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For Grandma.

~ Performed live at Camp Good Life Project in upstate New York, August 2016. ~

A year ago today I watched all of you perform wonderful things on this stage with such bravery, vulnerability and talent. And I promised myself that night, that I would come back this year and I would perform something too.

I had high hopes of writing an interesting, moving piece that I would rehearse until it was a melodic, flawless work of art.

But that is not what happened.

As it turns out 2016 was destined to be a tricky one. And jam packed full of lessons I didn’t really want.

My mum has been sick.
I moved countries and houses several times.
I got a new job I didn’t know I wanted, but deep down I knew I needed.
And I let go of my business.
My Nanna passed away 3 weeks ago and my Grandma died at the start of April, at 92 after a short fight with a rare cancer.

I wanted to write a poem that was profound and uplifting and effortlessly entertaining and well written.

But instead I’m here to tell you that you need to let go of how you thought things would work out.
That you need to find ease in change.
That your expectation of yourself and the reality of yourself will be different.

I need to tell that you need to stand in your shit.

And that I’ve realised that I can be both strong and not strong, and that that is ok.

That there is no one way to love, be loved or to grieve.

And,  really what I want to tell you about,  is my Grandma.

This strong woman shaped me.

She was Nancy Harney and she was the epitome of the resilient country woman.
She travelled the world as a solo woman in her 20s in the 1940s.
She was a supportive and generous wife for nearly 60 years.
She raised 5 children in rural Australia and co ran a farm for decades.

Grandma taught me how to be whoever I wanted to be.
She told me to be brave, to push myself outside of my comfort zone and to always keep exploring.
Grandma made everyone feel so loved because She loved deeply and (almost) unconditionally.

She was the ultimate provider.
Even if you showed up un-announced there’d be a sandwich whipped up out of what appeared to be nothing.
And family occasions were always a production of great food on the best china.

Community was everything to her.
She worked for every committee, served on every board, volunteered at every event.

Grandma has always reminded me the importance of the things the modern world is moving away from.  She always wrote letters and postcards. And encouraged me to write to her, from wherever I was.
She always called.
And she always showed up.
She believed in dressing up and being there for the big things and the small things.

My favourite thing about Grandma is that she was the matriarch of our family.
She was strong. She was determined.  And to be fair, a little bit stubborn.
She was elegant, generous, thoughtful, committed all the way to the end.

Spending her last short months with her, was an absolute honour and a gift.
She helped raise me and I will be forever grateful for having such an inspiring role model in my life.

So, love those around you deeply, tell them you’re grateful for them and keep up the adventure.

Sarah x

Falling in love with a friend.

Discovering a woman that you love, but do not want to be physically intimate with, is fantastic.

You meet them and you feel instantly connected.

That giggling, rambling, story-telling, of two people who are so excited to have found each other.

Who are so excited to listen to each other.

You look at this person and you hear them agree with you, they laugh at your jokes, mention shows you love, books you love, books you haven’t read yet but know you will love.

You can tell that there are so many conversations to have with this person.

And part of you thinks, this is something, this could be a friendship.

And you are right.

 

If you happen to be a woman, who happens to be attracted to both men and women, meeting anyone and falling only friendship in love with them, is a rare and beautiful thing.

And this woman, she is the best.

She is so funny. She uses words in her accent that you think are in-jokes related to country of origin when in fact they are words that only she uses. Or words she made up.

She says things with such consistent, passionate tone, that you laugh every time.

You love how she has managed to combine such self-assured, mature, confident strength with such soft, caring, self-deprecating kindness. 

It is a personality combination that you admire.

 

And best of all, she loves you.

At a time when you are sometimes forgetting that you are strong and brave and interesting and worth listening to, she tells you that you are.

She wants to hear more stories.

She never appears bored or distracted.

She laughs at things you didn’t realise were jokes.

She thinks the things you do just because you are you, are brave and inspiring.

She makes you feel better about everything.

About where you are, who you are and what you want.

She helps you feel less alone.

 

Most importantly she makes you feel, simultaneously, rescued and like you don’t need rescuing.

There is no judgement. There is accountability, there is love, there is goddamn fabulous ideas and glorious rambling trains-of-thought but there is no time to feel less than.

Time warps and slows and extends and you spend time apart and more time together.

And your friendship deepens.

You get to that point where you can’t remember a time when you were not friends, let alone didn’t even know the other existed, even if it were merely months ago.

You talk about the big things.

You talk about the small things.

You talk about the things you’ve been telling yourself are small but actually are not.

You share good food, you drink good wine, you go on adventures.

You talk about the universe, the stars, the numbers, the conspiracies.

What does it all mean?

 

And sometimes you have to say a physical goodbye.

Because this is the nature of travel and countries and the world, we don’t always live near the people we love.

And you try to write something to this person to thank them for existing.

To thank them for taking care of you and supporting you.

To thank them for loving you.

 

And it’s tricky sometimes, to say all that, to write all that.

We don’t talk enough about how fundamental and life-changing friendships can be.

People often ask if ‘you’ve met someone?’ and they always mean romantically.

But you don’t have to be romantic with someone to fall in another kind of love with them.

In fact ‘meeting someone’ is not always what you need.

A solid, eye-opening, unapologetic, loving friendship is what you needed.

You may have been metaphorically or geographically lost, or both.

And you needed a kindred spirit friendship then, and probably forever.

And you walked into each other lives.

And you’re saying hell yes.

And you are so fucking grateful.

And you love them.

 

And you wonder why we don’t talk about friendship love enough.

Because it is just as exciting as romantic love.

You tell your parents about them, you want to show them where you’re from.

You want them to meet your family, your friends.

You want to share your life with them.

And if you’re lucky, you probably will. 

 

Sarelizah xx

 

 

<

Want. Best. Truth. Choices.

There is something powerful yet overwhelming about living in the 21st century.
The internet has gifted us with information and cursed us with information.
For every eye-opening, uplifting, sense-of-belonging moment there is a judgemental, hate-filled, expectational comment or thought.

So how do you move forward anyway, how do you let go and lean in to who you really are?

Well, you just need to. Being your best, truest self, as alienating or ostracising as that may feel is the best way to surround yourself with your best people and also serve others in your best, most honest and loving way.

So you are constantly asked, what do you want? Who are you? What do you stand for?
What do you choose?

As a society we love labels. We need labels. To help the right people find you.
But labels can be limiting.
Especially when you feel like you can’t pick just one.
Or you sit in the middle of more than one.

But you ask yourself anyway.

Do you prefer city or country?
Apartment or cabin in the woods?
Nomadic travelling or domestic stability?
Do you like nights in or nights out?
Being alone or being with people?
Do you want to write fiction or non-fiction?
Are you more business or artist?
Imaginative or decisive?
Mature or immature?
Sporty or Lazy?
Fancy or casual?
Are you logistical or creative?
Left brained or right brained?
Do you want to be intense or light?
Dramatic or calm?
Sexy or sweet?
Are you Assertive or passive?
Brave or scared?
Selfless or self interested?
Feminine or masculine?
Flawed or flawless?
Perfect or imperfect?
Do you like writing or talking?
Do you like girls or boys?

And in the words of an adorable child in a Soft Taco versus Hard Taco advertisement;

You simply answer, “Why can’t we have both?”.

Sarelizah x

 

CHANGE IS HARD.

Change is hard.
Growth is hard.
It is uncomfortable.
It nags at you.
It pulls at you in new and uncomfortable ways.
You don’t know what it is until you realise that all of the expanding, heart-opening, life-affirming change that is happening in you, around you, is WHY your body aches.
Your insides feel an un-easy energy.

The thing is, it also feels optimistic.
If you let it.
If you keep yourself open to it.
Cos you know it’s gonna be worth it.
If you can call it growth.
You know that it hurts, know that it’s worth it.
You CAN lean in.
Listen to yourself.
Listen to the universe.
Let go of what you thought it was supposed to be like.
What you were told to expect.
What others expect of you.

If you can slowly let that fall off you, then you are left in the new.
The change.
The future.
And the trickiest part is for you to acknowledge it is happening and that you want it to happen.
You asked to be woken up.
You chose this.
You want things to change.

Because you were not happy.
You didn’t know why or how, but you weren’t.
You knew there was something more and now it is showing itself to you.
And you are surprised that it’s going to be hard to fight for?
It is a fight.
It is a push back against the easy.
Against straight forward.
A fight against expected.

You are creating a new normal.
A new version.
A better fit.
And the thing that you know to be true is that eventually this will be the new easy.
And something else will come along and challenge the shit out of you.
And you will be probably be surprised that it hurts then too.
Because you will feel like you’ve done the work.
The growing.
Because you are a slow learner.
A visceral, tactile, feel it in your bones, kind of learner.
Because you are a human.
And that is how this works.
Short term hurt, long term amazing-ness.
Take it on.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could just know everything, clock human-ness and just be done?
No. Not really.
Because the fun happens in the learning, in the challenges, in the in-between.
In the celebration of moving through it and sucking up the f*ck ups.

Push back against the easy.
Listen to yourself.
Lean in to the new normal.

Sarelizah x

14th September 2015, on actual paper after laptop crash, in some random bar in Times Square, after my first NYC plus life, chest constricting panic.