The End of Livin’ La Vida Lockdown – Day 63

We’ve now been in lockdown for 9 weeks, when I started the Livin’ La Vida Lockdown posts, I didn’t expect it to go on this long – not in this way at least. You might have noticed that I haven’t been posting under that title as much and I’ve been considering whether I’ll carry on in this way.

We don’t know how long lockdown is going to last – and part of me wants to return to some form of normality on the blog at least. I’ll still be following the rules, still be social distancing and mainly staying home but do I want all of my content to be about this? No, I don’t think so anymore.

So, after this post I’ll primarily go back to writing about more general topics – will there be updates and some posts related to lockdown and what’s going on? Of course! But I’m planning on a little bit of normality here again and more variety.

Being Kind To Myself During Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

At the start of the week I wrote my post to announce that it was Mental Health Awareness Week and my intention to publish a post every day…you might have noticed that it didn’t happen.

I spoke about the theme being kind to yourself and to others. In the end it was something that I needed to do for myself – which also meant not posting online. I was struck by a particularly nasty migraine earlier in the week and felt pretty rough physically and mentally for the rest of it.

One evening I was trying to write a post on ways to be kind to yourself and it just wasn’t working. Ali pointed out that I wasn’t being kind to myself – that quality was more important than quantity. I agreed and said I would take the time and see what happened. Today is the first time I’ve felt up to writing a new blog.

I had to remind myself that while I love writing the blog and interacting with people, if I’m not up to it nothing bad is going to happen. If I take time off, no one will hate me. It’s also part of the work I’ve been doing within therapy sessions – to be more compassionate to myself and mostly give myself a break.

Writing this is partially because I wanted to say what happened and to show that you need to practice what you preach.

Be kind to yourself.

Book Review: Roomies - Christina Lauren

Book Review: Roomies – Christina Lauren

While Holland has watched her favourite street musician for months with deepening feelings she’s never had the courage to talk to him, until he rescues her from a drunken attack and disappears. She decides to find him again after her Uncle is desperate for an incredible musician and she knows that Calvin could fit the bill. While everyone falls in love with his talent there’s one catch – he’s in the US illegally after overstaying his student visa.

Fed up of being a second character in her own story Holland decides to take a risk and marry him – even though he has no ideas of her feelings. They’re going to have to put on the show of their lives, but at one point does it stop becoming an act?

I’d heard about Christina Lauren a few times and this is the second book of theirs that I’ve picked up and I’m so glad I did. This is a romance that includes music, theatre and a protagonist that isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. That ticks a lot of boxes for me!

I listened to the audiobook of this on Scribd and it was a really enjoyable experience, particularly as the narrator has a knack for the variety of accents that this story needs. It’s worth nothing as well that the characters lend themselves to the diversity that a city like New York would have.

While you cannot hear the music and performance that is being discussed, it didn’t matter – it was as if I could feel it through the page. The heart and the soul that these characters were connected by felt second nature to me. Now, I don’t know if this is the case because I have a passion and love for music myself but it touched my heart.

I also found myself feeling connected to the characters – I cared deeply about their lives and wanted the very best for them. I felt like I knew them. I was constantly rooting for Holland and Calvin to find love in each other and have a shot at happiness together. It’s safe to say I was wrapped up in this book from the first page.

This was a 5 star read for me. It’s a fantastic romance that I could not put down. I needed to know what was going to happen, was the relationships going to stick? Would Calvin fall in love with Holland? Would the law catch up with them? Of course, I won’t spoil anything for you but I really enjoyed this book. I’d also recommend the audiobook as a fun read.

Welcome To Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Writing about mental health isn’t anything new on this blog. While it may have changed in recent years to being about how I’m doing mentally in regards to chronic health conditions it’s still very important to me.

This years Mental Health Awareness week is very different and it’s likely that more people are aware of their mental health. We’re living through a time that none of us could imagine. As simple affection is limited or, for some, impossible I feel like now more than ever it’s important to discuss how we’re feeling.

This years theme is kindness, something we can all give but could all do with receiving too. While the world might seem like the most anxiety inducing place right now, and it is, there are also signs of hope and generosity.

During the last few weeks I’ve received messages, family members and neighbours have helped when we couldn’t go to the shops, strangers on the internet have sent me things from my amazon wish list and so have friends. I’ve tried to do things for others too in the ways I can.

I know that, for me, it’s felt at times like we’re stuck in a reoccurring nightmare. That it takes more effort than I have when things are hard. It’s normal to have days where it’s all too much, especially now. Taking it day by day, even hour by hour we can get through it together.

I’m going to be posting hopefully every day this week about mental health. Even though it’s a different kind of awareness week. I hope you find the posts helpful.

Book Review: Clap When You Land - Elizabeth Acevedo

Book Review: Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

After reading Acevedo’s novel With The Fire on High I knew I needed to read Clap When You Land. I was fascinated by the idea of a tragedy bringing together unknown family members and the difficulties they have after learning the truth. 

This is ultimately a story about grief, family and secrecy. While both Camino and Yaharia share a father, their lives couldn’t be more different. One is used to living in New York in reasonable comfort, while the other is keeping her head above water with her aunt in a struggling neighbourhood. 

As with Acevedo’s other book I read there are a number of diverse characters in terms of race and sexuality as well as looking at forms of intimidation women may face around the world. 

The way in which this is written is beautiful, I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the Dominican Republic and Camino’s sense of community and love for those around her. Overall I think I felt more connected to Camino, simply because I was rooting for her the whole time. That’s not to say I wasn’t rooting for Yaharia, it was just a different kind of connection. 

For me this was a 4.5 star read, I can’t talk about the ending without risk of spoilers but I wanted to see more of that happened after the endpoint. I would definitely read a second book about the girls. I wish I could say more but I refuse to spoil this wonderful book for anyone. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for review. 

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Fifty-One – Things I Want To Keep

I know my last few lockdown posts have focused a lot on struggles that I’ve had in particular. I think it’s a pretty accurate representation of where my brain has been for a little while. We’re over 50 days in now and that is a long time to go without being able to hug your family or friends, right?

That said, when people talk about going back to ‘normal’ I think there are a few things I’d like to keep, a few positives that I’ve found and enjoyed. I hope I can carry these forward and I think other people are thinking along the same lines.

Having time to enjoy as a couple

While the entire sound industry shutting down is not ideal in the slightest it has meant that I’ve had Ali home for a long time. Normally I’m used to him working until late in the night or going away on tour.

We’ve had time to curl up and watch films together which is just really nice in itself. He might need to drag me off of my laptop to do it but it is calming. I know that he will go back to work, and I want him to because he loves his job but I think I’d like to make sure we spend the time differently.

Catching up with old friends

I’ve found myself talking to people I haven’t in a while and I’ve realised how much I’ve missed their company. While I can’t see my little introvert self meeting up with people all the time when we’re allowed it’s nice to catch up and see how people are doing. I want to do more of that.

Making weekends less digital

I don’t need to have my laptop or phone on to catch messages and emails about any potential work at the weekend so they’ve actually become a lot less digital. They’re for reading, sleeping and maybe writing some blogs if I feel up to it.

I’ve really enjoyed just using the weekend as quiet time for me and my brain to just log off for a bit, particularly when I wake up and have some quiet.

Going for walks when I can

It’s not always possible for me to go for long walks, depending on my pain levels but it has been quite nice to go out for a little walk to my local parks. Obviously I won’t be going it in the winter when it’s pissing it down but while the weathers nice I quite enjoy it.

Is there anything you’d like to keep after lockdown? Let me know below!

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Forty-Eight - It's Ok To Feel Frustrated

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Forty-Eight – It’s Ok To Feel Frustrated

It’s been a little while since my last Livin’ La Vida Lockdown post, mostly because I needed some space after feeling like giving up. Also, I wanted to mix it up little bit because I have other things I want to talk about too!

The longer this goes on, the more often I find myself prone to bouts of frustration, anger and upset – particularly after last night’s speech by the Prime Minister. I think we’ve gotten to the point where it doesn’t matter who you support politically, we just want some clarity. Most importantly we want to feel safe and protected, which I don’t right now.

While I want to keep the blog positive, I also want to be realistic. I am frustrated and worried. I can’t help but think, when will I next be able to see my family and friends? When Ali will be able to get back to some kind of sound work? Are the people I love safe? Will my wedding go ahead?

If there was a lockdown for 3 more months just to keep people safe of course I’d follow it. Asking those questions and feelings of frustration don’t take away from that, but we’re still allowed to miss and want things. We’re human.

While we might be used to a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ spirit, you’re still allowed to feel what you feel and miss smaller things that might be silly to others.

It’s also ok to question those in charge and what they’re doing. We are allowed to disagree with decisions that are being made and have been made in the past. Do I think they should be considering sending the little ones who don’t understand social distancing back to school? Absolutely not. Do I think this has been handled well? Not really when looking at the approaches other countries took.

Let yourself feel what you need to feel to get through and remember you’re not alone.