Tattoo Origins: 53 03’ 40’’ N 9 21’ 46’’ W

These are the coordinates to my favourite place on earth. Yesterday I got to visit there again after three long years.

It’s been quite a while since our last tattoo origins story. I guess that’s because I find them quite draining. I love tattoos. And I love my tattoos. But the gravity I think comes with inking something permanently onto yourself means all my tattoos have very personal and emotional reasons for being there. They’re not secret, obviously, since I’m telling you about them. But sometimes they’re hard to write because I want to articulate their importance perfectly and that almost never happens. So it’s been a while. But yesterday made me realise this was the next journey for us to conquer together. So, onwards.

If you’ve read any blog post by me ever, or even just had a conversation with me, then you’ll know my family are the single most important thing in my life, bar nothing. Their journey is my journey. And my journey is theirs. We’re so wonderfully intertwined. I love them. Put in the simplest terms possible. Diving deeper, they are the reason I breathe. The reason I get out of bed. Fight Live another day. Hearing their voices, reading their sarcasm, feeling close to them is all I need to sustain myself.

You’ll probably also know that I love Ireland. The country just holds a special place in my heart. It’s my family’s home, so it’s my home. Aside from Liverpool, it’s where I feel most safe.

So how do these two facts collide to create this tattoo? And where is this place I’ve drawn on myself forever?

My favourite place in the world is a small slice of the Burren that stretches out alongside the Wild Atlantic Way. Driving from Doolin towards Fanore, just as the road turns to give you a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean, there is a small gravelled area to park a car. Park there. Cross the road, carefully. Climb down onto the world’s largest limestone pavement and breathe. Feel the harsh breeze from the water hit your face, close your eyes. Breathe deeply. You have arrived. You are alive.

My family and I have been travelling to the west coast of Ireland since the eighties, my brother’s first time being when he was still in our mother’s tummy. County Clare is our favourite. The Burren is possibly the world’s biggest playground and as kids we were mesmerised. I don’t recall the first time we ever found this little spot. But I’m thankful every day that we did. Every visit we’d park the car, wrap up in hats and scarves and coats, and just go. Whilst my sisters would hang back with our mum, casually exploring (they were older and more relaxed), my brother and I would run until we felt the sweat dripping down our backs beneath the winter layers. Under the watchful eye of our dad, it is a clifftop, we’d play the Burren game: no stepping on anything other than rock. You touch grass and you lose. Working our way to the cliff’s edge we’d all eventually pause. Blown away by the crashing waves below and the endless vastness that lay out in front of us.

It’s standing in that exact spot, looking at the ocean, that I’ve continued to come back to over the years. It calls to me. There’s nowhere in the world that I feel vibrates with such possibility. I could stare at the water forever. Yesterday was one of the windiest times I’ve ever been there. The powerful, white waves crashed so hard into the jagged black rocks next to me that I was periodically sprayed with fresh salty water. Feeling it hit my cold skin I felt alive. Peaceful. But secure. And loved. I don’t know how a place can make you feel that way. I think it must be magic. But all I know is I am one with that nameless piece of land. It is me. It has a way of emptying my mind and making me see clearly. About what I want. About what’s important. About what my life should look like. It guides me. Just as my mother guides me. It makes me feel safe. This spot is mine.

I’ll be attached to that place forever. It is my past, my present and my future. I just hope I don’t wait so long next time for the craving pull to ignite action inside me.

All I Am – Jess Glynne

release toxic people from your life

Now this week’s self-care task will probably be quite challenging but I promise that it will make your life better. It will give you more time to focus on what is important to you and it will make you feel emotionally lighter.

You need to release the toxic people from your life. People and attitudes that no longer serve you need to go. I think the Kon-Mari method of tidying up can totally work for people too. And why shouldn’t it? I think that just makes sense. Efficiency-wise. So the method asks you to consider every item you own, pick it up and ask ‘does it bring you joy’. Now, I’m not asking you to go around picking people up, in fact you shouldn’t be doing that without their permission anyway. But I want you to think long and hard about the people in your life that you sometimes think are toxic. Now it shouldn’t be hard because you already know who they are. You know you do.

They’re the people who constantly make you feel like you’ve done something wrong. Like you should feel guilty about something. Like you’ve let them down. And yeah, sometimes you will fuck up and let someone down, we’re not perfect. But this is if someone is constantly making you feel bad. Someone who gives you backhanded compliments or interrupts you to talk about themselves. When you meet after a few months or even a couple of days they don’t ask you questions about your life or show interest in your wellbeing. They act like they can do no wrong and they victimise themselves to make you believe you’re the problem. But you’re not. And you deserve better.

These types of people clearly have things to work through in their own lives. But it doesn’t always have to be your problem. It’s not selfish to treat yourself well sometimes too. You need to understand that you don’t have to keep every person in your life who you’ve ever met. It doesn’t matter if you’ve known them since high school or uni or even just last month. It doesn’t matter if you have mutual friends. It doesn’t matter if you live in the same city or different countries. You’re allowed to put yourself first. In fact, I actively encourage it. So you have to look at this person and decide if they are greater than the sum of their parts. Does the good outweigh the bad? Because if not, I’m sorry, but they’ve got to go. Release them from your life because you don’t need their bad energy.

Now how you do it is up to you. I mean if you think ghosting them is what you need to do then that’s fine. Because you’ve got to do what’s best for you. What I’ve found is a good way to solve this is to express these feelings to the person in question directly. I know it can be hard, I really hate conflict too. But you have to get over yourself for at least five minutes and try. When you tell the person how you feel and what you need to change they will show their true colours. Either they will consider your words and think okay, yeah, that’s sometimes true. I’ll do better. They may have a few notes for you, which is only fair. Or you may find they are unfortunately exactly the person you thought they were. They’ll yell at you and victimise themselves. They’ll refuse to work with you towards a more healthy friendship. At this point I give you permission to fucking ghost them. Extricate them from your life completely. Don’t you feel lighter already?

I’ve never understood why people always say that you know they’re a good friend if you can argue with them. I’ve always been of the mind that you choose your friends, so why would you fight with them? Maybe it’s just because I don’t like or have no time for conflict. But I don’t argue with my mates that’s why we’re friends. So if someone is always trying to pick a fight with you they may be someone to consider axing from your life.

This may all sound a bit brutal. But it’s not. If they’re good people who care about you then they will fight to be in your life. If they don’t? Well, you quite honestly don’t need them. Instead focus on the people who love you unconditionally and without strings.

Peace.

Yes, Even Stars Break – The Scene Aesthetic

self-care: yoga

So we’re very much still in this ‘new year, new me’ phase so I thought yoga would be perfect for this week’s self-care series. Now don’t get me wrong, you are sublime the way you are. You don’t need to fit in to some unachievable box of beauty that the world would like to put you in. Fuck them. They don’t understand beauty. They can’t open their minds to the vast and unknowable bounds of the human experience. To what we look like on the outside, which yeah is great, but also what we look like on the inside. It shouldn’t be news to you that beauty is everywhere within you so why are you not treating yourself like you deserve love?

This post’s song is especially important for this article. I don’t know how many of you usually listen to the songs but I enjoy adding them; I always have. But these two songs are heartbreaking and raw. They speak to people’s insecurities and sadness and loneliness. Yet they tell you you are perfect, if you’re willing to listen carefully enough. She literally says the lyric ’my body is home’ and that is so important to remember. This body of yours carries you through life even when you show it nothing but hate and contempt. It looks after you even when you refuse to look after it. Because it believes in you and it knows you can do better. You just need a bit of self-love. And self-care. (See I knew you were wondering where I was gonna throw that in this week!) So take the time to incorporate that in to your whole ‘new year, new me’ thing. It literally says ‘me’ in the phrase so don’t forget about it. Any change should be about yourself not anybody else.

So anyway! Yoga. You can obviously use this as an excellent way to get fit – if you want to, not because you think you have to. But it’s so much more than that and that’s why it’s my favourite exercise. Because it’s not just exercise. It’s a way of life. It’s meditation and spirituality. Now stick with me here. If you’ve never done it before or never felt this energetic connection that everyone always talks about you may think I’m talking garbage. But I’m not. You just have to give yourself the patience and time to try. I’ve been doing Yoga With Adriene’s videos on youtube for a while now and I think they’re an excellent guide. Every January she puts on a thirty day series to help you on your yoga journey. She uses a lot of mantras which are a great way for new yogis to bridge the gap between simple exercise and the more spiritual side. But she can explain it a lot better than me and you’re not too late to jump in to the challenge. We’re only on day four today so you can easily catch up.

Doing these videos will really make you come away loving your body a little more and want to work with it instead of against it. It will also allow you to slow down. Once you step on that mat nothing else is relevant. At least not for those thirty or so minutes. Push everything else aside and give yourself that time to connect to yourself. Or at least just give you that burn in your thighs if that’s what you’re looking for.

Anyway, happy January, friends. Take care of yourselves.

Body Love Part 1 & 2 – Mary Lambert

Self-care

So I’m starting a new segment, you could say. I mean, come on, you’re getting two posts in three days here so anything is possible. Anyway, it’s about self-care. Cos I think we could all do with slowing down now and again, give ourselves some love. We get to the end of the week and we’re pulling our hair out and holding our eyes open with pencils and seventeen cups of coffee. We want to dropkick our annoying colleague in the face but we also need to pay the bills so we better not. We want to drink into oblivion but we did that last week and we still can’t remember the particulars. Now, I’m not saying you can’t go drinking, I fully support that. But I think we’d all feel a bit better if we gave ourselves just a second alone at the weekend as well to recharge. To get colour back in our cheeks and that sparkle back in our eyes. I know you’ve got aspirations and dreams and big plans. And I really want them to work out for you. So you’ve got to listen to me. The point is to take time to do something that will serve you. Only you. It needs to relax you, or bring you joy. It needs to make you sigh with relief or it could challenge you. But it has to serve you, that’s key. But, Sarah, what could I do? Well, friend, I’ve got your back. Each Friday I’m going to set you up with a nice little idea for the weekend. Do it, don’t do it. Do something similar or something wildly different. Just do something.

This week we’re starting off with one of the biggest basics when it comes to self-care. Candles. Or incense. Or a new bloody air freshener if you’re that way inclined. Find a scent that soothes you and will seep through your living space ’til you’re feeling fucking zen. I recently got a candle from HomeSense and it’s amazing. It’s called Tobacco Oud by Ninety Six. It smells nothing like smoke. It’s creamy and intoxicating and wraps me with warmth as much as my blanket does. I’ve also just purchased the M&S Christmas candles cos they smell bloody brilliant, all spices and apples and myrrh. Hmm. I’m not lighting those yet though so I’ll get back to you. I’ve also been loving incense recently. I’ve found my favourites right now are Raindrops, Frankincense and Cherry Blossom. All are perfect for the autumn, even the Cherry Blossom. I get mine from Shared Earth in Liverpool but I suppose you can get them from any cool shop. Simple as, really. So off you go, kids, treat yo self!

Luv, Hold Me Down – Drowners