A Moment Over Overpriced Chinese Food

In life there are many glorious small moments. I’m very often blind to them, too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed by other things to notice them. But I had a moment recently & it was wonderful. One of those beautiful, simple, touching moments.

My 91 year old grandmother lives in the Blue Mountains – for you non-Sydney siders that’s about an hour and a half out of the city. This last weekend I visited her. I was traveling further up the mountains for a weekend retreat with some friends so I thought it best to go up a day early and pay G-Ma a visit. She called me a day early to lock in the shopping delivery list, and the next day I arrived on her door step with her juice, cereal and bread. (Not only am I a pretty great granddaughter – turns out I’m also a darn good milkman).

That wasn’t the moment though.

The moment came later when she was not so subtly hinting what she was wanting for dinner. Her beloved neighbour Walter (I like to think Walter is her secret retirement village lover who’s name you say as if you have a lisp because) had given her a menu of “the good place to get Chinese”, which I think in reality is the only place to get Chinese in Springwood.

We ordered it. I went to pick it up. And then it happened…

I arrived home to the table set, the china was out, good crystal wine glasses already poured with wine. Now my grandmother isn’t a big drinker, or really a drinker at all, so I was touched by the gesture.

The night was spent drinking, eating overpriced Chinese food, talking about the dances she attended as a vivacious 20-something, drinking that bottle of wine and her reminding me how she knew all along I should have never gone to Europe for ‘that boy’ – something she never fails to mention.

I love that woman.

I love how I can tell her anything and, though maybe judged, I’m unquestionably loved.

I love how I can make fun of her & she doesn’t care (or doesn’t hear).

I love that she’s invested in my life & thinks I deserve only the best.

I love my Grandma – as she would say – to bits!

And this little moment, eating overpriced Chinese, talking about shopping lists and boys, are memories I will cherish. And moments I will be sure to pay more attention to.

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Sydney Siege – Today I cried…

Today in Sydney, in the city I have lived my 23 years, a hate-filled man took siege over a cafe. Stopping Australia and locking the worlds attention on a little chocolate shop. Ending in the violent death of three people and the trauma of a city.

Today I cried.

Not because I knew the hostages.
Not because I am fearful or angry.
Not because I was there in Martin place.
Not because I am Muslim and fear the social repercussions of this one lone man.

I cried for the loss of innocence – for the victims, for a city and for it’s citizens.
I cried because for me this has never happened in my home, yet for millions around the world this is a daily burden and today I felt only part of that horror.
I cried because the world stopped for this tragedy in Australia, yet doesn’t blink for the 126 children killed by a school bombing in Pakistan.
I cried for the fight Australia now faces in softening angry voices, diffusing racial tension, and stilling religious vilification.
I cried because while our eyes were fixed on a cafe in Sydney, the Australian Government quietly went about stripping the world poorest of another $3.7billion.

… and I cried for so many reasons I myself am yet to fully understand.

The siege in Sydney affected me and many I know in a strange, weird and confusingly exhausting way. Some days the world just stops. There was a eerie stillness in my home and my work. We called friends over for the comfort of community and the solace of a hand to hold. As my friends and I gathered on our little couch in suburban Sydney to watch the unchanging news after so many hours, none of us quite fully understood our thoughts and feelings. As we sat, holding each other that little bit tighter, none of us could express our feelings, many of us were silent – yet we acknowledged the worry and sadness. A worry now present as grief.

Today we are grieving, we are confused, and we cry. And amidst this grief and confusion let us not surrender ourselves to fear and hatred.

Let us hug our friends and families a little tighter. Let us maintain soft hearts. Savour the blessing of freedom that little more eagerly. And allow this to become a time representative of Australia’s compassion, our strength as a community and our hope as a nation.

I hold onto the hope that the beautiful and peaceful city I call home, will despite today’s trauma remain alive and full of hope for a brighter more peaceful tomorrow.

Image by Kyla Roma www.kylaroma.com

Image by Kyla Roma http://www.kylaroma.com

#Ragamuffinregret…and realising some decisions just don’t matter.

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The other day my housemate, Jessie, and I were craving something sweet and wanted to get out of the house for a few hours. We went to Ragamuffin where I am pretty certain the owners are muffin magicians. Just a heads up: For those of you unlucky enough to never have tasted the deliciousness that is steam-baked soft centre muffins, get yo’ muffins down to Ragamuffin and enjoy.  You’re welcome!

Just look at those muffins. So scrumptious.

However Jessie and I both sat down with our muffins, looked to the table next to us and immediately claimed what we like to call #ragamuffinregret. Partly because since converting to the darkside of twitter everything in life is now undeniably hashtaggable, and partly because though we were happy with our muffins – the ones we didn’t have now looked just that little more delicious. But, truth be told no matter what we had ordered, as soon as someone else had something, we wanted it.

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Regret is a horrible thing. Should have’s and what if’s can haunt you. And yes, there are things in life that deserve deep consideration. Relationships are a perfect example with some of my biggest regrets coming from thinking I should have done things differently or said things I didn’t. So yes, those decisions are worth my time (though many of my friends would argue not the amount of time I give them). Thing is though we learn about ourselves from mistakes and with every screw up, we learn what not to do next time – it’s called trial and error learning.

Babies are wonderful at it! When we are little we learn about the world through interacting with it and making mistakes. We screw things up, learn and move on. But somehow as we get older we start blaming and shaming ourselves for decisions we make, decisions which most of the time are made with good intentions…and really, you can only make a choice with the information you hold at any given time.

Life realisation #1: You are not a fortune teller!

Truth be told no matter how many variables you attempt to consider – life is unpredictable, it’s messy, and just because you make one decision doesn’t mean that your choice is not vulnerable to the choices of others. The problem is we believe that if we make a wrong decision it is our fault, we should have known better, or given it more time. Somewhere in the history of decision making we decided that we are mathemagicians who should have perfectly calculated every possible consequence and damaged controlled to evade the apparent Armageddon our decision dawned! Resulting in a reaction somewhat like this…

OMG Panda

Shame on us for blaming ourselves! And shame on me for thinking I hold some omnipotent control over the universe by power of my decision making skills. And yes, I note the irony of blaming myself for blaming myself – but just go with me here.

Some decisions are big. Some choices are life changing. Some consequences hurt. Some are our fault and others we have no control over. But choosing a muffin flavour…. not all that significant!

Life realisation #2: Time allows perspective

Every day we make thousands of decisions and the process is an interesting one. We weigh up all the possibilities resulting in a single final choice. Consciously choosing to gain something, and consciously losing other things. Despite how certain we may be, when we make a decision we are immediately confronted with all the possible consequences to what we just locked in.

The simple trick is to just give it a little time. Now I’m not one to believe ‘time heals everything’, but I do believe that time provides a perspective that the present cannot. Decisions always seem super important the second you make them. But it takes a while for positive reinforcers of big decisions to show or for you to realise how small decisions really held no significance to… well…anything. The fact I got a Lamington muffin and not Pashmore (fyi: Pashmore is heaven in muffin form) really only means that I have now tried one more delicious flavour.

So next time you suffer from #ragamuffinregret remember this: there will always be muffins, eat them, enjoy them, and really – should your muffin regret consume your every thought – just buy yourself another muffin!

 
If you are in the Sydney area, seriously do yourself a favour and head to Ragamuffin, 157 Norton St, Leichhardt. My muffin pick is either Strawberry Milkshake or Pashmore, Jess’ pick is Blueberry Cheesecake…they make a pretty delish coffee too!

Am I something?…

Today I had a little freak out. It’s a common kind of freak out. I am two days away from submitting my final paper for uni and in three days I will no longer be a student….*cue existential crisis*

…I also won’t be the garden fairy I was destined to be in kindergarten. I won’t be the heart surgeon I planned to be in high school or psychologist I thought I would be first year uni. I won’t have a title. Yes, I will be a graduate…but I won’t be ‘something‘. The assumption with not being something is that you are nothing. But that my friends is a sneaky little lie I tell myself the world tells us.

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Why do we strive to be something? Being something   is just title. It’s a name. It captures only what you do to make money. It does not speak to your capacity to love, your hilarious laugh, your humility or impeccable fashion sense. A title cannot capture your identity or your personality. And in my freaking out I feel guilty that the name my parents gave me somehow doesn’t seem enough. That being ‘Rachel’ isn’t enough.

This is not to say that those things shouldn’t be claimed, or that you can’t be anything you choose (though I do question my ability to be an astrophysicist). It’s vital we have lawyers and doctors, artists and – heaven forbid – politicians (ok, maybe not politicians). But when the label becomes how we see the person, I think we have a little problem. We get lost trying to be something that we lose who we are.

Titles are horribly restricting things. They create us and they define us. They create for those with and they outcast those without. And they do this because we let them. And though we know the slippery slope of the comparison trap, we inevitably find ourselves seeking labels. Doctor. Psychologist. Teacher. CEO. And these titles allow us authority, a claim to knowledge & power. Without one the world claims you are just another wanderer, with no purpose. Only to find ourselves falling into whatever label we can hold and regretting the ones we didn’t strive for – or just claim for our own!

There is a poem by a freakishly talented man by the name of Anis Mojgani. Just a note, if you’re not one to appreciate swearing – maybe practice selective hearing. The poem is called ‘Here Am I‘. I listened to it today and though I hear it and go ‘yes, so true!’, as with anything, holding onto truth can be easier said than done. It talks of the worry and fear of expectations, of labels, of life not necessarily being what you had hoped or planned. And he offers solace in the claim,

“Will it make me something? Will I be something? Am I something?

And the answer comes…Already am. Always was.And I still have time to be?”

Right now I’m somewhat of a wanderer. And yes, I will inevitably keep freaking out over the next few days as to who and where i’m going to be in a few months, or even years, because I am the worst at taking my own advice… but I think the truth I need to hold, that we need to hold,  is that you are something, simply by the act of just being you!

So there you go. There is my blog speaking from what I know as Rachel…and I’d like to think that’s something

me with rose

First things first.

Welcome to Rachelbertram.com

I’m Rachel. A twenty-something Sydney sider, who writes songs and sings them here and there. I am also a (soon-to-be graduate) Uni student with not all that much of an idea of what I want to do – other than explore what it means to live, love and experience life authentically and happily. If I can do that, I think I’m doing alright.

me with roseMaking decisions is my worst nightmare. They drive me crazy. Anyone that’s ever gone shopping with me, watch me attempt to compose a tweet or choose a photo to instagram will testify to this – come to think of it, it’s probably their worst nightmare too.

It has literally taken me years to just choose a name for this blog which really – lets be honest – cannot be healthy. Maybe that’s the person I am; always trying to make the perfect decision that I rarely end up making one. Alas, the bullet was bitten, a decision was made…and here we are! Yay for belated decisiveness.

I’ve spent the last 4 and a half years at Uni studying how people think, what people think and the ways in which thinking has shaped this terrifyingly beautiful planet we call home – resulting in a whole lotta thinking.

It’s in these 4 years I have come to the conclusion that reaching any state of knowing is as rare as the adorably neurotic white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland – it exists, but is elusive & fleeting. Capturing this white rabbit for you, even for a moment, is my hope.

This blog is really just a space to engage with life. I know that sounds rather idealistic and amorphous, but that’s how my brain tends to work…you will get used to it. You will find everything from faith to fashion, sexuality to social justice, lifestyle to love. Some things serious, some ridiculous – as that’s the way of life isn’t it? Horribly messy and delightful all at the same time.

I live with two wonderful darlings in Sydney. One’s a dietitian (thank you free nutrition advice) and the other, a fellow writer, though more so along the Sylvia Plath, Shakespearean lines. Both fellow bloggers. Both lovely ladies.

me with roseIn a nutshell…

I love music. I love make-up. I love fashion.

I love tea and I suffer a dangerous addiction to chocolate.

I seek justice. I seek equality. I hold hope. I  question.

…If you do too I believe we will get along just splendidly.

Rach. x