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.
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. Everything changes. The wheel always turns.
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.
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.
Sponsor me here, if you so feel. It’s for Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity.
I was kind of hungover for abseiling, because the night before was a truly uniquely beautiful night at City-Zen One Mic. So many talented people, and I got up and did a couple of new spoken word bits. People come together to create and talk bollocks and drink and dance and it’s magic. And raised £100 for Rojava Solidarity.
Spent the rest of the weekend with family, which was really nice. We all live kind of far apart, so it’s great when we do get together. Stayed up way too late putting the world to rights (and I managed not to get into any terrible political arguments even though my family are not yet woke to the true necessity of anarchism).
These things have been good beyond measure. In between times, things have been bad beyond measure. I don’t know if I’m actually losing it. Fuck abseiling, this is the real extreme sport. The mood graph prickles like a porcupine and shoots a facefull of quills into my idiot life. Trying to hold while everything spins. I’m too dizzy to run anywhere. My hands hurt.
Sorry this post is a week late. Life is chaos, chaos is life.
Edited to add: Chaos indeed, in the first edition I forgot to put my finish time! Well, I did better than I thought: 2hr 28:55!
But well, I ran the Wales Half Marathon and it was amazing. Last year it was incredibly painful, and I could only call it fun in the most masochistic sense of the word. This year, with a tiny amount of training (a weekly run with Jog Belper, a bit of yoga, and one eight mile run) it was actually an enjoyable challenge to run 13 miles. Well, most of it. Some of those long evil hills could only be power-walked. Still, it was beautiful.
My last-minute sponsorship quest for Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity paid off, with £115 raised so far. This includes £10 given to me during the race itself, by two guys running for the equally excellent charity Hand in Hand for Syria. This was a really touching gesture of solidarity as we struggled up Manorbier Hill.
Thank you so much to everyone reading this who sponsored me. That money will go a long way towards supporting people displaced by the wars and unrest in the world. It seems a weird disjointed blog post, thinking about them and going on to write about champagne, but I suppose at least something good has come from this, for more than just me and mine. Spreading the love.
We stayed the whole weekend in Tenby, a big family affair. My cousin cycled 112 miles, which is an unimaginable feat of endurance. Mum, two aunts and brother did the half marathon, and my brother’s girlfriend did the 10k. Chris was my essential moral support, waiting at the finish line with a bottle of champagne.
Afterwards we went paddling. Because why the hell not? Champagne on the beach, the glow of athetic achievement… what a buzz. Never felt anything like it. All kinds of magic.
Or hey, why not go for a run yourself? Or a walk, a bike, a stretch, a swim, whatever you feel like doing, whatever is possible for your own body. I was skeptical as hell about exercise improving mood, but I think I’m convinced now. I’m already looking for the next race…
Yes, I know it’s Monday. But I want to write about Saturday. Saturday was a good day. Though it wasn’t especially sexy, aside from my presence. Every day is sexy if I’m in it.
It was another shoot for the No Surrender video (read about the first one here), this time for the part of the story featuring only me. Aaah, attention. I drink it in like nectar. Everyone looking at me. Me, my mask, and my Emotions. Ha! Who am I kidding? I’m already terrified (as well as incredibly excited) about this being released to the world.
Carl, Brent and Jay of Evil Unicorn are indeed highly professional, and there were no technical problems or inappropriate comments at all. There was nice coffee though. Acting pro tip: When filming sleep scenes in a bed surrounded by men, defuse the awkwardness with innuendo. Also, always end the day with a drink or seven to release pent-up emotion. (And to warm up after filming the outdoor scenes.)
This filming made me really tired, because 10am-5pm is a really long workday by my standards. How do people live in real jobs? Is there something wrong with me? Even at school, back in the day, I’d end up in a state of constant tiredness. Is everyone is the world just really tired, all the time? Is that why everything’s a bit shit? You know, I might have hit on a truth about Capitalism here. But I digress.
My brother randomly popped round for a drink night, which was surprising as he lives all the way up in Cumbria. I was well happy to see him though. This was the first time he’d met Chris as My Boyfriend, and seen where we live. Oh, and he showed us a cartoon with Nazi dinosaurs. Netflix may now become a part of my life. Goodbye, any remaining illusion of productivity!
I know my last post was a pretty full on blast of negativity and rage. I’m not sorry, but I don’t want you to think that I’m just a walking miasma of psychopathology and self pity.
So: Christmas! I usually ignore it aside from the drinking part. The forcest jollity makes me ill and the consumerism is unfathomable. I can’t really remember the last time I made an effort further than handmade cards. Not knocking the cards though, they were made with love and just enough design nous to cover for my appalling lack of actual papercraft skills. People liked the cards.
But this year, I’m trying to do a bit better. Not by spending a load of money on corporate crap to gift to my loved ones (so sorry if you were after anything electric), but with trying some more craft stuff.
This was my Facebook update today.
Done therapy and 75% of Xmas shopping. Now I deserve this £1.49 lunch. Christmas fuckin spirit OK?
This does not signal that I’ve joined the sad dash towards the zombie hordes of Black Cyber whaetevethefuckday Buy Many Things league.
I did buy things, some new, some charity shop. Mostly, ingredients. And of course some random fun girly shit for my laydies, who appreciate that the pantomiming of femininity can be hilarious vodka hi-jinx, highly therapeutic, and serious fucking business. Darlings though, my Xmas present to you is a true get-together. A drunken Princess’tea-party conference and a celebration of our 3 girl love.
*And because I don’t (and do… know who reads this, Girl Love is not a metaphor for lesbian sex.We are not a lesbian threesome.
As to the remainder of my Xmas supplies and crafting plans, this is now a tightly controlled secret. Christmas Morning gotta hold some surprises.
They could be shit surprises. If you still get nothing, or some Poundshop chocolates, I still fuckin tried. My only hope, now is that my lack of craft skills and knowledge will be overcome by my essentially innovative nature, Google, and Youtube tutorials.
I got only a couple of weeks to get this right, but I can do it. So family, friends, whoever is ‘lucky’ enough to get a weird handcrafted gift this year: It means I really fucking love you and I really fucking tried.
I know, for countless years into the past, my whole beautiful family have put endless efforts into bringing the family together (a logisitcal feat of no mean skill) and celebrating Christmas. And I’ve always been kind of an ass about it. Just sorta sitting on the periphery, getting as quietly drunk as possible, accepting presents as rightful tribute. (I promise, right here right now, I will post of some the amazing jewelry I previously received, so at least the world can share a look.) So yeah, I am making an effort this Christmas to retire the sulky ‘too good/alienated/sad for this’ persona. It was acceptable as a teen, barely, but now it’s time to step up, at least a little bit, and appreciate the real love of family and friends that is celebrated at this dark time of year.
You may not see me for a while. I may drown in glitter or burn my hand off trying to make candles. But by the end of it, I’m gonna try to do ‘love and good cheer’ or whatever you call it. Reaching out to those people who have always been there for me, and trying, however unskillfully, to show my love.
When I started this blog, I envisaged writing mostly about Literature, poetry, politics, psycho/neuro/chiatry and a sprinkling of aesthetics. Maybe a little magic. Instead, enjoy your earrings.
Some bought, some made by me, but most of them are gifts transported across the world on a complex journey from my Indian cousin, via Leeds, London, and several relatives. Uma, it was a journey, but we made it in the end. ❤
I have 3 piercings in each earlobe, so I go through a lot of earrings. Before the beautiful blessing from my cousin, I was down to my last two rings. I’m terrible at keeping earrings. Every time I get drunk I lose at least one.
I do own some expensive earrings I got as an 18th birthday present, but I never dare to wear them. I just know the back will get caught in my hair or something, and then I’ll have to explain to my grandmother how I lost an 24 carat gold, sapphire and diamond heirloom. I have very few valuable pieces of jewellery, and I keep them locked away. I am not responsible with valuables.
So this is my stud/pin earring collection. Some just bought cheap off eBay, some exotic finds, some pretty expensive gifts (made of actual silver and everything!), and some handmade by myself with all the power that entails. If you’re really bored, there’s a fun guessing game for you. Which is which? What did I make, what’s Indian, and what is a genuine commercially available piece of jewellery? Answers in comments please.
I will soon write a post about the craft skills behind the earring storage box. Keep reading to discover that thrilling information!