Creative Constipation. Yes, you read that right.

I know I have a few people who read this blog that love reading, writing, and all things creative. And so I want to talk about something that plagues pretty much all of us creatives from time to time. I am going to call it creative constipation. Its not writer’s block, its different. Just to clarify. I might ‘TM’ it.

Creative constipation is when you have an idea that doesn’t want to come out. It is there. It is ready to be introduced to the world- but you can’t get it out. And it becomes uncomfortable carrying it around all day every day. Sometimes it is downright frustrating and even painful. Other ideas build up behind it, but also can’t get out. You stop wanting to write or be creative because of all of the shit building up (pardon the pun). Do you get why I’m calling it this now? This is literally the only way to describe it. Writer’s block is, for me, when you simply can’t think of an idea. This is much more frustrating, and it does get me down from time to time.

Right now, having moved back to Bradford from Newcastle, I have lost my creative writing circle. One I’ve had due to my degree for three whole years, and I’m struggling to find a replacement back home. Yes, they’re on the end of messenger, but it isn’t the same and believe it or not I have an aversion to being social on “social” media. Face to face is best for writing support, I think. Changes like this can often feel a bit stifling, because the ideas are still there, but you don’t really have anyone else to talk them through with. My family don’t want to hear me rambling on about poetry. My friends back home aren’t into poetry, though they will patiently listen to be try and explain an idea for something I want to write, bless them. A lot of them love prose however, and so if I can translate an idea for a poetry collection into a prose-y sounding synopsis, its much easier to explain and they manage to fill me with enthusiasm and ideas.

But what can we do to relieve creative constipation if you don’t have any creative lifelines? (its okay, you can laugh. I’m absolutely wetting myself on this side of the screen). Well, you do what you do with normal constipation. For that you increase the amount of fruit and veg and fibre and water you intake (can you tell I’m also into #health?). For creative constipation you need to look for things that might link to your creative idea that you haven’t been doing, and might help push it out onto paper. For example, I’m looking at working tattoos into the next batch of poems I want to write, so these are things I can do:

  • Find a photography book of poems if possible, for some inspiration
  • Sketch tattoos characters would wear and consider why?
  • Visit art galleries- what would I want to recreate on my body?
  • Speak to one of my friends who is covered in amazing tattoos, about the process and how it feels
  • Get a tattoo (might put that on hold until financially viable)
  • Pinterest! Instagram!
  • I have to dream up the characters and the world of my poems, so look around at different cultures, movies, books etc. and different styles and methods of tattooing
  • People watch.
  • Consider people’s reactions to tattoos

This list could go on and on and on. Not all these tasks are going to produce things that make it into the poems, but they might just inadvertently trigger the release of those ideas that have built up. Think of these things as the fibre that will release that constipation. If the things you think may help don’t work, then take the laxative: force yourself to go to a creative writing class. Even if it looks like an awful one. Even if you end up listening to Betty telling you about the collection of short stories she’s writing about her cat Tiddles, its sure to produce a reaction that gets your idea onto the page as your brain goes into spasm. However painful.

So what do you think? Are any of you feeling creatively constipated?

Salted Dark Chocolate-Coconut Popcorn…

IMG_20170630_202628_446About a week ago I was approached by SkinnyPop about- you guessed it- popcorn (brand name kind of gave it away there). Basically, SkinnyPop want to know what flavours I think would compliment the natural taste of popcorn the best.  The brand make popcorn that is preservative, artificial flavour, GMO, trans fat and gluten plus dairy free. I love the idea of minimal ingredients in my popcorn, but also big flavours. The best flavour combos that various bloggers come up with are the ones that SkinnyPop get will be getting made into recipe cards. Seems like fun, and right now my competitive streak is showing…

You’ll only need to grab a few ingredients for this recipe, as its very much a throw-it-all-in snack, perfect for a movie night. Feel free to eat the entirety of the final product, but I gave this to my dad and even he said it was very rich due to the dark chocolate and coconut, so we split it in two. Depending on which dark chocolate you use this is veggie/vegan suitable as we aren’t using butter, but coconut oil for a bit more of a coconut hit. Let me know what flavour combos you would want to see in popcorn below (I might have to make a couple of popcorn snack posts in the future. Preferably featuring peanut butter).

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1 packet SkinnyPop Naturally Sweet Popcorn
  • 1dsp* melted coconut oil
  • 1.5tsp desiccated coconut
  • 1tsp cocoa or cacao powder
  • 10g dark chocolate, very finely chopped, or chocolate chips
  • 1 pinch sea salt, or pink Himalayan salt if you’re feeling fancy (this cuts through the sweetness. I know sweet/salt isn’t for everyone, but I HIGHLY recommend it).

*dsp= desert spoonful (roughly 7.5g)

 

Method

  • Grab your popcorn and throw it into a bowl. Sprinkle on the cocoa or cacao, and toss it up.
  • Pour on the coconut oil, followed immediately by the desiccated coconut. Toss again.
  • Final step. Throw the dark chocolate over the popcorn, sprinkle on the salt to taste, toss it all up one final time…
  • …and dig in.

ED Recovery Update (I think this is no.3?!)

Its been a while since we took a look at this topic. That’s right, as I promised in my review of Brain Over Binge, it is time for a recovery update. And a lot has been going on.

From April through May I did not want to update you ladies and gents at all, because quite honestly it wasn’t going so well. And by not going well I mean that I didn’t manage to go more than 7 days without binging for a whole month. And a typical binge was becoming larger and larger, despite my eating normally during the day. And I had no idea what to do. There were no warning signs before I binged, they just happened in a matter of minutes. And other than the counsellor I was seeing, no-one knew. Because if you’re in a similar situation you will know it is god-damn embarrassing, even though if the situation was reversed I would want my friends/family to tell me what was going on so that I could help. But an eating disorder can feel like you have a logical and an illogical head sometimes, can’t it? Sometimes I wanted someone to ask, because starting that conversation myself always felt much too awkward, though I did try several times. My friends are amazing though, and even if we weren’t directly talking about it, it was nice to be around people I knew had my back, whatever was going on. They didn’t have to know for me to feel better when I was with them, and I know I am incredibly lucky with that.

After the last binge I had, I woke up the next day feeling my body wasn’t even mine anymore. I felt sluggish, puffy, three sizes too big for me, and incredibly down. I found it hard to leave the house that day, and I think that day was the hardest to pick myself up from out of all of the binges I have had, since the start of my teens. If we’re being honest here, I contemplated not getting up and carrying on, and instead just stopping fighting the binging- I could just binge all day and lay in bed. I could just accept I was going to be miserable forever, and give up. I’d been trying for so long I just didn’t have the energy. But if you learn anything through recovery from an eating disorder, its resilience (you learn some other stuff too, perhaps I should write a post on this?). Since that last binge – touch wood- I am on Day 35 of no binges. How come? Well, I became determined to try and go one month without binging- to begin with. I decided I could either give up, or try again and try harder. And so I’ve gone at it hell for leather. The biggest things I did though were these: I decided to genuinely only look at one day at a time, and I would count down 30 days, not up. Counting up the days I hadn’t binged made it feel like the days were going so slowly, and as if I was barely making any progress. I am generally not a patient person when it comes to myself, so it never went that well. Counting down, personally, made me feel better. I just took each day as it came, and made small improvements each day. It went slowly at first, and then suddenly I was at seven days again…and no binge. Then I was two times seven days, and on and on. Continue reading “ED Recovery Update (I think this is no.3?!)”

The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter (Book Review)

1498738436270My latest book purchase was on a bit of a whim, as recently I’ve been spending more money on poetry than prose. Here, I made an exception.

Little bit of background on my kind of fairy tales: I am Grimm girl, not a Hans Christian Anderson girl. I used to have a book of fairly gruesome English fairy tales when I was about twelve, and they were brilliant too. I would say Carter leans more towards the Grimm versions of the tales most people know, but with definite modern twists. If I had to sum up her style in one word? Refreshing.

The style of writing is very elaborate in most of the stories. Its much more convoluted that I’m used to, and I swung wildly between loving and hating it. In some stories it made the whole atmosphere gothic and strangely beautiful, in others I found it made the tale harder to follow. The tone is definitely reminiscent of the classic fairy tale mode of story telling. There really is something magical in many of the stories, but with a grittier edge that makes them more adult. They’re more focused on the female body and sex for one. Continue reading “The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter (Book Review)”

Raspberry & Vanilla “Cheesecakes” (Vegan-Friendly & Easy!)

1498728094582For so long I have wanted to have a go at making a vegan cheesecake. The only thing that has prompted me to do so is moving home to Bradford, where these kind of desserts are pretty much unheard of. Which means I have to try and perfect making my own.

What has always put me off it the super-long list of ingredients for these cheesecakes. Admittedly, this list is longer than my usual recipes, but you actually only need 10 ingredients in total. All of them can be bought in a supermarket, or if you have a small “Express Supermarket” between that and Holland & Barratt’s (I got my cashews from the H&B’s fruit and nut ‘Pick N Mix’ section as it worked out slightly cheaper). These cheesecakes also don’t take that long to make, and are not difficult in the slightest. The longest thing you have to do is wait for your nuts to soak, and then chill everything.

Ingredients (makes 10 cheesecake cups)

For the base

  • 8 dates, soaked for 10 minutes in freshly boiled water
  • 1 cup oats
  • Pinch of salt
  • OPTIONAL: pinch of cinnamon

Continue reading “Raspberry & Vanilla “Cheesecakes” (Vegan-Friendly & Easy!)”

Why you should “do you” on fitness…

About a month ago I began seeing a lot of posts over IG, YouTube, blogs etc. on how there is no need to work out your abs. I felt like this was some kind of revelation: if I am tensing my core (comprising abs and back muscles) on every move I do in the gym, then surely my abs are getting a workout? I was in the process of doing my 4 weekly change in workout routine, and looking to cut down the duration of my gym sessions around hand-in time at uni. Cutting out working my abs seemed like something now would be the time to try. I chose to do six compound moves a session, working everything but my abs specifically, which would be naturally worked by everything else I was doing. With a few planks thrown in and some moves in my HIIT sessions I would have to use my abs for, such as mountain climbers and burpees (can get rid of my burpees!), I figured this would be perfect. Somewhere in my head I was conscious I would kind of miss working my abs specifically, but I may as well try what everyone was doing , right? Wrong. Continue reading “Why you should “do you” on fitness…”

Book Review: Brain over Binge

From the end of April until the end of May I was struggling with some of the most hard-core binge eating I have ever experienced (I know I owe you all a recovery update soon, because I’m now doing pretty well!). Nothing I was doing was improving my situation, meaning that I was ready to try absolutely anything- including buying this book. I had heard amazing reviews, and reports of people stopping binge eating immediately after having finished it. I was not one of those people. I have some severely mixed feelings on this book, and am still not sure entirely what I think of it, so this could be a long review.

Before buying Brain Over Binge I had a good long browse of the responses from readers on Good Reads and Amazon. They were overwhelmingly positive, but a few stood out to me as swinging the opposite way, claiming that the book was frustrating and disappointing, that the author (Kathryn Hansen) lacks the expert knowledge of the functioning of the brain to make the assumptions she makes, that the style of writing is awful, that the writer tells her story in pointless detail- and that the overwhelming message of the book was insulting to those suffering from binge eating. Because the message was : just don’t binge! Now, I don’t entirely agree with these reviews. I didn’t find the style of writing annoying, I found the details of Hansen’s journey interesting, and it was comforting to know someone had gone through close to the same thing as I was in that moment. I know that the author isn’t a brain scientist, but although her book is mainly theory based it does all make sense. She also does signpost the fact that she is drawing on her own experience and rookie research. I thought she had made links between other addictions and their treatment very well. However, I do have to agree with two things:

  • There wasn’t enough advice on handling the urge to binge, and so stopping (I did some research here: Hansen runs a podcast and has numerous blog posts and YouTube interviews, where she addresses additional questions such as these).
  • The “now you know this you can just stop binging” message did bite me in the arse further down the line.

Continue reading “Book Review: Brain over Binge”