Plum by Hollie McNish// Poetry book review

My initial thought upon reading the poetry book ‘Plum’ by Hollie McNish was that I didn’t like it at all. Upon first impressions I felt that the poetry was mediocre and just didn’t hit me with a profound light bulb moment, but then it is not the usual style I enjoy so I gave it a chance to steep. My favourite genre is Magical Realism where writers mix the mundane with the magical however Hollie McNish’s poetry is very simple, piercingly candid and at times rude. The reason why I bought this collection of poems was because I wanted to try a different style of poetry and throughout Plum, McNish allows her childish poems to be interrupted by her adult self in the form of commentaries talking about how bad these early poems are which I thought was rather sweet and humble. The collection of poems acts like a timeline as we follow Mcnish grow up from girlhood, to the teen years, to womanhood and finally motherhood and I did find that very beautiful.

I think because her poems are so raw and gritty- you can almost hear her ‘working class’ voice seep through the pages; it broke down this construct within my own mind of how a poet should behave. There is a perception that poets are to be poised, well educated, soft spoken upper middle class beings who write elegant prose and after reading McNish’s poetry, that perception came tumbling down and I began to relate to her and read the messages she is trying to convey hidden deep within her words.

On the surface McNish talks about her daily life as she rhymes in conversation with you as though you are a close friend meeting up with her for a brew at the local market. However there is an eerie political undertone that almost screams in your face in regards to the treatment of women, sexual abuse, the ironies of how society treats the female body, social constructs in regards to success and materialism and global issues.

She writes with honesty, humour and curiosity as she reflects on the absurdities we’ve all grown accustomed to such as asking why there are so few words for Penis yet numerous for Vagina? Why do we talk about living healthier lives yet our children are begging for us to play with them in the park and we ignore them and thus ignore our body’s needs to be healthier? And why rich people are considered brave for making working class builders build them huge houses when we’re all going to die anyway?

Upon finishing Plum I did fall in love with Hollie’s poetry. Her words are alchemic in which she fuses innocence with the wisdom of a sage as she peeks out at the world with huge inquisitive eyes, a free spirited mouth and an urgent, questioning voice.

I can now say, I absolutely loved Plum and it’s been a favourite read of this year, so much so that I wanted to research more as to who Hollie is and I just loved her even more. I did not realize she was the spoken word poet in the video “Embarrassed” which is a conversation about Breastfeeding in public. When that video came out I thought it was incredible! I have further gone on to watch more of her spoken word poetry, and actually I did reread Plum having now heard what Hollie sounds like which now gives her poetry more life, a voice and her personality shines through. I am so in love with her work, I want to watch her perform, I want to meet her so she can sign my copy of Plum and just chat with her about life and I want to purchase more of her poetry collections. Needless to say I am now a huge fan.
If you want to purchase Plum, visit the link here: Plum by Hollie McNish
To watch her spoken word poetry visit her channel here: Hollie McNish
Visit her website here: Hollie Poetry

Here are some more book reviews of a similar subject:
Book review on The Girl of Ink and Stars
Review of The Rialto Poetry Magazine
Review of Candlestick Press Poetry Pamphlets
Book Review of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops By Jen Campbell
Book Review onKinfolk Magazine issues 11 & 12
Book Review of Love poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky
Beautiful children’s books part one
Book Review on the children’s picture book ABC Dream by Kim Krans

Yoga in Bulgaria & Yoga Thoughts

yoga in Shpika, Bulgaria
It’s been a short while since I’ve posted anything on this blog that is yoga related and about my own personal yoga journey. I felt like I just wanted to share with you a few photos from my time in Bulgaria practicing some yoga whilst we were on day trips as well as some thoughts and life reflections I have already been discussing with my partner. First of all, I don’t know if you have noticed but I am a lot calmer than I used to be. In previous posts and in articles I was a woman ablaze with anger seeking justice and respect for my life choices whilst encouraging others to stand up for what they believe in too. But now I am beginning to see the fruits of my labour and people can see all my hard work is slowly paying off, the critics have nothing to be critical about and so I am left in peace to do what I want and it feels marvelous to explore my life without feeling weighed down by judgement. I personally detest unwanted meddling masked as advice, I enjoy constructive feedback when I ask the person I feel is appropriate for the advice but other than that I’m extremely headstrong and will reject opinions I never wanted in the first place, which can make me appear rude and abrupt to the person who is rudely telling me how to live my life (without my consent) Oh the Irony!

I personally don’t understand the need to be negative and critical of others, to me its a waste of good energy and really emphasizes how mean an individual is at their core and then I question why that person ended up like this? A kind of bitter resentment for their own life that they have to crap on other’s choices and journeys?
traveling yogi, Buzludzha

“…Even Patanjali understood that the human brain does not compute negative instructions or negativity in general and so in his teachings of the yoga sutras he doesn’t bother with any form of negativity at all. In the world we live in, there is a huge emphasis on criticism, but yoga and yoga philosophy does not bother with that and Patanjali’s yoga sutras has a complete lack of negative construction because he believed in the power of building people up, not knocking them down. The Yoga Sutras encourage us to have awareness, be mindful and allow ourselves to deploy energy and resources skillfully. The Yamas and Niyamas are active principles that can help us in our daily life to foster harmony, cohesion and integration in all we do…”– James Boag, Spectrum Magazine 2017.

So with that in mind, my partner and I have been discussing the near future together (no we are not engaged). We love traveling, he loves working on his travel photography and videography and I want to have the freedom to teach wherever I want, I don’t want to be confined to work like the part time retail job I have now, it’s suffocating me, one work colleague once said to me “You are not like the rest of us, you can’t live in a cage”. I’ve made the decision to go and do a 200hr yoga teacher training with either Samma Karuna in Koh Phangan Thailand because they offer a discount on the training if you do a month of seva yoga with a charity associated with them or Sadhana yoga school in Bali because they offer scholarships to those with low incomes (and I fall in that category) and then eventually go on to specialize in Yin Yoga and Thai Yoga Massage. This will be a slow process because I really don’t earn much, but I have hope, patience and an Oxen-like determination.
dancer pose shipka church, Bulgaria

People can criticize me all they want for my decision, I am OK with it now, I realize their negativity is deep rooted and a projection of their own ideas of how the world works, it’s their illusion. I also choose to be positive & proactive because I know I have good intentions and I am a humanitarian, this decision to do these trainings goes beyond myself, I can’t be an activist who is part of the global change if I am stuck serving selfish consumers throwing tantrums because the product they want is not in stock, if I stayed in that reality for the sake of comfort, pleasing the critics and money; my soul’s purpose will be wasted. Something bigger than me is gently pushing me to do great things, to teach others there is more to life than the lies the media spoon feeds us, to be of service in schools, youth centres, refugee camps, homeless shelters and perhaps even the NHS? I have so much to offer because I have a big heart, pure intentions and now I acknowledge my self worth so I am actively giving myself the unconditional love I deserve and as my Nanna used to say “You can’t love others until you love yourself first.”

Everything I have done up to this point has been with love. I created this blog from the ground up out of love for many things, I worked my butt off in a part time retail job to fund my studies and training so I can have skills and build a career I love, I’ve saved money in order to travel, not for the sake of holidays but to learn about other cultures, I’ve written articles for the love of writing and sharing knowledge and I am now teaching workshops because I love helping people and being a bridge who can guide them to love themselves and I want to continue being a vessel of love and grow as a person in order to cultivate more love to share and if critics have a problem with that I’m just going to carry on being me, that’s all I can do to counteract the pessimism. And I will go on proving that living a life of love and integrity feels far better than living a gloomy life of resentment, jealousy, boredom and cynicism.
yoga Bulgaria, wanderlust, tefl teacher

So right now in my life I can now say with pride that I am a fully qualified TEFL tutor specializing in teaching English to young learners as well as Teaching English online and I am also a kids YogaDance teacher, with skills in leading arts & craft sessions too. In a few weeks time I will be a Teen yoga teacher also, I have worked so hard to get to this point in my life and the next step is bringing it all together and being given the opportunity to work abroad. If a language school, summer camp or family retreat centre/studio/tour company in Bulgaria are interested in hiring me please visit my contact page or email me.
I am also interested in working in Cyprus (because I have lived there before), Greece, Spain, Portugal, Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam and Bali.
I am well traveled, please take a look at my TripAdvisor page to see I have bundles of Wanderlust.
Otherwise you can follow me on my facebook page or Instagram.
yoga teacher, traveling yoga teacher, tefl teacher

Empowering Books for Wild Women

I love to read and I read numerous books of many topics, I don’t have a particular genre I stick to. Right now I am reading a couple of poetry books, a magical realist novel, a book on the chakras, another on Thai Yoga and another about the teenage brain (for my teen yoga teacher training.) Sometimes I want to read a book that has a beautiful fusion of female empowerment, fairytale symbolism and Jungian psychology. These types of books help me reflect on myself, learn more about who I am and I discover a lot of my strengths and weaknesses have been dripped into my psyche via family and societal environments. Reading books about becoming the sacred feminine who sees her beauty and accepts her darkness is extremely medicinal stuff because it unleashes archetypes in me that may have been dormant and encourages me to be proud of traits already being wild and free. Here are five of my favourite Empowering books for women who delight in being wild and for those who feel constrained and wish to be set free and roar with fervor.

Burning Woman

Fiery. Passionate. Honest. Complex. I feel like it made a space to honor and acknowledge women’s anger in a way that is so often overlooked, ignored, minimized, suppressed, or denied (just like women’s voices around the world today and in history). This book is alive with language piercing right through the heart into the womb and is a must read for any woman at any age on any pathway. This is a call to the true Feminine and unconditional love. This is also a great source book if you run a sacred feminine circle or Red Tent because it honours the lost voice of the goddess from within. Lucy’s writing style is very personal, from her heart to the readers: embodied. It feels very different to read from traditional non-fiction and even contemporary narrative non-fiction authors, it is uncultivated, raw and wild and it reads very much like a personal journey.

Burning Women is the Feminine as an archetype (not a prescribed gender) are rising in the form of intersectional feminists, queer activists and angry people of colour. We are the rule breakers and we demand that our voices be heard. And as we get stronger, so the forces which suppressed us wage an ever more fierce war. But they cannot stop us. The tools which have been used to oppress us are being revealed within concepts like rape culture and patriarchy. Burning Woman screams through the flames “enough is enough”! This is  truly powerful book that gets under the skin of what it is to be a strong, powerful female in a man’s world. Brilliant insight and fascinating unique ideas. Exciting writing for a generation of women who want to blaze through life.

Purchase the book here: Burning Woman

Women who Run with the Wolves

I have read this book twice now and it never gets old. It’s dog eared,full of scribbles and I’ve underlined parts I found most important, most relevant to how I feel. Clarissa Pinkola mixes Jungian psychology with folkloric tales and feminist ideas. This is a collection of short stories from around the world interspersed with commentary by the author who discusses how the symbolism is important for women needing to cultivate their wild hearts once again and to be unafraid of her flaws and her darkness and i don’t mean darkness in an evil sense, I mean darkness like the roots of the earth, that primal energy, the dark pelt of a wolf’s coat as she howls at the moon in the dark sky- this book is like Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero’s Journey’ for women desiring to venture back to her primordial self in the cimmerian woods. Any woman who is interested in empowering herself, thus setting herself free from the corsets of social expectations will be inspired. It is a Jungian read on the darkest version of popular folk tales and fairy tales. for me, that made it very accessible.

Some chapters resonated deeply, others not so much – I think it would be different for each individual reader, my favourite chapter was ‘Seal Skin, Soul Skin’ which was about a Selkie woman trapped in a 7 year marriage because her husband hid her seal skin. Relating to this to real life- many women feel trapped in relationships, specifically abusive ones and they feel that their soul or their identity has been stolen, Clarissa interprets this story beautifully. Juicy and satisfying, this book is for any woman who feels an urge to connect with wild and ancient concepts of what it means to be female: messy, raw, and full of luminously passionate creative energy. If this book doesn’t make you want to howl out loud, I’m not sure what will!

You can purchase the book here: Women who Run with the Wolves

If Women rose Rooted

If Women Rose Rooted is very similar to Women who Run with the Wolves, so if you enjoyed that then you will love this. This book is all about connecting with the Earth and with the Celtic heritage. It weaves personal stories, Celtic myths, and meetings with other like-minded people together like roots of an ancient wise tree. This is an incredibly deep and thought provoking book for women as it maps out an intensely passionate journey following a woman’s search for her place to be and belong, both physically and mentally. Sharon digs deeply into her Celtic heritage and it’s mythology, finding women’s roles as leaders and protectors, feeling the deep rooted emotions of belonging to land and community. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because of my proud Celtic heritage, my Grandmother on my mother’s side is Irish and my Grandfather on my Father’s side is Scottish and our name ‘Ness’ is an ancient Pictish/Norwegian name meaning “Cliff” or “Headland”. I am very in tune with my Celtic blood so reading this book was like coming home to my ancient self.

I found the parts of the book relating to Celtic history and the actual stories compelling, the women introduced by the author fascinating and the prose and poetry just beautiful. I found this book to be both mesmerizing and thought provoking. The combination of genres explores the world we live in and takes us along on the Heroine’s journey to re-explore our own lives and ourselves. Every woman needs to read this book. It will speak to your soul, it will stir up your long forgotten ancestral wisdom. It will have you connecting with instincts you didn’t realize were divine, or it cements the notion that you are on the right path to know the goddess.

You can purchase the book here: If Women Rose Rooted

Woman most Wild

This is a brilliantly wonderful, empowering book. Danielle has a wonderful, poetic writing style that feels rich and velvety while still infused with empowerment and energy. Now more than ever, we all need to embrace our inner feminine power (no matter where you find yourself gender-wise) and this book goes in depth on how to do just that. From start to finish of this book my eyes were glued to the magically empowering words Danielle Dulsky surged through my eyes. It’s pages shared with my soul, a witch I had forgotten was within me. I cried tears of release, had deep belly laughs throughout while finding the key to unlock my inner witchy woman. From reading “Woman most wild,” I realized I had really become isolated from nature’s magick, and I’ve already started wandering back out to the forest to find my Mother tree.  Here is a celebration of the sacred feminine – The definitive word on what it means to embody, become, move, and breathe the goddess within. The author acts as a guide for teaching others how to live with the rhythms of the seasons of Mother Earth. She offers ritual, chants and practices to honor the seasons that serve our beautiful and bountiful bodies, throughout our life span.

This book actually howls as you eat of its delicious powerful medicinal words. It is an enchanting journey into the realm of the sacred divine feminine, It is incredibly diverse and serves as a great tool for awakening and healing the collective wound by channeling your inner power and remembering what we were taught to forget A real Gem from an author who delivers like wild thunder and water.This book is life transforming and has awakened a fire inside me that will now never quiet.

You can purchase the book here: Woman most Wild

Goddesses in every Woman

According to Bolen, the stories behind these goddesses (which she recaps in the book) have seeped into the collective unconscious and mold women’s personalities from birth. She’s separated them into three groups- ‘virgin goddesses’ (representing the independent, self-sufficient quality in women), vulnerable goddesses (representing relationship-oriented women), and Alchemical, or transformative. Interestingly, only Aphrodite’s in the last category as she is both virginal (indpendant from men) and vulnerable (loves being in love). It is believed that most women are a blend of the goddesses, or ‘adopt’ different goddesses at different stages of their lives. I discovered I am a blend of Artemis (a free spirit with ambition), Aphrodite (I love all the sensual delights of life) and a little bit of Persephone (connected to mystical things). Bolen describes what typical childhood, adolescence, and adult years are like for each goddess, and lists the strengths and weakness for each archetype, so one can become more self-aware and take steps to remedy what’s not working and strengthen what is.

Archetypes are a powerful tool for self-knowledge because they tap into the universal collective language we all share. Learning to become more aware of your own archetypes can help you see yourself, the bigger picture and is a good place to start creating solutions for yourself and others. Finding out which Goddess sits at the head of your table is also a very good way to balance your own personality so you are able to find a voice for lesser known parts (Goddesses) of your inner self. I high recommend this book in every woman’s collection for insight into strengths and weaknesses and personal empowerment.

You can purchase the book here: Goddesses in every Woman

These books are deliciously jam-packed with empowering goodness that will enrich your soul and fill your heart with fervor. Happy Reading!

If you fancy reading other book reviews by yours truly, click on the links below:

Yogi Approved Book reviews:
Six Soulful books for the summer

Five books for the Winter reading list

Five books for your Fall reading list

Bad Yogi Magazine Book reviews:
8 Poetry books for Yogis

4 Books by Inspiring Yoga Teachers

Book reviews of a similar topic on the blog:
Quotes I like from The Book of Dharma by Simon Haas
Book review of Alchemy of the Heart by Elizabeth Prophet
Book Review of Shamanic way of the Bee by Simon Buxton
Book Review of Love poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky
Book Review of Yoga for Travelers by Jennifer Ellinghaes
Book review on yoga books (miscellaneous)
Book Haul on Art Therapy Books
Book Haul on more Art Therapy Books

Want me to review your book? Contact me via my contact page to discuss sending me a review copy.
Please note that I do not accept self-published books or e-books for review.

The Yoga & Belly Dance workshop feedback

yoga and belly dance workshop Plymouth
The Yoga & Belly Dance workshop which happened on July 16th and created by Jodie and myself was very successful and although I was nervous at the beginning of teaching my session, within 5 minutes I calmed down and enjoyed myself. Jodie and I made sure that this first workshop was an introduction to who we are and what we teach and so the yoga was gentle with focus on yoga for the feet and the belly dance emphasized basic moves, basic traditional shimmmies and for a bit of a challenge I included layering samples which involves doing two moves or more at once. Overall 11 women out of 15 turned up and most of them gave positive feedback, one girl even gave me a hug and thanked both of us for bringing her back to her body again, which was lovely and some women are interested in Jodie and I leading goddess/sacred feminine day workshops in the near future. In contrast, there was a small amount of negative feedback which came from two women, I’m guessing were friends and seemed a bit petty but then in the grand scheme of things, who we are and what we do is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and the positives outweighed the negatives.

It was a fun three hours and because it was a successful workshop we will be doing a few more together this year, when Jodie comes back from Czech Republic in August and before I jet off to the Far East early next year. The next workshop will be more tailored and include teaching tribal fusion belly dance but I’m unsure as of yet what Jodie will teach in her yoga session. I will also include a short meditation inviting the ladies to focus on their sacrel/womb centre, giving that area some love and healing. I am pretty sure Jodie will also include a short introduction to some pranayama too.

Overall I am very happy we taught together, our energies bounce off each other really well and I can’t wait to announce the second workshop coming soon early Autumn!
Both Jodie and I will be working at the Yoga Hub festival in September, I’ll be performing and teaching some belly dance and Jodie will be offering massage therapy, visit the link here if you fancy a weekend of yoga in Newquay!
I am also in talk with a lady who runs a three part business called Rhythm of Beauty and part of this business involves facilitating training weekends and retreats, She wants me to perform and teach at her Winter retreat in Derby this November during the full moon which sounds delightfully magical! So stay tuned for that!

Lots of exciting and lovely things are brewing and I can’t wait to share them with you all. In the meantime I am working on my illustrated poetry book, last articles for Yogi Approved and Bad Yogi Magazine, writing book & product reviews and I am also considering doing a day intensive training in Thai Foot Massage, I’ve already trained in Indian Head Massage and I think both are lovely gestures I can offer people after some yoga or belly dance or as stand alone treatments? More on this later!

Summer Solstice Dream Catchers

dream catcher hand made
Here are three recently made dream catchers by yours truly. I do enjoy making these because to me dream catchers just look magical, it’s one of my favourite symbols and has been for many years. I made all three as gifts for three women, the first is for my yoga teacher Jo who runs the Yoga Loft, the second is for Jodie who co-facilitated the yoga & belly dance workshop with me and the last is for the woman who accepted me onto the Teen Yoga teacher training happening in Bath at the end of August this year. I have decided to open an etsy shop and I will be making a bigger batch probably in the Autumn when I’m not so busy. It’s a hobby I love doing because its essentially the only thing I do purely out of enjoyment, sure one day I’d love to teach workshops, that would be fun and yes I am opening an etsy shop but I don’t have any expectations on my dream catcher creations to make money, if they do it’s a blessing but other than that this is a lovely past time that brings me back to myself and calms my nerves.

And I think that’s the difference between a hobby and a passion. A passion is something that sits in the driver’s seat and there is desire to potentially turn it into a career and make money out of it one day as oppose to working a 9-5 mediocre job. A hobby is purely for leisure, yes it can turn into a passion and some people do make career’s out of their hobby’s but those people will always say “I never set out to make money from this, it was always for enjoyment and it was a stroke of luck it got popular and now I earn money from selling my product.”

My passions are yoga, belly dance and art. I am in the process of turning them into a career. I want to teach them out into the community as a holistic teacher, I want to earn a living from being of service to others via creative means and bring people back to their bodies and their spirit. Making dream catchers is something I want to do in my free time during rainy day Sunday’s and sometimes I may sell them, other times they are gifts to those I love.

Making dream catchers keeps me relaxed and I love picking out the materials I use and choosing charms to fit with an individual’s personality. It’s my little piece of magic, they are like talismans to me and I always sage them and bless them under the full moon.

Check out my other dream catchers in these links here:
Dream Catchers in Cornwall
Bohemian Dream Catcher
Dream Catchers in Autumn

dream catcher gift

dream catcher artist, Plymouth, tutor