remember this. [flash fiction]

it’s okay to holler to the wind. if you want. if you feel safe doing so. if your words seek no other home and you wish for them to be caught in something fleeting.

sometimes temporary is best.

this world likes to be permanent. we like to be permanent. we hate on fluctuating weather and people bouncing, but how else are we meant to learn?

it’s okay to holler to the wind because if you never holler to the wind you don’t go anywhere.

you don’t have to go, but you don’t have to stay either.

remember that.

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The Souls of War [Microfiction Competition Entry!]

At the weekend, I took part in the NYC Microfiction Challenge 2019! It is a competition with hundreds of contestants who all work in under 24 hours to produce a piece of microfiction based on three prompts. This is the first time I’ve entered a competition like this before so it was most definitely a challenge, but I really enjoyed myself!

Here is my entry below!

My prompts were:

Genre: Historical Fiction

Action: Turning off a light

Word: Float

 

 

Ypres, Belgium. 1914.

 

I crouch in the trenches. Men line up like dominoes waiting for bullets to knock them down. One by one by one by –

One foot over the barbed wire and we’re facing No Man’s Land, plucking courage out of the reminder that one day we might go home.

I used to think there was a story for war. As I lined up a few months ago, with no idea what I signed up to, I thought war was strategic – it’s always had a beginning and end. But I live in the unknown. War doesn’t plot itself out.

I take each day as it comes, shuffling past men as we scuttle across the duckboards. No more than a glance, yet so much strength and care in our words.

“Hold fire!”

 

My hands often shake along with the ground. I light a match for comfort. Boots pound across the mud just as loud as the bullets that knock them down. It is no place to call home.

I thought the end would be when the war stopped, but as shells are thrown over into our territory, I watch lives end every day. Unlike the rush of war, the smoke floats gently into the sky. Bodies drift up to heaven as if there is an honour in dying – maybe there is.

I blow out the match, turning off the light.

The light of soldier’s lives switch off across the country.

We are all left in darkness.

 

The Mystery Blogger Award

A few weeks ago, Julie from the Dark Blue Journal nominated me for The Mystery Blogger Award! I just wanted to thank her for the nomination and I’m excited to answer some questions! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but they’re a great way of getting to the know the person behind the blog more.

the-mystery-blogger-award

 

What is the Mystery Blogger Award?

The award was created by Okoto Enigma who created this award for blogs that hadn’t been discovered as way to give them some recognition!

Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Okoto Enigma

 

Three facts about me!

 

1. I’m a bit of an organised freak! I have a calendar up on my wall to track everything that’s going on, a blogging weekly planner so I remember when and what to post (for both my blog and my part time job’s blog) and a lot of sticky notes and lists dotted about my desk! It helps me keep track of my life.

2. I have a habit of turning casual conversations into deep discussions. This can either be a good or bad thing, depending on who I’m talking to. Some people love it and it ends up in a really interesting discussion that inspires my blog posts and creative writing. Other times, the person gives a short response and moves onto something else.

3. I’m indecisive when it comes to frivolous things – choosing what to eat for lunch or picking what cookie I want from the bakery – but when it comes to morals and what I believe in, I am extremely decisive and it is very hard to sway my opinion on things I feel very deeply about.

 

Julie’s Questions

 

1. What are your thoughts about the paranormal?

I find the paranormal so interesting! I’m not sure if I believe in it as such, but I’m always open to possibilities. Once when I was younger my friends and I thought we saw an alien spaceship land in our neighbour’s garden, but on peeking round the fence we realised it was actually a huge sheet of plastic that had flown away in the wind. But for that brief moment in time, we were in awe, and I think that kind of awe is what I love about the possibility of the paranormal.

2. Do you think humans will overcome the climate problems, and why?

As much as I like to think we will, I don’t think we will. Idealistically I like to think that we’ll reach such a breaking point that we’ll all be forced to change our lifestyles to solve the climate problems, but realistically, by this point it will be too late. The reason I think we won’t overcome it is that it’s impossible to get everyone to listen. One or two people can make a huge difference but at the end of the day we all have to make a difference.

3. What’s a story that really stuck with you?

This might sound like a cop out, but I feel like every story of every person sticks with me. I’m the kind of person who analyses people on meeting because I’m interested in who they are as a person, and a lot of the time I pick up on stories that haven’t even been said. For me, everyone has a story and they all stick with me in different ways, teaching me to understand others more and see from a different perspective.

4. What’s your favourite trait about yourself?

My favourite trait is my empathy. Whilst it’s often a ‘blessing and a curse’, since it drains me of a lot of energy, it is what drives me forward in life. I feel connected to people I don’t even know, I help people because I know exactly how they’re feeling in my bones, even if I’ve never been through the same experience. It’s a weird thing to have, but it’s also become a comfort to me. It is probably what encouraged me to write – to release all my feelings and everyone else’s feelings that are locked inside me – and I like to think it makes me a good friend as well, who gives honest and understanding advice.

5. What is your hope for 2020?

My hope for 2020 is to continue working towards the happiest and most confident version of myself. I’m graduating university next year so I hope to gain a 2:1 and to secure a job somewhere that suits me and my personality.

 

Nominees!

Questions to my Nominees:

  1. If you could start a new hobby, what hobby would you start?
  2. If you could describe yourself as an object, what object would you pick and why? (you can use the most obscure reasoning, make it as weird as you like!)
  3. What is the primary reason you get up in the morning? (“because I have to work” is not an answer haha)
  4. What personality trait do you have that you also see in your friends?
  5. What food/meal do you not have very often but when you do have it, it makes you really happy?

 

Rules

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

 

Best Post

I’m not sure what I would consider my best post, but one I’m proud of lately is My Goals for Tacking Stress/Anxiety. This is a post that I will constantly look back on over the next year to help myself, and I hope it will help others too.

I never give half of my heart to anything. [poem]

I never give half of my heart to

anything.

stitched up like a blanket

it protects itself,

bounded together

so whole it can’t be

broken.

 

(if given away,

it is swallowed whole)

 

the stitches do not come undone

because I do not love things in

parts.

I could not love anything in

parts because what would be the

point of loving at all?

 

you’d think the strength of my heart

would keep me safe;

it only means that sometimes

I have a heart full of

all the sunshine in the world

and other times

I don’t have a heart at all.

 

(given away too much)

 

then, I sit and wait.

 

 

wait for it to come back.

 

 

meaning behind this poem:

whenever I invest in something, whether that is a friendship or a hobby or giving advice, I always go into it with my whole heart. this is what produces some of my best creativity and best connections (like my decision to invest time in this blog!) but it also means I’m easily hurt when things go wrong. feeling in extremes means I sometimes have to distance myself from things/situations to prevent a drop in emotions which sometimes is super hard to explain to people! (because it seems like I don’t care, when in reality I care too much). however it’s part of who I am, and I’m learning to accept the fact that being sensitive is a good thing.

You can view the photo alongside this poem over at my instagram here: @mymindspeaksaloud

Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

 

5 Things I’m Grateful For This September (2019)

I’ve decided to start a series of posts where I share 5 things I’m grateful for each month! I think this will help remind me of all the good in the world and put things into perspective. If you’d like to join in and do the same, you’re totally welcome to! (if you link to my blog or drop me a comment, I’d love to read it)

Going on Holiday 

I was really lucky to go on an amazing holiday earlier this month and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my Mum. It was an early birthday present for my 21st and was such a fun and relaxing time away! (You can read more about my holiday here). I really appreciate the money my Mum put aside to pay for it and I’m so grateful to have a Mum that’s literally like a best friend to me.

 

New social media job

I was really happy to grab myself a part time job at a bookshop over summer which was a lot of fun! It’s been the ideal job for me, seeing as I study English Literature with Creative Writing and have so much to say about books. However, at the end of the summer, I was suddenly offered the opportunity to run the bookshop’s social media whilst at university! It was completely unexpected but I’m so thrilled and grateful to be doing something that I genuinely really enjoy doing!

 

Friends

It’s been a crazy summer, what with numerous doctor’s appointments and blood tests, but I really appreciate all the support from my friends (and family too!). I know that at times I feel isolated because I feel like its hard for people to understand what I’m feeling (what can I say, I’m a confusing human), but I know everyone really does try their best. I have a lot of happy summer memories to look back on and that’s mostly because my friends have just been really fun to hang out with. I’m grateful that I could have my super early birthday get together with my closest friends from home (honestly one of my favourite days of my existence) and that my friend Niamh took the time to come and visit my university. You’re all great, even if I don’t say it enough, and I miss you all hugely when I’m at uni.

 

The Area I live in for Uni

Moving to a different city for the first time is daunting, but after living here for two years, I really am glad I chose Norwich. There’s so much to do in the city and it really does feel homely to me. I love that it’s not too huge, but it’s bigger than my home town, and I love that there is a lot of surrounding nature. Walking through the park and around the lake has really become something I’m super grateful for.

 

Being me

So this is borderline cringe, but I genuinely am grateful to be me. I feel like this year more than ever I’ve grown to become confident in myself as a person. Of course, this fluctuates massively, and my innate desire to overthink every tiny little thing is not quite cured yet, but I know for sure that I’m more myself that I’ve ever been and that’s totally something to celebrate!

 

What are you grateful for this month?

 

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

 

fighting the dark clouds. [flash fiction]

I wrote this piece a few days ago. It was one of those moments where I just felt down for no reason at all, despite everything going so well lately. All my blog posts have been happy and positive recently and I love that, but I always want my blog to remain wholeheartedly me, even on the days when I’m not so happy. So this is something a bit more personal. I don’t know why these feelings came back – maybe it was the weather or starting uni or hormones or an array of reasons – but, regardless of any of this, feelings are always valid. And I’m learning to trust in my ability to overcome them. 

 

 

I know when that dark cloud is falling over me. I know that now and you’d think it’d be easier because I know, but it isn’t.

It’s something I can never pinpoint, but it happens. I know it happens when suddenly I’m a distant star, staring at this galaxy of blended people like I’m not really part of anything. Like I can be seen, I can be heard, but my wails only rattle inside my chest and all you see are my smiles. Nervous smiles.

I know it happens when I start to feel empty. Neutral. A feeling that isn’t really captured by either of these words but I just can’t find the right one. The feeling of just being stuck inside one stagnant emotion in a moving world, like suddenly I’ve lost the control to move about the world like a functioning being. Physically, I can. Emotionally, I’m too far gone.

I know it happens when I wake up and I sit here and I want to write things like this when two weeks ago I was in a world of summer and fun and real smiles and a happiness I hadn’t felt in a very long time, if ever. And in contrast, I feel stupid.

The reality is that if the world and other people and the climate can change, so can I. The reality is that you have to live in the moments in between before you find your footing again and that’s what I’m doing; that’s what you’re all doing even if you don’t know it yet.

When I sit here and I feel myself sinking into the ground it’s easy to let it happen. It’s easy to live my life like a ghost walking through crowded corridors because that’s what I did. That’s what I did at my worst and I don’t want to be my worst anymore.

Instead, I’ll put on my shoes and I’ll walk. I’ll walk until my feet hurt instead of my insides. I’ll walk until the beat of the music in my chest is out of happiness, not fear. I’ll walk until I’ve walked until I walk until the walk comes to an end. And I just have to trust the end will be bright.

early autumn. [flash fiction]

the crisp leaves scatter the sky, falling amidst the cranes; the cranes of building life and the crane of a neck to see the city. in just another light. it’ll soon be night. these skies will die under the horizon and the leaves will crunch unknown underneath feet. feet biting their way out of the cold. the ground does not like their teeth.

My Goals for Tackling Stress/Anxiety

As some of you know, I shared a personal post a month ago about post viral fatigue. A lot has changed since then so I’m here with an update, as well as my plan and goals for the future.

After a lot of doctor visits, I eventually got referred privately to see a consultant. I finally got a chance to share all my struggles with no interruptions and a listening ear which was exactly what I needed. I had multiple tests – ultrasound scan on my neck and a lot of blood tests. It ended up being more blood tests as I would have liked since I’m a bit of a “mystery case” as the phlebotomist put it (they can never seem to get blood out of me!). I had 1 on the arm, 2 on the hand and 2 on the foot and they still got nothing! So that was a fun journey of returning to the hospital the day after with my warmest hoodie, a hot chocolate, gloves and some spontaneous jumping around. Got some interesting looks.

Once it was completed, I got all the results back and turns out nothing is wrong. I didn’t really know how to feel at all. I was so relieved there was nothing majorly wrong but I also didn’t have an answer to my problems. I’ve been told by the consultant that it could have been a virus that’s thrown my system completely off, or it could be the result of chronic stress/anxiety that’s manifesting itself in a different way.

The way forward is for me to now tackle my stress/anxiety and live the best possible healthy lifestyle I can, in the hope that my symptoms will fade (which they already are, so that’s progress!).

 

Here are my goals for 2019/2020! 

 

  • EXERCISE MORE

Over the last two years at university, I’ve been exercising through badminton club and the occasional walk around the park/lake. On reflection, this isn’t really enough. Aside from the fact I probably spend most of badminton sitting around chatting and not actually playing, when I do participate in exercise it’s not intense enough, nor is it a good duration. As much as I love badminton, I’m thinking of quitting it this year to focus on other forms of exercise that will be more beneficial (and I don’t want to overcommit myself to both). I’m planning on doing yoga and zumba classes, as well as possibly joining a walking group/club. I’m actually really excited to try something different and I’m feeling positive about the effects it will have on my stress levels.

 

  • DRINK LESS ALCOHOL & CAFFEINE

I say drink less, but to be honest I’m going to try not to drink any at all if I can. Both alcohol and caffeine are stimulants which means anxiety/stress feeds off of it. Realistically, if I ever want to reach a consistent stress-free state, I will have to cut out things that will purposefully cause spikes in my progress, so alcohol and caffeine has to go! I think cutting caffeine will be easier since I love chamomile and sleep teas so I will live off of them! In terms of alcohol, I normally only drink it socially anyway, but I’m aiming to avoid clubbing this year because that’s the only time I feel as though I have to drink.

 

  • SCHEDULE IN SELF-CARE

I am the worst person ever at self-care. I spend way too much time working, I get too invested in other people’s problems, and I have a habit of just ignoring how I’m feeling in order to make others feel better. But I’ve decided that now I need to be a little bit selfish, otherwise my health will suffer. I’ve created a list of self-care ideas (which I will probably share with you all sometime) and I’m aiming to complete at least a few of them each week.

 

  • DIVERSIFY MY DIET

In terms of the average uni student, I’d say my diet is pretty good. I eat 3 meals a day, I remember to eat a good portion of fruit/vegetables and almost always buy fresh food. However, I do get into a bad habit of repeating the same meals. To improve my digestion, but also for a little excitement, I’m going to switch around my meals and try some new things, as well as replacing my go-to vegetables (onions, peppers, mushrooms) with ones I don’t have so often (aubergine, carrot, green beans). I love cooking so this one should be pretty fun!

 

  • USE MY PHONE LESS

Since my phone/social media detox on holiday, I’ve learnt I need to live in the moment more. I’m so much more relaxed this way. I’m going to create more of a distance between myself and my phone and check it less throughout the day (maximum 15 minutes on it). I know there will be times when I break these rules because I can’t instantly change myself, but it’s something to work towards and eventually succeed at.

 

  • PRACTISE DEEP BREATHING

For some reason, I’d got it into my head that deep breathing just wasn’t working for me. My body naturally reacts to it with a faster heart rate and I instantly assume that it’s just making things worse. However, I think this is because I don’t breathe enough; my body is constantly stressed and it’s used to breathing shallowly. The only time I notice my breath is when I’m anxious so it’s no wonder I associate focusing on my breathing with anxiety. To change this, I’m going to focus on my breathing more, regardless of my body’s initial reaction. I’ve found that after 15 minutes or so of breathing, my heart rate does eventually drop. If it doesn’t, I grab a hot cup of chamomile tea instead and that normally does the trick.

I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from all of this is to listen to my body more. I’m starting to notice more and more when my body gets stressed/anxious and instead of ignoring it, I am now doing something about it. It’s easy to feel as though you have no choice but to plow through, but a few minutes out of your day to just breathe, or have an apple, or do yoga, is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

 

My goal for 2019/2020 is to live a healthier and stress-free lifestyle – what’s yours? 

 

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

‘Jenny of Lebanon’ by Gabrielle Olexa [*Gifted* Book Review]

A few weeks ago, Gabrielle Olexa kindly sent me her latest novel Jenny of Lebanon to review on my blog.  It is a short book following two characters with an emphasis on dialogue and the interactions they have with one another. There isn’t a plot as such, but there is a backstory that is gradually revealed as the writing goes on and, despite the short 55 pages, I found myself completely immersed in this world.

“Side by side, the bride and groom lay in his palm. They were infinitely happy, and it disgusted him that they could still smile after all this time. They were like photographs. Despite that their moment had passed, they served as a reminder that indeed, at one time, happiness had existed. But like an old photograph, he had a hard time recognising the memory as his own.”

img_2266

I think the characterisation in this book was excellent. Both characters had distinct voices and habits and I felt like it all slotted together like a puzzle. It is easy to feel like you’ve been thrown into something that you don’t care about, especially when reading short stories, but with this one I felt like the characters had something to say from the start. They intrigued me without really knowing why.

The descriptive narrative worked well amongst the chunks of dialogue. It was so easy for me to imagine the scenes playing inside my head and I think that’s all you can aim for as a writer – for the reader to live inside the imagery as if they’re an invisible character within the book’s plot.

Part of me wishes the book was longer, but part of me knows that it works so well just as it is. Without giving any spoilers, I loved the ending, because it didn’t try to be dramatic or cliche or anything you would expect. It was just an end, like how most things come to an end. It felt real enough to just be.

I really appreciated the author’s confidence in the characters to drive this story from start to finish without needing any major events to define them. I think it’s a great read, especially if you’re looking for something small but powerful.

Update on my Holiday & Social Media Detox

As a few of you may have noticed, I disappeared for the last week. That’s because I went on holiday to Cyprus! I’ve never been there before so I was very excited about going! It’s the first relaxing holiday I’ve had. Normally, I opt for active holidays where I’m sightseeing and doing a lot of walking and exploring, but this time my Mum and I decided to have a chill holiday.

Most of the holiday consisted of sunbathing, swimming, reading and eating a ton of food (it was all inclusive so I had to make the most of it!). I finished two books – Normal People by Sally Rooney and This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay – both of which I will write book reviews of when I get round to it! I also properly tanned for the first time in my life so for once I’m no longer pale (or “insipid” as my Mum likes to joke).

I think going on holidays is a lot of fun but they’re also really beneficial for your well being if you go about them in a certain way. I decided that I would have a phone/social media detox for my time away to ensure I had the most relaxation I could, and honestly I’m so glad I did! Apart from the quick check of the phone in the morning or evening (to remind people that I am still alive), I left my phone locked away in my room and focused primarily on living in the moment. Which is why you haven’t seen any blog or social media posts from me recently.

I think it’s easy, especially in the modern world, to be stressed without even realising you’re stressed. We naturally want to be efficient and multi-task and do everything that we possibly can, but this takes a huge toll on us. It was only by removing myself from my phone and then returning to real life once I got home, that I realised how much my phone was causing me minor stress. Sometimes you just need to break away and return to fully realise how much something impacts you. 

In a week’s time, I will be starting university again and I’m determined to change up my lifestyle and minimise my stress level as much as possible. I’ll be explaining this in a future post, as well as sharing my goals for the rest of 2019 and 2020.

I really feel like a lot has changed in my life over the past few months and this holiday has really created a divider between my old lifestyle and the lifestyle I wish to carry through now to the future. I’m excited to start a fresh chapter! I hope you’ll tag along with me.

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud