Tag Archives: lifestyle blog

Witnessing History

“If you could witness any historical event which would it be?”

This is a difficult question. After all there are so many that would have been life changing to have been around to witness. The moon landing, the abolition of slavery, great battles of old (Bannockburn anyone?) but to chose but one you would have to consider which event draws your attention most. Perhaps it’s because this event had a huge impact on your own life. Perhaps it’s because it’s the one that simply fascinates you more than others. Taking all these things into consideration I think I would have to choose seeing Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ being played at the Globe Theatre for the first time.

“To be or not to be!”

– William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

Five years after the plague had closed theaters, The Globe took shape and performances of some of Shakespeare’s most notable works were played there. I choose Hamlet in particular because it is one of my personal favourites. It also has the tragic events of his son’s death and that of his father surrounding it so as a writer it stirs my morbid imagination with the dark beauty that the play became.

As a young child I was a bit of an odd ball. (I know, shocking, right?). I would much rather read than play games with the other children and the library was always my favourite place. One particularly gruelling day of primary school I was losing myself in books as usual when I came across a copy of Hamlet. As I opened it up and began to read I was completely overwhelmed with awe in the daring story telling, the dark ambience and those immortal words, “TO BE OR NOT TO BE.”

I was completely besotted just finding a dusty old copy of the play in the library. I can imagine the thrill of stepping into the Globe with the backdrop of London at that time and having the play brought to life by the actors as the Bard himself intended. Not to be all fan girl or anything but it was surely a thing of beauty to behold.

“The right to vote!”

Honourable mention has to go to some historical events that do have a huge impact on my life. Women being given the right to vote is a victory that would have been amazing to have witnessed. It paved the way for little old me to make her way in the world and I am eternally grateful to the ones who made that happen. The work of Dr Henry Turner who first described Turner’s Syndrome in 1938 which is a cause close to my heart and opened up a beautiful sisterhood for me and other TS women.

So what would your choice be? If you could bear witness to a historical event which one would you choose?


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The Soundtrack Of Life

I am such a person that I spend a lot of my time stuck inside my own head. I’m either focusing on work, relaxing from work, adding some noise to my surroundings or I’m adding some joviality to a situation. Either way all of these instances involve music. I spend a huge part of my day with headphones on. When I’m trying to focus I use music to drown out all else. When I want to take a walk I put on headphones and can ramble for miles. What better way to keep the boredom of a long train journey at bay than by – yes, you guessed it – putting on headphones. With this in mind it gave me cause to think of the part music plays in all our lives.

What kind of music do you like?

It’s hard to find someone that doesn’t like music. it’s such a varied thing that there is surely something for everyone. From cheesy pop to death metal and everything in between there is a soundtrack for all kinds of situations. I guess that’s why movies and television shows use soundtracks to really capture the mood of the scene. Have you ever taken a scene and given it a different kind of soundtrack? it really changes the tone of the scene. Music can be beautiful audible poetry. It can also offer such lyrical genius as, “Who let the dogs out? Woof, woof, woof woof.” Or, “let’s do it like they do on the discovery channel.” (Probably showing my age with those examples there but you get the point).

What does that song make you think of?

Another thing about music is it can be a great memory trigger. Those carefully constructed notes go a long way to bringing all kinds of images to your head. They can make you remember a person or a place. As you listen along all the other senses are called into action. You can taste it, smell it, feel it. You can see the face of someone you haven’t seen for years as though they are standing right in front of you. For creative writers like myself it’s a great tool for picturing scenes, giving characters their personalities and really locking down what kind of emotion you want a scene to portray. I do this now quite habitually. It was on advice from my fellow writer, great friend and mentor that I do this. He himself is a director and musician so he knows all too well the importance of soundtrack.

Dance to your own tune.

The most important thing about music, for me, is how much it lets you explore. Sure you can be stuck on a crowded train into the city but stick on those headphones you can be transported to a memory of a night out with friends. If you’re at the gym and down want to be distracted by how slow the timer on the treadmill is going you stick on those headphones and suddenly you’ve ran your way through three whole songs. If you are hurt, push play on that song and let it guide your emotions. Music is a wonderful thing I can’t even begin to imagine the cold, silent world we would live in without it. So tell me, what does music do for you?


When, cult deprogrammer, John Reynolds, loses someone close to him to the Church of St Wigan, he will stop at nothing to bring them home. He’ll have to call on every skill he has to pull from the clutches of the zealous church leader. A pandering con man is all he has to help him. How far must a man fall before the climb back up becomes too steep. Praise Wigan!

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Words of Encouragement

Have you ever heard a word and felt inspired by it?

It doesn’t matter what language, how it is said or who says it it is a word that sends your mind into a chain of thought. Words are influential. It’s easy enough for me to appreciate that being someone for whom words are bread and butter but everyone can be inspired them.

When you’re feeling down and you need to pick yourself up what runs through your head but a sequence of words that make you feel better or inspire you to action? If you turn to someone for help what are you looking for from them but their words? Words are what can make or break a situation. Words, after all, are the tools of communication. They are powerful things. In the wrong hands they can be hurtful at the least, destructive at the most.

Bottle.

Bottle is one of my favourite words. It has lots of connotations. It could mean celebration. it could mean refreshment. It could also have a sinister tone to it. We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘bottling up your feelings.’

Either way it always makes me think of a glass bottle in my hand. My mood at the time determines what this bottle contains but it always gives the illusion of something physical to clasp onto. There’s also the proverbial message in a bottle with all kinds of romantic prospects. There’s the adventure. There’s the fun sound of the cork popping and the glug glug glug as liquid is poured. This is just my own example of a favourite word. I’m sure you have your own. Think of that word right now. What is its meaning? What power does it wield? Good, bad, ugly.

On it’s own, one word can be highly charged. Assemble them carefully into a phrase or sentence and they become downright divine.

The cork was popped and the contents of the bottle were poured onto the sand.

Do you get a sense of hopelessness from this? Maybe it can be seen as a new beginning. Personally, I see a struggling alcoholic on a shore taking control of their life. A sea of opportunity lies before them. My point is words paint a picture. When they are thrown around with the intention to hurt they can paint an ugly picture indeed.

Don’t say something you might later regret.

This is a tired old platitude we’ve all heard many times but it still holds some merit and perfectly illustrates my point. Bullying and name calling are just one example of this. Words here are intended to hurt quite deeply and they do. What are arguments if not a carefully constructed formation of words intended to destroy an opponent? Words are filled with emotion and should be considered carefully.

I see, almost everyday, instances online where people have made ‘comments’ with intention to hurt, demean or downright attack. Celebrity culture, dirty politics and easy access to everyone you could ever possibly want to comment on allows this. Not only that it promotes it. People don’t seem to be taking responsibility for those words they are firing like a great cannon. For some it’s as though the don’t even care which target the cannon is aimed at. Complete strangers find themselves throwing in those words deliberately to stir a reaction. Maybe it’s because we’ve had very little face to face contact over the past year and it’s making people bolder with their words but in a world where everyone’s opinion should be valued we need to take some responsibility for the words we use to voice that opinion.

I love you.

I’m going to finish with this phrase because whilst overuse can reduce it’s value it is always nice to hear. It’s always nice to see the look in someone’s eyes when you tell them. Each word has it’s own significance. I – me, myself, my own declaration. Love – one of the strongest emotions experienced as a human being, far surpassing anger or hate. You – this declaration is for you and you alone. I love many things but on this occasion I want you to know. I LOVE YOU.

It’s a nice phrase isn’t it. I’m not much of a romantic soul but I do appreciate the power of words. So what is your word that inspires? If you haven’t thought of one maybe now would be the time to think about it.


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Socially Awkward

The past year has brought challenges for all of us, some challenges we never expected to face in our life time. One of my biggest challenges was being separated from my niece and nephews for such a long time. Normally where I would see them almost every week I became nothing but a pixelated face on a screen. It is tough, I don’t mind telling you. The use of modern technology is great and all but nothing can quite replace human contact.

This got me thinking about society in general. As we become such a distant bunch (global pandemic not withstanding) is the art of intimacy becoming a thing of the past? I call it an art because it really is an art form when you think about it. You need the right approach. You need the right mind set. Like a lot of other art though is it becoming far more digitalised? People are more comfortable sending a text message than chatting on the phone (admittedly myself included).

But then this crazy train we called life pulls into an unexpected platform and the option of physical contact is taking away from us. That’s when we miss it the most. That’s when we crave more than just a text message. Video chats give you the essence of speaking to another person but it is all virtual reality at the end of the day. We need that social contact no matter how introverted you may be.

What I have taken from this experience is that no matter how much we distance ourselves from human contact, when ironically it’s never been easier to connect with fellow human beings, we are all animals at heart. We need our loved ones around us, no matter who that is to us. After a long year of lock down in Scotland I know I will be wanting to hug my little babies.


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Am I the A**hole?

Recently I’ve found a hobby of the ‘Am I the asshole?’ subreddit. If you’re not familiar it’s where people put scenarios they’ve found themselves in and they ask the internet whether they are the asshole or not for whatever it is they’ve done. We all know how much of a forgiving place internet forum comment sections can be but there are those rare gems that actually offer some real insight. That’s not the reason I’m addicted to it though. The addiction comes from getting the popcorn and reading the mightier than thou responses.

Either way it got me thinking of some scenarios in my own life where I may have been the asshole and not realised it. One particular event in mind happened some time back. Someone mentioned his disapproval of James Bond being played by a black woman to me. I explained that 007 was a codename anyway and it didn’t really matter all that much how the character was portrayed as long as the writing was good and the actor fulfilled their role. Sounds reasonable, right? Where I might be the asshole was how I responded. I was already in a foul mood about something else (what that is is irrelevant) and so I snapped. I had no patience for listening to what was no doubt going to be a racist, misogynistic argument against ‘ruining the classics.’ This person had never watched or read anything James Bond so their opinion either way was kind of moot.

So there you have it. I felt I was just making my point. Internet strangers may say I was nipping someone’s head off when they were just offering an opinion.

So what do you think, folks? Was I the asshole? Do you have any instances you would like to put to the court of public internet forum opinion?


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“You cannot be saved!”

Cult deprogrammer is on his way to Hathfield Bay to extract a loved one from the Church of St Wigan.

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My Life Changing Event

We all have those moments in life where we are taken on a completely different path. Some life events have the potential to change our points of view and some have the opportunity to wipe us out completely.

With everything going on in the world at the moment it makes me nostalgic. Thinking back I take time to consider those life changing moments. For me it was when I was aged twelve and I was just starting my second year of high school. As per usual I had arrived late and the first session was P.E. Across the road from my high school were playing fields where most of the outdoor classes were held. The few other stragglers and I got dressed into our kits and headed across. Between the school and the playing fields is a very busy road. Already a little shaken by the speed of the traffic and anxious that I was already late I crossed the road and was (perhaps inevitably) knocked down.

I spent months in the hospital recovering from the injuries, watching the opening game of the 1998 World Cup from my bed. Even to this day I don’t remember what happened. All I can go on was the stories told by my family as they were given the news and my school mates who were there to witness the event. The point is that when I came round some weeks later I was in a strange hospital with absolutely no clue as to how I got there. It was strange to not recognise the hospital because as a youngster I had pretty much toured all the medical facilities of the city.

As I recovered I was reminded by the physical pain I was in, the reactions of my loved ones and by the gifts and well wishes I was inundated with that I had come so close to no longer being around. To this day I would have been but a memory of some little girl who had once been part of the family. This sounds really morbid and I do have a morbid fascination with death but In times of trouble or when things get me down I think upon that moment and remind myself that there is still much life left to live. I am still here and as such I can still contribute. It stops me from wasting time and it helps me gain the confidence to reach out when I need help.

So I put it to you to think about those moments that changed you or changed the world around you. Let’s use those moments to push ourselves to do better and to remind us to make the world around us a better place in whatever ways we can.

Can’t Live Without

“We forget the things we should value the most.

Too busy seeking those shiny things to boast.”

Have you ever been asked what you would find difficult or even impossible to live without if you were stuck on a desert island? No? Well consider this my putting the question to you.

Internet seems to be incredibly important to people these days. It’s a way to research and keep in touch with friends and family so let’s assume for the sake of this pondering that it was taken away. What then? Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself and the internet is one thing that you would most definitely not live without. After all, whats the point in being on a sun kissed island if you can’t send those snaps to insta? But let’s assume phones, tablets and their ilk are not possible. What then?

PEN and PAPER

Even in this day and age with all the streaming devices I would be content just to have a pen and paper to scribble away. I would document my thoughts, fictional stories or maybe a detailed description of the conversations I’m having with a favoured palm tree on this imaginary island. To me if you are able to do that there is no amount of isolation that could get to you. I’ve always been a weird kid with a nose in a book though.

MUSIC

life on that deserted island would be pretty dull without music, wouldn’t it? I live my life by music. It wakes me up, it follows me throughout the day and it puts me to sleep again. I’m not exactly sure how this would work without modern conveniences to play music on but one way or another I’d need to have music around. Maybe the crashing waves could provide the music …

A WAY TO TELL THE TIME

For as long as I can remember I have always been a little anxious when there is nothing around that is able tell me with some degree of accuracy what time it is. A clock, a watch or even a home made sun dial would be something I would need. Although time keeping is a man made construct and being on a desert island would be an opportunity to learn to not live your life around the clock.

A COMFORTABLE CHAIR

Whether it is for resting, dozing or pondering I would need to have my favourite shady spot. I guess it is in human nature to try and find that little space we can call our own. Give me my comfortable chair and I’ll be content.

THESE GUYS

My niece and my nephew. They are as close to me as my own babies. It would be a struggle to be without them. I guess I’m not as good with isolation as I thought …

So what about you? What would be those things that you just couldn’t live without?


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Caution: Toxicity is Harmful to your Health

“He’s your blood.”

We’ve all heard things like that said before.

“You should make up because you are family.”

This is sound advice, normally, but when there is someone so toxic in your life you should not feel guilty for cutting them out. Being blood related is no excuse to bring negativity and poison to you. For the sake of your mental health and that of those closest to you it is important that you keep these toxic people at bay.

We have all met them. Those who go out of their way to make you feel bad about yourself or who belittle what you are doing or what you are trying to achieve. Mostly this is because there is something so unsatisfying about their own lives that it makes them insecure to be around positive people who are making a difference. It might not be in outwardly cruel words or violent actions, it may also be in more subtle suggestions or manipulative tactics.

I realise that I sound quite bitter now in writing this so I am going to take a little step down from my proverbial high horse for a moment and try to explain my reasoning.

Firstly, I absolutely and completely hate bullying. For me, toxic people make natural bullies. Their hunger is only satisfied by the upset of others and they will go out of their way to get it. They are also natural narcissists and if you call them on their bullshit they will work it as best you can to make it seem like you are the one being unreasonable or that it is your own fault for feeling upset.

Secondly, the reason I would like to take some time to draw attention to this is because we all, unfortunately, will encounter toxic people at some point in your lives. If you are lucky enough to have only been surrounded by positive, supportive people then I am so happy to hear that and that there is some like you in the world. I hope you take something from this then and gain an understand of toxic people and what that means.

For most the toxicity comes from family. It is said that, ‘those closest to us can hurt us the most,’ which is true. Seems a little nihilistic for my tastes but it can’t be denied that those closest to you have easier access to your emotional triggers. Therefore, when the toxic person in your life is a family member and they are making you completely and utterly miserable, you are well within your right to cut them out. You will be made to feel guilty by other family members for having done so but this will likely be because the toxic person will already be making it seem like your reaction to their behaviour is disproportional. It is not.

Life is too short to not have people in your life who are behind you 100%. You deserve to be supported in reaching for your dreams and you are worth the time of those closest to you. Never have anyone make you feel otherwise. Also, family is more than blood. Family is about being there for each other, helping one another and bringing out the best in each other. Toxicity is harmful to your health.

It is important to open the discussion on these matters. My DMs are always available for those who are struggling  and wish to talk (no penis pictures please 😉 ). If you have any thoughts on toxic people feel free to comment below.

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Bullying

Firstly, what is a bully? To me a bully is someone who deliberately targets those they deem weaker than themselves to give a sense of empowerment. In my experience – from the play grounds to the work place – a bully is masking insecurities of their own and looking for a target to vent their frustrations.

It was always understood to be a childhood ailment like the chickenpox. ‘Every child goes through a bit of teasing’ it is said. Is that dismissal good enough? Is a child coming home after having suffered a day of physical and mental torment simply a rite of passage? It shouldn’t be. Children can be cruel to each other, especially teenagers. At a time of life where they are at their most vulnerable and most insecure is when these bullies tend to surface (being vulnerable and insecure teens themselves). So who is to blame for this distinctly inhumane way of behaving? After all, no child is born bad. Television, magazines and mass media not only fuel these insecurities by displaying glossed over images of what they should aspire to be but they also make violent images and videos more accessible. This is likely to be a contributing factor but I don’t think it is wholly responsible. After all, bullying has been present in our society long before the age of social media.   The home life of the child can also be a huge influence on how they behave with their peers. If bullying is witnessed at home it will follow them into the rest of their lives. This isn’t always the case either. I have met many children from difficult backgrounds and they still approach life with the most pleasant natures. The issue of bullying isn’t something that one solitary person/scenario can be blamed for. It is a problem which we as a society need to take collective responsibility for. Some where along the line the younger generation have been given the impression that it is okay to treat those ‘weaker’ or ‘different’ with hostility.This isn’t a new phenomena. Bullying has been around since society was first established. An alpha instinct is deeply embedded within our psyche but as civilised people we should be moving past that.

Bullying doesn’t stop in child hood. It is becoming evident that more and more adults are experiencing bullying in the work place. Let’s be clear… This means that grown men and women are subjecting colleagues to taunts, slurs and sometimes even physical abuse. Someone once said to me, “I’d rather be the bully than the victim.” This was a man in his twenties.

I have always had a special resentment against bullies. It is likely to come across in this article. Having been the victim of taunting because I was a ‘different’ child and because I would rather read than spend time with my classmates. The advice I received at the time was to make myself more like the other children my age. That was not helping. I am thankful that it made me a stronger adult for others this doesn’t ring true.

The problem with bullying is that it becomes more acceptable by people dismissing it as ‘a way of life’ or in adulthood by making the victim feel like they have done wrong by not ‘taking it’.

To quote a much beloved character penned by writer and friend Leo St Paul, ‘Bullying is the worst kind of cowardice’  I wholeheartedly agree.

Image courtesy of endbullying.org.uk