If you’re feeing a bit down, or had a rough day at the office, or even if you just need a little chuckle. This is golden! This is the internet done RIGHT! Great idea. A great reminder too, to practice kindness.
On Thursday my amazing friends humoured me in re-doing our new Thanksgiving Tradition! We’re all British. Not one of us has American relatives, but we decided to do it because I’m a somewhat wanna-be New Yorker, and by the time November comes around, I’m already super missing the USA. My friends get this. I’m so lucky to have them.
We use Thanksgiving as a great excuse to actually do the meal we said we would do allllll year. It works because Thanksgiving is just the 1 day, and we make sure it’s traditional American cuisine, it provides us with enough rules so that we actually follow our plans through to the end. We can’t move the day because we’re tired, or have no money. Ect, as- lets face it, we all do try to put things off, esp. if you’ve had a busy week ect.
I know Thanksgiving is pretty much a gracious tactical error of kindness from the Native Americans, but it does provide a great excuse for reflection and to tell people you’re thankful for them without feeling too Hallmark-y or stupid.
Here’s some things I’m Thankful for this year (in no particular order, they’re all equal):
1.) I am Thankful that I’m still alive, and healthy enough to actually still do what I need to do. Even though I’d love to be fixed. Hopefully soon!
2.) I’m thankful for my amazing friends and family who are unwavering with their support, generous in spirit & time, and loving unconditionally. You guys put up with a lot from me. I’ve never needed to have some people to listen to me moan, get some advise, or be pushed to figure out what’s wrong with me in my life as much as i have had this year. I think some of you actually saved my life by pushing me to get things checked out, or helping me to get there. This is just incredible. I’ll be frank, I didn’t even recognise my amazing support network until I needed it. Perhaps, that’s normal. But as I’ve said before, I’ve never felt more loved in my life, and i’m grateful to be. Thanks guys. I hope that I can give back what you give to me.
3.) I’m thankful for the amazing roadtrip and adventures that I’ve done with friends this year. There’s nothing else that makes you feel more alive than being part of the moment. I think travel helps with that. Being there, testing your limits, creating or showing up for moments that take your breath away. I’m thankful I got to go to USA again. Mane, I LOVE that place!
4.) I’m extremely thankful that my friends and family are well. I’m super thankful that my bro has found something he loves and enjoys and challenges him in a great way. I’m thankful that my mom seems content. I’m thankful that my nan is still here & healthy!
5.) I’m exxxxtremely thankful for all the AMAZING opportunities that have been given to be this year. Drawing a TEDx conference, getting a Site Gallery Residency, doing Doc/Fest again (one of my most favourite things to do in the world), teaching at University, writing my first real funding bid for someone else, Waterstones hiring me back (because they’re an awesome bunch of people to work with) and most recently – my new contract in London, ect. Seriously. I can’t quite grasp just the amazing chances I got this year. I can’t thank everyone enough, because most of these are just cuz other people gave me a chance, took a risk. I hope it paid off for y’all!
6.) I’m thankful to live in a country where Healthcare is free/affordable. I’m even more thankful for all the healthcare people that work relentlessly in a system that is currently under a lot of strain. Doctors, Nurses, assistants, receptionists – you guys rock. NHS is justa beautiful thing.
I think in order to live the best life this is probably some good advise/reminders:
Try to wake up early. Get enough sleep. Show up. Learn how to think. Be genuine, but be nice. Use envy for motivation instead of destruction. Do what you say you’re going to do. Ensure balance in every area of your life. Confront repressed thoughts immediately. Surround yourself with people who are better than you (but remember the thing about envy). Work out every day. Be good at what you do. Do what you love. Money as a means not an ends. Travel. Test your limits. Read. Get lost. Test your ideas/thoughts. Remember, everything you think is important – isn’t. Everything that you think is unimportant- is. Have good friends. Never settle. Lean in to it.
I made myself a promise over 3 months ago. That if my time on the earth is cut short, I want to make sure that I use my time properly, and use every single bit of it. But the reality of this in itself is that it’s actually quite difficult.
A few months ago, I got told that I could have Lymphoma (big LOL) – impossible right? So after living life like a vagabond on the road and swimming in the Pacific ocean, and eating so much good food that it was unreal, I came home to see if I really did have this disease. However, things aren’t that simple. My Doctors don’t like American Doctors telling them how to do their job so it seems. They think they’re all about getting money from Patients and that I can wait for these tests, wait until things get really bad essentially.
I found a GP I feel like I like and can trust (which is rare for me!) – I don’t know why, he won’t let me talk about my symptoms. He keeps telling me to “Just ignore it and continue with life as normal” Like I haven’t? I think on some sort of subconscious level, this is why I like this dude as my doctor. He really just says what he thinks. I think this is because he’s Italian or something.
Anyways, he ordered some more bloodtests and something COMPLETELY different came up. Something I had NO IDEA WAS WRONG WITH ME. I’m pretty sure it’s completely separate from my other symptoms (or at least kind of hope?). Again the Italian was cool and very collected about it. Asked me a bunch of crazy questions (including whether i’m body building, mega LOL – you just need to take 1 look at me to know that that ain’t happening!) and then said he was sending me for an ultrasound scan and more bloodtests and to ‘not freak out’ (He think’s i’m a hypacondriact thanks to the US doctor recommendation, or at least someone who wakes up in the morning, every morning – even when i was healthy – thinking everything was cancer – this is simply not true as until this year I hadn’t even gone to the doctors in 15 years!) I came home and googled it straight away what these elevated results could mean, because that’s what i do! I’m educated enough to be able to refine, and edit the answers and not jump to any rash dramatic answers.
But I soon discovered that unlike the bone ache, night-sweat, fatigue, lumps, nosebleed combo – which can be almost anything from TB, to flu, to Mono, to Lymphoma. These elevated bloodtests only mean 3 things in a woman. And that’s it. All 3 options sound pretty gnarly too. The best opinion is that I’m going to be infertile & look forward to a future of shitty health problems including heart-attacks and so forth. Or 2 different types of cancer/tumours – which aren’t Lymphoma. FML. Bone ache is going to have to wait, apparently.
Meanwhile, last week i watched Hurricane Sandy flood peoples lives, and terrorise huge communities. I was honestly scared for my East Coast friends who have now become family.
I tell you all of this because the difference between life and death is remarkably small. And it’s not until you face it directly that you realize your own mortality. Us humans are the only animal where we think of the future, as a motivation and as a result makes us quite optimistic. We usually think about the future as though it will occur for us with absolute certainty, and that makes it hard to imagine death as a motivation for living. The C-card came up for me, in many different ways unexpectedly, or something random like a storm could literally make a tree fall on top of you, which is forcing me to contemplate my personal drive for existence.
I pledged to live my life as fully as possible 3 months ago, as though I had nothing to lose. It was easy when I was on the road, in a different country because I had lots of dollars, and it really wasn’t real-life, I consciously tried to fight against the status quo, that was the point of the roadtrip.
It’s so easy to get stuck in the waiting place, putting things off until later, even when those things are vitally important to making your dreams come true. But the truth is that, in order to make progress, you need to physically and mentally fight against the momentum of ordinary events.
It’s the fight that matters. You have to remember to go against your instinct, to confront the ordinary!
This is, of course, extremely mentally and physically taxing. I’ve been feeling the fight very slowly fade since I’ve been back: work, money and cold weather whilst feeling poorly really makes it so much easier to fall back into meaningless routine. And I DON’T WANT to once again become a cog in the machine called quo. So I keep writing blog posts like this to remind me, and you, that we should live the best life we can.
Despite saying I can feel the fight beginning to fade, I’m sure it’s just because it’s not as exciting as a 18 state roadtrip. But in keeping to my promise, and getting to what is the meat and bones important: since I’ve been back, I have re-connected with ALL of my friends, even friends I haven’t seen in 6 years!! I try and buy my mom a surprise every few weeks, I keep cooking for her so she knows I’m thinking of her. Everything is YOLO. I love the wind in my hair on my bike, I love that I now notice how beautiful the leaves look on the trees. I try to actively get up earlier so I can do more with my day.
Doing something remarkable with your life is tough work, and it helps to remember one simple, motivating fact: in a blink, you could be gone. To paraphrase Steve Jobs: remembering that you are going to die is the best way you can avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You really have nothing to lose.
I sometimes feel like I’m being tested through this journey to remind myself and to help me get to what I wanna do. I feel like I’ve grown up for a second time. Fight. Live your dreams and aspirations now. Be who you want to be.
Here’s to being and becoming!
And just as a quick tip, please everyone – Prostate & Ovarian cancers are silent killers because you don’t have any symptoms until it’s spread. Please have regular check ups, and also see your doctor if you think things with your body aren’t right. Sometimes, you really have to be your own health advocate. This is something I would have never ever thought about until I was at least 30 ha!
I HOPE YOU WILL JOIN ME tomorrow LIVE draw the debate as the debate unfolds! I will be LIVE from 1:50AM GMT (technically the 23rd for me!) and 9:00PM EST (22nd). Wish me good luck guys! Hope it’s as funny as last weeks! #BINDERSFULLOFWOMEN
Yep. I watched Joe Bidden tear it up this week on the VP Debates. And I thought, there are moments that would be amazing if it was live-drawn. So funny and so visual!
So here I am, I am going to LIVE DRAW THE LAST US PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE. yikes! On top of this. I am ging to LIVE STREAM me doing it LIVE as the debate HAPPENS. Oh yeah. Yikes again! I can’t decide whether this will be a performance in itself.
It’s going to be challenging as I’ve never live-drawn a debate before. In fact I’ve never drawn people talk bullshit or be aggressive like The Republican party tends to be. So this is something that I’m going to have to think about how to represent without any of my personal political bias. I usually draw talks of people talking about ideas, and amazing things that have happened ,or that they created and the problems and solutions to that adventure. So the debate drawing will be interesting to say the least!
I hope you will join me for this crazy task! And spread the word! Live streaming link and more information COMING SOON 😀
Thanks for reading yo!
Today I go to the Big Sur: A place I never thought I’d ever get to. Mainly because I can’t drive – and how else would I get there. The hotels are expensive and there’s no public transport that goes close. But I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go here, even for a few hours. Just to see it. I want to see the purple sand, I want to climb across the cliff tops. Feel real. Go to that place that Jack Kerouac writes about, that the kid in Into The Wild runs aways to.
I hope it’s as beautiful as i think it will be. And even if it’s not. I don’t care. I got there.
In less than a weeks time, my dream trip will be over. I will be on a plane going home to confirm whether I really do have Lymphoma, or hopefully something less dramatic.
And yet, here I am, I’ve never felt so alive (despite, you know, feeling yucky still). I got to spend the summer on an island in the middle of a beautiful lake in New Hampshire doing arty stuff, spent lots of time in Boston with friends, reconnecting with old friends on the road, and make new friends along the way. I don’t think I’ve laughed as constantly as much as I have done in years. I just saw the sun set and rise above the clouds, on the beach, on the road, over the Grand Canyon, in the dessert, on the Mississippi, over skylines and rooftops and the clearest night skies in the world. I visited Napa, Santa Cruz, Monterey and soon the Big Sur for the first time, and ticked things off the bucketlist which I had no idea were on there. Ate the freshest fruits, the greatest foods. I’ve just seen 18 states in one roadtrip. I take a flight back to the East Coast tomorrow, where my friend is going to pick me up at 1am in the morning at JFK to take me back to New England to spend time with more of my friends – for just 2 nights -and see the real beginning of the foliage and drive me back to NYC to spend my last days in USA with my new-york-adopted family.
It took me a potential life-threatening “unifying diagnosis” for me to see just how loved I am. And how grateful I am just to be loved. Dear friends, I am humbled and grateful for your support and your love. I’m not a lovey-dovey type – My street-cool-edge-britishness doesn’t allow such a thing. But I know i don’t say it enough. But i love you all.
Whatever the outcome: Here’s to living life, how it should be lived – minute by minute.Happiness only exists when shared.
SUNDAY Memphis (continued)
We get to Memphis. And we already know that it’s PARTY TIME because we change CD and this CD has 2pac -Changes & Sean Paul – Get Busy on it. ( a song that basically captures my life when I was 15 and when i had a crush on my Jamaican Biology teacher at the time so i listened to a lot of dancehall music) So you know it’s ON.
[THE NEXT PART OF THE STORY HERE WILL BE A SEPARATE POST WHEN WE ALL RETURN HOME]
We check into an Econolodge – for mega cheap bucks. It comes with 2 double beds, which look soooooo good after sleeping in a car onto of each other for over 11 hours. The first thing we do is fight for a SHOWER! oh the simple pleasures that life offers us. Katka asks about beer. She is beside herself at the prospect that not only can she smoke in the hotel, she can swim AND smoke AND drink a beer at the same time. Her vacation is made.
We leave the hotel, feeling so fresh and so clean, clean. Grab a great sausage hot dog from a real Memphis BBQ in the park with a music and craft festival going on just off Beale Street. Katka can’t believe that she can buy 1.5 pints of booze IN the Street for only $5, and take it into another bar, or just drink it on the street. She announces that this is her favourite place ever. We go into a soul bar, and have an amazing time dancing listening to a great jazz-soul live band. I buy an ice-cream and catch a cab home around 12:30 am. Leaving the others to party. They come back around
2pm. Josh literally passes out on the floor, Rado brings full huge glasses of beers and puts them onto of the TV.
Monday – Memphis – New Orleans
We stay in bed until 9. I get up. The others don’t move. I upload photo’s on Facebook – keeping to my job. It’s nearly 11 – check out time and I decide to wake the others up. We ask for a later check-out time. And bounce. We get amazing super awesome cheap italian food for under $7. And everything is great in the world. The others announce that they can’t remember anything from 12:30 onwards and wonder where they got these wrist bands from. They blame not drinking for 3 days on their ability to get smashed on $40 worth of beer between them.
I go to do laundry. It takes us literally 4 attempts at finding coin operate laundrettes. Clearly everyone seems to own their own washer or pays the dry cleaners to do it for them. We end up in the back end of Memphis, at the most ghetto laundoromat that i have ever seen. out of 50 washing machines only 5 of them don’t have a ‘out of order’ sticker on. The place is run by the nicest woman though, who knows all the tricks to get the machines working, including bumming a door shut in a weird way to make the washing machine start. That in itself was worth the trip.
We take this time to clean the car and buy some much needed febreeze to cover the smell we have gained from sleeping and eating in the car. We meet up with the others who went to the Rock and Roll museum, clearly my priorities are not in order.
We drive the 6 hours to NEW ORLEANS. Rado notices that the light at the back of the car isn’t turning off. We tell him to leave it. but it also turns out that Rado has a tiny bit of OCD in him. He constantly changes the air-conditioning by the smallest amounts – ‘to make it just right’. We have to pack the trunk of the car in order of bags. My suitcase always goes first. And he has to park the car in the same place if we drive to the same location.
So Rado ends up breaking the light to the point that it falls out of the roof. It takes him another hour to fix it and put it back to normal. The drive is a breeze. We all chat and learn about people we don’t really know. Our drunkeness and unspoken about event has brought us more closer together. We stop off at a gas station on the way down because of course Rado and Kafka are hungry. This gas station is like the cheapest i’ve ever been to. They go wild at how cheap it is for 3 mini burgers, fries and huge large coke for $4. Shaggy and myself decide not to indulge (plus the burger meat looked a bit like cat food) and wait it out for a big meal in New Orleans. I do however get a 59cent ice cream! 59cents!
We get to New Orleans around 11pm, and Smizz’s amazing price line reservations comes up again. Pelham Hotel looked like the BOMB. It was classy, boutique like, the rooms were beautiful and part of a great looking building and only 2 blocks away from the french quarter. When I check in we go to the room to find wood shavings and paint buckets on the floor. it takes me a while to gage the situation. at first i was like, oh well. there’s wood on the floor and was going to ignore it. But then I spotted the paint buckets and thought better of it (i’m notorious for avoiding anything where i have to complain to someone about something). So i went downstairs, they apologised and gave us an even bigger room. SCORE.
We then dumped our stuff, and of course get straight onto the free wifi like tramps on chips. We then decide at 11:30ish to search for the great food we had talked about for 6 hours down. Steak, shrimp, gumbo. Yeah. But of course New Orleans at night at midnight closes down and is only open for partying. It’s not New York City. So we ended up get $5 bowls of decent but not amazing Jambalaya just on Bourbon Street with fountain cokes. We are living the LIFE. We walk the street after the UK Kebab Shop eating style experience but with Cajan food. Josh buys a touristy t-shirt about drinking. The Slovakians buy more pencils (their souvenir of choice for every place we visit). and we head back to the hotel for an early-ish (1.30am) night.
In the morning – we have NO IDEA what time it is as our room has no windows. It’s pitch black and drunken Rado had unplugged everything the night before, except setting the alarm which he had set to go off – mega loud. So an alarm goes off. No one except Rado knows where the alarm is ( orin fact that we had an alarm!). He stands on Shag who was sleeping on the floor, and turns it off. We all go back to sleep for 15 minutes. When the alarm goes off again! Ok, so we go back to sleep only to get House-keeping knocking at door almost another 15 minutes later. We tell her to go away! and then we go back to sleep only to get the room phone ringing? We’re like., daymn. New Orleans wants us TO GET THE FUCK UP!
After the phone rings again, we decide it’s time to start the day! Josh and Shag go to the War Museum, whilst Rado, Katka and myself decide to dedicate our day to Touristing it up!
I take many photo’s trying to capture the beautiful architecture. Rado complains that he’s hungry. I have to convince him not to eat at Subway. We end up at an Oyster Bar, where people are wearing bow ties and get seated on a balcony that overlooks the street. I get the best GUMBO EVER. TICK. We have a really great time. We then go on the search for pencils for Rado’s collection. We buy Galato ice-creams, walk along Missippi river, Farmers Market, Go on the Paddle boat, more shops, Go to the Louie Armstrong Park and get drinks. At this point I’m pooped and head back to Hotel to sleep off my tiredness for the night.
6 pm comes around sharp. We get ready, get great burgers & Jambalya for the nights antics ahead! We go to a bar playing country music first. i have no idea who decided that. But perhaps it was the fact that there was a mechanical bull inside which sealed the deal! The crew can’t believe that it only costs $6.50 for 3 beers! Kafka LOVES it. I buy a Hurricane, as i need to tick it off my bucket list. I pay $10 for the biggest strongest cocktail, ever. The drinks keep coming, I keep on drinking the hurricane, a crazy woman with shots comes around. She has rado, he asks how much, she says it’s THREE. He thinks she says it’s FREE. So he does a bunch of shots where she holds test tubes of alcohol in her mouth and pores it into your mouth. He think’s this is super amazing and demands Katka to have some shots from the woman. He then demands Shag to do it, when Shag announces that he’s not paying. Rado is like “Oh no Josh! They are FREE!” We go, no Rado – they’re $3 dollars EACH. He is beside himself. We laugh at his miss fortune. The woman waits around to get paid. She comes back around after we’ve had a few more drinks – i of course am still on the big HURRICANE of a drink! She tells Shag he must do it because it would make a great photo. I agree. So he does it, he then demands that I do it. It’s one of the most awkward moments of my summer. I’m really not sexy in any-way at all when it comes to stuff like that. I’m like a repressed Brit, you know? I realise that i possibly could have a cavity on my back lower tooth when we do the shot. I paid the woman to find out whether I have cavities or not, thankfully I only seem to have a potential 1. Next up is Josh who manages to get them from the breasts of the woman instead of her mouth. Shag is totally jealous. faux pas player. The shot woman asks to see the photos, she admires that they’re in black and white and says it looks ‘classy’, which isn’t exactly what i would describe them as. She gives me her Facebook and asks me to tagg her in them?! She obviously love black and white photographs.
After many beers, $3 body shots and a visit to the dodgy bathrooms later, we bounce and end up dancing on the street. Some how I end up with a drink called ‘Jester’ and I tell Josh he needs to buy a ‘Hand grenade” cocktail. He comes back with some green cherries. I tell him that it’s not a Hand Grenade, we all try them and they’re officially DISGUSTING. We manage to eat them between us. He goes off to try and get the real deal, but comes back with more Cherries. We can’t give them away, and it seems wasteful to waste them so we eat more digesting vodka drenched green cherries. (Yeah, illuminous green).
We end up in a rock bar, Shag is so drunk he dances. The Slovakians pick up another Slovakian. We dance to Journey, and other cliched songs. We shot-gun beers in the street, Josh buys more pizza, Shag runs off to bed, The Slovakians go into a service station style deli for fried chicken. Katka says it’s the best chicken she’s ever had. We stumble back to the hotel. Shag has already passed out. Katka plays Brenda Lee’s christmas album, so Josh tries to cancel it out by playing Notorious BIG. It’s a surreal moment. Katka accepts defeat and Josh tries to call his mom via Skype, drunk. I shower, because I’m a responsible tipsy drunk and all 3 of us try sleeping in the same bed. Katka leaves White Flag by Dido on repeat on a low level on her tablet. We wake up in the morning to Dido, White Flag – still playing.
We pick up the car from the valet (because we’re just that classy with out black and white shot photos). And start the journey onwards to Austin TX. We have a long 9 hour drive across LA and Texas.
- Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
- When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
- Follow the three R’s:
– Respect for self,
– Respect for others and
– Responsibility for all your actions.
- Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
- Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
- Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
- When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
- Spend some time alone every day.
- Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
- Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
- Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and
think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
- A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
- In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
- Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
- Be gentle with the earth.
- Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
- Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
- Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
- If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
- If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
A few days ago I followed a link to one of my awesome artist friend’s blogs (check it here). On this blog she wrote a list, now any regular reader of my blog will know I love a good list! On this list was a reference to an iphone/ipad app called Gratitude Journal.
Apparently with this app you write down five things you are grateful for each day in your Gratitude Journal and your life will change forever. Do this for at least one month.
I’m pretty sure life won’t change forever (i am a cynical Brit though). However, list keeping keeps me and my productivity and goals in check. The only major problem I have with this app is that – yes – it’s for people who are already RICH enough to own an iphone or ipad. Yeah. I’m guessing if you own either or both, your life is already kinda sweet! But never fear, just ‘cuz i’m so poor I can’t afford an iphone or ipad (she says typing on her sexy macbook pro) doesn’t mean I can’t change my life forever.
Plus who knows, if i really do have something horrible like lymphoma, then who knows how long i will be around for! I gotta start being (more) thankful and living the life i should live: To the max.
So here it is: http://runningsmizzlol.tumblr.com/ The new smizz gratitude journal. <——-
Lets see if my life really does change, foeverrrr. (Or at least my attitude 😉 )
- Each day write down at least five good things
- Add photos, rate the day, record the weather and bookmark
- Do this everyday for a month and see your attitude change