Closer to Home.

I saw this clip last night and it really resonated. Seeing a little girl leading a normal life only to have it turned upside down in one quick heartbeat is quite sad. Unfortunately, this is the case for many children all over our planet struggling with the dramatic and soul destroying changes that affect them when it comes to war and disasters. The Syrian Crisis, Afghanistan and the growing crisis in Ukraine are filled with innocent children who do not deserve the life they are having to endure. Our hearts and thoughts belong with them. Please support Save The Children.

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Feel good.

Having only properly discovered Spotify recently (yes, I’m so far behind for a thirty one year old) and after finding some essential tracks for each mood, I have come up with a few playlists that I wanted to share with you guys. Music has always been a fundamental key to my survival especially during the abuse. It has been the one consistency through the trauma, the one thing I have always relied on to raise me out of the lowest feelings. It can heal you. Lyrics that have been penned from the darkest of souls who seem to understand your pain for that sad moment, lyrics that capture love and heartbreak and the rare times of happiness. Music has saved me in many ways. The nights where he screamed obscenities at me behind my locked bedroom door as I lay in bed with my headphones over my ears and the gentle sounds of the radio played through my stereo and rocked me to sleep.

I love putting playlists together.

I totally listen to certain songs at certain times and it all depends on my mood.

Here are my favourite ten songs from my Feel Good playlist.

1. http://youtu.be/g0_FvK51wOQ

My, does this song change my mood. I cannot feel unhappy after hearing this. Cheesy? Maybe. Classic? Probably. Feel good? Yes, definitely. The tune and melody instantly captures me and Michael McDonald’s voice is crazy. How a man can reach those notes is beyond me. Love it.

2. ‘Change the World’ – Eric Clapton

This not his biggest song. I do love Tears in Heaven but the heartbreaking story behind it crushes me. It does not belong in this playlist. Change the World is gentle and easy yet has that American, acoustic guitar I like. It’s simplicity. I like the lyrics too.

3. http://youtu.be/P_OK_H8F2g0

Blur or Oasis? There was never any contest for me. I was Blur all the way and in 1999 they released ‘Tender’ which has firmly become one of my favourite Blur songs. It may not seem “Feel Good” but with the help of The London Community Gospel Choir, the song is transformed from softly haunting to melodic genius. It is uplifting as well as calming. It brings back great memories too and who can argue the lyrics, “Come on, come on, come on, get through it. Come on, come on, come on, love’s the greatest thing that we have”. Beautiful.

4. http://youtu.be/dNmpoj2Izwc

This is an acoustic version of the original which is actually more of a dance genre. I like both versions but I picked this one to share as it features the model Cara Delevingne on vocals. She is one my style icons so it made sense to use her version here. Will Heard is on lead vocals and his raspy tone is addictive to listen to. Not only is it feel good but mesmerising. I am in love with his hazy voice and have spent time listening to it on repeat.

5. http://youtu.be/QbsAqs3YHyg

Could not care less what anybody thinks of this! Not only is their music video for “Pray” cheesy and cringe-worthy as hell even I, their loyal supporter cannot control my laughter. No matter what, I adore this. It is wrong and so right at the same time!

6. http://youtu.be/Sds5SpNd1Mw

Bruno Mars can be a little hit and miss for me but he got it so right with “Treasure”. It is: turn it up, hit the dance floor, create a very “un-cool” routine to kind of song. Doesn’t matter. It makes me feel good.

7. http://youtu.be/y_elVdQppTU

Luther Vandross was such an inspiring man, a great loss to the music industry. There was no question he would be in my top ten. I love ‘Stop to Love’, so catchy.

8. American Boy – Estelle.

Great British songstress who only really had this as her biggest hit. Shame we never saw much more. Nevertheless, ‘American Boy’ is so feel good. Back when Kanye was less bizarre and more about the music. This tune makes me want to dance on a beach somewhere.

9. http://youtu.be/bBQVrCflZ_E

Oh god, I am not showing my music taste in a very good way! Well I never pretended to be “cool”. I love eighties music as much as I adore eighties films. This is a quintessential eighties anthem and has to be on this list. You are made of stone if this music video doesn’t make you smile.

10. http://youtu.be/NMNgbISmF4I

Not only ‘Feel Good’ but this Aerosmith song goes on my list of favourite songs of all time. I adore the video and loved Alicia Silverstone when I was younger (I am the generation of ‘Clueless’). I love the sense of freedom in it even though it’s essentially a love song. I longed to be a rebel like the girls in the video. I also wanted the trust and love that the two friends had. I have never found that. The song was released when I was twelve but I saw the video for the first time a few years later at fifteen. It was a bewildering time in my own life and the element of escaping that Aerosmith shot in their music video appealed to me very much.

Without music, life would be a mistake.
Friedrich Nietzsche

To help you breathe better……

After last week, I decided to do some investigating of my own to find any natural remedies to aid my Asthma. I already know about the benefits of fresh lemon juice and its links to Asthma. I often drink lemon and ginger tea when unwell and have recently been having fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water if any wheezing begins. It is not a cure by all means but it certainly helps. Other remedies include a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue to be gently sniffed or drinking a strong black coffee (apparently it helps to open the airways).

I wanted to search for some breathing techniques too. For too long have I solely relied on my inhalers to relieve my Asthma symptoms. However, for my own resilience, I feel it is essential that I develop some more natural strategies to soothe and appease the pain.

A colleague of mine suggested Yoga. She is not the first person to mention it. My friend Katrina is constantly telling me to give it a go. She too suffers from Asthma and her regular love and practise of Yoga has practically sent it packing. I am not adverse to it, I just can’t seem to find enough willpower (or forced interest) in going to a Yoga class. It doesn’t seem “me”. Yes, health comes first before embarrassment but I doubt I’d feel very comfortable. I do not enjoy exercising around other people; an unfortunate side of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I decided to take a look on YouTube and eventually fell onto a clip to do with the art of  “Pranayama” breathing. A Sanskrit word meaning “extension of breath”. Studies have shown it can be a great way to relieve asthmatic symptoms and reduce stress. I have only practised two forms of Pranayama – Shitali otherwise known as ‘Cooling breath’ where the breathing is done through the mouth with the tongue extended and Bhramari – Also known as ‘Bee Breath’ – where you make a humming sound while breathing. Both are equally effective. I tend to do the exercises at home before sleep and first thing in the morning (granted I have time before work!). I hope that over the following few weeks I can endeavour to attempt the other Pranayama exercises and hope that they also provide the same comfort as the others.

During my time at Drama School, we spent a lot of time before our dance and voice classes warming up. Much of this focussed on the way we breathed. We explored several techniques, drawing inspiration from Pilates, the Alexander Technique and general vocal warm ups. One exercise that I remembered was a technique that involved a partner. As you inhaled, you were to imagine your diaphragm and ribs expanding. You are to focus on only this part of your body moving. You must try to control your chest and prevent it from rising. If it does, you are not doing the exercise correctly. As you inhale, your partner needs to put their hands onto your sides, holding your ribcage. As they feel you breathe in, they must push against your ribs. You need to try to push against their resistance. At first it will be tough. Your ribs may not be used to moving like this but over time, you will start to see them expand more easily. As you exhale, your partner’s hands will maintain the pressure whilst continuing to support your ribs.

Try it. It might work for you. If anything, it’s a good exercise for your waist too!

Other tips include:

  • Counting and breathing – counting is a tried and tested way of calming people down in moments of anger – especially children. It works for a reason. It keeps you focussed on your breathing and distracts you from the feeling of panic or stress.
  • Keeping your head slightly tilted forward- it is tempting, in discomfort, to want to lean back or tip your head backwards. If you do this, you restrict your airways and the flow of oxygen to your lungs decreases. The same applies for the recovery position. You must tilt the head down to prevent choking on the patient’s tongue or vomit.
  • Relaxing – close your eyes, put on some peaceful music.
  • Buteyko Method (Nasal breathing) – making a conscious effort to breath solely from your nose is proven to be a better way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Breathing nasally will filter the air more efficiently through your sinuses unlike breathing through your mouth. It also helps to humidify the air that you inhale.
  • Good posture – keeping upright and not slouching are simple solutions. A good way of spotting an Asthma attack is if the sufferer is leaning forward. This is a natural reaction to the chest closing up and can bring some relief but keeping the chest area open will aid the patient more. Get someone to rub your back gently if needed.
  • Steam – one of my favourite remedies as it involves a hot bath. You don’t even have to get in it. If you feel tight chested, run a hot bath, shut the door and sit down in the bathroom. Lean against a wall so that you do not slouch. Take deep breaths in. You could count to keep a slow pace and inhale the rising steam. I assure you that this is an incredibly soothing remedy.
  • Keeping a control of your emotions- this can be a tough one and slightly ambiguous. This doesn’t mean become a wall of stone, just be aware of how you may be feeling. Extreme stress and upset can fuel Asthma attacks so I am going to state the obvious now – sorry – but do not PANIC! It will only make it worse. Anger won’t help either. Even side-splitting laughter can trigger an Asthma attack. I cannot be tickled as I end up wheezing like crazy. It is strangely difficult to explain that to people.

I hope these tips are useful to any fellow Asthma sufferers out there.

Keep well and look after yourselves.

xxx

*Asthma UK – The United Kingdom’s leading Asthma Charity. Image from Google.

What survivors and sufferers should say.

Whether you are a survivor or a sufferer, it does not matter. Equally you have been though the mill and equally you deserve to see some light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Yesterday I blogged a list of what you may often hear from your abuser. Well today let’s be more hopeful and write a list of what we should stand up and say. Many of us will never be heard. Many of us still have to find the courage to even say it out loud. It is a start. We need to acknowledge that it was never “our fault”.

  • I believe in me
  • I am worth something
  • My future is important
  • Do not overstep my boundaries
  • I do not deserve this
  • I am allowed to be selfish
  • He/She does not have control over my life
  • I cannot be restrained by fear
  • There are reasons to live
  • One day I will be truly happy
  • I am allowed to feel anger
  • Life will be good
  • One day I will get that power back
  • I have rights
  • NO
  • What he/she is doing is wrong
  • I value my life
  • It is the past now
  • If I need to call the police – I should
  • I feel sorry for him/her
  • I am free
  • Inspire yourself
  • Be the bigger person
  • I can walk away
  • It is not my fault
  • I will not argue with you
  • I am human
  • You have no claim over me
  • I will save myself
  • Only I know me
  • It is not your life
  • Saying what I feel is a God given right
  • I have nothing to say to you
  • I do not expect nor want anything from you
  • I am strong
  • I have a voice
  • I am not afraid of you
  • I make my own choices
  • You have no more control
  • I am capable of love
  • I deserve love
  • I do not “owe” you anything
  • STOP
  • We are over
  • My dreams and ambitions are of worth
  • I am a good person
  • You did not succeed
  • ENOUGH
  • I am not broken
  • There are many paths ahead of me
  • I am supported
  • You lost
  • Goodbye

Again. There are thousands more.

As Emeli Sande puts it:

You’ve got the words to change a nation but you’re biting your tongue

You’ve spent a lifetime stuck in silence afraid you’ll say something wrong

If no one ever hears it, how we gonna learn your song?

So come on come on, come on come on.

I wanna sing

I wanna shout

I wanna scream till the words dry out

So put it in all of the papers I’m not ashamed

They can read all about it, read all about it.

What a “victim” will often hear.

I say “victim” in inverted commas as I detest the word. I have made the point several times, that we are survivors. Inspired by a video posted on YouTube by an emotional abuse sufferer, I have created my own list of what an abuser’s prey can often be subjected to. Many of these were thrown at me on a daily basis. One on their own does not seem so bad but for many people, they are constantly tormented and cannot escape this abuse. Sarcasm, questioning and indifference play a huge part in verbal and mental abuse.

  • I am worth a million of you
  • Remind me why you were born?
  • You are disgusting
  • I can’t believe my child is a moron
  • What did I do to deserve you?
  • My life used to be good
  • I should have stopped having children after your sister
  • What’s wrong with your face?
  • Be very careful
  • I’m watching you
  • You will never change
  • Idiot!
  • Here come the tears (!)
  • Grow up
  • You really are a pathetic creature
  • Why has God punished me?
  • I say this out of love
  • Why do you always hurt me?
  • Your words are like poison
  • You break everything you touch
  • No one likes you
  • What man would want to marry you!
  • I do not owe you any apologies
  • You brought it all on yourself
  • There used to be a nice person inside you
  • You want me to get angry don’t you
  • I’m your father, I don’t have to respect you
  • I am the authority
  • You are going to drive your future husband to violence – and who can blame him?
  • You embarrass me
  • I’m ashamed to call you my child
  • People are staring at you
  • When I die, you’ll get nothing
  • This isn’t your house; it’s mine
  • Everything you own is mine
  • What are you moaning about now?
  • All you ever do is lie
  • You dare to push me
  • Are you challenging me?
  • Pig!
  • You are always ill!
  • What is wrong with you?
  • I do not deserve this life
  • If I catch you even looking at me………….
  • You will be the reason I die early, probably from a heart attack
  • Are you throwing all that food away?
  • Get out
  • You only ever think about yourself
  • You are evil
  • GET OUT OF MY HOUSE
  • You are just like your mother
  • I am really going to lose my temper
  • It’s your fault I’m angry
  • Where is my apology?
  • Well?
  • Are you stupid?
  • Move
  • Where have you been?
  • Why are you crying, are you a baby?
  • You are a failure
  • Are you trying to kill me?!
  • Even your voice irritates me
  • Think before you speak
  • I’ll never hit you. You’d love that.
  • What is your problem?
  • Imbecile!
  • Even your friends hate you

Of course this list is endless. I could write a thousand more.

Insults are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau