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.

Sashiko
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?


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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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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.

Spotless
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?


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6 More Things I’ve Learnt This Year

6 More Things I've Learnt This Year | The True Sea thetruesea.comThis has been a bizarre year so far to say the least. Some days, I feel like we’re all in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Though with the latest plot twist (this is likely as political as I will ever be on here), it seems more like an episode of Black Mirror. Yet I’m learning lots about myself and how things are connected. Here are six more things I’ve learnt this year.

Reading gets me out of my head when nothing else works.
Books have always been my escape. Listening to a podcast or watching something can still allow my thoughts to wander or loop when I’m in a stressed or anxious state. But picking up a good book always distracts me from my internal monologue. The instant I become completely engrossed in what I’m reading, my thoughts stop.

It’s okay to not want a busy social life.
I’m not a people person. My favourite person to hang out with is me. I do love spending time with people I like, but truth is I don’t like a lot of people, and it goes both ways. I’m fine with that. There’s a limited amount of time I can deal with social interaction before I need to recharge my batteries alone, and that’s okay too.

I need to do what I love for a living.
Spending only my free time doing what I love isn’t enough to keep me happy. I loop back to this over and over again. A means to an end job just isn’t something I can do long term. I always end up frustrated and questioning my life choices. Frankly, I admire people who don’t lose their minds doing boring work. But I need to accept that I’m never going to be one of those people. I need to do what I love full time. I need to write, and work with books and words.

No one has the right to expect anything from me.
It’s not my job to live up to the expectations of others. If people don’t want to accept me as I am, that’s their problem. I don’t change to fit anyone’s assumptions. The older I get, the lower my nonsense tolerance gets. Healthy relationships and interactions are unconditional. And those are the only kind I want in my life.

Happiness requires constant work.
I know this, yet I still slip up every now and then. If you are, consciously or unconsciously, looking for negative aspects, that’s invariably what you’ll focus your attention on. Life isn’t meant to be good, nor is it meant to be bad. It isn’t meant to be anything. You decide how you interpret the world around you. Your life is only as good as you believe it is.

The best is yet to come.
I never reminisce about days gone by. Things weren’t better back then. They’re better now, and they keep getting better. The present is fine, but the future will be amazing. That’s where the really good stuff is. Every day I’m getting closer to living the life I want to live.

How about you? What things have you learnt this year so far?


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Lately: Literature Edition

Lately: Literature Edition | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.comI’ve been getting back into reading lately and it’s awesome. It’s the only thing capable of completely quieting my mind and taking me out of my head. Fiction works particularly well, but I have to admit that I’m very difficult to please. Here are the fiction books that I’ve enjoyed lately.

A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan
Mr Heming is a respected estate agent who has made a copy of the key to every house he has ever sold. He’s a voyeurist (he calls himself an observer) and he has the creepy habit of cataloguing the contents of the houses when the owners are out. This is his story. I wanted more suspense and I was disappointed that Mr Heming was sloppy and unsympathetic for all the wrong reasons. There was also a character who I wanted to get to know better. Despite this, it was an enjoyable read.

Shadow Family by Miyuki Miyabe
The body of a middle-aged office worker is found on a construction site. A murder investigation ensues and it’s quickly discovered that, unbeknownst to his family, he had a shadow family online – a pretend family created in chat rooms. The man’s real life teenage daughter tells the police that she’s being stalked. Most of the plot takes place in a police interrogation room and the dialogue is superb. Things get stranger and stranger in this clever, quick read full of pleasing twists.

She Who Was No More by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac
Travelling salesman Ferdinand Ravinel and his lover plot to murder his wife. They carry out their plans and all seems to go perfectly until the body disappears before it’s discovered. Very strange things start happening. Is Ferdinand losing his grip on reality? The French psychological thriller Les Diaboliques (1955) is based on this book. The original story is significantly different from the film but I highly recommend both. This is French Noir at its best.

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima
A group of nihilistic thirteen-year-old boys secretly reject the adult world and spend their time talking about how they are superior to adults on various, stupid grounds. (I hate them for reasons that become obvious when you read the book.) The mother of one of the boys meets a sailor and they fall madly in love. At first, the boys idealise the sailor but they soon decide that he’s soft, and therefore deserves to be punished. A beautifully written, vicious tale about loss, grief and finding your place in the world. I picked this little book up because it was one of David Bowie’s favourites and I don’t regret it for a second. It stays with you long after you finish it.

Confessions by Kanae Minato
Yuko’s four-year-old daughter was murdered by two of her students, although officially, it was labelled an accident. Consumed with grief, she has decided to resign but before she leaves, she has one final lesson to teach her pupils. A gripping novel about the dark corners of the mind, vengeance and the struggle of coming of age. I loved the alternate narration and all the brilliant twists. The film from 2010 is great too.

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


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Lately

Lately | Chiaki Creates chiakicreates.com1. I read The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada in just a few days and I was absolutely blown away by how clever the plot was. The other night, I started Coin Locker Babies by Ryū Murakami. His books always leave me feeling satisfied. When I went to Northern Ireland a couple of weeks ago, I started the crime novel All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe. It was a very enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

2. I listened to the audiobooks The Dark Tourist: Sightseeing in the World’s Most Unlikely Destinations by Dom Joly and Going to Sea in a Sieve: The Autobiography by Danny Baker. Both were very entertaining and had me in tears laughing. I’ve also been listening to loads of true crime podcasts.

3. I’ve been thinking a lot about the people who I have that special bond with – the bond that can never be broken. I consciously choose to spend a lot of my time alone because I see no point in wasting time on people who I don’t feel a strong connection with. That kind of socialising exhausts me. On the same theme, I’ve been thinking about the concept of family. Not only defined by blood or legal bond, but also by emotional connection. I come from a very small family who practise sporadic contact and I’ve always wanted to be part of a big family who celebrate together. One day.

4. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the future and what fulfilment really is. There is no one thing that can magically make us feel fulfilled. It’s all about adding small pieces to a big puzzle. It can be achieved through following your passion, being intentional, trusting, addressing your needs, taking time off, reflecting, pushing past your fears and so on. I’m choosing to pursue fulfilment.

5. I watched season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The first few episodes are slow but it picks up. I find it really inspiring and Tina Fey’s character is hilarious. I watched season 2 of Better Call Saul and the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Sisters. I also watched the dark comedy series Flowers and I highly recommend it.

6. I’ve been buying things that make me smile: a writing desk, Japanese crockery, books, David Bowie picture discs, a mosaic tea light holder, two beautiful acacia wooden trays and green tea with mango.

7. I’ve decided to let things take their time. I refuse to let impatience diminish the joy of the present moment. My focus is on improving what’s within my control. The rest will come when it’s supposed to come. In the meantime, I’ll be working hard for the good stuff.