H O M E .      A B O U T .      C O N T A C T .      T U M B L R .      T H E   B O O K   J O U R N A L .      sailorjennie [at] gmail [dot] com

Friday, 16 June 2017

A Birthday, A Garden Centre Adventure, Melodrama, and A Rainbow Cardigan

I'm writing this post in the midst of a mild essay-induced panic in the hopes that it will help me to chill out a bit before I have to begin attempting to cobble together 4000 words that hopefully, at least vaguely, make sense and address how power relations affect the transmission of narratives before my deadline next Thursday. I had been hoping that constructing that sentence would make my task sound a little more achievable, but it's safe to say I'm not confident about this one. We'll see though. As usual, the materials have been super interesting, but the actual essay writing part currently feels like a ridiculously impossible task to complete.

Life feels as though it's been running at a million miles per hour and somewhere amid the chaos we all carved out some time to celebrate my Mam's birthday. Alongside a bottle of her favourite perfume, which was wrapped waaaay better than I ever could (10/10 for Escentual's wrapping service!) I had a brilliant time choosing a stack of books to add to her summer reading list, and locating the silliest card in the shop.

We also received a bottle of SPAR Extra Dry DOC Prosecco and some SPAR Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco as lovely gifts from the brand, both of which were happily received and glasses of which went down very nicely sitting outside in the evening sunshine with slices of cake. We must admit that although we certainly aren't experts, both come very highly recommended from all of us! I think they're both under £12 and so make brilliant gifts, especially if you're planning any summertime get-together's with your loved ones this summer.

There are periods of time where living feels so much heavier, like you're trying to walk when you're knee deep in treacle and you don't really know where you're going. But it's in these moments that setting time aside to be with those people who help you to feel truly yourself in spite of everything is more important than ever. So, say those I love you's, send that text, and make those plans. Even if you think you don't have time. Because you do. And it's all worth it because those moments are what make life wondrous.

Gifts aside, we decided to have a little wander around our local garden centre to choose some plants for some of the beautiful pots my Mam has been collecting for her garden. I have a bit of a soft spot for both potted gardens and garden centres so this trip was basically my dream come true. We found some super cute alpine plants, as well as a collection of fragrant herbs and a stunning lavender plant that looks so glorious in the sunshine. We also got a sweet little bee house that I'm incredibly excited about because we're all well and truly in 'save the bees' mode here!

All that, and I got to forget about the impending doom of my essay for a couple of hours, which is always appreciated!

Sorry about the filter. I'm forever living my best koala life over on Instagram stories. No regrets.

A trip to admire some beautiful blooms seemed like the perfect occasion to wear my new Lazy Oaf cardigan for the first time. As soon as I saw this rainbow beauty, well, it was love at first sight. But, typically, I dithered and before I knew it they were all sold out. Thankfully they decided to restock and as soon as it made its way back on to the website I snapped one up. And oh my goodness. It's everything I had hoped for and more.

Speaking of everything I had hoped for and more, can we just talk about Melodrama for a second? Lorde's second album has been worth the wait and my next post, whenever it appears, is almost certainly going to be a stream of thoughts about how vivid and fierce, euphoric and so bursting with light and life it is. Writer in the Dark, though. Much talent. So wow.

Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark - Lorde

Lots of love,

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

This is the beginning of something.

But we can, and we must do more.

Witnessing so many people using their connections and their platforms, large or small, to engage in political discussions has been one of the most inspiring things I have seen in a very long time. I'm not talking about the unfortunate number of hate-fueled tirades, but instead the hugely positive galvanising of the youth vote that has resulted in one of the most impressive turnarounds during a political campaign to date. I'm talking about queues of young people outside polling stations, engaging in healthy debate, proudly expressing their opinions on the issues that matter to them the most. Politics affects us all, to varying extents and now we've come this far, it's so important to stay engaged.

Practical Steps To Demonstrate Continuing Engagement

1. Email, tweet, phone, send a carrier pigeon, anything it takes to contact your MP to express any concerns you have. You can search for your postcode, constituency or MPs name in this Directory of MPs to find their contact details, or use WriteToThem to get in touch. I can't guarantee you'll receive a reply, I'm still waiting to hear back from my MP, but I think it's becoming increasingly important to make sure your views are known to your representative.

2. Consider donating to or becoming a member of a political party whose policies best reflect your views.

3. Attend peaceful protests and/or sign petitions. The latter can often feel somewhat fruitless, but any way you can make your voice heard on a matter that's important to you is never a waste of time.

4. Follow a range of journalists, political commentators and politicians on Twitter to keep up to date with emerging developments. Immersing yourself in political issues can sometimes feel like being trapped in a dense fog with no idea where to turn, but reading a range of viewpoints will often shed some light on even the most complex of arguments.

Lastly, it's okay to step away sometimes. Political debate can be all-consuming, but don't let it take over. We're all finding ways to do what we can.

And remember there's always hope.


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Some words at a difficult time.

There's something about stepping off the train at Manchester Oxford Road station that somehow always feels like going home. It's not even 9am but people are already exchanging bright 'hellos' and 'how are yous?', genuinely interested in listening to the answers, whatever they may be. I'm no good at small talk but Mancunians always know exactly what to say. Bleary eyed faces making their way into coffee shops for their first cup of liquid energy. Cheery calls of 'good morning' from the booksellers in Blackwell's as I'm scuttling in through the doors just as they open, eager to browse the shelves of inspiration and knowledge.

There's something special about the way the early morning sunshine illuminates the University buildings. A hub of diversity and tolerance, each one filled with students with a desire to absorb knowledge from the very walls of buildings standing tall and proud and welcoming. I listen to stories about eccentric academics who have graced the hallways. I don't study with UoM but I can't seem to still the desire within me to join someday, sometime, somehow.

Every second spent within this very special city teaches me to be more compassionate, more open, and more curious. To live without limits, and to celebrate life. The good parts, the difficult parts and, perhaps most importantly, the seemingly insignificant parts.

Take more photographs, capture more memories. Take note of the way the light falls through a window. The way you felt when you finished your latest book. How the smile on a loved ones face brightens up your whole universe. The birds tweeting, marking the start of a brand new day. Because our new days are not limitless.

Pick your battles. Try not to worry too much about insignificant things. Nourish your body with the food it craves. Nourish your soul with music and film, literature, theatre and laughter. Be brave and reckless. But also try to be safe. Tell someone you love them more than you've ever loved anything before. Film yourself lip synching to your favourite song. Be generous with your time and your heart, but don't you ever forget about yourself. Take a new class; yoga, or piano, or learn a new language.

Chase your dreams, and if you don't know what your dreams are just yet, keep moving forwards until you find them. They're there somewhere, I promise. But they won't come to you. When you find them, never lose sight of them. It won't always be easy and you might feel like giving up, or that you don't deserve to reach them. But you do. Prove you're resilient. You deserve the world.

Let yourself feel, truly feel. It's okay to cry, and scream and shout until your lungs ache and your throat is sore. But then, let things go. Keep moving on, but know not to let go of the really good things. They don't always come around too often. Say yes, but not to everything. Be a fan of things, unapologetically. It's cool to love things, to tend to your passions and celebrate them wholeheartedly. If you love it, it's not silly. It could never be silly. It's perfect.

Stay up all night talking on the phone. Take naps. Sleep under the stars. Run until your lungs burn and your legs refuse to take another step. Say goodbye. Reconnect. Grow. Celebrate change, consistency too. Trace the palm of your loved ones hand with your fingertips. Sit in silence. Dance the night away. Learn how to be your own best friend. Try not to take anyone or anything for granted.

Choose kindness, tolerance, and compassion. And never stop learning.

You are more than you know. More important and valuable and insurmountable.
I just wanted you to know.


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Things That Have Happened

In no particular order, some things that have happened somewhat recently...

★ Booked tickets to the Harry Potter Exhibition at the British Library later this year.

★ Visited Manchester Museum and, of course, bought a chunk of rose quartz to add to my collection.

★ Had a wander around Sheffield. It's only a short train journey away, so I'm really not sure why I hadn't visited before.

★ Beatrix was spayed and I was a ball of worry for the whole morning. It went smoothly but we've had a few bumps in the road during her recovery. She's currently doing really well though, which is a relief as she's the actual light of my life, even when she's chewing holes in all my socks.

★ Bought a gloriously sassy Lazy Oaf dress. 10/10 design. And it's a smock dress. Hello comfort.

★ Discovered that both more than one cup of tea and Almond Dream ice cream make me feel very unwell. No idea why, but apparently that's a thing.

★ Scored a 95 on my second MA paper. Two 95s in a row. I really, genuinely don't know how this is happening. I don't have a particularly impressive undergrad degree so if you, like I was, are considering an MA but aren't sure if it'll be for you - go for it, because you can do it!

★ We very sadly lost someone close, which partially explains the quietness in this space. My words disappeared for a while, which hasn't been easy. Nothing about this has been easy.

★ Scored a perfect 100 on my third MA paper. About Shakespeare's Coriolanus, no less! My tutor told me it reads like a published article which I'm not entirely convinced about. But regardless, I've come back to earth with a bump as my next paper is on Robinson Crusoe. And there's really very little to like about that.

★ Have generally been quietly seething at the state of politics right now.

Developed a mild addiction to Eat Real Sour Cream and Chives Quinoa Chips. Naff branding, but I've really missed sour cream flavoured things since going dairy free and these are excellent.

★ Donated around 100 books to my local charity shop. Aside from theory books that will be useful to my studies and good ol' Harry Potter, I'm still not quite sure exactly what constitutes a book that I feel as though I'd like to hold on to, as I donated more than a few books that I really liked. I don't regret a thing though and I hope that whoever reads them next gets some enjoyment from them too.

★ Discovered a new favourite candle. Paddywax Tobacco and Vanilla is everything.

★ Found a fabulous looking book on Greek myth in a charity shop that I'm looking forward to delving into.

★ Lost a good 20 minutes of my life reading about that Avril Lavigne conspiracy theory.

★ I've been listening to a lot of Lorde. Also pretty into Harry Styles' album, not gonna lie.

★ Finally picked up a copy of The Girls. I've been incredibly curious about it ever since hearing about the enormous advance (you go, girl!) Emma Cline got after a bidding war between publishers and I've somehow managed to avoid spoilers until now. It seems like something that would be perfect for a warm, hazy weekend, so I just need one of those now.

★ I got Beatrix a puppy bed and filled it with hay. It was a huge success for the first few days but, as predicted, she has pretty much completely ignored it for the past week. Think I'm going to have to hide some treats in there to lure her back in.

★ Can we just take a second to appreciate the look on Pickett's face, though?

★ I had a birthday and to celebrate my body gave me a brand new wrinkle under my right eye. I think it's probably got something to do with the fact I've been sleeping with the right side of my face smushed into a pillow for at least the last decade so I can't complain really. I've always thought wrinkles add character so I don't mind, but my concealer likes to settle in it so I think I'm going to have to change my make up routine a little. I've currently got my eye (haha, no pun intended) on the By Terry Densiliss Concealer but it's £££ and I'm not sure if any of the shades will work for my ghostly complexion. But, we'll see.

Be back soon!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

To inspirational women everywhere, from me, today, on International Women's Day.

To my Mother who has taught me that, sometimes, the bravery and strength you need to make a change comes with time, but that it's likely that whenever you do take the leap, whatever it is will always be a cocktail of messy and complicated difficulties inside of which is the empowering freedom you have deserved from the very beginning.

To my Grandmother who refused to stop until I believed that, whatever you want to do, it isn't ever too late to start. And I do believe, wholeheartedly. Even though she is no longer here, she was one of the driving forces for me to go back to University and study for my Masters. I'm doing it mostly for me, but also partly for her.

To J.K Rowling for introducing me to Hermione, and Luna, and Ginny, and Minerva, and Molly over a decade ago. Their fierce bravery, unapologetic thirst for knowledge, pure nerve and intense love have stayed with me, and a part of each of them will exist within me for the rest of my days.

To Sue, one of my undergraduate lecturers who taught me to focus on studying for the pure joy and magic the very act inherently possesses, and not for the grade or result that inevitably comes at the end.

To Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Zadie Smith, and Olivia Laing, and Margaret Atwood, and Sylvia Plath, and bell hooks, and Juno Dawson, and Ava Duvernay, and Adele, and Virginia Woolf, and Kate Tempest, and Ali Smith, and Florence Welch, and Patti Smith, and Sarah Kay, and Laura Dockrill, and Susan Sontag, and Sarah Waters, and Lorde, and Daphne du Maurier, and Eleanor Catton, and Katherine Mansfield, and Toni Morrison, and Eimear McBride, and so many other incredible storytellers with powerful, gentle and fierce voices.

To Bee, and Carly, and Laila, and Josie, and Ria, and Sophie, and Dianne who inspire me in more ways than they could ever imagine.

To every single woman. You are strong, and powerful, and wise, and brave, and gentle, and magical, and loved, and worthy, even if, in this moment, you don't believe that you are. You are. You are. You are. For always.


Friday, 3 March 2017

That Green Light.

I'm waiting for it / that green light / I want it. 

For the best part of two decades I've spent a lot of time considering mortality, specifically my own, and there isn’t really any way to say that in a way that isn’t obtusely frank. I don’t know whether there is anything after this, or whether the end really is the end. Moving on to somewhere wildly different, coming back in some other form, or slipping into the warm embrace of an endless silence. An eternal sleep as reward for navigating this messy, complex, beautiful, noisy, overwhelming thing we call life only feels appropriate for those who have had the chance to truly live. And as that is denied to so many, I suppose seeking comfort in an unmoveable belief that there is something more is only natural.

When someone leaves you seek comfort, a signal, a sign that everything is, or will be, alright. And when what you're searching for suddenly becomes clear is it true, merely coincidence, or simply a particular interpretation of something that would have happened regardless through the lens of heightened perception in response to the finality of loss? Who am I to say, really? Because it could be one, the other, or both. And, you know, I don’t even really think the minute details are always of the greatest importance.

But I do know that life is too short and too damn precious to accept that your circumstances are unyielding, immovable, or that feelings of hopelessness will endure above all others. Because you deserve more than that. You have always deserved more than that.

If I've learnt anything this year, so far, it's that it is now strikingly apparent that I haven’t given enough consideration to life. To this moment. To all the moments that have already passed. To the moments that could happen, will happen, and aren’t ever meant to happen. I think of everyone I’ve ever known. Trying to break through the illusions that have formed an opaque cloak over connections I made with people in a time that feels like a lifetime ago to truly see, with new eyes, the connections of now.

I understand now that the eternal search for more will always be fruitless. The power we need to make the changes we want to see are already contained somewhere within us. Sometimes it just takes some time. And it’s frustrating, but it is what it is, I think.

Be the change you need to see.

We are products of everyone we have ever known, every situation we have found ourselves in, and the inner voice we have grown to trust, or doubt, or question. And this means we’re all unique. But we are also the same. We all laugh and cry, hope and thrive, bleed and heal, love and lose. We are also made up of all the things that haven’t happened yet. The difficult, the wondrous, the devastating, the pure moments that are yet to come.

And they will come. Things won't always be the same. And there's beauty in that.

In the end we all had hope, and even though, in that moment, it was no match for the greater force that we will all meet at the very end, we haven’t lost hope. We mustn't lose hope. Because hope is in every sunrise, every shooting star, every breath and heartbeat and tear, it’s in hard work, heartbreak, a smile from a stranger, an embrace from a lover, a dream, a spark, a burning desire.

It’s inside you, even if, at this moment, you fear you’ve misplaced it. It’s there. Right between your light, your talent and your fiercest desires.

And so if you want to, think of this imperfect collection of sentences as your green light. They have been mine.


Friday, 13 January 2017

In and Out

Hello and happy Friday! I'm in a strangely giddy mood and it's probably got something to do with spooky Friday 13th vibes and the glorious full moon that I've been staring at whenever possible this week.

I've got a weekend full of freelance work and essay research ahead, which I'm quite looking forward to and Tropic Skincare gifted me a beautiful box of goodies including a serum that smells like refreshers sweeties, so you know I'll be taking my make up off at the earliest opportunity this evening! What a brilliant day.

- I N -

★ Rewatching snippets of Lizzie McGuire. Oh how I adored Lizzie, Miranda and Gordo when I was younger! I used to wish that I could do my hair and dress exactly like Lizzie everyday, and I've been loving revisiting those early 2000 vibes. 'Why do we have to draw fruit, anyway? I wanna draw *NSYNC!' Iconic.

★ Taking HP quizzes online when I should be sleeping. I'm sure this is totally normal, right? According to this quiz I'm 86% Gryffindor, 64% Ravenclaw, 48% Slytherin, and 42% Hufflepuff. The more you know.

★ Obama surprising Joe Biden by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I'm not crying, you're crying!

★ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. We were flicking through the TV channels last night and came across this masterpiece. This used to be (/still is, I'm not really sure what my fave anything is anymore) my favourite film. Kate Winslet's hair in this film is everything. Also that shot where they're laying on the ice. Stunning!

- O U T -

★ Beatrix's bad behaviour at the vet. She showed me up big time by being incredibly wriggly, but I'll let her off because no one likes going to get their vaccinations. She has to go again in two weeks, so that'll be fun... NOT! In the mean time we're practicing being picked up and not flailing around wildly. So far it's not exactly going brilliantly. Can't blame her though, I wouldn't want to be picked up either. She happily hops over to sit on my lap/neck/feet/chest/laptop/ipad etc etc, and that's fine by me.

★ Diet/meal replacement/juice emails that have been hitting my inbox. Stop. I'm not interested. I'll never be interested in stepping foot on to that slippery slope ever again.


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Three For Today.

1. Looking back over the pictures I took at the Harry Potter Studio Tour and concluding that absolutely, unequivocally yes, Dumbledore's office is 100% my ideal aesthetic.

2. Catching up on season two of Undisclosed. I've somehow got over 10 episodes to listen to, and there's something oddly comforting about listening to Rabia, Susan and Colin's voices as I work. And comforting probably isn't the right word considering the nature of the podcast, but I hope you know what I mean.

3. Choosing a new book to start reading this evening. Usually I know exactly which book I want to pick up next, but sometimes it's not quite that easy. I'm convinced The Secret History has infiltrated my mind because it's the book on my unread books shelf that my eye is first drawn to, but I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to it just yet. We'll see.


Monday, 9 January 2017

All clothes should come with pockets.

Fashion isn't my forte and, for the last few years or so, it was something I actively avoided thinking about as much as possible. I was uncomfortable in my own body, my mind tricking my eyes into showing me things that weren't real, or at the very least exaggerating things that were to the point that they became lies. I was too tall, too wide, my legs too short for my height, my hands too large, the number in my clothing indicating its size was too high. Blah blah blah.

And then, last July, I wrote 'I haven't ever been a small person' and it was as though the skies cleared. It suddenly became so obvious to me that even if some of things were, or are, true, my mind was placing too much importance on things that just, to me, really aren't that big of a deal. So what if my hands are large, with long fingers and bitten nails. I mean, you'd think they'd at least be useful for carrying lots of things at once but I'm also quite clumsy and as dropping things is one of my special talents, that's a whole different story. So what if I'm tall, with out of proportion legs and take up a little bit more or a little bit less space than someone else. And it doesn't matter which, out of all the made up numbers that humans have assigned to indicate sizes, is on the label sewn into each piece in my wardrobe. They're all bloody different anyway.

Anyway, I'm only really here today because I bought a new shirt. It's from Nomad's Clothing, one of my favourite brands, and not only is it incredibly comfortable and one of the only pieces in my wardrobe that isn't black, it has real life POCKETS! And the best part is they're not ridiculously small to the point when they become unusable; I can actually put things inside them!!

The vibe I think I'm going to aim for when styling (haha I sound as if I know what I'm doing!) this shirt is slightly witchy, off-duty art teacher. I'll let you know how it goes! ;)


Saturday, 7 January 2017

In & Out.

Hello! Happy weekend, we made it! Although if you're working this weekend, I'm with you and we've got this!

In a bid to hit the ground running with one of my 2017 goals, I've taken my first selfie of the year. In fact, it's probably the first selfie I've taken in well over a year. And I'm actually really sad about that, because there's a good year or two there that I don't have any photographs at all to look back on. Feeling too low about myself to take any and developing an astute sixth sense for instantly knowing when I may be, inadvertently, captured within someone else's picture.

So, hello. This is me at the start of 2017.

- I N - 

★ HP.  Fantastic Beasts, Hogwarts in the Snow and watching all eight Harry Potter films over Christmas has reignited my love of everything magical. Although, let's be honest, it's not as if that love ever really went away. If I hadn't just paid my tax bill (picture that money flying away emoji here) I'd probably be snuggling down in this Gryffindor Quidditch Team Jumper that I'd only change out of so I could put this Gryffindor Sweatshirt on, although I must admit that the Ravenclaw and Slytherin versions of that sweater look much nicer.

★ London Grammar. After absolutely adoring their last album, pretty much having it on repeat for months, the prospect of new music was something I was eagerly anticipating. Their new song, Rooting For You, punched me right in the heart, in the best possible way.

★ Michelle Obama's farewell speech. What. A. Woman.

★ Books, books, books. Reading two books and finishing another means I've started the year as I mean to go on, reading wise. Not only did I not read as much as I wanted to last year, I also didn't read many books that have stayed with me. You know, the kind of stories that linger in the background, jumping to the forefront of your mind six months after you turned their final page. My only goal this year is to seek out more of those lingering stories, no numerical target, just plenty of reading for the pure joy of it.

★ Raspberry jelly. If I'd have had ice cream in the freezer (vanilla almond dream, in case you were wondering!) you bet I'd have gone full on children's birthday party in the 90's with a bowl of jelly and ice cream, but I'd forgotten how much I bloody love jelly!

- O U T - 

★ Sofa adverts.  Why are there so many of them?! Why?!

★ Vet appointments. I'm going to book Beatrix in to get spayed soon and I'm already dreading the morning I have to drop her off. I'm sure they're going to take really good care of her, but that is certainly not going to be a good day for me. I'm not generally much of a worrier, but this situation is definitely bringing that part of my personality to the surface.

And so, that was the first week of 2017. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and here's to the next one!


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Loose leaf, rice milk, one sugar.

Written in collaboration with Rice Dream

"You don't like tea? What do you mean you don't like tea?" Came the question fired at me in a sharp, slightly alarmed tone from someone sitting, hands cupped firmly around their fourth cup of the day.
"Well, I don't like most tea." I offer as a placatory reply.
"It's the one thing in life I'm ridiculously choosy about..." I continue.

You see, sitting down with a cup of tea is something I only ever do with my mother. One of the true loves of my life. We've done it for years, I suppose, sitting in the kitchen over a plate of biscuits and getting lost in a deep conversation, but it has become more of a regular occurrence since we both decided to make the move to a dairy free lifestyle sometime last year.

Dairy free milk, we have both learned, relies on little bit of experimentation. Rice, almond, coconut, oat, cashew; the varieties are almost endless. Some I like in hot drinks, others only in oats, although this is admittedly a rare occurrence as I'm more of a toast and jam kind of person, and some I drink straight from the fridge before bed because I'm old now, so that's a thing that I do.

I think it's perfectly possible to find one that does it all, but there will always be one that works especially well for one particular thing. Rice milk in tea, well, in hot things in general really, is probably unbeatable. Tea, hot chocolate, oats, that really great dairy free cheese sauce that you only need to add milk to and heat up and you've got a sauce that tastes pretty bloody good with pasta and mushrooms in about ten minutes - oh my gosh I know what I'm having for dinner tonight! - you get the idea. And I'm not exactly sure why it's so good in hot things, but it doesn't overwhelm other flavours and so it just, well, it just is good.

Rice Dream are so confident in their product that they're currently running a try me for free campaign on 120,000 cartons so if you aren't completely satisfied, they'll give you your money back (just look out for the try me for free logo!).

Anyway, if you'll excuse me I've got a date with a bowl of cheesy pasta...


Tuesday, 3 January 2017



1. Extremely small
synonyms: minute, tiny, minuscule,
antonyms: huge

mid 17th century: from Latin infinitus

Life is made up of a series of moments. (Of course. I've picked up a habit for stating the obvious in every opening sentence of everything I write. Bear with me.) Not every moment will be good nor bad and some simply won't be much of anything at all. Actively celebrating or even just taking the time to acknowledge the small things may be the ultimate cliché, but it's one that is so valuable and so intrinsically intertwined with contentment that after a year or so of feeling very little, I appreciate the almost physical act of noticing small things and transforming that into an actual physical act of writing them down more than ever before. Sometimes these lists end up appearing a little silly at first, but how can moments of pure contentment ever be silly? They can't, but even if they were silly, I don't think it matters. And sometimes I find that I don't have even have the correct combination of words to describe them, which makes me want to become a better writer. And I can't do that without being open to the possibility of experiencing those moments in the first place.

A list of things that seem infinitesimal, but are actually much, much bigger on the inside...

★ Cuddles with Beatrix.

★ New pyjamas.

★ Reading my first Val McDermid novel.

★ Exceedingly kind words about my writing; you make me feel as though I'm not alone and there are few things more magical than that.

★ Whenever I walk past a particular house down the street when the sun has gone down, there's always a cat looking out of the upstairs window having snuck under the net curtains. I think he may be the nosiest cat in the neighbourhood.

★ There's something in my house that reminds me of my grandmother. I must have bought a soap or toothpaste or something that she used to use. I can't quite place it, or maybe I'm misremembering altogether, but it's comforting nevertheless.


N.B. Word of the week #1 (the start of a series that probably won't be weekly, but we'll see how it goes)

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Dear 2017.

There are extraordinary things to be found within otherwise seemingly ordinary things. In those quiet moments when it may seem like nothing is happening, but the consistent whirring of new ideas and old memories within us is something that won't cease if we don't let it. How those simple gestures, like saying 'hello, how are you?', can mean so much. In understanding that every second is a gift, but that not every second will be easy to endure, and how that's okay because soon they will, once again, feel easier. How after finding those things that make your heart sing, it's even more important to hold on to them tightly because even though you can't dedicate every waking second to them, they make those hours spent doing things you have to do, but don't necessarily want do to, more bearable. And everyone has to do things they don't want to sometimes.

This moment here, right now, is the first time in a long time I have felt as though I don't want or need to change, and this is curious because I probably haven't been this depressed for over ten years and during that period of time, well, I would have done anything to change almost absolutely everything. And I don't mean this to sound as flippant as it probably does, but sometimes being a little bit flippant about some of the things inside my head is one of the only ways to get by, you know? But I think I need to feel like this sometimes, and to work through it in a way that I only I can, and to process things in ways that make sense to me even if they don't to anyone else. It's no secret that I live inside my own head a lot, but I think that's okay as long as I remember to not shut the world out completely. And this is where mustering the courage to break out of my shell to forge new connections is so important. I may be the Queen of acquaintances, but don't think I really know how to make friends anymore and I'd like to relearn how to do that.

You, 2017, are going to be my year of stories. Both real and not; old and new; meandering and brief. I want to voraciously inhale new stories, revisit old favourites and take time to ponder over each of them before moving on to the next. Because this isn't about reaching a target or meeting a challenge, that arbitrary number I've previously plucked from thin air at the start of the year. It's more than that. It should always have been more than that. I promise to be present, not scrolling twitter whilst watching a film; to lay down and do nothing but absorb the words floating from my record player; to light a candle and lose an afternoon within the pages of a book without feeling as though I should be doing something else. These moments will be little luxuries, but they're also infinitely more valuable than words can adequately express.

I will also (maybe, probably, at least some of the time)...
★ Be generous with my time.
★ Treasure my MA experience, and really invest the time into working through those concepts that currently feel impenetrable.
★ Listen to more music that means something to me.
★ Remember that this is a lo-fi space and iPhone snaps are fine. In fact, they're more than fine.
★ Read as much as possible, wherever and whenever there is a pocket of time there to take advantage of.
★ Go to the theatre, because there are stories to be heard there too.
★ Take more selfies and print more snapshots because I might want to remember what I looked like at this age, in ten or so years from now.
★ Save £1000, for no particular reason other than to prove to myself that I can do something when I set my mind to it.

Of course I can't possibly know what you have in store, 2017.
But my mind feels the clearest it has been in weeks.
And I'm proud that I can say, I am here.
I am present. And I am ready.