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The Reading List #48

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I made myself a promise that I'd catch up  with these posts - that is, I've read far more than I've included on here in recent months and I want to make sure I'm not missing anything out.

So, without further ado, here's my thoughts on four more books I've devoured recently.


Sweet Caress, William Boyd


Set over a period of about 70 years, beginning in the early 1900s, this book follows the life of photographer Amory Clay. From photographing socialites to spending World War Two as one of the first female war photographers, Clay's life offers a sweeping view of twentieth century Europe and America.

This book blurs the boundaries between biography and fiction; you totally believe Clay is real and she's painted with such depth and detail. The inclusion of photographs throughout enriches the narrative further still. It's an impressive read and nice to have such a strong female protagonist.


Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert



This book is just beautiful. If you are …

Hello, December 2017

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It genuinely feels like I wrote my 1st November blog post a week ago.

But here we are, moving into 'the most wonderful time of the year'.

I'm so excited.

I've always loved Christmas and the whole festive period.

We're decorating the tree and the flat tonight, and there's plenty of Christmassy activities and gatherings already in the diary.

This time of year often seems to go so quickly and get pretty hectic so I want to make sure I take the time to breathe and actually enjoy it.


It's the final month of what has been a huge, huge year and I want to soak up and enjoy every second of it.

Tomorrow holds an extended rehearsal for a Christmas show followed by a night away, and from then on it's an action-packed month.

I'm looking forward to feeling festive and spending lots of time with family and friends.

I also need to explore the Chester Christmas markets - I've passed through a couple of times so far but always on my way somewhere else.


Today has …

A small win: fighting health anxiety

This morning, I went to the doctors.

That might sound like a bit of a non-event, but as I've charted so much of my mental health journey and achievements on here, I wanted to write about today's little win.

About a month or so ago, I received a letter telling me I had never had one of the booster jabs I should have had when younger, inviting me to go in and have it.

At first, I assumed they had made a mistake. I called mum to find out if she could remember, but she said she'd never have deliberately skipped one. Then I called the GP and got the answer I didn't want: the letter was correct, and it was injection time.


This all sounds a bit dramatic.

But to me, it was.

Health anxiety has been a pretty huge feature of the past four or five years, for me.

I've been through periods where hearing somebody miles away was ill would break me out in a cold sweat, believing I felt all their symptoms.

Winter working in an office was awful every year, as I spent days thinking I w…

How did I get on with my eight-week mindfulness course?

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There's a book that's been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time, as I was waiting for a time when I was going to commit to doing the eight-week course inside it properly.

Recently, that time came, and having completed my eight weeks of mindfulness training, I'm going to share exactly what I thought.

Here's the book:
Mindfulness - a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world
Mark Williams and Danny Penman
- includes a CD of guided meditations


Mindfulness has been something I've experimented with on and off over a number of years, and it's really only been in the last year that it's started to click, for me.

I wanted to see what it would be like to follow a more structured formal practice, to take it that step further towards becoming a part of my daily life.

Throughout the eight weeks, I've kept detailed notes on my thoughts, so this may be a lengthy post but I hope some people find it helpful or interesting!


The techniques in the book are bas…

The Reading List #47

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I've recently got a new phone so I've been scrolling back through all my old photos and actually organising all the photos and notes of books I still need to share.

That means there's plenty of mini reviews on the way over the next few weeks...

For today, here's the latest four:


The Betrayals, Fiona Neill


Rosie and Lisa have always been best friends, until Lisa has an affair with Rosie's husband. Years later, Lisa sends Rosie a letter asking for her help.

There are four sides to this story: Rosie, Nick and their kids Max and Daisy, and each take it in turns to narrate chapters. The voices were clearly defined and the thread of the story was strong, even when being viewed from multiple angles. The central storyline features a couple of moral dilemmas which were interesting to unpick, but what really set this book apart was the descriptions of Daisy's OCD. It wasn't the main point of the story, but played a very critical role in how a lot of the characters ide…

Getting a life

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If you know me in real life or just through my online life, it's pretty evident that this has been a year of big change.

I've not exactly been quiet about it and I've charted my progress through living back at home, counselling, moving to Chester, learning to eat again, learning to work out and get fit, starting yoga... It's been a journey, as they say, and it's a journey that continues to evolve every day.

After years of being mentally unwell and treating my brain and body badly, or healing only so far as 'putting a plaster over things' and carrying on, this year has been a year of total and proper change.

There's been a lot of deep thinking, of digging through past thoughts and past behaviours, and replacing and renewing and relearning.

I've been rediscovering parts of me that I had lost, reuniting with the parts of me I and those around me missed, reintroducing pasttimes I used to love, and saying goodbye to unhealthy, unfulfilling habits.

As a p…

Hello, November 2017

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Month 11 of 12 in 2017.

I could probably write a whole post wondering where the time went but I won't, because I think we all feel the same way.

Last month, everything stepped up a gear.

I was busier than I've been in YEARS (no exaggeration there). I was in month one of a new job and started two new courses (an Alpha course and a creative writing course).


It was extremely busy, but I feel so lucky when I reflect and realise that my time is packed with things I absolutely love. My new job role is doing something I love and would do even if it wasn't paid, I'm meeting great new people and I'm spending time adding in hobbies and events I enjoy.

I've also realised that I'm reintroducing many things I used to spend all my time doing, but for various reasons including my anxiety I had pushed to the back of my mind. I'm talking about singing, theatre, creative writing, meeting new people...

This must be the reason my happiness has been pretty high, too. I'…