Boy blue


Like a triangle of stained glass

No, a diamond in blue

curl of censer smoke

caresses air bubbles


trapped in stasis

imperfections to some


looking through the lens

tears and beer froth

framed in lines of black

lions and jackals claw


don’t trouble

a split of smile

twist of glee, the cackle

and the pain of it all

days many and so few

deep into something new

remember? I remember you

my little boy blue



Photo: Yu Siang Teo on Unsplash



Time out of Mind

Inbetween days

This is going to sound a bit wacky but I wanted to say it.

A few months ago, I started getting some bad feelings, Paulo Coelho Alchemist-style, that the universe was somehow telling me I was on the wrong path. Or rather, that I was ignoring the signs to the right path. I think I wrote about it at the time but maybe didn’t publish it. No matter. I tried to start paying attention and I guess I changed some things. Not major, earthshattering changes but those small incremental shifts that happen almost subconsciously and kind of simultaneously. The changes where it almost feels as though, by the time you’ve formed the thought, the deed is done, things have been set in motion…

I did the poetry month, which was pretty major for me. I made some decisions about work and life that have led to me feeling a little less restless than usual. Maybe I even grew up a smidge.

I sort of hate when people talk about this stuff in a self-helpish way because they never give you any REAL information, or practical steps to follow. Listen to yourself, pay attention to the signs, it’s all so ephemeral. I’m sorry because I don’t think I can offer practical advice either, beyond a cod-version of my patented “hands-off parenting” advice (maybe it’s my general life advice) which is: You do know what’s right. And even if you don’t think you know, you do. Trust yourself. Then go on and do it and meanwhile, butt out of bossing other people! (Unless they ask for your advice, I love giving sought-advice IRL). So why am I even saying this here? Sigh… I don’t know. I’m not trying to help anyone else out particularly, just understand myself a bit better.

I’ve been trying to allow myself some time to think as well. I find it almost impossible to sit around and contemplate stuff though. I am a do-er, but that’s OK – with doing comes thought. I can think while I do. That said, one of the few ways I can give myself a break from “doing” is by reading. I read novels. A lot. I’ve recently finished the Earthsea quartet by Ursula K. LeGuin and some of the words really struck a chord… surely a level up from Coelho at least 😉  Anyway, one of the ideas I always come back to when I consider my life here in Switzerland is that it is a unique time. A time-inbetween-times where I am almost inexplicably free of the burdens of what I’d call “normal life”.

“each deed you do, each act, binds you to itself and to its consequences, and makes you act again and yet again. Then very seldom do you come upon a space, a time like this, between act and act, when you may stop and simply be. Or wonder who, after all, you are.’” (from “The Farthest Shore: The Third Book of Earthsea (The Earthsea Quartet 3)” by Ursula K. LeGuin)

I’ve also been allowing myself to feel my emotions more and maybe that’s helped? I find it hard to value emotion over rational thought and planning. Considered along with the gender bias stuff I inexpertly wrote about recently, I guess this can be directly correlated to a lot of what’s seen as important, valuable and success-making in our society – traditionally “male” traits of rationality, consistency or unwavering-ness, disregarding emotion. (I say “male” in inverted commas because I don’t think men and women are really that different, but we’re conditioned in so many ways to believe we are.) And I wonder if, in this world gone mad with all the focus on negativity, where commercial enterprise wins out almost every damn time against caring for the natural world or human decency; where we’d rather catch a longhaul flight to holiday in another country than let a starving refugee take up residence in our own, if this denying of emotion, of love, of trying to push away fear with hatred and never allowing ourselves to feel compassion because we’re so afraid that it will in some way diminish us, open a door through which all that we value can be taken away from us; where appearing strong, virile, invulnerable and unbending is paramount, while showing you care, or admitting you don’t understand, or are afraid, saying you’ve changed your mind and you feel different now, even saying sorry, let alone that you made a mistake, is seen as weak and therefore bad… I wonder if that’s actually a big part of what’s wrong with the world right now.

Anyway, while I still shy away from too much touchy-feely stuff, allowing my emotions to be felt more often is probably a good thing. They say only the truly strong can show their vulnerability, or something. And, like anything, the more you practice, the less out of control you feel with it all. Emotions are not just the light, frippery, insubstantial butterfly girl-things we should ignore because they’re so silly (although why you’d want to disregard something so delicate and beautiful I don’t know). They’re also the deep, dark, bloody and important things that make us human, that touch our roots, our history, our compassion, our tenacity and our integrity. I’m not free of my demons by any stretch, but maybe I’m starting to balance the burden towards freedom a little better. I hope.

“She did feel it. A dark hand had let go its lifelong hold upon her heart. But she did not feel joy, as she had in the mountains. She put her head down in her arms and cried, and her cheeks were salt and wet. She cried for the waste of her years in bondage to a useless evil. She wept in pain, because she was free. What she had begun to learn was the weight of liberty. Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one. The road goes upward towards the light; but the laden traveller may never reach the end of it.” (from “The Tombs of Atuan: The Second Book of Earthsea (The Earthsea Quartet 2)” by Ursula K. LeGuin)


How to be happy

Have children, they make your life complete

You’ll learn more from them than they ever will from you

As long as you use these parenting methods… no, wait

Don’t have children, they’ll ruin your lifestyle

They bring joy but also pain and annoyance


Find your dream job


Don’t work. It sucks. We support you.

Find something fulfilling to do that is not-work

Maybe parenting?


Think big

Or give up your dreams. Both will have similar results on net happiness within 3%

Be a good wife/mother/daughter while perusing your dreams

Understand that the dreams of your 30s and 40s are not the same as those of your teens and 20s

But think back to what you loved doing as a child and do that


Exercise regularly

Make time for yoga and/or pilates

Practise mindfulness

Limit screen time

Take some me time. Where did all the time go?


Get your body back after childbirth

But make sure you breastfeed for around 4 years (world average!)

Some of those long-breastfeeding societies may also still smack their kids

Or practise female circumcision

Don’t do that


Travel – it broadens the mind

Always be aware of your carbon footprint though

Also spend time on not-travel, because travel can be stressful

And expensive

You need to switch off!


Banish negative thoughts, anxiety and judgement

Although, since those thoughts are part of you,

Observe them, but let them pass you by, like cars on a highway

Not real cars of course

Too polluting. Just like those negative thoughts. You don’t want to get cancer


Learn a new skill

With all that spare time you have

Explore astrophysics.

Teach yourself German

Sehr gut


Avoid banks and call centres

unless you work in one.

It’s not the worst job, right?

Be the best middle-manager you can be

Job satisfaction is important!


Shop local

Buy beautiful, artisanal, unique products

Like everyone else

You’ll notice a big difference when the producer really cares

But save by getting the basics from Lidl, Aldi and Ikea


Be careful using your card details online

As a good, global e-commerce citizen

Shopping online reduces your carbon footprint!

And it’s so quick

Cheaper, too


Eat organic, local, seasonal products

Even if organic is just damned lies and marketing

Watch those food miles, even though your smartphone is from Korea

With components sourced by slaves

(I know. I know… But I need it)


Cut out sugar and trans fats

Except the occasional treat – you deserve it!

Or if you’re really sleep deprived

I think pulled-pork on a brioche bun with hand-cut chips is OK

But a Big Mac Menu is not


Care about the environment

Sign petitions and Donate here!!!

It feels so good to give something back

The pebbles in my garden come from a mine in India but

I buy dolphin-friendly tuna


Plant a garden

Bake a cake, learn to knit, jump into a mountaintop jacuzzi

Do some adult colouring-in

Spend quality time with everyone you know, and your kids, and don’t forget to factor in some me-time

Once you achieve all this, there is no excuse not to be happy


Today’s National/Global Poetry Writing Month prompt/challenge was to write a didactic poem that focuses on a practical skill. I hope I’ve covered all the tips for a happy life here, but if I’ve forgotten anything, please let me know in the comments below…