The Haunting of Hill House

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Usually when I watch an evocative tv show, movie or documentary, I spend a wile searching online for a bit of background or answers to my questions. When I watched The Haunting of Hill House, I didn’t need to. This show resonated with me in a way that I wasn’t expecting. It tackles very complex issues such as mental health, grief, addiction, depression, and guilt to name a few…and there I was thinking this would be a mildly scary show with a killer and some suspense.

Anyone who knows me knows that horror movies aren’t scary to me. I don’t jump or have trouble sleeping because of them. I actually find them relaxing. I’m far more jumpy in my real life. I only find them scary when there’s something familiar or personal about them. When it longer is a work of pure fiction…that’s when it gets under my skin and into my head.

HOHH is very smart and rife with small details that I certainly missed the first time around. The show is haunting, tragic, heartfelt, hopeful and sad all at once. I’m quite taken back by how much more this show ended up being.

HOHH uniquely depicts mental health in a family (amongst many other difficulties). At times, the show was on the borderline of hitting too close to home for me…which I found very interesting. When you have grown up in home where the terrors and hurt are confined in 4 walls, and you finally get out of it, it would be great to think that you leave all of that pain and strangeness behind. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen. Of course our upbringing shapes who we are as an adult to an extent and it’s very easy to blame that for all the things that go wrong in our life. Maybe there is some blame to apportion….but then what good does that do anyone. I’ve never felt good or any happier by blaming someone else.

HOHH shows the different ways in which each family member suffered in their home  and the effect on their adult lives and the lives of the people around them. Everyone deals with that trauma differently and it was fascinating to watch HOHH depict this. The acting from the adult and child casts were remarkable and very haunting, and although there were scares and ghosts, the dialogue and deeper meaning made this show so much more that an horror television show. If you have lived with someone with mental health issues or if you have lived with or suffered from some of the other difficulties that this show explores, I can understand why it may be hard to watch.

My acceptance (not complete…let’s say partial) of the past comes from growing and educating myself. I don’t mean from a tv show, but from other other people, research, facing and understanding my own experiences. The past can’t be an excuse for all of the pitfalls we face as an adult. We have to grow and learn in order to make a better life for ourselves and for the people in it. Forgiveness is key to do this. It’s a more freeing emotion than anger and hate. Whether you’re in the Denial, Anger, Bargaining, or Depression stage (also creatively shown in HOHH), or anywhere in between, you can’t just sit there and build a home. Learn from it, grow, let go of what you can and do your best, whilst not hurting others in the process. That’s a lot easier said than done though isn’t it?… 

For me, the most valuable and difficult attribute is to forgive.  None of us know how to live our lives, our parents, friends or colleagues…most people we come into contact with are just doing their best or simply figuring it out too. So why not choose to  forgive. That is within our control. There is so much in life that isn’t. Trying to learn, empathize (even with those who have hurt or wronged you) and choosing how to live your life is within our control. Best case, you’re free.

 

Food for thought….

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Courtesy of mindful memo

Find someone who loves you for who you are and who you are not.

“You don’t love because, you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults” –William Faulkner

The more you value yourself, the more valuable you will be to someone else.

The moment you start to wonder if you deserve better. You do.

Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows

Trust your gut.

 

A tribute and a thank you

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I was truly saddened to hear of Chester Bennignton’s death. Linkin Park had a great impact on my life and got me through very hard times. Thank you CB for this. In the back of the car, unable to escape from yelling parents, day in day out, listening to Hybrid Theory was like listening to a sermon. All 12 tracks healed me in some way. CB’s voice, passion and rage helped me feel like I wasn’t alone. Since his death, the outpouring of love and stories from his fans who also felt his anguish, has been extraordinary. So many people were helped by their music. We all need need help, in one form or another, at some stage in our life. It’s so important to be open and let people in. CB did this through his music. Losing CB to his demons should be a wake-up call…Sadly, he had to battle with the worst of demons. We all have them. Some big, some small, some we conquer,some we don’t. We are all wired differently, and why wouldn’t we be. We all have our stories. What helps is to share them and in turn learn from others. I’ve learned so much from other people just by opening up about my own worries. It’s sad, but true, that in a lot of cases, the hardships we face in life are what connects us to others.

Our lives matter. Who we come into contact with, for however a long or brief a time, matters. Who we are to other people matters. It’s never easy. It’s true, by going to hell and back, you come out stronger in some ways. You can feel more equipped to deal with the shit that this universe throws at you. Still, it’s a chequered life that we lead. We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to stay strong and to fight back. And when you feel like you can’t keep fighting, Keep Fighting. Don’t discard yourself. Don’t discard the people around you. Reach out.  Just as the sun rises everyday, so should we.

RIP Chester Bennington.

 

Voices that stay with me

 

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“You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.” – Nina Simone

There are countless amazing strong female singers that aren’t famous for their naïve breakup songs or their gimmicks, but instead were pioneers of their art, have impressive vocals and range and who rampaged on for decades.  Here are some of my favourite female vocalists:

Stevie Nicks The Queen of Rock n’ Roll. The mystical singer has a voice unlike any other. There’s a sexy and powerful raspiness to Stevie’s voice that may not sound like a soothing lullaby, but for me, it calms me and takes me to where I need to go. Little known fact (… now not so much), I hope to have Crystal as the first song I dance to at my wedding. Watching youtube videos of Stevie belting Rhiannon live is mesmerising and enigmatic. Whether it is duets with Lindsey Buckingham or her solo work, Stevie Nicks is an ethereal and bewitching singer who is still performing her records 50 years on.

Patti Smith I absolutely love the singer-song writer poet and author that is Patti Smith. Birdland is a masterpiece and the perfect track to listen to when you are trying to mellow out or when you need something to open your mind and inspire you and Because the Night makes you fall ass over teacup in love or dance under streetlights. I read her book Just Kids and revelled in the crazy romantic rock star life Patti Smith led. Horses, Patti Smith’s debut studio album is volatile and revolutionary. Patti Smith’s voice is wild and soft at the same time in that it screams at you, it holds you tightly and lets you loose on the world.

Sia I heard Sia for the first time when I watched the trailer for Peaceful warrior and Breathe Me played and it was haunting and emotional. Sia’s voice can pull at your heart strings, scream or make you dance. The songs that I listen to when I need a bit of a kick in the ass or when I need something to ignite me are AliveNever Give Up and Unstoppable. Sia has a truly powerful and roaring voice and her lyrics tend to go a lot deeper than most other current pop singers.

Adele Everyone has heard of Adele. Everyone. Whether it is her nostalgic crooning on Hometown or being a badass on Rolling in the Deep, Adele’s voice is like no other. I caught a moment of her on Ellen and her spontaneous rendition of Hello was so unbelievably natural, that is pure talent.

Pat Benatar My favourite female power ballad ground-shaker. Belting out this rockers’ tunes is probably the closest I will ever get to being a rock star myself. I can strut to and howl Heartbreaker or Love is a Battlefield  in my living room or in my head on the way to an interview and I feel like a damn warrior. Pat Benatar’s more softer tunes such as We Belong or Shadows of the Night whisk me away and transport me into my favourite 80’s Brat Pack movies.

Tracy Chapman I don’t know many people who don’t sing a long to Fast Car or Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution when they come on the radio. Suffice to say Tracy Chapman has a forceful yet tender voice and her music offers escapism and touches on the trials of violence and poverty and stands the test of time.

Nina Simone If I had the chance to see any female singer gone, it would be Nina Simone. The jazz and gospel high priestess has one of the strongest and most soulful voices I have ever heard. I wish I could have seen her live. Nina Simone was captivating and transfixing. I love listening to Nina Simone in the evening, with a glass of wine relaxing and swaying (very Hugo Boss ad-esque) listening to Black is the colour of my true love’s hair and the rest of her  collection.

Celine Dion I get a lot of flack for my love of Celine Dion. But I am totally unapologetic. No-one can say that she cannot sing. The famous theme to Titanic may make some cringe now, but there is no denying that the vocals are beautiful and heartbreaking. Celine Dion can fist bump her chest as often as she wants in my book, her singing is strong and powerful, brave and also very clean. If you listen really carefully you can hear how perfect her vocals are, not that I’m remotely an expert…. Still, the Canadian singer who has the added trick up her sleeve of being able to sing in another language, is without a doubt one of the greatest female vocalists. All you have to do is listen to All by myselfBecause you loved me or D’amour ou d’amitié…..

Other amazing singers that I am a die-hard fan of include Cher (obviously), Sarah Brightman, Tori Amos, Ella Fitzgerald, Kate Bush and Billie Holiday…

Fly me to the Moon or to Never Never Land

Of the many things I have been called in my life, “a dreamer” is one of the most confounding ones. My first boyfriend called me a dreamer and at the time I’m pretty sure I either shrugged it off or I just agreed, not really thinking about the word or what he meant. Now, as I navigate my way through life, the more I realise I am a dreamer, and although it’s somewhat freeing, it also means I always feel like something is missing.

I imagine, whilst I’m sitting on the tube on my daily commute to work, that I can’t be the only person daydreaming about taking a different path in life. I can’t be the only person thinking about what the hell is missing. I suppose that’s something that connects us to each other. We all strive for something, a goal or a dream, and we try to make connections along the way. But that shared cause doesn’t tie me to this world or to my little life so far.

I do know what is important to me and what is not missing, in fact what is constant; my brother and my friends. I think it’s important to dream and work towards finding that missing piece, but equally it’s important to cherish what we have and what matters.

I don’t know if what is missing is a person, or is it an achievement in work or in something else? Is it an experience I have yet to go through? Is it an experience in a place I haven’t been to yet? For me, I know one day, way waaaaay into the future, what will be a most precious connection that will undeniably tie me to this world will be when I become a mum.

Still, I believe that there is something else. Some other purpose, some other reason why I have been put on this earth. Truth be told, I don’t necessarily do myself any favours. I yo-yo between trying to make connections of value and intentionally disconnecting myself from things or people. Sometimes it’s just easier to detach and live in a daydream, for a bit. Fairies, extra-terrestrials, ghosts, spirits…..I believe in almost everything to some extent. I don’t really believe I will see a fairy but not because I think they may not exist, but because I’m a grown-up and children can see fairies and grown-ups can’t. I share the somewhat William Blake-ish view that children are innocent and  more pure and, follow my huge leap—->they are more open to other-worldly, mystical beings and notions….. Queue eye-roll.

So, here is a dreamer  who is walking around, somewhat aimlessly amongst other dreamers….who also believes in fairies. To be honest, I give zero fucks. I like to leave my mind and heart open to the unexplained, the unknown, the missing and the magical glimmer to an otherwise ordinary and all too real life.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Loved on Screen and off

Robin Williams

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Robin Williams as Peter Pan in Hook

I’m not one to mourn too much over “celebrity” deaths as although I may love their music/movies, ultimately, I didn’t know them. It’s sad but if you think how many other non-famous people died that particular day, I don’t tend to feel any worse just because of their stardom.

However, when Robin Williams passed, it hit me. Obviously, I didn’t know him, but my childhood certainly was flourished by a lot of his movies. Before he passed, I choked up watching Hook or Good Will Hunting, now, forget it, I just bawl. It must be a testament to Robin Williams that after he passed I didn’t read or hear anything negative about him. Virtually no-one had an unkind word to say. Murals of his work were painted across walls and videos of him entertaining the troops and playing with Koko the Gorilla were watched by thousands. He always had a sparkle in his eyes, even when he wasn’t ad-libbing hilarious lines, when he was just simply smiling, it was always a heart-warming and tender smile that made him glow.

Without invading his personal relationships or family, I will say his commercial for Zelda with his beautiful daughter of the same name breaks my heart every time.

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Whether RW was playing the quirky DJ in Good Morning, Vietnam, or Fosse dancing in The Birdcage or playing the dangerous game of Jumanji, Robin Williams was bewitching on and off-screen. He was inspirational in Dead Poets Society which served to be one of the most eminently quotable movies in Williams’ film career. Robin Williams and animation were made for each other in Disney’s Aladdin as he ad-libbed most of his work and infused magic into his iconic portrayal of Genie.

In spite of the internal struggles he battled with,  he was able to make so many people cry with laughter and that is truly a selfless gift.

Miyazaki & Murakami and more

 

Here I had no ties to anyone. Fact is, I’d come to reclaim myself

My favourite author, courtesy of my brother, is Haruki Murakami. During some work experience back in 2009, I asked my brother if I could borrow one of his books to read for when I wasn’t given work to do. I definitely spent more time during my week of work experience reading Dance, Dance, Dance by Murakami than doing work. I was completely transfixed by this book. I underlined by favourite quotes and wrote them in various notebooks (for what reason I don’t know..maybe to just remember them). I wanted to trade lives and be in this story and live in the Dolphion Hotel. This story is another example of trying to connect and feel like there’s more purpose to being here, at least that’s how this book made me feel. Since that summer of work expereinces, I have read many of his other works and have loved following each surreal and mysterious adventure.

Also thanks to my brother, I’ve seen a lot of beautiful and fun Japanese movies. A few of my favourite are:

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Spirited Way

Princess Mononoke

From up on Poppy Hill

The Boy and The Beast

Wolf Children

King of Thorn

Summer Wars

If you haven’t delved into these cute, chimeric and heartfelt movies, you should. The fun thing about these kinds of movies is, unlike non-animated movies (save for CGI etc) there are no boundaries. People can transform into pigs or powerful whales, you can escape into different worlds and kingdoms where virtually anything can and does happen.

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“Boy and The Beast” Image courtesy of Pinterest