CRAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY? FEAR NOT LOVELIES, I HAVE JUST THE THING 

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Inspiration! Wallpaper from the Victor and Rolf exhibition at Melbourne’s National Gallery

What’s that you say? You couldn’t reach your front door yesterday for all the cards and presents clogging up the hallway? And you couldn’t get any work done because you kept pricking yourself on all the red red roses on your desk? I know, it was tough day for us all, wasn’t it.

If however, like most of the population that wasn’t your yesterday, then don’t worry, I have just the antidote! If you’re single and you’d rather not be…or if you’ve just finished reading Break-Up Club (ta very much!) and don’t know what to do with yourself, then I present to you the perfect follow-up: sign up to this brilliant new course called Project Love. The only possible hazard I can think of is that you may find yourself with a Wet Wet Wet song stuck in your head for about twelve weeks. I kept singing ‘Love is All Around you’ as it was written on a good few of the lesson notes. But if you can handle a bit of vintage Marti Pellow humming to you then read on…

You can’t hurry love. But you can do a 30 day course in it.

In the words of its lovely founders, Selina & Vicki, “Get Ready for Love is an online course that contains the 30 essential lessons that we’ve found to be the most effective and powerful to get you ready for love and on your way to a happy and healthy relationship.” How it works is, you get emailed 30 interactive lessons to do at your own pace, with homework to do when it suits you. I was lucky enough to try out the course, and I heartily recommend it to anyone – even if you’re already in a relationship! One of the reasons I was drawn to it is that the aims of the course are a little like those of Break-Up Club: to become happy single, because only then can you become part of a happy union with someone else. Cripes, if only Holly or any of my other characters had been on the course, the book wouldn’t have been half as long. Sorry! Anyway – once you’re done processing your break-up via the 12 essential rules, I cannot recommend Project Love enough. It makes for the perfect epilogue. Here’s a bit more about why I liked it…

You’ve got the love. Yeah, You do!

Saying ‘you need to love yourself before you can love anyone else’ has become something of a cliché these days. But the difference is, Project Love really gets you doing it, through easy, practical methods that slowly seep into your daily rituals ’til they’re habitual. The world can be a cold and lonely place sometimes if you’re not a smug married. And that loneliness goes out the window when you realise you’ve got someone there standing by you the whole time. You! 

Any fool can fall in love. But Project Love gets you falling in love the right way… into a relationship that’s built to last. And if you don’t know what the frig any of that means – do the course!

Some highlights:

  • Lucy Sheridan on ‘Comparison Coaching’ – There’s a really interesting section on how we all sometimes sabotage our own happiness by comparing ourselves to others. No thanks to Mr Zuckerberg!
  • The Dating is shit, or is it? podcast has an interesting discussion on how more often than not, heartbreak is just grief for the stories we’ve told ourselves. Without knowing it, we sometimes invent narratives about the person we’re falling for. When we break-up, we have to disconnect with that reality, and let go of ‘that individual who didn’t play to the rules of the game they didn’t even know they were playing’ – the poor little mites. 
  • Visualisations – The course explores lots of ways to get you ready for the relationship you want. Imagining what it looks like is one part of that. One exercise I found particularly powerful was when they get you to imagine it playing on a screen. It reminded me of what Holly does in ‘Break Up Club’, only she does it in a really destructive way. She plays constant re-runs of The Holly & Lawrence Show before they broke up. Numpty that she is, she’s unable to let go of the past and ‘delete the tapes’. Of course, the thing to do to help yourself after a break-up instead is this: press play on the positive images of what you’d like to see in your future, and the things that make you happy – rather than poking at the burning embers of your broken dreams. And that’s where Project Love is so helpful.
  • The Tips on dating are brilliant. I loved happiness coach Gail Schock’s guided meditation for your pre-date-jitters. That said, I must confess I still haven’t ever joined a proper dating site before because a) I just seem to always meet people IRL (what can I say, I’m chatty!) and b) every time I’ve ever briefly tried an app in the past it always seems to end up with me watching jpegs buffering of men holding dogs, and me feeling like it’s all too much ‘ladmin’ – but that’s probably just mostly down to me having a shit data package.
  • Lessons in ‘Self-Care’ – This might sound slightly wanky. But all it means is, it’s good to talk to yourself everyday in the kind of tone you would to a good friend – as opposed to a naggy-Mrs-Mangle-on-crack, which I sometimes do. Self-care also means taking yourself for a date once in a while, and nurturing yourself with daily-acts of love. Just the other day I read a really good article in Red Magazine about why we should date ourselves more. To celebrate this, for Valentine’s Day, Project Love are asking people to write themselves a Love Letter:
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Image: Project Love

Instead of making this day of love all about romantic love and focusing your attention on others that you love or lust after, we want you to turn all that love right around and in on yourself, starting with the way that you speak to yourself.  It is a life changer and key to your happiness and success.’ Check out how to write the letter, here. Of course, once again these ladies are bang on. Only last week I was listening to a Guilty Feminist podcast where Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge did an exercise in counting how many times she judged herself in a day. And this is a writer/actor at the top of her game. See, we all do it! We all need to exercise a little more self-care. The more you do that, the more you actually get a sense that there is someone there, catching you. And that’s the breakthrough moment – suddenly you realise you’re  become the controller of your thoughts and your feelings – no one else is. That’s well worth remembering, whether you’re in a relationship or not.

All the Single Ladies

Lastly, another incentive to joining Project Love is that you get free membership to the warm, friendly community that is the Secret Facebook group ‘The Love Zone’. Take it from me – if you’re going dating (on or offline), then you need these girls in your corner.

And rosecallaghan910x380170x170bbwhile we’re at it, you also REALLY need this girl! A frigging hilarious stand-up comedian I’ve met recently in Melbourne, she’s co-host of a sassy-as-shit podcast about sex and online dating – SwipeNight. I bring you the hysterical and lovely Rose Callaghan. If you happen to be in Melbs for the comedy festival, go see!

So there you have it. Between SwipeNight and Project Love, and your old chums the BUC, you’ve got the best possible support group you could ask for as you ride roughshod through The Jungle Of Single on this, the week of Valentine’s. And who knows, with all that going on, maybe it won’t be long before you’re the proud recipient of one of these puppies:

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More Inspiration! An excellent card from an achingly cool shop in Melbourne called ‘Quirk of Fate.’ I bought one as soon as I saw it, to give to my next friend that graduates…

If you’re interested in joining Project Love just head here to sign up (and to get a  very good price discount of £20 – Just type in the code Loreleilove) – Good luck! 

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8 PLACES TO TAKE REFUGE FROM SMUG MARRIEDS THIS V-DAY

Forget fifty romantic places to woo your lover, this is an indispensable guide to the places to drown your sorrows in London town, either in solitude or with other members of your #Break-UpClub… especially on this most bleak and pointless of days.

Readers, if you’re single on Sunday or worse, newly single, take comfort. London is a city full of heart – even when yours is broken. As someone who has just written a book that takes a merry dance through the darkest and cosiest nook and crannies of our city, I would love to be your tour guide. So, here we go.

(1) One Tree Hill, Honor Oak Park, SE23

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Literally, the flip-side to the view from the top of Primrose Hill. Swap smug marrieds and sprogs for the birdsong and casual dog-walkers of One Tree Hill. It may sound like a half-baked American teen drama, but it’s actually a lovely spot flanked by cemeteries, to remind you of the fragility of life and shove everything into perspective. Watch the sun set on your relationship in peace in this well-kept secret in South East London. Makes Parliament Hill look cheesy, and is far enough away from everything to give you the distance you need to heal.

(2)The Breakfast Club Angel, N1

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Take a slow brunch at the cosiest little food-nest, and an 80’s time-warp in all the right ways. Fuck Disneyland: this is the happiest place on earth. You cannot be depressed about having had your heart ripped through your bum – in here, while surrounded by all the warm Eightees nostalgia and pancakes with bacon, banana and maple syrup.

(3) Theobalds Park Camping & Caravanning, Waltham Cross, EN7

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Go on holiday by mistake, at this eerie campsite in Waltham Cross, barely twenty minutes from Liverpool Street. An excellent place to dance in the rain next to some trees, static caravans and a stagnant canal called The New River, that is ‘neither new, nor a river’, according to its plaque.

At Theobalds Park, incomparable vistas vy for your attention – a dual carriage way here, a Slough-esque trading estate there. And if you’re lucky you’ll be able to jump around on an old abandoned fence like it’s a trampoline. ‘The Real #Break-UpClub’ spent a few days there in a badly-equipped tent from Lidl. It turned out to be one of the best weekends of our lives, and inspired a whole chapter in Reader, I Dumped Him. There may have been copious booze consumed though. So don’t attempt to go there without at least a crate’s worth.

(4) The Big Red – Holloway N7 

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The pub where nobody knows your name. Lower your expectations as low as they can get, and you shan’t be disappointed. The Real BUC also go there in the book, but they renamed it The Big Blue, which seemed more apt.

(5) Feeling Gloomy, N1 and WC1

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Club Night in Soho, WC1 and Angel, N1 – Lose yourself to New Romantic classics, from the 80s and 90s, to songs which sound happy, but they are LYING. This is unsung club night spins tunes which are euphoric and melancholic in equal parts. From The Cure to The Smiths, you’ll be able to cry and jump around at the same time, and ‘reclaim’ any songs lost in the break-up vortex. (if you don’t know what a reclaim is, you’ll need to read the book I’m afraid)

Not open on actual Valentine’s Day but they did a Speed-Hating event which sounds amazing – look out for it next year! Their next club night is Saturday 5th March at The Phoenix in Soho.

(6) Swing Patrol, Lindy Hop dance lessons, all over London

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Swinging out is the best way to get over a break-up. You simply cannot be depressed about your failed relationship when you’re being twirled around to Ella Fitzgerald by a sweaty stranger, in a room full of other sweaty but ecstatic strangers, led by two even-more-perky Australians in headsets.

(7) The British Film Institute, SE1

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Not only is it right on the beautiful South Bank, so you can walk over the bridge and stare moodily out at the river before you get there, but the BFI boasts a best-kept secret called The Mediatheque, where you can binge-watch movies old and new, for free, from the privacy of your own booth. Look, even the Queen’s cottoned on!

If you’re lucky you’ll be able to watch some of the old movies and TV shows featured in this montage of break-ups. Bargain! Don’t miss out.

(8) The Serpentine Lido

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For evening booze picnics, followed by a sudden bracing dip in the 7 degree waters, clothed or otherwise. Nothing like a short, sharp shock to the system to wash away the old memories of your once-perfect-but-now-laid-to-rest relationship. And it’s a cold hard medicinal fact that wild-swimming cures melancholia. But more on that another day.

(9) Scrap all that. Hide indoors with friends, and have a Palentine’s Party.

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You could also do none of the above on Sunday. Another very sensible option is to batten down the hatches, stock up on booze and cheese, and hide out with your mates ’til it’s the 15th. Friends are the best – especially when you’re fresh from a conscious un-coupling. This is going to sound pathetic but ‘The Real BUC’ and I once played a game of ‘Secret Cupid’ where we each composed anonymous poems and wrote them in Valentine’s cards, then had to guess who wrote them. Like Secret Santa, only sillier, and with much more vodka. One of them began ‘Love is a funny thing… it sometimes ends up, in the bin.’

With that in mind I’d like to wish you all a very #HappyPalentinesDay

Relationships come and go, but good friends are for life!