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Friday, 29 April 2011

Being British

I hadn't planned to write about the Royal Wedding.  I hadn't planned to do anything today really related to it.  Not that I wouldn't have liked to, it's just I don't have the ability to get to anywhere with celebrations.  So I'd prepared myself for just another day.

But then I woke up (late, needless to say).  And, I don't know why, but I turned on my radio and tuned in to the wedding (I don't have telly).  To my surprise I seemed to have got the timing exactly right (which, considering I had no idea when the wedding itself was actually happening was quite impressive).  I tuned in just when the Princes were on their way, through the crowds, to Westminster Abbey.  So I listened.  I listened to the wedding ceremony (well, most of it) and afterwards I continued to listen as the reporters discussed the dress (for which I didn't yet have a visual) and the hats (in particular, how Victoria Beckham's hat stayed on) and Princess Diana.  And I was happy to just listen and enjoy the sounds of the crowds screaming and chanting.

I don't really know what I was expecting.  I still don't entirely know what I feel about the whole thing.  In honesty, I'm not that bothered about the Royals.  But then again, I am proud to be British.  And I kind of like that many other countries are jealous of our Royal Family.  I don't think I will ever be as obsessed by them as some people are, but I'm certainly not against them.

What about you?  Do you love our Royal Family?  Hate them?  Did you do anything special for the special wedding day?

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Kick Up The Butt

So I've finished my classes for uni.  And I don't have a job.  In fact, there is nothing that I HAVE to do.  My problem is that I know I SHOULD be doing things - I should be applying for jobs, finding somewhere to live and if possible, get on with my writing and my SECRET PROJECT.  Easier said than done.  I mean, I have the intent of doing all I can.  And I have all day, every day now so surely I should be galloping along at top speed with all my plans.  But I'm not.

The thing is, I've never been good at self-discipline or self-motivating.  I want to be good at it.  And in the past two years I know I've improved greatly.  But I went to uni so that I would have to do something so I would have something to hand in.  (Seriously, before uni I barely finished anything).  Now I'm back to not having anyone reminding me of what I should be doing.  Not to mention that I'm constantly worrying that if I do too much or not enough my M.E. will flare up.

But this time I'm determined.  I have learnt time management and the art of resting (okay, that last one I'm still working on) so I am filled with hope that this time I can really do it.  I CAN fulfil my dreams and plans.  But if it looks like I might be dawdling, please could you give me a good kick up the butt?  And if you have any tried and tested methods of making yourself get things done, please let me know!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Round Peg, Square Hole

You may have heard the expression 'square peg, round hole', well, this came to mind last week when I was staying at my parents'.  Only I didn't feel like a square peg in a round hole - this would imply that I didn't fit there anymore.  No, what I felt was more like a round peg in a square hole.  By this I mean that I slipped in easily to my childhood home, but it wasn't a snug fit.  Assuming the round peg is smaller than the hole it would go in easily, but also come out easily - this is how I felt.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't have a bad time.  In fact, it was the holiday I needed after the stress of uni (and now I've come back to the stress of what happens after uni).  I also didn't feel like I didn't belong.  But it was much more complicated than that.  I did belong.  But at the same time I felt that when I left I wouldn't have left a new mark on the place.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I just think it means that while I will always be part of that family, that house, it isn't where I 'belong' any more.  I have my own life now.  That house is where my roots are, it is where I came from.  But it isn't where I fit anymore.

I'm honestly not sure if I'm making any sense here.  Trying to explain the feeling of belong and not belonging at the same time is one of the more challenging things I've ever done.  The only other way I can think of saying it, is that I felt almost like a ghost.  Not one who was invisible.  But one that doesn't leave an imprint and when it is gone, no one notices that it's not there anymore.  Okay, that sounds much worse than I intend.  I know I will be remembered (honestly mum, I know you remember me and think of me!) but I am not really part of that life anymore, not in that way (the way where I live there) anyway.

I hope that amongst this rambling you have managed to understand what I am trying to say.  In my childhood home I am a round peg, and it is a square hole.  So now I just have to find the place and life that is a round hole of the perfect size.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A Word on Faith

On Sunday my brother was baptised and he and Kess were made official members of their Church.  Now, I am not Christian (actually I'm Pagan) but I once was so know how it all works.  And I haven't been in a Church for a long while (mostly because I don't want to - it's not really relevant to me after all).  To be fair, I'm not a big fan of the Christian religion - to me it seems that a lot of Christians are only really Christian in Church.  Not to mention the wars and prejudice and the constant attempt to convert me (even after I was converted!) 

But on Sunday I realised something.  I may not believe in religion, but I do believe in faith.  I believe in people when they are filled with faith.  And I realised that I am not that different from many of the Christians in that particular Church.  The Minister spoke about how their faith led them to purpose and the ability to trust themselves to another and how they are never alone.  As he spoke I knew that that is how my faith makes me feel.  I don't believe the same things as them, but I believe our faith unites us.

I would consider myself a very open-minded and accepting person (I mean, not many non-Christians would get up and give a testimony starting with "I am not a Christian" in front the Church) (because that is what I did of course) (or no one I know, unless they just don't tell people they do on their weekends).  Okay, deep breath, sorry about all the parentheticals.  So yeah, I believe that everyone has the right to believe what they want and to live how they want, as long as it is not harming anyone else.  But as I look around me all I see is prejudice and hate and I know that that is not what religion and faith should be for.  We should all be united in the knowledge that we all have a faith, not be bickering over which faith is 'right'.

What about you?  Do you believe so strongly in your faith that you want everyone else to follow your beliefs?  Or do you let the idea of faith keep you peaceful and hope for a better world?

Monday, 25 April 2011

Emotional Connect

On Saturday night I watched the new Doctor Who episode (don't worry - no spoilers here).  I am a great fan of Doctor Who and am increasingly loving Matt Smith.  But today I'm not going to write about him (no matter how yummy he is).  I want to write about the fact that I was scared.

Yes, you read that right.  Saturday's episode seriously scared me.  And for once it wasn't the premise (like with 'The Empty Child'), it was the alien itself.  Now, I consider myself to be the same as most of the population - jaded and cynical with a strong stomach.  I am not really bothered by blood, guts and gore.  Usually if something freaks me out it is the psychological element that gets to me (like Davros).  But on Saturday, the visual of the alien physically turned my stomach.  I only slept because I was so tired (though when I woke up in the middle of the night I couldn't get back to sleep easily due to its face haunting me).  As far as I know I didn't have nightmares, though I'm expecting them any day now.  The truth is - the alien scared me.  Not the idea of the alien.  Not even the fact of what it could do (though that was a little creepy - I'm not going to say more as that would be spoiling it).  But the aliens face.

I have been scared by Doctor Who exactly twice - the two times I mention above.  And the thing is I thought I couldn't get scared, like I said, I'm jaded. And even if I did I was sure I would never admit it.  Yet I'm admitting it here and now.  Because I realised something. 

I am glad I was scared.

I am glad that there is that bit of human left in me that made me scared.  It is a valid emotion and so I'm not afraid to say that it scared me.  If anything, it just proves how amazing the Doctor Who team are.  And I hope one day that my writing will bring out a base emotion in someone else.  Not necessarily fear, but something.  That is my aim.  I want to touch people with my work.  I want them to remember it.  I want them to think about it when they should be sleeping.  I want my work to matter. 

I actually didn't realise the last few things until I wrote them here.  I want my work to matter.  So from now on, that's what I'm aiming for.  I am aiming to appeal to just one person emotionally. If I can do that, I think I'll be content (though I'm sure I would find a new goal to reach).  What about you?  Why do you do what you do?  Why do you write/draw/whatever it is you do?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Easter Cakes!

As it's Easter, Chris and I decided to make some cakes (okay, so we made them last week, but close enough!).  We used the simple recipe of chocolate + rice crispies = cakes.  And I thought I'd share it with you in picture form (just in case you can't work out how to make them yourselves!)

We started with some chocolate.  We used 3 bars of cooking chocolate but I don't think it really matters.

Then we melted the chocolate in the microwave (I told you it was difficult) and Chris poured it in to the mixing bowl.

The we added rice crispies.  I don't know how much we used as we guestimated based on how many the chocolate could cover.

I then put the mixture into the muffin cases and Chris put a few eggs on to each (sorry, no pic for that).

In all, the mixture made 13 big cakes which were enjoyed by my family.  Have you made any treats for Easter? Or given this recipe a try?

Friday, 22 April 2011


I have just received an award from a good blogging friend Veevee.

Click to go to her blog

I was very surprised to receive this award and it made my day.  I hope that you all agree with her that my blog is full of complete honesty - as that is what I'm aiming for with every word.  I write this blog primarily with my readers in mind.  I want you to feel that this is as much your space as it is mine.  Since starting this blog I have discovered that the community surrounding the blog-o-sphere is the the reason I blog.  Yes, my words are important to me, but not as important as your responses and the friendships created via this blog.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A Social Hole

Today I had the chance to catch up with a friend from college.  I haven't seen him in over a year (at least) so it was great so chat and talk about our lives and how they're going.  He is in his first year of uni and as I listened to his escapades I couldn't help feeling a little jealous, and a little nostalgic for the life I led in my first year.  Don't get me wrong, I am relatively happy with how my life is now, but as I remembered going clubbing each week, drinking alcohol and meeting lots of people it's not surprising that I found myself missing that lifestyle.

I left wondering why I was jealous of someone living like that.  I'll be the first to say I did not follow any 'rules' in my first year, in particular regarding my health and lifestyle.  My sleeping schedule was a tragedy, and my diet wasn't much better.  In respect to that, I feel much more fulfilled now. 

I have come to the conclusion that what I really miss is the socialisation I had in my first year.  Back then I knew a lot of people, I made friends easily and was rarely left to face the world alone.  Unfortunately, due to the fact that I'm not able to go out very often now (plus the work load increase for all of us), I am no longer in much contact with any of those friends.  Sure, if we see each other in town we say hi (considering that I manage to leave the house about once a week, that isn't a normal occurance).  But the only real contact we have is via facebook - a poke here, a message there.  No longer do I get phone calls each week to see if I'm going out.  I am alone (not completely as I have Chris, but he feels more a part of me than anything).  All my socialising is now done online.  I have made friends online and I am thankful for each and every one of them - but it is not the same as seeing someone face to face over coffee and having a good old natter.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


I came back to my parents' on Sunday.  I haven't seen them since Christmas and figured this would be a good time to see them all.  I wasn't expecting the random present I was given (seriously, no clue at all).  For those of you don't know it was...

A Kindle!  Yep, I have the best parents ever!

So, of course, being an avid reader I downloaded a few free books and, as a blogger, had to take pictures of the screen (by the way, the one above is one of the many pictures presented when the kindle is in 'sleep' mode).

 And after I'd started organising them into different collections (so far I have favourites, classics, non-fic and writing books)

 And once the novelty of organising them wore off (okay, I'm still thinking of new collections I could create - any ideas?) I bought a book.  (Technically it was the second book as I accidentally bought the complete works of Emily Dickinson - though for 69p I can't complain.)  So what did I buy?

Notes From Underground Anthology (you can purchase it here) which is an anthology created through the Literary Lab.  I will be writing a review of it as soon as I've finished reading it (at the same time as reading a page here and there of all the other books I'll have!)

And, because I know you're just dying to see it covered in beautiful words, a final pic:

Anyone else have a kindle or other ereader?  Anyone planning on getting one?

Saturday, 16 April 2011


As a writer, I find myself often caught up in the story I'm trying to tell, the characters I'm creating, and making sure my grammar and spelling are up to par.  Now, don't get me wrong, these are all important factors.  But, sometimes the most important factor gets lost in amongst all the worry.  Language.

It is so easy to forget that language is at the core of my writing.  When I realised this, I was horrified - how could I ever have taken such an important tool for granted?  I mean, I appreciate that words are how we communicate, but I had stopped appreciating the choice of words.  Every single word means something.  And when we are writing, we should be completely aware of our word choices. 

Not only should we choose our words with care, we should enjoy the process.  So I'm planning on having some fun with language in the next few weeks.  I'm going to play about with word order and the words I use and see what I come up with.  I'm not expecting it to lead to anything amazing - but I am hoping to rekindle my love of words and just have fun with language for a change.

Have you forgotten your love of language?  Any ideas for word play that I can try?

Thursday, 14 April 2011


There are a few reasons I haven't blogged so far this week: problems with my internet; problems with my M.E.  But mostly stress as I hand in my final project (a.k.a. my dissertation).  Yes, two days ago I handed in the very final piece of work for my degree.  And as I don't have any exams - I guess that makes me finished.  Okay, so technically I'm still a student until the end of June, but for all intents and purposes, I'm finished.  I have completed the thing that I've spent my last three years leading up to.  I have completed my degree.

And honestly it's left me feeling a bit disorientated and lost.  I have been a student my whole life, and I am not.  I am no longer a student.  Neither am I employed.  I am in that weird space in between.  I don't know what my future will hold and part of me can't wait to find out.  But another part of me wants to stay still, stay where I know what is expected and what I am doing.  So I am compromising - I am not going to stay still.  But nor am I going to rush forward and miss the present.  I am going to take it a day at a time and watch my life unravel.  After all, I still have my writing and crafts and other life stuff to keep me more than busy.

Every day now I have to remember that I'm starting something new; and that while my feelings of fear are completely rational, I will not let them govern me.  But for the next week or so, I am simply going to take a deep breath of relief and try to relax.  I need to let my body and mind recover from the past three years and prepare for the future.  A future I will share within this space - just in case you're interested.  

Saturday, 9 April 2011

When Change Is Bad

It is often said that people don't like change; or, at least, British people don't like change.  I used to be one of those people.  I would rebel and rebel and rebel against anything changing in my life.  And then I learnt that change wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes, allowing things to change is the only way forward in life, the only way to explore who you are as a human being. 

But I am a traditionalist at heart.  I'm not even exaggerating here - I am one of those weird nostalgic people who is always trying to hold onto traditions that I've never even really been a part of.  But, to me, there are just some things that you don't mess with.  Certain brands should never change their name (seriously, if WH Smith's changed their name I might never go in their shops again), certain traditions should always be held sacred (the celebrating of a birthday, no matter how you feel about it) and companies that have brought the same (tried and tested) product to the masses for a long time should go changing that product.

Unfortunately the last one has happened.  And it is so bad that I no longer buy this product.  I'm sure you'll all think I'm weird for writing an entire post on this, especially when you find out what the product is.

Cadbury's Dairy Milk bar.

That's right.  It has gone from this:

Click for Source
 To this:
(Sorry the picture is so blurry but it was literally the only one I could find)

Now, I am a huge chocoholic.  I eat a lot of it.  And until now, I ate a lot of Cadbury's Dairy Milk bars.  But now they've changed.  I can deal with their stupid 'spots vs stripes' campaign.  I can deal with the penny rise in the price.  I can even deal with the fact that the bars are 20g less than they used to be.  What I can't deal with is the change in the recipe.

They might think no one will notice that they've added a numbered ingredient to the mix.  But I did.  And I didn't notice by looking at the packaging - I noticed by taste alone.  The bars are now noticably sweeter than they were only a few months ago.  And that is a deal-breaker for me.  And what is the point in changing the recipe?  Seriously, they know people loved it, so why mess with it?  This is one change I can't deal with and so I am no longer buying Cadbury's chocolate - after all, there are plenty of choices (Galaxy, Milka) - as they have ruined the product I loved.  I know this probably won't make a huge difference - one person not buying the average of a bar a day might not be noticed.  But then might.

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Ballet

I have always admired the beauty of ballet - to me it is incredible how anyone can train their bodies to move so eloquently and make it appear effortless.  And, of course, there are the costumes - who wouldn't dream of being a sparkling ballerina princess (or is that just me)?  But I had only been able to indulge my love of it through reading about it and watching video clips on YouTube (btw, if you love ballet as much as me, you should definitely follow Anaheim Ballet).

Yesterday, I got to watch my first ever, real, right-in-front-of-me (I'm not kidding - I was in the front row, less than a metre from the stage), ballet.  It was a performance of Coppelia - a fascinating story with plenty of humour.  In truth, it was the perfect ballet to see live.  I had worried that I would get bored when faced with an entire production (the only ballet I've been able to watch all the way through on film is Sleeping Beauty which will probably always be my favourite) but this was certainly not the case.  Not only was I thralled with the magic of seeing it up close, I became entagled in the story.  It is true that ballet can only really truly be appreciated when it is seen live.

This was an incredible experience for me and I am so thankful that there are ballet companies about that are willing to tour to local theatres, providing cheap tickets, to bring this incredible art form to the masses.  If you are interested, I saw The European Ballet - I would highly recommend you see if they are visiting your area as it really is an amazing experience.  Not to mention that afterwards, the prima dancers were very accommodating in signing many many tickets and programmes.  Many of the audience members were like me - they had never had the opportunity to see a real ballet before and I hope these dancers realise how many dreams they make come true each time they dance.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


In the past 2 weeks, it has rained once.  Seriously - once!  I know I probably shouldn't be complaining, but it is April. What happened to April showers?  In fact, what happened to Spring?

Winter will always be my favourite season, but Spring is a very close second. I love that the flowers come out and the sweet scented breeze that makes it too nippy to take off your jacket.  This year we seemed to have skipped that.  Today it was hot - so hot that I'm wearing my only strappy summer top.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy sunshine (there's nothing better than not being affected by depression because the sun is out).  But I also love the rain.  And I'm worried that all the beautiful flowers are going to die before most of them have even bloomed. Not to mention that sitting inside writing when the sun is so bright outside really is not tempting.  Is it just me that feels like this?  Am I just being incredibly British with my weather complaints here?  Are you out getting a tan right now and hate me for putting a dampner on the whole thing?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Having Hope

Every day I wake up with fresh hope that today will be better.  I will read and write and make good use of my time.  Of course, most evenings I am struggling to continue.  But the magic of a new day arrives and I try again.  I mean, how hard can it be?  Everyone else manages to cope.  So I wake up with the belief that today will be a good day; today I'll be productive and happy and nothing will get in the way of that.  I have to face every day with this attitude as otherwise everything becomes too much for me to bear.  In this way, I deal with the depression when it comes each evening, but I only deal with one day's worth, not an accumulation.  I don't think I could cope if every day I woke up I had to deal with all that came before it as well.
This is an extract of what I wrote in my freewriting yesterday morning.  I continued like this for fifteen minutes (ie, until my arm ached).  I am not sharing this with you for you to feel sorry for me or to be shocked at how optimistic I can be.  I am sharing it with you so you can understand how I live my life - day to day, moment to moment.  This is what it is like for me every morning.  When I wake up I have to have this mindset, or I would sink into depression.  As someone who has been there, done that, let me tell you that it is not fun and not a mental place I ever want to be in again.

I can't vouch for everyone else living with M.E. and the multitude of other chronic illnesses and disabilities, but this is how I cope.  I don't feel brave.  I don't feel strong.  When I am crying my soul out on my boyfriend's shoulder every night I feel like a failure (in fact, I believe he is the strong one for dealing with it).  But every morning I have to believe that today will be better, today I won't be in excruciating pain and exhaustion by the end of the day.  I have to believe because I don't have any other option.  Okay, I know I do have an option.  But which would you choose - to feel the worst you've ever felt times ten, permenantly; or to feel capable for a few hours each day?  Because that is the choice I'm faced with.  And, as I've said, I've tried the first one.  Now I would do almost anything to stop myself going there again.  So I choose to try.  Because I must.  Because I have to hope.

I even wrote about that yesterday as well:
 I have given up in the past but at some point I always try again.  It is the only logical way I can see to move forward in life.  Going backwards or standing still is not an option for me.  I have to have hope that I can change things and that change will happen.  Without that hope I have nothing.  That may seem like an exaggeration but for someone with depression it is not.  Depression sucks out everything about you and you become a shell, sinking deeper and further away from everything you had.

I just wanted to share this with you today to help you understand.  Please feel free to ask questions and I'll be happy to answer them.

Friday, 1 April 2011


It is April and I am officially panicking.  Okay, it's been learing for a few weeks now.  But now I have been hit with the reality that this is the month I have to hand in my final piece of work for uni (I would call it a dissertation but it's fiction so I don't know where it fits in that description).  I have less than two weeks before all my work is due in.  And I am worried that it isn't enough.  That I haven't done enough.

To add to my worry is the giant blankness that faces me after I don't have the safety cushion of being a student to get me through the days.  I don't have a job.  I have a disablility that will prevent me from working full-time and probably dissuade employers that I'm a safe bet.  I will have a degree that will be pretty useless in most careers (come on, no job asks for a Creative Writing degree).  I haven't got anywhere to live yet (mostly because we've been too worried about uni work to go looking).  I won't have any financial security so don't know if I can secure somewhere to live (and my boyfriend is the same).  You see my problem?  There is just so much to contemplate, to worry about.  And I am officially panicking.

But all I can do is try my best and hope that it will work itself out.  Afterall, in three months my whole life will be different.  Hopefully I'll be living with my boyfriend.  Hopefully I'll have some kind of job (even if it's freelance writing which I know is a lot of hard work for little pay but it's better than nothing).  Other than that it is a big empty void and I don't know how it will be filled.  So I continue each day to get on with my writing and uni work and applying for jobs and hunting for places to live, in the hope that soon it will come together and I won't feel quite so helpless, floundering about on the edge of the deep unknown.  Don't worry, I'll keep you posted.  And I know I won't fall in (I have far too much common sense to let that happen - not unless there is a disaster around the corner just waiting for me (touch wood that there is not as I don't know how much more I can handle).