minutes." Yeah. And regardless of whether or not you believe in the same big ol' creative God as me, that's when I feel he shared with me what creativity is for all of us living and breathing humans.

Creativity is something only limited by your own brain. Creativity stops where you stop, where you give up, where you let your mind stop expanding or imagining. I can take a good guess that people who built skyscrapers and pyramids and cities didn't just throw in the towel because they couldn't crochet. If we get locked into an idea of what being creative looks like, it can limit all that we are able to do.

So assuming we are all born as expansive creative beings, what does your creativity look like? I could list a hundred different creative forms but that could still limit you to my ideas of creativity, purely by what my own brain is capable of thinking. See, God may have created us all in his image but each of us is created uniquely. We work like parts of a body, with no two humans exactly the same. So what makes us think that all of our talents and sources of joy are exactly the same? 

So, open your mind and narrow your search.

One. What do you like to do? 
It can be that simple yet brilliant place to start. What do you currently spend time doing? And what do you enjoy? Look for things in your everyday life that you look forward to, that you invest yourself into. Chances are it's a breeding ground for a whole new creative form.

Two. What do you find people compliment you about?
You might find that, if you listen carefully, people are probably pointing out some creative things that you are good at and maybe don't value as highly as you should. Sometimes, it's easy to miss something fruitful to spend time on because you can be investing in the newest or the most expected. Keep your ears to the ground.

Three. What are some things you've dreamt of but have not done due to fear of time/inadequacy/comparison/not liking it long term/not having enough patience to finish the damn thing?
Well, then stop that. There is no useful advice I have here except make time, stop trying to be the best, make mistakes, be honest with yourself, and remember that the hardest, most challenging times in finding and then doing what you love will bring out the ugliest, most unrefined version of you. Learning patience, as much as it can be revealing, creates in you a new, resilient, maturing being. Find your biggest hurdle in whatever form, recognise its lie and just start! These fears can limit us our entire lives if we choose not to overcome them.

So now, decide whether or not you agree with this, and if you do, be bold. Step out and just do something. Best case scenario, you break out of your mould of what you thought creative looked like and start a fun new adventure. Worst case scenario, you get half a blanket and a big ol' bucket of character building.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Inspire Collective

Emma Stevens, used with permission

I went somewhere wonderful last night.

I almost didn't make it. I had planned for the last couple of months to get there. Looked forward to it fervently for the last couple of weeks. Set things in place to ensure I would get there. I left home early enough that I knew I should arrive just as the doors were opening. What I didn't factor in was the insane parking situation in Northbridge. Though I arrived in the vicinity of the event with 10 minutes to spare, after driving around hopelessly (and considering turning around and going home!), parking blocks away and taking a creepy, lonesome walk in the dark with my handbag clutched tightly to my side, then walking all the way up Lake Street in the wrong direction, I ended up walking in the door 15 minutes late.

Finally, I was at the Inspire Collective event. I was greeted warmly as I walked in, my face red, my heart hammering from the stress of it all, my non-walking-shoes-clad feet sore.
"I saw you coming up the street there," the lady smiled at me, and she pointed out the bathroom, the infused bottles of water on the tables, and the line for complimentary barista-made coffees.
Everywhere I turned there were beautiful, excited, creative women. All here for the same reason I was - to connect, to be inspired. Meeting each other, dining on stunning little cakes, sipping on complimentary cups of delicious tea. Spotting my friend Kirstin across the room, I unwound, and sank into the atmosphere.

Amanda and Cate

The Inspire Collective is simply a collective of women who want to encourage, motivate, and yes, inspire other women in their creative ventures. They want to foster a mindset of support where there could have been competition, vulnerability where there could have been bravado. And they want us to be brave and confident in who we are. Call ourselves writers, if we love to write. Call ourselves artists, if we love to draw and paint. Call ourselves photographers, if we have a passion for taking photos.

 
Steph Rayner and Em Hazeldean

We heard from so many awesome guest speakers. Steph Rayner and Em Hazeldean, two amazing photographers, talked about their craft and also about how they support each other rather than view each other as competition, and how this has helped their separate ventures blossom so much more. The completely gorgeous Anoushka Marie shared her journey, and talked about how we are always capable of growth and change - not to get stuck into the idea that you are just one thing, but realize that you are still forming, and anything is possible. Elaine Fraser talked about finding you, and the feeling you experience when you, and others, actually see you. And Amanda Viviers and Cate Williams played hosts for the evening, pouring out their hearts and vision for us all in such a beautiful, honest way. I loved seeing so many beautiful hearts on display. Ugh, so inspired.

Steph Rayner's "Capture Project" display

As I met people throughout the night, a common question that we would ask each other was "What is your creative venture?" And for the first time, I didn't say "I just like writing" or "I have a blog". I said "I am a writer". It sort of felt like I was tricking them, but I think I could get used to referring to myself as a writer. I do write, after all. I write constantly. When I'm not writing here, I'm working on a novel, and another couple of bits and pieces here and there.

Elaine Fraser

I braved up and went to meet a couple of the speakers after the event, and was blown away by their loveliness. Anoushka made a point of remembering my name, and in between me gushing all over her, we talked a bit about our kids and the craziness of life. And when I introduced myself by my first name to Cate Williams, she asked "Klara Donovan?" because she had come across me on Facebook recently. That was kind of awesome, and in my mind it just further secured my connection and involvement with the Collective.

Me and Anoushka

The Inspire Collective meets on a 3-monthly basis and I am already completely pumped for the next one!

Also, I totally got a lift back to my car from my friend Grace and her husband Jonathan. No creepy late-night walks through a poorly lit Northbridge for me!