2017, poetry, writing

The Children Are Cactuses

I tap your shoulder
You start, almost spilling your tea into the sunrise.
The children, they’re-”
The corners of your mouth sag in grim anticipation.
“Darling, the children are cactuses.”

And you must be seeing every corner of the world reflected in that mug,
Because your brow knits
Like it does when I ask you what you believe in.

You set down your tea,
And now it’s my turn to sigh resignedly,
Because I know you.
You start,
And my eyes meet yours.
“Are you only just noticing?”

And I intake a breath,
Because I’m about to say something,
Something decidedly profound.

I’m about to say,
Of course not.
Of course I noticed the way their stares hardened in the cold,
Of course I saw their tears dribble onto their cheeks like war paint
For a battle they could never win.
Of course I saw them slowly stop moving,
Like they’re afraid of being seen.
Of course I saw them shrink into the negative space between now and then,
Accepting undignified defeat
At the greedy hands of the universe.

Of course I fucking noticed.”

But that isn’t what I say at all.
The breath I drew in
Shudders out of me,
And I crumple like a wet paper bag.

You fold me into your chest,
And you don’t mind that your tea is getting as cold as the world is,
And you don’t mind that my tears are turning your jumper into a Pollock.
And you don’t mind that I can scarcely manage a whisper when I say,
“I want to water them. It seems like the right thing to do.

Too much water can kill a cactus, you know.”

You squeeze my shoulders tighter then,
And bury your wet eyes in my hair.

And muffled, you murmur,
“If only the world hadn’t cried on them quite so much.”

2016, life, opinion, writing

Be Not Deafened By Hate

Every day, we are inundated with endless floods of hate. From the moment we wake up to investigate that late-night notification, mindlessly scrolling through our News Feed with one eye open, to the ‘going to bed, talk tomorrow x’ text, just before we close our eyes.

Hate is everywhere, and tuning out is an insurmountable challenge.

Some days, noticing it is optional. Days when the world spins gently on its axis, swaying with the movement of the love and light that flows between us. Days when the sun is shining and somehow, everything seems less awful than it has been. Days when, just for a change of scenery, you don’t look too closely at the cracks in our society.

Other days, it bombards you. Someone’s been blown up someone’s been invalidated someone’s been offended someone’s been misrepresented someone’s been snuffed out, like a candle, before they had time to properly fill the world with their light.

Some days – most days – the hate is inescapable. The hate is everywhere.


For every person trying to be authentically themselves, there is another telling them they aren’t real or valid. For every person trying to teach us that their way works for them, there is another telling them to stop pressuring us to change ourselves. For every person trying to live there is another trying to cut their life short and I, for one, am tired.

Wake up. Open your eyes and see the light that shines from good intentions. Open your heart and hear the gentle hum of a kind soul. Open your arms and feel the gentle weight of a burden shared.

And when you have seen, heard, and felt the world as it is meant to be, rip open a packet of face paint, don your warpaint and let the battle-cry of beautiful souls rip through you. Scream, fight, believe in what you know is right.

And when the hate becomes deafening again, scream louder.

2016, opinion, Uncategorized, writing

On Unpopular Opinions

“Ugh, quinoa.”

“We have PE next? This day just gets worse.”

“I woke up at six this morning. It was hell.”

All phrases I’ve said more than once recently – and none of them phrases that I actually agree with.

I don’t mind quinoa, exercise, or early mornings. I actually love getting up early, and sprinting when I’m stressed. So why do I pretend to agree with the opinion of the masses?

Reform would be easier if this was a conscious choice, but it isn’t. I find myself reacting and agreeing with the opinions of my friends reflexively, without even a pause or a consideration into whether I actually support what I am saying.

Most people know that as individuals we are conditioned by society and the media to have certain hobbies, to like certain things, to act a certain way.  This is proven by the trends you see in the clothes of teenagers, or in the varying frequency in use of words like ‘swag’ and ‘yolo.’ Everything our friends, colleagues, family, celebrities and role models like and share can be seen by us, and all of it has incredible influence on our own thoughts, and our opinions on the world around us.

What’s interesting is that a disinterest in early mornings, exercise and superfoods is a common motif within teenager culture, but showing this ‘popular opinion’ in a different niche of society will be as disapproved of and frowned upon as some of my opinions are now. When everyone in your workplace visits the gym twice a day, “ugh, quinoa” becomes a one-way ticket to Alienation Town. So while it seems like supporting a popular opinion is the way to stay relevant and ‘cool,’ even the term ‘popular opinion’ is as variable as the people expressing these views.

As a young person trying to figure out myself and my place in the world, this reflexive reaction scares me. I don’t want people to think I’m someone I’m not – but what changes can I make, when agreeing with popular opinion comes so naturally, not just to me but to everyone?

I’m not afraid of being different. Really, I’ve been a ‘weird kid’ long enough to know that in the grand scheme of things, being yourself is the way to go. But all my life I’ve been floating along being a weird kid by default – not that ‘weird’ is necessarily a good or bad thing – but I haven’t asserted my idiosyncrasies, or stood up for my own little, unpopular opinions.

Having unpopular opinions is a part of who I am in some respects. And, as odd as it seems, being yourself isn’t just sitting back and existing – it’s reacting and interacting with the world around you in a way that says, “This is me; this is my opinion; it’s not popular, and neither am I. And that’s okay.”

What are your unpopular opinions? Let me know in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter

2016, Uncategorized

Why Gender Stereotypes Are Holding Us Back

“Wear a pretty dress.”
“Grow your hair long.”
“Put some makeup on.”

Or, you know, I could do whatever the hell I want.

Gender stereotypes are more outdated than rotary egg beaters. They’re dumber than Valentine’s chocolates on sale on Boxing Day. They’re worse than wearing pants on a Sunday.

The idea that someone born with female genitalia should be fragile, aesthetically pleasing (what does that even mean?) and sexually reserved is, apart from being astoundingly ridiculous and frankly, offensive, a notion that (shockingly) society doesn’t need to ensure the longevity of the human race.

The expectation for someone born with XY chromosomes to be emotionally colour-blind, physically strong and fearless to the point of recklessness is not only damaging to the psyche of every young boy who doesn’t fit this description, but is also making a princely contribution to the gender hierarchy that’s wreaking havoc on the bras of a few select feminists, and at the very least enraging a few billion less select human beings who believe in equality.

In simpler terms, gender stereotypes are stupid and we don’t need them.

My gender doesn’t affect my ability to smile at people when I’m walking down the street. It doesn’t change how many friends I have and love. It doesn’t impact how I word a sentence or blow bubbles, both of which I like to think I’m good at.

I play bass guitar. I play soccer with the guys. I’m pretty good at the parallel bars, a solely male sport. I’m fond of button-down shirts. I like feeling dapper. I am currently sporting a mad undercut with accompanying man-bun, but I’m not a man.

I spend too much money on tea dresses. I have a soft spot for Elmo. I feel most confident when I’m wearing fierce eye makeup. I love to sing. I like wearing earrings. I’m short and slight. I played with Barbies as a kid. I still take my teddy bear on every school camp. I adore John Green books.

It looks like I’ve separated these traits into ‘boy-traits’ and ‘girl traits’ – but the truth is, these are all just parts of my identity. None of these attributes make me more or less myself.

Stop using the words ‘girly’ and ‘manly.’ Stop telling people, especially kids and adolescents, to toughen up or act more ladylike. Everyone on the planet is made up of a billion different traits, all of which are intrinsically their own whether we choose to assign a gender to them or not. The only difference is a bit more self-esteem, a bit more confidence. A bit less bullying, a bit less unhappiness.

A bit more equality.


Slow Down: A PSA in the Society of Rushing

We can never get enough.

From the moment the shrill shriek of an alarm clock cuts through our dreams to the second our head hits the pillow at the end of the day, we are all fighting for it. It being a spare hour, a sneaky minute, a stolen second.

You wake up with your To-Do List plastered to the back of your eyelids.

  • Feed the cat
  • Take the bins out

You consider your job –

  • Feed the cat
  • Take the bins out
  • Finish the presentation for Monday
  • Organise the office Secret Santa

Your study –

  • Feed the cat
  • Take the bins out
  • Finish the presentation for Monday
  • Organise the office Secret Santa
  • Return library books
  • Finish reading Chapter Nine for Ancient History

Your hobbies –

  • Feed the cat
  • Take the bins out
  • Finish the presentation for Monday
  • Organise the office Secret Santa
  • Return library books
  • Finish reading Chapter Nine for Ancient History
  • Learn the new piece for the gig on Sunday
  • Finish the painting for the gallery opening

And all that self-care stuff the internet thinks you need –

  • Feed the cat
  • Take the bins out
  • Finish the presentation for Monday
  • Organise the office Secret Santa
  • Return library books
  • Finish reading Chapter Nine for Ancient History
  • Learn the new piece for the gig on Sunday
  • Finish the painting for the gallery opening
  • Meditate for 10 minutes
  • Take a nap
  • Get some exercise

And eventually your brain is just full.

Too many things on your plate. Too few hours in the day.

You rush through your tasks, squeezing everything you can out of every last second; your thoughts are a mess of static and your body is moving in a frenzy. Getting things done, making the most of the minutes – this, you think, is living.

But consider this.

Your life isn’t measured in things ticked off in one hour. Your life isn’t measured in minutes – its measured in moments. It’s measured in memories.

It shouldn’t matter how busy you are – make time for making memories. They’re what will be left with you in 50 years when the work presentation couldn’t matter less. Make time for yourself and others. Do some good.

The next person you see – give them a smile. A proper, I-can-see-you-how-are-you-today-smile.

Buy someone some flowers, just because. Pick them some flowers if you’re poor.

Blow some bubbles.

Speak to a baby.

Offer to help someone else, be it opening a door, carrying books, or spotting them $2 if they’re short at the checkout.

Life’s too short to be moving so fast. It often feels like with our limited days on the planet that we must squeeze every last activity and task into the precious few moments we have – but really we need to squeeze every last memory from our moments. Another smile with a loved one. Another sunset. Another breath of fresh air. Make the moments count, not because they were full of things you got done but because they were things you did well, with laughter and joy and learning.

And when next striving to fill every moment with doing, know that you don’t have to stop; you just have to slow down. Smell the roses. Live your life. Make some memories.

You won’t regret it.