I’ll Give You the Sun

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First, before I delve into anything, I just want to say that if you are wearing shorts and have bare legs and live in a cold-ish country, don’t put your metal laptop on your lap. I just did that and the cold metal felt like searing heat on my poor legs.

Anyway. When I was 19 and still rather green, I read this wonderful book called ‘The Sky is Everywhere‘ by this vivacious YA writer named Jandy Nelson. I honestly thought the sky soared out of her pen. I was captivated and mesmerised and just head over heels in love with how this woman wrote.

Which is why, three years ago, I saw one of her books at a charity shop and picked it up immediately, nestled it under my coat to protect it from the rain, and placed it lovingly in my bookshelf where it sat through a new job, pregnancy, new motherhood … to now.

It’s called ‘I’ll Give You the Sun’ and I am writing about it because I have realised that I am just plain old, folks.

Jandy Nelson writes like there are fireworks in her fingers. Her brain has ethereal, colourful wings. Her mind is ridiculously fantastic. She writes so wonderfully, and her magic still made me hooked on her story, but I couldn’t help thinking how contrived it all was.

Let me make myself clear. I’ll Give You the Sun is a YA novel about grief, love and growth. It centres around a pair of twins, boy and girl, who used to be inseparable until a tragedy befalls them, and deals with how each twin navigates this tragedy, how it affects them individually and their relationship with each other, as well as how they view the outside world. The boy is gay, so there is some LGBTQ romance in there too. There is a lot of talk about soulmates and artistic genius and, told from the point of view of 14 and 16 year olds, every emotion is heightened and you can FEEL the hormones just leaping out of the page…

It is a beautiful story, but my 25 year old self is not my 19 year old self. I honestly felt like it was just a tad too wishy washy and dreamy for me. I scoffed at times, while reading some of the romantic exchanges. Like, how can you fall in love and be SOULMATES after having had just one conversation?

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Like, a LOT of the feelings of love being described made me grin. I was 16 once. I was ‘in love’. It’s all just screaming lust. Not that lust cannot lead to love, of course, but adult me shared a grin with adult inner-me. 19 year old me would roll her eyes and say I was just cynical. I am not.

But this story is not just about romance. It deals with so much more and deals with it so well, that even cynical old 25 year old me felt some emotions and was hooked till the very last page. So, if you like contrived soul-matey very lucky teenage ‘true love’, grief, happiness, art, vivacious writing and lots of metaphors, then this book is for you.

origin

There.

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Here are a few more quotes.

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I love this one. This one is often true for me.

Kindness

Today’s prompt word is kindness.

In my life I have not been very kind to those I love the most. I don’t know why I do that. It’s something I can’t control at the time and then regret immediately. I’m not unkind all the time but I do it a lot when I feel irritated.

At the same time, I’ve been told numerous times that I am a kind person. When people say that I feel like an imposter. As a child I was kind, I remember being so, but I also remember being distinctly unkind.

There are many quotes floating around about kindness. The general consensus seems to be that it is an attribute people should strive towards. An action to be carried out without the need for a reward – expecting a reward for an act of kindness makes the act unkind. Despite the fact that it’s still the same action being carried out.

People have been kind to me when I have least expected it. For example once my bike chain broke on the side of the road and there were a bunch of skinheads smoking by the verge. When they saw me battling with my chain they approached me and I panicked thinking oh no they are going to be racist or attack me – but no they asked if I was ‘alright love’ and they fixed my bike chain for me whilst making merry.

They didn’t expect anything in return because they sauntered off once I was back on wheels again.

Being kind makes you feel good inside. Having someone be kind to you makes you warm to them. Humans need kindness, it helps us thrive.

Myself

Hello. Yes it is me. Peering into the internet. I am sitting in bed with a baby snoozing in my arms as I type this. It has been some kind of day. He won’t seem to settle tonight unless he is being held but I don’t mind I don’t I don’t I never will mind because he will never be this little again and he is my big big blessing.

We did nothing today but are exhausted. But that is the reality of parenthood.

It’s been three months to the day since our lives changed completely, and as I was getting into the shower at 10:47pm I thought to myself – you know, self, your life is never going to go back to being like it was before. So stop thinking of that. Embrace this change and make the most of it.

So that is what I have decided to do. Babies are not a pause in life – rather an enrichment of it. See it’s taking me a while to get there but I am working on it.

See what I have to do is throw myself all the way in. Go all out. Dedicate my brain and time to learning and teaching and loving and nurturing. Not wishing for a holiday.

I love this boy more and more every single day it’s insane.

Like at the beginning I don’t think I bonded very well with him because of how traumatic the birth was – and because I was under general anaesthetic when they pulled him out of me via emergency c section – I didn’t witness his entrance into this world. They literally put him on me while I was woozy and drowsy from the operation and I tried to connect but all I wanted to do was sleep. So weird right?

But now I am in my right mind again – I think… i don’t know yet because back then I thought I was in my right mind but I very obviously was not…

anyway. Myself. That was the prompt for today. I must work on myself and not hang about the fringes of things if I want to give my boy a valuable childhood.

I want to give him the best in terms of mind enrichment and education. So that means I have to make sure I am educated and informed.

If you have had kids, how did you navigate being ‘yourself’ in order to nourish the brain of your child? Any tips would be so very welcome!

Sparkle

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my seventeenth post.

 

Hundreds and thousands,

Atop white icing,

Atop a cake,

On a plate,

Covered in foil.

Wrapped in a plastic bag,

Shoved

Mercilessly

At the bottom of my schoolbag.

For I was ashamed

Of the cake

My mother toiled all night to make,

for the school fair.

Don’t ask me why.

It was perfectly lovely,

Soft, yellow vanilla sponge

Simple, perfect flavours,

And the sparkly fun of hundreds and thousands decorating the top.

I just didn’t want to be

That GIRL.

WHAT girl, pray tell?

The one who carries a cake onto a bus where the boy she secretly crushes on sits coolly at the front, NOT carrying a cake.

Don’t ask me what nonsense goes on in the minds of twelve year olds.

When I got on the bus..

That boy was carrying a cake.

And most of the other kids

Had some kind of home-made concoction in their laps too.

I felt stupid

And sad.

For my cake,

On it’s plate

With white icing

And hundreds and thousands

Was a flattened, crushed mess.

And my heart, now, today, at 25

Wrings in sadness

At the thought of the love and care

That went into that cake,

As my mother,

toiled through the night

To see a sparkle

in her daughter’s eyes.

I love you mama.

 

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Little

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my thirteenth post.

Little toes

Little nose

Little mouth

Little frown

Little thighs

Little sighs

Little fingers

Little dimples

He’ll be little for quite a while

But boy, what a big smile!

Poor attempt today – my little has sapped my energy!

Bodies

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my tenth post.

Bo dies in this one.

Bo?! Oh no. We love Bo.

Yes.

Also you spoiled this on me.

Oh sorry. I thought you watched it.

So Bo dies, huh?

Yep. Bo dies.

(Sorry I had to do that.)

***

The gory fact of the matter is, our bodies are vessels in which our souls reside. They are the transport systems which our souls use to navigate the earth. Communication systems our souls use to impart feelings and emotions and thoughts to one another.

They are perishable, extinguishable and yet hugely capable.

Vulnerable, weak and simultaneously strong.

Resilient, tough, prone to accident and illness.

Our bodies are a gift. An imperfect perfection.

This is why in some religions it is a tenet of the faith to take care of the body.

These days people think taking care of the mind is more important, and while this is true of course, people forget that sometimes in order to have a healthy mind one must also have a healthy body.

Filling your body with nutrient-depleting foods and shouting at the world not to ‘shame’ you for it won’t make you happy. Sure, be happy with your body and your weight, but make sure your body is getting the love it deserves.

If that means eating well and treating oneself now and again then that is most suitable. If it means moving, dancing, walking, hiking, laughing, cycling, staring at beautiful things, then certainly your body shall thank you and your mind will be in harmony with your body.

It doesn’t matter if you have a bit of podge, it does matter if you let that bit of podge get you down. Just love your body and treat it well, and you will reap plenty of mental wellness rewards. That is what I think.

What do you think about all this?

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Umbrella

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my ninth post.

When my brother and I were very small, our parents moved us away from rainy England to Dubai, where it barely ever rained and the sun shone down upon the barren desert with a beaming ferocity that unrivalled anything we had ever known.

You see, if I were to describe England to you using only the colour spectrum, I would say it was ramaadi (grey) and a thousand shades of green, with a few splotches of brick red thrown in for good measure. Clouds here are stunning, and seemingly perpetual. When it rains it does not rain as it does in Malaysia (there it POURS). It is a slow sort of rain, seemingly innocent and gentle, but viciously incessant, soaking you through in a matter of minutes all while apologising meekly and drizzling away.

The green is of all hues. Dark sultry evergreens, pale shoots, regular green of birches, the humdrum green of privet, cheery green of oak, green hills rolling away into the distance and grass that just grows and grows and grows. Green ivy creeping over beautiful homes and driveways fringed with neatly clipped grass. An abundance of green and all looking like it came out of a picture book – which I suppose it did, for Beatrix Potter did base her paintings on the Lake District!

When you fly above England it’s all neat little squares of varying shades of green. It’s similar in France I suppose but there is a foreign vibe to it there and lots of browns creep in.

When you fly above the United Arab Emirates the land is brown, a hundred shades of it, and you can see the winding marks on the earth where rivers and mountain ranges signify a land that barely changes. It’s always changing in England, for we have seasons. In Dubai there is summer and winter and a week or two of rain and that’s it.

So whenever we came back home to England for the summer holidays, my brother and I relished the rain and the greenery like a pair of mad children. We ate buttercups and yanked all the dandelion seeds off their stems, blowing until we were blue in the face. I naughtily picked the neighbour’s flowers because they were pretty and sobbed inconsolably when my mother gave me a good telling off about it.

My mum bought us two children’s umbrellas one summer, darling little things, coloured like a rainbow, and we would rush into the garden when it rained and stand out there like a pair of wallies under our umbrellas. The neighbours thought we were bonkers and their dog barked at us.

Those odd children standing out in the wet under umbrellas!

It was such a novelty, you see. The pattering of soft rain on the umbrellas, splish splash of water by our wellies, tap tap of heavy drops on wide tree leaves.

It’s funny what makes children happy.

Salty

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my seventh post.

 

Fish and chips

On an oily white paper

Wrapped up tight

Vinegar

Golden chunks

Crunchy batter

Sprinkled

Lavishly

Lovingly

With salt

As the sun sets over the horizon

And the waves rush over the pebbles

To greet the night.

Weight

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my sixth post.

 

Well well well, I see you have found the scales.

Go on then. Stand on it, do. Won’t do you no harm. Sure, a number will pop up, but that should only show you how much mass you have accumulated on your years here on earth.

Would be very different on the moon. You’d weigh less there – but perhaps if humans inhibited the moon there would still be a stigma, just on a different range of weights.

When you were a baby your mother anticipated each weighing you had. They stripped you and sometimes you cried, your little naked chubby body going blotchy because there was a draft. They laid you gently on the hard plastic of the scale and your mother – well she squealed in excitement when she disovered you’d almost doubled in weight since the day you were born. She sure does remember your exact weight and treasures it in her heart for some odd reason.

Yes he weighed 3.45kg when he was born and now he weighs 5.9kg, isn’t he growing fabulously!?

Such pride and happiness in her voice. She longs for you to grow and yet laments your tiny self from a month ago.

So weight is important. If you weren’t increasing in weight they would worry. If you increased too much they would also worry.

It’s just when you reach a certain age. An age where weight seems to become evil and high numbers on a scale are devastating. People begin to become fixated on these numbers, and eat green things in favour of beige things in the hopes that the scales will read them a lower value.

Some barely eat at all.

But no.

Those scales you are standing on are just an inanimate object. Revel in your mass. Revel in your form. It takes up just the right amount of space here on earth, and presses down on our planet along with billions of other masses – the comforting humdrum thump thump of earthlings weighed down by gravity.

All it is is gravity. Your weight. Here on earth.

Red Lips

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my fourth post.

My to-do list is huge. There are so many things on it that get pushed and pushed and pushed back until they are curled and blackened and covered in layers of wanting to be clean.

Other things take precedence.

Bottoms must be wiped. I know, such a charming topic. Clothes to be changed, cries to be soothed, cuddles to be given and soft chunky little bodies to be fed and bathed and rocked gently to sleep.

Lullabies to be sung.

Baby clothes to be washed.

The floors can wait, my hair needs care, nails are bitten down to stumps and polish dries in glass bottles as the dust settles on their lids.

Lips are cracked.

I wore a red dress at my wedding party. After the white one. An A-line princess neck dress, embroidered bodice, tulle under a skirt that flared out just enough to be elegant. Not too much. A red dress and red lipstick, sultry and deep and when I look at photos of myself I do not recognise that carefree girl.

I want a baby, I told my husband, I have so much love inside me and it wants to come out.

Give it to me, instead, he told me. And I did, of course. Red lips and high heels and night dates and spotlights and kisses in the moonlight, in the heat of the sun. Kisses before and after work. Sleepy ones and excited ones and ones that are routine, barely noticed and vaguely appreciated.

And red lips. Perpetually. The soft click of a good quality lid, the deft twist and the scarlet balm smeared on two lips in a matter of seconds, turned up hair and a pretty dress. So much love to give, galavanting from place to place. Work to home and travelling here and there in between.

Evenings enjoyed. Nights slept in full. Mornings together, just the two of us. So much love to give. So much given. Eyes meeting and smiles amid hours of companionable silence.

I don’t wear lipstick anymore. Ever. Barely. Silence is fleeting, moments together are snatched. Cuddles involve tiny arms and legs, and two large heads cooing over a small one.

I don’t have red lips. But I still do have so much love to give.