Gratitude List

I fucking hate positive thinking and all that happy pop-psychology become-a-smiling-consumer adjust-yourself-to-a-profoundly-sick-society bullshit.

That brigade seem to have co-opted the concept of gratitude, which kind of sucks, because counting your blessings can be helpful. Especially for people like me, with a very emotion-dependent memory. When I feel bad, my brain only goes to bad things, a never-ending referential wormhole of backwards-looking negativity. So finding something to be grateful for can arrest that spiral.

Today I’ve been feeling like shit, exhausted and coughing, like I’m  an automaton made of lead and my movement mechanisms haven’t been oiled in the last 100 years.

So, here is a gratitude list. Right now, I am grateful for:

  • My room, my own room.
  • My house and my parents and not having to fend for myself in the scary world
  • My brother, who just sent me this and cheered me right up.
  • Babybel.
  • My cool as fuck tarot cards which I’m just getting to know. It’s a journey into a whole new world, and the art there is amazing.
  • I have friends
  • I have a cool Bullet Journal to try organising my life with, and the motivation/capacity to try. I didn’t have that a year ago.
  • Never get bored. So much to do, so much to dream…

 

Ooh, today is my one year anniversary of DBT group! Thank you Facebook memories for reminding me. I can’t believe so much has happened over a year. I’ve met and shared support with amazing people who have become real friends. I think I’ve made progress. If you’d asked me a year ago to make a gratitude list while I was in a mood like this, I’d probably have tried to glass you. You know what, just writing that, I realise that I don’t feel bad anymore. This stupid shit actually works. Anyone reading this who’s kind of on the fence about therapy and trying, because it’s uncool as fuck and also really hard to care when your mental illness is distracting you with how much you hate yourself, you should totally try. As a bitter and cynical person, sometimes you’ve just gotta make an idiot of yourself, do things you think will never work, but do them wholeheartedly, or as heartedly as you can muster, and eventually, something will change. Something you try will have some kind of effect.

I’m not promising miracles, but well…

This was my Card of the Day. http://tarot.ccEverything changes. The wheel always turns.

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Gratitude List

2017

Has seen some blessed times, but now I’m sad and sulking for missing my first gig of the year because I’m ill and skint and just not up for doing things. 2016 exhausted me. Had a beautiful time last weekend seeing friends though, drawing on happy memories to drg through. That and plans of better times ahead.

So, here are my plans/goals/wishes for this year:

  • learn to drive
  • cycle regularly
  • more poetry
  • perform at some more places
  • get some performance videos done
  • perform at festivals
  • get my show on the road
  • write a new book of conceptual stuff
  • actualise some visual/video/multimedia creation
  • get some decent boots and walk
  • walk long ways
  • have adventures
  • get strong – lift weights, run, yoga, eat food that isn’t cheese
  • blog and diary and record everything
  • get some proficiency in tarot reading
  • meditation focus
  • graduate from DBT having learned all the skills and able to use them in life
  • carry on helping out at Derbyshire Refugee Soidarity
  • do more Belper stuff
  • get new glasses
  • go foraging
  • get my stupid painful tooth sorted out/stop moaning about the tooth
  • go to more amazing camps and festivals
  • visit many friends, especially the ones I haven’t visited in years
  • learn/revise Basic First Aid
  • learn a few tunes by heart on the tin whistle
  • learn to crochet
  • sell a load of stuff to declutter and fund all this
  • apply for a Masters (finance permitting)
  • don’t drink all the damn time
  • get some independent self sufficiency
  • get some community
  • Edited to add: Run the Tenby Half Marathon again! What am I even doing?! My family talk me into these ridiculous things.

I think  that’s enough to be going on with. I’ve made a start today by putting a couple of things on ebay, and I’ve been keeping organised with a Bullet Journal and to do lists. I know Bullet Journal sounds like an enraging gimmick, but I was doing the basic form for half of last year and found it really helpful,so I’m carrying on. Got no memory in general, so writing it down helps.

Keep your peepers open though folks, maybe some interesting things will happen this year…

2017

Once Again

Today was going to be a list of 2017 goals. Instead, I’ll be reviewing cold and flu remedies, because I’m got some horrible chest cold. I thought I’d escaped the plague epidemics that seemed to ravage the population over the festive season, but apparently not. My immune system held out this long, but it’s now finally given in. I’m sad. Hopefully I can at least help others in the same situation, give you some healing inspiration.

So, here are the remedies I’ve tried.
1. The Gold Standard: Juice of one half lemon. Some slices of ginger. Slices of chilli or dried cayenne flakes. Tbsp honey or other syrupy sweetener. Shove it all in a mug with warm water. 
Makes you feel a lot better. Astringent lemon seems to clear the goo out, chilli clears the sinuses, honey soothes, it’s warm and delicious, you can tweak it to your taste.
For an expert level version, add brandy.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Delicious and healthy. Doesn’t actually cure colds. May dissolve tooth enamel.
2. “Golden Milk”. It was with shame and trepidation that I jumped onto this bandwagon. I can’t remember which specific recipe I used, but a quick Google will throw up hundreds of websites with recipes for this, often touting miraculous (and pretty unsubstantiated) health benefits. Turmeric is genuinely amazing, but it becoming the next fad superfood is annoying. [HIPSTER ALERT] I was into turmeric way before it was cool. Turmeric is cheaper than Savlon and hydrocortisone cream, and is also the basis of my famous instant noodle soup.
Anyway, I made the ‘Golden Milk’. The taste was pleasant but bland, I think I’d need to add more ginger and pepper. It was soothing, I think.  The texture was deeply unpleasant though. Greasy and powdery. But I get that’s what you get when you dump a load of turmeric and cinnamon powder into your drink, and top it off with coconut oil.
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
It did soothe my throat. But it also left a greasy feeling in my mouth from the coconut oil. Maybe I could make it in a less sucky way. Maybe I’ll just make some dhal and eat my turmeric like a normal person.
However, I’m a sucker for magical remedies, so here’s my next plan. This Fire Cider sounds appallingly badass. I’ll keep you posted how that one goes.
3. Tiger Balm I am never without a pot of this stuff. From the sesh to the sickbed, it’ll cure what ails you. Today I’ve been rubbing it on my chest, actually rubbing it around my face when the sinus pain got bad, and it helps. It contains menthol, camphor, cassia, peppermint and cajuput, which is basically all of those ones which burn and make your eyes sting. Which is why my method of applying it to the face is not actually recommended. I don’t want anyone trying to sue me for any subsequent injury.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 
Allows breathing, which is always helpful. You can really feel it opening those nasal passages, and you can also rub it on the aching joints that these illnesses cause for some reason. It’s lost one rating star for its horrible consistency. I got the cheap one, so it’s sticky and greasy, and my chest is breaking out in spots from touching the stuff.
4. Radish
Yes, radish. The juice of radish clears the chest. Hollow out a radish and put sugar in it. Leave overnight, drink the juice that is drawn out.
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Radish juice is surprisingly palatable. My chest feels much less wheezy, but that may also be because of the next product…
5. Avoiding Dairy
Dairy is renowned as a  phlegm causing food. So during a cold or chest infection, it should be skipped.
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
HAHAHA you thought I could go one day without cheese?! One single day? Nope. Apparently not.
6. Halls Sugar Free Assorted Citrus Flavour Sweets with Vitamin C
Kind of numb the throat. Contain 450mg Vit C per 100g. If you ate a whole pack, you’d probably get your RDA. You’d probably also feel really sick.
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
They are sweets. I don’t even know why I’m writing this. They do clear your nose a bit, for a pretty short time.
So that’s it for today. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be cured.
Once Again

2016 Review

I made goals a year ago. And then reviewed them on my birthday. There may be a sense of deja vu starting to set in. Spoiler alert: I did not yet become a cyclist, or a journalist. I still can’t knit or play the violin. I have started playing the the penny whistle though. I’m sure the neighbours love it.

So, let’s start with some positives. 2016 was a good year in a lot of ways. I started, and stuck at therapy. DBT seems to be helping. I love the people I share a group with, and the camaraderie we have in learning to live in our lives, and make lives we want to live in. It can be all kinds of hard work and sometimes you find out things about yourself you’d rather not face, but better that than the previous mess. Still a bit of a mess, but… maybe, slowly, I’m getting there. It’s an upward spiral, maybe. A labyrinth, possibly. But despite the wrong turns and confusion (and the odd Minotaur hiding in a dark corner), there does seem to be some kind of change. And a change is as good as a rest, right? I don’t feel so constantly crazy. Though I’m definitely not “cured”, whatever that would mean.

I still help out with Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity, in the warehouse. Just last night, 40+ people were there, making a heroic and successful effort to load a shipping container full of clothing and other needed supplies for Syria. I don’t feel like this is something to boast about though, more something that I’m honoured to be a part of, even in a small way.

Oh, and I did run that half marathon, and do that abseil for sponsorship money. I also ran a stall at the Padley Festive Fair? which collectively raised over £400 for the Padley Group charity, which works with some of the most vulnerable people in Derby.

I am still living in Derbyshire, and have somewhat made peace with that. So much beautiful countryside, and some really good people doing brilliant social activism and creative works. I’ve been travelling more lately though, mostly within England seeing friends, but to Italy as well for Christmas.

I got a poetry book published, and done something that I never really thought would happen: I’ve developed a certain amount of confidence performing live. I’ve actually got on stage and enjoyed it, rather than just feeling overwhelming dread the whole time. (Although the dread is still there.) This spoken word/reading out loud/actually speaking my words to real live people thing is beautiful. Sharing energy, communicating, that’s powerful. Thank you to City-Zen and Word Wise especially, for hosting such powerful and amazing nights.

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A craptastically blurry pic, but the only one I’ve got of me onstage slaying and that.

I’ve loved and lost and suffered and learned. I’m grateful for the good times. And there were so many good times. Hopefully I’ll learn the right lessons, from the bad times. Twice this year I’ve left a man. Now I’m single and need to be. Not for rancour and isolation. I just need to turn into a real person, before I can be good for someone else. I need to learn my own edges before I blur them into someone else’s reflection.

Friends are love. I’m sorry for neglecting you and missing you and the trials of living scattered across counties, countries, continents.

Thank you all for the good times. We’ve had some adventures.

I’m grateful for my family. I’m back living with my parents. I’m amazed they’ll still have me. I lose count of how many times I’ve come crashing back down to here, to rebuild in this nest. There have been many gatherings and events and meetings, not least the wonderful wedding festival of my cousin. Just, love to the whole enormous crew who I am not going to list and name because we are a sizeable tribe and you don’t want to be here al day.

This year has left me feeling depleted. I’ve known for a while I was running out of energy, burning the candle at both ends, failing to nourish and replenish and all that. There have been some truly horrible times where I didn’t know how I could possibly survive. But, I did. There have been people lost. Real people we knew, not celebrities. Although their families must be suffering the same grief as any, and damn I did love Leonard Cohen. But it’s not at all the same. I’m not going to do a list of loss and trauma and fear. But it’s always there in this life, ocean always wearing away at the sand, chaos always waiting to spin us off into the void. It’s dark out there.

In a wider context, this has been a frightening year. We watched with grief and rage as Syrian children drowned, as Donald Trump was elected, as racist attacks and hate crimes rose as fear and rage seemed to convulse a world spinning wildly between the end of one era and the beginning of the next. What the fuck is going to happen? Who knows? 2016 has been a year where running away to live in the woods has seemed like a more attreactive option than before.

Running on mania, running on fumes, then running out of fumes, running on gritted teeth and coffee and alcohol. Eventually everything crashes. So I go into 2017 with less energy than before, feeling old and foolish, but with optimism that I’ll be able to come back from this.

Nature has nourished me deeply, has been a refuge and saviour and source of deep joy. This is what I plan to delve into more deeply, to return to and explore this year and all the years.

Much love. May 2017 open for you like a flower, and may you learn what you need to, before you are forced to.

As for 2016, I rate it 3/7. 4/7 if it hadn’t killed Carrie Fisher just at the end, just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse.

 

 

2016 Review