It’s Been A While…….

Writing

There are people posting videos of themselves climbing their stairwells enough times they’re making Everest appear like little more than a speed ramp in comparison. And here I am struggling to get up in the morning and ‘head to work’ five footsteps from my bed. 

But really, I must admit, and like many others (which is reassuring) and maybe even you, I have failed miserably at meeting any of my ambitions I had set out on an A4 page minutes before the world went into lockdown.

Here are just a few feeble facades  which fondly faded away into the abyss of my foggy mind:

  1. ‘Learn a new language’ – before lockdown I could say ‘hola’, half a year into lockdown and I’m still just saying…….’hola’. 
  1. ‘Get fit’ – why do we torture ourselves? Can we just give this gig up. Most of us are simply not fitness freaks fanatics, so let’s stop kidding ourselves, put down the dumbbells and pick up the popcorn. 
  1. ‘Skill up’ – yes taking on a new course is exciting for about 1 minute. Until the pre-filmed lecturer with his monotone drole puts you to sleep faster than your local anaesthetist. 
  1. ‘Self care’ – well atleast I now give my hair 100 strokes of a fine-toothed comb everyday. That’s something, right? But try to force me to wear anything other than my miss-matching tracksuit bottoms and farmer’s fleece and we’re having a fight. 

You get my drift, some people may look back at lockdown and see the silver lining in the mushroom cloud, several online certifications under their belt, a new haircut, a new zest for life. Meanwhile I’m the runt stuck in yet an even bigger rut. If there was ever a time to learn how to f*cking crochet, it has come and gone! And guess what, I still haven’t taken out those knitting needles, (do you even use needles)! 

So what exactly do I spend my time doing these days when I’m not wallowing in self-pity or stuffing my face with fried foods, you ask?

I’m still trying to figure that one out to be quite frank.  

Boredom-Busting Ideas

Writing

I’ve been trying to find new ways to keep myself occupied, especially since ‘winter is coming; and we all know what that entails. Stomach ulcers from too much hot tea drinking and cold sores from too much mistletoe snogging (well perhaps not this year mind you).

Anyway the fact is I’m finding that boredom is fast becoming that unwelcome guest in my mind a little too often and so I thought I’d share with you some ideas which have kept me entertained if all for the wrong reasons. 

Baking

Sounds good on paper, the final product never quite looks like the picture however. As it’s almost halloween I thought it would be nice to make halloween themed cupcakes, which would’ve worked out fine if I was going for the theme of roadkill.

Exercise

In my life, there never really is that right moment to drop and give you 50.. Exercise is painful, pain is something I’d quite like to avoid strangely enough. Yet in saying this, I have found myself in moments of disillusion hopelessly attempting to follow these popular Youtube pilates people while perspiring profusely. 

Nature Walks

It’s all fun and games until I tred in dogsh*t. Autumn, in particular, is a great time to go walking in sh*t, the leaves are burnt orange and crimson, the sun sits low in the frosty sky. So many picturesque moments are just destined to be ruined by dogwalkers! (joke) :p 

ASMR

I’m obsessed with this stuff, I don’t need drugs, sex or rock ‘n’ roll, I save these antics for weekends. Weekdays are spent in a euphoric state of catharsis, as Gentle Whispering ASMR pretends to give my spotty face a health-spa grade facial. ASMR is like marmite, some love it , some hate it. Forget marmite, it’s the elixir of life for saddos like me who never got hugged enough as kinder!

Book Reading

Fed up of scrolling on instagram, I’ve decided on the seldom occasion to brush off the cobwebs on some of my books. I boast a humble collection of a handful of books, not like those show-off shelves everybody seems to be sporting on their zoom calls these days. An old favourite I’ve picked up, and ultimately max out reading at the half hour mark is titled ‘Blackbox Thinking’ by Matthew Syed, in my opinion, it really is worth the read if you think failure is a negative, it changed my mindset for the better, it may change yours too.

So that was just some of the ideas I;ve been mulling over/ giving a go in the last couple of months. And on writing this I realise I already mentioned most of these in my previous post. 

Oh well, recycling things helps the planet doesn’t it?

I hope you’re trying to keep boredom at bay currently too, it’s not easy at times but atleast we can try, right?

When Will The Summer Arrive?! :(

Writing

If you find yourself clutching onto a hot water bottle as if it were a life-saving hand at the top of a cliff which had your death sealed on it. Then you must only be in Northern Ireland in the height of its scorching summer at 14 degrees Celsius (on a good day).

 

Yes today is the day of the whinge, I haven’t seen the sun in 6 weeks, and I’m starting to have major withdrawal symptoms. So desperate am I to feel its rays caress my casper-like skin that I’ve started layering on the factor 50+ at midnight and adorning the sunglasses while peering at the moon from my french-bay windows begging it to metamorphose into its much hotter cousin. 

 

Where art thou sunlight? Summer in this country occurs for one day, and one day only. Normally in May, whilst you’re waiting in the healthcentre for them to check if the bed sores you are developing are caused  by a serious medical condition or just because you’re too lazy to walk your mutt in the piss-pouring rain.

 

 As you uncomfortably sweat from every orifice in your being as the sun plays peek-a-boo behind the cumulonimbus for all of about 4 seconds, you second-guess whether you should get the shorts on and the BBQ lit when you leave the cesspit of infestation a.k.a. the local healthcentre we all love to hate. 

 

The ‘Great British’ weather really isn’t all that great. It’s always essential to dress for all 4 seasons in the one day. So that means a crop top, flip-flops combo, coupled with a raincoat and set of hat, scarf and gloves all being sported before you’ve had your morning cereal. 

 

And with this, it’s time to throw on the Ski-jacket and cycle shorts for a trip to the soggy beach!

Poem – ‘Try’

Writing

Swallowing pride,

Suppressing suggestions of surrendering,

To the doubts damning me from within.

 

An attempt to achieve,

Guised more as an attack on my ego,

Failure must be coupled with Cheshire cat’s grin. 

 

To try,

An action well-known to the brave.

Yet not even an acquaintance of I nor him. 

 

Trying to try,

Should be an accolade in itself,

With the focus on winning being second to this.

I’m Motivated At Being Unmotivated

Writing

I’ve become really unmotivated lately. I find sticking to schedules more painful than the thought of chewing shards of bottlegreen glass as if they were cornershop penny chews. 

 

Working remotely at my 9 to 5 is doable, but it’s the goals I have outside of this (as we all have) which I feel completely uncompelled to partake in. It’s so frustrating, here I am at 1 minute past 5pm, I should be jumping for joy at the thought of going for a workout in the garden or getting better at my language learning. 

 

Yet instead, much to my disappointment, I find myself crawling into the pyjamas and making the greasiest pile of shite for dinner, followed by a helpful dose of ‘Botched’ for dessert. (If anyone has watched this show, let me tell you now, do not eat a damn thing mid-watch. For it’’ll be hitting your ceiling via projectile vomit well before you have even had  a chance to take a second bite. Let’s just say the graphic scenes in this reconstructive surgery show would make roadkill look like a pageant Queen. And with that, I’ll say no more). 

 

Anyway, as I allow the daylight hours to fall through my hands like sands at the seaside, the guilt begins to wash over me – normally around 1am when my head hits the pillow. I’ve just wasted yet another day’, unfortunately this is the all too familiar opening dialogue of my monologue rant that I play through most nights of my very lack-lustre days. ‘Why didn’t I try harder, do I not care enough about succeeding, do I not have enough passion for these so-called ‘goals’ of mine?’  

 

I fall asleep under the waves of annoyance and frustration. Forgiving myself monetarily as I work at the dayjob only to start the cycle all over again as the sun begins to set. Why do I bother having ‘goals’ if I can’t be bothered to put in the effort to achieve them?

 

Are they really not things that I truly want? Am I just trying to achieve them to impress other people? Do I have too many goals simultaneously and perhaps the pressure of this ask is too much that my subconscious simply rejects them all in a desperate attempt to keep my cortisol levels mildly below fFreaking the f*ck out’? Who knows. I wish I had the answers. 

 

I spend alot of time thinking, and not enough time doing, Maybe perhaps this is the real crux of it all. The cure to all of my problems, and much much more. Human beings – procrastinators sitting pretty in their suits of skin and bone. So perfectly imperfect, we have the minds to create goals, and the minds to prevent them happening. 

 

Where the f*ck is my self-help book off Amazon, I think it’s perfect timing for a read of the blurb as a bit of light bedtime reading before I pass out whilst skimming over the introduction about the author.

 

I hope you’re achieving your goals as I sit and blabber about the fact that I’m about as far away from mine as the 2 poles are from eachother on this Godforsaken planet. Or then again, maybe knowing that you’re struggling too will give me a sense of sweet sweet schadenfreude as I stare aimlessly through my bay windows sipping unsweetened tea when really I should be working on my tax returns. 

 

Either way, goals can be achieved, and they can be unachieved. Formed and removed. The choice is mine. Today I may choose to not put effort in, and tomorrow I may choose to do the opposite. Outcomes change, when I change my actions. Actions change when I change my attitude. My attitude changes when I change the words I tell my own mind. 

 

And with this it’s time to put away my tiny violin if only for a moment, and put these words into action (tomorrow ofcourse :p). 

Poem – ‘A’ Is For Attraction

Writing

Enveloped in an aura of eternal amor.

Any armour I adorned,

Has been undone, it has been torn. 

 

Most magnetic is the mystery.

My mind is mute from misery,

As my heart mends from the lover before.

 

‘A’ is for attraction,

The feeling of acceptance,

Of an emotion more alien and more raw.

 

The feeling I have for you,

With the most painful kind of hope,

That you had it for me too, and not her.

Can Even Mushroom Clouds Have Silver Linings?

Writing

Can even mushroom clouds have silver linings? Can we find positives among the negatives that have arisen due to the global spread of the life-threatening virus – ‘coronavirus’?

 

This is not an attempt to turn my head away from  the serious consequences that the contagious virus has had on our lives, the mortality, the employment uncertainties, the upheaval of ‘normality’. 

It is with these in mind, I question, can a light really be seen at the end of the tunnel – this time. 

 

All of us have experienced first-handedly the strains of a life succumbed to staring somberly as the sun rises and sets on a cyclical whim. Knowing full-well that we will spend another day living an existence of exhausting every episode of ‘Friends’ known to man. Irony oozes through our veins as we scoff at the mere memory of ‘socialising’. The sobering reality of the closest thing we have to a friend these days being  that of an internet connection and a little-known phenomenon known as ‘Skype’.

 

But before I make my way to the pity party too hastily, I want to pause for a moment and reflect. Surely amongst the sadness and severity of this situation, one must question, are we truly damned? Instead, can we ask – what can we learn from this? And furthermore, are there any positives in particular to learn from?

 

I think so.

 

Perhaps you agree with some of the below:

 

Lockdown –  Gave Me A Chance To Reconnect With Old Friends

 

Regretfully, I had fallen out of touch with some of my friends in the last year or so. It’s an excuse to say this, but general day-to-day life can be full of distractions. Until ofcourse a situation like this arises, where all of those little tasks and problems now seem eclipsed by another much more forceful phenomenon

 

. With more time on my hands to reflect, I thought about the people I had lost contact with and took the courage to reach out to them. It was a little awkward at first, but I can honestly say, it was a decision well-made. 

 

Videochat – Gave Me A Chance To Form Stronger Connections

 

Before our current situation, there were friends of mine who I only communicated with via text. I couldn’t see the wood for the trees at how advantaged I was in having a laptop I could have used to videocall them long before now.

 

So, in quite a strange way lockdown has actually brought me closer to some friends. Personally, I find communication via videochat, where we can see eachother’s faces, creates a much better connection than solely messaging on social media.  

 

Online – Created The Opportunity To Make New Friends

 

I swear, the way this post is going, it makes it seems like I’ve been more sociable bound to the 4 walls of my own home than when I had a whole city to socialise in! The irony!

 

Facing pure moments of paranoia, as I woke up soaked in sweat at night, fearful of loneliness. I took it upon myself at the very beginning of lockdown, before I had the epiphany to reach out to people I actually knew. To trawl the internet for what looked like a somewhat normal friend-making exchange site. 

 

And actually, to my amazement, I have made a few friends who I’m actually quite fond of. Thankfully, up to this point, I have not been catfished, extorted for money, or stalked. So a round of applause to the world wide web for forming friendships amongst many many other things, which I won’t go down the rabbit hole of divulging…..

 

Lockdown – Gave Me Time To Reflect

 

If you are frequently left in a silent room, you have two options: chew your arm off out of insanity or answer those burning questions you’ve pushed to the back of your mind all these years. 

 

We all do it, because confronting our deepest of questions in the hinterland of  our minds, normally means we will have to confront the cumbersome cousin of ‘intrinsic questioning’  better known as – ‘uncomfortability’.  

 

We can all admit to it, we use procrastination as a way to avoid the uncomfortable. Which is why we find ourselves ordering Amazon’s Top 20 self-help book picks before sunrise on a Sunday. Our sad attempt to pacify the self-doubter within us. Trying to prevent another episode of ill-emotion, instead of focusing on finding a cure.

 

The cure may just be in the form that we all fear –  confronting our internal concerns with courage. Sitting in a room with a pen and paper (not the internet) may be a good start. Atleast this is what I have experienced in the last few months.

 

From career goals, to relationships, personal well-being to living more in the present. I have questioned many elements that make up this crazy ‘thing’ we call ‘life’. 

 

And will continue to make a habit of doing so (Scout’s honour), perhaps you could try it too? 

 

Probably the most neglected friend you have is you. And yet every man, before he can be a true friend to the world, must first become a friend to himself.”    

  1. Ron Hubbard

Perhaps by ill-humoured fate, gifted to us from nature, this tragic experience can show us the true fragility of life and with this in mind, allow elements to reveal themselves which  hold the realest value within it: not money, but meaningful relationships and self-care. 

 

These are just a few positives I have miraculously unearthed from the rubbles of devastation this pandemic has caused. But as the Phoenix rises from the ashes, so can all of us, with the help of a positive attitude. 

 

The Catcall Chronicles

Writing

**Disclaimer  – no man, woman or dog was hurt in the making of these chronicles, this is aimed to be lighthearted and is not intending to stick the knife in further to the topics of rejection or gender roles in relationships in any way. If you are of a sensitive nature then I suggest you turn away now. And never read my blog again.

 

If you’re still reading this then I appreciate that you have identified yourself on the side of (in)sanity. And with this, let’s begin:

 

 

We are all served our fair share of unannounced and unwelcomed wacko encounters, right? Whether you are in the shops getting bread, or bending down to tie your shoelace, sooner or later you’ll find the local clown leeching onto your waist all whilst  whispering sweet nothings into your ear canal.

 

If this is a rare occurrence for you, then let me tell you I am jealous, for my daily interactions with particular members of the general public would make  even the most paranoid and parodied narratives of life look lack-lustre, let me tell you. 

 

This time, let me introduce you to just one of my many types of unsavory encounters – ‘The Cat Calls’

 

Can I just start by saying –  don’t tell me to be flattered by the offensive and obtrusive interjection of a sweaty handshake or gummy grin from a bozo pursuitor. There’s utterly nothing about banal meet and greets that get me all ‘hot and bothered’ I can assure you of that. 

 

 

So with that being said, let’s say hello to the men of my monotonous walks home from work:

 

Mr. Comedy Club – This guy made my dad look like a schoolboy, let’s just say that I never 

knew geriatrics had such taste for juveniles. 

 

Mr. Russia –  ‘We will meet this weekend. You will shag me  for dessert. Simple.’

 

Mr. Burrito – A burrito in exchange for a list of STD’s a prostitute would be proud of sounds like a fair deal, right?

 

The Copiously Copulating Co-workers – Let me serve this food real quick, and then I’ll be right back to grope you, cool?

 

Mr. Stalker – ‘It doesn’t matter if you have a boyfriend, just send me some nudes’ the stranger expels in exasperation after unnanouncingly  chasing me down the street like the predator he was. 

 

You will have plenty of time to get acquainted with each of my Mr. Wrongs, but first it’s time for Mr. Comedy Club to step up to the mic:

 

Mr Comedy Club

 

This guy made my dad look like a schoolboy, let’s just say that I never 

knew geriatrics had such good taste in juveniles and such bad taste in jokes.

 

 I don’t know what was more jarring, the outreach of sweaty hand that looked like it had spent a lifetime on his genitals doing allsorts. Or the lick of his sweaty lip as if he was about to take a chomp out of mine. Both actions, as equally unsettling as he approached me on that busy evening on the Strand, London. 

 

At first I thought he was asking for directions, and naively, 23 year old me failed to abide by the ‘stranger danger code’. Instead I  proceeded to indulge in shaking his nut-scratching hand that little too long, as he interjected my evening jaunt back to my cesspit for a night of netflix and not much else. 

 

“Hi, I’m Paul…nice to meet you, and you are….?

 

To which I obliged and answered startlingly, giving him every detail under the sun.  My full legal title, the 4-digit pin to my debit card, even the code to the safe. But before I could tell him where I was hiding the dead body he rudely interrupted to chuckle goofily and ask me if I ‘lived around here’? 

 

Fuck sake, if I lived around here, doing the maths, I would need to be doing the ‘spread eagle’ for atleast 40 sugardaddies on a daily basis. This was ‘the Strand’, not ‘Old Kent Road’. He really was as dumb as he looked, I thought internally, as I prised a wry grin from my pursed lips. 

“No, no, not far though”, I seethed through gritted teeth, in desperation that this babbling baboon who was bamboozling me would get the memo and leave me the f*ck alone. 

 

I may have given him the code to the safe, but he wasn’t getting the address to the house. Serial killers lurk amongst us, afterall. 

An awkward pause followed my icy blunt response.  Time had legitimately stopped, his beady perverted eyes twinkled as he keenly waited for me to finish my cold reply with an address of where he ultimately thought he could make love to me from dusk till dawn before hiding my wispy body in a ‘hand-luggage sized suitcase’. 

 

A ground-trembling ‘beep’ of a road-raged taxi driver’s horn from the nearby road hastily brought me and Mr Comedy club’s little love affair tumbling back to reality. No sooner had I tried to step away inconspicuously from this car-crash of a conversation  than was this geriatric proceeding  to ask me if I had any ‘hobbies in the vicinity’. The choice of wording made it feel more like an interrogation than a flirtatious fondling of phrases. 

 

I almost threw up in my mouth, but managed to keep it down as the words ‘I like comedy clubs’ spewed out in substitution. A mistake which still haunts me to this day, 2 whole years, 10 months, 28 weeks, 10 days, 23 hours, 3 seconds and 1 millisecond later (now 2 milliseconds). 

 

With the uttering of these four words from my mouth, came a stark change in this man’s behaviour, like a shark smelling blood he latched on with no mercy. In a flustered frenzy he forced up every sound somewhat synonymous to that of ‘comedy club’, and how he ‘coincidentally’ loves every single one that  I go to here in London. Go figure!

 

As he went off on his spiel about all things unfunny, I had somewhat of an outer body experience. I pictured myself flying to the moon and back on the tusk of a baby narwhal, I pondered over whether to have fajitas or fishcakes for tea. I calculated exactly how many minutes of my life I had so far lost to his gibberish gabbling before ultimately, momentarily ofcourse, expelling my soul from my body via passing-wind (everyone’s favourite method). And indulging in a quick soul-flying whizz around The National Portrait Gallery. Before checking back in with my poor self who was now standing motionless as Mr Comedy Club was passing his phone towards me for my number, a surefire way to sign my soul away to a life of pure misery and doom as his 3rd wife-to-be. Thank God I zoomed round the gallery at lightning speed, for as I came back to life I swatted his phone away like the dirty bottle-green fly it truly was. But let’s be clear, this is no fly around shite, this is a perverted paedophile droning on and on in my face about wanting to take me out to a comedy club and then have some real fun afterwards. 

 

One was not amused at this proposal. And finally, as a true woman, who can multi-task, I coupled the batting of his phone with a ‘no’ head shake any nodding Bulldog on a dashboard of a Mini-Cooper sport passing over speed ramps would be proud of. 

 

My pupils now dilated in rage, nostrils flared from smelling his bullshit for one minute too long. He got the memo. His nut-scratching hand proceeded to place his mucky mobile phone back into his very shallow back pocket as his tail tucked coincidingly inbetween his legs.

 

 I had just rejected him. 

 

And in the process gained a new lesson for myself.

 

Don’t talk to strangers. 

 

Numbness now awkwardly introduced itself, filling the void of silence that now enveloped both him and I. My irritation dissipated from my body like waves drifting out to shore, only to be replaced with an overwhelming feeling of guilt.  

 

As he beckoned away from me guising a facial expression signalling simply regret with an edge of sadness, I too had felt sorry for my actions. 

 

Nobody had the last laugh here.

 

**Next time I get sent some love from Russia. 

The Great Indoors

Writing

As you down your vitamin D tablets like the sun-loving junkie that you are, perhaps with the other hand you could do something  a little bit more pleasurable (not like that), during these unprecedented times we find ourselves in.

Below, from the fluffy fun depths of my mind, I share with you just some of the activities I had originally planned to do in prison (once they find the body *wink wink)  but thought they could be put to use now, don’t you think?

Yoga

If you happen to have a random yoga mat stowed in your back bedroom since stealing it from a previous workplace, then indulge yourself in a bit of downward dog. If you don’t have the luxury of ‘permanently borrowing’ one then bite the bullet and bruise your hips against your cold wooden floor. Your hamstrings and peace of mind with thank you later even in your pelvic bones do not.

Benefits: increased flexibility, protection from injury (not guaranteed) and stress-relief

 

Spring Cleaning

Not one of my favourite activities I must admit but nonetheless essential these days, given that my present  hibernation antics have led to a state of being that would make a chronic hoarder look like a neat-freak, trust me.  A bit of useless dusting here, a spot of polishing there, all utterly pointless but do them anyway as you’ll ultimately feel much more proud of your dismal dismal cesspit, I can assure you.

 

Benefits: reduces allergies, fosters calmness and boosts your mood

 

Get Artsy

Get artsy not arsey by channeling that inner 8-year old who I’m sure you struggle to contain during your weekly exorcisms anyway. Crack open the colouring book and crayons and create a multi-million dollar masterpiece otherwise known as a unanimous mess that not even your blind mother would be proud of.  If you aren’t a fan of drawing then there’s always pottery, watercolours, glass-blowing and knitting available to tickle your pickle. Me, personally, I always resort to everyone’s old favourite – finger painting.

 

Benefits: your work gives others a laugh, inspires critical – thinking and improves coordination and motors skills

 

Movie Marathons 

Every film is like inception to me , I don’t have a clue what’s going on. But I’m sure in your case you love a bit of Jaws, Shawshank Redemption and Saving Private Ryan all rolled into one sitting. And for this very reason there is no better time to heat up the poppedy pop-corn than the present, am I right?

Benefits: encourages emotional release, problem solving and is actually a light workout

 

I hope you aren’t climbing your walls too much, in negative situations there can sometimes be a positive. Perhaps one of the above has encouraged you to see opportunity in a space you may not have seen it before.

 

Stay safe, stay inside. Hopefully this will all be over soon.

Too Narrow-visioned

Writing

For some of us, life revolves around a career, for others it’s family. But should life really have a sole focus? Is it wrong to lead an existence where we strive for one thing and neglect another? Benefit in one area of our life  to the detriment of another?

Need we only look at the rich lonely business with money to burn on himself but no partner or child to share it with. Or the family with 5 mouths to feed who are living off of rations. A dichotomous pair, with polarizing values. Are they both wrong? Should life be less about a ‘single’ goal and more about having a ‘range’of goals? Should life even be about having goals at all?

Personally, I’m annoyed at myself for having the blinkers on, and neglecting  certain areas of my life, life shouldn’t really be about one thing or the other. Truly, I believe it should be about balance.

And it has only  been through experiencing mistake after mistake via bad life decisions for me to realise this unfortunately. One example for me is infact career. I don’t know exactly where my obsession with gaining certain career goals originated, whether it was from the mouths of pale and stale teachers at school or from the rosy-pink lips of the celebs interviewed on TV. But either way, my obsessive drive to become ‘X’ as a career completely overruled any other aspect of my life as far back as my early teens.

At school I remember threats were frequent – ‘if you don’t do well at this subject then you won’t be employable. If you’re not employable then you won’t get a job, so you won’t earn money. SO you’ll die!’ This general spiel was a common go to for my college careers teacher. A spiel which struck me to my very core, instilling me with a fear and a drive to seek employment, to seek approval from others.

The beginning of a bad end was soon to commence in terms of ‘dream jobs’ for me. At this stage I think it’s best to announce my age, from the number of jobs I’ve had you’d think I was immortal but infact at 25 years old immortality is exchanged for a quarter-life crisis instead. What a trade-off!

Ofcourse I can’t just blame my teacher’s threats on being the reason I’ve experienced so many mishaps on the careers ladder, but it helps so I’ll just go with it (hehe).

Although I’m 25 years of age, I’ve had 8 jobs in 4 years (this should be a pub quiz question). No, each one didn’t last 6 months and yes, there were gaps of unemployment where I found myself crying in the corner of my room, the room I was soon to be kicked out of had I not have found a job to pay my rent. At one stage I kid you not I was down to my last £30 in my account.

But I guess the question isn’t – ‘how may jobs have I had’ but instead, ‘why have I had so many’? A question I do ponder over deeply at times. A short answer of which would be to simply say that I found each one of them boring. But the truth runs much deeper than this. Really, I think the tip of the iceberg is hinted at by a statement I mentioned earlier – ‘to seek the approval of others’. In my little brain I think at some moment in my life I had a eureka moment and I found contentment in knowing that if I obtained a ‘successful’ enough career in everybody else’s eyes then I myself would be happy. And with this mantra moulded into the neurons of my mind I set foot on getting a job in the music industry. Notorious for it’s glitz and glamour or so I thought. But shock horror hit when I actually found myself number-punching into Excel spreadsheets in an office where the perk of the day was getting a free biscuit with my luke-warm cup of tea. The moral of the story was the music industry I experienced wasn’t the music industry I had envisaged myself experiencing. And from this a trend of falling in and out of a jobs list as long as your arm commenced. At one stage I thought I’ll take any job just to pay my extortionate rent as I figure out what way I want to maneuver myself within the music industry. Which sounds good on paper but when you have a 12 hour shift as a host in a restaurant where you can’t sit down and get groped every 5 minutes by one of the bussboys then you suddenly start thinking that the luke-warm tea back at the office didn’t actually taste that bad afterall. Over the last 4 years that I’ve been in London, my job titles have changed, my salary has changed, my career goals may have even changed but one thing which has not changed is my exasperating attempts to achieve some sort of career pinnacle. Some role which will make my parents proud of me, make me enough money that I won’t have to continuously set things back at the checkout, a role which will make my friends say wow, and make me feel genuinely happy. But here comes the irony. That doesn’t exist. And why not?

Because there’s an imbalance, just as I’ve been stressing over obtaining a career everyone can give a thumbs up too, other areas of my life have been neglected. It’s all well and good landing work experience with a big-name company, but as you’re stapling their meeting packs together the thought of ‘I haven’t seen my friends in a while’ might just start to sink in. Or ‘when’s the last time I’ve been to the gym, or ate correctly, or been on a trip?’.

For me a big thing is being too hard on myself, like, I would never reward myself for any wins be them large of small. It was always on to the next goal without hesitance. Whereas if I made a mistake along the way to achieving a goal it would be in the back of my head for weeks at a time. This stick over carrot mentality coupled with my blinkered attitude towards career alone meant that my dearest relationships became frayed. On ths desperate hunt for career success I no longer saw my friends, I wasn’t interested in romantic relationships, all because I had this hardcore belief that I had no time for ‘distractions’, that I needed to focus on achieving my career ambitions. Meanwhile, had I stopped for a second and realised that the areas of life such as relationships, self-love and health hold equal importance to a career if not more. I was blind-sighted by my own obsession to seek the approval of everyone else around me all while I was slowly losing any care I had for myself.  

If you don’t take care of yourself this can manifest into snapping at those who you do care about the most – your family and close friends. For a while I felt so pressured to become something so specific, I put deadlines on every objective I had, most of the time unrealistic ones which meant I was always in a stressed-out mood. Consequently relationships with certain family members became strained. And this was the wake up call I needed to realise that I had gotten myself into a  heightened-state of disillusionment and pressure. If trying to get a high-flying career comes with the cost of losing touch with my family then I don’t want the career. Better yet, what I’ve came to realise is that having a good career in itself isn’t the key to happiness nor is it the key to sadness, the true takeaway point is having a good balance between numerous elements in life: social life, looking after your health, hobbies and job.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aim to become ‘X’ but what I will stress is don’t become ‘X’ at the cost of everything else in your life! Trust me, balance is more important that you may think. x

Being Called A C*nt By A Stranger

Writing

It’s not everyday that you can indulge in the luxury of having off-the-cuff profanities spat at you on a public street whilst on your daily commute home from work.

So given that exactly this unfolded this very evening makes me really want to count my lucky stars and thank God for all of the socially defunct individuals who scuttle through our streets, waiting to pounce unannounced on the unprepared passerby a.k.a. moi.

No matter who you are or where you are, rest assured, an ill-mannered, pale and stale son of a b*tch will force their way into your life if only for a moment to p*ss on your parade. What kind of world do we live in where you can’t even walk down a residential street without being told you’re a c*nt by a stranger? Cat calls are bad enough but to say something so vulgar such as the C-word is a total disrespect and disregard for me as a human being.

If the world p*sses you off, don’t take it out on me. Mental-illness gets a bypass, but if you are not mentally-ill and instead you are someone who quite bluntly gets a kick out of straight-up verbally insulting someone you know nothing about then  you’re someone we should feel sorry for. For your life must be in a seriously dire state for you to be so cruel.

As the hooded man in his late-thirties stared into my soul while simultaneously slating it as he spewed the expletive with such conviction, I felt a tremor of shock ripple through my body. I turned my head to ensure he wasn’t going to step up his verbal assault with a physical one.

I stopped momentarily, struck by confusion as to why someone who doesn’t know me felt so compelled to say such a thing. As I watched him fade into the darkness of the Winter evening, my thoughts of confusion followed and faded alongside him too. In exchange came one clear intrinsic thought – ‘why be an enemy to yourself when you have plenty of enemies in this world’, not to say that every stranger I encounter is an enemy but moreso it’s this idea that we are all so hard on ourselves. We can be our own worst enemies, we look at self-love as something which is either mushy or big-headed. But those who see it in these lights fail to understand the true meaning of love. Perhaps love means different things to different people, to me it is an unconditional kindness and care for someone/something. Absent of harm, and full of compassion. It’s funny how we can apply all of these to another human being yet can struggle so much to apply them to ourselves. I am notoriously hard on myself, and I’m sure there has been times in your life where you have been so too. When you reflect on the ‘stick over carrot’ model this, do you think it has led to better or worse outcomes? Better or worse moods?

Perhaps I really should be thankful for the stranger who called me the c-word. For he made me realise that self-love is more important than I may have believed previously. I’m not saying that we need to put our guards up to strangers and repeat affirmation after affirmation to ourselves in the bathroom mirror before blowing ourselves a big kiss each morning. But I do believe if we were to even pause for a moment each day and reflect on how we are feeling, how well we are looking after ourselves then really all of us would be in a better place. Maybe even the man who swore at me today, he needs some self-reflection! Some self-care.

I hope you aren’t too hard on yourself, and if you are then don’t be! Because someone may just call you a c*nt for being so!

 

neon signage

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

The Arrival…..

Writing

From the Coronavirus to Storm Ciara, it feels like judgement day has well and truly arrived. I helped an old lady cross the road last week, so for that alone I’m sure Jesus will bless me with the golden ticket straight up the squeaky escalator to Heaven and by doing so ensure that the fiery gates of Hell are for sure in my far far distant past.

For everyday of this week my Google newsfeed had bombarded me with biased negative reportings. None moreso than this contagious virus which is sending the whole world into a pandemic panic.

With images like this flooding the feed you can’t help but feel a hot flush of sheer terror radiate through your body:

Capture

Courtesy of Mirror.co.uk

Look at this! The only one without a suit transporting Brits to a quarantine centre in the UK is the driver! Why?

 Because I quote – wearing the suits would ‘pose a greater risk than the risk of contracting the virus itself’ says the Government officials. So in other words – if you put that hazmat suit on you’ll not be able to hold that steering wheel correctly due to the suits restrictive nature and may drive us all off a cliff as a result. So instead of taking us all out, just catch the virus like the rest of us and there may be a  chance that some of us may pull through. It’s all a game of probability really, isn’t it?

So, the coach isn’t looking like the cosiest set up if I’m thinking of heading to the coast anyday this week, and neither is a plane as it seems that Storm Ciara makes landing back from your business trip look like the fastest way to a heart attack. Take a watch of this:

Courtesy of Rehaan Omar

I guess if London really does become like ‘28 weeks later’, or ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ then I’m getting my ass on a kayak and paddling my noodle body to Easter Island. 

I think I’ll be browsing some positive news from now on, maybe ignorance is bliss! Perhaps this – Good News Network

A Poem About Love

Writing

Love.

Imaginary, or a force of nature?

Like the idea of ‘consciousness’.

Are they both just falsehoods,

Or truly realities experienced by those favoured?

 

Love.

As comforting as a hot bowl of soup,

On a cold frosty evening.

In its absence we are all but,

Lost souls, floating on rafts destined for sinking.

 

Love.

Perhaps yearned for more than money itself,

A truth too close to the heart,

That we mask it with our insatiable appetite for wealth.

I gush with guilt in admitting to the above.

Only to find myself alone at night,

Wondering. What it means to be loved. 

 

The Gym – Satan’s Second Home

Writing

Not much of the athletic type, the only way you’ll get me running is in the opposite direction from you if you start going into a long-winded spiel about the weather or how you’re deeply madly in love with your cousin twice removed for that matter.

With that being said, I think my wispy body has been in desperate need of a bit of toning up, my mind continuously screaming out for a hit of dopamine, the kind only garnered after you’ve expelled every drop of blood, sweat and tears out of every orifice in thine very body. In other words – exercised.

With the intrinsic pep talk echoing in my ear one evening after I found myself binging my way into a diabetic coma, I decided to finally muster up the courage to face the embarrassment and shame of my noodle arms shaking under the tremendous pressure of a 5 lb dumbbell, (heaven forbid I tried deadlifts). I remember that first night as if it was yesterday (really it was a week ago but who’s counting), entering the gym felt more like entering an amphitheatre full of lions. Men built like bison, muscles bulging through their over-washed teeny weeny v-neck vest tops. I couldn’t place a bet on which would be first to rip, their crop tops or the vein in their thick thick necks from the gargantuan amount of strain which could have only surmounted in weight to easily 102.5 of my very self. A double take at that weight-lifting carry on was enough to have me retreat as any gym newbie does, by scuttling to the corner of the gym and onto a treadmill. From which I’m reaching for the oxygen tank like a chain smoker on death’s door, after all of 10 mins on the thing. I’ve gotten better though in my 5 days of attendance so far. I no longer use the treadmill, I attend the classes, which is the best solution if you’re like me and don’t have a clue how to use any of the gym equipment and don’t feel like losing a limb in the process of trying to use a weight machine only to find out it has a second calling as a modern day guillotine. If you don’t believe me watch the move – Final Destination 3, I’ll say no more on that front.

So far I’ve done yoga, and a spin class, which tallying it up now sounds pretty lame, but considering the most exercise I ever did prior to a week ago was holding the door open for a tailgater in my apartment block, then I’m doing quite well, don’t you think?

Next up is barre and Afrobeats, the dancer truly truly lost within me will be be buzzing for these. I better bring my sweatbands. Wish me luck………….

The Wacky Walking Race

Writing

Have you ever had a silent race on a footpath with a stranger? Where you both take it turns  to overtake one another. Steadily and surely picking up the pace in a desperate attempt to outmaneuver your opponent.

I’ve had this too, but what I haven’t had is an argument with an old lady who is desperately trying to outrun me on a  residential road on my walk home from work. Well, atleast that was the case until yesterday.

Yesterday evening it was dark, 5.30pm was fast approaching and my legs were making a speedy getaway from the workplace. On my usual route home I walk through quite a nice middle-class neighbourhood which, to my finding, can act as a quite the backdrop to some not so nice characters. As I trot down this residential road, as I do every other day, I try to overtake  a fellow commuter – a short elderly woman, who was walking at a slow pace and had a grocery bag full of red wine.  This was a maneuver I should have never attempted, no sooner am I inches ahead of her than can I see out of the corner of my eye her grey haired head bobbing straight passed me as she jogs with vigor to get ahead of me. I found this peculiar but thought nothing of it and so attempted to get passed granny once again. Yet this time, before I even had the chance to get parallel to her, she spins her head round like The Exorcist to glare at me before 1, 2 3, going at full throttle running the street to get away from me.

In shock at her antics I held back out of fear that had I somehow managed to outpace the geriatric then she’d have taken it upon herself to do me in in such classy style with a bottle of red wine to the back of the skull. And with that image quickly flashing into my head I decided to detour up a side road to avoid that rather inconvenient yet very probably possibility. And in doing so, the old doll, now an ant-like size in the distance, shouts back –  ‘good riddance, piss off’!

Now, bearing in mind I don’t know this woman from Adam or Eve, I have not bumped off her first born, taken the last red wine bottle in the supermarket or told her she’s a coffin dodger, so what is her problem? Can I not walk own the street without being hurled abuse at?

But I guess this is nothing compared to getting your hair spray painted red by an absolute stranger as you wait for bus no.24 at your local bus stop. Later do you come to realise through the city news rags that your newfound hairdresser is actually an escapee of a local London asylum. But I guess that’s a story for another time…..;)

Poem: Present/Future

Writing

 

We only have the present.

Regardless of what we want in our futures,

It is the ‘now’ which takes all of the credit.

 

Living in the moment,

An experience unknown to many.

We disown it in exchange for a chance to oneday own a moment, 

Which is nothing more than merely a ‘maybe’.

 

Hope is one thing.

Oblivion another.

Do you look in the mirror and see yourself for who you are?

Or always strive to be somebody better?

 

Are You Poorer Than Me?

Writing

I’m so sick of being poor. Yes I may have a roof over my head and food in my fridge but when you can’t decorate your rooms or make meals beyond tins of soup and sweetcorn then what’s the point? I might aswell be living in The Amazon, atleast then I’ll avoid the council tax and eyewateringly long queues at the supermarket checkout. 

 

Yes I may be whinging about a first world problem but I believe this is a key reason for my upheaval in the first place. If I did infact live in a tribe in a forest then I wouldn’t know what I’m missing necessarily. How can I miss the sight of some dope dealer sporting the latest balenciaga’s, or the gluttonous geezer buying the ‘extra special’ range in Sainsbury’s when I wouldn’t have the foggiest what either two of these concepts were? You can’t miss what you’ve never witnessed I guess. I would be comfortable and content with my relationships and my tribal lifestyle. 

 

Perhaps that’s just it, in the society I live in, less emphasis is placed on the value of social relationships, instead these are sidelined for the stars of this farcical pantomime I call life – materialism and capitalism. The terrible twins. They are the children you grimace at and purposely attempt to swap at birth, only to find them crawling and clambering their way into your back pocket as you exit the hospital. 

 

My experience living in London has made me reevaluate my perspectives on numerous things, none moreso that the value I myself place on money. Putting it short and sweetly, I now understand why some people may force themselves to do things others may deem shameful. For example, we can all hold our heads high, point our noses in the air, as we scoff at the single mum shaking what God (or her surgeon)  gave her in a strip club. But you put yourself in her 6 inch stilettos for merely a second and maybe then you would begin to empathise and understand that she may have a young mouth to feed on her own. Why? Because the dad walked out as soon as he found out she was pregnant. And let’s face it city ‘living wages’ need to be rephrased as city ‘suffocating wages’. Unless you are in the finance sector or as old as time itself then I’m afraid for the rest of us, youth and inexperience comes as a pretty big financial burden. 

 

I ask myself – why did I move to this city? A question which is becoming worryingly frequent. I’m from a small town in the middle of Northern Ireland, the rent I pay in London could have me living in two places twice the size back in a rural setting, so why am I here? 

 

The old line of ‘there’s loads more opportunities’ is becoming undone, fraying and feeling further from reality. Yes, there may technically be more ‘opportunities’ but let’s face it, no one’s going to throw me a wad of £50’s to take up the opportunity to soak up a West End show, or meetings with top CEOs. Unless ofcourse I turn to sugarbabying, which is a completely different can of worms I wish not open in this moment. 

 

Today, I’m feeling sorry for myself, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who wards away threatening voices in their mind’s eye, tempting them to smash open their piggy bank into a million little pieces, only to find not much more than a hundred little pennies in the remnants of Mr piggy’s once round stomach. Financial hardship makes itself known to all of us at some stage in our lives, I have no doubt, but I say it has outstayed its welcome. So my question now is, how do I kick them out?

Rid them from my minimalist overpriced matchbox flat, where the walls lay bare out of fear that I may maim it’s clinical appearance with so much as a smudge of a marker, or stain from a sticker. Landlords in cities like London make Sherlock Holmes look like a babbling unobservant buffoon when it comes to hunting down the most miniscule of marks on a tenants leaving day, wouldn’t you agree?

 

And with this thought lingering I wonder whether I should indeed make myself scarce of it’s confinements, escaping the financial restrictions once and for all and bid this city goodbye. 

Are We Truly Selfish Or Kind?

Writing

Altruism – “Having or showing an unselfish concern for the welfare of others.”

Do you think you’re a nice person? And by this, self-validation in the form of saying “thank you” to the cashier and “hello” to your neighbor I’m afraid doesn’t quite cut it.

This question springs to my mind in light of a recent conversation I had with a work colleague, as a previous psychology student he divulged in a mixture of both his past successful and failing science experiments within the field.

One which stood out had to be the case where he intended to a stage a robbery, not by using actors or people who were atleast aware of actions to be taken upon them. Oh no, he was aiming to use the element of surprise and stage robberies on innocent ill-prepared passer-bys. The psychology experiment wasn’t to analyse jumpscare reactions, it was in his words to put to test the behaviors of the witnessing bystanders. In other words, would someone come to the rescue of the person who has just been robbed? Thereby testing to what extent people exhibit altruism. Do you think you would go to their rescue in the example above?

Whether you would or not, or whether anyone would  for that matter, the experiment never came to fruition, no surprises as to why. One sniff downwind that one of the school’s students aimed to scare the sh*t out of members of the public and the study was shutdown. Who wants a pass in psychology when it comes at the cost of being passed a 10 year jail sentence for manslaughter because the test subject suffered a heart attack?

As I digested the story of his scientific setback, it got me thinking – are we really as kind as we like to think?

Moving away from human beings for just a moment, I recently came across this video of altruism being exhibited in the bird species – the African grey parrot.

Here you can see that although bird one does not receive a treat for indirectly facilitating in the passing of a token to the human hand by passing it to the bird that does, it still chooses to continue the action despite no reward. A selfless act if you ask me! And likewise, when the birds switched places, the same was shown, they continued to help get the token to the human hand even when they themselves were not rewarded with food and the other bird was:

Courtesy of The Scientist

So where am I going with this? Well, if birds have the capacity for selflessness, then so should humans, right? Afterall, we live in a society, there is a need to be social, to create bonds and work co-cooperatively, so surely it’s in our best interests to look out for eachother, no?

So why might we want to help eachother?

Neuroscience? –  The reward centers in the brain are activated when we carry out an altruistic act [source: Hinterthuer].

But isn’t this in itself a selfish thing? I help you because it makes me feel better?

Survival technique – Cooperative Breeding? – offspring receive care not only from their parents, but also from additional group members, often called helpers. As Burkart suggests in Psypost: “When our hominin ancestors began to raise their offspring cooperatively, they laid the foundation for both our altruism and our exceptional cognition.”

So perhaps deep down helping others really means helping ourselves.

 

Poetry: Change

Writing

A leopard can change its spots.

But cheetahs never do.

Changing your mind is one thing.

But changing your heart, is about as easy as making a mountain move.

 

2020

A new year, a new you.

This year will be different.

A false promise? Or does here lie the truth?

 

Do you need to change your perspective?

Moreso than actually changing you?

Do you need to take more time reflecting?

Than taking time, faking, being too big for your boots?

 

Volunteering: Help Others And You Help Yourself

Writing

They say the best way to feel better about yourself is through helping others. And in no act is this more clear than that of  voluntary work.

‘Volunteering’ can refer to a smorgasboard of activities. Whether you simply take an old dear’s chihuahua out for a walk or wash the windows for your neighbour, the task at hand is not the focus, it is the act of simply doing something for someone else without the expectation of something in return from them. Yet, ironically what you do get in return surpasses any materialistic or monetary transaction tenfold over, doing something selflessly brings true merit.

*Studies have proven this to be true.

Towards the end of last year I found myself struggling with esteem in some areas of my life. This absence was, in effect, creating a presence of self-doubt and worthlessness. Deciding enough was enough I took action and sought to find a way to boost my self-esteem, I started looking for a charity to be a part of.

As much as each charity serves an important purpose, for me, children’s charities have resonated with me on a personal level. Everyone should have the right to an enjoyable childhood, as studies show,  a difficult childhood can manifest itself into a disastrous adulthood. So I think anyway to support children’s well-being and development is a great thing to do.

The charity I volunteer at in particular supports children with additional needs – autism, Down’s Syndrome for example. The charity creates a safe space for them to simply be children. We play sports and other activities which gives them 3 hours of fun and their parents some free time.

Although physically and emotionally tiring, the rewards of seeing them enjoy themselves and then find that I myself am smiling by the end of it is evidence of just how much I get from volunteering.

I would strongly suggest that if you ever feel down about yourself or even if you have a bit of spare time, perhaps give volunteering a go. You never know what it could give you in return.