podcasts and music

In order block to the sound of my thoughts and quieten my catastrophising brain, I have been listening to a lot of podcasts, and a bit of music. I usually listen to the radio when I fall asleep, and as soon as I wake up, to keep me informed and aware. But its just too scary at the moment, and I feel too overwhelmed. Perhaps such avoidance is bad, in fact I know such a concrete ban is bad, but I also feel if it gets be through times when my brain feels too scary to even live inside, maybe its okay.

So, this need for noise but avoidance of the news has led me to a few new discoveries. Whilst dreaming of the day a new 'The High Low' episode comes out, I have really enjoyed 'How to Fail' with Elizabeth Day. It interviews a different guest each week and explores the times when their lives haven't gone right. Like all these things, its dependent on the guest you choose, but I have listened to the Andrew Scott episode at least 3 times, and l-o-v-e the most recent episode with Mo Gawdat about Coronavirus anxiety. It's very calming and rationalising, and something I think everyone should take the time to listen to when you feel ready. I am yet to stop irrationally catastrophising and still look at the current situation in a mad blur of 'what ifs', but even just knowing this episode is there as a calm voice of reason is some peace of mind.

I've also, somewhat tragically, been enjoying 'You're Dead to Me', which is an accessible history podcast with an expert and a comedian as guests. Its informative and lighthearted, and has some really interesting topics. It's also a good way to stay semi-intellectually stimulated whilst I avoid my work in the interest of 'self-care'. I've enjoyed the History of Chocolate episode, as well as the Justinian and Theodora episode (because its the coolest period of history).

I came across 'Table Manners with Jessie Ware' the other morning, when I was in a panic after turning on the news, and was looking for something to listen to before I got up. Jessie Ware basically cooks a meal for a celebrity (with the help of her mum) and hosts them in her kitchen. They chat about everything from work to family and I just think its a really nice informal window into people's lives. I somehow think this perhaps has more 'popular' guests (?? i.e. i've never heard of the majority) than How to Fail, but I fuckin' loved the episode with Antoni Porowski, and actually looking through the episode archive she has a whole variety of guests. I'm looking forward to the Deborah Francis White, Dolly Alderton and Sadiq Khan episodes, alongside a load of chefs (e.g. Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson...)

My essential sleep time (and day time to be honest) listening has been Headspace. In a panic-induced blur I bought a year subscription, but have since used it everyday. I've been doing a course on how to navigate change (quite apt), and whilst I haven't noticed a miraculous change (its only day 3), when the 15 minutes end I dream to remain in that quiet space for the next 6 months. I also did the 3-minute panic attack on the other day, with my head sticking out my window, and it was perfect to regulate breathing and bring a sense of stability.
But, more than anything, I have been loving the Sleepcasts. My friend introduced them to me on a very hungover night in Toulouse, curled up together as well fell asleep. There are 30 'stories' read by the most calming voices that sort of talk you through an evocative and sensory place. One of my favourites is 'Rainy Day Antiques' but I also really like 'Sandy Cove' and 'Monsoon Hour'. They are long enough to allow me to fall asleep before the end, but also just bring a sense of calm and peace. The sea-sounds also make me dream of the days I can walk on the beach again. Headspace have also released a free series called 'Weathering the Storm', aimed at helping navigate this madness.

Other podcasts I love are Rebelliously Tiny (by @ambivalentlyyours), Desert Island Discs and Getting Curious, each of which serve a different purpose but all offer the calm distraction necessary.
Music-wise, I haven't really been feeling my music recently. I listened to Libby's 2020 playlist o-n-r-e-p-e-a-t at the end of last term, and now it gives me sad and nostalgic feelings. Still some banging tunes though. Embarrassingly, my sister has got me into Harry Styles' new album, which is lighthearted and energetic–everything I am not feeling. I have also, of course, been listening to my usual choral as I work or knit or need to feel some calm. I'm hoping I'll come back round to music, because I could really do with it.

Please let me know any suggestions of listenings, music or otherwise.
And I hope you're all okay, its scary and I am exhausted. I have cried everyday since I came home, and I know that's alright but its also not how I want to be feeling. But no one does.
Peace and love x x

après la nuit

The sun is shining, but these days are tough. I feel disorientated and misplaced. My life (along with everyone else's, no doubt) has pivoted exponentially in mere weeks.
I am lost and confused and my anxiety is crippling at times. But I don't want to talk about the bad stuff, because every dinner table conversation and every phone call and every 'how are you?' comes back to it, and for me a reasonable distance and ignorance is necessary to get through. I am scared, and for my anxiety, this is perhaps my worst case scenario. But I know everyone is anxious and uncertain. And only through love and support can we get through. 
Anyway, some good things have emerged, and some good times have been had, even if my horizons and my world has shrunk to the walls of my house (with a few solitary walks to break up the monotony). 

I've enjoyed baking and eating in copious amounts, because if a pandemic has taught me anything its that these aren't worth worrying about. 
I've also enjoyed reading (even if I thought Atonement was overrated), painting at my desk, listening to music to block out intrusive thoughts. I've enjoyed Facetiming my friends and writing letters and silent walks in the morning sun. I've enjoyed seeing everyone come together and the world adapt at an impressive rate. I've enjoyed the permission to be slow and more sedentary. 

It perhaps sounds hyperbolic, but I am grieving for Oxford in summer. For the meadows and the sunsets and open windows in the library, giving a gentle breeze. I miss my friends like never before, walks to college, meals together, nights in bars, and evenings dressing up and drinking wine. The support and the community and the feeling of belonging, the feeling of home. The laughter, endless endless laughter. I was already fearful of how quickly it was disappearing, but now another term has gone. And it is my happiest place and my happiest time. But this is also globally a minor problem and boy is it a privilege for this to be my primary grief. 

Home feels safe and quiet, and I feel I can retreat to my room to the silence and the calm and feel okay. I am dreaming of summer and sea and foreign tongues, but it'll happen, maybe not this summer, but it will happen. 
So for now, I am reading and sleeping and trying (oh, so trying) to be kind to myself. It is just a different phase, a time to be slow and breathe and take time. Instagram is providing a lot of solace (Facebook for sure is not), and when I think of everyone in the same situation, I do feel better. 
And maybe, as Lexie said in her post, something good will ultimately come of this. It is bringing rapid and unprecedented change, and perhaps will, in the long term, offer a shakeout. 
Who knows, we can hope.

Some things I like:
This insta post. 
and this.
and this.

Every single breath you breathe is proof that you are finding your way in this - Morgan Harper Nichols

In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love - Frank O'Hara 

"And the people stayed home. and read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being and were still. And listened more deeply. Some mediated, some prayed, some dance. Some met their shadows. 
And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. 
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed" - Kitty O'Meara (every time I read this, I cry)

For all of the answers
you don’t have yet,
I hope, tonight 
you can still find rest. 
I hope you can find peace
while breathing deep
even without knowing
what comes next.

Even in the nights
when no stars fill the sky
and neither music
or movies
are enough to keep you
take each breath
one at a time.
And with every second
that passes
you are just a little further
down the line. 
I know the nights have not
been easy before you.
So be gentle with yourself
this hour
let endless boundless grace
shine through. 
Morgan Harper Nichols 
(this also made me cry, and I can't decide if my period is due, or I'm just very sensitive at the moment lol)

Breathe, my loves. Take it day by day, moment by moment. I'm always here.
And expect many more posts like this, whilst I avoid the work that feels impossible to start.
Love and peace <3

(sources of pics: 1) pinterest but I can't find it eek! 2) ditto 3) @subliming.jpg 4) also pinterest 5) @frdgngrs 6) @museelouvre 7) @elwingbling 8) @cosmic.grrl 9) @rupikaur_ 10) @rossie_edenbrow 11) @lesparisiennesdumonde 12) @sweetthangzine 13) @isabellapreisz 14) @a_painting_a_day_ 15) here 16) @subliming.jpg

sun and rain

Thinking about:
When this rain will stop, and when the sun will come out. Whether the red wine will come out of my favourite white jeans. Why I remain perpetually single. Why some of my best friends live so far away. About friends who take you to art galleries when you're sad. About whether the media are scaremongering, and what is true. About the race I have to run despite not running in months. About the chaos of this term. 

Its a very wet Thursday morning. I've got my coffee and my cereal, but something doesn't feel quite right. This has been the strangest week, and the uncertainty is set to continue. On Monday, I was supposed to be going to Jordan with some of my best friends, to marvel at all the things I've learned about this term, and laugh until I cry, to debate, to explore. But now I might be going home, I might not. I might be working, I might not. Trinity term might not even be happening.
But I'm just trying to think in the moment, and in the opportunity. And to learn to exist in the emptiness and the unfamiliarity. 
The sun has come out, I really hope it stays like this. 
Yesterday, after a walk in the meadows, I treated myself to two new books. 
I have had Girl, Woman, Other on my to-read for months, ever since my tutor recommended it, and I finally caved after it came out in paperback. It follows the lives of 12 characters in the UK throughout the last 100 years, and won the Booker in 2019. I will report back. 
Late in the Day was an impulse purchase based entirely on the cover, but it sounds intriguing. Its about 'friendship, loss and jealousy'. The blurb does that odd thing where it seems to give away the crux of the plot (i.e. a friend dies), but I'm sure there is far more to it. I have been thinking about friendship a lot recently, mostly that it feels so momentarily intense but is often so transient. My best and most indispensable friends now might not be by my side in 20 years. So it feels sort of pertinent. 
I'm also currently reading Atonement. I read a rogue McEwan over the Christmas vac and really enjoyed his writing style, so felt it necessary to read his most seminal. I'm enjoying it so far, although I feel I haven't properly sat down and allowed myself to become immersed. 
What else? 
The past 8 weeks have included some of my most saddest and hardest moments, and some of my most happiest. Last week my mood was untouchably happy. Friday was the most peaceful and calm day. I was hungover but happy, it was sunny, I walked along my favourite street, had a challenging tutorial, had a chai latte and a walk with a good friend, played netball and went home. All good things and I remember feeling so content. This week was harder. Being at home increasingly makes me feel on edge and anxious and sort of threw me, and our lack of holiday is making me feel a bit empty. But things will get better and will get more certain and this will pass.

And now its Sunday. Tomorrow I am going home, not to Jordan. It's been an unsettled but beautiful few days of laughter and coffee and walks. Life is disorienting and scary but the thing that makes me most scared is not returning here in 6 weeks. This is my favourite place in the world, and these are my favourite people, and it would break me to not come back. But we thrive and we survive, take day by day, feel blessed at our privilege, and distance ourselves from the news. 

love nd hope to u all x x