ASMR for Beginners

So you may have heard of ASMR. Or have a vague understanding of it. Oh it’s that weird thing when people whisper in your ear or tap things or crunch carrots or something, right? From the outside ASMR seems so bizarre. I’ve sort of known about it for a while now but just never got round to exploring it. I thought it was weird and didn’t know if I’d ever enjoy it. But I wanted to know more. So what is it? Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is the experience of a tingling or static sensation on your skin. You can feel it all over your body but usually it begins on the scalp. It is typically triggered by sound or visuals and it induces positive feelings, relaxation and even low-grade euphoria. No wonder millions of people keep talking about it then.

Recently a Booktuber I follow posted a video titled: ASMR: reading you Harry Potter||Conniebell. And I thought, you know what, I like Harry Potter and I have been wanting to see what all the fuss is about so I gave it a go. Did I like it? Jesus, it was weirdly relaxing.

In that particular video the girl does a quick bit of book tapping then reads the first chapter to you in a whisper. I know what you’re thinking. What the heck is book tapping? Ha. I thought that too! But I was just about to go to bed, had my lights out and was just listening to the video and when she tapped the book I could feel electricity on my skin. I had the same sensation on my head as when someone gives you a head massage. Euphoric. I felt goose bumps. And I thought, alright, I’ll play. So I started scouring Youtube to discover a bit more about ASMR. See the thing with the relaxation technique is that there’s so many different types. And you may hate some but love others. So you just have to search for the types you like.

I started my research with books and found I really like book tapping which is simply someone tapping their fingers on a book. It definitely give me low-grade euphoria; it’s like an invisible hug. A lot of people also do book scratching which I don’t particularly like. In real life when my nails scratch on something it kind of goes through me so I wasn’t surprised I didn’t enjoy the book scratching, but I’m keeping an open mind for the future. I also found, at least in terms of book ASMR, that I prefer there to be no talking whereas other people love that.

As I widen my search I found three channels I liked (Gibi ASMR, ASMR Darling and ASMR Rooms) but there are thousands out there for you to discover. The two former channels do a large range of different ASMR. Both do videos where they tap different random objects which I think is my favourite. I don’t mind talking in those. Another type that AMSR Darling does is she acts like the camera and microphone are you and gives face and head massages etc. I was skeptical but I thought it was quite relaxing. I’d definitely suggest trying a massive range of videos when you’re experimenting. Just because you think you won’t like it doesn’t mean you will. The final channel ASMR Rooms is this lovely channel where the woman makes hour long videos of different rooms in books. I listen to the Harry Potter ones. So say, for example, you click on the Hogwarts Library video it’ll be an hour of pages turning, fire crackling, pen scratching. It’s just audio of what would be in that specific room. I also like the Forest of Dean video. As these videos are so long I normally use them as background noise when I meditate or for when I fall asleep. But how you use any video is totally up to you!

I’m a definite beginner to ASMR but I’m interested to see where it takes me. There’s many types I have not discovered yet but I’m excited to and I’ll keep you updated on my progress. So this week’s self-care task for you is to go and explore ASMR. I challenge you to not find at least one sensation that works for you.

Peace.

Wait For It – Hamilton Original Broadway Soundtrack (because I cannot stop listening to this album thanks to Beth!)

St. Patrick’s

Now this week’s self-care post may seem a little counter-intuitive but stick with me.

So growing up in Liverpool with an Irish grandma, a family who loves Ireland and a surrounding that is predominantly Irish, I’ve always felt a great affinity with the country. More so than with the UK. In fact, I’ve never relished my British identity but found it somewhat embarrassing. I mean the whole idea of splitting land into countries has always felt bizarre to me. Throwing our racist, religious or xenophobic views behind a flag is just pathetic. Patriotism. One of my least favourite words in the English language. A blind belief that you are worth more due to the coincidence of your birth. And the British Empire? Don’t even get me started.

So that’s not how I see my relationship with Ireland. I don’t obey it and I don’t worship it. I just feel drawn to the land. Like I’m coming home. It’s the ideas of family above everything; respecting nature; always striving to be a kind person but remembering to have a heck of a lot of fun along the way that embody the Irish spirit for me. Because that’s been my upbringing. Those are the lessons I’ve learnt from the people I love. The fact all these sentiments bind in my mind to equal Ireland is almost incomprehensible because they’re not tangible, they’re just how I live my life. It’s hard to articulate. Because my family is Irish I’ve seen those lessons as being passed down through ancestors. The people teaching me these lessons may have thought differently but that’s how I’ve always interpreted it. So I hesitate to say I’m proud to be Irish because I don’t ultimately agree with countries and I think pride can be harmful. But I’m very happy to be Irish. I’m thankful that it’s my heritage. Because it’s happenstance of birth that has created the family that I have. And they’re pretty boss to say the least. Liverpool and Ireland did that. I have no doubt in my mind. So I’m grateful for their existence.

But if we’re stepping out of the spiritual world into the physical world I do love the country’s hills and green lands and pubs. I do fully plan on spending time in Ireland every year of my life. Many of my favourite childhood memories are the other side of the Irish Sea and I hope to make more in the future. I just feel comfortable there. Whether it’s pub crawling through Dublin or staring at the Atlantic Ocean from atop the Burren in County Clare. Again, it’s because I feel so connected to my family when I’m there. Either because they’re stood right next to me or because when I breathe I know that’s where we’ve come from. This island.

You’re probably wondering where the point to my article is coming in. It’s here. Go out today for St. Patrick’s and get pissed.

I know. You didn’t see that coming. Well I like to be unpredictable. Makes life more interesting. Now why am I telling you about my Irish heritage and drinking. And how is this anything to do with self-care? Because whilst yes, alcohol will not solve life’s problems (never forget that) it is acceptable to indulge occasionally. Whether you’ve had a long, hard week at work. Whether you just want to meet up with some friends you’ve been neglecting. Whether you’re Irish or not. Go and celebrate. Because whatever it was in the past, or whatever it is to other people now, to me March 17th is about celebrating culture and heritage and family. That’s why it’s my favourite day of the year. Don’t you see? It doesn’t matter what your life or beginnings are. Everyone can celebrate their culture, heritage and family so why not do it with booze, with the Irish. You all know we’re the funnest anyway. So when you’re blinded by a sea of green today, and maybe after a Guinness or two, have a think about what those three words mean to you right now. And what you’d like them to mean always. Then maybe act on it. Or don’t. I mean, you’ll probably have a wicked hangover tomorrow anyway so you might as well get something out of the drunken fun whilst it lasts.

If someone reading this disagrees with my view of St. Patrick’s Day then that’s totally fine. It is traditionally a religious holiday, yep, we are celebrating a saint. But I’ve found since turning from Catholicism to Atheism I enjoy having other ways to connect to my history. And yeah, St. Patrick’s Day famously was a day of alcoholic abstinence. But the Irish government overturned that years ago to improve tourism and celebration of all things Irish. So whether you consider it a bit of a piss up or a serious day I wish you a boss St. Patrick’s. And I hope you spend it with people you love.

And remember to shotgun a beer.

Peace.

Lisdoonvarna – Christy Moore

Indie Liverpool Pt.2

The long-awaited second instalment of Indie Liverpool is here. In case you missed the first one, I’m just telling you some of my favourite independent bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes in Liverpool. If we’re honest, this series could go on for another sixty-three parts because there’s just so many boss places in Liverpool! I’m glad a get to call it my city and I’m glad I get to show you some of the cool hideouts. Enjoy.

HUS – If it’s a great pint you’re after, look no further – HUS offers the first Tank Beer in Liverpool. This new venture by the Baltic Social owners has Scandinavian vibes, a rooftop terrace (I’m super excited for this to reopen) in the business district and amazing cocktails with chilli in them. Weird, I know, but worth a try. https://www.facebook.com/HUSLPOOL/

The Egg Cafe – An awesome hideout off Bold Street if you can hack the winding stairs up to the cafe. It’s BYOB as all the best places are, just pay a contribution. The Egg is one of Liverpool’s original vegetarian hangouts featuring many classics on the menu as well as new rotating mains, very quirky and excellent anytime of day. I would definitely recommend the garlic bread meal after years of eating maybe eighty of them. Offers Independent Liverpool Card Discount. https://www.eggcafe.co.uk

Leaf – Whether it’s food, tea or a boss gin cocktail you’re looking for, Leaf has it all. Obviously named after their tea, this venue offers a ridiculous array of lose leaf teas just waiting to be brewed for you. With a relaxed atmosphere in the day time, Leaf also turns into a pretty busy bar at night with live music. I don’t think you could go wrong with any time of day. Offers Independent Liverpool Card Discount. https://thisisleaf.co.uk/liverpool/

The Grapes – This hideout is a must for any good city centre pub crawl. It used to be known for the squish you’d have to endure from one side of the venue to the other but after having a facelift last year, the pub now boasts almost double the amount of seating space as well as an upstairs roof terrace. Fair warning, it will still get crammed in the evening, what can I say, everyone wants to go here! There’s not much to say about The Grapes other than that it is quintessentially Liverpool. It’s good booze and good people. And what more could you want? https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grapes/160498220633965

Matta’s – Something a bit different. Matta’s is not a bar or a restaurant but a supermarket. Why is it on the list? Because it has literally everything you could ever want. It has all your bougie grains and nuts available in bulk. It also has a wide range of vegan essentials that you can’t find in many other places, for example Vegenaise! The grocer also offers almost every spice, herb or condiment you could dream of including a lot of great international foods. Offers Independent Liverpool Card Discount. https://www.mattas.co.uk

Pt.3 is coming.

Mersey Paradise – The Stone Roses

my year of reading women: the conclusion

At the end of 2016 I was at an impasse with my reading. I’d spent a life juggling assigned reading for school and books I could scramble from the library for fun. But during uni I’d let reading for pleasure fall by the wayside. If we’re being honest, I’d let reading for uni fall by the wayside too. But what English Literature student can’t relate? The sheer quantity is a joke. But if I did pick up a book I was usually doing it out of guilt for an essay due. Not to feed my soul.

So fast forward to graduation and it had been years since I had properly read a book, guilt free, that I had chosen for myself. I was so excited to read every book in the world. So what did I do? I read almost none. Partly I was too overwhelmed with where to start and partly I was just being lazy as always. So going into 2017 I knew something needed to change. Books are my favourite thing in the world so not reading them was a big disservice to my authenticity. I decided to take drastic action and vowed to read only women authors for a whole year. It was kind of a fuck you to all the dead white men I’d read at uni.

And thus began my year of reading women.

And you know what I found? It wasn’t even hard. Because there are so many epic women writers in this world, some who get the recognition they deserve and others who sit quietly on the shelf behind the new James Paterson monstrosity. So by reading only women you’re not cutting our thousands of authors you’re actually opening your mind to millions more. On my shelf alone there was hundreds of women I was excited to read but just hadn’t got to. Never mind the gigantic pool the rest of the world also had to offer.

And it was refreshing. What a year to be reading only women when we were out there fighting for our rights and demanding change in a heavily patriarchal world. It was liberating and made me feel so connected to so many badass women. I wasn’t tempted to read a man the whole year because even when I had a hankering for Orwell or Vonnegut or Baldwin I knew I had so much time to read them in the future. Right now they were irrelevant. This was the year of women.

On analysing my bookshelf in January 2017 I noted I had a shocking ratio of men to women. I had about two thirds men. How I’d got to that point I couldn’t tell you. Having about fifteen Shakespeare plays probably didn’t help my case though. So I made a concerted effort to only buy women when I inevitably found myself in a bookstore. The affect of that is I now have more women on my shelf than men. I know. I buy a lot of books. But it satisfies me to look at the shelf now and know it’s properly represented. At least it’s one small slice of diversity out of the giant library of the world.

For 2018 I’ve decided my reading goal will be to now try and read all the unread books on my shelf. I’m postponing buying more new books until my tbr is down quite a bit. Now at my current rate reading my whole shelf could take years but I’m willing to put in the work. Though when January hit I couldn’t quite stop reading women. Part of me wanted to go for round two but I knew I wanted to really get reading everything on my shelf that intrigues me. Man, woman, black, white, Asian, Native American, straight, gay, bi, transgender, cis gender, gender queer, memoir, play, poem, novel, essay. I want to read all the words.

That’s my real goal.

So eventually in March this year I broke my fourteen months of reading women. If you’re gonna do it it’s gotta be with someone boss so I chose Albert Camus. And I don’t regret it but part of me still longs for the glorious days of celebrating women authors.

I learnt a lot from reading women. I learnt that we have some incredibly talented and strong voices. We have important stories to tell. We’re funny as hell. We are deeply troubled by the world we see yet consumed by it’s beauty. We are wise yet we’re never done learning. We want to help people and show them they’re not alone. We want to tell other women to live their truth too. We are badass. And damn, can we write well. Simply, we are storytellers. And I’m so excited to explore thousands more stories and experiences from epic women. So I see many years of reading only women in my future. As well as I’m sure several other reading challenges.

I wholeheartedly recommend a similar year to everyone.

Cos women are boss, duh.

Peace.

Bitch – Meredith Brooks

journal prompts for beginners

So I get that journaling can seem a little intimidating if you’re new to it. Or maybe you’re a practised journaler but sometimes just stare at the page wondering what to write. I’ve been both of those people. And it can be off putting. But I truly believe that the practise of writing your thoughts down can bring many benefits to your life so this week I’m going to give you some journal prompts to get you started. Simply pick one and start writing.

1. What actually got you to this point? Why have you sat down and opened a notebook to write?

2. What scares you?

3. What is something you don’t like about yourself and how can you change?

4. List all the places you want to go in the world. Why do you want to go there?

5. Write about the movie you saw most recently.

6. Write a letter to your future or past self.

7. What it stopping you from being happy?

8. What are you grateful for?

9. What does your ideal day look like?

10. Write about someone who inspires you.

11. What do you day dream about?

12. Write about why you love yourself.

13. What do you need more of in your life?

14. Write a letter to a friend that you’ll never send.

15. Simply write about your day. Step by step, what you did.

Happy writing, kids.

Peace.

Did We Miss The Morning? – Seafret

lessons boss women taught me

In my life every day is international women’s day because I’m constantly surrounded by boss women. Some are my family and some are my friends. Some are strangers or writers and actors. But they have all taught me lessons. So in honour of March 8th and all the fierce women in the world I’m going to tell you some of those lessons. From cool women. About being formidable. About being a woman. About being a human.

1. It’s important to identify as a feminist. Don’t hide from the word for fear of what people will think of you.

2. If people aren’t feminist then they’re on the wrong side of history anyway.

3. Intersectionality is paramount. Keep your heart open to other people’s experiences.

4. It’s okay to like the colour pink and wear high heels. It’s also okay to wear men’s shirts and think make up makes you look like a clown. These stereotypes don’t define you. Like whatever the fuck you want to like.

5. You’re allowed to cry. That doesn’t make you ‘hysterical’ or ‘weak’.

6. You’re allowed to be assertive and demand a room’s attention. This does not make you ‘bossy’. It makes you fierce.

7. Find women who you can confide in and be vulnerable with. They are your soul mates.

8. Don’t let other people’s success make you feel like you’re failing. You’re not.

9. Don’t take your sisters for granted. They’re pretty cool. And they’ll always be there.

10. Men are essential to the feminist movement. Don’t alienate them.

11. Don’t ever feel like you can’t do something. I don’t care what society has told you your whole life. They’re wrong.

12. Being the object of their admiration is not your job. It’s okay if people don’t like you. Pleasing people is exhausting anyway.

13. If you don’t want to fucking smile, don’t. The world won’t alter irreparably.

14. Call out sexism when you see it. Otherwise it won’t ever change.

15. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Being what everyone expects you to be is boring anyway.

16. Your mum really does have all the answers. So stop ignoring her calls and seek her endless wisdom.

17. Sometimes you can just lie in pjs and watch Netflix. It’s hard to fight the patriarchy every day. Make sure to recharge.

18. Go out of your way to tell other people why you think they’re amazing.

19. Be strong and resilient. You’ll work twice as hard as most men have to for the same result and that’s not fair. But we’re going to change that. Remember to celebrate your victories and achievements.

20. You are never done learning. Keep your mind and your heart open to the world even when it challenges you not to. Especially then.

The future is fucking female.

Happy International Women’s Day, friends!

Dream – Gabrielle

february wrap up

I’ve had another pretty good reading month quantity-wise, I know, who am I? So I figured I’d share them with you again in case there’s anything you fancy adding to your tbr. Spoiler though, some are not like five stars for me but doesn’t mean they couldn’t be for you! It’s all relative.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Obviously

I’m never not reading a Harry Potter book. Sometimes I just read one on my phone when I don’t have a book. Sometimes I read them at night when I’m tired or between books when I’m not ready to start a new story. I dip in and out constantly. Though this is actually only the second time I’ve ever read the fifth book (doesn’t sound quite so mad if I mention that I only read them all for the first time four years ago, I know).

The Vegetarian – Han Kang

This book was getting a lot of buzz a while ago so I picked it up. I wanted to know what people were saying about my people. For one, the book should be called The Vegan as the main character does not eat dairy or eggs. That probably annoyed me more than it needed to. The book is very bizarre. It’s spilt into three parts with different narrators. I didn’t really care for part one and part two made me uncomfortable. Part three was much more interesting. Though I do think the title is overall misleading. The book to me feels like it views vegetarianism as a gateway to madness. I think that’s problematic. Like you’re obviously supposed to get that the characters didn’t understand the vegetarian lifestyle but there wasn’t really any defence made by the author either. However the portrayal of mental health itself was interesting so I’m a bit mixed. Not fully decided how I feel.

We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

An old one but a good one. I saw the Ted talk for this essay years ago and I just felt like rereading it. It’s an excellent jump off point for beginners to feminism or for people who think feminism doesn’t affect their life. It affects everybody. I think this should be studied in schools. For real. It reminds me why it’s so exciting to be a feminist. Because we’re telling social norms and outdated laws and customs and uninformed mindsets to fuck off. We’re demanding a better world for everyone.

Crown of Midnight – Sarah J Maas

I’ve started this book about three times on my kindle and just never broke a hundred pages. I have no idea why because I like it enough. I think it just hadn’t like grabbed me as anything mind blowing. But I liked the first book of the series so I decided to finally just get through this one. I like that there are badass female characters in this book who don’t just wait to be told what to do. However I’m wondering if I’m just growing out of young adult fiction. To me, the big twist at the end was blindingly obvious from the beginning and I’m just wondering if I would have noticed that when I was younger. If not then I guess I am just looking for more complex writing now. If I would have known it even at sixteen then I guess it’s just not written very well. Either way, it’s a fun read.

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

I mentioned these last two in my favourite books of 2017 so I won’t say loads. There is a lot in this book that I’ll remember and come back too. Others I won’t but I think that’s the beauty of non-fiction. Whilst I disagree with some of her ideas, she’s always opened my mind to new ways of thinking about creativity and my craft. If you’re looking for some inspiration for any creative pursuit then I’d give this a read.

Citizen: An American Lyric – Claudia Rankine

Everyone just needs to go and read this. I don’t know what else to say. It’s about race and identity and America. It’s completely relevant to today’s society especially with the Black Lives Matter and #metoo movements. It’s important to education yourself. And this is a good place to start. Just make sure you have your highlighter ready.

See you next month, kids.

Into The Ocean – All The Luck In The World

vegan snow-survival recipes

For this week’s self-care post I thought I’d move out my comfort zone to something I’m terrible at. Baking. As a kid I had a massive sweet tooth but over the years it’s kind of disappeared. And I always thought that was a bit weird. To go from loving something so much – and believe me, I loved chocolate – to just being indifferent. But I’ve figured maybe the reason is actually that I’m just a shocking baker. So it’s not that I don’t like sweet treats, it’s just that I can’t cook them for myself. Or maybe I’m just grasping at straws. Either way.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking but baking has just never been for me. I’m the kind of person who just throws things into meals until it tastes good but with baking you actually have to be precise. If you put too much oregano in a pasta sauce you may eat it and think ‘yeah, too much’ but you can still eat it. If I fuck up flour to baking soda ratio that cake is going to be inedible. And the whole idea of putting a substance into a bowl to weigh it and then put it into another bowl immediately after just seems like madness to me. So it’s just not for me. But when I was thinking of what to write today I realised, hang on, if I don’t at least reference the snow am I even a millennial?

So here we are.

When it’s bloody freezing outside there’s nothing we’d rather do than lock ourselves inside, put the heating on full blast, get under a blanket and watch Netflix whilst eating junk food. So I figured I’d give you a couple of vegan comfort recipes I’ve tried recently that actually turned out edible. I know, I’m really selling these, right? No honestly, they taste delicious. And they’re probably at least fractionally better for you than that bag of donuts from Tesco. Also these recipes are so simple otherwise I never would have made them!

Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp ground flax seed

Method

Preheat oven to gas mark 4.

Mix the flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water and refrigerate. It’s ready when it looks mucousy.

Mix the sugars together with the peanut butter in a bowl. Once combined, add the baking soda too.

When the flax egg is the right consistency add that to the mixture and stir.

Place the mixture on to a baking tray in small spheres using a tablespoon measurer as your scooper.

Cook for 8-10 mins. Leave to cool. Enjoy!

Original Recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=914pRN9GLiU&t=326s

Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat spelt flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 soy milk

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup agave nectar

Method

Preheat oven to gas mark 5 and get your cupcake cases ready.

Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl.

Next stir in the dry ingredients, then the blueberries.

Divide the mixture evenly amongst your cupcake cases.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Original Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipe/healthy-blueberry-mini-muffins/14280/

Disclaimer: Now if you’re reading this thinking ‘ugh whole wheat spelt flour, where am I going to get that?’ Well for one, any supermarket, you oaf. But two, just feel free to sub any of these ingredients. For example, use white flour instead. You could sub the flax egg for a chia egg or half a banana or an actual egg if you don’t care about it being vegan. You can use any peanut butter you have in your cupboard, though I think crunchy works nice. You could switch soy milk for almond milk. You could use just brown sugar instead of two types. The substitutions are endless. So stop making excuses and just go get baking.

Short Skirt / Long Jacket – Cake (See what I did there?)