I moved to London when I was sixteen and left a life of slight mundanity behind me. Essex never gave me what I truly needed; it never provided the excess, the chaos, the panting uncertainty that I realised I loved once I moved to the city. I went back to Essex two years after the madness – and walked back into a more calm, even-paced lifestyle. At first I didn’t like it. I didn’t feel at home, I didn’t feel alive enough, I didn’t want to be there, in the sticks, the fresh air and the long walks to the shops. This growling disdain for my new resting place rumbled, but eventually died down. I started to see the beauty in my new environment; the glory of the nature around me and the power my solitude and isolation had once I learnt to harness it. This was a time of a lot of growth for me. I was given all the equipment in my years in London, and I was taught how to use it in my time in Essex.
I went from guzzling any escape down me, to pure sobriety. I went from rejecting the divinity I used to embrace, to three day detoxes, daily yoga practice and reconnection with my deeper self again. I went from turning to meat after being vegetarian for years, mainly to cope with the hangovers, to going vegan and feeling stronger, cleaner and clearer than I ever have. And most importantly of all, I went from diving head first into my depression and anxiety, to really putting in the effort to try to overcome the afflictions that have tormented me since I hit puberty.
And now I am back in London.
I moved into my new place on Saturday, but luckily in an area I am very familiar with. I have dived head-first into the city’s chaos again, but this time it is different. This time, I am different.
I have gone out everyday since; met with friends, wandered on my own, gone shopping (and of course each time forgotten something I need)! Met new people, seen new roads and shops and strangers. Done things I wouldn’t have had the bollocks to do during my last stint in the city.
On Saturday night I went out to a club with my nearest and dearest. We got out of there at 3am, and hung about for a bit. They were all booking Ubers to head home, but earlier in the day I had spotted there was a night bus that took me back to my place. I decided to save thirty quid and go for that option. Of course there were fears and worries, as a young woman travelling home that late at night on the bus, alone. But I had a peace within me. An unshakeable knowingness of my own strength, power and you-can’t-fuck-with-me attitude. I got home within 45 minutes, scrubbed my makeup off, climbed into bed, and knew, if my first night went so smoothly, any challenge London wants to throw at me now, I am ready for it.
The next day I went to visit one of my closest friends, and instead of automatically getting there using public transport, I walked. It was only a thirty minute journey, on basically a straight road there, and I love completing this so soon after my move-in. It gave me the confidence to not rely on buses and trains, but on myself. Plus it clocks up my step counter. We just hung out and spent time, and I was full of love.
On Monday night I had plans to meet my friend at an open mic/open jam session in East London. I kind of had an urge to get on the stage myself, but it wasn’t a certainty I would. I listened and watched for a while; got myself acquainted with the environment, the crowd and the set-up. After one woman got on stage and sang, I was inspired. She was divine in her confidence, her swagger, her coolness. I knew I wanted to say “fuck the fears” and follow her lead. I left my friend and went to the other side of the stage to speak to the man I needed to in order to get on. It was too busy and way too awkward for me too just stroll up to him and sort it, so I just held back and enjoyed the performances. I started speaking to a fella who had performed earlier on, and it was nice to connect with other creatives so quickly and easily. He helped me sort out myself getting on the stage by introducing me to the man in charge.
Over an hour had passed and I still wasn’t called up. I wondered if I was forgotten about, and I didn’t really care if I was. I was having such an amazing time watching all the other talent, and connecting with the others in the crowd, that I was quite happy to be a part of just that. The the boss announced it was the last song of the first set, and I half-accepted my fate of not getting on. Then suddenly he said, “so let me introduce, Lyric Deep!” And I saw all my doubts of dismissal were premature. I waddled onto the stage and took the microphone, swallowed a little bit and smiled into the crowd. The musicians got quiet in wait for me to start, and I got into reciting one of my poems that I know my heart. The music never really picked up like it did for the other rappers and singers, so it was mainly just me and my voice to be heard. Almost a cappella, as I could hear quiet music coming from behind me, but nowhere near the cacophony the whole night had seen. As I neared the last few lines, the musicians suddenly burst into frenzy and helped me end the piece. I spit the last bar, and the girl beside me on the stage just gave me the biggest hug. I could hear applause, and as she released me from her embrace, I just looked into the crowd and smiled, nodding and cheesing in appreciation for the support. I walked off the stage to received fist-bumps and compliments; I hugged the fella who helped me get on, and I went back round to the other side to see my friend again.
That was my first ever performance doing my poetry in front of people. Yes, I made a few mistakes, stumbled over words and lost my flow. But I got back into it. I got through it. I’d rather make a mistake and learn than get stuck and never progress. I have filmed myself for YouTube and done little things for my family and friends, but I’ve never opened myself up in front of strangers like that before. It was exhilarating. All I could hear in my head was Kae Tempest rapping “Mate, I used to storm the stages uninvited/ Far too excited, / I had something to say and I couldn’t hide it.” In their song Renegade. Kae Tempest, that person I found at 17 who changed my life. Who made me think I was worthy of this; who let me be proud of my abilities and inspired me in ways I don’t think words could ever do justice to explain. That person I turn to when I’m lost, of unsure, or stuck. That person who has written poems and made songs that are so accurate to things I’ve been through that I burst at the seams with excitement and admiration. I got on that stage with them in my thoughts; with their influence nuzzled deep into my chest and their success being the push for me to not turn down opportunity to share my poetry and my power.
People came up to me and said how great they thought my performance was. How good I was. I couldn’t believe it. Even writing it now, I feel like I’m ego-touting and arrogant. But those kind words from strangers who love music and poetry and rap, prove every evil thought I’ve ever had about myself wrong. They tell that 14 year old who was cutting her wrists and swallowing laxatives like they were Smarties that she is more than the sum of her parts. They tell that 18 year old who could only feel comfortable in her own skin when she was so blind drunk she couldn’t even feel it that she doesn’t need anything other than herself to excel. They tell the me of Sunday night she is going to accomplish great things, and they tell the me of the morning after that the pride she feels is valid. If you have something you’ve been dying to do, just fucking do it man. You will only reap rewards. You will only receive praise and encouragement. I promise you. I held myself back forever in fear of hating what would come forward; but I’m falling in love with her more and more and more each day.
I’m going to go back to that venue next week and perform again. I’m going to seize every opportunity that comes my way to spread my seed. I write poetry for myself, of course. But being able to share something and have someone feel the way Kae Tempest has made me feel, would be the biggest cherry on the sweetest cake. My mission is evident, and I’m going to grab it by both hands. The wheels have only just started turning, but the destination is in sight. Thank you for your support; you are the reason I’ve not given up.
London was blazing hot the next day, so I went to Hampstead Heath. I turned up earlier than I knew my friends would, and laid in the sunshine. I had a total tsunami of inspiration hit me and I was writing poems as if my life depended on it.
Hampstead Heath is my favourite place in the world. I spent everyday there the last time I lived in London, and it holds some of my most cherished memories. It was the place I went from girl to woman. Being there again as I sunbathed, I looked around and saw the spots we used to all hang out; saw the ghosts of our recklessness and our fun. But I wasn’t sad. I was tickled and inspired and appreciative.
As my friends turned up in dribs and drabs, we even discussed some of those memories that I pondered before their arrival. We laughed at how we used to do things we could bloody never do now. It was then that I realised it was the place nearly all of us had our metamorphosis. We were all there for each of our growing ups. And that is why we are still there for each other now, because without each other we lost that connection to our purposes. We inspire each other, encourage each other, push each other to be the best we can be. That is worth more than anything in the world, and when you find it, you know. I knew on Tuesday that even if contact is lost, connection never will be. That love will last forever, even if ‘we’ don’t. Sounds like an idea for a poem, dunnit?
I wanted to share the first few days after my move in the hopes it’ll inspire anyone to get out there and just fucking do it. The old cliche “life’s too short” is too bloody true. Those days on the Heath from 2018 feel both weeks ago and decades ago. Time is a funny thing. You have buckets of it then all of a sudden only seconds left. But at the same time (no pun intended), we can stretch life to its fullest expanse by making the most of it.
I spent nearly all of my adolescence locked in my room because I was too insecure to get out of it. And now look at me! I got on stage in front of around 150 people and performed a poem I wrote. I laid in the sunshine on the busy Heath in a bikini and fluffy rainbow slippers and didn’t even think of how my body looked. I am living on my own for the first time, in fucking the capital of the country, and I’m harnessing all the power I have to take it by storm. We all have this inside us, whether it is trapped or pouring out.
Something that may help if you are feeling more on the trapped side is the Wim Hof Method (WHM). I’m the same as any human on earth – I hear someone trying to push their new found spiritual path and think, “Fuck off mate. I can figure it out and don’t need your advice or help.”. But looking into WHM, having read his book recently, and having been doing the breathing exercises and cold showers, I do feel my power rising.
Also known as The Iceman, Wim Hof (who’s surname keeps changing to Hot through my autocorrect, which I found very ironic and funny) has spent decades putting his Boyd through extreme measures and proving time and again through scientific experiments that the cold can help with illness, disease, mental health and overall physical and psychological productivity.
The first time I did his breathing exercises was on Monday and I got on stage in front of so many people and did my performance! Has to count for something, right?
I really recommend his book “The Wim Hof Method” and looking into his interviews and crazy accomplishments.
Actually, one of my first memories ever, which must have been when I was about 8 years old, was laying in bed with my dad, who has fallen asleep of course, and watching the TV when a documentary about Wim Hof came on. He was in his little knickers running through the snow, which stuck with me for some reason. It’s come full circle now, really, as I am following hid techniques and ready to embark on my own cold journey to see how it will improve my life. I have type 1 diabetes, some mental health diagnoses, and a new issue with a spot of eczema on my neck – all things The Method is known the help. I’m excited to keep going with it, to keep pushing my body to better conditions and experiencing more positives than I ever thought possible.
I started smoking cigarettes again a few months ago after a year and a half of being off them. I have quit again, and I am smoke free for 18 days. I feel better already. To limit all the shit going into my body is definitely a goal; I’m of the opinion that the more poison you shovel in the more poison that comes out. I think the world would be a less evil place if we started caring for ourselves more, as I feel that breeds more care and compassion for others. As Travis Elliot says, “You have to be a little selfish [taking time to do positive things for your mind, body and soul] to be selfless.” And as Rupaul says, “If you can’t love yourself then how in the hell are you going to love somebody else? Can I get an amen?” AMEN.
I’m sure there will be more positives to share in the next newsletters to come, and this one is pretty packed. Of course I was anxious and terrified to move out, but instead of drowning in that, I worked through it, gained confidence and achieved things I never thought I could. And of course I told my dad to fuck off when he tried to get me to take a cold shower, but now I can’t get enough. By doing it in my own time, I got there. But be careful with always taking time with things. We can get so comfy in that that we just end up putting it off forever and never actually doing it. Sometimes you have to jump in head first and fuck balls deep. Usually spontaneous moments lead to the greatest accomplishments. Then we can take our time to work out the kinks. But get out, get going. Do it all, or do some, but never do none. This life is so precious, powerful and potent, make the most of it.
I believe we are each the universe. When I die, when I take my last breath and close my eyes, there will be darkness and no life left. Because my reality is what I see and sense. You have the same ability, with your own universe. We may both look at a banana and know it’s a banana, but you will see, smell, taste, hear and feel all different things to me in your lifetime. And when it’s time for your body to drop, that universe will be over too. So view the world as your own; view everybody as your perception and universe; then maybe everything will be a little bit less daunting.
We never remember the random person in the crowd, but we remember the person shaking like a shitting dog and messing up the words on stage. Even if you aren’t at your best, allow yourself to be seen. Those that laugh don’t matter. They are either jealous or arseholes. The former deserve sympathy and hopefully in time they will sprout like us, the latter can be left by the wayside anyway. Get onto your stage and shine. And, as Wim Hof says, “Breath motherfuckers!”.
WIAEA (What I Am Excited About):
Song: Theme From Becky by Kae Tempest – this is one of my favourite songs from Kae. The lyrics are so tender and gorgeous – I even have the chorus tattooed onto my ribs. It is from their album Everybody Down which follows the story of their novel The Bricks That Built The Houses. I love the whole album, but this song just strikes something in my heart that I can’t explain. I love how sweetly Becky (the protagonist of the song) is described and how her story is told in it.
Book: The Wim Hof Method by Wim Hof – would be silly for this book to not be here, wouldn’t it! In this book Wim gives parts of his backstory, examples of people who have recovered from severe illness with the method, how it works, different exercises, the results from scientific exercises he has done, and more. It is very inspiring, and his sense of humour really makes it a great read. You can also download his app WHM to do the exercises with a guide and get involved in the community aspect of it all.