On ‘Dating’ Yourself

I have just arrived back from a couple of days at the beach. Solo camping is something I have been finding myself doing more and more frequently over the past couple of years. I love the whole process; planning a trip and choosing a location, loading up my camper, setting out with a playlist full of podcasts for the journey, arriving, setting up and of course, exploring. It is a completely selfish exercise,  laden with self-indulgence. Something purely for me. In my everyday life I cope with my fair share of stress while caring for my daughter. These solo camping windows of solitude are like beacons on my wellbeing radar. I navigate towards them whenever possible and take the time…no rather make the time for myself before it passes me by.

It is tempting to invite others, yet I always hold back.

It is my space alone and it feels sacred to me. This trip I got to pondering how solo holidaying is a little like dating yourself…

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Picture all of the fun things you would do on dates with your love and then imagine doing all of those those things just for You.

How would this make you feel?

Spoiled? Indulged? Pampered? Loved? Nurtured? Safe?

Yes, for me it is all of these things. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing these things with my love but when she is on the other side of the world skipping town for a weekend date by the sea is not really an option. Should I not go? Should I put my life on pause until we are together again? Absolutely not. I consider my sojourns ‘research’ for places to enjoy when we are together. In the meantime, it really does feel like I am dating myself.

Which is an extremely good thing!

Why wouldn’t I want to hang out with myself? I am funny, kind, serious, thoughtful and practical. I have good company within myself. I can laugh at my own jokes, which makes me the perfect audience for myself!

Traveling alone, I sometimes get strange looks and a darting glance towards the space around me from passers by, looking for my ‘significant other’. Indeed, as I was beach strolling yesterday I think I saw about one person on their own for every ten or so couples.

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There is so much to be said for traveling alone!

There is no one to rely on so you have to get things done, especially when things don’t go to plan. This inevitably makes you strong. Sometimes physically, but mostly mentally. You realise to a greater extent what you like and don’t like. What you will and will not spend time on. What experiences you hope to share with others and those which you prefer to keep primarily for you.

When camping alone I cook for myself. This rarely happens when I am at home alone. When traveling alone I will treat myself to things that I wouldn’t otherwise do in my regular routine – an extra long walk around dinnertime? Yes! Extended pondering whilst staring at the waves? You bet! Lingering over the paper and a chai for so much longer than usual? Absolutely!

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‘Dating’ yourself is so much more than treating yourself. It is about feeding your soul with the things that align with who you are and what brings you pleasure. The act of recognising these things and consciously choosing to foster them is so high up on my self love scale that I feel giddy just thinking about it. We so often do things for others and neglect our own needs, yearnings or desires. Feeding your soul with self love is where wellbeing shifts for me from an overused word into something real, something of value and something that will propel us forward to be the very best versions of ourselves, for ourselves. Don’t we all deserve a bit of that?

Luna xo

A Queer Lady’s guide to Melbourne

Favoured for its culture, food and coffee, Melbourne is frequently referred to as ‘the cosmopolitan city’ of Australia. I feel pretty comfortable with this statement, finding it the most vibrant of places to visit in Australia, in terms of multiculturalism, cuisine and events, not to mention the visually spectacular street art! However, I may be biased..

Degraves Street coffee hub

Melbourne has always been the point of return for my internal compass. I grew up in the north-western suburbs and even though I spent my teenage years on a rural property in the state’s north, still managed to find my way back to the city of my childhood. As an adult, I love moving through the different neighborhoods, noticing how certain areas have changed whilst others have remained mostly the same. I also find it interesting to look at Melbourne through my queer eyes, when for so long I experienced the city solely through an out of focus heteronormative lens. Oops.

Hosier Lane street art

Melbourne has a great deal to offer the LGBTQIA+ community, yet I believe there is still so much more room for growth and recognition. The following list details a few places I found to be welcoming and inclusive on my journey coming out..and beyond:

Sundaylicious: The place to dance your moves away once a month with an all inclusive lady loving crowd. The venue changes a lot so be sure to check on facebook or instagram where the next event is being held. What I love about Sundaylicious is the wide age range of people who go – everyone is welcome and their motto is ‘come as you are’, so no need to dress up, unless you feel like it of course! The sessions start with acoustic vibes for a chilled Sunday afternoon, with the beat picking up after dark for DJ inspired dancing.

Friyays: Held in Francesca’s Bar in Northcote, this is a really fun night too. It is perfectly situated along High Street so eating beforehand is not a problem with the generous array of restaurants nearby! The venue is quite small so choose your space wisely when heading to the dance floor, otherwise you will be in the line of foot traffic heading to and from the bar. This venue also offers an outdoor room for those wishing to escape the noise of the dance/bar area in which smoking is allowed.

Hares & Hyenas: Quirky and queer this bookshop is a must stop for anyone in the Fitzroy area. Honestly, there would be no queer book unavailable here, either in stock or via order. Events are hosted at different times of the year so so be sure to check the website for more details.

Handsome Her: OMG! This is a recent discovery! Situated in Brunswick this feminist cafe could turn any omnivorous girl vegan. I  recently had the most delicious avocado smash here. It was absolutely superb! Homemade kombucha on tap, a surcharge for men that is donated to charity in recognition of the gender pay gap, stimulating feminist reading and amazing food, what’s not to love? I believe they are also starting to host evening events too, so check them out on instagram or their website for further details.

Vegie Bar: Melbourne’s long time popular eatery which is an easy tram ride from the city center. Vegie Bar will not disappoint..picture all sorts of vegetarian loveliness in a welcoming, diverse space in the heart of Fitzroy. The laksa is a fave of mine here. Eat alone or eat with friends, everyone is made to feel welcome.

Welcoming cafe culture/op shops/bars worth visiting: Brunswick Street Fitzroy, High Street Northcote, Sydney Road Brunswick, Sydney Road Coburg, Fitzroy/Acland Street St Kilda, Johnston Steet Fitzroy, Chapel St Prahan.

Outside of Melbourne: Daylesford (home of the Chillout pride festival) and Castlemaine are my two favourite places to visit with welcoming feelings of inclusiveness. Beach-side it would have to be Barwon Heads.

Sesame Street
Sesame Street street art. Iconic stance for individuality and acceptance!

THE MELBOURNE QUEER WOMAN’S CALENDER: 

January/early February: Midsumma Festival including Melbourne Pride Parade. Countless events, shows and performances celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community.

February/March: 2 Feb – 25 March: AFLW. Australian Women’s Football League. A fantastic league to support and it needs all the visibility it can get to ensure it continues to grow and offer more games for players and supporters in the following seasons.

March: March 8: International Women’s Day. A host of different events within different municipalities across Melbourne. See what’s on in your local area..

Melbourne Queer Film Festival – around ten days of diverse viewing within different venues across Melbourne. Season passes or tickets to individual events are available through the website. The MQFF offers something for the queer in us all. See online program for further details.

March/April: The Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Check the program online for details. Last year I was fortunate enough to see Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette” before it went viral and turned into a Netflix special. Absolutely brilliant!

May: 17 – IDAHOBIT Day. International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. Flag raising and community events across Melbourne. Check local municipality websites for further details.

October: Australian LGBT History Month encompassing the Queer Formal, put on by Minus 18.

December: Carols by Queerlight. The Melbourne Rainbow Band puts on festive tunes at the St Kilda Town Hall. Check their website for details closer to the event (and for additional events throughout the year!)

Events in Outer Melbourne/regional areas: visit Australian Pride Network 

Hosier Lane ‘Graffiti Alley’

If you happen to know of any queer events or welcoming places, in or around Melbourne not listed here, please let me know in the comments section and I will add them to the list and link back to your blog.

Thanks so much for reading,

Luna xo

 

 

Resting for Wellbeing

I have a confession: I spent the entire weekend in bed.

Did I have a stomach upset? No.

The flu perhaps? No. 

Was I grieving the loss of something intrinsically important to me? No.

I was Resting.

I say resting with a capital ‘R’ because sometimes I think we neglect to remember just how important resting is. By being ‘in bed’ I don’t actually mean under the covers sleeping (I’m pretty good at sleeping but not that good). I was lying in late, getting up for sustenance and hygiene (the hindrance of being human at times!) and then returning to lounge further; reading and writing, planning in my journal, daydreaming, napping, catching up on a few of my favourite vloggers and discovering some interesting new blogs to read. I read the entire Sunday newspaper from start to finish including all the lift outs.

It was positively Blissful.

It had been a hectic two weeks spent running around after my 15-year-old daughter who has a condition. Last week she had an appointment –  Every. Single. Day. Whilst the logistics of this are challenging to fit into any given day, I have become quite accomplished at the art of getting from A to B to C in speedy time. What was so exhausting was the emotional strain I was under. I had been holding everything together for others and letting my self-care wilt away, much like the unwatered pot plant in the kitchen. Ahh, Monstera Tragicosa, what will become of you? 

I don’t know what it is about resting that elicits a feeling of guilt for me. I had one such moment on the second day of the Rest-In, deep into my second leg of old school Sunday newspaper reading when my older daughter came in to ask me something. I jolted with surprise and quickly positioned a textbook near me so it had looked like I had been studying all along. What on earth was that all about?!

Am I worried about letting the values of hard work and effort I have tried so hard to instill in my daughters slide? Maybe.

Will she think I am lazy? Maybe.

Will she become lazy herself? Probably not.

Will that reflect back on me as a parent? Who knows.

What is it about taking time out for yourself that makes it seem so… sneaky, so forbidden?

I started to reflect that perhaps I should be looking at it from another angle. Taking time out for self-care, rejuvenation and replenishment of one’s mind, body and spirit are crucial for wellbeing. This is exactly what I would want for her! Heading into her final year of high school I absolutely want her to have strategies and a feeling of encouragement to take time out if she needs to. Western culture has become so deeply embedded with a kind of ‘busyness glorification’ that it feels so taboo when one goes against it. To purposely knock back offers of socializing and outings in favour of staying in to process the excessive amounts of stimuli we are exposed every single day.

We all need replenishment. This is part of being human. Feeling guilty should never even come into the equation.

When my daughters were in primary school one of their teachers created a space in the corner of the classroom, shielded away from the tables and chairs. She called this the ‘Chill-ax Space’ and kids could go there to zone out, chill, and just generally process stuff. I love the concept of having a designated space solely for ‘chill-axing’ and carry that memory with me now when life is overloading my plate.

I’m off to water my Monstera..

Luna xo

 

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A Long Distance Valentine’s Day

Being in a long distance relationship does not come without its challenges. For me, the greatest issue is the emotional pain at being separated, particularly on days of significance for us. The following post is a brief look at how Valentine’s Day 2019 unfolded for me, on the complete opposite side of the globe to the one I love..

 

Yesterday:

7:10 am – I wake and slowly remember that today is Valentine’s Day. We are apart. She is in England and I am in Australia. I daydream for a few moments about the fantastically brilliant time we had over Christmas on her side of the world..

7:20 am- We skype. She asks if I have opened her card that has arrived in a bright red envelope with specific instructions ‘not to open until the 14th’. I confess I have not, refraining from telling her that it will be a bitter sweet moment; her words of love will spill from the card yet she will not be near for me to reach out to hold and return the sentiment. I end up opening the card over skype and we smile and joke lightly about the funny otters on the front..

8:15 am – I decide to put all thoughts of Valentine’s day out of my mind as I go about my day, knowing full well, it is an over-hyped ploy from businesses to draw people in to consuming frivolous tokens of affection..

11:15 am – I return home from running errands to find six long stemmed roses near the front door. They are yellow. Our rose colour. The pit in my stomach returns. Another reminder that we are together, yet so far apart. It is actually incomprehensible to me at times. I feel slightly disappointed to have missed the flower delivery man who seems to be following along with unfiltered joy our tale of love through the scribblings on cards accompanying yellow roses! The flowers come inside and are placed in a vase on the hall stand for all to admire..

12:30 pm – Over lunch I decide to have a social media free day. I can’t bear the thought of endless scrolling over people’s PAL’s (public announcements of love). I am in love! I have a Valentine! She is wonderful in every way! Yet, she is not near. Nope, no scrolling for me. It’s the local paper and a sunny spot outside with the cat today..

12:40 – I cave. I find myself scrolling through Instagram. As suspected every second post is a love heart or broadcast of affection of some sort. Yearning to throw the phone on the ground in frustration and watch it smash into a million pieces, I painfully and gently place it on the table face down..

3:30 pm- Thoughts of her waking up filter into my mind. I wish I was there to wake up with her. I am feeling incredibly sad and sorry for myself. Misery is oozing from deep within me, seeping out of my every pore.

5:00 pm – Her first skype messages of the day filters through. She is thanking me for the ‘sweet owl card’. In my haste posting it, I had neglected to put a clue on the back to ‘not open this card until the 14th’. I had recalled that the stamp was upside down on this one…and she remembers. She has saved it to open today. My heart melts.

6:00 pm – I begin to stress that I have not organised something to be delivered to her. I was so happy to have posted my card in time to her. I fret over her not receiving a gesture of love when it is the only day of the year that she will be constantly reminded that we are together, yet so far apart. I can’t bear it. Thoughts of frivolous consumerism fly out the window. I spend an hour while I should be making dinner searching local businesses that might send an appropriate gift of love. The cut off times were mostly 3pm the day before. Bugger! Buggerbuggerbugger..

6:30 pm – The local florist near her is my saviour. They are just starting their working day and reply graciously to my confuddling series emails. The time difference works in my favour. I send thanks to the universe that this is so.

6:45 pm – The fretful feeling has passed. The only way to feel the love is to release the love and as hard as I had tried to hold on tight and refuse to acknowledge this day of ‘love’ that we are forced to endure from a commercial point of view, I know I need to show her just how much she means to me. Being apart is absolutely the most difficult part of our relationship. Especially those times when all I yearn for is her smile, her hand to hold or her laugh that makes me dissolve when it hits my ears. The vast emptiness is heart-wrenching and the hours apart so incredibly long.

10:30 pm – I turn out the light and think of her going about her work day. It will nearly be lunchtime with her. I wonder if the flowers will make it to her or not. They have not reached her in the past due to work and location issues. I feel a sense of peace knowing that my gesture of love is out there, somewhere making its way to her, somehow..

4:12 am – I stir with a pulling feeling that won’t go away. I try to ignore it but it proves impossible. I roll over and check my phone for messages. She has received the flowers and chocolates. And the heartfelt scribblings on yet another card. The space/distance barrier has been ruptured again…

Luna xo

(This was our first Valentine’s Day since becoming engaged).

On Finding Home

Lately, I’ve been thinking a little bit about ‘home’, what makes up the feeling of home and what this means to me.

As a child growing up in 1980’s, ‘home’ to me was the place I came back to after school, the place where my Nanna would come to visit, the place where I would play with our dog in the backyard and the place I would spend with childhood friends during the long and seemingly endless days of summer.

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In my twenties home took on a different meaning. Home was a physical place to raise a family. There was a certain functionality to it. Home offered four walls and a front door and comfort within. Inside we were safe, my children were loved and there was always a steady supply of home cooked food to feed hungry, growing bodies. ‘Home’ during this time for me was a sanctuary, a place to retreat to after the busyness of the days spent running around after small people and their hectic schedules. Home was an escape from the outside world and all of the noise that was ever present in it.

Sliding into my forties on rather a bumpy route, the concept of home has once again shifted for me. The family home that had meant so much to me was dismantled and divided up. Possessions associated with cherished memories were released, leaving a heartbreaking void that had once been filled with love and joy. As I ponder now on the meaning of home, I find my thoughts and feelings aligning more with the feeling of home that one carries within. I think of how home can know no boundaries and it is the energy and life we put into a place that makes it home. A house is a physical structure, yet home is carried within the heart. It can be shared and expanded. Home cannot be taken away from a person when viewed this way. Home will go where I go and where ever I find myself, I will be home.

 

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I am so happy to have come to this realisation. Last year I bought myself a camper with the intent of traveling to places with my teenage daughters. Whilst used a few times for this purpose, I have found that the camper’s greatest gift to me has been the opportunity to go somewhere completely different to my daily space, on my own with only my thoughts to guide me. The greatest gift has been the sense of home when I am driving somewhere new and unexplored, the sense of the unknown stretching out on the road ahead of me and the peace that I feel as I am driving there. I am absolutely at home within myself. This is indeed an incredible feeling.

Luna xo

To Find One’s Tribe

Yesterday I was at the annual Pride march in Melbourne. It was a baking hot 39c with a clear blue sky. The commencement of the march had been shifted from the previously scheduled 2pm to an earlier 11am, in order to give people a chance to escape the worst of the heat. In true Melbourne style the crowds came out (oops, no pun intended!). I witnessed people cramming onto trains and trams to arrive in good time to situate themselves in a shady aspect along Melbourne’s iconic Fitzroy Street in the heart of St Kilda. The crowd was a sea of colour; rainbow socks, frocks and sparkly pairs of jocks. Braces and bow ties, hats, capes and umbrellas for protection against the harsh summer sun. Feathers and bubbles with a side of sequins for good measure. Glittered beards. If a person is ever feeling like the lone gay in the village, all they need do is find themselves along Fitzroy Street on Pride day, where they will be enveloped in the enormous crowd that is Melbourne’s LGBTQI+ community.

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I had been feeling especially this way, living out of the city, where metropolitan living and rural zones merge. Life here, whilst being incredibly rich for my soul in so many ways, is particularly bland (non existent even?) in anything resembling rainbow visibility. I love Melbourne’s diversity and vibrant, eclectic mix of cultural groups. For me, it is what makes Melbourne home. I feel fortunate to be within easy travelling distance of the city and my heart goes out for members of the LGBTQI+ community who live in remote areas where traveling down for the day is not an option.

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Over the weekend a friend and I were talking about queer visibility in country towns and how important this is for people who identity as LGBTQI+, wherever they find themselves along the rainbow. For me, it all comes down to feeling a sense of belonging to my tribe, which is why events like Pride are so powerful for reconciling who we are when times are tough. It is about a sense of belonging, acceptance and zero judgement to be the person who is continually rising within. It is about authenticity and supporting my community. Empowerment. Giving back where I once received. Recognising that we are all so uniquely different and that is the richness of our identities. Sharing this and celebrating it however we choose. Carving a greater space for Rainbow Pride within communities across our country. It is about people connecting with one another and sharing who they are.

Tribe.

One word.

Of ancient origin.

Humans are social creatures and need to feel this sense of belonging. It is fundamental to our sense of self. Connection lies in the core of humanity.

I feel blessed to be slowly finding my tribe.

Luna xo