B•F•R•W•W – The New Digest

The things I am currently digging in five easy categories – Bingeing (TV), Feeling, Reading, Watching (Films), Writing.

Bingeing

There’s a lot going on TV wise this Autumn/Winter but the most exciting is Pose Season 2 which has already succeeded in making me sob like a baby five minutes into the first episode. I’m trying not to smash the whole series in a day but it’s very moreish.

This season is centered around Madonna’s Vogue record, inspired by the NY ballrooms – House ma Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) is convinced this will bring the community mainstream acceptance while Pray Tell (Billy Porter) has seen it all before. Both are dealing with the HIV epidemic and fighting for their human rights – while Elektra (Dominique Jackson) is enjoying the spoils of her new (so far secret) career and Angel (Indya Moore ) is taking the fashion industry by storm. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend this amazing show – it is everything.

Obviously I’m all over Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK as well. Team Divina all the way.

Also watching: WatchmenSwamp ThingThe Young OffendersCreepshow

Feeling

I’ve decided not to fight Christmas this year – so I’m feeling festive. I didn’t get it at all last year so honestly fuck it, why not ride the wave with everyone else? My manager has already put up her tree and I’ve so far watched more Christmassy flicks than I care to admit – I’m saving Love Actually (2003) and The Holiday (2006), don’t worry. I’m thinking of making my own Christmas cards too – which is frankly obscene.

It’s also my birthday in just over a week and I wasn’t going to do anything but got talked into at least having an intimate dinner so there’s that to look forward to. There are six of us and I’m going to put on a new dress and false lashes – and enjoy the excellent company. I know I’m loved and completely blessed – and I am forever grateful for my loved ones.

Reading

Yes I’m reading more Stephen King – it’s the perfect time of the year for spooky and Christine is a wonderful story. My horror soulmate Matt is reading it at the same time and the regular check-ins with each other are the best bit. I will admit to finding this slow going though. It’s not Christine’s fault – I love it when I dip in – I think it’s honestly because the book’s so physically heavy, and it’s harder to read in the tub (my prime reading place).

I promise to review it when I’m done.

Also reading: My Favorite Thing is MonstersBuffy (Comics)

Watching

I’ve just re-watched Nerve (2016) on Amazon Prime, which was a lot better than I remembered – and I bloody love Emma Roberts. I’ve filled you in on Doctor Sleep which was v. good and of course, my shameful Christmas consumption.

My next cinema visit is to see Last Christmas with Helen on Tuesday – which I feel will be the final ingredient needed to get me feeling appropriately festive. I’m pretty sure I’ll be ruining my make-up for Emilia Clarke and I’m cool with it. Crying is cathartic, yo.

Also watching: Before I Wake (2016) • Gerald’s Game (2017) – I’m very much having a Mike Flanagan revival.

Writing

I wrote this, didn’t I? That’s about it on the writing front, unless you count the assessments I’ve done for my advanced Wicca course which is so fun. I’m loving it. I’ve submitted my first four assessments and come out with a 97% pass rate so far. I’m considering doing Astrology and Tarot next.

What are you up to?

One Reason Why

TW: Suicide

“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
~ Tiffanie DeBartolo, How to Kill a Rock Star

Yesterday was Suicide Prevention Day and I wanted to put something down as this is a topic after my own heart. There are many shocking stats about suicide in the UK that you can read about here, I won’t add to that myself. I just wanted to acknowledge this day and maybe share a little.

I learned a bit about suicide this year during my Mental Health First Aid Training. The course was given by a suicide survivor, an incredibly vibrant man who couldn’t have been more candid about his experiences. He spoke openly (and sometimes with genuine humour) about why he’d wanted to take his own life, what might have stopped him and his thoughts on it now – and it was fascinating. Surprising too, when you consider how outgoing and seemingly bright he is. This just goes to show that it isn’t always obvious what people are going through, or the kinds of people who are affected by suicidal thoughts.

Of the people on that course, there were at least a handful that had first or second-hand experience of suicide – and all their stories were heart-breaking and very raw. Honestly, I don’t think I had any idea of what something like that can leave in its wake and the repercussions seem endless. My eyes were opened by that course and I feel as though maybe I worry more about people I care about now. I’m hyper conscious of friends who seem down but sometimes I’m clumsy about how I go about making sure they’re okay. The right words don’t always come easy because it’s a massive thing to talk about – but I think it’s fine just to ask someone if they need anything.

Way back during my darkest period this was definitely something I considered. If I’m honest there just didn’t seem to be a reasonable way out. I didn’t believe I could just say ‘enough’ and be allowed to leave our home. In the end it turned out to be quite easy but I’d been beaten down so much mentally that I hit a wall and for a long time I felt dead already. I just wanted it to be over, once and for all.

In the end it was friendship that saved me. I met a group of people who wanted me to be okay and they’d make sure I was, daily. I found a tiny sliver of hope and that was enough to acknowledge that I wasn’t going to sacrifice my life to fear. I’m lucky and although I still have dark thoughts, I know what I need to do if it feels like too much.

Suicide has always been stigmatized. I no longer think a person is selfish or cowardly if they take their own life. I just think it’s sad and I wish that they could have found another way. It’s not for me to judge but I do want to be there for my loved ones or anyone who feels they need help. We can all be kinder and more observant, it doesn’t take much . We need to check in with our friends, family and colleagues.

And if you’re going through Hell, there are ways to help yourself. The Samaritans for one are an amazing organisation and they’re there 24/7, 365. Most workplaces have an Employee Assistance Programme or can offer you additional help too. It can be hard to ask for help, I completely get that but I hope you find a way to. It can change everything.

Samaritans

Web: https://www.samaritans.org/
Call: 116 123 (free)
Email: jo@samaritans.org
Or drop into your local branch

Résumé
Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live.”
~ Dorothy Parker, Enough Rope

How are you?

Gratitude

One of the teachings of witch school is to find everyday rituals that strengthen the mind, body and soul. There are many suggestions but the bottom line is there are no solid rules. One of the reasons I’m falling in love with Wicca is that it all seems to be open to your own interpretation. You find what works for you and run with it, there are no wrong answers, as long as you’re abiding by the basics: e.g. intent is everything and the things you do will come back on you threefold, good or bad.

I know I’m just doing a basic course but I’m committed to the whole shebang, the real learning starts here and now – and I’m really doing it. I might do the next course up and continue with the interesting diplomas but the work (and the proof) is in the pudding.

Today’s post, however, is brought to you by the letter ‘G’ – for gratitude. One of the practices suggested to strength your spirit is the gratitude journal. This sounds easy enough, just slap down all the things you’re thankful for and go. But I actually think it requires more thinking than that. Life moves really fast and we take so much of it for granted – I think the purpose of this exercise is to slow us down a bit, make us really see all the things we have.

I thought I’d start today with a cheeky bit of the good stuff. I’ve broken it down into three sections.

Today I am thankful for:

10 things big or small

  1. My husband and a hot cup of tea waiting for me every morning except weekends, when it’s my turn
  2. This morning’s walk to work – the perfect Autumn morning: crisp, bright, delicious
  3. Dogs
  4. Taking the perfect selfie because Fall light is so much more flattering to an Autumn girl
  5. My colouring app
  6. My altar – I’m only just building it up and making it mine but it is so pretty and I can’t stop stroking it when I walk past
  7. The gerbils – so damn cute!
  8. My gravity defying butt – I walked past my reflection in an office window this morning and BOOM! It’s a lot but it’s mine
  9. Being cosy – it’s blanket season, yo!
  10. Starting a new book – I haven’t decided what to read next but it’s exciting all the same

People I’m thankful for

  • Glynn is genuinely the best person I’ve ever met – a total dufus but kind, thoughtful and almost unswervingly patient
  • My mother – it doesn’t matter where we are, I always feel as though we are in tune somehow
  • My friend Helen – she just gets it and me – and I never feel I have to play my moods down for her
  • Matt – horror movie buds are rare and precious
  • Jillian – you know it, giiiiirl. I’m so blessed to have you and I’m grateful every day that this blog has brought us together
  • You! If you read this and take the time to comment or like my posts, then I’m thankful for you

The Best Part of my Day

The best part of my day is always taking my clothes off and getting into bed. That moment of just about falling asleep is gorgeous, especially with the window open a smidge and a cool breeze gently tickling my naked behind. Being nude is the best. Oh, and having Glynn’s hand on me.

So know I want to know – what are you grateful for today?

Hello September

I thought I’d freestyle my first post in September. I’m pumped for Autumn as you know but this week took a nosedive in the form of some stomach whirling self doubt and I need to let it out. Then let it go.

I know I’m a normal woman but sometimes in the dead of night, negative thoughts swirl round my head like bats and I forget that. I feel like the walls are closing in on me and they’re a metaphor for time and achievement. I’ve achieved nothing and will amount to nothing, that sort of thing.

I vow all the time to kick this kind of thinking but it has a habit of creeping up on me in my lower moments. I guess nobody is immune. Obviously I’ll be okay, probably as soon as this has been posted, I’m good at recognising what I need and being kind to myself. Nobody’s nicer to me than me but I think it’s important to record these feelings too.

I sometimes hate everything about myself, all the snivelling, the hesitancy and the way I let life scare me. My lack of ambition and my laziness. The stupid things I’ve said and done, all the wasted time and the half-finished next big things. I was supposed to discover a hidden talent by now, be brilliant at one incredible thing. Maybe change the world in a small but crucial way.

I know this is anxiety talking. That these mean words come from a condition that thinks it deserves to take centre stage all day, everyday. It can kick up a stink as much as it likes but now I let it go. At the core of it all I love myself and that part of me is way stronger.

So, nice try fuck face but you’ll be getting no further screentime from me. I’ll be enjoying my Sunday safe in the bosom of my loved ones. What have you got?

I also choose to count today as the first day of Autumn because I deserve nice things – and so do you.

Happy Autumn all! 🍁🍃🍂

Only the Lonely

It’s the weirdest feeling in the world to be surrounded by people and still feel out of sorts – and dare I say it: lonely.

I mean, it’s not a particularly cool thing to admit is it? And when you think of the word it conjures up something unsavory, like a shrew-like old woman emptying the contents of her near empty fridge and sharing it with ten cats. As if that sounds like an unhappy life.

I do feel it though and it’s not as though I don’t know I’m loved. I’m so lucky but I can’t help feeling alone sometimes. It usually hits me when I’m in big groups – and honestly if life were a movie, in my mopey moments the rain would start and I’d be gazing out of a window, listening to Dido or some shit. Sometimes I’d be in a Greyhound bus.

I think this is my anxiety sending me exaggerated messages. I love my own company but when I feel low I question everything. Do my friends actually like me? Am I too old for them? Do they pity me? Am I a joke? Am I a burden?

I wish I could pause my brain when it’s fucking me around like this. What I have is amazing and I need to shut the hell up. Feeling this way is probably just part and parcel of being hormonal and in need of some time off work.

Loneliness is no joke though and it’s part of the reason I started saying yes to more sociable activities. I know not everyone has the same choices. Now more than ever perhaps the horror club needs it’s first meeting.

Do you ever feel like this? How do you combat it?

Diamonds

Welcome to the Posts Named After Pop Songs series, in which I take something very tenuously linked to my life from the lyrics and run with it.

Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy
You and I, you and I , we’re like diamonds in the sky
You’re a shooting star I see, a vision of ecstasy
When you hold me, I’m alive
We’re like diamonds in the sky

I often think about that first line: “I choose to be happy”. I mean, I’m usually thinking about Rihanna as standard but that line has always resonated with me. Is it that easy then? Do we simply choose and then become it?

I think there might be something in this theory and it’s got me thinking. About whether I am a truly happy person, what makes me happy – and how much power I have within me just to be as happy as a clam (or a pig in shit, depending on how sophisticated I’m feeling). It’s a broad topic to be sure.

I think I’m happy generally but, like most people, I do let the small things rob me of joy sometimes. For instance I’m very irritable today not because of my hormones but because my work headphones kept getting tangled in my chair. This is something that could be easily fixed and yet, mixed with the Monday blues, I’ve been fuming.

I could and should just say to hell with annoyance, today is the best day of my life – and get the fuck on with it. That’s a choice. Because I’ve chosen not to do this, the day’s got worse and worse. The only good news is that I can have icecream for dinner and nobody will dare tell me off.

But there’s something there, isn’t there? I used to be a very depressed individual and ten years ago I wouldn’t have framed myself as a happy individual. I have been in dark and lonely places feeling as though I had nothing good to show for my life and nothing to look forward to. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done to get out of that and let a little sunshine in.

At a point in my life I could take no more of my own misery shit. It was time to sink or swim and thankfully my mediocre doggy paddle just about got me to land.

Life is in colour now and I love it. I have friends, an amazing family and I get to come home to the best person on the planet. I’m privileged in many ways and I can’t deny that. There are lots of reasons to smile and more reasons to be positive than to let tangled headphones fuck with my chi. So maybe I will drop the attitude and leave myself open. Sure, not everyday can be a skip through the posies but I can take a vow to at least try.

Maybe against all odds and in the face of the things I can’t control, I will stand up and say “Not today, Satan. Rihanna chooses happiness and so do I.”

His Highness the crown prince Dalai Lama agrees:

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. ~ Dalai Lama XIV

What do you think?

Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag

Did I ever tell you about my handbag theory?

Ever since I started earning my own money aged 13, I’ve been into arm candy. Handbags are my THING – my porn. There is nothing sexier than a beautiful vintage handbag dangling on the arm of a gorgeous person. Sex and the City was all about the designer purse for me, the love lives of the girls secondary to Carrie’s sweet sweet collection of luxury perfection. The Fendi baguette, the Dior saddle bag, the Balenciaga – ooh la la!

I have lots of fond handbag memories and one very painful one. I inherited a vintage Adidas flight bag from my uncle when I was around 17 and it was the greatest thing I’ve ever owned. It was his as a teen and he’d kept it pristine all those years.

Alas my mother got sick of all the crap in her loft, including 5689 other bags of mine, and she slung the lot while I was backpacking around Australia. She did ask me if it was okay first and – feeling freshly zen from all the finding myself (and so not being about material possessions anymore) – I said yes. In the kerfuffle, the Adidas met an early demise and I’ve never got over the loss. Since then I have loved a lot of bags. The thing is – and this includes the Adidas – not one of them has been completely perfect, and this is where my thinking comes in.

The search for the perfect handbag is not unlike the Holy Grail – it might exist only in myth. But if it does, I imagine it really would contain the secret of eternal youth and all the miraculous powers and abundant happiness of legend. In historical descriptions, the HG has always been a dish, cup or a stone but there’s nothing to say it couldn’t be a vessel large enough to house 77 lip balms.

There’s a chance however, that what is perfect one day might change the next. Even if I do one day stumble across the bag of all my dreams, what’s to say it will remain ‘the one’ forever?*

Say I do find it and I don’t change my mind – is it akin to finally accepting oneself or discovering the meaning of life? Once I’ve found the Holy Grail Handbag, is that me done? And if that’s the case, do I even want to find it?

Maybe the hunt is the real point here, that’s where all the fun lies. With every new bag there’s a new beginning and I think this is the other main draw for me. Every new bag requires a fresh start. You clear out the old bag of all your shit and you transfer it into the new one – everything is shiny again.

Just get a bag and drop a dream in it, and you’ll be surprised what happens. ~ Charles Nelson Reilly

So, while I’m searching for the one, I don’t think I actually want to find it. I can’t imagine giving up the search, or settling down with one bag for the rest of my life**. Life’s so short and there are so many heavenly purses for me to love. Each and every one of them deserves its place in the sun, dangling from my stumpy white arm.

I bet you any money though that I’ll spend my whole life searching only to find out that the answer to all this has been within me the whole time. That it’s not what you carry all your stuff in, it’s about the stuff itself.

Go figure.

What’s your thing?


*Obviously we have bags for all occasions. There are situations that require a teeny tiny cross body or a sophisticated clutch – and summer is all about straw beach bags – when I say ‘the one’, I mean in relation to the every day essential

**If I had to name the closest I’ve ever come in the past to true love, I’d say my 90s Barbie backpack. I can’t remember what happened to it but I miss it every day

Solo

One of the most important things in this life, as far as I’m concerned, is me time. It sounds cliché, especially when you frame it in that popular self-care meme kind of way but boy, is it true.

I get incredibly angsty if I don’t have at least an evening or weekend day a week to myself, doing whatever the fuck I fancy. I also strongly advocate solo dates because honestly, nobody gives good date like I do. My main jam is the cinema date for one.

You get to see what you want, sit where you want and eat what you want. You can do more than one movie and nobody moans about it. Sometimes, on very special days you can do a hat trick. I just love to spread myself out and lose myself in whatever is unfolding on screen.

That’s not to say I don’t bloody love going with my film buds, which I do all the time but the lone wolf viewing is something I do at least once a week if I can.

I struggle a lot being around too many people – and around people too much of the time – so I often have to excuse myself for a breather. Even if it’s just 30 minutes with my book or a long old soak in the tub. It wasn’t always this way, a lot of the time I was alone growing up, even when I first moved to Brighton wasn’t by choice. I had friends but I was in no way as outgoing as I am now. I was scared to go out a lot of the time – my social anxiety crippled me to the point I’d make myself ill. As a result I was a lonely person, alone a lot and not enjoying it the way I do now.

Thankfully a few things have changed in that department and I’m not sure how, I guess I stopped giving such a shit about socialising. I don’t worry as much about every little thing and I’m sure that’s a comfort that comes with age. Plus, I surround myself with people who understand me – if I’d done and my social battery is running low, they just accept it.

I think I’ve found the balance. Now I thrive on the peace and quiet of my own company but I also enjoy being out and about. Finding the right balance is the key to my optimum mental health – and I always feel it when I’ve been overdoing it. The quickest and easiest solution to that is to take myself to the movies. On Monday, I’ll be spending a few hours with Bruce. The shark from Jaws, that is.

What are your thoughts on going solo?

Unpretty

I recently downloaded not one but two new apps onto my phone. Nothing new there, most of our lives are more or less managed with a cheeky app or two – but these are for photo editing. Which is fine in itself but after spending a good hour the other night doing ‘minor touch-ups’ to a selfie, I had to stop and have a word with myself.

You’re going to have to excuse this self-indulgent post, I’m afraid. I’m about to bang on for a while.

I’m not against photo tweaking in theory. I’m the queen of touching up a spot or two and choosing a damn good filter. I’m forever adjusting the lighting. This is deemed the new norm in our Instagram world and I’m all for it, as long as we’re honest about it. Life isn’t (always) like the images we use to paint a positive life. If I were being honest, my grid would be full of me lying naked and puffy in bed, avoiding the world.

The addition of these apps to my life is different because I’ve been leaning on them far too heavily. I’ve been changing the shape of my face, tightening my jawline – thinning my nose. More than that, the app can give you the perfect winged liner, eyeshadow and lashes for days – technically you’d never have to put on a face again. But it feels false and it goes deeper than just tweaking a few things ever so slightly – I look like a doll version of myself and it’s creepier than Annabelle*.

The reality is: it’s time for me to admit that I’m not pretty.

Before you say something nice to make me feel better, I know I have some *okay* features and can scrub up when I need to. I also know that ugly girls are never really ugly girls. As the man himself once said:

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ~ Roald Dahl

Idealistic I know but there’s truth in that statement. However, it’s time for me to come to terms with how I really look.

My lovely friend took and posted a video of me on Instagram at the weekend and secretly, watching it back on my own later, I was devastated. I look awful, all chins and bad skin. But really, so what? I was pissing about in the park with a friend and he cut the video to the chorus of Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry (my favourite song of all time). My hair looks good and I’m wearing my favourite outfit. Above all else, I’m having a laugh.

So I’m not beautiful like my friend, who looks like Bambi’s girlfriend on her very best day – I’m still loved and lovable and cool. I have never been beautiful and my life was never meant to be lived like a drop dead gorgeous person – if anything, perhaps I’m lucky?

I am sure I don’t have to worry about half the things my fit friends do. I mean, that sounds cavalier because all women have experiences of being harassed or made to feel uncomfortable – and it seldom has anything to do with looks. But I have been around seriously good-looking women who are treated differently to me. It looks tiring.

If I can truly accept that I’m no looker and tell the world, “I’m ugly and proud” then maybe I’ll be happier? I’m tired of kidding myself.

It’s much easier said than done though, isn’t it? I’ve recently talked about making more effort with my appearance which is quite contradictory to what I’m saying here. Or is it?

I mean, taking pride in my appearance as self-care is different altogether to trying to conceal how ugly I am. There’s not enough highlighter or eyeliner in the world to polish this turd – if anything, it makes me look even worse. I can have fun with it though for the sake of how it makes me feel. Accepting my ugliness has nothing to do with letting myself go.

Really accepting one’s self is a delicate balancing act – on one hand, accepting that I’ll never be a knock out is quite liberating. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me as long as I’m happy and feeling myself – and I am under no obligation to be pretty and shiny. I don’t need validation from others in the way I did when I was 21 either, though yes it is nice when someone compliments you.

But on the other, man this world is cold and harsh at the best of times – and it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others or covert what they have. A thigh gap, bigger eyes, perkier boobs.

I can’t do it anymore, I need to step away from the Photoshopping apps. I’m deleting them as soon as I finish this post. If I don’t, who knows where it will end? I’ll be Edvard Munch’s The Scream with four inch eyelashes.

From now on, I accept it: I’m not pretty, and that’s a) a fact and b) totally, honestly okay.

*This is absolutely no shade to anyone who edits their photos. Many of my friends are pros at it, and I respect it.

(All images by Juno Calypso)

Wholesome Content*: Colouring Between the Lines

Sometimes the only thing I want to do is come straight home from work, make a cup of tea and sit on the sofa doing my colouring. This isn’t a euphemism for a heinous new sex act, I’m afraid. I actually mean colouring shit in. On my phone. For hours on end.

Or rather, if I had my way it would be hours on end non-stop but my wrists start to seize up after the third or fourth picture – and I have to go and shake it off for a few minutes. Which reminds me of the time I got tennis elbow from being on my phone too much. What a modern condition!

So yes, I’ve swapped my first nights in Brighton in LGBT+ clubs, drinking shitty Spanish red straight from the bottle – to colouring in on an app in front of the BBC iPlayer. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. Like most things we really enjoy doing, it is wonderful for good mental health and really helps me relax.

When I first got into colouring, I did it the traditional way, I bought a mindfulness colouring book and some fancy-arse felt-tips, and it was good. I upgraded to a rude one that had pretty patterns curling around the ‘C’ word – that was the one I had to hide at work.

But I’m a weird perfectionist in no other area beyond this one – if I made even the smallest mistake, if I slipped and went outside the line, or the flow of the felt-tip stroke was off – then I had to start a new one.

This means somewhere on my desk are half a dozen colouring books with half-finished pages in them – it’s a terrible waste. And then I found my app.

We (the Happy Color Massive) get ten new pictures a day and often, for an extra special treat, I will save up a couple of days’ worth so as far as the eye can see I have fresh drawings to paint. There’s no freedom in colouring this way, the colours and where they go are decided for us – but I kind of love that structure in my life.

You never know how a picture is going to look until you’re finished. Sometimes you can doubt it will be all that and then – boom! – a highlighter or a dark outline comes along and it turns out perfectly.

You can’t go over the lines because you’re just tapping sections on the screen, so you don’t get ink on your new mani. The colours never run out and the app is 10% free – unless they release a very rare colouring pack – there hasn’t been one of them for a long time.

If you ever wonder about your life and how maybe you need to get one – remember this post in which I managed to type just under 500 words on the joy of colouring in. And you’ll feel better.

What are you doing to relax?

*Guess I’ve got a new series featuring all my favourite Wholesome Content then!