Guest Post – Too Intense

Today’s guest post is brought to us by the beautiful April from Tales Of Night Creatures – a wonderful blog of ‘Short stories, poetry, fiction and thinkpieces for the witching hour’. You will see from the first paragraph down below how talented she is and I am truly honoured to have her contribute to my series of ‘Too…’ posts ❤

Image credit: Joshua Newton @ Unsplash

Too… Intense

Having or showing strong feelings or opinions.”

I often feel, while I’m here trying to be authentic and open and compassionate, focusing on my vision and making things better… that people find it too much, too intense. That I’m too much myself, and that’s a bad thing.

Being too intense means it’s wrong to care about things a lot, to be conscientious or want to make things better, to do a job thoroughly and well.

To have feelings about things and want to express them properly. Or to have passions and interests and pursuits that aren’t mainstream, or which focus on issues or big picture stuff, or that mean you talk about true things and it’s not socially acceptable.

To have strong feelings and to express them can be too intense. As a writer, this ability is somewhat necessary. To translate the emotional inner life into language which can express and resonate with another human being, in a performative act of empathic connection- this is powerful on the page.

In real life, people don’t like it very much.

Feeling strongly about something can be empowering. It incites action, momentum, change. I trust the intensity of my instincts and feelings to give me important information about people and situations. I trust the authenticity of my passions to enable me to act accordingly with my values and to sometimes act on behalf of others, who otherwise may not have a voice or advocate.

However, this doesn’t always translate well. A milder response may be amusement at my animated reaction, or befuddlement. Sometimes people can glaze over and look bored or change the subject. And occasionally it can be met with derision or hostility. This is hard if it comes from those whose opinion we value.

It leads to feeling ashamed, of being too much or too intense. It was stupid to care, and it was stupid to talk about it. My self-talk becomes critical and harsh, my mood plummets and I become very upset. This upset, of course, is deemed disproportionate and too intense for the cause.

Being labelled “too intense” is shameful, because it means you have been labelled as unacceptable, you have overstepped your prescribed boundaries of status. As sensitive types, we self-regulate and monitor and keep ourselves in check, dreading this censure. To be too intense is to possess too much feeling in a world priding itself on its logic, control and detachment from nature. It is excessive, coded feminine or weak, not always valued.

When you act from a place of authenticity, sensitivity and passion, you tend to think and feel very much about what you’re doing and saying, and whether this is in alignment with your truth. You question everything, because you notice and feel everything, and you want to make things better, because things being the way they are is not acceptable if that means others are disadvantaged or in pain. Somehow, maintaining a façade, or petty matters of convention, don’t seem to matter as much.

And because you very much want to make things better, or to make others feel better, you propel yourself forward into situations and conversations where you’re pushing the boundaries of what others want to think and feel about.

This isn’t about pushing or enforcing a dogma onto other people, or being controlling; it’s about maybe being really enthusiastic about the environment so that you instigate recycling initiatives at your workplace, litter pick on the way home and gently but consistently talk to others about ways to cut down on plastic waste.

Or feeling so strongly about trans and non-binary rights that you firmly but politely challenge hateful speech and jokey transphobia socially, share petitions and go to march at Pride with a transgender youth group.

It’s about feeling so acutely that something needs to be done to help others or to make things better, you can’t help acting. Even if the cost is misunderstanding or being judged.

Being too intense can be synonymous with being too sensitive. Taking things deeply to heart, considering the weight and import of conversations and interactions, or communicating honestly about those feelings and thoughts can be too much for a fair number of people.

I would like to challenge them by asking why.

With current mental health statistics demonstrating that many of us are negotiating dark and painful territory, often in isolation, talking about our true feelings can be a release.

In relationships, communicating honestly and openly can alleviate many issues. And, from experience, it can save time right from the beginning to be bravely honest and expressive about what you want and need in romantic relationships. This doesn’t necessarily mean a declaration of love, but in terms of values and behaviour and boundaries you have or desire or will accept. And being true to who you are and what matters to you will attract like minded kindred spirits, and repel those who wouldn’t fit well anyway.

Having intense feelings and empathy for others fuels us to acts of compassion and kindness. The art we create is rooted in this capacity to feel as others do, the caring professions we work in are motivated by the desire to alleviate pain and ease discomfort, the social causes and charities we support soar when we act from a place of love and respect for others.

 Our ethics and values which respect the lives and well-being and wholeness of other beings arise from both our emotional empathy and our earnest belief in those feelings as possessing worth and substance.

Maybe, for some, I will always be too intense. Or too serious, or sensitive. That’s okay, because to reclaim these as positive characteristics is to repurpose their place in making our world and our lives a better place.

Check out Aprils other writings here: Tales of Night Creatures
And you can also follow her on Instagram and see some of here beautiful artwork here: Aprilydaze

The Perils of Writing What You Know (& The Perks)

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This already feels like a bit of a weird post, so bear with…

I have been blogging now for just over a month but I have been writing for years, I’m 34 and I think I wrote my first (questionable) piece of fiction before I entered my teens. I have always enjoyed writing, putting words down onto paper; creating new worlds and characters to inhabit them. Even when I am not writing, I am imagining; whether through the words of someone else, or just by myself. Reading and writing has always brought me great comfort, even in my darkest moments.

A few years ago, I joined a site where I could be completely anonymous. The nature of the site wasn’t based upon writing, but I posted my words there nonetheless and people liked them! This was the first real validation I had received outside of close family and friends. I wrote fiction and I also wrote about my own mental health – and I received comments and loves and private messages thanking me for being brave (when I felt anything but). People commented on how I had helped them, or how I inspired them. I received support on my bad days and on my good, I was able to encourage and support others. There was a nice little community feeling and for a while it was fantastic. The Blurt Foundation posted a series of Instagram ‘prompts’ – initially for pictures to be posted on the platform, but I shared the list on this site and people joined in with their writings, sharing stories of their own struggles with mental health with complete openness and honesty whilst supporting those that had also decided to join in. New friendships were formed, it was a really positive experience and it got people talking about mental health which is so very important.

However, for reasons unrelated to writing, my relationship with the site was never a completely comfortable one. On one hand, the anonymity allowed me to be completely open, but in being completely open you can become quite fragile. There were times, when being on the site consumed most of my time, there were relationships formed there that weren’t entirely healthy and there were times when for my own mental health I needed to step away. This was a pattern I got into throughout the years, but last year I stepped away and I never went back.

Around the same time, I also had a really difficult discussion with a family member regarding the therapy I was due to start in the winter – something that I had written got brought up in this conversation and I had the overwhelming sense that they believed that writing about my experiences and then sharing it was wrong. For months after that, I didn’t write – I couldn’t write.

I had not only lost my place to share it and feel connected with people, but I had also lost my confidence. I joined Fiverr briefly and wrote short stories for people, but there was no real pleasure in it, I wasn’t writing anything that felt true to me. It felt empty and hollow and when I got commission emails through I felt deflated, where once, I would have felt excited.

I did start the therapy though. On my second session I took my therapist a folder full of things I had written over the previous ten years – not all of it, but a carefully curated selection. I think anyone that has been to see various doctors and therapists can understand the frustration of going through the same (sometimes very difficult) stories. In my third session he told me how impressed he had been with some of my writing, he also asked me who I was writing to? I didn’t have an answer for that.

The sessions continued over the course of the next few weeks and in one of them I told him that I hadn’t written anything for months. He took this in (as therapists do) and then about twenty minutes later he asked me what my dream was, what my ideal life looked like.

“Well, I wouldn’t have to go to work…” The words escaped my lips before I had even really thought about them. Work is a weird thing for me; it is a challenge every single day. Not because of the work, but because of the toll it takes on my mental health. It is a catch 22 – I have written about it briefly here – but I know that ultimately work is healthy.

“If you were a writer, you wouldn’t have to do the job you do”

I laughed at the prospect, a writer! I hadn’t written anything of note in the last four months. “I’m not a writer…” I said quietly. “Writers write.”

You write! I was blown away by some of the things you wrote, there is real talent there…”

“Was.” I corrected him. “There was. I don’t know what to write any more.”

“Then write anything. It doesn’t have to be mind blowing, it doesn’t have to be heartfelt, it doesn’t even have to be shared. It can just be words, on a page.”

I went away and mulled this over for a few days, Friends gave me encouraging advice but still, blank screens and crisp white pages gave me the shudders. I had heard of a journaling challenge created by Michelle Chalfant who I had been following on social media after discovering ‘The Adult Chair’. It was a month’s worth of prompts designed to get you thinking about your emotions, your triggers and your reactions. I had downloaded them and looked at them briefly – but the first one, was simply ‘You’. That was pretty daunting…

I considered setting up a completely anonymous WordPress blog if I was going to do this journaling challenge. I didn’t really know anything about WordPress but I figured it couldn’t be that hard; it also gave me a good excuse to procrastinate, I was absorbed in fonts and colours and themes… writing? Ha!

But one day, I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. So I started on the first prompt… and after that first initial paragraph, it flowed. It flowed with honesty, it flowed with heartbreak and beauty and all of those things that makes writing so satisfying. But it was honest; very, very honest. I couldn’t put it online, not where people would actually read it.

(I have covered some of those very honest subjects since, but all in one go, it was a little overwhelming.)

I also realised very quickly that I didn’t want it to be ‘a secret’. So, I went through some older writings and posted them on my blog. I made an Instagram page, I made a Twitter account. I linked my Instagram to Facebook and invited friends who I knew would get it.

I had a blog…

Shit, I had a blog. I would have to write stuff! On one hand, this was super exciting, I finally had a place to share my words again and the people that had read what I had posted so far were very encouraging. My friend had also decided around the same time to set hers up too, and another friend that had not long finished uni was making noises that he wanted more of a presence online to promote the nutrition work he was now qualified in; we went and had breakfast and joked that we were becoming ‘influencers’ as we snapped pictures of our breakfasts and talked filters and hashtags, before deciding that we wanted to create a post together about the links between mental health and nutrition. This all felt really good, really positive. I had written some new stuff, I was really enjoying the process of writing and sharing it again.

I think the act of sharing it, for me, is very important. I don’t fully know why, but it feels like it gives the writing a sense of purpose – and especially with it being largely about mental health, that purpose is all about demystifying a topic that is not talked about enough. To have a mental health condition, any mental health condition, can be terrifyingly isolating. Over the last few weeks, I have begun to realise that the answer to my therapist’s question, was me. I was writing it to me, but not the me now; the teenage me who faced bullies every day and didn’t know how to fight back, the me who felt I had let everyone down by not being ‘strong enough’ or that ‘being too sensitive’ was a huge character flaw. I was writing for the younger me, the child me, the teenage me and I was also writing for the adult me who ten years ago forced herself into work every day whilst surviving on nothing but coffee, extra strong mints and insomnia.  I was writing for the girl who was so terrified to put food in her mouth that impassable, yet invisible, lumps formed within her throat. I was writing to a woman who always felt cold, always felt scared, and always felt overwhelmed. I was writing to the person who didn’t know how to get all of these words out, to the person who had all the words but they formed an incomprehensible, jumbled mess within her mind. I was writing to the girl that just needed comfort and that needed to feel less alone – because I knew that even though it felt so incredibly lonely, there were thousands upon thousands of people who felt the way I did.

I read some of my older posts with a view to sharing them, and I wept. There was so much pain, and also so many times where it sounded like I had it all figured out – without having the foresight to know that another blip, another illness, a difficult workplace or new anxiety was around the corner. I read some words and felt embarrassment and I read others and felt awe that even in the midst of a deep, dark depression, I had written something that had encapsulated it all so precisely. I thought of sharing some on my blog and I thought of who would read it… the words were too honest.

My mood was slipping, there were days when it all felt too much; too overwhelming…

I didn’t know why, do we ever know why with depression? It could have been a number of ‘logical’ things; I am still, seven months later, adjusting to life without medication and trying to treat mental illness and fibromyalgia holistically (I do not have anything against conventional medication and I will be writing about this in due course), I have been more sociable lately and that, whilst lovely, always makes me very tired which makes me more prone to low mood. I am still in therapy, which can be very difficult at times. My dog is sick with an ongoing and seemingly undiagnosable illness… things mount up, but of course it really could just be that I was going through a blip and it would pass.

Or, it could be that suddenly I was being open about my mental health again, and honest – not only with my words, but also with my feelings. I wasn’t just bumbling through, carrying on regardless, I was thinking about them because I was writing about them. I also was beginning to follow other mental health bloggers on Twitter and Instagram, and whilst those communities are wonderful and supportive, it is all there.

It is, like many things that surround mental health, very contradictory. We need to talk about it, we need to get our voices and our stories and our support for each other out there – we need to be able to say when we are struggling and we encourage others to do the same, but in doing that it can all feel very… overwhelming. It can feel overwhelming for those of us that share because suddenly all of these thoughts that don’t feel like our own at times, but that definitely come from us are out there and it’s not just strangers on the internet that read it – it’s our friends, our parents and sometimes even our employers. I have spent my entire life feeling like I am too… sensitive/open/honest/experimental/generous/open minded/empathic and like I should always reel my behaviour in – and therefore sharing how I feel can at times be very, very difficult; as soon as it’s out there, I want to snatch it back in. I am an introvert by nature and pretty quiet and softly spoken; I am not one to get up on my soapbox or get in to big debates – but I do believe that conversations about mental health are so very important and as someone who has been there, done that, got the t-shirt and who keeps taking it back for an exchange, I need that to all be for something! If that ‘something’ is helping just one person, then I have done what I set out to do.

So… being a mental health blogger with a mental health condition (or three), is hard. It’s hard because amongst all of it you are on your own journey and you have your own demons to slay. It’s hard because you know only too well the pain that others are going through and sometimes, that pain can trigger your own. It’s hard because it means being open about an illness that feeds off of isolation and it’s hard because that openness isn’t limited towards strangers.

But it’s worth it.

It’s worth it because it starts conversations and helps people to feel less alone and less scared. It’s worth it because it can help me to believe that all of this pain was for something, and it’s worth it because it means I get to write about something that I feel passionate about once again. I have learnt a lot in a month; I have learnt that in general, my confidence soars when I am doing something I love. That not only do I write passionately about mental health, I can also talk passionately about it to people, in person. I have learnt that in sharing my stories it encourages people to share their own and to have difficult conversations with loved ones… but, I have also learnt that there is a flip side. The flip side happens when I spend too much time on social media, or too much time analysing what I have written. It happens when I follow people back without really looking at their profile and then wake up to a highly triggering picture, it happens when I forget to take care of myself amongst it all.

Put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others

I have learnt that there are days when I am going to have to remember that one.


Thank you for reading 🙂 If you have enjoyed this writing, please feel free to come and join me on my following social network pages to see my new posts and daily musings:

Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Tumblr



March

Image made using Canva

Traditionally heralded as the start of spring, this March certainly feels like it has been a time of new beginnings and growth for me. The biggest thing during this month has of course been starting this blog – it came about after a therapy session where, after reading something that I had jotted down during the week, my therapist looked up at me and told me to just go home and write, anything! I had been complaining since just after Christmas that I couldn’t write, I didn’t know what to write and therefore had not written anything since November, whereas before I would write every single day. I had fallen out of routine and needed a purpose.

Since starting this blog three weeks ago, I have felt my confidence soar with regards to my writing. I have gone over old pieces – pieces from last year and pieces from up to a decade ago – and found memories and descriptions of times long forgotten about. I have had wonderful messages of support and encouragement from friends and strangers alike, I have had people confide in me about their own struggles and I have had people thank me for talking about depression and helping them to understand what someone close to them is going through.

I have also had moments of almost crippling doubt. Of overwhelm, of exposure and of wondering what the heck I’m doing! I have asked my husband and my best friend to read specific pieces because I have worried that I have come across as too ‘know it all’, when at times I have felt like I know very little. I have been trying to get to grips with the social media side of things and I have realised that, for me, the writing is the ‘easy’ bit! I have reached the point of exhaustion a couple of times and had to just switch everything off and leave it for an afternoon or evening…

If March is the time for new beginnings, then I feel that April will be the time for calmly organising and taking stock after that initial burst. Writing is definitely something that I enjoy, it gives me purpose and I know now that I definitely felt something was lacking when I didn’t do it regularly. However, I must not lose track of my own growth and recovery – listening to our own advice is something that I think most people with depression struggle with at times. We can know the answers and the logical path, but logic and mental health rarely sit alongside each other comfortably, so, I need to work on that 😊

Anyway, if you have joined me over the last few weeks – thank you! And I really mean that, every new follower, every comment and every love has been a little glimmering light, encouraging me forward. I have loved creating this blog and I hope that as I become more comfortable and confident that the doubts will subside. I thought what I would do at the end of every month, is a little sum up of things that I have enjoyed – I have also made a small spotify playlist (I will aim to stick to around 25 songs) of what I have been listening to. Some of the artists you may know, and some you may not – but you may find someone that you really like, please let me know if you do…

Books

The Signature of All Things – Elizabeth Gilbert

As we started March, I was finishing The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I have loved Elizabeth since reading Eat, Pray Love about two years ago, it was the book that encouraged me to start thinking about my own spiritual health and I am so grateful for that. I have watched a number of TED talks by Elizabeth and have a number of her books, but I had never read any of her fiction, so I didn’t know what to expect.


From the first few pages, I knew this was going to be good. Straight away, you feel almost as though the narrator is confiding in you – telling you the story of the Whittaker family from the very beginning. I have since lent the book to my mum, so I don’t have it here to quote passages from but I did take a photograph of some pages where the description of events, the imagery and the implications of things unsaid simply blew me away – I remember thinking that this is writing at its very best and definitely something to aspire to. I shall post the pictures on my Instagram account if you would like to read what I mean.

The story though, it chronicles the life of the fictional botanist Alma Whittaker. A very clever child, born to a Henry, a man who has built his empire from the ground up and Beatrix, a stoic Dutchwoman who cultivates Alma’s intelligence with passion and veracity. We stay with Alma throughout her life and just as you begin the think that Alma will forever stay at her family stead in Philadelphia, quite happily, events take a magical turn and we are transported to Tahiti, to Peru and Amsterdam. The novel builds and your emotional investment in Alma builds with it as she desperately searches for understanding and meaning in a life that, as she is discovering, is not at all black and white – you end up feeling like a close confidant, willing her on until the very last page.

This book at its very core is an exploration of love, it is the journey of one woman’s quest for meaning and passion in an era where women were not scholars, and were not meant to fantasise about male genitalia in the binding closet 😊 it’s a story about how sometimes, we all get it wrong and sometimes we are all left wanting more – its also a very beautiful tale of spiritual and emotional growth, and Alma, although fictional, will forever be one of my heroes because of it.

I cannot recommend this book enough. I loved it, from the very first page until the very last and I am still telling friends and family about it now.

Click here to buy via Amazon

Eileen – Ottessa Moshfegh

Last year, I read My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh and it blew me away – how she got into the mind of the central character, how her mental illness and desire to black everything out took dramatic and overwhelming turns. I was really looking forward to Eileen, and for the most part, it didn’t disappoint. There were some points where I felt completely in-tune with Eileen, her anxieties over work and being around her colleagues – her anxieties over her body and her desires and that feeling of not really fitting in. Ottessa has a very clever knack of reeling the reader in, of that feeling that you are being trusted with a secret.

However, the book, like its predecessor, does take a dark turn. It reminded me in a lot of ways of how I felt when I read The Girls by Emma Cline last year, how a book can evoke that feeling of wanting to hide behind a cushion when you get to the point it has been leading up to. I read a lot and I think as a reader your mind and imagination becomes very attuned to the descriptions within stories – this can be a great thing, but it can also become harrowing when the writing is as good as it is in books like Eileen. The descriptors of the neglect shown by her father and the abuse suffered by a young boy were very hard to read at times and although wonderfully executed, I would struggle to recommend this book to anyone without giving them a bit of a heads up that it does get very dark in places.

You do end up emotionally invested – even in characters that you are meant to dislike – and by the end I felt like I had been on Eileen’s journey with her. Wonderful writing, but perhaps one to read with caution.

Click here to buy via Amazon

Vox – Christina Dalcher

I pre-ordered Vox last autumn, I tend to prefer reading in paperback and although I was really excited about the concept of this novel, I opted to wait until its paperback release date to read.

My tbr pile is big – and getting bigger! But when this book arrived a couple of weeks ago, I had just finished Eileen and I wanted to read it right away. It has had some really good reviews and been talked about in the same breath as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale a fair amount, so I had high hopes…

It started off very promisingly. We are thrown into a dystopic near future where women and girls are limited to just 100 words a day – this is where the similarities with Atwoods masterpiece really come to the fore. Its not unimaginable, its scarily plausible. We follow Jean – a mother of three boys and a girl, husband to Patrick who works for central government. Jean, and her daughter Sonia, are allocated 100 words a day, counted steadily and unfailingly by the counters worn upon their wrists which will administer an electric shock as soon as the 101st word is uttered. During the first few chapters, you get a sense of the anger and frustration, you turn the pages wondering how this woman could make a stand, especially as her eldest son seems to be becoming an advocate for the ‘Pure’ movement more everyday and her daughter is becoming all to used to this new world – a heart-breaking and pivotal passage describes how she comes home from school, excited but non-verbal about being ‘the best’ and winning the prize of not uttering a single word. It is cleverly done, if not wholly original…

However, things do change; what starts off as a page turner soon becomes a page turner for a different reason – by the time I reached the halfway point, I just wanted to finish it. Jean, although a good strong character at the start, quickly becomes laughable in the way her emotions are so detached that she is more concerned with continuing an affair than saving either her youngest or eldest child (we don’t hear much about the middle children and I am left wondering why they were included at all). By the time the dramatic final chapters were playing out, I had lost all emotional connection and empathy with the central characters and I even found myself having to re-read passages to work out what was going on. There is also a lot of emphasis on science, on work that is done to manufacture and reverse Wernicke’s encephalopathy – if you have a medical degree, perhaps you would enjoy it more, but for me, I was lost for numerous pages at a time.

I loved The Handmaids Tale and even now, 34 years after its original release, it is still relevant and gaining new fans – I spoke with a friend yesterday who was reading it for the first time. However, Vox pales in comparison, a good concept which, unfortunately, lacked any of the emotional pull needed to deliver something of impact.

Click here to buy via Amazon

Recipes

Sweet Chilli Beef

I have made this recipe four times this month, you could say I’m a little obsessed with it 😊 But, each time it has been slightly different. A lot hinges on the strength of the sweet chilli sauce you use and also how small and crispy you make your beef. (I like mine crispy and spicy!) It also takes quite a long time to prepare all of your ingredients – cutting the beef and vegetables very finely can take up to half an hour, so this isn’t a quick recipe, although it is delicious and definitely worth it!

I have also been adding a couple of very finely sliced carrots into mine. Whenever we get crispy chilli beef from our local Chinese takeaway it has carrot in, and I think it gives it that nice crunch. Its also another veggie, which can only be a good thing…

Click here for the recipe.

Sausage Rolls

I loved these – loved them so much I may make some more this week. I have written the recipe out here, but they are definitely worth sharing again. They are also very easy to adapt – you can really mix anything you like with the sausagemeat to make them super scrumptious 😊

TV

The Disappearance of Madeline McCann

I watched most of this in one night when I was babysitting for my nephew. I remember very vividly the day that Madeline disappeared – I was visiting my family up in Gloucestershire and I was out for the day with my own parents, this news story had just broke and was everywhere.

Over the last twelve years, I have heard snippets, but I must admit I haven’t followed the story all that closely. I think you tend to have things that come onto your radar and things that tend to hover around your peripheral, and this particular news story fell into the latter camp for me. I didn’t really have any strong preconceptions – I had believed a lot of media bits and bobs and was of the assumption that the parents probably had something to do with it, probably like most people.

But after watching the documentary, all of that went out of the window. I know that Kate and Gerry weren’t a part of this production and actively spoke against it, but it certainly changed my opinion of them. Personally, I think that the negligence they showed with leaving three young children alone in an apartment in a foreign country, was unforgivable, but as for murdering her, selling her or any of the other wild claims that have been banded around… no, I don’t believe they did.

And I think it also instilled a feeling within me of wanting to give them that benefit of the doubt. I know that there are hundreds and thousands of people that are convinced that they were behind the whole thing and that post vehemently on social media about just that – I have seen a post going around with ’42 questions we want Kate McCann to answer’ and, some of them do need answering and can fuel the fire of making things seem incredibly suspicious – but we do not know what happened and very, very few people do.

There is a chance, in my opinion a rather large chance, that they didn’t have anything to do with her disappearance and it unsettles me to watch people playing judge, jury and executioner on social media after gaining all of their information from, what we all know, can be a very biased and untruthful media. If (and I would hope, when) the truth comes to light we may find that Kate and Gerry have been telling the truth all along, and I’m not sure that I could have it on my conscience if I had been posting hateful and hurtful things on social media directed at two people who have gone through possibly one of the most traumatic experiences that anyone could even imagine.

You can watch the trailer here and catch the full series on Netflix.

Russian Doll

This has been a real highlight of my month. It was confusing, it was clever, it was emotional and it was wonderful. Its one of those things that you cannot go into too much detail without giving important bits of the plot away, but I cannot recommend it enough.

The basic premise of the story is that Natasha Lyonne’s character, Nadia, dies after leaving her birthday party. She then wakes up, at her birthday party – and this keeps happening, over and over again without any explanation or reason why.

If you were a fan of Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, you will love this. If you are a fan of Natasha Lyonne, you will love it and if you are fan of Amy Poehler and the way she writes and directs then you will love it – however, my husband doesn’t neatly fit into any of these categories and he loved it too!

It also has a kickass soundtrack 😊

You can watch the trailer here and catch the full series on Netflix.

Films

The Great Beyond

I had seen the trailer for The Great Beyond on Netflix and not really grasped what it was about so kind of shrugged and left it, didn’t add it to a watch list or anything. But then one weekend, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I watched the trailer again and decided to give it a go…

I didn’t know who Andy Kauffman was – I thought he had something to do with Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless mind, hence the Jim Carrey link (turns out that is Charlie Kaufmann). I had also never seen or heard of the movie Man on The Moon.

A bit of background here…. Jim Carrey played the role of Andy Kauffman in Man on The Moon, a biopic about his life. Kauffman was a larger than life character, playing multiple roles within the story of his own existence. When Jim got the role, something happened to his personality, he not only channelled Andy, he became him.

I’ve seen reviews of this movie slamming Jim Carrey and calling him egotistical and self centred – for a long time the footage that was shot behind the scenes of Man on The Moon wasn’t released because, in Jim’s own words ‘they were worried that people would think I was an asshole’ – and there are moments when you watch the people around him; Danny Devito, Michael Stipe, Courtney Love amongst others and you can see that they do not know what to do – Jim is disruptive, he is rude, he acts out…

But you can also see that this isn’t controlled. This is something that has happened within his mind, some break, some kind of episode. He no longer believes in some of those moments in his own existence – there was a heartbreaking moment when Jim, as Andy, was talking about Jim and he said ‘He is a very scared man’ – and that hit me on so many levels. We can put on these personas, we can all act, but what lies underneath? And what happens when the acting overtakes you?

You can watch the trailer here and catch the movie on Netflix.

I hope you have enjoyed this little round up of my month 😊 I have just started reading Hedge Witch by Rae Beth, I am also looking forward to reading Elmet by Fiona Mozley and I am going to a book signing by Claire Fuller on Thursday so I must read Bitter Orange too! We have just started watching Afterlife on Netflix so I’m sure these things will be mentioned next month…

Have you read anything or watched anything that I have covered here? What did you think? I am also always up for checking out new recommendations – so if you have anything that you have loved and think I would enjoy too, or if something has got you thinking and it would make a great conversation piece, please do let me know.

The aforementioned Spotify playlist to accompany this writing can be found by clicking here.

Until next time my loves… Xx

Survival

And then there is that grief…

That feels like your heart is being ripped out through your chest, it is like nothing that you have known before. You weep, you become numb, you wonder how it ever got to this point and how anything will ever be the same, will ever be ok again.

But it will.

Because you are here and so am I, and you have moved on and re-built those broken pieces of yourself. Maybe a little more wary, a little more cautious… but we are laughing, you are remembering how it feels to love… how it feels to be happy, and to breathe without the weight of grief that has been upon you for so unbearably long.

You have made it to this point and you will only become greater from here on in, because you are cultivating that inner resolve, learning that to love we need to be vulnerable, to bring ourselves back and to start again.

Because you are a survivor. And so am I.

Thank you for reading 🙂 If you have enjoyed this writing, please feel free to come and join me on my following social network pages to see my new posts and daily musings:

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The Storm

Your breathing has slowed now
Its steady, calm, measured…

I lie next to you and watch the lightning
Eyes wide, each flash bringing me comfort

I’m too lost in my head now, but you knew that before sleep
The words have stopped forming, the eyes too far away

Thunder rumbles in the distance
A storm is coming.

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We

We are the thinkers…

The dreamers and the ones that over-analyse.

We listen intently without simply waiting for our turn to speak…

We hear each word, each syllable, we won’t drift off.

Words are important to us, the way they are used, created and shared…

Afterwards we hear them again. Replaying and absorbing, getting the conversation in order within our own minds.

We are the Sylvia’s, the Virginia’s and the Susanna’s…

We love deeply and openly.

Hearts worn upon our sleeves, fragile and yet strong…

But sometimes just not strong enough.

We are the creators…

We are the writers, the poets, the artists.

The ones who will take their own heartbreak and create something magnificent…

Even if we cannot see it ourselves.

We are the perfectionists and this makes us more critical about ourselves than others will ever be…

We know this, it makes no difference.

Our own minds scare us sometimes, the thoughts that cannot be expressed…

The fears that live and breathe within us.

We will never be good enough for ourselves…

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Sylvia at The Shoreline

There is something about Studland, on the Dorset coast. Some feeling that is haunting and hard to place.

It is not a seaside resort whose heyday has long since passed – where paintwork is cracked and fading and a large slice of income comes from kebab shops and slot machines. Nor is it somewhere that Butlins reigns supreme – tired parents and excitable children filling its streets and shoreline.

No, it’s quieter than that.

The houses are still grand, the lawns and gardens they sit within remain perfectly manicured. The hedgerows are neat, you can imagine cricket being played on the village green and the village shops are decorated with pinstripe and care. The road signs remain from days gone by – gloss painted onto enamel, a talent in itself. If you block out the computer printed signs telling you to remove the valuables from your car you could be visiting not only a different place from where you set off, but also a different era.

My heart always swells when we drive past The Knoll House Hotel. I have never been in for coffee, never spent the night – any sleeping I have done in Studland has been rather unceremoniously in a tent – but something about that hotel draws me in. Established in the thirties you can feel how grand it was, even today. Perfect Hydrangeas and a fresh lick of paint every season. A quick glance on their website will inform any discerning visitor that the management only ever employ the cleanest, politest, most highly trained staff. Polished shoes and slicked back hair – cocktails after a walk on the beach and cigars after dinner for the gentlemen.

But there is a certain sadness to it all. As I pass the grand houses with their perfect veneers I can almost smell the beeswax polish and feel the texture of the Afghan rugs beneath my feet, rugs that have probably slept in the same space for the last sixty years.

I imagine the women that must have lived in these houses. How they must have taken pride in the cleanliness and smiled through the dinner parties – the money and the sadness. Idle fingers tracing the outline of their pearl necklaces as they watch the holidaymakers arrive for another season. The excitement and thrills of new faces and glimpses into other lives, then the emptiness that would return year in, year out as the season drew to a close and the beaches sighed their relief.

I picture the likes of Sylvia and Ted, arriving for a few months away from the hustle and bustle of London. I don’t know if they ever visited Studland, but they remain here all the same. Ted fades into the background as Sylvia and I walk the shore or stop to take in the view from a coastal path. I can feel the calf length skirt and the impractical kitten heels, I can picture the loose curls in my hair and I can recognise the sadness in her words.

The loneliness doesn’t come from the place, from the buildings or from the sea that we quietly observe in the fading summers light. It can’t be quelled by ice creams, or dinner parties, or the feeling of the clean salty air filling our lungs, not any more. The loneliness is within us, we feel it as we stand on the cliff edge, the water below us fading out to inky black and the breeze, now cooling, lifts our curls and gently moves our skirts.

She slips her hand into mine and I close my eyes at her gentle touch.

It feels like home.

Thank you for reading 🙂 If you have enjoyed this writing, please feel free to come and join me on my following social network pages to see my new posts and daily musings:

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