The True Sea

Slow Living, Inner Peace and Self Love

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6 Things I Love These Days

6 Things I Love These Days | The True Sea thetruesea.comIntrospectiveness
For a while now, I have sensed something shifting in me and I’m trying to pinpoint what it is. I’m thinking a lot about what it means to carve your own path and live life fully. The drudgery of everyday life is really getting to me and I’m trying to work out what I need to do to not feel trapped. Self-examination can be a very useful tool when you need to move forward, so hopefully something will click very soon.

The Path
A Hulu original drama series about a man (played by Aaron Paul) who’s a member of a mysterious cult called The Meyerist Movement. He suddenly starts doubting his faith and things quickly fall apart. The cult’s lingo is at first confusing, but you soon learn what all their different terms mean. The show goes to all the dark places, and it makes me question how I live my life and what’s important to me. I find it utterly mesmerising and at times, very upsetting. You can watch it on Amazon Prime. Season 3 will be out next year.

I’m finally excited about making things again after taking a very long break from it. Sashiko is something I’ve always enjoyed, but I’ve decided to try to incorporate bead embroidery into my work now. I’ve got a few beautiful Japanese fabrics that I can’t wait to embroider. Starting small is the best way to go though. I’m planning to share my progress on Instagram.

Tabi no Yado onsen bath salts
These mineral-rich bath salts have the medicinal properties of Japan’s hot springs (onsen). They come in a clear or milky version, each making the water a different colour. The scents include cedarwood, moss, field flowers, yuzu and herbs. The sakura is my favourite so far, because it makes the water cherry blossom pink and it smells absolutely divine. I got them on eBay, but I’ve also seen them on Amazon.

Heavy books
I’ve already mentioned that A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara made me cry lots. At certain points in this heartbreaking epic, I wasn’t sure I could continue reading. After that, I read A Cure For Suicide by Jesse Ball and Columbine by Dave Cullen – both thought-provoking. My best friend gifted me Flickan och Skammen (The Girl and The Shame) by Katarina Wennstam. It’s a Swedish journalistic book about slut shaming. I love all her books.

Psychology magazines
There’s something about reading magazines that makes me feel like I’m on holiday. It’s such a treat because I so rarely buy the paper editions. Psychology and true crime are the only kinds I care for really. When I do splurge, I always get a copy of Psychologies as it’s my favourite magazine.

How about you? What things do you love these days?

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Lately: Literature Edition

Lately: Literature Edition | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw
After a retired police inspector based in Paris receives a letter from a woman claiming to be his daughter, he forms an unlikely friendship with a Japanese stranger who knocks on his door. They start meeting up regularly to tell each other stories about their lives. Slowly, their lies unravel and the puzzle pieces fall into place. A poetic, non-linear psychological thriller reflecting on memory, truth, love and loss. If you appreciate an intellectual challenge, this one’s for you.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
It’s easy to sympathise with the disturbed, lonely Eileen. She works as a secretary at a prison for boys and looks after her alcoholic father in her spare time. Her resentment drives her to stalk a prison guard and compulsively shoplift, but what she really wants to do is to escape to the big city. Then Rebecca starts working at the prison and Eileen’s obsessiveness suddenly shifts focus. Eileen is such a beautifully written, human character that you can’t help but cheer her on. A deliciously bleak, darkly funny and perverse psychological thriller set in the sixties.

People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry
A true crime book about Lucie Blackman, a British young woman who was murdered in 2000 while working as a bar hostess in Tokyo. Richard Lloyd Parry spent a decade travelling between continents interviewing people involved in the case. It’s a harrowing and exceptionally detailed read. The contrast between Britain and Japan – two vastly different cultures and legal systems – is fascinating no end. If you’re into psychology and/or true crime, I highly recommend you read this book.

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham
All the inhabitants in Midwich fall unconscious when a mysterious object appears in the sky. When they wake up a day later, all the fertile women are pregnant. No one has any idea what happened during the “Dayout”, but when the children are born, they look remarkably similar with their blonde hair and golden eyes. They grow quicker than normal children and it turns out that they have the uncanny ability to control others with their minds. Like the narrator, we are outsiders looking in and we too, can sense the growing unease and paranoia. This is my kind of science fiction. Filmed as Village of the Damned (1960).

Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith
Vic and Melinda Van Allen are trapped in a loveless marriage. Their young daughter receives no love or attention from her mother, who rather spends her time drinking and cheating on her husband. Vic reluctantly accepts Melinda’s behaviour to keep the family together, but how long can he suppress his violent jealousy? A cleverly written and utterly gripping psychological thriller that shows the reader how deceptive a psychosis can be.

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver
The dollar is in meltdown and America’s national debt has reached such proportions that it can never be repaid. The patriarch of the Mandibles dies and the substantial fortune that the rest of the family were expecting to inherit, has become worthless. They are left to fight for their survival while America implodes around them. A deeply unsettling, sometimes funny and worryingly probable dystopian novel. Lionel Shriver is acutely perceptive and her take on the human condition is impeccable. I also highly recommend Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, if you haven’t read it yet.

China Dolls by Lisa See
In 1938 San Francisco, three women from very different backgrounds strike up a friendship. Grace Lee is an American-born Chinese woman who has escaped her abusive father and has come to the big city to become a star. Ruby Tom is a feisty Japanese woman pretending to be from China. Helen Fong is from a respectable, traditional family based in Chinatown. While the war is going on overseas, they start working at the glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. The reader follows them through heartache and triumph for a few years – until Pearl Harbor changes everything. A stunning portrayal of the complex relationships of women.

Dark Water by Koji Suzuki
An atmospheric collection of creepy short stories linked together by the presence of water. The first story about a recently divorced mother and her 5-year-old daughter who move into a damp flat, is the basis for the film Dark Water (2002). Suzuki builds tension expertly and doesn’t rely on cheap scares. There’s a wonderful subtlety in his stories. Also read Suzuki’s The Ring series, which is very different from the films.

Please Look After Mother by Kyung-Sook Shin
So-nyo disappears in the commotion of a train station while travelling from the countryside with her husband to visit their adult children in Seoul. She has sacrificed her dreams and compromised her life to be a full-time mother. After a stroke, she has become confused and vulnerable. As the story of So-nyo’s life is unveiled, it becomes evident that this heartbreaking novel isn’t really about the search for So-nyo. It’s about compassion, unconditional love, motherhood and family.

Now what about you? What have you been reading lately?


Taking Stock

Taking Stock | The True Sea thetruesea.comEnjoying: peace and quiet after noisy workdays.
Listening: to Penntricket, a Swedish feminist podcast.
Wearing: my floral kimono dressing gown around the house.
Making: time for more self care.
Eating: chantarelles, baby kale and Japanese micro herbs.
Drinking: gyokuro and powdered sencha.
Feeling: bored with my current everyday life.
Reading: Columbine by Dave Cullen.
Looking: for a literary day job.
Wishing: I could be a bookseller again, but I can’t afford the pay cut it would entail.
Liking: falling asleep reading.
Waiting: for season 3 of The Path.
Learning: more about cults.
Snacking: on cherries and strawberries.
Loving: the jasmine and sandalwood perfume I made at work.
Watching: Aquarius for the second time.
Getting: better at pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
Noticing: that I’m thinking a lot about Sweden.
Cultivating: inner strength.
Missing: my loves ones.
Bookmarking: articles about gentle living.
Contemplating: giving Shudder a go.
Deciding: to pick up sashiko and crochet again.
Wanting: a house.
Thinking: about A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara still. It made me cry so much.
Knowing: that I need a life change.

Taking Stock is a feature inspired by the lovely Pip of Meet Me At Mike’s.

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Washed Away: From Darkness to Light by Nikki DuBose

Washed Away: From Darkness to Light by Nikki DuBoseDisclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Washed Away from Book Publicity Services. All words are my own.

Nikki DuBose is a mental health advocate, ambassador, public speaker and writer. She is also a former model who has experienced the dark side of the fashion industry. Her harrowing journey includes childhood abuse, addiction, self harm, rape, eating disorders, psychosis and various other mental health issues. It’s undoubtable a frightening read, but an important one.

We follow Nikki from childhood, through her years as a teenager and as an adult. Divided into chapters with focus on different themes, she provides us with an honest account of what was going through her head at the time and how she experienced it. It’s refreshing to read something so raw and sincere.

After more than 17 years of battling with her demons, she quits modelling and focuses on getting help, and most importantly, learning how to help herself. In her book, she has included positive coping techniques, as well as the critical steps she took to heal herself and create a healthy, happy life. The aim of Washed Away is to help people who are going through similar things, but it will also help their relatives, partners, friends, colleagues and even neighbours to understand.

Writing about memoirs is tricky. It’s not my place to judge or criticise someone else’s journey. At times, I had to put the book down as something triggered a negative memory from my own past. I can’t help but admire Nikki and her determination to keep going no matter what awful situation she finds herself in. She has a will to live that shines through even at the darkest of times. Her story is inspiring, and you should read her book.

You can read more about Nikki and her work at


A New Chapter: How I Prepare For The New Year

A New Chapter: How I Prepare For the New Year | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe days between Christmas and New Year’s is the time for tying up loose ends, walking away from things that aren’t working and deciding what you want to bring into your life. 2016 was such a tough year for so many of us. Personally, I cannot wait to leave it behind. Let’s make 2017 amazing and make more room for the good stuff. These are the things I do to prepare for the new year.

Buy a beautiful diary and fill it with things I’m looking forward to
In mid-January, I’m off to see my best friend in Sweden for 13 days. The reason I’m going is not exactly a joyous one, but it will be so lovely to see her, my other friends and some family too. The other holiday I have planned is a 10 day trip to Japan with two friends in April. We’re going to my friend’s hometown Kyoto. On the way back, we’re stopping off in Dubai for 3 days. I haven’t even fully processed that I’m going to Japan yet. I also write down important Birthdays and publication/release dates for books, records and films that I’m excited about.

Set my intentions for the new year
Throughout 2016, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being forced to go with the flow which caused a lot of frustration. I want to live an intentional life that I love, and focus on what and who is important to me. Therefore, my mantra for 2017 is ‘Live and love on my own terms’. It’s a bit cheesy perhaps, but I need something that reminds me to live my life my own way and to not put myself in situations where others have power over what happens in my life.

Decide what I need to increase my happiness
As I’ve already mentioned on here, creating a home in my own place, spending more time with the people I love and changing day jobs to do what I’m passionate about are my top priorities for 2017. I’m intending to get rid of everything that has no value to me and keep focusing on taking care of myself better. For a long time now, I’ve been feeling a bit bored but hopefully, getting back into writing regularly and learning new things will cure that.

Unsubcribe, unfollow and uninstall
My dear friend Geenie wrote this wonderful piece on decluttering your digital life. It’s a must-read. Along with unsubscribing, I also unfollow people who I’ve never engaged with on social media, uninstall apps I never use on my laptop, phone and tablet, clean out my email inboxes and remove unused browser bookmarks.

Clean, declutter and organise my belongings
I find doing these things incredibly therapeutic. To me, there’s no other way to start a new chapter than with clean, tidy surroundings so I always do a thorough clear-out at the end of the year. Anything that doesn’t make me feel happy, goes. Marie Kondo, too, believes that we should only keep things that spark joy. And that’s why I picked up her book Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying on my Christmas Eve walk.

How about you? What things do you do to prepare for the new year?

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6 Things I Love These Days

6 Things I Love These Days | The True Sea thetruesea.comSafe bet books
Recently, I got out of the habit of reading every day simply because I didn’t feel excited about the books on my reading pile. So I got a few novels that are safe bets. I really enjoyed Herman Koch’s The Dinner. His new metafictional thriller Dear Mr M sounds like it will tick all my boxes. Japanese crime fiction and horror never let me down, so I also got Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama and Ring by Koji Suzuki which surprisingly, I’ve never read.

Preparing for 2017
I’ve started writing down my goals for next year. Creating a home in my own place, spending more time with the people I love and changing day jobs to do what I’m passionate about are my top priorities. My wellbeing is more important than anything else. I also want to focus on learning new things, relaxing better and establishing more healthy routines.

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
A beautiful life drama series based on the manga Shinya Shokudō. A chef referred to as ‘Master’, only opens his little restaurant between midnight and 7am. He has a very small menu, but he will happily cook whatever his customers ask for as long as he has the ingredients for the dish. This is a thought-provoking show about the interactions we have and the relationships we form over meals. You can watch it on Netflix.

Laughing every day
It helps me de-stress and take life less seriously. When I’m not working, I listen to comedy podcasts and watch fun stuff. I’m really enjoying Maron and Brooklyn Nine-Nine at the moment. Mascots is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a while and I highly recommend it. It’s basically Best in Show, but with mascots instead of dogs.

Ruminations by Conor Oberst
I’ve been listening to Conor’s new album in bed with my eyes closed. Everything he creates evokes such a wide range of feelings and memories. There’s sorrow, nostalgia, happiness, melancholia, hope, comfort, affection, determination, acceptance and love. His music feels like home to me in a way that no physical place ever has. It makes me feel safe.

Making myself feel good
Doing things that I’ve been putting off. Sorting through and organising my belongings. Becoming a Cats Protection sponsor. Donating stuff I don’t use to a Mind charity shop. Selling clothes I never wear. Finally paying off my student loan.

How about you? What things do you love these days?

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Self Love: 3 Ways To Get To Know Yourself

Self Love: 3 Ways To Get To Know Yourself | The True Sea thetruesea.comWhat are you feeling right now? Can you pinpoint what made you feel that way? The better we know ourselves, the better we are at making ourselves happy. If we’re aware of our negative emotional triggers, we can learn to take the power away from them. Once you start paying attention to your patterns, you will be shocked by how strongly the smallest thing can instantly affect your emotional state.

To illustrate my point – spend 5 minutes thinking about a bad memory. Notice how you feel, how your posture changes and what thoughts that memory trigger. Now spend 5 minutes thinking about a nice memory. Notice the immense difference in your mind and body. Our thoughts trigger our feelings, which in turn trigger our behaviour. When we write a day off as ‘one of those’ days, what we’re really doing is sabotaging our day. In that mindset, we will inevitably pay more attention to the negative aspects, and we miss out on the good stuff.

Far too often, we hide from our feelings, forget about our needs and postpone making our dreams come true. We can be our own worst enemies. This rings particularly true to women. From birth we’re taught to care for and help others. What a shame that we’re not equally taught to do this for ourselves!

The only thing we know for certain is that we will spend our whole lives with ourselves. And if we don’t know and love ourselves, it’s going to be a rough ride. So, here are three ways to help you bond with yourself.

Make sense of your feelings
To get to know yourself, you need to spend lots of quality time with yourself. Listen to your thoughts, and notice your emotions and different moods. What makes you feel happy? What makes you feel anxious? What stories are you telling yourself about your life? It sounds so obvious, but sadly, a lot of people spend their entire days avoiding their true feelings out of fear of what they might find.

When you know exactly how the outer world affects your thoughts and in turn your feelings, deciding what and who to let into your life becomes easier. Establish your boundaries – learn what you are okay with and what you are not okay with. Our own narratives create our lives, so when you want change, you have to start by amending your thoughts. Stop telling yourself the victim story. Everyone’s broken in their own unique way, and life is random with never-ending ups and downs. Rather than forcing positive thinking, adopt realistic thinking with an emphasis on the good stuff. Be prepared for the good, and the bad.

Clarify your needs
Are all your needs being met? Not only is it within your control, it is in fact, completely up to you to make yourself feel safe and happy. No one else is responsible for your happiness. Apart from basic needs such as food and security, we also have personal needs. Maybe you need a bit of quiet time to yourself after work, or maybe you need an impromptu dancing session in your living room when you feel down. No matter what it is, make time for it.

Peer pressure often makes us do things we don’t really want to do. As social creatures, we want to avoid disappointing or upsetting our clowder (Yes, I said ‘clowder’), even if it’s at our own expense. It takes practise to break this self destructive behavioural pattern without feeling guilty, but it’s very much possible. There is no reason to justify yourself if you don’t want to do something. ‘No’ is a complete sentence.

Manifest your dreams
Search deep within your core for your dreams. Not what others think you should do, but what you want to do. Your heart knows what it wants. The confusion occurs when your brain starts over-analysing and categorising as it’s prone to do. What activity did you lose yourself in when you were a child? What do you genuinely love doing? Do that.

Life is only as complicated as you make it. There is always a way, even if it takes a long time to get to where you want to be, or fail a million times. Failure shouldn’t be feared because it’s how we learn. No path is free from stumble blocks. Work towards your dream life, but don’t forget that you are alive now, in this very moment. Make your present enjoyable. Do more of what makes you happy, every day.