Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Simply Spreading Smiles.

I came across a website recently which, in short, aims to increase happiness all around the world.

It might seem obvious but doing little acts of kindness as often as possible can really change someones mood, day, week or possibly something on a grander scale if you let it.
This website aims to bring together a group of people who are determined to start ridding the world of a bit of the rubbish that seems to be ever growing. The little time I've spent on the site has shown me that it could have the potential to become a real community. All the members having the same aim but achieving it in a huge array of different and interesting ways.

The bare bones of the idea - whenever you are involved in an activity that is kind, selfless or simply made someone other than yourself smile, you write about it and post it on the community page so that others can get the warm fuzzies by reading it or potentially get inspiration for their own acts of kindness.

This month (starting today - sorry this is a bit late) there is a campaign called the "21-day challenge" in which every person that signs up performs an act of kindness everyday from Sept 11th. When you do sign up the site will email you every day with an idea/action that all involved will try to complete however if you aren't able to then just do whatever you can that is kind.

Everything about this web page makes me happy and the fact that it is because it makes others happy is just brilliant. They even have a scheme called "pay-it-forward" - whenever the act of kindness is completed you pass on a Smile card (provided by the site) so that others will continue a chain of making others happy.

If like me you think this is all kinds of amazing then simply head on over to Kind Spring now and take a look around, maybe sign up to the 21-day challenge.


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

My Madeira Experience.

I have just returned back to the UK after 2 weeks in Madeira accompanied by my family, that’s mum, dad and older sister. We left at an inordinately early time on Monday 12th and I had my reservations about the whole trip. Now before I sound like an unappreciative dick, I was excited to get away of course. I was apprehensive about not being able to make the most of it and my family ending up being disappointed with my reactions to the trip. In all honesty I‘m not convinced I was able to take full advantage of the experience. This post however is not going to consist of me moaning about how hard it was to be away, it wasn't. On an entirely selfish level it’s by far the most beneficial thing I've done in a very long time.

I admit that yes I have been wallowing in a self-loathing pit of melancholy for some time and it has come to a point where I realise the only thing that can, and fingers crossed will change that is me.
This vacation was I feel the first step in the right direction. I can’t begin to explain how important it is to have time spent away from work (that isn't awful but is by under no illusions brilliant) and to be almost permanently surrounded by positivity for two weeks.

For those that are unaware Madeira is a small Portuguese Island north of Tenerife (or so I’m told by Wikipedia) near South Africa. The weather there is pretty constant all year round and luckily for us that tends to mean warm and clear. Contrary to my normal habits of staying inside in the season of summer, I do enjoy sunshine - it’s just an unfortunate turn of events involving rubbish genes that have led my body to hate it. That being said the holiday was incredible even being - quote from the holiday  -“covered in sunshine”.

I held a parrot, an owl, stroked an iguana and a snake (minds out of the gutter please), went to the city, did traditional dance, ate and drank till I felt sick and went down a road (still used by cars) in what was effectively a basket. One of the most memorable occurrences though would have to be a particular song that the hotel decided to play during aqua aerobics. The aqua aerobics was done every day and led by one of the entertainment staff named Wayne. He smelled like gloriousness and had the body of someone that could very well turn up in the kind of dream that shouldn't be shared in public but that is a tangent for another occasion. I shall now link you to said song – The majority of the hotels stayers were either French or German and so the lyrics weren't necessarily considered, however as you can imagine we found it hilarious.

In the end the two weeks were relaxing and quiet and just perfect. I would definitely encourage anyone wanting a picturesque, break from everything sort of holiday to go to Madeira.  

Here is said basket that you travel down roads in. No there are not wheels and yes the "breaks" are the shoes of the two men pushing it.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Knowing when to get help.

So it's time for a bit of a chat. Sit down and grab a cup of tea... or coffee which ever you prefer just make sure you bring some biscuits. Chocolate digestives.

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about when you're feeling a bit under the weather. By that I mean you feel utterly crappy and have no idea why or what to do about it.
My entire life I've been a fairly laid back person, direct quote from my mother "If you were any more laid back you'd be comatose". Thanks mum, but you get the idea. The point here however is that I don't know when that changed, all I know is that it did, and not in a good way.

I felt the need to give this a mention because it seems I'm not the only one. Obviously I was aware that this was a big issue for many people, but when you yourself are in that situation, it all becomes a bit more real. As self-centered as that may sound I think we all know it's sadly true.
I've been at uni for the past 3 years and all I've ever heard people say is how it was the best time of their lives. Don't get me wrong here, I loved a lot of it, the people I met I won't ever forget and there were plenty of times that I felt 100% happy that I was there. It was towards the middle of second year that I started to notice I was changing as a person. I wasn't happy a lot of the time, I was irritable and anti-social.
But it finally to the forefront of my awareness when I was writing out my new years resolutions this year (towards the end of my final year as a student). I put my pen down and started to read through them all, then I got stuck on one and just kept re-reading it over and over.

"Be happy".

I was genuinely telling myself to try to be happy. How had I become a person that felt the need to do that? I can honestly say that I haven't once before in my whole 21 years of existence had to force happiness upon myself. It was always just sort of there.
I would always make the most of the situations I was in, I got to a point in my life just before uni where I felt fairly confident (I've never had great self-esteem). Then it was just .... gone.

It's hard to put into words really. Looking back over the past, say, 7 months I realised that I had become the type of person that I really didn't like. I didn't want to see people, god forbid I'd actually have to meet new people. I've never been amazing with new people, always nervous, not sure what to say, but that's all pretty normal. This time though I detested even the thought of it, was scared, but also just couldn't be bothered with it all. Everything felt like too much effort. Uni work, job, friends, everything.

Going from being someone that's known for being "bubbly" to, well a recluse that is perpetually pissed off isn't all that much fun.
I'd been struggling with motivation and physical exhaustion for a long while and although the doctors gave me iron for being anemic, not much changed. Unfortunately I think this played a huge role in my mental state. When you are so tired you can't physically focus your eyes on anything, you don't necessarily feel up to getting yourself out of that bad place you've comfortably curled up and settled in.

So this is my story. I hope to go and find help as therapy was suggested to me as a possible aid.

The reason I shared this with anyone that happens to read this post is so we can bridge that gap. Realise that mental health is a genuine issue for many people. If more people talk about their experiences and less people judge, perhaps these problems would lessen. Individuals won't feel embarrassed about talking about feelings and maybe suggest they want to talk to a professional. It's what they're there for after all.
Hey, if acceptance was a more common personality trait I'm almost certain the number of young people and even older with depression and issues with self-harm and even substance abuse issues would decrease exponentially.

Yes there will be those people in your life that don't understand, but understanding and accepting are two very different concepts. If there are those that can't accept (and yes I have them too) then perhaps talk less to them about it. But most importantly please, please don't let someone make you feel guilty or wrong for feeling the way you do. Just because another person says to you "Why can't you just be happy?" "What have you got to  be depressed about?" it doesn't make you wrong. Calmly explain you are going to get help and that should be enough.
I don't think I can say it better than Stephen Chbosky in The Perks of Being a Wallflower - "And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have.” Remember it's fine and, to be honest pretty normal to feel  a bit shitty, no matter how "good" your life may seem to onlookers. Along with that my other favourite quote that perfectly describes how I personally felt and still feel - "And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.”. Being sad, or happy for that matter is not a permanent state. It will change. One minute someone is laughing with friends, the next they are right back down at the bottom. If you can relate to any of this stuff please go and read this book. Like right now.

So I want to end with a little phrase that I'd like to think if more people agreed with it would make this whole discussion a lot easier. So say it with me - "We aren't mad, we might just need a bit of help sometimes and that's okay"
Because it is. If you need it, it's there, go find it, it could be a parent, a friend, a professional, a teacher or even someone on the internet that wrote a rambling blog post about her uninteresting life (jokes aside, my coments/email/twitter/tumblr are all there for you to click the hell out of).
Just trust and I promise it'll work out, for all of us.

>Side note I will write a slightly less emotional filled post about uni. Don't go and rip up your UCAS applications just yet<

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

So I saw Iron Man 3...

Most people will have noticed the hype and utter craze surrounding the release of the third installment of the Iron Man story so I went along to give it a watch.

Being a massive Marvel fan (sorry DC you’re cool but my heart belongs to them) I knew I had to go and see this film, however I was a little dubious at first, this was mainly due to the film #2, which in my mind left a lot to be desired. This was probably because of the villain and lack of story, but I’m not one to be put off easily. For those of you that haven’t seen Iron Man 2 (and evidently live under a rock) the villain was Whiplash, who had basically no back story so was a bit confusing and had pretty shitty powers. This was joined by the compromising of Tony Stark’s character because of the way he was shown in his relationship with Pepper. I personally (remember it's an opinion) just think that in film #2 Tony wouldn't have been the sort of boyfriend they portrayed him as so that his cheeky character and lack of any ability to show emotion was over looked. Simply to get gushy romance stuff involved, and who wants that in a superhero film!? Don’t misunderstand me here, I love Pepper, she is awesome, strong (like seriously I want to be her, she's ma fave) and when their “ship” name is Pepperony, a pizza topping, it must be love. My issues with the Iron Man franchise was pretty much fully rectified in Avengers Assemble where Tony was as bad ass and sassy as ever also his interacting with other characters was more what I imagined him to be like. They even managed to include Pepper and it not be disgusting, romances should not be the main focus of a superhero film.

 The story line in #3 was amazing right from the start, it begins back in Tony’s playboy days and shows how perhaps being an utter man whore might come back to bite you in the ass (and not in the good way)! Without giving spoilers away the bad guy, The Mandarin, threatens the life of Tony but now his weakness is showing, the one woman that could make him succumb to a socially acceptable relationship, Pepper. Needless to say Tony isn't best pleased about this and ends up having to run off and save the world, as per.
The villain in this piece is an old Chinese man that seems hell bent on destroying America for its lack of morality. He makes a brilliant bad guy obviously to make up for the crappy last one, he’s creepy, powerful, pretty psychotic and has a twist to his character (little hint for you there oooh).

There’s a lot more complexity in Tony stark’s character too, his relationship with Pepper plays a large role (but not so big that it ends up being a mushy mess that makes you want to vom all over their faces) but he is also thrown into unknown territory where he needs to learn to go back to basics and trust a rather unlikely ally (another little taster). It had everything, with the added bonus of the typical Marvel humour which is always appreciated... oh and of course the appearance of Stan Lee.

What made this film so great was its ability to draw you in with huge, climactic action sequences but evened out with a deeper more substantial story that keeps your attention. Many films don’t manage to get an equal mix of both these things, it’s no easy feat.
Over all the film was pretty powerful, fun and had a fucking awesome soundtrack, well done Marvel! This film is perfect for all levels of superhero fan, even if you don’t consider yourself a fan at all, it’s comedy, fantasy, action, slight romance anything you could want in a film. If you haven’t seen it yet I urge you all to do so, now ... like right now!

Oh and don’t forget to hang about until the scene after the credits, especially if you enjoyed Avengers Assemble (and one more ooooh eeer).
There you have it, my views on Iron Man 3 ... it was freaking epic.

Monday, 22 April 2013

I went shopping.

So I spent my day in Bristol with Sophie (my "might as well be" wife but actual housemate) and this trip was no different to any other time I try to shop, it never quite turns out right.

I will go with a list of the exact things I need to buy and convince myself I won't spend money on anything other then that.... Yeah well that doesn't happen.
All I wanted today was a cardigan, deodorant, conditioner and a Yankee candle because I've wanted one for ages and have never got round to purchasing one. I'm not normally one for candles and smelly things but these are so pretty, smell like heaven and come in super cute glass bottles and I need on in my life.... preferably the vanilla cupcake one.

So what did I come away with? Well a cardigan, go me, and also £30 worth of other clothes from Primark and two new books (which you will hear all about!).
Good job. Let me walk you through some of them:

  Perks of Being a Wallflower. Which I'm currently reading, and thought I'd try after watching the film.

 Throne of Glass. This one was suggested to me by Sophie and looks super awesome.

 A pretty dress from Primark, hey look at that I'm actually a girl!

A Playsuit - I thought it would be fab for my holiday this summer!

 T-shirt because who doesn't love Toy Story and Disney in general, no one that's who.... but wait it gets even more awesome just look at the back! >

I also bought a Shakeaway and some dinner at Frankie & Benny's. Now don't get me wrong I very much enjoyed the bacon/cheese chips and most importantly the whipped cream, oh and am in love with my new clothes but I really need to learn to control myself. Honestly, any one that knows me at all will agree that my will power is the lowest of basically every one ever in the history of people.

If anyone knows of  a way to control myself that would be great, my bank balance hates me and I'm a poor student so I am just going to go to a corner and crawl into my ball of shame.

Bye x

Thursday, 11 April 2013

What is beautiful?

So recently I've been thinking about self-confidence and decided that I'd write a blog post about it so here we go.

I am one of those girls (and yes boys do this too) that has tried to change myself in many, many ways, that ends up annoyed every shopping trip because the clothes I see on other people and love look out of place and just pure awful on me and will continue to notice the negatives about myself rather than the positives.
When people are constantly comparing themselves to those around them it becomes dangerous and ends up completely encompassing every thought. It is clear that no one is alone in this, it is a huge issue among young women and men and I'd love to say that changing society's view on what is seen as beautiful can help all of these people and begin the elimination of certain features being so important, I don't know that it will. It doesn't seem to work that way, it doesn't matter whether bigger women are seen on television and occasionally throughout magazines the majority will continue to be skinny, tall girls that have also been photo shopped to be pretty much unrecognisable. As long as the use of natural women is considered a big deal and something that is applauded and seen as taking a stand it will never be accepted as normal and considered what is common place.

So in a way what this rant is all about is that until it is widely known that just because you say you're willing to see a certain body type or physical feature as attractive (whether it be weight, how big your boobs/arse are, tall or short) well that to me just states the fact that if you feel the need to make it an important factor then you might not be as okay with it as you think.

I just wanted to give my opinion on this as I myself have had and certainly still have issues with the way I look, and it is just that, an opinion I understand that others will disagree. I also want to say that if you like/are the model type and society's view of beautiful then that is great and you are just as beautiful as other people. This post is not about bashing models and saying that they are wrong to want to look that way it's more a case of trying to appreciate that it's pointless to compare yourself to every other person you see because as humans we are all individual and different.
And trust me I know everyone has heard this before and it won't change a thing, hell I'm the one writing it and I don't practice what I preach .... but I can hope that perhaps it can help open some eyes.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 15 March 2013

The curse of indecision and fear of growing up.

So this is going to be personal, a little fluffy and moochy but hey that’s what blogs are for right?
I've always been one to change my mind and be somewhat fickle when it comes to passions, interests and more relevant to this post... career choices. There’s the urge to continue focusing on the subject I've been involved with for the past 3 years fighting with the urge to follow a different path after finding enjoyment in more creative ventures.
It would be a lie to say I am 100% pleased with the decision to go to university but a degree will no doubt be a useful attribute to have on a CV when eventually trying to find a job in a few months time. The last 6 months to a year though have at one time or another led to me feeling the lowest I've ever felt before and that has been the major contribution to thinking that perhaps I need to search alternative options and not just purely science careers. Not only that but it has confirmed that I definitely will not be doing full time education again ... ever.

The worst bit is that there isn’t even one thing I could point out that has fuelled this feeling of self-doubt and uncertainty, all I can hope is that whatever comes from it will be positive.
Struggling with final year seems to be a resonating emotion through many students, heaps of assignments with the added pressure of career choices, not to mention trying to have a resemblance of a social life!!
As previously mentioned I want to take this crappy heap of bad juju that I get from being in the uni situation and try as hard as I can to make it good. Whether that be relighting an interest in science or moving on to something utterly different it has given me the realisation that I’m young and as much as people have told me to go to uni and choose a career I have so much time to try things, none have to be permanent. How can people expect us to decide life decisions at such a young age and think we’ll still have the same passions and values a few years down the line? Everyone changes hugely between the ages of 17 (the age most of us feel we need to have a solid plan mapped out) and 21 (the age we actually will likely head into our first jobs) so I say why not have the opportunity to sample jobs?
Added to this is the push to go to university, there are so many options particularly now the prices have risen so much. There is far too much pressure to go and do further education after college and I feel for me if there had been other choices shown to me and had I been told that these are also okay then perhaps I wouldn't have chosen to continue to degree level. But that's not to say that university isn't good, for some people it's ideal and that's also great, this is simply my opinion from my experience here.

Having anaemia has meant the last year I have been constantly drained of energy and void of any kind of motivation, which kind of made me a little depressed and I found I was moody, snappy and becoming someone that I really didn't like very much. Now I’m going to work on getting that under wraps and get back to actually enjoying my hobbies and hopefully that will aid in my career hunt, focusing on me, earning some money, getting my own place and being happy in who I am and what I’m doing.
Writing all this out has helped to visualise the changes I want to make, perhaps not the easiest thing to do while I’m still at uni but that’ll end soon and I might as well do what I can now.
Also the thing I've really taken from all this, that I want to voice to anyone in the same position, is that life is always changing and if you want to stop what you’re doing and try something new, that’s fine you don’t have to be defined by one thing. Variety is awesome.

So I may grow older but, like Peter Pan himself, I refuse to grow up, in his playing pretend he gets to experience being so many different characters, and so that is my plan.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Everyone should listen to this.

This is a song called "Hold on Till May" by a band that I've recently started listening to, Pierce The Veil.
I listened to them after they were suggested to me by someone. They're post-hardcore punk with fast paced, ear shatteringly loud screams teamed with slow and weep worthy soft notes, well to be honest they're all kinds of crazy awesome.

This song, this version in particular really stick out to me (it's actually the first version I heard) because the original album version isn't Jenna McDougall (lead singer of Tonight Alive) tackling the female part, however after a comparison I think Jenna's soft melodic voice blends so perfectly, if not better with Vic's (lead singer of PTV) and when they harmonise at the end I get chills.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Having an extremely appreciative moment for Del Amitri.

This band are my favourite of all time, I want to share their music and spread the talent that resonates through their musicality and the lyrical ability coming from Justin Currie is without doubt on par with the best of all time.
They were dropped by their label in the early 90's.
So here's to a band releasing before their time, because let's be honest any record label would chop of every single limb to sign this lot nowadays.
You're welcome.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Funeral For a Friend (No this isn't about the loss of a loved one)

Let me start by saying, I honestly don't know much of FFAF stuff, other then they sound pretty awesome. My housemate is a much bigger fan however and so when she found tickets for 15 quid, well it only seemed sensible to go.

We went to Bristol earlier in the day to pick up the tickets and spend a bit of time in town looking round the shops, which I later regretted after purchasing clothing and having to take it to the gig with me! Thank god for cloakrooms.
TANGENTS... sorry.
The gig was at The Fleece in Bristol, how to describe the venue.....
It was down some rather dank, dubious looking back streets, and when we first arrived they were still setting up and building the stage! The best word to describe it would be a dark, secluded pub with all the tables and chairs removed and a small stage stuck in one end.... lots of black.
It was perfect.

If you get the chance to go, DO IT. It's small, intimate and once it all gets going it has the most consuming atmosphere, you can't get away from the surge of energy coming from every corner of the small room.
Lastly with the venue I want to mention something that I feel can't and shouldn't be ignored .... the toilets. It's a common problem at many venues that the facilities are, for lack of a better word, shit.
However there was no such issues here, they were clean, well kept, never full beyond capacity (with people, not any other nastiness. Cheeky!) and most importantly there was never that soul destroying moment when you reach to the side to find nothing but the bare bones of the cardboard tube left in the holder. You all know the one. Toilet roll always present? Check.

To the performances themselves, there were three support acts, I Divide, Major League and Such Gold (in that order). The first act were clearly fairly new and lesser known, but that didn't hinder them showing they had some real talent. They got the crowd joining in with their bouncy rock songs, even though attendance was still pretty slim at this point.
Major League had to be my favourite of the three, mainly due to the emotion and passion radiating from lead singer, Nick Trask. His voice which fitted perfectly with the pop punk style of their music, and they really whipped the crowd up so the room was much more energised in preparation for FFAF.
Lastly New Yorkers - Such Gold, undeniably the vocal ability and rock power was there throughout the whole band. They did however give out an air of disappointment at the crowd size and enthusiasm, which was warranted to a degree. At this point the crowd had lulled slightly in expectation for FFAF, and the band noticed it but perhaps went about bringing us back the wrong way....

Aaaaand then it was time for Funeral For a Friend, who literally exploded onto the stage, no need for big effects and pyros the band themselves exuded a  raw appetite for the stage. They broke the quiet that had somewhat washed over the crowd whilst waiting for the stage to be set up with the aggressive vocals of Matthew Davies-Kreye. The hard-core rock and bass pumped through everyone in the venue and could be felt in the bones.
My favourite bit of the whole night though, without a doubt was bassist Richard Boucher who throughout the entirety of the show was possibly the most intense musician I have ever had the pleasure to watch. Just looking at him you feel a part of the music and like he's pushing his soul out through the guitar in his hands. He feels what he's playing and it radiates out of him, particularly in his stare which loomed over the crowd with a power that made everyone need to throw themselves into the music.... and each other.
Oh yeah and he stage dived ... that was pretty cool. Mainly the staring thing though.

That's a brief over view of the show, hopefully once the set list goes up I'll post a review on The Harmonic Series. However if not, enjoy this one and head on over to the site anyway and read about all the awesome rock music that's going down at the moment.
I'll also be posting an interview with The Tower and The Fool on the 10th so keep an eye out for that.

Bye! x

Saturday, 19 January 2013

I survived a gym class!

Yes I'm shocked too.

However I have signed up to a gym and went to a zumba class. It was actually really fun, I managed to do most of it, even if I was out of time and looked like a walrus trying to do yoga. I am so uncoordinated and assumed I would be the arse end of rubbish at zumba, which for those that don't know, is a mixture of dancing and aerobics I guess.

The dancing aspect is really and genuinely enjoyable, it's energetic and addictive. The toning side of it was where I struggled a bit more, the lungey and weighty stuff was the kind of thing where you can actually feel it working, and stretching muscles that to be honest I had forgotten I had and have probably withered into nought but a snail sized mush.

Anywho the point of this was to say that if anyone was considering trying Zumba or another gym class. Go for it. I genuinely can't wait for next week to go again.

Here's to, for the first time in too long to mention, having a summer ready body. Good times.

Byee x