These are a Few of my Favourite Things… (For Winter)

DSCN0836This isn’t very ‘wintery’ but I’m obsessed with these things at the moment; I love to suck on a mint whilst I’m at work. I find that the stale, recycled air of the store leaves my mouth dry and uncomfortable. Orange flavoured things are always my favourite and my partner discovered these recently; they have the tingly, cooling effect of a mint but with a sharp orange flavour. Mmm,

DSCN0837It’s winter, therefore I like to paint my nails. I don’t know what it is about the falling temperature that has me breaking out the polish, but it happens every year. These are three of my favourite festive colours; the green and the red are fairly obvious but I’m partial to purple too. As you can see I like deep, rich colours the best. I think they go well with my colouring.

DSCN0839As a rule, I’m not really a perfume wearer, maybe a little bit of body spray, but perfume never really appealed to me. Last Xmas I got this from Ma, I love Liz Earle products but had never really considered them as anything other than a skincare brand. I tried this a little while ago and loved it, it smells musky and comforting (a little like my Grandma) but still young enough that I can get away with it. Also, it feels super feminine to spritz on a bit of perfume before I walk out of the door…

DSCN0841I love hot chocolate… actually, scratch that, I love sugar. This is a little bit different, however. It’s peppermint flavoured- at first I thought it would be really rich and overwhelming but it’s actually a nice crossover between hot chocolate and peppermint tea. Indulgent and refreshing at the same time.

DSCN0842What would winter be without a scarf? I love a good scarf, they’re fun accessories that keep you warm and give you something to fiddle with during boring meetings. Of course, I couldn’t just have a normal scarf… this was given to me a few years ago by a friend; it’s wonderfully ridiculous. It’s essentially two different triangular scarves sewn together to make a square and then decorated with brightly coloured tassels. I love it.

DSCN0843This winter I’ve really been noticing my skin drying out, these are my two favourite things to slather on my face when this happens. As someone who always had greasy, oily skin I’m not used to moisturising… but I am getting older, and I don’t have teenage skin anymore, so I need to find a balance. Hence the moisturising.

Well, if you’ve made it this far then you can be rewarded with a picture of our half-finished Xmas tree, complete with mechanical bird perched on the top!

DSCN0844Look at that thing of beauty…

’til next time,

Wren x

 

Why I’m Leaving the Performing Arts Industry

I few years ago I decided to pursue my life-long dream of becoming an actress.

I’ve now put that dream to bed for the moment.

I want to try and explain, honestly, what’s been going on behind the scenes over the last few months. I feel like I’ve crashed about, making big statements about my career and I want to let you know what’s going on.

Firstly, I’m talking a break from acting. I wish that I could take a break from drama completely but I can’t. I have to keep it up in order to get my degree, but I’m certainly leaving professional acting for the moment.

Secondly, I don’t plan to start a theatre company. At one point I did, but I’ve moved on from there and whatever brief passion I had has faded.

So, what happened?

The last year of my life happened, that’s what.

I learnt exactly who and what I didn’t want to be. I was a horrible person for the last year- my partner and family would probably beg to differ but it certainly feels that way to me.

I always strive to be a good person, to be fair and mature and educated. I always try to see the good in people and in situations. I don’t always succeed in being this person, but I always try. I love people, I love meeting people and talking to them and learning about how they work. I think I’m quite good at making friends.

I wasn’t always this person, the social skills that I have I’ve learnt from watching people for years. I took what I’d learnt from observation and the confidence that I’d gained from acting and combined them to create a relaxed, social persona who can be friends with everyone.

I’m ‘Mum’, I’m the person that people come to when they have problems. I don’t judge and I don’t lose control of my emotions.

The person that I turned into over the last year was someone horrible. It was someone who had emotion (negative emotion) constantly bubbling close to the surface. I snapped and lost my patience with people. I sold myself so short, I felt worthless.

I was constantly being pushed to do things that were outside of my comfort zone. On one hand this was good, and it lead to a lot of personal development- however, there is a line. Our comfort zones are there for a reason, I’ve always been told that I have good instincts, and constantly being told to ignore them was just screwing with my head.

I hate the attitude of the Performing Arts Industry. When we were at the Edinburgh Fringe there were parties where we would be encouraged to schmooze with all of the other directors, producers and actors. I really hated it, I would sit in the corner and feel awkward- and I don’t really ever feel awkward. That was a massive wake-up call for me. I wanted to get out of there.

I hated having to pimp myself out to ‘important’ people. I don’t want to have to fawn over other people- I’ll be nice to everyone, but I’m not sucking up to anyone unless they damn well deserve it.

When I stand up on stage, in front of an audience, I feel a high like nothing else. It’s addictive, that wonderful feeling. However, it comes with a low. I always crash after doing a show- and the crash is horrible, it leaves me questioning whether or not doing the show is worth it.

I was on anti-depressants last winter, I don’t think I can deal with a career that would screw with my mental health as much as acting would.

The life of a working actor is hell, you spend the majority of your time working a crap job whilst trying to get acting work.

I can handle rejection… what I can’t handle is feeling like I’m wasting my life. I can’t handle waking up every morning to work a job where I stack shelves, wipe glasses and generally deal with people looking down at me. I want to wake up and do something that is challenging, I want to make a difference.

The short story: I don’t know what I’m doing with my life yet… but I don’t think it’s going to be acting.

’til next time,

Wren x

Yuletide: Pagan Origins of Christmas Traditions

  • The Date: Jesus was born in the summer- this is a fact that is very well known. When Christianity was spreading across Europe the Christian rulers wanted to convert the Pagan population as quickly and smoothly as possible. They built Churches close to Pagan places of worship and arranged festivals around the dates of the established, Pagan ones. This is why Christmas was moved to late December, the same time as the Winter Solstice.
  • The Food: feasting is a common Pagan practice, especially in midwinter festivals when the darkness surrounds us. Unless I’m very much mistaken, feasting does not appear in the Bible story of the birth of Jesus.
  • The Tree: The tree is really a tradition brought over to England from Germany thanks to Prince Albert. It clearly doesn’t come from the Bible (evergreen trees in the Middle East?) but it’s an obvious Pagan symbol. Bringing something alive into the house when everything else is dying embodies the spirit of Paganism. We are reminding ourselves of the life that will return in the spring.
  • The Presents. This one is a little more difficult, obviously this is something that it represented in the Nativity story so I’m not going to say that it isn’t a Christian thing. However I do think that gift giving fits in with the theme of the midwinter festival, celebration and excess helps to get us through the doom and gloom.
  • The Drink: This one’s fairly obvious, with every good Pagan feast comes some good Pagan drink!
  • The Lights: There is a custom of keeping a candle alight all through the night of the Solstice, I think this is something that has morphed into all of the brightly coloured lights that we like to string inside and outside of our homes. When the world is at its darkest we can fill it with light.

Blessings,

Wren x

5 Ways to Be Nice to a Retail Worker This Holiday Season

  1. Remember that we don’t get time off over the holidays. No matter how stressed or frustrated you are, you are currently out shopping and not at work. So please, try and show some consideration for us poor bastards who have miss family events and celebrations in order to restock margarine. Taking an extra second to be polite or even to treat us like Real People will be remembered and appreciated.
  2. We are humans: ergo we can only move and talk at a certain speed. Yeah, I’m looking at you, the woman rolling her eyes as she waits for me to serve the three other people in front of her. If you’re running late/in a hurry then you need to get better organisational skills, it’s not my problem. I’m working as fast as I can to get through the queue and make sure everyone else gets decent service.
  3. Don’t be a dick. “I thought I’d give you some work to do/you looked bored.” Is frustrating at best and insulting at worst. I get this several times EVERY SHIFT when people look at the self checkout machines and then elect to come over to me. 97% of the time I’ve just had to deal with a massive queue/a spillage/an unhappy customer before you graced me with your presence. The look on my face is not boredom, it’s exhaustion.
  4. We are not magicians. ‘The Back’ is not a magical wonderland, it’s not Narnia or Mary Poppins’ carpet-bag. It’s the place where we put the things that won’t fit on the shelves. We check it regularly and restock three or four times during the day. If it’s not on the shelf then it won’t be in ‘The Back’. In 18 months of being a supermarket dogsbody I have NEVER found something in ‘The Back’ that isn’t already well stocked on the shop floor.
  5. We have been customers too. Yes, we understand that it’s annoying to come a long way and find out that we’ve run out of something, or that we don’t stock it, we actually do understand these problems and sympathise with you. We understand that some things are overpriced, we understand the queues are long, we understand that this is a stressful and busy time of the year. Sadly life is not fair, we have to deal with these problems just as much as you do. Yes it sucks, no, we can’t change the world.

’til next time,

Wren x

 

Why Do I Still Blog? Updates on The Future…

I write a blog about mental health.

I mean, it’s about a lot of other things as well- mostly it’s just me complaining a lot. However, the original idea for this blog was a chronicle of my mental health problems and how I was coping with them.

In the last three and a half years my life and my health have changed dramatically. I’ve almost gone a year without self harming or therapy. That’s a long time for someone who used to have to cut every day and struggled to live between counselling appointments.

The really weird thing that I think needs to be acknowledged in this blog is blogging, mental health and recovery. This blog was about my mental health problems. If I don’t have mental health problems then what do I blog about?

I follow a few blogs about mental health and over the years I’ve noticed that a lot of people slowly tail off as they start to recover. This makes a lot of sense, as horrible as it is, if you’re having mental health problems and appointments and counselling then you have a lot of material to write about. If you’re happy and healthy then you don’t really have anything ground-breaking to say.

As well as this I think a lot of people want to break with the past and move on from their illness and maintaining a blog about it just feels a bit like flogging a dead horse.

Of course, this isn’t something that I’ve chosen to do- so I really can’t talk about that. What I’ve written above is pure speculation and please feel free to offer your thoughts in the comments if you’ve been in this situation.

Why am I still blogging?

The answer is that I don’t know! I came back to blogging on a regular schedule in October of last year and I’ve been pretty good at sticking to that schedule. I needed my blog last year, it gave me something to focus on whilst I was going through the hell that was stage-school.

Right now I just keep blogging because I love it, because this place gives me somewhere to express my thoughts and feelings. I’m struggling with a few things, one is that I want to rejig the subjects that I talk about. There may be less Paganism and more Feminism… is that okay with everyone? There also may be more about history and writing. The quota of mentalism will stay the same, it’ll always be the main focus of this blog. I also want to change the design and write more about my personal life. The latter is the thing that I’m worrying about the most, I don’t want this to become mushy and full of TMI, but in the next few years my life will be changing, potentially radically, and it would be weird if I just didn’t talk about it.

And don’t worry, I’m going to complain just as much as I did before.

Thank you for reading and feel free to share your thoughts below!

’til next time,

Wren x

Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil is also known as ‘the world tree’ and is a crucial part of Norse mythology. This is the thing that connects the nine different worlds.

The tree has three roots, one goes to Asgard where the Gods gather, the second goes to the land of the giants (Jotunheim) and the third goes to Niflheim.

By the first root there’s a well (Urd’s well) where the three Norns live. The Norns are the Goddesses of fate and spend their time spinning the threads of fate and dictating the future. They pour the water from the well over the roots of Yggdrasil and help to keep the tree alive. They also have the duty of placing a rooster at the top of the tree to ensure that the Gods are woken up each morning.

At the roots of the tree there is a dragon (Nidhug) who is enemies with the eagle who flies above the tree. Their feud is kept alive by the squirrel (Ratatosk) who spends his time rushing up and down the tree to inform each of the other’s hatred for them.

I’m not a Norse Pagan, but I have studied it a lot for a series of books that I’m planning. (Well, I wrote them many years ago and now plan to rewrite them some time in the future.) My interest for those books was in ‘Ragnarok’ which was an event in Norse mythology that could be described as the end of the world. Technically it was supposed to be ‘the end of the world as we know it.’

The Viking were a really interesting group of people. They came mainly from Scandinavia and were incredible at boat building and navigation. The word ‘Viking’ means ‘raiding’ and this was certainly something they were (and still are) famous for. They were a tough group of people who were used to living in harsh conditions and this is reflected in their mythology which often shows both the warrior culture and the harsh climate that they faced.

Generally most Vikings were skilled farmers and anglers and only resorted to raiding and violence when ordered to by their leader. Like the Celts they had a deep respect for warriors and had ‘Valhalla’ a place in Asgard where half of those who died in battle would go. The other half would go to join the Goddess Freyja.

Blessings,

Wren x

 

 

Grandma

I went to my Grandma’s funeral today, so this post is about her.

She was born in 1924 in Scotland, for reasons that have never been talked about in our family she ended up being brought up by her Mother’s parents. We don’t know what happened to her Mother, but we know that her Father lived a long life and travelled around a lot. She had little to no contact with him.

She was brought up by her strict, Scottish grandparents and spent time working as a short-hand typist and auxiliary nurse. During the war she met a soldier called Alfred from the East End of London who was based near her home. They saw each other for a while and eventually she became pregnant. She was seventeen.

They got married and she moved from beautiful Dumfries to blitz torn London. She had to get used to outside toilets and overcrowding as well as bombs. After she got married she had almost no contact with her grandparents. Eventually my Uncle was born, as he got older it became more and more obvious that he was autistic.

The war ended, life moved on and she had another child; my Auntie. At some point they moved out of London and had my Dad in the late fifties. They then settled in my home town. When my Dad was ten my Grandad, Alf, died of a heart attack. My Grandma had just had another baby, my second Uncle.

For years she brought up her children alone, my oldest Uncle staying by her side, my Auntie going off on adventures across the world and my Dad and second Uncle growing up and focussing on their educations.

Eventually my Auntie got married and moved abroad, she had two daughters. My second Uncle also got married and had children, then my oldest Uncle got married, and finally it was my Dad’s turn.

By this point my Grandma was sharing the family home with a friend, Jim, who filled the role of ‘Grandad’ for us children. Jim died when I was about six, followed by my oldest Uncle when I was eleven, and his wife just last year.

My Grandma lived to the age of ninety with near perfect health. She had a stroke earlier this year and deteriorated rapidly. She died peacefully and quietly with my Dad by her side.

She was a tough woman who enjoyed life, she had her faults- as all of us do- but overall she was a true matriarch and our family feels disjointed without her at the helm. We will miss her, but we will recover and grow in her absence.

Goodbye Grandma,

Wren x