The Enchanted Garden – Flash Fiction

Meet me at eight, in the garden that does bring,
stories from childhood and memories of Spring

Charlotte read the note again – even though she had instantly known the location.

It was a special place she shared with her Grandmother. How could it be the same – with her gone?

Folding the papyrus paper, she descended the grassy staircase.

She thought of: the teddy bears picnic, looking for fairies, counting stars. All now a distant dream.

Charlotte stood in shock as she entered the clearing. Fairly lights lead the way to the patchwork blanket she'd helped her Grandmother make one year. Her eldest teddy bear placed on it, next to a feast of her favourite picnic food and…………Ben.

On one knee!

He said "I want you to fall in love with this place again.

With you dear Charlotte I feel like a King
So I told your father, you make my heart sing
With that he gave me his sincere blessing
To ask for your hand with your Grandmother’s ring”

*******************

I am participating in my first Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. The challenge is to write a piece between 100 and 150 words (+- 25 words) inspired by the photo featured above.

Word Count: 175
Picture Credit: J.S. Brand

Read the other fantastic entries here

Dancing my cares away πŸ’ƒΒ 

Item no.4 of my July Challenges is to ‘Look at myself in mirrors and see the beauty in me’. I’ve been doing this to some extent but half heartedly.  

That all changed today!

‘I just can’t stop loving you’ had been playing in my head all morning. I took that as I sign to blast it out from my speaker.

I put on my black push up bra, which had been shoved to the back of my drawer. Left untouched due to the way it accentuates my curves. 

It leaves me open to be noticed. From people who think it’s their right to look, to judge, to leer, form an opinion. But mainly from me – and the stories I tell myself about how I think others are going to perceive me! As demonstrated above!

I have a habit of becoming the judge [of myself] before others can judge me. A safety net that isn’t actually helpful or safe!

Coupled with my black lace undies, I felt great! I had no plans apart from taking a walk around my local park. But no.10 in my challenges is to ‘Wear my Sunday Best’ so that is what I was gonna do. They’re not really my best. I don’t have any fancy underwear. *note to self – buy some fancy lingerie. And I was not just about to go out into the neighbourhood sans clothes. 

Standing in front of my mirrored wardrobe, 3 large mirrors that stretch almost from ceiling to floor. I started to dance. 

I succumbed to the music. 

Next up Gloria Gaynor – ‘I am what I am‘. A perfect theme tune to loving what is. Only I realised……….I wasn’t!

An audience of one and I was holding in my stomach as I danced. Only approving of myself from certain angles. Awareness stopped me in my tracks and I……

  1. breathed out
  2. Felt horrendous 
  3. Continued to dance

Forcing myself to look at my stomach, which tops my ‘things I don’t like about myself so moan about instead of changing‘ list. 

I was in flow now, dancing my cares away. The solo party continued as I got all ‘lip sync’ karaoke to ‘Earth Song’. 

By the time I reached the ‘What about us….’ ending I was thinking I was a rockstar, wanting to dance in classes, clubs and besides swimming pools – in my undies. I was totally in awe of Michael Jackson. And at peace with myself. My body. My dance moves. 

I was seriously cutting some shapes in my own special way! It totally reawakened my love of dancing – just because! 

I headed out, feeling happy and confident. Instead of comparing myself to the people I passed, I observed and saluted them instead. Not actually a physical salute – although that would have been funny!

I saluted: 

  • the gorgeous girl who had a thigh gap and flat stomach.  And promised myself to stop moaning that I don’t have a body like that! If it’s so important to me, I know what to do. I’m barely even doing it! Exercise…….when will I enjoy you?
  • the couple holding hands and embracing the day. Instead of solemnly longing for what they had, they made me feeling optimistic. I will persevere with dating apps and when I next really like a guy, I’m going to let him know – hello vulnerability!
  • the group of friends all set for a day at a festival. Instead of feeling lonely, I was happy to be on the outside looking in. Knowing that in a couple of weeks I’ll be doing the same with my friends. 

So as I sat typing this post on a park bench. Laughter, birds and music setting the tone. I was awash with gratitude to have left the Comparison Cashier at home. And to have found something else to aid me in my year of vulnerability. 

Long live letting go and dancing in front of my mirror in my best (for now) underwear and learning to love what is! 


Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday
Twitter: @boomerhalliday

p.s. if you’ve liked this or any of my other posts, I would be grateful if you could give them a share.

Going back to some roots 🌲 

I am a tree hugger!

As part of my July Challenges – point 5 was to ‘spend time in nature’. After suffering with ‘imposter syndrome‘ for most of the day, an email I’d received from ‘Margaret Rushing‘ sang to me. In it she challenges the reader to go out into nature and ‘hug a tree’. 

I really couldn’t be arsed venturing back out after I’d got home. But……I knew if I didn’t I’d be annoyed with myself for the rest of the evening. So off I went – in search of a tree.

Continue reading “Going back to some roots 🌲 “

July – The Challenges πŸ™€

I’m a huge fan of BrenΓ© Brown so immediately purchased ‘Rising Strong’ when I made the decision to start focusing on challenges.

The book takes a look at getting up after a failure. As I am turning my ‘year of vulnerability’ up a few notches, I know there are going to be times when I am down and want to quit. To retreat back to a cocoon of safety.

Continue reading “July – The Challenges πŸ™€”

It’s time to face the mirrors!

I am beautiful.

This is how I feel when I look in my bathroom mirror on most evenings. Just before I take the remains of my makeup off and for a moment or two after. I stop and take a moment to look deep into my eyes, give myself a genuine grin and appreciate myself!


A few steps into my bedroom and alas…………..I am no longer beautiful.

As unfortunately my bedroom mirror doesn’t tell me the same! Nor any other mirror.

I’m back to seeing myself as unattractive!

I curse my flaws, my features, my angles. Oh why isn’t there a camera filter that makes me look like I do in my bathroom mirror?

I am pretty there.

How can it be so that I’m only truly comfortable with how I look in this one mirror?

It is a belief I would like to turn around. Along with some other thoughts, habits and beliefs that have weakened my self-esteem over time.

There’s the unhealthy habit I have of creating scenarios in which people are judging me.

This happens more often that I’d like to admit. In fact, my thoughts on Saturday night actually inspired this post.

Getting ready to go out I was actually enjoying the pre-party for one in my bedroom. Indie-Rock music blasting out, a couple of beers and some serious….ly silly dance moves.

I had a few minor wardrobe wobbles when the first two outfits didn’t fit me. But was happy with the 3rd outfit and got a respectable slow nod and satisfactory smile from my housemate.

As soon as I walked out of the house, the mind chatter began:

  • My skirt is too short
  • My thighs are too big
  • I’m overdressed
  • I’m too old to be dressed like this

Then came the scenarios about how people would be judging me. Which led me to justify who I am and why I’m dressed like I am. It didn’t stop there as I started to question myself, and then the world! It’s fucking tiring.

Another thing that is kryptonite to my self-esteem is the way I don’t always admit what I actually want. To be fair to myself, for the most part I don’t even realise that I’m doing it.

For as long as I can remember I have confidently confirmed:

‘I’m terrible at making decisions’ 

And that was that. Nothing I could do about it. It’s part of me! Not for once thinking that it was a belief muscle I was building.

It’s only been recently that I have actually taken a closer look at my inability to make decisions. And it hit home. Smack bang wallop in the face!

  • I’m a people pleaser
  • I don’t like to be the odd one out
  • I shy away from confrontation
  • Plus the biggie – I don’t want other people to feel uncomfortable

So I take the easy way out using phrases such as:

I don’t mind’, Whatever you want’ and ‘I’m not sure’. Or I’m just silent and go along with things with a smile on my face.

I know this habit is past it’s sell-by date as it became too frequent that I was looking at others with an envious eye. And the message was, they were a reflection of me. A me I truly wanted to be! To be that confident to go for what I want regardless of others (or my made up) judgements.

All these reasons are why I’ve decided to spend July tearing down the protective walls that once served a purpose. It’s time to work on building new ones.

In my last post Life – who’s in charge? I revisited the reason why I started this blog and noted that I had got off track. Well I am back in the game and the theme for July is ‘self-esteem’. I am going to set myself challenges and give myself permission to go for things.


If you have any suggestions/ideas/tips on what can strengthen my self-esteem muscle please pass them my way.

One of my goals is get to the end of July and be able to look into any mirror and truly say.

I am beautiful.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday
Twitter: @boomerhalliday

p.s. If you’ve liked this or any of my other posts, I would be grateful if you could give them a share. 

Life – who’s in charge?

I reached for my beautiful turquoise notepad, which was a thoughtful Secret Santa gift from a work colleague. I absolutely love notepads……and stationery in general. That feeling I get visiting Paperchase, The Works, WHSmith and other such stores. Browsing the shelves churns the creative cogs in my mind. 

But notepads have always been my favourite! A blank canvas, igniting inspiration – ready to transform into whatever you want: 

  • hold words that help craft stories
  • plot and plan dreams
  • harbour deep secrets 
  • doodle

I thumb through my notepad and am slightly disheartened when I see the empty pages. I’ve barely made a dent in it. This highlights my habit of starting things with gusto only to move onto the next thing – leaving that particular dream on the shelf! Unfortunately this trait overflows to other parts of my life. 

It’s the book I excitedly started in January – for my year of vulnerability. 

On the first page, I wrote:

“This year I decided to have a theme which I would focus on for the year. That theme is vulnerability. So many things {career, relationships, travels} have been stopped, stilted or not allowed to flourish due to me putting a shield around myself. So it has to stop – here! I am bored of not getting what I want for fear of getting hurt so let’s get to it! This is my scrapbook. I’m going to be journaling, blogging, note taking. Along with doing Facebook Lives, Instagram, reading, therapy sessions and challenges. Bring it on!”

I accompanied this with a list of things that I planned to do – the majority remained unticked.

I seem to have taken a slip road on my journey, which isn’t particularly a bad thing but it is important to reassess what I actually want from this year. 

It’s funny – in life we generally don’t tend to assess things. Our relationships (with family, friends, partners), our jobs, where we live, how we like to spend our spare time. We often make that choice once or fall into it and then let life unconsciously take over – only changing when we have to! I know I’ve spent more time assessing and planning where I want to go on a holiday than anything to do with my life. Crazy!

I love this quote by Zig Ziglar:

As much as the idea of ‘life happening to you’ and ‘working in your favour’ sounds so romantic and the easier option. I don’t actually believe it is. I used to be in the ‘fate’ fan club and living for today. 

This was great for excuses when life hadn’t gone the way I wanted it to: 

“Don’t blame me – blame fate”

But not so great on the purse strings: 

“Fuck saving for a rainy day – tomorrow never comes!” 

Well it did and it has! And many a day I’ve let life guide me too loosely – trying to mask my disappointment with the outcome. 

Planning for the future and the thought of choosing to stay in one place, one job, with one person used to paralyse me. Never considering that I could actually change my direction……..anytime. That I had the choice to do that!

With that notion firmly in my mind……….(again). I’ve learnt this lesson countless times but this time………this time…..it’s firmly in my mind! 

I actually want to be the one leading the show – making the decisions about my life!

Control taken back. Excitement levels restored. 

I pick up my trusty notepad. 

I’m ready to plan my heart out!

This year of vulnerability has just turned up a notch!

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday
Twitter: @boomerhalliday

p.s. If you’ve liked this or any of my other posts, I would be grateful if you could give them a share. 

5 things single women (okay me) are tired of hearing πŸ€

1. What’s wrong with you?
Is this a rhetorical question? How are we supposed to answer this? Is this where we admit our weird habits and behaviours? Hmmmm, Where do I start? Do you want me to open Pandora’s box? If this comment was a physical item it would be a boxing glove! Making us question who we are and beat ourselves up. It’s pretty offensive and it confuses me. 


2. But?!…………..you’re gorgeous/pretty/beautiful (delete as appropriate)

Having a partner isn’t based on looks alone. Well not for most people. So it’s a bit of a shallow statement to make. And again how are we meant to answer this? Although it is nice to hear that some people think my face is arranged in a pleasant way. Definitely not helpful. Actually………….it’s a lovely compliment and I’m not hearing it from the single guys so this one can stay out of room 101! Okay, go on – you can lavish me with compliments!

3. Mr right is just round the corner. 
As I said in my intro post. ‘My year of vulnerability’. Which fucking corner? The same people that throw this comment around will then say “I told you so” if/when it happens. No matter how long the time is that they’ve said it. It’s basically like me saying – it’s going to snow. And then 9 months later it does and I say “I told you so” – in a smug, I may become a tarot reader, kind of way. 


4. As soon as you stop looking you’ll find him.  

Most single girls I know are not constantly on the lookout for a relationship every waking hour. We do things like go to work,  spend time with friends & family, party, shop, go on holiday, wash our hair etc. Basically getting on with life. I have gone years without scouring bars, getting thumb ache from swiping right (that’s Tinder speak to those of you not in the know) – I haven’t always ‘been looking’. To which I then get told – well maybe you should look. Confusion has set in again! Which one is it? Is there a perfect ratio that has passed me by? If so – send it my way! 


5. Relationships are not all they’re cracked up to be. 

We know that what you see on the surface of relationships isn’t always what’s going on. Closed doors not only hold the funny and romantic times. They hide heartache, quarrels, insecurities and silence. Plus – every relationship is different. We’ve been in relationships before and know that they don’t solve all our problems. You take the bad with the good. Why wouldn’t we want the good? 

Anyway………

list rant over. I know that these comments aren’t said in malice and are often said from the heart to help comfort us. At times they do – especially if we’re going through a recent break up. But as the years go by and we’d be rich if we had a pound for every time we heard one of these – they can be a little bit grating. 

Bonus statement

6. If I was a guy, I’d date you! 
Said by slurring drunk girl mates. As sweet as it is. You’re not. So it’s a moo point (one for Friend’s fans). You can stop kissing my neck now…………

This post, although my true feelings, is written in jest. So if people do want to make these statements, that’s totally fine. But as I’m a girl that is open minded and loves advice – how about giving me a suggestion of places decent guys hang out, setting me up with someone or just forgetting that I’m single and having a regular conversation. I’m reasonably well read so have a number of topics we can talk about. 

Note: this all goes out of the window if I’m moaning asking “Why am I single?” – then you can revert to comments 2 and 3! Oh go on then – 6 too!

Emma x

p.s. If you have a certain comment that you’re tired of hearing. Please share for the giggles 😊

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday
Twitter: @boomerhalliday