International Women’s Day – Say. See. Spend.

It’s nice to celebrate being a woman on International Women’s Day every year. For a few hours, at least, to let my hair down, dress up nice, and revel in the fact that I am one small part of the powerful chorus of women I see sharing stories, pictures and hashtags.

But it’s also an opportunity to remind myself of what needs to change – what I need to change – if we’re ever going to live in a world where there doesn’t have to be an International Women’s Day. These are three commitments I’m making this year, to help make the world a fairer and safer place to be a woman.


Say – This year, I’m challenging myself to not once introduce or describe a woman first by what she looks like.

When I first say that a woman is beautiful, gorgeous, a bombshell, even a brunette, I imply that what is most important about her, what defines her, is the way she looks. It is more important than anything else I could have said about her; her intelligence, her work ethic, her strength, her voice, none of it surpasses the importance of her appearance.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a compliment (maybe it’s even worse) and it doesn’t matter if what I really meant was ‘gorgeous on the inside’ – we all know that the society we live in isn’t taking that meaning unless it’s stated explicitly.

If I wouldn’t describe a man as handsome in the same situation (and I wouldn’t, would I, invite a man onto the stage to give a reading, or announce he’ll be sitting on a panel, and introduce him by calling him handsome – it would be unprofessional, possibly creepy, definitely reductive), then I can extend this courtesy to women, too.

This year, I’m going to find other ways to talk about women.

See – This year, I’m going to see diverse women in my feeds, on my bookshelves, on my screens.

This isn’t a challenge – these women are not hidden, waiting to be found. They have been ignored and silenced. This year, I will read them, see them, follow them, like/heart/up-vote them, share them and celebrate them.

This year, I will acknowledge the value of women who are not exactly like me.

Spend – This year, I will be mindful that how I spend my money affects women’s lives.

I will not buy clothing from companies that deliberately keep women deep in poverty, working in conditions that will kill them, all so that my outfit can cost less than my lunch. I will not talk about the bargains I bought, but the skills that went into creating the clothes that I love to wear, the hours of work that went into every cut and stitch and seam, and the true value that is worth.  

This year, I will no longer be an accomplice in the exploitation of women.

(If you want to join me on this one, I’ve written about how to start thinking ethically when it comes to shopping here.)

Why I don't call myself a 'creative type'

I'm eavesdropping on two builders who are going to dismantle and then rebuild the front stairs to my house. They're talking about how they'll work around the bottom step, which was originally made of cement instead of wood. They estimate the cement has been poured three feet deep into the ground. None of us want them to have to remove it.

The men each propose their ideas, offering up different ways they could build around the concrete step and the tools they could use. They brainstorm until they agree on the best option, then get to work. When something doesn't go quite the way they planned, they down tools, discuss it, try a few different things, and then begin to work again.

I don't understand much of what they're saying, but I recognise the process they're working through. They are problem solving, niggling away at an obstacle until they can see a path past it. It's the same process I use when I'm writing.

Like the builders use hammers, grinders and the rules of geometry, when I'm working, I have words, structure and storytelling devices. While our finished products aren't similar, the ways we get to them are more alike than it might appear on the surface. We use our creativity to solve the problems in our way, until we can get to where we need to go.

It's mid-morning, and I go out to let the builders know I’ll be leaving to run an errand.

“Day off today?” one man asks.

I tell them I’m working from home today; every week I spend two days at home putting down words.

“Ah, a creative type,” he says. “I’ve always admired people like that. You must have a good imagination.”

I shrug. So far, today has been mainly reading and responding to emails and getting tax documents ready for the accountant. That’s the thing about creative businesses; there’s only so much the imagination can be stretched during admin hours, and the admin must get done.

On the drive to the supermarket I think about that label, ‘creative type’. It’s always irked me. It’s not a label I’ve ever felt really fit me, mostly to my own shame and completely of my own imagination; there are so many reasons I’ve made up to tell myself the creative type club is not where I belong (not pretty enough, not sad enough, not interesting enough, not whimsical enough, not damaged enough, not spontaneous enough, not quiet enough, not loud enough).

Do I seem more creative when I don’t look at the camera? What about in front of a lake, in black and white?

Do I seem more creative when I don’t look at the camera? What about in front of a lake, in black and white?

But now that I make my living from ‘creative’ pursuits, I dislike even more that it’s used as a term of exclusion. A way for others, like the builder, to categorically rule themselves out of creative endeavours, even when they spend whole mornings dreaming up staircases out of air.

I’ve worked with enough children to believe that no one comes out of the womb without creativity. In the early years a child might have experiences that make them become scared to take risks or rely on others to solve their problems, but that doesn’t mean that they’re an inherently uncreative soul. They were never the wrong ‘type’ for imagination, creation and play.

I’ve worked with enough adults to realise that creativity doesn’t always result in aesthetically pleasing objects or words or visions. Plumbers, nurses, teachers and HR managers might all employ creativity to solve problems in their job, to innovate and inspire.

So, these days, I don’t call myself a creative type because I don’t want to buy in a culture so binary, the idea of a ‘non-creative type’ for every person like me sits badly in my stomach. Something as fluid and as fundamentally human as creativity should never be so black and white.

(Side note: at the pinnacle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is self-actualisation: achieving one’s potential, including creative activities. Once our basic needs are met: first enough food, shelter and water, then safety and companionship, and after we have built a sense self-esteem and confidence, humans are driven to find ways to express ourselves. Creativity is literally a way of fulfilling our most advanced needs.)

Too often, the label of creative type is also used to excuse poor choices. Drinking too much and too often, being shitty in relationships and not taking care of one’s physical or mental health are all proud hallmarks of the creative type persona. I want no part of that. None of these habits are conducive to meeting my end goal, which is to become a better writer. I want to live long and well enough to do that. And none of these habits will keep my friends who are pursuing ‘creative’ careers alive alongside me.

So, I’m shunning the label of creative type. What am I instead? That’s a question I’m still figuring out. In the meantime, I’ll keep putting down words, working to solve the many obstacles that block my path, from blank page to final edit, and hoping that all those around me feel free to identify with their creativity whenever and however they please.  


They say that the word ‘honeymoon’ harks back to a time when newlyweds would drink mead (honey) in the first month (moon cycle) after their wedding.

In this tradition, we might call ours ‘currymoon’, referencing our eating of the leftover Nepalese curry that was served to our guests for dinner. In fact, we’ve been married two months now, and have just finished our last frozen serving of Sherpa Chicken – currymoondeux.

The term ‘notgettingmarriedmoon’ also seems apt, describing the miraculous feeling that creeps up on you when you realise that after a year of wedding planning, you no longer have a wedding to plan. I never have to care about napkins again. What a joy life is.

Of course, these days ‘honeymoon’ describes the holiday couples take shortly after getting married. We did this, too, in between servings of curry and reacquainting ourselves with the sweet joy of not having anything to do.

We traveled farther south than either of us had ever been, to the bottom half of New Zealand’s South Island, for adventures of the mountain climbing, bridge jumping, bird spotting, ice cream eating and hot tub floating variety. It was the perfect amount of chilly – snow on the mountain tops, fresh air, sharp sunlight – and the perfect amount of active and lazy.

Here are a few snaps of some of my favourite moments on the trip.

A little love letter to the place I call home (for now)

Dear home (for now),

I wish everyone got the chance to come and visit you in their lifetime.

It's something most humans seem to have in common: a desire to share our homes with others. There's a want in us to show off the things that make this particular place the one we've chosen to live in, to mark it out and say, "See? This is why, on all the planet, I'm here." To see the beauty of it all again, fresh through someone else's eyes, is a way of validating the choice to make this place yours.

It's one of the reasons I love traveling. Traversing the streets and seeing the little spots of beauty hidden among the neighbourhoods; I love to imagine what it would be like to live there, walking the routes every day until I'd noticed every beautiful thing about the place twice over. It's such a pleasure, to have someone show me all the things they think are best about the place that they live in. I love watching someone point out the things that make somewhere home to them: a view, a flower, a chair, a scent on the breeze.

I have a habit of falling head-over-heels for each new 'home' I live in. Even if it's only temporary, I can't imagine a better place to live than the one I'm in right now. And since there's something special about celebrating and sharing your home, here's a little love letter to the place that is home, if only for now.


To the spot of sunshine that hits the rocking chair in the morning:

Thank you for providing a warm place in winter to sit and eat/read/nap/talk/catch up on Instagram.

To the breeze that rocks the hammock on the deck:

Thank you for cooling me down on hot summer days, when it becomes unbearable to do anything but lie in the shade with a book and an iced drink, waiting it out until the sun has set.

When all you need is a good book and a comfy place to lie.

To the flowers that bloom along the brook autumn:

Thank you for brightening early mornings that would otherwise feel bleak with the foreboding chill of winter coming. It doesn't really get that cold here, but I am a wuss when it comes to cooler temperatures, and I appreciate the pockets of brightness among the biting breeze.

To the neighbourhood birds:

It brings me no end of delight when you deign to pick up the scraps of my lunch, thrown to you from a safe distance, even though you've just filled up on superior seed from the old Italian man across the road. I could, and have, spent hours watching you splash in the bird bath, sing from the balcony, and occasionally pull up the most astonishingly giant grubs from the backyard grass.

A fluffy little butcher bird who came to hideout on the washing line one very wet Sunday.

To the library and the yoga studio and the park and the hairdresser and the grocery store and the bus stop:

Thank you for catering for my every need, and for all only ever being a short walk or bike ride away.

Dear home (for now):

One day we will probably leave, to move a short or long distance away, somewhere with new routines to fall into and beautiful things to notice. But for now, you are home, and I'm lucky to call you such.

Japan, Autumn 2017

Went for the autumn leaves, would stay for the ramen and incredible train system. A few pictures of our time walking, training, biking and eating our way around Japan last November.

Hello Fuji!

Hello Fuji!

Jumping photos are hard, but those leaves are worth a few takes.

Jumping photos are hard, but those leaves are worth a few takes.

The best day, hiking in the mountains of Nikko.

The best day, hiking in the mountains of Nikko.

The Lauren-sized bikes of Japan were much appreciated.

The Lauren-sized bikes of Japan were much appreciated.

Ride on trains, sit on suitcases, look handsome. That's how we do in Japan.

Ride on trains, sit on suitcases, look handsome. That's how we do in Japan.