A night at the movies: Suicide Squad

I had been quite excited about the release of Suicide Squad. Although I wasn’t super familiar with most of the characters I am generally a big fan of DC and have really enjoyed a lot of the recent TV adaptations like Gotham and Arrow. Whilst the trailers and hype prior to release seemed promising, I was aware of the bad reviews before I went to see it, so I didn’t exactly have high hopes.

Unfortunately it really wasn’t that good. It wasn’t utterly terrible,  I was still entertained, but it just didn’t quite live up to expectations of its potential.

My first impression was that it was a serious case of style over substance – as a series of stills and short bio the characters look interesting, but the movie never really got chance to develop them beyond that – a consequence of trying to introduce so many ‘new’ characters whilst also trying to have a background story to follow. It was clear that some members of the squad really were just there as place fillers, with only Harley,  Deadshot and, to a lesser extent, El Diablo getting anything like any background. To be honest, I think Will Smith’s Deadshot actually stole the show for me as the best character in terms of performance and development.

Harley is a whole other issue that I don’t think I can fully get into here without it becoming a fully fledged essay on women and comicbooks. I’ll try and keep it brief by saying that there was so much potential to take the character and do great things, and that opportunity was thoroughly wasted and sold down the river in a pair of sequined hotpants. The more I think about it, the more I hate those shorts and everything represent.

I won’t say much about the storyline partly to avoid spoilers and partly because there wasn’t much of a storyline to comment on. The first half was a whirlwind introduction that built up to the ‘big problem’ at break neck speed – a serious case of ‘well, that escalated quickly’. In the second half, a good chunk of the time I genuinely didn’t even know what the purpose of the mission was. 

Oh yeah, and The Joker, whose appearances were about as random and as frequent as that. Shame, I was looking forward to Jared Leto’s interpretation.

On the whole, it was a nice evening out, but I’m very glad we got the tickets on 2 for 1. And I did get ice cream 😁

Hope you’re all doing well. I’m off for an early night to try and help me get through the rest of the week without crying!

Love

Betty

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Back to Basics

I didn’t start a blog to write about stuff and products. I started a blog to encourage me to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldy – no wait, that’s wrong – to seek out new experiences and to record them to serve as a reminder to myself that, even in my darkest times, things aren’t always completely shit.

Somewhere along the way I forgot that and started becoming too much like so many other bloggers out there – I don’t mean any disrespect by that, there are loads of great bloggers producing great content, a lot of it about stuff and products, and that’s fine if that’s what they want to do – but if I know one thing about myself it’s that I don’t want to just be like everyone else.

I really miss blogging. Especially as I now live so far from so many of my friends and I increasingly loathe Facebook as a means of social interaction. So, let’s give this another go and see where it takes us…..

Love

Betty

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Does It Bring You Joy? A Personal Philosophy

I have suffered a lot with issues surrounding depression and anxiety. I have regularly caused myself (and, I’m sure, those around me) much distress and upset as a result of various bouts of paranoia, agoraphobia, feelings of obligation, fomo (fear of missing out – note, agoraphobia with fomo is a *great* combo), being overly concerned with what other people think……the list goes on, and none of it (obviously) made me happy. Granted, for a long time I don’t think I even knew what would make me happy, but these things certainly weren’t it.

I’ve tried lots of ways to try and ‘make myself better’ – various medications and therapies, which have had varying effects on my mood, brain chemistry and way of thinking. I am, largely, doing much better with being positive these days than at almost any point in my past, and am learning to retain good things and let the bad stuff go – I’m not perfect, but I’m trying.

Recently I came across the phrase “Does it bring you joy?” and am trying to use it as a bit of a personal philosophy or guiding principle for managing my moods and my behaviour in the hope of getting a more consistent positive outcome.

If you are doing something, anything, or even not doing something, stop and ask yourself “Does it bring me joy?”.

Does it bring you joy

In a very simplistic interpretation – if it isn’t brining you joy, then don’t do it. That’s not exactly a new idea, however it clearly can’t be applied to all situations, there are things we have to do in life that don’t bring us joy and we can’t just avoid them because they don’t in themselves make us happy. So we need to learn to make the best of everything, even the things we don’t want to do – I think in most cases you can find a positive reason to those things that feel more like obligations than choices.

It is for this reason that I see the question in three parts; the process, the outcome and the alternative. Take any situation and now ask yourself – Does the process bring me joy? Does the outcome? Does the alternative(s)? Then weigh up your answers.

(A less fun way of thinking about this is – “Is What I’m Doing Positively Constructive?” – but that’s just not as catchy)

For example – Eating a cake.

The Process of eating a cake does bring me joy, I love cake and could eat nothing but cake. I have a sweet tooth and a huge tendency to comfort eat, so the process of eating the cake releases lots of happy hormones and good feelings.

However.

The Consequence of eating cake, for me and my decidedly average metabolism at least, is getting fat, and that definitely doesn’t bring me joy and I want to avoid this joy-sapping experience.

So.

The Alternative(s) to eating cake could be eating a smaller piece of cake/eating cake less frequently – still getting the joy of the cake but not suffering the lack of joy of gaining weight – or finding an alternative snack that I still enjoy and still brings some joy but without the joyless weight gain again.

 

Example 2 – Paying a Bill

The Process of paying a bill itself isn’t particularly joyful or joyless, but the outcome of having less money is a bit of a joy killer

The Consequence of paying a bill though is that I get to benefit from whatever it is I’m paying for, say it’s electricity – I get light and TV and internet and all sorts of other things that do bring me joy.

The Alternative(s) to paying the bill is not paying the bill, and that means losing all my joy-bringing facilities, so there’s a definitely loss of joy there.

 

Example 3 – Being annoyed with someone else

The Process of being annoyed with someone, say another driver or a colleague who did something you disagree with, is highly unlikely to bring you joy and is most likely going to make you feel stressed and irritable with either no effect on the person you’re annoyed with or just making them annoyed as well.

The Consequence of your annoyance is most likely to be that you feel stressed and unhappy, or you both feel stressed and unhappy – no one involved is going to feel joyful.

The Alternative is either addressing the cause of the annoyance and resolving it, leaving you feeling better or just letting the annoyance go and getting on with finding something that does bring you joy.

As an extension of this, you can also consider how your actions/inactions influence the joy of others – if we can each try to act in ways that not only bring us joy but support the joy of others then everyone should have an easier time of things. Generally I feel that there is too much negativity in the world and not enough mutual support – people are too quick to knock each other down and criticise, and I don’t believe anyone derives any real joy from that.

 

I find the process of breaking down a problem/issue/situation like this holds similarities to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which I have had a lot of experience of, to greater or lesser effect over the years. Largely CBT is concerned with managing anxieties/negative thoughts and feelings by looking for the root cause of a belief or problem and the considering the likelihood of the outcome you fear and then the likelihood of various less fear inducing alternatives, with a view to quelling the knee-jerk anxious reaction or dissipate strongly held negative beliefs.

I know much less about Mindfulness, but what little I do know suggests that this approach also has elements of Mindfulness to it – taking the time to properly think about what you are doing and why, with the aim of increasing the positive personal benefit you gain from it.

Ultimately, I strongly believe that we should all (especially me) try harder to find more happiness in life and to create joy for ourselves whenever possible – even though there are some things that we have to do rather than want to do.

Thanks for stopping by,

Betty

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2016: Reflecting and Resolving

And so another year has ended and a new year has begun.

Those of you who know me, or who have been reading my blog for a while, will know that New Year is one of my least favourite times of year. Of course the turning of the year is meant to be about both reflecting on the past and planning for the future, it is what January is named for – the Roman God Janus, God of endings, beginnings and transitions. My predisposition towards negative interpretations, pessimism and generally feeling inadequate unfortunately mean that, for me, the New Year is associated with a great deal of unhappiness and dwelling on personal deficiencies.

I am trying to do better, but I still ended up in tears on January 1st and feel another bout may be imminent even today.

2015 was a bit of an odd and emotionally turbulent year for me. I struggled to come to terms with turning 30 and the fact that I didn’t even have my boyfriend around to celebrate with me let alone any friends. We also said goodbye to my granddad who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and passed away just three months later. On top of that I’ve had a lot of soul-searching and mixed emotions surrounding my self-image, my personal relationships and the general direction of my life.

2016

As much as I find the actual transition between years emotionally difficult it is still a good opportunity to set out some goals for the future, not resolutions, but ambitions and things to work on or towards.

  1. Buy less, Buy Better
  2. Continue with the weight loss
  3. Continue with the part-time vegetariamism
  4. Read
  5. Decorate at least one room
  6. Take better care of the garden
  7. Improve my Welsh
  8. Increase my savings

I suppose I should have something about trying to be more satisfied with what I have or to have a more optimistic outlook, but I don’t want to set myself up to fail!

I hope you have all had a good Christmas and New Year and that you are feeling more optimistic about it all than I am!

Love

Betty

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Yuletide Greetings

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Indeed, Yuletide greetings to you all.

Today is the day of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, celebrated as the festival of Yule in ancient and modern Pagan traditions. Yule was the traditional mid-Winter festival of ancient Europe, before being adopted and adapted by The Christian Church into the festival of Christmas. Being the shortest day of the year – that is, the shortest period of daylight between sunrise and sunset, obviously every day is always 24 hours long – the festival of Yule is based around the celebration of the sun returning and bringing life back to the world with the (gradual) move out of Winter towards Spring.

Whatever you want to call it – this time of year always makes me want to bake and feed people! So I do like to mark the Solstice with a bit of baking. Of course, the Chocolate Yule Log derives from the tradition of the Yule Log which was an actual wooden log that was burnt to celebrate the Solstice. I didn’t fancy lining myself up for the stress of trying to roll my own Chocolate Yule Log – instead I decided to go down the route of orange, marzipan and cinnamon as ingredients that make me think of warmth and sunshine.

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I used this recipe from Sweet Paul for Norwegian Skillingsboller, that’s Cinnamon Buns, although this recipe has an awesome twist of added marzipan! It takes a bit of time to make as it is a yeasted dough, so you need to leave it to rise, but other than the waiting the recipe is pretty easy. Note: mixing the butter into the dough is very messy!

Mine turned out a bit, haphazard looking – but this isn’t GBBO and I’m not marking myself on presentation or uniformity, it’s all about taste for me.

The finished buns are delicious, I’m going to struggle to restrain myself from eating them all. I did a taste test when they were warm and they were amazing – I’ve also had one cold and it’s still really good, but it might be worth zapping one in the microwave for a few seconds to warm before eating.

I also made these Tangerine and Marzipan Muffins from Olive Magazine. I haven’t tasted one of these yet, I’ve been too busy focussing on the Cinnamon Buns, but they smell really yummy 🙂

UPDATE: I’ve just tried one of thee and they are lovely! Light and orangey and not too sweet, surprisingly! Recommended 😊

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I have a feeling I may take a few steps backwards on my weight-loss over the next week :/

Hope you are all enjoying the festive season, whatever you celebrate and whatever you eat!

Love

Betty

Dysgu Cymraeg and the Llŷn Peninsula

I really love living in North Wales. It’s a beautiful place.

The week before last I was lucky enough to be able to go away to attend a week-long Welsh course on the Llŷn Peninsula. The Llŷn is really close and really beautiful, but I have only visited a couple of times in the nearly two years since we moved.

I stayed at a place called Nant Gwrtheyrn (roughly pronounced Nant Goor-thay-rn), on the north coast of the Llŷn, near the town and popular holiday destination of Nefyn. Nant Gwrtheyrn is a former quarrying village which, after being abandoned and falling into ruin, has been reclaimed and renovated as a holiday location, wedding venue and Welsh language school. They run courses that run from very first introductions to Welsh through to advanced courses for those fluent in spoken Welsh to practice written Welsh or learn about Welsh culture in Welsh.

Ever since we moved to Wales I have really wanted to start learning Welsh. Anglesey, where we live, has one of the highest percentages of Welsh speakers in the country (and the world) – our neighbours speak Welsh as do most people in our town and a large number of people I work with. I have never had a bad reaction to not being able to speak Welsh, but I have always felt that learning was the right thing to do, and would definitely be a helpful addition to my CV if (when?) I need to apply for a new job here.

The course was really enjoyable, I learnt a lot, gained confidence in speaking Welsh and also had great opportunity to relax in the fabulous location.

It was so peaceful and tranquil. On my first evening there I walked down to the beach and sat, listening to the sea and without seeing another person. After having felt so low and unhappy in recent weeks it was so nice to have some genuine down-time away from the rest of life (including digital life, with next to zero mobile phone signal) to rest and relax.

 A series of views from Nant Gwrtheyrn out across the Irish Sea

By the time my week on the course was over I didn’t really want to have to leave and get back to the real world. Hopefully, when Pete is back from working away, in September, we might be able to get away for a break somewhere on the Llŷn and try to find that genuine peace and quiet again.

If you’re interested in learning Welsh then I would absolutely recommend looking into courses at Nant Gwrtheyrn. If not, I would still definitely recommend you visit the Llŷn for a holiday – Wales isn’t always top of the list of holiday destination options, but that means a lot of people are missing out.

If you do speak or are learning Welsh I’d love to hear from you – I’m keen to find people I can practice on!

Oh yeah, for those who don’t speak Welsh, the tile of this post ‘Dysgu Cymraeg’, means ‘Learning Welsh’. Dw i’n dysgu Cymraeg – I am learning Welsh!

Hope you are well,

Love

Betty

Impending Doom

In just under three weeks time I will be turning 30.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this.

At one level I’m really not that bothered. It’s just another year, another number. Nothing is going to fundamentally change in me or my life overnight – I will still be the same person, in the same world, living the same life.

And yet, the prospect of turning 30 has also churned up a lot of unpleasant thoughts and emotions in me.

In all honesty, I’ve been struggling with my mood for a while now, separate to all these pre-birthday apprehensions. I’ve seen a lot of my GP in recent months – my anxiety and stress was getting completely out of control and I was starting to disengage with things again. I changed the antidepressant medication I was taking, which (after the horrible side-effects of the change over period) seemed to make a real difference. But only for about 2 weeks. Now I feel as bad as ever, if not worse.

I am chronically sad. Painfully sad. And cripplingly lonely.

It’s these feelings that are really causing me issues with the upcoming 3-0. It’s not the number, it’s the occasion – what it should mean, what I wanted it to mean and what I wanted it to be. It should be a big deal, something to be celebrated, but I know it’s just going to be a disappointment.

As you may know, just under two years ago we packed up our lives in Southampton and moved to North Wales, where we now have jobs and our own home. The big problem with that is that everyone I knew and cared about now lives in the order of 300 miles away. It’s a long way that takes a lot of time and money to travel over. As a result, I can’t afford to go to them for my birthday and they can’t afford to come to me.

And that absolutely crushes me.

I have, we have, met people here since we moved. Well, mostly Pete has met people and I have met them through him. They’re nice people and I like them, but I am also epically socially phobic – the prospect of spending time with people I don’t know well causes me the kind of anxiety that makes you hyperventilate and get actual physical chest pain. Just the thought of it is physically and mentally draining.

So I’m stuck in an awful Catch-22 of being horrifically lonely but also too goddamn afraid of people and social situations to be able to do anything to try and make a change in my situation.

It’s so ridiculous I could cry. In fact, I do cry.

I wanted my 30th birthday to be a big occasion, with everyone who was important to me. Now it’s probably just going to be me and my parents (I love my parents, but it’s not quite the same). Even Pete will be missing it as he’s working away all summer, again.

I am so lost and so, so unhappy. I can’t stand it, but I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to limit the amount I put up emotional status updates on Facebook or Twitter, as I know it is probably really annoying for the people who follow me, but I feel I have nowhere else to turn.

I’m sorry to put this all out there like this – but if I kept it inside I worry I might explode.

Love

Betty