6 Reasons Valentine’s Day Should Be Cancelled, Stat

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This week during an interview on The Project, Michael Bublé — Mr. Love himself — dropped a shocking revelation that he’s actually not that romantic.

Instead, Bublé tells us he’s just a guy who likes to watch football and eat nachos and drink beer, and look, as a bona-fide celebrity myself these days, I’m here to tell you the struggle of such mistaken perception is real. Oh, you write poetry? You must be so romantic.

And sure, I’ll confess I’ve been known to be swayed by the occasional small romantic gesture in my time. And there’s every chance I’m partial to dates that comprise of candles and wine, and old-fashioned men who still hold doors open for women and surprise them with offerings of hand-picked wildflowers or tenderly scrawled love notes.

But when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I’m right there with Bublé sitting in my trackies on the couch eating nachos, drinking beer and not listening to, well, albums by Michael Bublé. And I understand the confusion; how a romantic poet normal woman who writes about love can also be a Valentine’s Day insurgent, so to help clarify, I’ve compiled a list of all the reasons I think February 14th should be cancelled, stat.

1.   Expectation

Omg, we’ve only been dating for a month, do I actually have to get him something for Valentine’s day? We’ve been together fifteen years now, do I have to cook her dinner tonight when I just want to watch the game? She just rang to tell me her friend got engaged and I only got my girlfriend a box of chocolates, I’m totally screwed. GOD, THE PRESSURE I CAN’T BREATHE. This is especially true for the avoidant-attachments out there (I’m not terrified of commitment, you’re terrified of commitment), too much expectation on Valentine’s Day will send the relationship down. in. flames. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

2.   Obligation

Nothing says I love you more than being forced into gestures of commercialised romance; smarmy Hallmark cards, love-heart-shaped-everything, generic roses, maybe some OTT jewellery thrown in there too. Hey darling, looks like we can’t afford to get little Bobby braces this year but here are those diamond earrings you wanted for Valentine’s Day so you could show your sister up this year. Naaaw, and who said romance was dead?

3.   Cliché

Oh, how I love a good cliché, said no one ever. Clichés are the worst at the best of times, but never more so than where romance is concerned. Clichéd songs, clichéd movies. Flowers, teddy bears, chocolates, 50 Shades Of Grey <shudder>, pink and red lingerie, pink and red balloons, pink and red candles, WHY MUST EVERYTHING LOOK LIKE A FLAMINGO?! Think outside the box, people.

4.   Social Etiquette.

For many, Valentine’s Day raises the issue of social awkwardness — programmed as we are on special days to greet others accordingly, ie, happy birthday, happy New Year’s Day, happy Mother’s/Father’s Day, happy Australia Day etc. Do we say happy Valentine’s Day to people we pass on our morning jog? Our pharmacist? The grocery delivery guy? If we greet our work colleagues in such a manner will they think we’re practicing correct social etiquette or sexually harassing them? Genuine concerns the socially awkward among us lose sleep over.

5.   Lists

HOLD THE PHONE THERE IS ANOTHER TOP 10 LIST OF HOW I CAN CELEBRATE  VALENTINE’S DAY WITH MY LOVED ONE THIS YEAR. Or top 10 gifts I can buy. Or top 10 songs to put on my V-Day playlist. Or top 10 ways to make him fall in love with me this Valentine’s Day. Enough of the lists, already! Get out of my social media so I can return to my regular scheduled newsfeeds. Oh, wait.

6.   Social Media.

 If there’s anything more nauseating than regular Insta-perfect couple photos, it’s Insta-perfect couple photos on V-Day steroids. #besthusbandever #datenight #loveyoutothemoonandback #solucky. DEAR GOD IT HURTS MY EYES. Seriously, nobody wants to look at their friends getting engaged while they’re home on the couch getting drunk. Have the decency to keep that sh*t to yo’self.

You’re no doubt reading this thinking I’m just some cynic who’s been dumped one too many times, and look, you’d be right. We aren’t just born with these avoidant-attachment tendencies; it takes many years of rejection and abandonment to perfect such thorough aversion to relationships. 

It goes without saying then, I’m no expert in love. What I do know, however, is I’m not interested in token gestures of commercialised romance. I’m not interested in a declaration of love dictated by a calendar date or marketing strategy; in posting Instagram photos on February 14th just so I can prove to the world, look how much I am loved.

Give me the real stuff. Give me the Saturday night folding socks, the Sunday afternoon budgeting, the Monday morning alarm. Give me the exhausted falling into bed together after dealing with teenage children. Give me the arguing over whose turn it is to do the dishes, the laughter at times you’d rather be crying, the arms to collapse into when the world is falling apart, the hand gently squeezed to say, I’m here, even without words spoken, the carrying of one another’s pain and grief and sadness, the celebrating of success and joy and all those perfect moments never forgotten.

As the self-confessed non-romantic Bublé says, “I do kind things for my wife, but I think they’re different than buying flowers on Valentine’s Day, I think it’s, you know, doing the poopy diapers or waking up and letting her sleep in, I think those to me are romantic things.”

Anyone can practice romance one day of the year, but showing up for someone every day of the year? That takes some hard work, compromise and sacrifice. But will always carry a greater sentiment of love than a Hallmark card ever could.

 

Summer Slam 2020 (and other stuff)

“So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive.” ~ Audre Lorde

I’m pretty sure at the start of 2020 I wrote down my goals for the year and a weekly blog post was included in said goal, yet HERE WE ARE. First blog post, already one month into the year. Kicking goals, I tell you. Kicking. Goals.

Even this, I’m not sure I could classify as an actual blog post, but for the sake of quietening my inadequacies, let’s just call it that. Really, it’s just an update. BUT.  A very cool update to let you know last night I competed in the Spoken Word SA 2020 Summer Slam Final and WON. Which, for those of you who have followed my poetry slam journey, you’re probably there going, “Yay, she mustn’t have been drawn first!”

Well, I’m here to tell you I DID IN FACT get drawn first again because let’s face it – it’s still mebut in spite of the curse of being drawn first, I made it through to the second round, and from there overall winner. Was a fantastic night with wonderful people and incredible poetry and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to compete and to be on stage with 10 other incredible poets who all deserved to be there.

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I don’t know why I was looking at my feet.
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First, Second and Third

Anyway, really the purpose of this update blog, is to share one of the poems I performed last night for those who’ve been asking – Ode To Audre Lorde (A Litany For Survival), to honour the Melbourne women in 2019 who lost their lives to sexual violence 💔

Watch it HERE

and if you haven’t already subscribed to my YouTube channel then do so while you’re there!

Also this weekend I performed as a feature for The Good Word at Mixed Creative who have a regular monthly open mic night down at Port Adelaide – it’s been on my bucket list for a while now to get down that way for a look (among all the other spoken word gigs on my list to get to!) and didn’t disappoint. Quirky, fun, brilliant venue and wonderful people, well worth getting there for a look on a Friday night!

Which also means after two HUGE nights of performing (on top of 8 hours of driving for said performances) I’m wrecked. Time to pour a wine and call it a weekend.

Much love x

PS. I’ll be back with regular blog posts soon, I promise.

 

The Three Words Our Children Need To Hear Most (Hint: It’s Not ‘I Love You’)

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There was a time not long ago when my thirteen year-old HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) daughter was feeling particularly sensitive to anything on television that unsettled her in the slightest – the news, high-action movies, television dramas with any kind of depiction of violence or trauma.

With two older brothers in the house — both partial to action-packed thrillers of any kind — it became increasingly difficult to find something suitable for everyone to watch. The traditional Friday movie night would see us spending hours scrolling through Netflix, arguing back and forth over what to watch until eventually my daughter insisted she was happy to just read a book in her bedroom so others could watch what they wanted.

There were a few times this happened; each time I would go to her room and tell her she didn’t need to read in her bedroom alone and we would find something everyone could watch together. She continued to insist she was fine with this arrangement. But I knew her better than that — this tender-hearted peacemaker daughter of mine who often sacrificed her own desires for that of others; so much like her mother.

I knew what she really wanted was to be with the rest of the family; to know she was important enough to have her needs considered. To know she was wanted enough for others to make sacrifices and compromises that would allow her to be included, even if they didn’t necessarily understand how her sensitivity made it difficult for her to watch movies they saw no issue with.

I knew this, because this had once been me — except, I’d had no one to advocate for my needs, and had instead grown up with a sense of isolation and exclusion from the rest of my family; left feeling unvalued and unseen. And it wasn’t until I said this to her one night as she read alone in her room: “It’s okay, I see you,” that her pretence of fine collapsed and she was able to tearfully admit that which I already knew.

I realised that day the importance of those three words. I see you. That to be seen is something we all crave; perhaps even more than to be loved. To be understood. For our true selves to be known by those who love us. That when we exist inside this place of being fully seen, here we find our safety; our greatest place of acceptance and belonging.

I recently read The Good People by Hannah Kent, and was reminded again of this with these words, “How frightened we are of being known, and yet how desperately we long for it.” There is something transformative in being seen — both in our weaknesses and strengths, our struggles and triumphs. To be seen in the whole person; the entirety of our flawed yet perfect humanity.

As parents, we tend to focus on the I love you; to remind our children of this as often as we can, which is, of course, vital and necessary to their lives and development. However, being loved and seen aren’t necessarily synonymous and while our children may know they are loved by us, if they don’t have a sense of also being seen, they may never feel completely understood, accepted and safe to flourish into their truest selves.

This is especially important for this generation of children whose identities are being developed inside such an virtual world — where they may have hundreds of friends online and yet still have a fundamental sense of loneliness and isolation in feeling as though they aren’t seen or understood by those around them.

We know this of ourselves; the innate need for human embrace; to be heard, to be accepted as we are, to be understood, to feel we are worthy enough to have someone show interest in our lives; more so, in who we are. There is a connection felt in those moments our own hearts crave — how much more the hearts of our children as they seek to find their identity and sense of worth in this hectic world.

As school holidays come to a close, I find myself journeying through the usual emotions – relief to once again return to some semblance of routine and work, coupled with guilt that I did not do enough with my children over summer — that I did not give them enough experiences and memories, that I had all this time with them, yet unsure whether anything valuable was gained from that, or not.

However, I don’t believe the measure for being a good parent is found in how many hours we spend with our children, but more in the ways we show up for them in the time we do have with them. We aren’t always going to get it right or be the perfect parent; we too have our own shortcomings and limitations. Likewise, we aren’t always going to have the amount time with them we often desire; life all too easily gets in the way.

But showing up and being aware, present and engaged is where it matters. Taking the time to see – really see – our children, knowing if we cannot fully see another person, we can never fully love them; only ever our own version of who we believe them to be. And in doing so, fail to give our children what they so desperately need from us the most.

Article originally published at 10 Daily   as The Three Most Important Words To Tell Your Kids (And They’re Not ‘I Love You’)

Let Them Throw Stones

Then there are the ones that like to hold you to the mistakes of your past.

Who will try and drag you back through your own shame and make you believe you don’t deserve the dream you have fought so hard to achieve.

Their words will be calculated – targeted missiles they will aim at the places they know will be the weakest; the places they know have been wounded before.

This is what they will tell you:

That the person you once were is who you will always be.

That the person you were at your worst is the most you will ever amount to.

That you will never be anything more than the mistakes you once made.

That you are worthless, hopeless, useless.

Don’t listen to them.

Because here’s the thing:

Nobody has the right to judge you.

Nobody has the right to hold you prisoner to your mistakes when they don’t know a damn thing about the choices you had to choose from and how hard you fought just to survive.

Nobody has the right to shame you for your humanity.

To deny you the right to be human.

To deny you the grace of the human condition that sees us all fuck up at times and learn from that and do better.

Nobody has the right to take away your redemption.

To take every drop of blood poured for your healing, your growth, your change, your becoming, and make it worth nothing.

We are not held captive to our yesterday’s, to the person we once were when we knew no better.

We are not bound by our mistakes, to the ways we hurt others when our hearts were hurting so much inside our broken chests.

We are not defined by our rock bottom, when nobody knows what it has taken us to claw our way out to become the person we are today.

We are not our past.

We are not our shame.

Nobody has the right to judge the heart they do not see.

Your heart is beautiful; made new with each day you have woken and determined to do better.

You are worthy. You are deserving. You are everything they will never be.

Forgiveness, grace, second chances:

These are the things we offer other humans when we understand the frailty of our own humanity.

When we understand that mercy always triumphs over judgement, and that is how we bring healing and offer love.

There will always be those who throw stones.

Let them.

For their feet will forever be bound by the shore, destined to watch as you, my darling, become the ocean.

Art Matters.

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It’s hard to write today.

It’s hard to not feel like my work is pointless. That anything I write at this time is futile. That I have nothing significant or relevant to add to the already overcrowded media sphere.

I am struggling to find meaning in what I write; instead I sit here finding ways to both avoid and appease my inadequacy.

Not wanting to read headlines yet not being able to look away.

With all that is transpiring in the world I feel heavy and burdened; and anxious. It is hard to focus, to find creativity and any kind of joy or satisfaction in my work.

It’s hard to believe it matters.

But it does.

And I think this is what we need to remember in the midst of such volatile and unsettling times. The best art comes from authentic truth-telling. People who can create from the depths of turmoil; who can both preserve the moment and make us see the beauty that still exists within in.

More than ever during these hard times, creatives need to create. We need to bear witness to the human spirit which radiates through these seemingly impossible times. It’s often difficult; we are the empaths who carry the suffering of the world too close to our hearts. We find it hard to confront such suffering; to not be affected to such a degree we can no longer function ourselves.

But if we can find a way to hold these moments; to feel them, to carry them, to create beauty from destruction, then we leave not just a memory, but a legacy that generations who follow will hold even closer.

It matters.

Happy New Year ❤️

Shoutout to those home tonight eating cake made by their daughter.

To those home tonight caring for little children, or older parents, or anyone dependent on them, who can’t be out celebrating.

To those home tonight because their mental health is struggling at this time of year, and tonight feels overwhelming and too much.

To those home tonight feeling isolated, alone, or far away from the people they love.

To those home tonight because this time of the year brings up memories that are hard, and sad.

To those home tonight to stay sober, and clean.

But especially to those who aren’t home tonight, or don’t have a home to be in tonight, because of fires. To the ones who have lost homes, lost towns, lost people they love. To those who have fought, and are still fighting, to contain fires and protect others.

My heart, and thoughts, are with you all.

Happy New Year ❤️

Merry Christmas ❤️

This is the part where I had planned to write something meaningful about Christmas. But this year seems harder – to acknowledge, to celebrate – when so much of our country is suffering. It’s hard to find the joy. It’s harder still to find the hope.

But I think the moment we lose these things is the moment we lose what makes our humanity so breathtaking. That we still find joy and hope in the face of suffering is beyond comprehension. Yet how resilient is our human spirit. How undefeatable.

And maybe this is what we need to remember this Christmas. That regardless of what you believe, we celebrate today because of a God who knew suffering yet was not defeated.

After the weeping always comes the joy.

Merry Christmas ❤️

The Audacity of Authenticity

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Let’s talk about authenticity.

So much of what I write is to challenge, and empower, and push against the system of both religion and patriarchy which women have been forced to live under; to speak words that those who have upheld this system may find uncomfortable, or unacceptable.

I don’t believe there’s any need to shock, or be shocking. But I do believe in the importance of challenging perceptions which have led to repression and injustice. If my words offend people, I couldn’t care less. I’m not here to play small to enable those around me to feel more at ease with their narrow-minded thinking.

But here’s the thing when we push against the system. Sometimes, it pushes back: Can you believe what she wrote? Did you see what she posted? What gives her the right to think she can say those things? What will her family think?

How dare she be so honest, raw, real, unapologetic?

HOW DARE SHE NOT CONFORM.

This is essentially what authenticity is. The act of not conforming. Refusing to forfeit your personal power for the approval of others. Brené Brown says this on authenticity: that it’s not so much the act of authenticity that challenges the status quo, but the audacity of authenticity.

Authenticity is threatening to those who live in conformity. Who live in fear of what others will think of them. It’s far easier to gossip about those who live in authenticity than to risk being the one who is gossiped about. It’s far easier to slander those who challenge our insecurities than dare to question why it makes us feel uncomfortable. People will rarely tolerate the freedom in others they choose to deny for themselves.

But to live authentically is to live in freedom. To live our truth, to speak our truth, free from the fear of what others will think, or say about us. It requires us to be vulnerable, courageous and resilient. It requires us to step beyond our comfort zone and no longer play it safe. But it’s only here, when we live in this freedom, will we be unafraid to challenge and dismantle the systems of conformity and repression that have controlled us for long enough, and empower others to do the same.

How Flattering Things Appear Under Soft Light

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We always meet beneath street lamps
how flattering things appear under soft light
you tell me I am beautiful under soft light
here, where the edges of my knife blade skin
are dulled beneath yellow hue
the way the city skyline reflects
in the cool steel of my limbs; lights
twinkling, dancing,
we are always dancing
around things we do not say
how flattering things appear under
soft light that veils the sharpness of my teeth
the bear claw trap inside my mouth
always set and ready to protect myself at the first rustle
of footsteps inside the forest of my healing and
you tell me I should be flattered
with this back-alley late-night soft-light love affair
do you remember when you said you preferred
my hair long; the way it fell like a sepia watercolour
around my face, disguised the hard edge of my jaw
the upward tilt of my chin; unyielding
how flattering I am to you when I am soft
beneath these blurred lights, blurred lines
bloodlines before me who traded the
full meal of their strength for a pill of submission
so they would become easier to swallow
and these lights appear so flattering when you do not
have to squint against the truth of who I am;
soft lights, often-lies we continue to tell ourselves
this appears so flattering until we are laid bare by the dawn
my eyes slowly adjusting to the illusion of how flattering
you first appeared to be under soft light.

© Kathy Parker 2019