Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Resolutions... Sleep Glorious Sleep

As we near the end of 2015, which has had its ups and downs including a fab trip to Cheshire county and Wales as well as the unanticipated passing of my gran (may God bless her soul), it is time to make some resolutions.

Now I am not one to make resolutions as a rule. The thing is, I believe both that a) there is no need to wait for a new year to commit to bettering something and b) making resolutions is usually about things you find extremely difficult to do and being a perfectionist I hate setting goals that I might fail from achieving.

This year however I am going to try taking this seriously. One of the reasons why I turned Minimalist (oh yes at this point I can safely call myself that though I am in no way an extremist like Leo Babauta from http://zenhabits.net/about/) is that I want to have more time for things and people that really matter. And so, making resolutions is actually in line with my current frame of mind and the goals I am willing to achieve in both the near and far future.

As with everything else, some resolutions are personal - promises to myself or to loved ones to be better in some areas that cause myself or them discontent - but others can be safely categorised as sane promises to want to commit to. My first one that comes to mind is Sleep. Yep, you read right - Sleep is elusive in my household... my son who has a bedtime and requires all of his 9-10 hours of nightly sleep is the one who always wrestles sleep-time whilst I am the hypocrite who constantly berates him for so doing and then finding every excuse under the sun (or moon!) to prolong the day before I have to get into bed to sleep. I say 'have to' because it does sound to me like sleep is a waste of time. Ok, let me rephrase that. I think sleep is overrated and a time-waster every evening but then I regret thinking so every following morning (does that even make sense?!) So for the nth time (but probably the first time as a New Year's Resolution), I am listing sleep enough as a priority. Which means, erm, that I should be off now, precisely, to sleep! :-)

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Back to Basics... more reading about and practice of the Minimalist Lifestyle

It's going to be a short entry today and it has nothing to do with that we're on Christmas Eve. As I've been saying lately on here, I am turning once again to a Minimalist life and I must say I am very pleased with the progress I've been making. After going through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying which I mentioned last time, more than once, I have finally received the parcel with my latest book purchase, which is Francine Jay's The Joy of Less which is nothing short of brilliant. I am not yet halfway through it but even from the introductory page, Francine can not only be persuasive but also very good at selling her idea. In fact what fascinated me most about her style of writing is the way she presents her arguments (despite reading this from a Minimalist point of view I am a writer and so notice these things out of habit!)

I will not be going in depth into this book's teachings, or at least not at this point. The one thing I am going to say though is, it really makes Minimalism an addictive lifestyle and even just two days after starting the book I have already seen a further change in my attitude towards stuff, clutter, and what it is I truly want versus what is just sitting there 'just in case' which usually means never to be used again. I thought before that through the years of minimising and my knowledge and practice of the KonMari method (check this entry for how it works: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2015/12/back-to-basics-minimalist-attempt-part.html) I had got to my limit but Francine Jay proved there was still further I was ready to go on my Minimalist journey. And with every item purged, I feel lighter, happier and generally freer.

So I must be off now, to continue on what I can only describe as my journey to freedom.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Back to Basics... a Minimalist Attempt Part 1 - time to say goodbye to a particular book

I am so fed up of clutter... be it physical, spiritual or mental. I have resolved once and for all that I want to live the way I want to (obviously with my family in mind as the centre for my choices) regardless of how weird it seems to others, as long as I am happy. That word happy proves elusive most of the time mostly due to a mountain-load of commitments that I can't simply get rid of (no extras here... just basic housework, mummy work, work-work and the rest of the whole list of things that I unfortunately can't reduce any further and still remains like this huge monster that takes up all my time).

A few months ago I bought a book that promised to provide the trick to a massive declutter that lasts a lifetime. Though I was skeptical, reviews were good and I bought The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Whilst I do not believe that Kondo mentioned anywhere in her book anything about being a minimalist, her tips proved better than any others I've ever read anywhere, including sites by famous minimalists, at making space in life for all that one loves whilst clearing out all that one does not.

Marie Kondo's first and most important tip is simple and yet it encompasses so much in that one phrase... it asks you to pick up each item and think of whether it 'sparks joy' in your life. Now with other methods and during other massive clean-outs, I have learnt to deal also with my library of books and they have dwindled down to only those that I love or plan on reading. After my first attempt at a book clear-out using the KonMari method (as the author herself calls it) I thought that as she said, I would never have to declutter my library again. However my first attempt at dealing with all in my life by her book's rules and standards fell short when I gave up for a lot of reasons put together. However it did work miracles on my wardrobe I must say. As a result, this time round I do not need to start once again from my wardrobe as I once again brace myself to declutter using this method. As she'd promised - my wardrobe has always since remained perfectly functional and loveable. The reason is that now I automatically know when it's time to let something go out of it and onto the charity pile (or the garbage bag at times!)

So as per Marie Kondo's order of tackling stuff... next after clothes came 'books' and I challenged myself to go through my shelves once more. It's funny how one book that I bought ages ago and always held a place in my heart, one which I've read many times and even listed in an article as a fantastic fiction work, does not any longer bring me any joy. I held it in my hands (the KonMari method asks that you empty shelves onto the floor and then pick up your personal items one by one and 'feeling' whether it sparks any joy). As I looked at my copy of a book I've referred to others time and again, I saw only the brown spots of age on the edges of the papers, its spine looked too thick to be allowed space on my limited furniture space any longer and I realised that I would never again read through it with the anticipation it once held. I had exhausted my use for it. It does not mean I will ever forget the story but that is one reason why I have now let it go... in my mind and in my heart is the tale of Maddie Godard, her horror-filled story and how she finds peace and ultimately love in the least likely of places. Rereading gave me not only the pleasure of looking for the hints strewn around of what is to come later in the book but also helped me as a writer of fiction to examine how a well-made story might be put together as well as how and why the chosen words worked best. I do not any longer require the physical book in order to appreciate all that the story taught me, even as far as life lessons go. So I knew it was time to let it go.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Love, Rosie - A film worth watching

A couple of weeks ago I watched this really sweet film called Love, Rosie (2014). I first stumbled on this title through a trailer that had me curious about the story from the first. The film is based on a novel by Cecelia Ahern (author of P.S. I Love You), which is called Where Rainbows End.

Love, Rosie is a typical and yet unique take on love and what happens when it's too close to home. Rosie and Alex have been best friends since always. Ever since they were young, Rosie is the person who listened to Alex relating his weird nighttime dreams whilst Alex is that guy who is always there for Rosie. Rosie is the friend who he excitedly tells when he has had sex for the first time and Alex is the guy Rosie calls when her own sexual encounter goes very wrong. They are intimate in everything, except for their real feelings about each other. Rosie encourages Alex to go out with a girl who obviously has a crush on him because he couldn't possibly want to go out with Rosie herself, could he? Meanwhile Alex drives Rosie to the prom, which she too is attending with someone else, which he can't really tell her not to right?

This is a story that accompanies the characters through important life milestones, most of which the two best friends share. In fact, there is only one secret Rosie is not prepared to tell. It is that one experience that will shape her whole life, for good or ill, and for a while it leads her away from her dreams. But then the person Rosie relies on most of all unexpectedly dies and what happens when she finds his last letter full of advice? Just as she's taken Alex's weird dreams in her stride, she must now confront her own.

Even simply by watching the trailer I knew this was going to be a love story and a love story always ends with a happily ever after. It is expected though maybe unoriginal, and originality is my best friend. Through the first half of the film, with its build-up and unfolding facts, I was convinced this would also be one that would find resolution in the friends' acceptance of the truth of love. But as the fictional years rolled by and both the partners' lifes got more and more complicated, my certainty of the outcome was gone. I started to think this was going more the way of Prime (2005) and Closer (2004)

On the other hand, it reminded me also of Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), where like Carrie and Charles, Rosie and Alex too keep meeting and exchanging intimate moments and yet always have to go away from each other again. Would they, like Charles and Carrie, eventually give in to what they really feel? This I won't be telling you as I do not want to spoil the ending to a perfectly mishapful narrative but I am glad to say, it had me crying by the end.

Alex is played by Sam Claflin, in an 'Oh my gosh could he be any more perfect?!!' role, not just looks-wise but even when it comes to character. No wonder Rosie (played by Lily Collins) can't find a partner to match that perfect dream boy. Between them, Claflin and Collins create the heart of the film, as they face life with facial expressions and farcical scenes that will have you wanting more.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

I'm Not Just Pro-Life... I have answers to your excuses

I'm sure this post is going to make me some enemies but as I've said before - I am a writer and that means I am duty-bound to speak out the truth and make the world a better place for it.

I have never been much of a patriot but there was one thing about my country I was proud of. That was, and hopefully still is, the general pro-life stance of the country. Unfortunately it seems like now this is being very much challenged by both the government in the bid to introduce embryo freezing ( which is not necessary to IVF, in case you were going to say that and IVF cases can still happen without this bill passing in Parliament) as well as all the pro-choice people that seem to be popping up everywhere of late making themselves heard and saying women should have a 'right' to choose whether to end a pregnancy, to 'safe' health measures (please don't try to fool me into thinking abortion is mostly used for health reasons for the mother!) and much more blablabla as long as they find any and all excuses to list in favour of abortion. Well this is my letter to you today, and as I said I don't really mind making enemies in the process of standing up for life:

I have noticed that as the Pro-life rally nears, some people are going out of their way to point out that Abortion is a right and making up all kinds of excuses in favour of it. Can anyone please tell me why on earth anyone would even waste time saying they're pro-abortion, especially when:

a) some of them are men so it definitely should never be up to them to decide what to do with the mother's baby

b) they themselves are parents and therefore know that when they were pregnant they felt life move inside them (not simply tissue for sure?) and now hold a child in their arms and tell that child they love him/her (so how can they say they agree with killing someone like their own child?)

c) bringing up the excuse that even contraception can fail. Of course it can, what are you doing sleeping around? And if you do have one partner, then it is safe to say if you do get pregnant he should be supportive if this is any kind of good relationship at all and between the both of you you will find that life, even if with more expenses or less time for a career, will always be better with a child in tow rather than with the knowledge that you killed that child.

d) those mothers who can't have their own children through normal means, which you keep citing as the reason why embryo freezing should go ahead, maybe you could have the child and then let them adopt him/her?

You can come up with a thousand excuses as to why you either agree to abortion or else say it's not for you to speak pro-life but ultimately it is always about whether to kill an innocent life or not.


As my conclusion: I dare you who was about to comment on my post still defending abortion - google 'abortion instruments' or 'how abortion is carried out', go to YouTube and find videos, look up pics of aborted foetuses and then, after you throw up at the images you find yourself looking at, then and only then give your reply on here. If you still say you are pro abortion or choice than I am sorry for you that not even that can sway your humanity.

It's Love, Actually for me!

It's time to re-link an old article of mine because as we near Christmas, how can we not think once more of Love Actually??