Monday, 28 August 2017

Everything, Everything - Nicola Yoon | | Book Review

Everything, Everything is a YA novel about Madeline Whittier, an 18 year old girl who hasn't left her house for seventeen years. You see, she suffers from a rare yet ironically famous disease called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency meaning she's allergic to the world. Which sounds absolutely insane and unfathomable but Madeline can be allergic to anything in the outside world. She lives a very isolated life, home-schooled through Skype, spending most of her days reading, with her mum or with her nurse Carla.  

Madeline wants to escape and explore. Go to school, make friends. Sit outside in the grass, breathe fresh air. Is it worth the risk of being deathly ill?

A new family move in across the road. Meet Olly, the mysterious new boy. The boy who dresses head to toe in black. The boy who moves his body easily and impossibly. The boy Madeline may just fall in love with.

Sometimes romance in YA irritates me. It feels over the top, obsessive and unrealistic. I'm not criticising young adult fiction. I love it with all my heart. I understand why it's written. First love is obsessive. You've never felt anything like it before, every feeling goes from 0-100 pretty quick. Yet still, I read some YA and I hate it. I hate how quickly characters fall in love. Maybe it's simply me, no longer a teenager and slightly pessimistic. I felt this strongly with both of Yoon's novels, Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also A Star. It happens too quickly and puts me off. 

Despite my doubts, Madeline and Olly's developing relationship is cute and equally as dangerous. I liked Olly's sub-plot, his support for his sister and mum because his dad is an arsehole. Olly has nothing but a positive effect on Madeline, yet he is a constant threat to her health. He is careful, funny and adorable. Let's not forget the little dimple on his face or his Atlantic Ocean blue eyes. 

The plot twist/revelation at the end was unexpected and completely threw me off. It might be an extremely strong attitude towards the book but it ruined it for me. I felt livid. It was unnecessary. 

The books layout is definitely what kept me reading. Adorable illustrations drawn by the author's husband, they depict Madeline's feelings and plans, almost like a visual diary. 

There's a rock solid Bundt cake, a trip to Hawaii and a heavily detailed architecture model of a shopping centre involving an astronaut. All in all, the story is interesting, imaginative and hopeful.

I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Do you play the drums?

I like to believe I can out-run depression. Getting out of the house, hearing my feet pound the pavement and feeling high on endorphins. Feeling accomplished and strong after a run. A rush of euphoria. Like anything is possible. Like all my goals and dreams are under my nose waiting for me to reach out and grab them. 

Running is my lifeline. It keeps me sane. However, my mind doesn't always allow me to feel motivated to get out of bed and go. Every day I fight against my thoughts. Every day I fight the voice telling me to not bother, it's too much effort, you're never going to be able to achieve a half marathon.

Just run. Drink some water. Put on your gym clothes. Tie your shoes up. And go. Go!  Pep talks and positive affirmations. You can do this. Remember your goals. 

Yesterday's run for example. I slept badly the night before. I woke up feeling off. Feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. Feeling sad for no particular reason. I got up, had breakfast but ended up back in bed an hour later and slept until late afternoon. It wasn't a satisfying sleep, it made me more tired and defeated. 4pm I had lunch, walked my dog with my sister and perked up slightly. Spending time with my sister always has a positive result on my mood. She makes me laugh until I cry. We talked about the TV shows we're currently invested in (Me, Broad City, her, Bates Motel) and we talked about the latest Taylor Swift news. Nature helped too. The fresh air, the chill breeze reminding me autumn is close. The freedom of the outdoors. 

I put on my running clothes and did it. The simple act of putting the clothes on motivates me, cos now I'm suitably dressed and laced up it's too late to back out now. Do you know how hard it can be to get a sports bra on? It's a wrestling match with my own body most days. 

I ran 3.2km/2 miles along the canal. The sun was beginning to set. The wind felt glorious against my skin. I stopped for a breath on top of a small white bridge when a man approached me. I was apprehensive at first, it was late evening and there weren't many people around. Good run, he said. I laughed and said yes, amid some heavy breathes. He said he runs, 5 miles at a time. We spoke about routes along the canal and I told him I was training for a half marathon. Held to his body with gorgeous pieces of fabric were drums. He asked if I had ever played drums. I laughed and shook my head. He was going to his friends boat to play drums with him. After exchanging names ( I forgot his though) and goodbyes I felt extremely calm, happy and grateful. I could tell he had a kind soul. His eyes sparkled as he spoke and he was full of passion. 

Sometimes all you need is a tiny shift of perspective. For me, it's always meeting a random person and talking to them like I've known them for years. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Let's Travel

One of my desires is to travel. Travel the world. Experience culture and cuisines. Take in the incredible world around me before my legs give in and I'm sitting in an armchair knitting and eating bourbon biscuits. 

I want to explore cities but at the same time, find the nooks and crannies and the little bits of happiness and beauty tucked away from popular tourist spots. I'm itching to travel. It won't go away. I think about getting on a plane and leaving daily. I've never been on a plane. Got a serious case of FOMO!! Maybe I'm romanticising it. Flights sometimes seem like hell: delayed flights, overpriced airport prices and lost luggage. But I want to do it, so bad. I want to sit in an allocated seat, even if it happens to be one next to a screaming kid or a snorer. I want to know what it feels like to take off, be in the air, miraculously float in the sky and watch the clouds go by. I want to travel at night and see the world.

Amsterdam to visit The Anne Frank House, the teenage girl's diary is one of the first books I ever remember reading, it's cemented in my brain. The Van Gogh Museum. Ride a bike through the city. Take a canal cruise. See the stunning fields of tulips at Bollenstreen. Have a picnic in Vondelpark.

Sweden to visit Lapland. My cousins went when they were children, you know, when we believed in Father Christmas. It seems magical. Fresh white snow, untouched in places. Reindeer. Snowy mountains. I'm a winter baby, so winter naturally is my favourite. See the majestic Northern Lights at Abisko National Park. Drottningholm Palace, a fairy-tale building where the Swedish Royal Family live. 

Norway. another country of Scandinavia. Lush mountains, waterfalls and greenery. See the natural phenomena of the Satlstraumen whirlpools. Take a ride on the funicular railway. Immerse myself in the history, the earliest traces of human life. 

Europe; Bruges, Hamburg, Berlin, Venice, Rome, Paris and Vienna. America, Canada, Cuba, Australia and Japan. 

One day, I'll explore. Take photographs. Write about my travels. Marvel at extraordinary architecture. Visit museums. Learn new languages. Maybe fall in love. Eat the traditional foods of a country. 

If anybody wants to be my travel partner... I'm accepting applications. 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Creativity and Depression: why is my brain crowded with ideas despite its gloom?

In the thick of it, in the deepest recesses of my mind and its experiences with depression I can be at my most creative. In my most recent episode (Right now unfortunately) I have been thinking a lot about my creativity. There's a pattern to it. I write more, my brain froths with new ideas at an impressive rate when I'm depressed.

Depression is never fun. It is emotionally painful. Boring. Infuriating. Relentless.

Being creative is a distraction from the bad and intrusive thoughts. My mind is constantly thinking of the bad, therefore I throw myself into creative projects. Creating is a way out of the mind, out of the emotional trauma I'm experiencing. I write. I knit. I plan.

I'm writing the first draft of a novel and it's hard. But figuratively exiting my own mind, I enter into the mind of my main character. It helps to pretend not to be me. Another reason I love writing and developing characters because just for a little while I escape. In the mind of my main character (She's called Honey, FYI.) I explore her life, not mine, I think about her adventures, dreams and experiences.

(My most recent chapter for my WIP.)
How do you fight your own mind? How do you fight something you cannot tangibly get rid of?

I create. And so do many others. Many well-known writers, musicians and creatives types have experienced mental illness and turned it into something positive. Although there is no certain link between creativity and depression, there is a lot to be said for what humans produce when they're battling the darkness of their minds. Think of Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf and Edgar Allen Poe? If some of the most successful, highly praised creators can create masterpieces, you can attempt to too.

Thinking about my own creativity and how it manifests during episodes of depression, not only is it a way of distracting myself from the inconsolable sadness and hopelessness but also a way of expressing myself. I can express my thoughts and emotions more coherently and less directly. I can write a blog post about my experiences and hope someone else feels the same. Talking openly about how I'm feeling does not come easy. I'm sure many others feel the same, so taking your depression and transforming it into something creative and rewarding whether that be writing, painting, drawing, knitting or learning how to play an instrument. Whatever works best for you, do it. Create something you are proud of. Create something that brings you happiness.

I can create something concrete, something real to look back on when I'm feeling myself again, proof to tell me depressive episodes aren't fantastic but maybe, just maybe something good can come out of it.

Creativity is about thinking. Thinking about your senses, your experiences, your surroundings. Thinking about everything. A creative idea can come from almost anything.