Tag Archives: Life

Juices

Every so often (very often) I become a master procrastinator. I may have a list of 78 things that simply must be done RIGHT NOW but there I am gazing at my navel and wondering who would play me in the cinematic biopic of my life (Philip Seymour Hoffman is no longer with us so I guess… Bette Midler?).

I’m in a creative rut just now and it does not feel good. I am all for being engaged with something that gets those creative juices flowing – whatever it is. For me it’s writing, watching movies (and talking about them) – and reading.

I’m reading a very heavy book at the moment about the Charlie Manson murders and while it is fascinating, it’s also very courtroom-heavy. Who knew when it was written by chief-prosecutor for the trial, Vincent Bugliosi? It’s great and right up my street as a true crime obsessive – however it’s getting me down too. All that murder and mind-control will do that to you.

As a result I have recognised areas in which I can make small changes to pep myself up again and get that creativity back in my life. Which I’ll share now because I need to beef this post up somehow.

Here are a few of my favourite things to do to try and ditch the blues:

Walk This Way

I haven’t actually started this yet because I’ve had a lot of late nights this week and no way am I walking home alone at night in this cold – but now that it’s lighter in the evenings and relatively bright, there’s no excuse not to get stomping from A to B. Or is it Z? I guess it depends how much you have to do.

Exercise is always name-dropped in relation to well-being and the proof is in the pudding. Nothing feels better than getting those lungs pumping and that fresh air in through your nostrils. You don’t have to be bench pressing 120 kgs to be getting the benefits. To accomplish this (which admittedly after a hard days work I’m not always up for), I add another well-being favourite to the mix.

Podcasts

Yes I like a lot of dark stuff, namely horror movies and true crime – but there are other podcasts I listen to sometimes about relationships, books, body image, mental health… to be honest by now there must be a podcast for every topic imaginable (something I must research one of these days).

Slapping on a new episode and leaving the flat on a dry day has wonderful benefits, both physical and mental – plus you get to learn interesting and obscure information you never even knew you needed to know. It’s like college on the move.

Graffiti

This is something that really makes me appreciate life. When I walk around Brighton I’m naturally drawn into the secret corners of the city. If I’m going anywhere by foot you can bet I got there via a maze of unloved alleyways and side streets.

Brighton has amazing street art and graffiti, you just have to keep your eyes open for it. I wish I had even a quarter of the talent these artists have. There’s quite a famous saying that goes something like “Those who can’t, take pictures of it and share it on Instagram.”

Just Say No

This is probably the hardest item of the well-being list to keep to because even though I’m a hermit-at-heart, I also suffer from FOMO. But saying no is important sometimes.

Honestly, I’ve only learnt how to do this quite recently in the grand scheme of my life – and it’s empowering AF. “Do you want to come to a BBQ this week with all my work friends?” ~ No thank you very much! See? So satisfying.

I Think We’re Alone Now

This is so fricking important, I can’t emphasise it enough. If I don’t get sufficient time alone during the week, I turn into Godzilla, fiery breath and all. I just can’t be around people all day every day and yes this can be a challenge when you live with someone. Luckily, my husband understands (and doesn’t want to be around me just as much) so we make it work.

I also take myself on dates from time to time, mostly to the cinema but anywhere I feel like going. It’s the best – and I get to eat all the sweets without judgement.

Nailing It

Self-care in the form of pampering is probably the most recognised form of well-being – and there’s a reason for that. It’s good to take some time out and make yourself feel good – be it a posh bubble bath (with lashings of Mister Matey) or a full body tissue massage – and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

My Thing is getting my nails done so I feel extra fancy. Luckily my place honours the above point and completely ignores me beyond asking me what shape and colour I want. I LOVE IT. No chit chat – and I’m in and out with new claws within 45 minutes. I love looking at my horrible fingers with coffin shaped talons stuck to the ends- I feel like I’ve really earned them.

Kiss

Not actual snogging (which is fine) but the song Kiss by Prince. There’s a law about not wiggling your butt when this song comes on and it carries a heavy sentence, so it’s best just not to risk it.

See also: Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot, Hey Ya by Outkast.

What do you do to get yourself out of a slump?

(This is a post I wrote for my work blog but I thought I’d share it here too).

Unicorn Store

Unicorn Store (2017)

A woman named Kit receives a mysterious invitation that would fulfill her childhood dreams.

Starring: Brie Larson • Samuel L. Jackson • Joan Cusack

*Minor spoilers*

A real quickie on Brie Larson‘s directorial debut, which appeared on Netflix this weekend. Reuniting Samuel. L with his Captain Marvel co-star, Unicorn Store is as whimsical and abstract as they come.

Kit (Larson) is a woman-child not doing so great. Failing at art school (at least in the eyes of her beloved professor), she finds herself back home, living in her parents’ basement. Her parents are well-meaning enough (played by blog favourite Joan Cusack, and Bradley Whitford) but are distracted by their new pet project and employee, Kevin (Karan Soni).

Adopt me please, Joan

Channel-hopping one day, Kit stumbles across an ad for a temp agency and decides to join the rat race as a new and improved version of herself. One who dresses appropriately for the office and drinks coffee.

Kit does pretty okay at her new assignment, particularly when her quirky nature catches the attention of her (creepy) boss – but her focus soon shifts onto more magical things when she receives a series of mysterious invitations to a secret location.

Someone didn’t get the memo about Wednesdays

At The Store, Kit meets The Salesman (Jackson) who puts her through a series of tasks to prove she’s ready for the ultimate challenge – to care for a real life unicorn. Yep, I told you it was whimsical.

Kit, you see, has been dreaming of this since she was a child and there’s practically nobody else more qualified for the role. Still she has to prove she can keep it fed and surrounded by all the love she can, which means making sure her relationship with her family is in tip top condition.

When she hires Virgil (Mamoudou Athie) to help her build a unicorn stable, it seems like she might be opening herself up for a different kind of connection but how’s he going to take news of the unicorn?

Virg(il)ing on the ridiculous

While this is sweet enough and I did appreciate it, it’s perhaps just a little bit too cutesy for me. I stan Brie Larson so I was on board with the character of Kit – and I do appreciate a surrealist indie. I really enjoyed Virgil too, a somewhat reluctant partner-in-crime who soon gives himself over to the concept of adventure.

Larson’s increasingly flamboyant wardrobe definitely deserves a mention as does Kit’s assistant Sabrina (Martha MacIsaac), who harbors her own dream – to open an Etsy store selling jewellery shaped like miniature food.

Will Kit get her unicorn – or is all an elaborate con?

US is abstract but really it’s about putting away childish things and accepting adulthood – while still keeping just a little bit of magic back. Which is a cool message and one I personally endorse.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

No Shopping Update #1

As you know, I’ve embarked on my own personal challenge of not shopping for clothes until the Summer (or more specifically August 1st).

For me this is a massive undertaking and although nobody but me is holding me accountable, I have to admit here that I’ve already slipped a couple of times. I don’t mind being transparent, I bought a bag I thought I desperately needed in the BooHoo sale. It was cheap and cheerful – and I hated it so it’s going back.

I then simply had to have a pair of tartan print paper bag trousers because of course I do. Those are staying because they’re super cute.

This morning I bought a £15 puffa jacket to arm myself against the rising chilliness and a sweatshirt I’ve had on my wish list for donkey’s. That was £7. So not exactly breaking the bank and also needed but still, I feel bad I’ve already stumbled at the first hurdle.

I have to remember I’m human and breaking a habit of a lifetime so I will have minor blips. The security team at work asked me if I was okay the other day as there have been no packages since Christmas and I’ll take that as a small win. I might have caved a couple of times but I’ve still mostly avoided the sales and given my debit card most of the month off.

I know I can do this and I’ll be flipping the bird to the people who thought it would be too hard for me come August.

Starting again from NOW.

Write the Book

“Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.” ~ Christopher Hitchens

There’s an old adage that suggests that every person has at least one book ‘in them’. I don’t know if this is true but I often think about whether or not I might be someone who does. My gut tells me no, absolutely not, that the fiction I love to read is way beyond me. I like dark and intricate plots – and I know I’d never have the attention to detail required to produce anything in this league. I struggle with timelines at the best of times (everything was the other day to me, even 1996) but I can’t imagine skilfully being able to foreshadow or call back to the exact moment a character turned from ordinary person to arch nemesis of the world.

For as long as I can remember my mother has been on at me to just “Write the book”. I believe I can write competently, it isn’t that I doubt that – I just don’t know if I have that something extra that she thinks I have. Writers are the most extraordinary people in the world to me. Take Stephen King, the man who wakes up every morning and writes a set number of words (1000) no matter what. Come rain or shine he throws his words on the page and something usually sticks. The man has produced some of the most memorable horror characters of all time. He’s built worlds that might look just like ours but are actually more horrible/magical/strange that we could ever imagine. Whether you’re a fan or not, this commitment is incredible – and it seems healthy and cathartic to me too. Perhaps I should try it, just open a Word doc every day and GO.

But if fiction is out of the question, then what? I haven’t enough true story in me for a memoir (I know that’s never stopped a lot of people) plus I’m way too young (LOL). Self help seems like a bit of cheek – who am I to believe I have wisdom to share with the world? This morning I had a Cadbury’s Crème egg for breakfast because “I’m ill”. I know about love, heartache and grief but so do most people. What on earth is my USP?

This is one of the million dollar questions that keeps me awake at night – what was I put on this earth to do, really? Perhaps that’s my pitch: ordinary 40 year old woman goes out into society to figure out her true purpose? Hey it could work. Failing that I’ll just whip up a book of my favourite filthy jokes, none of which are suitable for this blog post.

Happy Wednesday all!

UPDATE: I wrote this for my work blog and thought I’d share it here too.

One Week In

We’re a week into 2019 and I could really do with a week off. I’ve managed to drag my worn old carcass out walking a bit, one of the few non-resolutions I’ve made. I’ve been the laziest toad this Winter, getting the bus every evening instead of doing the 20 minute walk to my flat. It’s amazing what you can blame on the cold and darkness if you have to.

I don’t really have much to share in this catch up post. Life has been ticking along. The office is rife with diet chat and I want to chew my own arm off in protest. I don’t care if you’re ‘being good’, Linda – leave me out of it.

I’m here in the first week feeling like something needs to happen. I want to make changes, to salivate with possibility again (there’s an image for you). I’m a scaredy cat though in so many ways and I don’t want to be that way anymore, I want to take risks like I used to. Perhaps I should be looking for another job. The one I have is lovely and I like what I do but is it the right one? I chose it because I was so wounded by the last one and it’s been nearly 18 months now. I’m not even saying I want to leave the company, I love it here – I just know I need to push myself harder. So I’m going to find a way to do that.

This year I just want to surround myself with decent people and be happy. Get a grip on my self-doubt and find a way to soar. Isn’t that a great goal? I think I also need to start throwing away a lot of the old shit that weighs me down. The things that don’t bring me joy, as Marie Kondo would say.

See this is the thing about January, it’s so devoid of things to look forward to (unless you make it), that you’ve no choice but to sit in gazing at your own navel. It’s a good and bad thing, equally.

How’s your New Year so far?

Surviving Christmas

I wrote this post for a work blog but unfortunately it wasn’t published. So I thought I’d share it here instead, rather than waste it. I guess the sentiment stands, wherever I place it, right? 


❄️❄️❄️

Oh Christmas. A magical time for all, where everything twinkles and shines just that little bit brighter. Eggnog flows like water, chocolate waits tantalisingly to be devoured (usually for breakfast) and there is no pain anywhere.

If only.

Firstly, the festive season is s-t-r-e-s-s-f-u-l. Financially, socially, mentally – it can do a number on you in so many different ways, sometimes in ways you’ve never considered. I personally feel burnt out already just by the sheer amount of social engagements I’ve had (I know, boo hoo). Don’t get me started on the damage I’ve done with my debit card. So from the offset the magic can come at a price but we do it because it’s Christmas and we love our loved ones. Some of us adore this time of year and that’s cool too.

But Christmas can also be a challenging time for mental health and it’s important to acknowledge this. Every person has the right to take care of themselves during this period, even when they’re at home. If being with family isn’t the right thing for your wellbeing then that is fine, the modern set-up is often an extension of what we’ve always known and friends are the new family to many. As the clock ticks down to Santa’s visit, remember:

You don’t have to spend Christmas with your family

As above if this is a toxic place for you, you don’t have to do it.

If it all gets too much

Take yourself out of the situation. Absolutely nobody can give you grief for going to your room to read a book for an hour or having a hot bath in the middle of the afternoon. You know yourself better than anyone, so listen to your instincts.

Ask for help

I’m the worst when it comes to cooking the Christmas dinner. I do not know how to ask for help and end up sweaty and stressed in the kitchen, snapping at anyone who tries to intervene. Asking for help does not make you a failure; it just takes some of the pressure off. In fact, if you can write a list and make notes about who can do what, you’re laughing. Plus, if you cooked – it is against the law for you to wash up as well. Just saying.

Mind the booze

I’m not going to lecture anyone about their alcoholic intake but it is so tempting to turn to the buck’s fizz (or harder) to deal with Christmas Day. Alcohol is a depressant though and can leave you feeling low. Not to mention the Christmas morning/Boxing Day hangovers so sometimes it’s good to pace yourself.

Get some air

If you need to get out then get out! Nobody has ever regretted leaving the house for a spot of fresh air, let’s face it. Except maybe Dorothy Gale.

If it’s not perfect, tough

This is my new mantra, as I worry about presents, whether I’ve spend enough and that each gift is perfectly wrapped with a tartan bow. If everything is not just so then what’s the worst that can happen? The world will not implode. One year I forgot the stuffing and I’m still here to tell the tale, painful as it still is.

I am the gift and so are you

Your loved ones just want to be with you, I promise. For all the gifts and the going out, what really matters is the being together. And lots and lots of lovely cheese.

So from me to you, have a lovely Christmas and please take care of yourselves. 

Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

When I was much younger and Christmas tree buying time came around in the Martin household, I was always very extra.

I would insist on choosing the ugliest, loneliest looking tree in the lot and we would inevitably end up with two – the pretty one that got to shine bright in the front room and my sad, usually balding tree positioned optimistically in the hallway so it would be the first thing anyone would see when they walked through the front door.

I’d bundle those underdog trees in as much love (and Star Wars figures) as my childish heart could conjure, and that was my own personal festive tradition. My family tolerated this probably because they didn’t have the energy to argue (and they loved me) – and I’m grateful to have had the chance to express myself from such a young age.

When I think about this ritual now, it could be a metaphor for a lot of my human relationships. I always made a bee line for the people I perceived needed something the most, whether it was true or not (invariably it was). I would come home with strays all through childhood (friends from less harmonious homes, actual stray cats and dogs) and as I matured, I did the same with men.

Damaged, needy men were my speciality and my inner rescue radar would pick them up with ease. This as you can imagine led to a lot of heartache on my part as I learned the hard way that you can’t fix people. Especially when they don’t want to be fixed.

I’m not entirely sure what made me think I had the qualifications to mend anyone anyway. All I know is that I’ve spent way too much of my lifetime attracted to broken people and one day – hallelujah! – I was able to stop.

It started when I left a six year relationship, which I now recognise to have been highly psychologically abusive. Then I cut out my first significant and totally toxic friendship. It was like losing a limb for a while and then, it felt INCREDIBLE.

For the first time I came to realise that we don’t have to put up with the things that hurt us. We have choices and ever since I discovered this, every time I get a whiff of another one of my strays, I catch myself.

I’m all for being there for others and I’m not saying all needy people are toxic, many of them are just like my trees. They need water, a comfortable pot and a shit load of tinsel – and they’ll start to thrive again. It’s just that I’m not responsible for anyone but myself and I have no business thinking I am.

I’ll always be attracted to the ugliest dogs in the street and Christmas trees that have seen better days but I don’t have to save anybody anymore.

I never did.