A phantom that inhabits me wherever I go

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

I am in the cafe and veil myself in the proficiency a cup of coffee and a laptop presents. Today I am ok, but I have dragged displacement about me like a weight or like a phantom that inhabits me wherever I go. Only in the creative process of my work is this distilled and centres me like an internal compass, and I transmute the phantoms in the act of being an artist. I am the daughter of two migrants, each from separate countries who both fled or were war damaged. I was born in England but moved to Ireland over 20 years ago. I have negotiated 4 cultures now but belong to none. I look to what dissolves these boundaries that people are so fixed on. When I make work, I am exhilarated, it is the only thing that dissolves the unbelonging I have felt all my life. The atmospheric silent invisible treacle that can bind me is also dissolved when I meet others like me and it has taught me to find a meeting place and empathic listening in all people I encounter and somehow people give me their stories. It’s like I have been an atmospheric barometer all my life to work out the nuances of what is going on. This habit comes from being a child in situations where you are having to learn ways of being other people have embedded in them from being born in a place of belonging. I try not to dwell on displacement anymore, but it is a dwelling, it is where we , the others, dwell.

Love people - even the 'hard-to-love' ones

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

I have educated myself out of a pattern of 'fixing' others, wanting to please others and into a space of self care, with compassion for self AND others. I have overcome bullying and discrimination in the workplace, made many friends along life's path and disconnected from the toxic people who have come across my meanders. I am eternally curious, love learning, love people - even the 'hard-to-love' ones. I savour the many simple moments of joy in a day, and seek to create and share more of these with others....life is too short to be bitter or miserable.... there are times of sadness usually the loss felt when love of someone so strong has died....and there have been many... I don't wish, I dream and do!

Don’t let the samba die

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

1999, Dublin opened the gates to someone who soon would become one of the most known person in the city. The flight coming from Germany, a Basque girl from Donostia arrives in Dublin Airport, takes a bus to town, carrying on a luggage of bravery and willingness, ready to discover new things and start a new life. Her English language was very poor and two things she knew about Ireland were The Cranberries and The Corrs.

“It was a kind of new language, new life, new city and new discoveries”, recalls Miren Maialen Samper

About 20 years later, we meet in city centre, she is walking towards us with her short legs and fast feet, we are heading to a place she discovered and suggested, located near Busaras and Connolly Station. The sun is becoming shy as an Irish man, she is wearing a hat and a flower on her hair.

We are passing through many kind of voices, stumbling between steps, ideas and the last news that she was updating. In her hands there is a folder with some papers and in her back a bag full of knowledge to share, and we are looking forward to let her open that to us.

We get to the Art Café, we begin to set up the connection, she greets the staff, I order peppermint tea and we find a table. She is wearing a jacket with some badges of activisms tied in it, she places the jacket on the chair, and there is a strip of "Vote’s for Women" around her shoulder and chest: Does it look nice? Do you think I can use it? What do you think? and she is straightening it with care, saying that she made it herself and it is certainly has more meaning than just a strip.

So I pour our teas, the camera is on, she tied up her hair and introduces herself in five different accents: first her native language, the Basque, then Spanish, after German, followed by Portuguese and English . I am observing her uniqueness, watching her in an attempt to discover her super powers. Miren is known as a “omnipresent”. She is in everywhere, almost at the same time and we are curious to know her mystery of being such a human.

Miren, we want to know about yourself, like Who you are – her cheeks coloured but soon she starts to tell us when Dublin came across her life and how it has changed since she arrived from the very first time, in the last Century.

Miren was living in Hamburg – Germany, and on Sunday morning she read the newspaper and saw an German spoken interview to work in Customer Service in Ireland and she thought “why not?”. It was September of 1999 when she came, in that time there was no LUAS Station in O’Connell Street, and the currency was pound. Everything so different, streets not so organized than before, but the old Dublin catch her eyes and made her fell in love. She takes English’s classes, joins groups and goes for a language exchange tour around Ireland. It was when the magic of the green island started to work and a leprechaun stuck around her forever.

Gerry is an Irish guy and German speaker who gave her one more reason to stay...but as they are two pair of wings, they decided to move again, as she got a scholarship in Brazil. They move in 2002 to São Paulo, they met many Brazilian people, travelled around many cities and learned the language and its culture. Gerry was giving English classes and students are usually taught the american accent and many people didn’t know where Ireland was, so they faced some difficulties in the matter of being integrated in there, even they have made part of groups and met Irish emigrants including an important one: Peter O’Neill who wrote “Links between Brazil and Ireland”, an independent survey that reflects some of the links that exist between Brazil and Ireland. A copy of the book is placed at UCD (Diaspora Studies Department) and some informations in the website: www.gogobrazil.com .

Miren and Gerry decided to come back to Dublin, it was when the Accession Countries happened, in 2004. A time of celebration for 10 countries were being welcomed to Ireland.

The 2004 enlargement of the European Union was the largest single expansion of the European Union, in terms of territory, number of states, and population to date; however, it was not the largest in terms of gross domestic product. (Wikipedia)

Returning to Ireland, Miren goes for a Masters in Sustainability at DIT, that she says it was one of the best decisions she have took and I dare to say that she did the best she could, because I can see that the places she goes, that everything she is up to she is really present.

Working on her teses, learning possibilities of making projects, meeting people, studying Languages and this pack of studies mixed with the taste of doing something that she likes, they were probably a step into her action and engagement with the organization Comhlamh (https://comhlamh.org/) as well as the Dublin Cycling Campaign.

As a part of the mystery, Miren is capable of managing her time with excellence and endless energy, she joins the Capoeira and the group of Forró classes and it was an opportunity to keep the link between Ireland and Brazil.

“What I really like about Dublin is that you meet really interesting people”, Miren is able to use the languages she speaks to meet new people and connecting them, especially when it is about art.

She mentions at least 5 names in our chat, sharing and promoting memories and thoughts of good moments and experiences and she finds the time not only to be present in the events but also documenting them through pictures and videos.

Miren reminds of Bianca Fachel, a Brazilian girl who used to sing the favourite song of her “Não deixe o samba morrer” (putting in English words: “Don’t let the samba die”) in a place called “La Dolce Vita” in Dublin, and then talks about others artists who sing in Grafton Street, like the Brazilians Natalia and Fabio.

I found this the proper moment to ask how and why she gives her time to promote, document and connect many artists around, and she humbly say It is just the love of the culture I have and I think is important to let people know what is happening and keep the community together.

We open the chat to hear more about the other projects she is engaged, besides the ones we already mentioned, she is also part of the Women Writers Migrants Collective and also Miren is one in between over 50 inspired migrant women in Ireland, who will be soon published by the publisher Skyline Bureau, and the pre-order of a copy of the book is already on in the link: https://www.skylinebureau.com.

“You need to think globally and act locally. You have to make a contribution to the place where you live and doesn’t need to be something spectacular”

I am smiling at her and admiring each word that she says, still wondering what is the secret of this human I have in front of me. A human with an ordinary life – with a full time job, with a home to take care of, a partner to share the life with and she still has capacity to carry on a heart that can fit the world into it. A human who wherever goes, she goes for real. Miren might think what she does is not spectacular, but for me, there is no mystery: she is the spectacle. I tell her that her days seems to last more than 24 hours, she answers to me “I try to keep my energy flowing”.

For our grand finale in our connection with Miren Samper, we go to Connolly Station. She sits on the piano beautifully instigate by John Murphy and illustrated by artist Holly Pereira, she takes her sheets music and chooses the first to play: “Asa Branca” (in English “White-wing”) of Luiz Gonzaga, then she plays "The Blue Danube" by the composer Johann Strauss II and we hope to keep watching her playing but we know: Miren doesn’t let the samba die.

I have grown out of pain to see beauty in everything that happens

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

I went to the village with my mum, and when we came back, I go to a public toilet, I felt pain in my toe. I came back and told my mum, she told me I was a bad boy, that I played football and got injured and refused to tell her so she could massage for me. I remember the medicine very well. She bought an ointment called nerve and bone, it didn’t fix it. It was so painful because I dislocated it. Back home in Ghana we had people who were natural healers, I went to one that said we are going to break the foot of a chicken, a live chicken, so if the chicken got healed it means that, hallelujah, I will be healed as well!

Like a voodoo stuff, this is real story!

Thankfully for me they said no, not for dislocation, but the poor chicken did suffer because my mum had already bought a chicken. So probably they said the blood could be moving out of the wrong place. So they would heat very hot water, put the towel inside, then he put his hand in cold water lift the towel and put on my feet. I still have scars from those bangs. They would keep it on my feet to move the blood to position, I was going to senior high school, every time I walked with a limp. I limped because for a very long time it affected my walk, maybe unconscious, I don’t know… It’s a very long story.

So when I went to senior high school, my feet was so warm I was sweating there was pain and I couldn’t walk, so when I went home they sat me down, my feet were sweating like it was I high temperature. So they took me to a healer.

It is the handwork of an evil spirit, of witches, they tied my right foot with herbs, then when we got back from the city my left foot started paining me, so when we got back we had to call him and say look, we disturb the witches and they attacked my left foot so he came down the next day and he tied my right foot and my left foot and then my knee. Voodoo, voodoo, evil spirit! Then my elbow, you see this elbow it still does not straighten fully. So then he tied my jaw and collar-bone, they started hurting, every joint in my body started hurting. I lay in bed for three months, like this. At this moment, deep in my heart I thought I was very close to death. I was in my teens, eighteen or thereabouts.

 And then, that man we realised was not too powerful for the witches so we went to Benin, another country in South Africa. Juju, voodoo, for them it is more of a major religion, so we got these guys from Benin and they said you know what we going to have a meeting with them so give us time. We go for a meeting with the witches to ask them what they want, what they want from me. So they went into the meeting they had a discussion with them. So they figure it was one of my aunties who has become jealous that I am going to become a great man and want to finish me before that time. Before she leaves you, they said, we are going to apply medication to you. So what they did they took a razor and they brought some herbs and black powder so they cut. One, two three and they rub it in on all my joints, I have scars. I am a story man, my life is a living story. I have the scars on my chest, wrist, everywhere, it was very painful, because they mark me with the razor blade and rub it in because they want to leave the scar, then I don’t know how, the pain went down. It worked but it didn’t fix it.

At some point in time I had to ask to speak to dwarves. Its true, everything, all the pains went down but I wasn’t agile for a teenager, I wasn’t vibrant, I have too much energy and I wanted to be agile, but it took too much time to get there, but at this time my mum and my grandma were tired to I had to go searching on my own, I met a guy, my friend had this man who invoked dwarves, like spirits, spirit dwarves. So the guy said don’t worry we will make a meeting between me and the dwarves, he asked to buy a few items, I bought the items and then, he calls them.

Apparently, I tell you this, every spirit, gives you the power to either hear or see them, you may not believe in spirits, for me the first encounter they didn’t give me the power to hear them, subsequent meeting I could hear them a bit , I could not understand, I understand what they say, they say ‘Chris don’t worry we are with you, we will come and stay with you when you are asleep, we will come and operate on you’. They gave me medication, it happens every time I get these attacks. Guess what happens, one time I went to Google and asked what is happening to me, I have this pain, fever, my joint become swelling, and guess what!? Arthritis! I have been through all this pain and torture because I have arthritis. I am not getting medicine for arthritis now, because I have not had a single doctor diagnose that I have arthritis, in Ghana they didn’t have. At the time, everybody was busy blaming that witch, even now I still think it’s the witch because I believe in the supernatural, and I haven’t have any doctor. I still have the pain now, when its cold and the weather s getting cold and the last few days I’ve had cause for alarm. I have had the fever, coldness or rain, is felt first by the blood, by arthritis, my friend always ask me why I wear the jacket.

But I don’t have a medical card. That is how worse my life is getting, I don’t have the medical card. If I sit down and get up I hear the noise in my knee, I think my bones are beginning to scratch at each other. So yesterday, guess what, I wrote a letter because when I sent my application for medical card, I needed a doctor to sign for me, so I sent them, but HSE wrote to me and said look we are holding onto your application until you can prove that three Doctors have refused. So I wrote the letters and signed them and put them in three envelopes and I posted it yesterday. I hope the doctors will reply the letters but the HSE says after 21 days they will cancel the application if they don’t hear from me.

Arthritis is very painful, really, really painful. For me every experience is a learning experience. I have grown out of pain to see beauty in everything that happens, honestly.

So that you don’t have respect for you collar bone until you have arthritis and you try to wear your socks then you wake up and you say thank you collarbone! I didn’t know you helped me put on socks!

People think it’s just the arms that help you put on socks or shoes but when you want to do an activity, a simple activity, like picking up this pen, I tell you every single bone in your upper body contributes to that!  Imagine having pain in every single bone I have noticed little things like ginger is meant to help when I was in Carrickmines Cross we used to have this driver who had pain in his back and I said you need ginger and then they called me Chris the Gingerman because when someone had pain I would say you need ginger because it was a good remedy for inflammation and pain but I have lost hope in orthodox medicine.


More than a physical move, border crossing allows you to make an entire switch to yourself

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

Borders. Crossing them, escaping from the place I know, finding myself in this curious and thirsty mood of experiencing difference and freedom in this place where I'm a newcomer. I believe that borders have created these feelings in me since I remember. In the last few years, it almost became a necessity for me to run away from routine by making a move to 'somewhere else'. Some more place to discover, to enjoy with a feeling of having to worry about nothing but the wind on your face. One year ago, I turned depressive. In the last months, this urge to escape from what makes me suffer and I feel stuck in has become more and more pressing, until I moved to Dublin. I wanted it, despite the heartbreak caused by leaving my truly loved ones, the ones I never get bored of. However, if you can escape people and events, a disease is something you can not run away from. Things are getting more manageable, but remain far from being fixed. During the last weeks, I have been continuously asking myself the question of what does a 'move' really mean. I found out that for me, rather than an escape, moves and border crossings are mostly a way of taking some distance and put you in a mood of being ready to learn again, from others, from cultures, from differences, from freedom and experiences. More than a physical move, border crossing allows you to make an entire switch to yourself.

It was just a way to delay me and create a barrier

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

I had an appointment booked at the PPS office in Dublin to acquire a PPS card to enable me to be part of Irish society, and received racist treatment, judgement, blocking me from getting a PPS number even though I have every right to one, and then a complete change of attitude once they realised my company had arranged the appointment for me after an international relocation.

I do not look Irish, I look Asian. After I have witnessed the rudeness to me, the deliberate obstruction of the office staff blocking me from a PPS number, and the rude attitude to others in the waiting room that I also observed, it is my belief that everyone who passes through that PPS office as an immigrant gets treated like 'scum'.

I felt that every effort was made to create a difficult situation that will block or scare or confuse those who are eligible for a PPS number as well as those who are not. I understand that some may be there asking for a PPS and benefits when they are not eligible, but I believe there is a polite, non-personal, non emotional process to determine this without creating fictional barriers, without judgement and prejudice, and without treating each candidate derisively 'until proven otherwise'.

I don't know if all staff working there have the same attitude as I only interviewed with one person. However, I do know that she had a big sign printed up telling me why I was not eligible, and the information on it was contradictory to what my relocation company (IrishRelo) had told me the requirements were. This means that the PPS office is giving out different and incorrect information, not the factual information that the relocation companies advise on and as the policies are set out.

I will explain what actually happened step by step:

  1. I have moved to Ireland with my husband who works for a corporate here, we are married so I require a PPS for tax purposes, I was also asked for PPS by my landlord (so I think you need it for renting but I am not sure), and I also want to learn to drive so I needed it for a provisional driving license.

  2. My husband went for his appointment separately to me, accompanied by Irish Relo, and he is a tall white guy - rarely running into discrimination! His experience was very pleasant, smooth, and friendly. I was not expecting anything different as I also had the paperwork from Irish relo, had gone through their checklist of what to bring, and arrived with my marriage certificate etc.

  3. When I spoke to the person in charge of my appointment, she was very rude and abrupt, I told her that my husband and I just moved over, the details of his company and that I would need the PPS for marriage tax and tax purposes, as well as to learn to drive.

  4. She said that I cannot get a PPS number unless I have proof that I need one. I showed her the marriage certificate and she said this is not proof. I showed her emails from his company and she said that this does not mean that I require a PPS or am entitled to one, just because he is working.

  5. I mentioned that I would not be able to do simple things like go to the doctors or take driving lessons if I did not have a PPS, but she said I would need proof that I am learning to drive.

  6. I explained again that I need a PPS simply to apply for the Irish provisional license so I would not be able to have proof yet - I asked what would be considered proof in my case, and she said a driving license application form. I said this was ridiculous as it takes 1 minute to download and print one and anyone can print one - it is not proof one way or the other so why did I need to provide this? It was just a way to delay me and create a barrier.

  7. I pulled out the checklist I had printed off, that Irish Relo had given me stating (in the PPS office's invite letter) the list of items I needed to have with me, and I checked off each one as present. She took the list off me and threw it in her bin, and I demanded it back.

  8. She kept saying that I need to go and get proof, and would have to arrange another appointment (which would take 1-2 weeks)

  9. Finally, I managed to point out to her that Irish Relo had sent me, at which point she suddenly realised that I should not be categorised in her mind as 'immigrant' aka 'undeserving person', but as 'high earning expat, working for a corporate'. In that moment her whole expression and demeanour changed, and suddenly she was as helpful as she could be. She produced a blank driving license application form which she had a pile of in her draw, and told me to add my name. She processed my paperwork and issued a PPS number. Why was I getting this different treatment now? Why was I a diffent case in her eyes?

  10. I was grateful that I had managed to break through her wall of prejudice, but I was so saddened at the stark contrast between her treatment of me when she had categorised me as one thing or the other, and the different treatment towards my white husband. It showed me a very two-faced organisation who, given their purpose and their audience, should surely be regulated on their treatment of people and be trained to keep a neutral response.

Whatever is happening here, and whether or not she has on other occasions been right about non-eligibility for a PPS number, there was no need for such an attitude of prejudice, derision and disparagement. I was saddened as I looked around the room and saw others who may have had much more difficult journeys to get to Ireland than I have, may need the PPS number much more than I do, and now have to face the belittling attitude of this woman as one of their first 'welcomes' into the country. Potentially other administrators have the same checklist (it was a printed out list in shouting capital letters with an official logo). I believe the checklist itself was incorrect and should not be allowed as they are the official issuing office of the PPS.

I also observed lots of processes that cause anger, annoyance and dismissive behaviour in the staff and the visitors - for example all who book appointments are given set times, (mine was 10.15), and then told to wait - we have to go in to the booth when our time-slot comes up. There was no communication that they were running over an hour late, they did not call the name of the next appointment, there was no ticket-line system, and people keep getting up worrying that they had missed their appointment or that someone else has skipped ahead. I was lucky that english is my first language and I could approach a staff member to ask, and I could also be brave enough to ask those around me and understand that they were ahead of me in the queue. Others were not feeling so brave - Especially for those who are nervous, or did not have English as their first language, this was extremely confusing. By time people get into their appointment an atmosphere of stress, worry, impatience and confusion has been created in the applicants. Meanwhile an 'observation' of how rude and impatient immigrants are, is being constantly reinforced in the minds of the administrators - surely these processes could be evolved for a better experience for all rather than fostering racism from day one?

My identity which is made up and borrowed and assembled like a jigsaw puzzle

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

i'm rootless. i carry a passport that has no relationship to my identity, my identity which is made up and borrowed and assembled like a jigsaw puzzles were the pieces just don't fit together. i can't claim a nation, a culture, a language, dna that is 'my people'. i have an irish name but i am not irish - i came here with my husband and i love him and i would go anywhere with him - but my heart beats for a home that i don't have. i want to belong somewhere and i just don't and i don't know how to start. is it something you can even start or something you just born with and know? does it come from the earth of where you were born, the religion of the rituals you perform, the ID you flash at immigration officials, the pubs you drink in?

I actually like my accent being different. It is who I am.

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

I look like I belong here, I think. But I speak, and all of a sudden I am other. My accent is wrong. I have to explain who I am, why I'm here, how often I go "home", what I think of Ireland, what it's like where I'm from, etc. etc. For 18 years now, and counting. Young ones say I'm not Irish even though I've lived here longer than they have. Amazing what the exact way you say words has an effect on how those words are heard. People read back stories, mostly untrue, into what they hear because it is said in an accent that isn't theirs. I don't hear the Irish accents because I'm surrounded by them, work with people with them, have family with them... so I forget I have a different one. But people remind me. Even on holidays to other parts of the world, people point out that my husband and I say things differently. Our accents aren't the same. And the explanations begin again. It's a pain, all the explaining, but you know, I actually like my accent being different. It is who I am. It is my history. It is my parents accent. It is my sister's accent. It's is my school friends' accents. It is an accent that ceases to exist when I go "home" and don't have to explain anymore.

I believe that I am finally home

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

I have traveled the world to find my own self. I believe that I am finally home.

I was getting used to the sound of explosions

I left my country because I was afraid I was becoming insensitive to violence. One day, I went to my regular bus stop, and a corpse was lying on the floor. It was very early, there were not many people out on the street. I just waited for my bus.

Then it hit me...something was wrong, and I got scared I was getting used to the sound of explosions and the news of massacres. To me, dying from natural causes meant being killed. I needed to remove myself from my beloved country because I still wanted to feel.

I ride an emotional roller coaster

I lived in the same house for 49 years and got married for the first time at 52 . Finding love like this was Grace alone .. to make it work required sacrifice.. much deliberation mixed with trust and faith allowed me to make a big move to the UK.

I ride an emotional roller coaster - harking back to how things were and how some things aren’t the same .. then I get that they can’t be the same even if I had stayed on .. everything is dynamic , and I am grateful for the many opportunities that have come. From my early teens my life was punctuated by farewells, as friends and family emigrated to various places in the world to leave the political unrest and later crime in our birthplace . Our community was diminished and I wept for the loss of potential and indeed the loss of the dreams and vision that we had of how we would be in our lives together.

Thanks to the technology that we have , I enjoy the connection from afar that my grandparents never had when 2 generations before they fled persecution.. when they left , they left everything behind.

There were many times where the thought of “Will I ever have a boyfriend, a husband in my life?” came to mind.

Coming from a family with strict & traditional upbringing, it had been a bumpy journey growing up. With parents setting the ground rule of “no-boyfriend-till-you-graduate”, it became awkward for me to approach such topic. There were many times where the thought of “Will I ever have a boyfriend, a husband in my life?” came to mind. After 27 years, I found the companion that I had been searching for, I never thought I would ever find that special someone to spend the rest of my life with.

That we are each a you-niverse of infinite possibilities.

I am happy because I finally realised I am the love I have always wanted and deserve. That we are each a you-niverse of infinite possibilities. That I am and we are slowly unlearning our way into unconditional love. That the first step is self-care. That loving yourself is one step closer to loving nature and others in an authentic, sustainable, centered way. I am grateful.

I wasn’t planning on it, but we fell in love

I had just gotten out of a very serious relationship because I wanted to travel and he could not understand that. I was traveling and felt like I had figured things out - I was going to explore and after, move to my home city, start working there and “settle down”. Then I met this guy and everything changed. I wasn’t planning on it, but we fell in love. We did long distance for a bit, I moved to be with him in London, and then we moved to start a life together in Singapore. While this was not how I saw my life going - I’m happy that I was open to the new path and I’m so happy I went on this unexpected journey with my now fiancé, future Husband.

The vast and unexpected mountain that is life

It was my 30th birthday, and while I have had some or happiest times in Singapore, it is occasions like this where the absence of friends and family from your home country is felt most deeply. It’s as if I could feel each and every step of the 10,800 km that separates you from the home in which you grew up in. As I sat up on my bed, and walked across to my kitchen, my girlfriend was instructing me to go back into the bedroom. I had no idea what was in store for me. She soon called me back into the living room, and said: “I have a very special day planned for you my dear, all I ask is that you keep an eye on your phone.”

She did not disappoint. Over the course of the day, I received 60 different video messages from friends and family across the world. I was overwhelmed with happiness. It’s as if at that point technology had help us overcome those 10,800km, and I was sitting at home in my family living room opening cards and sharing laughs all together. It turns out my girlfriend had spent the preceding weeks contacting each and everyone of the people closest to me, and asked them to send across a message. While it was the videos that brought about that moment of unexpected happiness, I cannot underplay the thoughtfulness of my partner in bringing about this moment. Her actions bring me moments of unexpected happiness each and every day, and I feel so grateful to have this person by my side, scaling the vast and unexpected mountain that is life.

I felt unimaginable joy as I descended the hill

I climbed 2700 ft up a hill in Yorkshire. Ingleborough one of the highest peaks in The Dales. At the top I saw a huge steel cage. Locked in were Ravens and Blackbirds. Scattered on the floor were dead new born lambs for the birds to eat but no water. I went up to the cage and saw the sad eyes of the birds. I felt great sorrow. In an instant without thinking I went around the cage and saw a panel that could be moved. Suddenly my small body filled with strength as I pulled at the panel of steel bars. With all my might I strained and shifted the panel just a few inches. The birds flew to the gap and escaped flying upwards. I shouted ''be free my friends'',  as they circled above me. I felt unimaginable joy as I descended the hill. A small Robin Redbreast followed behind me for a long while. Sweetly singing as if to thank me. I discovered later that farmers trap Ravens to protect newborn lambs and also feed them dead lambs that didn’t survive birth. I still feel the joy I felt when I see Ravens.

Happiness is not a continuous state. It comes in small bursts.

A few weeks ago, something I feared and dreaded happened. I thought it would be scary. It had made me redundant from my job. I thought that I would be very upset. But when it happened it was like putting down a huge back pack of rocks. I felt light and free. I hadn't realised the burden I carried. Since then I have been so happy. Happiness is not a continuous state. It comes in small bursts. You have to stop and appreciate the moments. I have had many of these moments over the last few weeks. Probably more than the whole of last year. It's been incredible.

It would be striking up a conversation with a stranger, where I would share that instant chemistry with and enjoy their attention, connection and the impromptu friendship and vulnerability.

It would be striking up a conversation with a stranger, where I would share that instant chemistry with and enjoy their attention, connection and the impromptu friendship and vulnerability. That gives me an unexpected happiness - as it gives some sort of hope that this conversation and acquaintance could grow into something more? A guilty pleasure/confession is feeling very satisfying, watching people who offended me and hurt me get their Karma pay-back, which always makes them suffer x10 more than what they did to me. That makes me happy and scared of my own self at the same time. The other confession is that there are some guys that would come across to me as intelligent and arrogant and hard to get - I like to use that chemistry I have with them and act completely uninterested and cold - other times low-key flirt - and just play with their minds. I need to stop doing that though.

All I can see is shadows of past dreams and windows gloating at me

I was once sure of what I wanted, when I was a child. But as I grew up, I realised my options grew with me too. So I tried to narrow them down to a few routes. And I started walking on those routes. And so, I walked and walked even as the ground started to feel more bumpy and I started regretting and doubting. Was it because, I really wasn't as good as I thought? Why did I feel stumped the more further away I went and my shoulders heavier with the weight of doubt and insecurity?

When I was young, whenever I felt downtrodden by my failures, somehow I had the drive to go on. In the past, things were clearer to me, which road I would take and not look back. But now, I look down and the road has stopped. Countless times, I have looked back, unsure of my decisions. Now I am blocked by my own fear. I see people far away, achieving greater things yet they are so much younger than me. I know it doesn't actually matter the age as long as you keep trying, but with each tick-tocking, I feel rushed. Rushed to not disappoint my younger self, to reach somewhere, to achieve something. As the time passes, the sound grows louder and faster. And yet, I find myself on a standstill. Turning back from where I am, I no longer know where I want to go, the directions in my mind are a jumbled mess. What am I going to do now? The roads are no longer clear to me. All I can see is shadows of past dreams and windows gloating at me , the success that seems unreachable, that I didn't try hard enough. That I wouldn't make it anywhere. That I am nothing. So I close my eyes and try to sleep these feelings away.

I feel lonely sometimes

To me, the people around me are constantly telling me I'm blessed to have such good friends, and am blessed with such a good family. Im grateful for all of that, but i think that what people dont know is that i feel lonely sometimes. Even with so many people around me, I'm always overthinking about things and making myself unhappy. It is not that i crave for more, I just feel that sometimes i dont appreciate the people by my side as much.