Author Kylie

I am Weak and that is Okay

Yesterday, Sunday 16th of September, was the City to Bay Fun Run here in Adelaide and I participated in the 12km walk. 
I wasn’t feeling particularly ready or confident about it. The weekend before I did a practice walk with my Dad and that resulted in a nasty blister on the sole of my left foot. 
On the plus side though, I was FINALLY going into a walk with both my knees fantastically fine and fit. 
But my feet – my feet were shockingly awful. 
And frankly, I hated every step of the 12km. Half way through and I was crying silently to myself, forcing myself to go faster, just to make it stop. 

The result? I actually almost finished the 12km in 2 hours, I was just three minutes short. Considering I thought I was going to be 2 hours and half an hour, that was pretty good! I sliced off a bit of time on my year before! 
But, ah…ahhhh…
My feet? Oh…boy…
So, you know that blister, yeah…about that…it got worse. 
And I added to it, it’s got a friend, a HUGE friend, the biggest blood blister I have EVER seen in my ENTIRE LIFE. 
I am used to the feeling of walking on knives, that’s pretty normal for me, but this was hot knives. Very painful. 
And let’s add a migraine to that, just to top off the day. So I got home, could barely walk, and was vomiting into a bucket.

I just cried and cried under my cold pack. (I don’t know what hurt more, missing a family movie night that I had been really looking forward to, or the migraine/blisters… ^^;)
Why do I do this to myself? 

Why do I push myself so hard to a point of damaging myself? I really don’t know. I wish I got enjoyment out of exercise, but I don’t, it is far to painful – I get enjoyment out of the feeling of achievement after it I suppose. The feeling that despite everything my body throws at me, I can push myself beyond the agony, beyond the pain, and do something, is a powerful one.

There is a Twitter thread going on right now about how women and girls aren’t weak, and how everyone is tired of that stereotype. Well, to be honest, I feel very weak. Yesterday as I was talking along, silently crying to myself, I felt so weak, so defeated, and so, so alone. It is exhausting forcing myself to not show my pain, to sit in small group with a smile on my face, to not wince when someone claps me on the shoulder. 

One of my characters in my series talks about pain being the long and lonely walk that gradually decays hope. To be honest, I still haven’t figure out his arc yet, perhaps, because I still haven’t figured out my own arc. 

All I know is that in my weakness, I am not weak, I am in fact made stronger through that weakness. I force myself forward through some unseen, crazy force that propels me to just keep marching forward no matter what. 
Hope.
I think that force is Hope

Winter Kisses

I’ll admit – I am in a bit of a procrastination streak at the moment. I am avoiding sitting down to rework Book 3: Messengers – goodness – I don’t even think that will be the title anymore. I am just that unsure about the entire book now.
It isn’t that I don’t like the book, I think it’s totally fine, I just think it needs work and I’m just…dreading having to think about all that work. Every time I visit the cafe, ready for a ‘session’ in which to tackle this enormous task I just sort of think ‘NAHHHHHHH’ – I’ll just do this other book that no one will ever read. ^^;

Then when I get home, having promised I’ll work on the Book I just find other things to do.

Ah well, I know this has happened almost every time I’ve done a book so I’m not too worried. Eventually the whole terror of the situation will have settled and I’ll have rethought the book in my mind. Then I’ll be able to craft it all over again. It’ll be a much stronger story when I’m done. I don’t like writing something I regret later. ^_^

Besides avoiding Book 3 – editing on Book 2 of Northlands Rebellion has begun, and it’s already very exciting. Elle always has this way of bringing out a diamond.

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Aislinn didn’t think much of  being outside, apparently. 

There has been gardening to do, whenever the weather has permitted it. While I am a huge fan of the winter months, I am not overly fond of being cold, but I am learning the wonders of a raincoat.

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On the winter solstice (21st of June) I did a practice run for my Burning of the Yule Log that I am having with my family this Sunday. Yes. I know – it’s not Christmas – but everything is upside down in Australia. You might also be wondering? Why are you burning a Yule Log Kylie?
I’m a romantic, fantasy author, okay, I think old fashioned traditional things are just lovely. Also it’s an excuse to have my family over – and I finally have an open fire place to do something like this in.

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I made this to go on my fireplace. It needs a little bucket to hang from the hook still, and for my Dad to hang it up. I’ve got great plans for some signs in the garden too. I can’t wait to start on them.

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What I have also been doing is repainting these beautiful old gnome’s left in my garden. I started on this adorable house. I first had to sand back the crusted paint as much as I could – which took a lot more effort than I thought.

This is the final result. I have to admit, I’m really, really happy with how it turned out. It turned out better than I thought it would. It gave it a new lease of life. And yes, I did paint the gnome as a Red Shirt from StarTrek. He’s got a little StarTrek symbol on his hat.

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There was also this concrete duck that had lost its beak and one of its feet. I had contemplated what to do with it for awhile. Finally I decided to just rework the entire duck into…a DRAGON.

It is now Dragon-Duck. I’ll give it a good paint and a varnish and add it to my growing collection of dragons in my yard.

So, what else has been happening?
Well – I have some crows? Yeah…two crows are nesting in one of the trees out the back. One day I was sitting at my kitchen table, working away, and I hear this ‘Tap, Tap, Tap’ at the window. I turn around and there is this crow, staring at me through the kitchen window. It taps several more times, as if indicating the empty cat food bowel just sitting in front of it through the window.
I started laughing.
I got up, got out some cat food (because yes, you can feed that to crows) opened my door and set a plate out, sat down next to the crow as it happily gobbled away.

The next day it came back. “Tap. Tap. Tap.”

I looked up. Oh. Two crows! I have two crows! One was busily looking around for twigs to make a nest and the other was once more demanding food.

Thus for the past few days, like clockwork, I get a “Tap. Tap. Tap.” On my living room window.

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I do believe they’ve made a nest in the tree where I park my car. So I hope they don’t get to territorial when Mrs. Crow has her babies – or I at least hope they know who I am.

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And life continues to slowly move forward here in the Writer’s Cottage. I’ll keep you updated on the next books. Thanks for stopping by.
Keep well,
Best wishes,
Kylie

 

Happy Birthday

So. Here I am; twenty-nine years old.
My Dad called me this morning and asked me if I felt twenty-nine . Nope. My sister say’s I’m only allowed to whine about getting old when I reach thirty. Okay. Now. That number just scares me. Not because it’s old or anything, it’s because I feel like by the time you’re thirty you’re supposed to at least have…I donno…gotten married, had kids, or done something like that, right?
My mother commented the other day while we were driving to see my little sister, after mentioning my birthday, just how vastly different our lives were. She was married at nineteen, had all her four kids by thirty. ALL HER FOUR KIDS BY THIRTY. ALL OF THEM.

So yes. Needless to say; my mother and I have walked very different paths.

However, there are things I have done that my mother hasn’t done, and it is good to sometimes look back on those memories and remind myself that even though I haven’t fulfilled the dream of settling down with a bunch of little kids running around yet, I have had some pretty great adventures despite my difficulties.

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Look at me being so contemplative…

In 2009, before we really knew what was going on with my health, and just as I was starting to deteriorate – we went on a family holiday to New Zealand (my third favourite place in the whole world). This family holiday has remained one of my fondest memories. My parents noticed my lack of odd stamina on this trip, which I suppose helped in some way towards my eventual diagnosis – I also fell down the camper-van stair and twisted my ankle and created the family-meme that I *always* fall down stairs.

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My little sister, Melissa, little brother, Michael, (Me) and older brother Andrew. Hah, I just realised we should have done this by age, but we didn’t. Mel should be in the middle with me. We’re so short compared to our bros. 

Somewhere between 2010 and 2011 I went on a trip to England, Ireland and Scotland. I actually can’t remember the year…I have it recorded as 2011 but I don’t trust that anymore after my computer lost it’s hard-drive.
This was my adventure of a lifetime – and – in TRUE Kylie fashion what did I do? I tripped over and busted me knee (see, see!) I ended up in a hospital in the middle of London at Midnight for an x-ray. The ride in the ambulance was fun though, as the paramedics were really, really lovely. The whole experience was actually pretty interesting.
My poor parents though – second day in and they get a phone call from me, “Ah, yeah, um…I’m in hospital.”
Anyway, a wrapped up knee layer and a pair of crutches had me right back on track and I was on my tour. So I couldn’t really run around as much as I had hoped, but I was going to make the most of being in in the countries I loved so, so much.

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Before I did my knee in. ^_^

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I know this picture doesn’t look like much – but I am the happiest person in the world right in this moment. I am in Scotland (my favourite country), surrounded by wonderful people, and we’re in the Highlands, and I’d just bought that hat. My favourite souvenir from the whole trip.

I have so many stories I could tell from my trip to England, Ireland and Scotland. It was such a marvellous adventure. I cherish the memories dearly, and I often think of it randomly – the memories just pop into my head and make me smile. I had never seen grass so green, I had never seen fields so fresh, and streets so tiny. When I got lost in the cobbled stone roads of St. Ive, hobbling around on my crutches, crying and crying, wondering if I would ever escape, it felt like a nightmare but now, looking back, I laugh at the hilariousness of it all. All I wanted was a Cornish pasty.

My next adventure was back to New Zealand for the release of the first Hobbit movie – can you believe this was in 2012. WOW. I travelled to New Zealand with a group of Lord of the Rings and Narnia fans for an epic trip to see all the movie sights. Made some good friends. My favourite part was probably getting the most epic tan ever waiting at the red carpet (mostly because it didn’t require me moving…at this point, I knew my stamina was bad and I just couldn’t do everything everyone else and it sorta sucked, okay, I hated it, so if I could join in something that meant standing still, I was totally there.)

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Yeah! Red carpet event! Whoop!

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The best day – by far though – was the visit to Hobbiton. If I can someday get my garden looking this wonderful I will be a happy, happy little Hobbit girl. This is my favourite photo from the trip – standing in front of Samwise’s house. 

Later that evening at The Green Dragon we were the first tour group to ever have a meal there. These are the wonderful things memories are made of.

 

We had an amazing guide – Mike.

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Then – an adventurer came to visit me.
My most wonderful, best friend, Anouk headed all the way to Australia from the Netherlands. There are friendships that shape you, and define you, and bring out the best in you and the friendship I have with Anouk is one of those. We’ve been friends for…oh gosh…almost, I think it’s almost ten years now. I think. Meeting someone you’ve only known online is incredible. It was profound. It makes the world so much bigger, and so much smaller, all that once. The moment she left was heart breaking, and I couldn’t stop crying.
I am very grateful the internet opened the doors for me to meet such a beautiful person.

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Now I am heading off on another adventure in a week or so. Off to Melbourne. I know, I know, it’s not another country or anything, but it feels just as epic in my mind. I have never really travelled outside of South Australia much and this will be my first time in another Australia’s major cities.
I have a wonderful, amazing group of people I am heading off with for Supanova, and I am so looking forward to the new memories to add to my collection.

So I might not have done what I dreamt of as a little girl – fulfilled the dreams of my childhood – but looking back – I’ve had a pretty good run of it and I am so grateful to everyone I’ve met along the way who has shared these moments with me.

Thanks everyone.

Seasons of Change

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As the season changes in gradual Autumn colours the life of my family shifts once more. How can such joy come in such a tiny package? I am filled with an immense, overwhelming happiness when thinking about the newest member of my family – little Mordecai Gratez, born on the 9th of March.

At the beginning of last year things were so different and to just look upon my nephew gives me so much hope for the future, to realise that anything is possible. I hold onto that hope for my own life.

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My parents recently came around to my house to help with the garden – we called it a working bee – and it was really helpful to clear a lot away so I can begin building the garden back up again. We cut down some old, dead trees, took out some cacti. I am pretty much in the garden every day now.

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Dad was able to put my signs up. They look pretty adorable. ^_^

Having a house is an incredible change, a huge step, and I am still adapting to it, still having to pinch myself sometimes when I wake up in the morning and step outside. There is a lot to do, a lot of responsibility. Every day there is something to do. Paths to sweep. Garden to water. Floor to clean. Dishes to wash. Just something. Sometimes its something I can’t do because I’m not strong enough and I gripe about it for awhile and set it aside in my basket of ‘things Kylie can’t do’ – but I will get there, eventually.

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Having my cat with me has been wonderful. I know it’s an awful stereotype that single women, who are writers, love their cats – but I do. Once upon a time, I was a on a drug called Zoloft, and this was back in the day before the knowledge that in certain people, anti-depressants could have an adverse reaction was common. Instead of giving me equilibrium, the drug threw me into a suicidal cycle. Very frightening for my parents. It was during this period of time that my mother brought me a companion – Aislinn. I was very lonely. So, so lonely. I had just left face-to-face school, feeling like I had failed completely in my education and started school via long-distance. I was alone. So my mother brought me a friend. Aislinn barely left my side.

Eventually my mother figured out what was going on with the drugs – she’s got smarts, my Mum – and coming off them allowed me to regain my mind. I don’t recall much of this time in my life (which is odd for me), it is a big, blurry whole of nothing apart from scattered fragments. I didn’t even keep a journal, and the few scratches of pages I do have are…frankly…the writings of a girl I don’t know. Someday I want to write a book about this but I really don’t know where to start. That’s the thing about having kept a journal from when I was eight. Where do I start?

I have always been really embarrassed about it, and I’ve never wanted to speak about it. Every time I go to the doctors, having a diagnosis of ‘depression’ is frustrating because, obviously, that was a LONG, LONG time ago and I am an adult now but these things stay on your record forever no matter how much you grow and change as a person. But I am growing and changing as a young woman, and realising I don’t need to be embarrassed for a past I had no control over, for the story that has made me who I am today. The strong, resilient young woman who wants to hold her head up high and walk out into the world without fear.

I still react poorly to most medications. Whatever the worst side-effect is, there is a high likelihood that I’ll get it. Just seems to be the way my body works.

But I got through all that, as difficult as it was, and here Aislinn and I are, still together, a cat and her writer.

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But I digressed – back to my original point – as I look upon my nephew, beautiful, sweet and so new into this world, his entire life ahead of him I reminded by his existence, that anything is possible.

So I live in hope.

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The seasons are always changing and I am looking forward to seeing what adventure lies around the next corner. As I wait, I will just keep gardening, writing and loving my family as the leaves gradually fall.

 

Painkillers

Originally I wanted to write a blog about settling into my new house, but something else popped up that I wanted to talk about.
If you’re in Australia you might have heard about rise in codeine addiction, leading to overdoses, and deaths, which has in turn lead to these painkillers – that were over-the-counter  – to now being prescription only.

The higher dose ones were always prescription only. I recall my Dad getting told off for having my Padadine Forte in the ER one trip – because it wasn’t under lock and key.

I am VERY sensitive to medication. If there is a side effect to a medication, chances are, I’m going to end up with it. This has made me extremely wary of taking drugs. I don’t like them, they make me feel weird, and I’ve just had way to many bad experiences. I can tell you some stories.

But codeine is something I found that I could take in really small quantities to just take the edge of my pain. I can’t tolerate more than two tablets of strong pain relief a day – and even then – I have to go on detox weeks to make it become effective again, as, after awhile, my body just grows used to it. So instead of upping the dose, I stop taking it. This method has allowed me to remain on a really low dose.

I’ve talked to my doctor about it often, he was surprised the first time I discussed it with him that I wasn’t taking more painkillers (because I was expressing how worried I was at my use of painkillers, I think he was expecting me to using heaps!) He told me I could be taking three times as much as still not be in a danger zone, and I told him I couldn’t imagine how anyone could take more than two without throwing up!

This all leads to February the 2nd and the ban on selling codeine products over-the-counter. I understand why they’ve implemented it, but I am still annoyed. When I went to the pharmacy to get my script for my Strong Pain filled, I felt shame when I was drilled by the pharmacist about my ‘drug use’ – the same shame I’ve felt every single time I’ve been drilled about my ‘drug use’ since this whole shebang started up and I had to start handing over my drivers license to be recorded into the system.

Don’t get me wrong. I know and understand why the government has done this, but I’m annoyed that the media hasn’t talked about those of us who try to manage our pain well, who do our best to maintain our use of medication. There are those of us who go to our doctors, talk to them, diligently discuss plans and processes, but end up just coming back to plodding our way through day-to-day life one-step-at-a-time.

I also understand people who cannot maintain equilibrium. In some way, it’s a blessing that I react so badly to medication, otherwise I could so easily see myself wanting to take more painkillers because I just want the pain to go away so, so, so badly.
There are mornings when I just sit in a chair, unable to move, wondering ‘Why on earth did I get up this morning?’ which is then followed by ‘Because you’ll still be in pain while in bed, you idiot.’

Pain has taught me many things, two of them being: How to live in tolerance and regulation.

Though I am really, really annoyed at the pharmaceutical companies that are not making the drugs anymore, or “re-branding the drugs” – making them paracetamol and ibuprofen. No. No. I don’t want paracetamol and ibuprofen!! You don’t think I haven’t tried that already!

*sigh*

It’s going to be an inconvenience, but I’ll take the inconvenience if it means saving lives and I guess, in the end, that’s what it comes down to.

I never wanted to be a stereotype…

A stereotype.
I recall hearing the word frequented in writing classes I attended – telling me to avoid stereotypes, type-casting characters into cookie cutter blocks, that I needed to give them flaws and backgrounds, something to make them seem human to the readers.
I was young, gosh, I had to be – fifteen – yeah – about fifteen. Gracious me – FIFTEEN – I didn’t know anything about what the world had to offer.
Sweet sixteen, they say, don’t they, when you get your first kiss?
No, I had my stolen from me at twenty-eight and it was the worst experience ever.  I’m filing that under memories I wish I could erase, clean my whiteboard from all the smudges that horrid recollection drudges up, every time I re-loop the memory. I’m such a broken record.

I find, though, that stereotypes in writing can sometimes be useful. It simply depends on how skilled the author in question is, in using them – much like all other tools in the library of tools at the disposal of an author.

However, a stereotype of real life is another discussion all together.
Some stereotypes can have negative continuations.
I wanted to be a particular sort of stereotype – I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mother.
It was the dream. I didn’t care what anyone ever said, it was my dream.
It is a dream that is gradually fading away. Is it my fault? Perhaps. Sometimes I think it is.

I am an author, an illustrator – and I fear I have become a stereotype of that – I live at home, with my parents. I am a lover of pop-culture, a collector of stuff, (or junk, as my family would say) and I even have a cat, who I’m a little bit…ah…overly fond of. I mean, if she dropped dead, yeah, I’d be sad, but I’d just get another one. But she is my companion. I do love her, but she’s just a pet. I just happen to not have…many people to talk to…so…I talk to a cat.
It’s weird.
And so, I am weird.

And I am ashamed of this.
Yet I cannot change who I am. I like who I am. I love this young woman I have become.
I adore the enjoyment I get out of simple things. How I light up at entertainment, and can see the beauty in art that people often scoff at, how the stories in anime utterly delight and enthral me, and I can get lost in their worlds for days thinking on their deep, deep topics. I might not manage large crowds of people, and I’m awful in big groups, but get me started on a topic I love, or world politics, or the creation of the universe, or the beauty in this world, and I could talk for hours.
Sure, I am weird – but I am weirdly wonderful.

A part of me truly hopes that someday I will be that mother, but if that dream never comes to pass, then I am already living a wonderful dream.
I am a fantasy author – with a cat.
I’m going to write, and keep writing, until all my stories are told.

Pain

This was written about a month ago, on a very bad day when my pain was excruciatingly bad and I couldn’t take it – so I decided to try and write what it felt like. Since then, nothing much has changed, I’ve just been coping with the ‘new normal’ which is a steady increase of overall pain levels.
However, upon re-reading this with a little bit of more level head, I felt it was still worthy of a share. There might be others out there who deal with chronic pain, or a chronic illness, who have similar experiences. I simply do not know.
If you do – know you’re not alone, even if the battle is a lonely one. 

Pain is exhausting.
It eats at me, every single day. Piece by piece it consumes. It started as an ember, so small, years ago, and now it is a fire, fuelled by existence alone and sometimes it is all I seem to know.

It hurts to even breath. Each lung full is like stretching skin over barbed wire. When did my chest start betraying me, I am often left to ponder? There is not a day that passes when my head is not ripping itself apart with hatchets. What would it be like to live without a headache? Would I even know myself if I ever woke up without one?

Pain has blurred memories together, and years have become a long string of time wasted away in a body that is young, but feels so decrepit.

I should be relishing in youth.
So young, people tell me. Oh, Kylie, you are so young. You have so much time. Don’t worry – don’t worry – you are in the prime of your life. Their words are like mockery. I haven’t felt young in a long time. Not in a body that I am forced to drag through a day. The vigour of youth is long past, despite the youthful years of my unwrinkled cheeks. Yet, what life have I truly lived? Can I say I have lived at all? People my age seem so falsely carefree. They are like adverts in front of me, flashing on a movie screen, portraying a wondrous example of just what I do not have:
Freedom from an invisible tower, created by bricks of pain, built up day by day.
And there is no prince to save and comfort, just endless staring out a window, wishing for the seasons to change.

Pain has already worn me down, it’s a grindstone and I am the dull blade never to be sharpened.

The fingertips on a keyboard become sharp, stabs, as if I’ve pounded them down to the very bone—but if I had, would they hurt anymore? Everything is heavy, even smiling is an effort I just can’t be bothered with doing. Am I beautiful, without a smile? Have I ever been beautiful?

The first man to call me beautiful, other than my father, was an elderly gentleman in a café.
No man has ever told me again.
It is just a word, I always tell myself—
But it is word with such potent meaning.
Like pain.
A word becomes a dagger in the heart—if you let it.
Don’t let it.

My entire world has shrunken into a room. I am Rapunzel in her tower. Sleeping Beauty waiting to wake up from a dream. Snow White poisoned by an apple. Ariel wishing to explore a world above. Moana trying to escape to the ocean. I can almost reach—but I just can’t make it.

I try, I try, I keep trying. I fight, I fight and I keep fighting.

Some battles are lifetime worthy. Some princesses pick up the armour of a dead knight nearby, and battle their dragons alone.

 

6km Walk

Today was the first time I’ve walked 6km since my knee operation.
I’ve been building up to 6km, slowly, for a few months now after I had to pretty much instantly stop all walking right after the Pichi Richi 21km walk in which I busted my knee (again).
It felt really weird having built myself up to a level of fitness for the Pichi Richi half-marathon over months of training and then suddenly doing nothing at all due to an injury.
Thankfully, my second knee operation has really helped, and now my knee is not so bothersome — indeed, exercising it helps keep the pain away.

My aim is to build up to either 10 or 12km every Saturday. It’ll be slow getting there but I now know it is possible to push my body to that limit, despite how dreadfully painful it is to do anything.

So. I have my goal set. Let’s see if I can cross the finish line.

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