The Lost, The Found & NYC Bound…

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story in Glamour Magazine, here), and on Friday I share a story of an inspirational person, project or cause.

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I lost the plot last weekend, for sure. ‘Moving house is stressful’, people warned me. ‘I’ve got this’, I thought to myself smugly as I looked around my room, absolutely certain that I could do it myself as it was just up the road. No need for a man in a van. More fool me.

I’m in now, but as I began to unpack (or at least attempt to move things from one bag or box to another), I seemed to embark on a journey of the lost and found…

After four years in my last home I had accumulated more crap than I ever thought possible and it is no wonder that things had gone awry between flats, especially given my decision to throw half of my belongings out ready for my new clutter-free existence. The problem with that came when I realised a few pretty important items were missing: paperwork, a couple of notebooks, chargers. (I’m still hoping they show up at some point.)

Then came the possessions I found: tickets, cards and letters. My own reactions took me by surprise. Mum’s handwriting was something I felt too broken to see soon after her passing but this time it felt comforting, in a way. A message from her in a Christmas card from 2011 read, ‘I hope you get all that you wish for in 2012’, which hit me hard. Though, on reflection, it was more of a quick, sharp pain than the constant ache I used to feel. Sympathy cards and letters of condolence were tough to read at first but they also gave me strength, as I was reminded at just how wonderful my family and friends are. It was a significant moment for me. The words I always despised to hear, ‘It gets better in time’, finally began to make a little more sense.

Thinking so much about Mum led me to think about my postcard project – the next adventure to NYC – and it was at this point where I could almost sense her eye roll, chuckle and sigh as I scrambled frantically through my belongings to find the fundamental item for my trip. I had LOST my flipping PASSPORT. Thankfully, after about 15 minutes (felt like more) of muttering, ‘No, no, no, no, no’, I managed to retrieve it. A classic case of taking the ‘safe place’ too far.

So the passport may be back with me but I explained in my last post that I had not been overly organized on the accommodation front for New York. Well, it was only last night that I managed to secure a roof over my head for the first six nights. Paris postcard finder, Stephanie, is kindly putting me up for an evening. I am going straight from the airport to meet her at her dance studios to watch a rehearsal. I couldn’t imagine a better (or more apt) way to start the trip. Then I am hitting an Airbnb with my friend, Beccy. As for the rest of the trip….ummmm….your guess is as good as mine (but someone kindly pointed out that the subway is open 24 hours, so I should be OK.)

Now, somehow, it is the day before I fly and I face the same old pre-holiday quandaries. I haven’t lost the stone I had planned to because, honestly? I haven’t really tried. I haven’t bought a new wardrobe because I spent too much going for a ‘couple’ a few too many times. I haven’t got a gorgeous glow to my skin because I’m a little too afraid to go back on a sunbed after the time I made the error of putting the eye protectors on my……(don’t. Just, don’t). BUT, I do still have time to dye the greys out of my hair. Result.

I wonder if I will ever be a proper, real life grown up? As the thirty-first birthday approaches, I think it’s probably just time to admit that this is me. And now I better get ‘me’ checked-in online before I forget to do that, too.

Speak to you from across the pond.

Happy hump day (so to speak).

Rachael x

 

 

 

My Love for Your Postcards, NYC & More!

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story here), and on Friday I share a story of an inspirational person, project or cause.

‘Life admin’ – a phrase which haunts me but is unfortunately a necessary part of….well…life. New York planning and flat hunting have taken over these past couple of weeks. Thankfully a flat has been found. And the best bit about it, is that my new pad is moments away from my current abode. As if I could ever leave Kings Cross when it feels like home to me now? Even this morning I was strolling (running) along the canal when I bumped into the lovely Naomi from Pop up 38 who is in the local area!

Now I am back, here are the latest 60 Postcards updates!…….

60 Postcards Stateside, Scattered for You! THERE IS STILL TIME!……

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I have been blown away, moved to tears and completely honoured to receive such beautiful postcards from you as part of my next mission to scatter postcards around New York City on your behalf. Thank you so much to those who have sent them in and I promise to be in touch via email next week.

I know that I originally set a date and decided on 60 Postcards, but given a few messages from people unable to send one in that time and by an overwhelming sense of passion about doing this on reading those I already have, I see no point in limiting this mission. I have two and a half weeks out there. So if you still want to be a part of it or know someone who does, there is still time! The new date for them to be received by is Wednesday 17th September.

***FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED HERE!***

NYC Meet Ups

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So, the countdown to my trip is on. One week today, I will be sat on the plane and giddy with nerves and excitement while watching as many films as possible! Standard.

Accommodation plans have been hilariously unorganised, what with permanent accommodation drama in my own city going on! I will be couch surfing and airbnb-ing with the odd hotel thrown in. You name it, I’m doing it. It will all be part of the adventure!

I am über excited about meeting people out there: old friends, colleagues, a uni mate, postcard finders and more.

The first person I will see is one of my closest friends, Beccy. I used to live with Beccy and she was such a driving force in the creation of 60 Postcards and came along to Paris when the magic first happened. Currently working at the Toronto Film festival, Beccy is then joining me in NYC for a 5 day catch up. We have been dreaming of meeting on an NYC roof terrace for years and she is the perfect accomplice to help with my new postcard mission!

Other people who I cannot wait to see are:

Stephanie – The gorgeous ballet dancer who found a postcard in Paris and who has become a great friend. The last time I saw her was when she flew over for my book launch!

Julie – A brief meeting while taking part in an Inside Out project in Times square is the only time I have spent with lovely Julie, but we are in contact and ready for a catch up!

Max – I dashed into the shop he worked in to drop a postcard off last year and now I finally get to meet him properly. It is perfect timing as I am going to join him for his birthday celebrations!

Rita – My lovely postcard finder from the Foxwoods theatre on Broadway has said that I may be able to get a tour of the theatre and go for a long overdue coffee!

Chloe – I met Chloe on my Business Design short course at Central St Martins. We may not have been in the same group during the week, but we can make up for it now as I am searching her out in NYC!

A Caring Hand – I got in touch with this children’s bereavement charity in the hope that I can go in to find out more about what they do. I have heard back from them and, fingers crossed, will have that opportunity!

I am also going to meet a girl who runs a successful lifestyle blog about NYC. She is going to help me with the postcards and blog about it while I am out there. I am also excited to meet a mystery postcard helper who a lot of you will know of….more on that in the future!

Apologies for my recent disappearance and I will be back to regular blogging next week.

I look forward to receiving your postcards.

Love as always,

Rachael xx

Depression: Breaking Through the Barriers

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story here), and on Friday I share a story of an inspirational person, project or cause.

The issue of mental health is a very topical one right now, especially with the tragic loss of Robin Williams who was suffering from depression. It is an extremely tough subject for me to write about as I have not experienced it myself and on researching for this piece, I realised just how little I know. I want to know.

With a subject that has hit the headlines so strongly it is no surprise that the internet is swamped with thousands of articles. Every one has a slightly different angle and some report slightly different statistics. Most have a journalist’s opinion entwined. Some are helpful, others are absolutely not. But, what we must remember is that, despite the fact that it is a vitally important talking point, Robin’s family and friends are in mourning. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for them to see so much written about the man they love and miss when they are in pain and shock.

One of the main points that is crystal clear from everything I have read, though, is that depression should not be simplified. It is an extremely complex condition – psychological or medical – which can be difficult to diagnose and to treat, often due to the stigma surrounding it. We need educating on the matter. We need to do more to help others. We need to encourage people to speak out.

I don’t feel that I am qualified to say much more on this. But, I do have friends who have suffered/are suffering from depression and one of them has bravely spoken out about their experience and her view of what needs to change:

 “When you are physically ill, like having the flu, most people tend to let others know (or the signs are obvious). This normally results in friends and family giving comfort and making you feel better. The difficultly with depression is that the signs may not be obvious or understood by others. When going through particularly difficult stages of depression the last thing you want to do is to socialise, to talk to loved ones, it’s too hard. Therefore when someone makes the brave step of letting a friend know it can be crushing when well-meaning advice further highlights the lack of understanding surrounding this illness. ‘You’ve just had a couple of bad weeks things will get better’, ‘You should go out, it will help you snap out if it’ or, ‘Things are going really well in your life right now, how can you possibly be depressed?’. This is such a frustrating circle, you fear getting the wrong reaction, you keep quiet which leads to a lack of discussion which keeps depression a hidden issue. Once you tell someone you have suffered from depression it is very unlikely that this will be forgotten. Can you remember the last time a friend had a cold? Did it affect what you thought of them as a person? I’m pretty sure it didn’t, not sure the same can be said about depression. It is not easy to understand especially if you have never personally experienced it. If someone is strong enough to share their experiences with you, there isn’t a perfect response that will solve everything. It will be challenging, it will take time but it is crucial to keep lines of communication open and ultimately will be the best thing you can do to play your part in breaking down the stigma associated with depression.”

I am so grateful to my friend for sharing this. It can’t have been easy to write, but I was blown away. So articulate, brave and honest. Ashley James hAshleyJamesas a huge following of her highly successful blog, www.ashleylouisejames.com. I have recently become one of those followers. I enjoy the eclectic mix of posts – on beauty, lifestyle, travel, books – but recently it was a post she published for the Metro on dealing with anxiety and depression that I believe was, by far, her most powerful piece yet. Through her words, she tries to give an insight into what it feels like for a sufferer using experiences that we can all relate to, Have you ever had a friend, a lover, a teacher, or a boss who constantly puts you down and makes you feel terrible? The beauty of having negative people in your life is that you can walk away from them, but when that voice is coming from your own head you can’t escape.’  Within her post she covers the frustration, just as my friend touched on, of when things may appear to be all OK to an outsider. She explains that although many would look on and say she has a fantastic life, there doesn’t have to be anything ‘wrong’ for you to suffer. The blog post has been syndicated on several sites and I smiled from afar as I saw the flurry of tweets – of deserved praise and thanks – that she was receiving on twitter for opening up. Despite my blog beginning due to a different experience to hers, I felt a connection to Ashley as she had written the post long before she published it, just as I had done with my first post about losing Mum. It’s a terrifying prospect to put yourself out there. ‘I want people to feel able to speak out’, was her closing comment and that is also a point that I have repeated on this blog and in my book. During a chat with my friend last night, we discussed that no matter what the issue may be – depression, bereavement, cancer – as much as we will continue to do everything we can to raise money for research and medication/cures, it is the preventative approach of raising awareness that we – as a society – have a huge amount of power over. Here are just a few of the many charities that offer support to those with mental health issues:

Depression Alliance  |  CALM  |  Young Minds  |  Sane  |  Mind

The inspirational aspect of this post today is for my friend, for Ashley and for all those who are speaking out. Together they are helping towards breaking through the barriers and squashing that unnecessary stigma. It may be, without realising, that there is someone close to us who is going through this. If we make sure we are educated and gain a better understanding on the topic, then we have more chance of helping those in need and to point them in the direction of help – towards charities such as the ones mentioned above.

Speak to you next week. Much love, Rachael x