Wednesday, October 29, 2014

On Guilty Pleasures

I have been thinking about the idea of 'guilty pleasures' lately.
It seems to be this kind of phrase that we roll out for all sorts of things these days - not just food or drink, but books, tv shows and movies, even general activities.
And I've realised that I just don't really buy into it.
I don't feel guilty when I am seeking some sort of specific pleasure. I don't get angry at myself for eating a donut if it's what I really felt like eating. I feel bad for wanting to read some romance books that aren't considered 'great literature'. And I certainly don't generate negativity towards myself when I watch kids tv shows, or perhaps something a little less mind-working like Midsomer Murders or Charmed or Friends.
I tend to decide that, if I am going to enjoy something, then I go ahead and enjoy it, and give myself the freedom of not feeling bad about it later.

Now, let me get this thing out of the way here. Yes, I am unemployed and spend almost all of my time at home (due to illness, but that's beside the point at the moment). Yes, despite being sick a lot of the time and not exercising much at all, I haven't really put on any weight since about 2008 (my metabolism still seems to be working!) and I tend to manage to stay slim despite the overwhelming odds against my doing so. Yes yes yes I acknowledge all of that. But I could still feel guilty for these things if I decided to put that on myself - if I decided to listen to other people more than that inner voice that says 'it would really help me relax if I could do this' or 'I don't know why but I'm really craving this sweet treat'.

There is a line with these things - emotional eating tends to be one of those lines, and procrastination is another (though both kind of have their place). I enjoy these pleasures when I am able to, and I watch my reaction to them. Because when they stop being pleasurable, and start feeling heavy and not as nice anymore, that's when I know I have turned to these pleasures out of a need to avoid something that needs dealing with.

What I'm saying in a very roundabout way here is: are your 'guilty' pleasures really worth so much negativity? Or can they be 'guiltless' pleasures, enjoyed in the moment, without fear of your own inner nagger later? Just a thought.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trusting the Process

many of my posts lately have probably indicated that I have been lost to illness more often than not lately.
it has been hard. I have not felt like myself 6 days out of 7, and when I do manage to get some of myself back I find it is quickly drained by all the things that have been waiting to be done while I have been drifting on the sea of sickness.
The fact is, I kind of miss Bethwyn during those times. She's pretty rad. She's driven despite her health issues, and she loves things like books, tea, and Cardcaptor Sakura. She delights in the small things like the new flowers that have sprung up in the garden, and her dog going nuts chasing nothing.
But sometimes I just have to trust the flow of things. Sometimes I drift on that sea and I don't remember what I was doing, I don't remember who I am.
But that just makes it all the sweeter when I return and remember.

This random blog post brought to you by three days of flu symptoms and pain :D

Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review: Phantazein edited by Tehani Wessely

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: Phantazein
Author: multiple (listed below)
Edited by: Tehani Wessely
Publication Date: October 3 2014

Synopsis: "You think you know all the fables that have ever been told. You think you can no longer be surprised by stories. Think again.

With origins in myth, fairytales, folklore and pure imagination, the stories and poems in these pages draw on history that never was and worlds that will never be to create their own unique tales and traditions… 

The next generation of storytellers is here.

Faith Mudge / Twelfth
Tansy Rayner Roberts / The love letters of swans
Thoraiya Dyer / Bahamut
Rabia Gale / The village of no women
Jenny Blackford / The Lady of Wild Things
Suzanne J. Willis / Rag and bone heart
Nicole Murphy / A Cold Day
Vida Cruz / How the Jungle Got Its Spirit Guardian
S.G. Larner / Kneaded
Charlotte Nash / The Ghost of Hephaestus
Cat Sparks / The Seventh Relic
Gitte Christensen / The nameless seamstress
Foz Meadows / Scales of Time (poem) reprint 
Moni / Illustrations Scales of Time
Kathleen Jennings / Cover Art"

My thoughts: This collection of short stories is amazing. I must admit that I don't tend to have the best of luck with short story collections - I often lose interest after one or two, and just stop. This was definitely the exception - each story began and I was sucked in.

I thought about giving a small review of each story, but I really would prefer to look at this collection as a whole. Each of these stories offers something new and different, and I was often reminded of the original fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm - dark themes and all. There is something dark to this collection, something that weaves everything together and leaves you coming back for more each time. I actually found myself wanting to savour this collection and so I didn't read it quite as fast as I could have, but I really wanted to pay each story the attention it deserved. The only reason I didn't give this collection full marks is because, while I loved all the stories, I found a couple of them to just be of a slightly lower standard of writing than others.

Nevertheless, I found some favourites in the following stories: The Nameless Seamstress, Scales of Time, Twelfth, Rag and Bone Heart, and The Love Letters of Swans. But really, I loved all of them individually, and as a whole.

This is a wonderful collection and I can't recommend it highly enough. In fact, I might get myself a physical copy to sit on my shelf so I can pick it up any time and flip through!

I received an e-copy of this book for review from FableCroft Publishing.

You would like this book if: You like dark fables and tales; you enjoy beautiful stories that make you think and sigh.

Rating:  9/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: The Ghosts of Heaven
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publication Date: October 2014

Synopsis: "The spiral has existed as long as time has existed.
It's there when a girl walks through the forest, the moust green air clinging to her skin.
There centuries later in a pleasant green dale, hiding the treacherous waters of Golden Beck that take Anna, who they call a witch.
There on the other side of the world, where a mad poet watches the waves and knows the horrors they hide, and far into the future as Keir Bowman realises his destiny.
Each takes their next step in life.
None will ever go back to the same place.
And so their journeys begin..."

My thoughts: I decided to give myself a day or so to think on this one after I had finished it, and yet I find myself still somewhat unsure what to write.

Let me start with the writing. Sedgwick is undoubtedly a wonderful and talented writer - I really enjoyed each of the four stories he had constructed here, and I found myself drawn into the book despite my reservations (I had never read any of his work before and had heard that it tended towards the 'spooky' side of things). The way he wrote certain sentences and expressed certain things made me want to bow down and study under his tutelage.

And yet. For much of this book, despite how much I enjoyed it, I found myself confused. The intrigue of the spiral theme is solid and drawing, and the characters he created to encircle (pun~) this theme were each excellent. But I felt like each story could have been longer, could have explained things a little more - while at the same time wondering if the shortness and queerness of the stories was actually by design. Perhaps it was to leave people questioning this theme of spirals - it certainly got me thinking.

However, my thinking about spirals has continued and I find myself forgetting parts of the story already. I feel like, while I enjoyed this book, I didn't enjoy it a LOT. If I was rating it on writing ability and overall theme, I would rate it higher, but I am also rating it on my own enjoyment of the story and so that brings it down a little. I think I will definitely have a look at Sedgwick's other works at some point, though.

I received an unsolicited copy of this book from Hachette.

You would like this book if: you enjoy slightly confusing, slightly spooky books that make you think.

Rating:  7/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sparkle Points #6

Hi again! I thought I would do a new Sparkle Points update, as some time has passed and I believe I have more to cross off!

  • collect the piece of pottery I painted... one dayyyyy
  • get back to writing! (I took a few days off from it and haven't gone back yet.) find the joy in it again!  HAPPENING.
  • draft up my first blog post on kpop idols~ more thought has gone into this, especially since there are a bunch of things happening in the kpop world at the moment. Perhaps soon. [still true.]
  • learn some new iced tea recipes - experiment! I have been experimenting and have come up with some lovely stuff! More needs to happen though :) the weather has been crazy and my schedule has been the same, but this is definitely still a thing.
  • look out for a lovely second-hand wardrobe? EEE! Found and is now in my bedroom! Gumtree, you are the bestest.
  • catch-up on reading and writing goals! getting there! going to make this a bit more defined I think... I actually can't really remember what I meant by this, but I am definitely getting there on my reading - more reviews to come!
  • read at least fifteen books in October, 11 of which must be Aurealis nominations working on this actively!
  • move out of bedroom and choose colours for painting.  whoa. This just tells me how old this list is now. my room has been painted, I was moved out of it for about three weeks, and I'm back in now! Still a few things to do, but it's looking great!
  • there is a slightly scary thing coming in less than two weeks - you are prepared. you are safe. it will be fine. the 'slightly scary thing' was a medical appointment, and it went really well. I had a game to distract me while waiting (thank you Katharine for the game!) and a Xin next to me for moral support. Things are happening now as a result, and I am hopeful.
  • the things that you are avoiding slightly? stop avoiding them. it's okay. you can do this. I stopped avoiding! I did the things! Whee!
  • new slightly scary medical thing happening in November. Prepare for this and breathe~
  • revamp chest of drawers
  • plans for Xin and my seventh anniversary of dating?

UNI To Do:
  • start presentation assignment due week eleven  done! I started! I presented! I think it went super well so yay!
  • start the process of enrolling in online units for next year started! I am a little lost with this so I may add another point for it lower down...
  • do the presentation when it is ready. maybe have chocolate afterwards because presentations are scary. I had takeaway with Xin :D
  • start research essay because do it! :) I will be starting this as of this week. Not long to go!
  • Complete final blog post on defamation laws for my unit.
  • maybe ask for help from someone re: how to enrol in online units? it's a bit bewildering, even with Open Uni people trying to help...
  • re-organise silly withdrawal thing that is being drawn out and taking much longer than it should, because silly.
  • Finish research essay! Celebrate!

WISHLIST (current):
  • G-Dragon Album - Heartbreaker
  • DVD copy of the 1995 Sense and Sensibility movie...  Xin and I watched this recently and I forgot how much I adore it. Alan Rickman! Emma Thompson! Hugh Grant! Hugh Laurie! Kate Winslet! Goodness. An amazing friend bought this for me, along with a whole gift-bag of amazing things! Thank you Emily!!
  • Ouran High School Host Club Manga boxset? Still thinking about it...
  • Film for my instant camera! I got some more recently (just a little) and I forgot how much I love this darling device.
  • Crash Course DVDs?
  • new wardrobe? wooo done!
  • 2 ring binder the same as the lovely ones I have, that are somehow super hard to find now. I will find you!
  • new lanterns from Typo :3 I want to choose some different ones for my room~
  • organisation things for under my bed - ie. those space bag things that you can suck the air out of to store things, and also some sealed boxes to store everything in... MUCH STORING.

Wow. These lists seem to just get longer and longer each time... I hope I'm not boring people! O_o

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Morning Routine~

I am a bit all over the place lately (please see last bajillion posts). I haven't been sleeping in my bedroom for about a week and a half now, because it is being renovated (we're nearly there!), but luckily I am sleeping in my own bed, just in a different room.
It's been an interesting experience, and one that I have enjoyed overall. I'm looking forward to being back in my own room, but I think I will always remember my little bedroom-move with fondness.
With all that has been happening and the large amount of stress and sickness coming my way, I have started to really invest in little rituals to keep myself grounded. I think I might have posted about having a morning routine before - it used to be much more elaborate and involved meditation and yoga and such - but now I have returned to the humble morning routine.
For quite a while my routine was to rise when I woke, and then assess the day and my symptoms while watching children's television in the family room. This served me well for some time and, while it wasn't exactly spiritually enlightening, it helped me to reconnect and start my day.
For the last few days my routine has started to fall into place. I have no idea if I will maintain it or not once I move back into my bedroom again (may happen this weekend - unsure), but I am enjoying it while it lasts.
I rise when I wake up, usually just in time to say goodbye to my parents as they head off to work. I then perform my ablutions (fun and private word, that one), and heat up my heatpack to put back in my bed (I often have stomach pain in the morning, and this helps). I then prepare some light breakfast - usually a piece of gluten-free toast and some blueberries - and a mug of tea with my pills, and return to bed.
Although I know I'm not supposed to, I invite Bronte up onto the bed with me (provided she is mostly clean and dry) and she finds a comfy spot (usually almost right in my lap) and settles down, quickly falling asleep and making little snuffly snores.
After that it kind of just happens as it needs to. One day I might read for a little bit while I eat my breakfast, and then fall asleep for a bit longer. Sometimes Bronte and I watch some My Little Pony on my tv (she actually does watch it with me for a while - she seems to like ponies.) or I will watch some YouTube videos and catch up on the emails and such that have come in overnight.
Either way, I take everything nice and slow. I seem to be returning to that sense of needing gentleness lately, and reminding myself of that. It really helps me to tune in to what is happening in my body and my mind, so I can look after myself better. I am lucky that I have the time to do so.
Do you have a morning routine that helps you start the day well?

Love to all who read.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Spoonie Diaries #4: Memory Trouble

One thing I have noticed with alarming frequency lately is how little I can remember of what I have been doing. Granted, my health has deteriorated quite a bit of the last couple of months - that is, I seem to keep getting the same viruses and such over and over, no matter what I do - but I often have one or two days a week where I suddenly 'come to' and realise that I can't really remember what I've been doing for the past week.

This can be a little tied up with my memory of things I need to do, too. During those days when I am a little more lucid, I suddenly realise that I have slipped behind in almost everything. Book reviews, uni assignments and readings, blogging and writing, general chores, even just really basic things that everyone does - like eating or, you know, maybe leaving the house a little bit more often. All of this stuff kind of disappears into the background when I feel super sick - which kind of makes sense, but also tends to leave me feeling really stressed when I finally do realise just how far I have slipped behind on things.

This entry for my spoonie diaries is a little different, because I don't really have anything that helps with the memory problems, to be honest. But I did want to write something - even if it's not for others that may suffer this sort of thing out there, it's a reminder for myself.

Sometimes your body demands rest. And then sometimes, when you feel like you should be done resting, it demands more rest. And nothing you can do or say, no matter how much you try to discuss things with yourself or with others, is going to change the fact that you need to rest. When you do acknowledge that, just go with it. Know that things will get sorted out (or you will) at some point, and then wait until that point arrives. Nod and smile at the well-meaning advice, but don't take it on board if it doesn't feel right for you.

Don't stress. Because you can do this. You can do what you need to do for yourself, and then other things will follow if that's what is supposed to happen.

This probably all sounds a bit confusing, but it's something I needed to write anyway. Love to all who read.
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