Holl JC

Walt Disney World Photo Diary - September 2019

Wednesday, 30 October 2019
Last month me and my Dad spent a week in one of my favourite places ever, Walt Disney World in Florida. I got to tick another thing off the bucket list - visiting Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! Plus we also went back to Universal and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time in years too! 
It’s only made the Disney blues worse but, I’ve compiled a collection of some of my favourite pictures from our trip to share with you guys! 

God bless

Things I've learnt about grief and bereavement - Part 2

Saturday, 12 October 2019
It’s been nearly two and a half years since that day in a grey ward of a Newcastle under Lyme hospital, that my wonderful mum took her final breath after her battle with cancer. Following that, it’s been nearly two years since I penned what would now be my most read blog post, “Five things I’ve learnt about grief and bereavement”. 

Two and a half years along the road I’ve felt, learnt, experienced and discovered a whole lot more about grief since 21 year old me wrote that original post. So, today, I bring you part 2 of the things I’ve learnt about grief and bereavement. I’ve wanted to write and publish this post for quite a while, but every time I came to sit down and write, or press publish, something stopped me. But here I am, two and a half years older, potentially wiser (maybe), hoping that these words might help someone else in the midst of grief maybe feel slightly less alone. 

It’s going to break your heart
Romantic heart break is a topic that is part of everyday conversation. You really can’t miss it, whether it’s the lyrics of your current music obsession, your no.1 ship from your favourite TV show or film franchise, your work bestie and her now ex-boyfriend – romantic heart break is everywhere and anywhere you turn, especially in the age of the internet.

However, bereavement heartbreak is something that is rarely mentioned, but is something that is completely and utterly real.

A shattering of the heart, that is like nothing else you will ever experience. A A Milne once said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”, I do not think this sums anything up better than the heartbreak of grief. Because unlike romantic heart break, you’re not going to bump into that person in the pasta aisle of Tesco on a rainy Sunday afternoon or dance around your room to a girl power playlist on Spotify because you finally washed that man right out of your hair. The heartbreak of grief is long and painful, and it is real and true and raw, and scarily honest. Bereavement heartbreak will shatter your heart into a million pieces. For many it often feels like those pieces won’t ever go back together, and the likelihood is they won’t ever go back together the same way. However what I’ve learnt over the last two and a half years, is that contrary to popular belief, a bereaved broken heart still beats. It may always beat slightly differently, it may not work in exactly the same way it did before, but a broken heart still beats, it still loves.

It makes no sense
The road those dealing with grief walk is a strange one, often it makes no sense whatsoever. You can feel totally ok for days, weeks even. Then the smallest thing, a smell, the tune someone on the tube is humming, an item of clothing in a shop window, the advert for the latest block buster – and all of a sudden you’ve been completely and utterly flawed. Your feet can’t move, you get tunnel vision, your brain can’t think of anything but them. Or maybe it’s not that. Maybe for weeks your grief and pain has consumed you, trying to take part in daily life has been like trudging through mud. But, all of a sudden, with one Abba song or one cup of tea or one episode of Gavin & Stacey and it’s like the sun has risen and the clouds have parted. And a small semblance of the old, grief free you has returned.

The ups and downs, the illogical painful nature of grief is so bloody confusing. It makes no sense whatsoever, no matter how you break it down or try and rationalise it. I’ve learnt that the confusion and weirdness of grief is something that sticks with you, you’ll never know when that raw sadness or pain is going to hit, or what might set it off. Often it can be frustrating and mind boggling, it can take you by total surprise. Yet that is the rollercoaster that is the strange journey all those living with grief must deal with.

Live today
Growing up I lived within a culture and community where you saved things for best. A dress, a plate, a book, a bag, earrings, a tea set – these are just a few of the things that spring to mind that you should save for best, not just use on any old grey day. Yet, losing my mum when she was so young made me realise that it may be a total wanky cliché, but life is short. You don’t know what’s coming or what’s going to happen tomorrow. So wear that stunning dress, use the fancy tea cups, and book the bloody flight. Make the most of the life and days you have, even in the smallest of things, like eating your Friday night take away off those posh dinner plates that only seem to come out at Christmas.

Holly x

Gods Own Junkyard

Sunday, 8 September 2019
In a random warehouse in Walthamstow, North London, you'll find Gods Own Junkyard, also known as the place where neon signs go to retire. A London institution, that has become more and more popular as the years have gone on.  

A couple of weeks ago myself and my friend went for a wander around, cup of tea and slice of cake. It's such a cool place to spend an hour or so, especially if the weather isn't so great, and their food offering has definitely improved over the years too. Despite what many of the pictures show Gods Own Junkyard isn't actually as big as it looks, but it is definitely something that should be on all London bucket lists. I mean, pink, neon lights, photo opps on every wall and good cake - what's not to love?

God bless

Italy Photo Diary

Saturday, 10 August 2019
Italian food is one of my favourite cuisines of all time. So getting to spend a week in the land of pizza, pasta and gelato was definitely exciting.
I spent a very lovely week in Lake Garda with my best friend and her family, visiting both Verona & Venice too. I got to tick multiple things off my bucket list in just 1 short week; going on a speed boat, swimming in Lake Garda, having a gondola ride down the Grand Canal in Venice. 
These are just a few of my favourite pictures from our trip. 

Mental Health Awareness Week

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK. And for the past few days I’ve been trying to put my scattered thoughts into words, as I felt like I should have something to say about it, and actually I do.

I understand Mental Health Awareness Week is about breaking down taboos, about starting conversations and step by step change. But how does changing the colour of a building help? With more and more cuts to mental health services, and waiting times for support stretching months and months into the future. Suicide, depression, eating disorders, self-harm & anxiety are all on the raise. Mentioning mental illness or an apparent weakness in the work place can feel like a one way ticket to the firing squad. It goes on, and on.

And yet, so many like myself, are struggling. Are battling every day. Finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. You never truly know what is going on behind the laughter, the positive vibes quote, the cute Insta picture. Many of those who seem to be the happiest or strongest or brightest can be the ones who are fighting the hardest. You never know what’s going on behind closed doors, whose wrists contain scars. You may never realise which co-worker had a panic attack in the toilet, or that a person’s number one aim is to get to the end of the day, alive.

I’m so disappointed in the state of Mental Health Services and the way people with mental health illnesses are treated. Telling someone they should just get over it or they need to snap out of it or stop being daft, is still a daily occurrence for too many. I am also so proud of all of those who are battling on. Who despite the odds and often the war going on within their own brain, are continuing on. You are so much more than your illness or struggle, so much more than your doubts or anxiety, so much more than your scars or pain, so much more than your confusion or despair.

For a lot of us struggling with mental ill-health there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, a break in the clouds. Many stories are not ones of a crashing triumphant, victory, of huge change and positivity. But tales of tiny steps, of combing hair or brushing teeth, of saying yes or stepping outside the front door.

Mental health awareness shouldn’t just be a week, but a way of life. It is something that is not invested in enough, but is costing so many so much.

And so I guess there isn’t really a point to this piece. Except to say that, for me, an awareness week and green building aren’t really enough. We need education and social change and money and investment in services and love; but an awareness week and green building are a start, a foot in the door. So I cross my fingers and hope that more change will come, that for people like me the stigma and taboo will end, that getting help will not be so difficult or take so long. That the world will no longer only accept that which is totally perfect and pristine, but also those who are messy or broken, scarred or bruised, anxious or depressed.

Holly x