Edge of normalcy

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Last saturday something shook my little world upside down. A bridge, one of my bridges, my favourite bridge, THE London Bridge suddenly became a place of murder and destruction. Blood was spilt. Fear was instilled. Innocent people died. Others were hurt. And it wasn’t the first time. Manchester saw it happen a couple weeks back. The Westminster bridge saw it happen a couple months back. We live in a truly terrifying world.

If you are still with me, most days I wonder what the hell is going on with the world. Are we not learning from our old mistakes? Have we not spilt enough blood over the past few centuries? Why are we not getting over hatred? I may be biased or irrational sometimes but these days, I totter on the edge of normalcy. Shake at the end of it, more like. Too awake, too alert, too scared to notice anything but the sound of my own breathing. My own very shallow breathing. Taking it all in, wishing it would go away.

It is hard. Hard to spend a whole life learning about how to avoid death to have someone take life away from us so easily. A split second and everything you knew is swiftly gone. Your life. Your significant other’s altered forever. Why would I eat healthy, take good care of myself, make a living, create memories if someone can just sweep in and decide that I can’t be on earth anymore? Of course, I still would and I intend to because I can’t let anyone stop me living my life to the fullest. And nor should you. We are not scared. We stand together. United we can beat this.

This days, though, I put on a brave face. A bold, smiley, determined brave face. I am cheery for the sake of it.I wordlessly go through the motions. I do yoga and my mind wanders. I go to work and my thoughts race. I read books which are way too thin and I tell people I love them out of fear of not being able to say it anymore. I am coping. I am doing just fine.

To be honest,most of the time I kind of tried to bury it deep. Deep down under. Let it lie underneath my rather thick skin. It’s not like I was standing on the London Bridge on that fateful day a mere hour before it all happened. It is not that scary. Right? Like if I don’t think about it then it is not real at all. I mean. It could have been me. It could have been you. It shouldn’t have to be any of us if you get my drift. But it could. And that is truly terrifying. Enough to make my blood go stone cold.

Nowadays and most days, I live on the edge of normalcy in a world telling me to stay safe. To keep alert. To be vigilant. Vigilant the key word for aware of how bad it can get. Because the bad people are out there to get us and there are many of them populating the earth. Vigilant because a few weeks ago someone decided to murder people that were celebrating life (…) Dancing, creating memories, smiling. Being alive.

But you know what is the worst? Other than the fear, the heartbreak and the pain? The fact that most people will resort to playing the blame game. They will look for someone to take the fall for whatever happened. The voices will chorus ‘You made it real, you are guilty and so is your kind.’ But do you want to know where the damage lies? Ignorance. Fear. Racism. Separation. Segregation. Lies. Domination. Power struggles.

At the end of the day we are all human beings. We all are mothers,and brothers, and sisters and other people’s people above it all. We are all loved. We all have someone waiting for our call at the other end. We all have someone who will worry if we are late getting home because they know it is unsafe out there.

Maybe I am naive but to me this is pretty simple: we need to stop humans from killing other humans.

 

The year I only wrote happiness

Processed with VSCO with p5 presetI remember the year I only wrote about happiness often. I was not happy. Someone I loved dearly had left the world and I was struggling to find my safe footing.

It all started with a simple action: I decided I would post a happy thing on my personal Facebook account every single day for a whole year. 365 days. One day at a time I would force myself to find a bit of happiness in the world. At first, it felt like a chore. I would scribble two or three lines and add a picture. I would chase sunsets and dawns and hope it would be enough.

As months went, I started finding happiness elsewhere. In books. In movies. I would spend all my bus and train journeys looking for the next happy tidbit. For the next quote. Happiness was a chore, yes, but it was a lifeline too. I knew it was in there somewhere so I just kept looking.

And then seasons passed and I started noticing the little things: the shorter line at Starbucks, leaves in autumn, the random guy who smiled at me on the tube, a book I liked, cupcakes. Was I happy? Maybe. Was I trying to be? Yet again, maybe. Was I bouncier overall? Definitely yes. By trying to find the beauty my eyes had gotten used to looking for it.

The second half of the year I only said happy things was hard. I said goodbye to my dad. I found about many things I wish I hadn’t. I struggled yet again with finding my place in the world. But every single day the alarm would still go off and for five minutes I would lie in bed and find a picture and a happy thing to say to the world.

I did not do this because I wanted to change the world. I did not do this because I wanted to find myself. I did it because this is where the game starts: by finding beauty in every day I started creating the pretty things I wanted to see.

And, of course, my life did not dramatically change. I did the same things I had done the previous year, just intentionally. I went to the same places I had been the previous year yet I loved them.I cherished each and every single of my scars. I cried and yelled and sang at the top of my lungs. I danced. My life did not change but I had changed. I was stronger. I felt the warmth in my fingertips, I missed my friend less and less every day: I was kind of happy.

So if you are struggling with smiling let me tell you this IT DOES GET BETTER. This is where the beauty of life is. Hug your scars.Close your eyes, do a 180 and start again and it will feel different. Smile at strangers. Laugh freely. Let others think you are silly. Start living.

Maybe you won’t need a whole year of happy and minute will be enough. Maybe you won’t need to talk about pretty things. Maybe you are happy already and you just don’t know. Whatever it is.. take a leap of faith. Give yourself a chance: a chance to embrace the silver linings.

Stolen.

It’s just a house, they said,

they came in, took it all, left a big mess, no harm done.

 

 

It’s just stuff, I said,

I don’t even need stuff,

I actually own far too much.

 

It will go away, she said,

you just have to stay strong,

close your eyes and think positive thoughts.

 

I can help you sleep, he said,

you just need some magic pills.

 

They were all so kind

and oh so trying to help,

and oh so keen.

And I was thankful.

 

So I got home

and

I closed the door

and

I clicked it two times

and then three

because

the door couldn’t be locked enough.

And then,

I looked under the bed

Because that’s where monsters hide.

And then I went to the kitchen because

monsters are hungry sometimes (…)

And

I clutched my blanket so tightly

and  listened to the noises

and couldn’t sleep

Because someone came in without permission to do so and

spent two minutes in my safe haven

and took a bit of stuff

but left a lot of mess behind.

 

Of how I finally ran the Royal Parks.

A few months ago someone asked me why did I no longer write. A few weeks after, someone else asked me the very same question. After all, writing has always been your thing, hasn’t it? And you have gotten so good at conveying emotions, too. Why are you not writing?

To be honest, the question threw me off a loop. Why was I not writing? Had I run out of things to say? Was I too happy and really didn’t care about finding things to say anymore? Anyway, I gave them both vague random answers and then went ahead and  had a little chat with myself. Do I have writers block? I don’t think so. I post about my doings and undoings on several social media sites and am usually too happy to provide detailed answers to any messages I receive. Yet I was still… not writing. So, was I tired of writing? By all means, no! I love writing. I just can’t really get enough words to say everything I’d like to say so I guess that I went ahead and just said … nothing.

Well, rambling over, I guess that I  am writing now. Because I have something to say. Because it makes me happy. Because I CAN WRITE AND BE HAPPY AT THE SAME TIME. There, gotcha,  I don’t have to be a terribly unhappy creative person, I can be happy one too.

So, let me tell you a story…

If I look back, the whole last year, 25, has probably been the biggest year of my life. Let me get you some background : 24 was a rough year. I lost my dad, I lost a friend to cancer, I started running and then had to stop and I was basically trying to figure out what to do next. Life, uni, sports, everything really. So I started 25 with a sheer resolution: to achieve all the things I wanted and fight for them. How would I do that? Well, I made a list. And to be honest with you, I pretty much ticked off everything in the list: I got more confident, I got stronger, I started resistance training, I braved group exercise, I gave an efficient classroom presentation, I tried new foods, got my IBS under control, managed 8 hours (fitbit tracked) sleep at least 3 nights a week, spoke to at least three people in my new classroom group, got a promotion at work and finally managed to stop running to let my less fortunate bits heal.

All in all success isn’t it? Well, one thing was missing: back to when I started running I had always wanted to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon and dedicate it to my friend who passed away and who gave me the strength to finally start pulling together letting my fears go and moving onto bigger things. I did get a place last year but when the time came I was too injured and too hurt to take part so I had to have my heart broken and pull out of the race. So just imagine my face when my workplace’s charity put some places out for Royal Parks Half, I jumped at the opportunity to get an answer saying that all the places were full because I hadn’t emailed quickly enough. To be honest, I was quite bummed but a small part of me was also relieved that I didn’t have to push trough a challenge I wasn’t sure I could achieve.

But, as proven before, destiny has funny ways. On September 30th, 10 days before my birthday and 9 days before the race someone emailed me to ask me if I’d still like to take part in the race. And to be honest I didn’t really think about it, I just said YES. (If you are reading, thank you Giovanna and Pret Foundation Trust for your kindness, you made me a very happy woman). (You can still sponsor The Pret Foundation trust and their commendable work here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/pret-runs-royal-parks 🙂  I am not going to bore you with the details and just quickly go to race day.

So, here I am toeing the start line of the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Nervous. Eager. Unprepared. Without training. But happy. Ready to do this. I started very conservatively. Slowly. Happy. I high fived children on the way. Drank water at all stations. Ate a few jelly babies. Eight miles in, I was doing good. 10 minutes mile pace, breathing ok, legs feeling fine, no funny business, knees happy. So I was just going on about my business, when my hip went absolutely crazy. 9.5 miles. I started walk running. Slowly. Seeing my finish time slip away from my fingers. Numb from the pain. And then I saw her.

We had met several times before and I had always been in awe of her quick mind, her brave tongue and her no-nonsense ways. Meera is a force to be reckoned with. She is beautiful, fierce and strong and she embodies many of the ideals I believe in. She embraced me and I wept. I wept with pain. With fear. Because I was this far in but I couldn’t keep going. Because I was this far in but I felt broken. But she told me it would be ok and the next thing her and Phoebe are getting into the course, helping me back up and promising to run with me until I am ok again. I can’t explain how I felt that moment. How much kindness filled my heart. How much it meant to me. How grateful I was for people like Meera or Phoebe. Strong women that empower others and always offer a helping hand, a cheer, a smile, a hug.

Needless to say after them accompanying me for a whole mile and cheering me up I was more than ready to finish the race and I readily searched for someone who looked as in pain as I was. Nina (I hope you may read this sometime!) was running this race for her dad who passed away from cancer too. Together we jogged/run/walked the last two miles and we pushed each other. Because I did it. I got to the finish line. I cried, I struggled, I suffered but I was also reminded of a very powerful thing: we only raise by lifting others and others can push us upwards too.

So I guess that these are the things I’d like to start writing about. Real things. Human things. Easy, hard, happy, unhappy things.

And, here’s me, after the finish line. After the best last day as a 25-year-old I could hope for. Happy 26 to me. Here’s to another hard-but-rewarding living year.

Speak no evil

imageTurmoil. The streets are so empty. It’s blazing hot. Then freezing cold. Then it rains. The weather is crazy and so is the nation. What have we done?

Fear. You see it in people’s eyes. They want to hide. Some people try to stay strong but they don’t quite manage. All you see is disappointment. And the bitter cold, oh the bitter cold.

Uncertainty. Because someone you love may start hanging on a thread. Because this wasn’t what you signed up for or what you thought you knew.

And there’s no stopping it now. This wrecking ball is rolling. The destruction is happening. You can see it in their eyes. You can see it happen before their very eyes.

Speak no evil, someone did this to all of us and now we have to pay. Speak no evil. Why is our country crying and who do we have to blame. Speak no evil. They look happy on TV. Speak no evil. I may after all not be good enough. Speak no evil. They want and they got us and I have nothing left but to hold my tears, take a deep breath and get a move on. Still, speak no evil. It may get better tomorrow. There is still hope.

On friday I woke up and I cried.

I cried because my country had started crumbling.

I cried because everything I stood for was slowly fading and going away.

I cried because hatred won.

I cried because many humans just want to hurt other humans. 

 

 

Live like you are dying.

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I have a newfound hope: I hope for life.

The past few months have been a roller coaster. I have been tempted to quit countless times. I have snapped, I have yelled, I have furiously ran my pain and fears away. I have wiped one too many tears. I have fought one too many fears. In the end, I have been through it all.

And now spring is here. Life is brighter. Everything seems to be falling into place and I am sort of proud. I guess that if I stand on the sideline and look at the bigger picture I have succeeded. I have moved on at work, I have sort of fixed my knees, I have found a lifestyle I actually enjoy living. I can run and have fun while I am doing it. Tender mercies and all, I feel pretty lucky to be alive if I say so.

I’ve also learned a few things. Maybe what I have is not exactly what I want but I am learning how to appreciate it. I am flawed and that is ok. I can’t give everyone a 100, not even if I try and that’s ok too. I can settle for many good things instead of just one while the rest of my life falls apart. And I may still want to do crazy things sometimes and that’s fine too.

I guess that what I am trying to say is that if you feel lost in life your big chance is to just go with it and try. Cry if you fail, complain if you must, but never stop trying. Sit down, take a deep breath, break a few things, say something you don’t really mean but don’t quit. Whatever it is you are doing. Don’t quit. Don’t.fucking.quit.

 

Rewards may be closer than you’d ever think. Happy friday everyone! 🙂

 

 

Meanwhile…. January 2016.

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No stress

No guilt

No shame

(……….)

No self-hate
No lack of sleep
No nasty thoughts
No awful days
No bad people
No problems
No eventful mornings
No I’m giving up
And I told you so
No failures
No hasty departures
No mourning
No grieving
No splitting at the cracks
No running away
No trying to screw it all
No tears
No numbness
No guns
Just love.

You haven’t tried your own hand at it.

imageI grew up resenting my dad. I knew it was not right but I did. Somehow, I just believed that he hadn’t done enough for me, that he had had other priorities. He never thrived at being a dad. He never made it through.

But, looking back and with time passing, I’ve realised that it was something else. I mean, no one knows how to be a parent when they start doing it. And it must be really daunting. From birth and well into the life of that tiny little human you brought into the world you are going to be the main pillar. You are going to do the biggest job of them all: raising a child.

Creating life is the biggest adventure there is. And whilst you do that, you will make mistakes. You will try and fail and try and learn because this is the way things work.

Plus, on the brighter side, I’d say I ain’t half bad. I mean, I am doing well. I have had my ups and downs but I am actually quite pleased with the life I lead. I have good friends. I sustain a healthy lifestyle. I am working towards achieving my college degree and I like my job. I am brave, and strong, and as much as I mess up sometimes and let the feelings take over, I also have a good heart and a pleasant soul. As I said, not bad.

So, even if you don’t feel extremely grateful sometimes, say thank you. Give a silent thanks to your parents because they made you who you are and that is someone very special.

 

Happy birthday, dad, hope you’re well wherever you are. And, happy New Year to you all!

Running my way through life.

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This year has been all about the ride. I have been running through life.

I have been at the best, I have been at the worst, there have been times where I just wanted to give up and say fuck it all, fuck you all, I can’t hack any of this.

I won’t lie, I have learned a lot about persistence this year. And about humanity. Because as much as you want to let somebody in sometimes you also have to see them out. No amount of tough love can heal the wounds some people inflict in you. And that’s hard. To let go of someone you love because they don’t love you right. Talk about breaking down.

As I said, I have danced a lot this year. In empty ballrooms, in dusty theatres, in places I’d rather never have to dance again. Not easy but I have finally found my equilibrium. And I have had sore feet, swollen ankles, a messy head, a heavy heart and some overfull lungs. Sometimes they were so full it really hurt to breathe. But I always made it. I always lived another day. Through gritted teeth, giving it my all, my everything. And I stumbled,waltzed,smiled,cried,laughed. Look at me because I did it all.

So here’s what I’ve learned: you will try and you will fail and you will try again and most likely fail again because this is how life works and most of the time things are just not fair (…) But if you keep trying you will get a day where things will actually start happening. If you wait long enough and you give it your all and you sit tight and you push harder you may actually get to the place you wanted. And if in the end you can’t and you don’t and you give up and decide you can’t take it you will still have all the things you have learned. Because no trying is futile. Because most moments in life are nothing but huge lessons.

So here’s to learning and here’s to keeping at it. Because you may knock me down but I will always come back up.

Come on 2016, I’m waitin’ for ya (…..)

 

 

 

 

20 things I’ve learned this year.

 

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  1. Letting go: let go of things and how to move on. How gently did you let go of the things that weren’t meant for you…
  2. Patience: wait for it. Just because you didn’t get it today it doesn’t mean you won’t get it when the time is right.
  3. Smile: even when life sucks. You keep your head up, you smile. You suck it up you put a brave face and you smile.
  4. Grieving is a bitch and that’s ok. Grieve if you have to, it is just human to do so.
  5. With a little help of your friends you can achieve anything. If only you let them help.
  6. The time is now. Don’t waste your time doing things you hate, get a move on and change!
  7. You can do hard things (….) If only you start believing you actually *can*.
  8. Say you’re sorry. We all make mistakes. Maybe you can’t salvage the relationship. But maybe you can. Go ahead, try, say you are sorry. Just don’t abuse it, it gets old so quickly.
  9. Seize the day. Every day is special, every day is significant, it’s only up to you to make it be.
  10. Be kind: spend time taking care of others. Be gentle. Use positive words even when you’re mad. What goes around comes around.
  11. Learn from your mistakes: failure is not fatal. Just because you crash it doesn’t mind you won’t bounce back. Just because you fail it doesn’t mean you won’t succeed.
  12. Stay strong: a bad day today is a better day to come.
  13. Let go of toxic people: they will only bring poison into your life.
  14. Exercise regularly: a healthy body makes for a healthy mind and a healthy person.
  15. Find beautiful in every single day.
  16. Be kind to yourself: yes, you made a mistake, yes you are on your way to fixing it, don’t dwell on things.
  17. Dance. To your own kind of music. Do things because YOU like them, not because others like them.
  18. All you need is run. In case of pain, sadness, unhappiness… just… RUN.
  19. Write. Never stop writing. Write because you want to, because you like it, because this is the next chapter of your life.
  20. It does get better: all in due course, life does get better…

 

2016… I am ready 🙂 7 days and counting. Tic tac tic tac.