Blissful State of Mind

(C) Seen on Meaning of Life

When it comes to writing, I don’t really know how to write in a state of pure happiness. Looking at my countless diaries and journals, I tend to write more when I need something off my chest. My expressions of love and joy are usually directed to a person in a form of a letter or a notebook full of them. I realise how very wrong this is because it somehow ties the tongue of whichever tool I am using to express happiness. 

Today, I stopped to think about what I love. Everything I wish to always be associated with and remembered by. Looking at the things I am passionate about, they haven’t really changed much since I was a child. My beloved things somehow remained similar throughout my life. Naturally, few things changed drastically to the point where I have to really recall if that was something I once loved. Chocolate milk comes to mind. How did I ever love chocolate milk as a child? The only chocolate I can have now is a proper chocolate bar. I don’t do hot chocolate, chocolate milk, or even chocolate ice cream. Did I drink too much in my childhood and used up all my limit? Perhaps.  

Another thing that almost shocks me when I remember is how I used to buy specific equipment to “study” insects. I still remember the educational book that came with an attached box I bought. I remember it had vivid reds and greens on the cover. It came with small tools to catch and examine the bugs up close using a magnifier. Where did that go? I’d rather be that girl than the one who jumps to the other end of a room if some insect was flying around. What remained constant though is my indescribable fear of cockroaches. I classify it as a phobia. It was there since I was a child and until now, I would rather be attacked by a lion than to be near a cockroach. I remember an incident when I first joined the company I worked for until recently. I was in the ladies room and I saw a baby cockroach. I honestly do not know how I managed to pull my trousers back up and run out. One of my beloved managers saw me with tears in my eyes and I told him “If you don’t take care of that, I quit”. He was kind enough to take care of it and of course, I was teased about this for months and months. 

Colours, what can I say about colours. I am fond of their endless hues and compatibility. I love that two, three, or ten together are still as pretty as one. They are intertwined yet independent. Even though I don’t know how to paint, and whatever I painted remains in a closet that no one sees, but I always have a supply of canvases and colours as an emergency therapy session. I love that they scream “feelings”. I love that people see them differently, yet equally. Colours and feelings are remarkable to me. What each colour means to each individual. Red screams love, but can scream danger too (which, let’s be honest comes with love sometimes). Blue triggers inner feelings of sadness or it can make you smell the ocean just by thinking blue. I don’t know the accuracy of Van Gogh’s yellow paint that he swallowed to feel happy inside, but I do relate to how he feels about yellow which will always make a part of the story true to me. His love of flowers is also something I connect with. It could be a cliche to say that I really love the blooming cycle and its constant reminders that it is okay to lose your spark and beauty for a while. I love that some bloom in winter, breaking the norm of spring blooming, that they come in different sizes and shapes that are all equally magnificent, and that each is unique in its needs of surrounding environment to grow. 

Just like many others, I do have my mini rituals and habits that started off unconsciously. As I grew aware of them, I learnt to enjoy them and make sure I follow through with them. Like the “cup rotation” I do every few weeks. I have countless cups and mugs and I always feel bad for using a few more than the others. So I began this rotation habit to make sure I use all my cups equally. Some are used for coffee, others for tea, and some are used in special occasions, like my Santa cup that I only use in December. Associating films and series with specific times is a very common thing amongst people and I am no different. Home Alone for Christmas day. The Nightmare Before Christmas every Halloween. Waitress every time I have the flu, Gilmore Girls before bed and Frasier every morning on TV whenever I am in the UK. Music is no exception as Fairuz’s voice fills every winter morning, John Mayer’s guitar gutting my sleepless midnights, The Lumineers joining me for that moment of calm and peace after the first sip of red wine. Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves being a constant soundtrack to love and happiness. 

My lifelong companion, books. I started reading at a young age. Not sure if it’s something I picked up from my father or simply because I wasn’t very social and preferred the company of my own imagination. Everything from the texture and feel of pages to that addicting smell of books, the magical worlds they unlock, and the atmosphere and rituals that come with reading. My favourite animated film now and as a kid is Beauty & the Beast. A part of me believes that I love it this much because, to impress Belle, Beast took her to his enormous and enchanting library. No wonder I chuckled like a child when my best friend and I were playing a game and she said that if I were a Disney princess, I would be Belle because I always carry a book in my bag. Playing that game, it was my turn to answer what superpower do I want and with no hesitation my answer will always be one of two: Ability to speak and read all languages, or the ability to heal hurt and broken hearts. Imagine being able to read all the great works in their original language, nothing ever lost in translation! This would even increase the joy of reading a book over and over, underlining different passages each time. Or even better, lending someone a book and checking if they underlined anything and feel like you opened a tiny window into their soul. This is the part of my life I could not digitise. It pains me to think of all murdered trees in my bedroom, but I cannot use a Kindle. I need to feel the book. But I have to admit, the most magical part about reading is the bonds you form with real people about fictional characters, the heated discussions about which was better, the book or the film and the constant yet revived astonishment that someone actually thinks a film is better. I remember I actually cried when I watched the film P.S I love you because my favourite character in the book was simply wrong in the film and did not match what I imagined he looked, spoke, or even behaved like. 

I could talk forever about my love and affection for animals, late breakfasts, thunderstorms, sharply cold mornings that are still damp from the night before, Michelangelo’s David, long walks, lavender, the way the name “Christopher” rolls off the tongue, grinding coffee and feeling the air slowly fill with its aroma, pianos, cellos, and guitars, bridges, rivers, seas, lakes and any body of water, auroras, pinkish skies, the moon, stars and planets, and I will talk about them one by one sometime to remind myself that nothing is too insignificant or silly to love and add happiness to life. 

Change

(C) Luiza Normey

“I see the sky changing
Reminds me of my changing
Wish I could tie me a rope ’round the sun
‘Cause I am not done changing”
John Mayer

When asked “Is change good or bad”, how do you answer? As we already established, I am not a black or white type of person. I live my life in a pool of grey area and I will always respond with “depends on the situation”. Some things are wonderful because they are timeless and stay the same no matter what. Things like perspective, however, could change and open up new dimensions of knowledge, wisdom, compassion, humility, and tenderness.

There is beauty in the change in perspective and opinions. True, it may come the hard way like thinking someone is wonderful and realising they are everything but that. But there are beautiful ways to form different opinions and adding a new layer to the glasses in which you see the world such as reading and travel.

Stories are exquisite and powerful. I love their ability to make you think differently, or simply just “think” about something you never considered before. My father told me as a child, and he keeps telling me even now “If you want to learn about a culture, read their literature”.

I must admit that in addition to reading, my generation gets an extra cheat-code in the form of films and series. I used to watch a cartoon as a child called “Tales of Magic”. It is originally a Japanese Manga that was dubbed into many languages. I loved watching it and it taught me more than how to speak proper, formal Arabic as a child. It taught me about countries I’ve never visited. Languages I never understood. Most importantly, it taught me that the world is way too wide and complex to have one point of view. I recently felt like watching it again and started watching an episode or two on Fridays while I have my morning coffee.

One of the episodes told the story of Arachne, the weaver who was turned into a spider for challenging and insulting Athena. Even though I never was afraid of spiders (in all fairness, I am not talking about the spiders in Australia & New Zealand. Those scare everyone) but after knowing this myth I am more compassionate towards spiders because I think of them, now, as a weaver who got punished and shall weave for eternity.

I can see how my perspective changes when I re-watch films or series I like and see how my feelings change towards a character. Sometimes, I go from hating a character to finally relating to how this character acts and reacts. Sometimes it goes the other way and I start hating a character I liked because I can finally see beneath the layers. I must admit I enjoy this process more than changing how I feel about “real” people because not much respect and love are actually invested in the fictional character. This processes hurts a bit more in real life because the factor of guilt is always there. Guilt for misjudging a good person, and guilt for mistrusting your own instincts and trusting that someone was good when they are actually a nightmare.

Arts and literature also changed how I feel about swans. As a child, I thought they were pretty and “clean-looking” birds. But as I grew up and learnt the story of Swan Lake, and other swan-related folklore, I cannot help but feel connected to swans. I think of them as creatures with magical and graceful powers and just watching them swim for a few minutes calms me down. If real swans are not available, I turn to the ballet and watch Swan Lake over and over. This is another beauty that stories bring to my life. A unique coping mechanism to whatever is going on in my life at the moment.

Seeing what creatures symbolise in different cultures also interests me. I always challenged my classmates as a child whenever an “owl” was mentioned because I was always more comfortable with the Western symbolism of wisdom rather than the Arabian gloomy interpretation. Finding similarities and differences between cultures is and ever-exciting element to me.

In the internet era, and just like millions of people, I am hooked on the simple yet unique idea of the “Humans of New York” project which now expanded into so much more. Reading about normal people, their everyday pleasures and struggles, their fears and dreams is really empowering. It somehow proves to you that you are a “human” and that you are not alone, no matter what. The idea and effort put into the project is breath-taking. An idea built entirely on listening to people, giving them your time even when you don’t even know their name sometimes, protecting their anonymity if they asked for it, just to listen to what they have to say. I got the book as a gift in the most wonderful and poetic way. I had just had my corrective eye surgery and my cousin sent me a copy of the book when it first got published in the US with a note that said “This is for your recently treated and beautiful eyes. Hopefully you’ll be able to read it by now”. This represents how I feel about stories, a set of fresh new eyes that make you see things differently! It was and still is one of the best gifts I ever gotten.

With my father’s blood running through my veins, and my admiration of his mind, I started reading at a very young age. I wouldn’t consider myself well-read, but I aspire to be. I hope I never stop learning and changing my perspective on life, people, and everything around me because that is a very welcome change. If you are a story lover, here are some of the projects I love the most. They tell a story or even multiple stories. Ranked in a random order because no story is more important than the other.

May you always be open and curious to change!

  • Humans of New York
  • Post Secret
  • The Lumineers – Album III (You need to listen to the songs in order – Here’s a YouTube playlist that tells the story in a series of videos).
  • Tales of Magic (Original title is アニメ世界の昔ばなし)

Anatomy of a Sunflower

(C) lifeonacanadianisland

“Hell was a journey, but it brought me heaven”

For a few months now, I have been dissecting the layers of my emotions, memories, and all what makes me “me”. I’m not sure if this is a side effect of isolation and social distancing, or if it’s simply a conscious decision to perform my own “autopsy” as I approach 30. All I know is that, as scary as it was and still is, I forced myself into recalling everything I have ever shoved in that “Pandora’s box” inside my head. I opened that box with my eyes wide open and I welcomed all the emotions that came with the items I found, even when they got really ugly.

I took each memory and played the prosecutor and the defence attorney at the same time. I asked all the difficult questions and accepted the scary answers. I looked beneath the masks, looked at the broken reflections of the mirror. I saw the monsters underneath the bed and behind every corner, terrorising a child that never really grew out of it. I even watched the films and listened to the songs I fearfully neglected, reclaiming them as a part of my journey instead of hiding from them.

With this autopsy in process, I woke up today morning excited about an album. I always loved the artist’s creativity and the way she visualises and translates life and emotions into her lyrics. I was extra curious to see the result of her isolation and she did not disappoint. I may be projecting here, but her album felt like she was dissecting her layers too. It is raw and magnificent to the point where I managed to cry and repeat the album while still drinking my morning coffee.

Listening to one of the songs, I thought of someone I knew. We had an “encounter” that haunted me for months and I never really understood why. Maybe it’s the fresh autopsy cuts mixed with some music, but before the album was over, I realised exactly why. I had met this person shortly after my earthquake of a breakup. We work in different countries so all we had were random thoughts shared by email. I was on leave sometime end of last year and one conversation led to suggesting he could visit if he wanted. After all, I was one hour away from him now instead of our normal 7-hours-away circumstances. He was excited and did his best to join me. The effort he made and the trouble he went through clashed bizarrely with how he acted when he arrived. Even though he was there for less than 24 hours, 8 of them I was fast asleep, it still felt so long and heavy. I felt like I was with the mayor of Halloween town from the Nightmare Before Christmas, the one with two faces. The way he behaved confused the hell out of me. Where did the guy who did his best to book a flight go? Why am I spending a day with someone who made it so obvious he wants to go back to his city? My mind seriously took me to multiple personalities syndrome because he took me through multiple sides of himself in about 5 hours. I saw the vulnerable, sweet, and soft side of him but I also saw every repulsive behaviour and every deal breaker possible, so why was I still thinking about it and why does he keep crossing my mind? Then it hit me, this morning, listening to a new album. Terrified of being alone on a trip again, the brokenhearted part of me wanted so badly to feel reassured. Wanted to laugh and feel alive again. Wanted to feel wanted again. To feel fun and funny again. And that simply is the reason I obsessed about that incident. Because he made me believe that I was intolerable. Indirectly, he proved my ex-boyfriend was right for leaving me. He showed me that he couldn’t even enjoy less than 24-hours with me. Writing about it now, it seems so clear and simple. His feelings are still confusing to me, but at least I know now my side of the situation and why it impacted me the way it did during, and many months afterwards. Without the dissection, the cuts, the difficult questions it seemed like the world’s greatest mystery.   

Realisations are not always happy or as simple as the story above. Realisations can be gut-wrenching, but I do think they are necessary. So much of what came out of that little box is so scary I cannot even write about it now. It is an ongoing and overwhelming process that I do not think will stop any time soon. And honestly, I do not want it to stop. It is indescribably painful. It is terrifying, shattering, but it is also liberating and humbling. It is a voyage which I’m sure will help me navigate “me” better. It will provide me with mirrors to see the truth. Armours against the twisted, gas-lighting games of others and of my own mind. And finally, weapons to fight them to reassure myself in the infinite hope that this understanding of myself will not only spare me repeating the mistakes that broke me, but that it also blooms me into a beautiful life, full of love, music, dancing, sunflowers, and laughter.

Open your wounds. Pour salty music on them. Let the pain unfold a stunning version of you.

Shower Thoughts

Your Brain – A User’s Guide by National Geographic one lazy morning last week.

I really love the concept behind “shower thoughts”. I am always interested to read and follow accounts that simply share random thoughts. Not for the “thoughts” themselves, but because I believe in the beauty of how differently people think.

I started thinking of this while I was, of course, working on a puzzle. I got stuck with the remaining pieces which all had the same colour, and all of them made up “flowers” so the shape was also almost identical. What I did is, I started putting the pieces together by “shape”. I would see what shape is missing and try all the pieces that could fit until I finally completed the full picture. This led me to thinking about how people think, feel, express, understand and shape the world around them. How every person has something unique about their brain and the way it processes, imagines and executes ideas.

Perhaps that’s also why I am often inspired by the chitchats and “talk about nothing” gatherings because, to me, it’s the best way to grasp how people think. Having structured talks about pre-defined subjects limits the spontaneous thoughts and it rarely shows the natural flow of ideas and inspirations. I always try to ask random questions that some may think are “silly” like “If you were an animal what would you be?” so I can see what the person associates this animal with and how it reflects on them, their life, or even what they wish they had. I think of the people I truly love and admire, they all have one thing in common: Their brain. I’m not talking about being clever. I am just in love with how they think and connect ideas together. Even their sense of humour is somehow unique in terms of connecting ideas and situations together. I feel maybe I am “extra” interested because it’s something I believe I lack. It’s hard for me to just articulate something. I often have to compare using a quote, scene from a film, or even a song to really express my thoughts.

The train of thought went further into how the brain works and links elements together. Last week, I wanted to make a sandwich but the “tray”* of the grill/toaster was being cleaned. I was in a hurry and thought I was being smart so I just wrapped my sandwich in aluminium foil and put it directly on the surface, right next to the heating “element”**. I turned away to do other things and suddenly I caught myself singing a cartoon song from my childhood about a dragon that wanted to be a firefighter. While I was singing I thought to myself: Wow, where did that come from? As I turned to my sandwich, I realised it was burning and I almost set the kitchen on fire. This made me think of how my brain works and “its priorities”. My analysis is that my nose picked up on the smell and notified my brain, but the element of memory is a big stronger in my brain so first came the song I associate with fire, then came the smell itself.

Though I rarely fully understand the language of neuroscience, I try to read or watch something related every once in a while. I loved this issue of National Geographic (in the photo above). I keep going back to it to refresh my knowledge. I also appreciate when such ideas are translated into a simpler language for all people to understand, like Pixar did with their film “Inside Out“. To me, it’s a piece of art. There are countless films and shows that discuss the depths of the mind in all its glory and obscurity. It’s difficult to narrow them down because it depends what “function” of the brain you’re interested in. My overall favourites, in addition to Inside Out are: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, A Beautiful Mind, My Beautiful Broken Brain and I am Sam.

May you never ignore the randomness of your own minds. I hope you explore, appreciate, and grow them!

Some of my random recent “shower thoughts”:

  • What if animals and plants really hate the names we call them? What dogs don’t want to be called “dogs” and want to be called “ducks”? What if Tulips want to be called Sunflowers and Calla lilies want to be called Roses?
  • What if Covid19 was created by extreme environmentalists to force lock-downs to lower pollution?
  • What if two people see colours differently. I could see a colour and call it “blue”, someone else could see a totally different colour and also call it blue, because we were both “taught” it’s called blue.
  • What if the random black garbage bags you pass by on streets have a dead body?

*Writing this, I realised my lack of vocabulary when it comes to appliances. I almost refer to everything as “that thing” and just describe it with a hand gesture. The tray I meant there is the actual surface you put your sandwich. It works both as a toaster and as a grill.
**The word that came up after googling “What’s inside a toaster/grill”.

Dear God, let me talk

-What were you doing on the floor?
Praying.
-To what?
-To anything that might exist”

Going through my books last weekend, I saw my worn out copy of my favourite novel, The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. Cover stained with nail polish. Sections underlined with different colours for all the time I read and re-read it. Its plot fits perfectly with all my “patterns”. It’s my absolute favourite work of literature. I haven’t only read the book multiple times, I also listened to the audio book twice, and watched its 1999 adaptation more times than I can recall.

 Just like million others, my relationship with “God” is a very complex one. Love and Faith are interlinked to me, which perhaps explains my love for that book. Also, like million others, this complexity intensifies the older I get. Does God really exist? How? Why? Why isn’t He or She talking to me? And this is the million-dollar question and the root of all the complexity, I think.

I don’t think it’s fair, for example, that God is completely mute. I am a person who needs clear communications. This is how I am wired, and I do not do well with vagueness and signs that are up to “interpretation”. How is this deafening silence fair to people like me? Others are happy interpreting God’s spoken words in any other way they want. One might interpret a bird singing as God saying something. I am not one of those. So, how come God speaks other people’s language, but not mine? How is this fair?

“Love doesn’t end just because we don’t see each other. My dear, my dear. People go on loving God, don’t they, all their lives without seeing Him.
-That’snot my kind of love.
– I sometimes don’t believe there’s any other kind.”

I really envy those with the ability to believe. I wonder when and where exactly did I lose that belief. I have clear and vivid memories of moments where I felt at peace with God, only to have it shattered later and turned to pure anger. I was never a believer of “Everything happens for a reason” because I don’t see any justification for pain. Why does the “thing that happens” has to be painful? I honestly still cannot make sense of what I feel and believe in because I do catch myself sometimes talking to “God” loudly – even recently. I don’t know if I talk because I truly believe someone is listening. Or just for the therapeutic impact of speaking out loud?

I’ve caught belief like a disease. I’ve fallen into belief like I fell in love. I’ve never loved before as I love you, and I’ve never believed in anything before as I believe now. I’m sure. I’ve never been sure before about anything.”

In one of my recent, vivid, peaceful moments with God, I was sitting inside a Cathedral with someone I loved deeply. He asked me if I remember the last time we were together in a Cathedral and tears started streaming down my face. Because I did remember. And in that moment, right before he asked me, I was thinking how much I loved God for making my wish come true. A year before I was asked that question, we were both standing inside Westminster Cathedral. It was late in the afternoon, sunlight beaming from the glass, and felt the serenity of the place so I made a wish for the both of us. So when he asked me that question a year later, in another Cathedral, in another country, all I felt for God was love and the only way I could express it is by tears. I was thankful he / she listened. I felt loved. I felt heard.

“I know Your cunning. It’s You who take us up to a high place and offer us the whole universe. You’re a devil, God. Tempting us to leap. But I don’t want Your peace and I don’t want Your love. I wanted something very simple and very easy: I wanted Sarah for a lifetime, and You took her away. With Your great schemes You ruin our happiness as a harvester ruins a mouse’s nest. I hate You, God, I hate You as though You exist”

Needless to say, less than a week later, I had the heartbreak of my lifetime. Which brings me to square one. If God wants praises, thanks, and love, why take away the things that fill us with such feelings? I’ve always reacted better to love and beauty. Whenever I see a beautiful sunset or beam of light coming through a window beautifully, I say a little prayer. When I see a mesmerising piece of art in a museum or gallery, I say a prayer. When I feel the overwhelming calmness of being with someone I love and trust, I say a little prayer. When I laugh until my stomach is numb, I say a little prayer. When it rains, when I see flowers, cats, books, I say a little prayer. Isn’t this praise enough?

“What do you expect me to do now, God? Where do I go from here?”

Patterns of the Past

(C) @perksoftales – Seen on Pinterest

Having something to say and no one to hear it is so lonely
– Glennon Doyle, Love Warrior

I spent a good part of my weekend going through my books and old notebooks, trying to draw an even more vivid picture of my inner self and thoughts. Maybe I wanted to put my finger on my own patterns to understand “me” better, or maybe I was just bored.

I was overwhelmed, drowned in a sea of mixed feelings –some I do not even know the proper name for– whenever I read something I wrote in an old notebook, or something I highlighted and underlined in a book. I went through years and years of notebooks and books and was struck with the “pattern” of what moves and triggers me, both positively and negatively. It was amusing to see that even my bucket list from when I was 10 is similar to my current one. Most of the items include sharing something with someone.

My patterns in general are interwoven, but almost all revolve around faith, love, and the desire to be known and seen. I don’t really know the origin this longing and I never discussed it with a professional before. My own guess is that I spent a lot of time alone as a child. I didn’t have relatives my age to play with, and I was a very shy kid in school. I started reading at a young age and maybe that led to losing myself in other worlds and building walls around my real one, my thoughts. I think what adds to this is my observant nature. Which brings a chicken-egg question: Is my attentiveness a result of this need? Or do I have this need because I am attentive? I pay way too much attention, even to those I don’t particularly like. Sometimes I don’t even know I noticed something until a moment comes when I realise I did. I know the sound of someone’s steps. I know what they like to drink, what scents make them nauseous, what their face looks like when they lie, what show the binge watch and so on. I’m not complaining though, it works in my favour a lot.

I have watched Desperate Housewives multiple times and with different temperaments depending on what is going on in my life. I relate to characters once, then I wonder why I related to them when I re-watch it years later. However, in all the times I have watched it, and of all the scenes I love, I think this one comes first. Gabrielle and Carlos separated, and he was living with one of the neighbours. Gabby went on a date and came back home (with her date) to find flowers by her door. At first she assumed her date wanted to surprise her, he embarrassingly denied it. She then assumed it was Carlos trying to ruin her date. Naturally, her date didn’t want to get dragged into the war of exes so he left. She went to Carlos and nagged him to admit he sent the flowers. His response was: “Gabby, if I was going to send you flowers, I wouldn’t send pink Roses. I’d send you white Orchids, because I know they are your favourite, and if I wanted to cheer you up, Sunflowers, and for the flu, blue Irises”.

In terms of music, my favourite band is The Lumineers, and though I love most of their songs, I think my favourite is “Dead Sea”. I love the story behind it and how a random thing like dead sea could mean a completely different thing to a couple. According to the lead singer, Wesley Schultz, he wrote the song for his wife (girlfriend at the time) because she told him “You are my dead sea”. In one of their live performances I watched on YouTube, he says: I love that phrase because it sounds like an insult. If you listen to the song, you’re pleasantly surprised by the story: “You told me I was like the dead sea, you’ll never sink when you are with me.”

These observations and attachments do not only happen with my favourite songs or shows. Sometimes it happens with things I don’t even “remember” that well. I watched the film “Short Term 12” ages ago. I don’t remember the plot of the film, not a single thing. I only remember one line and I remember it vividly. He tells her “You have to let me in your head once in a while”. It stuck with me, just like many other lines and lyrics because to me, that is the only version of love. Loving someone to the point where you want to know everything they think and feel. Noticing their patters, their movements, their expressions, what they wear when they feel down, what they listen to when they are happy, what they eat for comfort, and what’s their favourite side of the bed.

Maybe that’s why a big collection of my books is journals and letters. I love reading people’s letters to loved ones, even if I wasn’t a fan of the writer. I read Kafka’s letters to Milena even though I never finished any of his books (not to spoil anything but his letters are as horrible as his books, which makes sense if you think about it because his writings reflect his mind and thinking process). I just love reading about how much a person knows another, what they know, and how they express this knowledge.

I could keep writing about all the works that portray this idea in a way or another. Instead, I’ll just add some of my relevant favourites below (If I list all my favourite things, I’ll need to borrow the entire internet – I never know if it’s a good or bad thing to love so many things), listed in a random order.

  • Inside Out – Bryan Adams
  • K – Cigarettes After Sex
  • Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
  • Dead Sea – The Lumineers
  • Older Now – Sawyer
  • The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh
  • Talk to Me – Bryan Adams
  • Love Letters of Great Men and Women (There are many versions of this idea, I read Ursula Doyle’s edit)
  • Beautiful People – Lana Del Rey & Stevie Nicks
  • Dust to Dust – The Civil Wars
  • To Die For – Sam Smith

Puzzled

I have always loved jigsaw puzzles. It’s a way for me to disconnect by focusing solely on what’s in front of me, which in a way, helps me slowly come up with a solution or a decision if I needed one. Naturally, with quarantine and isolation, my “puzzle” intake increased as the need to disengage and disconnect from this growing insanity.

Sometimes, when friends and acquaintances tell me “their” version of me and my personality, and when I see how it differs from one person to another I worry: am I fake? am I inconsistent? am I so uncomfortable showing the real me, that I hide behind different versions?

But then I think of jigsaw puzzles. Take one part of a puzzle and look at it. It is one item, object, element. Yet, all these independent elements fit together making one full and complete picture.

Which leads me to go even deeper: Is this why I love jigsaw puzzles? Is it because, unlike life, I get to have a complete and full picture? Is it because I have control over putting the pieces together? And does this reflect on my own life, the unfulfilled desire to piece all parts of my life together and make a beautiful picture of it?

Looking at the things I crave and want most in life, this is surely one of them. Someone who is interested in all the pieces that make up this picture. Someone who wants to see every part, even if it’s mediocre or unpleasant, because they know it makes up a “whole” in the end. This longing, coupled with my patient nature, often bring me down. It feels to me that most people in all types of relationships are interested in the beautiful individual elements and not the full picture. As soon as a less-than-perfect element comes up, the full picture is discarded even if it was a beautiful masterpiece. Just like all the jigsaw puzzles that became “trendy” during quarantine, people too are treated as trend. Soon, both will be left on a shelf, waiting patiently to be put together.

I even associate the term “Puzzled” with one of my favourite films, Mary & Max, which in a way or another is linked to all my random thoughts above. In one of his letters to Mary, Max writes: “I have also invented some new words. “Confuzzled”, which is being confused and puzzled at the same time”. In another letter, he writes: “People often confuse me but I try not to let them worry me.” – I was I was able to not let them worry me.

To end this disoriented post, and to actually conclude with a worthy point, I would strongly recommend this film. It is based on a true story. It is raw, emotional, and beautiful.

May you always be surrounded by people who want all your pieces, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Depression

(C) Muhammad Ahasn Khokhar – Flickr

I was going through the scattered material I have on my phone and laptop to see what I can use to get the dice rolling. I came across a lot – some are pure non-sense, others need a bit of editing and refinement. This piece, however, felt “right” to start with.

I am often described as a cheery and smiley person. I try to find a way around things and to cheer myself up as much as I can. I would not call myself an “optimist”. Not at all. I prefer to refer to myself as someone who tries her best. The reason behind this, is my relationship with depression, as contradictory as it may seem. My relationship with depression injures my pride & stubbornness. It makes me feel defeated. But instead of waving the white flag, I try to befriend and manipulate “him”. I wrote the piece below in September 2017. Unfortunately, I had another episode mid 2019 that lasted very long, and I do not feel strong enough to write about it now. The waves of that storm only recently calmed down, never disappearing though, and I want to enjoy the calm before I dissect and display it.

The reason I wanted to start with this piece is because I am well prepared for other episodes to come. I am learning how to manoeuvre and navigate them, but I am also expecting them, and when they arrive, I want to have a “base” post about them. So, here we go with the piece.


I am no stranger to depression. I’ve had two severe depressions, once in 2011, the other in 2016. You can imagine how I felt when I realised it’s creeping back into my life. I decided to fight it with words this time. It’s a tough battle, I have to admit. It got even tougher when I realised that this time, it sneaked up on me just a year after I survived the last one. Allow me to refer to depression hereinafter as “He”. It feels like a “He”. A “She” would never make me feel this way.

He’s acting like a clingy, gas-lighting ex boyfriend who you broke up with but keeps calling you, wanting you back. But if I know one thing in life, it’s how to get over ex boyfriends. This one will not defeat me, I hope.

Just like an ex, you sometimes feel vulnerable towards him. You might allow him to call you one night and fall asleep to your voice. You might have a cup of coffee with him. You might even think: “He will always be a part of my life!” It feels okay at first until you realise he started to move in. Leaving a few shirts here and there. Leaving a toothbrush. Sometimes, to your surprise, you don’t mind as much. You might be sitting on a bathroom floor, smoking, writing a post on your laptop while he’s with you on the floor reading as you write.

The tricky part about dealing with depression is that you never really know if it’s a normal “blue” phase or if it’s him again. You usually realise that late and you start finding new ways to tell him to leave you forever.

This time, as the lady that I am, I am trying to let him down easily. I try distracting myself and keeping a busy day so I don’t have to spend time with him. But trust me, 24 hours can sometimes feel like eternity. Being off work for a week, and not really having being able to crash at a friend’s place, plan sleepovers or even weekend trips, I tried the following: I wake up, read a bit. When my eyes are fully “ready” for the day, I watch a film since I don’t get a chance to “properly” watch them unless it’s a weekend (And to be honest, most weekends I’m too damn tired to focus on something new, so I replay my favourite series instead). Then I read again. I managed to finish 4 books in one week. I walk for 40-60 minutes everyday. I watch another film. But that bastard is always there!

When I’m reading, he comments on whatever the book is. He always finds a way to link the book to him and to my reality. Reminding me of all my failures. When I am watching a film, he keeps comparing me to all the ladies I see. He says: “Poor baby, you can’t even get the man you love to text”. I was fed up one day and decided to watch war film, far from any romance. Do you know what the jerk did? He started comparing me to the ladies on screen. “Look at her body, you will never, ever have the body you want. And look at that hair! You’re losing all of yours, you don’t leave the house without that hair powder of yours!”. I try to reason with him: “You know, these are actresses. Not everything is real”. He smirks and says: “Oh yeah? Then what about ALL the girls you know in your life? Are they fake, too? Are they losing their hair? You can’t even put on a hair extension because yours is falling from the front! Nothing hides that!”. Sadly, he always wins this war and I end up in tears and usually fall asleep. When I wake up, I make myself a healthy meal in order to get the vitamins my body needs. The only thing I get is more weight.

I am trying to outsmart him but I feel that I’m failing. I know it actually. Because even as I am writing this, he softly held my hand and convinced me to shut down the blog because “Who cares what you think or feel?”.

First Leaf

(C) NingZk V – Seen on Pinterest

Well, how does one start a blog?

This could be one of the countless things I start and never finish. Worse, it could be one of the things I willingly delete – not only from the web, but from my mind as well.

It’s hard for me to start something with no clear purpose. I wish I was more like Julie from “Julie & Julia” and use this blog to actually document something like cooking. I guess, just like her, I will give this a shot and see what happens. I will embrace it all, all the blog customisation, change of themes and colours, and posting drafts by mistake.

Perhaps it’s my attempt to collect my scattered self in one place. The self that writes and saves notes and documents everywhere, waiting for them to magically turn into a remarkable collection of essays. The self that still writes long letters and emails, expressing her extreme waves of random thoughts and emotions. The self that still buys diaries and never ever fills them.

Yes, I like this. This will be my attempt to put together my puzzle pieces, on my own, and on my own terms.