continue the voice Health 25/04/21
A letter to our Readers
would like to start this letter off by saying thank you so much for all the love we got on our last issue on Time. To hit 1,000 reads was a massive achievement for our team and we are exceptionally grateful. Things are also looking up here in Scotland as by the time you read this, our country will be a lot more open and I for one cannot wait to sit in a café again. Before I dive into what this month’s issue is all about, we recently put out a readers’ survey and we would love for you to feeling extra kind, you can also buy us a coffee here as we are a small team who all do this voluntarily and caffeine keeps us fuelled! This issue is all about Health, and one of my favourite things about this issue is how many different ways people have taken the theme. I love that we have a good balance between physical and mental health pieces as both are equally valid in our lives. I particularly loved reading ‘Unbuckling the Imaginary Seatbelt’ by Carly Silva and could not stop looking at Julie Bray’s artwork. So grab a drink of your choice, perhaps a snack, and cosy up to enjoy an extraKirsty Taylor She /Her
Front cover by Julie Bray Magazine Design by Anna McFarlane
You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup - 6 Art by Julie bray - 7 What I Mean When I Talk About Health - 8 Queen Sketches - 10 Poetry Corner Part 1 - 12 Unbuckling the Imaginary Seatbelt - 14 Poetry Corner Part 2 - 18 Interview with an Author - 22 Poetry Corner Part 3 - 24 Art by Epic Bones - 27 My Health Backup Plan- 28 The Gallery - 30 Slow Summer Months - 38 How to Keep Your Heart Healthy - 40 Why Slowing Down, Breathing and Taking Care of the Little Things Matters - 42 Nature’s Effect On Your Blood Pressure - 43 Things We’re Loving - 44 Playlist - 46 Are We The Same - 48 Sustainable Art: Rebecca Journal - 50 The Countdown - 54 Restaurant Highlight - 58 The Art of Make-Up - 60 Small Business Spotlight - 62 A Tinge of Joy - 64 Coorie Moments - 66 What Little Things Do You Do To Stay Healthy? - 68
You Can’t Pour from an Empty Cup Whilst driving to work on a fairly grey and cloudy morning, I had one of the biggest realisations of my twenty-four years of life. As I drove through the rolling hills, I heard the words: ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’ from Nanya Florence’s ‘Growing with the Flow’ podcast, and it was a true eureka moment. A realisation that in all my years of spreading myself too thin I’d failed to recognise that my cup was empty, and it had been running low long before that. I had exerted all my energy into other people and other things that I had left none for those times at a wall wondering why I felt so drained. up and ticking things off of a to-do list. However, even after countless years of my dad telling me if you like to schedule then remember to schedule in time to this Wednesday evening if you were to ask me when was the last time you were present and truly relaxed? I would not be able to give you an answer. I only watch TV when I am doing something else at the same time, and recently I only read for work. As the years have gone on, I have seen my health yo-yo as I go through times of adrenaline-fueled living and then end up burnt out every time, and yet never seem ever truly this year. My number one priority is no longer my career, my podcast, this zine or my friends and family but instead just simply my health. It is time for Prioritising your health is different for everyone as we are all different, and that’s what makes the world so wonderful. One of the things I have decided is fundamental in prioritising my health is boundaries. I am setting boundaries in my life and not just in my relationship with other people, but also within my relationship with time. I am putting a cap on how early I work on the weekends; how many days I work thinking surely that won’t change that much about your health, but I already feel
So, if you are reading this and you don’t have any boundaries set with your time in your life and what you put it towards, I really recommend doing it. Or if you don’t prioritise your health please take this as your sign and just start by implementing
By Kirsty Taylor
By Julie Bray. Julie is an international, multi-city artist who currently lives in Australia. She has a Masters degree in textile design but she returned to painting as her true creative expression. She has participated in shows in the UK, Thailand, Australia, USA, Brazil and Mexico, and participated in artist retreats in Mexico where she had one of her solo shows. The other was in the UK. In her work she aims to share the awe she feels for nature and her freedom. She is also a meditation facilitator, we meditate.
What I mean when I talk about health Health is a concept I see and then promptly hide from. I’m not ridiculously unhealthy, I tend to do more steps than I don’t, I dutifully have put my coat and hat on for what feels like three winters length and trudged around the nearest dyke with the dog, and I am up early each day poo picking my pony’s paddock, carting her water in clear plastic drums and lifting hay nets. I wouldn’t that’s probably at best a blanket of self-delusion and at worst a tad vain. I get tired if walking longer than an hour and my one thought when doing gardening or manual tasks is when is the earliest time I can put down the tools and pop inside for a cuppa. I am someone that pretends to be healthy, helped by my slight, but ‘gettingless-slight’ frame, but the nagging discontented voice inside me tells me otherwise.
“I wouldn’t class myself as ‘unhealthy’ but, on that’s probably at best a blanket of selfdelusion and at worst a tad vain.”
framed disaster by breakfast (cereal) and tea (something typically British involving gravy and two types of vegetables) and that’s not to mention the snacks – hello, lockdown biscuit binge – which there is seemingly no time limit for (after tea, watching yet another true crime
It is not just the changing of the seasons that has made my focus on wellbeing so urgent, I am thirteen weeks pregnant and seeing the little life inside me at the 12-week scan, with one hand on their head and the other sucking their thumb was nothing short of incredible. I had seen pictures of friends baby scans which looked like a nondistinct blob, so I went with the expectation of there, being relieved ‘something’ at least was there and my morning sickness and growing overtaken by the utter humanness of the little baby I had been carrying with me everywhere I went. I took the scan picture home, kept it in my ‘important memory’ area in a drawer underneath my bed and kept sneaking a look during breaks in 9-5 home working, staring at the baby’s little nose and ears in wonder. It is this change that is making me look closer at the word ‘health’ and ask myself truly, am I really healthy or am I just doing the bare minimum?
myself to a ‘Golden Emotionally, I am well known for having high Oatie’ or two, an after highs and low lows. I have always been a ‘prickly’
the way out of the door to do the horse. Why, hello, bourbon biscuit. Snacking has become life. I look healthy from a distance, average BMI, no obvious impediments or stiffness in moving but get closer than the mandatory 2m and the worried line above my right eye becomes apparent, the permanent grey bags underneath my eyes from regularly waking up at 4am and the stiffness in my neck from long-term working at home. 8
Seeing the daffodils burst into life, bringing with it slightly sunnier weather, has made me want to look outwards and enter the renewal of a health focused spring. For me this means committing to doing the full 30-day yoga programme, and not being stuck on day 14 like I have for the past two weeks, embracing lunchtime walks with zest and gusto and meal planning so that I reach for an orange or an apple rather than a custard cream.
exists on continuum of feeling mildly good to absolutely awful, one day to the next, with the lows lasting a month or more. I have been lost in the black fog before and my body tenses against the thought of going back there again. Yet it is not as easy as just not wanting something. During pregnancy, a time where blogs would have you believe it’s joyous and exciting (yes and yes, in parts), I have had days of jealousy, rage and lethargy with the pièce de résistance being a day of continuous crying, foetal position running through ‘what if’ scenarios in my head, which nothing but sleep could bring me back from. The vivid nature of pregnancy dreams
Image by Finn
By Queen Sketches. Queen Sketches is an artist/cartoonist originating on Instagram, and has recently expanded to streaming games on Twitch as well. She joined Instagram on 24th January 2020 just wanting to share her doodles with anyone who wanted to view them. She has used cartoons and drawings to make people laugh, but also spread awareness for mental health.
doesn’t help, cue being stuck on the Titanic My mental health “It is also when it’s sinking or seeing someone from your improvement may take some time. It realising that is only in the past tired footsoldier. few years that I have relying on people actually understood isn’t a bad The constant feeling of nausea every hour has encouraged snack consumption, and the cold, mental health for the thing and that dull weather hasn’t helped my step count and positive and on some yet despite this, I am making sure positive days, those hard- connection keeps changes are afoot. A recent overcast and still earned tools lose their us whole and Saturday I spent making homemade potato precision, but at least and leek soup. There is something so instinctual on a good day I know centred.” and satisfying about adding fresh leeks, potato I CAN make some carrot, onion and butter to the pan and smelling difference. For me, this is knowing when I am feeling tired and ratty and watching the vegetables simmer busily in the taking an early night, realising an untidy house stock as they turn soft. Sitting cross-legged on really does equal and untidy and stressed mind the sofa, blowing onto my hot soup, I quietly felt and knowing that when the dog comes in with the simple pleasure of feeding oneself well, of valuing my own health. When he was trying to cleaning, this isn’t a faff to be avoided, it’s a appeal to my 11-year-old horse mad self, my dad roadblock to put in place to ward of deteriorating used to compare eating good food to feeding a mental health. racehorse or to fuelling a racing car (when he was trying to appeal to my younger brother), in that if It is also realising that relying on people isn’t a you put good things in, you get good things out bad thing and that connection keeps us whole – an adage for physiological, mental and dietary and centred. Being around an upbeat person is health that only hit the mark years later. sometimes all it takes to shift my mindset and feeling too tired or anxious to socialise doesn’t The next aspect of health for me to level up on is help in the long term. This past year has taught my physiological health. I had successfully done me that for the sake of our mental health, we 30-days of yoga during lockdown #1, so recently are people that need people. Zoom calls or I reloaded my favourite YouTube yoga channel WhatsApp chat groups just don’t get to the crux and began. Just 15 minutes in, after doing a series of the matter, the type where a friend looks you of twists and ‘cat/cow’ positions I felt a sense of square in the face and asks ‘how are you doing?’, gratefulness swell inside of me. I did not have followed by the unsaid word of ‘really’, that requests an honest answer, an answer easier to before the realisation that ‘I am doing something shy away from on a screen. for myself to honour myself and it feels good’ kicked in. This was a lovely, quiet feeling for The changes going on in the world, society, and me, a person who had spent years berating and hating my body for being all wrong. on who I am and the person I want to be. I want to be someone that values my mental, physiological Getting a cheap step tracker is next on my list and dietary health, holding myself to account of health improvements going into spring. with the question ‘What would a person who has Currently, most of my steps during the working their life together do right now?’. The answer week consist of going from the table to the will change daily, but, at the beginning of my kettle or for a quick walk with the dog. My plan spring health journey, I do know it will involve is to walk more, perhaps working up to a 5k run. feeling alive, joyous and connected and perhaps I know when I do these things, my body says a rationed biscuit here and there too. thank you via deeper breathing, tired muscles By Rebecca Carter and the peace and calm that comes from being Rebecca Carter is a 30-something-year-old who has found physically rather than mentally tired. her home in the Cambridgeshire fens. She believes that writing is a journey of discovery and truth. In quiet fen roads, reading or listening to classical music.
Poetry Corner 1 The Quest Throughout history and literature there have been many famous quests Gawain for the Holy Grail Marco Polo for China Ahab for Moby Dick Frederick Douglass for Freedom Billy Pilgrim for Truth Chuck Yeager for the Speed of Sound Charlie Brown for Respect Neil Armstrong for the Moon
And, in 2021, my wife Barbara and I went on our own quest using modern technology the phone and Internet we travelled through: Manhattan The Bronx Westchester Putnam and all through New York State
Clumsy, wa stomach a a sudden n
And on February 11th we were successful when the Moderna went into our arms.
A loss of s frightening my life drif
Worrying a unable to uncertain w
Sleep is th a release f my new lo
Words by John F McMullen
By Kim Whysall
adjunct professor at Westchester Community College, a member of the American Academy of Poets and Poets & Writers, the author of over 2,500 columns and articles and 8 collections of poetry, and is the host of an Internet Radio Show (300 shows to date). www.johnmac13.com.
ern England. He Pressed Books,
avering shaky plod, awry, head pounding, need to sleep.
about another fall; focus, read, write, when left alone.
he blanket to my thought, from grief, pain, dizziness; over.
self all the more g as it comes and goes; fts part into soft shatters.
er poetry has been published by Palewell Press, Wild , Marble Poetry, Total Eclipse, Ink, Sweat and Tears,
ations arcana, Kim believes, against all evidence, that website.
Fairytales? As a kid, I didn’t believe in Prince Charming. Just seemed so unlikely that a King’s son’s kiss, following designated quest, could liberate Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White. And though behind Dad’s back, he was lovingly referred to The Toad by his grandchildren, they didn’t link him to Kermit the Frog who in Grover’s hilarious retelling turned from Prince to amphibian after Sesame Street’s Maria plants a wet one right on their favorite Muppet’s lips. But now this mid-septuagenarian thought he’s possibly seen it all, hopes that some very noble biomedical researchers can come up with cause plus cure for post-COVID long-haulers’ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which haunts thousands By Gerard Sarnat Gerard Sarnat won San Francisco Poetry’s 2020 Contest, the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for handfuls of 2021 and previous Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is widely published in various presses. He’s authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry is a physician who’s built and staffed clinics for the marginalised as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently he serves on Climate Action Now’s board. Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids plus six grandsons, and is looking forward to future granddaughters.
Unbuckling the Imaginary Seatbelt
Image by Jack O’Rourke
“Do people die on these rides?” I ask my rod that the employees push down over the sister Presley, and she smiles, unsurprised. those things will work? Sure they test it, but We’re standing in line for Space Mountain how do they know something isn’t going and I crack my knuckles over and over again to malfunction and the whole machine isn’t as I watch people exit the ride looking children wearing fake Mickey Mouse ears for this? Better yet, why have I paid for and holding lightsabers aren’t going to slip right out of their chairs and plummet to their should refrain from voluntarily waiting in line death at the bottom of the ride? Wouldn’t for a mechanical death trap, but what can I that make for a disappointing trip to the say—it’s Disney World. I try to take a deep happiest place on earth? breath and count to four. Doesn’t work— never does. My heart keeps a fast pace as I A bead of sweat traces its way from my watch a young kid start off the ride with his underarm down to my wrist, and I slide my hands already above his head. Bold move. forearm against my top to dry it off. My sister The woman working the ride is dressed as watches over my shoulder as I open Safari on some sort of space cadet, and she gives us my phone and begin typing into the search instructions as we move closer to the front of bar: Disney World in Florida lawsuits death the line, which seem useless to me. Your turn on roller coasters. Enter. Nothing here— is almost next. Keep your hands and feet must be lawyers covering this stuff up. I inside the vehicle in case they get chopped begin to try again, this time substituting the off during the ride, and oh, watch your step word death for lost limbs when Prelsey looks as you exit and try not to vomit. at me, laughing sympathetically, bringing to my attention that most people in line aren’t I look around the room, which is full of people worrying about the same things I am. snaked around the metal railings that divide “Carly, you can’t be afraid of dying on a roller up the line we’re waiting in. My friend notices coaster,” she says to me. “You could die in a car crash tomorrow or slip and fall and crack your skull open. You can’t worry about those “There’s a strap to keep you safe.” Jill says to things.” comfort me. “You’re not gonna fall out and At this point I have surpassed the roller die. And look at all the little kids going on.” I coaster, and I start frantically planning a way glare at any child under the age of seven for to make our way out of Magic Kingdom their bravery, although I pride myself after and back to the hotel with our skulls intact. remembering that they probably don’t even Nevertheless, here I am, in line for a ride know the danger they’re in line for. What where I’m either going to fall out of the little ignorance. fake rocketship cart, vomit everywhere, or, best case scenario, scream as if I’m being slamming his hand down on my shoulder, straight. Sounds lovely—I hope the line secretly excited to watch me squirm. moves fast. I bob my head around trying to see what I know it would probably make more sense sort of strap they’re talking about, and I’m to avoid the torture and stop going to disappointed when I see a skinny little silver amusement parks altogether, or at least sit 15
the rides out, hold everyone’s bags, an meet them in the gift shop. But by that logi I would also have to avoid driving on th highway, traveling on airplanes, and being any public space where a germ could latc on to me. I could, I guess technically, live m life without ever straying from the comfo of my home and not have to face the cra in my driveway that is just waiting to brea my ankle, but even then, Iiving a lonesom life could drive me to binge eat, clog m arteries and develop heart disease. I gues could stay away from sodium and saturate fats, but I do love french fries, and I have admit, I really do love Disney World. I slide my clammy hands down the railing I make Jill and Presley give me the details what the inside of the ride looks like for th 4th time. “Exactly how many drops are there?” I as which they laugh at, so I keep my mouth sh and do my best to swallow the vomit buildin up in my throat. I look over at my mom, wh is also apprehensive about going on. I thin about asking her to ditch with me, chicke out, do the walk of shame back through th line, and grab a pretzel, but decide against because I want her to enjoy herself. But wh if she hates the ride, or what if she scream so much she loses her oxygen supply an faints while we’re in there? What if her lim body just swings around and the twists an turns of the ride break her neck? Is that eve physically possible? I’ll google it later. I te myself to stop doing the worrying thing, b what about my dad? He’s afraid of rides, b goes on anyways rather than admitting his lifelong fear of heights. What if the rid catches him so off-guard that he goes in cardiac arrest? I think he has high cholester and I’m not sure if he takes medication f it. I saw him take two aspirin this mornin and I think he takes too many of those, wh if his stomach starts bleeding? Or what if h dies on the ride and his last moments we spent in fear on this stupid fake space ride The poor guy probably thought this w going to be a relaxing vacation, and th 16 Image by
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godforsaken park doesn’t even sell alcohol, although maybe that’s a good thing because choose a middle seat, because the front drinking too much beer can lead do—okay, seats feel like they’re going the fastest and now I’m getting carried away. the back seats could dismember and fall off of the rest of the cart and drop into the Do I sound irrational? Maybe, but then again, vortex that is the bottom of the ride. Okay, the people in these lines are waiting for so maybe that can’t happen, but the middle hours just to purposely get jerked around in seat just feels the safest. The ride begins a mechanical cart and raise their adrenaline and I don’t scream because there’s no air. I levels all for fun, and they say I’m crazy? I do keep an eye on my parents, and I even crack have to admit though, it amuses me when a smile when I hear my sister laughing. I’m people call me the c-word, because they don’t even know the half of it. Besides, these on for dear life, and try my best to enjoy the types of thoughts aren’t so unusual for me. ride, loops and all. According to my relentless Google searches, I have been self-diagnosed with agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and on some By Carly Silva days, schizophrenia, which I show no signs of. Carly Silva is an undergraduate student studying The licensed psychologist I talk to, however, writing and communications in Boston, MA. She has never before had her work published, but she would probably prefer to call it generalized is excited about the opportunity for others to read anxiety disorder. I usually believe her, mostly her work. because my method of diagnosis would also leave me with a brain tumor, three different types of cancer, and about 6 weeks to live. “You need to enjoy your life. Stop worrying about every bad thing happening. Just live day by day.” My mom has said these words to me a million times in my life. She calls me the “worrier,” since I stand out amongst my siblings as the one with the inability to one who can’t jump on an airplane without listening to the safety brief at the beginning note of the barf bag. Maybe also because I buy bottles of immune boosting gummies in bulk, and I obsessively do jigsaw puzzles to lower my chances of degenerative brain disorders. But still, I listen to her, and I live a happy and functional life. I laugh, I marvel at sunsets, I eat my favorite foods, I watch reruns of Gilmore Girls to take my mind off of the impending doom of the world around me, and I usually don’t go on roller coasters. Most days, that is. When we get to the front of the line, it’s our 17
Poetry Corner 2 Four walls
These four walls can get you down. Time begins to drag. A sea of anxiety in which you could drown. Your energy levels sag.
In a small room, Lights bright,
You start to forget how it felt, to roam around and be free. You feel it too, I know you do, but the end is in sight, trust me. It’s typical isn’t it? It’s sunny outside but you’re inside looking out. The sky is blue, not one cloud, but already you’re starting to doubt. Why am I scared to go out my front door? When this lockdown ends, what then? Will it ever be like it was before? What if it comes back again? We don’t have all the answers right now. We don’t know everything yet. But we’ll beat this disease, this Coronavirus, we’ll do it soon, I bet. We have each other, you’re not alone. Call your friends for a chat. A friendly voice on the end of your phone, nothing sounds scary about that. So why not make plans? Relax, sit back, watch a movie, or read a good book. Those four walls have a weakness, a crack, you just need to know where to look. By Kit Williams Kit Williams has worked as a Parrot Keeper and an Animal Management has worked with animals and students for the last 15 years, and has many hobbies including reading, wildlife photography, crafting and creative writing. Whilst working with FE students aged 16+, Kit has experienced the importance of maintaining both physical and mental health. Mental health and wellbeing is one of the most important, but lesser discussed, elements of day-to-day life. By removing the stigma and openly talking about people’s personal issues, awareness can be raised and experiences shared, with useful solutions provided and further help signposted. After working alongside multiple scenarios of poor mental health, Kit regularly
By Michelle Mead Michelle Mead is a writer from print zines, Artless & Naked, various print magazines (Pollut Blinking Cursor, Capsule Storie Montana Mouthful, etc.) and Apparatus, Under The Juniper Moongirls and Nightdreams a currently working on multiple n
m Upstate New York. She has edited two and Whimsy, and has been published in to, The Thirty First Bird Review, Trespass, es, Words@Deakin Press, The Chronogram, d e-zines (Gutter Eloquence, EMG Zine, r Tree, etc.) as well in her poetry books, and Divided Together (lulu.com). She is novels and a poetry collection.
If I’d have known. But how was I supposed to know? If I’d have known, it was our last car ride. I would have said something heartfelt. Instead of walking away. If I’d have known, I wasn’t going to see you again. I would have given you a hug. I didn’t know. I didn’t understand your darkness. I hoped it would go away. How was I supposed to know the pain? That festered in your soul. The maybe and what ifs are going to be hard to live with. But you know that better than anyone. Why didn’t you wait one more day? Everything was going to be different. I lied. Everything was going to be the same. But how was I supposed to know. I listened. But didn’t care. I was hurting too. I want to tell you so many things. Ask you so many questions. But how was I supposed to know? A tombstone won’t answer.
By Steven Kish Steven Kish has been a high school coach, nursing assistant, lifeguard, father, and writer. He has endured childhood trauma, and is a survivor of suicide. As a survivor of suicide, Steve is an advocate for people who suffer from mental health issues. He a constructive way through writing. He believes his poetry can bring awareness to mental health and heal a community he has lived in since 1984. Before Covid, Steve would attend and hopes to get out into the community and bring awareness to mental health.
i.m. Alice Augusta Ball, 1892-191
and see your name between Florence Nightingale a And, if they do, how many know what you did fo
It would have been long odds ag holding two degrees aged twenty-two, publishing in t prestigious Journal, and gaining, after a master’s deg a professorship.
Knowing the chemistry of kava p chaulmoogla oil – the traditional remedy for lepros (too sticky as ointment, too thick for injections, too unpa Your skills in synthesis enabled you to make the oil’s ke but you died young – of TB, it’s said – leaving a colleag
from the injectable treatment yo which killed the need for quarantine in colonies like M
Your ex-supervisor restored the c the ‘Ball Method’ and, later, the University’s histori the work you’d done. A plaque on the campus’s lone c your achievement, the University awarded you, pos and you’ve been honoured
*The College of Hawaii later bec
By Mantz Yorke Mantz Yorke lives in Mancheste print magazines, anthologies a ternationally. His collections ‘Vo by Dempsey & Windle.
and Marie Sklodowska-Curie?
or the lives of those leprosy
gainst you, a black woman.
the American Chemical Society’s
gree at the College of Hawaii*,
plants led you to study
sy, but with erratic success
alatable to keep down).
ey component absorbable,
gue to take the credit
ou had pioneered,
Molokai’s, once labelled
credit rightly yours, naming
ians dug out from archives
chaulmoogla tree commemorates
sthumously, its Medal of Distinction,
came the University of Hawaii.
er, England. His poems have appeared in and e-magazines both in the UK and inoyager’ and ‘Dark Matters’ are published
By Julie Bray
INTERview with aN AUthor
This month we are chatting to author, Erin Bolens, about her wonderful poetry book, Alternate Endings. How did you get into writing? Hmm, I’ve always written in one way or another but it was quite a private thing and not something I thought of sharing for some time. I went to drama school and did a lot of performances but after graduating I didn’t feel very at home in that world. I discovered live poetry when I moved to London and realised it was possible to share your notebook musings in rooms of other people. I found it really liberating to share my own thoughts in front of an audience simplicity of writing something, sharing it, and sitting back in your seat to watch other people do the same was just what I needed at that time. It quickly became what I did for fun and then for a living and now as well as writing things I love to perform, I write lots of pieces I prefer to live on the page. But I’ll always hold onto that time of discovering what was possible and how that changed so much of my outlook and life really. Alternate Endings is a poetry book that not only makes you get a lump in the back of your throat but also makes you belly laugh; was it important to you to take your readers on an emotional journey through this collection? That’s so lovely to hear. I think it felt important to share the different parts of me – no-one is a purely ‘serious’ person or 100% funny and light-hearted. Something hilarious can happen when you’re having a terrible time and vice versa. I wanted to share that mixture that life throws at you and I hoped I’d take the reader with me and it might be relatable but you never know, of course. I think if you write in one way and it gets a good response it can be tempting to stay in that realm but I try to push through that where possible and just write what I want and need to at the time. Your recurring series (if you like) ‘Worry Doll’ throughout the collection was something that I so adored and just felt truly transparent and real which I believe poetry should do, was it hard for you to share this part of yourself? those parts for the book, I just wanted to sort of make notes of my worries to sort of track my thinking and maybe realise some of the tricks my mind was playing on itself. Then when I was putting the book together I wanted there to be some relief from the poems and to play with a different voice so I cut up my worry notes and scattered them between poems. It did feel quite scary to share them partly because it feels like a big overshare but also because there’s no ambiguity in those bits. There’s no imagery or metaphor or anything symbolic going on so they feel quite open and frank which was a bit scary to send out into the world. I’ve really enjoyed sharing those bits though, and it’s been incredibly cathartic to hear other people’s versions. Seeing London is one of the best conceptual poems I’ve did it throughout a whole poem rather than just in one line. What inspired this? That’s a big, old compliment, cheers! That was one of those (very) rare occasions where you open the door and the poem pretty much walks through. I can’t remember how I came to use that tool but I know I’d been really wanting to
write something that captured my sort of embarrassment at having ‘succumbed’ to London and my inability to really accept it as home. It’s an old one now but I am fond of it because it became a way for me to be quite honest about way that acknowledges it’s not a huge problem in the scheme of things. The ending of Alternate Endings is a stroke of genius and how much can be said with so little. Was this always going to be the ending? That’s very kind. If I’m being completely honest I just had to go and check what the ending was! I think that one came about when I’d settled on the title and then tried to play around with that theme a bit more. Thanks for noticing the economy – it was much longer at one point! I think I was to say was that when I think of the present and the future as a sort of added bonus to the life I’ve had – it kind of takes the pressure off. I don’t always remember it but when I do endings was a running theme through some of the poems I wanted in the collection I saw it as quite a sombre and felt that there was hope and positivity in endings too so I think I wanted to end the book on that note. What advice would you give to budding poets reading this today? Oh, um, probably just write whatever you need to when it comes and to try not get too pigeon holed into a certain style or topic. We all feel such a range of things every day – do something you hadn’t thought possible. It’s always nice to ask other people for a poem or writer that they like. It’s an What is something you’d like to continue the voice on? This is probably a bit niche but I’m just coming to the end of training to be a counsellor at the moment and I’m really interested in crossover between poetry and therapy. I think it’s really important that there is a distinction between the two but I think writing is such a useful tool to have in your wellbeing toolbox. I think it’s important to say that there’s lots of writing I don’t share and don’t even look at again. can really help our understanding of them. So I’m looking forward to experimenting with ways of enabling writing just for the process and not the outcome. The theme of this month’s issue is health, what little things do you do to improve your health? Trying not to Google every symptom I have, deleting social media apps from my phone home screen and putting on songs to dance chaotically to. I know it’s a bit of cliché but I’m also one of those weirdos that loves being in cold water. Which is ironic because I absolutely don’t drink enough of it. writing? I’m @erinbolens at the usual places and try to keep erinbolens.com as updated as possible. You can buy Alternate Endings here. Words by Kirsty Taylor
Poetry Corner - Part 3 Life’s Little Callings When I stopped walking I was still able to walk. I could stride and stomp with willful indignation, run, even, if I had to catch a train or dodge a sudden catcall in a poorly lit part of my youth. I was vigorous and sure, even if my steps were rather tentative and wayward. I could walk. I was certain that picking up the pace was only a matter of time and decision and a less skittish inclination. Vim and visions of arcadian byways of unruly platelets in my brain – char or a sudden wormhole, or, I imagine a fffft – like stray hairs burnt and offered to undiscerning gods – a rent in my own bitty share of inner space/time. There is no need to mark time in footfalls. No need to step lively, to march to any drummers, indifferent or rhythmically pedestrian. My will is a rogue who insists no more on inviting me into the bushes after the too-slow dance
I walk the half-deser past the few people risking contagion, most wearing masks few distancing,
to take precautions, ignorantly believing the plague is over. The empty shops, re chillingly remind me even when disease the shuttered busine closed beyond reop lost enterprises that nurtured the cit no longer nourish those they maintain in a time-honoured to allow different liv of all conditions to manage existenc education, comforts subsisting, as people always ha to provide for famili support the state, live the best life pos
that interfere rudely with the hope for to
By Kate Falvey. Kate Falvey work has been fairly widely published in journals Review, published through City Tech/CUNY, where she teachReview.
By Gary Beck Gary Beck has spent m a theatre director and when he couldn’t earn has also been a tennis salvage diver. His origi of Moliere, Aristophan
and essays have appea magazines and his pub poetry collections, 13 collections, one collec books of plays. Gary li
rted streets e
estaurants e is over esses pening,
ned system ves
Bandages Pink shadows on my hands; Old grazes from a fall. Cleaned with iodine and antiseptic That stung my skin but swiftly healed it. Next to one pink shadow Is a white one That shines when I stretch my hand. This one didn’t sting But Itched For days afterwards. I was told once that Cleaning wounds is unnatural. It’s mollycoddling To use plasters and chemicals. Was the only way, No matter how deep. Ignoring ancient skeletons that show Infections ate their bones. Just ignore the injuries. They won’t fester. They won’t scar you forever. Just ignore the fact that Even animals lick their wounds.
most of his adult life as worked as an art dealer n a living in the theatre. He s pro, a ditch digger and a inal plays and translations nes and Sophocles have
their time between wandering around the nearby woodland, writing poems, and taking their frustrations out on unsuspecting pillows. They’re looking forward to being free to avoid people on their own terms again. They are on Instagram.
ared in hundreds of literary blished books include 32 novels, three short story ction of essays and three ives in New York City. Image by Julie Bray
edition Public announcements on the TV tell us to Stay Safe, Stay Home, Protect the NHS. The irony of these new rules doesn’t escape us. We remember the original game pack where this great institution existed to safeguard us. But new cards are dealt, and gin-makers fret as bars close their doors, until the smart ones spot opportunity: the blossoming market for alcoholic
the right choice; food still a weapon in this battle for health. But it’s a confusion of options, from chicken-free dippers (please, just say veggie), to sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, fat-free. Yet we still pile on the pounds, and promise ourselves that tomorrow
we’ll get out-of-doors for a walk. Round and round the board we travel, trying not to succumb to the loneliness of invisible sanitising gels for hands. Soap makers bubbles that exclude more than inconcoct funky mixes of fruity clude, or grief that delights with trendy names to wash Granny is trapped behind glass. Roll they send germs down the drain. the dice, and keep swallowing Fashion designers race to box sets and movies, get up and zoom into work. This unwelcome take their turn, upping their game game will eventually end, if we just plan to earn a few quid, tempting us keep playing our part. all to take on masked personas with highwayman black, Hello Kitty frivolity, or the reliable brand of a favourite sports team. Only the brave improvise with whatever’s to hand – seriously this is a mask, not my knickers. Meanwhile everyday life is about making
By Sharon J Clark. Sharon J Clark is a poet and short story writer living in Milton Keynes, England. She has spent much of the pandemic writing poems and stories, but also took up running, much to her own surprise. Her writing has been published in a number of anthologies. She is active in the local writing scene, including Festival. Read more here.
By Julie Br
RESTORE By Epic Bones. Epic Bones creates art that unlocks the complexities of mindfulness, health and manifestation so that we can reach our full from her background in animation and video games, the innovation industry and as a freelance illustrator to break down heavy topics and weave in compelling stories to her work. Her work is available as prints or in North Carolina with her husband and two young children and creates art every day. Epic Bones's mission is to support those on their personal transformation journey to stay motivated and keep doing the inner recovery work that will change their lives. Follow her work here.
My Health Back-up Plan In the far recesses of my mind, I’ve always been aware that I needed a health back-up plan, but I never developed one. I was too busy being athletic to slow down and think about what I would do if I had to restructure my lifestyle due to a change in my health.
I’ve always been an avid reader and writing has long been my creative outlet, but my emphasis was on playing golf and going to the gym. Most of the gym work was focused on making me more limber and stronger for golf. I played golf three to four times a week and practiced at the range for hours. I entered all the local tournaments and usually did well. Golf served my needs for physical activity and mental wellbeing. Most of my social life revolved around it. far as I was used to making it go, effortlessly. Well, this must be the proverbial golf slump, I thought. Happens to everybody. All I need is a few lessons to get back on track. But they didn’t help, and then more strange things began happening. When I tried to cross my my leg high enough to get it across the other one. I began lifting it manually and placing it 28
over the other knee. Then, one day as I began my daily stretching routine on my mat in my living room, I found I could only raise each go into my cross-legged sitting position, my knees stayed up in the air and my hip joints felt painfully stuck. motor skills. Climbing stairs was hard. I couldn’t lift things to put them on shelves. Getting up from a chair, standing up from a squat position, all became impossible. I had become a weakling over the course of a month. I didn’t face the fact that these things were not getting better no matter how much I tried to work on them myself. I was fatigued and lost ten pounds, a huge amount for me, a thin person. I had to face it; something was really wrong, and it wasn’t just going to go away. I made an appointment for a physical with my general practitioner. He was alarmed and sent me to see a neurologist, a rheumatologist, a gastroenterologist, and a specialist in neuromuscular diseases. After months of tests and examinations the verdict was in – I have necrotising myopathy, a rare chronic muscle disease. My muscle enzymes are attacking my muscles and muscle cells are dying. I’m in treatment now with heavy steroids and physical therapy. So far I’m not getting stronger, but not weaker either. There are some other treatment plans including immunoglobulin transfusions, but no-one has said I will recover.
interests and I’m grateful. Even if I recover fully, I’ll keep my back-up plan going because you never know when you might need it again and I like the new, more well-rounded person I’m becoming. I feel like I’m a more authentic person, now, too – I do what I really want to do and spend time only with people I really want now. By Bethanie Gorny. Bethanie Gorny lives in Florida. She has had numerous essays and short stories published in newspapers and journals including The Florida Writer, The Sun Sentinel, The Atlantic City Press, Association 2018 awards. Her book ‘Fridays with Eva’ is available online at Amazon. She enjoys creative writing, reading, volunteering, and book clubs. Illustrations by Epic Bones.
They say I might recover completely, or partially, or need treatment for a long time. There is a clear reluctance to give me a prognosis so I have to just keep on plugging away and do everything I can to improve. Meanwhile, my life has completely changed. I knew I needed to put my vague back-up plan into effect and develop it to replace my old life. In a weird way, being unable to be so physically active has given me time to pursue my writing with a more serious attitude. Now I set aside time most afternoons to write and I’m taking I don’t mind not playing golf as much as I thought I would. I’m reading all those books I didn’t have time for and starting a book club. That will help with my need to socialise, too. I take short walks with friends who don’t mind walking slowly and put more effort into meeting them at a restaurant. I’ve gotten interested in cooking, too, and I enjoy trying new recipes and techniques. I’m thinking of learning bridge, too. My back-up plan is going full throttle! I want to get back to the person I was, but if I can’t, I hate to admit it, but the disease has given me time to grow and develop my 29
THE GALLERY This weeks Gallery features work by Sophie Gray ‘Sorry For in France who is on Instagram and has her own website.
‘No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.’ – C.S. The thought of losing the people who I love most in this Someone who mattered so much to you is just... gone. How does one even begin to process that? deep-rooted fear of death and perhaps my naïvety towards a subject I know very little about. As I get older, that fear of losing people becomes harder to dismiss. I begin to notice the effects age has on the body. I see my family for the people they are and not just those who cared for me when I was younger. Soon, that child-like innocence is replaced by a sobering realisation that one day, they will no longer be around. I approached this topic, unsure of where it would take me, but hoping that I would come to understand grief and loss a little bit better. I’ve never been very good at dealing with change and I think what scares me most is everything I can’t know about death. I won’t know how someone’s death will affect me, until it happens. I won’t know how to grieve, or cope with that loss, until it happens. I’m preparing myself for the inevitable, but I can’t ever really know what that’s like, until it happens to me. I’m slowly learning that I have to tolerate the uncertainty of life, but talking about those fears with people who have experienced it themselves has made me feel far less alone.
Ronald & Patricia
Slow Summer Months dust drifting in the light. They danced by the lush green leaves of my indoor plants: they were my pride and joy. I gazed fondly at my tall, Asian tree, and the shorter, equally vibrant, Australian bean plant. They appeared to glow with life. I breathed slowly. My lungs ached; my body ached. I closed my eyes as pain swept through me. Every breath was exhausting. I wished I didn’t need to. My lungs felt so weak – as though a truck had driven over them repeatedly through the night. Now they were crushed, and each inhale left me feeling weaker than the one before. I wanted to stop. How much I wanted the pain to go in that moment: how much I wanted the exhaustion to be again? The house was silent for now. My sister was away. No-one outside – no cars parking, no neighbours chatting. But there was the sound of birdsong and the humming of summer insects. I sighed again. There was beautiful peace that almost made the pain alright. My stomach growled. I was very hungry – but I had been unable to move from the sofa for a few hours. I should have eaten at least a couple of hours ago. I opened my eyes and glanced across the coffee table. My work laptop stood open but asleep, my notes scattered beside it. I looked at me. I reached one hand out from under my warm red blanket and picked the sweet purple kitten up and feeling a warmth spread through my chest. Only yesterday I had spoken with my mother. I’d not been well then either. It had taken a huge effort of will to sit myself at the table and make the video call. Talking was painful and exhausting. ‘It’s all in your head, sweetheart,’ she told me. ‘Just think differently about it and it will go away. Believe you are well, and you will be. You’re creating this yourself.’ I felt a pang in my heart and a lump in my throat. I drew my gaze away from the purple kitten and up to the white ceiling. Think differently. I wanted to go outside. I missed running. I missed jumping and climbing. – insistent. I needed food. I had to move. Slowly, I placed my little kitten onto the coffee table, to watch over my notes. Then, with every muscle in my body screaming resistance, I eased myself up onto my elbows, then further up until I moving. I collapsed back to catch my breath. How I wished there was someone to help me. Sweet memories trickled into my mind of days strewn with rose petals – and a wonderful man. A man who had, for a brief time, looked out for me. His gentle hands had soothed me and his soft of his perfect features with the greatest clarity – so great it could be that, for the briefest of moments, he really was with me again. My heart ached for him. I remembered the joy of preparing food for him; the way he held me in his arms; kissing him goodbye each day he left for work. The sadness I felt tangled with the pain in my lungs and body. Food. I needed to get to the kitchen. I was wheezing. I could hear my lungs gurgling. Why must I go on breathing? Struggling against waves of pain and exhaustion, I pushed myself up onto my feet. My heart hammered in my chest. Not far to the kitchen. I felt excited at the prospect of food. Avocado. That was my favourite. It had been my favourite for so many years now. Avocado toast was the highlight of my day. Perhaps it would give me the energy I needed to sit outside and enjoy the sun for a short while. I could lie out on my special woollen rug and doze in the sunlight to the sound of the busy bees. kling on the draining board; the surfaces were clear. The faint scent of sweet rhubarb cleaning 38
spray hung in the air. I set about preparing the toast – bread into the toaster, knife out for slicing avocado and fresh tomatoes, and a bundle of pungent basil for garnish. I liked a thick layer of margarine on my toast – thick enough that even the hot bread could not melt through all of it. It was all just as I’d once prepared lunch for my man. My back ached as I moved. It wanted me to lie down again. My hands were weak and shook. I arranged the slices of avocado carefully on the margarine-lathered toast, covering every inch of bread with the creamy fruit. After the avocado came the generous sprinkling of my favourite pink Himalayan salt, then the thin slices of salad tomato, followed by plenty of coarse, ground black Six months earlier... I was sitting on the train. It was dark outside the carriage window and we rattled steadily along the railway line, surging unstoppably northwards. This carriage was quiet. Not many people were on this route. I gazed out into the blackness. I felt like a shell of who I’d once been. My body felt crippled – weak, skeletal: hollow. Each breath was agony and my heart ached. Tears pricked at my eyes. Christmas had passed me by like a knife slicing me open. Now there was a lot of mess. A lot of mess and a lot of pain. I allowed my head to sink back onto the headrest. Train seats were never quite right. There was a spike of pain in my neck. Why could this breath not be my last? Present day... ‘You’ve trained yourself to be ill,’ my mother had told me. ‘It’s not real.’ Not real. I had managed to get myself outside. I had unrolled my special woollen rug on the warm grass, made a hot cup of Oolong tea, and was now lying on my back with my eyes shut. My sister’s grinning face rose up in the cool blackness behind my eyelids. She was grinning because I’d concedill health funny? I didn’t know. It felt cruel. It hurt me. These days, she paid about as much attenor a word of greeting when she got home. How had my life come to be this way? A million reasons drifted through my mind. I wanted to dissolve into the ground – I felt as though I was already part of the way there. Was happiness possible while in pain? I allowed a smile onto my face. Happiness could lie in a cup of hot Oolong. I not heard? That I did not know.
cult? Why did it hurt to move? Six months later... It had been the toxic black mould growing behind the furniture in my bedroom that had made me I’d discovered the mould growing thick behind my bed and behind every chest of drawers. I’d never thought to move the furniture around – or perhaps I would have discovered it much earlier. A year of suffering caused by something so seemingly tiny. Although much has changed since the summer, the pain is still with me. And my mother still tells me none of it is real. tive writing, and food. She studies physics because she wants to understand how everything works (but has only accumulated more confusion in the course of her studies), she writes because her brain constantly feeds her with story ideas, and she cooks and bakes because food is pure happiness to her. In the future, she hopes to publish the top of a tall building with a good view.
How To Keep Your Heart He ‘ischemic heart disease and stroke were the leading causes of death worldwide in 2016, killing 9.4 million people.’ It’s important to take precautionary measures to save from high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol that will lead to a heart attack. But wait! You don’t have to worry if you follow these simple and effective ways to keep your heart healthy. Always keep a track of what you’re consuming. There’s an old saying: ‘Breakfast like a king; lunch like a prince; dinner like a pauper.’ A healthy breakfast helps you burn more calories throughout the day. Hence, it encourages a healthy soul and body. So try not to skip it. When you wake up in the morning, your metabolic rate is at its peak. As the day progresses, it slows down. Thus, make the most of your metabolism by having early and light dinners. Add low-fat protein to your diet like yogurt, lean highest level of omega-3 fatty acids. They reduce triglycerides in your blood and prevent plaque formation in blood vessels, therefore reducing your processed food as they contain a large amount of salt. One teaspoon (2300mg) of salt a day is ideal for daily use. Eat at the same time every day. Meal timings play an integral role in preventing obesity which may lead to cardiovascular diseases. It allows food to digest and determines the pace of your metabolism too. The interval between meals should be between fessions.
Stay smoke-free. It’s better to spend money on your health than to buy a pack of cigarettes. Avoid second-hand smoking because smoke from burning tobacco is more dangerous than inhaled smoke. Consequently, passive smokers are at greater risk of developing heart-related disorders than the active ones. Your heart is made of muscles and every muscle of 40
the body needs strengthening exercises to prevent it from atrophy, and your heart is no exception. Aerobic exercises like brisk walking, running, swimming, jumping rope for 30 minyour heart health. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle as it may increase your chances of deep venous thrombosis, which in turn doubles your risk of cardiovascular diseases. According to the research of Mayo Clinic, dancing for one hour approximately burns 200 calories. So, turn that radio on and get dancing! Schedule a cheat day each week; a break from the daily diet, where you treat yourself. This reduces cravings and resets your hormones which help in speed up your metabolism and keep you motivated to achieve your goals. Everyone has some stress nowadays such as tions, the loss of a loved one, getting married, or divorce. Studies suggest that long-term stress releases a hormone known as cortisol in the blood which can cause increases in your cholesterol, triglyceride and blood-sugar-levels that are wreaking havoc on your health. Try to engage yourself in some activities like yoga, meditation, spending time with animals, listening to music and writing to avoid stress. Get eight hours of peaceful sleep every night to keep your heart healthy. It’s indeed true that the greatest wealth is health. Keeping a healthy lifestyle prevents numerous diseases, increases immunity and maintains the weight and shape of your body. In my opinion, a healthy life is a sign of a healthy mind. It’s the most precious and valuable gift from God. So, it’s your responsibility to take care of this gift. By Dr. Hadia Jaleesi. Hadia was born in Pakistan and now lives in KSA. She is a content writer and has been for one year now. She has a sound knowledge in niches like health, lifestyle, medicine and food. passion as she loves the arts which is something she cannot implement while treating patients.
By Julie Bray
Why slowing down, breathing and taking car of patience, practise and routine. I am still working found myself falling into routines that nurture and replenish my body and mind. Otherwise, I can easily slip into fear, doubt, self-loathing which I smother with chocolate cake, croissants and too much coffee followed by the inevitable crash. It’s funny how we turn to the wrong substances when we neglect our own natural cycles. Waking up and doing yoga doesn’t bode well sometimes it just takes a gentle nudge, sometimes a shove and the ‘fwaaap’ of the yoga mat as I unroll it with the crack of a whip. Sometimes the mind wanders too far from the body, we get caught in avenues and the misty swamps of our own thoughts or too long, and this disconnection can leave us feeling tired and weak-boned. Yoga, literally meaning ‘yoke’, is a way of binding the body and mind, like uniting two long-lost friends. In a way it is the same as practising an instrument, learning to crochet, developing a tactile skill where we learn to create a form, in whatever sense of the word. Whether with paint, words, our own bodies. We can paint a different reality for ourselves when coming to these sacred spaces where we drop our to-do list to come to sit with our mind Yoga helps me feel grounded, balanced and whole. It brings me back to the rise and fall of my breath. Suddenly I remember that I am this living, breathing, feelings being. I am alive. Through movement, whether it be dance, going for a walk/ run, we feel this sense of being human again. It is about movement, transferring all this stagnant energy into a movement ritual. Saturated minds can leave us feeling empty, this is when our psyche is most at risk from the attack of negative thoughts. To those reading this, I want you to take a moment to pause. Relax the belly. Take deep breaths into that space you have just created in your abdomen. Feel the rise and fall of your breath. Allow any thoughts to pass, simply play witness. Take two from your mouth with a long, deep, sigh. This is the feeling of release that we get when working with
the body. In Western culture, it is so easy to forget this feeling. We are wrapped up and consumed with the doing and getting things done without doing the inner work. I discovered yoga in my younger years, it was a moment that clicked like my body had just realised it has a driver, and that driver was me. Our bodies aren’t slaves, we must care and nurture them inside and out. Drink plenty of water, massage your own feet, rub the area between your brow, and then massage your temples, your neck and shoulders. Wiggle your head, releasing tension from the neck. Take moments of stillness throughout the day. Buy yourself a really comfy pair of socks and a luxurious pair of gloves, drink tea in your favourite without going anywhere. These are all part of the rituals of staying sane in a lockdown. When things feel too much, and you can’t calm your head, write, write and keep writing. Journaling is a way to clear the mind. It helps to do it in the morning. There is something calming and therapeutic about putting pen to paper and simply letting the pen glide across the page. You will be surprised about what comes out. This is a way to ground our thoughts onto the lines of a page. To lay them out and feel their weight. This practice has kept me sane throughout the lockdown and I can’t recommend it enough. World Health Day comes as a reminder to honour our bodies, to take care of ourselves and those around us. It’s not always about our physical health, so much of our modern-day problems come from the mind. With mental health issues sky-rocketing during the pandemic, I believe that mental health awareness will play more of a tribute during this World Health Day. I write this as a reminder to be kind to yourself, because you are doing great. Health isn’t always about spirulina and 5am workouts, it’s about the small things you do each day. I write this as a reminder to be kind to yourself, to slow down, come back to the breath. Spring is in the air, the blossoms are beginning to rise and with days getting longer, things will get easier. I promise.
By Yasmin Dahnoun. Yasmin is a writer, yoga instructor, producer at UK Health Radio & creator of Red Bud Rem-
from the natural world.
re of the little things matters
Nature’s Effect on Your Blood Pressure. Created for the online learning platform, Lifeology
By Jessika Raisor. Jessika is an educational animator and currently a multimedia specialist at and adults through art and design. You can view her portfolio at www.jessikaraisor.com
During lockdown, my work club where we take it in turns to choose
Things We’re Loving!
a really lovely weekly occurrence, and I have before. Recently we’ve watched Crazy Rich Asians, The Angel’s Share, and Bringing Up Baby. I’ve also binged Wandavision, which was such good TV. I somehow avoided all the spoilers before watching! No idea how I did that! I enjoyed the fact that somehow Marvel managed to do what they do on the big screen in the shorter time constraints of a TV show – although the credits are almost the same length as the episodes! I’m really enjoying the most recent season of Masterchef – I’m such a foodie, so love watching people create some really tasty dishes, even if I’m not able to myself. My current long-watch project is getting through the Star Trek franchise. My boyfriend is a massive Trekkie, so I’m making my way through the gaps of my knowledge).
This month our features editor, Grace BalfourHarle is sharing some things she’s been loving.
de for a boo
I work full-time, but live by myself at the evenings with things to do is something that I need to do to stay sane. I do a lot of dance classes and teach, as well as volunteering with SYP so I love baking and trying new things. I got really into sourdough bread and bread making during lockdown, but also love making cakes and brownies and suchlike. But sometimes you need downtime in front of so I’d like to share some of the things I’ve been loving this month. By Grace Balfour-Harle
Antho (which is th recently re Prize winn 80s, and a references TBR pile, I series, Th Woman
us, a its is
As a dancer, music has been hugely important in my life. I’m not hugely into podcasts or audio books, but music never fails to make me smile. I have really eclectic listening habits though. Being a dance teacher, I as well as lots of musicals, but for something a little different, in the jazz class I help teach, we’re making up a dance together to
good songs like I’ve Had The Time Of My Life from Dirty Dancing, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John, or Man! I Feel Like A Woman by Shania Twain. The last one always reminds me of my best friend, Victoria
bands like Fountains of Wayne and Deacon Blue were often played in my house, and still to this day some of my favourites. My choice of music when I’m working has recently been the Bridgerton soundtrack. Because I work with words, the music playing needs to be instrumental, or I’ll get distracted. And Bridgerton is such fun because it’s all instrumental versions of top 40 songs! But country music also does the job too – people like Kasey Chambers, The Shires, Kasey Musgraves, Taylor Swift etc. My choir just did a jazz music week, so Glenn Miller’s In The Mood has been in my head. Does anyone else feel like ‘40s jazz music playing totally transports them to a different place, or is it just me? I feel like I’m at a party, or in an old movie. It’s just such a nostalgic feeling.
I’ve always been a voracious reader. While I’m still busy, and the remnants of an English egree took some of the fun out of reading r me, I’m rediscovering my love of binging ok. I’m currently reading The Radium Girls by
ony Horowitz’s The Word is Murder, and Girl A he book from my work’s monthly bookclub). I also ead Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stewart, the Booker ner, which was amazing! It’s set in Glasgow in the as I’m originally from Glasgow, I loved seeing the s to places I had grown up around. On my current have the second novel in the High Rise Mysteries he Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman and Invisible n by Caroline Criado Perez. I also love reading
a magazine for the LGBTQ+ community, and allies. I subscribe to Dancing Times, which s all about the dance industry, which has obviously taken a hit during the past year with theatres closed.
PLAY In The MoodGlenn Miller
Man! I Feel Like A WomanShania Twain
Simon and Lady DanburyBridgerton Soundtrack
king On Sunshine-
na and the Waves
erine Zeta Jones
k And White-
hine on Leith-
tains of Wayne
Are we the same?
You should not be yourself. own daily despair and of the lives that others lead. I have heard before that there is a word for this: sonder. I wonder about the life that I could be living if my brain were not the same, or if the life I am living is normal. I like to imagine that it is not – that you are ‘out of this world’ content. You are a fuck up. It should be simple to wake up in the morning, make yourself breakfast, brush your teeth, and get dressed to continue on with living. But, somehow, it is shockingly hard. I stare at my face in the mirror. Willing myself to pick up the toothbrush. Instead, I turn away from the sink. I stare at the dirty plates and cups on the dirty coffee table. They’re all mine but I know that I won’t clean them. I know that Anthony will pick them up for me instead. He will look at me, sitting on the couch with unkempt hair and unwashed clothing and pity me enough to bring them to the sink. I see the pity in his eyes every time he looks at me. I see the pity in all of the eyes that pass over it at this point in my life. For a long time I didn’t know how to keep myself composed in front of others – or even alone. But as the years drew on, and the feelings deep within me that compelled much I struggle inside. People I do know well don’t know how much I struggle. I wonder if for you this feeling of hopelessness has forced you to make a mask for others. Just give up. By some miracle my clinical diagnosis of anxiety and depression is ‘high functioning’. I do not
I think what they meant was that I am not totally crippled by my mind to perform day-to-day tasks. Sometimes it does feel like the water levels surrounding me are getting too high to continue on. But, most days the awful feeling of impending failure pushes me to overachieve. I do not mean this to be a compliment to myself and I hope you don’t take it that way. My overachievement is brought on by a tendency to expect too much out of myself. My grandmother always said that I had a tendency to forget there weren’t 25 hours in a day. While this, from the outside, appears as a strong work ethic, high drive for success, and ambition, it is truly an ever growing fear of failure. I am constantly running away from my biggest fear. capitalism. It all feels like a waste and, yet, I can’t stop doing it. Do you push yourself too hard too? Nothing about you is good. As the lecture slowed and drew near its end the small pit in my stomach that always nagged at me grew and grew into a swirling, angry black hole – threatening to swallow me. This is not the certainly one of the worst times that it did. It was an opportunity that I could not refuse. It was who I would love to work for. Instead of hanging on the end of my seat to her words, I only thought about my plans for the end of the talk: to hand her my resume and discuss the advantages I could bring to her company. I do not remember what I said to her, the path I took home, or anything but the thoughts in my head that I ought to go and take a bottle of unknown pills and sit in a full bathtub. I hope that you have never felt like I did that night. It really is an awful feeling. Don’t be a burden. I often think to myself that I ought to reach out to someone and let them know how I am feeling. I never do though. I scroll through my contact list and not a single name appears that it feels appropriate to burden them. The way I feel is so heavy I would never want to weigh on them. So, I just stay silent instead. OCD is not something people know very much about. Usually when people think of OCD they think of cleaning. That isn’t what I go through. Instead, my brain concocts thoughts. Thoughts I can’t escape. About Anthony. About my mum. My dad, my friends, my acquaintances, my professors. The thoughts tell me that these people in my life do not want me. I am unworthy of their attention. Are they even good people? Am I a bad person? It is a constant onslaught. Hours. Every single day. In any spare moment of time that I allow myself silence I just think. Hours of thinking about these people and if the relationships I have with them are ‘good’. I have a therapist. But, even with her I cannot help but think if the dynamic is good. Do you feel like me? I hope that you can live in a world where the relationships you have are not constantly questioned. No-one loves you. I was told that feeling misunderstood would go away as I got older. The teenage angst would I still have a nagging within me that says I am not doing the right thing. I am not with the right friends, making the right steps toward my future, doing enough for my own happiness. I have hope that this feeling will fade one day. That as I continue on in growing as a person that all the pieces of my life that feel like they aren’t perfect will fall into place. But, only time will tell. For now I will stay in my discontented life continuing to struggle day-by-day with nothing but hope for tomorrow to be better. I hope we can both have a better tomorrow. By Shauna Speakman who is a senior at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA with a passion for linguistics and writing. Having a love for reading all her life, she hopes to pursue a career in book editing and wants to work for the is real and deserves to be treated – stay well. Photograph by Anthony Tran
Sustainable Art: Rebecca Journal This month we are featuring Rebecca Journal and her dreamy work including her gorgeous sustainable tote bags. What inspired you to start Rebecca Journal? During my last year of art school, I began to daydream about owning my own small business and creating a physical product that represented me and my creative style, but it took me a whole pandemic identity through my illustrations and drawings on Instagram, so the voice and sensibilities of Rebecca Journal came to me organically, but I only began sewing in July 2020 after my mum began sewing masks for friends on her little machine. I was really excited by the idea of using the machine so I attempted a scrunchie – let’s just say it did noooot go well! But I out how to make bags. It brought me so much joy and a sense of accomplishment- a feeling which had dwindled thanks to the pandemic – so I used every moment of my day to practise and research ways to get better! The whole journey of my brand has been so natural and exciting for me so far; I love creating so much and being able to combine product making with illustration and product photography is the most fun ever. How do you ensure sustainability in everything you create? I knew as soon as I began sourcing materials to create mock-ups that I wanted to try as hard as I could to focus on sustainability – at university we were guesttaught by Orsola De Castro, the incredible founder of Fashion Revolution and the ‘Who Made My Clothes?’ movement. Everything she taught us about ethical production and the cruelties of fast fashion echoed in my mind as soon as I realised the heavy responsibility of making products that could create even more damage. Sustainability is a process that takes a lot of thought, detail and research but I am so happy with the decisions I’ve made so far: I use only deadstock and remnant fabric for my bags – meaning I am reusing fabrics and giving them new life – and locally produced organic cotton for the inner linings. wonderful company who use eco-friendly inks and a water-free printing and manufacturing process! My stickers and illustration prints are printed onto company using a carbon-neutral courier, and the tissue and packaging I use for orders are all made
from recycled materials, using vegetable dyes and non-toxic processes. All the materials I use for my bags are free of animal products – the kraft tape I use to seal deliveries is also vegan and made from 100% recycled paper! I always buy from small businesses when I look for cute stickers for decorating my delivery boxes and try to make sure they are made of paper rather than plastic. It’s just little old me who makes my products, which means I am able to keep tabs on every detail of the business and continue to work on developing my brand’s sustainability. I have a few tweaks and changes coming to Rebecca Journal in the summer which will give my customers even more transparency and I feel so comfortable and happy with the direction my brand is heading! All the research and work I’ve put into the consciousness of my brand has been so valuable and is a constant reality check – it has changed my perspective completely towards fast-fashion brands and shown me just how important it is to shop thoughtfully and carefully, buying from small, slow and sustainable brands wherever we can.mSmall businesses are where all the most beautiful and cool products are anyway! Where does the inspiration for your designs come from? The Sunday bag in Oat is a CTV favourite! I love Oat too! One of the down-sides to using My inspiration for each bag comes from so many different places, but I have noticed moods and memories – like nostalgic thoughts of past summers and day-dreaming of starry evenings in Paris – are always what pull into feeling inspired. Currently all my bags are gingham, so I try to create a certain feeling through the shades I pick. Oat was made during the summer of 2020, and all I could think of was sitting in the warmth of a city with someone I love, drinking a coffee made in the coffeehouse across from where we were sat – the bustle of a city and the slowness of spending a summer’s day with a friend. Matcha is an ode to fresh, zesty summer memories, where all the colours of the world seem so bright and beautiful and Cocoa is the warmth of the familiar and being snuggly, an ode to cosiness! I love to mix classic feelings with a sense of city-life, romantic and whimsical but also new and fresh! I’m not sure if I quite meet all the briefs I give myself but I love to think of my bags in that way.
What has been your favourite thing you have created so far?
talk to when things feel overwhelming, or for advice
moment and it was s-u-c-h a long process trying to
closed-club for creatives – ran by Hannah, founder of The Delicate Rébellion – to develop and strengthen businesses and skill-sets with work-shops and lectures by some incredibly talented souls, belonging
imagined for so long! It was a design I had been slowly working on for absolutely months and the response to it was so lovely and encouraging. Your mood-boards are like a Sunday nap dream, why do you moodboard? And what advice would you give to someone who wants to start making mood-boards? Oh my goodness, thank you! That is the nicest thing to say! I really love to mood-board, whether it’s gathering lovely images on Pinterest or Tumblr, creating a digital collage or physically cutting out clippings from magazines and publications. It really is such a wonderful and inspiring way to create thoughts and fresh ideas. I feel like surrounding your thoughts with all the things you love, images that you are drawn to without hesitation and curating them in a way that excites you can only lead to nice ideas – or at least give you some creative happy feelings in your brain! I used to be completely obsessed photographs or collages or cool editorial images to dive into and soak up felt like creating a whole new world for myself, and mood-boarding is so easily done! There is an app called Paper which allows you to mood-board digitally on your iPad – I saw Polly Vadasz, founder of Sighh Studio, rave about it on Insta and I downloaded it in a millisecond! You often work with other small businesses whether it is for illustrating or just for shouting each other out, what does community mean to you as a small business? both for your brand growth and for your own psychological growth! Instagram can sometimes be a kinda rubbish place and comparison is an easy way to get super down and existential on a Monday morning, but Instagram also gifts you the most lovely and encouraging connections who truly only want the best for you and your endeavours! I think the mutual understanding of how hard it is to create and develop a small creative business is what initially ties you, and a mutual appreciation for one another’s work. But you begin to get to really know and love the people within your little online bubble and get so excited when they do well! It’s so incredibly motivating to see your friends working hard and launching exciting, sparkly new products, it is as though you can all remind each other that yes, even on the hardest days, success is so possible! It’s important to have friends in the same boat as you to
by a supplier situation.
pining for the most sincere encouragement and wise pondering over, do consider joining! I have met so many kind fellow small biz owners and learnt SO much through the workshops. It’s just the happiest place and I already know I’ll be joining again next year. Have you ever had moments when you doubted your own art, if so how did you overcome this? Only once or twice... every hour of the day! I am quite a doubtful person when it comes to my own capabilities but I think accepting that truly every single creative has these moments on the regular is how to get through the worries. Understanding that you will have slumps and allowing yourself to rest and have moments to distance yourself from your practice can be a really insightful and helpful thing, Creativity is at its best when you are wellrested and full of focus and inspiration – if you are burnt out and stressed, you won’t create good work. It can be hard to rest when you have a deadline, so instead note that you feel doubtful and remember your perception of your work is probably pretty off right now because you’re most likely tired or very stressed from the world and its strangeness. In a month – maybe even tomorrow after some sleep and food – you will probably look at the work you feel doubtful of and think it’s perfectly good! A lot of different factors can inform how we feel about our practise and ourselves and because creativity is so you are never ever alone in feeling that way, and the feeling is not permanent. If you feel down, talk to someone who
will understand and they will remind you of all your achievements and lovely qualities. Is there anything right now you want to continue the voice on? I’d like to use this as a moment to remember Sarah Everard; Breonna Taylor; the six Asian American woman who were killed in Atlanta; Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, the womxn who have experienced assault in all its horrible forms; my friends who have used their voice to protect me in scary moments; my friends who have used their voice to open up wounds and tell the world what happened to them, to tell the world ‘no more’; the mothers who must sit their daughters down to explain how pepper-spray works, what apps they need to download to be located quickly should they be taken or grabbed or hurt, always keep your drink in your hand, make sure you let me know when you get home; the mothers who have had their babies taken from them.
This month’s issue is all about health, so what little things do you do to improve your health? 2020 was certainly a hard year for every single one of us, but strangely in a lot of ways having to leave my retail job and being with only myself and my thoughts for the longest time was something I am grateful for, because I learnt to build a relationship with myself that I had no time to focus on beforehand. I have learnt to really listen to what my own body needs, to realise we are all so different and all have such different needs! For me personally, moving my body is so helpful for me and mind as well as my relationship with myself. I try to make sure I move my body most days, whether it be by taking the time to stretch my body and breathe, going for a walk in the (albeit rare) sunshine as it begins to set and grow golden – stopping to take a photo of every single cherry-blossom tree I come across, jumping around and going red in the face during a HIIT workout and slowly feeling myself grow stronger, learning a dance to a new K-pop song I’ve become obsessed with, walking slowly with someone I love on a Saturday afternoon, going swimming (hopefully again soon!) with my mum but spending most of the time laughing and talking to her at the end of the lane. I am learning to shift my thoughts from ‘I need to exercise so I lose weight’ to ‘I want to move my body because it makes me happy and helps me feel
They can have a lil’ peek at my Instagram or visit my website. Interview by Kirsty Taylor
They tell me I’m the next in the line. They tell me I boarded the ‘crazy train’ the moment I was born, and they won’t let me refund my tickets. They tell me that pills and meditation only go so far, and who has time to sit around swallowing their darkest thoughts and trying to breathe them out as if they’re white smoke? Sometimes, they sound like me, if I joined a pantomime and got cast as the over-the-top villain. Sometimes, they have amateur cockney accents. Sometimes, they sound like Mum and when that happens, I rush to the study where she’s working from home, giving anger management courses to people much worse off than me. I knock on her door to remind myself that it’s all in my head. But sometimes, they sound like her. They sound like little Yvette from back on the farm where I was born, in Mayenne before I came to this country, where people said I was from a broken home and on my future CV, my special skills would include prison time in a young offender’s institute. Perhaps they’re right and it’s only a matter of time before I lose my grip on the world. After all, I have a countdown in my head. It runs in the family, that’s what people say. We have an urban legend in our house – Aunty Slasher. She’s like a bedtime story you’d tell a child if you don’t want them to sleep. I don’t even know her real name, only that she heard things no-one else could hear and when she shouted for help, people only heard a whisper. I heard they put in her Parkside, in a mental hospital, and left her there. Medically, we have a history of anxiety and depression. I’ve never been the type to bask in Social Darwinism, but Mum studies psychology and tells me that our family genealogy implies certain pre-dispositions to delusions and psychopathy. Birthdays and Christmases are about to become rather strange, she says. I’ve had a countdown in my head since I was four. It ticks, ticks, ticks like the world’s worst radio station. Only I can’t tune it out. When I was four, I broke a boy’s nose because he said he wanted to marry me. Because someone who wasn’t real told me he deserved it. They’re worse when I’m on my own. Mum always says I should slow-down, or I’ll burn out. That I’m always living life in the fast lane when I shouldn’t. I want to tell her that if I slow down, even for a second, I’ll crash.
‘Not long left,’ says the voice with the cockney accent, whom I’ve named Eva Grey. I used to think it was easier to put names to the voices, but I fear naming them has given them airs. and say, pyjamas. The afternoon wanes. I spend most of it on the bench, writing poetry. If only I could write my 55
way out of this countdown. Sometimes, the writing dispels the voices, especially if I make them characters in my books. I must have killed Eva Grey off a 1,000 times now. arrow. poems. Each word is a 1,000 cotton buds, which I bury in my ears. I pull inky blankets around my shoulders, drowning them out. If only for a little while. They are voices powered by delusion and self-doubt – they don’t exactly take holidays. they have a sense of humour. Slamming the notebook shut, I leave it on the bench. I head for the living room, where my piano rests against the wall. Sometimes, the sheer frustration of trying to get my hands to play to separate melodies keeps the voices at bay. I’ve been learning to play ‘Operator’ by Jim Croce, and not simply because Eva says that’s her least favourite song. tune. The countdown echoes in my head like a metronome. I hit the piano keys, jumping to my feet. Maybe I should check on Mum. She usually helps to chase the countdown away. I make my way to her room, the stairs creaking. It’s only 30 years old, this house, but it feels much older when you’re living in it. My grandad built it. We lost him, and the sense that this placed him and he can suddenly be found again. I knock on Mum’s bedroom door. There was a period, when we came to this country after Dad left her, that she barely came out of her room. Nana and Grandad always kept me busy – ever need. I didn’t know that Mum wasn’t busy working or reading, but that she was hiding ‘Maybe she’s run off and left you too,’ says Eva. If only she were real, then I could push her down the stairs. ‘Mum?’ I knock on the door. Something grunts. ‘You awake?’ ‘I am now,’ says Mum. ‘What are you still doing in bed? It’s the middle of the afternoon.’ I sound so much like Nana I almost giggle. ‘I’m not in bed,’ says Mum. I frown. pyjamas. Her hair is plastered to her face, streaks of grey mixing with her autumnal blonde like watercolours. I step over her mountain of self-help books. ‘Can I join you?’ I ask. She shrugs. I lie next to her on the carpet. 56
‘People don’t say it out loud,’ Mum begins. ‘But you get to a certain age and the world just nothing. Instead, I think of Eva Grey and how at high school, if you were in crisis, your options were to go home, or to go the Mental Health Block, which sat at the very edge of school grounds, with its mouldy walls and soundproof rooms, so if you screamed or cried or did something you’d regret, no-one could hear you. If the world writes you off, maybe you should write yourself back in. ‘Trust you to try and cheer me up,’ I say. Mum stands. We always seem to use each other as building blocks, climbing over each other’s lethargy and pain until we manage to scrape together enough energy to smile. And Mum smiles. ‘I know just the thing to help.’ ‘Oh goody. Mum M.D. – I can’t wait to see this,’ says Eva. ‘Shut up.’ Mum turns around. ‘What’s that?’ ‘Nothing.’ I haven’t told her yet about the things I hear. She has enough to worry about. We head downstairs and turn on the radio. It’s black and old and it has a CD player. Mum rummages around the kitchen table. The CD is in its usual place: the empty fruit bowl. She slots the CD in and hits play. ‘Are you serious?’ I laugh as ‘Under Pressure’ hits my ears. Mum shrugs again. ‘I always think we’re a little too serious.’ She bobs up and down to the music, snapping her
pendent of the rest of my body. I try to fold my arms, but Mum grabs my wrist, dragging me and David Bowie, we don’t much care. And as we dance, the countdown fades, trickling down, down, down until it’s just a faint, ticking that could easily be mistaken for a heartbeat. Or a song. By Yvette Naden Yvette Naden was born in Mayenne, France, in 2002 but moved to the UK in 2006. Her work has Currently, she lives in York where she works as an English Tutor. Image by Jon Tyson
Restaurant Highlight: Uplands Roast If you are anything like me you have probably been wondering for a while now where on earth everyone on Instagram (in Edinburgh) is buying these gorgeous hot chocolates from, and that is quite the statement because I the answer and we are going to share it with you: Uplands Roast! Uplands Roast is a small shack in the Meadows which is the true heart of Edinburgh on any sunny day. Uplands Roast does not only make mouthwatering hot chocolates, but they also make fantastic coffee which they buy directly from their farmer in Vietnam, then export and roast the coffee. Due to the nature of the world, I have not been fortunate enough to visit Uplands Roast yet, ‘yet’ being the crucial word opens up (which it hopefully will have by the time you are reading this!). However, one of our Edinburgh resident team members: Anna (our graphic designer) often raves about them and her go-to’s are their hot chocolate or mocha as the hot chocolates make for a killer Instagram picture, but both of these drinks are made with real chocolate melted in! Talk about authenticity! In terms of ambiance, there aren’t many spots in Edinburgh that “Uplands Roast is hit quite like the a small shack in the meadows come Meadows which is rain or shine, and I’ve heard the true heart of they also play Edinburgh on any their own vinyls at the shack!
Uplands Roast was stareted when the owners were on holiday in Vietnam and fell in love with the coffee. They decided to go back and make some links with farmers so that they could bring Vietnamese coffee to Edinburgh. 58
“They pay well over market price for coffee as they are passionate about sourcing top quality products and respecting the makers”
Uplands Roast uses direct trade which they stand by as a better alternitive than Fair Trade as they can ‘openly discuss price, quality and goals with farmers and shorten the supply train which allows [them] to pay the farmers a higher price for their product’. They pay well over market price for coffee as they are passionate about sourcing top quality products and respecting the makers in the progress which results in delicious and sustainable products for all. They are exceptionally transparent about their business and their products on their website which is always something to applaud, and they ensure that there neverending queues always follow covid guidelines. As well as their coffees and hot chocolates, they also sell cakes, have a bowl of water for all dog owners out there, a very aesthetic setup (this is something I personally always value as it adds to the experience) and if you are not local to Edinburgh, they sell their coffee as well as some classic merch on their website. So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself to Uplands Roast as soon as you can, or as soon as the government will allow you to! Fingers crossed I am on my way there as you are reading this. Words by Kirsty Taylor
The Art of Make-up I
n this half-and-half look I have done one side of my face in seemingly ‘natural’ makeup and left the other half completely bare. As a makeup artist I have seen over a number of years a huge boom in the popularity of makeup. This is not at all a bad thing as makeup can be used as both booster. However a side effect of this is that we are becoming desensitised to it. We are so used to seeing people constantly ‘made up’ that we begin to think that this is what natural skin looks like; that if your skin doesn’t look perfectly airbrushed at all times then something is wrong with it. There is no such thing as ‘bad skin’. Humans are not perfect so why do skin isn’t always one uniform colour, pores, blemishes, breakouts, dry/oily on your diet, your hormone levels, the climate you’re in. There are so many factors that impact how your skin looks on a daily basis and none of those things make it unhealthy. Makeup can only change so much, it’s very important that we accept the skin underneath it for what it is because that’s the canvas for our artwork.
By Naomi Howell. Naomi occupies most of her time creating content for her social media platforms, which you can follow here. She manages the make-up department at a popular alternative as well as doing freelance work in the education sector. On top of this Naomi loves to sing, dance, cook and co-hosts not one but two podcasts here and here.
Small Business Spotlight
This month, we spoke to Custard4gravy, an illustrator and printmaker from Bradford, West Yorkshire.
How did you start Custard4Gravy? And how did you come up with the name? I wanted a funny name, one that hopefully people would remember. I’ve used Custard4gravy on and off for at least 15 years, if not longer. I use it mainly for my handcrafted items, but in the past I’ve also done paintings, model making and custom toy designs under the name. I came up with the name whilst working in a greeting card studio in Skipton, many moons ago… I was working on a range of cute children characters, they had blobby hair, it looked like they had, had custard dropped on them, I called them Custard-heads (probably with a ‘z’, I know, but I was young). It was about this time, I was starting to do craft stalls, and exhibitions and didn’t think my own name was going to get me noticed. It must have been a meal time, but I seem to recall, thinking to myself what if swapped the gravy for the custard? That’s daft, but it would sweeten everything up (and also taste disgusting, but hey!) and in a roundabout kind of way that’s where the name Custard4gravy came from. It’s daft. No, I never have eaten custard on my mains, but, the name doesn’t get forgotten often. In the last year, online store. So Custard4gravy was dragged out again Can you take us through the process of creating a print, as it’s quite a labour-intensive process? The thing I love about printmaking is it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Everyone can do it. In fact, most of us have, even if it’s only a potato print at school. I mostly enjoy etchings in my tiny home studio too. It usually starts with an idea, maybe something I’ve seen on a walk, read about or seen on TV. This gets turned into a sketch, sometimes with a pencil and paper, other times straight onto my iPad. It will probably change a few times till I’m happy with it. Then I print it out to the right size, transfer it onto it gets carved out, this is the time consuming bit. Once that is done, it can be inked up and printed.
What’s your favourite part about doing prints? I think what I love most about linocuts is the mindfulness it gives me when I’m carving the design out. I’m not really thinking about anything else at that point. Of course I love sharing my designs with people, and getting lovely feedback is amazing. I realised quite recently that if I love what I do, and don’t worry too much about trying to please other people, that enjoyment seems to carry through into the artwork, and I hope that people can see that, and take their own enjoyment from it. Is there anything you want to continue the voice on right now? people. I’d like to think that it has made people think about others a bit more, and appreciate what we have, no matter how small. Everything can change in an instant, but sometimes change is necessary. And as our issue’s theme is health, what little things do you do to stay healthy? I’m not the healthiest of people; I’ve had medical issues in the past, and this last year I’ve had to work from home. Sitting in front of a computer all day, especially in winter, has made it harder to exercise. I do love long walks in the countryside, watching nature do its thing. I try to get out as much as I can. But, health isn’t just physical. I’m lucky I can escape into my studio and daydream about otters, hummingbirds or geckos whilst printmaking. I think spreading happiness, learning to laugh and smile is just as important as a long walk. Spend a few minutes alone, make time for yourself. Sit in the garden, or a park, listen to the birds sing. Things are not as bad as they seem. Instagram or at his Etsy shop under the name Custard4gravy. Interview by Grace Balfour-Harle
A Tinge of Joy my daughter has escaped with the family’s savings. If they catch her trying to get across the Hospital for the ‘lack of caring’. Although determined not to let the Minders detect my daughter’s plan, I cried when she left. With my body trapped in machinery and only able to move my lips and open my eyes, I could do little to prevent the tears being detected. ‘What’s this,’ the ever-alert Minder had said. ‘Isn’t your daughter coming next week?’ ‘Of course,’ I mumble. ‘So why so sad?’ ‘I’m thinking of my family and friends who died before the Prolongers took over. I’ve lived an extra seven years because of the pills, the equipment and the medical specialists.’ ‘Yes, and you’ll be alive another ten or more years; your daughter still has considerable savings. It ‘And with my grandchildren.’ ‘I’m sure he is.’ ‘You enjoyed the walk to the river with your daughter?’ ‘Yes, although the drugs are freeing and I often hallucinate about being outdoors, I’m happy my daughter can still take me to the river.’ ‘Sadly, it’s hard on the equipment so this might be your last trip outside.’ ‘Then we’ll visit here in my room, the chair is comfy.’ Of course, I hoped my daughter would never be in the room again but I couldn’t hint at that. When my daughter arrived earlier today, although she did nothing to alert the custodians, I immediately saw in her face that this would be our last visit. ‘Shall we head down to the rapids?’ she smiled. ‘The autumn leaves are glorious.’ It was a rhetorical question; I always want to go outdoors. When I was young and had contemplated dying, I fantasised being in the open country, walking the Prolongers allowed it, I could not move by myself and while my daughter still had money they would not allow her to take me beyond the gates. voices. For safety, we still speak in a coded language. When my son-in-law escaped with the children, we had to hide our joy behind an angry tirade. ‘The police came and told me Tom and the children have slipped across the border with his savings and the money from the house,’ my daughter announced. ‘They are keeping an extra watch on me, although I would never leave you, Mom. Even when we have no money and you are sent to the Hospice, I will stay with you.’ ‘I know, Tom was not loyal,’ I chimed in. ‘And to take the children.’ have raised suspicions. She brushed a bit of lint off of my cheek and planted her usual cursory kiss on my forehead. ‘My hands are cold,’ I said, and she rubbed them. A Minder hurried in, ‘Do you need special heated gloves?’ ‘No, I just like the human touch,’ I admitted. ‘What a sentimentalist you are,’ the Minder laughed. ‘You know Roberta Robot does that much better.’ As she hurried out to get Roberta, I felt my daughter slip a necklace over my head. 64
‘I brought in your favourite necklace, ‘ she whispered. ‘The chain with the gold coin.’ It was a secret signal. The coin on the necklace was to pay the ferryman to cross the river Styx: a myth which our family somehow found comforting. The Minder burst through the door, ‘Gold needs to be reported,’ she said. ‘It’s only costume jewelry my mother bought when she was young and poor,’ my daughter chuckled. ‘You were poor?’ the Minder asked in surprise. ‘Oh yes, we worked hard for years to make our fortune,’ I said. (Which at the rate it is being spent, will soon all be gone, I thought bitterly.) When one is left for so long unable to do anything but think, you wonder what you might have would be better. I was wrong. The gun lobby was defeated only to be replaced by an even more powerful lobby: a conglomerate of the pharmaceutical industry, suppliers of medical equipment and the specialist doctors. Together they lobbied the government to enact laws that prolonged life. Now whatever your wishes as long as you or your family or friends have money you will be kept alive until the poverty. I volunteered at the Hospice once to visit a dying friend. We pretended we didn’t know one another to prevent them whipping her back to the Hospital and charging me for her care. I knew it was my last visit, she was only hanging by a silken thread to life. When I got outside I but I knew if I did she would know it was the end. Today when my daughter left, I asked the Minder to watch on the monitor as she walked through the garden. ‘It can’t do any harm,’ the Minder said pointing the monitor towards the garden. In a few minutes I saw my daughter walking slowly along the path. She would know that the guards were watching so would do nothing to jeopardise her escape from the country and my escape from life. pick up what looked like a rose, I asked the Minder to zoom in. room, and landed tenderly on my pale cheek. By Melodie Corrigall Melodie Corrigall is an eclectic Canadian writer whose work has appeared in Halfway Down the Stairs, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, and The Write Place at the Write Time (Check out the website).
As the world opens a little more, we want to in life so we are including a monthly feature editor and illustrated by our team’s illustrat A moment of rest exactly when you need it
appropriated and positioned as a ‘lifestyle tr of hygge, which involves ideas such as cosin
Being with people who fuel your soul The perfect glass of fresh cold tap water
Completing a wordsearch 66
remind you to appreciate the little things e of Coorie moments written by our head tor. For anyone who may not know here,
rend’, similar to the Scandinavian concept ness.
Feeling energised when you wake up
The moment in bed before you fully wake up where you just take second for you
The aches leaving your body as you stretch
Taking a deep breath
Biting into a juicy and crisp apple Words by Kirsty Taylor & Illustrations by Sophie Freestone.
‘I aim to be active every day. It could be walking, gardening, vacuuming the house, that fun ten minute low-impact exercise video on YouTube, dancing in the kitchen while cooking dinner, anything that moves my body. When I’m alone, I’ll dance all the way through a favourite album. Why do I wait until I’m alone? Because my teenage son cringes at my ‘Mum-dancing’, that’s why!’ Kim Whysall-Hammond
What little t do to stay ‘To keep a healthy life there are some good habits which I would suggest everyone to include in their lives. 1. I breakfast like a king, which includes
‘I like to go for walks in the country and I like to meditate. Going for walks makes me with half cup yogurt and sometimes an egg. feel connected to something greater than 2. I live an alcohol-free life. There are days myself, and it helps my physical health. The in my life when I feel low and stressed out meditation helps me to calm my mind and set and I use meditation to help me through positive intentions for the day. Then there’s what those times.’ I call ‘the ole’ punch ‘n scream’. Get a pillow, and Dr. Hadia Jaleesi have a good old scream. Then punch. I believe that there are no negative emotions; only challenging ones. You have to let yourself feel the full ‘To spectrum of emotions; let yourself exist. I improve my health I prefer screaming to feeling nothing.’ actively choose simple, straight-
forward food that looks good and feels good after eating. This means stay ing away from greasy pizzas or sugary sna that leave me feeling bloated and tired. Fo good, honest food means fresh vegetables leafy salads, with bright tomatoes, cucumbe carrot slices or whole orange cut into four s and eaten one by one. It is deeply rewardin buy, prepare and eat food that nourishes y body. Choosing to eat good food is an easy way to value and support all your ‘Workbody is meant to do.’ ing from home, I t Rebecca Carter spend a lot of time staring at a at
‘One small thing I do for my mental health is set an hour aside for my mental health. From 6am till 7am I focus on selfgrowth. I watch videos about philosophies for life, childhood trauma, spiritual work, etc., I write down any thoughts and eventually turn them into writing projects. My morning self-growth gives me insight into other peoples struggle and lets me know I am not alone. If I take the time to address computer screen so I recently hung a bird feeder in the tree outside my myself more mentally present during window. The to-and-fro of the garden birds the day and more aware of other encourages me to rest my eyes. A friend also persuaded me to sign up to the NHS Couch people’s feelings and views.’ to 5k programme. I had gotten into the habit Steve Kish of walking most days so I swapped one or two walks a week for sessions of this programme. Took me longer than the programme’s nine
got there!’ Sharon Clark
go learn ing to c chicken Tonigh strengt on m pro
things do you y healthy?
‘My partner and I buy organic food when we can, eat relatively little red meat, and make relatively little use of processed foods. I cook most meals from fresh ingredients. My partner suffers from osteoporosis and heart problems: we go out for a walk most days (except when it’s raining heavily) – it’s really too slow for me since she has to push a walking trolley around the local streets.’ Manz York
‘Something I do to improve my health is maintain a regular routine of practicing yoga. Either by winding down with a calming practice at night, or starting off my
strengthen my body while also centering my mind. I think caring for my mental health as well as my physical health is really important and helps keep me feeling in touch with my body and soul.’ Carly Silva ‘Having learned the medical community has no cures
want an addiction to pain medications, I eat more fruit/vegetables, less meat, do low-impact exercises (walking, light dancing, etc.,) rest when needed, pray/meditate/ deep breathing, be with loved ones (especially my cat), do lots of creative activities, and remind myself to concentrate on what I CAN do, not what I can’t – oh,
yacks or me, or big er and slices Michelle Mead ng to your ‘I walk n outside every day. r Being outdoors is refreshing
to the spirit so I’m not indoors on treadmill unless weather precludes oing out. Another thing I do is try to something new. Right now I’m learncook with my new air fryer. I made fried n that was great and no greasy cleanup. ht – Brussel sprouts! I set aside time for thening exercises at home to follow up my physical therapy. And I write. I feel oductive and the typing is good for by my muscle disease).’ Bethanie Gorney.
‘Among the small things I do to improve my health: I exercise every morning, constantly try to improve my eating habits, wear a mask whenever I go outdoors, practice distancing even when others don’t, and try to think good thoughts.’ Gary Beck
‘There are a few things I do to improve m health, including: Going to a quiet spot on the coast or even in the middle focussing on my breathing, the smells and sounds of nature, and listening to the world. Talking to my friends and family and just medicine. Relaxing in front of a good book or box set really helps too. Giving yourself some alone time and realising that it’s okay to do nothing and it is important!’ Kit Williams ‘The little things matter the
weave them into my daily routine. One of my favourite things to do is take long and regular walks in nature, even if it’s a canal, a city park or a small amount of greenery. Taking time to observe the trees, plants, animals and the gradual changes in the season have much more of a health impact than I think any of us could ever imagine. I like to take herbal tea with me on my walks, drinking hot water is good for the body, it awakens the digestive system and soothes the organs. Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of hot herbal tea and water is probably the most basic yet underrated health routine out there.’ Yasmin Dahnoun
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