Thursday, 30 July 2015

Book Club #19 - All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

I had heard nothing but good things about All My Puny Sorrows since it came out, so when I saw it in a deal at Waterstones I knew I had to grab it. I've been trying to consciously read more books by women, and after reading this, I now want to read all books by Miriam Toews. That's probably a bit of a spoiler regarding to my review, isn't it?




All My Puny Sorrows focuses on two sisters - Elf, a world-renowned pianist who is happily married and wealthy, and Yoli, a divorced, broke woman who is sleeping with the wrong men. Although Elf might seem like she has her life on track, she wants nothing more than to die. Yoli, the sister with the life in shambles must try her damnedest to convince her older sister why she should live. Because life is worth living, right? 

I can't even begin to put into words how much I loved this book. The characters felt very real to me, in that they had their flaws and you wanted to scream at them, but also that they carried their love, guilt and sadness on their sleeves. Yoli is the narrator throughout All My Puny Sorrows, and although the timeline moves from her memories of her sister and their childhood to the current day, I never once thought she was unreliable or hard to follow. Although her life was far from she had hoped it would be, Yoli pushed everything aside to be there for her sister - even if it meant she had to confront the impossible question of whether it is better to let a loved one go. 

I don't want to give too much away, but this is a really powerful novel that makes you think again. I didn't realise until writing this review that it's actually 'inspired' by personal events from Toews' life, which I think really goes to show how excellent Toews' writing is. It's such a powerful, hard-hitting work of fiction that really goes above and beyond telling a story. Please, read this book!

Have you read All My Puny Sorrows? Have you read anything by Miriam Toews before?

Chelsea xo
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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Cut The Crap (From Your Inbox)

If there's anything you need to know about me, it's that I have no time. Working two jobs, attempting to be a good mother and wife, a good friend, a good blogger - it all takes time. Time that I'm more than willing to part with, of course. I want to set a good example to Dylan, spend time with my nearest and dearest, and have a creative outlet like this ol' blog. What I don't need in my life is crap emails. 

For years, I've been a serial 'just delete it' kind of gal. If I'm using my phone, it's much easier to just click delete than it is to look through an email I can't remember signing up for - if I even did - to look for their unsubscribe button. Hell, sometimes on my computer it's easier to click delete than it is to find the subscribe button, and these people know that. Even if you find the elusive unsubscribe button, more often than not you need to re-enter your email address, select what emails you might want to unsubscribe from and then give the bastards a reason. 

But no more. 
Source - Death To Stock
I'm dedicated to clearing out my inbox and making it a place I want to refresh on a regular basis. We spend so much of our time curating our creative spaces - be it who you follow on twitter, what blogs you read or whatever - so why should your inbox be any different? It's been part of my 101 in 1001 Days to-dos for so long now, but I can't stand it anymore! I'm pledging to spend at least 30 mins every Sunday evening to declutter my inbox and click unsubscribe instead of delete. 


Isn't it time for you to do the same? 


Chelsea xo

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Book Club #18 - Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

I'm going to cut to the chase here, I'm a really big Nick Hornby fan. When I briefly lived in London a few years back, I was quite lonely and found solace in my local library. At first, I used it to search the web, as I didn't have the internet where I lived, but I gradually spent less time updating my Facebook status and more time reading books. The vast majority, if not all, of Hornby's books are set in London, so I really devoured them and read as much of them as I could.


Now, Funny Girl is Hornby's most recent release, and it starts off in 1960s Blackpool with a soon-to-be-crowned beauty queen called Barbara who wants nothing more than to leave Blackpool and become a comedy actress. Her whole family is against the idea, as they don't want her to swan off to London when she could be perfectly happy in Blackpool, getting married and opening carpet shops with her newly acquired queendom. 

I did enjoy Funny Girl, and found it to be quite charming and it seems pretty accurate for the time period it's set in. As a Northerner I didn't like how they portrayed the people of Blackpool, but I can appreciate that moving to London would have probably been unheard of for a young, single woman with no true connection to the place at that time, and it still is to some extent these days. I felt that all the other characters seemed well rounded and added to the story in their own unique way. 

There seems to be a theme with the books I read, and for one reason or another the ending just didn't sit well with me. I'm not sure if other people feel like this, or if I have some complex about books ending, but I just felt like "oh, is that it?" with it. I think it's probably me. Overall, I think fans of Hornby would enjoy this, as it reminded me a bit of his other book Juliet, Naked


Have you read Funny Girl? Are you a Nick Hornby fan?


Chelsea xo

Friday, 24 July 2015

Picking Yourself Up

Sometimes you can't seem to shake off a bad feeling. Whether you've had some bad news, an irritating commute or spilt coffee all over your shirt - it just feels like you can't catch a break. Although I like to give off a cheery disposition, I'm actually quite pessimistic. Luckily I can pass this off as Northern cynicism or just being down to my dry sense of wit, but I've been working on ways to pick myself up if I'm feeling more like Eeyore than usual. 


Put on your favourite album and have a dance around 
Okay, so if you're anything like me it might be difficult to even pick a favourite album, but for dancing around I like listening to Everything Everything or Hot Chip. They both have newish albums out, and whatdyaknow, I love them both! Dancing around is scientifically proven* to life your mood and make you feel better about everything, so this should be your first port of call. 

*possibly.

Put on a sad film and have a cry
This one is the complete opposite of my first suggestion but some days you just need to cry. Whether it's the first 10 minutes of Up on repeat or a classic tear-jerker like Stepmom it's good to just let it all out. I find that if I do a mammoth cry, then it can clear my head and I get into that 'things can only get better' mentality.

Talk to your friends/loved ones
In some situations you might not feel able to talk about it, but that doesn't mean you can't talk about other things! I can quite easily put "today is crap!" into a whatsapp group and end up with a bunch of moral support and maybe a funny story or two. Even talking about something else entirely can help, as it can sort of bring you back into the 'now' rather than staying in the #sadtimes.

Have a pamper
It sounds self-indulgent, but if you're having a rough day then a nice relaxing bath, with your face mask on followed by painting your nails might be just the ticket. Or if you've got a hectic life like me, even 10 minutes reading a book with a ridiculously flourished hot chocolate could do the trick. 

Write down 5 things that make you happy
Well, you might have shrank your favourite sweater in the wash, but you've got your health. Just acknowledging a little thing like 'the creepy guy wasn't on my bus' or 'my kid went to sleep with only one bedtime story' could make the difference. This really helps putting things in perspective and helps you to realise that you don't need to have a 100% perfect day for it to have been good. 

Treat yo' self
This might sound a bit like the 'have a pamper,' suggestion but what if you don't have any pampering goodies, ey? I wouldn't recommend treating yo' self too excessively - we're not trying to buy off your emotions, more like perk them up a little - so be careful not too buy yourself something you can't afford or will later regret. Everything in moderation, and if you need a limit, stick to it! You need to be careful that you don't associate sadness with retail therapy as that can lead to all sorts of money woes, which will add to the sadness and then result in retail therapy... Bills and food come first, people! However if you fancy trying a new bath bomb or enjoy having your nails done by a professional every once in a while then treat yo' self! 

Hug something
Arguably the most important thing on this list, have a hug. Be it a stuffed animal, your partner or pet, having a good ol' snuggle can give you the comfort you need. You might not realise it but you could make their day too! Monty is always hovering around me for a cuddle at the end of the day, and although I mumble and groan about having him on the sofa, sometimes it's just nice to have him nudging my arm and letting me know that he freakin' loves me. Joe and Dylan give some good cuddles too, but yeah. 

So there we have it! Just a few suggestions of how to pull yourself back around. If you're feeling down on a regular basis or think you might need more than a bubble bath to turn things around, then please talk to someone who can help - such as a loved one or Samaritans. Sharing your worries can often make a world of difference, and all sorts of help can be provided if you need it. <3


Chelsea xo

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Graduation

I'm sure if you've all seen a flurry of graduation pictures this month, and this collection is essentially just more of the same. Of course, this one includes me looking rather fetching in a cloak and mortarboard, so let's have a look! (I actually edited these photos to fit, but blogger wasn't having any of it, so please excuse the awkward landscape one!) 


That last one is a totally accurate family picture of us. Thanks Dylan! Thank creased dress!

Graduation was a really happy and sad time for me, considering recent events. My dad came down for the occasion and I think he felt rather poignant about it all as well. I felt proud of myself for graduating and getting a superb 2:1 degree, but also upset with myself for being so close to a 1st. I know classification isn't the be all and end all, as some places only consider it as "an experience", but I felt annoyed with myself, and then even more annoyed for being annoyed! I just finished my degree! I've got myself an internship! I'm okay!

I'm sure a lot of graduates go through this sort of feeling, or similar at least, and I'm beginning to form a life plan so it isn't all doom and gloom ahead. I'm about halfway through my internship and that's going really well. It's in communications, which isn't really something I thought I would be doing when I started my degree, but I seem to be pretty good at it. Lots of social media management, lots of content management systems to figure out, and I'm getting a dab hand at SEO too. Because I'm nuts, I'm still working at my t'other job, so I've been working 7 days a week for the past three weeks. Well, I say 7 days, I've actually ended up spending some days working from home due to graduation and the train strike, and it never feels like work when you get to do it at home in your pjays! I can see why some many people want to be full-time bloggers/freelancers!

So what's new with you? Tell me all your exciting/not so exciting news! I've been trying to keep up with blog reading, even if I haven't been posting as such, but I've been pretty terrible with it. Most of my blog reading goes on when I manage to snag wifi on the train, which can be quite limiting to say the least. I'm hoping to step it up a notch though, cos I'm nice like that. 


Chelsea xo

Saturday, 4 July 2015

An Update, A Loss

After a brief silence over on my blog, it seems somewhat silly to come back and tell you all that I won't be blogging again for a while. If you follow me on twitter, you might know why I've been so quiet recently, but if you don't then it's due to losing a loved one. I feel quite daft if I'm honest, typing this out, but I just wanted to let you guys know. 

There's been a lot of tragedy in blogging recently, and so with all of this great sadness, I just need a break. Tragedy can bring people together, but it has also highlighted to me how far away I am from my family. I had been hoping to move to Bristol soon, but now I'd much rather be closer to home. I don't think I've really accepted the loss of my Nana, but it will come. I thought seeing my family would help, but it didn't really, I realise now that nothing can help you with loss. When you don't have a chance to say goodbye, or even a recent memory, then the loss can hit you hard. It floored me when I found out, and it will continue to do so whenever I think of home, of not being there. The guilt of never returning the last phone call will be hard to overcome.

I hope I can make Nana proud of me, and live as fully as she did. Nana you are my greatest inspiration, and I will miss you always. 



I know I will come back to blogging soon, so I hope you will all be there when I do. 


Chelsea xo
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