It’s Friday hooray..yippee and all of that!

So what are you all up to this weekend?
I have friends coming to stay and will be making sure Christmas is started off nicely – there will be trips to christmas stores, illuminated gardens, christmas wonderlands, lots of food and laughter – I can’t wait!

If you don’t know what you are up to yet – try any of these:

Illuminated festive trail around Kew Gardens after dark – £12.50 and is running until 4th January

http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/christmas/illuminated-trail/

London Illustration Fair

www.thelondonillustrationfair.co.uk/

Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park – an illuminated trail set out amongst the garden – apparently it is purely magical which sounds good enough to me!

http://www.enchantedwoodland.com/

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Winter Wonderland – To really get you in the Christmas spirit head down to Hyde park there will be stalls, food, entertainment, Christmas gifts a plenty!

http://www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

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The Independent Records Market – Records and Beer – a great combination – just don’t spill anything!

http://www.bangonpr.com/campaigns/event/independent-label-market-2013

London Feminist Film Festival – Films and talks at the Hackney Picture house

http://londonfeministfilmfestival.com/

Frock Me Vintage Fair, Chelsea Town Hall – lots of vintage lovelies!

www.frockmevintagefashion.com

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Dalston Christmas Market – It calls itself the most glamorous Christmas market…so there you go!!!

http://www.cityshowcasemarkets.com/dalston/dalson-christmas-market

Santa Paws Grotto – London’s first Santa’s grotto for dogs!  So if your doglet has been good this year you should call Lily’s kitchen on 020 7433 1863 for more info!

http://now-here-this.timeout.com/2013/11/18/christmas-grotto-for-dogs/

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Words and pictures

Story inspired by the picture:

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Sometimes you sit there, holding your cup of tea, looking outside, your eyes glaze over – you think you have been staring too long but really it’s the tears welling up – starting to sting your eyes, you think it’s because you haven’t blinked in a while and you change that and blink, not once, but twice.

You made the mistake because it’s only then, when the tears start to fall that you realise you were actually crying and that’s why you couldn’t see straight and that’s why your eyes hurt.

You feel stupid, ungrateful and you beat yourself up a moment.

You remind yourself of all the lovely people in your life, your family, your friends, your pets, you think about all the good that you do and how you try to help people and the fun things you do – then you break down sobbing all the more.  Now you feel guilty for not being grateful enough.

Give it a few moments and this feeling changes, and suddenly you think you hardly have anyone in your life, that no one really cares what happens to you, that you are forgotten about, not even looked down upon – just not looked at, at all.

You then feel a slight anger, a bitter voice from inside – screaming through your head that what do you expect, you’re ugly and not worth looking at anyway.

You try to make the voice die down – you feel your sobs subside but the tears are still coming, fast.  You try to tell that voice that you are ok really, you could be so much worse, that really you are just a little misunderstood.

Another voice pipes up that it is not you that is misunderstood it’s you don’t understand what is going on around you.  A voice, an echo of a loved one resonates around your ears, filtering through your head space.  It reminds you that you are not your opinion of yourself and that if you could see yourself through others eyes you would not be so cruel to yourself that you would actually get an ego….because this voice is nice it’s not as loud as the others and it quickly disappears through your right ear and gets lost in the ether.

The louder voice takes over.

‘No one likes you.  You are fat.  Your hair is a mess.  You are going nowhere.  People don’t care what you say.  Everyone wishes you would just go away.  They don’t forget you they just don’t care.’

You quickly try to reason with yourself – you’ve been told your mind works at a million miles an hour, connecting things that others aren’t even aware have been said.

You try to pull up evidence but you can’t.

You sit there numb.  The tears have stopped.  The well has run dry.  Your face stings, it tightens as the track marks of the tears slowly starts to dry.  The headache starts to creep around your brain.

You feel a nervousness in your heart and try to calm yourself.  A panic attack is not welcome here.

You look around you and feel even more alone.  You hear the world going on around you and what is just dumb conversation suddenly sounds so witty – just because you are not part of it – everyone that laughs is now laughing at you.  Every little whisper is about you.  You start to think that your colleagues talk about you behind your back, or even worse, just don’t notice you at all.  You convince yourself they hate you.  You find ‘evidence’ of it all around.  Then you start to mishear what is being said – more proof.

You leave the scene and head back home.  Your friends don’t respond to your texts straight away.  This is because they are driving home but to you – now – it’s because they don’t care – you picture them looking at their phones and rolling their eyes and convince yourself that they hate you too.  You struggle to find evidence at first but then you start to recall the times that plans were broken and you start to put two and two together – you don’t even come up with 5 you come up with 13, you are so way off the mark but your mind won’t let your heart have a voice.

You throw yourself in the bath – just to get away….have a moment to yourself – you then realise that it’s the last thing you need as the reasoning in your head gets more twisted and mean.

You wonder if your worst enemy is really yourself and that you know it’s depression, stress and social phobia doing the best at doing its worse.  But then you panic, you may be depressed, stressed and full of phobias but as Kurt Cobain once said ‘Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you!’

You go to work convinced everyone hates you – you look at people different – you don’t realise it – you are probably being standoffish – you convince yourself everyone hates you more than you even thought – you think they are talking about you – you think they are ignoring you – it makes you unable to speak – you feel sick – you feel your heart go weird – you panic – you want to run but you can’t you have to stick around – you sit feeling alone – no one seems to notice – you start to think it would be best if you weren’t there – then someone says they are all going out – you have your head echo that you haven’t been invited – more proof that the world hates you – whilst you are thinking this – you miss the invite that is given to you, it is repeated, you don’t hear.  The next day it’s awkwardly repeated because now you have made people think that you don’t care – you take it to be that they don’t really want to ask you and have out of duty so you tell them you are busy.  On a good day you realise you can’t go because you have put too much pressure on yourself – you feel doomed whichever way you turn.  You hate it – what happened to the happy go lucky girl who would talk to anyone and everyone?

You go home and you beat yourself up.

Something about this feels familiar but you can’t make it go away.

You realise you are retracing your footsteps – the ones that send you on that merry dance – on that stupid merry go round that you want to get off but don’t know how.

One day you will fall good and hard – the fall is needed – you have to hit bottom – someone will be there to pick you up – but right now you don’t know that and just feel yourself being spun round and round, faster and faster and faster…….the world spinning, everything blurring, music getting louder, the spinning getting more violent and then you fall asleep.

 

Throwback Thursday

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So here I am – knee high to a grasshopper and looking beyound grumpy.

The truth was and you can only really see this if you zoom in, but a few days before I had a bit of a mishap.

I was pretending I could fly – as you do – and I had my arms stretched out behind me to make my wings.  I used to insist on little patent mary jane shoes, they were either grey or black, that much I don’t recall but they were a bit slippy, especially when running fast in a circle.

I face planted.

Somehow my nose and chin remained fine it was my mouth that got popped open.  My whole top lip and half my bottom lip.

I was wearing a pink dress with a white sailor bib – perfect to really highlight the scary amount of blood.  My Mom used to be a voluteer reading helper at the school I went to and she was coming to find me to say goodbye as she had finished her shift.  What she was greeted with was a Zombie Apocolypse.  I was walking towards her, arms out a little, crying with blood pouring from my mouth and all over my dress and with loads of people from the school all following behind me.

My mouth swelled up to proportions that would make Mick Jagger jealous.  And you know the worst thing – I wasn’t given any time of school, other than a trip to the doctor – I then had to spend days being stared at and having this photo taken…hence being unable to smile!

Inspired by the picture

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‘Have you got the blanket Josie?’

‘Dur what do you think this is wrapped around my body!’

‘Well……I thought it was your usual weirdo dress sense!’

‘My hands are full but I can still get a kick to your shins you know!’

The girls giggled.

They had this way with them.  They could whine and moan at each other and pull each others legs like nothing else but it was always done with love, they didn’t care if no one else realised this – they knew and that was all that mattered.

It was all that had mattered until Jason had come along.  Penny had become smitten.  She wouldn’t even dare talk to him – boys were still sort of stinky but Penny would swoon and find any excuse to talk about him but would not admit to liking him and frankly Josie had, had enough.  Boys smelt funny and played stupid games, Josie thought they just got in the way and liked the life she had, there was no room for anyone else in her and Penny time.

The girls had been friends since Kindergarten and were now 11 years old.  They had racked up 8 years of friendship, by each others side as often as possible.  Josie had been there for Penny when her Dad had left home when she was 6 and Penny had been there for Josie when Frodo, her pet rabbit, and other best friend had died 3 years ago.

It was now a glorious Spring day.  The grass was dry and was slightly warm to the touch, the clouds were about but not so much that the sun wasn’t out most of the time.  They’d made a big jug of pink lemonade and had spread out some old blankets on the ground.  In their little pear tree they hung the sheet that Josie unravelled from her body around a tree and used old clothes pegs to secure it in place.  Penny fanned out the sheet to give them not just shelter from the sun but so they could shut out as much of the world as possible.  They had books to read and things to gossip about.  There was no time for interruption.

Penny laid down a little lantern, although it was far from dark she felt comfort from the warm candle glow.  She lit it carefully and moved it out of the way of Josie’s swinging feet.  They favoured lying on their stomachs and reading looking down but Josie always swung her feet about and had twice recently brought the whole canopy crashing down on their heads.  Penny nudged her friend to be careful and gave her best Miss Trunchbull look.

They giggled and gossiped the day away, pausing to watch some birds play – they went indoors only for sandwiches and toilet breaks.  Penny’s Mom left them to it – she almost felt envious of what they had – she would love to spend the day hiding in her little blanket fort with her best friend.  She sighed, smiled and carried on doing the drying up.

Harry, the next door neighbour peeped over the garden fence. He watched with caution.  He was in love with Josie.  She didn’t even know he existed.  Other than to call him a little rat.  You will learn why.

As the afternoon wore on and the girls got engrossed in telling each other stories, Harry tiptoed through his house and out through the side gate.  He padded barefoot across the tiny bit of gravel that took him round to Penny’s driveway.  He crept along the side of the house and waited.  Seeing the girls deep in conversation he quickly made his move.

Josie was the first to scream and jump to her feet, dripping wet.  Harry had filled his Mother’s washing up bowl with cold water and thrown it over the girls.

‘You dirty little rat, just you wait until I catch up…….’ And she tore off round the garden chasing Harry calling him every name under the sun.

Penny sat still, looking at her arms that were soaking wet, she watched them go from red to white and then little goosebumps appeared.

She then froze.  Jason was stood at the end of the driveway, staring at the scene in front of him.

There was Harry and Josie running around the garden screaming like little children, covered in water.

And there was Penny sat there also covered in water, half drowned by Harry, she knew it had hit her hair making it hang limp and greasy around her head.  She quickly jumped up and grabbed her sun hat, threw it on her head and in her desperation to get away from what she now considered a childish scene she headed straight over towards Jason before her nerves could get the better of her.

‘Hi’ she said breathing hard.

‘Hey’ Jason nodded back at her.  Penny blushed even harder than she already was thinking to herself that he was just so grown up and cool.

She saw Jason flick a look over to Harry and Josie and frown.

‘Oh haha um they aren’t with me, um, I’m…..they’re not my friends I, um……I’ve come over to see um yeah…….’

She felt hands push in her back…hard!

‘Not my friend?’ she could hear Josie’s voice – her voice reedy thin from being said through gritted teeth.

Penny turned, her eyes half shut in fear.

‘NOT YOUR FRIEND?’ Josie’s voice was getting dangerously high and verrrrry loud.

‘I um…..I….’ Penny stuttered in panic, her eyes darting from Josie to Jason and back again. She gulped.  There was no denying it – everyone had heard – she had denied knowledge of her closest friend because she was embarrassed by her.  The thought made Penny sick.  It so wasn’t true – she was just wanting Jason to think that she was grown up and not immature.  Penny struggled to think of something to say.

Josie filled the silence.  Her look to Penny spoke a thousand words, words full of hurt, out of her mouth came ‘I’m going.  You, Penny, well you can just go to hell…..do not call me later, and as for walking to school together tomorrow, go make friends with your shadow!’

She gave one last withering look at Penny and walked away.  Penny’s heart sank.  She looked up to speak to Jason and saw him looking at her coldly, he turned his head to watch the retreating figure of Josie go down the driveway.

‘Hey Josie…..wait up….’

And with those 4 words the rest of Penny’s world came crashing down around her.  Josie was gone, Jason was gone……….but not only that…..they were gone……together.

Penny’s mom was stood on the doorstep.

‘Go in…………in fact………go to your room….take a look at all the picture in there of you and Josie………..take a look at all the things she has given you……….and you have a good long think about what you have just done……….then I suggest you go to bed and pray that tomorrow you haven’t just let a man…hmmm….BOY….. come between you and your best friend………….did you learn nothing from my life!’

The morals are clear to see.

Never undervalue a friendship.

Words of wisdom Wednesday

Today’s world is very immediate.  Everything is wanted and needed not just now but yesterday.  There’s some industries that have always been that way but it seems to seep into everything in life now.  People seem to be apathetic.  That word ‘common’ sense seems to be coming more and more uncommon.  Life is cheap.  It’s just another fast food style commodity.  Which is so wrong.  So very, very wrong.  Life is a beautiful gift, it is short, but wonderful.  You don’t have to be the next Madonna to make a difference…..in fact I’d urge you not to be the next Madonna.  ‘Fame’ is just a side effect of certain careers yet sadly it seems to be what so many now aim for – and they’ll do anything for it – sell their soul with a blink of an eye.  This saddens me.  The world of fame is ugly.  I think most people with money say their biggest thing they realised was that it’s not money that makes you happy.

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I remember Kurt Cobain saying he couldn’t wait to make a million bucks then he knew he, his family would be set for life.  Then he made his first million and he realised a lot of it went on staff, tax, legal fees and he was left with very little of that initial million.  He also said he got such joy out of bargain hunting, thrift store shopping and how when you can afford anything pretty much everything loses its sparkle.  When you don’t have money you do of course think that having money would be the answers to your prayers – and without a doubt it would make things….life easier but………isn’t it also truth that nothing worthwhile in life is easy?!  A bit of money to make life comfortable would be lovely but that is all you need.  As long as you have a roof over your head, food on the table, friends and a warm heart then that is all you need.  To me going to bed each night with a clean conscience, knowing I’ve tried to be a good, decent human, I’ve tried to be there for my friends, I’ve tried to be kind to other people and the earth and I’ve not knowingly caused pain or suffering to anyone or anything – then that to me is success.

Not if I appear on TV.  Not if I have a million in the bank.  Not if I am screwing over loads of people to become a ‘successful’ business person.  How many people can truly say they live with a clean conscience and no regrets?

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Well…me for one.  And that is how success should be rated.  Money just makes you want more, more things, more money, people become cheap, life becomes cheap.  Somewhere people lost the way – when you have young children thinking it is cool to die on the streets or to take a life on the streets to win ‘respect’ you know the very fabric of society is starting to unravel.

So stop thinking money and fame are the bee all and end all of life and the only way to find success, or that being notorious is something good – or that living fast and dying young is better than being alive and well and making a good difference in this world.

We need to get back to grass roots and remember what is really important and invest time and love into that.

The most valuable thing in the world isn’t gold or diamonds – it is time – time to do your own thing – to be yourself – to be creative – to explore – to look after your loved ones.

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Treat Tuesday

I saw this picture:

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It’s pretty much how I would love to decorate the log cabin I don’t yet have.  It made me feel all snug and warm and wintery which in turn made me feel really christmassy.

I know Christmas can be a really hard time for some people – but it shouldn’t be about the commericialism or anyone feeling lonely – it should be about good will and cheer!

Say hello to people – dare to smile – if you know someone is lonely – pop round with a mince pie for them.  Surround yourself with your loved ones – if you don’t have the money to buy them gifts then make something for them, or write them something lovely, do some chores for them – there is always something meaningful that can be done!

So my message today for Treat Tuesday is to treat someone else for a change ;o)

I also wrote a little story inspired by the picture above – I write for children but hey, I think everyone should keep in touch with their inner Peter Pan complex.

It was the night before Christmas, there wasn’t a sound in the house – the only movement was that out of the corner of your eye of the treelights flickering on and then off again – casting a soft candle like glow around the room, little halo’s of light surrounding the bulbs.  There were some embers in the grate, not doing justice to the magnificent fire that had been roaring in the fireplace moments earlier.  The dancing flames now lying low about to gasp their last breath of oxygen before giving up.  Warmth could still be felt around the house, the wooden floor not yet cold, but the draft was snaking in from under the doors, creeping around the ankles of small children unable to sleep.  The promise of Santa coming was too great.  He’d been a good boy all year, well, give or take the odd moment of throwing his toys, hitting his little sister, but overall Benji felt he had done more than enough to justify a visit from Santa.  And now that he was 5 years old he felt he was old enough to meet Santa too, so he could say thank you for his presents properly.   He’d even told Arlo, his sister, that he was going to meet Santa.  She was 3, and he’d been quite thankful that she’d not been able to stay awake a moment longer than when her head hit the pillow.  He had to wait 5 years to meet Santa, there was no way Arlo was going to meet him so soon.  Benji waited…..and waited.  He felt pain in his chest and started to panic, then he realised he was holding his breath.  He blew out his cheeks with a giggle, quickly clamping his hand over his mouth in case his Father was to hear.  He paused, but there was no sound.  The fire gave one last crack and the orange was no more.  Benji looked around and saw his blanky on the sofa, he picked it up and wrapped it around his shoulders and pulled his feet in close to his body to keep warm.  He waited and then he waited some more.  He crept over to the Christmas tree, careful not to disturb anything; he pulled the plug on the lights.   He didn’t want Santa thinking anyone was awake. He huddled back into himself and waited.  He tried not to stare at the chimney as he remembered his mom saying something about pots and watching and things not happening but he couldn’t help but to peep now and then; but all seemed still.  He counted to ten.  Then twenty.  Then he started again as he wasn’t sure how to go past his fingers and toes.  He did this 3 more times and then he got bored.  He picked himself up off the floor and walked to the back door. He peered out of the glass window, he squinted, he jumped at the sight of a boy – but realised it was just his face looking back at him, screwed up in concentration.  He thought he could see footprints in the snow laid out on the back garden but he couldn’t be sure.  He slowly tried the door handle but the door was locked.  He tried to peep through the keyhole but he could see nothing but darkness stretching out before him.  He didn’t like the dark so he crept back into the lounge and put the fairy lights on again.  With a sigh he curled up on the sofa.  Where was Santa!!!

He woke up with a jump and quickly looked around.  How long had he been asleep? It was still dark, did that mean it was still night time? He saw something sparkle and rubbing his sleep filled eyes he saw it was a ribbon.  A ribbon attached to a bright shiny parcel.  His heart soared and he scrabbled over to see if it was for him.  It was!!! He jumped up and down and span round.  Just as it was dawning on Benji that this must mean he’d missed Santa after all he saw a pair of brown boots.  He stared at the boots for a moment, he didn’t remember his Dad having any like those.  He let his eyes move slowly upwards and saw big gold shiny buckles at the top of the boots, he let his eyes wonder a little further and he saw white fur.  He could hold the excitement in no more.  He exploded from his spot with all the energy he had.  ‘SANTA!’ he called and threw his arms around the legs in front of him.  Santa was tall, he could reach no further up him.  He looked up and saw a giant red clothed belly bobbing up and down with a ‘Ho Ho Ho!’ Followed by ‘Little boys should be tucked up in bed by now…..especially little boys called Benji.’  For a moment Benji froze, scared, but he felt the belly still moving with a ‘Ho Ho Ho!’

‘Now young man, I have lots to do, so let me help you up to your room then I’ll be back if you promise to go to sleep.’ Santa said with a wink.

Benji just nodded in awe, too happy and slightly worried the little shiny parcel on the floor would be all he would be getting.  He went to swipe it up, just in case, but he felt his feet leaving the ground, up and up he went until he was eye level with a huge fluffy beard.  On instinct, without a thought Benji tugged, gently.  The beard did not move.  He let himself be carried up the stairs and put to bed.  Santa stroked Benji’s head.  ‘Happy Christmas young Benji…now go to sleep.’

‘How do you know my name?’

‘I know all the children Benji.  Now keep quiet so you don’t wake Arlo.’ and with a sprinkle of glitter Santa was gone and Benji was counting sheep.

Hours later Benji awoke to hear his family downstairs, he ran down and saw the little parcel plus many, many more.  In the distance he could hear ‘Ho Ho Ho.’

‘Mom, Dad…..you’ll never guess what happened to me last night………’

And we leave them there.   Sat around a now roaring fire, treelights still sparkling away, and one happy family full of love, good cheer and a few too many Christmas sweets, and one little boy telling the tale of when he met Santa…………

Music Monday

Well hello – so I’ve been hit with this darn virus that’s going about – couldn’t breathe – almost lost my hearing – yeah it’s been most pleasant (please note the sarcasm).

So that would be why I’ve been absent for a few days – but such is life – these things happen but I will always come back – oh yes, that’s a threat ;op

So music……..I stumbled across a film called Flakes whilst I was off ill.  The girl rides a tricycle and they buy a silver bullet and work in a quirky little community based shop – all things I love the idea of, watching the film a track came on that I started humming along to – throat was still too sore to properly sing too (I hear the world sigh with relief at that), I paused for a moment and thought ‘Awww it’s the Wrens.  I’ve not listened to this track in ages!’

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So here is the track – to celebrate all things Monday like.

Tuesday treat day

So I mention being kind a lot! That’s because I think it’s easier than we believe and it’s way more important than some of us think.  It’s also something this modern world seems to be forgetting.

There is war everywhere, on grand scales and small scales.  Sometimes it feels like everyone is trying to do each other over, always get the upper hand, me, me, me….selfish and unkind.

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Children seem angry, people seem mean.  Life is tough, it’s difficult, sometimes just getting from the beginning to the end of the day can take it all out of you – if along the way you meet someone that is not being kind it can make your day a billion times worse, it can not only ruin your day – it can change lives.  What do I mean? Well these little acts of unkindness can become huge, they can build up momentum, they can become massive………….the blunt honest truth is they can end up taking a life!

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To me life should be about unicorns and cupcakes, fluffy clouds and rainbows, sparkles and fairytales, smiles and laughter.  I know it can’t always be like that but everyone should strive to make each day filled with as much of that as possible – make it a daily mission to make someone smile.  Being nice is so much better than being a little bitch.

Yet, still….especially in offices and playgrounds around the world you see people picking on someone to make themselves feel better.  I don’t get how making someone cry and feel bad makes someone feel better – it would crush me to know I had hurt someone, but there you go – it takes all sorts to make the world go round.

So treat yourself today to a smile, and be generous and treat someone else to one too.

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Sometimes you may feel you have to bitch about someone to fit in with others but it’s really not worth it – if that’s what it takes to fit into that crowd then why would you want to be in that crowd anyway!? It can take a lot of strength and courage to stand alone – but if you are kind and smile I am sure you won’t be standing on your own for long.

Two ladies that decided to do just that are Molly and Lauren who started the Kind Campaign in America.  It’s a lovely space to create a kind environment.  So many people suffered through school with many even trying to take their life.

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Thing is – as wonderful as this campaign is and it really is – at the moment it’s only in the US, and to be honest I think this is something that isn’t just a playground/teen thing – this can affect you through all ages and is something we should all get involved in.

Go check it out:

http://www.kindcampaign.com/

And whilst you are at it – treat yourself to the Happiness Project book and the 5 year happiness diary that goes with it – keep a record or your happiness and keep a reminder going to be kind.

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