The True Sea

The human mind, old films, literature and podcasts.

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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.


5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe’en

Arguably, the best way to spend the Sunday before Hallowe’en is to watch horror films in bed. As you all know by now, I absolutely adore horror, but I often find new horror films predictable and unsatisfying. There are too many cheap jump scares and CGI isn’t really my thing. Using psychological tension or leaving things to the imagination is much more interesting than modern special effects. So, here are five great contemporary films that are more in the classic vein, though admittedly the first one is more cult than classic. Happy Hallowe’en, my lovelies!5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comMay
American psychological horror (2002)

May is a lonely young woman who works as a veterinary nurse and spends her time off with a porcelain doll in a glass display case gifted to her by her mother when she was little. She’s struggling to connect to people and yearns to find the perfect friend. So much so that it pushes her to literally make one. All-round great performances, particularly by Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto and Anna Faris. This was Lucky McKee’s directorial debut, who later went on to make the Suspiria (1977) homage The Woods (2006) and The Woman (2011). It’s categorised as a horror but really it refuses to be defined. It’s funny, disturbing, sad, romantic, happy and wonderfully morbid. This is one for the misfits, and I cannot recommend it enough.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe House of the Devil
American horror (2009)

A young girl replies to an ad to babysit at a remote house during a night of a full lunar eclipse. She has a bad feeling about it and rightfully so as it turns out it’s not quite a normal babysitting job. The weird, old man who placed the ad offers her a lot of money and keeps pressing until she accepts. It’s very slow, building tension expertly, and it completely nails the feel and look of low-budget early 80s horror. This is perfect for when you want an atmospheric, low-action retro horror flick. It doesn’t appeal to everyone but if you, like me, enjoy the suspense more than the usually disappointing reveal, this one is for you.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comHaute Tension (High Tension)
French horror (2003)

A young woman brings along her best friend to her parents’ farm house in the countryside. They arrive late at night and it doesn’t take long until there’s a home invasion. That’s all I’m going to say. I knew next to nothing about this film before watching it which is the best way to watch it. It’s brutal, gory and absolutely pitch black, like good old 70s Giallo horror. Director Alexandre Aja was accused of plagiarising Dean Koontz’s novel Intensity, but I can’t comment on the similarities as I haven’t read the book. Make sure you watch the original uncut version in French, not the English dubbed version.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe Town That Dreaded Sundown
American slasher horror (2014)

65 years after Texarcana was terrorised by a masked serial killer nicknamed the Phantom Killer, it looks like he’s back. One young girl makes it her mission to uncover the murderer’s identity as well as the identity of the original Phantom. This film is beautifully shot using a saturated colour palette, and it plays with light and shadows in a really interesting way. The marvellous sound design keeps you on edge throughout. There are some scenes from the original film from 1976 and some recreated scenes from it too. This works because it’s not a remake or a straight-up sequel, but a meta-sequel made with love for its predecessor.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe Invitation
American thriller horror (2015)

A man and his girlfriend are invited to a dinner party at his ex wife’s and her new husband’s house. A house which of course, used to be his. He hasn’t seen her or their mutual friends, also attending the party, for a long time and it’s soon revealed why. As the evening progresses, he becomes increasingly convinced that this isn’t just an innocent get-together, that there is in fact a sinister reason why they’re all there. You know that something is wrong right from the very beginning but exactly what it is creeps up on you slowly. This claustrophobic beauty was directed by Karyn Kusama. I love my one location films so maybe I’m biased, but I really enjoyed it.

How about you? What are you watching this Hallowe’en?

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5 Films To Watch When You’re Having a Tough Day

Some days, all you want to do is snuggle up with some chocolate and watch a really good, light-hearted comedy. Or a deliciously dark comedy. Certain films just make you feel like everything is right in the world again. Others feel like seeing old friends because you’ve watched them so many times. Which leads me to one of my favourite films…5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe Actors
Irish crime comedy (2003)

Two struggling stage actors come up with a con to steal money from a gangster using their acting skills. It’s a clever idea but things very rarely go the way we think they will. Dylan Moran and Michael Caine are superb and hilarious. Moran particularly, blew me away with his acting skills on first viewing. Story is by Neil Jordan who doesn’t seem to know how to make rubbish. I love this film. I’ve seen it so many times that I’ve lost count.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comSerial Lover
French crime comedy (1998)

The director of a crime fiction publishing house invites three men she’s in love with and her male best friend over for dinner on her 35th Birthday with the ulterior motive of deciding which one she wants to marry. Before everyone even sits down to eat, there’s an accident in the kitchen and things escalate quickly from there. This is a fabulous comedy with detective elements and a bit of gore thrown in for good measure. There’s a South Korean remake of it which I’m yet to see.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comBreakfast on Pluto
Irish comedy drama (2005)

Patrick “Kitten” Braden is a boy who wants to be a girl in 70s Ireland. One day, he decides to go to London to find his biological mother who left him on the church steps as a baby. We follow him on his weird and wonderful adventures. This film has everything you need. Laughter, joy, sequins, empathy, talking birds, honesty, love and a sassy narrator. Written by Neil Jordan, and Patrick McCabe who also wrote The Butcher Boy. Cillian Murphy is so convincing as Kitten that you almost forget that Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea and Bryan Ferry are there too.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comSisters
American comedy (2015)

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler play two sisters whose parents decide to sell the house they grew up in. They’ve got one weekend to go through and remove their old belongings from the house before the new owners move in. After reminiscing about their teenage years and as their parents aren’t around anyway, they figure they might as well throw one last epic party at the house. It’s the chemistry between Fey and Poehler that makes this film so good. Yes, it’s occasionally vulgar but it’s also heart-warming and very sweet.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comSightseers
British horror comedy (2012)

Chris and Tina is an odd couple to say the least. He’s a caravan obsessed writer and she’s a sheltered knitting freak. They go on a caravan holiday planning to visit various interesting sites such as the Keswick Pencil Museum, but things very quickly go horrifically wrong. It’s dark, violent, hilarious and at times, worryingly relatable. If you’re able to laugh at social awkwardness and the darkness of the human soul, this film is for you. However, if you are of a delicate nature, give Sightseers, and probably Serial Lover too, a miss. Have a look at my Film Musings: Feel-Good Edition post instead for some more none gory flicks.

How about you? What are your go-to feel-good films?

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6 Things I Love These Days

6 Things I Love These Days | The True Sea thetruesea.comMy mala necklace
Mala necklaces are traditionally used during Japa meditation where a mantra is repeated 108 times – one time for each bead. I couldn’t find quite what I wanted, so I decided to make one myself out of rosewood, turquoise and lapis lazuli beads. I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

Anything that makes me feel cosy and safe
Snuggling up under a throw with a big cup of cherry blossom or mango green tea and a Japanese crime novel in the evenings. Watching an old horror film in bed by candlelight with a box of chocolates. Taking a long Epsom salt bath while burning a rosewood scented candle. Writing my thoughts out while listening to Nine Inch Nails.

A CANAL+ Création Originale genre-bending drama series about Jean Bastière, a crime scene cleaner who lives in London with his wife and their two kids. One day, his estranged, wayward brother Martin turns up at their house and asks for a huge favour. Things escalate really quickly from there. It’s dark, gory and satirical – everything I want from a tv show. You can watch it on Netflix.

Being alone with my thoughts
For a while, I haven’t allowed myself to simply sit and think. When I’m stressed out and my thoughts are racing, I use constant distraction as a coping technique to prevent my OCD from triggering thought loops. Even though I’m still under a lot of pressure at work, I’m back to normal now, allowing my thoughts to pass through as they wish, visualising the future and letting myself daydream.

True Crime Japan
A podcast about true crime and mysteries from Japan. To my delight, the hosts cover some cases that haven’t received much attention outside of the Land of the Rising Sun. My favourite episodes so far are The Suicide Website Killer and The Psychic Spot Disappearance (The Spirited Away Hotel). There hasn’t been a new episode in a while, but I hope they’re intending to make more.

Patricia Highsmith books
I can’t believe I haven’t read any of her work until now. So far I’ve read A Suspension of Mercy and This Sweet Sickness. The latter had a big emotional impact on me. Next up is The Cry of the Owl. Patricia’s exceptionally well-written psychological thrillers very much get under your skin and inside your head. Her characters blur the line between imagination and reality in such a fantastic way that even the reader isn’t sure which is which.

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