Tuesday, 25 April 2017

In My 19th Year, I Will...

Today is my 19th birthday. 

It comes at the end of one of the most emotionally draining, challenging, strange months I've ever lived. I recently talked about how I was struggling massively with conflicting situation and feeling (read here). Balancing the pain and upset of an unexpected, hard breakup, with the excitement and pride of my book and career success left me feeling honestly quite broken. I won't lie to you, I've spent the last couple days crying on facetime to my Mum like 3 times a day. But today I draw a line.

Yesterday I released a book. A BOOK. THAT I WROTE. 

Yesterday I completed a life-long dream. People are paying for and supporting and enjoying my art, my words from my head printed into a book. I don't even know if it's hit me fully yet, but I'm so proud and honestly I'm so in love with it. And it feels good, to have this product of my hard work in my hands that I'm completely happy with and proud of. But more than that, in this hard month it's been so empowering to see the book as a product of situations just like this. I wrote those poems in times of intense emotion or struggle. I made something amazing from that, I can do that again. Grow flowers from the dirt. 

You can purchase your copy here : lucyharbron.bigcartel.com

I celebrated last night surrounded by friends who told me again and again how proud they were of me, and reminded me that this is an incredible achievement so long. But I felt heavy, their words went through me but didn't stick as I was still so caught up in sadness over a breakup, a breakup that left me feeling stranded and honestly pretty disrespected in a time that should've be celebratory. I got home from my party sad and angry at myself for my own lack of excitement. Then I watched this video by Lucy Moon:

I had a realisation moment. Here I am, just turned 19, with a book, a magazine, a blog, an editorial job, an amazing group of friends and an amazing family that are proud of me, excelling at uni etc etc. I'm worth so much. I've got too much going for me to be defeated and crushed in this period of my life, this time when I should feel nothing but intense self-respect and almost adoration for myself. I watched in 5 times, and today I feel great. I spent time with empowering women, I started reading a new book, I ate cake. I feel good. Today I draw a line. I am worthy.

As I sat with a coffee waiting for a friend, I wrote out some aims for this new year, my 19th year;

In my 19th year, I will...

1. work to be more aware of myself, and the impact I have on the lives of my family and friends.

I will learn to recognise how my emotions affect others, and work to be a positive influence, a support, and make them feel how they make me feel.

2. become more politically engaged and active.

There's an election coming up, and I will talk about it.

3. continue to seek opportunity to grow and make friends.

I will not stagnate.

4. allow myself space to change.

I will not put myself in situation that don't allow or encourage change or growth. I will allow myself to grow into myself and change, but only positively.

5. forgive myself for bad days.

I'm allowed to have bad days. I'm allowed to feel negative emotions and process them, but I'll try to push through them and limit their affect on others.

6. learn to think 'what if' less.

aka. learn to let the past be the past. I won't beat myself up for things I did or didn't do, or over-analyse the way I reacted to situation.

7. read more.


8. ask people how they are more.

Be more attentive of my friends and family, and don't ask it as a gateway to talk about my situations.

9. celebrate myself and my achievements despite other things going on - make room for myself.

Regardless of what is going on, or what other things I'm dealing with. If I do well, or achieve something, I will celebrate myself. I will always leave room for self-care and self-appreciation and not seek by affirmation in others.

10. make more physical things.

Use my hands more. Make more of my achievements into physical, hold-able things as there's nothing quite like it.

11. love, love, love - but also learn when to walk away.

I will not become guarded or cold, or lose my softness. But I will not put myself in a situation where my whole being is invested in another, I will learn when to know when to move on and how to pull myself away.

Today I feel good, I feel empowered. I will enter my 19th year like this, as I intend to carry on.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

In My 18th Year, I...

built countless friendships.
walked away from toxic friends.
completed college
did myself proud with revision
learnt how high my pain tolerance is

survived surgery and recovery while dealing with a sickness phobia.
made my teachers and family proud.
cut my own hair X2

achieved AAAA at A-Level and got into uni, exceeding my offer.
watched my sister graduate.
began going out, and got bored of going out.
voted for the first time.
had my first job.

released 2 issues of KILORAN, edited and organised completely solo.
launched KILORAN blog.
re-branded the magazine.
learnt to cope with my phobia alone.
walked away from things for the sake of myself.
bought myself flowers.

moved to Sheffield.
learnt to live independently.
met new people and gained confidence from it.
became a better friend.

had an article published within a month of moving.
found power in being alone.
was forgiving - of myself, and others.

started writing for The Tab, became fashion editor 4 months later.
wrote more than I ever have.
realised bad habits and changed them.
grew into myself - goals, tastes, clothes.

had a monologue I wrote used in a film.
started viewing writing as a job.
built bonds from my passions and goals.

built friendships with incredible women.
sat my first uni exams, handed in my first essays, and exceeded my grade expectations.

got my first tattoo.
learnt to start celebrating myself, and being proud of my achievements.
learnt self-care, self-motivation, self-organisation.

fell in love X2.
found comfort and happiness in a calm, settled life.
felt romance.
learnt the beauty in simple things made well.
re-branded my blog.
got on The Tab power list.
saw Sundara Karma & Peace

travelled more and saw more - Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Wakefield, York, Whitby etc.
had an article I wrote be read over 100,000 times.
became more confident in my work.
started doing more rather than just thinking about it.
read more.
found beauty in my volatility and vulnerability.
appreciated art.
learnt joy in simplicity.
faced fears.

started drawing and painting again.
learnt a lot - academically, generally and emotionally.
had work published on Affinity.
loved and was loved.

wrote a book.
printed a book.
sold a book.
received my first payment for my writing.
was interviewed rather than doing the interviewing.
was told I'm inspiring.
felt bold and busy and successful.
read my work aloud to people for the first time.
survived heartbreaks and traumas.
enjoyed my work.


And in 3 days, onto the next.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Revision Tips...

The other day I was catching up with Jade from SimplyJadey, and she got talking about her upcoming GCSEs. Revision and exam time has come round again so so quickly, but uni exams are definitely very different so I feel a little more free than the me that was sitting exams the last 4 year.

Having got through all my secondary exams, GCSEs, AS and A-levels and achieving some pretty stellar grades if I do say so myself, I feel like I can impart a little wisdom on the revision game. Lets get this straight, I hate revision, but after what feels like a lifetime of academics and exams, I think I've become pretty good at it. When you go into GCSE years or even A-Levels, I feel like the hardest thing is knowing how to revise or where to start when you've got so so much content in front of you. I feel your pain, I know these struggles. Here are some tips from a seasoned student..

1. Work Outside Of Your Bedroom

This is only something I learnt while doing my A-Levels but it's a game changer. Working outside of your bedroom and setting up a little study station in your kitchen or dining room leaves your bedroom as your space, and keeps that space free from stress. It's important to not let revision become all consuming and seep into every aspect of your life, and keeping my bedroom as a largely study-free zone really helped me. Also, your bedroom is likely to be the most distracting room with your phone and laptop etc etc, and you're hidden away upstairs where no one can comment on your lack of productivity. Working in a more public space helps rid of distractions, but also puts a bit more pressure on to actually be productive. Working in a cafe also helps for this, if you wanna look productive, you're gonna actually be productive. So work somewhere more open, less distracting.

Also! work at a desk or table, working in bed is setting you up for failure. For me, my space has a lot to do with my mind-set and motivation, so working in a lazy environment like bed won't make you feel as motivated.

2. Start Logically

When I start revising I always follow the same structure; work through the content from start to finish a section at a time, then begin to revise based on the exam and in theme groups. 

I think working through all the content is vital because you're not going to feel as strong on subject you learnt a year ago, but you also still need to re-visit stuff you've just learnt. Exam board like to test you, so little nuances of your course like the very start and very end are super important because they might decide to test that your teacher has taught the entire syllabus. This tip is also good for time management, as if you work through it all from start to finish, you know you've revisited everything. Then with any more time you have, you can start to revise for the specific exam questions and look at practise questions or theme groups etc. If you're doing history this is key! Revising start to finish is amaazing for helping you learn your chronology. 

History specific- When I did my A-levels, I gradually drew out a HUGE timeline as I revised. I would revise a section of the course, then before finishing I'd draw out all the events onto my timeline, trying to do as much from memory as possible. It was super super helpful as it's not only immediate revision, but is a good resource to look over before your exam to help with dates.

3. Start Early

Slow and steady most definitely wins the revision race. My technique has always been to start revision ahead of time like two/three months before exam time but do less revision per day. If you start early you're guaranteed to cover everything you need to and have extra time to get more help from teachers or go over things again, also it means you don't have to work for hours each day and you avoid ultimate week-before exam stress. It's proven that your brain remembers things if it learns them again and again over an extended period, so starting early, having more time to look over things and begin less stressed creates the best conditions for your brain to soak up the most knowledge.

4. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

Teachers will be blasting it at you but MAKE. A. REVISION. TIMETABLE. Scheduling when you're going to revise, what you're going to revise and for how long, as well has having other plans written down and visualised helps avoid either procrastination by not knowing what to revise, or over working by not knowing when to stop. Making a timetable that works around your plans and says exactly what you're going to revise means you can physically tick things off and know you've covered them which is great for motivation. Also the reward of completing the scheduled block and being able to be like 'yeah I've worked for an hour now I'll do this' is sooooo satisfying like go you, you did it. 

Theorganisedstudent has loads of amazing revision planning and study resources that you can just print out and fill in. I've been using these for years and still use them now. V V V much recommend. Or just get yourself a little whiteboard that you can write your schedule on so you don't have to spend aaagges every week making a new one.

5. Make a 10/10 Playlist

Soundtrack is vital. But you really have to find what works for you.

The dream revision playlist, for me, is something I don't want to skip, something that isn't distracting with power sing-alongs, something not too loud or heavy. I find working to soundtracks so so easy, like movie scores and instrumentals. They're great as they make amazing background music and you don't have the distraction of wanting to belt out the lyrics, and they're all super non-offensive so you're unlikely to skip any. 

I made the ultimate revision sound tracks last year, so here's a couple for your study needs. Find what works for you-

Easy-listening, softer songs with some bangers.

Just movie scores.

6. Don't Burn Yourself Out

Overworking and making yourself super stressed and obsessed with working will make all your revision pointless. For effective studying, you've gotta be chill and work in short blocks of like an hour/an hour and a half tops. Eat well, drink lots, reward yourself and relax and take breaks! These exams aren't worth putting so much pressure on yourself that you begin to struggle or make yourself feel ill. Overdoing it will only limit you. These exams don't define you.

Hope some of those were helpful, but feel free to hit me up if you've got any subject specific questions or anything! Good luck.

Monday, 10 April 2017

An Overwhelming Happiness, An Overwhelming Soft Sadness...

Jacket - Oxfam (originally asos)
Top - Vulgar
Jeans - Topshop
Sandals - Primark

I haven't been doing so well lately.

There's a lot, a lot, going on in my life at the moment, both good and bad. I feel like I've just noticed how much my life is splitting directly down the middle of overwhelming success and happiness, and overwhelming emotions of loneliness and a soft kind of sadness that sits in the pit of my stomach.

I've been hit suddenly with a realisation that I'm being successful, I'm achieving life-long dreams, ticking things off my list with an alarming rate. I'm about to release my first book, I got the job of fashion editor at my uni's branch of The Tab, I've had more work published than ever, Kiloran has more readers than ever, I've had a monologue I wrote be used in a film, I've had people telling me I inspire them and my work has helped them. I'm also getting good grades at uni, keeping up with my friendships, working on myself. There's so much good, a crazy amount of good. I feel like I'm glowing at the moment, living in a little iridescent bubble of mild-disbelief and total thankfulness that finally things are starting to take off more.

I used to be so scared of growing up as I was so scared of achieving nothing, leaving nothing behind but a to-do list undone. But in the last month or so of my 18th year, I feel the fear beginning to slip away a little, its shadow filled with a fire-burning motivation. I want to sprint forward and do everything. And in that sense, I'm outrageously happy and endlessly proud of myself. I love the woman I'm becoming, I hope I grow into her more and more.

Yet at the same thing, there's a weight on me. Like I said, a lot is going on, much of which I won't go into. I think in general I'm a very over-effected person, maybe over-emotional. And right now, I feel the soft sadness of things coming to an end with no way of stopping it, maybe more of a dread than a sadness. It been lingering for a couple weeks, clouding over all the happiness and I've been struggling to shake it, walking round like a ghost or like someone who's just had their teeth removed and the numbness is leaving them.

Since coming home from uni, I'd seen no one but my family. I felt lonely, missing all the amazing friends and incredible women that bless my life in Sheffield, but I was doing nothing to help it. UNTIL, yesterday I saw my friend Samara. (here comes the moral)

When you're sad, it's easy to forget how beautiful people are, and how dramatically compelling conversation and company can lift you. We sat for hours catching up on life, sharing our pains and joys of the past months. And once that was out of the way, we moved to art. We talked about films, shared our work and our successes, laughed about our contradicting opinions, merged our passions when our opinions aligned. I went home with the clouds lifted just enough to remind me of the fire. I went home wanting to write a film, write a play, write anything, do anything. It's weird to say that 4 hours with another person got me feeling like myself again, but it did.

Company is vital, it's necessary. But compelling company, friends who not only support you but inspire you and drive you to act positively and creatively (if that's what you do) are magical, they're renewing. By the end of it all, your sadness may not be permanently pulled from you, but you'll smile for a photo and the smile won't be fake.

Text your friends now and plan something. Go get a drink and talk about things higher than your daily life and gossip.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

'Disappearance At Sea' at Baltic...

Today I went to Baltic in Gateshead while I'm on a little tour of the North East art scene. All the exhibitions were amazing, the building itself is glorious, topped off with some amazing weather. But I felt like I needed to talk a little about one exhibition; Disappearance At Sea - Mare Nostrum

Disappearance At Sea is a collaborative piece created by artists across the world. The exhibition is focused on the refugee crisis, but more specifically the awful awful awful journey refugees are forced to take and the insane scale of life loss at sea. It's created in collaboration with Amnesty International with many of the videos made and research done being used to build cases and fight against injustices.

I'll start by saying that it is not an enjoyable piece. It is cold and confrontational and brutal. It denies any of the romanticism or the blame that often taints reports on the crisis. It presents you with facts, evidence and first hand accounts from survivors and refugees in camps. It's not enjoyable but god is it heartbreaking and god does it leave an impact.

The first thing that hit me was a video about a case of a 'left-to-die boat'. A boat in crisis was left floating for 14 days in the most surveyed area of the sea. It's distress calls were heard, it was passed by many military vessels, but no hope was given and very few people survived. The video broke my heart even though it was nothing but fact and satellite tracking of a small boat in a vast sea. Because governments refused responsibility and no one stepped up to save these people, they suffered 14 days worth of a distress I can't even imagine. It struck me that I'd never heard of the case, then it struck me how many of these cases must happen every week that I'll never hear about.

The second room is completely submersing. Headphones play ocean noises merged with sounds of distress and it was honestly hard not to panic. It's unsettling, hearing these sounds while watching artists films about the sea makes you feel the danger. It's in this room that videos of refugees telling their stories play. A woman talking about rape in refugee camps, another questioning why humans have become so uncompassionate, another talks about the bad treatment they faced from traffickers when they were forced to put all their trust in them. They're so real and honest. I think we need more of that. Maybe if the news showed first-person accounts, showed this pain and begging for compassion rather than their selfish, politicised view of the situation; maybe more people would realise the necessity for help.

What got to me most was the maps. Hand-drawn maps from refugees recounting their journey. The amount of money they had to give to traffickers that promised bad condition but no guarantee of success, the number of set-backs, jail-time, punishment faced just for trying to reach safety. The fear and the pain. The sheer amount of time. Some of these journeys started back in 2013, 2009, 2015. It's been going on for so long, these people have been seeking safety for so so long. It broke my heart.

My mum said to me 'it shouldn't have to be this way. There should be a legal route people can take to get to safety without having to do this.'

I said 'when it was world war two, we had legal evacuation schemes and routes, we set up trains to help get people out of Germany and other countries, That's what this is, it's an evacuation. They don't want to leave, they've just got no other option than this. They should be helped.'

I left with a heavy heart and revived sadness and passion to do what I can to help. I'll sign all the petitions, I'll protest, I'll do what I can. But it's perspective that needs to change, and maybe if every person and every politician could go to the exhibit with an open heart, it might go some way to help.

It wasn't enjoyable, but it was heart-shattering and necessary. I urge everyone to go if you can.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Creation Of Chrysalism ...

chrysalism. n. the amniotic tranquillity of being indoors during a thunderstorm, listening to waves of rain pattering against the roof like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand perfectly.

My first book chrysalism is available for pre-order now and you can get yours HERE ready for release on April 24th.

This book is so close to my heart, it's me in pages. Not only is each book written, printed, folded, bound, numbered by me in my bedroom; but these pieces and these poems are me. So I wanted to talk a little about the creation of chrysalism and the collection as a whole.

I write pretty much everyday. I carry my little black notepad with me pretty much everywhere just in case, and whenever I can't shake a thought or a feeling, or I'm trying to process something, or I'm going through something I scribble it down. I've never had the level of commitment needed for a traditional journal, and if someone asked me to write a simple account of what's been going on in a particular week or day, I probably wouldn't be able to do it. But gradually, writing poems and playing around with words and images became a sort of journal for me. I joke to my friends that I will always be a selfish writer, because everything is about me, for me. Looking through my work I only really see the experiences that caused each piece, I previously never really gave much thought to the structure or like stylistics of my work. But then I started becoming more confident and showing my work, publishing it on Kiloran, or here, sending it off to mags, as well as just showing friends. And it reminded me that no man is an island, and there's never really such a thing as a totally personal experience.

I got really into reading the work of people like Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, John Cooper Clarke, and realised that these incredible collections had an undeniable base in personal experience. Like Cohen directly names people in his work, he was so extraordinarily personal and open but remained so creative and eloquent. And after that, I knew I one day wanted to release a collection like Cohen's The Book Of Longing, a poetry collection that wasn't rigid in it's form; merging structured poetry with illustrations and handwritten notes. I knew if my poetry was going to be personal, the collection I was planning out in my head needed to be personal too. And that's why I eventually settled on the name chrysalism. That feeling of being just past the storm, witnessing a release of tension and understanding it, that's how I kind of see my writing. It's like a rocky understanding, kind of creating my own hindsight by working through something creatively.

I've had that idea in my head for yeaarrrsss, every now and then starting to group poems but never fully doing it. When I turned 18 I felt really down on myself, as my goal was to always achieve something significant before my 18th birthday. And god knows I've achieved, I have this blog, I set up Kiloran, I write for many platforms, like I think I've done more than enough to make myself proud. But the book thing always lingered, because I wanted an achievement to hold.

A month ago I was walking home tipsy with a man I love and he told me I should just do it. He said I should self-print, self-publish, spend some time and make a hand-crafted, beautiful little limited edition collection that people that appreciate work like that will appreciate. He believed I could so I started working on it, and less than a week later I had a first draft. Since like the start of March I've been going through my notepads, making decisions about layout and paper, refining a theme of the collection, deciding what I wanted it to look like. It's been scary and stressful, but I've got it to a point where even if chrysalism is read by no one, I'll love it and hold it dear as it's years of my work, and traces years of experiences and thoughts. I couldn't be more in love. The paper, the colours, the illustrations, my favourite pieces ahhh.

It feels like a long process, when really the whole thing has come together in like a month. Craaaazy.

Each time I get a notification for a pre-order, I freak out. The Lucy that's never wanted to do anything but write, and always just wanted books in a bookshop, is freaking out. Seeing people enjoy my work, and wanting to support me means the world, like I can't quite articulate it. And on top of that. the fact that chrysalism will be stocked in my fave fave fave bookshop in Sheffield is insane, I haven't quite grasped that yet.

And that's the story of chrysalism from thought to birth. What a beautiful little baby she is.

I'm probably going to do another post about the collection before release, but if you want a lil book hand-made with love, I'm your girl and it would mean the world!