Friday, 29 January 2016

Creating Story Plots

Recently I stumbled across an interesting idea for coming up with new story plots when your stuck for ideas or facing the dreaded writers block, so I thought I would give it a try and share my results with you!

The idea is called a 'Word Bowl'.


So what you do is think of a list of random words relating to the genre that you want to write in. You then write each of these words on a small strip of paper, fold the pieces of paper up and put them all into a bowl. Jumble them around a bit to make sure they are all mixed up and you don't know what word is on what piece of paper, then pick 4,5 or 6 at random. You can pick however many you want, I decided to pick 6.


The words you picked from the bowl form the basis for the plot of your story. Now all you have to do is connect them together and add any embellishments and extras as you think of them.

The 6 words I got were;
Nightmare
Gods
Pirates
Capture
Caves
Prophecy

Putting these words together I came up with this story plot;

Hero has a Nightmare in which the Gods reveal to him a Prophecy.
To fulfil the Prophecy he must journey across the kingdom to the secret Caves of the trolls to find a sacred artifact of the Gods.
On the journey he gets Captured by bloodthirsty Pirates and must find a way to escape.


The plot is only a loose one but that's where your imagination comes in. Now that you have a basic idea for where your story can go you can get to work on filling in the gaps and adding some extras.
I really like this way of coming up with story plots. Because you don't know what words your going to get it is totally random and finding a way to connect them together is great fun.
I would definitely use this method again if I got stuck for ideas or if I just fancied doing something a bit different and seeing what sort of plot I ended up with.

If you did this three or four times you could also combine parts of all the plots you came up with to create a bigger more elaborate plot, or you could run the plots alongside one another in a novel or novella.

On a side note, I also thought this might be a really fun game to play with friends over a few drinks in the evening.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Scarlet

Beneath the scarlet moon the earth lies still,
Who knows who we are,
Mere beings among the stars,
Humbled by beauty beyond our comprehension.

Fly now young one,
Fly far and fast and true,
This life is not held in place,
Wander because you will.

Fret not each morning when the pale sun rises,
For each day brings promise of the next,
And once the scarlet moon has risen,
Then in darkness you may reside again.

Smile often my friend,
The end is ever near,
But welcome it not so fiercely,
For is it not the journey we are for?

Take time oh lover,
Listen quietly to the rivers song,
Feel the breeze run through your fur,
And the soft earth beneath your paws.

One day this land will be no more,
Who knows what will be left,
The desert of our dreams,
Soft whispers lost upon the breeze.

Do not cry sweet child,
Red gold beneath the burning sky,
Great wings spread wide above you,
But even dragons die.

Let rest consume you,
In the shadow of the great mountain,
Let moonlight bathe you in it's silken glow,
Forget not to open your eyes.

Sing loud my dear,
See your voice beyond the clouds,
There is power in this sound,
A quiet strength to fill this hall.

Beneath the scarlet moon the earth lies still,
You must only look to see,
That beneath the twinkling stars above,
There is only you and me.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Adventure

Beneath a sky streaked with the golden colours of the setting sun a young woman made her way across a landscape of rolling hills and sparkling streams. She had been travelling for days, making her way through the countryside, stopping only at night to pitch her small tent and catch some sleep before the first rays of morning sunlight woke her and she continued on her way. She was on a journey of discovery. When she had left her small village nearly a week ago she had no idea where she would end up or what she would find, she had only the hunger for adventure growling fiercely inside of her, pushing her onwards. So far she had found nothing save for the endless rolling hills and the occasional copse of woodland but she knew she could not give up hope.
Above her head the sunset colours slowly began to recede as the sun sunk lower in the sky and the woman knew that she should find a place to stop soon and make camp for the night. Nearby she could hear the call of small birds and what looked like the top of a tree seemed to be visible just over the crest of the next hill. She pushed onwards, eager to make it to the woodland before night fell. Years of experience growing up with the hunters in her village had taught her that it was always safer to make camp between the trees where you were less noticeable than out in the open. A light breeze ruffled her long hair and she hoisted her pack higher up on to her back as she quickened her pace.
The hill seemed to be steeper than the one before it and despite her good level of fitness as she neared the top she found that she was panting and could feel sweat beginning to form on her forehead and across her back. Determination pushed her onwards and a few minutes later she found herself standing atop the hill and looking out at the view laid out below her like a mosaic. This hill was indeed higher than any of the ones before it and the land below stretched out for miles and miles. She could see an ocean of green grass glinting golden in the colour of the setting sun, behind it the tall trees of a dark forest stretched upwards towards the sky and in the distance beyond the forest the dark silhouettes of mountains were just visible in the fading light. Standing on the hill looking out at the view below her the woman was filled with the excitement, the whole world lay before her, hers to explore. Who knew what she may find beneath the canopy of the trees in that forest or what may be nestled on the other side of it, tucked between the trees and the feet of the mountains. Breathing in the chill evening air she smiled as she started down the side of the hill and onwards towards adventure.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Clarity

High upon the hill the air is fresh. For miles around the pale blue sky is clear and far below Moira can see a patchwork of fields, different shades of green knitted together like a blanket across the earth. Everything is still atop the hill, even the slight breeze is lazy, whispering gently past Moira's ears, nudging the tips of her short hair. She closes her eyes, breathing deeply. Slowly she bends her knees and lets her body sink to the soft grassy ground, laying out flat with her face to the ground, breathing in the deep earthy scent of the hill and letting her thoughts disperse like dandelion seeds on the wind.
She does not know how long she lays there for, but when she eventually opens her eyes the sun has moved across the sky. It is a pale yellow disc hanging in a pale blue sea and as she watches it Moira thinks that it is beautiful, possibly the most beautiful thing she has ever seen, so simple, so real.
As she carefully gets back on her feet she realises that she feels clear again, finally. She had been lost for such a long time, but now, upon this hill, there is nothing except herself and the beauty of the world around her. A smile flickers across her face, the clarity is a good feeling, one she will hold on to, nestled inside her like a tiny delicate secret, hers and only hers.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

FOMO


Ouch! I don't usually buy into these abbreviated problems that people seem to have and seem to love describing to the world. But the other day I found myself sitting at home freaking out, because I was suffering from a classic case of FOMO... not something I want to repeat in the near, or very distant, future.

FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out

With all the media attention surrounding every single little thing that any one does it's easy to see how you can get caught up in following other peoples lives instead of your own. It's also easy to see how you could end up spending a vast amount of time comparing your normal life to the apparently fantastically exciting lives that your friends or neighbours or whoever portray on their various social media time lines. Spoiler! Everyone posts their best and most interesting pictures in whatever way that makes them seem most exciting, this does not mean that their entire lives are the stuff of magic and fairytales!

So, I'm not a massive social media buff... in fact starting a blog has been a bit of a social media education for me... I didn't even have a twitter account before I set up my blog... I know right!


Q. So where on earth did my horrible episode of the dreaded FOMO come from?

A. My boyfriend and all our friends went out without me.

They were having a lads night (cos they're all lads, and yes they were all his friends long before they were mine) and I'd known they were going to have a lads night all week, it didn't bother me, in fact I thought it was a good thing. Plus it gave me a chance to go home and have a much needed (and really good) conversation with my folks.
So I'm halfway through a lovely evening with my family, we've just had dinner, we're drinking wine, everyone is happy. Suddenly the FOMO strikes and I'm sat at the kitchen table with a head full of pictures of them having absolutely the best time anyone could ever have ever... without me. In a matter of seconds my brain has already figured out that the whole reason tonight will be so super awesome for them is because I won't be there and that of course they will somehow get into the best party all year and be absolutely perfectly drunk and meet all the most amazing people they've ever met... without me. The urge to cry, followed by the urge to ring them, followed by the urge to just turn up and crash their night, followed by the crippling thought that they would all hate me so much if I did that, followed by a sudden flash of anger for all of them for having so much fun without me, followed by the urge to scream and shout and run upstairs and hide under a duvet... followed mercifully by the realisation that I was being absolutely ridiculous and was quite clearly giving in to a classic case of the dreaded FOMO.
Ouch!
Luckily after about ten minutes of thinking it through I was able to calm my frenzied brain and think rationally again and the FOMO soon passed. But what a horrible experience. What a terrible minefield of self doubt and what a disgusting mix of emotions. I will be very happy if I never experience that again.
Needless to say I went on to continue having a lovely evening with my family and the only time I felt remotely upset was when I was trying to go to sleep and that was purely because I am so used to sleeping next to my partner that sleeping alone felt simply bizarre.

(Btw they didn't have the most perfect night out ever they just had a fairly ordinary if very drunk night at the pub.)

So, some advice to you all. Next time your suffering an attack of the dreaded FOMO remember;

- Relax!
- No really, Relax! Take a deep breath and enjoy whatever it is that you're doing.
- You don't have to feel that way, choose to change your thinking.
- You are not missing out because everyone hates you.
- You're friends are not going to have an even better time than usual just because you are not there.
- Everyone else's life is not as perfect as it may seem on their social media timelines.
- They're probably just hanging out, you're not missing the biggest event of the year.
- You could be doing something equally as exciting as what it is you think they're doing.
- You probably are doing something equally as exciting as what it is you think they're doing.
- Giving in to FOMO is a waste of your time and energy, stop it.
- Stop comparing your life to someone else's, how do you ever expect to be happy if you're constantly comparing yourself to someone else?!

and if that fails;

Fight FOMO like a pro - go out and do something BADASS!

And if you're still not sure, here's a picture of some happy penguins to put a smile on that face of yours!

                                             


Monday, 18 January 2016

Not Perfect

This is a piece I wrote a while ago, I found it on an old piece of paper while going through some things of mine and revamped it a bit.

I can feel the panic start to flutter in my chest, the bile start to rise in the back of my throat, my head starts to spin and I feel dizzy. My eyes are focused entirely on his mouth. His lips are moving, forming words, important words, but I can't hear them. All I can think about is how much I love the shape of those lips.
I force my eyes upwards, blinking as I do so to hold back the tears that I know he does not want to see, the tears that I do not want to spill. His brown eyes aren't looking at me, they're focused on a spot on the floor in front of him, I am both relieved and not at the same time, I do not know if it would be better to meet his eyes, maybe it would be worse. Nothing could be worse than those words. The words that fell out of his mouth. The words that pierced my chest and exploded inside me.
"I don't think I love you any more."
Even running them over in my head sends a whole new wave of pain through my body and I have to fight the urge to jump at him, to throw my arms around his neck and cling to him and beg him not to go, to love me again. Somewhere at the back of my head a small voice tells me that that is the very worst thing I could possibly do at this moment in time, that is the very last thing he would want me to do. For the first time in a long time I am listening to that voice and I am not moving, except to nod occasionally as I try to listen to what he is saying now.
I know I'm not perfect, I know I've been difficult recently. I've been overemotional, stressed out, I'd go as far as to say that I've somewhat given in to a terrible routine of self pity over the past few months. I know all this, and I guess I knew all along that it wasn't good. But hearing it from him suddenly makes it all very real, horribly, sickeningly, painfully real.
I wish I could close my eyes and not be here any more. I wish I could rewind time, go back to when I first started acting up and tell myself that this was where it would lead. But I can't. I'm struggling for words. I had so many prepared earlier, but they all seem to have deserted me, fled like cowards from a raging battlefield. I close my mouth and swallow, when I open it again sounds come tumbling out, slightly too fast and only just understandable.
"At the risk of sounding cliché; I can't change the past, but I can change how I act in the future."
I groan inwardly but he is nodding. Maybe I have somehow accidentally said the right thing?
Finally he looks at me and his eyes are sad. He tells me he is sad when he thinks how happy we used to be.
I feel my heart break all over again as the tears begin to push at my eyes. I nod and whisper "I know, me too."

Friday, 15 January 2016

Book Review - Molly's Cat

I don't usually do book reviews but having stumbled across this unique and beautiful story the other day I just couldn't resist sharing it.

Molly's Cat 
by Tony Rogers

When Molly's pet cat dies, Molly's tears turn to wonder and eventually joy, as she finds out about atoms and how the atoms of her cat will be reused and become part of other plants and creatures in the future. In this journey of discovery, she realises that if the atoms continually get reused in the future, then they must have also done so in the past, and she speculates about what famous people or intriguing creatures may have once used the atoms that she now possesses. This leads her to wonder where these atoms came from in the first place, and she skips for joy and she is amazed when she discovers the answer.

Firstly I would like to state that this a book for children. On the back of the book is a statement that reads; 'His objective with Molly's Cat, his first book, is to try and capture the imagination of children at a young age and introduce them to the wonders of the history of the universe, our planet, and life on the planet by building it into a story about an event in a child's life.'
I think this is a lovely objective; to stimulate children to think realistically and positively about where they, and everything / everyone on the planet has come from and what happens to each of us when we die.

The story is well written in easy to follow prose and features beautiful illustrations by Claire Rees-Jones.
Throughout the book you will find yourself slowly falling in love with the character of Molly, an inquisitive and thoughtful child who, like all children, is saddened at the loss of a pet. As the story moves forwards you share in her joy and excitement at the discoveries she is making about atoms and where we all come from. This information is easily broken down through several conversations with Molly and her parents, and as her understanding grows so we also see her sadness at losing her pet turn into joy in the knowledge that he is recycled into the nature all around us.
Tony's writing style tells a heart-warming story while simultaneously explaining the science in a way that is both entertaining and informative, understanding children's natural curiosity and their ability to learn and take in information.
I believe this is a book that should be readily available to all children. I think it is important that from an early age they can begin to have an understanding of the wonders that reside both in and around our planet and I think that this story delivers that understanding in a very clever and enjoyable way.

It is definitely worth a read, especially if you have or work with children, and even if you don't!

If you would like to purchase this book please follow this link: Molly's Cat

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Feeling Creative?

I find that creativity comes in fits and starts. Sometimes it's like the rushing tide, roaring in and crashing against the sides of my brain. But other times it's more like the slow drip drop of a tap that hasn't quite been turned up tight enough.
Usually I find the creative waves are flooding my head at the most inopportune moments, times when I'm knowhere near a pen and paper, like when i'm at work...
Then when I've sat myself down in my free time, full of the longing to craft words together into exciting new formations, the slow drip drop is all I can find and all the exciting ideas from before seem to have fallen right out of my ears. 
It's not always like this of course, sometimes the words flow like a stream cascading down the side of a mountain, that is when I most love writing. When the stream of words is flowing through me and I'm no longer sure if I'm reading or writing my story.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Wassailing

<-- This is my hat! When you join a Morris side you have to make your own tatter-coat and hat and I must admit I'm rather proud of my hat.

This weekend I danced at the Stroud Wassail as part of the border morris side, Styx of Stroud. It was a great day, featuring morris dancing, mummers and much general merriment, and despite the rain all involved had a fantastic time.

So what is a Wassail?
(This information is taken from the Stroud Wassail page http://stroudwassail.com/wassailing/wassailing-history/)

'The earliest wassail was simply an anglo-saxon toast…
Waes Hael ! –  Be hale (healthy)
The correct response to this toast is;
Drinc Hael !   Drink to your health

To this day we often offer a little toast to our fellow drinkers ‘Here’s to your health’.  This is where it comes from.
Since medieval times, the wassail bowl would be passed around the hall on twelfth night. You would take a sip and pass the bowl on, wishing the next person good health for the year ahead – Wassail.'

There are three different types of Wassail; House Wassailing, Pub Wassailing and Apple tree Wassailing. Last year I took part in an Apple tree wassail where we danced, processed and sang to an Apple tree in order to ensure a good harvest and the continuation of good cider!




The Wassail celebration in Stroud included performances all across the small town by Morris sides and Mummers and traditional wassail singing in the centre of the town at mid day.




Even though it was raining the day was great fun, the only drawback was that due to a particularly heavy downpour in the afternoon the parade through the town had to be cancelled.





At mid day everyone congregated outside in the centre of the town where The Broad, along with other costumed performers, processed around while the wassail song was sung.

(This information is taken from the Stroud Wassail page http://stroudwassail.com/wassailing/the-broad/)

'The Broad is a very local kind of hobby horse.  Found only in the area between Stroud and Bath. In this case it represented a bull rather than a horse.
A pair of horns, fixed to an upturned old broom, a hardboard face with two bottle tops for eyes, and a sack to cover the person inside.
It does not appear to be particulary ancient, maybe 200 years, but may be related to the hobby horses in mummers plays, and Mari Llwyd tradtions.'













After the wassail song had been sung Shrewsbury Mummers performed a short and very amusing play before the groups dispersed again to perform in other spots around the town.






 The rest of the afternoon was spent dancing in different locations and with different Morris sides. At the end of the afternoon many of the sides all came together again in the town centre to perform mass dances (when the sides all dance together instead of taking it in turns). As always the mass dances were both messy and very fun with lots of laughter all round. Unfortunately though I did not get any pictures of the mass dances as I was too busy dancing myself!
All the pictures posted in this post are ones that I took myself throughout the day.


The last photo is a group photo of Styx of Stroud (in the black tatter-coats) and Foxes Morris (in the red and green tatter-coats) in the centre of Stroud. Unfortunately this photo is not from the Wassail this weekend but from an event last year.
As I was dancing I did not get a chance to get a picture of Styx (the side that I dance with) and I felt that this was a shame so I found one from another time. (Yes I am in that picture but I'm going to leave you guessing as to which one I am!)



The Wassail was a brilliant day of dance and merriment and I will definitely look forward to doing it again in the future :)

And if any of you get the chance to go to one I would highly recommend that you do as it is a great experience!

Friday, 8 January 2016

Submerged

The water is freezing. Not just cold, really really freezing. It makes me want to gasp and draw in air and I have to fight through the fuzz of my mind to remind myself that if I open my mouth it will be water that I breathe in and not air. My eyes are screwed shut and everything is pitch black. I can hear the water swirling and bubbling around me, it's making that weird underwater swooshing sound, like when you stick your head underwater at the swimming pool and everything sounds funny. Only this time it's worse, it's a hundred times worse, louder and more chaotic, and I'm filled with the knowing that I am not in a safe swimming pool with a life guard watching over me but alone in a swirling river. 
I don't know which way is up or which way is down. It feels like I'm tumbling over and over, in my head I'm screaming and I want to cry. I'm panicking, and I know I should be trying to swim, trying to find the surface, but in the chaos of the relentless water I can't seem to make my arms and legs move. My chest is hurting, I need to breathe. Pain shoots up my leg as it hits a rock on the riverbed and I reflexively open my mouth to scream. Cold water rushes in, shooting up my nose, filling my mouth and flooding down my throat, I try to cough but can't. Cold panic squeezes my chest and makes my head spin. This is it.
Suddenly strong hands grasp me, fingers locking in beneath my arms and pulling me. Upwards, further and further until I feel the water break over my head and suddenly I'm coughing and spluttering and gasping for air. The sunlight is bright and I squeeze my eyes shut tighter, my body rocking and convulsing as it tries desperately to expel the water. I can feel myself being pulled up over the side of the riverbank, cold wet mud squelching beneath my weight. More than anything I want my soft warm bed, far away from the cold suffocating water, the slimy mud and the people around me. I don't know who they are and I don't want to open my eyes. I can hear them around me, some of them are talking, some of them are whispering, someone is shouting but I don't know who it is and I can't make out what they are saying. 
My body has stopped convulsing and finally I can draw in the sweet cold air, great heaving lungfuls of it. I draw my legs up into my chest and curl up as tightly as I can, shivering and breathing, alive. Someone bends down beside me, they have their hands on me, I think they are trying to move me into the recovery position but I don't want to be moved. I want this whole nightmare to be over. There's a noise near my ear and I realise that someone is trying to talk to me, they're asking me if I'm alright. 
I roll over and open my eyes, everything is fuzzy and my chest hurts when I breathe. Above me I can make out the outline of a person, like a black blot against the too bright sky. As he slowly comes into focus I realise he's a man, a young man. I try to talk but my throat hurts and my voice comes out as a gravelly croak. The man bends down, I can hear concern in his voice, he's telling me there's an ambulance on the way. I nod my head slightly and manage to croak out a faint thanks. He strokes my hair and tells me it's going to be OK. I let my eyes close again and the world slips away into darkness as my tired body finally loses consciousness.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Requests

Hello Lovely Readers!

I've just created a new page called 'Requests' - you may have noticed it up there in the pages bar ;)

The idea for this page stemmed from two thoughts;
1. It would be great if this blog could become more interactive &
2. I'd like to push my writing style and try new things and what better way to do that than have other people give me suggestions for things I probably wouldn't normally write about.

So, the idea for the page is that you leave me a comment - on the page, detailing something that you would like me to write about - this can be an idea for a blog post, a review, an article, a piece of creative writing, a poem, anything you think of. Then I have a look at the comments and have a go at writing your suggestions. When I've written one I'll post it as a blog post and you can see if you like what I've done with your idea.

The second requests idea is first lines. This is purely for creative writing and by this I mean that you leave me a comment on the requests page that has a sentence in it - this sentence can be anything you like, and I then have to write a piece of creative writing that begins with your sentence. Unless you state in your comment that you would like my piece of writing to be within a certain genre then I will assume I can use whatever genre I want.

I look forward to seeing your comments and having a go at writing your suggestions!

Laters ;)

Iceland

At the beginning of December Ash and I went to stay in Reykjavik in Iceland for a week. Despite our flight out being delayed for a day we had a great time and saw some amazing sights. The city was busy and exciting although of course typically touristy, and the surrounding land was breathtakingly beautiful. We got to see some spectacular natural wonders, including the Northern Lights, the Geyser 'Strokkur' and the Golden Falls, and were quite surprised that absolutely everyone spoke really good English!
It is a slightly more expensive country that England, with the average pint costing around £4/5 but we didn't mind really, the only problem was they didn't have much cider!
We also visited the Blue Lagoon spa which was a very relaxing day out although in places the water really was a lot hotter than I expected, it wasn't as big as we were led to believe by the brochures due to the fact that they have made the actual lagoon smaller so that they can build a hotel (i think), which is a shame. Our last day was spent looking for Christmas presents for our family and exploring more of the city, it was a lovely day, we found a very nice little cafe to have lunch in and we discovered the local flea market on the harbour.
I would definitely recommend going to Iceland in the winter, although it's very cold the snow makes everything look magical - and if your anything like me you'll love the sound of it crunching beneath your boots and the novelty of having to wrap up in coats, scarves and hats. Having said that we would both love to go back in the summer when the days are a lot longer and drive around the countryside. There is so much to see that a week is hardly enough time.
Here are some pictures of our trip and some of the things we saw :)
(Unfortunately the pictures we tried to take of the Northern Lights didn't come out very well and definitely don't do them any justice, but these are the best two so I thought I would include them).



The view from our apartment window on the first morning.
'Strokkur' The Geyser


The view from the harbour.
The statue of Partnership between Iceland and
America
'Strokkur' The Geyser


Pingvellier National Park


The Golden Falls


The Golden Falls
The view from the roof of our apartment.

Ash outside a church in Reykjavik

The view from our apartment window on our last morning.


The Sun Voyager


The Northern Lights
The Northern Lights

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Bloglovin

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Huntress

Across rivers and mountains, through lush forests and dusty plains, miles away from anywhere; a girl, almost a woman, crouches silently amongst the strong branches of a tree almost as old as the earth itself. She is watching, waiting, hardly breathing. Her longbow is drawn, arrow notched and ready to fly. Her keen eyes pick out the smallest details on the forest floor below her, searching for the slightest sign of movement, hopeful that at any moment the creature she is hunting will move out from beneath the branches and into her sight. The elk she has been tracking is huge, a great hulking beast, and she has been following it all morning, waiting patiently for just the right moment. If she can kill this creature it will feed her family for at least a week. Times have been hard lately, she knows she needs to make this kill.
The hours of waiting have left her body stiff and achy, she longs to stretch, to brush away the tingles on her skin left by the many forest insects, to move the stray strand of dark brown hair away from the corner of her eye. But she holds still, knowing that the slightest movement could send the great elk dashing away into the depths of the forest, ruining her chance of a good catch and wasting the mornings efforts.
From outside the tree she is barely visible, spots of brown hair and pink skin showing faintly through the gaps between the thick green leaves, her small frame bent and hunched against the great tree trunk. Even her breathing is measured, slow and steady. Years of experience have made her an expert in her art.
The girl glances up into the puzzle pieces of sky she can see through the branches and leaves above her, the sun has moved since she last looked and she estimates she has only a few more hours of sunlight left. After dark she will not be able to hunt, the great elk will be almost impossible to see between the plants and bushes that litter the forest floor. Besides, she knows she must get home before dark, the forest is dangerous at night and only a fool would risk the long walk home alone at that time. She wonders at the possibility of catching a couple of fish in the river on her way back but knows that will not be enough.
As her mind begins to wander a movement below her followed swiftly by the soft snapping of a twig catches her attention, and the moment she has been waiting for finally arrives. She tightens her grip on her bow and leans forward slightly, angling her taught body towards the offending bush. Several moments pass slowly before the great elk stalks leisurely out and into her field of range. She holds her breath and closes one eye, focusing all her attention on the great beast below her. He bends his huge antlered head and her moment has arrived. With a soft swoosh she releases the arrow and watches as it sails through the air, coming to a stop buried deep in the elks neck. The animal rears back in surprise before dropping to the floor and the girl feels relief flood her body. Carefully she makes her way down the trunk of the tree and scampers across the forest floor to where the animal lays dying. Softly she closes it's frightened eyes and whispers in it's ear as she pulls the arrow out of it's thick neck. Hot elks blood cascades over her small hand and as she whispers thanks to the great beast she can feel it's body release as it takes it's final breath and dies.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Alive & Well

I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about life and happiness, and just the other day I stumbled across this quote by Steve Jobs that I really liked, so I thought I would share the quote and my thoughts with you.

'Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.' - Steve Jobs

What a great statement. And so true! How do you spend your life? The things you do, do you do them for you, or for someone else? Is your time spent making other people happy or doing things that make you happy? You've got your life, you are you, not someone else, if your not living your own life for you then what are you doing? Be happy with who you are. Do things that make you happy. Spend time working on things you love.

Another one that got me thinking was this one by Charles Spurgeon.

'It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.' - Charles Spurgeon

I think that is perfectly put, beautifully written. You can work all day and night to earn money to have things, stuff, possessions, and those possessions might be amazing and you might get enjoyment from them. But if you are spending the vast majority of your time not enjoying living because you are doing something you don't like then no amount of possessions can make up for that. It's not worth it. I would rather have less money and less stuff and more time to work on the things that I love and to spend enjoying the people that I love. Those are the things that make life beautiful. Love the things you do, and if you don't love doing them then stop doing them, or at least find a way to cut down the amount of time you have to spend doing them.

I think it's very easy to lose sight of what makes you happy when your stuck in the daily grind. You get up, go to work, spend all day there, go home, make some dinner, watch some telly, go to bed, Repeat to fade. It's boring right? Where is the fun in that? Unless your one of the few that actually has a job that they love.
Of course you can't just quit your job and be unemployed. But you could quit your job and get another one, or your could talk to your boss about reducing or changing your hours.
You could change what you do with your time outside of work. A couple of times a week I go to the pub with my partner and our friends, I don't have to get drunk, but this gives me time away from work and home where I'm spending my time with the people I love in a relaxed environment.
Replace your telly watching at night with reading a book, painting or drawing a picture, writing a story, playing an instrument - give yourself a hobby that you enjoy and that you get not only pleasure but also pride from. I am a morris dancer, I joined the side almost exactly a year ago now and it's great fun. We meet every Tuesday evening for practise and during the summer we dance out most weekends. The people I've met through doing this are lovely, a whole new set of friends, and it adds fun and laughter and pride to my life.
Spend more time talking to your friends and family, eat dinner at the table together, play board games in the evening, enjoy each others company.
Happiness is only a mindset away. You just have to make the decision to think positively and to make time in your life for the things that you enjoy, for the things and the people that you love, because they are what makes life worth living.

Happy thoughts :)

Monday, 4 January 2016

The Boy

In a grassy field a million years from another time, stands a boy. He is almost a man. He does not know why he is stood, simply watching, all he knows is that he had to get out, just for a little while.
The field is calming and with each breath he takes he can feel his anger slipping away, his racing heartbeat slowing, his mind gradually clearing. The breaths he takes are deep and full, drawing in the sweet cool air and slowly pushing it back out again. He blinks, his big eyes drinking in the colours around him; the vibrant green grass swaying gently in the summer breeze, the dark mud coloured trunk of the huge tree standing solitary in the sea of green, the bright blues and reds of the small birds flitting between the great trees branches. Life is good there.
The field is out of bounds, the high wire fence behind the boy stands as a constant reminder of this. He should be on the other side of that fence, following orders, standing in line, bowing his head, waiting to be counted. Another face, another failure. Inside he feels their eyes on him, constantly watching, waiting for him to slip up. He feels it like a knife in his chest; all the pity, all the shame, all the hatred those eyes hold for him. But outside it is different, outside it is a beautiful day, even only this far from the camp he feels alone, free, himself. He longs to run, can feel the urge in the muscles of his legs, to put one foot in front of the other and to never look back. But he knows he must wait for the right moment. He must have patience, and he must not let them break him.
Slowly he blinks, soft skin closing momentarily over deep brown colour. The gentle wind picks up his untidy hair, making it float and sway around his face. A face that has seen too much, that knows more than it should. For a moment a shield is lowered, and in the sparkle of unshed tears the truth can be seen. Sorrow, fear, and buried deepest so that only a glimmer is visible, hope. A second later and the shield is back in place, hiding all that lingers beneath it, a skilfully crafted mask.
Knowing it is time the boy turns back the way he came. Steady feet carry him across the sea of grass and strong arms pull him up and over the wire fence, away from the beauty, the freedom, and back to captivity.

The field feels the absence of the boy, and although it cannot understand what it senses within him, it knows he will be back, he always comes back. And so the birds continue to sing, the wind continues to push it's way through the leaves and grasses ad the old oak continues it's never ending journey towards the clear crystal sky.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Eyes Closed

Hi Guys!
Sorry I've been a bit quiet over the last few days, I've been super busy with Christmas and work and New Years! But I'm back on track now and last night I had an interesting realisation that I thought might make a good blog post, so here goes.

Last night me and my partner went to a local club, we don't usually go clubbing because it's not really our scene but this local place is quite nice, it's small and the people who go there are a decent crowd (there's no rowdy drunks or fighting). So we're in this club and we have a couple drinks and I start to dance a bit. I love dancing, it's great fun, but if I'm honest I get really self conscious dancing around people when I'm sober. So I tend to sort of sway and bob a bit until I'm drunk enough that I don't care any more.
The evening wears on and we chat about things and stuff and have a couple more drinks until eventually we come back in from having a ciggie and I just have to dance. It's a great feeling, dancing, going all out letting your arms and legs fly wildly around. I probably look an absolute mess, my partner is probably pretending he doesn't know me, but I don't care because I have my eyes closed.
I have my eyes closed, so I open them, and suddenly I've lost the beat, I'm out of time with the music and I have to focus to get back into it. Now I'm dancing with my eyes open and it doesn't feel the same. I'm not moving so wildly, I can't seem to feel the music so much although of course it is still very much there. I swing my hips a bit and bob and sway to the side. I watch the people around me - some of them are really going for it. Someone behind me knocks into my elbow, sending a big slosh of cider up and out of my cup, drenching the end of my sleeve. I swap my pint into my other hand and shake out my wet sleeve, as if somehow that will make the wetness go away. I decide I don't care, switch my pint back to my wet hand and look up at my partner, he looks like he's watching the other people in the room but his expression seems somehow distant, as if in his head he is somewhere else entirely. He sees me looking at him and smiles at me, his eyes meeting mine. I wonder what he was thinking about. I turn and start to dance again, letting the music wash over me and through me, feeling the beat and letting my body move with it. I realise I have my eyes closed again. This time I don't open them, I keep them closed. I realise this is familiar, this is how I always dance, with nothing but the darkness and the sound. This is a good feeling, as if the rest of the world around me has simply melted away and there is nothing left, save for the darkness, the sound and the movement of my own body. I don't know how long I dance for. I feel timeless. I keep my eyes closed until my partner taps me on the arm and asks if I'm ready to go home. It's late and he looks tired so I nod and we push our way through the crowd and out into the fresh air.

Does anyone else dance with their eyes closed? Is that just a weird me thing? When you dance do you get that feeling as if the world around you simply does not exist any more and there is only you and the sound and the darkness? Leave a comment and let me know!

I love it, I think it's a beautiful experience and I just wanted to share that with you.