Time and Distance

Taking a rare step back from books for a moment and reflecting on the past year or so, this is going to be quite a personal post. My life has changed so much in the past few years, I was married and living in a lovely house. Things happened and my marriage broke down, I moved back home with my mum. I got into relationships with people I thought cared about me and loved me (and I honestly thought I loved them) but now I’ve had time and distance I know that I was naïve. I was blind to their tricks and manipulation and cheating because I so desperately wanted someone to just love me for me. But I didn’t love them either; I just wanted to feel that I did in order to feel something other than shitty.

Fast forward to latter end of last year and I was beginning to get my confidence back, I went to Chicago with one of my best friends and came back full of ideas, energy and the desire to start making the changes and steps in my life I had put off for so long. And then my mum passed away suddenly. It’s not even been a year since she left us and I still hurt more than people know or realise, or even show. I still have nights where I see things that happened that night so clearly in my head that it hurts to breathe and I get launched into an existential panic about changing the outcome. I still blame myself for not going downstairs 5 or 10 minutes sooner, and although my brother tells me I shouldn’t think like that, it’s something I will carry with me forever. Having to do CPR on your own mum isn’t something you forget and I never will. I’m hoping that sometime in the near future I will be in a position where I feel ready to get counselling and speak to a professional about how I feel but at the moment I feel that I would unravel and not know how to put myself back together. So I manage by way of anti-depressants, making to do lists and pre-occupying myself with hobbies.

The past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about various things. But mostly about how selfish I have been. I got into a relationship with someone I thought was “amazing” and rushed into something I wasn’t ready for, so when they ended it abruptly because they couldn’t deal with my anxiety I was shocked and upset but really I shouldn’t have been and I should have payed attention to all the red flags about their own behaviour. In hindsight they were nothing special and definitely not someone I should have wasted so much time pining over. They didn’t deserve me at all, I didn’t see or realise my own worth but I do now. I distanced myself from friends and family and existed in a little bubble and did some really stupid things, things that hurt those close to me and made them worry unnecessarily. Things I’m not proud of and for that I can only apologise.

I travelled to Amsterdam for 4 days on a solo trip and did some much needed soul searching and it was good for me. Not long after I returned I started a new job (which I absolutely love and feel so lucky to have) and got back in touch with someone who has always been in the background of my life. Someone I met 14 years ago at Monday night Ritz, when he spilt a pint on me.

That night all those years ago, I looked in his eyes and laughed and we spent the whole night sitting on the stairs (him ditching his friends, me ditching my bro and our friends) just talking to one another. We dated a little bit but the timing was bad, but we stayed in touch. Years later we once again got re-acquainted and dated again, but it wasn’t too long after my dad had passed away, I wasn’t in the best of places and neither was he. But he was someone I always kept on Facebook, always thought about. Last year I posted something on Facebook and he commented on it, and we got chatting again. I got such a thrill and warmth from talking to him. I saw he was in a relationship and eased off as I didn’t want to make his girlfriend uncomfortable but still thought about him.

Anyway, on the first day in my new job, we got talking again. We didn’t stop. He phoned me and it wasn’t uncomfortable, it just felt right. There were no awkward silences or phatic conversation. Fast forward a bit and we start dating and it was going well, like really well. And now, almost 2 months since we made it “Facebook official” I couldn’t imagine being without him. And in fact, I don’t know why we didn’t do it sooner. I honestly believe he was the one that got away but thankfully we found each other again. He’s not like anyone else. I can truly be myself with him, he doesn’t judge me, get angry at me for being upset about things or make me feel like a “head case” or call me one because I have anxiety and depression. He makes me laugh so much, he has one of the kindest hearts I’ve ever known and above all I trust him 100%. I don’t feel like I have to look over my shoulder, or worry about another girl or anything like that because he gives me no reason to. No matter whether we’re together or apart, he makes me feel like I’m the only person in the room. For some reason, he loves me for who I am my faults and all. And I can honestly say that I love him too and on some level I think I always have. Over the years whenever I’ve heard certain songs, they’ve made me think of him and I’ve smiled. And now it’s so nice to lie in his arms and listen to those songs and know that they made him think of me too.

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Being with him makes me want to be a better person and for the first time in a long time, I actually feel like I have a future to look forward to. When my mum died I was in pieces and didn’t know how I’d get through each day. Part of me feels like she brought him to me, a little cheesy but I honestly believe it to be true. Since I’ve been with him, I’ve been taking steps to sort things out in my life. My divorce is underway, the house we shared is on the market and it’s all remained amicable, which I’m glad about. I wish no bad to my ex and hope he finds happiness one day, but we both want to get it sorted quickly so we can start our new lives.

Other little changes mean I’ve been looking at my relationships; I’ve not made time for some people where I should have done and consequently have had my head up my own arse thinking my shit is the worse. When that’s not true at all, other people have been going through stuff and I should have been there to support them or check in and I didn’t or haven’t. But that’s going to change. I am trying to make amends with people and patch up what I can. I’m trying to be kinder to others and to myself.

I’m trying to become vegetarian because I hate seeing what’s happening to the planet and I think of my beautiful niece and nephew and don’t want their generation to suffer. I’m focusing on my career and pushing for skills and experience that I hope will make me better at what I do. I’m booking onto exercise classes that I enjoy (burlesque, aerial hoop and pole fitness) and trying to worry less about my shape and how I look and more about how the classes make me feel. I’m taking up a bullet journal to help with my anxiety and have booked a holiday for February next year because I want to see the world with the person I love and make memories.

I know it’s not going to be easy and that everything won’t happen overnight but I’m trying to be better, more understanding and more loving. I don’t want negativity or bitterness or anger to be part of me or my life. I’m trying to let that go and with Kyle, I feel like that’s possible. Life is far too short and precious to waste. So here’s to a healthy life, with good memories made with amazing people and above all, a life filled with love.

G.
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Everything I Know About Love – A Review

I’ve had this book sat on my shelf for a good few months; it came onto my radar when I overheard some female colleagues discussing it. I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about. Dolly Alderton talks us through her teenage years and her first realisation of boys/men. Instantly I found the content relatable when she discussed MSN Messenger and the way you’d sign out and then back in again to get your crushes attention. I was guilty of this, I was also guilty of having the courage of being hidden behind a computer screen to say to a guy “You’re so cute, I really fancy you!” and then having the instant panic a second after hitting send of being rejected or laughed at so covering my back with a “Omg sorry, my cousin wrote that!” which when I think about it, was the worst excuse ever.

As the book goes on we learn about Dolly’s adult life, her early 20’s, nights out where she drank until the early hours of the morning (and still went to work) and the whirlwind relationships with men. There are moments of the book that are laugh out loud funny and some that really struck a chord with me. Especially when talking about her anxiety and relationship with drink. She looks at the power of female friendship and dissects how, as women; a lot of us tend to put what we think a man wants ahead of what we actually want. It’s these moments that I found myself nodding my head in agreement and feeling so happy to see someone being so open and candid about these things.

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It’s not a book that men should avoid either, Dolly hasn’t written this as some feminist manifesto or celebration of sisterhood, but actually takes ownership that there are no bad men or bad women, just some bad timings, decisions and ways of dealing with things. As she says later on in the book, and I’m paraphrasing here, no break up happens because you did nothing wrong, on some level you were responsible for the relationship breaking down, no matter how small. So don’t lay the blame on the man. You have to take responsibility and courage to look at what you did wrong too.  She also talks about dating in your 30’s (something I had some experience with) and once again I found her words to be incredibly true. Everyone has a history, especially if they’re single in their 30’s! One line particularly jumped out at me.

“If you lose respect for someone, you won’t be able to fall back in love with them.”

This made me think of my ex and our marriage breaking down, but it also made me think of myself. For many years I had no respect for myself and consequently found it hard to love myself and see anything worthy in me. It’s taken time for me to get where I am, and I still have days where I long to be that 17 year old girl with no worries or loss or heartbreak and that unshakable confidence I had at such a young age, but I’m getting there. I’m learning to know who I am, faults and all, and respect who I am, even love who I am. This book is more about friendship and the power of the “mundane” aspects of love that often get overlooked for not being particularly awe inspiring. But they’re actually the moments that mean the most (and the ones you should cherish) they’re the moments I know I long to share with my mum since her passing. The moments that seemed insignificant at the time but actually they were perfect moments between me and her. Dolly puts it more beautifully than I ever could.

“…it also happens when you’re lying on blow-up air beds in a childhood bedroom, sitting in A&E or in the queue for a passport or in a traffic jam. Love is a quiet, reassuring, relaxing, pottering, pedantic, harmonious hum of a thing; something you can easily forget is there, even though its palms are outstretched beneath you in case you fall.”

It’s hard not to read and finish this book without taking stock of your life, thanking the world silently for all the good it gives you and enjoying the sun on your skin. It’s more than a book; it’s a hug and an awakening.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

Have you read it? What were your thoughts? Comment below, happy reading beauts.

G.
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The Importance of Reading

I’ve always been a bookworm. For as long as I can remember I have taken solace in the pages of a book to help me through breakups, heartbreak, loss, grief and stress. I also read just for enjoyment and find it really relaxing. But I know many people find it hard, some because they struggle with concentration, some because they suffer from dyslexia and feel intimidated and some people associate it with being forced to read the set curriculum at school. However reading is important and it’s something everyone should do and here’s why.

Reading has been found to enhance the connectivity in the brain and keeping the brain active can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It also requires you to use your memory muscle which can decrease the decline of your memory. Not to mention reading expands your knowledge and vocabulary, but is also improves concentration and increases empathy. In the current climate we’re living in, I think empathy is lacking and the fact that people can gain more empathy from a book and gain more understanding of people and situations that they are likely never to find themselves in, is important. We could all benefit from being a bit more understanding to our fellow man.

Reading is also important as a form of entertainment and relaxation. Where possible, I always try to read the book version of a Film/TV series before I watch it’s translation to film. There have been times where the adaptation has been done pretty decently, but often the image I build up in my head is much more complex and multifaceted than it is on the screen. It’s also incredibly personal; it’s my mind’s interpretation of what I’m reading. Which is one reason I love hearing other people’s opinions of books I’ve read, to hear how they imagined it.

My boyfriend is one of those modest people who believes he’s not very smart, but actually he is. He thinks he doesn’t read a lot, but he’s always reading. Which brings me to my next point. Just because you don’t read books on the regular, it doesn’t mean you’re not a reader. You could be reading articles or forums, but you’re still reading! So don’t let someone shame you for not reading a conventional book. You’re still keeping your brain engaged and learning more so block out the haters.

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Likewise when you are reading books don’t let someone shame you for the subject matter or genre.  I’ll admit “chick lit” (I hate that term) is not for me but I wouldn’t shame someone for reading it, I really hate this modern mentality of shaming someone’s enjoyment of something. Just because it’s not your cup of tea, doesn’t give you the right to guilt someone else for enjoying it, so enjoy that book about the history of the Regency Revolution, or that tie-in Star Trek book and ignore what anyone else says. Just do you!

But above all my favourite thing about reading is the way it can bring people together, it opens the floor to discussion, it allows you to learn other perspectives and see the world through the eyes of someone else. It is the best way to escape without going anywhere. I don’t think I will ever stop reading and I’m proud to be a bookworm.

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In fact I would like to hear from you! I am looking for 5 people who would allow me to feature them on my blog, discussing your favourite book(s) and the impact they had on you. If you’re interested and happy to be involved, then please comment below. Until then, happy reading.

G.
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Love in the Time of Cholera – A Review

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I worked a lot during February, I was even working on Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind work at all, I happen to really love my job, nor did I mind working on Valentine’s Day. I’ve always been a firm believer that it’s just another day and if you love someone that much you shouldn’t need that one day to validate it or say it. Anyway, I digress, I went to Waterstone’s (other book shops available) a few days before and saw that they was doing a “Blind Date with a Book” and I figured as I’d be working and alone that I should play along.

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All the books were packaged in red paper and tied with brown string, a slight synopsis of the book inside, written elegantly on a brown tag with the price. I spent lots of time mulling over the choices but picked one out that I kept going back to. When I got home, I put it to one side and promised that after my 16 hour day in studio I’d open it up. Sure enough Tuesday 14th February arrived, the penultimate day of filming, it had been a long week, but I was trying to stay positive, just a few more days and then I had some time off to catch up on sleep and let my hair down. As luck would have it, it ended up being a really great day…I spent most of the day laughing, largely down to the company I was in that day. I went home feeling good, a smile on my face and after taking a quick shower I pulled the book onto my lap and tore the paper off. It was like Christmas, only with a gift I’d bought myself. And there it was. A book I had picked up MANY times previously but never bought, I smiled again.

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I have mentioned previously how passion is important, passion ignites the soul, makes your eyes shine brighter, and puts a fire in your belly. I ended up having a conversation with an amazing person about books in April and they mentioned this one specifically. Their passion came across to me so clearly that it was tangible, even though the conversation took place via WhatsApp. I swore to myself that when I got home that evening I would start reading the book, and that’s exactly what I did.

The style of writing was so accessible and beautiful that it was hard not to fall in love with it very early on, with Marquez using language so perfectly that was easy to envisage the people, the surroundings, the feelings. I felt myself following Florentino and urging him on, holding my breath and feeling his anguish as he waited for Fermina to reply. I melted at the romance, the declarations of love making me sigh and press my head against the tram window on my commute to work. The book spoke to my hopelessly, romantic soul and I was hooked.

My heart broke when Fermina returned and rejected Florentino and yet I remained hopeful that all would be okay, it had to be okay. Learning how the two lived over the years, separately yet still tied to one another, Florentino in his promise to never let go of his love for Fermina, Fermina with the ghosts of memories of Florentino sat in the park. Gabriel Garcia Marquez penned something so honest about the anguish of unrequited love, but also about the power of the human spirit, to withstand pain and heartbreak and still remain so vehemently hopeful. He writes of the passion of life and love and loss and does it so lyrically that there were times I forgot to breathe.

Even the more sensual aspects of the book, where Florentino takes various lovers, were written with an understanding that most modern writers tend to lack. I am a stupid, hopeless romantic and this book touched me. Entirely quotable passages that made me dog ear pages so that I could re-read them, tracing my fingers over the page to make sure I hadn’t dreamed them. This book is more than about love, it’s about the power of love, passion, the power of the human spirit, the courage to keep on going and to always keep hope. It’s made me crave for a simpler time, for more open communication and for less negative stigma attached to matters of the heart. Love is frowned upon and given negative connotations, like the advancement of technology, the world has become cold and demanding. Everything has to be instant. But sincerely why isn’t it ok to pen a love letter and post it? The excitement of receiving something you wasn’t expecting, a letter written in ink by the very hand you long to hold. I’ve never personally received a love letter, but the idea is so romantic to me.

This book awoken my soul and stoked the fire in my heart. A truly beautiful novel that will make you realise the importance of happiness and taking chances.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

“Sometimes their letters were soaked by rain, soiled by mud, torn by adversity, and some were lost for a variety of reasons, but they always found a way to be in touch with each other again.”

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Happy reading.

G.
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Perspective

I wrote this about a month ago…After having some time to distance myself from a situation and think things through.

 

You came into my life so suddenly
I thought you were a change for the good
But I was so clouded in my view
Reaching for a better tomorrow
Wanting to believe I could feel happiness again

The years passed and I settled
Knowing your actions weren’t right
Knowing I deserved more
I convinced myself it would be ok
That one day you would wake up and want me completely
That I would be enough

But I was foolish
I only saw what I wanted to see
Ignoring all the signs, the feeling in my stomach
Because knowing the reality would hurt me again
You spoke lies to me with a truthful face
And I couldn’t argue back
Choking on your false reassurances

I began to fade at the edges
Like I was not worthy of being seen
Not even by you
No matter how hard I tried

Everything is clearer now
Things shouldn’t have gone on as long as they did
The way you made me feel like I was nothing
It still clings to me like an extra skin

But I’m peeling it away
Exposing myself and my worth bit by bit
Or at least trying to
Ready to let go and take a chance
In the hope of finding a love that may be returned
And not just picked up when it suits

G.
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Trying…

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It’s true what they say, certain moments stay with you. Sometimes they’re huge life changing events like the day the man you love gets down on one knee and asks you to be his wife, or the cry of a baby that pierces the air after spending all night trying to push it from your body. And sometimes it’s the moment your heart breaks when a hand goes limp in yours and you know that the person holding it has taken their last breath. I’ve only experienced two of the above, one filled me with a happiness and love I didn’t know existed in me, the other filled me with something I have no words for, it’s left me reaching out for something I know isn’t there.

It comes out of nowhere, a sense of dread pressing down on me, smothering me as I desperately look for a way out. It’s a golf ball that forms in my throat when I try to recall his voice and a pain in my heart when I realise that’s long forgotten. Stored somewhere dark and dusty that I can’t quite reach. It’s the moment I realise he left this earth 7 years ago, and in some ways the pain makes it feel like it was only yesterday, but in another it makes it feel like a lifetime as I try to recall the features of his face and sound of his laugh.

It’s the anger I feel at myself when I wish I could have done more, could do more, but lack the motivation or energy to do it. The empty promises I’ve made myself to make the most of each day and live life to the fullest and enjoy it whilst I’m here, when really there’s that dark shadow always floating in the background lying in wait to reach out its hand and hold it on my shoulder. It’s reminding me that I’m too tired or busy or skint to do that thing that I swore I’d do before it was too late. It’s the loss of breath and blur of vision, the thin layer of sweat that breaks out on the palms of my hands as I try to stop the anxiety attack that stops me in my tracks, when all I wanted to do that day was to go for a walk and enjoy the sun.

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It’s the smell of rain on grass, in warm summer air, that makes me recall the small details I’d like to forget, the hands clasped and cold. It’s the gaping hole I’ve carried with me every day. I struggle to hide it all the time, painting a false expression of happiness on my face on the worse days, in the hope that if I try hard enough it will work. The colours are less vibrant now, my breathing more laboured. I’m struggling and I don’t know how to explain it or what to do but I’m scared and I hate myself and right now all I want to do is vanish. I know that’s a selfish idea, because he can’t be here and even now that’s something I cannot comprehend. I look at his photo across the room and I want an answer about why he can’t just be here. I’m 30 years old and I still can’t grasp what’s happened. All I know is that it hurts to breathe most days and that pushing back the duvet and getting out of bed is a struggle on a daily basis, its a constant static fuzz in my head. When people ask me what my anxiety and depression feels like I don’t know what to say. My tongue swells up and I lack the ability to vocalise it, so I wrote this instead. It’s smothering, all consuming, terrifying dread. A fear of something that’s already happened, things that are yet to happen and plenty of things that are out of my control, I know it’s not rational but I can’t control it, I can’t stop it. I wish I could.

I always knew growing up that I would have to lose people, but I never knew or considered how the death of my father would impact on me, thoughts of the night he slipped from this world sharp in my mind. I mean, I was holding his hand as he died. That stays with you, you know..I was 24 years old. After all this time..I don’t know what to do; it’s getting harder as the memories of him seem to grow more distant and I desperately scramble to remember them.

I’m tired. I’m tired. I’m tired. One person fraying at the edges and desperately trying to keep it together. So please, to the people who tell me to just ‘not stress’ or ask ‘why are you getting so wound up’ tell me what I’m supposed to do? I’m doing all I can and it doesn’t feel enough. So tell me…What should I do? Because honestly I can’t continue this way.

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The Bravest Man I Knew

These past few weeks have been difficult for me, I watched one of the bravest men I knew pass away from Cancer in 2009 when I was just 24. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about my dad, but hearing about the recent deaths of Lemmy and David Bowie because of cancer, brings back lots of painful memories.

There was no disputing, that all those years ago, when JK Rowling first started penning the Harry Potter books that they’d be a hit. She created a world that was engaging and created characters that became like friends. In my opinion Severus Snape is one of the most complex characters in modern literature. His pale skin, lank hair and rich voice, the air of mystery that always surrounded him. JK Rowling left us wondering till the very last book what Snape’s true colours were. When all was revealed it was both beautiful and tragic.

When the books were adapted to films we were all, perhaps, too young to understand the importance of casting the right actors, but I know that when watching the films we knew all the right people had been selected. None more so than Alan Rickman. An actor who first came to my attention in the Die Hard film where he plays the eloquent bad guy Hans Gruber. As I grew up watching the Harry Potter films I was captivated by the subtleties he brought to the role of Snape, it was in the way he moved, the way he paused, his facial expression. Everything, that when reading the books, I could see so clearly in my mind, he was born to the play the role.

As I grew up I went on to watch Alan Rickman in other fantastic films such as Dogma, Love Actually and Sense and Sensibility. When I heard the news of his passing today, I was stopped in my tracks; I shed tears and felt like I had all the wind knocked out of me. The Harry Potter books were such a big part of my life when I was younger, they still are, and the films have kept me entertained through my teenage and adult years. He always brought a natural ability to any performance, his delivery of lines was impeccable and with Alan you could read it all in his eyes before he uttered a word. His portrayal of Snape, in my opinion, was one of his finest. It was like watching him step from the book and straight to the screen. He played the tragedy so well, that even now just typing this I feel fresh, warm tears spring to my eyes. I feel so fortunate, as a Harry Potter fan, to know that one of the finest British actors played one of the most intriguing literary characters ever to grace our lives and did it with so much finesse.

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to write, but I thank you Alan Rickman for sharing your talent with the world. I don’t share this with a lot of people but I was re-reading the Deathly Hallows when my father died, I couldn’t sleep the night before the funeral because I didn’t want time to pass till I had to say my last goodbye. I believe that book gave me strength to get through that horrific day and it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to the man who brought the literary equivalent of “the bravest man I knew” to life.

“Look…at…me” he whispered. The green eyes found the black, but after a second, something in the depths of the dark pair seemed to vanish, leaving them fixed, blank and empty. The hand holding Harry thudded to the floor, and Snape moved no more.”

Rest in peace Alan Rickman, and my thoughts go to your family and friends at what I know is a truly heart-breaking time.

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Georgina.

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