With new eyes

Yesterday, I returned from a retreat with the rest of my year 12 peers. I spent three days and two nights with old friends, new friends, complete strangers, and teachers, and now I feel as though I am seeing with new eyes.

Over the course of the retreat, we completed activities and discussions both as a large group of 90, and in randomly selected small groups. We were given the chance to reflect on what we thought about ourselves, what others thought of us, our family life, where we stood on faith, and where we wanted to take ourselves in the future.

In all honesty, before we embarked on the trip, I had a few trepidations. Year 12s from previous years had given me both sides of the argument: some had said it was boring, some said it was the most amazing thing ever. Truth is, each person’s retreat is completely unique to them, and no two experiences are exactly the same. All the same, I had some skepticism.

On arrival, we were divided into dorms we chose ourselves. It’s one thing to have group discussions with complete strangers, and another to sleep with them, so I was lucky enough to share a dorm with some of my best friends, which turned out to be a party of screaming over spiders, awful singing, and going through five bags of chocolates and lollies. Good times.

In my small group however, I had actually never really met any of them before, despite being at school with two of them for nearly 7 years. The three of us had just belonged to completely different worlds and our paths had never crossed. But over the course of the retreat, we, eight of us altogether, got to know some really personal things about one another and I really felt as though we became good friends in such a small amount of time.

In the larger group discussions, I got to know a lot more about the teachers and leaders on the camp as they shared some truly heartbreaking stories about their pasts. Sometimes we forget that teachers are people too with pain and dark places and tragedy in their lives, and this camp really made me see them for who they really were; ordinary people with their own baggage to carry through life. We also were given the opportunity to explore our faith and our opinions on religion and belief. As someone who at this moment in life is unsure of where they stand in terms of faith, I had always felt a bit lost and alone. But this session made me see that there were so many people like me, standing at the crossroads of faith and still undecided on which way to turn. I felt less alone. I was also surprised by the kind of response that the group had and the variety of issues discussed. I hate to label or to impose stereotypes, but usually the “jocks” of my school aren’t really the kinds of people who have much to say about religion, so I was amazed by the amount of them who actually contributed really well and brought some incredibly insightful opinions to the table. Just shows that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

During free time and meal times, we would write little affirmation notes and letters to each other and slipped them into each person’s personalised envelopes. These were then given back to the students to read through, and I was surprised by the amount of affirmations I got. Some of mine were signed and some of them were anonymous, but all of them touched me so deeply. I have often wondered what other people thought of me, and I was amazed at the amount of positivity within each of the notes I received. They really made me feel good about myself, and I did my best to give back what I got, writing to as many people as I could over the course of the retreat.

The part that touched me the most though was the letters we received from our families. I hadn’t known beforehand, but the school had asked our families to write us letters, to be read on the last night of the retreat. I received one from my parents, and one each from my sisters. I sat there, reading in a corner next to one of my best friends, both of us crying silently as we read the beautiful words our families had written for us. I hadn’t know my sisters could write the way we did, and I was just overwhelmed with emotion.

Not all of the camp was completely deep and emotional though, and after the letter writing we spent the rest of the night singing songs and pulling pranks. It just felt so good to be completely free from school commitments and stress for a couple of days and get the opportunity to bond with our peers.

If I were to describe every detail of the retreat in-depth, I’d be here writing for days, but I really just wanted to share a little bit about how this wonderful experience really spoke to me and opened my eyes to the beauty of those around me. It’s been said that nobody except those who have been on a retreat can fully understand it, but I’ll say that how I felt about my experience cannot be expressed in words. If you ever get the opportunity to go on a retreat, be it with work, school, or just friends, I urge you to seize the chance with both hands. It’s an experience like no other and I can guarantee it will change how you see the world.

The gum tree

Gum tree at retreat camp

Sorry for such a long personal post, I just really felt the need to share this.

-Christie 🙂 xx

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Guess who’s back…

Hello hello hello! Dearie me, it’s been far too long. I looked back on the last time I posted before the two reviews I recently wrote and realised the last time I posted was the thIRD OF OCTOBER. How bloody embarrassing…

I hate making excuses, but school really took a lot out of me this year. I had lapsed into this near-robotic state of just constantly working and stressing and barely sleeping, and the only thing that kept me going was basically caffeine. Not exactly healthy, I know, but by the last few weeks, I was running on empty. The amount of work I had to do kept me away from reading and blogging, and even when I had a few spare minutes, I couldn’t find the energy to do either. I just wanted to curl up and sleep for 500 years. After exam week, I had Year 12 induction week, so I basically was given introduction lessons to all of my subjects plus my research project and I have six assignments to keep me occupied these holidays. I mean, not like I have anything better to do like, y’know, holidaying hahahahahahahahahahaha *eye twitch*.

But I made it. I’m not dead. I struggled on. I kept going even when my batteries reached 0%. I dragged myself across the finish line gasping for water, a cold flannel and a fan. I gave myself a week of not worrying about work or responsibilities and allowed myself time to sleep and read and be a useless member of society, and now I’m back and I’m gonna be blogging with a vengeance. I have an arsenal of story ideas and an armada of reviews and I’m going to be writing relentlessly. I feel obliged to make up for lost time and lost life and I promise I’ll be trying to redeem myself as best I can.

For those of you who have stuck with me, I thank you with all my heart. It means so much to me that there’s even a possibility that there are some people out there who read all of my rambling nonsense, and even the slightest chance that there are people who read my blog and actually like it is overwhelming. So thank you for your patience as I’ve battled through this storm of a year, fallen over quite a few times, and emerged, bruised and breathless on the other side where you wait with a shake of the head, a Band-Aid and a cup of tea.

You ain’t getting rid of me that easy.

– Christie 🙂 xx

Just an update

Hi guys, I thought I’d just post an update to tell you all that I’m still alive! (barely)

I know I haven’t blogged in forever, and I can’t begin to express how sorry I am about that. I hate having to give excuses, it’s just that I have had so much going on at school at the moment. My life has literally revolved around preparations for my school’s biannual musical (we performed The Wedding Singer and it was fantastic!) and the homework that I am slowly drowning in.

I do have a few reviews lined up, but as of yet, I haven’t been able to finish them, but hopefully I will find the time soon!

Again, I’m sorry I’ve been negligent to post, but to those who have stuck with me during my absence, thank you!

 

-Christie xx 🙂

Writers on Writing

I was having a discussion with my friend the other day about writing. The conversation started with me asking her what she was doing at that point in time and she told me she was leisure writing. “That sounds nice”, I tell her, and she replies with “Not really. It’s so disappointing to read, the absence of my inner Shakespeare depresses me”. It saddened me to hear her speak of her writing that way, seeing as I know for a fact that she is an incredibly detailed and poetic writer. I suppose that I really can’t argue though, I sometimes get nice things said about my writing, but I hardly ever take them to heart because I feel that I am unworthy of them.

But it got me thinking; “surely we can’t be the only ones who think like this?” I feel as though every writer has thought about their writing as incompetent or unimaginitive at some point. I think the reason for this is because it’s our own work.

We have painted a picture in our minds of who is in our stories, where they are set, and how things turn out. We’ve read over them and re-written them so many times we can barely see straight anymore, and we can pick out the flaws and the faults and the things that could be better. It is difficult when you have an image in your head and what you create turns out drastically different, or does not have the flow or rhythm that you imagined it to have.

It can’t just be amateurs like us who become overpowered by the urge to flip a table because nothing’s working out, either. I can just imagine J.K Rowling sitting and staring at her computer screen and going, “this is not what I thought it would sound like at all”. We’re just critical of our own work is all, because we know it could always be better.

This being said though, the reader has a very different point of view. They read your creations, completely unaware of the tears, frustration, and hours of looking up cat videos on YouTube that went into the production. They can’t see into your mind, so they don’t know the difference between the finished product in front of them and your original idea. They see your writing in a new light, with new eyes and are swept away by the words you have spun.

To me, flexibility is key; you must be open-minded and willing to make changes where necessary, and maybe where unnecessary, depending on how your ideas change. For a writer working on a piece that they have created from the depths of their imagination, something that is significant and has meaning, change can be a nightmare. But once you see the bigger picture and the finished product, the changes could be the best decisions you’ve ever made.

Really what I’m trying to say is; If you love writing, do it. Write what you feel and edit it how you want. There are moments when you just want to give the whole damn thing up and go eat ice cream, but I’m telling you right now, don’t do that (well, the giving up part anyway. As for the ice cream, go right ahead!). Keep on at it and you might be surprised by how people respond to it!