Author Archives: intensifyeverything

On turning 26 and leaving 25 behind.

IMG_20170420_033113116So it is my birthday. I’m 26. That’s cool. One year left of my mid twenties. I’ve already started using moisturiser designed for people in their late twenties, for no other reasons than it was suitable for vegans and on special offer. I’m so ready for this aging thing. I am looking forward to the day when people stop asking me as soon as they meet me if I am a student. No, not for three years! I just look like one because I am too tired to iron my clothes or get my fringe cut. When my mum was my age I was six months old. I’m really glad I don’t have any babies. That is one life decision I do not regret. There is a lot that I do regret. A lot of them happened when I was 25. I was hoping I’d turn 26 and somehow magically be freed from the weight of all the crap that happened while I was 25. Turns out it doesn’t work like that, who knew! I want to write all about those things. I want to unburden myself of them. I want to exorcise them from my life. I want them off my chest. Off my back. Off my mind. I want to word vomit them out through my fingers and onto this screen. I want them gone so I can leave 25 behind. But it’s tricky. Writing a blog post about your life is tricky.

The trickiest thing about writing a blog post about your life is knowing when to write about other people. That is, when you are writing about a difficult thing in your life and the thing has to something to do with someone else, then by including them in your post you automatically put their business online for the whole world to read. It’s difficult for me to write about my life without including other people in the writing. I guess it’s all about respecting people, and either making it so nobody could ever know who you are talking about, or just leaving them out altogether. Some people totally don’t deserve the respect of not including them for this reason, but they are slightly famous on the internet (in Scotland) (if you are into politics) so might sue you for alleged defamation of character or something. I might still write blogs about such people, but I’m not sure how to yet because of the second trickiest thing, which I’ll tell you about now…

The second trickiest thing about writing a blog post about your life is that sometimes when awful things happen you want the world to know so they can be shocked and can tell whoever is responsible for the awful things that they are a terrible person, or can be comforting and offer you support, or can not be surprised when you act depressed or sad or distant. The hard part is that you might not want to upset the people that love you by talking about the awful things that happen or have happened in your life. You don’t want to upset them because they are the trying so hard to get you through this life in once piece. They are trying so hard and you are scared to let them know that you already broken. The same thing applies to other pieces of writing, when I used to write poetry I would normally write about trivial things or things that happened in the past or not to me, or to cartoon fish. The reason for this wasn’t because I don’t have real personal issues to talk about like everyone else, but the thought of someone I love hearing them and getting upset is too hard. Maybe that’s a cop out.  It probably is.

The reason that I am telling you about these difficult things is that I am going to start trying to write a regular blog despite them. I want to document my 26th year better than I documented my 25th. Maybe I  wouldn’t have made so many bad decisions if I had made myself vent all my emotions onto the internet for everyone to see. Maybe I would have thought “Oh goodness, definitely don’t do that again! The internet will judge you so hard if you go there” and not have gone there.

And I know it doesn’t work like that.

Still let’s try. And maybe it will do something for my writing. And maybe it will do something for my confidence. And maybe it will do something for you. Whoever you are. And I know I have made promises to you before, whoever it is that reads this blog (Daniel, is it still you?), that I will blog more regularly and I didn’t keep them. Maybe I will this time. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe…

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NaPoWriMo 2016 – April 1st – Calories Don’t Count

I have decided to blog all my NaPoWriMo poems individually, but that is not to say I will blog them on the day they are written.

Entry 1.

April 1st 2016 – Calories Don’t Count.

Calories don’t count on Christmas.

Calories don’t count on Boxing Day.

Calories don’t count in the week between Christmas and Hogmanay.

Calories don’t count on Hogmanay.

Calories don’t count on New Years Day.

Calories don’t count on your first day back at work.

Calories don’t count on Valentines Day.

Calories don’t count on Easter.

Calories don’t count on Halloween.

Calories don’t count on your birthday.

Calories don’t count on someone else’s birthday.

Calories don’t count when you are on holiday.

Calories don’t count when you are sick.

Calories don’t count when you are on your period.

Calories don’t count when you are mourning.

Calories don’t count when you get dumped.

Calories don’t count when you have to dump someone.

Calories don’t count if you have just been fired.

Calories don’t count if someone else is paying.

Calories don’t count if you stayed out late last night.

Calories don’t count if you got up early.

Calories don’t count if you don’t let them.

Calories don’t count unless you give them power.

The February Hypothesis

Yeah, I haven’t written since September. I warned you this might happen. You can’t write when you’ve got nothing to write about! But I am writing now because February starts tomorrow, and I have this hypothesis that positive change is more achievable in February. I don’t know what it is about the second month that makes me feel this way, but I do always feel like happiness will be much more manageable in February. Sometimes I am right, and I start a new habit that I manage to keep up long term, and sometimes I am wrong and I never do or stick to the thing that I endeavor to change. More often than not I am right. I am fully aware that the fact it is February probably has nothing to do with any of this, but it does seem to be a pattern. These changes tend to make me much, much, happier. I started being a vegan in a February. I stopped believing in God in a February. I started writing blogs in February (not this blog). Last year I made an entire new friend group in February, and entered the world of performance poetry. Maybe it is because it is a shorter month, and so I somehow convince myself it will be easier to try things out and give things a go. Maybe it is because I always start the new year with the idea that I am going to better myself this year, and I get to the end of January and see nothing has actually changed and think “Tae hang wi’ this, I’m makin’ a stand!” and then take on February with much more determination than the previous month. Who knows what the reason is, it doesn’t really matter as long as happiness is achieved… right?

Last January I lost my job and broke up with my boyfriend. I wasn’t particularly upset about these things, I had hated my job, and it was my decision to break up with the guy. Despite this the job, the relationship, the referendum, and the recent death of a loved one had all taken their toll on me and I really wasn’t very well, physically or mentally. I decided to do something about it. I slept a lot, for weeks. This was extremely beneficial for me, and I am so lucky that I was in a position where this was possible. One day I decided to stop sleeping and to get proactive, I decided to take up something that I had dabbled in in the past: Saying Yes. I considered myself to be a Yes Woman (partly under the influence of Danny Wallace) but I hadn’t actually been saying yes to many things since my referendum hangover took over. In February I went to every event I was invited to (unless I was double booked, in which case I went to the one that I agreed to first). This was great because my friend Aileen had been running a campaign to save the Buchanan street steps, and she needed help and I needed a pathway back into activism. I got involved with this campaign at a very late stage, and as a result I made a whole crowd of new friends. Another friend, Ross, invited me to loads of performance poetry nights, and I went along to every single one of them. I even started to perform again. I didn’t think this would ever happen again. I am so grateful to these two friends for extending these invitations to me, and for helping me get back to being a person who I am comfortable with being.

So, what will happen this February? I am feeling pretty well loved, and I have a pretty hot social life. I am not overly healthy, but there is not a huge deal I can do about that*. I am broke though, and my business isn’t making very much money at all. I have decided that in February I am going to deal with these issues and take control of my business, rather than sitting back and watching things get worse. I am going to do my book keeping, I’m going to write more material, I am going to set up a website (with a new logo that is being designed for me by a brilliant and talented artist), I am going to invest in advertising, and I am going to make money. I have decided these things will happen… and so they will. I must have a better chance of succeeding than if it were any other month… Come on February, work your magic.

*Okay, I will start taking vitamins or something.

Happiness is… SORTING YOUR LIFE OUT!

It is easy enough to say you are going to sort your life out if you feel like you are in control of most aspects of your life. If you are not, or if you do not feel like you are, then sorting your life out can seem like an insurmountable mountain of a task which you spend all your days attempting to climb, but you keep tripping over the metaphorical rocks of circumstance or slipping on the figurative ice patches of situation and ending up at the bottom of the mountain again. Really this mountain imagery can’t stretch much further, because the whole point of sorting your life out is to feel more in control and more grounded, and you don’t feel like that if you are at the top of a mountain. You feel like your fate is in the hands of the elements, a strong wind could blow you right off of there, a sudden snow storm could leave you stranded, rain could flood you out. Maybe this metaphorical mountain isn’t such a bad thing to use to describe getting in control of your life after all. Maybe the whole thing should be about climbing down the mountain, from the unorganised and chaotic peaks of existence to the ground where everything is comfortable and safe. Or it? At least when you are at the top of a mountain you can see whats coming. Who knows what dinosaurs are waiting round the corner to eat you! Yeah, no, sorry, the imagery had gone to far. I am sorry.

All I am trying to say is that maybe not know what is going to happen next, which way is up, where your favourite pair of scissors are (I really don’t know, they are lost in my room! I need them for my washis!), or when you will next be to say you have nothing left on your to do list, is not so bad. Maybe it is adding some variety to life? Maybe if you had your life all sorted out then you would be bored, or thrown completely off if something terrible (like a dinosaur) comes along. At least if you have no idea what is going on, you know to expect anything at any time and so can handle situations that might seem chaotic more easily than if you lived a comfortable and safe life… Maybe it sometimes pays to not have your life sorted out, because you are never REALLY in control of it anyway, so at least when you are used to things being rocky and slippery you are more equipped to deal with it.

Maybe happiness is sorting your life out, or maybe happiness is just sorting your head out to realise that your life will never be completely “sorted out” because there will never be a time when you are in control of every single thing in it.

Happiness is… #YOLO..?

I was saying to someone the other day that I find it difficult to understand how people can be happy when there is so much horrible stuff happening in the world, and I don’t know how people can just switch it off. They said that it is hard but that if you went around avoiding terrible things all the time then you would never leave your house, and you have to just learn to live with those things because you only get one chance at this life, and you only live once. That reminded me of #YOLO. You. Only. Live. Once. Remember that, on every tshirt and every facebook status from last year? Hands up if you hate YOLO? Hands up if you think it is kind of silly? I am going to guess a few people think that it is silly, and honestly I thought it was silly too, until I realised the other day that like MOST PEOPLE live their lives by the rule of YOLO! Think about it next time you order expensive chinese food even though it is a Tuesday and you have loads of food in the fridge, the next time you spend far too much money on a holiday, or the next time you skip doing chores so that you can spend time with your friends. What are we doing? We are making ourselves happy, and why? Because why not, because you only live once and you better make the most of it. Right?

Different people have different degrees of sticking to the YOLO way of life; to some it might just be neglecting a fast decaying veg drawer in favour of Salt and Chilli Tofu, but to some might be more extreme, like climbing up Mount Everest, deep sea diving, or bungee jumping out of an aeroplane. To some YOLO is about making sure that you are doing your best on this planet, giving back to it and making sure other people are able to live their lives to the full as well. To others YOLO is a reason to do what makes them happy, even if it has negative effects elsewhere. For example some people will say the only reason they still eat meat is because it tastes good and you only live once so you might as well do what makes you happy. They say this because they personally will have no negative repercussions because of their choice to eat meat, because society is perfectly accepting of people eating meat and they will never actually have to see the animal suffering in any way. Similarly some people buy terrible products from terrible companies, even though they contribute to the arms trade, or are responsible for a significant amount of deforestation, or have pretty much murdered babies in Africa, because it is easier to just buy those things, society dictates that it is normal to buy those things, and you might as well take the easy, normal, road and enjoy yourself because… well because #YOLO. #YOLO. #YOLO. #YOLO. Ahhhhh. Is it #YOLO, so live life to the full, do what ever you want, have a great time… as long as nobody will judge you or treat you negatively as a result? Or is it just do all that regardless? Where does this attitude end? How do people know when to stop? Should a the #YOLO way of life mean you compromise your morality? Is that what murders and rapists are doing, are they just saying YOLO? What are the rules of YOLO? WHO DECIDED THEM? IS YOLO SAFE?

I am really concerned about YOLO all of a sudden.

1. Happiness is… pillow fights.

Hello, this is a few days late because I was having too much fun. Sorry not sorry.

What is happiness? My problem with happiness, I think, that no matter how content I am about one aspect of my life, there is always something else that is not going well that I am prone to concentrate on. I have been talking to lots of people recently about this, and the general consensus is that I am too negative and this is why I am having that problem. I definitely am too negative, that is a true fact. I sort of do this thing where I am like I am poor and I am sick and so I am allowed to be negative. BUT I was also negative before I was sick, and also before I needed to worry about money so this is not really a valid excuse. So, for me, part of my happiness project is trying to be less negative. I am going to try and see the best in situations, and in people, and get over negative attitudes I have towards things. And people. We will see how this works out!

This weekend I was helping volunteer at a truly wonderful place in the Barras called “On The Corner”. We were having a market (cleverly named “Market on The Corner”, do you see what they did there?) and the goal of the market was to raise awareness about the social enterprise businesses that were selling their wares at the market, but ALSO to raise awareness for On The Corner, which is going to be this fantastic community centre space for the Barras, and is entirely volunteer run and funded by donations. The funding for community centres and projects in the Calton area, and indeed most of Glasgow, has been massively cut and so the only way for something like this to exist is for people to take the initiative to do it themselves. And that is just what the On The Corner team have done. The are renting this massive 5 story building off their own backs, and turning it into an amazing space for the community to come together and be happy. Happy. That is what the whole thing is about. Making people happy. Even the WiFi password is ‘BeHappy’! And the people who were coming through the doors on Saturday and Sunday were so glad that someone had decided the happiness of the people of Calton was something worth dedicating time and effort to. There was one man who came in to the cafe part of the market (There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch Cafe). He had no money, he had said this when he came in, but he was asked to join a table and sit down and then was brought coffee and cake anyway and told “it’s okay”. He sat back amazed. He couldn’t believe it. “It’s nice to be nice!” he said, as though suddenly realising this for the first time. There was something really powerful about that. Maybe people aren’t aware that it is nice to be nice? I wondered at the time how we could get the word out about this. By being nice, of course. Niceness is catching. Well, is it? I hope it is.

It was a long weekend, and everyone was super worn out afterwards. When we were done on Sunday and all of the members of the public had gone home, a few of us sat on comfy seats and ate some food while watching Netflix and chatting. That was rather lovely, especially since I introduced a 5 year old to Aladdin and she was utterly hooked (Same 5 year old taught me my new favourite song, “Shut down Dungavel, They are people and you are people, shut down Dungavel, Nobody is illegal!”. She was pretty brilliant!). We then had a Dream Machine Session, a part of a project by Matt Lygate, where he puts all this trippy music on and projects moving coloured shapes on to big screens hanging from the sky. There was also a bubble machine. Everyone just sort of lay down on the floor on loads of cushions and bean bags and just chilled out. It was at this point I realised how difficult it is for me to chill out. I was lying there thinking about everything and everyone in the whole world, when i was supposed to be thinking about nothing. I kept having to move because the music was too loud, or the lights were too bright, or I was too warm, or I needed to check to see what the noise was in the other room, or I needed to get someone in the other room a glass of water because they have a migraine and I realised that is the best thing for a migraine, or I left my socks a bit close to the fan heater and I should move them before they go on fire. Lots of reasons, none of them very good, kept me from “chilling out”. Everyone else seemed to manage fine, which made it even more annoying. Am I super uptight? I think I might be! Maybe this is standing in my way of happiness!

But then, after this chill out time, a spontaneous pillow fight erupted and my uptightness seemed to be gone. Two teenagers and about ten adults started just pelting each other with cushions, pillows, duvets, beanbags, what ever was mostly soft and lying around. We then took to climbing on top of chairs and then launching ourselves off of them into a big cushion mountain. It was so much fun, it was like being a child again. Maybe happiness is being a child, or being able to be childlike, or just having fun. Just fun on its own with nothing else added on, not fun for the sake of anything, not fun to make anyone think you are cool or to show someone else a good time. Maybe happiness is just pure, unadulterated, fun. Maybe happiness is… pillow fights.

Introduction

Okay so over the next while (again, I am not going to commit to a time period because it is boring and has been done, and also I don’t like committing to things) I am going to research happiness and try out some things that people say make them happier. I have made my own list of things that I think probably contribute to happiness, and if all these things aligned I can see no reason as to why one would not be happy. BUT they will never all align, that’s not how life works! And that is okay. I think what I have learned so far about happiness, from chatting to people in pubs and also from reading and watching things about happiness, is that happiness is maybe something about learning to put the negative things aside sometimes and allowing yourself to just forget about them and be happy. Anyway, here is the list, and feel free to comment with anything important that you think I have missed.

THINGS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO MY HAPPINESS:

  1. Having energy (not feeling tired/sluggish) – This is easier said than done when you have MS, because no matter how much sleep you get or how well you eat you will probably still be tired. Still, having a more regular routine can’t hurt, so I am going to try and be in every night by 1am, and I am going to get up the first time I wake up, rather than waking up and looking at the clock and thinking “Oh, I don’t have to be anywhere for ages, let’s go back to sleep”.
  2. Having good health (feeling healthy and well) – Again, I have MS, so this isn’t really possible, but I can aim to feel as healthy and well as is within my control. This means getting as much sleep as possible, eating well, and making sure not to over do it.
  3. Cultivating good relationships (keeping in touch with people) – I think for me this means sending messages to people who I haven’t spoken to a while, making sure they are doing okay. Friendships are like beautiful plants and you have to make sure to water them!
  4. Being a proactive friend/family member (keeping up with their lives/showing up when you say you will, or when they need you) – I need to make sure if someone is going through something, like an illness (their own, or a family members), a job change, or moving home, that I keep up to date on how things are going for them. Then, if they need me to be there for them, I will be.
  5. Helping others (helping a charity/friend/someone in need) – This makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile and not just wasting my life.
  6. Staying politically active (stay engaged, fight the good fight) – This is directly related to point number 5 in my book, politics is all about happiness. The right that every person has to by happy, and for those “in charge” to defend that right.
  7. Achieving things (finish tasks, master skills, get good feedback) – Whether it be things like finishing chores, performing on stage, or writing something.
  8. Enjoying your habitat (keep flat tidy/clean/free from clutter, enjoy being in) – I love just sitting in a room and thinking there is nothing that I would want to change about this room right now, nothing needs picked up, nothing needs rearranged, nothing needs fixed. I also love going to bed knowing that everything is where it should be. I used to be a lot worse about this sort of thing, like properly obsessed with chores to the point I was annoying. I moved into my flat in December and only learned how to work the hoover a couple of weeks ago, so I have definitely changed!
  9. Making money (get paid for jobs, get a regular income) – Well, this is obvious. I think that if you aren’t worrying about paying bills and paying back debt then you are obviously going to feel a lot more free, and capable of being happy. Also money is often very key in making you feel like you are worth something. That is even probably why we use that expression!
  10. Spending money wisely (buy things that you need/that make you happy) – I am all about spending money, why would you save for tomorrow when tomorrow might not come! Don’t save money in case you have a good idea, have the good idea and then save money for it! OR better yet be in a position where you can have a good idea and then get a loan and do the idea, and then save money to pay the loan back! IDEAL WORLD, right?
  11. Trying to see the best in the situation (stay optimistic/hopeful) – This is important. Allowing yourself to be optimistic and/or hopeful is hard. I have been trying to do this for things like hearing back from PIP, which I have been waiting on for 6 months, and thinking things like WHEN I am awarded pip rather than IF I am rewarded PIP. Also seeing the best in a situation, if I miss the bus then I get to have a wee browse around the shops until the next bus and who knows what I might find or who I might meet…
  12. Staying informed (read, learn, grow) – Read books, listen to people talk, watch documentaries, even just read Wikipedia…
  13. Dedicating time to fun (books, films, games, gigs) – Do what you love, and love what you do. Fun is important and I think, as adults, we often put it on the back burner. Not okay! I mean fun is the best part of life. Fun is the thing that makes life worth it. Why don’t we dedicate more time to fun? We deserve fun!

Okay so that is my list. Those are the things that I think contribute to happiness. You might not agree, and this list might not fit your life, but this is my list, not yours, so that is okay. Feel free to comment with anything you think I should consider adding!