Monthly Overview

It’s been a while since I last posted, and to be perfectly honest I don’t have any real reason. I lost not only my writing mojo, but my motivation for anything that didn’t involve work or hiding at home. I even grew tired of my Facebook pages, and have been seriously thinking of downsizing. But when I have put so much time and effort into certain things, I am often reluctant to give up on them without a fight. Hence my dubious relationship history. But we have yet to discuss that, so let’s move on..

Anyway, I seem to have hit a major slump in my life just recently, and there are a number of factors that have probably contributed to that. Work has been a major hassle these past few months. My health has yo-yo’d, with various trips to the medical centre, and a number of blood tests. My son appears to be edging rapidly towards puberty, and his attitude towards me has plummeted. Oh, and my grandmother passed away, which hit me hard.

It has been a while since I suffered from full-blown depression, and it most certainly is not something I have missed. Yet lately I have found myself down for no apparent reason. Not just down, but teetering on the edge of a major slump. This I don’t need, so I’m going to drag myself to safety before it’s too late. 

So, as we are now well into the latter half of the year and I am increasingly wondering where the hell my life is going, I have decided to make some changes, and to put some plans into action. 

My recent achievements:

  • Work is gradually improving. The job is still pretty boring, but as staff come and go, new opportunities are created, which I’m hopeful about.
  • I completed a Payroll Diploma, which was funded by my current employer, and is a fantastic addition to my resume.
  • I am gradually inching closer to the 100 milestone with my blog; 87 followers and counting, which I’m hugely grateful for. Although I am still a little unsure about the direction to take it in, I am determined to make a go of it.
  • My three Facebook pages are doing fantastically, with a combined following of 350,000.
  • I completed a HR Management Diploma Level 3, another great addition to my resume.
  • I finally got a haircut, which I desperately needed. I have been trying to grow it, but it just isn’t working as it has a tendency to grow faster on one side, and ends up looking ridiculously lopsided. So I got it tidied up and sadly lost the length I had tried so hard to grow (on one side anyway).
  • I enrolled on a proofreading and copy-editing course, and am seriously considering a career move.
  • I acquired new friends in Italy and Greece via http://www.interpals.net. I am a lifelong fan of letter-writing and have a select few penpals who I try to regularly correspond with, although it generally falls by the wayside and they receive 3 or 4 letters a year from me. 
  • I finally got the apple tree in my back garden cut back, as it was seriously out of control.

Goals for September:

  1. Get healthy. As I don’t particularly over-eat, the only reasonable explanation for my fuller figure is lack of exercise. I need to get out there, and get fit. Being single for so long has made me seriously lazy, but I don’t need a man to make me feel better about myself. I can do that all by myself.
  2. Start putting the feelers out in the literary work, and offer my services as a proofreader. This will obviously be slow work in the beginning, as I have no real experience in that field and the competition is fierce. So I will need to market myself adequately, and work my backside off to attract clients. Watch this space!
  3. Blog a lot more regularly. Outside of a work environment, I tend to get lazy and need some kind of routine and motivation to get anything achieved. Ideally, I’d like to be blogging at least 2-3 times a week, so that’s what I’m aiming for.
  4. Use my social media more constructively. I’ve read that Twitter is quite helpful to use in conjunction with WordPress, so I’ll be blogging about that in the coming week, and attempting to generate traffic on both platforms.
  5. Book my car in for its MOT. I have my fingers tightly crossed that it will pass first time as I can do without any extra expenditure.
  6. Complete the Memory Walk. On September 3rd, I’ll be taking part in the Memory Walk in Liverpool, and raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society. My grandmother, who we laid to rest on Monday, was suffering from dementia, and I will be walking in her memory. 

So, there is an overview of what I’ve done this past month, and what I plan to do in September. Writing it down in a blog post may be something I make a habit of doing from now on, at the end of each month. I am hoping it will motivate me! 

And if you fancy sponsoring me for the Memory Walk, all donations go to a very good cause – the Alzheimer’s Society, and a cure for dementia. 💙

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mw259224

Writers Block

Well, I started this blog with the best of intentions. I meant to write regularly; if not daily then at least every other day. And I had such ideas of subjects to write about.. I was extremely excited about it all. And then, all of a sudden, my writing mojo left me. I don’t know where it went. I didn’t even feel it leave. One day it was there, next day it had disappeared. Gone, in the blink of an eye.

This has happened to me so often over the years. It is the main reason I have never been able to consistently keep a diary or journal. It is probably the reason why my book fell by the wayside, amidst the turmoil of real life. I lose motivation. I don’t lose the desire, oh no! Writing has always been a very big part of who I am, and the biggest dream of who I want to be. I don’t think I will ever lose that desire. But I find it difficult to get past that block, when I have been working all day and my mind is churning with endless lists of things I want to do and thinks I have to do. I just can’t find the energy to write.

It makes me wish that I had more time on my hands to indulge in my passion. But then, I suppose many others are in a similar position to me. Who wants to work a full-time job when there are so many better things to do? Who wants to work their fingers to the bone in some dead end job when we could be out there, chasing those elusive dreams? We would all love to work fewer hours if we had the chance. Unfortunately, we still need to pay the bills and put food on the table. Eventually, those elusive dreams become impossible memories as we work more and more hours to make ends meet, and become embroiled in workplace politics and potential promotions. That dream you were so adamant about chasing becomes a distant memory.

This kind of thing has coloured my writing history throughout the years. But now, at 41, I want to chase that dream, I want to catch it and fulfil my writing desires. Life begins at 40, apparently, but it doesn’t just drop into your lap. You have to fight for it. If only my mind would stop creating obstacles that appear too daunting and thus dampen my enthusiasm.

I admit, I am still finding my feet here on WordPress, and my blogs will often appear as rambling soliloquies. But all the better to improve my writing consistency – if it’s on my mind, I will write about it. Thanks for the follow!

3 Books on my Bookshelf

For those of you who weren’t aware, I absolutely adore books. Not only do I adore to read them, but to collect them, to possess them, even to smell them. Yes, I’m a self-confessed book sniffer. A brand new paperback and I’m in seventh heaven. Library books have a special smell all of their own; a worn, slightly fragranced scent which I imagine to be librarian’s perfume. I’m probably wrong, but anyway. 

I own a lot of books, collected over many years and stored in various places around the house. Currently, my hoard is slowly emerging from cupboards and wardrobes and taking up residence on my landing, where they will pile up until there is no more room and they begin to overflow down the stairs. Many of these books, I have only read the once, but I find it almost impossible to part with a book once it’s in my possession. It is mine and I will treasure it forever, even if I didn’t find it a particularly enjoyable read. Maybe I should part with at least some of them to make room for others, but I don’t want to. I love them all.

In my living room, I have a beautiful antique pine bookcase that holds a mere fraction of my book collection, and from this I am going to choose, at random, three books to blog about today. So here goes..

1. Epiphany by David Hewson.

Years ago, I used to work in a discount bookstore, and so naturally during that time, all of my reading matter was purchased from there. They had an awesome 3 paperbacks for £5 deal going on, which I took full advantage of. This book is one of my favourites that I acquired from here. Epiphany is the story of a group of Californian students who regularly experiment with LSD. The leader of the group, Michael Quinn, is pure evil, and his drug-taking escalates into the abduction of a child. Skip to twenty years later, when Quinn is unexpectedly released from prison, and a young woman appears, asking questions that unravel the past. I adored this book when I first read it. It is an edgy thriller, quite gruesome and violent in parts, but engrossing. Also, the cover is extremely eye-catching.

2. Duncton Wood by William Horwood.

This is the first book in a series that I first read back in my school years, after finding it in the local library. I bought this copy around nine years ago, secondhand from Amazon, when I remembered how much I’d loved it. It is the story of moles and faith, which may sound a little odd, but I absolutely adore these books. Set in Duncton Wood, (obvs) it follows the story of Bracken and Rebecca, two young moles who meet and fall in love. Under the tyranny of Rebecca’s father Mandrake’s rule, the Duncton Wood burrow is in decline, with bullying and murder rife, and moles running scared for their lives. It is the story of how violence and hatred can be overcome by love and faith, under the shadow of the great Stone, a standing stone that the moles worship as a deity. Please don’t be put off by the fact that this is a story about moles. This is an amazing book, probably my all-time favourite, and I would recommend it to anyone.

3. Rose Madder by Stephen King.

I borrowed this book from my mother many years ago and never returned it. A longtime fan of horror, I found it to be completely different from the other books I’d read by King. I’ve never really been a big fan of fantasy and science fiction, but this started out in the vein of Sleeping With The Enemy, the Julia Roberts film and the book by Nancy Price, both of which I enjoyed. A woman escapes her abusive husband and holes up in a small town. Yep, just like the above, until she purchases a painting of a woman in a field and begins to display special powers. Sounds pretty kooky, I know, but it’s Stephen King, and it’s actually rather good.

So there you go. Three of the many books on my crammed bookcase. 

 

Book Review: The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike

I must confess, I was hoping for a glorious, witchy romp when I began reading this book. I really enjoyed watching the film when I was younger, and naturally assumed that, as the books are generally better than the movie versions, this would be a corker. I was wrong.

I don’t think there was one character that I found likeable in this book. Updike portrayed them all in such a bad light, highlighting physical flaws, bitchiness, and jealousy. While his aim was to craft three feminists, what he actually presented us with were three women who hated everything and everybody. They neglected their children, they slept with married men, they bitched about each other and everybody else, and they killed innocent creatures. Yes, Alexandra’s brutal disregard for animals that weren’t her own made me feel a little sick. 

I did enjoy parts of this book, especially the first half. A fan of the film, it was difficult not to picture Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer as I read. Witchcraft fascinates me, and I  was enthralled for a bit. But there was never an opportunity to delve a little deeper into the character’s personality, apart from maybe Alexandra and her fear of cancer, which made them all quite two-dimensional. They were old school Mean Girls, hating on everything, with no respect for their own offspring, their friends, the sanctity of marriage, or anything really, and it grew tiresome.

While John Updike’s prose was delectable, by the end of the book I was confused as to what the hell was going on. I’m assuming he was trying to get some kind of message across, but it eluded me, probably because I just grew bored. I was disappointed, as I had expected bigger and better.

3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, and that’s only because I vaguely liked some of it.

It’s Friday! 

It’s that time of the week again, at last! I seem to live for Fridays and the weekend, which is pretty sad really as I am wishing my days away. But I cherish those mornings without an alarm, when I can laze about and catch up on the things that I love to do, such as this blog, instead of rushing around and having to toil away at a job that I despise. Don’t get me wrong – there are far worse jobs out there, such as…. I can’t think of anything at this minute, but you know what I mean. If only I had a job that I loved. Oh well, the job hunt continues, but right now… wheeeee, it’s the weekend!! Have a good one! ❤️

Book Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Okay, so here is my second attempt at a book review, which is a slightly scary notion. I’m always keen to shy away from criticism or judgement, but I’m slowly learning not to take it to heart. After all, a writer has to have thick skin!

So, the book. 

Lo Blacklock is a journalist working for travel mag Velocity, about to set off on a boutique luxury cruise around the Norwegian fjords, yet filled with nervous fear after encountering an intruder in her London home. Confined to the boat with a small group of people, her paranoia is exacerbated after she overhears a scuffle in the next door cabin which ends in a huge splash as a body is thrown overboard. 

Worried for the woman staying in the cabin who she met briefly the night before, she reports the incident to the staff, only for the plot to thicken. Nobody has been staying in cabin 10, and there is no sign of foul play. The woman she had met does not exist.

What follows next is filled with suspense as Lo determinedly attempts to track down the murderer, while mentally crumbling. Surrounded by strangers, it is difficult to know who to trust, and she stumbles around the claustrophobic boat, suspicious and fearful of her fellow passengers, as her own demons threaten to overwhelm her.

Tense, moody, and atmospheric, this is a thrilling page-turner that is sure to keep you engrossed right until the end. I highly recommend it. 

My Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Anyone for Coffee? #WeekendCoffeeShare

Photo courtesy of http://www.intheplayroom.co.uk.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you good morning and thank you for joining me on my first ever weekend coffee share. Today, although coffee is the name of the game, I will be drinking tea instead, white with two sugars. You?

So, I’m going to use our little chat as an excuse to summarise the week, which hasn’t been the easiest. Work is becoming more and more tiresome as the days go by. Right now, my co-worker has handed in her notice and our manager is finding it difficult to accept. She has resorted to ignoring my co-worker completely, including all conversations amongst the team that she is involved it, which is most of them as my co-worker is particularly chatty. 

As you can imagine, the atmosphere in the office is almost tangible, but as none of us are really too keen on the manager, we are managing to ignore it and her successfully. 

I find it all very immature and unprofessional, and another clear indication of why this company isn’t the best to work for. If she (my manager) was a real grown-up, she would be happy that my co-worker is attempting to better herself. There is very little room for progression in our current role, and the only option to get ahead is to find work elsewhere. Surely our manager must see that. But instead, she has taken it as a personal insult. 

It is all very ridiculous, to be honest. It makes me very aware of how awkward it will be when I resign (sooner rather than later, I hope!) My co-worker and I have become quite close over the past few weeks, and we have each other to lean on. However, once she goes, it isn’t going to be as easy for me to brush off the atmosphere. I am very sensitive to things like that.

Nevertheless, I will continue with my job hunt.

How’s that coffee? Would you like a top up?

In all honesty, I’m not having much luck with the job hunt. As I am only looking for part time, the options are limited, and the competition is high. I would have no problem securing a full time role, but I don’t want that right now. Instead, I have been considering freelance work, which is something new. Do I have the motivation though? After years of settling for second best, I want to do something that I have a real passion for. Writing and reading are my great passions, so why not make a living from it? I am tired of toiling away at jobs I don’t particularly enjoy. I want to spend time doing the things I love instead. I have already signed up for a proofreading and editing course, and a freelance journalism course. So watch this space! 😁

On a sadder note, my grandma passed away this week after a short hospital stay, as I mentioned in my post yesterday https://redwineandfridaynights.wordpress.com/2017/08/11/its-friday-2/. It was not a great shock, but heartbreaking nonetheless. RIP Grandma.

So that’s a round up of the highlights, or lowlights, of my week. I hope you have enjoyed our weekend coffee share, and will be back to join me again next week. Have a fabulous weekend! 💜

Myths, Rituals, and Other Things Not to be Trifled with On the Internet

I’m fascinated by this kind of thing, but definitely not ignorant enough to mess with it. An interesting read.

Salem's House

Working at a metaphysical store means I get to answer a lot of different kinds of phone calls. Recently I answered a call from a teenaged girl, no older than 16, who was wondering about Ouija boards and “games” that she and her friends had found on the website Creepypasta↟.

At first it was innocent curiosity as to whether or not Ouija boards actually work and how seriously you should take a Ouija board. She asked if there were any kinds of questions or topics to stay away from when using a Ouija board – to which i told her that with most metaphysical tools like boards and cards – it is best to avoid topics like death or anything that provokes generally negative energy. She thanked me and hung up.

A while later, the phone rang again and it was her. She asked me about something i had never…

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Friday


At last, the weekend is almost upon us, and I am grateful. This week has been an emotional one for me, with work pushing me to the limits of frustration and anger, and my tiredness due to my low vitamin B12 levels. To top it all, my maternal grandmother passed away yesterday after a short illness, which we had expected, but which obviously brought sadness and grief. Although it is a great loss for my family, I am glad that she is in a better place. In her younger years, she was such a strong-willed, vibrant, even feisty woman, and to see her slowly deteriorate over the past few years as old age and dementia took hold was not nice. I know she’s in a better place. I am now ready to celebrate the life and times of such an influential woman and appreciate the years we had with her. She won’t be forgotten. Have a fabulous Friday! 💙