The Smile (a poem by Lauren Curr) 


“Is it alright if I sit here?”

A voice deeper than some chirped,

It must’ve where she’s from and

She smiled the night away.

Her make up glowing from her cheeks,

Her facial bones a silver line,

But what was dazzling is eau natural,

It’s her radiant beaming smile.

Lips made up with raspberry-red,

Glitter falling from her head

(Her blue-green eyes are fully made).

But it’s her radiant beaming smile.

It’s her smile, her dear, sweet smile

That makes the journey all worthwhile,

Polite and beautiful- qual’ties set aside

When she has a smile ear-to-ear wide.

This world is filled with much disgrace,

Negativity’s thrown in your face

But it all seems so worthwhile…

Just to see her smile.

I was on the Carlisle-Settle train to Leeds and a particularly lovely lady sat next to me. She had her dog with her, and the three hours we had a lovely chat. It was a busy service, though, and when she got off at Shipton, I was left on a four-seater alone. It was then a particularly rude lady (who had already been rude to me when I tried to move to go to the bathroom) sat next to me, and the rest of the journey felt miserable. I feared to breathe. However, around Kieghley, a girl came and joined the four seater and asked the man opposite if she could sit in the spare seat. Normal, of course, but when I looked up she was beaming. She was beaming larger than I’d ever seen anyone beam, and for no particular reason. After sitting beside this miserable human, just seeing a smile brought me some joy. It was beautiful, and it charged my outlook. I was going to hold onto the memories of the lovely lady and her dog, the positives of my week in Scotland and focus on seeing my friend Polly, rather than let the grumpy lady impact my day. So, I was inspired, and I wrote this purely platonic poem about it. Turns out, I liked it a little, so I’ve decided to share it. 

Love always, 

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The self care game (an ode to poor mental health)

I’m not so sure that if the fire alarm in my block of flats had gone off at 11am this morning, I’d have ever got up. Even when the alarm bells rung (it was bloody loud and annoying, and not good for a PTSD sufferer negatively influenced by loud noises on the daily), it took me a solid 5 minutes to move. Part of me didn’t want to move because I couldn’t care what happens to me anymore, I have no business in looking after myself, and the other half was mere depression ensuring I could barely move an inch. 

Nevertheless, I eventually got up (to be honest, it was mostly to escape the anxiety-provoking noise) and went downstairs, to find out, then, it was an irrelevant alarm strangely (in London?) caused by the remenants of Hurricane Ophelia. Don’t ask me how an ex-hurricane throwing a strong breeze at the UK sets off a fire alarm because I don’t have a clue, all I know is that’s what I’d been told. 

By the time I walked up to my flat again (situated on the 5th floor, which is a pain when the lift is out of access for a disabled kid), I pretty much collapsed on the sofa. First from pain re: walking up multiple flights of steep stairs, but secondly because my brain couldn’t convince my body to function in any mode other than ‘sleepmode’. Just as I managed to lie down (uncomfortably, unhealthily) the door went. It was a grand delivery of post (my dad’s magazines, a book I ordered, a letter from the hospital…) which I dumped on the sofa. I began to recklessly tear my letters and parcels open and proceeded to sit on the floor. The floor? I was not comfortable. But I did it. That was it, really. I planned to sit on the floor, in my PJs and a jumper I chucked on for the sake of the fire alarm to cover up the fact I wasn’t wearing a bra and felt very exposed in a building which is primarily businessmen. Though knowing the weather was weird and I was overheating in the jumper, I still sat there for a few minutes before considering taking it off. Why? I don’t know. Think I just didn’t care. 

From then it took me over an hour to take my medication; the daily ‘do I deserve them?’ Game held me back and the sheer lack of motivation bogged me down, and it was really only because my dad rang me 3 times in 5 minutes to come and meet him on his lunch break that I even moved an inch. 

I popped on my new favourite trousers and a fluffy jumper and went to met him. The trousers would make it seem like I’d made one kind of effort, right? It was only when I was walking back to my flat I realised how physically uncomfortable a lack of self care is. When you don’t care for yourself, or you can’t, even, you know it’s not great but other things get in the way of it really impacting you. I was physically uncomfortable.

What I had planned for self care was to wander down to pret, and, well, do something: I didn’t have the energy to blog and wasn’t sure if I was going to air a post today, and reading is strangely a distressing task at the moment. I just needed to get out. But I knew it wasn’t proper self care. I felt disgusting, I still felt incredibly depressed and unable to move 20ft, so I decided to climb the five flights of stairs and practice some basic self care to get myself into a routine first.

Having a nice, warm shower this morning (afternoon) was the best decision I think I’ve ever made. Brushing all the tugs out of my hair and conditioning it properly, too. Using ‘Happy for SAD’ shower gel (packed with neroli, a natural serotonin stimulant in the brain) is the best decision I’ve ever made. 

Now I’m sitting in pret, actually enjoying my filter coffee. I’m sitting writing this, which without the kick-up-the-arse shower, I think I would have been unable to do. Granted, I planned on typing up a pre-written travel post (watch this space) and did not quite have the motivation or energy,but I’m still writing this and I’m proud.

Sometimes, it’s the little victories.

Sometimes, we can’t do this. Some days it’s not as easy as getting out of bed, having a shower and pushing yourself. Sometimes that’ll only make things worse (there is a stark difference between depression days- days where things are impossible- and mental health days- choice rest days (possibly influenced by the previous) or whatever you yourself call them), but I promise you little self care is worth it.

I’m still feeling like life is impossible. I’m tired of life and I’m aching inside, but I’ve got up and done what I can.My day is going much better for it.

Lauren 1, Depression 0.

I’m now going to pop downstairs and grab myself another filter coffee and if my brain is kind enough to me re: concentration and allowing me general enjoyment, I’ll be starting the earlier mentioned book; ‘Tipping the velvet’ by Sarah Waters.

I hope that you are all having good days, or at least, practicing basic self care:

  • Take your meds
  • Eat something
  • Stay hydrated
  • Have a shower
  • Change your underwear
  • Reply to a text or two, if you can
  • Reach out for help if you need it

Love always,


Warmth in the cold (a tale of comfort)

Autumn is definitely my favourite season. Everything about it screams comfort, and maybe being an Autumn baby helps that. I do, however, find, that through the warmth of the season, I also crave comfort, and when reflecting on this with friends, they agreed with me.

The crave for comfort is something that very much needs to be fulfilled (especially for someone like myself, suffering from mental health issues very much influenced by comfort and such), and comfort is such a vast concept and personal idea that can be changed from minute to minute.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”

-Albert Comus

What makes you comfortable?

Comfort to me is walking through a mud-trodden woodland area in the autumn sun; sun shining down on your back but still the bitter pinch of cold at your rosy cheeks, almost blue hands, icicle like as your brown boots crunch through the orange and red toned, crisp leaves.

Crisp leaves. There’s something sinister about autumn’s crisp leaves. Lifeless. Lifeless leaves are what they are, but they’re so, so beautiful. Red and yellow leaves are a sign of death, a sign of decay, and the ground waiting to compost what once was. But it’s beautiful. Not death, no, but a rosy red leaf taking it’s resting place on fresh grass, mud, or city concrete symbolises something beyond the concept of the end. A rosy leaf celebrates the life of a plant that once was, it shows that a leaf has had a full season on a healthy tree and it’s time to change has come. And change is what it is. Not only does the decay of summer foliage celebrate the end, but sings to new beginnings. It shows us the life cycle of the beautiful earth we live on and asks us to protect it until the next spring.

Amongst the crisp leaves, conkers lie, ready to be picked up by a child. That child has three hundred and thirty two conkers at home already, but this… this is a special one. All three hundred and thirty three… four… five… Oh put that one down, James! are special. Nostalgia. I remember when I had three hundred and thirty six conkers. Every year. I don’t know what happened to the ones from the year before, they were forgotten. Each, individual, lonely conker forgotten, but none not appreciated.

Comfort to me is kicking off your skin tight boots and collapsing on the sofa for no more than seven minutes, before trudging upstairs to the bathroom. What’s better than flinging yourself in a bath with a seasonal bubble bar, or if i’m lucky, a bubble bar and bath bomb. A long, long soak and maybe, if I have the energy, a little reading session (usually of an old favourite: Something Jane Austen- Pride and Prejudice? Emma? Northanger Abbey’s right for the season) is followed by the engulfment of a huge, fluffy jumper. It’ll probably be yellow, orange, marroon… a colour of that aesthetic.

Comfort is long cuddles with my dogs… Mollie will sit on my collarbone or abdomen, and Louie on my feet, so I don’t have a choice, I can’t move, but they’re just so cute I don’t mind at all. How can you complain about warm puppy hugs when you’re so in love with them? How can you not be in love with them.

Comfort is also snuggling is bed with your significant other, up close so your noses are squidged together, talking or in a comfortable silence. Maybe even watching a film you’d never usually watch. You might feel cold but the emotional warmth shields you from the outer world and you have a distraction from your fears.

Comfort is going home to the city of your heritage, seeing it in the warm colours instead of peppered in flowers. Leaves, everywhere. The red brick buildings of the old mill town, a backdrop to the orange and yellow crisps on tall trees. The cathedral bell ringing. The Scottish £10 note spent on a chai latte from a local business. No chains in sight. The city art a highlight in the cold.

Comfort is chai lattes. Comfort is long phone calls to your best friend in the garden, even if you’re freezing to death. Comfort is heated teddy bears even if you’re an adult. Comfort is dogs you don’t know jumping up at you and the smiles of small children. Comfort is cinnamon, spice and all things nice. Comfort is the music you love on repeat. Comfort is burning candles and insence.

Comfort is the warmth you feel in your heart when it’s cold outside.

 

Senses of Autumn

Nutmeg, Pumpkin and cinnamon sticks,

Oranges, apples and grassy scents mix,

The sweet dewey scents of the muddy ground rise,

Trees and strong lattes- a pleasant surprise.
An orange-red layer of leaves on a field,

It’s harvest season, so tools farmers wield

Harvest the grains we all happily consume,

Halloween spooks decorate the room.
Swish, crunch, crack… sharp sounds galore.

As wind blow, the trees wave more and more,

Falling leaves fall softly down,

Then snap and click- oh, leaves’ brittle sounds.
Crumbling dried plants in your hands,

Small pieces of it falling on the soft land.

Damp mud squishing, squelching through

Rubber wellies, warm socks too.
Warm sweet pumpkin pie with fresh cold cream,

In crunchy pastry, or coffee? It seems.

Cinnamon buns and tea with star anise,

Exhaling frosty air after consuming every piece.

The Yarn bombing project: Mental Health Awareness day

As a Scottish girl, nothing fills me with more pride than going home. I’ve only been back in Renfrewshire’s sweet little town of Paisley twice this year, a shocking 1/4 of the amount of times my dad has. It’s pretty gutting, too, that I lost my accent a long time ago- 13 years, maybe, but you do still hear twinges and just being here makes me sound more Scottish, use more phrases and embrace my heritage more.
Coincidentally, I booked this week off work to come up to my favourite place; home.
Today, October 10th, I woke up remembering it was World Mental Health Day. I honestly did not remember this before last night, but after experiencing bad insomnia post a bad OCD flare and letting depression get the best of me, I found myself scouring twitter at 3am looking for a glimmer of hope in life. Regardless of my struggles, this reminded me that it was World Mental Health Awareness Day.
This morning I decided to post a few tweets about it, a vague recollection of experiences, but right now, I do not feel okay enough to share my experiences publicly. I considered writing a hopeful blog post but in this state of mind and discomfort towards my own illness, I didn’t feel right. Honestly, things are spiralling down again and it’s not something I am coping with well (don’t worry, I do have medical support and am in therapy for it).
Anyway, aside those tweets, I decided to get on with my day (we’re actually undergoing a project for my grandma) and maybe revisit the issue when home. We caught the bus into town, and hopped off to go to about our business.
As we alighted the bus a the Paisley Piazza, we noticed something. My Grandma shouted “Look! Queen Victoria!” And I just thought “I know, I know, I’ve seen it before”… I thought she called out the Queen’s name due to my infatuation with history and love for Jenna Coleman and the show ‘Victoria’. It was only when my dad reassertted this statement (to look at the statue) that I looked up. The historical queen’s memorial was dried up in tartan, paisley and knitted delights (scarves, gloves, and all else in your wildest dreams… heck, there was even a crocheted goblet by her feet).

I took a wander over and en route, noticed the other statues dressed up too as well as the fences. I couldn’t help but smile at Paisley being (what I later found out was called) ‘yarn bombed’ and napped a few pictures along with other gawping locals.
As I reached the statute of Queen Victoria, a woman spoke to me seeing the huge smile on my face. Knowing, from her reaction, that she was somehow involved, I asked her about it, expecting it to be part of Paisley’s 2021 bid for city of culture; it wasn’t.

The lovely lady I spoke to explained the project going on; Scottish Mental Health and Disability Services in collaboration with Paisley allowed art therapy groups to knit crochet and sew to their heart’s desire and ‘paint the town’ with coloured fabric. These piece of art were so beautiful, taking over many central statues in the town and the railings by the town hall.

Here are some pictures of the beauties: 

What a way to raise awareness. Colour the town. Get people talking. Talk to them about mental health. Whether it causes people to speak out, join art therapy groups themself, remind people of the fact it’s Mental Health Awareness Day, or just makes people think of checking in on friends, mutuals, neighbours… this project certainly had people thinking about mental health.

Despite poor mental health myself and the hopeless feeling my own antidepressants weren’t going to kick in today, for some reason, I left the square with a huge smile on my face and sense of pride about my heritage. The nickname ‘buddy’ isn’t a light name, Paisley folk truly are buddies.

Love always,



 My top reads in summer 2017- books to read by the fireside.

As a huge literary fan, of course I’ve been reading to my heart’s content over the summer (with my health and long hours at work limiting me a little, but even so). Initially, I was planning to share my top three from this indulge, and still, I shall mention just three, but I can’t seem to order them as they were all so wonderful and I adored all three equally.

Those that I shall be covering today are:

  • Green Girl- Kate Zambreno
  • Here I Stand (Anthology)
  • Author Phillipa Gregory.

Green Girl

Written by Kate Zambreno in 2011 this book has been branded as a modern day ‘The Bell Jar’ and Zambreno herself has been compared to authors such as Plath and Lispector.

The novel follows the life of Ruth, an American in London, day and night, following the transitional challenges ‘from youth to adulthood’ [Harper Collins Publishers] and young Ruth working at a department store only referred to as ‘Horrids’, with her robotic system of the days and rocky nights. Regardless of whether you adore the character Ruth or the opposite, you undoubtedly etch onto her life and the vivid language used forces you to put yourself in her mind- This is aided by (only sometimes loosely relevant) quotes from Shakespeare to authors unheard of. I’m still personally unsure on if I actually like Ruth or not but in contrasts, I totally adore her! I feel the pain in her every breath and her brief moments of ecstasy.

At points, it I hard to notice a clear plot but yu’re so infatuated by the heroine, that loses it’s relevance.

I would honesty give this book:

img_0146-1
I hope you read it to find out more yourself and enjoy it as much as I did.

Fave bath bomb & a good book ✨

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Here I Stand

Rather than being a novel, this is a book of short stories about humanity; everything from modern day slavery and exploitation, extremes hidden in front of our eyes and hatred. faced daily such as homophobia and racism.

It’s difficult to discuss each individual story or poem without giving too much away, but they’re all so different and simultaneously similar that each is harrowing and sends a chill down your spine. This book also reminded me of my love for one of my favourite childhood authors; Liz Kessler. It also led me t find out that she is LGBT and married to a woman, and as a queer woman myself this made me cry with happiness and a little nostalgia, too.

Overall I would give this a:

img_0146-2

But many of the individual stories accepted this rating. If I could rate individual stories higher, I would, but generally each did not drop much lower than a solid 5* so an overall top mark is what I can say.

Even with the zingy scent of avoshower filling my nose, going home is NOT easy 😔

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Phillipa Gregory

Okay. I know Phillipa Gregory is an author, not a book, but I couldn’t choose just one piece of her writing. My dear friend Rhi is obsessed with Gregory and hearing her tal about her so much reminded me of how much I loved reading ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and other books by her. Luckily, when I went into my local charity shop I stumbled across now one, but nine books by her. I did want to buy them all, but it was my prom day, and I couldn’t really justify spending all of my money, so I bought three; ‘The Red Queen’, ‘The White Queen’ and ‘The Boleyn Inheritance’.

I have enjoyed all of which I have read so far and honesty just rate her as a five star author. Admittedly, I have not read as many as I would have liked  (of course I returned to buy more of her books), but that’s mostly as historical fiction can be quite heavy so hasn’t bee ideal for nights in hospital or when I just generally have not been doing too great. Otherwise, Gregory is just so descriptive that you can get s lost in the Tudor world you forget you’re in 2017!


So they’re my top picks, and despite my reading them in a warm climate (over the summer months), I wouldn’t say any are strikingly summery, so they’d be totally perfect for fireside reading or to sit in the park with if you don’t mind the winter breeze nipping at your fingers.

They’re of quite varied genres so I hope at least one of them takes your fancy.

Love always,

.