Tuesday, 21 February 2012

"Write with your heart, read critique with your head."

There are 7 billion people populating this planet yet it only really takes one to shake your entire world up. Forget falling in love for a moment because I'm not talking about matters of the heart. I'm talking about head-screwing, life changing, simple inspiration.
The kind of inspiration that is hard to come by but impossible to live without once you've had a taste.
Just like Peanut Butter M&Ms.

For me, inspiration has always come from people; I've known I've wanted to pursue a career in writing for a very long time and at 7 years of age, I listed people like J.K Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson as 'role models'. As I've got older, I've discovered people like David Nichols and Caitlin Moran, John Green and Dawn Porter. Beautiful writing comes from a variety of places so I've always filled my head space with magazines, books, song lyrics, fridge magnets with quotations printed on them...writing has always been my first love and therefore, writers have always been my first inspiration.

However, I'd be lying if I said it's always been that way. From the age of 14 to 17, I found inspiration in the likes of Victoria Beckham, Amy Winehouse and Mary-Kate Olsen. Forget beautiful writing, *that* infamous photo of Nicole Richie in the blue bikini was where I got my (th)inspiration from.
The aspiration to be thin graces so many young girl's minds and that scares, as well as upsets, me. I get the 'need' to be thin, I really do. But what I don't understand is why girls are even considering 'skinny' celebrities as a form of inspiration. I'm pretty sure when asked about their ideal career, they wouldn't answer with 'thin'.

'"We turn skeletons into goddesses and look to them as if they might teach us how not to need." - Marya Hornbacher

For me, inspiration should come from the heart and being thin only puts pressure on this vital organ. I'm not saying I think this is wrong because, after all, who am I to argue with whatever stimulates an individual's mind? I'm just saying I don't agree with it.
18 months ago, I know my feelings would have differed. I had photos of girls with their hipbones jutting out and quotes such as "nothing tastes as good as thin feels" plastered all over my wall. I believed that the three most important things in life were being able to handle my drink, having fun and being thin. So when I say I understand what it's like to be inspired by protruding collar bones, thighs with a gap between them the size of Russia and the tiny 0 that labels clothing, I really do mean it. I understand what it's like to look up to women who resemble toothpicks and I get why people are inspired by people who look like they haven't had a good meal in weeks. I understand it all.

Thankfully, I was brought to my senses and I can now look at pictures of size 0 girls and feel nothing but pity; pity because they obviously haven't had a slice of good cake in a really long time.
Perhaps it's because now, 18 months later, I get my inspiration from somebody who is all about the writing. Somebody who has taught me life lessons that give my life nothing but substance and which do nothing but encourage me to be a better person - regardless of my weight.

If I was Prime Minister, I'd make it the law that everyone get their own personal Carrie Lloyd.

Despite being (in my eyes, anyway) one of the best writers I've ever come across, this lady has given me some of the best advice I've ever been given. Forget studying Philosophy for 2 years, I've learnt more from e-mails and texts sent by Carrie than I have reading textbooks on Aristotle.

Obviously I'm not saying that she's the reason I decided to change my lifestyle of 3 years, but she's certainly been a factor of that decision. Encouraging me to strive towards a writing career rather than a goal weight and being the reason my walls are no longer emblazoned with bones, but with her writing and her advice instead.
The fact that she inspires me daily with her writing, her silly little tweets and consistent faith in me is just a bonus.

Having been published in PROPER magazines and newspapers, Carrie's writing is a type of writing that I can only dream of achieving one day. Her blog is saved to my favourites, I'm constantly re-reading whenever I need a little bit of a pep talk/life coaching and despite her forcing me to listen to a Christina Aguilera song in one of them, I can't help but re-read e-mails when I need a boost. 
When I first started speaking to Carrie, she struck me as somebody who could change the world, or at least the little bit around her, with her eyes shut. On a regular basis, she inspires me to be brave, to push personal boundaries and to be positive. A total force of nature who introduced me to the verse, from the Desiderata, that says “you had a right to be here”. 

I know for a fact that she'd be the first person to deny all of this (apart from introducing me to the Desiderata line, 'cause I have a tweet to prove that) because that's another trait I'm in awe of: she doesn't realise that what she's doing is life changing. An e-mail, a little text, a phone call...it's all inspiration. I constantly feel like I'm learning something of value after a conversation with Carrie. 

See, the thing is with losing weight and idolising women who advocate drastic weight loss, apart from it being super unhealthy, is that it's also not permanent. Or it could be, but it's more likely you'll end up dead. You never reach that promise of happiness and the weight of these women will never remain constant. Their weight will change and suddenly that inspiration disappears. I mean, you can't idolise somebody for being 'skinny' when they're a size 16?

That's where having a healthy, felicitous form of inspiration differs from 'skinny' thinspiration. 
Carrie is totally constant. I'm not saying I'm going to force her into e-mailing me everyday for the next 50 years or insist she dedicates every single piece of writing that she does in the future to me (I totally would if I could but I fear even by my standards, that's a bit demanding) but I know that everything she's ever said to me, every snippet of advice and every single piece of writing is eternal. 

"Anyone who broke your heart, needn't break it for eternity. It needn’t be mended by anyone else. It’s your life, your heart." - Carrie Lloyd

Size 0 maybe appealing to some but the idea of spending hours obsessing over my body again does nothing but scare me. Why would I want to waste those hours when I could be doing something productive like reading feeding my inspiration by reading mind-blowing pieces of prose?
If you want to be a teacher, go and shadow a teacher who brought you nothing but knowledge. If you want to be a musician, listen to beautiful music and be attentive to the way the lyrics intertwines with the melody. It's that simple.
We need not be inspired by things as shallow as weight when there are people out there who are able to inspire us with just their being.

There may well be 7 billion people on this planet but in terms of inspiration, for me there really is only one. Despite being influenced by people like Caitlin Moran and Christiane Amanpour, it's safe to say that compared to how much I've learnt from Carrie, they've taught me nothing of substance (unless you count encouraging me to taste my own menstrual blood, obviously. Thanks Cait).
So step down from those scales, quit weighing out lettuce leaves for lunch and make it your mission to find your very own Carrie Lloyd.

Just so you can see that I'm not talking complete rubbish:

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

I wish nothing but the best for you.

"Love is like a fire. But whether it's going to warm your heart or burn down your house...you'll never know."

Apart from Mayday (what EVEN is that all about?!), Valentines Day is officially the world's most pointless 'holiday'. In my opinion, Valentines Day is just a day set aside for people in relationships to laugh at singletons, drink too much wine and spice up their sex life by actually including foreplay in their nighttime business. Card shops have an excuse to put cheesy posters up in their windows and charge £7.00 for a card that celebrates the oh so simple 14th February. Hotel Chocolat, Thornton's and other chocolate shops can overprice a heart shaped strawberry creme chocolate and restaurants can charge £50 for a prawn cocktail. I'm against all of the above and I believe strawberry creme's are overrated anyway. Then again, what do I know? I'm the girl that considers 'Pancake Day' to be the most underrated 'holiday' ever...

In an attempt to give Adele's '21' album a bit of a break, I headed to Camden today to shop my Valentines Day bitterness away. After buying inappropriate jewellery, drinking a bottle of wine with my best friend and her Mum and falling in love with an amazing lady who owned a stall in Camden Lock, we ventured back home. Amidst the bunches of flowers that seemed to fill the Northern Line tonight,  were plenty of people feeling exactly the same as me. You could see it on their faces.
No single person wants to be reminded of the fact that they're alone, purely because it means they then spend the night reflecting on a time that they had somebody to share a bowl of chocolate ice-cream with.
When you reflect on things, you tend to forget the reasons as to why that specific relationship didn't work out. You look past the times you fought with each other, you ignore the times infidelity had cropped up and  suddenly, they're the greatest person on Earth. Your understandable bitterness turns into a longing for any form of romance, from anybody willing to give it to you. Those boxes of chocolate that the majority of commuters on the Central Line were carrying are each just another reason for you to text that ex of your's. Because it's better to have somebody than nobody, right?

After a bottle of wine and 2 Koppaberg ciders (over the duration of the day), seeing my best friend get treated like a princess by her gorgeous boyfriend and watching the whole of London fall in love, it's safe to say I am well and truly over Valentines Day. Actually, who am I kidding; I was well over this stupid day as soon as I entered it on the phone to a close friend, while my best friend's boyfriend's naked body was in my face. Totally not as fun as it sounds...
I'm not prepared to text/e-mail/Facebook/tweet past boyfriends in order to not feel alone. I've spent my evening surrounded by my best friend's parents, drinking yummy cider and watching rock festival highlights. I might not be in a relationship, but I'm definitely not alone.
Valentines Day is apparently all about celebrating LOVE. There's no rule book stating that the celebrations must centre around the love you share with a boyfriend/girlfriend, is there? Who says that we can't celebrate having an amazing relationship with your best friend, your Mum or your cat?
I'm certain that those people on the Northern Line, suffocating themselves underneath bouquets of flowers and cuddly teddies, weren't resorting to this much hassle just so they could present their pet pug with lots of loving on 14th February but wouldn't it be nice if they were? Granted, that's a little bit strange, but it would be brilliant to have somebody exceed my expectations today.

While I know people will be reading this thinking "Oh, this bitterness is all because she's single!", I can assure you it's not. I've celebrated Valentines Day as part of a relationship and I hated every moment of the day/night. Why do we have to force ourselves to 'be in the mood' for love/sex/emotions on a specific day? Why can we not just celebrate that 'love' every day? Nothing says 'I love you'/'You make me so happy' like  unexpected gestures...positive gestures, obviously, a punch in the face really doesn't scream 'LET'S BE TOGETHER FOREVER' now, does it?
So, here's to all us singles putting down our phones, closing off that text message we were about to send to that awful ex and drinking a glass of wine instead.  Here's to spending the night with your Mum, not your latest love interest and here's to giving those chocolates to somebody less fortunate and spreading the love a  little further.

*drunkenly slides off bar stool*

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

"We stopped looking for monsters under the bed when we realised they were inside of us."

"Addictive behaviour is associated with human desire to escape from real life by changing their state of consciousness." 

In a world where addiction is so accessible, it's easy to understand how somebody can get hooked on the feeling of doing something you essentially shouldn't be doing. There are silly addictions: spending hours on Facebook/Twitter instead of doing work, believing a TV show to be reality because you watch it so often, spending lots of money on a beauty product because you can't live without it...there's a huge list of things that aren't necessarily healthy for you, but aren't life-threatening.
Then there's the addictions that are life-threatening: drinking until you can't remember your own name, starving yourself to feel alive, binging on any food you can get your hands on because you feel like you're in control.
Now, the latter is obviously the extreme and while the"silly addictions" aren't necessarily addictions, it's when these things happen more than once that you should probably address why you resort to such things to make you feel better.

Is it for the thrill it brings to you; knowing nobody knows that you're harbouring a secret? All those nights you crept downstairs to binge on loaves of bread and packets of biscuits, trying to be quiet so that nobody heard you. Pretending you've eaten when really the last time food passed your lips was 9 days ago.
Nobody guesses and nobody asks.
You're free to strengthen the addiction, to make it better because nobody knows your plans. This addiction belongs to you, nobody else...is that what gives you the buzz?

Or is it because you think it makes you stronger? Everybody's better with a little bit of life experience behind them and being able to handle your drink is always a positive. However, is it such a good thing when you're starting the day with a bottle of vodka chased down by a shot of whiskey? Hmm...

I'm being extreme here because that's what addictions are. They're extreme versions of an action we wouldn't necessarily bring on to ourselves. They numb the pain, for a little while at least, and they make things seem less hazy. They give you superhuman strength because under the influence of something that gives you such a buzz, you really do feel like Superman.
It's funny because I was going to compare an addiction to an orgasm (well, the feeling you get after an orgasm: the rush, the outer body experience), but sex is an addiction too. Which brings me onto the point that anything can be an addiction. It's dangerous.

The most simplest of things can cause you damage. Things we take for granted as part of our daily routine can  be harmful. Eating, drinking, sex, cleaning, smoking...

An addiction is an addiction; whether you're addicted to the opposite sex or addicted to the smell of cleaning products, you're still addicted to something. Okay, so maybe having to check that the windows and doors are locked 4 times before you go to bed isn't as dangerous as sleeping with 40 women/men a night, but both of those things affect you mentally.
In Caitlin Moran's "How To Be A Woman", she writes that there's a pecking order when it comes to rehab. Heroin addicts are at the top and overeaters are at the very bottom. Overeaters don't have the same amount of cool that heroin addicts have because it's not an addiction that stops the Earth from spinning. You can stuff your face with cake and you'll just get fat. Heroin addicts consider their addiction to be the highest kind because everything stops the minute you inject.

There shouldn't be hierarchy when it comes to addiction; these things, actions, objects that consume our lives are all equally as damaging. They'll hurt you, they'll convince you that you're unable to live without them and they'll bring more pain than you can imagine.  Regardless of whether your addiction is self harm or smoking, you're still hurting yourself.
But I get it...for those 2 minutes it takes to smoke a cigarette or to snort a line of coke, you feel as if you're invincible. Addictions give a feeling of euphoria. It's the post coital cigarette that ends something so perfect. The minute you realise what you've done, or what your addiction has caused you to do, your world comes crashing down but for those 2 minutes of euphoric happiness you feel after screwing the 6th person that night or on the 3rd day of starving yourself, the effect it has on your mental health isn't worth it.

There's always a better addiction out there; soon, self harm isn't enough and 40 cigarettes a day seems like too little. There's always a higher platform for you to jump from.
It's like a SuperMario game - the levels keep getting harder and harder until you're suddenly facing the boss. When you're laying in a hospital bed with tubes running through you, feeding you because you didn't eat for 17 days, you're facing the boss.
When you have your face in a gutter after spending the night doing too many drugs, you're facing the boss.
When you wake up one day and you find out you've got liver cirrhosis, that's when you're facing the boss.

And the reality is, nobody ever really beats the boss the first time around. It takes more than one shot to kill the villain waiting at the end of every level.

We only get one chance to fight the demons we have growing inside of us. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Up all night, got demons to fight.

I've just bought a shed load of energy drinks and stocked up on really high in caffeine coffee. I'm not a caffeine junkie, I hate the taste of Red Bull and the only time I drink coffee is when I'm trying to be grown up. So why have I just wasted money on drinks to help keep me awake?


I have so much to do regarding writing and so little time to do it all in that I decided one all nighter would sort everything out. I'm a big believer in the phrase "we'll sleep when we're dead" so that's exactly what I'm doing. Starting from now (I've just taken my first sip of Red Bull to mark this occasion), I'll be awake for the next 24 hours (and more, if I don't finish my to-do list).

This is the most pointless blog post I've ever written, but on the flip side of this, when the energy drinks and coffee have worn off, I plan to write one huge blog post on passion. What are you most passionate about? Would you do something as stupid as I'm doing for something you love? If so, have you ever done something like this? Am I stupid or just really dedicated about what I'm aiming to get done in the next 24 hours?

That sip of Red Bull has already kicked in, I can feel the caffeine killing my body as I type so that's my call to get working. I hope everybody has a brilliant night's sleep cause I sure as hell won't be...