Showing posts from April, 2018

My short story is in an anthology

In Autumn 2017, I took myself out of my comfort zone and joined a creative writing class.

As a result of that course, I've got a short story printed in a real life book.

How on earth did that happen?

About six months ago I was flicking through the local paper and something drew my eye to the tiniest little article. It was a good few pages in, only a couple of paragraphs long and with no attached image. It said that Cheshire West and Chester Council had received Arts Council Grants for the Arts funding to run four workshops for adults across their libraries.

There was a contact phone number, and one was to take place at Storyhouse (a.k.a. one of my favourite places in Chester).

Usually I'd spot things like this and either ignore them or file them away for later and then be too late or never get around to taking action.

For some reason, this day was different and I just picked up the phone.

A couple of weeks later, I sat at a table with about 15 other people, of all ages and bac…

The Reading List #52

It's time for my next round-up of mini reviews...

This time, a life upgrade, money talk, a trip to Kenya and a twist on a classic fairytale.

Leopard at the Door, Jennifer McVeigh

18 year-old Rachel has returned home to Kenya after six years at an English boarding school. Her father's new lover has moved onto the farm and times are changing. Outside the farm, rumours are growing of violence between Mau Mau freedom fighters and British soldiers.

I absolutely loved this novel. I love using fiction as a way to explore places and situations I know little or nothing about and I felt completely immersed in this world. It was a pleasure to read, with amazing characters and made me gasp out loud in places. The historical note at the end was also well worth a read, and I was shocked at the examples given of the power of the media and media perspective.

Money: Master the Game, Tony Robbins

I'm a huge Tony Robbins fan, and the focus of this book is pretty obvious from the title. It'…

Learning to go with the flow

'Going with the flow' has never been one of my strengths. As I've got older, that talent got even smaller. I like control, I like set timings and I like knowing what's going on.

There's plenty of times where that's an asset. I'm on time for things, I don't miss meetings and appointments and I usually get things done.

However, it can become incredibly restrictive and put a huge amount of pressure both on myself and on those I'm spending my time with.

I'd insist on knowing the exact schedule of a day and then a tiny shift in those plans (whether or not it was controllable or not) would send me into a panic or get me very frustrated.

It's something I've wanted to change for a long time, and recently I've found it's sort of happening by accident. I guess it must be related to me feeling less anxious overall and feeling less uptight about everything.

I'm more comfortable arriving on time, or five minutes early. I'm more confid…

A few days away.

My brain still does some odd things as I approach a trip away. It's one of the leftover things I still need to deal with when it comes to anticipation with my anxiety, and the confusion between excitement and nerves.

Before I go away, such as for the Leeds and York trip a couple of weeks ago, I get so excited but also have a knot of nerves in my stomach.

It used to be that I was nervous about the journey, what I could eat, breaking routine, not knowing where I was... thankfully those things are no longer the primary things playing on my mind.

However, I get this strange sensation of the trip being some kind of deadline.

In the days leading up to leaving, I feel an intense pressure to tick off every single job on my to do list, including the things that are much longer term goals.

There's a sense of 'running out of time', even though a few days later I'll be back to my normal routine and can continue working on the longer term projects.

It's as if a part of me t…

Mixtape, Royal Exchange Theatre's Young Company

It's a return guest visit on the blog today - my dad's been to another amazing show and couldn't resist sharing his review. Read on for the tale of a wonderful night at The Royal Exchange.
Mixtape ‘It’s theatre in the round, Jim, but not as we know it’
I’m a big fan of The Royal Exchange, Manchester and well used to sitting in a circle, with the players directly in front of me. But last night I was encircled by the cast, rather than the other way around. Because last night I went to see Mixtape – a new musical created and performed by the Young Company of this awesome theatre. The Young Company has just won Stage School of the Year 2018 and it’s not hard to see why. It includes a range of young people, from 14 to 25 who all collaborated to produce what was an exceptional show.
I use the word show because the overall experience of last night is quite difficult to define. We entered the arena and it felt like we’d gained admission to a nightclub. Cast members were already in att…

A day trip to York

I've got an interesting relationship with York.

I went there for university in 2010 and at first couldn't believe my luck. I'd wander around the city centre so grateful that I'd moved to such a beautiful city.

I met some great people and have some really fond memories of parts of my time there.

However, my whole experience there wasn't rosy, and by the time I left in 2013 I had a very different picture of the place.

My mental health had taken a bad turn and that combined with other factors meant I left university in a pretty wobbly place.

I'd retreated into my shell and the Sophie who set off to university was not the same person who emerged at the other end.

I'm so proud of my degree (English Literature) and there are parts of my time there I loved, but York ended up carrying the weight of some very tricky memories and a lot of struggle, anxiety and sadness.

Since graduating in 2013, I've only returned once for a couple of hours, where I pretty much we…

Food choices.

An inevitable part of a few days away from home in hotels is eating meal after meal out in restaurants.

For nearly five years, this kind of situation would be a nightmare for me. At times the list of foods I'd eat was so small there was unlikely to be anything on any menu I could eat.

Even if it was a food I could eat at home, having it prepared by someone else in an unknown kitchen wasn't an option.

For the past few years, all of my friends have known there's a narrow selection of restaurants that are an option when we meet up for dinner, and at those places there's potentially one thing on the menu I can eat.

This made food so boring.

Gone was the enjoyment in eating out.

There was none of the excitement of choosing what to have.

It became a running joke that I'd always eat the very same meal as that was an easy way to avoid discussing the fact that it was a real issue.

My issues with food have lasted a long time and are incredibly complicated. It's the area …

A Wrinkle in Time

Over the Bank Holiday weekend we went to see Disney's latest film offering, A Wrinkle in Time. It's based on a popular children's story of the same name, but I've never read that so these thoughts will be on the film in isolation, not on the way it's been adapted for the screen. I also knew nothing about the story before the film began.

Dr Alexander Murray has been missing for four years, disappearing shortly after claiming he could travel through time and the universe. His children, Meg and Charles Wallace, set off with a group of three travellers working in the fight of the light against the dark to try and find him.

There are some really wonderful messages in this film. The triumph of light over darkness, believing in yourself, empowering young people, the importance of every single individual and their place in the world, family... the list goes on.

It's got a pretty impressive cast, with the three Mrs' played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Min…

Hello, April 2018

I often spend these posts reflecting on the previous month, but this time I'm just going to look forward.

March was great but I've been looking forward to April for ages. It's one of my favourite months of the year because it really feels like Spring is here and Summer is on the way.

This year it starts with Easter, which means family time. It's going to be a busy, packed month by the looks of things, but full of great stuff.

There's a trip to a city I've never been and to a city I love, to the seaside at the end of the month, a singing workshop with an incredible performer, and a 10 mile charity walk.

We've already planned in lots of time with friends and family and I'm sure more of that will be slotted in as the month actually begins.

I'm also going to spend some time on good old 'life admin' as I have some more hours free thanks to the Easter break from my theatre job. That means I can get some other things ticked off and also that we can…