Family, Fahrenheit, & Food: What I miss about the USA

In the last five years or so, I’ve spent significantly more time outside of the United States than I have in my country of birth. A year and a half in Ireland, nine months in Canada, a year in New Zealand, and now Australia. While being away is just business as usual for me now, what is notable (to me, anyway) is that this current stint abroad is the longest I’ve spent without a visit back to America. Previously, I spent 13 months out of the US when I returned to Ireland after a trip home for Christmas and didn’t leave until February of the following year, but this month beats that with 14 months from heading to Ireland for a month in October 2017 and continuing straight on to my working holiday in NZ. Now I’m in Australia, and not only did I not visit home between the two countries, but I have no plans to visit home until my visa expires near the end of next year, at a minimum.

For the most part, I don’t mind being away from home, getting to explore some of the most beautiful places in the world rather than enjoying life under the Trump clusterfu—I mean, administration. And there are a lot of things I like about life abroad compared to living in the States (chip-and-pin cards are so much better than chip-and-signature, public transport here in Melbourne is amazing, etc.). But even as someone who loves being in a new country every year and feels no rush or urge to get back to the States, there are still things I miss about living in America.

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Creating with joy: my work is mine to love

September is flying by. Two months from now, Steve and I will be leaving New Zealand and heading to Australia (visas pending… should probably get on applying for those). In the meantime, we have two trips planned (well, one planned and one planning-in-progress… can you tell I’m a bit behind on my to-do list?), heaps of people to spend time with, and a couple more items to cross off the kiwi bucket list.

The weather’s also starting to warm up (yay!) which has meant that my Septemberwrimo goal has gotten slightly off-track. Only slightly, I’m at ~24,000 words and I expect I’ll hit 27,000 at least by the time the month finishes, but I have no desire to sit inside on my laptop when it’s sunny and there are mountains to climb. But that’s not important. Even if I only write one word in a day I try to celebrate it, because it’s one more word than I had on the page before.

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SeptemberWriMo

We all have excuses for why we don’t write. Work, kids, Netflix marathons, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I’ve written before about how difficult I find writing for fun when I write for a living. And yet, for one glorious, stressful month a year, we put all our excuses decide, meet up with friends and strangers in coffee shops and on twitter, and try to bash out 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month.

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My IUD story & why I love LARCs

There aren’t many groups that recent news in the United Sates hasn’t upset, and women are no exception.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled that so-called “crisis pregnancy centres” in California are not required to provide abortion information to patients. These often-unlicensed clinics usually pretend to be offering abortions or at least information on how to terminate a pregnancy, but when unsuspecting pregnant women visit, they are lied to, bullied and otherwise coerced into continuing their unwanted pregnancies. Sometimes they are given false information about the risks of abortion, the prevention of STDs, or the status of their pregnancy. Other times, they make it impossible to schedule the abortion that can allegedly be obtained from their clinic until it is too late for the women to terminate, or make the allegedly-available termination inaccessible to low-income women or those without reliable transport by requiring them to return again and again for assessments before signing off on the procedure. The law the Supreme Court struck down had required clinics to state if they were unlicensed, and had required clinics to make patients aware of options available from the state, including abortions.

Now comes the news that Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy will be retiring at the end of the month. Despite being a Reagan-appointed conservative justice, Kennedy was known as a swing-voter who was often a moderate voice in the Supreme Court thanks to key votes in cases regarding issues like marriage equality and reproductive rights. With his departure, Trump has an opportunity to nominate a far more conservative replacement, and naturally we can expect it to be the most awful choice possible. Women across the country are concerned, with good reason, that soon Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that struck down most restrictions on abortion, will be overturned or at least functionally dead.

After Trump’s election, many women feared that a combination of misogyny and pro-life zeal in office would form an attack on reproductive rights and make it more difficult for us to get not only abortions but also contraceptives. One of the major elements of Obama’s healthcare reform was to mandate that most forms of female birth control be covered by health insurance. Many feared (fear) that Trump will attempt to put and end to this, in line with the thinking of so many conservatives that the only purpose of birth control is to allow women to be promiscuous, ignoring the many who use it for health reasons and also the fact that there’s just nothing wrong with having sex. “Get an IUD,” became a common refrain, encouraging women to look into long-term contraception that wouldn’t be disrupted by the administration’s actions.

‘Get an IUD’ is more relevant advice than ever, and as someone who did just that almost a year ago, I thought I’d share a bit about my experience for anyone else who might be considering it.

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Saturn returns & cyclical changes in life

I have friends who eagerly check their horoscopes each and every week, consulting the pages of Cosmopolitan or clicking into Refinery29 to see what the stars have in store for them. I don’t dis-believe in astrology, but I don’t believe in it in that way.

To me, it makes perfect sense that the universe has an influence on us; look at the way the moon influences the tide or the sun influences the temperature, how could it not affect humans the way it affects the world? And it makes sense that the influence can be emotional as well as physical; anyone who experiences SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or simply gets gloomy on a rainy day or excited about a warm summer afternoon understands. And there’s no denying that things like the full moon and the infamous Mercury in retrograde have a huge impact on many of us. But I don’t personally believe that the location of Mars on a certain date lets you know that you should buy a lottery ticket or whatever; I think celestial influence is much broader and less personalised.

It’s also not something I tend to seek out too much information about, so occasionally I discover something new to me that relates to my interpretation of astrology’s impact, and that happened for me last week when I learned about Saturn returns.

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My Self-Improvement Summer

As most of you know, I’m back at my parents’ house for a few months between Steve and my epic three-month, cross-country road trip and reuniting with him in Ireland again before we head on to a working holiday in New Zealand. As my town is quite small and uneventful and my work doesn’t take up too much of my time, I decided that for the summer I would work on setting some habits, reaching some goals, and making it a summer of self-improvement.

I know that summer isn’t technically over, but I’m wearing a hoodie and drinking hot tea during the day for the first time in ages, so it definitely feels like fall and therefore I’m going to check in as I move into My Self-Improvement September. The eight things I wanted to work on this summer were: yoga, meditation, piano, guitar, Duolingo’s German course, running, dance and this blog. Let’s see how I did:

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