A Netgalley book review: How to Be Happy by David Burton

How to Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Sex and Teenage Confusion

by David Burton
About the book:

25674284‘Delivers some devastating truth bombs. Sexuality is hard. Identity is hard. Love is hard. School is hard…This book shines a much-needed light back through the tunnel. It is a call-out to teenagers still struggling to find their way.’—Books + Publishing

A funny, sad and serious memoir, this is David Burton’s story of his turbulent life at high school and beyond. Feeling out of place and convinced he’s not normal, David has a rocky start. He longs to have a girlfriend, but his first ‘date’ is a disaster. The same debilitating anxiety cripples his encounters with boys.

He carefully constructs an outgoing identity—an extroverted, adventurous character, for whom everything is fine. But everything is not fine. At the center of it all, trying desperately to work it all out, is the real David.

How to Be Happy tackles depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, academic pressure, love and adolescent confusion. It’s a brave and honest account of one young man’s search for a happy, true and meaningful life.

David Burton is a writer from Brisbane, now based in Sydney, best known for his theatre work. A speaker and presenter in school across Queensland, David is passionate about finding ways to open dialogue about the challenges faced by teens including sexual identity, depression and family life.

My Review

I have to say I actually wasn’t sure what this book was about, I thought it was a guide to how to be happy and actually got something entirely different. It was someone’s journey through life and a reminder of what goes on in our own head can been quite a minefield in itself. How we are led to believe there is only one what we should be, how we should act etc. What it points out is, that growing up we aren’t always taught these things, it’s simply just expected.

This book is quite a roller-coaster of emotions.  From growing up and not knowing who he was or should be, to his friends, some of which were troubled, to his parents and their problems, David had quite a lot to deal with while growing up. And as with any child, school was one of the biggest problems.

‘There are a lot of ideas out there what a man should be, ‘Dad wrote, ‘and most of them are bullsh#*t. What counts is character. And by God you’ve got a lot of that.’

Like other reviewers, there have been parts in the book difficult to read, but I think that’s what is so brilliant about this book. It doesn’t shy away from anything and digs deep into the emotions of a troubled teenager, showing the high’s and low’s and that in life it’s not always a bed of roses. I believe so much more should be taught to our youngsters on how to cope with feelings and how to ask for help. As adults we learn to cope with things, but as teenagers we have so much going on, not just in our bodies with hormones etc, but our young minds need to be able to find a way fo coping to all the changes to. Especially the cross over from school/university to adulthood. This book is a must read for everyone.

‘I realised I had grossly underestimated the kindness of the people around me, and their interest in my wellbeing. The world was a nicer place than I made it out to be.’

And I leave you on this note, it appears everything with in self help always points back to one thing…..

‘You see young padawan, true happiness is only ever found within yourself. Yuck.Lame But True.’

Thank you for reading

xxx

Book Review: The Girl in the Photograph by Kirsty Ferry

The Girl in the Photograph by Kirsty Ferry

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About the book
What if the past was trying to teach you a lesson?
Staying alone in the shadow of an abandoned manor house in Yorkshire would be madness to some, but art enthusiast Lissy de Luca can’t wait. Lissy has her reasons for seeking isolation, and she wants to study the Staithes Group – an artists’ commune active at the turn of the twentieth century.
Lissy is fascinated by the imposing Sea Scarr Hall – but the deeper she delves, the stranger things get. A lonely figure patrols the cove at night, whilst a hidden painting leads to a chilling realisation. And then there’s the photograph of the girl; so beautiful she could be a mermaid … and so familiar.
As Lissy further immerses herself, she comes to an eerie conclusion: The occupants of Sea Scarr Hall are long gone, but they have a message for her – and they’re going to make sure she gets it.
About the Author
Kirsty is from the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009. She has had articles and short stories published in various magazines, newspapers and anthologies and was also a judge in the Paws ‘n’ Claws ‘Wild and Free’ Children’s Story competition in 2011 and in 2013. ‘The Memory of Snow’, her first novel, was commended in the Northern Writer’s Awards, shortlisted to the top five of Wyvern’s novel competition in 2011 and longlisted in the Red Telephone Novel Competition in 2012. You can find out more about Kirsty and her work at www.rosethornpress.co.uk
Other Books By Kirsty, Book 3 in The Rossetti Mysteries, Book 1 – Some Veil Did Fall. Book 2 – The Girl in the Photograph
My review
Where to begin, when I started this novel I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was an amazing story of someone’s struggle to believe in love again and to follow her on that journey. Some have classed this as a time-slip story as the modern-day is intertwined with a love story from 1905.  Not only that it held one of my greatest passions – photography. I loved the use of the arts and the photography in both eras and how they were used to not only capture a moment but tell a story and complete a puzzle to help Lizzy realise what she should do and also solving a mystery at the same time.
Kirsty’s writing keeps you intrigued and nothing is lost when jumping between time-lines. The flow of the book sucks you into the lives of the characters and makes you feel part of their worlds. Understanding the relationships, how others see what’s best for us when we don’t, the emotions and the differences we all have and how they make us who we are.
This book has a mix of everything, history, myths, romance – forbidden love, the sea and most of all a hunky hero or two. I highly recommend this book and others by Kirsty. Pick one up and be absorbed into another world.
Thank you for reading
xxx

Gratitude Jars

New Beginnings

We love doing this. Sometimes we can get so lost in bad things that happen we lose sight of the good stuff. We love opening the jar at the end of the year and looking at fun days out, achievements and the little things. We try and put at least one thing in the jar every day even if just something small to be grateful for.
Today was my (Kirsty) first day back at work and I managed to get through all 115 emails. That’s my note for today -nothing huge but a positive doesn’t have to be.

Our picture may say January but gratitude jars can be started whenever you need them.
I’ve seen some beautifully decorated jars on the web. Have a go and feel free to post yours in the comments box xxx

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Chakra Journal Challenge: Week 2 – Base Chakra

Cauldrons and Cupcakes

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
~ Maya Angelou

Hello, and welcome to Week Two of our Chakra Journal Challenge!

Every Tuesday in March and April I will post a Journal Challenge for you, based upon a journey through the main chakras. You don’t need to know anything about journalling, chakras, crystals, oracle cards or energy work. I’ll explain everything that you need to do each week. Then you’ll have a week to complete the simple activities I share.

If you’re only just joining us please go back and read my Orientation Post first. It will also list all other posts in this challenge that precede this one.

About the Base Chakra

The Base Chakra connects our Soul into the power of our physical body, helping us remain in the ‘now’ or present moment.

This…

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Chakra Journal Challenge: Orientation

Cauldrons and Cupcakes

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Hello, and welcome to Week One of our Chakra Journal Challenge!

This week is an orientation week. Today I’ll be taking you through each of the steps that we’ll be using during the Challenge.

Every Tuesday in March and April I will post a Journal Challenge for you, based upon a journey through the main chakras. You don’t need to know anything about journalling, chakras, crystals, oracle cards or energy work. I’ll explain everything that you need to do each week. Then you’ll have a week to complete the simple activities I share.

If you’re only just joining us you’ll need to source the following:

  • A new journal. Choose one that feels right for you. Make sure there are enough pages to get you through nine activities.
  • Some pens and pencils.

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R.I.P my boy, you were my hero

Last week on my flying visit to Mum’s I found out my boy, our Milo had sadly passed away. He was 16 years old.

It broke my heart to hear this, but he had lived a fantastic life. I just wish I had seen him one last time. He was such a character.

When I left home in 1999, we still had our Keegan, Our first dog. Who was also quite a character. I felt safe with him around, we could go play football in the field and he would be around, and then come out of no where to charge at the ball. Then on one of my trips home, I was told he had got ill and had passed away. The house was so quiet.

I went back off to college and a few months later (I think) the family introduced our Milo.      I wasn’t keen at first after losing Keegan in such a way and I think Milo knew this. I wasn’t ready to get attached again, and I think Milo knew this. He then won my heart. And I glad he did.

Ever since then we had a bond which I loved. He never saw me that often but when he did we had an amazing bond. On a morning he would want to go straight out for a walk without me having breakfast, he would demand cuddles. Best bit was when I was staying with the boyfriend at the time and we shared a hug, Milo didn’t like that and sat in between us. I couldn’t help laughing.

For a little dog, he had a big heart and a big character and he helped our family so much. I just can’t thank him enough.

So Milo, if you’re watching, I love you and miss you,and Thank you for being our little sodpot. Oh and look after our Keegan for us.

Love you loads.

Helen

xxx

Thank you for reading

xxx

Fundraising in 2017

In 2011 I ran my first ever 10k. I did it with a friend for charity. Initially in that year I wanted to get fit and tried Zumba. It didn’t do anything for me. Then a friend suggested running. I always hated it at school and normally bailed out. However there was a plan this time. We would build up running by using a plan of combining walking and running building up to constant jog/run. a few weeks in my friend had signed us up to the York 10k with not much time left to train. We ended up finishing it in just over an hour. It was amazing.

So the following year we did all three, York, Hull and Leeds. Leeds was the toughest as it was hot and Hull was fantastic as it just poured it down and I ended up with my favourite photo of all time.

I then went onto do the York 10k in 2013 on my own and then there was a gap. In 2014 I started going to Parkrun. Mainly so I could meet up with another good friend. Then I got slightly hooked and in the last 12 months have managed to get 3 races under my belt and about 10 volunteer tokens.  The the only fundraising I did after that was a midnight walk for St Gemma’s with my good friend Kirsty. It was amazing, and saw some old friends and got loads of free food. We’re hoping to do something again. It was in memory of Kirsty’s friend who lost her fight to cancer.

As for last year I did the Leeds 10k and managed to achieve a time of 1 hour 5 minutes. I also raised £325 for Cystic Fibrosis. I was supposed to do the Great North Run as well last year but pulled out as I became unemployed and other issues occurred and deferred to this year.

So much has happened this year already that I have now three charities I would like to raise money for. Since writing this post I found out our Milo had passed away. there had been talks of me dressing up for the Great North Run and I was thinking the theme yellow. Now I think I’ll try dress up as  a dog.

So with three races this year I’ve decided to dedicate each one to a different cause. I will be running the Leeds 10k in Milo’s memory, and I’ll even see if I can dress up as a dog. See other post here

So back to the original story and how all this started. Last year I was able to gain entry to the Great North Run in September. My training has been non- existent, apart from walking into town. I will be raising money for Cystic Fibrosis again, but I’ve also added Cancer Research Uk’s Race for Life on June the 4th see here. It was mentioned yesterday, then today I thought, things come in 3’s and I know a few people who have had it and survived or have sadly passed away.

So I’m asking from the bottom of my heart if you could follow any of the links below, donate as little as a £1 to help me raise money for these 3 great charities.

More information about Cancer Research UK and what they do here

June 4th 10k race -My page here

More information about the PDSA here

July 9th Leeds 10k -My page here

More information about Cystic Fibrosis Trust and what they do here

The Big one!!! The Great North Run -My page here

Thank you for reading and thank you for your support

xxx

Thank you

I don’t think I’ve ever blogged when I’ve felt happy. Or felt completely grateful and lucky to be me. Yes I’m not perfect. Yes I’m not a mum, a girlfriend or a high flying business woman that I once dreamt of. Instead its just little old me. Helen. Helen who, as pointed out today by a lovely friend and by others, that the achievements I wanted years ago and thought would only make me accepted as a human have changed.

Instead I have something different. I have in the past, recorded and edited radio shows, run book clubs and was a manager for 8 years. These days I’m running a house on my own (this apparently is a big thing in itself, my friend pointed this out today) I am involved in volunteering with park run. I have two big events this year, the Leeds 10k and The Great North Run. Only problem is I can’t find the motivation to run at the moment as all I want to do is sleep. So I’m trying to walk everywhere to get my fitness back. 8 miles done today.

Over the winter I did a 6 week stress course and realised I’m not alone. I have learned some skills but I am still putting them in to practice. I’m also learning a new set of skills with my job. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Recently I’ve started feeling like I don’t want to get out of bed, and yesterday I didn’t want to eat. I was worried. then thanks to some lovely friends I felt normal again. Today I met up with one of them and had a good chat and we put the world to rights and I felt amazing.

I think as Adults we forget that we still need help. at 18 we’re expected to act as adults. In our 30’s we should have it together. We should be in a relationship, have a house, kids etc. But sometimes that doesn’t happen. Like in my case I keep picking the wrong ones.

I’ve took a good look at myself recently and I know where my issues lie. I know what I need to do. But sometimes I don’t think others do. So this is to those out there, please remember we may look the same but we’re not. We all learn differently, we all react differently, we all have hormones that drive us crazy, and we all need help. Whether its an unexpected hug, a cup of tea/coffee, or someone to walk or run with, we just need to show people we’re there. People take the simple things for granted, I don’t, I love them and I miss them. Hence why today I treated myself to a subway, and made myself sit down and take time out.

Today was amazing. I hope I can get another day like that.

Thank you for reading

xxx

Book review -The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

I haven’t read a book in over a month. I thought I could a few weeks ago but put it down again. Here’s my favourite book of all time.

Hello from me to you

The cover of the copy we read at school and I had up until two years ago. :( The cover of the copy we read at school and I had up until two years ago. 😦

Note: *SPOILERS*

This story has stayed with me since school. I think I have got to the point of annoying my sister with this obsession of finding a copy with the illustration of the book above after I lost our copy in the move over two years ago. It has really upset me that I can’t find the copy we had as it was from school and I know at least I had done a project on it. The story Of Joseph and his family has always stuck with me and this is the third time in reading it after first was at school and then in 2007 and again now. When I was up north I was hunting for it in my sister’s room and got so upset that I couldn’t…

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Heidi PriebeA lot of Thought Catalog articles have spoken to me over the years, but the first Thought Catalog author I ever became truly hooked on was Ryan O’Connell. In the early days of TC, I admired Ryan’s work because it was honest and funny and able to expose these incredibly deep truths about life…

via I’m 25 Years Old And I Think I’m Finally Learning How To Be Happy — Thought Catalog