My response to 35 Letters – for BOFA

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I was recently contacted by local screenwriter all round champ Briony Kidd to write a response piece about a movie screening at the upcoming Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival in Launceston. I chose the movie 35 Letters, a documentary about Angelique Flowers, a young woman from Melbourne and her plight to die on her own terms.

My response to 35 Letters

As featured on the BOFA website.

I’m turning 25 in several weeks and I think about death often. Not necessarily my own death, but the deaths of people I love. Two people from my year group at school have passed and several friends have died since. Both my grandfathers have died since I became an adult. But in all of this, I can’t imagine myself getting sick and dying. The idea of being in immense pain that doesn’t end is horrifying.

After watching 35 Letters last night, death and the fragility of life have been on my mind all day. I’m participating in Frocktober at the moment – raising money for early detection methods into ovarian cancer. This is the third year I’ve worn a dress each day in October to raise money for vital research. Ovarian cancer has an extremely high mortality rate with hidden symptoms. From what I understand, by the time it’s diagnosed, the cancer has often spread to other parts of the body.

Angelique Flowers was only five years older than me when she passed away a month shy of her 31st birthday from intestinal cancer. Besides the fact that she died so young, the way she died has been the bit that has been haunting me. Angelique researched the way she was going to die. Instead of spending her last moments with her family and friends, she was busy researching ways she could end her own life so she wouldn’t have to die a painful, humiliating death – ultimately from a painful bowel obstruction and vomiting up her faeces.

35 Letters made my body go into a sort of shock – a mash between hot tears and an intake of sharp breath, several times. Though the scenes that most brought this out were not scenes featuring Angelique, but those where Angelique’s brother, Damien, recalled Angelique’s final moments and his own guilt. My three siblings all live at least two plane trips away from me. The idea that one of them may die slowly and painfully, or my parents, begging for help to ease their pain gives me shivers.

Several weeks ago my best friend’s grandfather passed away. My friend told me how he and his wife had kept ‘the green dream’ in the cupboard: a lethal dose of the barbiturate Nembutal. My best friend had always known about the Nembutal, her grandparents had had it since the 1970s and talked openly about using it when the time came. As a nurse, her grandmother had seen countless times how bad it can get for some people before their deaths. I explained to my friend how this was illegal and they could have been investigated. She couldn’t understand how someone else can hold power over the way an individual chooses to die.

I was in the room when my grandfather died last year at the age of 93. I heard his last breath and felt his spirit passing. It was peaceful. I don’t believe he was in pain. If I had thought he was suffering I would have done everything I possibly could to make sure he didn’t. I don’t have the Christian conviction that there is eternal life for us after our physical time on earth. Ideally, I would die peacefully in my sleep, in the arms of my loved ones, and mentally aware enough to have said a heartfelt goodbye. I believe there is power in the way we choose to live and die, and don’t believe that someone else’s Christian beliefs should impact on such an important personal decision. As Angelique Flowers said before her death, “The law wouldn’t let a dog suffer the agony I’m going through before an inevitable death. It would be put down. Yet under the law, my life is worth less than a dog’s.”

When Nick McKim and Lara Giddings tried to pass the Tasmanian Voluntary Assisted Dying bill in 2013, it was defeated by only two votes. So, so close. Not only that, but apparently 80 per cent of Tasmanians polled were in favour of the bill. How does that work? I would love someone to explain to me how MPs are elected to represent the people in their constituents and then not deliver on what they want. Why on earth would you prefer someone you love to suffer a painful, undignified death? People want control over their death. It would be empowering to know when and how you die. Surrounded by loved ones, drifting off to eternal sleep – that would be the ultimate way to end this life.


Thank you to Briony for the opportunity.

Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival is on this coming weekend in Launceston. If anybody needs a lift up from Hobart let me know. It’s going to be a great weekend!

Material Girl: 3 impulse buys I don’t regret

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thecupthief material girl

Are you an impulse buyer?

Anyone who knows my wardrobe may dispute this, but I promise over the course of the past few years I have been trying to downsize to work out what I really do need.

Alack, impulsive buying has meant I continually have so much crap! Despite the ill-fitting clothes, the expensive items that just aren’t ‘me’ enough to wear them, the impractical shoes and the ugly jewelry (life is WAY too short for ugly jewels!),  there have been several material things that have really changed my wardrobe and made my life simpler and comfier! I know it sounds cliche but I think your clothes can impact on the way you feel.

As Richard said, what is the point? Well, I want to introduce to you the items that I DON’T regret for a second and I’d love to hear about your  impulse buys  you don’t regret also: the items of clothing that have changed your life. The jeans you will never stop wearing, the merino possum scarf you swear by, the cashmere underwear you would wear everyday if you could.

Comfy, jumping-in-puddles shoes:

I used to always dread heading into Tasmanian winters. Since making the switch away from acrylic and towards wool, I’ve been able to enjoy the cold weather a little bit more. Lib made her own impulse buy when she bought some Dr Martens from Evandale Market, several sizes too small. Cue me, her vertically challenged friend in desperate need of shoes. Through Lib’s generosity, I have had some go-to shoes that look great with everything, are comfortable and I don’t feel like I’m going to slip on my butt in the mud walking down the drive way.

After spying some pretty purple docs on Hobart Clothing Exchange I knew I just had to have them. I can comfortably wear them all day long selling pretty handmade goods at Salamanca market and can run to work in them. Hooray for these shoes! Just putting on my docs make me want to walk!

A pretty watch:

I bought a cheap purple watch off ASOS about six months ago. At the time I thought it was definitely an impulse buy – but to be honest having a watch on my wrist has been great for me.  It’s a constant reminder to make time, to be on time, to plan ahead and to monitor my energy and how I’m feeling. True, I could just look at my phone. But I’m much more inclined to check my wrist regularly and consciously without having to dig around in my bag.

 

The Cup Thief impulse buy

Which is your favourite?

 

A backpack!

Holy heck. I’ve had a backpack before but not one so small and goddam cute enough for me to want to take it everywhere.

I bought my backpack at Hobart’s Re-Loved Market for ten dollars. It’s patchwork suede in pinks and browns.

It fits my new Kitty Came Home wallet (another amazing impulse buy- this one from my work at Merchant), phone, snacks, a notepad and even my drink bottle. My hands are free to pick flowers, take selfies and propel myself faster down the hill when I’m running late for work.

 
What items of clothing or accessories have made your life simpler? Do you have an impulse buy that turned out to be the best thing ever?

♀ ♀ ♀

 
Top Image: My purple docs,
Cherry Red Docs for sale on Asos
Lazy Oaf Pom Grid Backpack
Hummingbird Watch by Olivia Burton

Frocktober: One week to go!

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frocktober

You can follow my Frocktober outfits on my instagram- laurak_tct. :)

There is one week left of Frocktober for 2014 and ‘frock fatigue’ has definitely set in.

The thing about cancer is though that there is no escaping it – no end date. You’re either going to experience it or someone you love will. According to Cancer Council,

“1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.”

A few weeks ago a very loved, young Hobart woman passed away from cancer. Someone very close to me has had both parents have some sort of cancer. My cousin has had cancer.

Fuck cancer.

Frocktober Picnic is this Sunday. Please do come if you’re in Hobart – even if it’s just to say hi and donate. I’ll be passing around a jar to put coins in, and giving away slices of Richard’s yummy chocolate cheesecake//brownie slice! (thanks in advance Rich!)

Frocktober is my tangible way of not feeling so helpless when it comes to the big C-word.

To donate to the campaign please visit my donation page here.

A big thank you to the lovely Ally, Stacy and my sister Emma for donating so far.

Mental Health Month

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mental health month

Photograph from abeautifulmess.com

As well as Frocktober, this month is Mental Health Month.

This year marks four years of medication for depression and anxiety. I’ve talked a lot, or I feel like I talk a lot about how it started – a culmination of events.

At my worst I spent several days glued to my computer looking at suicide websites. I think I didn’t seek help initially because of how other people might react. Even now as I write this I feel like I’m going to offend members in my family for sharing, bring them shame and making them feel uncomfortable.

A month and a half ago I wrote about my feelings after my friend Cam’s suicide. I meant for the post to challenge stigma and to give people a space to talk. Someone close to Cam asked if I could take it down to which I obliged. I never wanted to hurt anybody. Of course everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and perspectives, and perhaps I didn’t need to take it down as it was on my webpage, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it and I’m glad he contacted me. It made me think about people’s reactions and the aftermath of suicide, specifically guilt.

Guilt can be an incredibly intense feeling. At the end of the day, if someone is going to take their own life for whatever reason, there might always be those niggling feelings of ‘what if’. You’ll never know if you could have ‘saved’ them, or stopped them. Every time I think of Cam I feel it to some degree.

Why do some people choose to take their own lives and others choose to live? Of course people have varying degrees of symptoms and diagnoses, but it’s NOBODY’s fault when someone chooses to take his or her own life.

In the end it’s their journey and their life. We all die. Some people can live to 103, others will die before they’re out of the womb. Some people find it empowering to know that they can choose when they end their life.

The point is that life is definite and fragile, and mental health is complex.

When mental health issues are seen as something inherently wrong, shameful or embarrassing it prevents people from seeking help, from sharing how they feel or acknowledging what is happening to them.

Over the past few weeks people have been generous in opening up on facebook and on blogs, contributing their stories. They’ve been articulate and thoughtful, helpful and honest. I feel like the conversations around mental health are changing. It would be awesome if the dialog continued even after mental health month ends.

 

If you would like more information on seeking help, have a read of my friend Jaen’s experience of starting therapy.

DIY Easy Tassel Earrings

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DIY easy tassel earrings

Phew. Frocktober is a few days away from being half-way through! To be honest, it’s been a struggle wearing a dress everyday. I’m constantly feeling overdressed, although I’m sure I’m not. I’ve been repeating outfits and trying to make ‘new’ outfits by finding alternative ways to wear the same thing – a different pair of shoes, different coloured tights, lots of different jewellery!

Today I wore a dress I bought at Re-Loved market last month. As I was wandering around town I saw the prettiest tassel earrings  for sale in a bespoke homewares shop in the CBD for thirty dollars a pair. Straight to Spotlight I went to make my own!

I chose black to go with my new dress (the green one in the above picture – gorgeous 60s inspired Revival dress!) but I’d love to make some hot pink tassel earrings too. I will have to dye the tassels pink as there were none in hot pink (although there should be –  if you’re going to make a point of decorating your curtains by tying them back you might as well go all out!) Heh.

DIY easy tassel earrings

So easy it doesn’t even really require do-it-yourself instructions; almost. I made these in under five minutes this afternoon.

  • Tassels: From Spotlight in the curtain section. There were also other tassels in the craft section but they were thinner and the thread didn’t have the same look – they looked floss-like. These could be useful if you weren’t ready to make the commitment to thicker tassels.
  • Pack of Shepherds Hooks (basic hook earrings) from Spotlight’s jewelry section. These hooks come in all sorts of colours, I went for an older looking silver.

Make sure your tassels are the right length for how and where you want them to sit. The tassels I bought had a long tie so I knotted it before attaching the shepherds hook. Use pliers to open the shepherds hook end to attach the tassels. Close again with pliers. Done!

So satisfying, so easy! They cost me around $10 to make all up.

Let me know if you make a pair of diy easy tassel earrings ♥

:)

 

DIY easy tassel earrings
DIY easy tassel earrings

Frocktober day 10 outfit xx

PS if you want you to donate to my Frocktober campaign you can do so  here (every dollar counts!) Thankyou <3

♀ ♀ ♀

The Friendly Witch: magical birthday parties

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the friendly witch the cup thief

Introducing another alter-ego of mine, The Friendly Witch!

Growing up I had fabulous birthday parties. There was one where I couldn’t stop crying (maybe aged 6?). The one with a barbie doll cake from the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book.  My ninth birthday party at Number 10 Reception Centre (if you grew up in Launceston in the 90s you would know this place!) – complete with BettyBoop decorations, limbo and a revolting meringue cake. Heck, one year my parents even rented out a huge jumping castle and it was blown up and plonked in my parent’s backyard.

And while I can remember these memorable parties, I can’t remember what I was actually given for my birthday. Not that this matters, but it goes to show it’s the things that happen at your birthday that count and ultimately you remember remember as a child. Toys are easily broken and/or forgotten.

the friendly witch

The Friendly Witch: crafty birthday parties for children aged between 6-12 years old.

About two weeks ago I couldn’t sleep and instead was thinking of ways I could make money – without compromising who I am and what I want to do. My only “free” day is Sunday now- with Spice World, Merchant and Smallshop and Henk Berg on the weekends at the market. So what could I do to earn some more money while having fun and doing something productive?

Children’s birthday parties. Genius.

I’ve already done a few here and there, and adding crafts to the mix is a great way to get the children involved, focus their sugar highs and as guests create something meaningful to take home with them.

So I’ve made a website and I’m excited to debut as The Friendly Witch! Fingers crossed I’ll get some party bookings soon!

It’s Frocktober again!

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frocktober the cup thief

Happy first day of Frocktober!

For the entire month of October for the past two years I’ve wear a dress every day. Being a legging-loving woman living in Tasmania wearing a dress is the last thing I want to step out of the house in – but it’s for a good cause.

Frocktober is an initiative created by a bunch of friends from Geelong to raise money for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation once a year.

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is the growth of malignant cells in one or both ovaries, and is often accompanied by the spread of malignant cells to surrounding organs in the abdominal cavity. Whilst a small number of cases appear to have an underlying genetic component, in most instances the causes of ovarian cancer are unknown.

Unfortunately, there is no early detection and most women are diagnosed in the later stages of cancer.

Ovarian cancer is an insidious disease, often known as a “silent-killer” as symptoms are vague and often strike without warning.

The Facts:

  • Every ten hours, one woman dies from ovarian cancer in Australia
  • Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death of all gynaecological cancers
  • Unlike other cancers, there is NO early detection test
  • Over 50% of the community incorrectly believe a pap smear diagnoses ovarian cancer
  • Ovarian cancer has a lower survival rate than both breast and cervical cancer
  • When detected and treated early 80-100% of women will survive beyond five years compared with only 20-30% when diagnosed at a late stage.

Scary stuff! So how can you help? I’ve set up a page here that you can pledge money to (even two dollars would be wonderful and is vital!) but if you want to go further, why not sign yourself up and wear dresses with me this October?

I’m also planning a Frocktober picnic at Prince’s Park, Battery Point on Sunday the 19th of October from 1pm. Everyone is welcome! If you’re in the area it would be fab if you could come. I’m going to be passing a hat around for donations.

Will I see you there in a full fancy frock?

 All information from the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.

 
♀ ♀ ♀

In Debt: a blessing in disguise?

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debt the cup thief

About a week and a half ago (just before I put the post about BettyMag winding down and needing a clear out) I tried to increase my bank loan to pay my debts. I went into my bank’s branch in the CBD and was told by an annoying woman (chewing gum and completely unsympathetic to my situation in all body-language and tone) that they couldn’t help me because I wasn’t working.

I stumbled out and sat on the first sunny bench in the Elizabeth Street mall I could find and I could feel the tears start. It was humiliating but I just couldn’t hold it in. Here I was, completely capable, hardworking and motivated, crying because I was so overwhelmed.

I rang my sister who is always good at calming me down and she told me to start applying for anything and everything. I went to the public toilet and fixed my makeup. To cut the story short, on my way to the debtors I went in and out of shops asking if they had any work going and I was lucky enough to go into the right shop who just so happened to need someone one day a week. I secured a job. Faith restored.

In a week and a half since I’ve:

♥Worked two shifts in this beautiful spice shop- going home smelling of turmeric and cinnamon, nutmeg and curry

♥Worked a shift at Merchant, a new homewares shop in Hobart CBD which sells handpoured candles in beakers, terrariums and handmade soaps

♥ I’ve put together a bit of a website promoting myself doing children’s birthday parties under the guise of The Friendly Witch – partly for income but partly because I miss having children and their infectious energy and optimism in my life

♥ I’ve secured some childminding work for a few days in mid-October

Phew.

And while my clothes remain unsold on ebay, to be honest I’m really proud of myself and excited for how soon I can pay off my debt. If I hadn’t been under stress my shyness and social anxiety could have taken over and finding a job would have been harder, perhaps even impossible. I needed the wake up call. Either way, I’m in a good place to pay off my debts and get back to focusing on my bigger goals. Life hey? Sometimes it serves you up delicious surprises in the form of motivating public cries.

 

the cup thief debt

Merchant! Come visit weekdays in the afternoon

 

Photography of both me and my new workplace Merchant, both by Phil Kitt Photography, check out his website here (he’s a fabulous local photographer!).

My favourite Tasmanian Etsy picks for Spring!

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Tasmanian crafters, makers and artisans on Etsy!

Lately I’ve been on the hunt dreaming up beautiful things to sell in my (hopefully – eventually – in my dreams) bricks and mortar shop! Which inevitably leads me to Etsy and Pinterest! I thought I’d collate my favourite Tasmanian Etsy finds each new season. Introducing the chosen ones for Spring!

 

etsy tasmania the cup thief

1: Be Brave wool sign by Hung Up On Agnes

2: Tasmanian myrtle Necklace by Under the Shade of a Bonsai Tree

3. Hand poured soy wax candle by The Neon Tribe

 

etsy tasmanian the cup thief

4. Huon Pine crescent moon necklace by Tasmanian Timber Jewls

5. 1940s inspired vintage clutch by Miss Tree Creations

6. Bluebirds of Happiness- PDF pattern to make your own by The Paper Shed

etsy tasmania the cup thief

7.  Wooden strawberry earrings by June Design Co.

8. Where Will We Go – Hand Drawn Flying Swallows card by Billie Hardy

9.  Recycled leopard print capelet by Lady Frou Frou

 

Phew. What amazing things have you found on Etsy lately?

Do you like to shop locally when you buy on Etsy?

An interview with Animalia

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animalia the cup thief
animalia the cup thief

Jill Krasnicki of dark electro act Animalia was kind enough to let me interview her about her album Mouth Full of Teeth.

You’re originally from Tasmania, what was your experience growing up in Hobart?

I loved growing up in Hobart. Being surrounded by trees and ocean had a positive impact on my brain. The small city and the closeness of everything made life easy and I had adventures as a child that just aren’t possible for people growing up in big cities.
But I always knew I wouldn’t stay in Hobart.

There was a restlessness that I can recall kicking in when I became a teenager and then, when my music life began, I knew Hobart would be too small for me to do what I wanted to do.

I started playing in a band as a bassist with my then-boyfriend and we both had a desire to leave Hobart, so at the start of 2006 (I was 21), we moved to Melbourne to have a crack at the “big city”.
We lived there for two years until we decided to move to Ireland. He really wanted to go and I was pretty much up for anything, so I went too.
The relationship fell a part in Galway, Ireland, in 2008, but I continued to play in the band. At the end of that year, we moved to Toronto – not for any particular reason, just mostly because we weren’t ready to go back to Australia – I played with the band for a couple more months but everything had turned sour and eventually things came to an end.

When I stopped playing in the band, I had to come to terms with also losing everything I had worked on for the past 4-5 years. As the guitarist and singer, my ex kept everything, as the bass player, I got nothing and had to start all over again. Ultimately it was good, but at the time it really sucked.

Animalia the cup thief

Animalia by Jenny Bundock

When did you decide to become a musician? What instruments do you play?

All through my life, leading up the being 15, I thought I would be a visual artist. Everything was pointing in that direction. I loved music, though, and used to watch episodes of Rage my Dad would tape. One day I was watching a Green Day special and there was one little bass lick at the start of a song and I thought “Hmm, maybe I’ll learn how to play bass!” And down, down, down the rabbit hole I went!
I learned the bass in school and joined bands. I sometimes did backing vocals but I wasn’t very confident. I remained primarily a bassist until I got to Toronto. Then I was forced to start branching out.

I had always wanted to be a singer, so I started writing songs where I played chords on the bass – high on the neck, so it was really melodic – and sang along. But the style was restricting, so I grudgingly went to acoustic guitar.

I performed like that for a while and experimented with electronic music on the side. From toying with electronic music, I learnt basic chords on the piano.When I get drunk I also think I can play drums but that’s just the booze talking.

Which came first – your pseudonym Animalia or your veganism?

Veganism. I went vegetarian in 2003. For the following years I moved into veganism but didn’t go “hard-core” vegan till the start of 2009. (Toronto brought about a lot of good changes!)
“Animalia” definitely comes from my vegan-y morals and the way I see the world. To me, the word should always serve as a reminder: we are all animals. There is no separation. We don’t want to be hurt, other animals don’t want to be hurt. As Victoria’s Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary slogan says “If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?”

Tell us about your latest album- Mouth Full of Teeth- and how it sits with your other music- you were playing acoustic music- what made you go ‘darker’?

Mouth Full of Teeth was being set up to be a mix of acoustic and electronic, but leading up to the recording session, I dropped the acoustic stuff and re-wrote most of the album in a couple of weeks. I never saw myself as a guitarist; I just kept going because I was unsure of how to perform the electronic stuff. I just had to bite the bullet, so I did! And now I couldn’t be happier with the decision.
The electronic music, the darkness it expresses, is the music I’ve always wanted to make. It took me a few years to finally get there, but it was worth the wait.

You’ve been compared to Bjork – what a compliment! Who influences your music?

Yeah, there’s definitely a Bjork influence in my music. It’s nice when people make the connection because she’s such a rad artist, but it also makes me strive to work harder at finding my own style more. I discovered Bjork when I was 15 – I bought “Vespertine” and it totally changed the way I saw music. Then when I was living in Ireland, I discovered Kate Bush’s album, Hounds of Love, and again I was like, “woah! This is what music can be?!”

These days though, I try to stay away from listening to too much music, otherwise my writing gets warped too easily by what I’ve exposed myself to.

Any future plans in the works?  You’re coming to Australia in 2015- any Tasmanian dates?

Yeah, I definitely want to get to Australia for some shows and there will definitely be Tassie dates included when I do. It’s hard to know exactly what 2015 will bring. I’m writing a new album now and have some label interest for it, so who knows. Hopefully bigger tours, more festivals, that sort of thing!

To hear Animalia’s music visit her website here.

Photos used are from Animalia’s facebook page and shot by Jenny Bundock.