•disclaimer for my clients - I curse in this post. I won't ever curse when we're working together unless you'd really like me to but this story needs swear words.
So first of all it turns out I'm not a good blogger. A good blogger writes all the time, this one doesn't. A good blogger builds a following who have an expectation of a weekly post - this one doesn't post weekly. This one doesn't post monthly. This one posts when this one has the energy and the need to. So maybe I'm not a blogger. Maybe I'm just an occasional writer that gets busy doing other things.
I didn't make New Year's resolutions because my evolution plans aren't driven by rules that I'll just break. It's a gradual process, a gentle movement in a new direction. I'm writing today though because January last year I decided to go on a year of experimentation to figure out how to be a better human physically and mentally.
For anyone reading my blog for the first time HERE'S where the story started. Ish died in June 2015 and the electro-shock through my body clenched my teeth down on London, a white knuckle grip clawed there unable to move or break free. No matter how much I wanted to let go I couldn’t. I guess I felt if I left the city to recover like everyone was advising it meant I’d lost some imaginary self imposed battle that made absolutely zero sense to anyone but critical sergeant major marching my thoughts around like Nazis.
The decision to leave came after a job in Ibiza shooting healing crystals for a week – maybe the crystals made me do it, like seriously some of them were 8 foot tall so you could argue they had a powerful impact. While I was there I got caught in the text message cross-fire between my two London house mates and that signalled the end – screw you Hackney with your smashed avocados, Red Stripes and vegan chicken. Instead of returning to London I decided to fly straight back to Dublin. Finally I was out, mike drop and all that. I arrived back in Ireland last December pretty broken, defeated and smashed up as a person. I was spent and it was time to let go of whatever dreams I had of becoming a director and “making it” in London. My career was a mess, I was all pitched out and I hadn’t got the breaks. I couldn't force it and it just wasn't working. At that point I thought London was full of absolute c*unts. Because I was so raw and wide open to everything I just felt like I was sucking up all of the negativity around me, political unrest, Tory bullshit, divides between the have and the have nots, inequality, racial tensions, annoying hipsters who don’t smile when they throw your oat milk latte across the counter. I was done and the vibes weren’t good.
I arrived home not entirely sure what the next step was but certain that I had to make some big changes or it was not going to end well for me. To recap, I bought the URL The Nice Things not because I thought it would be a cool brand but because when shit was rough I couldn’t fathom any kind of expansive joy or happiness but I could capture fleeting moments of peace and gratitude in the ocean, flowers, the sky, a colour - yep I know that sounds lame but that's how it was and I was a wreck not just some boho chick floating around in muslin "feeling vibes". When Ish passed I looked to the sea and the sky every day as I always feel part of something much bigger there. Maybe I hoped maybe he was up there floating around keeping an eye on things – we were both mad about the photographer Nobuyoshi Araki and when his wife died tragically he took pictures of the sky every day because that’s where he found her too so if it worked for a pervy old Japanese photographer it could work for me too. He also continued to take lots of pictures of vaginas but I'm guessing his wife was more in the sky. I thought that if I focused on lots of little nice things then maybe just maybe they could add up to some big cloud of satisfaction in a 2 + 2 = 4 kind of way. I didn't even have 2's to work with at this point so I started with ones, lots of them, a cuddle from my nephew, a wolf whistle from a builder(yep that doesn't annoy me, bad feminist), a smile from a shop keeper, a rose.
During this time I bought the URL because yeah somewhere in the recesses of my mind there’s always some creative or business idea trundling around trying to find it’s way onto the stage – it’s also my ideas and my creativity that save me. Blogging. Yeah I’m not sure how I feel about it. Also influencers – it’s like the big marketing cliché but I wasn’t doing this so I could do sponsored posts for Findus Crispy Pancakes newest flavour or anything. I also chewed over a million times if writing was the best idea. I mean I was carving open a fairly large wound, showering it with salt and some topics that were so taboo I’d spent my entire life trying to hide them from the world. I was scared. I was also scared that people would think I was doing it for a “look at me” reason. I’d spent the previous year reading about ego and letting go of ego and a part of me wondered if I wanted to write because of my ego and this concerned me. You’re probably by now realising that I’m pretty good at overthinking too! Well thankfully after over-thinking about it quite a bit I realized that I needed to write to share my pain, to make it ok for people to talk to me about what happened to give them an ins, a way to deal with the horror of it all. It was actually the ego that was stopping me from doing it. Because I was so open and because I put my experience into a thing, somewhere ever so slightly removed from me, when I met people they were more at ease speaking to me about death because they could simply say “ I read your blog and…..”. That’s the problem with death, it just freaks everyone the fk out – what do you say, how do you address it? It’s awkward and the formal way in which Western culture addresses this big life event it only serves to create even more separation between the bereaved and the rest of society which is kind of the polar opposite of what you need at that point – well for me anyway, that was the case.
In a very life-coach “everything you want is on the other side of fear” kind of way, what I was afraid of all along was what started to open the world back up to me. I haven’t painted in years so I guess if I was an artist I would have poured that pain onto a canvas but words were the things I had swirling around in my mind and they’re what I poured onto paper – well not paper but the keys of my Macbook.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but death is wasted if nothing changes. If something or someone dies and everything stays the same then that’s a waste of a life. I didn’t want to waste Ish’s life and I wanted to do him proud by progressing in my own life and using something horrific as a catalyst for change so Jan last year I made it my mission to address issues that had been lurking around since my early twenties. January I set off on my first self guinea pig experiment veganism and giving up sugar and booze. I had done a Kundalini yoga retreat in Ibiza with the lovely Trish Whelan of Soul Adventures called "Raising your Vibration". The idea being we all vibrate at a frequency and also (if you believe in the law of attraction – still out on that) like attracts like. If your vibration is high then you will attract positives into your life and vice versa. Broken down into non woo woo – if you feel good about yourself then good things happen - that's for the logical ones of you. You know, or your higher self knows, what’s good and bad for you and every time you consume something that’s bad for you it lowers your vibration. That Twix bar – put it down, minus 5 vibrations…..that social smoke – same…..that shot of tequila… don’t slam it - vibration slide. So yeah you get the idea all the stuff that’s bad for us brings us down but guess what…as soon as you start feeding yourself with what’s good for you, hey presto you’re back in business vibrating yourself all around the gaff being all happy and shit and all of that rubs off on everyone else because if you feel good everyone feels good and it’s like a little vibrational wild fire.
Ok so you got that? Great, then let’s talk about Narcos as Pablo Escobar is one of my heroes – I’m not just about yoga and ashrams. The actor Wagner Moura who played Pablo went vegan for a year after playing the role to exorcise himself from the character who was so deeply rooted in his psyche raising his vibration back to it's pre drug lord level. So if it worked for the guy who played Pablo it can work for you.
Anyway enough about Columbian drug lords and back to me. January I got off to an amazing start, went out bought some vegan cookbooks, obviously on the list was The Happy Pear and I was also sent a copy of The Happy Kitchen by a wonderful author called Rachel Kelly. Ok so giving up booze for a stronger mind is an obvious one and here’s why – booze BURRRRRNNNSSS your B vitamins and your B vitamins are crucial to a healthy nervous system and sense of wellbeing. So if you’re reaching for that vino every eve to feel good then you’re also going to have to accept that you’ll feel worse too. This is a cycle and a good one to get out of if you want to feel calm, less angry and more balanced. Veganism seemed chill and The Happy Pear are obviously the most annoyingly happy guys on the planet so I figured they must be doing something right and if I could have a little tofu slice of whatever buzz they were on by going vegan that would only be a good thing right? SUGAR. Oh god SUGAR. I love it, roll around in it eyes in back of head frothing with ecstasy but according to Buddah seeking out things to excite your senses is a bad idea so I cut that out too. That was the hardest part but I started making all sorts of hipster energy bites and balls with peanut butter and chia which kind of tricked me into not missing it. During this time I also made the most expensive cake I’ve ever made. It was the Happy Pear vegan banoffee pie and the ingredients cost about £30 cause who has all that health food stuff in the cupboard but I also had to go out and wax £100 on a blender. Damn that cake was good tho! Thanks Happy guys.
Also part of my new year/new me routine was a gym membership so I joined Westwood in Clontarf which I LOVE. So many classes and the teachers are legends, real mix of people from rugby jocks and nanas and hardcore gym honeys and Conor McGregor fans. I got up every morning and did a bodypump or a spin class and at pretty much every class I cried because they played some mad dubstep track (Ish used to DJ dubstep) or I cried because I just needed to cry every day. It was really really fucking hard and I was attacking it from all angles but there was so much sadness and pining that just didn’t want to end. I sat on my spin bike and thankfully it was dark and again I cried but every one was sweating so it just looked like I was working particularly hard and it was sweat not tears streaming down my face. That was the awful thing about the loss – a lot of what we did together was tied in music and creativity around same so the whole thing ruined music for me. Despite my hard as nails exteriors I am a crier – I’m the person that cries when they play the epic “god bless America” cinematic stuff at the end of Independence Day so you can imagine what that turns into when you’re listening to “Where are you now” by Skrillex and Justin Beiber in the gym class and it’s the last song you ever danced to. In the life we were building it should have been our first dance. I just cried just now when I wrote that. I haven’t cried in a few weeks. It still hurts when I go there. F*ck you Skrillex. Justin…..well…… I’ll always find a way to forgive you…..
I also started making a daily jog on the bull wall in Clontarf at sunrise my thing much to the annoyance of my dog who doesn’t do early starts or jogging, she’s more of a sniffer and a splasher than a runner. I also hate jogging but I had new trainers and a running jacket and a North Face headband and gloves so that made it official. These jogs were really where the aesthetics for The Nice Things came from. The skies were epic and I loved it. In London I feel you only ever get a 30 degree trivial pursuit cake slice of sky, well in Dublin it’s like someone opened a big 180 degree book of sky and you feel small on the pages of the beach with the city invisible behind you.
Giving up booze is nowhere near as hard as you think because it’s really easy to trick yourself. If you like drinking beer – IPA is my thing due to my inner 29 year old Vans wearing media boy – then there’s a whole load of great options out there Erdinger and Punk’s Dead Pony Club are faves. There’s also an Irish made alcohol-free gin called Seedlip that’s going to be on the hitlist when I return – stocked in all the top members club in the UK therefore it’s fancy and it must be decent. I wouldn’t drink it in sliders though, only Gucci shoes. The other thing about drinking alcohol free booze is that your brain just doesn’t really notice it’s booze free for a couple of drinks(you’re way more stupid than you think) and also everyone around you isn’t all “oh you’re off the booze then, buzz kill” cause you’re holding a beer. People hate feeling like you’re making different choices to them so it’s nice to blend in and put everyone else at ease with your “fake” beers. Because we’re so accustomed to drinking all the time we think it’s the drink that’s creating the sense of fun and relaxation taking the edge off and lubricating our social experiences. Yes there’s an element of truth in that but it also turns out that other people are amazing and although sometimes you might feel a bit uptight you naturally unwind into conversations without alchohol – imagine. The other thing is giving up booze gives you more confidence rather than less because it’s just your #nofilter personality in all it’s glory. You also don’t wake up contorting in horror about having said the wrong thing to the wrong person or just being a bit too bonkers which I’ve done countless times.
It came to mid February and I’d been on my unicorn regime for six weeks and I was really really annoyed. I was going hell for leather and by now I should have been fixed. I’m an A type personality and results driven. You apply yourself to something and it delivers. I was still feeling beyond broken. I woke up every day so so full of anger. I’d done some therapy and to be honest I don’t even know if all that’s a good idea because it dug up LOADS of things that I hadn’t event thought about and now they were all swirling around in a big blocked drain of noxious overflow. I would wake every morning at 6am and lie in my bed replay that fateful morning over and over before going on to get angry at why I had been chosen to suffer. Popular bereavement cliché would indicate that it’s the strongest people that are given the biggest crosses to bear, well I felt like Mr. Burns, all frail and wobbly so I couldn’t understand why I was carrying a monumental fkr of a cross. I then would follow this with a nice serving of gripe and bug bear on anything anyone had every done to me and I couldn’t stop and I couldn’t let go of it. My brain was just in this state of perpetual trauma and I was doing EVERYTHING I could, all the right things to stop the wobbly walls of it caving in on me. The wellness scaffolding I'd installed didn’t was built by cowboys and I didn’t know how long it could bolster the heavy weight of what I was going through. I went searching for answers…......and prayed so hard that they would find me.