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.  

Poem: Home

Writing

Where is ‘home’?

Is home my little brick house by the sea, corroded by gale gusts and seagulls?

Is home the place in my mind, that place noone else can see of?

Does my heart lead me home, where my parents still reside?

Or if migrated, is it instead the place where I first began life?

Tell me –  ‘home’?

Is it just a little place that we dream of?

 

What if I said that I had no ‘home’?

Would this be a joy or tragedy?

A nomad has no set land of their own.

So does this mean that they must live life tragically?

 

Why do we feel the need to call a certain location a ‘home’?

For a sense of security, comfort and shelter?

If we were to all lose our homes tomorrow,

Would it be for the worse or for the better?

 

 

 

 

Poem: Stress

Writing

An advantage or a hindrance?

The Goldilocks analogy, 

Too much – and you can’t handle it.

Too little – and you’re indifferent.

 

Your blood, now laced with cortisol,

Your mind is always racing,

Synapses twitch like rabbits nostrils,

Your patience is fast erasing.

 

What can you do to make it stop?

You internally ask yourself?

Yet there is nothing you can do,

No saviour, resolve or help

 

For stress is not the real enemy here,

Moreso the mind it occupies. 

Change your perspective of how stress appears.

Then perhaps you’ll have alot to realise.

Creative Constipation: Writing About Writer’s Block

Writing

Tell me I’m not the only one who suffers from creative constipation too?! For the whole of day today I’ve been struggling to write a word nevermind a sentence on my blog. Regardless of how hard I try and focus on what I want to write about, my mind keeps wandering off to the most random of places. Like ‘what’s that under my nail? Dirt, food or a hybrid of both (:( )? Or ‘look how sunny it is outside, why am I in here writing (or atleast trying to) about food under my nails like an absolute saddo?’ Yes, these are the kinds of thoughts which gallop through my mind on a daily basis. And with that I wouldn’t blame you if you never wanted to read any of my posts again.

 

But if you did, then you may on a fortunate yet infrequent occasion get  a rare glimpse into posts such as: ‘Veganism – Cult or Culture’s Best Move Yet, what is masculinity really and is being a sugar baby really that bad?’ Yes, all in the works, all saved for a rainy day when my mind doesn’t want to embark on a  journey into unchartered territory for an abnormally long period of time.

 

With writing resistance rife today, I decided to have a browse on a range of things online, notably tips and tricks to overcome writer’s block, I stumbled across the following, are you inclined to agree with them:

 

1. Go for a walk – because the best way to get sh*t done is to take lots of little steps in the opposite direction from it. *thumbs up

This one is a good one actually, physical activity is beneficial for bursting out of a rut and resetting the brain.

2. Make a routine – write at the same time each day/week, as creatures of habit this one could work. Yet noting we are also creatures of procrastination! Wait! I will not allow myself to be negative! I must be the kind of person who sees the silver lining even in a mushroom cloud!

3. Write with others – (The Guardian recommended this one) because there’s nothing better than not only letting yourself down but letting the whole team down as they cross their t’s and dot their i’s on their final drafts of the team written novel – ‘My Chamber of Secrets’, all while you’re scrambling to think of a name for your main protagonist. Thanks for this one!

4. Write absolute sh*te – otherwise known as ‘freewriting’ this is where you spend time spinning sh*t on a page in hope that it gets your creative juices flowing. I already write nonsense most of the time, why do I need a free writing session? Well, perhaps there is some merit in the madness as it turns out making a habit of  picking a prompt and writing about it under a time constraint does have its benefits. Deemed to be emotionally cleansing,  it declutters the mind and calms the emotions. It’s easy to get stressed out I’m sure if you’re writing to deadlines for an article submission or novel, so this method may actually work. It can also help you naturally find your own writing rhythm and voice. Also the fact that you do the exercise under time constraints means that you train yourself to be a better time manager which can not only help you in writing but in other areas of life also.

 

Well, hopefully one of the above sets you on your merry way of making the New York Times Bestseller list this year. Me, on the other hand? I think I need a few more attempts at randomly writing about mushrooms for 15 minutes straight before I give the bestseller list a go!

 

Stress: The Real SERIAL Killer

Writing

According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.

 

The link between mind and body is far deeper than we may have realised. You only have to listen to Ted’s Radio Hour episode entitled ‘Hardwired’ to come to the stark realisation that stress and how we respond to it plays profounding roles on the biology of our bodies, right down to the cellular level. From changing the number of white blood cells  (immunity) in the bloodstream to affecting important DNA systems, the onset of stress can be deemed beneficial in short bouts but staggeringly damaging if prolonged.

 

“People are disturbed not by a thing, but by their perception of a thing.” — Epictetus

 

I write about stress today as I recline on my couch with a cup of tea in my hand, I’m overcome with the sensation of a pain in my lower stomach I soon come to realise is the release of tension I’d been carrying around all day. My shoulders lower, my jaw relaxes. My body deals with stress by tensing up, perhaps yours does too. I doubt anyone enjoys these sensations despite people saying they flirt with fear for the ’kick’. Perhaps they do momentarily but I doubt they want that affair to become full-blown mariage! As my body begins to relax, my mind starts to wonder – why am I so stressed, what effect is this having on me?

 

The Cause

Stress can enter the arena of our lives from a range of areas. From both internal and external sources, be it our own thoughts, the relationships we have with others, and our work environment to name but a few.

With stress mounting from various locations, it begs the question, who’s duty is it to alleviate the stress? Society? Your loved ones? Yourself?

Not pointing fingers but to not tip toe around the point of how stress-inducing the workplace can be. With the study conducted by Mind, the mental health charity, showing that 1 in 3 of us find worklife either quite or very stressful, that workplace stress has lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts. We therefore can’t shy away from the problems with worklife structure.

As much as stress comes down to our own perception of it, our internal coping mechanism, I so too believe that certain (external) facilitators in reducing the levels of stress experienced in our environment should be implemented. Specifically in that of the workplace. Do you think the same?

Another reason I wanted to write this post was to share with you the benefits I felt when my workplace did just that. I work for a TV broadcasting company and to my surprise they arranged for a handful of fortunate individuals to gain a  dose of ‘puppy cuddling’ (paws for life). Chosen by signing up on a first come first serve basis I was so pleased when informed that I’d gotten a place. Losing 30 mins of my time from work meant the company and I both actually benefited. I went back to my desk with a buzz and was alot more productive for the remainder of the day.

 

As you can see below:

 

 

What does your workplace do to reduce stress levels in your life?

And the even bigger question – what do you do personally to reduce the stress in your life?

 

Fun Obscure Things To Do In London

Writing

When walking the dog just doesn’t cut the mustard why not try:

 

  1. Laughter Yoga

Pretend to be 5 years old again and you may end up laughing for a lifetime. From personal experience I would definitely recommend even the most hesitant of sceptics to give ‘walking on hot coals’ and talking gibberish to strangers a go atleast once. Studies have shown that laughter boosts the immune system. So  perhaps the secret for a happy healthier life isn’t eating your greens it’s smiling even when you think you can’t.

  1. Goat Walking

OK, so it’s not exactly in London but at just a stone’s throw away in Kent how could I say no? Look at their little hooves! With proof that animal interactions boost the feel good hormones in the body, it’s a no brainer. Go forth and have a little trot around with Billy the kid.

  1. Silent Disco Walking Tours

After seeing a bunch of people throwing rather odd shapes on the streets of Covent Garden a few weeks ago it sparked my curiosity as to what sorcery had bewitched them? Turns out they were on a silent disco escapade through London’s West End. Drowning their headphones were the iconic tracks of Les Misérables, The Lion King and much much more. If you want to get into theatre mode in prep of a show or just have a whale of a time give this a go. I really want to”!

  1. The Hunterian Museum

Not that I’m encouraging anyone to snap a quick pic of a pickled foetus anytime soon but if you look long enough at  the pruned sheep hearts and brined pig stomachs there are some fascinating feats of biology  preserved before your very eyes. Not for the faint hearted or ill-stomached (see what I did there) but for those of an inquisitive disposition. I’d recommend giving the museum a visit once it reopens in 2021 (I think I went in 2017). I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.

 

Booking the trip to London then, yeah?

The Struggle Of Trying To Eat Healthily

Writing

I would rather bite  my own tongue OFF than put another rice cracker with low fat margarine IN my mouth. You read that correctly, self-maiming seems like a healthier option as oppose to a life full of flavourless feeding habits.  I’m in no way against people being as healthy as they can be, I’m just somewhat reluctant to believe that I can summon myself to a life of carrot sticks and hummus.

Maybe I’m just not imaginative enough with my food choices, perhaps there are a million and one ways to make avocado and toast the reason you get up in the morning, but to me a fry up will forever be the way to my heart (quite literally)! I wouldn’t say I’m overly unhealthy, I indulge in the odd weekend takeaway, I have a biscuit with my cuppa, so where’s the harm in that?

Perhaps my downfall isn’t that I’m eating badly, it’s that I’m not eating enough of the good stuff. I wrote a post yesterday about how I feel tired alot and a big role to play in this is  mental well being, I also want to touch on a physical contributing factor to utter exhaustion – the nutritional value of our foods, or shall I say the lack of. It’s one thing eating enough but we also need to make sure we are getting enough nutrients.  That’s right a plate full of fried chicken, mash potatoes and gravy may actually lead us down a path of osteoporosis before we’re 30 if we’re not careful! So with that being said, where the f*ck can I get these damn nutrients from?!

5 of the most nutritious foods according to science at present (in no rank order, ain’t nobody got time for that):

  1. Salmon

All man may be created equally, but sadly the same cannot be said for all fish. When it comes to healthy oils salmon’s your knight in shining scales. With a dense packing of omega-3 fatty acids, you’ll be solving those crossword puzzles in seconds thanks to the beneficial effects these fatty acids have on brain functionality. Plus others here

  1. Garlic

I don’t care how pungent people find this clove, I f*cking love this stuff. So much so that I eat it raw each morning so that I get more personal space on public transport when commuting to work each morning. (joke). Truth be told, it packs a stench and alot of other mighty benefits also: studies have suggested that the smelly spice helps lower the risk heart disease and some cancers due to its sulphurous compounds. Coined the term ‘Russian Penicillin’, it’s antibacterial properties also help fend off skin conditions too. I’m a fan through and through.

  1. Potatoes

I’m not talking about chips, or mash made with 4 sticks of butter. I’m talking about the humble old potato with the SKINS ON (fibre for digestion and controlling blood glucose levels)! Packed with enough vitamin C to send off scurvy in a heartbeat, you can bet your bottom dollar that making a spud a staple on your plate and in your heart will serve you a world of good in the long run. They contain almost every nutrient you need, from magnesium and potassium to manganese and copper. These tuber treats are basically tasty periodic tables if you ask me.

  1. Seaweed

It’s about time a green veg made an appearance on my list but I’m not going for the predictable Kale or broccoli, which ofocurse are highly nutritious. Instead the weed of the sea gets a healthy high five from me. One of its notable beneficial compounds is its high levels of iodine. You may ask why is iodine important for the body?  Iodine is important for the body in making thyroid hormones. Our thyroid gland plays a major role in regulating many body functions through hormone release including metabolism, digestion and brain development. Specifically, for brain and bone development during pregnancy.

  1. Dark Chocolate

This list seems more bearable than I had anticipated, and no better way to top it off than with the topic of conversation being –  chocolate. But note, white or milk won’t give you the same effect as dark. This is because dark chocolate contains a higher concentration of cocoa solids than it’s milkier cousins (which contain milk solids in addition to cocoa solids thus diluting their concentrations down per bar). It’s in this original cocoa where all the nutrition is stored. One being ‘flavonoids’, very beneficial antioxidants to the body, they are naturally occurring plant pigments and can also help promote blood vessel flexibility thus improving overall cardiovascular functionality.  Your heart loves dark chocolate even if you may not.

Do you eat enough of the 5 above, or even any? I definitely don’t eat enough. But it’s never too late to change that. Hope you enjoy a balanced healthy lifestyle, because you deserve it.

6 THINGS YOU’RE DOING THAT’S ACTUALLY MAKING YOUR STRESS WORSE!

Writing

Stress – a word on the tip of everyone’s tongue who’s either just f*cked up or who’s fearing that the f*ck up is just around the corner, kind of like your creepy neighbor.

So perhaps it’s easy to realize when exactly you may be feeling stressed, but how about we have a little chat about parts of our routine which could potentially be amplifying those nail biting, hair pulling moments of this weird phenomenon we call life.

Just check it out here!

beautiful face female girl

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