Three thoughts & three years

IMG_1922

Two things come to mind when I see this photo. The first is that I really need to invest in a pair of well sized jeans. The second is that this photo was taken nearly three years ago. Three years in Auckland is quickly coming to an end and each year has been significantly different.

The first year of my degree was focused on finding community. Creating a family and surrounding myself with like minded individuals. It was also spent trying to live up to expectations I had of my life and trying to balance love and life between two cities.

The second year of my Auckland journey was spent learning and stumbling around the art of friendship, and learning about health and nutrition. Submerging myself in the whole foods world and falling in love with the Mondays Whole Food’s philosophy and ivy covered cafe.

My third year has been the most challenging. Over the summer I found a home in the events and floral industry in Wellington. The move back to Auckland however, has seen a loss of community and my exceptionally high expectations both externally and internally start to crumble. The awesome blessing in this, is that I get to rebuild a healthier, more realistic understanding of who I am, what I believe in, how I would like to carve my life, and the types of people I would adore to surround myself with.

Three years has seen so many choices, so many learning curves and so many new experiences.

It is so important to record these snippets of life so that in another three years one can find another photo and reminisce and reflect and I really really hope in my case, laugh and feel proud about how far growth can take oneself.

Save

Christian expectations are like Ivy

Christian expectations are like ivy

adamara-177427

My life currently feels like a bramble branch. Last summer my boss forced me into the thickest of a blackberry bush in the hopes I would return with a bounty worthy of a wedding bouquet. I’m only slightly joking, I wasn’t sacrificed to the berries but we did go foraging for blackberries, and the talented hands that pulled me constantly back to safety created a bouquet worth billions.

A twig of blackberries is how I see myself at the moment. There are so many sharp edged thorns on the stem of my life and I am just in the early stages of seizing a stem stripper and gently but firmly de-thorning my life of everything that is guilt or failure related and which sadly can be narrowed down to the influence of religion, Christianity and Christian expectation.

Let me attempt to explain. I was raised a Christian, some may say born a Christian. It is a conversation that can be linked to that of nature vs nurture. Some could say without much argument that because I crawled with Christian influence I now walk with Christian influence, or simply have a greater chance of adopting this faith as my own because it is comfortable, familiar and welcoming.
I have had 22 years of church, religious activities, friends and community. It is not a bad thing and I am in no way badmouthing the wonderful way in which my trooper of parents brought me up. They guided me and loved me the best way they knew, and somehow I inherited their grace, compassion, empathy and unfortunately my father’s stubbornness. But what I wish down in my soul is that I didn’t inherent or perhaps unconsciously adopt, is the expectations of a Christian life. I have spent the small years of my adult life trying desperately to live up to this unrealistic expectation of a Christian and it has been bruising my heart and brushing so often against my shoulders that I even stumbled into saying goodbye to one of the few things in my life that was well with my soul, simply because I felt guilty that it didn’t fit into my predetermined image of what my life should look like.

It would be incredibly unjust to blame the church and that of Christianity solely for these expectations. People are flawed and church is a mix of the motley and the amazing. It is imperfect yet a place of comfort and community to so many people I have the pleasure of knowing. However, aspects of this constitution, this religion have painted expectations I no longer want. The perfect relationship, the expectation to give more, put others before yourself – regardless of how acknowledged a false hood that is. To look your best on Sunday morning, know everyone’s name that walks in the building and have coffee and conversation with a new person every second day of the week. I could list a few more but am in danger of bitterness.

For the last two years when I pictured what my life should look like I picture countless Instagram pages of young Christian couples, who showcase the bounty of their lives. People, places, pleasures, hardly ever pains. Social media is a dangerous place for comparison and competition and is an entirely different conversation to have, but let’s just acknowledge that unrealistic expectations no matter where they have stemmed from lead to unhappiness and a hell of a lot of thorns.

The cafe in which I work is covered in ivy. The ivy has nestled into every crack, under every windowpane and has even begun to claim the toilet bowl. Ivy roots take hold in cracks and crevices of buildings and common or English ivy can cause damage to brick and wood. The beautiful plant can easily work its way between boards, opening the joints and damaging the structure. If pulled off the tiny roots can permanently discolor and damage most surfaces. Yet at the same time it is insanely beautiful and can turn the mundane into the extraordinary. This image always comes to mind when I think about Christianity.

I often day dream of a faith which was built on a blank slate. That was entirely my own. A relationship with God not one with the church, religion or social media, and this is what I hope to have. I am on the journey of kicking out religion and adopting spirituality, because as I wrote months and months ago,I would rather have a relationship over religion and I do now think it is possible to have one without the other.

Save

You are enough

I am the most terribly inconstant and unreliable blogger on the internet. So it is of no great surprise that when life decided to roll up her sleeves and sock a punch in my general direction, my writing was for a little while there forgotten. I read somewhere that humans tend to write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospect. The following is somewhat half way between those two spaces.

The main thing that has been bothering me are the exceedingly high expectations of a Christian life, intended or unintended. I have tried to capture my thoughts and I will post shortly in the hopes of explaining this and my absence. I will save the long rant for that space. One thing that has never wavered, yet I find myself constantly coming back to, is that you as a person, your whole entire person, is enough.

msi-sakib-62524

A reckless love affair

As I head back up the country line to my second city I felt the want to publish the following little piece of writing, which was me trying to articulate finding my heart and my feet in two different places, enjoy.

8d2k7a3wmkq-bench-accounting

I am having an affair. You know, the love type. I’m that wicked child they talk about with godly parents whose daughter rebelled, yet whose rebellion wasn’t confined to years but simply a life time. But before your eyes open too wide, let me clarify with a wink and a raised cup of peppermint tea in a kind of salute-no, gesture, to the predicament I find myself in. I am having a love affair with two different cities.  Wellington pleads to me on the weekends. The lights of the valley-nestled city beckon me home, but Auckland, the hustle bustle of this city comforts me in whole food cafes, communities, opportunities and an endless future.

If I lay myself on the sofa with many a pouf at my aid, I can counsel myself into remembering the starting point of the affair, and in the famous words of every children’s author who ever lived, I will begin my next sentence with… it all started long ago when I picked up, packed up and hauled my life up the country line from the little city of Wellington to the concrete jungle of Auckland to start studying at University.

Ahhh, university the final frontier. The stepping stone for us young adults before we are thrust unwillingly into the world of the grown, the working world, the coffee six times a day type of world (already there mate), but seriously, my heartache for home started as home sickness often does, when one is away for too long. I spent my first year of university booking cheap Jet Star flights (don’t get me started) and catching the almighty and bloody expensive airport bus at all hours of the morning to visit my little city.

Then life decided to show its face in Auckland. My down town, inner city apartment started to sprout many a potted plant, the sunlit patches in the corners of the room between glass and woodwork become much loved places to sprawl and study. I got a job at an ivy covered cafe and learned about whole food, wellness and yoga. I slowly, timidly, but surely made acquaintances that turned into friends. I got a car and begun to explore the outskirts where concrete turns to forest and where the refuge of the sea softened my outlook on city life. Soon Auckland began to hold all my laughter, Jet Star was just another thing to avoid and roll my eyes about and I began to become less frustrated with the bright lights of the city and more enticed by them.

Inching over my own thoughts on the last two years with one more year of study to go, I come to the late afternoon conclusion that love affairs are never an easy business to settle. The heartache of moving your life from one city to another is a difficult one to settle. Jealously of a place not a person, is odd yet ever present. But it does get easier, and the coffee does get better. Just as I believe it is possible to love more than one person, it is possible to love two different cities and call them both your own.

Two years on and I am grateful for different cities, for large ones and small ones. I am grateful that my new home does not have bitter winds. I have noticed that I have always lived on a hill and that flying into Wellington at night is incredibly beautiful. It’s true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, although I don’t think the author of that saying had certain cities in mind.  I thought that when I moved to Auckland I would be starting a new home and leaving the other behind, but it turns out I now have two homes, how incredibly lucky is that!

Being probably quicker of mind then I am, you may have already learned how to nip any home sickness in the bud but for those who still struggle for familiar sights, for dairy owners who know your name, and for having a street map on the back of your hands, embrace that feeling for it means adventure, growth and ultimately a new start.

One more year down and one more to go and then university will be like the rooftop views from my first year apartment balcony, no longer mine. They will belong to yesterday.

Save

Street bouquets

If this summer was measured in sunlit days then I am sorry to declare that our summer has been incredulously short. As paper flicks over to declare another month residents on our street bid hope for hotter days farewell and reluctantly usher back in weather which belongs to July. But although most folk complain about this season, the garden has yet to complain.

For those of you who dont know I have been lucky enough to work a handful of hours a week at a floral and event design company in Brooklyn, Wellington. Not only has it been a great insight to learn, observe and laugh with talented and wise individuals, but it has been a wonderful opportunity to change the way I think about design and floristry. Kiwi ingenuity becomes the American born creative director who is the owner of this little company. Every bramble, blue berry bush,common tree, fruit tree and sometimes thistle  has a purpose and is hardly ever dismissed. Common gardens are preferred to market purchases and although floral and fauna knowledge is solid there is always room for naming ‘new’ discoveries.

I am not a florist nor do I pretend to be one however, every now and then we or I find myself wandering the streets snips in hand playing street florist and seeing what little bundles I can create. From side walks, to veggie gardens, to plants overhanging fences, it is an absolute learning curve to take the skills and talent I see each week and pace it into my own practice.

orange

orange-onestreetbouquet

Cauliflower Salad with Mint, Pomegranates, and Nigella Seeds.

When in doubt (or when you realize that pomegranate season is heart-breakingly short) use cranberries.

This little pop of a raw salad is from a cruisy recipe magazine and website called Bon Appetit. It’s simple, it’s as raw as can be and if you have a fairly good herb garden and lemon tree then it shouldn’t take you much time at all. We threw this teaser of a lunch date together after some good ole fashion floral work. A few hours before however, I had foraged through the best of the best supermarkets in town in search of the elusive pomegranate but alas had to settle for cranberries.

Nigella seeds along with raw cauliflower were the two things I haven’t previously dabbled with. On second thought, there was once a horrible incident with cauliflower rice in which I left it overnight to accidentally ferment and stink out the whole apartment, but we won’t go into details there. Raw broccoli salads are a common sight in my kitchen but broccoli’s fair sister in colour and character was never too frequent on my shopping list.

20170125_1102401

Nigella seeds or black cumin are visually exciting and add a nice subtle texture and taste to salads, much like turmeric in quinoa dishes. These seeds are from southwest Asia and are not one to be found in your average supermarket but more so any organic shop. For me, that’s Common Sense Organics in Wellington or East by West Organics (now Hucklberry Organics) in Auckland.

We heavily sprinkled this salad over a few pieces of toasted Vogles, and an all time favorite Aubergine, cashew, coriander and lime dip. It was the perfect light lunch, and as always made significantly better by the company.  The recipe can be found on Bon Appetit’s Facebook page or website.

 

Save

Good Things Come In Threes

As November rolled on over into December, I had all these amazing plans to write a blog post every week. But as I arrived back in my little home town I discovered that although sometimes transitions go smoothly, others are a bit more bumpy. I rocked on up back into Wellington expecting everything to be where I had left it and everyone to be where I had left them. But then I realized people grow and so do cities. So instead of spending the greater part of December writing blog posts about December madness and Christmas traditions, I have spent it trying to find my feet, a job, purpose and a community that has long since gone separate ways.

Good things, according to the Latin language come in threes. And upon cruising back onto the streets of Belmont, Lower Hutt in my trusty Toyota Platz (lovingly named Paul Anka), I was lucky enough to stumble upon my first stroke of luck. A bundle of hours work a week with the lovely ladies from Twig and Arrow, a floral and events styling company, run  by a wonderfully quirky, charming and slightly witty mother and daughter duo who make me feel as though I have stepped into a slightly slower paced Gilmore Girls episode. It’s brilliant.

For those of you who don’t know, my heart is found in both the wholefood-wellness & small events industries. Being able to dabble and learn from Twig & Arrow has provided the creative events designer inside of me much calm and peace. The part of me which found joy in raw, organic whole cooking however, is struggling to be heard and is in a constant state of confusion and chaos as to where this fits into my day to day life. I do not know Wellington’s wholefood & wellness scene, I was not brought up on a organic farm, let alone home veggie garden as so many of my favorite foodie bloggers and cook book writers seem to be, and I am definitely not a natural in the kitchen. But I love it none the less and because I am determined that good things come in threes, I am hopeful that the next two will revolve around good food.

On a side note – I have come to the conclusion that I will never be a successful blogger. Someone who has marketing and media up their sleeve and can earn an income from crafting words and photos. BUT I think being an honest and open writer who can’t spell but has faith that being genuine and honest will inspire even the quietest of readers, is a good kind of writer to be.

20140426-dsc_4662

Save

Save