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.

 

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Review : The Ghastling Book One

Now, where did I first see The Ghastling…I think it was over on Instagram but I can’t exactly be sure. All I know is that suddenly it was in my life, and I burnt my fingers typing in my bank account details to purchase the first book in the five book series. I had a feeling that it would give me the same satisfaction as Misty Annuals had done back in the early 90’s. I HAD TO HAVE IT. The Ghastling is one of those print publications where I find myself thinking ‘How the fuck did I only JUST NOW find out about this?’ It’s been on the scene of the weird since 2014 and I feel somewhat embarrassed that it’s taken until 2017 for it to come across my radar. But it’s here now, and that’s what really matters.

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Founder and editor Rebecca Parfitt has been working in publishing since 2006 and it was in 2014 that she founded The Ghastling, a literary magazine devoted to ghost stories, the macabre and the oh-so strange…

As I dug a little bit deeper – I have the tendency to want to know almost too much about people. I’m English, it’s what we do – I discovered that Rebecca – talented woman that she is – is also a writer of fiction and poetry. Her debut collection The Days After is published by Listen Softly London and it’s on going on my ‘to buy list’ IMMEDIATELY.

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But back to The Ghastling. I bought the first issue for about £14 plus P&P from Amazon and it arrived pretty swiftly. Could have been a bit quicker, but it’s just because I’m an impatient bitch wanting her dose of 1st class horror yesterday.

First impression when I tugged the slim but gorgeously printed publications out of his cardboard sleeve was ‘yes, wow, love it, yes, freaky as shit front cover illustration…kind of reminds me of myself when I get out of bed in the morning, fucking yes I’m glad I bought this.’ And then I opened it up. And I nearly died.

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Memories from my childhood, from the Misty Annuals, from all the beautifully illustrated ghost story books, from all the Enchanted World Series volumes…they all came flooding back as I carefully leafed through the pages.

I was bowled over by the gorgeousness of each page’s layout, of the vintage illustrations peppered throughout, of the contemporary artwork that periodically appeared including two haunting paintings ‘Jane’ and ‘Sarah’ by Anthony Ryes.

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Then I started proper. The editorial letter was spot the fuck on. I love a good, strong editorial that leaves me chomping at the bit. That’s exactly what Rebecca’s did. Here’s an extract:

‘Our fears take on many shapes and forms: from the intangible – the lurking shadows in the periphery of the mind; to our own mortality and fear of what comes after and will it come back for us…? Whether they occupy our real or imaginary space, they manifest and structure our everyday lives – this is what it feels like to exist.’ – Editorial

Opposite the editorial was what’s probably one of my most adored darkly inspired illustrations in recent years by the writer and graphic artist Paul O’ Connell. 

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Then followed the ghosts and the oddballs and I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into the couch with each page turned. The writing of every story was exquisite – Rebecca makes for a solid editor – suitably tingling my spine. I get weak at the knees at the sight of a good ghost story and I was left so freakingly satisfied. Now, while I didn’t relish each and every one, several of them will be re-read and re-read and re-read. The stories I’ll be thumbing again include A Cold Calling by the brilliant Fay Franklin which I wish had been a few pages longer.

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‘Have you ever met a ghoul? Well, no, of course you haven’t. But it’s a term we use so loosely these days that we think we should know what it means. Those faces, the ones in the cars crawling past a recent road accident, peering out, goggle-eyed, at the scene of death and devastation on the other side of the road. They’re the ghouls of our modern world.’ – A Cold Calling

Another couple I’ll be visiting again are Knock Knock by Storm Jones, Stitch In Time by Marged Parry and Confession by Christina Thatcher.

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“He had a knack for discovering things,” my mother said to everyone throughout my childhood. When I was 8, I brought her a dead robin that had started decomposing beneath one of our pine trees in the yard; it had some needles stuck to its eyes, chest, and feet and it looked like it had bled out all of its blood.’ – Confession

I always really appreciate it when a magazine features a page of info on the contributors – bloody fascinating stuff that nearly always leads me onto wanting to discover yet more about who I’ve just encountered.

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All in all in all, The Ghastling was a magnificent little publication and it’s inspired me, massively so in fact, to really push HARD with the press I’m going to be establishing. As soon as I’m able, I’ll be swooping over to The Ghastling to pick myself up the other four issues.

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More On The Ghastling

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Reading Myself Better

I am in England at the moment, visiting my folks and the first thing on the agenda today was to visit my old thrifting grounds.

It was my every intention to overhaul my wardrobe. So convinced was I that I would stagger back to my parents house with my body weight in second-hand threads, that I very nearly bunged all the clothes I’d brought with me – and which I’m sick of the sight of – into a black bag ready to be given away.

Thankfully though, I didn’t, because I found NOTHING worthy of buying and wearing. Which is shocking because Stockton, the town where I wander, is the charity shop capital of England.

I also found that one of my favourite second-hand hangouts has increased the price of their threads by £1. (Pretty much everything in store used to be £1.50…now, thanks to the conservatives no doubt, they’ve have to up their prices to £2.50.) Pleased I was not. £1 is a lot of money.

However the tides turned when it came to book hunting. While I wasn’t able to find anything Arctic related that I wasn’t already in possession of (FUCKING DAMMIT!), I did actually find two books which I’d gone out with the intention of finding. And what was the likelihood of that happening!?

The two books I was out hunting are actually in my mother’s possession already, but if I were to take them back to Sweden, it would be over her dead body. The two books I’m rambling about are The Nature Doctor by Dr H.C.A. Vogel (which I paid £1.50 for) and Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal by Reader’s Digest (which I paid £2 for) – two of the best tomes you can own if you’re interested in safe, healthy eating and complementary medicine.

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Over the past several years I’ve always turned to these two books when I’ve needed health advice of the natural kind. (Fuck you Google, you got nothing on these!) I’ve always felt better turning to books for advice on my body and what I’m putting inside it. When I was suffering from hypochondria several years ago, I stupidly lived on Google, believing all it told me – that I was, in fact, dying from everything.

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What I LOVE about Food That Harm, Foods That Heal is that, like all Reader’s Digest books, it’s a sturdy tome that could survive a world war. It’s gorgeously illustrated, all of the topics have been thoroughly researched and the writing is SOLID. It’s laid out in a useful A-Z format and before (nearly every) entry there’s a bullet pointed list telling you about the benefits and drawbacks of each food stuff. I’ve read this book from cover to cover – it’s really that interesting – and I’ve dipped in and out of it when I’ve needed advice on a certain something.

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What I LOVE about The Nature Doctor is that it’s exhaustive, sublimely written and, while it’s quite an old book now – this edition, the 50th was published in 1989, the original in 1952 – much of the advice trumps the majority of advice about traditional and contemporary medicine today. Though you have to take some of Vogel’s opinions with a pinch of salt and remember he was writing in a different time.

As a pagan witch, if I can heal myself naturally – mentally, physically and emotionally – I’m going to do it…and this book provides much the guidance I need to be able to do so. Tonight I will be consulting both books for an insight into the lymphatic system – mine is sluggish and I need to devise a plan to remedy that.

If you’re interested in natural healing or are even heavily experienced in healing yourself with the help of mother nature, I highly highly recommend you track these down post haste.

My Arctic Library : Men Of The Frozen North

I had a thought a couple of months ago…’I wonder if I could collect all the books ever published in English about the Arctic?’ The thought made my blood tingle and my heart get all over excited.

Within moments of having the thought, a new dream was born. I decided that, no matter how long it would take me, I WOULD, one day, own every work of Arctic literature published in my native tongue.

I own probably around 60 books about The Arctic – though the number I’ve read reaches into the hundreds. Thank fuck for libraries is all I have to say. I have no idea where I’d be if it wasn’t for libraries. When I say libraries save lives, I really mean it.

Anyway…once I’d had the idea of building up an ultimate Arctic library, I jettisoned myself over to Facebook and Instagram where I put my idea out into the open, and asked if anyone would be willing to part with their own Arctic literature to help me establish my library proper.

I wasn’t too surprised when nobody joined the conversation…I mean, not everyone is so into the Arctic that they have a collection of books dedicated to the northern most part of earth.

But then…then I received a lovely message from one FB friend, Iris, from America. She sent a photo of Men of the Frozen North by Peter Freuchen and said ‘would you like it?’ I was a bit overcome and nearly burst into tears before replying I’d love it! When I asked about the postage to Sweden she said not to worry. My heart wanted to pop out and give her a bloody, juicy hug.

Hardly a week later and there was a package for me. A heavy package. A package that definitely contained more than a book. After breaking through the dense sellotape seal and thick cardboard I found a treasury of gifts.

I pulled them out, one by one. Each was wrapped in black tissue paper and exquisite silver ribbon. There was even a tiny handmade coffin box holding two of the gifts. A handmade coffin box! For me! 

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My tattoo written in Elder Futhark reads ‘Proceed from the dream outward.’ (Carl Jung)

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The parrot feather is my book mark for this journey.

I stood there for about ten minutes, looking at this beautiful bounty. I could feel the salt water gathering on my eyeballs. The kindness, the mother freaking kindness was just so much! The package was so exquisitely prepared, the gifts – which included a water buffalo tooth, a parrot feather, several bars of handmade chocolate, a hand made witch patch and several packets of jerky – so lovingly considered.

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When I’d gathered myself, I explored Men of the Frozen North. I smelt it. It hummed deliciously of old bookshop and was in immaculate condition for a book that’s older than my mother. (It was published in 1962.) I examined the contents page while squealing excitedly about what I was going to discover. (I was particularly excited about Part IV The Lapps as my knowledge there is a little weak.) I fanned through the pages, my eyes darting over words, illustrations and photographs. You’d have thought I’d never seen a book before.

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Men of the Frozen North was written by Peter Freuchen – his life-worn portrait on the back cover of the book is deeply humbling – a Danish explorer, author and anthropologist. He’s renowned for his role in Arctic exploration, in particular the Thule Expeditions. He was also a serious badass, the sort of badass we rarely see in today’s world.

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The 6ft 7 Dane wore a coat made from the skin of a polar bear he’d killed himself, he amputated his own toes with no anesthesia and once, when trapped in a tomb of ice after being caught in a blizzard, made a knife out of his own shit and carved his way out to safety. Needless to say, I’m pretty fucking excited about what’s going to unfold when I start powering my way through Men of the Frozen North.

If you think you might be able to contribute to my Arctic Library and be a part of this ambitious dream, let me know in the comments or you can send a note to katiemariemetcalfe@hotmail.co.uk I would be ever so grateful!

 

Why I Am Going To ‘Woman The Fuck Up’ About Money

I don’t know when or why I became sensitive about money. I  do remember when I opened my bank account though…I was 12 and had £10 to put in that I’d received for my birthday. And believe me, I was dead set that that £10 wasn’t going anywhere.

Every time I could put something in there – be it £2 or £20 – I felt like I was accomplishing something really fucking significant. I felt no shame in going up to the cashier and saying ‘I’d like to put this £2.50 into my bank account please.’

As a family of six, money was never something we had much of, and while my friends were rocking their new Nike trainers, I was wearing my aunties hand-me-down mid 80’s Reeboks that were three times too big. While my friends were crossing the sea to Greece, my siblings and I stayed with my Grandmother in a caravan on the blustery North East coast of England. While my friends brought in licorice and chocolate to school for break time, I brought in half a jam and margarine sandwich made with Safeway Own Value white bread. Despite our frugal living, we were happy and my childhood was one I wouldn’t change, it was impossibly rich in creativity, adventure and love.

My mum would welcome in all the kids from the street, and give them the food she worked two jobs for. Our homes during the years – we moved a few times – became refuges for kids whose parents didn’t give two shits about them, or kids who just wanted to get away and discovered that they found peace at our house. It was a very rare occasion that mum made anyone go on back home. Some would stay for days, others weeks. Our house was always a buzz of activity with new faces appearing every five minutes.

“It’s hard enough to give fearlessly, and it’s even harder to receive fearlessly.
But within that exchange lies the hardest thing of all:
To ask. Without shame.
And to accept the help that people offer.
Not to force them.
Just to let them.” – Amanda Palmer

I was seventeen and in collage when I got my first job. I worked the weekends as a catering assistant at a KP Foods factory and brought home £47.60 a week. I hated my job. I hated getting up while the rest of my family were sleeping and cycling in the dark to a factory whose smell made me gag from even a mile away. I hated the fact I was always given the shitty jobs ‘Katie, clean out the smokers room…’

I hated that 80% of the people I cooked, served and cleaned up after were spiteful and rude and seemingly unable to eat a cooked breakfast without half of it ending up smeared all over their table. I’m sure they did it because it would mean I’d have a nightmare scraping it up once they’d left, and the bean juice and egg yolk had dried. I hated the bitching and the behind the back talking. I hated that my skin and hair smelt like I’d been dipped in the deep fat fryer whenever I was finished for the day. If I’d been able to smell my bones, I think they would have stank too.

Much of the time I’d go home and cry. But I didn’t quit. I worked every weekend for three years at that place before packing it in. What would get me through wasn’t thinking about what I’d spend my money on, rather what I’d write when I got home. I was working on my second book and it took up almost all the hours when I wasn’t at college or work. It was my everything. It was what made me get up in the morning.

Several other jobs followed this one, none of them enjoyable, none of them satisfying, none of them made me think ‘hell, I want to do this instead of writing as a career!’ My mental health meant that I wasn’t as ‘on the ball’ I should have been. My anxiety meant I was afraid to confront customers. My values and how I’d been brought up left me unable to pressurize people into buying things I knew they probably couldn’t afford.

“From what I’ve seen, it isn’t so much the act of asking that paralyzes us–it’s what lies beneath: the fear of being vulnerable, the fear of rejection, the fear of looking needy or weak. The fear of being seen as a burdensome member of the community instead of a productive one. It points, fundamentally, to our separation from one another.” – Amanda Palmer

I never ‘fitted in’ with any of my work teams and was always the ‘weird one.’ I didn’t mind being the weird one, but I did mind the gossip, I did mind the laughing, I did mind the ‘quiet word in my office’ moments where I was told I ‘had to come out of myself.’ I couldn’t come out of my self. Hell, I was enough out of myself by turning up when fatigue made my body heavy as an iron lady. But it was always the thought that ‘when I get home I can write’ that got me through.

I’d known, since I was a kid that I’d ‘have to work a normal job’ while waiting for my writing career ‘to take off.’ And I’ve worked enough ‘normal jobs’ to know I don’t cut it, that it’s not for me. My bi-polar and anxiety means that to get to my ‘normal job’ is hard enough as it is. Many don’t realize that managing to get through the day when you have bi-polar is achievement worthy of reward. This quote from Carrie Fisher sums it up quite perfectly:

“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.” Wishful Drinking, her 2008 memoir about her mental illness and prescription drug addiction

I’m a lone wolf who thrives in solitude, and feels weakened when she’s crowded or put under the rule of someone else. I’ve never wanted to work for anyone but myself. I found my life’s meaning when I was four years old, and I’ve never strayed from that path, not even for a second. But to keep on that path, I need to do something which, at first, made me feel ashamed because I’m a fucking proud woman…

Since being in Sweden I’ve been living off my savings, freelance writing work, hand outs from my parents and by the support of my partner. But the savings are gone now. The work doesn’t pay well, and the discussion of ‘getting a real job’ has been raging for months. I’ve been working harder, faster, but the money never seems to catch up.

I’ve signed on at what’s essentially the Swedish Job Centre, but I don’t get any hand outs nor do I get any actual useful help. My partner thinks that, despite me having a 1st class degree, it’s almost inevitable that I’ll have to work as a cleaner or something. To think of this makes my heart become as heavy as a handful of wet sand. It makes me feel weak and helpless and vulnerable. It makes me worry about the hours that I’ll have left to create and do what I need to do to keep my spirit from rotting.

The contents of my bank account have always been a secret. I haven’t wanted to share its numbers with my family or anyone else. And when someone has asked ‘how much is in there?’ I’ve become deeply offended and angry. A large part of me feels I’ve let myself down by not being a fully self-sufficient writer by the age of 30.

“There’s really no honor in proving that you can carry the entire load on your own shoulders. And…it’s lonely” – Amanda Palmer

But not I’m letting my guard down. I’m not going to be secretive about money because if I want to make it I need to ask for help. I need people willing to support me in my journey to becoming a fully self-sufficient writer. I’m not only asking for help with this because writing is what makes me happy, I’m asking for help because writing is what helps me keep my sanity.

So I’ve established a Patreon page. There’s the option for you to pledge as much or as little as you would like to, and with each pledge comes a reward. By setting up a Patreon page, I’ve let go of my sensitivity to money and am openly asking for support in my life’s mission.  I’ll leave you with this uber poignant quote from the incredible Amanda Palmer whose book The Art Of Asking I highly recommend.

“Asking for help with shame says:
You have the power over me.
Asking with condescension says:
I have the power over you.
But asking for help with gratitude says:
We have the power to help each other.”  ― Amanda Palmer

Become my

April’s Reading Stack

Is there really anything more beautiful than a stack of books you haven’t read yet? More beautiful than those unturned pages? More beautiful than the adventure of a new beginning? In my head, nothing can come close.

Living in Sweden means I don’t have immediate access to my entire book collection (I have 1% of it here with me…need to bring it in dribs and drabs) which fucking hurts. It also means that only a tiny portion of books in Borås library are available for me to inhale. Though I can’t complain. I should be grateful they have any at all.

April’s ambitious stack is a smorgasbord of all my favourite things –  Arctic nature, Scandinavian culture, black metal, magic in the everyday, polar exploration and horror.

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The Ghastling Edited By Rebecca Parfitt

‘Our fears take on many shapes and forms; from the intangible – the lurking shadows in the periphery of the mind; to our own mortality and fear of what comes after and will it come back for us?’ – From the editor’s letter.

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Black Metal Into The Abyss By Dayal Patterson

Features exclusive interviews withFURIA • MASSEMORD • 1349 • FORGOTTEN WOODS • TSJUDER • NOCTURNAL DEPRESSION • VEMOD • ONE TAIL • ONE HEAD • MYSTIFIER • BLACK ALTAR • BESATT • MORD ‘A’ STIGMATA • TRIST • HELHEIM • HYPOTHERMIA • LOITS • DEINONYCHUS • PSYCHONAUT 4 • KOLDBRANN • URGEHAL • SACRILEGIUM • BLAZE OF PERDITION

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The Little Book Of Hygge By Meik Wiking

‘Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to the cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight.’ – From the back cover.

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What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi

‘Jill Akkerman’s husband had been wanting to have a talk with her for weeks, and she was two hundred percent certain that it was going to be an unpleasant one.’ – The first sentence in the short story Presence.

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The Abominable By Dan Simmons

‘June 1924 : On the brutal North East Ridge of Mount Everest, famous adventurer George Mallory and Andrew Irvine vanish into the snow whipped night. Daredevil explorer Richard Deacon devises a plan to follow in the men’s footsteps, accompanied by two friends. Off piste and with almost no support tea, the three men strike for Everest’s peak and the most vicious climate on earth. As the winds rise and the temperature and oxygen levels drop, Deacon and his companions hear howls in the distance…’ – From the book jacket.

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Islands Of The Arctic By Julian Dowdeswell and Michael Hambrey

‘The Arctic islands are characterized by beautiful mountains and glaciers, in which the wildlife lives in delicate balance with its environment. It is a fragile region with a long history of exploration and exploitation that is now experiencing rapid environmental change. All of these themes are explored in Islands of the Arctic, a richly illustrated volume with superb photographs from the Canadian Arctic archipelago, Greenland, Svalbard and the Russian Arctic.’ – From the back cover.

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At The Mercy Of The Winds By David Hempleman-Adams

‘It is instructive to write here that on his doomed attempt to fly a hydrogen balloon across the North Pole in 1896, the explorer Andree took along with him a dinner jacket in case he was obliged to feast with the king of some as yet undiscovered arctic country.’ – From chapter one.

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Which book here is grappling with your attention, and what do you find yourself reading this month?

 

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
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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

 

Wisdom From Moominvalley

Whenever I feel like I need a bit of extra support during the day, I automatically reach for my Moominland Midwinter Mug and use it for my tea. It gives me a gorgeously warm sense of reassurance, hope and even peace. Everything seems better when I have it full with a hot, strong brew. And even when it’s not full – which is rare – I keep it close to me.

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The Moomins TV show (the Japanese-Finnish anime one) was on Channel 4 every Saturday morning when I was growing up. It was on early, about 6.30 am. It had a different, more peaceful vibe than many of the other shows, and that peaceful vibe established itself as a huge comfort throughout my childhood, teenage and yes, even my adult life. I was watching the Moomins on DVD well into my 20’s. Basically the Moomins calmed me the hell down. It made me laugh. It made me think. It made me consider things and life and stuff in different ways.

I also, naturally, wanted to live in Moomin Valley (Tove Jansson was inspired by the area around her family’s summer home in Northern Finland), I was massively curious about the Groke – and simultaneously fucking terrified by it – and I had one of those weird childhood crushes on Snufkin, who’s actually gone onto greatly influence my fashion choices. I kind of wish that I had been alive and in Sweden in the 1950’s because The Moomins were such a big deal you could actually take Moomin studies at university. Just imagine what I could have done with that degree!

Anyway, when I’m in need of a dose of wisdom – and sometimes a laugh – the majority of the time I find myself Googling for quotes from Tove Jansson, Moomintroll and the gang. One of my all time most loved quotes from Tove is

“Maybe my passion isn’t something special, but at least its mine.”

As I know there are plenty of other Moomin devotees out there, I decided  to share some favourites  that I collected earlier including plenty from one of my Spirit Animals, Little My. (Though I’m also a bit Snufkin…)

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“Believe me, I’m wise.” – Little My

 

“The Groke knows.” – The Moomins

 

“I want everything to happen fast.” – Little My

 

“This was not a particular funny celebration.” – Moomin Troll

 

“And if that doesn’t work, I’m gonna go bite them.” – Little My

 

“I own everything I see and everything that pleases me. I own the entire world.” – Snufkin.

 

“It’s not my fault!” – Little My

 

“Making a journey by night is more wonderful than anything in the world.”- Moominpappa

 

“Don’t you understand art? I’m in a Groke-mood, so I make a Groke.” – Little My

 

“It would be awful if the world exploded. It’s so wonderfully splendid.” – Snufkin

 

“Nonsense. My spirit isn’t lifted.”

Stand Up And Be Heard…Always

Maybe I should have posted something on the 8th of March – International Women’s Day, but something kept me from doing so. Though I did quietly celebrate the news that the glorious country of Iceland will become the first country to require equal pay for men and women. I also enjoyed the waterfall of inspiring posts from women I follow across the world on Instagram and Facebook.

I’m of the belief that we don’t need a specific date of the year to have our voices heard, to have our faces seen, to have our spirits celebrated. Being a woman is something that should be – and can be – rejoiced in every single day.

To rejoice in my own womanhood and the womanhood of my sisters, I’m going to offer some white space to one women who has inspired me immeasurably over the past decade – Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

Jungian psychoanalyst, poet and author, Clarissa is the mind behind the hugely empowering book Women Who Run With The Wolves, one of the most important tomes to have come into my life. It was one of those books which I was told countless times ‘that I needed to read,’ and, at the moment when I needed it most, it practically fell into my hands from a charity shop shelf. I parted with 75p and went home with a book that genuinely radiated positive energy.

In this post, I’m pairing up a number of my favourite quotes from Clarissa, with self portraits I’ve taken in the last six months. I hope you leave illuminated by her wisdom and, if you haven’t already read it, prepared to part with some pennies for her tour de force.

*While I can’t stress how important is it for every women to own a physical copy of Women  Who Run With Wolves, I’m also aware you might need to keep the purse strings tight. So I’ll let you in on something…the book is available as a free downloadable PDF file. Just Google for it, then get yourself a physical copy when you’re able to.*

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“The things that women reclaim are often their own voice, their own values, their imagination, their clairvoyance, their stories, their ancient memories. If we go for the deeper, and the darker, and the less known we will touch the bones.”

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“The psyches and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place.”

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“If you have yet to be called an incorrigible, defiant woman, don’t worry, there is still time.”

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“Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.”

Winter Witch VI

“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories from your life – not someone else’s life – water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”

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“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write… and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”

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“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.”

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“The most important thing is to hold on, hold out, for your creative life, for your solitude, for your time to be and do, for your very life.”

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“How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.”

Return Of Winter III

“A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving.”