Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Graduation!

Hello!

I have to say, graduation is much more fun when you get to wear a hat and gown! (Although the hat is rather hard to pull off.) I guess I'm now officially a Master of Arts, but don't ask me to draw anything, it's not that kind of art.
The Barbican was full of graduates, families and friends and everyone was in a good mood. My main aim was not to trip when going up to shake hands and accept my diploma, and hurrah! I didn't. I've now attended three graduations and managed to stay on my feet at each one, so that's it, no more. Next time I would definitely fall with a booming crash.
Focus. Focus. 
Lovely Lotta attended as a guest and was kind enough to take a few photos. The weather had become quite wet and windy by the time we resurfaced from the Hall, but hey, the career of a writer can be quite blustery so it's best to practice!
It is against the law for the shoulder bits to actually stay straight on your shoulders. 
A moment of existential crisis ...
Naah, we're good!
And that was it! The end of two years of MA studies in London. It is now "real" life begins, and it begins with me hurrying off to a meeting.

I hope you're good!
Cheerio!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Mindfulness?

I love my brain's unfettered imagination. Its eagerness to make up situations and conversations. Give it a seed and it will grow you a tree with a hundred branches. It's what makes me a writer.  However, my brain doesn't always know the difference between fiction and real life. It takes a real situation or a real conversation just as eagerly and begins to play around. It changes things. It adds things. Parallel universes expand and explode. A positive scenario is followed by a negative scenario which makes me angry and sad, at something that actually never happened. Most of us do this, I think. We revisit the past and consider the ifs and the buts, or pretend that we can see into the future. But sometimes, I feel like my brain just makes that little bit of an extra effort to never shut down. And it can be tiring and distracting. If I'm not required to focus 100% on the here and now, part of me will soon be somewhere else.
Give it some time and I can reach Redwood proportions.
And this is why I sometimes think I should give mindfulness a go. Basically you just practice being in the present, right? You learn how to focus on one thing at a time, pay attention to your actual surroundings and learn to appreciate the moment.
Focus on the raisin, only the raisin. (It's a slightly odd looking raising, isn't it?)
I started thinking about this again yesterday when talking to someone who was taking mindfulness classes. It sounded great, and at the same time a little bit ridiculous (he thought so too). One exercise required him to place a raisin in the palm of his hand and then stare at the raisin for five minutes. Then touch the raisin. Another exercise had the class walking slowly around the room for 20 minutes, tuning into themselves.  As silly as this might sound, maybe it is something that would help? Give me an off-button. Give me more control so when I do let my brain go haywire and create new worlds, it would focus on the fiction and not the energy draining fictionalisation of reality. I want to be able to say stop, enough.
We all do this, right?
As I said before, I think we all have racing minds sometimes, we're all human, but some of us just seem better at shutting it off or keeping it focused on certain things. Mindfulness has been a fad-word for a few years now, and as we know, fads are not always the way to go, but sometimes they do arise from a kernel of truth. What would it be like if my head suddenly went quiet?

If you have any mindfulness tips, do please share! And I hope you've had a great weekend so far!

Cheers


Monday, 19 January 2015

A Race for Life

Hello!

How are you?

Today I received my Race for Life package in the post. In July I'll be running around Hampstead Heath to help raise money for Cancer Research UK. It's a 5k "race", which you can do as fast or as slow as you like. I decided 5k would be a good distance to start with since I haven't done anything similar before, and my very short track and field career ended at the age of maybe 9. (That's over 20 years ago!) If this goes well though, I'll be doing the 10k next!
I'm runner number 19!
At the end of the day it's not about where you finish. Cancer Research UK encourages all participants to raise money by asking people to sponsor their run, and this money goes towards more cancer research. I know sponsoring these kinds of events isn't everybody's cup of tea, for one reason or another, and not everyone has money to spare, but if you do feel like helping out with a pound/euro/dollar or two, I'll be posting the link to my fundraising page a bit closer to the actual event. (And thank you!)
They sent us temporary tattoos! I loved those when I was little. 
I know, July feels like ages away, but it's good to get started. I want to stand at the starting line with confidence. I'm not a doctor or a scientist, there is a limit to what I can do to work against cancer, but this is at least something, and if it keeps me healthy and on the move at the same time, all the better!

If you're in the UK and feel like doing something similar (Race for Life is women only), you can check out more events here: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/find-an-event 

I hope your week has started off well!
Cheers

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A Theatre Speckled Week

Hello!

How's your week been? I hope you had a lovely weekend!

My week was pleasantly filled with theatre related stuff. On Tuesday I attended a rehearsed reading at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston. I met some fab people, old and new, and the performed play was great (well done Dianna!).
Our monthly meeting when we talk about writing and stuff. 
 On Wednesday I took part in a blush-worthy meeting with Lost City Writers for a read through (who knew we could be so sexy?).  We're currently preparing our inaugural show; seven "sexy" short plays at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden over the Valentine's weekend. I'm not one of the writers this time around but will definitely catch the show, and based on what I heard on Wednesday I think you should too! Yesterday I then saw comedian Daniel Kitson up a tree at the Old Vic. I was impressed by the tree, harbor a couple of reservations regarding the play which is appropriately called "Tree", and had a very nice evening out in general.
We took a walk along the canal while chatting about writing and life and how one sometimes complicates the other. 
Finally today, it has so far been all about, talking, walking, coffeeing and reading. The postman had delivered another piece of research material for one of my projects and I'm now slowly learning about the pending doom.
Naomi Klein's new book This Changes Everything about capitalism and climate change. 
Apparently it's still avoidable, but will anyone bother to actually do anything before it's too late? (Sometimes I wish I wrote plays about less depressing subjects, but then it's all very interesting too!)

Either way, I wish you all a good week!
Cheers

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Public Information Films

Hello!

We had a pretty passionate discussion at the office the other day. Someone mentioned the 70s public information film "The Finishing Line" where a bunch of UK kids get maimed by trains, and suddenly everyone was sharing the childhood traumas these kinds of films had caused.

The Finishing Line - it's quite long:


I was reminded of the animated film "Varokaa heikkoa jäätä" which warned Finnish children not to walk on weak ice. It was shown during the winter before or after YLE's popular children's programme "Pikkukakkonen" which is a bit like the stuff CBeebies might produce in the UK. It wasn't as bad as the TFL film, but it definitely gave me nightmares. Especially the sounds and the music were very distressing to a child.

Varokaa heikkoa jäätä:


I thought these kinds of disturbing films might be a thing of the past. I hadn't seen anything similar for a long time, but then I happened to watch "Russell Howard's good news" and he talked about a new road safety film in Northern Ireland that is so shocking it can't be shown until after 9pm. It starts off really sweet and then suddenly ... Well, you just have to watch it until the end.

Car safety in Northern Ireland:


The question is, are these films helpful? Do they keep children and adults from doing stupid things? Sure, I might be scarred for life, but I'm also very careful when I walk on ice. (Furthermore, how do you get one of these gigs? Who decides what's appropriate? I'm sure I could write something grim enough  ...)

Do you remember any films that scared you as a child and did it make you think twice before risking your life?

I hope you've had a great weekend!
Cheers

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Counting My Steps

My dad gave me a step counter/pedometer for my birthday last year because I had long suspected that I don't move enough on the days I'm not consciously exercising. It's not that I'm trying to be lazy, I just work in an office where I sit most of the day and in the evenings I want to do things I'm actually passionate about like writing, researching and reading. Unless you want to fall into a pot hole, these are best done sitting down.
If not a pot hole then a puddle. 
Anywho, I counted my steps on a regular day when the main source of exercise is my walk to the office and back and maybe a trip to the shop and as I thought I barely reached 5000 steps, half of the 10 000 which seem to be the golden rule in step counting. Not good enough!
A few more steps to go ...
For a week now, as part of my New Year's resolution, I've been carrying the counter with me and making sure I reach 10 000 steps per day. It doesn't mean I go for a substantial walk or run every evening after work, but I do try to go for a quick stroll during my lunch break, take a bit of a detour on my way home and maybe find some other reason to walk a little extra. If I'm still lacking a couple of thousand steps by the end of the day, I do a boogie in my room, dancing (or elephanting) off the stress of the day. It's great fun and I've told my flatmates to let me know if the ceiling starts coming down in the sitting room downstairs. 
My favourite Spotify playlist right now for the evening boogie is the "All Time Classic Party Classics". (Not sure why it's doubly classic ...)
I walk past this place quite often and always learn something new. I think I'm running a 24/7 kopfkino. 
There are loads of different step counters and phone apps and stuff you can use to measure your activity levels, and they all work a bit different. My counter has a 10 second delay so it doesn't count every little step you take, you have to make a bit more of an effort, but all in all it's a very simple way of making sure you move enough and don't lie to yourself. I'll let you know how it goes!


I hope you've had a good week so far and look forward to the soon pending weekend!

Cheers 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

No good for the time-strapped vampire

Hello!

I had to go and give blood this morning. I'm young and I'm not a druggy so it should have been easy enough, but no. The kind nurse tapped and prodded my arm for a good while looking for a decent vein (it's never the obvious blue ones). The other nurse managed two patients during that time and I held my breath when she finally inserted the needle, thinking this could get ugly, but luckily out came blood.
It was more fun when you were little and got a cool plaster.
It could have gone the other way though. The previous time I had to give blood, two years ago in Finland, the young nurse stabbed me three times without any luck. I could see the growing panic in her eyes as she apologised profusely. In a surprisingly calm voice I told her that it was all okay and she should just try again. And this time we hit the jackpot.

At the end of the day I think both nurses did their best and I am grateful for all medical personnel. People enjoy complaining about doctors and other staff, but most of them do a great job while under a lot of pressure. I felt a bit faint afterwards (I'm not very fond of blood and they took quite a lot)  but it soon passed. Now I would just like to tell all vampires that I am clearly no fast food.

I hope your week has started off well!
Cheers