Why International Women’s Day is Important.

Why is International Women’s Day important?

For the same reasons Pride and Black Lives Matter are important. Because gender, racial and any other discrimination shouldn’t exist in the 21st century, your sexual orientation, gender and skin colour shouldn’t define your ability or right to do anything.

Because women still get paid less, are expected to marry and have a family and put that above anything else.

Because women are still considered ‘property’ of the man in some countries and are punished for getting raped.

Because old white men decide whether a woman should be ‘allowed’ to have an abortion.

Because although women fought hard to be given the right to vote, there are hardly any women who make it into politics (for obvious reasons).

Because a woman although considered ‘weak’ ironically has to try harder to prove that she can do the same job as a man. Doesn’t that make her stronger?

Because posting a photo of her in clothes she likes regardless of how ‘sexy’ they are considered or even sometimes posting a photo of her smiling somehow gives a man the right to harass her.

Because it takes years of hard work, self-love and self awareness for a woman to feel confident and strong enough to be who she is, with no fear. Because even today, employers would hire or promote a man, even though a female candidate with more qualifications and experience has also applied for the same position.

Because being sensitive and expressing your feelings is considered a weakness and ‘womanly’.

Because a woman for some reason has to justify her choices and if she acts like a ‘man’ is considered a slut, but if a man behaves the same way, ‘that’s just how he is’.

And the list goes on…

Living in a white male dominated world is tough, but women across the world will keep fighting for what’s theirs until racist, deeply embedded in the society patriarchy finally diminishes.

Here’s to all women across the world who never give up, here’s to those who suffer in silence because they are terrified, here’s to those who wake up every morning looking after their children, here’s to those who stay in bed because that’s what they want to do, here’s to all of us, regardless of our life choices.

It took me years to feel confident enough to be able to believe in myself. I was in a long term relationship in which I was told I wasn’t slim enough, educated enough, hell even good enough to write a blog. But I’ll never let any man or anyone else make me feel this way ever again, because I’ve always been a strong, confident, independent woman.

It just took me years to realise and I hope by posting this it will help women across the world realise it faster and not waste time, pain and tears.Here’s to women.

May we keep fighting and conquering the world, a little bit at a time, with a smile or tears in our face, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter. #internationalwomensday



A chat with a six year old

Would you like to do some colouring? Six and a half year old Erica asked me 10 minutes into our chat.

Of course I said. And a minute later she brought a large box of pencils, pens, crayons, borrowed some paper from the printer at the reception desk her grandma sat, and demonstrated beautifully how she could climb on the stool next to me and we started drawing.

She was ‘doing artistic’, basically just drawing circles and lines and I was drawing the sun. She lent me her favourite golden colour to colour it.

I never thought that one day I’ll be drawing and chatting about life with a six year old (‘Not six, six and a half, I’ll be seven in September!’ she corrected me) at the dentist’s office but after a major anxiety episode just before my orthodontist exam (a series of blogs on my getting braces experience coming soon, if all goes well), this little break I had whilst waiting for my x-rays was just what I needed.

She told me how she doesn’t like boys because they are silly (her grandma and I had a right laugh, telling her that they don’t really change over time) but she has two boyfriends, Alex and Finley, Finley is the one she is in love with though.

We talked about her family, how she would have a little sister in a few months, how much she likes school. A sweet, well-behaved, unbelievably clever little girl.

To think that an hour earlier I was making a list on my phone of all the things they could have gone wrong and scoring my anxiety level 9 out of 10. None of this actually happened in case you are wondering. But there’s no common sense when it comes to anxiety.

Erica reminded me how much simpler and fun life can be when you don’t worry about things and just enjoy the moment and she completely distracted me from my crazy thoughts.

I was thinking after I left how talking to children can not just benefit older people ( I LOVE Old People’s home for 4 year olds, such a brilliant idea) but it could work as a great stress relief for everyone.

Thank you Erica for reminding me to let out the child in me sometimes, you made my day.


Thought of the Day- Growing Older

I woke up thinking of my excruciatingly painful contrasting feelings on growing old-er (I find it fascinating I often think about how I feel). I’ve been pondering for months now, but lately I often feel I’m trapped in a glass box watching my own life go by and all I want to do is shout STOP! whilst I try and make sense of it.

One minute, I love it. I care less if at all about the less important things in life and I feel comfortable in my own skin. I love myself (most of the time) and I worked hard on that. I used to hate taking a selfie only a few years ago, every time I looked at it I just stared at my imperfections, my mistakes, my failures. Now, I don’t mind. I actually love following my trip of self exploration, and I live a life that is almost completely up to me on what direction it can take (that’s a whole other story).

And for those who keep asking and asking. I don’t need a man to be happy. Your happiness doesn’t and should never depend on anyone else other than you. I will only get in a relationship again when and if I meet someone who makes me feel like it.

I feel lucky I was born and raised in the non-social media era so I find it easy to not allow them to dictate my happiness, which is tough for youngest generations I feel. Although I love Social Media, with its pros and cons, I don’t feel the need I have to be active on them every day and I go through phases I don’t check or post anything. That’s not the real world after all.

But there are a few more downfalls than just a few wrinkles that comes with getting older. I watch and/or check the news every day (a clear sign of getting older). Yes. I became that person who understands politics (only just) and how it affects the world, which is so so sad because the more I know the worse I feel.

Everything feels scarier. Taking risks suddenly feels harder. I’ve become more cynical and less trusting, and sadly I’m proven right most of the time.

And the worst feeling that comes with it. The saddest realisation of all, life is too damn short. More often people I know die. I grow older every single day and I’m running out of time. There’s so much I want to do and there’s not enough time. That’s my greatest struggle right now. Accepting the fact that I’m running out of time and I need to get out of my tiny little head and take risks. Do more of the things I enjoy, try new things and get out of this stupid comfort zone. Feel the adrenaline. Feel my heart beat loud and fast, not because of anxiety, but of pure excitement.

This is just a tiny sample of the differing strickingly feelings that come with growing old.

So, kids, aunty Eleni’s advice (with a little help from a Twitter friend): Be brave, get out, try things and don’t worry. And don’t be scared to ask for help.

Oh and here’s my 10 year challenge. A then care-free happy 22 year old girl (the picture was taken on a small, then fashionable digital camera) and a now ‘mature grown up’ woman.


Blogmas Day 10- A different kind of Monday

I usually dread Mondays. It takes me a day or two after the weekend to get used to my 9 to 5, desk based job after a couple of days doing only what I enjoy, draw, play my guitar, write, read, go out, stay in, watch a film, enjoy delicious food at local restaurants.

But not today. I was only at work until noon, we made our first HESES successful submission and in the afternoon I joined the wonderful Touch team for their away day. 

It was by far the best Away Day I’ve ever taken part in. Fun, creative, positive with a great mixture of different people, experts and ideas, from interns, fresh out of university with innovative ideas,  Sam an experienced digital marketing expert, Hannah and Rachel who work for Touch and have inside knowledge and are both insightful and creative and Debs, the Touch founder, creative, thoughtful who has a clear vision on how she’d like to develop Touch.

By the end of the day, everyone contributed and we had a clear, detailed plan on how to expand our events across the country so as many people as possible can share their story and inspire each other. 

What made a difference for me was that we all felt comfortable sharing our ideas and knowing that everyone’s ideas were valued. I guess there were no corporate limitations or culture or disappointment that usually occurs on away days in large organisations.

On this away day I  felt that no matter how it all pans out is that we’ll try our best and what’s on paper will be materialised (with a lot of trial and error as with everything) because we all care. 

We did  all this  whilst enjoying lunch at the White Star on Oxford street. I haven’t been there for a while but I was delighted the quality of food had not changed since. I enjoyed their roast pumpkin, spinach and walnut gnocchi so much I actually finished it. I rarely manage to do so, but it was too scrumptious to resist. 

A creative, positive, fun, exciting Away Day with great food we all looked forward to. That rarely happens. 

No idea what tomorrow will bring but only two weeks to Christmas Eve!


I now sleep in the middle of the bed

About a month ago, on a chilly Saturday evening, I snuggled with a blanket on my sofa, all snacks, sweet n’ salty popcorn, chocolate and a cup of tea at an arm’s reach and put on Bridget Jones’s baby, -you got to Love Netflix-, oh what a bliss!

Five minutes in, a scene shocked me, no it wasn’t how different Bridget’s face looked like, a scene that many wouldn’t even remember. Why?

She sleeps in the middle of the bed… She sleeps in the middle of the bed!!!

Why was I so shocked?

I’ve been single for three years now and until a month ago I slept on the corner of the right side of the bed, leaving most of it untouched. How have I not thought about it until that moment?

My lifestyle has completely changed in the last couple of years, and I’ve changed plenty of previous habits since I lived on my own, but this revelation made me wonder. How many things in my daily life I still do just out of habit without realising? How many things we all do every single day in a specific way just because that’s what we are used to?

Since then, I re-arranged  the many, many pillows I have on my bed and I now sleep in the middle. And I’ve never slept better. I don’t wake up scared I’m at the edge of the bed about to fall down, I actually make the most of it and spread, move, swirl to my heart’s content.

I’m now trying to figure out what else I do because I’m used to it, because it worked better before when I was younger/in a relationship/completely different and not because it’s the most convenient, comfortable solution.

Next time you do something you do every day, stop for a minute and think of why you are actually doing in that way, at that time. The answer may shock you!


On board Queen Victoria

Friday, 20th of July,

8:03. The alarm goes off.

I can’t get up. I can’t move my feet. I really want to make it to the QEII terminal. I really want to make it to Queen Victoria but I’m really not sure I can.

You know that feeling, after a huge stressful event in your life, an exam, an interview, a dentist’s appointment (for some of us), when the adrenaline dramatically goes down and emotional and physical exhaustion takes its place? When there is still some stress residue at the back of your brain, but you feel drained and tired all the time?

My anxiety reached record highs in the last couple of weeks, it reached levels I couldn’t keep under control. I physically felt sick, sick to my stomach.

The drama of finding a place to move into tested every inch of me (blog coming soon). As soon as I moved in I relaxed. But couldn’t shake this blanket of sadness. That was to be expected. Closing the door on the last 6 months was not easy.

Last night I had to say goodbye to our beloved boss Dave (more on that soon). I know we’ll keep in touch but there is a real possibility I may never see him again. I may not be in Southampton or in this country when he comes back from Bangladesh, he may decide to stay there permanently…  I may never see him againWhat a terrifying thought.

‘Why didn’t he say hi??’ Whilst I was sitting at Tapas, waiting for Dave and the rest of the gang, I saw someone I knew passing by. They pretended they didn’t see me and I did the same. I don’t handle rejection well. I  instantly felt sad. Sometimes I feel too much… I walked to the bar to get a drink, had a laugh with Angel, the barman (that’s what I call him after he made me a delicious Angel’s Touch) and then I looked around the table, the beautiful company I was in, my wonderful friends and colleagues and smiled. Maybe one person rejected you, but look how many others love you and cherish your friendship.

But I really want to make it to the ship visit. All the lovely people I met last time will be there, Danny, Liam, Jordan, Richard, Cat, Tansy and when will I ever be offered the chance again to get a free tour and three course meal on one of Cunard’s most luxurious ships?

I drag myself out of bed, had a quick shower and got ready. No casual clothes as per the dress code so I put on my blue floral dress and black heel sandals and make my way to the terminal.

The sun is shining and the harbour is buzzing with passengers getting out of the ship, naval staff getting on board, taxis, cars. I love it.

A million thoughts cross my mind on my way there. I’ve been struggling with confidence again lately and the sadness is overwhelming sometimes. I wonder whether anyone will remember me from last time, if they still like me, if they ever liked me?

I make it on time for a change! Everyone is there, having a cup of coffee. I grab one and I start chatting with two lovely ladies who work for the Mayflower.

And then I meet Christina. A Solent Cruise Management graduate who landed her dream job at Carnival. Another great Solent success story. I wonder if our ER people know about her... We chat about living abroad, her job, her dreams, her aspirations. She is gonna be one of our tour guides and she is a bit nervous. I’m somehow certain she’ll do great.

The tour is about to begin. Christina and her manager (why can’t I remember her name?) who looks very familiar were brilliant. Where do I know her from? Who does she remind me? Is it from my time at Carnival?

The main hall looks amazing, with the grand piano catching my eye immediately and where later it’ll be full of  beautiful music by three exquisite violinists which I genuinely thought it was a recording. I could imagine myself in a vintage lace dress walking down the stairs, sitting across the violinists enjoying a glass of wine…

Queen Victoria

We then pop to the library, it has a very traditional, Harry Potter, almost magical feeling to it.

Queen Victoria

I vaguely remember the rest of the tour, especially towards the end, when hunger was getting real but some of my favourite parts I do remember and snapped:

One of the suites that was larger than my whole flat. As part of the package you get your own personal butler and champagne amongst other perks.


One of the standard rooms, very claustrophobic.

Queen Victoria

The gorgeous, elegant restaurant areas…

Queen Victoria

My favourite part of the ship: The Spa. Especially the hot stone chairs, I could stay on those for ever.

Queen Victoria

My second favourite part: The viewpoint on the upper deck. The views are breathtaking. Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you
That is how I know you, go on



The theatre. Bright red and gold colours. Stunning.


The vintage dance/performance/ball room. Here I am again, in my vintage lace dress, jiving…


And as with every ship, the beautiful sea views. What is it that draws me to the sea? Is it because I was born on an island? 


By the end of the tour we were all starving.

We met at the Britannia restaurant for our three course meal and unlimited wine.

I went for the Crayfish and Crab cocktail with avocado sauce for a starter, the roasted (to perfection) medium rare beef accompanied by glazed vegetables and finished off with white chocolate profiteroles served with pistachio and coffee ice cream.


All three courses were delicious, the wine and service were impeccable (the waiter refilled our wine glasses every time we were running low) and I had just the best company on my table. Tansy, Liam, Jordan, Gavin and… Leslie! That’s who she reminds me of, Leslie Knope!! She sounds like her, she even looks like her. Here she is at the background. Pat, Sarah? Doesn’t she look like her??

Leslie Knope

At some point during lunch, the lovely Danny, one of the main organisers of the Pride came over to chat about my responsibilities for the day. I’m incredibly grateful he trusted me with something so important and I hope I won’t disappoint him.

For those who don’t know Danny, he is not only kind and sweet, he also does most of the planning for the Pride alongside his main job. He goes home after work and spends hours organising THE whole thing. I truly admire him.

It’s now less than a month before the biggest, most colourful, cheering, love celebratory, open to everyone, party takes place in Southampton, the Southampton Pride 2018 (25th of August). And I can’t wait. 

If anyone would like to volunteer, I’d with no second thought recommend it. You meet amazing people, who make you feel loved from the very first moment you meet them, it’s a fun day you’ll never forget and who knows, you may be on the next free meal Cunard offers for volunteers.

A huge, enormous thank you to Southampton Pride, Danny, the rest of the organisers and Cunard for supporting such a great initiative and of course for the free ship visits and delicious meals.

I wouldn’t probably afford to go on a cruise on either Ventura or Queen Elizabeth and even if I could, I’d opt for a month exploring Cuba and Costa Rica so for me to be given the opportunity to get a glimpse of how these gorgeous sea crafts operate and what they offer to their passengers as well as eating on board with such a wonderful bunch, it truly is a blessing.





Lovely Ray

‘In my experience, Kevin, there’s no such thing as ‘a long time ago.’ There are only memories that mean something and memories that don’t.’

On a late summer Wednesday eve in 2015, this tall, charming gentleman walked in the SingNow rehearsal room. I remember sitting next to him, chatting before we even started the session. He made me laugh from the first moment we met with his frankness.

His name was Ray.

As per Jack’s tradition, whenever someone new joins the group they introduce themselves and tell us something we wouldn’t know about them. He was 80 years old. We were all in shock, we would have never guessed.

His wife of sixty years, the love of his life, Bet had died recently and he missed her terribly. He hated being on his own and thought he’d give our choir a go.

Little did he know then how much he would love it, how much we would love him.

About a year and a half later I left SingNow and I’d only see Ray at SingNow gigs I now occasionally went as a fan or One Sound, our ever so growing choir collaboration show.

But for that year and a  half we had a chat and a laugh every week. He’d always make me feel good about myself, compliment me, remind me to live my life and not dwell on things. He was a reminder himself. In his 80s he was more active than most of us. He played tennis, had tea parties with his neighbours, he got out and about.

He didn’t miss a single performance. Always smartly dressed, he sang in the rain at Music in the City, Fareham, Guildhall Square.

Music in the City

Ray was one of a kind. Funny, witty, shockingly honest, charming, sweet and always a gentleman.  I used to refer to him as lovely Ray. Because he really was.

He’d chat to everyone, he’d be friends with everyone, he’d help anyone.

I’ll never forget a warm Sunday afternoon after a SingNow gig was cancelled at the last minute and Claire, Les, Alison and I went to Ray’s for a cuppa and cake. He lived in a beautiful bungalow, bursting with vintage furniture, floral wallpapers, character. It was so pretty Claire and I joked we’d move in with him. After giving us a little tour of the house, we went through the double doors out to the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen in real life.

‘My wife used to take care of it. But now she’s gone I can’t keep up with it…’

He were to move to a retirement flat soon.


The last time I sang with Ray and SingNow was on an autumn Saturday afternoon, at Mountbatten Hospice. It was a special one for many of us. It brought up memories of my aunt I lost a year earlier to cancer, she was moved into hospice for a while before she did, others had relatives who spent their last days there. What an unsettling… serene place it is.

I last saw Ray at One Sound, two months ago.

We had just finished the show and on my way home, there he was, smiling. We had a quick chat, gave me a kiss and a hug and said goodnight.

Friday, 8th of June 2018.

I’m at Test Valley Crematorium. The chapel is packed. Of course it is. Ray was loved by everyone he met.

I wonder if I’d have so many people at my funeral. I doubt it…I’m no Ray. Nowhere near Ray.

Ray died peacefully… and unexpectedly three weeks ago. When I told Donna and Matt about it, they remembered lovely Ray, although they’ve never met him. That’s how wonderful he was. People liked him just from hearing about him.

Is it worse than he died unexpectedly? We were not prepared. As much as one can prepare for this. We didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. To tell him how much we loved him. To have a last giggle, to see his smile again.

This very thought terrifies me and I break out in a cold sweat. You’ll never know when is the last time… What if I die? What if a friend dies? Or family? Some of my friends I haven’t seen for months. There is so much I want to say to everyone… Oh my lord…

Is it better? He didn’t suffer for months, or years. He was not stuck in a hospital bed, depending on others to take care of him, slowly and painfully falling apart…

I don’t know what to expect. I’ve never been to a funeral in this country before so on our way there I ask Fraser to give me an idea of how it’d be like.

I feel a bit underdressed. The family requested no black (except the choir peeps who dressed in the SingNow black and orange colours) and I wore the only clean clothes I had that were no black.

I stand at the back with my old SingNow friends. I’m desperately trying not to cry.

Ray wouldn’t have liked that.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see something that shocks me. The date of his death on the funeral program. 21st of May, 2018.

But he died on a Saturday, He didn’t die on my birthday did he? Did he? What does that mean?

I see Pat welling up and tears are streaming down my face. I can somehow manage to control them. I sing along to the Hymn although I have no idea how the melody goes.

It was a beautiful service, a celebration of his amazing life. His family gave wonderful tributes to Ray. I cried and laughed with my old SingNow pals.

The ceremony ended with the Lord’s Prayer.

I didn’t realise until half way through that’s ‘Πάτερ Ημών’.  I pray along, but in ancient Greek. I haven’t said it out loud in years. I can’t even remember the last time.

Since I’ve never been to a funeral in the UK, I didn’t know that I wouldn’t get to see Ray again.

The last and most painful but cathartic part of a Greek Orthodox funeral is saying goodbye to the deceased one last time. (None of the words used to describe death ever feels right).

It didn’t happen but attending his funeral still helped with closure.

I wish my parents let me go at my giagia Stella’s funeral 23 years ago. It’s already excruciatingly painful when a loved one dies, the brain struggles to cope, to understand that you’ll never see, hear, touch that person ever again and being there, at the funeral, saying goodbye, seeing them with your own eyes lie there, in the coffin, which weirdly seems comfortable, looking so peaceful, almost grinning, that’s what you need to help you make sense of it (as much as possible). Of  death. Of mortality.  The surrealism of it all.

Chris gives me a lift back to Southampton. We talked about loved ones we lost, we get emotional, we laugh. She is amazing. I hope she knows that. I wish I told her.

Ray was buried in his favourite black and orange SingNow clothes. That’s how he’d have wanted to. That’s how much he loved it.

Lovely Ray

I still can’t believe I’ll never see him again. I’m sad but so happy I had the great pleasure of knowing the lovely Ray Dyball.

I bet he is having a glass of gin and giggles with Bet right now.

You may rest in peace Mr Dyball.








How anxiety feels like…

June 2014

I woke up soaking wet in sweat, it happens a lot lately…

I’m flying home today, after 4 years, is that true? It can’t be true. I’m excited but paralysed of fear. Nervous, shaking, I feel I’ll throw up any minute now. ‘What if the plane crashes?’, ‘What if my head explodes?’, ‘What if I have an infection and my appendix blows up on the plane?’ The beast has awaken once more…

I used to love flying. Absolutely adored it. And now, now I’m dreading it so much I may faint at any point on my way to the airport.

I was to fly home with my ex-boyfriend. We were together for 5 years and he hasn’t visited my home country yet. I’ve booked a hotel in Paphos and planned daytrips  to show him around. But his passport got washed by accident, he needed a new one, the Greek Embassy in London is ridiculously horrible blah blah blah. I don’t think he ever had any desire to come with me anyway…

I still really wanted to go despite my severe anxiety attacks and my extremely, hit rock bottom confidence. I’ve put on weight, I was unhappy, I hated my body, my daily routine, I hated myself.  Costas and I argued a lot, I rarely felt appreciated and although I told him about my troubles he couldn’t help me. He was dealing with depression himself.

I did well to hide it from my family and my friends. I smiled, I joked as if everything was OK. But inside. Inside, the pain was real. I struggled almost every day, I was scared to do anything and my anxiety also developed to hypochondria. I often diagnosed myself with cancer. The pain was not just mental, it was physical. My breast hurt, my teeth hurt, my head hurt, everything hurt. My mind made my body hurt to convince me I was gravely ill.

That’s what anxiety does to you. It blurs your mind. It turns simple daily tasks into a nightmare, it makes you paranoid, it makes you scared to leave the room. It’s painful. Your head, your brain, your mind hurts. Everything hurts. It’s noisy, never quiet in there and that drains you. It sucks the life out of you.

But I made it. I made it home. And I ended up staying three weeks instead of two and had the best time ever. A friend’s wedding, my sister’s birthday, days at the beach, daytrips around the island, my sister and her friend taking part in a TV music show, severe sunburn. A three week ray of sunshine in my grey, miserable life.

That was the very first time I realised I was in a dead end relationship and I also needed help. But right now the only one who could really help me was myself. Or I thought that nobody else would because I did not want to ask for help from anyone. ‘Who can I ask? I don’t have any close friends in Southampton and I don’t want to worry my family or my friends.’

After I went back I was in tears daily, fighting with my worst enemy, myself to put these irrational thoughts aside and get out of this dark hole.

And I made it. I joined the workplace choir, I started exercising and improved my diet and I later joined SingNow choir which was a turning point for me. I met my best friend, my Sheba, I’ve made great friends and that’s what opened my eyes to the beauty and love I missed out of for years because I was told to ‘be careful what you tell others about us’, ‘lose weight’, ‘you can’t do this’, ‘that’s not good enough’.

I still had bad days.

Anxiety and depression never go away. They are always there at the back of your mind and they make their appearance again when you least expect it, when you are already down on your knees, crying your eyes out, because life got too much again…

After the breakup and my aunt’s death I was in denial and avoided even the tiniest opportunity to deal with the demons that tormented me for years. I was out all the time, drinking, travelling, avoiding any time with myself. I was not used to being on my own, let alone on my own with two of my least favourite friends residing in my brain.

It finally caught up with me about a year ago. It slowly started in November but it reached its worst point in January. I couldn’t eat, I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to see anyone. I quit SingNow and stopped going to the workplace choir, I  turned down any invitations from friends. I isolated myself from everyone. Although I was scared. Terrified. Daily things stressed the hell out of me, getting dressed, making dinner. I often skipped eating completely. I was not hungry anyway.

‘What if I die? Nobody will miss me. At least it will put an end to this pain.’

After I’ve written about it, I pushed, no, I forced myself to get out of it. I slowly crawled out of the hole, towards the light… I re-joined the workplace choir and I went home for a week in April which helped immensely. I didn’t have to worry about trivial things I worried when I was on my own, like ‘Have I left the iron on?’, ‘What if someone breaks in whilst I’m asleep alone at home?’ (I lived on the third floor, highly unlikely).

I decided to take part in the One Sound show, although I still suffered from anxiety attacks. It was different this time around. The year before I was excited and I couldn’t wait, the pros of the denial stage, you feel fearless… for a while.. but this time I was terrified. I cried when I went home after the big rehearsal. Seeing my SingNow friends after months, hugging me, asking me how I was, it was so overwhelmingly beautiful. I was worried even going to the rehearsal, thinking they may hate me.

The show was incredible although I struggled the whole time. I smiled but in my head the noise was louder than the noise of 300 choir singers backstage. Deafening.

2018-05-14 18.28.48.jpg

I now feel much better. With the help of my incredible, loving, caring colleagues, friends and family but mostly myself I made it to the other side.

There are still times or days I panic and worry about the most meaningless, little things or I feel down but I now know how to help myself get out of it. I know how to cope with it because I never want to hit rock bottom again.

Writing about it, music, yoga, mindfulness, finally loving and accepting myself, talking through it and lots of love from my nearest and dearest are my remedies.

Asking for help and sharing your irrational, crazy or unbelievably sad and depressing thoughts it’s not easy, it may well be the hardest thing of all to do, but it’s the most liberating feeling I’ve ever experienced.

Next time you see someone smile or laugh, do not assume they are OK. They may be fighting a demon inside… This is a snap of me from 2014, at my worst. Would anyone guess from this what was happening in my fucked up mind?

Smiling but dying inside

I hope one day mental illness is taken as seriously as any other illness and nobody is ashamed or scared to share their story.




Nothing stays the same and nothing changes… (part 2)

Thursday afternoon…

I’m ready. I put my Spotify on and After all comes up first… ‘tou tou tou tou tou tou...After all I really love you‘.  I smile. I loved this song since  the first moment I heard it, when a friend sent it to me a while ago. It never fails to cheer me up.

I packed all I need and waiting for the little one to pick me up. First stop, her Italian oral exam. Somehow half an hour later I find myself sitting with her and her course mate in the classroom. Stefano invited me in, I smiled and nodded. What a lovely man. Funky yellow trousers, cool glasses, a sweet, polite voice.

I’m surprised how much Italian I remember. I’m so proud of my little sis and her classmate. They did brilliantly.

I chat to a couple of her classmates afterwards, nervously waiting outside. I wish I could tell them that none of this really matters… Enjoy your life little ones and don’t worry about exams. But would have I listened if I was told that ten years ago when I was in their shoes?

Now… what should I have for dinner on Tuesday when I arrive back in Southampton late and exhausted? What about moving? What if I don’t find a place and have nowhere to stay, what if the agency messes up me and I have to stay another two months? (Cold sweat…) Stop it! Focus!

Now the exam is over it’s time to head to the theatre for a final rehearsal and the show.

There’s no signal in the theatre and I can’t use my phone. That’s for the best. It can be my worst distraction sometimes…

A few hours later…

Tickets sorted, all ready, it’s showtime!

It all went well minus a couple of hiccups. I feel bad I didn’t recognise the Vice Chancellor straight away. I’ve only seen a photo of him the day before and there was a mess up with the tickets… I didn’t instantly figure it out. But all well.

I’m so proud for my little sister and everyone involved in the musical. None of them is a professional singer or an actor but they put together a brilliant show. Now, let’s help pack, tidy up and go home…



I can’t unlock the car, why can’t I unlock the car?

I knew it! The long beep I’ve heard earlier when we were rushing out of the car was the lights. I told her. She thought it was the door…

Now it’s half past midnight and other than one more person, who didn’t have any equipment to help us start jump the car anyway there’s no one else left at the car park.

After about an hour, we are finally home. A friend came to the rescue and it all ended well. God I’m exhausted…

Friday noon…

I finally got some sleep. I still feel drained but there’s no rest for the wicked.

The little sis and I pop to the shops for some essentials. The guy at the newsagents starts a conversation… Surprised, I stare for a second and then I remember where I am and how people are different here. I smile and make a joke. I’ve adapted again, a couple of days before I’m about to leave…

Friday afternoon…

I’m meeting two of my oldest best friends. We’ve known each other since high school. We haven’t changed much, other than carrying our bruises and scars of the last 18 years, hopeful but more realistic and scared to dream as big…

And… a lovely surprise! A friend I haven’t seen for ten years, a friend I spent endless evenings just driving around town with, nights out and days at the beach as a naive and careless 20 year old. So happy to see him. He looks exactly the same. He talks exactly the same, strikingly honest as always but he as well more mature and pragmatic about life.

Saturday morning…

This is the only time during my short visit the five of us are all together and it’s hilariously chaotic as always. We go for a walk at the beach, still a bit too cold for a swim but perfect for a Saturday stroll and lunch. I can’t stop humming ‘tell me how to be in this world, tell me how to breathe in and feel no hurt’…

I cherish these rare moments, that’s what they are nowadays, rare and they will get rarer the older we get.

It’s funny how as a teen, even a young 20 year old, we dread family time with our parents and our siblings but the older we get, the more we realise the fragility of life and how thing may change at any minute, the more we appreciate the sacrifices they made and still make for us, their selfless love and the only thing they want in return is for us to be happy and spend time with them…


Saturday afternoon…

I finally get to see the only best friend I couldn’t see at Christmas. We sit at a cafe for hours chatting, with a coffee in hand, like we used to back at uni.

A few hours later we are having beers right next to the Faneromeni church with her fiance, his brother and my sister. It feels like a scene from Boyhood… but a few years later, now some 30 year olds who’ve known each other for years, sitting at a bar, just outside one of the oldest churches in Nicosia, having a beer, still troubled and  desperate seeking the meaning of life whilst reminiscing… What a beautiful, surreal way to end the day.

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Sunday noon…

No matter what you have planned for the day, there is always time for a cup of coffee and almost always the company grows at the last minute.

Sunday afternoon…

After some shopping and… a coffee with friends and sisters it’s time for my godson’s belated birthday. I’m so happy I’ve been to his first birthday last year and now his second. He’s grown so much and every time I see him our bond is getting stronger and stronger…

Pappou Costa and my aunties are here, my cousin’s little angels and her husband and relatives are here. I enjoy every moment, despite the mayhem and the noise, it actually somehow makes it better…

Monday noon…

I’m sitting at the Uni’s cafe with my mum. I’m on my laptop writing a post, the first part of this blog and she is knitting rosaries. It’s quiet, peaceful…It has just rained but the sun is out again. It never stays away for long on this island…


Monday afternoon…

I take the little sister on an educational trip down old Nicosia. I’m surprised how little she knows about the island’s history but I’m glad I’m teaching her what I’ve known for years… Up the Siakolas tower for a panoramic view of the city, one of the few spots you can see over ‘the other side’ without having to show your passport to cross the green line, the only divided capital in the world, down the old town, the Archbishop’s place that was half burned during the coup in 1974, the house of the dragoman  Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios who, although working with the Turks, secretly helped his fellow Greek Cypriots in the 1800’s, when the country where under the Ottoman empire…


Tuesday morning…

My throat feels sore… typical. I’m getting a cold just as I’m about to leave. I try not to think about it.

I say goodbye to the family and this little man…



and my sister drops me off at the airport. I think I prefer it to just get dropped off rather than saying goodbye to my sisters and my mum to the gate. Still emotional but makes it easier to leave.

Time to go back, but I feel I needed a few more days… to tackle my overthinking… Remember, one day at a time…


Remember… nothing stays the same and nothing changes…

Remember… you got this…



You and You. The most important relationship.

I open my eyes… I don’t know what time it is. I don’t know where I am, what am I thinking? What is my first thought? I look around. I’m in my room…


I woke up a couple of times through the night. Weird dreams, my mind’s way of reminding me that I need to stop, take a break and think, process what is happening, take care of myself rather than keep distracting me by keeping busy.

I had a wonderful week. I caught up with friends I hadn’t seen for a while, farewell lunch for Alison, I went to my first Touch Network (the charity I want to volunteer for) event I absolutely loved and will post about very soon, I spent yesterday afternoon on board Ventura, enjoying a three course meal with my Southampton Pride Volunteer friends (post coming soon) and in the evening I finally got to try L’Osteria’s enormous pizzas, al Fresco, chatting and laughing with a friend, watching the terrifying thunderstorm.

But, I forgot me. I neglected me. The most important relationship. With myself. I suddenly remember Nayyirah Waheed’s three line poem.

there is you and you.

this is a relationship.

this is the most important relationship.


I’m in endless dilemmas on all aspects of my life, work, personal, spiritual and I’ve strategically avoided making any decision, probably my biggest weakness, making decisions, by keeping busy, drinking, eating out a lot, doing anything else other than taking care of myself.

Last night I finally stopped. As soon as I came home, soaking wet from the thunderstorm, I cried. And I cried. I was not drunk or had a crazy moment, I just stopped, I was in my room, by myself and all the things I didn’t process, I didn’t think of all week, hit me in the face.

I message Shebs. I know she is probably the only one who can understand. And she did. She does, she always does.

I was always on the fence whether soulmates exist. But now I know they do. They don’t necessarily come in the form of a lover or a partner and I don’t think we only have one.

Shebs is one of my soulmates. My little sister is another one. We just understand each other on a different level, there’s a deeper, more spiritual connection.

I’m happy. And sad. Grateful. Worried. Anxious about some things, completely and utterly relaxed about others. Unsure, uncertain, in painful conflict but at the same time blessed.

The next couple of weeks will be unbelievably busy but I promise you, you, myself that I’ll make time for you. And take care of you.

Remember, the most important relationship.  Take care yourself. Love and nurture it.

Not because ‘if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love anyone else’ or ‘if you don’t love yourself, how do you expect anyone else to do so?’ That’s all bull***t. 

The love I felt from my friends and family when I hit rock bottom and hated myself is what helped me keep going and I wouldn’t be here today if it’s wasn’t for them. You can love and be loved no matter what.

Take care of yourself for you.

Eat healthy, exercise, do yoga, make decisions, however hard it may be, even if that means you’ll disappoint people you care about. But they will understand. I hope they will.

All I want right now is a hug. One of the simplest, purest, most beautiful forms of love. It will have to wait until tomorrow. I’m not leaving my room today.

For now I’ll stay in Parsva Savasana (The Side fetal pose) for hours, contemplating whilst listening to my favourite music…