Balancing gratefulness and hope in a crisis

In the good old days of early December, when we were allowed to meet more than one person outside, I went for a walk with my family, choosing a route that turned out to be a bit squelchy underfoot. Returning through the same field later, my mum suggested we try a slightly different path, saying “it can’t be any worse.” It was, of course, much worse, and before long we were forced to turn back, wishing we’d worn our wellies.

Photo of a pair of feet in walking shoes on a mud-sodden path
Photo of a pair of feet in walking shoes on a mud-sodden path
Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

This was just one of many muddy dead-ends I’ve encountered on my lockdown walks; aptly mirroring the trajectory of global…


(and why they’re not ALL bad)

It’s almost a year since I wrote my first blog about cancer, and although I’ve been through every emotion in the book since then (not to mention the bodily motions), a thought I still come back to regularly is something I observed right from the beginning: I hate all these cancer metaphors.

Comic book style lettering says “POW!” in red over an explosive blue and yellow background.
Comic book style lettering says “POW!” in red over an explosive blue and yellow background.
My experience of cancer doesn’t feel like this.

To summarise my original blog post: it’s common parlance to talk about cancer patients as “fighting” their disease, but it doesn’t feel like a fight in reality — it’s less active, and more “I’ll just lie here and let them pump toxic drugs into me because they’re telling…


I’ll never say that I’m glad I had cancer, but the momentum that I got from a personal crisis is what’s carrying me through these globally tough times. So many others have nothing.

Photo of a hand reaching up out of the blue sea, as if someone is drowning.
Photo of a hand reaching up out of the blue sea, as if someone is drowning.
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

“It’s nothing compared to what you’ve been through” is a sentence I’ve heard countless times of late. From friends whose family disagreements have been compounded by Covid-19, or who’ve been unable to introduce their new-born to his grandparents, or “just” been furloughed and stuck at home for months on end. …


The last six months has been a crash course in statistical analysis for many of us. We’ve been bombarded daily with numbers about Covid-19 cases and deaths, graphs and charts showing trends and comparisons, and sometimes even different interpretations of the same data being used to argue for conflicting courses of action. When so much rides on governments and individuals ‘doing the right thing’ to bring us through this global catastrophe, it’s no wonder that we find it stressful to navigate our way through the sea of information.

Blue graphic featuring overlapping images of a graph with arrows, spiky virus particles and floating question marks
Blue graphic featuring overlapping images of a graph with arrows, spiky virus particles and floating question marks
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

In some cases, data has been presented spuriously by authorities who could…


Translating the visual: a writer’s perspective

Visitor listening to audio description of #MagicCarpet (Kai Syng Tan 2018) at ‘King’s Artists — New Thinking, New Making’ at Bush House, King’s College London, London, UK. Photograph by Alex Lloyd.

“An intense pinkish red reaches across from the right — the flailing tentacles of an octopus whose bold colour stretches across the whole tapestry. Tentacles twist and turn in on themselves. On the right, its body is obscured by a collection of green road signs reading “RUN”, “Detour”, “digression”. On the left, tentacles blur into a cacophony of overlapping details; literal and abstract images emerge from behind and wrap around one another.” -Extract of audio description of Magic Carpet by Kai Syng Tan

Audio description is the process of using words to describe visual…


A year ago, aged 33, I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Here’s what I’ve learned from living through cancer — and doing loads of quizzes - in the times of Covid-19.

An image of red translucent orbs like cells in the body.
An image of red translucent orbs like cells in the body.
Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay

1. Leukaemia depletes the immune system, meaning that early symptoms can be hard to distinguish from feeling generally run down or having a virus.

2. Out of hours NHS lab staff work with the Ambulance Service to track you down when they receive a blood sample that makes them think you may be seriously ill without knowing it.

3. People really like to send socks and hand cream…


Getting over the myth of the “Forever Home”, and facing the realities of the London property market

Image by Steve Watts from Pixabay

Before the end of 2019, we are going to move house. We’re going to sell the (“amazing location!”) shoebox flat that we bought to get one foot on the housing ladder, and buy somewhere that might be a family home. Somewhere where the bedroom door opens all the way without hitting the bed. Somewhere where we can keep bicycles secure and dry. Somewhere without the aroma of pot-smoking youths drifting through the window of a summer’s evening. Perhaps.

My husband and I have…


A meditation on washing up, bad hair days and plastic-free periods

There’s more to a green bathroom than a pot-plant by your sink. Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

As part of my quest for greener living, I’ve spent the first half of this year trying out a range of plastic-free and reusable bathroom products. After all, it’s a bit ironic that half the stuff we use to make ourselves cleaner is actually contributing to the ‘dirtying’ of the planet as a whole via plastic pollution, harmful chemicals and landfilled waste.

In January I decided to try and make my cleansing routine a little more sustainable, and it’s been a largely positive experience. Here’s a few thoughts, reviews and words of encouragement for anyone else who’s trying to live…


But can we afford the risk?

Would you put your retirement savings into green energy? Photo by Aniek Wessel on Unsplash.

My pension pot is embarrassingly, terrifyingly small. Aside from a stint of 3 years working part-time in the NHS, I’ve been self-employed for my whole career. Without an employer to match what I put in, the options for saving for retirement are pretty dire, and there’s always been a reason not to. First I was simply too poor (I work in the arts — you get the idea). …


Why Overcoming Your Inner Perfectionist is Good for Business

After ten years of freelancing, I’ve finally reached a place where I can be comfortable with my achievements, even though I still see my shortcomings. Not only is it liberating to be OK with being “OK”; it’s actually essential to the growth and flourishing of a sustainable career.

Entrepreneurship and perfectionism go hand in hand….?

When you run your own business, it’s natural to want everything done to a very high standard. After all, you are responsible for the end product or service, and if you don’t impress your clients, they won’t come back or recommend you to others.

You have good reason to go the extra…

Jenni Elbourne

Freelance writer & audio describer. www.jennielbourne.wordpress.com

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