How did this happen?

When did we stop –
Telling our location from the trees?
The sky, now, is pixellated,
Distorted through the lens of a window,
And now I am scared to go outside.

Leaves are swept away,
Dirty inconvenience out of sight,
Childhood fun out of mind,
We sleep through the birds’ call,
Then ignore the disappearing hours.

I used to love the stars in the sky,
Now they are choked by wires,
And aerials reach-up, further conquering.
If the night sky was no longer,
Who would look through pollution
And wonder, where our kin had gone,
Or if we will be next to disappear under?

 

Food for thought and what has provoked this poem:

Each car in London costs NHS and society £8,000 due to air pollution

Our natural world is disappearing before our eyes by George Monbiot

World Environment Day 2018!

It’s World Environment Day today, June 5th. You wouldn’t know it for looking around you though. Hardly anybody seems to be talking about it and brands have also managed to overlook the occasion. On other days of the year, like Valentines Day, it seems that everywhere you look you cannot escape the celebrations of the day. Yet, when it comes to showing appreciation for the world we live in and whose vital natural processes we take for granted, the vast majority of people don’t appear to care.

Nature is constantly working for us and sustaining itself in the most beautiful ways. Then humans come along and consistently put corporate greed and profit before environmental welfare. We dwindle away natural resources without a care in the world, sometimes not even noticing that we are doing it. I truly believe that there is not enough outrage about this in the world. Who decided that humans have the inherent right to become parasites of the Earth? We keep feeding off of the environment and taking more and more away from it day by day but never giving anywhere near enough back in return.

Human greed and recklessness has brought climate change down upon our heads yet the President of the United States refuses to acknowledge it as a serious threat. Our oceans are plagued with plastic and Governments would rather compromise a community’s water supply than lose out on profits from oil pipelines. The British Government chose today, World Environment Day, to confirm their plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport regardless of the fact that aviation is one of the largest growing contributors to emissions and London has failed to meet its own air pollution targets for years. Where is the outrage? 

We do not have the right to play God with nature.

We are ruining the environment and it is future generations who will face the dear consequences.

When will our selfishness stop?

5 Changes I Am Making This Summer

Dissatisfaction requires action. There are facets of my life which need improvement for the benefit of both my physical and mental health and I want to hold myself to making these changes by writing them here on my blog. My journey towards a better state of health is a gradual process which can be difficult but hopefully these five changes will take me someway further to a place of better balance and state of mind.

1) Doing weekly meal plans

I am very guilty of waiting until I am really hungry before I begin to cook or prepare any meal which means that I regularly opt for quick, easy and less healthy meals in order to rapidly address my hunger. Also, I don’t currently plan what I am going to eat in a week, therefore I often will not buy sufficient products from the supermarket to make the meals I want to. So I hope that making weekly meal plans, which will detail what I will eat for lunch and dinner each day, will mean that I make better quality meals and that I will be aware of all the ingredients I need to buy from the supermarket on a weekly basis.

2) Complete 10,000 steps a day

My time is quite unstructured at the moment because my academic year at University has finished which means that I can easily fall into the trap of having an unlimited amount of lazy days where I lounge on the sofa reading for hours on end. So, to remedy this and give me added motivation to get up on my feet and be more active I have bought myself a Fitbit so that I can track the number of steps I take a day with my goal being 10,000 steps daily. This should not be an insurmountable task because I have two lively dogs who would certainly relish going out for longer walks everyday!

3) Make fresh smoothies rather than buying them from shops

I used to have a really good routine of making fresh smoothies everyday at home with my NutriBullet but unfortunately I got lazy and fell out of the habit of doing this. However, I want to stop resorting to getting shop-bought smoothies which often contain artificial ingredients or added sugar and instead get back into the routine of making my own which will also give me the opportunity to select the ingredients I want to have. Also, this will reduce the amount of wastage I am responsible for because I won’t be buying smoothies in plastic bottles from the supermarket and I will be able to use-up the surplus fruit in my household which for some reason seems to languish in our fruit bowl without anyone having the intention of actually having any!

4) Start doing morning pages

To me morning pages seem like a really good idea because if I get my day off to a productive start then usually the rest of my day will follow suit. Also, I often wake-up with a lot of things weighing on my mind so the chance to offload all of these thoughts in one stream of consciousness into a notebook will surely benefit my mental wellbeing. It seems to me that morning pages carry less pressure than other forms of journalling as well because the intention is to simply write-out a continuous dialogue of what is in your mind rather than having the express intention of being meaningful or making the pages look beautiful as they do in bullet journals.

5) Re-start meditation

I have taken strides towards this goal as I have signed myself up to attend a meditation evening which will hopefully inspire and motivate me to include regular meditation in my daily routine. In the past, I have found that both meditation and breathing techniques have been helpful in terms of combatting my anxiety to some extent, so I want to make progress with my ability to implement both of these activities to better my wellbeing. 

5 Things To Do In London

For those of you who don’t know, I was born in London and have lived just outside the city for the majority of my life. I’m not a natural city-person though, crowds trigger my anxiety and I get easily stressed-out if there’s lots of noises around me. So, sufficed to say you might think that London would be an unbearable place for me but people overlook the areas of the city which aren’t filled to the brim with the hustle and bustle of thousands of people rushing past you. Apart from the most well-known tourist attractions, there are so many other places you can go without feeling like you are being suffocated by sensory overload. So, without further ado, here are 5 lovely things to do in London:

1) Go to Battersea Park

When you are walking around Battersea Park it is hard to believe that you are in one of the busiest cities in the world! It is an oasis of calm and nature within the hive of activity that is the city of London. The fields of green seem to stretch endlessly in front of you which is probably because the park spans a huge 200 acres! Just beyond the park is the scenic River Thames as the park lies on lively Southbank  Battersea Park has its fair share of history within it too as it was opened back in 1858 by Queen Victoria. 

bridge london

2) See a play at the Globe Theatre

Entering The Globe, it feels like you have stepped back in time. It looks nothing like the other theatres you can find in London, such as those in the West End. It is modelled on the theatre which William Shakespeare’s plays were performed back in the late 16th and early 17th century. It is an open-air theatre, so on sunny days it is a particularly glorious sight, especially as it is placed on the banks of the River Thames. Many of the audience members are extremely close to the stage, giving any play you see there an immensely intimate feeling within the magical atmosphere of the traditionally built structure. If Shakespeare plays are not your thing, the Globe also puts on lots of other plays by different playwrights. 

3) Go on the London Eye

My obsession with the River Thames continues apparently as the London Eye is also located next to the glorious river! The London Eye is essentially a giant ferris wheel which is designed to go very slowly so that the people in its pods can enjoy a spectacular view of London from the height of 443 feet. On a clear day you can see for about 25 miles when you are at the peak of the Eye’s cycle and this includes a bird’s eye view of the Houses of Parliament which lie just across the River and which hold an immense amount of history. I would definitely recommend booking your tickets in advance though, otherwise you might find yourself queueing for quite a long time before being able to board the Eye.

london eye

4) Have afternoon tea at the Intercontinental Hotel

This is a very luxurious treat but if you’re visiting the city why not feel like you are living the high life during your stay? Every facet of the hotel is exquisitely built and decorated, so much so that you feel like you are living someone else’s life whilst you are there! Each course of the afternoon tea is dainty, delicate and freshly made but by the end you will find to your surprise that you are completely full. Afternoon tea seems to me a very quaint English tradition or activity, so it is nice to indulge on the rare occasion when you can. Also, the hotel lies within a wonderful setting as it is surrounded by Hyde Park on one side and Green Park on the other.

5) Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour

The Warner Brothers Studios are in Watford, so they on the edge of Northwest London but are easily reachable within 50 minutes from Central London. At the risk of sounding cliche, the Studios are a mind-blowing and magical experience…honestly there is no other way to describe the feeling of walking through the creative masterpieces which make-up the world of Harry Potter. Even people I know who are not Harry Potter fans (which I thoroughly disapprove of) really enjoyed the Studios, simply for the rich, immersive experience. Often the Studios have different features on where they showcase particular features of the world of Harry Potter but my favourite part of the tour will always have to be seeing and boarding the Hogwarts Express for a myriad of reasons. I cannot put into the words the feeling which comes over me when I see the train, I would just urge everyone to go visit and see for themselves.

 

An Enchanted World

I want to live within magic;
A world poured out of a bewildered brain,
A bottomless pool of novelty,
Where everything is enchanted
But nothing is the same.

My dream; to step onto a path, not a street,
Nobody to reveal gritty reality,
An unspoken absence of terrified grins
Or over-probing eyes,
To fuel the rediscovery of personal space.

A magical world where a life is one’s own;
An earth not abuzz with static electricity
But built upon the fabric of adventure. 

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic” – Albus Dumbledore

Learning How To Live

There is no colour to survival;
Plain existence only works in greys
As we are sucked down to basic endurance,
Withdrawn from the frivolous
And shrunk by the beauty,
The land killing and feeding us
Both by equal measure.

When our heart only beats-
Pounds like a drilling or drum-
We shrivel to the outline of a drawing,
Two-dimensional, graphite lines,
And our blood circles wearily.

Living is a different matter;
A contrast to survival, existence
More than duty-bound breathing.
Living is a colourful experience,
A sensory expedition to the brink,
The cherishing of the merry and the silly
With a rejoicing in the unknown;
The unfamiliar in ourselves and the Earth-
Our home.

Summertime Sadness

Here in England the seasons are changing around us. Winter was been longer than usual this year with snow coming in March and cold, rainy weather lingering well into April. Everyone around me was begrudging winter its long stay in the spotlight, wishing for spring to grow into itself and stake its claim to the months it was rightfully owed. However, I love winter. Colder weather makes me feel safe and comfortable, from the layers of clothes I can pull on each morning to the moments when I can sit at my window writing and watch as the rain drums down on the cars outside.

Summer is fast approaching now though. The grass and the trees are a luscious green colour and the sun casts our garden in golden light from early in the morning until late at night. People start conversations with their eyes aglow as they revel in describing the glorious warm weather. They say that seeing the sun in the morning brings a smile to their face and they start the day off happy knowing that it will be warm and light. However, for me I always struggle during the summer months.

Warm weather makes me feel instantly uncomfortable. I am so reluctant to give-up my baggy jogging bottoms and thick jumpers so, in the initial weeks of summer, I sweat day in and day out whilst clinging onto my layered clothing with my hoodie pulled tight against the rest of the world. An irrational fear grips me whenever I reach to pull-on a pair of shorts let alone a skirt. I obsess about how everyone else is going to see me in my ‘summer clothes’; what will people think, will they murmur something under their breath about me to their friends next to them? The next moment though, I struggle with the guilt of having these incredibly self-obsessed thoughts; what right do I have to be worrying about showing my legs when there are so many more serious things to worry about in the world? But the self-doubt lingers all the same and I begin to enter a vicious cycle of negative thoughts concerning my appearance. Before long I will be longing that I could stay in my room all summer, curled-up in a ball and not allowing anyone to see me (not that I’m melodramatic or anything…)

In addition, my temperament is still reminiscent of that you would expect from an ill-tempered toddler! Whenever I try to do anything in the sun, I quickly begin feeling all hot and bothered, making me irritable and a general menace to be around. At the first sign of sweat forming on my body, every part of me screams that I must retreat and run into a cold shower at once. Generally in the summer I lose my appetite as well, no food is appealing to me and if I so much as think about consuming a hot meal I can feel myself starting to gag. This also has a knock-on effect when it comes to how much water I consume because I start to drink significantly less if I am not eating at regular mealtimes. Therefore, I get dehydrated and have frequent headaches, making me more irritable and quick to snap at people than before! Honestly, I become a bit of a monster in the summer time.

Anyway, this long and rambly post was just meant to be a quick update to say that I am still adjusting to the weather and I am still in the phase of being a moody idiot at the moment, so bear with me on the content-front, more posts will be coming soon. Also I am so embarrassed to be publishing this post. Honestly, reading this back I realise that I sound like a petulant child, moaning and complaining about such ridiculous and petty things. I’m trying to get better, I promise…

“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” – Jeanette Walls

My Little Treasures

Sometimes life feels like too big a picture to even contemplate. The landscape of responsibilities, obligations and pressures looks like it could swallow you up in its utter vastness. So, I think it is valuable to your sanity to cut that landscape up into manageable chunks and look at it in a way which makes it less scary. Looking at the minute details can help with that, especially when you find the beauty in the smaller things. Things that look inconsequential and easy to look over at first may just serve as your saving graces.

My gratitude list of little things I am grateful for:

1) Writing in a notebook with a fountain pen
2) Lighting candles when I’m working
3) When my dog lies his head on my lap
4) The feeling of soil on my hands when I plant flowers
5) Drinking a cup of tea while sitting on the sofa
6) The luscious green of the grass and trees outside
7) The sense of serenity which fills me when I practice yoga
8) The way my dream catcher looks in the morning light
9) Breathing in my mother’s perfume

‘Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.’ – John Milton

Self-Care

In my eyes, ideas of self-care have become convoluted paths to luxurious experiences or funnels through which substantial amounts of money are spent which only leads to increased stress in the long-term. For this reason it seems that we have drifted so far away from the fundamental basis of self-care; to create time and space for ourselves in which we can prioritise our health and happiness during which we answer to no-one but our own needs and desires.

Mainstream ideas about self-care have morphed away from prioritising the search for peace and love within ourselves to the prioritisation of material things, such as extortionately priced bath bombs and candles, so that our sessions of self-care will be ‘instagram worthy’. I frustrate myself when I realise that, in my pursuit of self-care experiences, I overlook and disregard the simplest of things which are usually the most enjoyable and rejuvenating:

  • Sitting or reading a book under a tree with the sun shining upon you
  • Dedicating time to reflective journalling so that you can listen to your mind once more
  • Having a solid hour-long yoga session in which you set your practice intention to be calm and ease
  • Cherishing a new bunch of flowers you cultivated in your garden or picked yourself
  • Re-connecting with your all-time favourite book by re-reading it again and embracing the nostalgia which comes with it
  • Changing your bed clothes and sheets so that you can indulge in the experience of clean, crisp material when you go to bed that night

All of these small and simple things are gentle and easy ways to re-energise yourself after you feel ground down by the daily toll of life. When you come to reflect on your efforts at self-care you can appreciate the simplicity you have introduced into your life through that process rather than burdening yourself with superficial extravagance.

‘There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth’ – Leo Tolstoy

BIG MAGIC

Yesterday evening I finished reading ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert and I feel lucky to have read a book that connected so profoundly with my own state of mind, my own needs and my own perspective. It reminded of a fact which I have forgotten since studying at University; that creating art can be fun. University puts so much emphasis on masterpieces and the genius of those who make it into the literary canon that I have forgotten the nuances of creative experience. This book reminded me not to put so much pressure on myself, I do not have to write pieces for the express purpose of them being profound or important, instead I can create and write for the joy of it.

Here are five of the most important lessons that I took from ‘Big Magic’:

1. Do not be fearful of your art, be playful and curious with it

I think that most people who create anything go through periods where they are too scared to pick up a pen, a paint brush or whatever their implement of choice because they are worried about the outcome. Either they are scared of people laughing at what they have created, they fear that they will feel let down by their own efforts or that they will not find any inspiration to engage with. Firstly, Gilbert reminds us that the act of just focusing on creating art in whatever form is a human victory in itself and if someone laughs at you for it then you can feel sorry for them for completely missing the point of a creative existence. Secondly, being self-critical is okay in small doses but once in a while we should give ourselves a pat on the back for just exercising our creative energies whether we created something we loved or not because at least we are teaching ourselves and bettering our creativity during the process. Thirdly, inspiration comes in many forms, sometimes it is clear and easy to decipher, at other times it seems to hide from us and we have to tease out it’s content bit by bit through being open and determined to find that next creative spark.

2. Do not take yourself too seriously, your art will suffer if your ego takes control

“How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation”

Something about this quote from the book really resonated with me. When I am going through patches where I feel that my creativity has dried-up and I am just producing inane drivel I feel so frustrated and angry at creativity, I blame it for leaving me adrift. However, there is no point on sitting around aimlessly waiting for a lightning bolt of genius to hit you and gift you the bulk of a novel on a silver platter. Equally there is no point in refusing to create in these dry patches because you believe that you have too much self-respect to create something anything less than greatness – that is your ego talking. Keep creating just for the sheer hell of it, this is your life and if you feel a calling to live your life creatively then you have to ride the rough with the smooth and keep exercising those creative energies whilst keeping the faith that the incomparable feeling of inspiration will visit you again when both you and it are ready.

3. You do not have to go through pain or misery to produce good and profound art

Creating should be fun, however this is never a point which is emphasised within the arts. Instead, I have been lectured numerous times on the individual pains which the great writers went through to write their famous works. It is almost like we are taught that creating has to be a form of purgatory, we cannot enjoy it, instead it must be torture and it has to be agony to produce whatever it is that we want to. There is a myth that any profound art must come from a place of darkness where a person has struggled against hatred of the creative process to bring their idea into reality. I know that creativity can sometimes be frustrating but why can’t it also be fun? Why can’t I be playful with my inspiration and ideas rather than have to permanently suffer because of them? 

4. The Earth will not stop spinning if your creation is not perfect

“while it’s definitely true that failure and criticism will bruise my precious ego, the fate of nations does not depend on my precious ego.”

Sometimes we can be paralysed by the fear that what we have created is not good enough and so we will do nothing with it. I have fallen into this trap many times, the notion that if I am not writing with the intention of producing a master piece or something profound and original then I shouldn’t write at all. However, if I take a step back I can see how ridiculous this is! Who the hell has the authority to decide what a masterpiece is anyway? I can create because I love to and to hell with anyone who says that the imperfections in my writing make it stupid and pointless, the imperfections they see in my writing are probably what makes it distinct and mine anyway. Plus, nothing dramatic is going to happen if I produce something which is nearer the crappy end of the scale rather than the genius end. Sure, it will be disappointing and I will be sad about it but then the world goes on and I will take what I need to from that experience and move on because no big seismic shift will occur in the world because I produced a story with blatant plot holes and grammatical errors.

5. Creativity should be cherished

“I am referring to the supernatural, the mystical, the inexplicable, the surreal, the divine, the transcendent, the otherworldly. Because the truth is, I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment – not entirely human in its origins.”

As you can see from the quote, Gilbert talks and thinks about creativity in a reverential way. She speaks about it like it is a force which is outside of our understanding, unpredictable and totally, divinely, beautiful. I believe this too. I cannot explain creativity or inspiration, its ebbs and its flows. Sometimes it shines its full grace on me and I feel completely immersed in the magical feeling of imagination, purpose and art. Other times its a little trickier to place and I have to pursue inspiration with a renewed sense of determination. Either way, creativity is a hard idea to pinpoint precisely because of its unknown nature. People who live a creative life place their trust and faith in a force which can seem like it is playing them at times; teasing them with an idea just outside of their grasp. However, the way creativity can light-up our lives and bring us out of the usual routine of things surely means that it should be cherished, respected and revered.