Illogical minds and Irrational hearts.

Anger ˈaŋɡə/

noun

A strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility

verb

Fill (someone) with anger; provoke anger in.

Anger. An emotion that jars ever so strongly in my head and heart. A feeling that I have held deep inside me for the most of my life, scared of the wrath and aftermath if released. It has been since having my operation and awaiting the last results from my bloods and cervix that the anger inside me has raised it’s little head ever so slightly and at points rather strongly. I can’t excuse the fact that it’s made me into some venomous female at times. I have indeed vented at the poor soul that has taken me into his home whilst I recover and to help me to get away. I have vented and ‘popped’ at times when the anger has pushed through and in my hated mind not been able to stop it from seeping out.

I am blessed. This human, as the other few who are close enough to me to understand my life – the past and what I have been through; the process of recovery and just how hard it is mentally, understands and allows it. I speak to my therapist and there are many tears that flow and roll down my cheeks as she tells me that everything I am feeling is okay. I explain that my eating disorder head is trying to push through the more I try to fight this horrible sense of anger that creeps out so very strongly and she, this wonderful lady…a beautiful example of someone who is exceptional at their job reminds me that ‘it’s okay.’ I am ‘okay’ and not ‘mental’ like I describe. That this….the writing, the reflection and the ability to be so aware of how I am feeling is brilliant and perfectly ‘okay’. That I should just ‘allow myself to feel’, ‘allow myself to be’ and ‘sit with it.’

I can’t say that it’s easy. I am struggling daily at the minute and to different extremes in a pattern of ups and downs. I struggle to sit in one place and also in an area that I don’t know all to well and there are symptoms as part of the physical recovery combined with the unknown of waiting for my cancer markers and results coming back that fills my mind with nothing less than the black mist and haze that feels ever so heavy and scary. I didn’t realise that recovery was going to be this hard. I didn’t realise that this part was going to bring back old mental battles; naively imagining that once it was all physically out and over, then these might disappear as well.  Don’t get me wrong, these dips in my mood have become less. I know it has been longer in between the last one and now and also that my ability to deal with them is getting better. However, this time I’m struggling. I know I have been through a bunch of ‘trouble’ and ‘major events’ more recently as some say that will be contributing to my mind being so unsettled and irrational. I know that this will pass. I know that I will feel better. I know that the two year anniversary of the rape is next week and it’s on my mind. That the results will more than likely come at the same time and that also, I am allowed to feel all these things in both positive and negative correlation. I keep on keeping on. I have to. I need to. I do not know if this will get easier. I do not know if my mind with become more settled or whether it will stay like it is now or change daily and eventually ease off. All of it….the unknown. I try to allow myself to be…to feel and try not to punish myself for doing so. I talk…I keep communicating to the soul living in such close proximity and I breathe. I breathe, I keep mindful and I allow myself to simply feel. I remind myself that feeling IS okay. Recovery is indeed a process but that it is….more than anything, possible and that I will, eventually get there!

LMFC

XxX

Advertisements

The beauty in the open and honestly observed…

Dogs. So many energetic and happy dogs, splashing with absolutely no worries in the sea that is just below where I am sitting on the hill.

The last few days have been a hazy mist of both anxiety and worry as to if, what or how much of what I am experiencing at this moment in time is ‘real.’ The fact that I am living in a converted van on the beach front, in nice company, currently feeling (physically) rather well and refreshed, able to eat and feel alright about it and mostly, be able to sit and allow myself to do ‘nothing’. Okay so arguably, the ‘nothing’ isn’t really that as such. I have indeed been applying for jobs, answering emails, writing my book and editing it the best that I can for now. I have been attempting to learn new skills – new tunes on the ukulele and also accents to further my acting career that have been helping me from going insane whilst recovering from major surgery. Okay, so maybe it’s not ‘nothing’, maybe I am doing ‘things’; it’s just a case of allowing myself to do them without feeling guilty.

If I’m honest, I’ve always been a lass with the incapability to sit and just ‘be.’ To allow myself to sit and physically not move much. Or to eat as some might describe as ‘normally.’ It’s in this whole ‘recovery process’ that self-care and acceptance is hugely key. I have to learn to allow myself to ‘sit’ and equally not feel ‘bad’ about doing so. To allow myself to take in the beauty of the earth just like I see it, right now, in front of my two eyes and to then believe that I DO actually deserve this – with or without cancer being a part of my life! To invest truly in the belief that the world is as equally beautiful and that it is able to offer me opportunities that may potentially open up into more beauty and love in the world.

So, I sit. On my little grubby wooden pallet in the field next to Reubs who is planting new trees and I watch the dogs. I listen to the seagulls, the splashing of their four feet, the shouting of their owners and I giggle at how naughty some of them are being. I take in the energy and warmth from the sun which is a nice relief to that of the crisp air and I allow myself to feel the beauty. I allow myself to accept that I AM entitled to feel every single, wonderful feeling that I encounter momentarily in my heart and that this, all of this, really is REAL!

LMFC

XxX

Soft lips and John Smiths…

Soft lips and John Smiths…

I often wonder what sort of a life a person or human ‘think’ they deserve. What they feel they deserve….or what their life even is and if it’s enough to fulfil their own ‘want’ or ‘need.’

It was today when going on a rather long and brisk walk around my new ‘back garden’ that I realised just what my life is as of now and what I thought I needed. What I maybe assumed I needed anyway and just how different the two were.

I stood there. I stood there and I took in the remarkable view. The colours, the sea, the sound of seagulls, the heat from my breath and sharpness of the wind and I breathed. It hit my chest hard but brought me back to the now of living in the moment. Seeing the world as it is and admiring just how beautiful and brilliant the world around me really was….is. There’s a part of me that feels a little amount of anxiety, the ‘am I actually allowed to feel this good?’ and the ‘is this view actually in front of my eyes?’ It comes to the front of my mind and I realise that I am. I try and separate the ’emotional mind’ from the ‘reasonable mind’ into that of the ‘wise.’ I try and allow myself to just ‘be’ and take it all  in. The main part of this process to begin to love myself and the world around me without doubt and fear.

It was a six hour trip (nearly) yesterday that took myself to this destination. The destination that Uzo the Merc Sprinter triumphed in! On arrival the overwhelming fear of ‘what the f**k is this place?’ and the ‘am I going to die?’ To the settled belief that actually what was in front of my eyes was real, that people did come to stay here and have their little holidays on the coast from time to time and that the amount of information given was actually true and real. That all of this was not actually some falsified vision and that sometimes to ‘land on your feet’ is just what happens!

It was then. At this point that the ‘settling’ began. The calm arrived. The hope began to appear slightly and the worry fade ever so gently. It was a conversation just the day before with my mother about fear for all things new that pushed me to not give into the anxiety around this journey. The constant ‘I will do this’ and ‘I won’t give in to what people think I’ll do.’ I guess a certain amount of stubbornness. As ever, illness has been an ever present part of my little journey so far. To not bring it with me in the van and so far away from home as part of my ‘safety blanket’ was and is ever so alien. Scary. I worry that I might get sick whilst away then realise it’s an irrational worry that might always be there somewhere once hitting remission. I then do the ‘get your shit together Soph, you’re fine and well and not poorly at all. Even the tonsillitis and infection is lifting and for that….be grateful!’ Nothing more than grateful. It’s so easy to forget these simple things…the ability to feel well. To be well. To take the simple and basic things in life for what they are. Just ‘life.’ To not fear them or worry and to grab them in our arms through to our souls, hearts and embrace them.

For this. For today I thank the world. I sit. I appreciate some more and I look forward to the little things. The homemade lip balm on my lips. The bitter John Smiths. The cooking that is about to come of foods that I would never have allowed into my body before. The simple. The little. The love. The hope. The wonder. The world that is actually my life and I remain excited about the unknown. The tomorrow that will be!

LMFC ❤ XxX

How are you starting your new year Soph?

How are you starting your new year Soph?

So, 2017 has gone, we’ve waved goodbye to the good and bad of the last year, realised that it’s 2018! It’s a new one folks and yes, for myself a VERY newly resorted and hopefully healed Soph! With this comes my travel blog that raises it’s face a little less than my others and also with a nifty new Instagram account alongside it (LMFC.Recovers) My next round of posts follow on after my Hong Kong and ‘Hate Crime’ adventures, which was a long while back – yes but yet, this time round we are once again on another positive adventure (that admittedly makes me feel a little outside my comfort zone with a certain amount of anxiety, yet also a huge amount of excitement and optimism!)

This time, my blog will be of my travels as were my last little posts (alongside the Vlogging I did.) Only this time, the focus is on eating disorder recovery – cooking new meals and taking care of my body healthily and full of self-love discovery whilst on the road. It follows me and my little self on the rusty roads down to Dorset which will cover (at least) the next two months in a beautifully restored bright yellow Mercedes Sprinter (completed by an absolute gem) and living what some might know as ‘the van life.’ In this time away from the world, I shall be finishing my book, totally absorbing myself into everything creative, working on self-love and most importantly finishing my recovery! I will quite possibly be ‘off-the-grid’, you will more than likely see very little of me but I’ll be existing and posting the best I can. I’ll be ready. SO ready to take on this adventure and live life finally for me, figuring out what life really is supposed to be about free; away from a mind absorbed with post-traumatic stress, mental health issues and hard-ass illness for a while…hopefully to see me into the rest of my life. I will learn how be healthy. How to live healthy. Properly healthy and most importantly; my main aim. My main goal in life that I am still yet to live and feel…the ability to be truly, truly….HAPPY! ❤ xx

 

A letter of hope to the world….

A letter of hope to the world….

Dear world,

I wanted to write you a letter to speak openly of how I’m feeling about you and how this last year has seemed for the many of us. A letter of hope really to people out there who maybe feel like life isn’t worth living, to the masses who need everyday support – some days more than most, people who have had bad news – grief, loss, hurt and deep set damage; physically and mentally…people like myself who feel like they’ve been beaten from pillar to post from incredible amounts of trauma and unfortunate circumstance.

This year; 2016 has been incredibly difficult to say the least for the majority. One that has been full of death…loss for those extremely close to me and those that bit further, some particular strangers known by names. A year of extreme violence and political harm and hatred. A year of segregation and deprivation, anger and hurt. A mix of negativity and emotional struggle for many a human living on this planet.

I ask the question world – is this what we have to live with? Is this negativity what we’re supposed to focus on and keep dwelling on to carry on mentally tying so many people down? Are we not allowed hope? Positivity? Happiness? I am well aware that a lot of these circumstances are both in and out of our control as humans living on this earth. I’m equally aware that a lot of the time, we cannot really change other people’s lives either or the way in which society is conformed but what I do know is that every single person on this planet has the incredible ability to love.

I am one single human on this planet who has felt like you world have tested her. In fact more than the most. My year began by continuing to be incredibly ill with both cancer and anorexia combined, I then got raped before January was even over and then the year continued to present me with further struggles splitting what could have potentially been a great future relationship from no fault of any parties just confusion and mental trauma, authorities who didn’t look after me when they should have resulting in more trauma to then feeling like there was no way out and becoming mentally unwell, to more recently with further medical and legal struggles….tipping me over the edge once again not wanting to continue life at all. World, I am one single human on this planet who has had an absolute shit load to go through in the space of twelve months and yes, yes right now world I feel angry, bitter at you! I feel sorry for myself and utterly at my end but I am not willing to have you, this negativity or this upset pull other people to this point EVER.

This is where my letter World defers a little to those reading into our personal chat… This is where I address this part of my letter to the many on this planet who are struggling, continue to struggle and need that support and understanding. To those reading this, hello! You don’t need to know my name if you’re reading this without knowing who I am but what I do ask is that you please read and listen to what I have got to say. For those who don’t know my story, what I’ve been through and what my life has entailed, I’d like to think they’d know no different. This year, when focusing on all of the negatives seem like it has been the worst for sure, as I’m sure may be the same for the many of you! But I ask you now to please, read and listen.

Firstly, I’d like to reassure you that things WILL get better. No matter how terribly horrible they seem right now, whether I make it through this next week, weeks, year or few years, I can promise you that they will because they simply have to. I also ask that you trust me when I tell you that nobody can change that, nobody but YOU! I share my negative year with the fact that I can equally counteract it with my positives. My year has been awfully horrendous yes but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had some amazing things happen as well. I have indeed had some incredible acting jobs and begun to work again, I have travelled to see one of my closest over in Hong Kong, I got approached to publish my book, I have helped hundreds of young people and performed to even more. I have made new friends, gained trust and friendships with some stunning people and met even more amazing humans from the traumas whilst by some miracle raising the £4,000 for me to be able to look into and begin the process of freezing my eggs to one day have a family. I also realise that no matter how bad things are, no matter how bad they seem or how ‘on your own’ you feel….you are NEVER EVER alone!

It would be so easy, in fact it is so easy to forget these positives when you’re at your lowest point I get that believe me. When time and time again this ‘world’ kicks you mentally and physically in the face. When you loose the people closest and things that mean everything to you but may I ask you something? Can you for just one second stop and look around at the beauty. Look at the smallest thing….that weird mark on the wall that if you look close enough is a shape of something you recognise, the fact that the feather, dust or bit of a dandelion is falling slowly, possibly in time to the song in your head. The wind, rain or sun on your face. The feeling of warmth falling down your cheeks from your eyes. Yes – even in tears there is beauty! The beauty that you’re able to feel, the fact that you can cry if you need to and that there is always someone willing to grab you, hold you and tell you that everything will be okay. The capability to speak and communicate in some way – whether that be speaking, blinking, looking, the vibration of a shake, the silent swallow or glazed glimpse in the ever so tired eye. Someone, somewhere and in some way WILL understand. I promise.

So world, I’m talking to you now and asking for us both. Can we please begin by injecting more beauty and love into the world? More kindness to each other? More consideration and understanding in that we all make mistakes, we all hurt people when we don’t mean to, we all aren’t perfect but can try to make you, us all, each other a little bit better? A little bit nicer? A little bit more tolerable for the many? It’s fact World, that all us humans living on you have negatives and positives to live through…good and bad but can I ask you….can you please help to make these; no matter how hard, just that little bit more beautiful?

XxX

An interview with our commissioners -Cumbria Police!

An interview with our commissioners -Cumbria Police!
  • Why did you decide to commission a project like ‘Feel The Hate?’

I believe that the police and crime commissioner wanted this play to be delivered to our area because following BREXIT the hate crime figures in our area increased and he felt that would get a very strong message to our youth in the hope they would be less influenced by the hate crime that they may have seen or heard occurring in their area.

  • Why is it so important to Cumbria and do you think it should be branched even further in other communities? Why?

I don’t not think that there is an area that would not benefit from the advice! It should be relayed to even younger people than year 9 kids in my opinion. Sadly hate crime has the potential to affect any community and some people do not realise that their prejudice could actually be criminal.

  • What sort of sentences would people who victimise others and perform hate crime get? E.g. Prison, fines etc.?

It would depend on the type of incident associated with the hate crime. The incident itself will hold certain sentences according to what it is eg. assault, murder. However, the fact that it is associated with a ‘hate crime’ means that the sentence can be extended due to it not just insulting that one person, but also the entire community that they are associated with such as: the homosexual community or all muslims e.t.c.

  • Are there any of the stories in the play that are more significant to the Cumbria area and why?

They were all very important but:

I think that the story about Suzie was very important because he do not have many people in our area who are seen to demonstrate their religious believes through such identifiable clothing, therefore seeing ladies in these garments makes people notice them more which leads to a visual cue of “they are different to me”.

I think that Joe’s story is important to young men as Cumbria is very traditional and men tend to have very stereo-typical lives here. There are not the support organisations and agencies based here in Cumbria that are well known enough for people to know where to go to if they felt they had a need to talk to someone and I am sure that young people find it hard to “come out” even when there is an advice centre down the road, which we just don’t have.

Anya’s story was very impactive for people who are living in our area from Eastern Europe that are probably seen to be taking peoples work and without good English would find it hard to integrate into our society that is not very multicultural. Our supermarkets do not stock products like the ones in the large cities do so people from other countries must find it hard to feel “at home”.

  • Do you think anything within the play will be a shock to the audience?

I think that we are fairly good at being sympathetic to people with physical disabilities and some children would find it shocking that Kim was given such a hard time. I think that it is a shocking lesson to learn that one punch can kill a person but I am glad of that lesson!

Which character resonates best and do you feel the strongest connection to?

Personally I feel the strongest connection to Anya because…. I was born in England but moved to Scotland when I was 4 with other members of my family as my dad’s job was based there. I joined Primary school and lived a very happy life making good friends. However, the bigger picture was not so pleasant. My whole family suffered many years of abuse because we were English living in Scotland. A person in my family was so badly bullied and then attacked with bricks on the way home from school. They were immediately moved to England to a boarding school out of fear they would be killed or that they would kill themselves as they was so depressed. This broke up the family unit and was very damaging for everyone. We had to sell our house, (eventually) and my parents left their jobs just to protect us all from violence.

This did not stop just because we moved to England.

 

My family member was then invited to a party in Scotland many years later, to their old best friends (only friend) house where they were beaten very badly. I remember seeing them walking up the garden path, their face was purple and their eyes swollen so badly they couldn’t see out of them properly and they had driven back from Scotland in this condition. I can’t believe they even survived to be honest.

This resulted in my wider family then blaming “the Scottish” people which has always been very hard for me because my “home” was Scotland as I had grown up there from 4 years old and was very “Scottish” at heart. I moved to England when I was 11 so all of my child hood memories were connected to a happy life, for me at least, in Scotland.

 

Moving to England meant I had to lose my broad Scottish accent just because I was so scared that I would be beaten up in England because I sounded different. I changed my identity out of fear of being a target for hatred.

On  brighter note… I think that people will identify with Joe more than they let on. Gay lads watching the play will feel a secret connection to him and people may change their vocabulary now knowing that “that gay bag “does actually represent a person.

  • And for a bit of fun, if you weren’t in the police…what would you like to be doing in  dream world?

If I won the lottery I would buy a massive mansion and like Angelina Jolie, adopt of lots of children and given them a brighter future.

https://www.cumbria.police.uk/home.aspx

EMERGENCY CALL 999
NON-EMERGENCY CALL 101
14650311_10154381500220412_5228731222727966077_n

Introducing Sean McGrath – Writer and Director of AlterEgo’s ‘Feel the Hate.’

Introducing Sean McGrath – Writer and Director of AlterEgo’s ‘Feel the Hate.’

What is it you’re actually doing and what is ‘Hate Crime?’

We are currently touring  AlterEgo Theatre Company’s new show, ‘Feel the Hate.’ The play is the fictional retelling of four different characters, deriving from a collaboration of verbatim narrative (taken from true stories of residents within the Cumbria area.) Ania – a sixteen year old Polish female, Susanna – a sixteen year old English girl who has converted to Islam, Joe – A sixteen year old homosexual male and Kim – also sixteen with MD (Muscular Dystrophy.)

It was at the beginning of 2016 when the company brought the script (in its early stages) up to Cumbria for a bit of a read. Between four actors, the director and police we had a session to scope where it was going and if there was any other relevant stories we could include that were issues up this end of the country that maybe we hadn’t touched upon. After discussing with Cumbria Police, they gave significant feedback and after a few tweaks and additions have stuck by the company resulting in the ‘go ahead’ and then commissioning us to make this project come alive and our tour possible!

In addition to this fantastic project, it just so happens that National Hate Crime Awareness Week (October 8-15th)  falls during this time (on our third week of touring) and we’re feeling pretty darn passionate about not only the show but a lot of stories within the media that are extremely relative and linking to the post show talk at the end!

‘ Hate Crime is any incident which may or may not be a crime that anyone perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards any aspect of a person’s identity. This covers race, identified gender, disability, ethnicity or sexuality.’

An Interview with Sean:

What made you want to write ‘Feel the Hate?’

I was approached last year by the office of the Cumbria Police & Crime Commissioner to write ‘Feel the Hate’.  Cumbria had had a number of very successful tours of our CSE awareness raising play ‘Chelsea’s Choice’ and wanted a similarly impactive project that could raise awareness around Hate Crime

How did you find the character’s stories and are they real?

The main narrative of each character’s story is based on a real event that happened in the UK within the last 3 years – all the names have been changed though.  I researched a lot of Hate Crime incidents (online, in conversation with victims and with support agencies) and chose the main story for each of the characters in the play.  With the rise in Hate Crime incidents post-Brexit I did alter/add in a couple of things from other true stories within each narrative though to make it fit the objectives of the play a little more effectively.

What happened to the guy that punched Dominik?

The guy that killed Dominik was given a life sentence and was told he would serve a minimum of 16 years in prison.

When did you start writing and directing?

I originally trained as an actor at The Oxford School of Drama.  About 7 years ago I side stepped into directing and my wife and I formed our own company, AlterEgo.  We started off touring Shakespeare and other curriculum based plays into schools and were soon asked by a friend if we could do a play that covered alcohol awareness.  I researched and wrote a play called ‘Smashed’ which toured to a number of London boroughs.  That was my first go at writing a play and I’ve since written 8 others.

What inspired you to write for schools and to raise awareness about such big issues?

My first foray into writing, ‘Smashed’, went really well and was very well received.  On the back of that I was asked by a Northampton based charity to develop a play raising awareness around Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).  The resulting project ‘Chelsea’s Choice’ has now been seen by over 480,000 young people around the UK, has showcased in New York City and will showcase in Canada next year.   As part of the first tour 6 years ago we presented it to a number of parents who’s children had been groomed and sexually exploited.  When they were speaking after the performance, telling their heart-breaking stories, I had a moment of catharsis where I realised that we had a responsibility to use plays like ‘Chelsea’s Choice’ to have a direct and positive impact on young people’s lives.  We’d recently had our first child and hearing parents speak about their children’s horrifying experiences hit to the core.  We reformed the company as a not-for-profit social enterprise and set about developing a market for ‘Chelsea’s Choice’ as well as other new projects that covered issues that we cared about.  Over the past 6 years AlterEgo has developed into one of the leading theatre-in-education companies in the UK – specialising in illustrating the narrative around complex social issues such as Hate Crime, Radicalisation, CSE, Domestic Abuse and Safe Internet Use.  My inspiration comes from knowing that we have a direct impact all around the UK and, on a selfishly level, trying to make the world a slightly better place for my children, their friends and peers.

If for some reason you were suddenly forbidden to write plays or direct, what would you end up doing?

I truly don’t know. 

What is most helpful to you as you sit down to write a first draft?

Having a really clear set of objectives on what the play needs to accomplish (when the audience leave the room they think/feel/know what?).  Having done enough research, interviews, reading so that I know my subject matter backwards.  Coming up with a detailed, scene by scene, plan for the play and working out my characters and their objectives in each scene.  The dialogue can then take care of itself!

 It’s known that you’re a busy man, but on your days off (if you ever got one), what would be your perfect Sunday?

A lie-in, cooked breakfast, Sunday papers, lazy morning, afternoon pub visit, home cooked Sunday lunch, family movie with the kids, evening box set (preferably new GoT) with my wife, red wine and log fire a’glow!

sean