Day three – Italy

Italy is bathed in golden yellow light. I had never seen the like of it. I was used to Ireland, Ireland glows a blue hue like the depths of the ocean overlaid with a fog. It is a blue that makes you feel like you are in a dream. It is a blue that fills your heart with contentment and fulfilment. The yellow hue in Italy makes you feel alive, it fills your heart with prospects and fantasies. It tells you that you should leave your job and live in the golden light. Ireland’s blue light tells you that you should stay right where you are, on the coastline where the grey-blue ocean meets the purple-blue sky. That is the difference between Italy and Ireland – fantasy and reality.

 

Day two – You

When I sought her out I didn’t think I would ever find someone.

She told me I will meet you.

She told me to move abroad and I will find you.

She told me of our life together,

I couldn’t deny it as I have seen it already – you, me and three at a gas station.

You can’t miss me,  I call out to you every day.

Maybe you are the reason I stay at home,

that I am not ready for something so real.

Or maybe I am already making up excuses to stay by myself.

Day one – Me

This is the start of a personal short-term writing challenge. This is about sticking to schedules and progressing with my writing when it feels like the last thing I want to do.

————————————————–

My body is not a temple but I am trying. My brown hair with unrequested blonde highlights stands on end, hiding the bobbin somewhere in the knots and split ends. My eyes are heavy and weigh me down with all they have seen. My eyebrows grow with no limit, sprouting hairs from under and above and in between. My purple hued pink lips are cracked with threats of bursting. My forehead and chin are peppered with childhood chicken pox marks and old, now pink, scars.

I am looking too close so I take a step back from myself and then I see her. What I would be if I cared or wanted to care. Not out of an air of cool but, out of necessity. The scars and cracked lips and overgrown eyebrows and knotted hair and protruding body are to stay hidden from sight.

At this distance it is safe. With the hot tap running a little bit more than the cold tap, I fill the basin. My hair smoothes with every stroke of my paddle brush as if it was yearning to be kept, and perches happily on the top of my head, no longer tangled. With an inhale, I dive headfirst into the sink, the water clings to my face when I emerge again. The green gel cleanser smells like an artificial cucumber, soothing and stinging, but I still rub it into my skin in circular motions. I take another breath as I prepare for my next dive, this time I stay under there and rub the gel off my skin. It falls away into the water and for a moment I open my eyes. The moment I do, I relax and fall into the sink. The water around me grows and envelopes me whole. Now I am swimming in the sink with my freshly cleansed face. I go deeper into the water and find myself at the bottom, though I am running out of breath. My lungs want me to surface but I can’t go back up there where I am cruel to the one person who has carried me from the start. Down here is blurry and warm and comforting. No one can see through the murky water and I feel fluid as every part of me moves comfortably in the water.

Out of sight of myself and others.

Take your time

A lesson I am apparently constantly learning is take your time.

Everyone on this plane and beyond is telling me to take my time. So, I have given in. After months of forcing things to happen and pushing myself, I am officially taking my time. I am unemployed at the moment but I know a job is around the corner. Before this week, I was forcing my CV down every Indeed job vacancy that appeared. I just wanted a job and I wanted it now. I wanted to move forward and I wanted to be busy. This week, after a tin-foil/metal hanger-hat kinda day, I realised I am pushing everything too much. I am pushing the universe too much to bring me what I want, I am pushing me too much to fit societal ideals, and I am pushing my growth too much. I want to be the best version of me and, although I do love learning and expanding my mind, I need to just take my time.

People have been saying this for a while and I truly feel since backing down slightly, my job prospects are stronger than ever.

“So, Lisa, how are you taking your time?”, I hear you ask, well gather around and let me tell you.

I am actually enjoying myself and (shock-horror) balancing my work day. I sleep until 8:30 and eat my breakfast while watching videos, I settle into work and do my daily tasks like applying for jobs, completing the Illustrator course I am enrolled in, working on editing my novel until 6pm and then I do whatever I feel like doing. The difference is I am now taking breaks and throwing in some fun in between work.

So, I bought myself a pasta machine (bet you didn’t see that one coming!). I love it. It is mind-numbing and not in a negative way but, I can’t concentrate on whatever is cycling around my mind, I can only focus on my hand cramping from kneading for fifteen minutes or how I am going to get eggshell out of a well of flour. It is wonderful, everyone should go to TK Maxx and get a pasta machine.

Take time for yourself and allow yourself to just be. (check out the pasta pics below!)

-L

IMG_2291-2IMG_2294-2IMG_2298-2IMG_2303-2IMG_2308-2IMG_2310-2IMG_2319-2

I did something bad

“I did something bad.”, I said with strength from I didn’t know where “but I would do it again.”

The straps on my arms and torso were tight but I knew the Magical Council didn’t want me to be comfortable. They all stood in front of me, they wore their courtroom robes – green satin that dragged on the floor. They were dominant in the room, they encouraged me and every other wizard to fear them. A small balding man read out why I was there as if I didn’t know but the issue was that they saw it differently to me.

“Esther Crowne, do you understand why you are before the Magical Council today?”

“No.”, I yelled back in defiance.

“Let me jog your memory. You betrayed your kind by engaging with a human. On countless occasions, you were spotted with him with no value or care for our invisibility in this world. Let it be known on the record that Ms Crowne continued this at length as she was shielded by family and friends. Also, it is well-known that she intended to tell said human about our kind. A grade one fault, the only outcome is death.”

“I love him.”, I yelled back once more.

“You know the rules, Ms Crowne.”

“You’re burning all the witches even if they aren’t one.”, I said, quoting all those people in my favour.

“You know the rules, no fraternising. It has been illegal for centuries and you were given swift warnings numerous times. Anything you wish to say before the end?”

“I would do it over and over again if I could.”

With that, they turned on their heels and left me in the dark. I stood magically bound to the wall as I awaited my death. They pumped my favourite smells into the room; smells of lavender, summer rain, baked bread, and freshly cut grass. It was meant to calm the likes of me before the end but it made me more anxious. I could feel the solid ground underneath my feet but I couldn’t see anything. I stood in the dark for so long I wasn’t sure if my eyes were open. I could feel the nearing panic attack so I focused on my breathing. Suddenly a spotlight opened above my head which illuminated me.

“My baby,”, I heard echo the room, “my baby, are you okay? You will be okay.”, my mother’s voice rang through the room.

“Mom!”, I yelled out but it fell to silence.

“Sissy, I love you, I love you.”, my sister’s voice reverberated in my mind.

“Cecily! Where are you?”, but that too fell on deaf ears.

“Speak up, one sentence.”, I heard a guard speak but I waited to find out which family member it would be.

“Essie, they are going to kill him, you-“, my younger brother’s voice spoke so fast I was glad I was listening or I would have missed it.

“What do you mean Hugh? Hugh?”, I could hear Hugh struggle over the voice projector then silence.

They can’t kill him, I whispered to myself, they promised me. When I was prosecuted they swore they would wipe his memory and he would be left alone. I was foolish, I shouldn’t have listened. Anger and fear and frustration and hunger and tiredness built up in my body. I started to shout, the only response I was still in control of.

“What did you do with him?”, I screamed at the dark void, “you swore to me! You swore!”, I pulled and pulled the chains but they didn’t budge. Instead, they pinched my skin and bruised my bones. That is when I felt it start from the ground, then it came in waves. I waited for a few seconds for a big wave, a wave that would knock your breath from your lungs. Once I felt it I let it explode from me and wreak havoc like I wanted. For a moment in the explosion I could see the room, it was illuminated by my magic. I was free of the shackles and free of self-preservation. With a palm of light, I found my way out. I needed to find my way to him before they killed him. I had to get there first. Outside the room a woman sat on the ground with her hands up.

“Please don’t hurt me.”, she whimpered.

“Tell me where he is then.”, I picked her off the ground.

“They will kill you. Why would you do that for a human? Why would you voluntarily suffer like that?”, she tried to reason with me but I was filled with hate and love, fear and courage.

“Then tell them to light me up.”

Moving to Florence pt.1

31 days and I will be in Italy.

I can’t believe after months of build up in my head and wondering will I move that I find myself a month away from everything. It seemed so distant when I booked the flights which, I think, was 7 months ago. Now it is a month away, I just can’t grasp the concept of how quickly time flew. I clearly don’t understand how time works…

For someone who lived in Dublin for five years and then home for two, I feel utterly unprepared. Some part of me would say terrified but, then there is the other half of me who is so excited. I want to wander the Florentine streets, to sit in a cafe on the side of the road and eat a cornetto (not that ice cream but the croissaint variety), I want to speak Italian fluently (which I am very far from), I want to have weekend trips to Cinque Terre and Rome and Sorrento. (Although, I need to find an apartment first…and a job to fund my imaginary lavish lifestyle). Every time I get into my head about moving I think of all the people who have done, are doing, and will continue to do before and after me. I think it will be the hardest thing I have done, potentially ever but I will do it.

Everyone keeps asking how long am I staying for and each time I reply “Don’t hold your breath, I could be back in a week”. The reality is I am defnintely staying for at least a month, if I hate it I will move again but I couldn’t imagine hating it. It is Tuscany!

So to take the negativity out of my mindset, I am going to write goals that I would like to achieve before leaving Florence.

  • See il Duomo in person + take a photo like the cringey turista that I am
  • See Boboli Gardens and wander around
  • Cross the Ponte Vecchio
  • Eat pasta & pizza finished with gelato
  • Send postcards (“I am actually here!”)
  • Piazzale Michelangelo + take a panoramic
  • Have a Lush bath in my hotel for the first night
  • Eat a croissaint in the sun with a hot drink

A short list but, definitely a start. I have realised it is okay to be terrified but as long as that is coupled with excitement you are unstoppable.

2017 – a review

Per the rest of the internet, I have taken finger to keyboard and started my 2017 review but taking inspiration from Ellie Spigariol’s 2017 review where she looks at her year through the photos she took which can be found here.

JANUARY

I started January asleep by (probably) 10pm the night before. I posted a digital drawing I made while my family and I watched the various NYE shows. Nothing exciting. That weekend, my sister and I spent two nights in Dublin and really enjoyed it. I was riddled with anxiety that I couldn’t walk much further than the hotel (I asked my friends to come to my hotel room because I was so scared) but I enjoyed myself. My uncle then became worse and passed away at the end of January. It was heartbreaking but a relief he wasn’t suffering any longer. January was quite a start to 2017.

FEBRUARY

February started without a hitch. I found myself crying a lot after my uncle but the pain was lessening. I should have realised it was too early for grief to leave but I didn’t and fell into a spiral of depression that I didn’t notice. I was so long into it and the entry was soft I just thought I was tired and anxious. I spent a lot of February with my cat, she was very helpful. It was just lovely to have something alive and breathing on my lap, perpetually purring. I spent a lot of time watching First Wive’s Club, listening to Arctic Monkeys, and drawing. My aunt was in the throes of selling her house and building a new one. That stressed me out but I didn’t think it was taking such a big toll. I think that is the theme to this month – disillusion.

MARCH

Nostalgia was the theme for March. I went through my paternal Grandmother’s photos and looked at everyone’s life before me, before I knew them. It can be strange to remember people had lives before you were born. Seeing my aunt in her nurse’s outfit, or my dad at a pub with someone who wasn’t my mother (before my mother and he got together), seeing my granny in her twenties holding a brand new baby with my granddad. It pushed me and my mind outside our comfort zone and for such a lovely experience it ended in a panic attack. This was the start of me coming to terms with my dad’s death which happened over twenty years ago. I was still ignorant about my depression but I was trying to tackle the anxiety. I spent a lot of time messing around artistically. I enjoyed writing and drawing but I wanted more. I spent a lot of my time wishing I was somewhere else, entirely unsure of what I wanted in life.

APRIL

I started driving. I cannot explain how nuts this is but I will try. I have had a provisional license since I was 17 (nearly ten years now) but I was terrified to drive for the last 9 years. I came to the conclusion I would never drive but there I was terrified and all too aware I was driving a death box of metal but, I was driving. This coincided with a bad bout of vertigo but I am sure it was spurred on by stress and anxiety. I spent the whole month planning a holiday that I knew I wasn’t well enough to take. I wanted to fly into Rome, drive to Pompeii and then to Sorrento and Positano. Alas, that never happened. As I glanced through my photos for April 99% of them are of the internet or my bed. I was stuck to it and terrified to get out. My comfort zone had grown smaller again and was then confined to my double bed.

MAY

The weather started to improve and so did my health. I started to spend more time outside. My sister got me to sit outside in the sun and we would talk out there rather than my bedroom. I started to feel like my comfort zone was growing again or at least I was pushing against it. I was driving again and writing and drawing but still, I had depression and anxiety. I needed help for both I just didn’t realise it at the time. That being said I was starting to feel better. My mother and sister were a great help 99% of the time. I was also trying to teach myself Italian through Italiano Automatico (Albi’s YouTube channel is definitely worth checking out!).

JUNE

I don’t remember much of June even though it is my birthday month. According to my photos, I spent time outside, in the sun, and baking. I also got my hair cut. Nothing exciting to report.

JULY

July was a huge turning point for me. Everything started to shift. It started with counselling. The counsellor I saw was the best counsellor/psychotherapist I had ever been to. He was considerate and thoughtful and listened to me and actually heard me. This coincided with a small side job in a local veg shop. I never thought I could do it but I did. Looking at my photos for this month they beamed positivity. I was downloading affirmations, I was working for the first time in two years and, for a weekend, my cousins and I went to Galway. Unfortunately, Galway happened the same weekend as my uncle’s birthday so I happened to have a panic attack one evening and we couldn’t go out. I still cringe at the thought of that night because my cousins saw me so vulnerable. I hate anyone seeing me like that but I will let that go. Other than that it was a glorious weekend of eating and walking (I think we walked 25km in two days!) and sitting on the beach. I loved it and it gave me huge confidence going forward. Another time that happened in July was that I saw an angel reader, Patricia Buckley. This was amazing. I am not a fool and I don’t jump blindly into things. I always say I am split down the middle; one side a realist and the other a dreamer so you can only imagine how much conflict was going on in my head. That being said, Patricia said things that I didn’t know at the time. She told me things I couldn’t explain and even if it was all a con (which I don’t believe it was) she was such a lovely woman and it was so comforting I would do it all again. Then, on the last day of July while I sat in the little fruit & veg shop I booked my ticket to move to Italy for February 2018. I was ecstatic.

AUGUST

August went off without a hitch. I, along with my family, was minding my granny full time. I spent a lot of August trying to get my eating habits under control. I was still in the shop and enjoying myself. I was even driving much more. Not much more than that happened in August.

SEPTEMBER

In September, I decided to follow a dream of mine and make a digital mag called Into The Nebula. I was still minding my granny most of the time. The biggest excitement of this year was that I passed my driving test. It was a huge relief to be free of that burden and to never have to do it again – woohoo!! I really found myself getting better both in relation to mental and physical health. There were odd days where I felt like my earlier this year but I felt, for the most part, the depression had lifted and I was much better. I was happy again.

OCTOBER

October was nothing exciting either. My granny was getting worse and worse and more cross but we were just about coping. I spent October driving, walking, bathing in Lush products and eating avocado toast with spinach on the side (AKA living my best millennial life).

NOVEMBER

November was a whirlwind month. I went to Limerick three times which was a big push. I wandered around shops and went to pubs and restaurants and I felt “normal”. I missed living in the city. I spent time with friends, I wrapped Christmas presents and I had a skincare routine. I even had some graphic work on the Irish soap opera ‘Ros na Run’. I was thrilled! My excitement for Italy had peaked and I was looking forward to my future. November also meant NaNoWriMo and I finished my novel – double woohoo!!

DECEMBER

December was a lovely month filled with family but it was also a time I noticed stress and anxiety start to creep back in. I started the gym and spent time with family and friends but I started to get anxious about moving away to Italy only two months later. Christmas break was really nice but it was laced with anxiety though, I feel a lot of people can relate. I found myself worrying about my siblings and my mother and I was let with a very stressed version of me. It also didn’t help that it was coming to the time of my uncle’s anniversary. That being said, it was a month filled with baking, TV, laughing, walks in the woods, and being happy. It was a quick year but I am much happier and less anxious. It took hard work but the hard work paid off!

 

A REVIEW

This year was eye-opening. It taught me that my family and I are very resilient and can keep going through tough situations. It also showed me I overthink everything. I am now in a flux of wanting this year to be over and to start afresh with 2018. I am in a predicament of do I want to go to Italy (the answer is yes), am I able to go to Italy? (the answer is probably), will I go to Italy? (I hope so). I want to push past the fear and get back out there. Fear holds you/me back. So right now, after a night of worrying about my future, my brother, my family in general and everything else I take a deep breath and let it go. I don’t need this fear because it is not helping me, it is hindering me and preventing me from living my life to its fullest. So, I say to fear, FUCK OFF!

 

(That can’t be the second last word I write in 2017 so I will finish by saying Happy New Year, have a lovely 2018. I hope/know it will be kind to us!)

IMG_7065
Happy New Year from six year old Lisa xo

 

When your positivity is challenged

I am a positive person, I always have been.

I am a patient person, I always have been.

I am a caring person, I always have been.

I am a grounded person, I always have been.

I am a nurturing person, I always have been.

I am a polite & thoughtful person, I always have been.

This has all been tested again and again but, I feel like I have reached my finishing point. I grew up without a dad, I moved countries, I dealt with certain, far from the average, family members, we took care of my terminally ill uncle for two years, and now we are taking care of my grandmother who has dementia after a stroke. I have reached my fill. After this period, I don’t feel like these statements are true any longer. When she is raising her hand to slap me or when she actually slaps me. When she is screaming “shut up” or “get out” two inches from my face. When all I want to do is scream back at the top of my lungs until I scream so loud my voice is echoing forever in her head. But, I don’t mean it, I am just at my fill. Caring for my uncle was hard, I always said it was the hardest thing I have ever done but that was a fraction of what caring for my grandmother is. She was never easy (I can’t begin to explain the guilt I feel writing that sentence) but now it is worse. She cared for us alongside my mother and aunt my entire life and some will look at it as it is my turn to take care of her but I am here to yell at you, I can’t. Everyone keeps telling me another bit, another bit and things will get better but this is too difficult.

Some days she is so affectionate it is bizarre. Growing up she didn’t know how to show affection but now she will hold my hand or rest her head on my chest or ask for me or praise me. Then there are days like today where she wanted to clean the stove. Let me explain the stove is roasting hot about 15 minutes after lighting it, it was lighting for hours at this point. If you stand within two feet of it your clothes burn. It is designed to heat the old house I live in but I couldn’t explain that. No matter what I said I couldn’t get her to stop so, I physically stood in front of it and blocked her as passively as I could. She slapped me and pulled me and pushed me and screamed at me but I couldn’t get her to see I was doing it so she couldn’t get hurt.

Sometimes I wonder when she passes will she realise all this. Will she see that I was just trying to stop her from burning herself? Will she see that I only told her to be careful because she was really close to knocking the crystal off the shelf? Or will she see it as she sees it now, me belittling her.

The most guilt I feel is due to the fact I am moving country in about 8 weeks to then leave my sister, my brother, my aunt and my mother to deal with it. To be honest I can’t dwell on that.

It is hard when my core setting is positivity and that is now shrouded in negativity. I feel selfish and childish and temperamental as I can’t deal with it. I really struggle with the selfish part because of the Catholic guilt. I should help my grandmother and people have it worse than me and that nothing lasts forever. I just need a breather. I am not even minding her 24/7, that is my aunt. I think I am just not dealing as well as I could be but, I think that is because this happened 3 months after my uncle died. We didn’t have enough time to grieve.

A message to people who know carers of any disease:

Give the carer a break. Ring them and if they can’t talk ask when they can because caring is isolating. Don’t tell them it will pass, they already know that but it doesn’t help when you are in the middle of it. Keep them positive and keep yourself positive. Bring over sweets or a salad or a 7up whatever is the carer’s favourite. Don’t tell them you understand if you don’t, it is okay to not. We don’t expect you to. Just be here for us because we need you.

grannytitle
Granny + me with our heads in the clouds

NaNoWriMo

I am a winner. I won NaNoWriMo but I cheated a bit. Let me rewind for a moment.

I have written three “novels” in my life. The first was a straight-up plagiarism of Twilight. Before you berate me, I was 15 and Twilight/Twilight fanfic was rampant. I say it is actual plagiarism of Stephanie Meyers as it, get this, is based on vampires and werewolves but instead of the female protagonist madly in love with a vampire she is in love with a werewolf. I know I am a genius, a very original genius. And, if you’re not convinced yet it holds lines like this; “After twenty minutes of chat and eating I felt extremely stuffed but yet people were still eating. Who knew werewolves had such great appetites?” and this gem, “You have a hard arm.”, “They are called muscles baby.” He flexed his arm”. It was like if Louise Rennison wrote shit Twilight fanfiction, which she would never do! (Long live Queen Georgia Nicolson!).

My second novel was quite soon after that and I wrote it on and off for about five years. It is called ‘The Elements’ and after spending a few months writing and writing it, I finally printed it to only edit it and toss it. That manuscript is in a drawer. I felt like, not entirely dissimilar to book one (can I call that a book???), when editing it wasn’t my voice. More like if Christopher Paolini and I merged a book baby.

Now I bring you to my third book, Chalked. The reason I say I cheated was that I started NaNoWriMo with circa 25k words. I had spent this year writing and stopping. Generally letting my ego denote if I felt like writing. Then I read about NaNo and decided to eff it, I will do it. I started around the first week of November and began strong. Begin as you mean to carry on and all that. Then, I once again, let my ego in. That coincided with people asking about the novel and how it was going. I was furious that I previously told anyone about it. I want to be an author but I had the realisation ‘writing is hard’. After talking to family and friends I returned to finish NaNo. I was so determined to get that badge and to be a ‘winner’ that I worked hard and got there. I am not a sprinter when it comes to writing. I will have bursts of writing for hours but then I need a break. If I tried to write 50k words in 30 days I would be burnt out and never intend to finish it. However, NaNo was what I needed to finish it and finish it I did. On the last night of NaNo, about 9p.m, I became a NaNoWinner. The relief I felt was immense. I was done. Then I remembered I have to edit it numerous times but that is tomorrow Lisa’s problem.

How did NaNoWriMo2017 go for you?