The torso of a model wearing a handknit sweater designed by Anna. The sweater is gold and black stripes like a bumble bee, and the model is leaning on a table covered with a floral tablecloth

The Big Fail

Fifteen years ago, or so, I started a blog with the simple intention to write about whatever interested me.

Soon that came to include knitting. I took nice photos of my knitwear and wrote about my projects. I came across independent designers, and the idea sparked that perhaps I could design, too.

As it turned out, my rudimentary maths knowledge, good taste in knitwear, and sense of style for photography, were more than adequate to start designing, publishing pattern instructions for the knitting crowd, and growing my readership.

The blog went from strength to strength and I was able to reduce the hours I worked at a marketing agency.

I was offered a book deal! With an advance! A well-regarded publisher and a hero-of-the-industry editor! There was even a little bidding war!

Within a few weeks of signing contracts, I discovered I was pregnant with our son! I was on top of the world!

My intention was to complete the book before the baby arrived. But it didn’t happen, and the baby was early.

I thought I could finish the book while the baby napped. The baby never napped. He had reflux and colic and an aversion to sleep. While pregnant, wiser women had tried to explain how caring for a newborn will fuck a person up completely. But, until I experienced it myself, it was impossible to imagine the deep truth of that statement.

The book was never completed. I returned the advance.

What a come down. I’ve only recently been able to recognise the beauty in the tender intensity of those feelings of disappointment. Of failure. Of shame.

It’s exquisite. It wraps around my heart and chest and holds me so tight. My stomach rumbles gently. There’s electricity sparking through my crown, head, neck, shoulders and down my arms.

It’s magical to witness the depth of my feeling. And now that I do, it starts to heal.

Because now it is passing through. I still have brilliance. It’s time to heal.


Close up on a cream coloured under bust corset

Constriction

Today, I will give you my absolutely winning but also unorthodox method for dealing with anxiety around money.

The day before yesterday I was in an absolute pickle. Being tossed to and fro by worry, annoyance, even rage; unable to seize the reins and regain some balance. I gave myself an alchemical bath so full of salts, minerals, crystals, oils, it had the consistency more of a creamy soup than water. It helped.

Because as I floated I realised: all this turmoil was because I needed to make a large payment.

My financial situation is familiar to many freelancers and other consultants, with my bank balance veering between “make it rain” and “definitely going bankrupt”. At the top end I deeply enjoy making purchases, even (as a committed socialist) settling tax bills.

But when the number of digits grows lower, I develop a peculiarly hoarding attitude. I resent spending a single penny. I can’t bear to see the balance going down. I become possessive. Grasping.

It’s a feeling of constriction…

“Constriction, you say Anna?” Yes, a feeling of trapped-ness, a breathless quality, I can’t move properly. “Hm, breathless? Would you say it feels like being squeezed?” Yes, it’s tight and frightening. I can’t relax. “I wonder… would it be similar to the sensation of being encased in some kind of unyielding contraption? Maybe, for example, a corset?”

Do you remember what we spoke about on Monday (the picture of me looking cross in a pink robe)? About loving every part even the unlovable, and finding the pleasure in the least loved emotions?

Well it transpires that lacing oneself into a corset before making large payments adds an entirely new slant on the situation. There’s money magic.

But, by all means, light a green candle if you prefer…


A portrait of Anna. She looks tired and rests her head on her hand. She's wearing a pink cotton robe

Normality is Suspended

Normality is suspended until further notice. Everything you thought you knew is wrong.

Will you evolve? Or die on the hill of your own creation?

What ideas of your self must you slough off in order to flourish on the other side?

A useful first step would be to admit that the pain that keeps you small comes from a secret, taboo desire for rejection and humiliation (and that’s OK! It is perfectly acceptable to get taboo pleasure from those things; ask any domme/dom).

NOTE! If the pain you are experiencing comes from racism, misogyny, ableism, homophobia, or any other ingrained systemic prejudice, please fully disregard my previous sentence. This taboo secret desire is only really applicable where people are experiencing pain and difficulty on an individual level rather than a community level.

Assuming that this is in fact the result of a deeply held secret desire, then celebrate. Your ache is being fulfilled.

It has been my experience, through the practice of Existential Kink, that the more we give ourselves permission to take deep pleasure, to positively revel in the electricity of our most ’not-wanted’ feelings…

… the more we celebrate our virtuoso ability to create circumstances that deeply trigger those feelings that we ‘most-definitely-positively-absolutely-do-not-ever-want’…

… the more we adore and take joy in this beautiful incarnation and our adorable obsession with duality (the whole notion of ‘good feelings’ and ‘bad feelings’, or ‘want’ and ‘do not want’ as a perfect example)…

…the more that energy of fear transmutes into beauty.


A photo of Anna, she is against a white wall wearing a black dress, looking down towards the ground. Her face is mostly obscured by her hair.

Love Letter

As soon as I have published here I will compose a love letter. This relationship has struggled greatly over the years but after much work and willingness to change, it is now very secure and nurturing.

With my fountain pen, on heavy paper, I shall compose deep compliments and excavate my most tender feelings.

I will re-state my utter commitment to uncondintional, everlasting love. I expect I shall embarrass myself a little bit with my earnest phrasing.

Sometimes, the truth is bigger than words. I know I will come up against the limits of language.

As soon as I have published here I will compose a love letter to myself.

It’s time I put it on paper.


A small skull carved from a piece of jet on a wooden surface, with a partial view of a candle holder in the shape of a pink lotus flower.

Loving Your Shadow

I had in mind to write a lovely essay for you on magical consciousness and the benefits of previous experience of psychedelics and/or manic states. But my office is already overheating and I must go and recline in a shaded hammock.
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Instead, I pose this question:
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What if ‘loving yourself’ meant actually *loving* all of those icky parts? Not loving yourself in spite of them - not loving yourself in order to ‘release’ them - but actually loving them;
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Loving your struggling business; loving your emotional instability, even the fear and despair; loving the nagging pain in your hip; loving your propensity for rage; loving your apparent inability to apply yourself to that nagging work task;
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Loving your inability to muster any motivation for housework; loving your daily frustration at the impossibility of juggling work and childcare over summer; loving your envy, greed and sloth;
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Loving and celebrating that darkest part of you that revels in difficulty, disappointment and struggle with no interest in the ease and grace that your ego constantly searches for.
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Does that feel impossible? Or very much within reach?
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Because I promise you that this is when magic happens.