I Woke Up And Decided To Be Happy

Bi-polar + anxiety can equal a fucking disastrous ride through life, full of hurt and angst and misunderstandings. Hell, if you only knew how many times I’ve fallen hard, and needed to gather my damaged self back up again…my head is home to a world of scars.

Sometimes it feels like life has never been a straightforward experience. I’ve always been falling over and breaking, then staggering back upright and fixing myself, determined that I’d never be caught off guard again. That this time I’d stay ok.

But of course I’m caught off guard, of course I fall. In some ways, I think I was put here to show people that you don’t have to disappear underground forever when shit gets bad. Even though I’m one who can do that…the disappearing act…I always come back after a while because I refuse to be defeated.

The valuable thing for me to remember is that I know I can pull myself from the maelestom. I know I can get my head above the water and breathe and live for the moment, instead of in the darkened past or an imagined, shaky future.

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This morning I woke up and said to myself,

‘From now on, I’m going to be happy. I’m going to accept that life is uncertain and embrace the uncertainty. When negative thoughts try and plough into my consciousness, I’m going to let them starve from lack of attention, and when shit gets difficult, as it inevitably will from time to time, I’ll deal with it and move the fuck forward without hesitation.

I have a beautiful life, in one of the most spectacular countries in the world, and a partner I wouldn’t trade for anything. The people around me own the biggest hearts. I have my eyesight, I have my hearing, I have my voice, I have four working limbs and a strong heart. I have life-bettering opportunities offering themselves to me, and I have experience enough that I can tackle any challenge head on. I want to inspire happiness in people, I want to inspire hope.’

Further Reading

Further Watching

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Important Shit I Have Underlined About Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Love & Thinking

I have forever been protective over my books, I mean like obsessively protective. My books mean everyfuckingthing to me and I would run into a burning building to save them, if I had to. No lie. I would save my books over pretty much all of my other possessions.

I have my special books and I have my other books, my other books are okay to be underlined, are okay to be battered and creased and what have you. The special books on the other hand, well, be warned…crease a page and you’ve pretty much dug your own grave.

As I kid, I’d never underline stuff, I’d never turn down the top of a page, hell, I’d read them as carefully as I could so that I wouldn’t crease the spine. While this sort of protectiveness is needed for some volumes, for others I’ve loosened up.  I’ve realised that underlining and creasing pages can be for the best…

Three of the ‘other’ books which I’ve been markering with an iluminous green marker pen like a thing possessed are: Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff In Love by Richard and Kristine Carlson, Mind Power by James Borg and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Dummies by Rhena Branch and Rob Willson.

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Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff In Love

Bought this little book for 20 krona in a thrift store…only a quarter of the way through but, for someone who’s always looking for ways to become a better human being for my partner and our relationship, I’ve already underlined a shit ton of things.

Above all else, adopt an attitude of kindness. Make it your highest priority to practise it every day.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and, ultimately, your relationship is to know your own value, to feel secure that you are special, unique and important. There isn’t a person in the world who is just like you, and no one could take your place. Your contribution is important, and the gifts and value you bring to your relationship are significant and irreplaceable.

Instead she continued working on herself. She became calmer and even kinder and happier than she already was. After a while, her happy spirit  became a little contagious and her husband became curious.

When you eliminate (or even greatly reduce) the number of little things that bother you enough to fight about, it opens the door to a different kind of relationship. It’s so much fun to be around someone is isn’t always bothered by something – it’s refreshing, inviting and nourishing. When you refuse to fight over stupid things, you can become true pals again – partners in every sense of the word.

Make being happy more important than being stubborn. Soon this could be a habit that will change the course of your relationship forever.

Mind Power

Officially the best 25 krona I have spent in my life on anything. Struggling with your head and have thoughts that you just want to piss the fuck off? This is the book you need. I’ve underlined stuff on nearly every page, and I’m not reading it for the third time because I need a bit of extra help with my thoughts and shit. I think I’ll be returning to this one in a not-so distant blog post.

You are today where the thoughts of yesterday have brought you and you will be tomorrow where the thoughts of today take you. – Blaise Pascal

Your thinking can propel you to success – or hold you back. So to change your life all you have to do is change your thinking.

How we cope with these everyday challenges and how troubled we become is purely down to the way we think about the situation. Through what ‘filter’ do we see the world?

The mere act of ‘thinking’ changes the brain.

The mind can propel us to do wonderful things or hold us back relentlessly.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Dummies

So I kind of adopted this book from my mother…while I don’t usually like books from the ‘For Dummies’ series, this one is actually pretty good. Some of them, I find, are just too much (and that’s something coming from me!) but this one has been really, really well written. It’s a joy to read, especially because it’s genuinely helping me.

I’ve had CBT on and off for about over 15 years. While it’s been a while since I’ve sat face to face with a therapist, I’ve decided I need to make space for it again in my life.

From Chapter 5 : Refocusing and Retraining Your Awareness

One of the real benefits of understanding the way that your emotions influence the way you think, is to know when what you’re thinking isn’t likely to be helpful or very realistic.

Given that many of the negative thoughts you experience when you’re emotionally distressed are distorted and unhelpful, you’re much better off letting some thoughts pass you by, recognising them symptoms or output of a given emotional state or psychological problem.

Becoming more familiar with the thoughts that tend to pop into your head when you feel down, anxious or guilty makes it easier for you to recognise them as thoughts and let them come and go, rather than treating them as facts.

Becoming more mindful about little everyday tasks can help you to strengthen your attention muscles. Essentially, everything you do throughout the day can be done with increased awareness.

 

Just Don’t Think

For almost a year now, I’ve had the same obsessive compulsive destructive thoughts intruding my head space. They led to a horrendous breakdown when 2016 was winding down. Functioning like a normal human being was neigh on impossible.

While I’ve mostly recovered from that fucking mess – by which I mean I can get out of bed, hold a conversation and sometimes write something decent-ish – I’m still working on cleansing my life of the thoughts that want to do nothing more than see me fall, and fall hard, as in fall so hard I don’t get back up again.

The thoughts are there when I wake up. They’re there when I try and write. They’re there when I’m digging out my blackheads. And they tire me the hell out. I mean really. My brain gets so fucking exhausted that I’m ready for bed by 3pm.

Sleep is often the only branch I can cling to for relief from the rapids of my thoughts. The moments the thoughts are crushing me when I’m awake are few and far between but they are just so beautiful.

The really fucking tragic thing is I know what’s happening to me, and I know how to solve it. But it’s hard. I’m re-educating myself in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques, re-reading Mind Power by James Borg and talking to my mother.

Talking to my mother has probably been the most effective treatment source. She told me how she had managed to get her excessive worrying down from 8 hours a day to only 15 minutes by doing one simple thing – not thinking. That’s right. Just. Don’t. Think. Instead, live! Just LIVE! When your thoughts get the better of you, and they will, try again and again and again until all you are doing is living.

Instead of letting herself be rattled all day every day, my mother, my mountain, allows herself 15 minutes to worry about the things that are stressing her the hell out. The rest of the time, those thoughts can just fuck the fuck off. They’re not welcome in the temple of her mind.

Right now, I would say that 16 hours in 24 are poisoned with negative thinking, and this simply has to change. I refuse to allow my life to be dictated to by irrationality. I know I’m capable of it, it’s just this time the thoughts are rooted so fucking deep I know it’s going to take a little while. But I have a belief in myself that’s stronger than the doubt trying its hardest to make itself heard.

 

A Day Of Food When I Was Anorexic VS A Day Of Food Now

I thought this would be interesting to write about because my relationship with food is so radically  different to how it used to be.

When I was 14 years old I developed Anorexia Nervosa. Over the course of a few months, I bid farewell to over half of my body weight. The hair on my head thinned and dropped out. My periods dried up. My nails and bones became brittle as kindling, and a strange, blonde fur (lanugo) started to blanket my sad and broken skin.

My body was trying in vain to keep itself warm, to keep itself alive. When the fur didn’t help, my body started to cannibalize itself from the inside out.

First it consumed any fat that I had left, then it started to steadily eat away at my muscles. I was – very effectively – starving myself to death and became little more than a bundle of bones tied up in a scrap of dry flesh.

Yet I wanted to be…no, I needed to be thinner, smaller, less noticeable. I needed to be leaving a fainter footsteps when I walked. I needed to be practically able to float. Nothing else other than getting thinner mattered in the world. Nothing. 

My diet when I was at lowest weight (just under 5 stone) was tragic. Nobody really knew what I was eating because I lied about what made it past my mouth. I became an expert at magicking food away to anywhere but my stomach.

Before this sickness adopted me, I wasn’t fussy with food. Actually, I fucking loved food, and had a more than healthy relationship with the stuff. But it didn’t take long for it to become the enemy, for me to be afraid of it even touching my skin.

This is what a day of food looked like for me then:

Breakfast

  • 15 grams of dry branflakes.
  • A small glass of water.

Note: It was VITAL that the branflakes were weighed, and I quickly replaced milk with water when I realised how many calories I could save. But then I started to become worried about the amount of water I was having and thought that it would increase my weight, so I started to have my branflakes dry instead. There were some days, before I was admitted to hospital, where I would actually count the number of branflakes in my bowl. They always needed to be an even number.

I’d forever had tea in a morning, but that quickly became forbidden when I became ill.

Lunch

  • 2 Ryvita’s each with a transparent layer of sandwich spread.
  • 1 small apple.
  • A bottle of water.

Note: I would eat about half of one of the Ryvita’s and then throw the other one and a half in the bin. When I was having lunch at school this was easy enough. Though I still did it discreetly, just in case. More often than not the apple wouldn’t get eaten and would be thrown in the bin too.

Dinner

  • A Quorn burger or something similar. Whatever it was I didn’t want to eat it.
  • Peas, Carrots.
  • Mashed potato.

Note: The fights that I would have with my mother at dinner time were so apocalyptic they became legendary. I would scream so loud I’d break an eardrum or two, and I think I remember even catapulting plates of food. I’d usually end up swallowing a few tiny mouthfuls, then somehow manage to get away with not touching the rest, most of which would end up down my sleeves then in the toilet.


After I’d pretty much reached the weight I was when I was a toddler, I maintained my exhausting anorexic existence for over ten years. I would sort of get near to being better than I’d relapse, then I’d sort of get near to being better again, and I’d relapse…and so the cycle continued on and on and on.

It pushed my terrified family to the edge, then, making me watch, flung them over relentlessly. They’d dust themselves down, repair what had been broken, then they’d be taken right back to the edge again, even more terrified than before. And again, I was made to watch as they were flung over.

Fast-forward to 2017, 17 years after I was diagnosed with anorexia, and my relationship with food is poles apart from what it was. My family and I have, together, recovered.

I have a womanly belly. My arse is taking on something of a curve. My collar bones aren’t sharp enough for me to cut my fingers on anymore. I’m also in a relationship with a Swedish man who has weaned me onto crisps and chocolate and pick n mix and Pepsi. A man who has managed what no one else has managed – he’s managed to make me eat foods which I was still, up until a few months ago, forbidden from touching.

And this is what a day of food for me looks like now:

Breakfast

  • A bowl of…I dunno…maybe 55, 60 grams of branflakes? I don’t weigh stuff anymore, with plenty of semi-skimmed milk.
  • Non Fat Greek yogurt. Again, I don’t know how much, several tablespoons?
  • A BIG cup of tea with milk AND one teaspoon of sugar.
  • A piece of dark chocolate.
  • 1 40 mg citalopram tablet, 1 100 mg quitapine tablet.

NOTE: I used to weigh my cereal OBSESSIVELY when I was ill, and I would NEVER use semi-skimmed milk. Just skimmed or unsweetened soya…soya because it has less calories than the skimmed. Also, when I was in hospital I’d drain the milk from each individual branflake and eat just one flake at a time. I’d didn’t finish a bowl of cereal until at least 5 months into my stay in hospital.

It was only when I discovered artificial sweetener in hospital that I started to drink tea again. I became obsessed with the stuff and would have up to 8 in one cup of tea…how I have no fucking idea. Anyway, I ditched the sweetener several years ago because of a million and one different reasons which I can talk about in another post – though primarily because it works to agitate my mental issues.

The dark chocolate thing is new. When the lovely lady who contributed to my Arctic Library sent me a heap of dark organic chocolate (70% + cocoa content) I became infatuated and have been having some every day since. I’m now on the last bar she sent, and I’m trying to make it last…the benefits of dark chocolate are EXTENSIVE, as you’ll probably know.

The medication I’ve been taking since 2010 helps with the shit that goes down in my brain, because it doesn’t function like everyone else’s and needs some help. The citalopram works as an anti-depressant, while the quitapine works as an anti-psychotic. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 15 along with the anorexia. Then, when I was 24 I was accessed for the millionth time and diagnosed with bi-polar.

Lunch

  • Ham sandwich cobbled together with 2 slices of white bread and butter.
  • A banana.
  • A meringue.
  • A cup of tea with milk and sugar.

NOTE: Yeah, yeah, I know. White bread is shitty, but we didn’t have any multigrain in, so I had to make do. Back in the thin days I just wouldn’t have eaten. The butter is a relatively new. I NEVER EVER EVER had butter on my bread when I was ill. To be honest, I used to be so paranoid about butter that I thought if I touched it, the calories would leech through my skin.

The meringue was just there. Wanted it. Ate it. Licked my fingers.

Snack

  • A muesli bar. Blueberry or something. Love muesli bars.
  • A cup of tea with milk and sugar.

NOTE: If I don’t have a snack mid-afternoon I’m a mega bitch. Seriously. When I was at my sickest there was NEVER a snack.

Dinner

  • A tuna mayonnaise and spinach (!) sandwich made with wholewheat bread. (I went to the shop.)
  • A bowl of Greek yogurt with a chopped up banana and a handful of strawberries.
  • Some more dark chocolate because I needed the good mood boost and brain energy.
  • A cup of tea with milk and sugar.

NOTE: I know a tuna mayo sandwich isn’t the best dinner option, but I just could not be arsed cooking. Anorexia wouldn’t have allowed that back in the day. I had to have what I’d planned to have a week earlier, that or nothing at all.

Snack

  • ANOTHER bowl of branflakes with milk.
  • 1 disappointingly small apple.
  • A cup of tea with milk and sugar.
  • 2 100mg quitapine tablets.

NOTE: I always eat a snack in the evening. I went to bed hungry for too many years. Plus, this is usually the time the man and I devour our crisps and chocolate…

Then later…

  • Some Horlicks because I was having anxiety attacks in bed and couldn’t sleep.
  • 1 banana because I wasn’t hungry but I needed something comforting that could also help me sleep. Bananas are good for sleep.

NOTE: My food routine was ESSENTIAL when I was ill. I couldn’t deviate away from it. If I couldn’t sleep when I was ill, there was no ‘grab a cup of Horlicks’ option.’ I just had to sit there, shaking my legs – it burned calories – waiting for sleep to come.

My, how things have changed. And how very fucking proud I am of myself and the man who has helped with much of it.

Discoveries : March

I have been looking forward to putting this post together for weeks now!

If there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I very rarely switch off. Even when I think sometimes that ‘perhaps it would be nice to have a quiet head for a while,’  it’s not often that I’m mentally capable of it being so.

It has quite a lot to do with the fact with the fact I live with bi-polar, and it’s an illness that’s renowned for not letting its carriers allow their thoughts to rest. And it has quite a lot to do with the fact that I’m just too bloody interested in my interests to be able to let my mind drain out. I tried it once last year, to just be without putting out my feelers, and I felt like it was the end of the fucking world.

Anyway, here I present to you many of the great things March informed me about in its 31 days. If there’s something that moves you or inspires you or gets really under your skin or perhaps you know of a better way that I could document my discoveries, let me know…!

P.S. The little bullet points are the rune Kenaz which symbolises – among other things – knowledge, illumination and creativity.

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Creative

< Having a baby can change a writer for the better

This quote was lifted from my friend, writer Carmen Thompson’s Facebook page.

‘I admit it I was so scared about how having a baby would affect me as a writer. How could I go from the fast paced intensity of deadlines to doing nothing but baby? But he’s made me slow down to his time until I see the details in each moment. What is innocence but having the patience to wonder? What better way to write, to live?’

Stephen King Doesn’t Write In A ‘Room Of His Own’
< The Influence English Folklore Has Had On Writers
< Darby ‘Old Hag’ Lagher Is Learning To Express Herself Through Drawing
< The Man Who Runs Free With Hoses In Iceland
< The Heartbreaking Difficulty Of Getting Rid Of Books
< Caitlin Doughty Has A New Book Coming Out Called Here To Eternity

Macabre, Death & Wyrd

< Turkeys Circling A Dead Cat
15 Historical Time Consuming Torture Methods
Yeti Could Be A Sub-Species Of The Himalayan Bear
<  The Term Sasquatch Was Coined By A Journalist In 1920
New Digital Document To Help You Find Out If You’re Descended From Witches
< Zana The Wild Woman
< Baking Students Create Chocolate Geodes

History

< Why Greenland’s Vikings Vanished

Mental Health

< Shawn Cross Illustrated Mental Illness & Disorders
< Why Mental Illness Makes People So Tired
< Conveying Depression Through Photography

Nature

< Icelandic Aurora Photo Published By Nasa
< Quest To See The Northern Lights
< Peculiar Crack Forms In Þingvellir Lake
< Satellite Detects A Massive Anomaly Under Antarctica
< Norway Prepares For A Mass Slaughter Of Reindeer

Things To Try

< Viking Bread Recipe
< Turmeric Lemonade
< A Clothing & Sigil Protection Spell

 

It’s Like Going Up Everest With No Oxygen : On Living With Fatigue

At the end of 2016 I publicly apologized for being such a shitty friend, for being such a shitty freelancer, for being such a shitty pretty-much-everything else.

2016 had seen me become the shadow of the shadow of my former self. It had started as a beautiful year; full of so much promise, full of so much hope, full of so much good stuff, all that good stuff that you think won’t ever happen to you, and then when it does, life really lives like a beautiful work of fiction. My writing career was on the up, and I could practically touch my goal – to be a full-time freelance by the time I turned 30.

I had my bi-polar pretty much under control, and being on planet earth was something I really wanted to experience. But then, mid-year, I was swallowed up by a chaos I thought I’d left far behind, and existing became something so fucking difficult.

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Fatigue like I’d never experienced before set in, and everything became a struggle. The motivation that made me me vanished. The enthusiasm that I carried with me wherever I went evaporated like a ghost caught in sunlight. I was losing life so fast it should have terrified me, but I didn’t have the energy to care.

Logging into my Outlook account to look at my emails was draining in itself, actually replying to anything was like going up Everest with no oxygen. I just didn’t have it in me to do it. I didn’t have it in me to do anything.

Getting out of bed in the morning took a colossal amount of effort. Once I was up, I’d eat some cereal, make some tea, then be back into bed before I’d had the chance to take a mouthful of my brew. That’s when I knew things were really bad – when I couldn’t drink my tea.

Sometimes I’d sleep until mid-afternoon, then stumble around in a daze for the rest of the day, mumbling incoherently and doing things like forgetting to turn the oven off, or putting my clothes on inside out, or forgetting to brush my teeth until it was time for bed again.

I felt lost, afraid and worthless. I’d always prided myself on keeping on top of my communication. I’d always met deadlines with work. Not being able to reply to people for days, weeks, in some cases months had me wanting to disappear into the forest and not come out. Not being able to work to the standard I had set for myself damaged my soul. It was almost as bad during the manic periods. Unable to sleep I was endlessly restless but unable to focus and do anything constructive.

This quote from Martha Graham sums up the experience well…

‘There is a fatigue so great that the body cries, even in its sleep. There are times of complete frustration; there are daily small deaths.’

…as does this one from Sylvia Plath…

‘I feel occasionally my skull will crack, fatigue is continuous – I only go from less exhausted to more exhausted & back again.’

I envisaged people saying ‘don’t trust that Katie Metcalfe, she’s fucking useless.’ After 30 years of building up my reputation – both as a writer and a friend – I felt like it was as vulnerable as Arctic ice. There was nothing I could do but brave the storm and wait to see which faces would be there when the clouds cleared.

The clouds have started to clear now. I’m finding my footing again and feel supported. But fatigue is still something I need to deal with on a nearly daily basis, and it can impact me in some fucking ridiculous ways like…I’ll start to put my makeup on, then, before I’m even half done applying my foundation I’ll think ‘I can’t finish this.’ Or, I’ll want to wear something different, but don’t have the energy to decide what, so I throw on what I’ve been wearing for the past three days. Or, I’ll start washing my hair and already dread the energy it takes the dry it. Or, I’ll go to bed in my clothes and makeup because taking them off is just too much.

But I have a plan to weave in some coping mechanisms to make existing with fatigue that bit easier:

I will…

  • Go to bed at the same time every night – 11.30pm (Hard because we’re re-watching American Horror Story : Murder House…)
  • Wake up at the same time every morning – 7.am
  • Avoid the TV and my laptop right before bed
  • DRINK MORE WATER.
  • Actually get out in the sun

While I’m counseling myself to think positive and adopt bravery like never before, I think it’s important to share this quote from Alyssa Reyans.

‘Bipolar robs you of that which is you. It can take from you the very core of your being and replace it with something that is completely opposite of who and what you truly are.’

Just because you can’t see the hurt and the torment and the sheer fucking hellfire of a mental illness doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

 

In A Hurry To Do Great Things

Unlike nature, I am always in a hurry to do great things. I’d love to be able to say, all noble and head held stupendously high, that patience is one of my virtues. But it’s not. I’m too curious, too ambitious, too bloody stubborn to let things run their natural course.

I’m also thirty years old, soon to be thirty one, and I’ve spent so many years of my life dangerously ill and peeking behind the veil that separates us from the beyond, that I live to make up for lost time. I read a quote today from the book I’m currently feverishly  devouring – In The Kingdom of Ice – the words of a wife whose ship officer husband had fallen under the spell of the Arctic:

‘The adventure had affected him deeply and would not let him rest.’

This basically describes me. I tried ‘resting’ once and I didn’t like it. Not at all. I’m forever interested, forever hungry for new knowledge, new experiences, new skills.

2017 was the first year in I don’t know how many years that I didn’t write a list of what I wanted to accomplish in the coming 12 months. 2016 left me mentally battered and bruised following the catastrophic mistake of coming off my anti-depressants when I really shouldn’t have.

For months I could hardly get out of bed, let alone read a book or create anything of worth. We’re closing in on March and I still haven’t given my eyebrows the attention they deserved to have way back in September of last year. I’ll start plucking and then I’ll think, ‘I want to be writing now…’ or, ‘I want to be in the forest now,’ or ‘I want to be watching American Horror Story with my boyfriend now.’

Anyway, when the time came to sit down and prepare myself for the new year, I just wasn’t ready. My head was still recovering, my thoughts were still scattering whenever I tried to gather them together in one place.

But now I’m ready to commit words to paper, and words to blog. I have something a direction for my personal development. I should say this is a working list and is by no means ‘complete.’ I’ll be updating it and shaping it and re-sharing it over the year. (In my notebook I’ve split the year up into two halves and have started with the goals I want to achieve by June, which, I think, makes everything  more manageable.)

Love & Family

  • Be more present with my family here in Sweden.
  • Stay in better contact with my family in England i.e. more letter writing, more Skype conversations.
  • Go on more adventures into the forest, to random museums, to the Arctic Circle. We’re nearly there anyway.
  • Practice gratitude all the time.
  • Eat at the table. Bad habit of not doing this.
  • Keep a record of our life. Photo albums need to make a comeback. I’m going to bring them back.
  • Be fucking silly.
  • Make healthier food. Together.
  • Challenge each other to think outside the box.

Magically & Spiritually

  • Learn to cast runes (I also intend to make my own using materials I find here in the forest.)
  • Learn to read tarot (For years I’ve been telling myself ‘you don’t have the time. This is the year I make the time. Currently looking for a pack which speaks to me, and I’m drawn to The Wanderer’s Tarot pack.)
  • Learn palmistry. My mother has a knack for this.
  • Better honour the wheel of the year, i.e. carve the pumpkin in time for Samhain.
  • Develop my knowledge of herb lore and healing.
  • Use more natural ingredients in my cooking and make meals that will nourish in more ways than one.
  • Re-learn the essentials of spell casting.
  • Become more familiar with the moon and her cycles.
  • Develop my knowledge of crystals and their healing properties.

Mentally & Emotionally

  • Cast aside jealously. (I have a fucking terrible habit of ‘over feeling’ about stuff on the internet.)
  • Find balance. (Probably one of the most difficult things I’ll set myself up to do this year.)
  • Remain on my medication and don’t make the same mistake as last year.
  • Change my thinking so my mind and I can live in relative peace with each other.
  • Practice mindfulness. (When I do manage to do this, the relief is EXTRAORDINARY. But then I fall back into bad patterns again and need to start the cycle over.)
  • Accept my body for the temple it…is.
  • Have courage.
  • Embrace my optimism. Always.
  • Laugh more.
  • Connect with others more, even if it is just online because I’m not the world best ‘real life’ socialiser.

Physically

  • Improve my posture. It’s so bad.
  • Continue to grow my hair. Biggest mistake was to cut it last year.
  • Resume with my running, which I haven’t done in a few months now.
  • To take MUCH better care of my body overall, i.e. ALWAYS take off my makeup before bed, cut my nails when they get raggedy, do a natural face mask every once in a while, don’t shower in water hot enough to cause third degree burns.

Creatively

  • Develop my writing craft. Every. Single. Day. Never use a word unnecessarily.
  • Learn something new each day.
  • Read more books.
  • Read more blogs.
  • Develop as a photographer. More shoots. More reading about photography. More experimentation.
  • Grow as a blogger.
  • Review more. Much more. I bloody love reviewing.
  • Become brilliant at cross stitch.
  • Make my own candles.
  • Learn calligraphy.
  • Discover new music that gets into my bones.

Professionally

  • Work towards living off my work – 80% writing 20% other creative endeavours – by the end of the year.
  • Have a new poetry collection published – by a publisher I respect – featuring brand new, unseen poems.
  • Have a poetry collection published featuring my best work from over the past however many years – also by a publisher I respect.
  • Maintain my blogs so they read and run and attract readers effortlessly.
  • Establish an Etsy shop linked to this here blog selling wyrd stuff I’ve crafted and written.
  • Re-work my solo poetry show (I started this back in 2015) and perform here in Sweden.
  • Re-launch my magazine Wyrd Words & Effigies OR conjure up a new one. I can’t stop thinking about doing this.

Learning

  • Continue learning about Inuit culture and spirituality and incorporating it into my creative work.
  • Continue to study the culture, nature and history of the Arctic and the impact of global warming on the north.
  • Develop my knowledge of Northern Shamanism including the traditions of the Norse and Sami people.
  • Improve my understanding of the history of witchcraft in North America, England and Scandinavia.
  • Learn more about how other modern witches and pagans and pagan witches are going about their daily lives.
  • Learn what I can and can’t forage from nature.

Everything Else Important

  • Be economical with resources. If I can ride my bike there, I’ll ride my bike there.
  • Dedicate time to learning how our behaviour is affecting the polar ice caps…and what I can do to help.
  • Not throw away things that could be recycled i.e. a glass bottle that can hold a candle.
  • Develop my thrifting eye.
  • Grow plants and herbs and keep them alive.
  • Reach the Arctic Circle.

I know I said it was going to be long, but…heck! In tomorrow’s post I’ll be reviewing one of the best things to happen to my life in recent years, The Mother Issue of Sabat Magazine.

Beginnings Are Always Hard

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Beginnings are always hard. There’s no two ways about it. I actually think I used this same title half a dozen years ago for another blog… Going against one of the main rules in blogging, this post will be a bit rambling. I’m not a rule follower anyway.

I’ll start off by telling you a little obscure and not so obscure things about me so you know who you’re giving your precious time to. And it is precious.

My favourite crystal is moonstone, quartz, moonstone, quartz. My favourite crystals are moonstone and quartz. I prefer dogs over cats. Despite the photo above, you’ll rarely see me in anything other than black. My hair isn’t white. (I tried. I failed.) I didn’t like The Blair Witch Project the first time I saw it in 1999 and, despite it not being ‘scary’ enough, I didn’t dare go in the forest behind our house for a week. (It’s now in my top three.) I live in Sweden with musician-dad-of-one-all-round-good-guy Hravn who fronts the band Rimfrost. I’m crazily enthusiastic to the point of manic about my interests. I’m either up or down, rarely is there a middle ground. As is the case for most people with bi-polar, I struggle with middle ground.

Now that’s been said, on we go.

For the past week and a bit I’ve been so genuinely fucking excited about getting this blog started that it’s been hard to sleep at night because of the ideas scurrying around in my head like the soot sprites from My Neighbour Totoro. I spent hours designing my logo…

…and happily agonizing over which one to choose.

I spent days listing blog post ideas and doing preliminary research. (I won’t show you my notebook at this time because, as an immigration officer in America once told me, my writing ‘looks like chicken scrawl.’)

I spent far too long flitting between WordPress themes and customizing and flitting and customizing before settling with what you see here and will (will any luck) see for some time to come.

And then, when the time came last night (this was supposed to be put out there twelve hours ago) I had a quiet panic attack.

I’ve been hosting numerous other blogs for several years now (Wyrd Words & Effigies, The Girl With Cold Hands, Katie Metcalfe Blogger) and they’ve been my safe havens, my go-to places when the world has been a bit much, my much loved creative outlets that have also acted as therapists, best friends and family.

I’ve poured so much of myself into these spaces over the years that it felt almost wrong to be starting something new, as if my other blogs would feel as though I’d abandoned them – even though I haven’t, they’re just resting while I decide where to take them. (These weird thoughts could also be partly due to the fact that I’m overdue on getting a new prescription for my quetiapine…)

Then I remembered how my excitement was mixed with anxiety when I started those projects too, and I found myself calming down and feeling energized and empowered again.

After the initial panic of setting up a new blog, you do feel a real sense of empowerment and from my experience, with every new piece of energy you put into your blog, that feeling of empowerment expands.

Anyway. The blog you’ve found yourself at is going to be a living, messy manuscript of my wyrd, wonderful, sometimes difficult existence here in the North.

In my next post, I’ll talk about where my curiosity is heading in 2017, how I intend to bring more magick into daily life and anything else that crops up in the meantime that I think you should know. You best get the kettle on now, it’s going to be a long one…