Get moving

I feel like the past year has just been a lot of collective breath holding. The world is on fire. We’re all stressed out and panicked and scared and lonely and bored and grumpy and in a damn funk. And I get it. I’m right there with you.

But today we’re gonna say no to all that.

No.

NO.

Not today.

Instead, today we’re gonna dance. We’re gonna get off our lazy backsides and we’re gonna dance it out. (Okay, I’ve been binging a lot of Grey’s Anatomy recently and that might be influencing this post. But Cristina Yang is a fucking marvel and when she says dance it out, you dance it out.) All you have to do is get up and move. Right now.

And I get it. Showing up is hard. Showing up for yourself and your wellbeing is often not fun. It’s challenging and real and sometimes traumatic. But today if you show up for yourself I PROMISE you that it will be fun. So up you get.

Are you up?

Okay, good. Now turn on your music. Your music. Whatever that may be. Whatever is gonna get you moving. You turn it up loud and then you dance.

If you need a jumping off point, here’s a few of my faves:

1. Good as Hell – Lizzo

2. Music To Walk Home By – Tame Impala

3. 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

4. I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross

5. Thinkin Bout You – Ciara

6. Nature Of The Experiment – Tokyo Police Club

7. Norgaard – The Vaccines

8. Ain’t Got Far to Go – Jess Glynne

9. Jackie And Wilson – Hozier

10. Inbetween Day – The Cure

(Don’t try and analyse my music taste cos you’ll never make sense of it. Haha!)

I feel like I’ve done a post similar to this a few years ago but honestly I’m too lazy to check. If I have, I’m sorry for recycling content. But if I have, I’m prescribing it again. Because it works. If only for a second. If only for the time your music is on and your limbs are grooving. I guarantee you will smile. The rest? Well, we’ll deal with that after. But for the next three minutes, half hour, hour just enjoying the dancing.

Disclaimer: If you are not sweating, you have not danced long or hard enough. Get back to it.

Movin’ on Up – Primal Scream

This is a check in

I think when our minds are busy and our lives are busy we often forget to take care of ourselves. We forget to check in. I’ve got some exciting things happening in my life right now. Big things. But they’re taking up a lot of brain space and I’m a bit consumed by them. However, even when the situation is a positive one, it’s important to take a step back occasionally and just see how you’re doing.

So this is me checking in.

How are you? Are you hanging in there? If you think you can’t do it, whatever it is, you can. I’m telling you you can. You just have to hang in there. Are you taking care of yourself? I find when I get wrapped up in something, good or bad, I stop doing the small things that make me happy in the day to day. Doing yoga, reading all nightlong, dude, why do you think my blog posts disappear for months on end? We constantly feel ‘busy’ or we just don’t have ‘time’ or we’ll do the thing ‘tomorrow’ after we’ve just got this ‘done’. But you blink and that’s your life. Are those really the words you want to be remembered by? Busy? Tomorrow? Come on now, no you don’t. So maybe we start changing the words to ‘now’ and ‘slow down’ and ‘free’.

You may think I’m about to tell you how you can move in this direction. Unfortunately, I’m not. Because I don’t have a goddamn clue how you achieve that or even begin to. I’m deeply flawed. But I’m also aware of that fact. So my advice is linked to these two things. It’s simple and it’s all I’ve got for you today.

When you start noticing you’ve stopped taking care of yourself, that’s when you need to start taking care of yourself again.

And hey, maybe in the future we work on knowing this is happening before we completely burnout. But we’re also millennials, so that’ll probably never happen. But right now, this is enough. When you become conscious to the fact that you are neglecting yourself, don’t ignore it. Your brain is stopping you short and saying ‘hey, can you pay attention to me for a sec!’ and at that point you’ve reached your peak. Or you rock bottom. Like I say, I think this can happen when we’re filled with ecstasy as well as dread. Looking after yourself should always be your number one priority. So try not to forget that so often.

But anyway, this was my check in. This was me getting outside for a very windy and cold walk this morning during my break at work and listening to Folkore and just thinking, huh, this is the first time my mind has been somewhat silent all week and hey, I haven’t written a blog post for ages. I’ve barely read a page of my book all week. I’ve been eating mindlessly. I’ve not been present in my own existence. So then I started writing this blog post in my head. All you have to do is notice.

When are you going to notice and what are you going to do about it?

Peace x

circle the drain – Soccer Mommy

Once and never again?

Do you re-watch the same television shows? Do you have a certain book that you read every year? Have you got those couple of movies that you’ve seen more times than you count? Are your walks to work dominated by the same few albums? Do you consume media and then consume it again?

I hear some people don’t do that. Who are these people, I wonder? I’m a big re-watcher/reader/listener.

But I’ve been trying to work out why. Because, don’t get me wrong, I love discovering new things. I mean, you’ve heard I like books, right? And I’m always taking Netflix show recommendations from my mate and listening to songs my brother sends me on Spotify and watching, what I can only imagine at this point is, the eighty-seventh Rocky movie with my partner. But I also have personal classics that I’m always coming back to. Or thinking about the next time I get to hang out with them. And that’s when I realised it.

Returning to things makes me feel safe.

I think that’s what it comes down to. I like to feel safe. And comfortable. Like I’m among friends. And they’re helping me with my problems. I like to wrap myself in a big warm cocoon of songs I love and words that make me pause and movies that break my heart or make me laugh so hard I cry.

They’re my history. Each little piece of them tells a tiny tale that all weave together to become the whole of me. I remember sitting cramped around our first family computer on uncomfortable chairs with my siblings watching The Day After Tomorrow. I remember the first music video we ever saw was Murder on the Dancefloor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor (squished around that same computer). I remember making our parents sit painfully though our dance routines to the Vengaboys that we were so proud of. I remember hours of car journeys each getting to choose one CD in turn out of our big black case. Sometimes U2 or Blue or S Club 7 or The Kooks. I remember memorising every line from the movie A Cinderella Story because I watched it every day after school on my portable DVD player that I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to get for Christmas. I remember watching High School Musical in 10 minute snippets on Youtube and feeling exhilarated that I’d cheated the system. I remember discovering streaming sites and watching endless hours of Heroes and Prison Break in my room hoping I didn’t accidentally get a virus on my laptop. I remember the reading group me and my friends had in our ICT classes, constantly swapping around Sarah Dessen books. I remember singing every word to The Scene Aesthetic with my friend during our edgy adolescence. I remember watching The Breakfast Club for the first time in my room because a guy had come around to put new carpet down on our stairs and I was stuck upstairs alone whilst my family all watched Neighbours downstairs. I remember watching Neighbours every day after school with my siblings and my mum. I remember watching What Lies Beneath at a Year 6 sleepover and being absolutely terrified. And I remember night after night working bar in uni listening to the same trashy pop songs every night and rolling my eyes but then shouting the words the next Friday when I was there myself, wasted.

Whilst many of these examples are not my favourite things or ‘safe spaces’ it’s still interesting to recollect. So many moments in my life link back to a book or a band or a movie. And I kind of love that. It’s like sensory memories. And I find those really satisfying. People remember what something tasted like or smelt like. But what were you listening to? What were you reading? What melodies were vibrating through your heart and what words were swirling around your head?

I know that on the beautifully silent, early morning summer paper rounds I discovered and fell in love with Snow Patrol’s album A Hundred Million Suns. I know that when I was home for Christmas from my year abroad in America, Brooklyn Nine-Nine kept me company during my long hours of jet lag. They helped me sleep again a few years later when my mum died. I know that my favourite song from last year (Old Friends – Pinegrove) came from a mixed CD my brother made me and we played on loop whilst we (and my boyfriend) hung out and drunk beer and talked about life. I know that Legally Blonde has got me through just about any bad mood I’ve ever had. All the way back to when I bought the DVD with my teenage part-time job wages and dreaming of the day I’d be as excellent as Elle Woods. I know I spent my childhood quoting School of Rock and Mean Girls endlessly with my siblings and feeling so loved. And I know I sat in a Creative Writing class at uni in America reading Autobiography of Red and Dept. of Speculation and Citizen: An American Lyric and We the Animals and realising that writing could be so much more that I had ever realised. And I don’t know, when I revisit these texts and songs it gives me a floating sense of connectedness. At least, I sense of floating that grounds me.

Do you have moments like that? Are you an avid re-watcher/reader/listener? Or have you just read all that and thought, ‘what the fuck is she talking about’? Either way, thanks for coming on the journey with me! This is what happens when I start writing about something without a clear idea in mind, haha. But what I was thinking about mainly is returning to things now that we know and love. I think it’s a kind way you can support yourself in 2021. It’s respite from the dystopia we’re living in. It’s a good way to feel content. With that said, I’m off to start season three of Grey’s Anatomy (again). Wbu?

Mind Mischief – Tame Impala

Sarah to Zero Pt.2

What the fuck is Sarah to Zero? I love books and I buy a lot. Over the years I had accumulated hundreds. This was my overambitious intention to read them all. Every single one.

I started 2020 with the goal of reading 100 owned books. For some reason in about March (actually right before the pandemic became our every day) I did a small culling of my shelf and was left with around 185 books. I decided, fuck it, I’m gonna read them all.

And I did.

I somehow actually did it. I finished last year having read 206 books and with an empty shelf. (Just kidding, I already have 25 books on my shelf. HAHA! I received some lovely books for my birthday and Christmas that I didn’t include in my challenge and will calmly read throughout this year.) I still can’t quite believe that I completed the challenge.

How did I do it? Oh, well I did absolutely nothing else for a year. Simply put.

Here’s some things I learnt from my mad year reading 206 books:

– It’ll take a lot of time.

– I am not a quick reader. But I am a quick listener.

– Audiobooks are life.

– You become more equipped at knowing instantly if you’re going to enjoy a book/gel with the writing.

– Not every book is a winner. And that’s okay. Some are still worth reading.

– If your mouth is not open speaking to someone right that moment, then you should probably have an audiobook on.

– I buy a lot of books I think I should read. (Thanks, English Literature degree, you bastard.)

– I no longer read books I think I should read if I’m not feeling them.

– There is a lot of holes in my reading and my diversity of author, subject matter, even genre. I’m excited to explore more.

– Readathons will really get you there.

– You have very patient people in your life who love you and respect your hairbrained schemes. (Looking at you Danny, you the realest.)

– Damn, there is a lot of incredible books out there. And you have just a tiny sliver of them.

– Reckless determination can really take you places.

– Reading in the garden is really lovely. Reading in bed when you’re tired will not end well.

– You’ll watch way less Netflix/Youtube, but in a good way.

– There’s some pretty fun people on bookstagram and taking pictures of books is surprisingly addictive.

– You find links between books everywhere. I think it’s because you’re still living in a book world but catapulting yourself into another before your brain can adjust.

Would I do it again? Absofuckinglutely not.

I honestly had a really fun year and I’m glad I did the challenge and I’m still gobsmacked that I actually completed it. But one of my main motivations for doing the challenge to begin with was so that I could have a more chill reading experience moving forward. I had just accumulated a lot of books, from like ten years of buying more than I was reading. Whenever I looked at my shelf I felt excited but overwhelmed and when I purchased a new book I felt guilty and would put it aside to pick up an older one. Dumb, I know.

Goals and intentions going forward:

– Keep my physically owned tbr to under twenty books.

– Join some online book clubs and seek out new, fun readathons.

– Read diversely. Prioritse BIPOC and queer stories and authors.

– Take more time reviewing each book.

– Do buddy reads with my friends.

– Read more new authors. I used to read mainly backlist but I’m really excited by new authors recently.

– Read every memoir in existence. Or, you know, as close as you can get.

– Read every day in some capacity. Cos you love it.

I reckon that’s enough to be getting on with for now! I set my reading goal as one book this year and I’ve completed that. Feels really freeing to just see where the year goes now!

What are your reading goals for the year? Did having to stay home during the past year mean you read more than usual? Did you find any new favourites? Do you want to make reading a bigger priority for yourself this year? I hope so, cos reading is boss!

Happy reading!

Chinese Satellite – Phoebe Bridgers

Journal Prompts For Nurturing Hope

For today’s self-care post, I wanted to follow on a little from Wednesday. I talked about how I think it’s important to be hopeful right now. But just saying that as an abstract is one thing. Not easily achievable. So I wanted to give you a tangible way to explore this deeper for yourself. Like, it’s not a switch, right? We can’t say, ‘ah, I need to be hopeful today cos I’m feeling too down’, then snap our fingers and will it into being. I’d love it to be that easy. But it’s not. So we’ll work with what we can. I won’t lecture you on my thoughts about journaling today. Cos I feel like I’ve done that to you enough and you’re probably sick of me. But I think writing down your thoughts and feelings can be magic. When you let the pen flow or your fingers tap, ideas and thoughts and wisps of somethings flood out of you. Often things you didn’t know were there.

To feel hopeful, I think we need to learn why we even want to. What do we want to feel hopeful about? Who? When? What will it bring us? Will it improve our quality of life? Will it help us breathe? Feel less stressed? More connected to our loved ones or the world around us? And once we find a little bit of it, how do we hold on to it? These are not always easily answerable questions. And it could change every day. But that’s why we constantly explore. We come back to ourselves and we put in the work. Because we are worthy of our own time and love. And I think whilst drowning in this burnout culture we’re living in, it’s easy to forget that. But sitting down with yourself and your thoughts is paramount to knowing what you what and need. It gives you time to reflect as well as plan. The matrix doesn’t want you to live slowly and peacefully. So doing just that is quite liberating, don’t you think?

If that hasn’t got you itching to try journaling to nurture some hope then I’ve listed below a couple of juicy prompts for you to try and get your teeth into. Happy writing, kids!

1. What does hope look like to you? (Okay, getting a bit philosophical there right off the bat, ha! But I think it’s an interesting one. It’ll help you answer the questions above, help you find your ‘why’.)

2. How did you improve somebody’s day today? (People find it difficult to give themselves complements even when they’re warranted. This will be a challenging one. But I dare you. I also think doing something for somebody else helps you feel less alone. Breeds solidarity.)

3. Where is the place you feel safest? Describe it. Paint yourself a picture. (When you feel overwhelmed in the future, or like you’re spiralling out of control, return to this place. It will allow you to centre yourself and help you fight another day. This place could be real or imaginary. It may also change over time, let it be fluid.)

4. What are you grateful for today? (Even in a day where you feel nothing good/positive/happy/fun/mildly mediocre happened, there is always something to be grateful for. Could be the teeny tiniest thing. I have a black t-shirt I really like. I had a decent coffee earlier. A song I really like came on shuffle before. There is always something; do not allow your brain to convince you otherwise.)

5. What is something you’re looking forward to? (This could be tomorrow, next week, in five years, someday. Having something, anything, to look towards can help drag you out of your current circumstances or mindset. We do live in the now, and that’s important to acknowledge. But if the someday keeps you going then use it.)

These won’t always be easy. But they’ll always be worth it.

ICU – Phoebe Bridgers

twentytwentyone

I mean, how do you even begin this post? I love writing these yearly posts but this year is just hitting a little different isn’t it? I don’t want to spend much time speaking about the elephant in the room, cos at this point we all know what’s up. I’m finding that constant mention of the pandemic is making my heart race. I’m sure it’s the same for many of you. So instead I want to just keep this post short and hopeful. Short because I don’t have much hope in me right now. Hopeful because we can’t exist without it. Whatever the situation, no matter how deep into it you are, no matter how much your mental health is holding on by a fraying thread, no matter how much you want to give up, no matter how much you’re dying for a hug or a proper pint or a maskless breath of fresh air, I think there is always hope.

Every single thing that happens in your life is temporary.

Read that again.

Every single thing that happens in your life is temporary.

I’m obviously not talking about death (etc.) here, don’t try and get smart with me. But what I mean is that every feeling and mindset and set of circumstances you find yourself in will be fleeting. Your world twists and turns and evolves constantly. Often quicker than you can keep up with. (2020, am I right?) A lot of things in our lives will feel out of our control, and honestly, a fucking lot of it is. But a lot of it isn’t. And that’s all we’ve got. So that’s what we should focus on. That’s where we find our hope. Make it tangible not abstract. Regain autonomy of our lives amongst the madness and fear. So I think that’s what we should all work on this year.

Just take a deep breath. Right now, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Okay. Push out of your brain all the things in your life right now that are unchangeable. I won’t list any because we all know the things that relate to ourselves specifically. Now I want you to let the things you can control float to your mind’s forefront. What is there? Maybe make a mental list. For me, a couple of things popping up are what I read, what activities I give my spare time to, how I nourish my body (mental/physical).

These are the things that are going to give us hope this year. So spend a little time thinking about what you would like from them. Maybe you’re into resolutions so you quantify your thoughts and write a list of goals. Maybe you’re not and you just think abstractly for a moment. Whatever works for you. But what I want you to do, any time over the next few months that you feel overwhelmed or hopeless or that you’re spiralling. Just stop. Everything. Pause for a second. Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Then circle back to this little list and think of one small thing you can do that day to develop one of them. Could be a walk. Could be putting a frozen pizza in. Could be watching your favourite tv show. Could be a nap. Could be as simple as getting yourself a cup of water. The things we’re controlling this year are not big. They’re the inconsequential every day, that all link together to become the most important parts of our lives. You might not be flying to Bali this year but you might give yourself ten minutes each day to journal and that is equally magical.

So what am I focussing on this year? A couple of little things.

  • I want to move my body more, however that feels right each day. Could be a run, yoga, some pilates. Could just be a walk. I’d like to incorporate more walks into my week, something positive I’m taking out of 2020.
  • I want to drink more water. I used to drink a lot but I’ve noticed now I’m usually sipping a black coffee. Oops!
  • I want to start working on my novel again. I didn’t touch it at all last year. Yikes. But I’m starting super small with just reading what I have and fixing any typos. You can have bigger goals but just break them down and down until they’re achievable little actionable tasks.
  • I want to read widely but slowly and intentionally. I had a very intense reading year last year, and I’m glad I did it and I had a lot of fun. But it was a lot. This year I want to find some new favourite books but I also want to fit in some tv, haha.
  • I want to connect better with my friends. I’m a famously bad messager but I don’t want to be. And checking in with people is so important, even more so now. So I’m working on it.
  • Oh and I want to buy a house. That’s not small but damn it, it’s happening!

So this ended up being a medium sized post. Turns out I had more hope than I realised. I hope you do too.

If you need help, reach out. To somebody, anybody. Could be me, doesn’t have to be. But don’t suffer alone. We truly are all in this together. And we’re surely reaching the home stretch now.

I hope your twentytwentyone is sublime.

Peace x

Kyoto – Phoebe Bridgers