To Be or Not To Be In the Photos (This Christmas/Year/Life)

By Kellie Purcill

I took a lovely selfie on the weekend. I’d just had a make-up tutorial, and was looking (and feeling) awesome. I rarely take pretty photos – I’m just not built that way or so inclined. But the pretty opportunity present, so I took the pic, and entered into the philosophical question of our year – …

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By Kellie Purcill

Hello AtlanticMy passport lies beneath the fruit bowl’s shadow next to a random penny and within sight of a drinking glass brimming with sea shells. At the end of my kitchen counter (still, always, and forever cluttered) is a grey pebble, a mountain in impossible, undeniable miniature. Passport, penny, sea shells, pebble: all mementos of my recent visit to the other side of the planet, an adventure born of longing, stubbornness, miracles, hard work, selfishness and benediction. Now – nearly two weeks after I staggered off the plane straight back into home’ (and winter)’s enthusiastic embrace – I’m right back in the mayhem and reality of my life. Except the horizon’s canted a little to the left, the Pacific Ocean no longer seems quite so wide and my pants are cheerfully tighter than when I left. I don’t want to put my suitcases away. I want to go back.

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How To Be Selfish

By Kellie Purcill


Step one: Find something you want to do, eat, read, try, sing, experience, avoid, write, touch, smell, grow, cut, photograph, make, keep, throw out, and/or enjoy.

Step two: Do it.

Step three: Stone yourself with grief and recriminations for doing what you did until you’re emotionally broken and bloody, or soak in the satisfaction, smiling so wide your ears hurt.


 Selfish is a cranky word, all spikes, hisses and barbed wire. I know very few women who haven’t – at some point – chewed their lip or hangnail, worried that they were being selfish. Not because they chatted to their eighty-five year old neighbour for ten minutes, but because they didn’t talk to her for longer (even though they had to pick up the kids from school, or get to work, or any number of equally necessary and/or important responsibilities). Selfish not because they donated money to the latest disaster fund appeal, but because they didn’t think to give more, and cancel the book they’d pre-ordered which was now waiting for them at the bookstore. Selfish for not going to the temple, Relief Society meeting, and Tupperware party this week when she was PMS’ing so badly the cat curdled, the milk molted and she snarled daggers at everyone who dared even breathe in her general direction, let alone suggested she was mixing her metaphors…

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Hands Bigger Than Mine

By Kellie Purcill

Hand at work

I have big hands. I mean remarkably big hands. You can’t tell just by looking at me, but the width, length and span of my hands is enormous. If it comes up in conversation with a guy, I generally get “Oh, come on, they can’t be that big…” as he raises his own in challenge, only to (in all but four cases in the past three years) lower it, embarrassed and outsized. If hands are compared with another woman, almost always is there a wince of sympathy or an “I’m sorry” given, or startled “Whoa!” On one memorable occasion the woman in question gasped “Oh, you poor thing,” as she patted my arm, then brightly cheered “But at least you have great boobs!” Phew, I thought, weirdly amused, good thing I didn’t let the team down!

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Your inner voice

By Shelah Miner

whisper“Eat some fruit before you plow into the Doritos.”

“Enough Minecraft. Your brain is going to turn to mush.”

“No, Rose! You’re going to kill yourself up there!”

“Get out of bed, you lazy bum!”

“Bring up your dirty clothes. Your room smells like a sewer. And make you’re bed while you’re at it.”

“No more cookies. I am putting a lock on these cookies.”

“Rose, seriously, stop it! You’re going to be lucky to live to see your second birthday.”

“I think I’m throwing away $400 every month on all these music lessons. No one ever practices.”

I’m pretty sure I said all of these things yesterday.

Then I saw this quote on Facebook: “Be careful how you speak to your children. One day it will become their inner voice” –Peggy O’Mara. My first reaction was, “Great, one more thing to feel responsible for.” Which was followed quickly by, “Whatever, that’s not true!” And then I remembered back to my own experience, early in the week, where I found myself sitting at my computer, open to the Boden sale page, squinting at photos of models who make every dress look good, and wondering what might work on me.

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Since When Am I A Grown Up?

By Kellie Purcill

Late 1980’s

I’m freshly, garishly dressed, having spent most of my Saturday morning watching the latest music clips on Rage. The inspiration is obvious. My hair is teased at least a hand’s height above my head, I’m still trying to unstick my eyelashes from the deluge of hairspray I’ve used and my outfit is red and blue hair ties (brave choice for a redhead), red shirt, blue skirt, red tights, blue shoes. I trail my Mum as we go to the shops, when suddenly I see them – the Year 12 girls. Their maturity is captivating, poise and grace as thick around them as the smell of grape HubbaBubba. One day, I tell myself, I’m going to be 18 and mature like they are, I’m going to know what’s going on, and life is going to make sense.

Mid 1990’s

In the one year I became old enough to vote, legally drink, join the Royal Australian Navy and be legally considered an adult. Standing on an Army firing range, Steyr rifle casually hanging off one arm, the reality of my age smacked me upside the head. What on earth are they THINKING? I asked myself. I’m only 18! Just months out of high school! Don’t give me a GUN – what are you, nuts? A baritone boom of my surname interrupts my incredulity, then I saluted and answered my Captain. One day, I told myself as he walked away, command and bearing as obvious as his insignia, I’ll be 32. I’ll know what’s going on, I won’t be making stupid decisions, and life is going to make sense.

Mid 2000’s

I’m up to my mammaries in parenting, marriage, church and work.

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The Skin I’m In

By Kellie Purcill

There was a click, like bending a toothpick, then a sting as sharp as a cut green apple. I sat on the kwoon’s mat floor to look at my foot, where my left little toe was proclaiming nine o’clock while the other toes insisted twelve.

Taking a shaky breath, I raised my hand. “’Scuse me, Si Fu,” I called out to my instructor, “I think I’ve dislocated my toe.”

I had. It hurt. It re-dislocated twice more before it was properly strapped and bloomed a gorgeous range of purples two days later. But I finished my two jujitsu classes right after it happened, limped my steel-toed-booted way around work for a day, and now – nearly a week later – am looking forward to tomorrow’s class. My toe is slightly pudgy and wonky, but otherwise recovered.

Recovered, and a reminder that the body is an astonishing phenomenon.

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Filling My Senses

By Kellie Purcill

5 sensesIt’s getting warmer here in Australia, Spring slowly rolling into Summer. The rosellas are flirty, all coy glances and side shimmies towards each other, working out who they’re going to fly away with. More skin is being bared in town as bikinis and boardies reappear after winter’s chill. Sand sugars calves, bellies and shoulders, enticing me to the beach, the sea, the sun.

I wake in the middle of the night, too warm in the flannelette sheets, an ache low in my belly, skin throbbing from a disappearing dream. There’s a bird calling from somewhere nearby, pausing to listen for an answer that – as yet – hasn’t come. The cadence of the call soothes my impatient twitching as I consider the ceiling and lie there, waiting. Waiting for my pulse to slow, the burn to ease, for sleep to drag me back to senselessness.

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West Side Story

By Angela Hallstrom

i-215_ol_exit_020a_021A couple of weeks ago I did an interview with the Magna Times, my “hometown” newspaper. And by “hometown,” I mean “town of my youth.” And I don’t mean “town of my youth,” really, either, because I grew up in West Valley City, not Magna. I did go to high school in Magna, though, proudly wearing the blue and gold of the Cyprus Pirates.

The essence of the interview was this: How did it affect you, growing up here? Your sense of self, your goals, the things you choose to write about? At first I found it a tricky conversation because, while growing up in WVC and attending high school in Magna influenced my life in plenty of positive ways, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, for many years, I lugged around some baggage related to my “West Side Girl” roots.

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