Wednesday, 28 December 2011

One for you... one for me, another one for you.... and two for me...

Sometimes the best results come from cocking things up!
I stumbled on this recipe by getting another recipe wrong... but, turns out, damn, its good!

Melting Centre Chocolate Baileys Truffles

150g Green and Black's white chocolate
150g Green and Black's 75% cocoa solids dark chocolate
150ml thick double cream
25g unsalted butter
4 tablespoons baileys
1 tablespoon greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons icing sugar

1. Break the white chocolate up into the bowl of a food processor and grind until it looks like granulated sugar.
2. Place the cream, butter and baileys into a saucepan and heat gently until it's just at simmering point.
3. With the motor running, slowing pour the liquid mixture over the chocolate in the food processor and blend until smooth.
4. Pour the liquid truffle mix into a bowl, cover and put in the fridge overnight.
5. Next day you will find the mixture is more solid, though it will still be pretty soft and gooey.
6. Sieve the cocoa powder and icing sugar together into a bowl.
7. Now take teaspoons of the chocolate mixture and drop into the cocoa powder. Quickly, with hands well dusted in the cocoa powder, form rough balls of truffle mix and place on a plate. As soon as you have a plateful, transfer to the freezer, which will firm the mixture up a little.
8. While the balls are in the freezer, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Take the chocolate off the heat as soon as the lumps have disappeared (if it overheats it will turn granular)
9. Now take the truffles out of the freezer and drop, one by one, into the melted chocolate. Working quickly so the truffle mix doesn't melt, roll in the melted chocolate using a fork to move them around and lift them out, and place back on the plate.
10. Dust with the remaining cocoa powder mix. Then transfer the plate of chocolates into the fridge until the outer layer has firmed up.

When you bite into these truffles, the white chocolate centre just melts on your tongue. They make a great prezzie. Just make sure you keep some for yourself!

Funny pic of the week: a woman after my own heart!

A good old spring cleaning session

When I first started seeing an emotional therepist, the biggest issue I think I had was that I felt weak. I believed that all my 'problems' were in fact much smaller and less important than I had made them in my head, and I felt useless and pathetic because I was struggling with them.
'Weak' had become a buzz word for me. I had turned it into a kind of self deprecating weapon. I would find myself repeating it in my head whenever I was angry at myself, as if the word was a knife and I was using it to stab my unconscious self.
My therepist encouraged- still encourages me- to avoid the word and instead replace it with the word 'vulnerable'. The thing is, weak and vulnerable are very similar states but with one key difference. Weakness implies inability to cope with things. Vulnerability implies wanting help from others in order to cope with things.
When we first discussed the concept of vulnerability, I had an almost physical aversion to the word. It made me squirm. I hated the idea of being vulnerable. I had images of exposing embarrassing, fragile and self-indulgent parts of myself to others, only to be manipulated, laughed at or scorned.
But, as with most concepts we have discussed, I allowed her the benefit of the doubt and took on board what she said to me. I agreed that in coming to talk to her, I had made myself vulnerable, and so far it had only helped me to feel stronger.
The effect of this small shift has been quite incredible. I didn't have to change much. All I actually did was open up a little more with people. I put out gentle feelers, maybe mentioning a subject I had been contemplating but hadn't spoken about yet, maybe making a jokey comment about something that, in the confusing mess of my head, was actually quite a big deal for me. And to my complete surprise, on the whole, people reacted with a mixture of astonishment, relief and pleasure that someone else had thought the same things they themselves were thinking!
The strength you can find in alliance is a beautiful thing. You only need ONE person to say 'I know exactly how that feels' and the effect can be massive.
And following on from that, you will probably discover that as well as other people who, like you, haven't really been able to speak about these subjects before, there are many people out there who not only feel the same way, but know ways of making sense of whatever the 'problem' is. They may have been feeling the same way for many years, they may have read books and researched the subject, or simply lived with it for long enough to find ways to minimise it.
On a personal level, I have recently allowed myself to be vulnerable by writing an email to a friend of a friend- someone I barely know, who was recommended to me as a wealth of knowledge on the subject of subpersonalities. Even writing the email I doubted myself and what I was doing. I wondered if this person would feel uncomfortable having a stranger ask personal questions. And yet again, I have been pleasantly taken aback at how helpful the experience has been!
I recieved a long, thoughtful reply which has helped me to clarify my own ideas about my subpersonalities experiment. And I now want to pass on the knowledge I have gained.
I have decided that the process of identifying the five characters pictured earlier in this blog was a creative one rather than a scizophrenic one. The thing is, we are totally conditioned to see ourselves as ONE individual organism: 'ME' but really this is not the case. We are, each of us, an intricate and extraordinaily well balanced collection of different parts all working together. Anyone who has ever looked down at their feet, wiggled their toes, and had the odd feeling that they are somehow alien, will know what I mean by this. I don't see any reason why we shouldn't think of our personality/subconscious mind as the same thing. We do so many different things, learn so many conflicting lessons, and play so many different roles in our lives that it is hardly surprising we end up with many different thoughts and arguments in our heads.

So rather than saying my 'whole' personality is made up of a collection of distinct 'sub' personalities, I have come to the conclusion that my personality is a never-ending mass of all the lessons I've learned, people I've been influenced by, job roles I've taken, etc. The process of identifying characters was a way of chopping up the mass into managable pieces that make more sense to me. It's like tidying up! I have picked up all the bits and pieces that are lying everywhere in a confusing mess, and I have started putting them away into draws with big labels on saying things like 'LONELINESS' 'LOGIC' and 'DAYDREAMS'.
Things are much easier to understand if they're in small bitesized chunks, and as well as that, now I always know where to go to find them.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Talking to myself... it's a bit crowded in here!!!

The biggest problem I had with my latest 'homework' from my therepist, was that it made me feel a little... er... crazy.
As I sat, biro in hand, about to take the plunge for the first time ever, and turn one of the little niggling voices in my head into an actual character, and actual person... I contemplated briefly whether doing this would somehow make that voice REAL. By giving it a face and a name, would I loose control of it? Was this schizophrenia? And even more worrying than that... was I already scizophrenic because I had identified that I DID have 'voices' in my head?

Well, as you can see from my previous blog, the final decision was to ignore these concerns and get to drawing, and I can honestly say, around a month on, that it's been one of the most helpful things I've done so far in my quest to sort out my head!
So what if it's a little crazy?! I called my clothing brand Kooky after all, I AM a little crazy and I'm quite happy with that... who wants to be normal any way? Normal is predictable. Normal is knowing what you're going to get every day. Normal is 9 to 5 desk job, breakfast at 7am, coffee at 11am,  Emmerdale, oven chips and hair straighteners, and that just isn't me.
And apart from all that, who hasn't, at some point, said 'I was in two minds about it' or 'Part of me wants to'? Who hasn't laid awake wishing their head would just shut up for a moment? All I've done is taken this on a step and created characters around the parts of me that have little subconscious arguments with each other every time I need to make a decision. It's more of a creative process than a schizophrenic one. I can safely say this now because, having created the characters, far from feeling like I've lost control of them, I have in fact felt like I am far more IN control!

The outcome of this process has been to separate my thoughts into sections and then understand where each one is coming from. It's felt like I've taken the confusing ball of conflicting thoughts, pulled out strands and ironed them flat so they're all nicely lined up instead of knotted in a big messy tangle!
The next step my therepist suggested, was to actually talk to each character in turn. Ok, so now I really DID feel crazy:
'Hi me!'
'Oh, hello me, how are we?'
'We're not too bad... fancy a chat?'
'Well, yes why not I haven't had a proper chat with myself in a while!'
Hmmm, you get the picture. Glad I did this when I was on my own with nobody watching!
And yet, despite how utterly ridiculous this sounds, I honestly have discovered things in doing it, that I had never understood about myself before!
I found that I am angry at my inner angel- she doesn't care about me, she only cares about making everyone else happy and I am tired of putting myself aside and spending all my energy worrying about what everyone else thinks. So we came to a decision that though I still need her because her selflessness gives me bravery and conscience, we are going to try and think of ME first sometimes, avoiding the massive guilt complex I usually get when doing this.
I found that my daydream character is not a stupid, giggly, unicorns kind of girl after all- she's actually pretty straight talking- she just wants to dream about cool shit... and to be honest, so do I. After all, it's up to me to chase the dreams if I want to- she doesn't do the future, she just does the dreaming.
I found that my depression (now called Miss Darcy after Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice) carries around all the hurt I have ever felt and because of this I try to shut her out and ignore her. All she wants is to be acknowledges and accepted, and we made a compromise that I would listen if she needed to be heard, as long as she wouldn't get her nails in and cling on, not allowing me to let go of feeling miserable.
And finally I found that I never really believed in the sexual part of me, who is now called 'Lady'. There she is, this fantastic, confident, sexy woman who lives to make herself happy, and I have consistantly ignored her in favour of the more negative sides of myself. She simply asked me to have belief in her.
But mostly, having these imaginary conversations has allowed me to accept that each one of these characters is ME. I AM the selfless angel, I AM the daydreamer, I AM the angry, acheing depressive and more importantly, I AM the sexy woman who believes in herself!
And that, my friends, is a GOOD thing to achieve.
I will also just round this little ramble up, by saying that there is in fact a whole school of psychology based on sub-personalities. So, if anyone else (like me) is feeling a little wierd about talking to themselves, you can at least rest easy knowing that brainy people throughout history have done the same thing!

Have a look at some of these websites if you're interested: