Volunteering: Help Others And You Help Yourself

Writing

They say the best way to feel better about yourself is through helping others. And in no act is this more clear than that of  voluntary work.

‘Volunteering’ can refer to a smorgasboard of activities. Whether you simply take an old dear’s chihuahua out for a walk or wash the windows for your neighbour, the task at hand is not the focus, it is the act of simply doing something for someone else without the expectation of something in return from them. Yet, ironically what you do get in return surpasses any materialistic or monetary transaction tenfold over, doing something selflessly brings true merit.

*Studies have proven this to be true.

Towards the end of last year I found myself struggling with esteem in some areas of my life. This absence was, in effect, creating a presence of self-doubt and worthlessness. Deciding enough was enough I took action and sought to find a way to boost my self-esteem, I started looking for a charity to be a part of.

As much as each charity serves an important purpose, for me, children’s charities have resonated with me on a personal level. Everyone should have the right to an enjoyable childhood, as studies show,  a difficult childhood can manifest itself into a disastrous adulthood. So I think anyway to support children’s well-being and development is a great thing to do.

The charity I volunteer at in particular supports children with additional needs – autism, Down’s Syndrome for example. The charity creates a safe space for them to simply be children. We play sports and other activities which gives them 3 hours of fun and their parents some free time.

Although physically and emotionally tiring, the rewards of seeing them enjoy themselves and then find that I myself am smiling by the end of it is evidence of just how much I get from volunteering.

I would strongly suggest that if you ever feel down about yourself or even if you have a bit of spare time, perhaps give volunteering a go. You never know what it could give you in return.

What Do You Take For Granted?

Writing

I recently started volunteering at a charity for children with additional needs.  The charity provides free sports and activity sessions to give these children the opportunity to play and have fun as any child should have the right to do. 

 

Having only attended  a moderate number of session so far I can already feel that volunteering is making an impact on me. 

 

I come away from the sessions with so many feelings and questions. 

 

I asked myself on the train heading away from the venue this week – are the children trapped in their own little worlds, or have they escaped the chaos of mine?

 

They won’t experience the world in the way I do, but as my sister rightly said, they may be happy in their life. If born the way they are then they know no other way of living so how can they miss  or be annoyed at not having another way of living? A point I could not disagree with,

 

Volunteering is a humbling experience, I realise how much I may take for granted. If you can read what I’m writing right now then you are privileged as there are still 750 million illiterate adults across the world today. If you can understand these words in English then you are within 20% of the world’s population that can.

 

This is not me trying to play top trumps, I’m not saying that because you and I can read and another person cannot, this makes us better than them, not at all., I simply mean our ability to read is almost taken for granted, we think nothing of it to read signs and books, yet somewhere else in the world a person cannot do this. 

 

We live in a society of ‘I want more, more, more’, we always want more money, more friends, more holidays. And we forget to notice our most fundamental abilities, we take these privileges for granted: talking, listening, reading, writing. All taken for granted. 

 

Being a charity volunteer is a humbling experience, bringing with it an appreciation, a gratitude for many factors of my life which I may have ashamedly overlooked previous to this. Maybe our own lives would be alot happier if we focused on being thankful for the simple things instead of material things.  

Day Trip – Woburn Safari park

Writing

Zoos are pretty dichotomous places. Good for their conservation of an endangered breed yet bad  by preventing an animal from living in its natural habitat. Many more pros and cons come into play when determining whether there is a need for a zoo or not.

But I’ll keep that discussion in the pipeline, for today let me share with you the positives of the safari park situated just north of the capital in the quaint little English village of Woburn which means ‘crooked or twisted stream’ according to wikipedia, fun fact of the day:

So here we go,

Not soon into the safari park driveway and I capture the moment a Dwarf Forest Buffalo charges at one of the touring Cars! It’s always the cute ones you have to look out for!

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Which was a surprise as I expected this hench guy  to have a go instead:

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Things seemed to settle down as we passed the grazing herbivores, which seem more adept to roaming the great plains of the African Savannah than the cud of England’s countryside but anyhow.

Here’s a giraffe licking a fence behind the blur of my Dad’s cheek:

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Elephants make an appearance ofcourse on the safari (is the front one male ;p):

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And a few Zebra minding their own business make themselves familiar too:

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Once the boring animals, I mean grazing animals were out of the way it was times for the moment we all go to Safari’s for, the predators! Behind this cage awaits some of the world’s most deadliest species!

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First up the wolves and the Black Bears, both in the same enclosure I may add:

 

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Then it was the tiger, sorry I’ve no photos of it, it was lying down at the furthest point from the road! I don’t blame it!

The Lions weren’t as shy though:

 

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My heart was pounding out of my chest thinking of the following happening:

(credits – Joshua Sutherland)

And with that I think we’ll end this predatory chapter and open one with our friendly cousins the monkeys and Lemurs:

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Look at the little baby on her back! Aw happy families, how adorable!

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Such a poignant moment caught on camera, in some way it symbolises the intrusive behaviour us humans have had towards the planet’s wildlife.

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They were protecting their baby.

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Black and white ruffed lemurs and ring tailed lemurs were next:

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Next a horny goat:

 

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Leave her alone! She’s too young for kids!

This one was cute though:

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Now for the mini dinosaurs aka the birds:

First we have a tiny owl I forgot which breed sorry, look how small it is:

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Next we have two cocks having a stand off, nothing new here:

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Now a rather nimble little creature, quite prehistoric in it’s movements I must say:

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And finally I captured an owl within it’s enclosure, it makes me feel a bit of a mixture of emotions to be honest, not sure they’re all good:

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Overall I feel the park deserves a visit, I think zoos and safari parks are important for conservation and education, do I think we need as many? That’s a different question and ultimately, no.

To check out Woburn Safari Park click here.

 

(cc) Photos taken by Natasha Moore & Claudia Rose Moore

Poem: Ocean

Writing

The ocean hugs the shoreline like a mother does her child.

Waves crash against the coastline as the stars above collide.

A million lightyears away, do planets exist like mine?

Why does it matter anyway? For it’s Earth where I reside. 

 

The sunlit sands so soft to touch, as Mr Sunshine beams his smile,

The scent of salty seaweed, inhaled deeply with passing time.

Do you think that we were made by the world, or was this world made by you and I?

A question left unanswered, do you care to give it a try?

 

The ocean hugs the shoreline like a mother does her child.

Waves crash against the coastline as the stars above collide.

I watch as animals lose their lives, bodies wash upon the shore tonight.

Pollution- a major cause of their mortality, it’s peculiar how noone sees without light. 

 

*We need to do more to protect our planet. At this moment in time mankind cannot migrate to Mars or another planet. Even if we could, is it really acceptable to leave damage and destruction in our wake? 

 

Poem: Planet Earth

Writing

What is this planet we call home?

 

Crying tears of salt water,

Which hugs the coastlines days later.

Spouting rivers of lava,

Meandering from vast volcanic craters.

Motions of oceans,

You see land, you feel safer.

Deserted deserts.

Here thirst does not waver.

Hosting the coldest of climates

Where chances of death become greater.

This planet we call home,

The home of Mother Nature.

Sexual Assault – Should We Be Allowed To Carry Weapons?

Writing

The air is frosty, I’m wearing open-toed heels as I briskly walk towards the direction of my house, it’s the small hours of Sunday morning, and a few seconds earlier I was saying bye to my friends at the bar. I only live 15 minutes away, heels are hard to walk in I tell myself, but, like a newborn lamb I’m determined to put a spring in my step and scurry home as fast as I can.

The darkened narrow road is lit only by the soft amber hues of the lampposts. I’m only ten minutes away now I tell myself. I try to walk with confidence, noone will approach me if I walk with conviction, I thought. I turn the corner of my road, now only minutes away and I hear a branch snap behind me, refusing to turn around out of fear of not wanting to see what was there, I pick up my pace and head straight for my door, as I put the key into the lock, I hear footsteps behind me……

 

This narrative is becoming concerningly more common each year, the number of rapes recorded by police has increased by 40% in the last 4 years. Relating this to the reminder that it is illegal to be in possession of a weapon here in the UK without good reason. It has me wondering where is the legal system going wrong? Is it the victim who should be restricted by the law or the assaulter to take advantage of it? By being in possession of a weapon I  by no means condone the use of a knife or gun, but what permanent damage can really be done by pepper spray? Temporary blindness vs the loss of someone’s esteem, or worse, their life. The possession of mace or pepper spray is illegal in the UK. So what can I use to defend myself? Wear a longer skirt?

 

Women are not the only victims of sexual assault, men are too. Infact it has been reported that men are more likely to be raped than to be falsely accused of rape.

 

With the statistics on sexual assault rising:

 

How can you defend yourself?

 

A Rape Alarm – these can be broken in a heartbeat, one stomp and it’s crushed. Besides, it’s hardly going to help me down a dimly lit alleyway with nobody around.

 

Or how about some ‘criminal identifier self-defense’ spray, what would you prefer maroon or rouge? I understand the premise if this, mocking pepper spray it could act as a deterrent and identifier of the attacker days later with it’s stain but at the same time I don’t have the biggest faith in it.

 

Yes, you could say just go to some martial arts classes, and that thought has crossed my mind, but then again you could be the next karate kid and be absolutely floored by the sheer weight of your attacker if caught offguard. Overall I have faith in the reliability of martial arts as a mechanism for self defense, but I just don’t think martial arts or self defense classes should be the only option I could rely on.

 

You could argue that if you were allowed to carry a weapon to defend yourself with there’s nothing to say the attacker couldn’t overpower you, turning the tables and use it against you. This is a fair point.

 

I’m not asking for a taser gun, knife or gun, just for the legalisation of pepper spray or its equivalent as a fast action measure to temporarily stun the person attacking me so I can at least get a few seconds to run away. As it stands, I hate the idea of leaving places late at night, I’m not paranoid, but if  am then I blame the news for constantly shoving statistics of assault down our throats.

 

I must clarify that I don’t encourage or endorse the use of weapons, I merely want to raise some thoughts on self defense with regards to sexual assault.

 

If you have been sexually abused, do not suffer in silence. Some supportive sources in the UK are:

 

Prepare To See A Camel Race!

Writing

Standing in a field in the blustering weather on a Monday afternoon in Northaw, you’d forgive me for doing a double take at the sight of a bright-eyed, beige- bodied spitting camel come hurtling down the hill, with the jockey in tow gripping onto the camel’s moulting mound for dear life. Yes, cheltenham eat your heart out, for camels are fast becoming the new stallions of the racing world.

Whether you’re a betting man or not, you can’t resist the urge to stick your hand  into your pocket to help a good cause, of which today’s was raising funds for the Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulances. And I guess there’s no better ways to raise funds than to put on a good race. Boy were we in for a treat, from shetland ponies to hunting hounds, it seemed like every animal in the ark had its chance at being the next Usain Bolt of the animal kingdom. It’s safe to say the day did not disappoint.

Shetland pony racing

Adorable! As you can see tiny children jockeyed the mini horses, put even a toothpicked adult on the little things backs and you’ve damned them to a life of osteoporosis.

Look at their little legs go! Aren’t they adorable!

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Hound Racing:

Letting their natural instincts shine through, barking with excitement, prancing back and forth at the starting line, these rowdy canines put on quite the show for the spectators. With the only bait to the finish line being their overly loud whistle-blowing owner you can see why it was no surprise that all of the mutts enthusiastic activity was for nothing for as soon as the race  started 3 of the 6 hunting hounds ran in the opposite direction to the finish line while one stopped to take a wee and two just trotted to the finish line with ease. Poor owner. 😦

**Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the dogs. 😦  I’m a bad person.

Pony racing

Slightly larger than their Shetland cousins but still just as cute, these miniature maestros certainly moved round that track in a motion rivaling any stallion at the Grand National (ok maybe not). But still, to have children riding these little beasts made me think 1) I need to call NSPCC for someone’s parents doesn’t love them, putting the on a horse moving at the speed of light.  2) Give this kid a medal of honor for having the courage to even get on the rambunctious things nevermind race them!

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Camel Racing

But obviously the two-toed mountains of sandy fluff were all of our favourites. It was a bit of a chaotic start for the camel race in all fairness. One camel ran the opposite way as soon as the starting whistle was sounded. So 3 /4 were the automatically in the race for 1st place, then with a sudden turn of events,a jockey falls off her camel (in green shirt below)! The fall looked bad but gladly the lady was fine. Then the camel set to win the race only goes and does a complete u-turn just before the finishing line after galloping down the track like a pro. And as a result  quite literally hands over victory to the other lazy one who I swear stopped to chew grass halfway down the racing track. Sad times! Although I doubt the camels really cared!

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(Please bite his finger hehe)

 

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This one looked  as if it’d seen some things.

 

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What animals would you love to see race?

How To Feel Better About Yourself

Writing

To help yourself – help others.

Today as part of the company charity day I helped out at Brixton Soup Kitchen, a service providing hot meals and clothing to those in need, including homeless people and people suffering with mental health issues. Of course my interest was to help those in need but strangely enough I found that by the end of the day of making pasta bake and repainting the walls of their open space areas, I found I was the one feeling better off – about myself by helping out others.

 

I would definitely say if you’re struggling with low self-esteem or motivation then even if you can’t bring yourself to do something for you, start by doing small things for others, you’ll soon begin to gain a sense of responsibility and esteem to a point where you can start to do you things for you. It’s annoying but I find that’s the case sometimes, where I’m more willing to stick my head in the fire for somebody else over myself which I guess is both good and bad depending on the circumstance. But I think the bottom line is even if you help out at a charity with the intended internal goal of helping yourself you shouldn’t feel selfish about this. Heck, I’d rather be ‘selfish’ doing something for charity than being selfish  in other ways, wouldn’t you?

 

It’s interesting because from the choices of charity I could have decided to work with today, I initially chose the ‘wildcard’ which was pretty much a lucky dip. Only late last week after the closing date of signing up to a charity did I come to find out that this wildcard option was only feasible for employees in the United States 😦 So it was by chance that a space was still available at the soup kitchen here in London.

 

It was a humbling experience, learning through others’ anecdotes was eye opening, one which hit home was  that you may have it all today and lose it all tomorrow. Suddenly this concept seemed alot more real coming from the mouth of someone wolfing down the pasta bake I made an hour previous. I learned that we should all be a  little more thankful for the jobs we moan about on a daily basis, for without them we would not have a roof over our head or food on our plates. Infact the main leader today gave that exact story of a man who was doing what I was doing today, lending a hand to only find that the tables would turn and that  he himself would be needing their assistant a few years down the line. Not to be negative but I guess you never really know what’s round the corner. I also noticed that you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover, some people who walked through the door looked dare I say it well put together, but obviously don’t let appearance fool you, the reason they are in need obviously isn’t clear to the eye. It’s hard not to judge, infact I believe it’s pretty much impossible, isn’t it natural for us to make decisions and rationalise based on our observations? But I guess, don’t be too quick to assume is better phrasing.

 

All I can say from today is maybe instead of beating yourself up about making a mistake or moping about in the house, do one nice thing for someone like help them with their shopping or simply hold the door out, or take it a step further and volunteer at an organisation of your choosing, you may just find that you get more out of it than you thought you would.

Tough Mudder – S.O.S

Writing

For any naive soul out there who doesn’t know what ‘Tough Mudder’ is exactly, I suggest you keep it that way. For it seems to be the hybrid spawn of Satan and someone your mother dearest just isn’t too fond of. In other words – it’s going to be hell. And guess who just signed themselves up for a first class pass straight through its gates!

But before I get too over the top let me take a step back and explain what I’ve let myself in for. Not dissimilar to your casual Sunday walk in the park, I’ve just went ahead and signed myself up for a 5 mile f*cking track around a farm in the middle of nowhere. Inbetween this mammoth jog there just so happens to be 13 obstacles slowing me even further down from the finish line. If names are anything to go by then what would you take from obstacles that go by: ‘birth canal’ , ‘the human pyramid’  and my personal favourite ‘skidmarked’? My ass cheeks are clenching at just the thought of this (because of nerves about the race not because of the last obstacle)! Anyway, because I’m a big wimp, this race type isn’t even as bad as it could’ve got, I should’ve really treated myself and went all out with a 10 mile and 20 obstacle jaunt through pig sh*te. Boy have I missed out.

I’ve physically paid for this moment of insanity months ago and have been to the gym about 10 times max. The race line is nearing with less than 2 weeks to go. So I think the moral of the story is – I’m f*cked.

**I’m secretly really looking forward to the above, just having a friendly rant, Tough Mudder is fast growing in popularity and I can definitely see why. Certainly no spawn of Satan and more like the child of Christ! This event is as godly as they come. I can’t wait to see all of the Adonis’ squatting and lunging in some slippery mud. I just hope there’s room for one more in that tight trench!

A great event for charity and team building, I highly recommend giving it a go or an event similar. You may sprain an Achilles but atleast you’ll feel like Hercules doing so.

**BTW they don’t sponsor me to promote them in any way (but can if they’d really like to).

Other events similar to Tough Mudder include:

 

My kind of Races, pit stops of Red wine and doughnuts:

 

Come on warriors take on Tough Mudder!

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